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Nigeria beat USA in major basketball shock

Team USA had never lost a basketball match to an African nation until Saturday night in Las Vegas, with Nigeria pulling off one of the sport’s greatest shocks with a 90-87 victory against a star-studded US side

Last Updated: 11/07/21 1:09pm

Defeat to Nigeria was not what Team USA had in mind when preparing for the Olympics

Defeat to Nigeria was not what Team USA had in mind when preparing for the Olympics

Nigeria pulled off one of the greatest upsets in international basketball history on Saturday night by stunning Team USA in an Olympic exhibition game in Las Vegas, beating them 90-87.

It was Team USA’s first-ever loss to an African nation. They had defeated Nigeria 156-73 in August 2012 at the London Olympics.

Nigeria featured six NBA players and are coached by former NBA head coach and current Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Brown.

The Nigerian side defeated a Team USA starting five of Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant and Bam Adebayo. Gabe Vincent, who averaged 4.8 points in 13.1 minutes per game for the Miami Heat this past season, led all scorers with 21 points and made six 3-pointers for Nigeria. Durant scored 17 points and Tatum had 15 for Team USA.

Jayson Tatum could not prevent Nigeria springing a major surprise

Jayson Tatum could not prevent Nigeria springing a major surprise

“It just goes to show that we have to play better,” Tatum said.

The other NBA players playing for Nigeria include Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala of the Miami Heat, Chimezie Metu (Sacramento), Josh Okogie (Minnesota) and Miye Oni (Utah).

“I thought that the Nigerian team played very physically, did a great job in that regard and knocked down a lot of 3s,” US coach Gregg Popovich said. “Give them credit.”

Team USA plays its second exhibition game against Australia on Monday.

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USA looks in good shape for 7th straight Olympic women’s basketball gold

The U.S. has dominated the world in women’s basketball at the Olympics over the last quarter-century, winning every game by double digits since 2004.

Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird will try to become the first players ever to win five Olympic gold medals in basketball when the United States women’s team begins play at the Tokyo Games.

The pair has been an integral part of the U.S. run of six consecutive golds at the Olympics.

“As far as being named to a fifth Olympics, especially with Sue, you know, it’s just a great honor. It just makes you really appreciate all the people that have helped you,” Taurasi said. “You know, everyone, USA Basketball, that, you know, after being around for 20 years now, you know, it’s like a big family.”

Taurasi and Bird both played with Dawn Staley on the 2004 Olympic team. Staley helped start this unprecedented run with the 1996 squad and now is the first Black head coach of the women’s national team after being an assistant for the last two Olympics.

“Any time that you represent USA Basketball, you’ve got the biggest target on your on your back, on your chest,” Staley said. “And everybody seems to play their best basketball.”

It’s been 25 years of dominance for the Americans in the Olympics. They’ve won 49 consecutive games on the biggest international stage. No team has come within single digits of the U.S. since Russia lost in the semifinals of the 2004 Athens Games — the first Olympics that Taurasi and Bird played in — 66-62.

The Americans haven’t dropped an Olympic contest since 1992 when they were beaten in the semis by the Unified Team. Only host Japan has beaten the U.S. in an Olympics, topping the Americans in 1976, the inaugural appearance of women’s basketball.

If the women can capture another gold medal in Tokyo, they would match the U.S. men’s team that won seven consecutive golds from 1936-68.

While there are no guarantees, it would take a monumental upset for the team not to come home with gold.

The competition for the other two medals is wide open with Australia, Belgium, France, Canada, Serbia and Spain all having a shot at reaching the podium. Serbia just beat France to win the Eurobasket championship.

The Olympics switched to three pools of four teams for the Tokyo Games. South Korea, Serbia, Canada and Spain are in Group A. Joining the U.S. in Group B are France, Nigeria and Japan. Australia, Puerto Rico, China and Belgium are in Group C.

Games begin on July 26 with the bronze medal game on Aug. 7 and the gold medal contest the next day to close out the Olympics.

Some other things to watch for at the Olympics in women’s basketball:

WNBA FLAVOR

Besides the U.S. team, many of the other countries are led by WNBA stars. Half of the Australian roster, led by Liz Cambage, is currently in the WNBA. The Opals are led by Phoenix Mercury coach Sandy Brondello. Some of the other WNBA players in the Olympics include Emma Meesseman (Belgium), Kia Nurse (Canada), Marine Johannès (France), Astou Ndour (Spain), The WNBA will be on an Olympic break from July 15-Aug. 11.

AFRICAN DREAMS

Nigeria will try and end a winless drought for African teams at the Olympics since the 2004 Athens Games. The African nation went 1-5 that year and no team from that continent has won a game since. There are hopes for that to potentially change: Nigeria went 3-4 at the World Champions in 2018, falling to the U.S. in the quarterfinals.

FEWER GAMES

With the addition of 3×3 as a basketball discipline, teams are now only playing potentially six games at most in the tournament instead of eight. The last time the medalists played fewer than eight games was 1992. The 12 teams were put into three pools instead of two. The quarterfinalists will be the top two teams in each pool and two others based on a FIBA ranking system.

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Author: DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer
This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Experience matters: USA Basketball confirms Olympic roster

The Americans formally revealed their roster Monday, one that will be third-oldest U.S. men’s team in Olympic history for the Tokyo Games.

Experience mattered to USA Basketball when putting together a roster for the Tokyo Olympics.

The Americans formally revealed their roster Monday, one that will be third-oldest U.S. men’s team in Olympic history for the Tokyo Games. The 12-man list includes five players — Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, Jrue Holiday, Damian Lillard and Draymond Green — already in their 30s. 

In addition to those five players, the U.S. also has gotten commitments from Bam Adebayo, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Jerami Grant, Zach LaVine, Khris Middleton and Jayson Tatum to play on the team. All those commitments became known in recent weeks;  USA Basketball, which is seeking a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal, merely made it official Monday with the announcement.

“USA Basketball selects players to represent our country in international competition with the skills, character, experience, and desire to win,” said retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of USA Basketball’s Board of Directors. “We build teams that are versatile and resilient in the short, intense competitions we face. We’re fortunate that this group of elite athletes has volunteered to represent us in Tokyo this summer.”

Love is the oldest, at 32. Tatum, at 22, is the youngest. The average age — calculated by USA Basketball to be 28.2 at the end of the Tokyo Games if this roster doesn’t change — ranks behind only the 1996 team (29.4) and the original Dream Team in 1992 (29.0) as the oldest groups that the U.S. has sent to an Olympics.

Durant is on the Olympic team for the third time, making him the fourth U.S. player to have at least that many selections; Carmelo Anthony was on each of the last four teams, while LeBron James and David Robinson are the other three-time selections.

Durant was part of the gold-medal-winning squads in 2012 and 2016. Love was also on the 2012 team, Green was on the 2016 team. The other nine players on the U.S. roster will be appearing in the Olympics for the first time.

“I’m happy for the selected players and looking forward to having the opportunity to work with this wonderful group when practice gets underway on July 6 in Las Vegas,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said. “I’m excited to represent the United States in our quest to earn a gold medal in Tokyo.”

Popovich will be assisted by Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce and Jay Wright. Jerry Colangelo is again the team’s managing director, serving in that role for the final time before Grant Hill assumes the job when these Olympics are complete.

“Our roster features players who are experienced in the international game, and this team has outstanding athleticism, versatility and balance,” Colangelo said. “We also believe we have excellent leadership which is a necessity in order to develop the needed chemistry. We still have a lot of challenges in front of us, but I believe these players will become a team that all Americans will be proud of.”

The team will be formally nominated to the Tokyo Games by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee next month.

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Some locals believe firing Coronado basketball coach doesn’t go far enough

The fallout continues over an incident that many are calling racist, at a Coronado championship game that ended with people throwing tortillas at Orange Glen High.

CORONADO, Calif. — There is still a lot of heated reaction regarding the firing of the Coronado High School basketball coach. Some are surprised at the firing while others say that action does not go far enough.

David Roberts was at the CIF championship game Saturday, where his former Coronado High School basketball team faced off in overtime against Orange Glen High School of Escondido, who lost by 3 points. 

Roberts said that all game long, tensions were high and tortillas brought by a fan were then thrown by other fans and team members at the mostly Hispanic Orange Glen team. 

Those were actions that the Coronado team captain Wayne McKinney apologized for.

“The throwing of the tortillas after the game and the scuffle was unsportsmanlike and inexcusable, and on behalf of the team we apologize for the action,” McKinney said.

Also at the Coronado Unified School District meeting, the board voted unanimously to fire the Boy’s Basketball Head Coach JD Laaperi.

“We are excited about the first step, which was to fire the coach because the coach is the gravity of all the incidents that happened on Juneteenth,” said Yusef Miller of the San Diego Racial justice coalition.

News 8 reached out to Coach Laaperi for a response, but he did not respond. 

“He got fired, and there’s nothing I can do about it. If people want to bring him back that’s up to them, but you know in this day in age when it comes to racial stuff, it’s very reactive,” said David Roberts, a former Coronado High School Basketball team Center, who said he won the Sportsmanship Award last year when his team also played in the CIF Championship.

While some Coronado students argue the tortillas thrown had no racial intent, others differ and say firing the coach is not enough, the students need to be held accountable and some wish for their CIF winning title to be stripped.

“This is bigger than just bad sportsmanship. That’s racist, and they need to be held accountable, so that all these other schools that think it’s funny to make fun of the team’s race, now you know what is coming and you can get in trouble,” said Maya Figure, an Orange Glen Alumni of the Class of 2019.

Activist Shane Harris calls this a teachable moment.

“That’s a good first start, I think Coronado needs to invest in a restorative justice round table, and I have already been in talks with the San Diego County Office of Education, and they have agreed to provide the space for that dialogue to happen between both teams,” Harris said.

Miller said there needs to be a policy and curriculum change.

The Escondido Union High School District will hold a special board meeting Thursday at 5:45 p.m. to bring forth a resolution denouncing racism.

WATCH RELATED: Community outraged after Coronado High students throw tortillas at Orange Glen athletes after basket (June 2021)

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Bird, Taurasi earn spots on fifth US Olympic basketball team

The duo was selected Monday for their fifth Olympics, joining Teresa Edwards as the only basketball players to play in five Olympics in U.S. history.

Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will try and become the first five-time Olympic gold medalists in basketball as they lead the U.S women’s team at the Tokyo Games.

The duo was selected for their fifth Olympics on Monday, joining Teresa Edwards as the only basketball players in U.S. history to play in five. Edwards won four gold medals and a bronze in her illustrious Olympic career.

“It’s just been a tremendous journey when you think about playing for that long,” Taurasi said. “We’re trying to take it to the next generation. Focused on what we have to do to come home with gold. Tremendous competition like no other because of COVID, the delay of the Olympics. We’re really focused on winning gold.”

There have been five international basketball players to play in five Olympics: Spain’s Juan Carlos Navarro, Brazil’s Adriana Moises Pinto and Oscar Schmidt, Australia’s Andrew Gaze and Puerto Rico’s Teofilo Cruz.

The 40-year-old Bird and 39-year-old Taurasi will lead a veteran group in Japan, including 6-foot-6 Sylvia Fowles, who will be playing in her fourth Olympics. Tina Charles will be in her third while 6-8 Brittney Griner and Breanna Stewart are back for a second time.

There will also be six newcomers to the Olympic stage led by reigning WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson. The Las Vegas Aces star helped the U.S. win the World Championship in 2018 in Spain. Others making their Olympic debuts are Skylar Diggins-Smith, Chelsea Gray, Ariel Atkins, Jewell Loyd and Napheesa Collier.

“Happy for the roster we have. There’s a great mix of very experienced players to first-time Olympians,” said Dawn Staley, who will be the first Black head coach of the team. “You need a good mix especially if you’re going to take care of winning a gold medal today and what the future looks like.”

Two former WNBA MVPs who didn’t make the roster were Elena Delle Donne and Nneka Ogwumike. Delle Donne hasn’t played all season as she’s recovering from back surgery. Ogwumike has been sidelined with a left knee sprained suffered earlier this month. She was expected to return around the WNBA’s Olympic break next month.

Both players were on the World Championship team that won gold in 2018 and Ogwmuike has been to nearly every U.S. training camp over the last few years. She’s the only former WNBA MVP not to make an Olympic roster.

“Breaks my heart that Nneka isn’t on this team,” Staley said. “Having to make a decision today, if we had to make a decision a month from now I’m sure she’d be healthy. This was one of the things she wanted to do. … She’s been a great voice in our training camp and practices. We’re going to definitely miss Nneka.”

The Americans have won the last six consecutive gold medals, not dropping a game at the Olympics since 1992. Staley has been a part of five of those teams, three as a player and two as an assistant. She was honored to be the first Black coach to lead the U.S.

“I think is is something to be proud of. It also allows other doors to be open and opportunities for other Black coaches to hold these positions,” Staley said. “So there’s a lot of pressure to to win gold because of it. And I look forward to that challenge, as always.”

The Americans, who are heavy favorites to win again, are in a pool with France, Japan and Nigeria, which the U.S. opens up against on July 27. The Americans face Japan on July 30 and France on Aug. 2.

The U.S. team will get together in Las Vegas in July to train for a week as well as play an All-Star Game against a selection of WNBA players. The Americans will also play games against Australia and Nigeria.

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

US men miss qualifying for Olympic 3-on-3 basketball debut

The U.S. women did advance to the Olympics with France and Japan.

GRAZ, Austria — When the 3-on-3 street version of basketball makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo, the United States men’s team won’t be there.
The US lost to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of an Olympic qualifying tournament on Sunday that offered three tickets to the eight-team lineup at the games.
The Americans were world champions in 2019 and had former NBA players Dominique Jones and Robbie Hummel on a four-player roster for the qualifying event in Graz, Austria.
The Dutch were joined by Latvia and Poland in an Olympic lineup that already included Japan, China, Russia and Serbia. The eighth-place will be awarded at a tournament this week in Hungary for lower-ranked nations.
The U.S. women did advance in Austria to the Olympics along with France and Japan.
A final women’s place is also awarded this week in Hungary to complete the eight-nation Olympic field that includes China, Mongolia, Romania and Russia.
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San Diego's Kelsey Plum is top scorer as U.S. Women's 3×3 basketball team qualifies for Olympics

SAN DIEGO — La Jolla Country Day School alumnus Kelsey Plum scored four points helping the U.S. women’s 3X3 basketball team qualify for the Tokyo Olympics with a 21-13 victory over Spain in a semifinal of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament today in Graz, Austria.

Plum had two assists, including on Stephanie Dolson’s basket with 21.2 seconds to play that ended the game.

“We’re just really excited,” Plum said. “I love this team and we have a lot of fun.”

The U.S. opened the game by outscoring Spain 6-2. Spain cut the deficit to 7-6. The U.S. responded by scoring six unanswered points for a 13-6 lead and led by at least four for the rest of the game.

The U.S. defeated Belarus, 21-13, in a quarterfinal earlier Sunday, with Plum scoring a game-high seven points.

“I think the biggest overall thing for both games, which is what (coach) Kara (Lawson) has always emphasized, is at the end of the day, it is our pace that helps us win,” Plum said. “We continue to find a way to win, and it was really cool to see that happen, especially in the Spain game, because it was pretty close, it was back and forth.”

Plum was the U.S.’ leading scorer in the tournament, averaging 5.3 points in six games, all victories.

France, which defeated Japan, 15-14, in the other semifinal, also qualified for the Olympics, as did Japan, which defeated Spain, 20-18, in the third-place game.

Plum was initially chosen on Feb. 17, 2020, for the U.S. women’s 3X3 team that was to attempt to qualify for the Olympics the following month in Bengaluru, India. The tournament and the Olympics were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Plum tore an Achilles tendon while playing with her WNBA team, the Las Vegas Aces, last June and was sidelined for the rest of the season.

“For me, this has been a real journey,” Plum said. “I kind of thought my dreams were over, because of the Achilles. And you know, with COVID and everything that’s been postponed, it just kind of made it happen. So, I’m just really grateful for this and trying to enjoy it.”

The inaugural 3×3 Olympic basketball competition will be held July 24- 28. 3X3 is played with a 12-second shot clock on a half court. Baskets inside the arc and free throws are worth one point and baskets made from outside the arc are worth two points. The winner is the first team to score 21 points or the leading team at the end of the 10-minute game clock.

Plum led La Jolla County Day to the 2012 CIF Division IV state championship. She scored an NCAA-record 3,527 points in her four seasons at Washington, including the single-season record, 1,109, as a senior in the 2016- 17 season.

Plum was the first overall selection in the 2017 WNBA draft by the San Antonio Stars. The team moved to Las Vegas before the start of the 2018 season. 

Watch: HIGHLIGHTS USA Women Qualify for the Olympics

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

2021 Basketball Hall of Fame: Bosh, Webber, Wright among new class

Chris Bosh’s playing career ended years before he planned. Jay Wright was in trouble three years into a tenure at Villanova. Chris Webber was a finalist for years.

Jay Wright was in trouble three years into his tenure at Villanova, with speculation swirling that he would be fired. Chris Bosh’s playing career ended years before he planned. Chris Webber had been a finalist for years, only to be let down time and time again.
Turns out, basketball’s highest honor awaited them all.
Bosh, Webber and Wright were among the names announced Sunday as this year’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement class, a group that also includes Paul Pierce and WNBA stars Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson.
Webber had been a finalist in each of the last five years before finally breaking through and getting the selection. Bosh and Pierce were among those who made it in their first year of eligibility.
“Jay is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had, and one of the best people I’ve ever known,” said former Villanova guard Kyle Lowry, now with the Toronto Raptors, after he got the word Sunday about Wright’s selection. “He treated me like a son, and he helped me become the man I am today. He is truly a special person.”
Speaking of coaches, the NBA also announced that the ninth-winningest coach in NBA history Rick Adelman is also part of the 2021 Hall of Fame class. 
The class even has someone who has been a Hall of Famer for 46 years already: The 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell, enshrined in 1975 as a player, has been selected again as a coach. Russell becomes the fifth Hall of Famer who’ll be inducted as both a player and a coach, joining John Wooden, Lenny Wilkens, Bill Sharman and Tommy Heinsohn.
Toni Kukoc was selected by the Hall of Fame’s international committee, and Pearl Moore — a 4,000-point scorer in college, most of them coming at Francis Marion — was among those selected for induction as well.

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

High school basketball coach killed in wild shootout after attempting to rob Mexican drug cartel in North Carolina

A community in North Carolina are mourning the death of a high school basketball coach and Spanish teacher who was killed in a gruesome shootout with a Mexican cartel.

Barney Harris, who worked at the Union Academy in Monroe, was shot dead while attempting to steal narcotics and money from the gang’s stash house, according to officials.

Leading a double life, Harris formed part of a rival criminal organization whose main purpose was robbing the Sinaloa New Generation Cartel. 

On April 8, as part of a “team of people”, Harris sneaked into a trailer park to relieve a stash house used by the cartel of its prized possessions.
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Entering first, Harris allegedly captured Alonso Beltran Lara – a cartel member – who was consequently tied up then shot in the head twice in a gangland execution.

At one stage of the raid, another Cartel member entered the scene and an “old western shootout” gun battle broke out, according to Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson.

“What was found was over 30-some shell casings in the trailer and outside the trailer, and three other mobile homes, in that particular park, with bullet holes in them,” explained Johnson of his discoveries upon arrival at the site.

Cops also found Harris shot to death wearing a mask and bulletproof vest, which was unfortunately little help against the might of the cartel’s high-powered weapons.

Investigators subsequently discovered five firearms, $ 7,000 in cash and over a kilo of a substance believed to be cocaine, while there are also fears of an even more violent retaliation from the cartel.

“When we are dealing with the Mexican drug cartel, somebody is probably gonna die as a result of this,” Johnson explained.

“The Mexican cartels, they don’t forget. They’re gonna pay somebody back somewhere, and that concerns me.”

Meanwhile, the Monroe community is reeling from the loss of a dear “father, husband, teacher and coach”.

“My heart is broken, my heart is broken,” said Harris’ wife. “I’ve been with my husband 21 years.”

“He did everything God wanted him to, and God wanted him back home. My heart is pure with that. It’s broken, but it’s pure with that,” she added.
Also on rt.com Mexican drug cartels increasingly hire US military servicemen as assassins
“I’ve never seen my dad down, I’ve never seen my dad cry,” his son – one of three children – said while revealing that Harris lived by a motto of “All Love, No Fear.”

“My dad gave everything 100%.”

A parent from his school stated: “We absolutely love the family.”

“My husband went to college with Coach Harris. He coached my nephew. It’s been a difficult time, he will be greatly missed.”

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‘A miracle didn’t happen’: Armenian basketball in mourning after body of ex-international lost in conflict is found after 5 months

The Basketball Federation of Armenia has announced its “deep sorrow” after reporting the body of former youth international Aram Mkrtchyan has been found months after his disappearance in the Armenia-Azerbaijan war in 2020.

In a Facebook post, the governing body said that Mkrtchyan’s loved ones had hoped he would return.

“For six months, all his friends and relatives were waiting for his return,” they added, paying their respects to the former member of their under-20s team. “But a miracle didn’t happen.

“The Armenian Basketball Federation expresses its condolences to Aram’s family, relatives and friends on his untimely death, as well as to all relatives of war victims.”
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Dozens of mourners and well-wishers responded to the post, with one remarking that it had been “cruel” to lose “so many young people” to conflict.

“Condolences to the relatives,” added another. “Irreversible pain and unforgettable sorrow for all of us. May god rest his soul.” 

Known officially as the Nagorno-Karabakh war, the fighting concerned Azerbaijan, with support from the Turkish government, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, backed by Armenia over a disputed region and surrounding territories.

It was concluded in November by a ceasefire after more than 5,000 casualties.
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