Tomorrow, Magic basketball is back!
Not really, but several Magic players will be competing in real, actual basketball games that mean something. That is enough to get us excited.
Andrew Nicholson will be part of Team Canada in the FIBA Americas Championship (click the link for a great preview from our guest, Adam Papageorgiou of Orlando Magic Greek previewing Canada's trip) in Venezuela starting August 30. Canada will be trying to be one of four teams in the 10-team tournament to qualify for the FIBA World Cup next summer.
Meanwhile, beginning September 4 in Slovenia, Nikola Vucevic will try to lead Montenegro to the World Cup and Hedo Turkoglu will play a supporting role for Turkey at Eurobasket where six more tickets will be punched to the World Cup.
There is a lot of basketball to watch over the next few weeks. To help us get ready for the basketball to come, I reached out to Adam Papageorgiou of Magic Basketball Online and Orlando Magic Greek to help preview Eurobasket and the FIBA Americas Championship.
Philip Rossman-Reich, Orlando Magic Daily: There will be six spots coming from Eurobasket and then four coming from FIBA Americas, so there is a lot on the line for these guys. A lot of these guys love playing for their national teams. For the Magic though, they do have some interest in Eurobasket. They have two players currently playing in Eurobasket with Nikola Vucevic playing for Montenegro and, yes, Hedo Turkoglu still playing for Turkey.
Adam Papageorgiou, Orlando Magic Greek: It will be interesting. I don't know how much Hennigan and the rest of the front office or coaching staff will keep an eye on Eurobasket. Obviously they want to keep an eye on Vucevic to see how he grows. As far as keeping an eye on Hedo? I don't know if they care enough to really keep an eye on him. Because even if he plays well, I don't think the Magic are going to want to retain him, and, unless Hedo plays at a level that he has not played at in about 10 years, I don't think anyone is going to want to trade for his contract.
Philip: I was going to ask if Turkoglu could possibly increase his trade value with his play at Eurobasket. Some of the speculation out there about why the Turkoglu buyout hasn't happened yet is his guarantee date isn't until January and so the Magic don't feel like they are in a rush to let him go if they can get some type of value for him. He is an expiring contract if a team is willing to pay him probably the $6 million for the back end of his deal to have him for the stretch run. Do you see him being able to increase his trade value at all in this tournament?
Adam: I think I can, but the problem is he is going to have to do it off the bench. He is basically a sixth man now on Turkey. He is 34 years old, he has had a heck of a run with the Turkish national team since the late 90s. He is still going to be viewed as a god over in Turkey and that's why he is being offered several millions of dollars to play in Turkey if he can't find an NBA job. I think he can raise his trade value, I just don't have a clue what NBA team is going to want him right off the bat. Maybe if the Magic wanted to hold on to him until maybe January and maybe play him a little bit during the season. I just don't foresee that. It's interesting. I think he can raise his trade value, then again, I don't know what team would want Hedo unless you're maybe like the Bobcats so desperate to make the Playoffs that maybe that is a rout they look for. I couldn't tell you on that.
Philip: It is definitely a tough situation for Turkoglu. I personally hope he plays well. Turkey is always a team that seems to be in the mix. They obviously went to the championship game of the World Basketball Championships three years ago and they are the number seven team according to FIBA's latest world rankings. We'll see if Turkoglu can find the fountain of youth as he has so often done.
Moving on to newer national team and someone that Magic fans will really want to see. We get to watch Nikola Vucevic in a starring role for Montenegro wtih [Nikola] Pekovic bowing out of the tournament having not signed his contract in time to start training with them. What are you expecting to see out of Nikola Vucevic in the next couple weeks playing for Montenegro?
Adam: Unfortunately we have not been able to see any video of him! Based off stat line, based off articles, Vucevic has continued where he left off with the Magic. He is averaging about 50 percent shooting and he is racking up rebounds at a pretty good clip considering he is not even playing 20 minutes.
That's my one concern is they have a new coaching staff in there from their last Eurobasket. In 2011 they did have a young Pekovic/Vucevic twin towers, but Nik was so young and inexperienced, he was unable to do anything in that one. Nik averaged like five points and three boards. This is a completely new Vucevic. He is ready to take on the leading role. He has to if Montenegro wants any shot of advancing out of the first group round robin.
Montenegro, if they had Pekovic, I think they could have advanced. But I don't see them getting in front of Lithuania, Serbia and [Macedonia]. This is where Vuc can prove doubters wrong. We'll see how much of the scoring load he can take up. He doesn't have much help. He is depending on another naturalized American, Tyrese Rice, who went to Boston College, to help carry that team.
I'm looking forward to seeing what Nik has added to his game and whether he has upped his defense at all. We saw him struggle early on last season with his man and help defense, but that drastically improved I thought toward the tail end of the season. And with no Pekovic to help him out in the paint, he has really got to be the man on both ends of the court.
Philip: Many thanks to Adam for joining us and giving us his thoughts on Eurobasket. Be sure to check out all the games from Venezuela and Slovenia on ESPN3.com. Be sure to listen to the full podcast by downloading it on iTunes or clicking the link above or below: