NBA to mark Lunar New Year
The NBA will reach out to its Chinese fan-base with a weeklong series of events to coincide with Lunar New Year celebrations. The Year of the Dragon will be marked by the showing of 21 NBA games on Chinese television stations as well as a variety of Chinese-themed events in both the US and China. “Chinese New Year is a fun time of year and we wanted to join in the festivities,” NBA spokeswoman Heidi Ueberroth said. The event begins with the televising of three games on Chinese-language TV on Saturday, including the Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando on Guangdong TV. On Sunday, the Washington Wizards will host a variety of Lunar New Year events during their game against the Boston Celtics.
Phillies, Hamels agree
The Philadelphia Phillies avoided arbitration with Cole Hamels by agreeing to a one-year, US$15 million contract with the two-time All-Star pitcher, the MLB team said on Tuesday. The left-hander posted a 14-9 record with Philadelphia last season, which marked the fifth consecutive campaign he has won at least 10 games. Hamels, 28, had a 2.79 earned run average in 31 starts during the regular season last year and also won Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the eventual World Series champion St Louis Cardinals.
Brewers sign Japan’s Aoki
Three-time Japanese batting champion Norichika Aoki signed a two-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, the MLB club announced on Tuesday. The Brewers paid Aoki’s Japanese club, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, a US$2.5 million fee for the right to negotiate with the 30-year-old outfielder. The left-handed slugger has played his entire eight-year career with the Swallows, batting .329 and belting 84 home runs in 985 games. “He never asked about [playing time], he’s just confident that he can come over and show us his skill set,” general manager Doug Melvin said. “He’s met a lot of challenges in Japan. He’s won batting titles, he’s won Gold Gloves, he’s been an All-Star.” Aoki was Japan’s batting champion in 2005 (.344), 2007 (.346) and 2010 (.358). He also represented Japan at two World Baseball Classic tournaments.
Robertson into final eight
Australia’s 2010 world snooker champion Neil Robertson booked his place in the last eight of the Masters in London on Tuesday, beating Northern Irishman Mark Allen 6-3. For Robertson — who swept to victory with four frames in a row when he trailed 3-2 — it was sweet revenge after being beaten by Allen in the quarter-finals of this tournament last year. The man who replaced Robertson as world champion, Scottish cuesman John Higgins, also reached the quarter-finals as he prevailed 6-2 over Englishman Matthew Stevens.
UK rhythmic team ousted
Britain have fallen short of the required qualifying score and will not be able to compete in the rhythmic gymnastics group event at the London Olympics. Britain’s rhythmic group needed to score 45.223 at the test event at the O2 arena, which also served as a second Olympic qualifier. However, the team fell .273 short on Tuesday, finishing with a score of 44.950. Britain appealed, but it was rejected by the International Gymnastics Federation. Frankie Jones had already given the host nation a spot in individual rhythmic gymnastics, qualifying at last year’s world championships.