Canada-Venezuela, Argentina-Mexico for Olympic men’s basketball spots

Andrew Wiggins
AP
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Canada can clinch its first Olympic men’s basketball berth since 2000 on Friday, while Argentina could qualify for its fourth straight Olympics.

Canada, led by NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, faces Venezuela in Mexico City in the FIBA Americas semifinals at 7 p.m. ET.

Argentina, which has played the U.S. in the last three Olympic semifinals, faces Mexico at 9:30 p.m.

The winners of both games will join the 2014 World champion U.S., Brazil, Australia and Nigeria in the Rio Olympic men’s basketball field that will eventually include 12 teams.

The losers will get another chance to make the Olympics at a global, last-chance qualifying tournament in July, one month before the Games.

Canada last played in the Olympics in 2000 with Steve Nash, who is now retired. It went 6-1 in preliminary play at FIBA Americas, beating Venezuela 82-62 last Thursday, and has several NBA players on its team, including Wiggins, Cory Joseph, Anthony Bennett and Nik Stauskas.

Venezuela, with no NBA players on its roster, squeaked into the semifinals by going 3-4 in preliminary play. Its previous Olympic appearance came in 1992.

Argentina, the last team to beat the U.S. at the Olympics and the 2004 gold medalist, went 6-1 in preliminary play despite not having stalwart Manu Ginobili, who has said he is likely done playing in international competition. Its team is led by 2004 Olympic champions Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni.

Mexico, which hasn’t qualified for an Olympic basketball tournament since 1976, also went 6-1 and has one NBA player on its team, Milwaukee Bucks backup point guard Jorge Gutierrez.

Mexico beat Argentina 95-83 on Wednesday night, setting up Friday’s rematch.

Puerto Rico, which also beat the U.S. at the 2004 Olympics, finished fifth at FIBA Americas and also advanced to the global, last-chance qualifying tournament.

The Dominican Republic, which played in three winner-goes-to-London games in 2012 Olympic qualifying and lost them all, finished sixth and will not advance automatically to the last-chance tournament, though there are wild-card spots available. Atlanta Hawks All-Star and Dominican Al Horford skipped FIBA Americas.

MORE BASKETBALL: Five Olympic questions with Steve Nash

Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and reportedly said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together.”

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
Getty
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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