By Josh Cohen
Aug. 19, 2017
ORLANDO — Probably awkward at times considering they are close friends and have been Orlando Magic teammates since 2014, Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier faced off in a EuroBasket 2017 preparation game in Toulouse, France.
Less than two weeks away from the start of the tournament, Vucevic and Fournier each have high expectations for their respective countries.
Fournier, who saw only limited action in Saturday’s 100-70 exhibition victory, last played for France two years ago in this competition. He averaged 6.8 points and scored 15 against Serbia to help France claim third place. France won the gold at EuroBasket 2013.
Vucevic, who posted 12 points and five rebounds on Saturday, helped Montenegro advance to this year’s EuroBasket with a strong showing at last summer’s qualifying tournament. He averaged 15.7 points and 6.5 rebounds. He will participate in this competition for the third time in his international career.
France’s road to another hopeful EuroBasket title starts in Finland. They play the host nation on Aug. 31 and then take on Greece, Iceland, Poland and Slovenia in Group A pool play. Fournier will be joined by several other current and former NBA players, including Boris Diaw, Joffrey Lauvergne and Nando de Colo.
Montenegro, meanwhile, is part of Group C. They match up with the defending EuroBasket champs, Spain, in the opener. Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary and host nation Romania are the other countries in this group. Mario Hezonja, who played for Croatia at the Olympics in Rio last year, will not participate at this year’s EuroBasket.
The top four teams from each of the four groups advance to the knockout stage, which begins Sept. 9. All of those games will take place in Istanbul, Turkey.