Orlando Magic stars prepare to take on the world

Paolo Banchero is working out with Team USA in preparation for the World Cup. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Paolo Banchero is working out with Team USA in preparation for the World Cup. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

There is something comfortable about watching Franz Wagner on a basketball court.

Even at his most rusty for live-action play, Wagner glides through the lane and seems to attract and absorb attention as well as anyone. It never looks difficult for him. An offseason of waiting did not change any of that.

There he was on an organized team floor with Franz Wagner driving and throwing one-handed lobs up to Daniel Theis like he never left. There he was darting into passing lanes to get a steal and a runout dunk. There was Wagner driving at his usual controlled pace, waiting for the defense to surround him before exploding toward the rim or dishing out to the open man in the corner.

In other words, it is good to have competitive basketball back in our lives as the ramp up to the FIBA World Cup at the end of the month has begun.

The preparation for the FIBA World Cup has officially begun as training camps open up around the world for the run-up to the big tournament.

Franz Wagner (and his brother, Moe Wagner) made their summer debuts for Germany in their first warmup game Saturday with both coming up big in the fourth quarter to help Germany secure a win over Sweden. Franz Wagner had 15 points and Moe Wagner had 12 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the foul line.

They were both in during a close game in the fourth quarter helping expand Germany’s lead. Some rust was certainly expected — turnovers and fouling ruled as they do whenever a team is freshly slapped together.

But they did not look so rusty that you did not see the outlines of what made their seasons a success for the Orlando Magic.

Franz Wagner had all the drives and work through the lane that has made him such an effective player. Moe Wagner had all the moves to get to the foul line and the boldness to go for at least one poster dunk (he missed).

It was just good to see them back on the court. The basketball world is officially now in World Cup mode.

And they will not be alone for the Magic. Orlando will have five players involved in the World Cup.

Most of our eyes are on Las Vegas and United States basketball training camp where Paolo Banchero is training with the national team and Jamahl Mosley is helping out by coaching the Select Team.

They started practice Thursday and have been running scrimmages the last few days — the Select Team got its typical win over the national team, but nobody is quite concerned yet.

They open their pre-tournament schedule Monday in Las Vegas against Puerto Rico. It is not yet clear what role Banchero will play, but he has already said one of the big adjustments he has to make is playing without the ball and in a secondary role.

That will serve him well as he continues to improve his game as the Magic’s primary scorer. It will be interest to see what this experience does for him.

Joe Ingles is set to appear for Australia once again. He made the cut down to 15 players (as expected) for the NBA-stacked roster. They play their first game Aug. 14 in Melbourne against Venezuela. So they will have some more preparation before we see them on the floor.

Georgia has already played a trio of exhibition games, losing all three. Goga Bitadze does not appear to have played in at least the last two games.

There are still a few weeks before the games begin. So there is plenty of time for players and teams to get themselves into game shape. There will be plenty of games — Germany returns to action Saturday against China in Hamburg, Germany — to get everyone into form.

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But that is what this time period is for. And everyone seems to be taking advantage of it as we prepare for the World Cup to begin.