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U.S. finishes FIBA World Cup in seventh place

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In one sense, the U.S. men’s basketball team finished the FIBA World Cup how it had hoped — with a victory. It just didn’t envision that coming in the seventh-place game.

The U.S. beat Poland 87-74 to cap its worst-ever tournament result in China on Saturday. Previously, the U.S.’ worst performance was sixth at the 2002 Worlds at home in Indianapolis.

The Americans rebounded from back-to-back losses against France in the quarterfinals and Serbia in the consolation round to take out Poland, which sent a team to an Olympics or a worlds for the first time since 1980.

Donovan Mitchell, one of the most consistent Americans in the tournament, had a team-high 16 points and 10 assists. Kemba Walker, the team’s most recognizable player, sat out with a sore neck. A full box score is here.

It’s possible next year’s 12-man roster looks completely different at the Tokyo Olympics given the World Cup included two 2019 NBA All-Stars (Walker and Khris Middleton) and one player with Olympic experience (Harrison Barnes).

If nobody drops out, the U.S. player pool would include LeBron JamesStephen CurryKevin DurantJames HardenRussell WestbrookKawhi Leonard, Paul George and Anthony Davis.

“For some of us, potentially all of us, it could be the last time we wear a USA jersey,” Barnes said after the loss to Serbia on Thursday.

MORE: FIBA World Cup schedule, results

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Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

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Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

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MORE: Wayde van Niekerk has setback in return from injury

U.S. men end volleyball worlds medal drought; Poland repeats as champion

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The U.S. men’s volleyball team heads into the Olympics as a world championship medalist for the first time since the Atlanta Games, taking bronze at the quadrennial tournament that wrapped Sunday.

The Americans, after losing to eventual world champ Poland in the semifinals, came back to beat Serbia 23-25, 25-17, 32-30, 25-19 in the bronze-medal game, its first world medal since 1994.

The U.S. played Serbia 17 hours after its five-set semifinal loss that ended at 11:53 p.m. in Torino.

“It’s really hard to play bronze-medal matches; we unfortunately know that,” said U.S. coach John Speraw, referencing the Rio Olympics, where the U.S. blew a two sets-to-one semifinal lead over Italy but overcame a 2-0 deficit to down Russia for bronze. “I didn’t get to sleep until 4 in the morning.”

The U.S. roster of 14 included eight Rio Olympic bronze medalists. Micah Christenson was named best setter of the tournament. Matt Anderson was best opposite.

Later Sunday, Poland repeated as world champion, sweeping Olympic gold medalist Brazil in the final. The Brazilians reached the final of the last five worlds and the last four Olympics.

In 2014, Poland had an epic run to gold, claiming its first title since 1974 and becoming the first host nation since Czechoslovakia in 1966 to prevail. Poland was fifth at the 2012 Olympics and ranked fifth in the world before that tournament.

More than 12,000 spectators watched that gold-medal final inside Spodek Hall, including the Polish president. More than 15,000 followed it outside the arena on big screens, according to the FIVB.

This Olympic cycle is the first for the U.S. men without any ties to its 2008 Olympic champion team (so far). The two gold medalists who made the Rio roster — David Lee and Reid Priddy — spent the summer playing beach volleyball on the AVP tour.

The U.S. last earned a world title in 1986.

MORE: U.S. volleyball’s ‘Slugger’ goes from coaching to MVP

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