Yao Ming gave Jeff Van Gundy the production he wanted, although the Houston Rockets' first-year coach probably wants his center to stay on the floor longer. \nYao scored 19 points in a foul-plagued 20 minutes as the Rockets cruised to a 102-85 victory over the poor-shooting Denver Nuggets in Van Gundy's debut with the team. \nIt was a special night for the Rockets as Van Gundy became the 10th coach in team history in the first game at the US$202 million Toyota Center. \nThe former New York Knicks coach has made it a mandate for the offense to focus on Yao over Steve Francis, and the Chinese center responded with 15 points in the first half before foul trouble slowed him over the final 24 minutes. \n"I thought I played pretty good, but I got into foul trouble and I know I can play better," Yao said. "I just had way too many fouls and I would have liked to play more." \n"When you look at the fouls, some are going to be 50-50 type calls and there are others that we can help him avoid," Van Gundy said. "We need to get guys in front of him keeping the ball out of the lane so he is not in a vulnerable position." \nCuttino Mobley led Houston with 21 points and Francis added 17 and six assists. The Rockets took control with a 13-5 spurt to start the second half, capped by Mobley's dunk off a feed from Francis for a 61-47 bulge with 7:28 remaining in the third quarter. \nFrancis also finished with six assists, adjusting to his role as more of a distributor than a scorer as Houston moves away from its free-wheeling style. Francis and Van Gundy were rumored to have clashed during training camp about the team's new offense. \n"There wasn't a whole lot of guys trying to do a lot of things on their own," Francis said. "We got into sets, moved the ball around well and everybody got their shots. This year we know it's not about anyone getting a certain amount of points -- it's about wins and losses." \nThe Nuggets missed their first seven shots of the second half and also endured a drought of more than six minutes in the fourth quarter. Denver shot just over 31 percent (11-of-35) after halftime. \nYao, who had three blocks, and Kelvin Cato helped anchor a strong defensive effort by Houston. Yao provided the signature moment of the game when he rejected Anthony twice in one sequence in the first quarter.
Kanako Murata seemed destined to represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics as a freestyle wrestler, but that all changed when she saw MMA icon Ronda Rousey fight. “It was then that I knew what I wanted to do and I have never regretted it for a moment since,” said Murata, now a rising star with the Las Vegas-based UFC. First inspired by Japan’s Olympic wrestling queen Saori Yoshida, Murata had by her early 20s emerged as a junior world freestyle wrestling champion. Then came the night in 2015 that Murata saw the explosive American former UFC bantamweight champion Rousey in action, and
LACKING HEIGHT: With Indonesia hosting a qualifying tournament for the third-placed teams before the Asia Cup begins, Taiwan have one more opportunity to get a berth The Taiwan men’s national basketball team on Sunday lost to China 91-73, making it more difficult for the squad to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup. The defeat at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Pampanga Province, Philippines, followed Taiwan’s losses to China (115-66) on Thursday and Japan (98-61) on Friday. This third and final window of the qualifiers was held in a “competition bubble” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With the loss, Taiwan (1-4) finished third in Group B, which included China, Japan and Malaysia. Third place does not automatically give them a berth in the Asia Cup, which is scheduled
‘A LITTLE EUPHORIA’: Germany managed to turn things around before halftime, to stave off a defeat that would have left them at the brink of elimination in Group F Germany on Saturday breathed life into their Euro 2020 campaign with a stunning 4-2 win over holders Portugal in Munich, despite Cristiano Ronaldo moving closer to the all-time international goals record, after world champions France were forced to settle for a draw with Hungary. Saturday also saw Spain stumble to a 1-1 draw with Poland in Seville, as the second round of group games at the tournament drew to a close. Germany knew a defeat against Portugal at the Allianz Arena would leave them on the brink of being eliminated from Group F, following their failure to make it beyond the group
Whether watching from Jamaica, Japan or the US, it was hard to miss the shock of flowing, orange hair that came streaking across the finish line first in Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday night. It belonged to Sha’Carri Richardson. After the eye-opening show she put on at the US Olympic trials — blowing away the field in the 100m semi-finals in a wind-aided 10.64 seconds, then again in the final in 10.86 seconds — she figures to grab her fair share of attention next month in Tokyo. With her performance, the 21-year-old out of Louisiana State University picked up a spot in the