Marc Stein: Luka Doncic and Slovenia, in the country’s first Olympic appearance in men’s basketball, will play the France/Italy winner for a spot in the gold-medal game in Tokyo. Slovenia is now 17-0 at senior national team level with Doncic in uniform. More from me: marcstein.substack.com
Olgun Uluc: Aron Baynes will miss the remainder of the Tokyo Olympics after suffering a neck injury, sources told ESPN. The injury occurred, off the court, during the second half of the Australian Boomers’ win over Italy on Wednesday.
The Jump: Dream of playing in Olympics one day? "Most definitely. I love to win at the highest level" —@jalensuggs #TheJump
The soundtrack of the NBA a generation ago has made its way to the Tokyo Olympics. “Roundball Rock” — the iconic score composed by John Tesh about three decades ago — is being utilized again by NBC at the Tokyo Games, as the theme music for men’s and women’s basketball on their broadcasts.
Juancho Hernangomez and the Spanish Basketball Federation are at odds with the Minnesota Timberwolves after the NBA team blocked Hernangomez from playing in the Tokyo Olympics. Spanish officials are pointing the finger at Wolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas for what they called a last-minute decision after they believe medical personnel from Spain and Minnesota gave Hernangomez approval to play. The Timberwolves insist their doctors never cleared Hernangomez to resume playing after he suffered a dislocated shoulder earlier this month.
When was the first time you got in contact with the Nigerian basketball federation to wear the D'Tigers' jersey? Miye Oni: We have been in contact and talks with them since I was like 17-years-old. I have a great relationship with the federation, and I have always expressed my goal of playing for the national team and represent Nigeria at the highest level. I am proud of being a Nigerian basketball player, and it's a dream come true to be called to represent my country. This is one of the goals I have in my career, and I am happy to be able to do so. I am going to show the staff that I can help. I will do everything to bring Nigeria to the highest level and put it between the powerhouses of basketball.
Precious Achiuwa, Gabe Vincent, Jordan Nwora, Josh Okogie and many more. The young guns are taking over the D'Tigers! Miye Oni: (Laughs). Every guy is going to be very important for the team, and we will play as one, we will defend as one, no matter what. We have a lot of talent, and it's just the beginning of something great if you want my opinion. We have talents in every position, guys that played in international competitions before and have been doing very well so I am so excited about what's coming next. We are building a fantastic team. We are ambitious and we want to write great pages on Nigeria's basketball history.
Miye Oni: The goal is to have a great tournament and the dream is to win a gold medal. Many teams can get to the medals spot, and we want to be part of the discussion too. We are young, but we have a lot of ambition. We are eager to make our compatriots proud and to show the world that Nigeria is a very competitive team. They did well in China at the previous FIBA Basketball World Cup, and we want to keep showing that we are a team that counts on the main stage, and that will count from now on at the highest level.
Matisse Thybulle was a central figure in the Boomers’ undefeated run against Argentina, Team USA and Nigeria through a series of exhibition matches in Las Vegas, where his scoring was a particularly welcome sight. While he was named to the NBA all-defensive second team this season, the Philadelphia 76er averages 3.9 points per game. “For me, it’s pretty obvious what I bring to the table. That’s athleticism, defence and, as I keep growing, what I can do around the three-point line,” Thybulle told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s just great to see how well my skill set has integrated, just being able to complement them [teammates] as best I can is ultimately my goal. It’s been so fun for me to do that and have so much success early.”
His father, who regularly travelled, ensured his son qualified for a dual passport before the family returned to the US, something Thybulle – named after the French artist Henri Matisse, whose work inspired Greg while he was backpacking through Europe – didn’t really appreciate as a youngster. “He used to make such a deal of that when we were kids. I was like: ‘Who cares?’ As a kid you take everything for granted, right?” Thybulle said. Now that I have got older, it’s a really big deal. Even before the Olympics, people thought it was so special that I have that. Now that this opportunity has come and I am able to use this and be a part of it, it just makes it that much better.”
Thybulle lost his mother to leukemia in 2015 but her love of Australia lives on. “I think she would be excited. My mum was never a huge basketball fan,” Thybulle said. “She enjoyed me pushing myself and growing in anything. In my case, that happened to be basketball where it happened the most. She would be happy for me to embrace my Australian side and to see how valuable our time was there when we were kids.”
Patrick Mills says the Games are unique given the strict protocols around COVID-19, but coming into the village is "one of those things that's hard to describe. Coming into the village, the first thing that we all talked about is that, for the majority of us, we all live away from home, away from Australia. [The village] is our connection to our home so that's a really good feeling to hear accents again, be around Australian things again, whether its snacks or those little things you forget about — commercials, Farmer Wants a Wife, stuff like that."
"Entering the village a couple of days ago and just being able to see how much Indigenous artwork has been combined throughout our Australian HQ and the flags at the bottom of the stairs, its definitely one of those things that gave me chills just to see how much it was incorporated throughout our entire team," Mills said. "It's something that is very unifying, as the Olympic Games is."
Spain power forward Juancho Hernangómez, who was ruled out of the Tokyo Games earlier this month because of a left shoulder injury, has made the team’s Olympic roster after all. The Spanish federation had said Hernangómez, who plays in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves, would need significant time to recover from a dislocated left shoulder. He got hurt in an exhibition game against France on July 8.
The rest of Spain’s roster: Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Alberto Abalde, Alex Abrines, Victor Claver, Rudy Fernandez, Usman Garuba, Willy Hernangómez, Sergio Llull and Sergio Rodriguez.
Brian Windhorst: Jerami Grant is expected to be cleared from quarantine and will be available to travel with Team USA to Japan, sources said. Americans have final exhibition against Spain set for 9 p.m. ET.
The U.S. Olympic team, in search of two replacement players for Tokyo, never made Knicks All-Star power forward Julius Randle an offer, according to multiple industry sources.
The Post has learned Randle was amenable to joining the Olympians late in the process. Randle has been working out in his hometown of Dallas and is said to be in shape as he vies to duplicate his spectacular season in which he made All-NBA second team.
Dylan Hernandez: Japan's basketball team upset Rudy Gobert and France in something called the SoftBank Cup. Rui Hachimura with 19 points in 29 minutes for Japan, which will share a first-round group at the Olympics with Spain, Slovenia and Argentina.
“I was in Nigeria in 2011 and I remember my uncle telling me: ‘If you get the chance to play with Nigeria, you have to do it’,” said Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Josh Okogie, who emigrated to the United States with his family from Africa’s most-populous nation when he was three-years old. “That resonated with me,” added the versatile player, now 22, who passed on his second two years of college ball at Georgia Tech to join the NBA. “The country of Nigeria carries so much pride when one of their teams goes onto the world stage.”
“A medal? It would mean the world to me,” said Okogie, who was influential in recent warm-up wins over 2004 Olympic gold-medallists Argentina and a shock 90-87 victory in Las Vegas over the United States – a first in Nigeria’s history. “Our whole focus is just on trying to win this medal. We know the potential we have. It’s not our job to prove anyone wrong or right, but we want to get the best result we can at the end of the day.”
“I want everybody to see how hard we play on defense and – something we can always control, pressuring and switching,” Okogie said about one of his team’s main strengths just days after a big loss to Australia (108-69) may have taken some wind out of Nigerian sails. “Offensively, we like to get into the paint, kick it out, and knock down threes. We can make the extra pass and we’re not afraid to shoot the ball when we’re open. “In the Olympics, every game counts and you have to almost win all of your games to get the gold,” concluded a motivated Okogie who, along with his Nigerian teammates, stands ready on the cusp of history. “And our goal…is that gold.”
However, Harris, who turned 29 on Thursday, is out of the country on vacation. He is scheduled to return Saturday evening. The U.S. has two exhibition games remaining in Las Vegas. It has a scheduled rematch with Australia on Friday before facing Spain on Sunday.
Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams will have one eye on the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, with not one but two of his sisters competing. With the Tokyo Olympics now just a week away, the New Zealand contingent are arriving in the Japanese capital ahead of the start of the games. Among them will be both Dame Valerie Adams and younger sister Lisa Adams.
Despite being in his NBA off-season with New Orleans Pelicans, 27-year-old Steven Adams will be supporting his older sisters from afar. "I'm definitely following her," Steven Adams told Magic Talk of older sister Dame Valerie. "My other sister, Lisa, is also participating in the Paralympics. I'll be watching those two very closely."
Rockets center Christian Wood is among the players under consideration for a spot on the USA Basketball Olympic team, a person with knowledge of the process said on Thursday.
Wood, who has fully recovered from his ankle injury during the season, had often said he would consider it a dream to compete on the Olympic team. Even late in the season, he said he hoped to play in Tokyo July 23 through Aug. 8.
Neil Dalal: Draymond Green says that if Team USA wins gold in Tokyo he hopes Bradley Beal receives one too because he made the commitment to represent his country.
Fred Katz: Gregg Popovich on who could replace Bradley Beal on the Team USA roster: "There’s no next Bradley Beal, just like there’s no next Damian Lillard or next KD. All these guys are different. So, maybe a utility infielder of some sort."
Ava Wallace: As far as picking someone to replace Beal, Popovich says one of the biggest considerations is choosing someone who's in shape. Team USA's been conditioning and working on how they want to play for a week.
Chase Hughes: Gregg Popovich says he does not "think that's in the cards" when asked if Jerami Grant will also miss the Olympics after entering health and safety protocol.
A person with knowledge of the situation says U.S. Olympic guard Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards has entered the health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus, which raises the possibility that he might miss the Tokyo Games.
Beal will be tested multiple times in the coming days, according to the person who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the player involved for USA Basketball was not revealed publicly. The results of those tests will likely determine if he remains on the roster, the person said. USA Basketball could still replace Beal before heading to Tokyo.
Shams Charania: Wizards star Bradley Beal has entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp, placing his return to play status up in the air, sources tell me and @Joe Vardon.
Tim Reynolds: AP source: USA Basketball guard Bradley Beal has entered the health and safety protocols in Las Vegas, raising the possibility that he may not be able to attend the Tokyo Games. There is nothing definitive about that at this point.
The Jump: "I talked to Mike Brown (Nigeria head coach) after the game, he's not taking a salary with this team" 🇳🇬 —@Brian Windhorst #TheJump
The Australian Olympic team Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman selected the flag-bearers. Chesterman rang Patty Mills and said he would be honoured if — as one of Australia's Olympic team leaders — he would accept the role. There was no hesitation on Mills's part. "It was an easy decision. I am very proud of who I am. I am very comfortable in my own skin," Mills said.
Patty Mills: "I get thrilled and excited about the opportunity to be able to tell people who I am and where I'm from. At the end of the day I imagine little girls and little boys, whether they are at home or at school … I can picture them and what they might feel or how they'll react when they see someone like me being a representative of them. That's what it's all about, right? Having the next generation come up and be true to themselves, proud of who they are, proud of their identity, and to wear that on their chests … that can help them achieve their dreams."
As much as we would love to have fans and supporters and everyone cheering everyone on, we do have to respect the rules and that part is out of our control. "It doesn't change our focus, and everyone's focus on why we're there and what we're trying to achieve." And is that a medal? "One hundred per cent," Mills said. And is that medal gold? "One hundred per cent."
Kane Pitman: Asked @Dante Exum about his decision to play in the Olympics for Australia. "It was no decision. It's always been my dream to play in an Olympic Games. I told my agent straight away, I don't care what anyone has to say, if they had any advice. This is what I'm doing."
Rob Schaefer: Zach LaVine on players recruiting each other during Olympics: "Players gonna be players, man. You gonna mingle and talk. But we're here for one goal, we're trying to win the gold medal. I think whatever comes from that -- friendships, teammates -- I think that's an afterthought..
Tim Reynolds: The U.S. opens the Olympics against France on July 25. Kevin Durant confirms that he's already "talking s***" to Nets teammate Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot about that game. "Yeah, he can't guard me," KD said. Oh, this is going to be fun.
Carlos Sanchez Blas: Juancho Hernangomez is out for the Olympics due to a dislocated collarbone.
Rod Beard: #Blazers Damian Lillard on his role with Team USA: "I know that I'm not going to have to be in the same role as in Portland ... I think I can show that I'm a good defender without as much responsibility on the offensive end, with so much talent (on Team USA)."
Mark Medina: Suns coach Monty Williams on Devin Booker playing in the Tokyo Olympics whenever the NBA Finals ends: "Devin is one of those guys that loves to hoop." Williams added that Booker "has unreal energy."
Anthony Slater: Steph Curry said it was a "hard decision" to pass on the Olympics: "I do value the offseason. I am working out, back on the court. But to try to go and play, there's a lot that can happen...It just wasn't right for me. Very confident in that decision. No regrets."
Wes Goldberg: Draymond Green said that he didn't try to push Steph Curry to play for Team USA. "I don't need to try to push him to play for Team USA because I already know the reasons why."
Wes Goldberg: Draymond Green on why he decided to play for Team USA in the Olympics: "It was never a question for me. This is what we work for. You work for the accolades, you work to be on top of the world."
Omari Sanfoka II: Jerami Grant on making the Olympic team: "I was blessed when I got the call. It was an honor. I love to play the game, that’s why I’m here. I told my family, everyone was excited for me."
Omari Sanfoka II: Jerami Grant said is role on the USA Basketball team is to bring energy. "I’m going to be playing a lot of defense, hitting open shots, being aggressive when I get the opportunity."
This week at Team USA's training camp ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Popovich is getting to see Beal up close and personal to a degree he hasn't before. One thing has surprised him in particular. "He's stronger than I expected. He's a strong young man. I always used to think of him as wiry and thin, but I was totally wrong. He's thick," Popovich said.
Chase Hughes: Jayson Tatum describes Bradley Beal as "A mentor and an older brother that I technically didn't have in the house [growing up]... someone that I've always looked up to and still look up to to this day."
Chase Hughes: Bradley Beal says he didn't know he was the first Wizards player to represent the franchise and city for Team USA in the Olympics. Called it an honor.
Souichi Terada: Bradley Beal on playing with Jayson Tatum: "We're both excited. For one, we grew up 5 minutes from each other. To have two of the same guys from the same high school on the same team, I don't know if that's ever happened for USA Basketball."
Ava Wallace: After USA Basketball practice today, Gregg Popovich is asked what he likes best about Bradley Beal. "His movement. He is hard to keep up with." Pop also said Beal's stronger than he thought. Assumed was wiry but in fact, he is thick. So it shall be
Tim Reynolds: Pop hasn't decided on captaincy yet for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. He says he's "waiting to see where it lands."
Ira Winderman: Gregg Popovich calls Erik Spoelstra, who's guiding the USA Basketball Select Team a "fantastic young coach." Spoelstra is the second-longest-tenured coach in the NBA, to Pop.
Anthony Chiang: Popovich, speaking on Day 2 of Team USA training camp, on Bam Adebayo: "He's active, he's a rebounder, he runs. He knows how to play with teammates. ... He's going to be very valuable to us and obviously our best rebounder."
The Olympics present a stage for which the world is watching and there is a long history of athletes using the event to protest or speak out on political matters. But as Bradley Beal explained to NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller, the plan is for Team USA to focus on winning a gold medal. They have agreed as a team to continue working for societal change in other ways and keep this particular trip about basketball. "We've talked about that actually as a team. In all honesty, for the first time we can lay out our arms and focus on our competition and that's what we're going to do. We don't want it to get into a political protest," Beal told NBC Sports Washington.
Beal said the first team meeting held by Popovich at training camp in Las Vegas had nothing to do with basketball. He wanted to first address the elephant in the room. "Honestly, Pop will probably do the majority of that. He's not afraid. He's expressed that, he's expressed that to me. 'Shift the blame on me, I'm going to be the one to kind of lay down what's going on.' We respect that. That was very admirable from him," Beal said.
Bradley Beal: "Our first meeting wasn't about basketball, it was about life. It wasn't about hoops at all. It was about him respecting us and what we did as players, what we continue to do and what we continue to embody and the fact we're still trying to come out and win a gold medal regardless of what's happened and what's been going on. That spoke volumes. That spoke volumes. Pop, he's a legend and he will always be a legend. Yeah, so ask him. He'll be the one to ask about what's going on in the world."
Kobe Bryant wore No. 24 and No. 8 with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he donned No. 10 for USA Basketball when he helped the Americans capture gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Jayson Tatum has worn that number as part of U.S. teams several times since — and will wear it at the Tokyo Olympics, where the Americans will aim to capture a fourth consecutive gold medal. “With this being the first Olympics since we lost him, it holds that much more value,” Tatum said. “It’s not something I take lightly.”
Tatum knew Bryant well. They worked out together and Bryant offered him advice many times. “I remember one talk, it might have been after a game, and he was saying that a lot of people won’t understand what you do,” Tatum said. “He said, ‘What I mean by that is, the ones that really want to be great and really want to be special really take that whatever-it-takes mentality.’ He told me it takes sacrifice, because the ultimate question is about how much are you willing to give up to be great.”
When he decided not to play in the 2016 Olympics, the number ended up with Kyrie Irving — another player who idolizes Bryant, just as Tatum does. And now, as was the case when the U.S. went to the Basketball World Cup two years ago, the jersey is Tatum’s. “For JT to have this moment, I’m happy for him, genuinely,” U.S. center Bam Adebayo said. “I’ve known JT since I was 12. He deserves everything he’s getting and he’s going to keep deserving more because he’s such a great player. I’m happy for him. That’s his idol, and he gets to represent that number. I know he’s going to have that ‘Mamba Mentality’ when he puts that 10 on.”
Harrison Wind: Tokyo Olympics news: Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez is an assistant coach on Mike Brown’s Team Nigeria staff. Caleb Agada, who will play with the Nuggets at Summer League per league sources, is also at training camp with Team Nigeria in Oakland. So is Monte Morris.
Japan's Tokyo Olympic team will comprise a record 582 athletes, with basketball player Rui Hachimura and wrestling gold medal hopeful Yui Susaki named as flagbearers, the country's Olympic Committee said Monday.
"The Tokyo Olympics are a stage that I have dreamed of for a long time. It is a huge honor to be given such a big role," Hachimura, who plays for the Washington Wizards in the NBA, said in a comment released by the Japanese Olympic Committee.
After beating the hosts of the tournament in Canada, the Czech Republic didn’t bend against Greece. To be exact the Czechs led from wire to wire on their way to an easy 97-72 win and became the last team to qualify in the Tokyo Olympics.
Gerald Bourguet: Monty Williams was asked about Devin Booker playing in the Olympics coming off a Finals run. He said he hasn't talked to Book about it, but he knows Devin wants to play and he doesn't see any reason why he shouldn't play. "Book likes to hoop."
Italy was on a mission on Sunday night. That mission was to return to the Olympics for the first time since 2004. And so they did, with nearly a blowout against tournament hosts and Rio Olympics silver medalists Serbia, as they pulled through with a 102-95 win to advance to Tokyo.
Achile Polonara emerged with a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds, Nicolo Mannion posted 24 points, 4 rebounds for Italy, and Simone Fontecchio had 21points and 8 rebounds to lead the Italian selection back to the Olympics.
Brazil had three wins by 20+ points until the final game, where the German national team got the 75-64 triumph and the ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo after a real dogfight. Moritz Wagner with 28 points on 9/12 FG led the charge for the winning side, getting help from Robin Benzing (13 p.), Maodo Lo (10 p.), and Johannes Voightmann (8 p. 11 r.). The Germans did it without having available Lakers guard Dennis Schroder for the qualifiers.
Luka Doncic just achieved his first-ever triple-double with the Slovenian NT as the nation qualified to the Olympic Games for the first time in history and the press conference that followed this feat was one for the ages. “I’m speechless. We didn’t have much time to prepare [for the final]. We have an amazing team, the chemistry is incredible and everybody plays their heart out”, said Doncic in his opening remarks.
The 22-year-old was named the MVP of the Kaunas tournament, as Slovenia punched a ticket for Tokyo later this July. “I don’t care about the MVP. We’re going to the Olympics. Every kid in Slovenia dreams of being in the Olympics, I did too. We deserve to be here. We [as a team] are making history. Not me. That was our goal. We will go from here.”
Marc Stein: Luka Doncic and Slovenia are headed to the Olympics in Tokyo. Triple-double for Doncic and a historic W for Slovenia IN Lithuania against a team that, if not on the same level as past Lietuva squads that troubled @usabasketball, did have Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas.
Doncic recorded his first triple-double with the national team, posting 31 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes. This is just his second triple-double outside the NBA. The sheer thought of a triple-double in FIBA basketball is simply insane, though the 22-year-old was set to make history on Sunday evening.
January 20, 2022 | 7:53 pm EST Update
Shams Charania: Forward Paul Millsap and the Brooklyn Nets have agreed to find the four-time All-Star a new team where he can have a greater contribution, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Connor Letourneau: Steve Kerr on James Wiseman: “This has just not been an easy one to figure out. We’re still hopeful he’ll be cleared for contact soon, but there hasn’t been an opportunity for that to happen this week.”