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For the first time, a woman will start the Olympic torch relay

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — For the first time, a woman has been chosen to launch the torch relay for the Tokyo Games at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics in Greece.

Greece’s Olympic committee said Thursday it has picked Rio shooting gold medalist Anna Korakaki as the first torchbearer following the flame-lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia on March 12.

The carefully-choreographed ceremony is led by an actress posing as an ancient Greek priestess who lights the flame using a a bowl-shaped mirror to focus the heat of the sun’s rays on her torch. She will then pass it on to Korakaki.

The torch relay will course through Greece for a week before the flame is handed over to Tokyo organizing officials at a ceremony in Athens. The last torchbearer in Greece will also be a woman — Greece’s Katerina Stefanidi who won the pole vault at Rio.

Greece’s national Olympic committee president Spyros Capralos said Korakaki’s selection was a “historic” moment.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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Rick Pitino takes over Greek basketball’s Olympic quest

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Rick Pitino has agreed to coach the Greek national basketball team and lead the country’s effort to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Greek basketball federation said Friday that Pitino will be officially presented on Monday, when details of his agreement will be announced.

“Really honored to be coaching the Greek National team,” Pitino wrote on Twitter. “Have a lot of work and preparation ahead but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

The 67-year-old American coached Greek club Panathinaikos last season and guided the team to victory in the country’s cup competition before returning to the United States. He remains popular among Greek fans despite his outspoken criticism of smoking and rowdy behavior by spectators at games.

NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo both play for Greece and the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Greeks narrowly missed out on reaching the quarterfinals at the World Cup in China in September.

Pitino spent much of his career jumping between the college ranks and the NBA, coaching the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks as well as Kentucky and Louisville.

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Giannis, Greece beaten by U.S. at FIBA World Cup

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Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece were no match for the U.S. at the FIBA World Cup.

The Americans withstood Antetokounmpo’s hot start — and 15 points and 13 rebounds overall — to prevail 69-53 in Shenzen, China, moving closer to a quarterfinal spot.

A full box score is here.

Antetokounmpo, the NBA MVP trying to lead Greece to its first Olympic men’s basketball berth since 2008, won the jump ball and scored five points in the first 43 seconds. The lead changed hands through the first few minutes before the U.S. took control en route to its fourth win in as many games.

The U.S. will earn a place in the last eight, and possibly get Olympic qualification out of the way, by beating Brazil in its last group-play game Monday. It could still advance by tiebreaker if it loses to Brazil.

France or Australia waits in the quarterfinals.

The top two teams from the Americas clinch Olympic spots. The U.S., Brazil and Argentina are the lone nations remaining vying for them, but the odd team out gets another chance to earn a spot in Tokyo at a last-chance qualifying tournament next year.

Greece must beat the Czech Republic on Monday and have the U.S. beat Brazil to have any chance to advance to the quarterfinals and keep hope alive of avoiding the last-chance Olympic qualification tournament.

Greece was the last nation to beat the U.S. at the FIBA World Cup, doing so with zero NBA players in the semifinals in 2006.

MORE: FIBA World Cup schedule, results

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