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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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Gracie Gold to miss U.S. Championships, Olympics

Gracie Gold
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Figure skater Gracie Gold will miss the rest of the season — including the Olympics — as she continues to undergo treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

“I have not had adequate training time in order to perform at the level at which I want to,” Gold said in a statement Friday. “It pains me to not compete in this Olympic season, but I know it’s for the best. I wish everyone the best of luck and will be cheering you all on. I want to thank everyone for the ongoing love and support. It means the world to me.”

Gold, a Sochi Olympic team bronze medalist and two-time U.S. champion, announced Sept. 1 that she was taking time away from figure skating to seek unspecified professional help.

On Oct. 13, she announced she was in treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety and would skip the fall Grand Prix season.

The 22-year-old last competed at the U.S. Championships in January, placing a disastrous sixth.

Gold, the top American woman at the Sochi Olympics in fourth place, has not been the same skater since dropping from first after the 2016 World Championships short program to finish fourth, again just missing her first individual global medal.

She considered skipping the fall 2016 Grand Prix season, talking openly about physical struggles and even depression in that offseason.

She split from coach Frank Carroll after that sixth-place nationals. Gold then announced in February that she moved to Michigan to train under new coaches Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein.

Then on Sept. 1, Gold announced she was taking a leave.

“My passion for skating and training remains strong,” Gold said in the reported Sept. 1 statement. “However, after recent struggles on and off the ice, I realize I need to seek some professional help and will be taking some time off while preparing for my Grand Prix assignments. This time will help me become a stronger person, which I believe will be reflected in my skating performances as well.”

The favorites for three U.S. Olympic women’s spots are 2014 Olympian Ashley Wagner, 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, reigning U.S. champion Karen Chen and U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

The Olympic team will be named after nationals in San Jose in January.

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Javier Fernandez rebounds to lead Grand Prix France (video)

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez was back at his best, landing two quadruple jumps to top the Grand Prix France short program on Friday.

Fernandez, who was sixth at his opening Grand Prix two weeks ago with a reported stomach bug, tallied 107.86 points in Grenoble. It’s the second-best score of his career.

The 2015 and 2016 World champion goes into Saturday’s free skate with a 13.94-point lead over Shoma Uno of Japan. Uno fell on his opening quad flip attempt.

Uno went into France as the clear favorite, the only man to break 300 total points this season. He did it at both of his competitions this fall.

Earlier Friday, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond led a group of favorites who topped the short programs for the women, pairs and ice dance. All of the free skates are Saturday.

GP FRANCE: Full Results | TV Schedule

Both U.S. men fell Friday, not helping their cases for the three-man Olympic team.

Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, fell on his opening jump combination. He failed to build on his personal-best free skate from his last competition, where he landed three quads to claim bronze at Cup of China.

U.S. silver medalist Vincent Zhou crashed on both quadruple jump attempts, two weeks after falling three times between two programs at his Grand Prix debut.

Zhou, 17 and the world junior champion, has the jumps to easily make the three-man U.S. Olympic team. But those big mistakes allow the likes of Jason Brown and Adam Rippon to pass him.

“To say the least, my performance was dismal,” was posted on Zhou’s Instagram. “It was not a representation of how I train or who I am. Smiling and waving while my heart is breaking is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I have been following my Olympic dream for as long as I can remember, fighting, being set back, conquering obstacles, and experiencing the ups and downs of striving to better myself every single day. I am capable of so much more. I am a fighter. I fully believe that I can and will draw on my spirit, inner strength, and faith to my words to perform much better in the future.”

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MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Internationaux de France
Men’s Short Program
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 107.86
2. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 93.92
3. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 91.51
8. Max Aaron (USA) — 78.64
10. Vincent Zhou (USA) — 66.12