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Ex-NBA, Arizona Basketball Player Chase Budinger Makes Olympics in Beach Volleyball

Former NBA player Chase Budinger is going to the Olympics — for beach volleyball.

The 6-foot-7 Californian, who helped Arizona reach the Sweet 16 in 2009 before playing seven seasons with the Rockets, Timberwolves, Pacers and Suns, earned a berth with Miles Evans as the No. 2 U.S. men’s pair at the FIVB tournament in Ostrava, Czechia, on Wednesday.

Most teams qualify for the Olympic beach volleyball tournament by earning points on the international tour through this weekend. The field is limited to two teams per country per gender, and Budinger and Evans clinched their spot when the No. 3 U.S. men’s team, Trevor Crabb and Theo Brunner, lost in the qualifying round and could not earn the points to move up.

Budinger and Evans are both first-time Olympians, as are the other American men, Miles Partain and Andy Benesh.

The defending women’s gold medalists, April Ross and Alix Klineman, did not attempt to qualify for the Paris Games after taking time off to start families. The U.S. will be represented by reigning world champions Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes, as well as Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss.

Only Cheng has Olympic experience, finishing ninth in Tokyo (under her maiden name, Kelly Claes) with partner Sarah Sponcil.

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