Bradley Beal will miss Tokyo Olympics as USA Basketball struggles with coronavirus issues

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The Washington Post 15 July, 2021 - 10:21pm 24 views

When does Olympic basketball start?

The Olympics are set to start on July 23 in Tokyo. The group stage of the Olympic basketball tournament will run from July 25 to Aug. 1, and the knockout stage will run from Aug. 3-7. CBSSports.com2020 Tokyo Olympics: Men's Basketball Tournament TV schedule, live stream, start times, group standings

ESPN reported later Thursday that there are discussions underway about canceling Friday’s exhibition rematch against Australia.

“As far as Bradley's concerned, I'm dying for him,” Popovich said. “We all are. Since he was a little kid, this has been a dream of his. He was playing great, he was having fun, being a big part of us coming together chemistry-wise, and his family — so for him, for his immediate family, it's devastating. We just feel horrible about it.”

Center Bam Adebayo said he spoke to Beal and that the guard is not feeling any symptoms.

The U.S. men’s team is scheduled to head to Tokyo on Monday ahead of its opening game against France on July 25.

The team will be able to replace Beal with another player, though Popovich said it isn’t as simple as calling up any free NBA star. Conditioning is a major consideration; many players in May or June shut down the type of training necessary during an NBA season to allow their body to rest. On-court fit is another factor; Team USA has been working on chemistry and how it wants to play in Tokyo for a week.

“ … If somebody's coming in kind of blind and if they're out of shape, you're not sure how much they can help,” Popovich said. “It's going to take a certain individual that we think can pick it all up quickly.”

Playing in these Summer Olympics also requires a different type of commitment than those of years past. Family members of Olympians are not permitted to travel, and strict coronavirus protocols will be in place throughout the Games — not unlike the restrictions players were only recently freed from when their NBA seasons ended.

At training camp, players have been tested daily and follow health and safety protocols set by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee for participants in the Games, which included mask-wearing and social distancing. The International Olympic Committee is not requiring Olympians to be vaccinated to compete in Tokyo, but they must return two negative coronavirus tests, one within 96 hours of departure and another within 72 hours of departure.

“Some people may not be ready to come. Some people may not be interested. Some people may be in rehab. Some people might be free agents. There’s all kinds of reasons. So we’re going to have to pretty quickly here, find someone we think will fit with all those sort of mini-questions having to be answered,” Popovich said. “. . . I don’t think we can replace, point-by-point, what Bradley did for us. All the players are different. There’s no next Bradley Beal. Just like there’s not next Damian Lillard or next [Kevin Durant]. All these guys are different. So maybe a utility infielder of some sort.”

The Tokyo Games were set to be Beal’s first Olympics after he participated in USA Basketball’s system for more than a decade. He averaged 10.3 points in the Americans’ first three exhibition games.

Teammate Draymond Green advocated for him Thursday, saying the guard should receive a gold medal if the Americans win one despite his absence.

“You already miss a lot of time with family due to the work schedule, and then to essentially give up five weeks of that in the summer [for the Olympics], it’s tough,” Green said. “But the experience, the opportunity to represent your country is one that we all dream about growing up. So to see the opportunity taken away, you can only sympathize with Brad and hope that, understanding what has taken place over the last 17, 18 months, we can accomplish our ultimate goal, which is going out to win a gold medal. You hope he still gets that gold medal because he did make that commitment to this team, to this country.”

The Tokyo Olympics begin officially July 23 with the Opening Ceremonies and end August 8. Here’s what you need to know about the Games.

Read full article at The Washington Post

US men's basketball team gets BOOED off the court after exhibition losses to Australia, Nigeria

Daily Mail 15 July, 2021 - 09:30pm

By Alex Raskin Sports News Editor For Dailymail.com and Associated Press

Facing the prospect of national embarrassment at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, the US men's basketball team was booed off the court in Las Vegas on Monday night following a second straight exhibition defeat.

The tension boiled over at the end of Team USA's 91-83 loss to Australia on Monday after the 15-time Olympic gold medal winners fell 90-87 to upstart Nigeria on Saturday. Prior to this summer, the US men's team had lost only twice in 56 exhibitions since 1992, when NBA players were first permitted to play in the Olympics.

Now, with NBA talent on nearly every international roster, Team USA has dropped four of its last five games dating back to dismal performance at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

FINAL: Australia 91, USA 83. Team USA has lost to Nigeria and Australia over the past 48 hours. pic.twitter.com/RkN9gTGAQq

Australia's Duop Reath, right, fouls United States' Bam Adebayo during an exhibition basketball game in Las Vegas on Monday. Adebayo plays for the NBA's Miami Heat 

Nick Kay #15 of the Australia Boomers and Draymond Green #14 of the United States react after Kay fouled Green during an exhibition game at Michelob Ultra Arena on Monday 

The frustration was palpable at Team USA's post-game press conference, where head coach Gregg Popovich became confrontational with one reporter.   

Initially the decorated San Antonio Spurs coach tried joking with the assembled media.  

'Why does he get two questions?' Popovich remarked after a reporter asked repeated a question to him that was just asked to point guard Damian Lillard.   

After a brief pause, Popovich explained 'it's a joke,' adding that 'Damian's right.'

Another reporter followed with a question for Lillard about Team USA's reputation for blowing out opponents.

'It's not the first time that I've seen Team USA be tested,' Lillard said, calmly. 'Maybe not beat two times in a row, but I've seen it before. These other teams and these other countries just continue to improve. These players, they get better, they get more confident and they also want to beat us badly. It's definitely noticeable when you're on the court.'

Popovich objected to the line of questioning.

'Let me also answer that question,' he said.

'You asked the same sort of question, the same family of question last time [after the loss to Nigeria], where you assume things that are not true, when you just mention blowing these teams out. That's never happened. So I don't know where you get that.'

The reporter attempted to explain the question, but Popovich demanded to be heard first.

Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the USA Men's National Team talks with Damian Lillard #6 and Bradley Beal #4 during the game against the Nigeria Men's National Team on Saturday 

'Can I finish? Can I finish my statement? Can I finish my statement? Are you going to let me finish my statement or not? So, you'll be quiet now while I talk, then I'll listen to you.

'When you make statements about in the past just blowing out these other teams, number one, you give no respect to the other teams; And I talked to you last time about the same thing.

'We've had very close games against four or five countries at all these tournaments. So, the good teams do not get blown out.

Calab Agada #3 of Nigeria drives to the basket against America's Draymond Green 

'There are certain games that might happen in one of the tournaments -- the World Championships or the Olympics -- where somebody gets blown out. But in general, nobody is blowing anybody out from the good teams.

'So when you make a statement like that it's like you assume that's what is going on, and that's incorrect.'

Patty Mills, who plays for Popovich in San Antonio, scored 22 points and Australia held the U.S. without a field goal for the final 4:34 on the way to beating the three-time defending Olympic gold medalists.

'I thought we got better tonight,' Popovich said. 'After a short time together, there's a lot of things that have to be covered, but the first half and the second half were two different beasts.

'In the first half, we defended the way we wanted to defend. ... We rebounded better. We moved the ball better at the offensive end and had more pace. In the second half, we tired out.'

Joe Ingles scored 17 points, Matisse Thybulle scored 12 and Chris Goulding had 11 for Australia.

'We walked into this game expecting to win,' Ingles said.

With good reason. Starting with the World Cup quarterfinals in China two years ago and then their two exhibitions in Vegas, the US is 1-4 in its last five games with NBA players against international competition.

In the most recent 105 games that preceded those, the US went 101-4.

Lillard led the US with 22 points, while Kevin Durant scored 17 and Bradley Beal finished with 12. But the Americans wasted a 10-point second-half lead, and have dropped back-to-back games for just the third time since NBA players began wearing the red, white and blue in 1992.

The other instances: two straight in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and two straight in the 2019 Basketball World Cup. The US finished sixth in the first tournament, seventh in the other. And while these are glorified scrimmages, this much is already certain - a medal seems far from a lock for the US.

Australia's Matisse Thybulle, who plays for the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, exchanges words with Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal during Team USA's loss on Monday 

'It's not the first time that I've seen Team USA be tested,' Lillard said. 'Maybe not beat two times in a row, but I've seen it before. These other teams and these other countries just continue to improve. These players, they get better, they get more confident and they also want to beat us badly. It's definitely noticeable when you're on the court.'

Jayson Tatum's layup with 4:35 left put the Americans up 82-80. Australia outscored the US 11-1 the rest of the way, and Mills did most of the damage for the Boomers down the stretch.

'I just expect him to do it,' Ingles said of Mills' big finish. 'It's what he's done for 12 years. It's just what he does for our group.'

Favored by 16.5 points before the game, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Americans looked the part for much of the first half. A 20-6 run - capped by five points from Select Team call-up Keldon Johnson - put the US up by eight late in the opening quarter, and Lillard closed out his 16-point first half with a 3-pointer 31.7 seconds before intermission that gave the Americans a 46-35 lead.

The halftime lead was nine, the same lead that the US had early in the third quarter against Nigeria before letting it slip away.

And the same thing happened in this one.

The third-quarter lead for the US was as big as 10 and was 58-50 when Lillard made a 3-pointer midway through the period. But Australia closed the quarter on a 19-6 run, Goulding hit a 3-pointer as time expired and Australia took a 69-64 lead into the final 10 minutes.

'We'll learn from it,' Popovich said. 

Calab Agada #3 of the Nigeria Men's National Team drives to the basket on Saturday 

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Reports: Jerami Grant joins Bradley Beal in COVID-19 protocols at Team USA camp days before Tokyo Olympics

Yahoo Sports 15 July, 2021 - 09:30pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

USA Basketball confirmed on Wednesday that a player was placed in protocols, but did not identify Beal.

"A member of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols," a team statement read.

With Team USA slated to make its debut at the Tokyo Olympics on July 25, the duo's status for the Games is in doubt. The Athletic reported that Grant has not tested positive for COVID-19. It's not clear if Beal has contracted COVID-19 or was placed in protocols for a potential exposure to the coronavirus. 

USA Basketball is currently working to replace Beal on the roster before heading to Japan, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported.  

Team USA is training in Las Vegas and played an exhibition against Argentina on Tuesday. Beal played in that game, tying Kevin Durant as the game's leading scorer with 17 points in the 108-80 Team USA victory. Beal has started all three Team USA exhibition games alongside Damian Lillard in the backcourt.

Zach LaVine is also on the team, while guards Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday are slated to join the team in Tokyo after the conclusion of the NBA Finals. If Beal can't play in Tokyo, it's not immediately clear who would replace him on the 12-man roster. 

Prior to Tuesday's victory over Argentina, Team USA has struggled in its Olympics warmups. It got off to an 0-2 start in exhibition play in Las Vegas with a 90-87 loss to Nigeria and a 91-83 loss to Australia. Team USA is slated to play Australia in another exhibition game on Friday. 

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. “A member of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team has been placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols," the federation announced in a statement Wednesday afternoon, without identifying the player involved.

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