U.S. escapes Turkey at FIBA World Cup in closest win in 13 years

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The U.S. looks vulnerable on paper at the FIBA World Cup. Turkey proved it on the court on Tuesday, nearly handing the Americans their first loss at a major tournament since 2006 to end a 44-game win streak at the Olympics and worlds.

The U.S. eked out a 93-92 win in overtime in Shanghai, its closest at a major tournament since its last loss in the 2006 World semifinals to Greece.

“The team that we played tonight, again, shows its experience and the improvement that we have to make,” U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich said. “We’ve known for a long time how big basketball has become in China, of course, but all over the world.”

Turkey led 92-91 when it missed four straight free throws with nine seconds left in OT. A full box score is here.

Khris Middleton, one of two 2019 NBA All-Stars on a superstar-less U.S. roster, made two free throws with two seconds left before Milwaukee Bucks teammate Ersan Ilyasova missed a contested three-pointer as time expired that would have sent shockwaves across international basketball.

“The game was in our hands, not their hands,” said Furkan Korkmaz, a Philadelphia 76ers swingman and one of three NBA players on the Turkish roster.

Turkey is a decent opponent, the 2010 World silver medalist ranked No. 17, but tougher nations are believed to be coming in the knockout rounds.

“We didn’t play to our expectations,” Middleton said.

Much has been made about this U.S. roster lacking NBA superstars — it has one Olympian (Harrison Barnes) and two 2019 NBA All-Stars (Kemba Walker, Middleton). Many potential Tokyo Olympians opted out of suiting up for Team USA this summer — even with highly respected Gregg Popovich making his U.S. head coaching debut — a common occurrence in World Cup years.

Ten days ago, a 78-game win streak when including exhibitions with NBA players was snapped in a pre-World Cup loss to Australia.

The U.S. didn’t trail against Turkey until the final minute of regulation. With 12 seconds left, Jayson Tatum was fouled while attempting a go-ahead three-pointer. Tatum made two of three free throws to force OT.

The U.S., which beat the Czech Republic 88-67 in its opener on Sunday, finishes group play against Japan, lowest-ranked of the four-team group, on Thursday.

Also Tuesday, Canada was eliminated after losses to Australia (108-92) and Lithuania (92-69). That means the Canadians, seeking their first Olympic men’s basketball berth since 2000, will likely vie for one of the final four Olympic spots at a last-chance qualifying tournament next year.

Canada might have the most NBA options of any nation outside the U.S., but Andrew Wiggins, RJ Barrett, Jamal Murray and Tristan Thompson were all absent from the World Cup roster.

The top two nations at the World Cup from North and South America qualify for the Olympics.

MORE: FIBA World Cup schedule, results

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IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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