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WATCH LIVE: U.S. men’s basketball finishes group play

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While the U.S. men’s basketball team is 4-0 in Rio and has already locked up a spot in the quarterfinal round, they haven’t looked all that convincing in wins over Australia and Serbia. In those wins guards Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills (Australia), and Milos Teodosic (Serbia) gave the Americans fits working in ball screen situations. Sunday’s group finale brings another test for the Americans in this area, with point guard Tony Parker leading the way for France.

Since being blown out by Australia in their group opener the French have won three straight, blowing out China and Venezuela with a one-point win over Serbia in between. Parker’s a key for France, and his track record both internationally and with the San Antonio Spurs can’t be questioned. But to assume that France is a one-man outfit would be a mistake.

WATCH LIVE: United States vs. France — 1:15 p.m. Eastern

In the front court France can counter the American big men with the likes of Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz) and Boris Diaw (traded from San Antonio to Utah), and wing Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Bobcats can be a handful as well. The U.S. can put points on the board with anyone, but they have to be better defensively while also improving their offensive execution.

While they scored 98 against Australia and 94 against Serbia, the ball and player movement wasn’t at the level that they need it to be even if their raw talent allows them to get away with ball-watching on the offensive end. Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George have made key shots down the stretch in the last two wins, but the U.S. can be better on this end of the floor than they’ve been. Will that change Sunday? If not, they could be in for another nail biter.

Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts win three times on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One gymnast has two wins on vault. A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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