The combined Koreas women’s basketball team reached the Asian Games final, giving one of the sentimental favorites a chance at a historic gold medal.
A favorite in another sport won’t get the chance at gold, though, after defending field hockey champion India was upset later Thursday in a shootout against Malaysia.
The setback for India was cushioned slightly by more gold medals in track and field, where the Indian team finished behind only China and Bahrain in one of the surprising stories of the games.
The feel-good story undoubtedly has been the joint squad of nine South Koreans and three players from North Korea who will play for gold against China in women’s hoops.
Unlike the joint Koreas women’s hockey team that won plenty of hearts but no games at the Olympics in Pyeongchang six months ago, this joint team had been expected to be a medal contender — considered the most likely in the three sports in which the war-separated countries fielded combined teams.
Reinforced by WNBA center Park Ji-su, the Koreas team beat Taiwan 89-66 in the semifinals to avenge a two-point loss in their group game. China beat Japan 86-74 in the second of the semifinals.
Dragon boat races delivered a gold medal and two bronze medals for the combined Koreas teams — the first ever at a major multi-sports international event — and the basketball team is guaranteed gold or silver.
Park joined the combined team after completing her season with the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA and finished the game with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
North Korean player Ro Suk Yong, captain Lim Yung-hui and Park Hye-jin had 17 points apiece.
“This is a result that everyone achieved by playing together with one goal and one spirit,” Ro was quoted as saying by Yonhap, the South Korean news agency. “As we stay united, we went to the final. It makes me emotional.”
The medals in dragon boat were awarded to Korea — the name for the joint teams — rather than being added to the tally of either North or South Korea.
The Koreas, still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice, have fielded 60 athletes in combined teams in canoeing, rowing and basketball, besides larger contingents for their respective national squads.
South Korea was in third place in the medal standings after 389 events and North Korea was ninth, both well behind China, which had 111 gold medals and 239 overall. Japan was second with 59 gold and 174 in total.
Unlike their dominance in the pool, China and Japan had plenty of competition in track and field, where China narrowly topped the standings.
China and Bahrain were level in terms of gold — with 12 each — but China was ahead 33-25 overall.
India finished third with seven track gold medals and 19 overall — one ahead of Japan on both counts.
In the last event, the men’s 4×400-meter relay, Qatar won in a continental record 3 minutes, 0.56 seconds from India and Japan.
Jinson Johnson of India won the 1,500, and the country’s 4×400 women’s relay, including world junior champion Hima Das, extended a streak of Asian Games gold in the event stretching back to 2002.
Japan, the 2016 Olympic silver medalists, won the men’s 4×100 relay in 38.16. Surprisingly it was an Indonesia team featuring world junior 100-meter champion Lalu Muhammad Zohri which delighted the crowd by finishing with silver ahead of China.
Bahrain won three gold medals on the last night of track, with 100- and 200-meter champion Edidiong Odiong anchoring victory in the women’s 4×100 relay in a games record 42.73.
Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan, the 2012 Olympic champion, won her third straight Asian Games title in the triple jump.
The men’s field hockey final was expected to be an India-Pakistan classic, but they’ll be playing for bronze. Malaysia rallied to win 7-6 in a shootout after finishing 2-2 with India, and Japan edged Pakistan 1-0 in the other semifinal. The winner here gets a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
A China team featuring NBA players Zhou Qi and Ding Yanyuhang will play the men’s basketball final against Iran, which beat defending champion South Korea.
Isaiah Thomas to Miss Start of the Season After Having Thumb Surgery
Since his breakout season in 2016, it has been a revolving door of injuries for Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas left the Boston Celtics after a year where he garnered MVP attention in the 2016-17 season, when he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kyrie Irving.
A hip injury plagued his tenure with the Cavaliers, leading him to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in the middle of the season, prior to becoming a free agent the following year.
Thomas would then sign a one-year deal with the Denver Nuggets, as he tried to regain his value before heading to free agency again.
With the Nuggets, Thomas was kept off the court with injuries, before falling out of the rotation altogether by the time Denver was in the playoffs.
Now Thomas was set to get another chance to lead a backcourt, when the Washington Wizards signed him to play alongside Bradley Beal for the upcoming season.
Unfortunately Thomas cannot catch a break, as he had to undergo a thumb surgery today after getting injured in a pickup game with teammates.
Thomas will now miss the beginning of the season, as string of bad luck continues for the two-time All-Star.
Outside of DeMarcus Cousins, no one has had worse luck in the NBA when it comes to injuries then Thomas.
Hopefully he can make a fully recovery from the injury and return to have a productive season for the Wizards this year.
Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard Want to Play in 2020 Summer Olympics
The FIBA World Cup proved to be an embarrassing affair for Team USA, as the Americans were defeated for the first internationally in some time.
Team USA advanced to the quarterfinals in the tournament, before being upset and eliminated by France. From there, the Americans lost their next matchup to Serbia and ended up finishing seventh overall.
But the one thing that Team USA did accomplish in the FIBA World Cup is that by making it to the quarterfinals, they qualified to play in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The biggest reason that Team USA struggled in the FIBA World Cup is that a majority of our best superstars chose to stay home and not play.
That likely won’t be the case for the Olympics though, as players are more motivated to compete in that event, on a stage that garners way more national attention.
The Team USA is already starting to look much deeper, as Stephen Curry has announced his interest in competing in the Olympics next summer.
Curry has never played in the Olympics, but would obviously give Team USA a great chance to take home a gold medal. Another player that has not appeared in the Olympics is Damian Lillard.
Lillard is another superstar guard that has announced his intentions to play in the upcoming Olympics, giving Team USA a great one-two scoring punch.
Lillard and Curry can make threes rain from any place on the court, giving Team USA a potent scoring backcourt like we have never seen in international play.
With all due respect to Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell, Lillard and Curry would represent a great upgrade to Team USA’s FIBA roster. Especially as they would push players like Walker and Mitchell to the bench.
Finishing seventh in the FIBA World Cup was disappointing for Team USA, but there is a great chance they rectify that in the upcoming 2020 Olympics.
Three-Time NBA Champion Shaun Livingston Announces His Retirement
Over the past five seasons, the Golden State Warriors have put together one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history, winning three championships and making five-straight appearances in the NBA Finals.
Now they are turning the page to a new era of Warriors basketball, still surrounded around their homegrown ‘Big Three’ of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green’.
But the role players from those great Warriors teams have moved on and for some, are calling it quits altogether. As Shaun Livingston just announced his retirement from the NBA.
In his farewell message, Livingston cites “the injury”, referring to a devastating knee injury that he suffered back in 2007.
The injury was so bad for Livingston, that it almost resulted in his leg being amputated it was so bad.
Livingston made a remarkable recovery from the injury and turned in a fantastic career. The last stages of his career came with the Golden State Warriors, were he proved to be an excellent backup point guard to Curry.
Without Livingston’s ability to make plays and play stout defense at 6-foot-7, the Warriors would not have been three-time champions.
Congrats to Livingston on a great career, which we never could have expected him to have back in 2007.
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