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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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U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
Getty Images
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

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Bob Costas’ report 100 days out from Rio (video)

Bob Costas
NBC News
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Bob Costas reported from Rio de Janeiro for NBC News on Wednesday, 100 days out from the Opening Ceremony.

In the clip below, Michael PhelpsSimone Biles and even Brazil soccer legend Pelé comment on preparing for the first Games in South America.

Costas finished the clip with a stand-up from Copacabana Beach, where beach volleyball will take place in August.

VIDEO: Bob Costas picks biggest storyline of Rio Olympics