LONDON (AP) -- Might be time to get Gabby Douglas a new nickname. Olympic champ might work. Known as "The Flying Squirrel," Douglas won the women's all-around title Thursday night, becoming the third straight American to win gymnastics' biggest prize. It's her second gold medal of the London Games, coming two nights after she and her "Fierce Five" teammates gave the United States its first Olympic title since 1996. Douglas rocked the O2 Arena with her electric floor routine, flashing a dazzling smile and lots of pizzazz. She finished with a score of 62.232, about three-tenths ahead of Viktoria Komova of Russia, runner-up at last year's world championships. Komova's floor routine was impressive, as well, and she stood at the center of the arena staring intently at the scoreboard. When the final standings flashed, her head dropped and she hurried to the sidelines, tears falling.
Before meeting with local basketball media following his pre-draft workout with the Washington Wizards on Thursday at Capital One Arena, George Washington forward Yuta Watanabe first addressed a swath of reporters from his home country of Japan. Then, while he talked to the American contingent, cameras from Japanese news outlets trailed him from a distance, documenting even the media part of his experience.
Watanabe, who played four years for the Colonials in Foggy Bottom, is now chasing an NBA dream with an entire country's hope on his shoulders. He is aiming to become just the second Japanese-born player to reach basketball's pinnacle.
It's a responsibility he carries with pride.
"I know there was only one Japanese player who played in the NBA like a long time ago, so he was the only one," Watanabe said. "If I can make it, I know that’s a really big thing in Japan. That would make young guys come to the U.S. and play basketball in the U.S. I want to be one of the pioneers for younger guys."
The only player to make the NBA from Japan in the history of the league was Yuta Tabuse, who appeared in four games for the Phoenix Suns in the 2004-05 season. Four games, that's it. If Watanabe can carve out an extended career in the NBA, it would be a first for Japan, which like many countries outside of the United States has begun to produce more basketball talent in recent decades as the game has expanded globally.
Watanabe grew up in Miki, Kagawa, a town in the southwest of Japan. He had American basketball idols growing up, including Kobe Bryant who was the NBA's biggest star when Watanabe was a kid.
Now, as Watanabe has set his sights on the NBA, he has focused on others to model his game after. He said he watches film of Jazz forward Joe Ingles because he sees similarities in their game.
"I see myself trying to be like him. He’s a lefty, a great shooter and a great defender. I’ve been watching his tape a lot," Watanabe said.
Watanabe has also been consulting with Hawks forward Joe Cavanaugh, his former teammate at George Washington. Cavanaugh went undrafted last summer, but caught on in Atlanta and appeared in 39 games as a rookie.
Watanabe's best bet may be a similar path. He is currently not projected to be drafted, but there are many avenues to the NBA, as Cavanaugh has shown. He was signed for 2017 training camp by the Hawks, then cut. Then, he inked a two-way contract which was later converted to a regular contract.
Along the way, Cavanaugh spent much of his time with the Erie Bayhawks of the G-League. Watanabe may have to go that route to make the NBA. For now, he's trying to prove what he's capable of and that has not been easy. The Wizards were his second workout and Watanabe isn't happy with his performance thus far.
He is dealing with an ankle injury that has affected his conditioning, he said, and his shots haven't been falling.
"To be honest, I didn’t shoot well. I didn’t really do well in the 1-on-1s or 3-on-3. I know I have to do better on that if I want to make an NBA team," he said.
Watanabe, who stands at 6-foot-9, said he also needs to get stronger. If defense is going to be his calling card, he can't be pushed around by bigger players in the NBA.
"I know I can defend one through four. Today, I didn’t shoot well but I know I can shoot and I can handle the ball, I can pass. I think versatility is one of my strengths," he said.
The Wizards could use depth at the small forward position and will be in the market for a host of undrafted guys to fill out their summer league team and new G-League team. Perhaps Watanabe will land in one of those spots.
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It is perhaps the most surprising Stanley Cup Final matchup in league history.
Just when you thought the championship window was closed, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals finally exorcised their playoff demons to win the Eastern Conference and advance to the final. They will be playing the Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team in its very first year in existence that did not even have a roster just one year ago.
Who could have seen this one coming back in September?
The Golden Knights continue to shock the hockey community with every series win. They swept the Los Angeles Kings, dispatched San Jose in six and needed only five games to eliminate the Winnipeg Jets, a team with the second-best record in the regular season who had just eliminated the first place Nashville Predators.
In their very first postseason, Vegas has carried the momentum of a spectacular regular season into a 12-3 record up to the Stanley Cup Final.
But while they may have momentum, the Caps have an air of destiny about them. Not only did they rally from a 2-0 series deficit to win four straight against the Columbus Blue Jackets, they also defeated their archnemesis and the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Against a heavily favored Tampa Bay Lightning squad, the Caps won three out of four road games including an emphatic 4-0 Game 7 win, thus erasing another playoff stigma for the franchise.
These two teams share some common history despite Vegas being in its inaugural season. Though general manager Brian MacLellan has certainly put his own touches on the Caps' roster and molded them into a champion, the core of Washington was still built by George McPhee. Now the Caps will take on a roster completely built from the ground up by McPhee as the general manager of the Golden Knights.
Will Vegas complete its Cinderella season or will the Caps hoist their first ever Cup at the expense of their former GM?
Stanley Cup Final: Washington Capitals vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Game 1: Capitals at Golden Knights. Monday, 5/28 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 2: Capitals at Golden Knights. Wednesday, 5/30 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBCSN)
Game 3: Golden Knights at Capitals. Saturday, 6/2 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBCSN)
Game 4: Golden Knights at Capitals. Monday, 6/4 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 5 (if necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights. Thursday, 6/7 at 8:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 6 (if necessary): Golden Knights at Capitals. Sunday, 6/10 (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 7 (If Necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights. Wednesday, 6/13 (Broadcast on NBC)
2017-18 Team stats
- 49-26-7, 105 points, first in the Metropolitan Division
- 3.12 goals per game (9th)
- 2.90 goals against per game (16th)
- 22.5-percent power play percentage (7th)
- 80.3 penalty kill percentage (15th)
Vegas Golden Knights
- 51-24-7, 109 points, first in the Pacific Division
- 3.27 goals per game (5th)
- 2.74 goals against per game (8th)
- 21.4 power play percentage (9th)
- 81.4 penalty kill percentage (11th)
- Alex Ovechkin – 49
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 27
- Nicklas Backstrom – 21
- Alex Ovechkin - 12
- Evgeny Kuznetsov - 11
- T.J. Oshie - 7
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 56
- John Carlson – 53
- Nicklas Backstrom – 50
- John Carlson - 13
- Evgeny Kuznetsov -13
- Nicklas Backstrom - 12
- Alex Ovechkin – 87
- Evgeny Kuznetsov – 83
- Nicklas Backstrom – 71
- Evgeny Kuznetsov - 24
- Alex Ovechkin - 22
- John Carlson - 16
- Nicklas Backstrom - 16
- William Karlsson - 43
- Erik Haula - 29
- Jonathan Marchessault - 27
- Jonathan Marchessault - 8
- Alex Tuch - 6
- William Karlsson - 6
- David Perron - 50
- Jonathan Marchessault - 48
- Reilly Smith - 38
- Reilly Smith - 14
- Jonathan Marchessault - 10
- David Perron - 7
- William Karlsson - 7
- William Karlsson - 78
- Jonathan Marchessault - 75
- David Perron - 66
- Jonathan Marchessault - 18
- Reilly Smith - 16
- William Karlsson - 13
Braden Holtby: 54 GP, 34-16-4 record, .907 save percentage, 2.99 GAA, 0 shutouts
Philipp Grubauer: 35 GP, 15-10-3 record, .923 save percentage, 2.35 GAA, 3 shutouts
Braden Holtby: 18 GP, 12-6 record, .923 save percentage, 2.04 GAA, 2 shutouts
Philipp Grubauer: 2 GP, 0-1 record, .837 save percentage, 4.55 GAA, 0 shutouts
March-Andre Fleury: 46 GP, 29-13-4 record, .927 save percentage, 2.24 GAA, 4 shutouts
Malcolm Subban: 22 GP, 13-4-2 record, .910 save percentage, 2.68 GAA, 0 shutouts
Maxime Legace: 16 GP, 6-7-1 record, .867 save percentage, 3.92 GAA, 0 shutouts
Oscar Dansk: 4 GP, 3-0-0 record, .946 save percentage, 1.78 GAA, 1 shutout
Dylan Ferguson: 1 GP, 0-0-0 record, .500 save percentage, 6.50 GAA, 0 shutouts
Marc-Andre Fleury: 15 GP, 12-3 record, .947 save percentage, 1.68 GAA, 4 shutouts
Capitals finished with a 0-2-0 record against Vegas
Dec. 23: 3-0 Vegas win
The Caps' first trip to Vegas was a rough one. Washington was taken complete surprise by the speed and forecheck of the Golden Knights who built a 3-0 lead in the first period and ride that all the way to the finish line.
Feb. 4: 4-3 Vegas win
This game was part of a season-defining stretch for the Caps. Just 10 days prior, Washington was blown out by the Nashville Predators and again by the Colorado Avalanche two days after that. The Caps would rebound by winning eight of their next 10 games. A back-to-back against the Lightning, who had the best record in the NHL at the time, and the Toronto Maple Leafs looked like a daunting stretch. Philipp Grubauer got the start and was brilliant for Washington and Jay Beagle led the offense with a goal and an assist.
Coming on Friday!
Players to watch
Coming on Saturday!
Keys to the series
Coming on Sunday!
Joe Beninati, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals play-by-play announcer: Capitals in 6
Ryan Billie, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals senior TV producer: Capitals in 7
Tarik El-Bashir, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals Insider: Capitals in 7
Rob Carlin, NBC Sports Washington on-air host of Capitals GameTime and Capitals Extra: Capitals in 6
Courtney Laughlin, Caps FaceOff and Caps Overtime panelist: Capitals in 6
Craig Laughlin, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals color commentator: Capitals in 6
Alan May, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals analyst: Capitals in 6
Grant Paulsen, host of Caps FaceOff and Caps Overtime: Golden Knights in 6
JJ Regan, NBC Sports Washingon Capitals Digital Producer: Capitals in 6
MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:
- Who ya got?: Oddsmakers name Caps the underdogs
- Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!
- Tale of the tape: Washington vs. Vegas
- Nostra-Harper: Bryce Harper called the Caps vs. Golden Knights matchup