Bears take NCAA title
The Baylor Bears on Monday ended the Gonzaga Bulldogs’ quest for an unbeaten NCAA championship season clinching the US college basketball title with a 86-70 victory. The Waco, Texas-based Baylor University team sealed their first “March Madness” title with a dominant performance against the Bulldogs, who were aiming to crown an undefeated season with a championship. Monday’s defeat at Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium came just two days after Gonzaga’s exhilarating semi-final victory over UCLA on Saturday, when Jalen Suggs’ buzzer-beater sealed a 93-90 win. For long periods on Monday, it looked as if Gonzaga were still nursing a hangover from that win, with Baylor dominating in all departments to build a comfortable lead well before the end. Jared Butler led the Baylor scoring with 22 points, seven assists and three rebounds, while MaCio Teague had 19 points with two rebounds. Baylor laid the foundations for success with a blistering start, jumping into a 9-0 lead that they never relinquished.”They came out and fed off of each other and got off to a great start, and defensively we’re pretty good,” Baylor Bears coach Scott Drew said. “Our guys have been motivated all year. It’s a player-led team. We’re so blessed to have unbelievable leadership. We play with a culture of joy.” Gonzaga, meanwhile, were left shattered in defeat, with Saturday’s hero Suggs — who led the Bulldogs’ scoring with 22 points — in tears.
NK out of Tokyo Games
North Korea became the first country to drop out of the Tokyo Olympics because of COVID-19 fears, a decision that underscores the challenges facing Japan as it struggles to stage a global sporting event amid a raging pandemic. A Web site run by the North Korean Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports said its national Olympic Committee during a meeting on March 25 decided not to participate in the Games to protect athletes from the “world public health crisis caused by COVID-19.”
AFC plans women’s league
A women’s AFC Champions League is to be launched in 2023, Asia’s soccer governing body said, with the new international club tournament aiming to increase the strength of the female game across the continent. Japan won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011 and Asia has other strong nations such as Australia and China, but at club level the popularity of women’s soccer in lags far behind Europe and the US. At the last Women’s World Cup in France in 2019, no Asian team reached the quarter-finals for the first time since the tournament began in 1991, but the Asian Football Confederation is now preparing to launch a female version of the Champions League in two years’ time, said Bai Lili, the governing body’s head of women’s soccer. “That is going to definitely boost women’s football,” Bai, who played for China at the 2004 Athens Olympics, told reporters at the AFC’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. “If we are organizing a club competition, that means the participants need to meet the criteria for the club licensing, the leagues need to be well organized, Bai said. “That is definitely going to help the domestic leagues. It will give exposure to the non-national team players.”
TAKE TWO: Tainan TSG are the favorites going into this season, which starts on Sunday. They have fearsome forwards and national ’keeper Pan Wen-chieh between the posts Defending champions Tainan TSG (Taiwan Steel Group) face a tough challenge from their southern neighbors Taipower and CPC FC when the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) season starts this weekend with four matches on Sunday. Promoting grassroots soccer, and organizing relegation and promotion between the top and second divisions last year was important for the progression of Taiwanese soccer, CTFA chairman Chiou I-jen told a news conference in Taipei yesterday. “We are going in the right direction ... and becoming more competitive” for international competitions, Chiou said. Still the favorites, Tainan TSG have the league’s most fearsome forwards, with three international star players.
Nine-year-old Thai kickboxer Pornpattara “Tata” Peachaurai is eager to get back in the ring after COVID-19 curbs brought his fight season to a halt more than five months ago. The money he earns is vital income for his family. “All the money from boxing, the regular payment and the tips, it all goes to mum,” the lean young fighter said. “I’m proud to be a boxer and to earn money for my mum.” Tata’s last fight was in October last year, before a second COVID-19 outbreak in Thailand shut down sports events as bans on large gatherings were reimposed. “I cannot box. I
FIFTY YEARS ON: ‘Don’t be afraid of competition, we can compete peacefully,’ said Yao Zhenxu, a Chinese player who was there when ‘ping-pong diplomacy’ began It was 50 years ago, but Zhang Xielin remembers vividly how a shaggy-haired US table tennis player stepped onto the Chinese team’s bus, a chance encounter which would shape history. It was the world championships in Nagoya, Japan, and Glenn Cowan mistakenly hopped in with Zhang and his teammates — an awkward moment because the US and China were then deeply at odds. “We were on the bus and were talking and laughing,” said Zhang, now 80. “But when we realized that an American had come onto the bus, we fell silent.” The Chinese triple world champion Zhuang Zedong eventually came forward and
After several humbling losses to the West Division leaders, the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday sent quite the message to the Colorado Avalanche in their last of eight regular-season matchups. Eight was more than enough for the Wild to slow the Avalanche. Kevin Fiala notched his first career hat-trick, while Kirill Kaprizov had two of Minnesota’s three power-play goals as the sharp-shooting Wild beat Colorado 8-3 to hand the Avalanche their first regulation loss in 16 games. “We can play against you guys,” Fiala said. “If we’re going to meet them in the playoffs.” Luke Johnson, Ryan Hartman and Joel Eriksson Ek also scored as