Fournier on France: 'It's going to be on the new generation since the old guys are leaving'
ORLANDO (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) - It's safe to assume that Evan Fournier is going to be in the France line-up next year when Les Bleus enter a new era of international basketball.
He's one of several extremely talented players in the set-up, something he demonstrated at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and at FIBA EuroBasket 2015, and something he's doing now with the Orlando Magic.
The @OrlandoMagic pick up the home win, lead by @EvanFourmizz's 29! #LetsGoMagic pic.twitter.com/dXKnBCiu6X— NBA (@NBA) November 4, 2016
There will be no Tony Parker, no Mickael Gelabale and no Florent Pietrus, players that wore the France shirt for more than a decade and helped make their country one of the best in Europe and the world. All three retired from international basketball after the team's defeat to Spain in the Quarter-Finals of the Rio de Janeiro Games.
Fournier, a free agent in the NBA this past summer and therefore not with France at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila, was not added to the roster after the national team booked its place for Brazil.
The sweet-shooting Frenchman could have joined the team after signing a lucrative five-year contract extension with Orlando on 7 July but was not asked to. It would have meant coach Vincent Collet removing a player from the OQT roster, something he did when dropping Adrien Moerman in order to add Rudy Gobert to the Olympic team. Gobert had missed the Manila OQT while recovering from various knocks.
France will play in FIBA EuroBasket Group A in Helsinki against Finland, Iceland, Poland, Slovenia and Greece. The national side is not, Fournier says, what he's thinking about right now in an interview with FIBA.com.
Where do you stand with the national team right now?
There's not much to say. My focus is on the Magic right now. It's always been like that.
What about when you see the other French guys in the NBA? Does the national team subject come up?
We usually talk about everything but the national team because we spend so much time together during the summer. We want to know how everybody is doing, how's your life, how's your wife in Utah, San Antonio, whatever - just catch up.
Is there a close fraternity of French players?
Of course. We've been playing together for a while, now. Just talking about Rudy and Joffrey (Lauvergne), we've been playing together since high school so it's like a brotherhood. We shared so many moments together, good times and tough times, so it creates strong relationships.
Lauvergne (left), Fournier (middle) and Batum at EuroBasket 2015
With Tony Parker, Mickael Gelable and Florent Pietrus calling it a day with France, there is a big void to fill.
It's obviously going to be on the new generation since the old guys are leaving. The last samurai is Boris (Diaw). Everyone is gone outside of Boris.
Is he a vital person, then, as France transition into a new era?
It's always good to have Boris around. He has so much experience. He has had a great career. He's a great leader, so of course. Boris is a great human being and I think he does even more off the court than on the court, for the chemistry, team bonding. He's always organising team dinners, activities, stuff like that.