Robbie Hummel
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U.S. 3×3 basketball teams get one chance to qualify for Olympics

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Mongolia and Romania qualified for the Olympic debut of 3×3 basketball, but the U.S. might not.

Neither the U.S. men nor U.S. women were among the first Tokyo 2020 qualifiers in the new Olympic basketball event announced Friday: Serbia, Russia, China and host Japan for the men. Russia, China, Mongolia and Romania for the women.

Those nations made it via ranking points gained from international 3×3 results (with Japan getting one spot as host nation).

The U.S. must send a men’s and women’s team to India in March for each gender’s Olympic qualifying tournament. Twenty nations per gender will compete for three spots per gender in the Tokyo Games.

Also going are traditional basketball powers — like Spain, France and Lithuania for the men and Australia and France for the women.

If the U.S. qualifies for Tokyo, it will then choose its roster(s) in a similar fashion to its traditional basketball teams — via selection committee. It’s unlikely NBA players will be eligible.

Two of the four players must be ranked in the top 10 among Americans in the FIBA rankings, based on results from the last 12 months, on June 22. The other two must be in the top 100.

That means nobody can make the Olympic team without playing in a FIBA-endorsed 3×3 event, essentially ruling out NBA players who are focused on their club seasons.

Ideally, USA Basketball wants to take an entire 3×3 team that has been playing together. But it could pick and choose players from different teams. The Olympic teams would be named at the latest possible date before the overall July 6 entries deadline for the Games.

The U.S.’ top 10 male players at the moment come from one of two 3×3 teams — NY Harlem and Princeton.

Dominique Jones (Harlem)
Marcel Esonwune (Harlem)
Robbie Hummel (Princeton)
Damon Huffman (Princeton)
Kidani Brutus (Harlem)
Antoinne Morgano (Harlem)
Kareem Maddox (Princeton)
Craig Moore (Princeton)
Zahir Carrington (Princeton)
David Seagers (Harlem)

Princeton, with the most recognizable name from that group in the former Purdue star Hummel, won the world title in June. Harlem outranks Princeton in FIBA points accumulated from global tournaments.

The U.S. has five women ranked in the world top 250: Christyn Williams, Aleah Goodman, Bella Alarie, Michaela Onyenwere and Charli Collier.

3×3 games last 10 minutes, or until one team reaches 21 points. Games are played on a half-court with a 12-second shot clock, and offense immediately turns to defense after a team scores.

MORE: Kobe Bryant: Redeem Team 2 might not be enough

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Maria Sharapova wraps up tennis career after nearly two decades, career Slam

Maria Sharapova
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Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement after a professional tennis career that includes five Grand Slam wins, 36 singles titles and an Olympic silver medal.

Sharapova was only 17 when she won her first major in 2004 at Wimbledon. She won the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 before completing her career Grand Slam in the 2012 French Open. She won the French Open again in 2014.

After moving from Russia to Florida at age 9 to train at the Bollettieri Academy, she made her professional debut just after her 14th birthday in 2001. She graduated to top-level events and majors within two years and reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2003.

In 2004, she upset Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams at Wimbledon and beat Williams again at the Tour Championships.

By 2005, the 6-foot-2 player had claimed the top spot in the world rankings. She remained in the top five for most of the next four years before suffering an injury to her right shoulder that limited her tournament schedule in 2008 and 2009. By 2011, she had reclaimed her status as a top-five player and remained there until 2016.

Her career declined after a positive drug test at the 2016 Australian Open. The substance in question, meldonium, had been given by Russian doctors to many athletes.

An initial suspension of two years was reduced to 15 months, but she wasn’t able to get back to her previous form. She won one more tournament in 2017 and reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 French Open, but she fared poorly in sporadic appearances in 2019. Her last match was a loss to Donna Vekic in the first round of the Australian Open in January.

SEE: Sharapova discusses reduced ban on TODAY

Her meldonium suspension also cost her commercial sponsorships and her role as a UN Development Program ambassador, which she earned with her work to help survivors of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.

She was involved in the Olympics as a silver medalist in 2012, losing to Williams in the final, and as one of the final torch bearers in the relay to the 2014 Olympics opening ceremony in her home country.

She’s also third on the all-time WTA earnings list behind Serena and Venus Williams, taking in more than $38m in her career on top of lucrative endorsement deals.

Federica Brignone hopes World Cup rival Mikaela Shiffrin will return soon

Shiffrin and Brignone
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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s prolonged absence from the World Cup Alpine skiing circuit has opened the door for Italy’s Federica Brignone to break the American’s grip on the season title, but Brignone hopes her friend and rival will be back in competition soon.

“I really do hope that she will return soon for herself so she can do again what she loves most,” Brignone said.

Brignone took the season lead from Shiffrin, who has won the last three World Cup overall titles, on Sunday and has a 73-point advantage with 11 of the season’s 40 races remaining. She also leads Shiffrin by 74 points in the giant slalom standings.

READ: Brignone moves into World Cup lead

No Italian woman has won the overall World Cup. Brignone was fifth in 2017 and won the Alpine combined discipline title last season.

Brignone will have a chance to clinch another Alpine combined discipline title and extend her overall lead in her home country this weekend. While some other sports events in Italy have been canceled or otherwise affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the host resort of La Thuile has so far been spared from the virus’ spread.

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the only other skier with a realistic chance of winning the overall trophy, is dealing with a knee injury and might not be able to race this weekend. Vhlova leads Shiffrin by 20 points in the slalom standings.

Shiffrin has not competed since the death of her father Feb. 2, and she has not announced plans to return. She was not on pace to match her astounding 17-win 2018-19 season but still had six wins and had reached the podium in 13 of 19 races.

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