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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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2022 Pan Pacific Championships canceled as swimming calendar shifts

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The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, a quadrennial major international meet, will not be held in 2022 “out of respect for the recent changes to the international sporting calendar,” according to a press release.

The Pan Pacs’ charter nations — the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan — agreed to the move. The 2026 event will be held in Canada, which was supposed to be the 2022 host.

The decision came after the 2021 World Championships were moved to May 2022, following the Tokyo Olympics moving from 2020 to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The quadrennial multi-sport Commonwealth Games — which includes Australia and Canada, but not the U.S. or Japan — are scheduled for July 27-Aug. 7, 2022.

“Organizing a third major championships in that window presented several challenges,” according to the Pan Pacs release.

Pan Pacs mark the third-biggest major international meet for U.S. swimmers, held in non-Olympic, non-world championships years.

MORE: Caeleb Dressel co-hosts a podcast. It’s not about swimming.

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Boston Marathon canceled for first time after 123 years; virtual event planned

Boston Marathon
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The Boston Marathon, held every year since 1897, has been canceled as an in-person event for the first time. It will be held as a virtual race instead due to the coronavirus.

“While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon,” Boston Athletic Association (BAA) CEO Tom Grilk said in a press release.

The world’s oldest annual marathon had been postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14, it was announced March 13.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he first considered canceling the postponed marathon during a coronavirus surge in April.

“We were maxed out in our hospital emergency rooms,” Walsh said Thursday. “I realized that the downside of the curve, which we were on, the backside of the curve, is going to be going for some time. The concern of a second surge made me have some real reservations about can we have the marathon or not.”

Walsh said experts said a potential second surge would be between August and October. He held out hope to hold the race until talking with the BAA last week.

All participants originally registered for Boston will be offered a full refund of their entry fee and have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative, which can be run between Sept. 7-14.

More details, including entry information, will be announced in the coming weeks.

It’s the biggest alteration to the Boston Marathon, which was inspired by the marathon’s debut at the first modern Olympics in 1896. Previously, the biggest change came in 1918, the last year of World War I. The marathon was still held on Patriots’ Day in April but as a 10-man military relay race.

The original 2020 Boston elite fields included two-time U.S. Olympian Des Linden, the 2018 Boston winner who was fourth at the Feb. 29 Olympic Trials, where the top three earned Olympic spots.

London is the world’s other major spring marathon. It was rescheduled from April 27 to Oct. 4. Its original fields for April were headlined by the two fastest men in history — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele. It’s unknown if they will remain in the field, should London happen.

The fall major marathon schedule

Boston — Sept. 7-14 (virtual event)
Berlin — TBD (will not be held as planned on Sept. 27)
London — Oct. 4
Chicago — Oct. 11
New York City — Nov. 1

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results