Wed, Mar 14, 2012 - Page 19 News List

SPORTS BRIEFS

Agencies

BASKETBALL

T.J. Ford retires from NBA

San Antonio Spurs guard T.J. Ford announced his retirement from the NBA on Monday, saying his departure was for the best after the latest in a series of neck and spine injuries. Ford, who turns 29 next week, averaged 3.6 points, 3.2 assists and 1.3 rebounds a game in limited playing time over 14 games with the Spurs this season, his eighth in the NBA. Ford, who played collegiately at the nearby University of Texas, has been nagged by neck injuries, the most recent coming last Wednesday in a victory over New York. He began his NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks as the eighth overall selection in the 2003 NBA Draft, but midway into his rookie season suffered a spinal injury that forced him to miss the entire 2004-2005 season. He played the following season for the Bucks and the next two with Toronto, before joining Indiana in 2008 and having his best season, averaging 14.9 points, 5.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 74 games with the Pacers. Ford spent three seasons at Indiana before joining the Spurs this season. For his NBA career, Ford averaged 11.2 points, 5.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.16 steals in 27.7 minutes a game over 429 appearances.

BASKETBALL

Marbury denies hitting fan

Former NBA star Stephon Marbury has denied hitting a fan after a testy playoff loss in a Chinese Basketball Association game. The 35-year-old and his Beijing Ducks teammates were trapped in their team van after their 102-100 away loss on Sunday to the Shanxi Brave Dragons, Marbury’s original team when he joined the league in 2010. A newspaper photograph showed fans pounding on the windows of the van. Marbury was quoted yesterday by the China Daily as saying he and the fans had been separated by guards. Marbury scored 25 points in the ill-tempered game that was interrupted for 10 minutes as Shanxi fans threw water bottles onto the court. Shanxi’s win tied their best-of-five series at 2-2, with the final game in Beijing today. The winner goes to the finals.

SOCCER

Ficcadenti back at Cagliari

Serie A strugglers Cagliari on Monday confirmed the return of Massimo Ficcadenti as coach to replace Davide Ballardini, who was dismissed in the wake of Friday’s 6-3 defeat to Napoli. Ficcadenti coached the Sardinian side between August and November last year, before making way for Ballardini. However, he remained under contract as in Italy, while coaches are frequently replaced, they are rarely officially sacked. Ballardini becomes the 15th coach to be stood down in the Italian top flight this season, while Cagliari president Massimo Cellino has now overseen three coaching changes since last summer. Cellino appointed Ficcadenti for a first spell at the helm in place of Roberto Donadoni in August last year.

SOCCER

Brett Holman to join Villa

Aston Villa announced that Australia international midfielder Brett Holman has agreed to join the Premier League club at the end of the season when his contract with Dutch leaders AZ Alkmaar expires. The 27-year-old has spent a decade in the Netherlands, having initially signed for Feyenoord, before spells with Excelsior and NEC Nijmegen. Villa manager Alex McLeish said Holman is “a very intelligent player ... who is recognized in the game as a nonstop, committed, wide midfield player.” Holman has played 53 matches for Australia. Holman said he is pleased to be joining a club with “a long and prestigious history in English football.”

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