Taiwan exit Challenge Cup
Taiwan fell to a 3-0 defeat to Guam in their final AFC Challenge Cup group match in Yangon, Myanmar, yesterday to finish with just a point at the bottom of Group A and failing to qualify for the finals. Jason Cunliffe opened the scoring for Guam in the 16th minute at the Thuwanna YTC Stadium. Ian Marino doubled Guam’s lead 11 minutes into the second half and Cunliffe added his second and his team’s third in the 79th minute. India and Myanmar were due to battle it out for a place in the finals in the late match yesterday, with the losers entering a playoff.
Scolari drops Ronaldinho
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari announced a 22-player squad on Tuesday for the upcoming friendlies against Italy and Russia on March 21 and March 25 respectively. Paris Saint-Germain stars Lucas and Thiago Silva are included, along with strikers Neymar of Santos and Zenit St Petersburg’s Hulk, but there is no place for former world player of the year Ronaldinho, who is currently playing his club soccer for Atletico Mineiro. Chelsea feature three players in the squad, midfielders Ramires and Oscar as well as centerback David Luiz. Queens Park Rangers’ Julio Cesar is expected to keep goal, with cover provided by Fluminense custodian Diego Cavalieri, while Real Madrid playmaker Kaka continues his return to form and also retains his place.
NBA fines Thunder’s Ibaka
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka was slapped with a US$25,000 fine for striking Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin in the groin in their game on Sunday, the NBA said on Tuesday. Ibaka was initially whistled for a level one flagrant foul. In addition to the fine, league officials upgraded the foul to a more serious level two, but decided not to suspend him. The incident occurred with 1 minute, 52 seconds to play in the Thunder’s 108-104 victory over the Clippers. Ibaka insisted his below the belt hit was not intentional. “I just wanted to try to get position and he has his hands on me, so I’m going to try to sweep [my hand] to get in position to go get a rebound,” Ibaka said. “We were fighting in the paint to get position for a rebound. It was about positioning.”
Rockets sign Aaron Brooks
The Houston Rockets shored up their backcourt for a playoff drive by signing free-agent guard Aaron Brooks, a former first-round pick of theirs, the NBA team said on Tuesday. Brooks, who averaged 8 points and 2.3 assists with the Sacramento Kings before being released on Friday last week, spent last season with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, who he helped reach the CBA Finals. His best NBA campaign came in 2009-2010 with Houston, when he earned Most Improved Player honors after averaging career-highs of 19.6 points and 5.3 assists in 82 starts.
Weiss to go under the knife
Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss is to have wrist surgery next week that will sideline him for three months, likely ending his season, the NHL team said on Tuesday. Weiss, Florida’s first-round draft pick in 2001 and a four-time 20-goal scorer, has produced just one goal and four points in 17 games for the Panthers. “He couldn’t perform up to his capabilities, in his opinion, and he wanted to get it fixed,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said in a report on the team’s Web site.