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Athens, GREECE (Aug 10) - Despite there being no NBA Dream Teamers, or because of that, the World Championships in Greece was one of the most entertaining ever, with Yugoslavia capturing the World Title.

Yugoslavia rallied in the closing moments to beat Russia 64-62 for the gold medal and a record fourth world title.

And that was after Russia played a thrilling semi final against the U.S. to win that one with 3 seconds left.

Sure there were no Dream teamers because of the NBA dispute, but who really cares? This was basketball played the way it is supposed to be - with passion and desperation, which even infected the U.S. team which did attend.

It wasn't a gold medal, but the U.S. basketball team was satisfied with the bronze at the World Basketball Championship.

Ignored at home, ridiculed in the Greek press - one story called them "the lint after the wash" - and unfairly compared to the absent NBA Dream Team, the mix-and-match Americans beat Greece 84-61 for third place.

The Americans were a collection of CBA and European League players, represented the best the U.S. could muster under the circumstances. But please, send those players every time if it means serious basketball without the ego tripping of Dream Teams past. This was a U.S. team that did basketball and themselves proud.

"Before the game we talked about what a great opportunity this was," coach Rudy Tomjanovich told Associated Press. "These guys got as much out of what they have as any team I've been around."

Tomjanovich ranked the bronze alongside his two NBA titles with the Houston Rockets.

A loss would have sent the U.S. team home from a world championship without a medal for the first time since the 1978 squad finished fifth.

"You always set your goals for the gold," said David Wood, a former NBA journeyman who split last season between the CBA and Spain. "But this is the greatest accomplishment of my basketball career."

Still, the United States will have to go through qualifying to earn an invitation to the 2000 Olympics. Only the world champion and host Australia receive automatic bids.

Athens, GREECE (Aug 10) - Australia can look to a brighter future with the emergence of two genuine tall men at the World Championship in Athens, according to Boomers coach Barry Barnes, reports the ABC.

The Australians finished ninth in the tournament with a 5-3 win-loss ratio the total they gained at the previous world tournament in Atlanta, where they finished fourth.

After winning the silver medal behind the United States at the Goodwill Games in New York, the Boomers had to face the Americans again in their last second-round match but once again were beaten.

However, they finished the tournament strongly, beating Canada 88-71 and Brazil 79-75 to secure ninth place.

"Rogers emerged as a new star and must have set a record for dunks in the earlier round match against Brazil, while Anstey showed the effects of playing in the NBA," Barnes said.

"Mackinnon stepped up in the number three spot and has moved into the upper bracket of the team while Dwight stood out in the last three games.

Captain Andrew Gaze once more ignored his 33 years to finish the uncrowned scoring king of the championship.

Gaze had a game-high 33 points in the positional playoff against Canada to become the second-highest scorer in world title history.

Gaze has scored 571 points in 28 games to move him ahead of Yugoslav Drazen Dalipagic, who registered 568 points in 35 games. However, Gaze will have to play perhaps another 12 years to catch Brazil's legendary Oscar Schmidt on 916 points from 35 games.

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (Aug 10) - At last Andre Moore, who spent time with the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, came to play in Australia's Continental Basketball Association to clinch his Brisbane Brewers a conference play-off berth.

Moore's critical performances included a winning outing against the equally well-credentialled Dwayne McClain (who played with the NBA's Indiana Pacers), whose Gold Coast Warriors were shunted to fourth place.

The bottom line the CBA, and its North Conference in this case, is that only the Cairns Marlins (27-1 for the best record in the country) can realistically win the national title.

Gold Coast did have a chance, but not now that they face the Marlins in Cairns in a best-of-three conference semi final series. The Warriors won't even make the national finals now.

Meanwhile in the Central Conference, South Adelaide (18-4) enter the conference play-offs atop the ladder led by super guard Sidney Goodman.

It was Goodman who two years ago - the day after hearing his brother had been murdered back in the U.S. - scored 68 points for Ipswich in the CBA.

The CBA's South and East Conferences still have a week to run in the regular season, but the big news there is that two-time national champions Ballarat Minerss will miss the play-offs for the first time in the club's 13-year history. Lucky 13. (They lost 13 games this year in conference play.)

Hobart Chargers will finish top the South Conference, but won't win the national title with Darren Smith out injured for the rest of the year. Second-placed Geelong Supercats (they've won seven straight) would love to give it a shake, but won't.

Frankston Blues, in the East Conference, have a 27-3 record for the second best in the country. They will play-off with Cairns in the national grand final on the Gold Coast next month, and will lose.

But meanwhile, the conference titles are still to be decided in Australia's national club competition so there's plenty of action to go.

Check out all the CBA ladders and results from across the country.

Los Angeles, USA (Aug 10) - Earvin "Magic" Johnson's success on the basketball court didn't follow him into television, reports AP. In all likelihhod, his show will never make it to Australia.

The former Los Angeles Lakers star's late-night talk show in the U.S., "The Magic Hour," was canceled after two months of low ratings and critical jabs.

The show's most highly rated show featured Howard Stern, one of the series' most venomous critics.

Rick Jacobson, president of Twentieth Television which produces and distributes "The Magic Hour," canceled the show after consulting with station managers across the country.

Producers had hoped to rely on Johnson's star power to attract viewers, but the show has been hit hard with problems ranging from the former point guard's obvious on-camera nervousness to a lack of chemistry with his original sidekick, comedian Craig Shoemaker.

Athens, GREECE (Aug 6) - Australia's hopes of winning its first medal at a senior men's World Basketball Championships ended when the Boomers went down to the defending champion United States 96-78 in Athens, Greece.

The United States led for most of the contest, and the Boomers could not get back into the contest after falling behind 54-31 at half-time.

Shane Heal, who finished with a tournament high (31) points, while Andrew Gaze and Brett Maher each added (8) points.

"They jumped us early and we couldn't get back into it," a disappointed Boomers coach Barry Barnes said following the game.

"The United States shot the ball very well and their athleticism hurt us. Now we'll look to rotate some of the younger guys in the classification games to get some additional experience which will serve us well in the future."

The Boomers finished tied with Argentina for fourth place in the group, but were eliminated in the tie breaker as the Argentinians defeated Australia in the opening game of the World Championships.

Playing its best game at the world championships, the United States received 18 points to earn a top seeding for the quarterfinals.

The Americans (5-1) had five players scoring in double figures, with Jason Sasser adding 15 points and seven rebounds while Jimmy King had 14 points, Wendell Alexis 13 and Kiwane Garris 11.

The United States will face Italy in the quarterfinals.

The Italians edged Puerto Rico 68-63 and Argentina held off Brazil 86-76 to earn the last two quarterfinal berths.

In games determining quarterfinal seedings, Yugoslavia beat Greece 70-56, Russia defeated Canada 81-72 and Spain topped Lithuania 86-80 in overtime. The other quarterfinal matchups are: Yugoslavia-Argentina, Spain-Greece and Lithuania-Russia.

Athens, GREECE (Aug 6) - Many of Australia's best known basketballers are likely to retire following the Boomer's disappointing performance at the World Basketball Championships in Athens, reports the ABC.

The Athens World Championships will almost certainly be the last for some of the Boomers veterans, after Australia lost to the United States, crashing out of medal contention.

Andrew Vlahov and Scott Fisher have found the going tough, and even Australia's greatest player, Andrew Gaze, has struggled against younger, quicker, stronger opponents.

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA (Aug 6) - The future of the Brisbane Blazers in the Women's National Basketball League is still in doubt, after a deal with South African interests to buy the embattled club fell through.

Despite the continuing doubt over the club's viability, the WNBL is keen to ensure a continuing presence in Queensland.

It has been a catch-22 situation for the Blazers in recent seasons, as they battle to gain both a winning combination on the court and corporate sponsorship off it, reports the ABC.

After the South African bid was rejected, the current owners of the club decided last week to cut their losses and handed the club's membership back to the WNBL.

Queensland Basketball Incorporated took the proposal to own the team to their association, but that was soundly rejected as it was felt such a move was not in its charter.

The league has now confirmed a new membership application by a Brisbane-based group has been put to the WNBL board.

That has resulted in a positive recommendation to the WNBL council, who will vote on the application at the end of this week.

Adelaide, AUSTRALIA (Aug 6) - The National Basketball League's Adelaide 36ers are still endeavouring to finalise new contracts for American imports Darnell Mee and Kevin Brooks, reports the ABC.

The two have returned to the US after Adelaide's NBL championship season, and negotiations have been ongoing with their agent for several weeks.

The 36ers are hoping to sign both players to a three-year deal, and are hoping to settle the matter within the next week.

Sydney, AUSTRALIA (Aug 3) - Australian Hoops has been included in the select group of contenders for the 1998 AFR/Telstra Australian Internet Awards, it was announced today.

Vote for Australian Hoops in the Australian Internet Awards 1998 The website, covering Australian basketball news from around the world, has been included in the Personal Web Page category, and is now eligible not only for the prestigious Judges Award, but also the Most Popular Webpage selected by popular vote.

Please cast your vote for Australian Hoops now by visiting the Voting Form at the official Internet Awards site.

Australian Hoops is the only website in the world where you can get scores from all Australian major leagues, and details of all major league teams, in one location.

There are also over 1,000 world-wide basketball links, including the most comprehensive Australian listing in the world.

Vote now!

Bendigo, AUSTRALIA (Aug 3) - The Australian Boomers are playing in the World Championships in Greece, the professional National Basketball League is in a short recess before its inaugural summer season, but in Australia's cold country confines, the Continental Basketball Association keeps the basketball leather warm for fans across the country.

Australia's most southerly major league team, the Hobart Chargers, lead the CBA's South Conference and over the weekend visited one of the coldest stadiums - Bendigo - and came away with an icy overtime-loss chill.

Tragically, the Chargers appear to have lost star player Darren Smith with a re-injured thumb - just weeks after returning from months on the sidelines, and CBA National MVP David Biwer with concussion.

"I am sure that the injury list reflects the way in which the game was played, but I for one think that a few more calls may have been needed to keep under control the degree of physical contact that was evidenced in this game," says Bruce Chalmers on the Chargers' website.

Despite Hobart having a lead of 9 points in the last quarter, Bendigo managed to keep hitting three-pointers and take the game into overtime. "Cass hit a freaky 3 pointer to tie it up."

Biwer led Hobart with 34 points, while Smith left the court in the first quarter not to return. Bendigo's four-time National leading scorer Steve deLaveaga led all scorers with 41 points.

Check out the Australian Hoops Results Page for all the current CBA ladders as the finals are fast approaching. State League scores and ladders from across Australia are also included.

Athens, GREECE (August 3) - Australia remains on track for its first senior World Basketball Championship medal after defeating Lithuania 71-61 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Athens. Australia's record now stands at 2-2.

Andrew Gaze was again the Boomers' hero. Gaze nailed 10 consecutive points late in the game to cement the victory. He finished with a game high (24) points.

He received great support from Chris Anstey with (10) points and (6) rebounds, Shane Heal (11) points and Tony Ronaldson (10) points and (9) boards.

"It was a huge win for us," an obviously delighted Gaze said after the game. "If we had lost, it would have been very difficult to get to the quarter finals. Now we have our destiny back in our own hands. We have to be ready to handle Brazil tomorrow night, and not let up."

Australia maintained a slight advantage in the early going. The Boomers relinquished the lead 20-19 before Ronaldson's triple regained the edge.

Australia skipped to a five point lead as Mackinnon reeled of eight consecutive points, but the Lithuanians responded by finishing the half on a 7-0 run and took a 37-35 lead to the locker room.

Lithuania's ability to get second shots gave them a slight edge early in the second half, but the game remained gut-wrenchingly tight. Australia took the lead 47-46 on a Ronaldson driving basket, and moved ahead 56-48 on Heal's left corner jumper with 6:14 on the clock.

From there the Boomers drove home the advantage, going to an unassailable lead behind Gaze's stellar shooting.

Overland Park, Kansas, USA (August 1) - Australia's Axel Dench will feel the effects of an NCAA probation imposed on Gonzaga University, where is is entering the third year of a basketball scholarship.

Gonzaga was put on four years probation after the NCAA determined a former athletics director had improperly deposited university funds in a private fund over which he had sole control, reports Associated Press.

The NCAA said Dan Fitzgerald maintained the private fund from 1981 through mid-1997 and was the "sole signatory" for the fund that totaled nearly US$200,000.

Fitzgerald was not only Athletic Director but Head Coach as well for the recruiting of Dench, as well as for current Australian Boomer Paul Rogers, and part-time Boomer John Rillie, both former Gonzaga players.

The money was used to supplement the university's athletics budget for recruiting trips and meals and entertainment money for prospects during recruiting visits, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions said.

Some of the money was used to purchase a used vehicle for recruiting trips by various coaches.

Fitzgerald routinely destroyed bank statements, the infractions committee said in its report. Therefore, the committee said, only limited documentation exists as to how the money was spent.

Fitzgerald also failed to disclose information about the fund during the school's annual NCAA-mandated audits, and failed to report it as part of the NCAA Certification Self-Study Report.

The infractions committee said the specific violations committed by Gonzaga were failure by the school's administration to properly monitor the athletic department and violations of NCAA rules of ethical conduct by Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald was put on administrative leave July 2, 1997, and resigned Dec. 22, 1997.

Part of the penalty levied against Gonzaga requires Fitzgerald to appear before the infractions committee if he seeks employment at another NCAA school in the next four years. Any school wishing to hire Fitzgerald must also appear at the hearing to determine if Fitzgerald's duties should be limited.

Athens, GREECE (August 1) - Australia now faces a must win game against Nigeria to advance to the second round after going down narrowly 76-77 to Spain on Day Two of the 13th FIBA World Basketball Championships.

The result came at a time when an Australian fugitive, fallen tycoon Christopher Skase, is hiding out in Spain, and that country gives Australia another poke in the eye with the narrowest of defeats.

Leading the way for Australia were Tony Ronaldson, who had a team high (17) points, while Sam Mackinnon finished with (14) points and (10) rebounds.

"We are disappointed to lose, but we played with passion and desire," Boomers' coach Barry Barnes said after the heart-breaking loss. "We were much more desperate than last night, and now we have to beat Nigeria tomorrow night."

Barnes was reported on ABC radio as complaining bitterly about the standard of refereeing in the match, pointing specifically to a goal-tending call against Sam Mackinnon, and a travel and elbow foul called against Andrew Gaze at critical times in the game.

In any case, neither team could establish an early advantage, with the difference not extending beyond four points through the mid-way point of the half. A lopsided foul count allowed Spain to remain in the contest, with the Boomers being whistled for 16 fouls compared to 7 on Spain in the first half.

The Boomers went to the locker room with a 36-35 lead with Ronaldson and Mackinnon both leading Australia with (9) points.

From the beginning of the second half the Boomers seemed in control, and led 73-66 with three minutes on the clock. Spain made one last run, claiming the lead in the final minute. For the second consecutive game, Australia had a chance on the game's final play, but Shane Heal's shot rimmed out, giving Spain the victory.

The loss leaves Australia with two losses from two games, after they were defeated by Argentina 66-62 in their opening match.

Spain and Argentina have both qualified for the second round. The Boomers' battle with Nigeria is set down for the Olympic Stadium.

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