Sports Update

Oct. 1, 2001 at 11:26 PM
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, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- In Sports from United Press International

Serna suspended and fined

NEW YORK, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Miami Fusion forward Diego Serna will miss the opener of the MLS Cup semifinals after the league suspended him one game and fined him $5,000 for his actions in Game Two of the quarterfinals.

Serna already has sat out one playoff game after getting a red card for making contact with the head of Kansas City Wizards defender Nick Garcia late in Wednesday's 3-0 loss. Serna and Garcia were jostling for position on a corner kick when Serna made contact with the defender's head. He was sent off and his ensuing goal was nullified.

Without Serna, Miami won the decisive third game against Kansas City.

Describing Serna's actions as "egregious conduct outside the course of the game," the MLS also suspended him for Game One of the semifinals against the San Jose Earthquakes on October 10.

Braves catcher out with ankle injury

ATLANTA, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Atlanta Braves catcher Javy Lopez is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season and possibly the playoffs with a high left ankle sprain.

Lopez suffered the injury in the eighth inning of Sunday's 9-6 loss to the New York Mets. Robin Ventura of the Mets slid into the plate and his leg wrapped around Lopez's ankle as the catcher reached for a thrown ball.

The injury was diagnosed follow an examination on Monday by Braves orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joe Chandler.

"Javy's availability for the rest of the regular season is extremely unlikely," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "Beyond that, it'll be a matter of how quickly the healing process takes place and the amount of pain that Javy might still be experiencing."

The loss could be a costly one for the Braves, who begin a three-game series with Philadelphia on Tuesday night. The Braves lead the Phils by two games in the National League East.

Lopez hit .377 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 20 September games to raise his season batting average to .267.

Orioles promoye Tim Raines Jr.

BALTIMORE, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The Baltimore Orioles purchased the contract of outfielder Tim Raines Jr. on Monday after placing righthander Josh Towers on the 60-day disabled list.

Raines, the 22-year-old son of Montreal Expos outfielder Tim Raines, batted .274 at three minor league levels this season with nine home runs, 55 RBI and 54 stolen bases. He started the year at Class A Frederick and was promoted to Class AA Bowie on May 3 after hitting .250 with three homers, 13 RBI and 14 steals in 23 games.

In the Eastern League, the younger Raines batted .291 with four homers, 30 RBI and 29 stolen bases in 65 games. After earning another promotion to Class AAA Rochester, he hit .256 with two homers, 12 RBI and 11 steals in 40 games.

A 1998 sixth-round draft pick, Raines was in uniform for Monday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Towers is out for the season with a fractured ring finger on his pitching hand. Following a poor outing on September 20, the 24-year-old righthander slammed his hand in disgust and broke his finger. Towers was 8-10 as a rookie with a 4.49 ERA in 24 games, including 20 starts. He faded down the stretch, losing nine of his last 12 decisions.

Jordan confident he can play NBA basketball

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- A confident Michael Jordan, at 38 on the eve of another NBA comeback, said Monday he's sure he can still play "on the highest level."

Displaying his love of basketball and lust for competition, Jordan addressed the media for the first time since the Washington Wizards announced his return to the NBA.

"I'm not walking into this scenario thinking I'm going to fail. I'm thinking I'm going to make it work," Jordan said.

"I'm going to have total confidence I can do all the things I need to do. Physically, I know I'm not 25 years old, but I feel I can play the game of basketball on the highest level."

Jordan has not played since 1998, when he led the Chicago Bulls to their third straight NBA championship and sixth in eight years.

"No matter what happens here, you can't take away my six championships," he said.

Jamal Anderson lost for season

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga., Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson is out for the season, Coach Dan Reeves confirmed Monday.

Two years after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, Anderson suffered a similar injury to his left knee in Atlanta's 34-14 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Anderson crumpled to the field without being touched after a one-yard run in the first quarter. The play was eerily similar to when Anderson tore his right ACL without being touched on the turf at Dallas in a Sept.20, 1999, game and missed the rest of the season.

In the first two games of the 2001 season, Anderson rushed for 184 yards on 51 carries and turned a short pass into a 94-yard touchdown in last week's win over Carolina.

Maurice Smith, a second-year player, will replace Anderson asthe starter. He rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in Sunday's 34-14 win over the Cardinals.

"When you lose a player like Jamal, it hurts," Reeves said. "But, the one thing we felt like was going into the season and we had a little more depth at that position and we will get tested now because we have Maurice and Rodney Thomas is healthy now."

Popovich gets 3-year extension

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The San Antonio Spurs rewarded coach-general manager Gregg Popovich with a three-year contract extension through the 2005-06 season Monday.

The San Antonio Express-News says the deal is estimated to be worth about $20 million and includes a reduced-salary provision each year if Popovich wants to relinquish either his front-office or coaching duties.

"Gregg Popovich has done a tremendous job in both building and guiding the San Antonio Spurs," Spurs owner Peter Holt said. "He is one of the best in the business and we're thrilled that he has agreed to this new deal. Both on and off the court, Pop has made a major impact in the community of San Antonio."

Holt made the move a year before the Spurs move into their new arena.

In four-plus seasons since taking over as coach, Popovich has guided the Spurs to their only NBA title?after the lockout-abbreviated 1999 season?and a berth in last year's Western Conference finals.

Among coaches with at least 200 wins, Popovich (221-139) ranks 10th in NBA history with a .614 winning percentage. He is fourth among active coaches, trailing only Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and Jerry Sloan.

Popovich has been general manager since May 1994. He named himself coach during the 1996-97 season after the team bowed out to the Utah Jazz in the second round of the 1996 playoffs.

Possible Super Bowl switch studied

NEW YORK, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The National Football League is looking at four potential alternate sites for this season's Super Bowl if a restructured schedule forces the NFL to move the game from New Orleans, according to Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

One such proposed site was Giants Stadium at East Rutherford, N.J., within miles of the destroyed World Trade Center, and Tagliabue agreed it would be "one way to help rebuild the city," but also would mean logistical and security problems. Other potential locations under study were Miami, Tampa and Los Angeles. He said, however, the league hoped to keep the game in New Orleans.

The Super Bowl, originally set for Jan. 27, probably will have to be pushed back a week to get in all the playoff games. That would set up a Feb. 3 game and would create a possible scheduling conflict in New Orleans, a conflict Tagliabue has been trying to resolve with the National Automobile Dealers Association, whose convention is scheduled there that day.

Rain interrupts Japan Open

TOKYO, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Tenth-seeded Harel Levy of Isreal advanced to the second round as only three matches were completed Monday due to rain at the Japan Open.

Levy defeated Satoshi Iwabuchi of Japan, 6-3, 6-3, under the roof at Ariake Colosseum because of the inclement weather.

American James Blake and Axel Pretzsch of Germany also moved into the next round. Blake dispatched Japanese wild card Yaoki Ishii, 6-3, 6-4, and Pretzsch got past Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan, 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.

Fourteen other men's first-round matches were postponed while two matches on the women's side were forced to be rescheduled for Tuesday.

Santoro advances at Kremlin Cup

MOSCOW, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- No. 6 Fabrice Santoro of France, the only seeded player in action Monday, routed Galo Blanco of Spain, 6-2, 6-1, in the first round of the $2.19 million Kremlin Cup tennis event at the Olympic Stadium.

On the women's side, Russia's Anastasia Myskina cruised past Spain's Magui Serna, 6-2, 6-2, in one of three opening-round encounters.

Top seeds Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Martina Hingis each will try to snap an eight-month title drought this week.

In other men's first-round clashes, Russian Andrei Stoliarov defeated Czech Michal Tabara, 7-5, 6-2, and Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic thrashed countryman Bohdan Ulihrach, 6-1, 6-0. Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia got past Vladimir Voltchkov of Belarus, 6-4, 7-5.

In the women's draw, Daja Bedanova of the Czech Republic rolled over Cristina Torrens Valero of Spain, 6-0, 6-3, and Francesca Schiavone of Italy beat Nadia Petrova of Russia, 6-4, 6-2.

Hingis and Kafelnikov have not won titles since February. She claimed her third tournament of the year at the Dubai Open on February 25 and he earned his only title of the year at the Marseille Open one week earlier.

Kafelnikov has not lost a Kremlin Cup match since falling to Goran Ivanisevic in the 1996 final. Not since Hungary's Balazs Taroczy won Hilversum in 1982 has anyone won five consecutive titles in the same tournament. The 27-year-old from Sochi appeared in his second final of the year three weeks ago at the President's Cup in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but lost to Marat Safin in only the second all-Russian championship match in ATP history.

Safin, the second seed from Moscow, won his first title of the after claiming a tour-leading seven in 2000. Both he and Kafelnikov were semifinalists at the U.S. Open last month, and Safin reached the last four here a year ago.

The two Russian stars face familiar foes in the first round Tuesday as Kafelnikov plays Davis Cup teammate 18-year-old Mikhail Youzhny and Safin battles sometime doubles partner Max Mirnyi of Belarus.

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