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Australia is first Olympic men’s basketball qualifier, without its star

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Australia will extend the longest active streak of Olympic men’s basketball appearances next summer.

The Australians clinched a spot in their 13th straight Olympics when New Zealand failed to advance out of its group at the FIBA World Cup. Oceania gets one Olympic qualifier out of the World Cup, and Australia took the spot by advancing to the second stage of group play.

Australia is the most accomplished basketball nation yet to earn an Olympic men’s medal. It finished fourth in 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2016, going winless in eight games with a medal at stake.

Australia’s medal hopes in Tokyo may be dependent on Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons.

Simmons passed on the Rio Olympics in favor of preparing for the 2016 NBA Draft, where he was the No. 1 overall pick, and the start of his pro career. He originally committed to the World Cup but withdrew on July 16 in favor of again preparing for the NBA season. But in withdrawing he said he would be “honored and humbled” to play at the Olympics.

Players on the World Cup roster with NBA experience include 2005 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut and fellow Olympic veterans Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Matthew Dellavedova.

Japan is in the 12-team Olympic field automatically as host nation. Six more nations will qualify for the Olympics at this month’s World Cup — two from the Americas, two from Europe, one from Africa and one from Asia.

The final four Olympic qualifiers will come from last-chance tournaments in 2020.

MORE: FIBA World Cup schedule, results

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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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MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

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 earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

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.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

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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MORE: Olympic vault champion retires