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U.S. men’s basketball team loses to Argentina for first time since 2005

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A senior U.S. men’s basketball team lost to Argentina for the first time since 2005, dropping a 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifier 80-63 in La Rioja on Thursday.

The Americans, who also lost at Mexico in June, are still in great position to qualify for the World Cup and can clinch a spot as early as Sunday with a win at Uruguay.

The U.S. rosters for World Cup qualifying have mostly included G League players, with NBA superstars expected for September’s World Cup in China.

A U.S. Olympic team last lost at the 2004 Athens Games in the semifinals to Argentina. The following year, a U.S. team of of mostly non-NBA pros including former NCAA standouts Tyus EdneyCharlie Bell and Lynn Greer fell to Argentina at FIBA Americas.

Argentina’s team in current qualifying includes four-time Olympian and former NBA forward Luis Scola.

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Sue Bird hired by Denver Nuggets

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As Sue Bird works toward a potential fifth Olympics in 2020, she’ll have a new job: Denver Nuggets basketball operations associate.

The Nuggets announced the front-office hiring Friday, adding one of the most accomplished players in history. Bird had been tied to the team since mid-October, when she reportedly attended a practice.

“The best way to describe it is kind of like an apprenticeship,” Bird said on the R2C2 is Interrupted podcast published Wednesday. “They reached out. I had some mutual friends with the president there, Tim Connelly. He just kind of likes to keep athletes in the mix and likes to give them exposure and allow them to learn, give them that opportunity while they’re still playing. Music to my ears.”

Bird, who will be 40 in 2020 and three years older than any previous U.S. Olympic basketball player, is coming off her 16th WNBA season with the Seattle Storm, winning her third title. She also started all five of her games at the world championship in September, earning an eighth career Olympic or world gold medal.

Going into Rio, Bird said it would likely be her last Olympics. But in 2017, she said that she would continue playing for Team USA as long as USA Basketball asks. No younger point guard has unseated her on the national team.

“I’m on a timeline of my health, so as long as that’s still going, I’m going to still go,” Bird said on the podcast, adding that she will want to keep it a secret when she knows she’s playing her last season. “If I could squeeze out a couple more years, that would be great.”

The NBA has recently opened up roles for women. Most notably, Russian Olympian Becky Hammon became the first full-time female assistant coach in the U.S.’ four major team sports leagues with the San Antonio Spurs and later was head coach of their summer league team.

Nancy Lieberman, a 1976 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, and Kristi Toliver, who plays internationally for Slovakia, have worked as assistants with the Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards, respectively.

The WNBA season typically starts in mid-May, when the NBA playoffs are happening.

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Patrick Baumann, rising star in Olympic circles, dies at 51

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Patrick Baumann, the secretary general of basketball’s world governing body who was seen as a potential IOC president, has died at the Youth Olympics. He was 51.

Baumann “unexpectedly succumbed to a heart attack” in Buenos Aires despite getting immediate medical help, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said Sunday in a statement.

“Basketball has lost a leader, an advocate and a friend and our thoughts are with Patrick’s wife and two children at this tragic time,” the Switzerland based FIBA said.

Baumann was FIBA’s top administrator for 15 years, and an International Olympic Committee member since 2007.

“We can hardly believe this terrible news,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement. “We lose a young and sympathetic leader full of hope who was standing for the future of sport. Our thoughts are with his wife, his children and his family.”

Flags will be flown at half-staff at IOC offices in Buenos Aires and its home city of Lausanne, Switzerland. The IOC said a memorial will be held in the athlete village in Buenos Aires.

A lawyer from Switzerland, Baumann had taken an increasingly important role in Olympic circles.

He led an IOC panel evaluating the Paris and Los Angeles bids for the 2024 Olympics, and then took charge of overseeing preparations for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. The IOC appointed Baumann to the World Anti-Doping Agency executive board, and he was elected president of the global group of sports federations, known as GAISF.

At meetings last week on the sidelines of the Youth Olympics, Baumann updated IOC members on the Los Angeles Games and the 2020 Lausanne Youth Olympics. He was president of its organizing committee.

Baumann was key to developing the 3-on-3 urban version of basketball and pushing for its inclusion as an Olympic medal event.

He earned masters degrees from the Business School of the University of Chicago, and in sports administration from the University of Lyon in France.