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Eurobasket preparation is starting to get underway with a month before the big international competition. Mario Hezonja is sitting out, as expected.

Mario Hezonja said after the season ended he did not think he would participate in this summer’s Eurobasket after playing for his national team in each of the past two summers. He said he wanted to stick around Orlando and focus on improving his game ahead of his third season in the NBA.

Judging by how poorly he played, focusing on himself seemed like the right idea. Only time will tell if that work will pay off.

Hezonja’s decision to skip Eurobasket for Croatia became official this week.

Croatia released its roster for Eurobasket this week and left Hezonja out of the player pool.

This is no surprise. Hezonja told reporters after the season he was going to skip Eurobasket. This just makes the decision official.

Hezonja averaged 4.9 points per game last year for the Orlando Magic, but he struggled to find a role with the team. He appeared in only 65 games, playing 14.8 minutes per game. Hezonja shot just 35.5 percent from the floor and 29.9 percent from beyond the arc. It was a disappointing season for the second-year player.

That poor play was not foreshadowed at all in his run with the Croatian National Team. After an up-and-down rookie year, Hezonja played for Croatia at the Olympics. He averaged 9.0 points per game and made 12 of his 24 3-pointers. Croatia largely used him as a spot-up shooter, but he picked his spots to attack and made open jumpers.

It looked like he was due for a good season after that.

Of course, things did not play that well. Hezonja’s strong summer run with the national team did not translate to the NBA. It left fans, the team and Hezonja all frustrated.

To his credit, he recognized all that frustration. He seemed eager to get his summer started. Hezonja never blamed his international play — he said he wanted to play for his national team — but admitted that playing for them may have hurt his individual growth.
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He said he believed staying in Orlando and working out with the Magic coaching staff will help him. Only time will tell if that works out for him.

Hezonja now faces a roster loaded with talented wings and a management group that did not draft him. He will have to earn every single one of his minutes this upcoming season.

Eurobasket will take place beginning August 31 in four different countries across Europe. The Magic will have two other players who are expected to play in the competition.

First, Evan Fournier is expected to play for France after getting left off last year’s Olympic roster. Fournier opted to sit out the Olympic Qualifying Tournament last summer as he worked out his contract with the Magic.

With that worked out, he was ready to play with the Olympics. cheap jerseys China But French coach Vincent Collet opted to maintain the same guard rotation, leaving Fournier off the roster.

Fournier was named to the initial 18-man roster for Eurobasket. France will open up play Aug. 31 against Finland.

Nikola Vucevic is also set to play.

Hehelped Montenegro qualify for the tournament last summer. It is Montenegro’s first Eurobasket since 2013. It is a big achievement for the tiny country to qualify for the European championship.

Vucevic is listed on the initial roster for Montenegro on their web site. They open up play at Eurobasket on Sept. 1 against tournament-favorite Spain.

It seems the Magic will still see Vucevic and Fournier play in the big international tournament in about a month. But Hezonja will be sitting this one out in hopes of building toward a strong third season.
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