Shabazz Napier
Getty Images

Shabazz Napier may play for Puerto Rico in Olympic qualifying

Leave a comment

Orlando Magic guard Shabazz Napier could play for Puerto Rico in a last-chance Olympic basketball qualifying tournament in Serbia in July.

Napier, whose mother is Puerto Rican, was on a preliminary 24-man roster published by FIBA, citing Puerto Rican newspaper Primera Hora on Tuesday night, along with other current and former NBA players J.J. Barea, Carlos ArroyoRenaldo BalkmanMaurice Harkless and John Holland.

The roster must be cut to 12 for the Olympic qualifying tournament, where Puerto Rico will be among six teams vying for one Olympic spot. Host Serbia, the reigning World silver medalist, is the favorite.

Another Puerto Rican newspaper, El Vocero, reported Napier will practice with prospective Puerto Rican Olympic players starting next week, citing a Puerto Rican basketball federation official.

After that report, the same official said an announcement regarding Napier would be made after a Wednesday meeting. No official announcement has been made, and the official hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

Napier was the 2014 Final Four Most Outstanding Player for the University of Connecticut and the No. 24 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

He averaged 5.1 and 3.7 points per game, respectively, for the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic the last two seasons.

Napier has never played on the senior international level.

On Friday, Arroyo confirmed to NBC Olympics that he plans to play for Puerto Rico in the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Arroyo, 36, was Puerto Rico’s star at the Athens 2004 Olympics, scoring 24 points with seven assists in an upset of the U.S. in their opening game. It marked the U.S. men’s basketball team’s first loss at the Olympics since 1988, before NBA players joined starting in 1992.

MORE: U.S. Olympic basketball game times announced

Canadian ice dancers overcome hair-raising wardrobe malfunction

Piper Gilles, Paul Poirier
Screengrab
Leave a comment

Ice dancer Piper Gilles‘ hair got caught in partner Paul Poirier‘s costume during the Canadian Championships rhythm dance, but the couple still posted the top score in Mississauga, Ontario, on Friday.

As they spun together, Gilles’ hair appeared to catch on one of Poirier’s shirt buttons. It stayed that way for about five seconds as the couple nearly came to a stop before Poirier untangled it. What was Gilles thinking?

“Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap,” she said later. “It’s probably more swear words to that, but crap at that moment.

“It was like one of those pure panic moments, like, what do I do? Do we stop? Do we keep going? Paul’s like, just keep moving.”

Gilles and Poirier scored 88.86 points, taking an 11.6-point lead into the free dance.

The couple eyes their first national title after finishing second or third seven times in the last eight years behind Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.

Gilles and Poirier rank fifth in the world this season.

The panicky moment Friday was reminiscent of the PyeongChang Olympics, where French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis‘ dress strap broke, exposing her breast. Papadakis and partner Guillaume Cizeron took silver and have been undefeated since.

MORE: Figure skating season TV schedule

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Allison Schmitt opens 2020 in fast form, bidding to join U.S. Olympic legends

Leave a comment

Allison Schmitt, after failing to qualify for world championships teams, revealing a battle with depression and taking nearly two years off competition post-Rio, has a chance to swim at her fourth Olympics this summer. And to do it in an individual event for the first time since 2012.

Schmitt won the 200m freestyle in 1:56.01 at the Tyr Pro Swim Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday night.

The time would have ranked second among Americans in 2019 behind Katie Ledecky. Ledecky is not swimming in Knoxville, but the 2012 Olympic champion and American record holder Schmitt beat Simone Manuel by 1.24 seconds.

“Wish I could say I was tapered, would make it feel a lot easier,” Schmitt said on NBCSN. “Getting better every time I jump in the water and swim in finals.”

Schmitt’s time marked her fastest outside of a major summer meet since the 2012 London Games. She’s bidding to become the third U.S. woman in her 30s to swim an individual event at an Olympics, joining 12-time medalists Dara Torres (who swam in her 40s) and Jenny Thompson.

Full Knoxville results are here. Broadcast coverage of the meet continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Swimmers are preparing for June’s Olympic trials, where the top two per individual event qualify for the Tokyo Games, plus extra 100m and 200m free swimmers for relays.

In other events Friday, 18-year-old Carson Foster took the men’s 200m free in 1:47.74, beating the U.S.’ top 400m freestyler, Zane Grothe, by 1.33 seconds.

Foster, younger than any U.S. Olympic male swimmer since a group including Michael Phelps in 2000, is better known for his individual medleys. But the 200m free offers up to six Olympic spots when including the 4x200m free relay.

“Any event where there’s more spots on the line this summer is an event I want to train for,” said Foster, who ranked outside the top 10 in the U.S. in the 200m free in 2019 and beat a field Friday that included none of the six fastest.

Annie Lazor won the 100m breaststroke in 1:06.68, a time congruent with her No. 2 ranking in the U.S. last year behind Olympic champion and world-record holder Lilly King. King, who trains with Lazor, is not competing in Knoxville.

In the 100m butterfly, 29-year-old Amanda Kendall upset top-ranked American Kelsi Dahlia in 57.65 seconds. Regan Smith, the fastest backstroker in history, was second in a personal-best 57.86, followed by Dahlia.

MORE: Australian swim star issues plea after hometown hit by fires

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!