Basketball

U.S. men’s basketball team to prep for FIBA World Cup with No. 1 Spain, Doncic’s Slovenia

Kevin Durant
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The U.S. men’s basketball team will play in a tournament with top-ranked Spain and Slovenia, possibly with Luka Doncic, in mid-August, two weeks before this summer’s FIBA World Cup.

The three nations make up a tournament in Málaga from Aug. 11-13 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Spanish basketball federation.

It should be a key test for the U.S., which won its fourth consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, but lost an Olympic game for the first time since 2004 (to France in group play). The U.S. is expected to qualify for the World Cup next month.

At the last men’s World Cup in 2019, the U.S. lost twice and finished seventh overall, its worst major tournament result ever. That team had just two reigning NBA All-Stars and one player with Olympic experience.

New coach Steve Kerr will hope for a better turnout from the NBA’s best this summer for the World Cup co-hosted by the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, a month before NBA preseason training camps.

This past November, the U.S. men dropped out of the No. 1 spot in FIBA’s world rankings for the first time since 2010. Spain, coming off a European title, displaced the U.S. by a slim margin. The U.S. beat Spain in the Tokyo Olympic quarterfinals.

Doncic led Slovenia to its first Olympic basketball berth in 2021. Slovenia, with a population of 2.1 million, became the smallest nation by current population to participate in an Olympic men’s basketball tournament since Estonia and Latvia in 1936.

The Slovenians beat Argentina and Spain in Olympic group play, then lost in the semifinals to France and the bronze-medal game to Australia.

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Billie Moore, first U.S. Olympic women’s basketball coach, dies at 79

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Billie Moore, who coached the first U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team to silver in 1976, died at age 79.

Moore died of complications from a lengthy battle with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, according to UCLA, where she coached from 1977-93.

While coaching Cal State Fullerton, Moore was an assistant coach for the U.S. national team in the early 1970s and then elevated to head coach for women’s basketball’s Olympic debut in Montreal in 1976.

Moore led a team that included future Basketball Hall of Famers Lusia Harris, Pat Summitt (then Pat Head), Nancy Lieberman and Ann Meyers to a 3-2 record in a round-robin tournament. The Soviet Union took gold ahead of the U.S. with a 5-0 record, extending its undefeated run in major international play dating to 1958.

Moore left Fullerton for UCLA in 1977. She won the national title in her first season at each school, becoming the first coach to lead two different women’s teams to national championships.

She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

U.S. men’s basketball team drops from world No. 1 FIBA ranking for first time since 2010

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The U.S. men’s basketball team dropped out of the No. 1 spot in FIBA’s world rankings for the first time since 2010.

Spain displaced the U.S. by a slim margin in the latest rankings update thanks in large part to its EuroBasket title in September.

“It’s not exactly a new title and it probably can’t be maintained for too long, but it’s something so unique, prestigious and historic that I feel tremendously proud of everyone who … have contributed to it,” Spain coach Sergio Scariolo tweeted, according to an Associated Press translation.

FIBA rankings are calculated using all games played by 164 national teams in top official FIBA competitions and their qualifiers over an eight-year period. Added weight is given to more recent games, strength of opponent and strength of competition.

While the U.S. won its fourth consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, it also lost in the quarterfinals of the 2019 World Cup (which Spain won) and placed third at the AmeriCup in September.

The U.S. did not have qualification for the 2023 World Cup or the 2024 Olympics at stake at the AmeriCup, a tournament for North and South American nations, and used mostly G League players and no NBA players.

Argentina was the last country other than the U.S. to be ranked No. 1, most recently in 2010. The Americans took the top spot back after winning the 2010 World Championship.

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