Australia hands U.S. men’s basketball team second straight loss in pre-Olympic exhibitions

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The U.S. men’s basketball team is off to a rocky start with less than two weeks to go before it starts an important Olympic run.

The No. 1-ranked country in the world lost its first two of five pre-Olympic exhibition games: to Nigeria (No. 22 in the world) on Saturday, now to No. 3 Australia.

Australia notched its second win over the U.S., 91-83, on Monday night, after also winning a pre-World Cup exhibition in August 2019; that time the score was 98-94.

Australia has never outscored the U.S. in major competition (0-15 in Olympic and world championship play), but now owns a 2-5 record in exhibitions.

With the U.S. leading through much of the first half in Las Vegas, Australia went on a 19-6 run in the last five minutes of the third quarter, bringing the score to 69-64 in the Boomers’ favor.

The U.S. tied it up with a Draymond Green free throw with less than five minutes left in the final quarter, with Jayson Tatum giving the U.S. a brief lead.

Australian Patty Mills, a point guard for the Spurs, landed both of his free throws to bring it back to a tie, 82-82. Mills then scored five more points by the end of the period as Australia continued to extend its lead.

Mills and American Damian Lillard each scored 22 points to lead the game. Australia’s Nick Kay led in rebounds (9) with Green notching a game-high five assists.

Australia has never won an Olympic medal in its 14 appearances, which includes losing the bronze to Spain by a single point five years ago in Rio.

The squad hoping to change that this summer includes six NBA players. Australia’s 2008 Olympic team only had one.

“No words will be able to explain,” Mills, a soon-to-be four-time Olympian, said of potentially earning an Olympic medal. “Head down in the sand, we’re all in the trenches together. We know what it would mean to us, what it would mean to our entire country.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. is after a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal and redemption following a seventh-place finish at the 2019 World Cup, its worst-ever international tournament result.

The Americans only had four days to train together leading up to the Nigeria game, their first loss against an African nation.

“I was pleased, I thought we got better tonight,” head coach Gregg Popovich said, noting the defense was much improved in the first half. “After a short time together, there’s a lot of things that have to be covered.”

Three of the Olympic team players — Devin BookerJrue HolidayKhris Middleton — are still playing in the NBA Finals and have yet to join the national team.

The U.S. has a tight turnaround before its next matchup, against Argentina, which will be broadcast on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Nigeria took another big win on Monday, 94-71 over No. 4 Argentina.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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Kaillie Humphries begins trek to 2026 Winter Olympics with monobob World Cup win

Kaillie Humphries
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Kaillie Humphries is off to a strong start to a four-year cycle that she hopes ends with her breaking the record as the oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

Humphries, the women’s record holder with three Olympic bobsled titles, earned her first World Cup victory since February’s Winter Games, taking a monobob in Park City, Utah, on Friday.

Humphries, the first Olympic monobob champion, prevailed by .31 of a second over German Lisa Buckwitz combining times from two runs at the 2002 Olympic track.

Humphries has said since February’s Olympics that she planned to take time off in this four-year cycle to start a family, then return in time for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Games. Humphries, who can become the first female Olympic bobsledder in her 40s, shared her experiences with IVF in the offseason on her social media.

“We’ve pushed pause so that I could go and compete this season, maintain my world ranking to be able to still work towards my 2026 goals, and we’ll go back in March to do the implantation of the embryos that we did retrieve,” she said, according to TeamUSA.org.

The next Games come 20 years after her first Olympic experience in Italy, which was a sad one. Humphries, then a bobsled push athlete, was part of the Canadian delegation at the 2006 Torino Games, marched at the Opening Ceremony and had her parents flown in to cheer her on.

But four days before the competition, Humphries learned she was not chosen for either of the two Canadian push athlete spots. She vowed on the flight home to put her future Olympic destiny in her own hands by becoming a driver.

She has since become the greatest female driver in history — Olympic golds in 2010, 2014 and 2022, plus five world championships.

Her longtime rival, five-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor, plans to return to competition from her second childbirth later in this Olympic cycle and can also break the record of oldest female Olympic bobsledder.

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