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How the FIBA World Cup impacts the Olympics

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The first nation to qualify for the 2016 Olympic men’s basketball tournament will be the champion of the FIBA World Cup, which begins Saturday and runs through Sept. 15.

The U.S. is favored, having won the Olympics in 2008 and 2012 and the FIBA World Cup (then the World Championships) in 2010. Host Spain is its biggest competition.

Brazil, as the Olympic host nation, automatically has a spot in the 12-team Olympic basketball tournament.

If the U.S. does not prevail, it will have a second chance to clinch a spot in Rio at next year’s FIBA Americas Championship. This safety net was necessary for the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics. The U.S. lost the preceding World Championships each of those times but won the FIBA Americas Championship.

A possible third chance would come in the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament one month before the Rio Games.

So, a defeat in Spain should cause no worry about the U.S.’ Olympic hopes. In fact, one could consider this stat: four out of 16 winners of the FIBA World Championships preceding the Olympics went on to win Olympic gold.

ProBasketballTalk: FIBA World Cup preview

What about the makeup of the 2016 U.S. Olympic roster? Recent history dictates that 12-man team will include about half of the men on the FIBA World Cup squad.

Five members of the U.S. team at the 2010 FIBA World Championships made it on the 2012 U.S. Olympic roster — Tyson ChandlerKevin Durant, Andre IguodalaKevin Love and Russell Westbrook.

Six members of the U.S. team at the 2006 FIBA World Championships made it on the 2008 U.S. Olympic roster — Carmelo Anthony, Chris BoshDwight HowardLeBron JamesChris Paul and Dwyane Wade.

And one member of the U.S. team that finished a forgettable sixth at the 2002 FIBA World Championships in Indianapolis made it on the 2004 U.S. Olympic roster — Shawn Marion.

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Shoma Uno wins Skate America as Jason Brown clears quad hurdle

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Japan’s Shoma Uno became the youngest man to win Skate America since 2002, while Jason Brown landed a quadruple jump en route to second place in Hoffman Estates, Ill., on Sunday.

Uno, the 18-year-old Grand Prix Final bronze medalist, landed three quadruple jumps in his free skate after planting two in his leading short program Saturday.

Uno fell on triple jumps in both programs but still scored 279.34 total points, prevailed by 10.96 over Brown and became the youngest man to win Skate America since France’s Brian Joubert in 2002.

Reigning U.S. champion Adam Rippon was third, flipping places with Brown after the short program. Full results are here.

Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, totaled personal-best scores in the free skate (182.63) and overall (268.38) en route to his third straight Skate America medal. Brown matched his career-best Grand Prix finish.

Brown had never landed a clean, fully rotated quad in competition before, and while Sunday’s jump was called under-rotated, it was still a benchmark for the 21-year-old.

“To hit it and be like, ‘Oh my god, keep going, keep going,'” Brown said on NBC. “I just dreamed about landing that quad in the program. I felt like it kept getting closer, but today it finally hit. … Now I know I can do it under pressure. I can do it skating last. I can do it at a Grand Prix, so I can do it anywhere.”

Rippon attempted one quad this weekend, falling in a free skate he said he had only been practicing for a week and a half.

“I’m pleased with what I did today,” Rippon said. “It was a strong program for October. … This is a good start to the season, and I really want to build on this.”

Brown and Rippon positioned themselves well to become the first American men to qualify for the Grand Prix Final since Jeremy Abbott in 2011, should they be in podium contention at their next Grand Prix starts.

Rippon returns for Trophée de France in three weeks. Brown next competes at NHK Trophy in five weeks.

The Grand Prix season continues this week at Skate Canada, highlighted by world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia, Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and the Grand Prix return of 2010 Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.

MORE: Full figure skating season broadcast schedule

Gracie Gold details weight issues in figure skating after Skate America struggles


Gracie Gold said she has struggled with weight issues this whole year and in recent seasons in reported comments after she finished fifth at Skate America on Saturday and then clarified them on Instagram Sunday.

“You don’t often see — there aren’t that many — you just don’t see overweight figure skaters for a reason,” Gold said Saturday, according to USA Today. “It’s just something I’ve struggled with this whole year and in previous seasons. It’s just difficult when you’re trying to do the difficult triple jumps. It’s something that I am addressing, but it’s obviously not where it should be for this caliber of competition.

“It’s just not what’s required for this sport. It’s a lean body sport, and it’s just not what I have currently.”

Gold fell once in her Skate America short program and twice in her free skate en route to her lowest Grand Prix finish (excluding Grand Prix Finals) since her debut at 2012 Skate Canada.

Gold also finished sixth out of six skaters in her first competition this season, the free-skate-only Japan Open on Oct. 1.

Gold was fourth at the world championships in April, falling from first after the short program. The U.S. champion was still dealing with that “worlds depression” in the summer, even considering skipping the fall Grand Prix season.

Her next scheduled competition is in three weeks at Trophée de France in Paris, which she won last season.

“We just need to adjust my physical shape and mental shape and see if the program can be salvaged for the rest of the year,” Gold said Saturday, according to Icenetwork.com.

Gold’s update on Sunday on Instagram is below.

MORE: Full figure skating season broadcast schedule

To all my fans and friends. Thank you for the concern you have voiced. My comments in the mixed zone were spoken in the heat of emotion. To clarify, I feel that my results this far in the season are a result of my decision to live a more "normal life" this past summer. I traveled and really took time off from being an elite athlete. For a figure skater, there is an ideal body weight for top performance. It's different for each athlete. That doesn't mean scary skinny, but rather a lean, wiry composition. I realize that I am at a healthy weight and I am rapidly regaining the strength and tone I desire. I just started back a little later than I needed to for peak fitness in October. In reading Christine Brennan's story I realize that I came across pretty negatively. In fact, rather than being unhappy with my programs, I think they are the best I've ever had! I remain committed to my sport and quest for World and Olympic success.

A photo posted by Gracie Gold (@graciegold95) on