Taiwan beat Curacao
Taiwan beat Curacao 11-0 yesterday to finish top in the international division of the Junior Little League World Series in Taylor, Michigan. This gave Taiwan an all-win record to compete with the US division champion for this year’s Little League Baseball (LLB) Junior World Series title. The team, mainly composed of players from Hsin-Ming Junior High School in Taoyuan County, is representing the Asia-Pacific region in the tournament. Perennial powerhouse Taiwan have defeated the Czech Republic, Puerto Rico, Curacao, which represents Latin America, and Canada to enter the final in the international division. Taiwan trounced Curacao again yesterday to clinch division championship. Meanwhile, Rio Rico (Arizona) beat Goodlettsville (Tennessee) 7-3 to win the US division title on the same day. Taiwan and Rio Rico are to play in the championship game today.
Chavanel wins time trial
Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel blitzed to victory in the fifth stage 13.2km time trial around Sittard during the Eneco Tour of the Low Countries on Friday as Dutchman Lars Boom maintained his overall lead. Omega Pharma’s 34-year-old Chavanel won in 16 minutes, 4 seconds to pip Dutchman Tom Dumoulin and New Zealand’s Jesse Sergent by just four seconds. This year’s national time-trial champion, who held the Tour de France yellow jersey for two stages in 2010, proved too strong for the field as he looks to build on his win earlier this year on the Three Days of De Panne in the Netherlands. Pre-stage favorite Bradley Wiggins surprisingly could manage only fifth, at nine seconds back. The result allowed Boom to extend his overall lead to four seconds, with Chavanel moving up to second and Dumoulin third.
Lyon beat Sochaux 3-1
Olympique Lyonnais warmed up for their Champions League playoff with a 3-1 win at against Sochaux-Montbeliard on Friday to stay top of the French first division. Lyon have a perfect six points from two games after their opening 4-0 win over OGC Nice last weekend. They will go into Tuesday’s Champions League playoff first-leg tie against Spain’s Real Sociedad buoyed by Friday’s performance, which saw them come back from a goal down after just four minutes. Ryad Boudebouz scored from the penalty spot for hosts Sochaux in the fourth minute after Milan Bisevac was punished for a foul on Cedric Bakambu. However, Lyon were 2-1 up at the break after Yassine Benzia leveled in the 35th minute and Alexandre Lacazette hit the target two minutes from the interval. Steed Malbranque started the move for Benzia’s goal, with Clement Grenier finding the decisive pass. Lacazette, who scored twice against Nice, was on target thanks to good work again from Benzia and the impressive Grenier. Yoann Gourcuff hit the third goal three minutes into the second half. Gourcuff had been nursing a knee injury early in the week, but he looked sharp when he finished off a fine Benzia pass.
Timberwolves re-sign Pekovic
The Minnesota Timberwolves announced on Friday that they had re-signed restricted free-agent center Nikola Pekovic. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Pekovic, 27, set career highs last season by averaging 16.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 31.6 minutes per game over 62 games (all starts). Pekovic has averaged 11.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per game over his career. He was drafted No. 31 overall by the Timberwolves in 2008.
Ketchup off menu for team
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has revealed some of the strict rules he has introduced at the club, including the banning of mobile phones and tomato ketchup. Di Canio succeeded Martin O’Neill in March and has vowed to get tough with his players. “This is a complete revolution,” he told yesterday’s edition of the Daily Telegraph. “We’ve focused on changing the whole dressing-room environment. Imagine if for years your habit is to use the phone when you’re having a massage on the bed, even one minute before going out to train? For 25 days I accepted this, because my first priority was to work on the field. However, I’ve said that from now if someone comes inside with a mobile phone, even in their bag, I’ll throw it in the North Sea. They’re banned.” The Italian is also determined to exert greater control over the squad’s diet. “We need to have lectures about why we can’t have everyday things like mayonnaise, ketchup and Coke,” he said.
Sharapova splits with Jimbo
Maria Sharapova has split with coach Jimmy Connors after just one match, the Russian’s agent said on Friday. Max Eisenbud confirmed that Sharapova and Connors, an eight-time major winner in his playing days, are no longer working together after linking up for just one event in Cincinnati. Sharapova hired Connors last month after previous coach Thomas Hogstedt had said that he wanted to cut back on his travel schedule and spend time with his family. Sharapova and Connors had little time to get acquainted, with the player trying to heal a hip injury in time to prepare for the US Open which starts on Aug. 26. As it is, Sharapova, who lost in the Cincinnati WTA tournament to Sloane Stephens on Tuesday, is now in Florida training. Seen in the Cincinnati players’ lounge after his new client’s defeat, Connors appeared to be eager to leave the event as soon as possible.
Ballance frustrates Aussies
Australia suffered a frustrating time in the field as England Lions batsman Gary Ballance hit a century on a rain-affected first day of the tour match at Northampton on Friday. Ballance smashed 104 from 154 balls, including 16 fours and one six as the Lions closed on 269-7, with spinner Nathan Lyon the pick of the Australia bowlers with 3-80. Ballance surged past 100 off 153 balls by hammering Steve Smith for six, only for the spinner to trap him LBW with the next ball. Moeen Ali contributed 61 off 101 deliveries for the Lions.
Massa backs break
Brazilian Felipe Massa believes the tradition of a mid-season summer break has given his Ferrari team — and himself — a perfect opportunity to regain their form. Ferrari have won only two races this season and both thanks to the brilliance of Ferando Alonso. However, they have not enjoyed any success since the Spanish Grand Prix in May and have seen their race performances fail just as dismally as their qualifying showings in recent months. Even if the teams are banned from working or opening their factories for two weeks, Massa claimed this week that the break will still allow them to think and solve problems. “We need to make this car quicker,” Massa said. “So it’s a very important four weeks from one race to the other. We know that we have a break for everybody and the team needs to be closed for two weeks. Nobody can work, but the working and thinking are important to bring new pieces for the next race in Belgium and to have a more competitive second half of the season.”