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U.S. men’s basketball team hopes to find form Friday vs. Spain

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If the Basketball World Cup were held tomorrow, U.S. fans would have ample reason to worry.

On Wednesday, the squad battling for World Cup roster spots lost decisively to a group of journeymen, several of whom play in the G-League.

Video of the game (the U.S. team is in white; “USA Select” is in blue) won’t inspire confidence in the national team, which looks sluggish and sloppy while the unheralded group facing them scores easily.

Make no mistake — the U.S. team is still heavily favored in the World Cup, which starts Aug. 31 in China. Gregg Popovich‘s team has been drawn into a group with Turkey, the Czech Republic and Japan. A blogger on the official FIBA site puts the U.S. solidly atop the power rankings. The U.S. team has won all 18 games in the past two World Cups in 2010 and 2014.

But the roster has been considerably weakened. This team doesn’t have the game’s biggest stars — James Harden, Paul George, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Damien Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James.

The only All-NBA player on the U.S. team’s current 15-man roster is Kemba Walker, who made the third team. Myles Turner and Donovan Mitchell are the only other players who received votes. The roster will be cut from 15 to 12 before the World Cup.

This team, though, might play better in front of a crowd. A similar matchup on Aug. 9 in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas ended in a convincing 97-78 win for the U.S. team as Jayson Tatum scored 17 points in less than 16 minutes.

The U.S. will play Spain at 10 p.m. ET Friday in the Honda Center in Anaheim. The team then departs for training and more exhibition games in Australia before heading on to Shanghai a few days before their Sept. 1 opener vs. the Czech Republic.

Fan voting starts for U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame

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The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee announced finalists Monday for the organization’s Hall of Fame.

Fans can vote as part of a process that selects five Olympians, three Paralympians and one team from a final list of 15 Olympians, nine Paralympians and three teams. Other voters include U.S. Olympians and Paralympians, national governing bodies and multisport organizations, the USOPC board, select members of the media, and USOPC corporate partners.

The nominees are:

Olympic:

  • Gary Anderson, shooting: Gold medalist in 1964 and 1968
  • Greg Barton, canoe/kayak: First American to win kayaking gold (1988)
  • Laura Berg, softball: Center fielder, gold medalist in 1996, 2000 and 2004
  • Anne Donovan, basketball: Center, gold medalist in 1984 and 1998
  • Lisa Leslie, basketball: Second player to win four Olympic golds (1996-2008)
  • Nastia Liukin, gymnastics: 2008 all-around gold medalist, five total medals
  • John Mayasich, ice hockey: Gold medalist in 1960, leading scorer on silver-medal team in 1956
  • Misty May-Treanor, beach volleyball: Gold medalist (with Kerri Walsh Jennings) in 2004, 2008 and 2012
  • Jonny Moseley, freestyle skiing: Gold medalist in moguls in 1998
  • Apolo Anton Ohno, short-track speed skating: Eight medals in 2002, 2006 and 2010
  • Mark Reynolds, sailing: Gold medalist in 1992 and 2000
  • Angela Ruggiero, ice hockey: Gold medalist in 1998, other medals in 2002, 2006 and 2010, all-time leader in games played
  • John Smith, wrestling: Gold medalist in 1988 and 1992
  • Dara Torres, swimming: 12 medals from 1984 (age 17) to 2008 (age 41)
  • Brenda Villa, water polo: Gold medalist in 2012, other medals in 2000, 2004 and 2008

Paralympic:

  • Cheri Blauwet, track and field: Seven medals in three Paralympics, several major marathon wins
  • Candace Cable, track and field, Nordic skiing, alpine skiing: First American woman to win medals in summer and winter
  • Muffy Davis, cycling, alpine skiing: Four medals in skiing before switching to cycling and winning three golds
  • Bart Dodson, track and field: Eight gold medals in 1992 alone, 20 medals total over five Paralympics
  • Greg Mannino, alpine skiing: Six gold medals and 12 total over five Paralympics
  • Erin Popovich, swimming: 14 gold medals and 19 total over three Paralympics
  • Marla Runyan, Para track and field, Para-cycling, Olympic track and field: Six Paralympic medals, first legally blind American to compete in Olympics
  • Chris Waddell, alpine skiing, track and field: 12 Paralympic medals in skiing, one in track and field
  • Trischa Zorn, swimming: 52 medals, including 38 gold, over seven Paralympics

Team:

  • 1996 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball: Led by Leslie (19.5 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game), Katrina McClain (8.2 rebounds per game) and Teresa Edwards (7.3 assists per game)
  • 1998 U.S. Olympic women’s ice hockey: Upset Canada 3-1 in final, team included Ruggiero, Cammi Granato and Tricia Dunn
  • 2010 U.S. Olympic four-man bobsled: Won gold medal with driver Steven Holcomb and push athletes Steve Mesler, Curtis Tomasevicz and Justin Olsen

Fan voting continues at TeamUSA.org until Sept. 3.

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U.S. wraps Pan Am Games with 293 medals, 18 Olympic quota spots

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The Pan American Games, bringing together athletes from North America, South America and the Caribbean, are an interesting grab bag of events: Olympic sports bringing in the top-ranked athletes in the hemisphere, Olympic sports that are much lower on the priority list for world-class competitors, and non-Olympic sports such as racquetball, water skiing and basque pelota.

The program fluctuates a bit, and this year’s competition in Lima, Peru, featured a staggering 419 events, up from the 364 events contested in Toronto four years ago and far more than the 339 events on the Tokyo 2020 schedule.

One thing that doesn’t change in the Pan Am Games is the U.S. dominance in the medal count. The final tally this year: 120 gold medals, 88 silver and 85 bronze. The next-best country, Brazil, earned 55 gold medals, 45 silver and 71 bronze for a total of 171, lagging far behind the U.S. total of 293. Canada (152 total) and Mexico (136) took the next two spots on the medal table.

For some sports, the competition was vitally important. Modern pentathletes Samantha Achterberg and Amro Elgeziry earned spots on the 2020 Olympic team with their performances. Elgeziry took a silver medal in the 2014 world championships while competing for Egypt, then moved to the United States after marrying U.S. pentathlete Isabella Isaksen. Elgeziry and Isaksen also combined for gold in the mixed relay.

READ: Elgeziry, three-time Egyptian Olympian, qualifies for 2020 U.S. team

Some events offered Olympic quota spots, ensuring a place for at least one U.S. athlete in the event in 2020. U.S. shooters nailed down seven spots. Other U.S. athletes earned spots in archery, equestrian, sailing, shooting and water polo.

In other sports, with less at stake, the U.S. didn’t send its top athletes. One exception: Swimmer Nathan Adrian followed up his world championship relay medals with six medals in Lima, matching the total of fellow world championship medalist Margo Geer.

Most top gymnasts were competing in the U.S. Championships, and yet the U.S. women took the team gold medal and Riley McCusker finished with four medals.

The U.S. sent substantially weakened teams in several sports and posted several results that would be shockers in the Olympics. The men’s and women’s volleyball teams failed to medal. In men’s basketball, a U.S. team composed entirely of current and recent Big East players fell to Argentina by a stunning score of 114-75 in the semifinals, then rebounded to take bronze. The U.S. women, virtually unbeatable with WNBA players in the World Cup and Olympics, lost to Brazil in the final.

On the other hand, the U.S. swept the gold medals in the new Olympic sport of 3×3 basketball and took medals in several sports in which teams would rarely be competitive in the Olympics such as artistic swimming (formerly known as synchronized swimming) and men’s field hockey. The women’s handball team narrowly missed the podium, losing 24-23 to Cuba in the bronze medal game.

U.S. bowlers Jakob Butturff and Nick Pate took the doubles bowling gold in unusual circumstances after Puerto Rico’s Jean Perez Faure tested positive for a masking agent. Butturff has won seven PBA events.

The Parapan American Games, for athletes with disabilities, start Aug. 23.

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