As Mario Hezonja prepares for his rookie NBA season, he is unsure if he will play for Croatia at this summer’s Eurobasket.
Mario Hezonja said last week at Orlando Summer League he is unsure if he will participate in Eurobasket this summer for Croatia.
“I don’t know. I have to talk with my coach,” Hezonja said. “I would like to practice, but the organization they don’t let me do anything. Basically it would be a month of complete rest. I am looking forward to start practice as soon as possible.”
Hezonja completed a solid Summer League 13.0 points per game on a pedestrian 37.5 percent shooting. It was definitely a case of Hezonja getting his feet wet. Especially since these high intensity games came just a week after his long season in Spain finished.
The Magic’s rookie showed plenty to make them satisfied after two games and make them believe he can be a contributor to the team. After Summer League, who really knows?
Eurobasket would have provided a nice step up in competition if he could make the roster. Eurobasket is a tournament featuring the best teams in Europe — think of it as the UEFA Euro Cup for basketball. It will take place in early September (starting Sept. 5) in France, Germany, Croatia and Latvia.
Croatia has been grouped with Slovenia, Greece, Macedonia, Netherlands and Georgia. This is a very accomplished team — 12th in the world following last summer’s World Cup. Hezonja is a big part of their future.
At last summer’s World Cup, Hezonja played in only 13 minutes in two games throughout the tournament. He is still young and making his way through the system. It would seem to make sense to have Hezonja available to learn and grow.
No official roster has been released yet and so there still might be a decision to be made in regards to whether Hezonja will play or not for Croatia. At the end of Summer League, it seemed Hezonja was more content to rest the remainder of the summer and prepare for his first NBA season. That would be a fair decision.
Considering how few minutes Hezonja might play, a competition of rest at this point in his career might make sense. Perhaps he will be ready to compete internationally when the 2016 Olympics come about in Rio.
Hezonja will not be the only player participating in international competition. The Orlando Magic announced Nikola Vucevic will participate in the NBA’s first exhibition game in Africa on Aug. 1 in South Africa:
The game will include participation from Chris Paul, Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol and Luol Deng in a pretty unique setting. This is an incredible landmark for the league and for basketball in Africa as the NBA brings its power to the continent for the first time.
It is an incredible opportunity to be an ambassador for the sport.
Also in international news, later this month Andrew Nicholson will likely be representing Canada at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.
Nicholson was named to the 2015 Tryout roster for the Pan Am Games taking place beginning July 21. Nicholson has been submitted to the roster page on the Pan Am Games Web site, and this close to the competition it seems safe to assume he will play in the event. Anthony Bennett, Brady Heslip and Junior Cadougan are other notable names playing for Canada.
In late August, Nicholson will likely then travel with Team Canada to Mexico to compete in the Tournament of the Americas for a spot at the Rio Olympics. It does not seem as though Canada will be bringing its full contingent — read: Kelly Olynyk, Andrew Wiggins and plenty others — but Nicholson has performed well in FIBA competitions in the past for his national team. This will be another good chance for Nicholson to gain confidence before the season starts.