Heat on familiar ground
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade know what to expect from the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. That’s because they were in the same spot a year ago. Smarting from a Game 2 home loss last year, the Miami Heat went into Dallas last season and were inspired — they used the word desperate as well — from start to finish in a Game 3 victory. The Heat were looking to ensure that trend did not repeat itself last night, when the championship series was to resume on Miami’s home floor. After a day off to rest and travel, the teams resumed practice on Saturday. Predictably, the moods were light around both the Thunder and the Heat, neither team seeming overly tense after splitting the first two games in Oklahoma City.
Croatia face big fines
Croatian soccer chiefs on Saturday pleaded with UEFA not to punish the national side for the actions of a minority, as it faced possible hefty sanctions for fans’ racist chanting against Italy’s Mario Balotelli. “The Croatian Football Federation appeals to UEFA not to punish the Croatian national team ... and not to associate it with a section of fans who actually are not supporters, but hooligans who should be isolated from all sports events,” it said. The organization made the appeal after UEFA announced that it was taking action against the federation following complaints from a racism monitoring body that Croatia fans taunted Balotelli during Thursday’s Group C match in Poznan, Poland. A photographer who also heard the chants saw a steward pick up a banana from the pitch during the match, which ended 1-1. UEFA’s Disciplinary and Control Body is to announce its decision tomorrow, with a stiff penalty possible after it previously threatened Russia with a six-point deduction from its next Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in the event of further fan violence.
Zheng Jie reaches semi-final
China’s Zheng Jie reached the semi-finals of the Birmingham WTA grasscourt tournament on Saturday, but torrential rain left organizers with a nightmare backlog of matches. Zheng got the better of Italian fourth seed Roberta Vinci 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in a quarter-final already held over from Friday. The world No. 32 will play the winner of the quarter-final between Jelena Jankovic and Misaki Doi, which was suspended on Edgbaston Priory Club’s Centre Court because of rain. Jankovic was leading 2-0 in the opening set when the weather intervened. Russia’s Ekatarina Makarova is also through to the last four after dodging the showers to beat Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. The Russian will now take on either Melanie Oudin or Irinia Falconi.
Moyes ‘happy at Everton’
Everton manager David Moyes said on Saturday that he was happy at Goodison Park despite speculation linking him with a switch to Tottenham as Harry Redknapp’s replacement. Moyes, who has spent 10 years at Everton, told the BBC: “All I can say is that I have had no contact and if I had had any I would have told my chairman [Bill Kenwright]. I hope to meet all my ambitions at Everton, but you never know in this game.” Moyes has battled against a tight budget at Everton, but last season took the club to seventh in the Premier League, one place above city rivals Liverpool.
Albasini wins eighth stage
GreenEdge rider Michael Albasini clinched the eighth and penultimate stage of the Tour of Switzerland on Saturday, while Portugal’s yellow jersey wearer Rui Costa held on to his chances of overall victory. Switzerland’s Albasini broke away 17km from the end of Saturday’s stage, a 148km ride from Bischofszell to Arosa, to finish ahead of Spain’s Mikel Nieve and Levi Leipheimer of the US. Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck, who is Costa’s closest rival in the overall standings, was fourth on the stage, but Portugal’s Costa, of the Movistar team, went into yesterday’s final stage with a 14-second lead. Costa was 14th on Saturday, 50 seconds behind Schleck.