Kurt Helin

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France beats Serbia 81-68 to take Eurobasket bronze medal

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LILLE, France (AP) — France pulled away in the third quarter to beat Serbia 81-68 and win the bronze medal at the European basketball championship on Sunday.

Spain and Lithuania play for the title later Sunday.

France was the defending champion but lost the semifinal to Spain, champion in 2009 and 2011. Serbia won its first seven games at the tournament but lost the final two.

The host team outscored Serbia 21-12 in the third quarter following a 10-0 run and led by as many as 16 points.

Nando de Colo led France with 20 points, while center Rudy Gobert had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Evan Fournier added 15 points, including five straight in the fourth that dispelled any hopes of a Serbian comeback as France took a 12-point lead.

“This is not what we came here for but it’s always good to finish with a win,” de Colo said.

Both Serbia and France clinched spots in qualifying tournaments for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. France coach Vincent Collet said all French stars, including Tony Parker, who had 13 points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field, would return.

“We all agreed that that the main goal is to win an Olympic medal, this is the last chance for this generation to win an Olympic medal, but it won’t be easy to qualify,” Collet said.

Serbia’s star guard Milos Teodosic went 0-for-9 from the field and his only points were three free throws. Bogdan Bogdanovic led Serbia with 14 points. France pulled down 14 more rebounds.

Serbia’s coach Sasha Djordjevic said his team would be back “with more heart and more desire.”

“We want to go to the Olympics,” said Djordjevic, who guided his team to the World Cup silver medal last year.

Jimmer Fredette admits he was surprised Spurs called

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Clippers
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Jimmer Fredette couldn’t crack the rotation in New Orleans last season, playing just more than 500 minutes all season long for the team on the rise in the West. When he did get in he wasn’t very good — the one thing he’s known for is shooting, but he hit just 18.8 percent from three (well below his career 38 percent mark). It made you wonder if his time in the NBA was over.

Then the Spurs called.

Fredette has a partially guaranteed deal going into Spurs camp and the chance to make the roster as their latest shooting guard reclamation project. And because it’s the Spurs it comes with a little respect and the feeling “maybe they are seeing something nobody else is.” Fredette admitted to the Deseret News that he was surprised the call came, but he thinks he can make it work.

“It’s an awesome opportunity. When I got the phone call, I wasn’t expecting this opportunity at all. It is something I’m grateful they offered me and it showed they want me on the team. They don’t offer people for no reason. They see a type of guy they want and they go after (him) and I’m glad I’m their type of guy….

“I’m coming in with the expectation that I’m going to have to work as hard as I can to get playing time and work my way in the rotation. One thing I do know, if I’m on the team, they do give guys rests. So, I will have the opportunity to play and I think it is my type of basketball. I think I fit in the system really well, and I love the guys. They are really competitive, but they want to help you help them win games. I’m excited to be part of that kind of culture. I couldn’t ask for a better situation and I hope I can continue to work hard and play well.”

 

Fredette is going to have to play better and stay within the system to make this work. No doubt Fredette can shoot the rock, that was never the question, it was everything else that has held him back. He’s not the point guard/playmaker at the NBA level he thinks he can be. More importantly, his defense simply has to improve if he’s going to make the Spurs roster. In New Orleans, the second he stepped on the court the opponent started running plays right at him. If you can’t defend within the team system, you don’t play for Popovich.

But Fredette has the best chance he’s ever going to get in the NBA, the Spurs see something. We’ll see what he does with it.

Nets’ Yanick Moreira suffers foot injury, to miss camp

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The Brooklyn Nets are still looking for a little depth behind Brook Lopez and Andrea Bargnani at the center spot and that gave Yanick Moreira a chance — a slim one, but a chance — to land on the Nets’ roster for the coming season.

However, a foot injury has doomed those hopes. From Sportando.

Angolan big-man Yanick Moreira suffered a minor tear to a ligament in his left foot and will miss 4-6 weeks of action, as announced by his agency. This injury will force Moreira to miss Nets training camp, definitely a bad news for the young big-man.

The Nets signed Justin Harper for camp because of this injury.

Moreira was undrafted out of SMU, and he is the dominant player on the Angolan national team where he averaged 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in the World Cup last year. This year at AfroBasket he averaged a team-best 12 points and 5.7 rebounds a game leading Angola to the AfroBasket Finals and within a game of an Olympic berth (Angola will compete in the pre-Olympic tournaments for the final three spots next summer).

He should still be able to land a good spot overseas or in the D-League once healed, but he’s out for the Nets.

Dwight Howard announces jump to PEAK shoes

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China-based Peak shoes is trying to get its foot in the Nike-dominated basketball shoe market, and it has grabbed another NBA star to get there.

Dwight Howard showed up to his youth camp this weekend wearing Peak, and  he confirmed a deal that had been long rumored (Peak had tweeted about it before). Here is what he said to the media, including Fox News 26 of Houston:

“I had a great run with Adidas. Peak is an up and coming company and we’re really looking forward to helping them grow in the States….

“A brand like Peak that has an opportunity to really grow and become a global brand, it’s something that the owner, myself, and everybody under him is looking forward to do.

“I am very blessed,” Howard added. “I had a chance to meet the owner of the company in China. Even though he couldn’t speak any English, we had a great conversation. He’s a great guy. We all have the same goals, so I’m very excited and happy about where I’m at.”

Peak already has a number of NBA players wearing their shoes, including Tony Parker and George Hill. However, Howard is the biggest brand, the most marketable player to make the move. He’s a big player with a big personality, although the rule of thumb is that guards and wings are the players that really sell shoes.

Nike — led by the Jordan brand — still dominate controlling 90 percent of the basketball shoe market. Nike also has LeBron James‘ line, the biggest selling of the active players. Adidas and Under Armour — which has Stephen Curry as their main endorser — are the next two in market share. Peak is trying to break into that market globally.

Sixers’ Marshall will not be ready to start season

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Who is going to be the starting point guard for the Sixers, Tony Wroten or Kendall Marshall?

Yes, that’s a serious question (and one reason the Sixers will not win many games this season). It’s also got an easy answer, at least to start the season — Wroten.

That’s because Marshall, coming off a torn ACL from last January, is not going to be ready to start the season. It’s something Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer said in his chat this week.

When Marshall comes back, he may battle for the starting job with Wroten. Expect Isaiah Canaan also to be in the mix, while Pierre Jackson bounces between the Sixers and the D-League for a season.

There are things to like about Marshall if you’re a Sixers’ fan. He’s 24, has fantastic court vision and knows how to feed guys the ball (which you want with Jahlil Okafor in the post). But I’m not sure Marshall will stick long term — the Sixers moved on from Michael Carter-Williams because he couldn’t shoot the rock (they want a point guard who can shoot), and Marshall hasn’t been a great shooter either. Marshall did improve and hit 39.1 from three last season — he needs to sustain that. There are also serious questions about Marshall’s defense.

But we’ll have to wait a while, until he’s back from the ACL injury, to know how he will answer those questions.