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Team USA struggles but holds off Serbia, 94-91

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After beating Australia by ten points Wednesday night, the U.S. men’s basketball team appeared to be done with the drama at the Olympics. But Friday against Serbia things got even worse for the two-time defending Olympic champions, as their struggles on both ends of the floor nearly cost them the game.

The Americans hung on to win 94-91, with a Bogdan Bogdanovic three-pointer in the final seconds missing the mark. Kyrie Irving led six Americans in double figures with 15 points, but that offensive balance masks the fact that once again that their ball and player movement wasn’t at the level that they needed it to reach. Far too often the U.S. fell into the trap of “iso ball,” with one player monopolizing the basketball and the other four simply standing around hoping that something would happen.

WATCH: USA men’s basketball outlasts Serbia

Given their individual talents the U.S. can get away with this against most teams, but after being pushed by Australia the Americans met an even tougher challenge in the form of Serbia. That will have to change as Mike Krzyzewski’s team moves into bracket play, where a loss would have far more damaging consequences (no gold medal) than in group play.

Defensively, once again defending ball screens was a problem as Serbian point guard Milos Teodosic was able to create quality looks for both himself and other players. But the ball screen was just one aspect of Serbia’s offense that gave the U.S. fits, as they were committed to moving the ball and using solid player movement to make the Americans chase the ball on many occasions. Teodosic finished with 18 points and six assists, and forwards Nikola Jokic (25 points, six rebounds, three assists) and Miroslav Raduljica (18 points) were the beneficiaries of Serbia’s offensive execution.

Jokic, who was one of the best rookies in the NBA last season with the Denver Nuggets, shot 11-for-16 from the field and was able to make shots both inside the paint and out throughout the evening. Even with their familiarity with his skill set, Jokic gave the American big men fits regardless of the lineup (conventional or small) that Krzyzewski put on the court.

Even with the issues on both ends of the floor the United States is still undefeated in group play. But these last two games should serve as a wake-up call for them, especially the ten players who are playing in their first Olympics. Next up for the U.S., which has clinched the top spot in Group A, is a matchup with a France squad led by San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker Sunday afternoon.

Hayato Sakamoto, Japanese baseball MVP, tests positive for coronavirus

Hayato Sakamoto
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Hayato Sakamoto, an MVP of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, is one of two players from the Yomiuri Giants to test positive for the coronavirus, according to several Japanese media reports.

Sakamoto, a 31-year-old shortstop, and catcher Takumi Oshiro tested positive ahead of the NPB’s planned June 19 start to the season that had been delayed to the coronavirus.

The tests showed traces of the coronavirus, according to Kyodo News.

The Giants canceled Wednesday’s practice game with the Seibu Lions to limit the spread of the virus.

Sakamoto is the reigning Central League MVP. He has been called the Derek Jeter of Japan for playing the same position as the Yankee great and being the veteran captain of Japan’s equivalent club, the Giants, which own a record 22 Japan Series titles.

Sakamoto, who played in the last two World Baseball Classics, has been considered a lock for Japan’s baseball team at the Tokyo Games in 2021 as the most well known active player who hasn’t left for Major League Baseball. MLB is not expected to allow its top players to participate in the Olympics, which would keep the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Masahiro Tanaka off the Olympic roster.

The sport returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, though it is not on the 2024 Olympic program nor guaranteed a place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Japan reached the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments when the sport was previously on the medal program but never took gold.

In a 2018 survey, Sakamoto was ranked as Japan’s eighth-most popular athlete across all sports, foreign or domestic, active or retired.

Sky Brown, 11-year-old Olympic skateboard hopeful, suffers serious injuries in fall

Sky Brown Skateboard Fall
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Sky Brown, an 11-year-old British Olympic skateboarding hopeful, recently suffered her worst fall, requiring surgery, she said in a video posted from a hospital bed.

Brown suffered skull fractures and broke her left wrist and hand and was at first unresponsive upon arrival to a hospital, according to the BBC, which quoted her father.

Video of the fall from a skateboarding ramp was posted on her social media. She appeared to be wearing a helmet in the video.

“I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do,” Brown said. “But this was my worst fall, and I just want everyone to know that, it’s OK, don’t worry. I’m OK. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder. I know there’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I want everyone to know that whatever we do, we’ve just go to do it with love and happiness.”

Brown is the 2019 World bronze medalist in the new Olympic sport’s park discipline.

Later Tuesday, Brown reposted an Instagram post from what appeared to be her father’s account. The caption of that post said Brown fell 15 feet to flat concrete.

“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital,” the caption read. “We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.

“4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks.”

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Last week the worst thing I could ever ever imagined happened to @skybrown . She fell about 15ft off the side of a vert ramp to flat concrete. I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital. We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive. We prayed and begged God to give Sky another chance. Word came back while she was still unconscious, multiple fractures to her skull, a broken left arm, which she broke into pieces because she used it to break her fall, broken right fingers and lacerations to her heart and lungs. 4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks. More importantly her Doctors and the trauma team say it’s a miracle how well she is dealing with the pain and recovering incredibly fast. They said it’s shocking and believe it’s because of her grit, positivity and attitude. Skys brother @oceanbrown has been so brave. He saw his sister fall to the ground lying in a pool of blood and was screaming in tears that night outside of the hospital. He has still not allowed into the hospital to see her. They miss each-other dearly, but no siblings are allowed to enter the hospital because of coronavirus. They’ve been spending hours a day on FaceTime with each other making funny faces to one another in fits of giggles and laughter. Sky promises Ocean daily that she will make a fast recovery so they can be together again. Sky is constantly joking and smiling and it’s hurts my heart to even imagine for a second a world without Sky; extremely thankful that I don’t have to. Thank you to the heroes that are the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that have tirelessly worked on her and helped her get to this point.

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