US suffer second loss in as many days at World Cup

Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic up against the US double team of Kemba Walker and Myles Turner. (Reuters)
Updated 13 September 2019

US suffer second loss in as many days at World Cup

DONGGUAN: Deposed champions the US lost 94-89 to Serbia in a dead-rubber at the Basketball World Cup on Thursday, a day after surrendering their 13-year unbeaten run.

A young Team USA made up of second-tier NBA stars were defeated 89-79 in the quarterfinals by France on Wednesday, bringing a premature close to their World Cup defense.

More significantly, it was the reigning world and Olympic champions’ first defeat in a major competition since the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup.

Thursday’s “classification” game in Dongguan was the final that never was: The holders against the favorites.

The US were headed for a humiliating second loss in as many days, down a scarcely believable 32-7 after the first quarter.

The Americans, who have already qualified for next summer’s Tokyo Olympics, failed to score a point during one barren five-minute period.

A rout was on the cards for Serbia, whose tournament also came to a surprise quarterfinal end, at the hands of Argentina.

The Americans’ 70-year-old coach Gregg Popovich chewed his lip and brooded.

But the US fought back in the second quarter and reduced the deficit to just four points at half-time.

Going into the fourth quarter, Serbia —  led once more by the Sacramento Kings’ Bogdan Bogdanovic — were only three points ahead.

But with nothing but pride to play for, the US comeback fell narrowly short. They have another classification match on Saturday.

Bogdanovic, who has been one of the players of the tournament, led all scoring with 28 points.

For the Americans, Harrison Barnes had 22 points. In Friday’s semifinals, Spain play Australia and France take on Argentina.


Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

Updated 19 January 2020

Amaala lift champion trophy in Saudi Arabia’s first-ever desert polo tournament

  • Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions

JEDDAH: Renowned Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras scored all his side’s goals as Amaala hammered out an emphatic 7-3 victory over host team AlUla to win the Kingdom’s first-ever desert polo tournament on Saturday at AlUla UNESCO heritage site.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki bin Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, presented the trophy to Amaala after the final.

The event forms part of Winter at Tantora festival, featuring international polo players, who had the experience of playing on compacted desert sand instead of grass amid the stunning surroundings at AlUla.

The Royal Commission of AlUla organized the three-day tournament in cooperation with the newly formed Saudi Polo Federation.

In winning the tournament, Amaala earned the bragging rights as the 2020, and inaugural, AlUla Desert Polo champions.

Players from all over the world took part, including team members from the world famous La Dolfina polo outfit from Argentina, including Adolfo Cambiaso, Pelon Stirling and Pablo Mac Donough.

In the match for third place, Al Nahla Bentley defeated Team Richard Mille 4-2 with Sheikha Alya Maktoum scoring a hat trick of goals.

Figueras said: “It’s an amazing place with an amazing history, an amazing heritage and an amazing first tournament for the Saudi Polo Federation. I’m very honored to be here and I’m delighted that we were able to win.

“This country is going through a transformation and there are amazing years to come.”

Mac Donough added: “For us it was a completely new place; polo-wise Saudi Arabia wasn’t something we were doing before. Having the chance to come to such an amazing country and having the chance to play a tournament and promote the sport, all this makes us feel very proud and we hope we can continue it.”

Saudi Polo Federation chairman, Amr F. Zedan, who played for Team Richard Mille during the tournament, said: “I see this event as a launching pad for the future. We have big plans for polo in Saudi Arabia that include the establishment of development programs and the construction of facilities to assist in building a polo infrastructure in The Kingdom.”

Amr Madani, CEO of the Royal Commission of AlUla, said: “Our tourism strategy for AlUla has been built around certain anchors — heritage, culture, nature and arts. Equestrianism has always been a key industry for us, and the surroundings here make AlUla one of the best locations to ride horses.”