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07.06.2001

Defender Alpay may leave Villa

Defender Alpay may leave Villa  » Copa to go ahead in Colombia despite bombings  » Milan to make bid for Juventus striker Inzaghi  » Marion Jones separates from husband, plans divorce  » With everything going right, will Devils stumble again?  » Fair play pays: Finnish, Slovak clubs gain UEFA Cup berths  » Jerry Rice moves across the bay to sign with Raiders  » Strip club owner had dancers meet Dennis Rodman at hotel  » Destiny calls for Hingis and Capriati  » Holdsclaw scores 19 as Mystics rally to defeat the Monarchs
TDN-ee, Sports News Page 2
7 June 2001, Copyright © Turkish Daily News

  • Defender Alpay may leave Villa
  • The Turkish international is quoted as saying, 'Arsenal and Newcastle have made inquires about me, as have (Turkish clubs) Besiktas and Fenerbahce'
  • Copa to go ahead in Colombia despite bombings
  • The decision is taken by the South American Soccer Confederation after an emergency meeting of soccer associations representing the 12 nations participating in the July 11-29 tournament
  • Milan to make bid for Juventus striker Inzaghi
  • Whether Inzaghi moves to the San Siro or not, Milan is likely to be the most radically altered of the top Serie A teams next season especially if, as expected, Turkish coach Fatih Terim is sat on the bench
  • Marion Jones separates from husband, plans divorce
  • The couple have been married since October 1998 and had no children. Hunter has two kids by a previous marriage
  • With everything going right, will Devils stumble again?
  • Fair play pays: Finnish, Slovak clubs gain UEFA Cup berths
  • Jerry Rice moves across the bay to sign with Raiders
  • Strip club owner had dancers meet Dennis Rodman at hotel
  • Destiny calls for Hingis and Capriati
  • The other women's semifinal today pits two Belgian teenagers who had never before reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal -- Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin
  • Holdsclaw scores 19 as Mystics rally to defeat the Monarchs
  • Defender Alpay may leave Villa

  • The Turkish international is quoted as saying, 'Arsenal and Newcastle have made inquires about me, as have (Turkish clubs) Besiktas and Fenerbahce'

  • Turkey international defender Alpay Ozalan has said he could leave English Premier League club Aston Villa.

    Alpay joined Villa from Fenerbahce last season in a 5.6 million pounds ($7.90 million) deal but media reports have suggested that other clubs have expressed an interest in the 28-year-old player.

    Skysports.comTV quoted Alpay as saying, "Arsenal and Newcastle have made inquires about me, as have (Turkish clubs) Besiktas and Fenerbahce.

    "I would love to play for Arsenal and I would like to stay in England if possible."

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger needs a defender to strengthen his ageing back four but Alpay has four years left on his Villa contract and manager John Gregory is likely to want to recoup much of the transfer fee if Alpay is allowed to leave.

    Alpay, who has played 50 times for Turkey, made 36 appearances for Villa this season and established a solid partnership with team mates Gareth Southgate and Gareth Barry.

    Birmingham, England - Reuters

    Copa to go ahead in Colombia despite bombings

  • The decision is taken by the South American Soccer Confederation after an emergency meeting of soccer associations representing the 12 nations participating in the July 11-29 tournament

  • Colombia has been confirmed as host of Copa America despite security concerns triggered by an upsurge of violence in the conflict-ridden nation.

    The decision was taken by the South American Soccer Confederation after an emergency meeting of soccer associations representing the 12 nations participating in the July 11-29 tournament.

    Colombian President Andres Pastrana flew to Paragua's capital, Asuncion, to make a personal appeal to retain the championship despite a recent spate of bombings. He vowed the tournament - the world's third-largest - would be a success.

    "We are going to host the cup of peace," he said, before thanking Colombia's regional neighbors for their vote of confidence.

    The president of the South American Soccer Confederation, Nicolas Leoz, said a change of host was never seriously considered.

    "There was never any doubt ... Colombia has all the infrastructure in place. We did inspections and we came across no difficulties," Leoz said, adding the decision had been supported unanimously.

    In an attempt to allay fears, Colombian authorities have promised to provide unprecedented security for the tournament, including bomb experts, undercover agents and 20,000 street police officers.

    Officials also say the many armed factions fighting in Colombia's civil war have given assurances they will not disrupt the tournament.

    However, doubts about Colombia's capacity to host the tournament have risen across the region in the past weeks as violence has spread.

    In May, a car bomb in Cali, one of the tournament's host cities, injured dozens including players and coaches from a Colombian professional soccer team staying at the same hotel where Peru's national team had its reservations for the Copa America.

    Bombs that followed in Medellin and Bogota killed 12 people and injured hundreds; another in Bogota exploded just 500 meters from El Campin Stadium, where some of the matches will be played.

    Officials have stressed that the bombings are unrelated and not directed at the tournament.

    Nevertheless, the bombings prompted some of the biggest names in Colombian soccer to second-guess whether the tournament should be held in their homeland.

    Colombia's national goalkeeper Oscar Cordoba told reporters last week he did not believe the championship - the world's third-largest - should go ahead in his country after the recent escalation of violence.

    Carlos Valderamma, the legendary former Colombian international, also questioned whether Colombia was a wise choice for host in the current context.

    "We have to be realistic. Unfortunately, just a few days from the start of tournament, the situation in our country is difficult," he said.

    The decision to confirm Colombia as host was a victory for Pastrana, who has said the tournament will help the country "turn bombs into goals" and repeatedly stated the country is fit to organize the tournament.

    "We are going to show the world and our brothers in the Americas that Colombia is more than the bloodshed and the attacks they see on the news," he said in a recent televised address, during which he donned his country's blue-and-yellow soccer jersey.

    In a further boost to the Andean nation, soccer officials from Argentina and Uruguay confirmed they will send their top teams to the tournament, dispelling fears that some teams might leave their stars at home.

    Julio Grondona and Eugenio Figueredo, respective heads of the national soccer federations in Argentina and Uruguay, said their top players would be taking the field in Colombia.

    "We will go to Colombia to play the Cup with our best players," Grondona said.

    Drug trafficking and a 37-year conflict which has escalated in recent years, pitting leftist guerrillas against the government and right-wing paramilitary militias. The conflict has made this South American country one of the hemisphere's most violent nations. Its murder and kidnapping rates are among the world's highest.

    Asuncion, Paraguay - The AP

    Milan to make bid for Juventus striker Inzaghi

  • Whether Inzaghi moves to the San Siro or not, Milan is likely to be the most radically altered of the top Serie A teams next season especially if, as expected, Turkish coach Fatih Terim is sat on the bench

  • AC Milan will make a bid for Juventus striker Filippo Inzaghi as speculation over summer transfers in Serie A intensifies.

    Although the transfer market in Italy does not officially open until the season ends on June 17th, the big clubs are already lining up their transfer targets.

    Milan have been the most active in seeking reinforcements for next season agreeing deals for Spanish striker Javi Moreno and Romanian wingback Cosmin Contra both from UEFA Cup finalists Alaves.

    Young Italians Massimo Donati and Christian Zenoni will also join Milan from Atalanta.

    Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani told the club's official website that he had been given the green light from club president and Italian prime-minister in-waiting Silvio Berlusconi to make an offer for Italy striker Inzaghi.

    "Berlusconi is happy with the signings we have made and the way we are going about bringing in new players," Galliani said.

    "He also told me to go ahead with the bid for Inzaghi, which we was to present to Juventus later on Wednesday."

    Inzaghi, who has lost his place in the Juve starting line-up to French striker David Trezeguet, has said that if he leaves Turin, Milan would be his first choice.

    Stumbling block

    But while it is clear that Berlusconi's Fininvest are prepared to back major squad rebuilding at Milan, Juve's asking price of 80 billion lire ($34.98 million) may yet prove to be a stumbling block to the deal.

    Whether Inzaghi moves to the San Siro or not, Milan are likely to be the most radically altered of the top teams next season especially if, as expected, Turkish coach Fatih Terim is sat on the bench.

    Former Italy coach Cesare Maldini is in charge until the end of the season and Milan are waiting until the end of this campaign to make the official announcement about their coach for next term.

    Milan's city rivals Inter could also have a new coach on the bench next year with Valencia's Argentine Hector Cuper widely tipped to replace Marco Tardelli.

    But whoever is in charge at Inter the club's revolving door transfer policy looks likely to continue.

    Recently capped Italian international defender Marco Materazzi has agreed to move to Inter from Perugia while pre-contract agreements have been signed with Galatasaray's out of contract midfielders Okan Buruk and Emre Belozoglu.

    Inter are also one of the clubs who have held talks with England defender Sol Campbell.

    Portuguese winger Sergio Conceicao and Argentine midfielder Matias Almeyda are both being linked with moves from Parma to Inter.

    Parma's French international defender Lilian Thuram is once again the target of speculation, with Juventus reported to be the favorites to lure him away from the Tardini stadium where has played five seasons.

    Milan and Lazio have also expressed interest in the classy central defender but media reports of an alleged deal in which Milan would back out of a Thuram bid in return for Inzaghi prompted Lazio president Sergio Cragnotti to talk of a "northern alliance" against the two clubs from the capital.

    Northern alliance

    "I believe that in part this is because Roma and Lazio are the clubs producing the great football," Cragnotti told the daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

    "Someone is frightened that these squads can further reinforce and enjoy lengthy domination in Italy.

    "It is in the interests of the northern clubs not to strengthen their rivals."

    Having spent heavily in the past two years last year's title winner's Lazio and Roma, who can win this year's championship with a victory over Napoli on Sunday, are expected to be quieter in the market this summer having already completed their major deals.

    Lazio have signed-up Udinese midfielder Stefano Fiore, while Roma have acquired Bari's prodigious talent Antonio Cassano.

    Milan, Italy - Reuters

    Marion Jones separates from husband, plans divorce

  • The couple have been married since October 1998 and had no children. Hunter has two kids by a previous marriage

  • Triple Olympic champion Marion Jones said she has separated from her husband, world shot put champion C.J. Hunter, and will seek a divorce.

    "C.J. and I very recently decided we were headed in different directions in terms of our lives and decided that it was time for us to go on in our separate ways," Jones told Reuters in a telephone interview from her home in Apex.

    "Over the past couple of months we have been growing apart and we decided this was best for both of us."

    Jones, 25, said she had been separated from Hunter since February and she would soon file for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. The couple had been married since October 1998 and had no children. Hunter has two children by a previous marriage.

    Mutual decision

    "There really wasn't any one situation, any one thing" that led to the separation, Jones said. "I guess we really were not seeing eye to eye on things any more in terms of our daily lives, in terms of our future together.

    "So it was a mutual decision, it wasn't like one of us decided we didn't want to do this any more. We both decided this is what we wanted.

    "C.J. is very special to me. He was my support on and off the track for the past six years, and I, of course, wish him all the best in his life and future."

    Jones said the separation, which she called "unfortunate," would not affect her athletics career.

    "I still plan to run, and hopefully run faster and jump farther," said Jones. "I don't think this decision in my life is going to affect what I love to do, run track and compete.

    "Sure, this is perhaps a little difficult to deal with at this time, and I would hope that everybody would respect both C.J. and my privacy throughout all of this, but I am still going to be out there running and traveling and hopefully winning more gold medals."

    Her next competition will be Saturday at a Grand Prix meeting in Stanford, California.

    Positive test not factor

    Hunter, 32, officially retired from the sport earlier this year after being suspended for a positive dope test, for the banned steroid nandrolone, last year.

    The positive test was announced in Sydney during the Olympics, adding pressure to Jones's quest for five gold medals. She went on to win gold in the 100 and 200-meter and 4x400-meter relay and bronze in the long jump and 4x100-meter relay, becoming the first woman to win five athletics medals at the same Games.

    Jones said their separation was not related to his suspension.

    "This has absolutely nothing to do with what happened in Sydney," she said. "Everybody knows he has retired, had retired prior to the Olympic Games, and for us the whole drug thing is no longer an issue.

    "Sure it did not come to the resolution that we all wanted, but we have put that in the past and that has nothing to do with the decision we have made," said Jones, who has strongly supported Hunter on the doping issue.

    Denial

    Hunter has steadfastly denied ever taking a banned substance. He has said that a contaminated iron supplement, which was not banned, had resulted in his positive test for nandrolone.

    The couple met in the mid-1990s at the University of North Carolina where Jones was a student and Hunter an assistant coach. Although they had different personalities, she personable and he close-vested, the couple had a strong relationship, friends said.

    It was Hunter who introduced Jones to her coach, Trevor Graham, and Jones said she would remain in the Raleigh area to work with Graham.

    "My relationship with Trevor has not changed," Jones said, "so I will stay in the Raleigh area to train."

    The couple had been building a home near Chapel Hill, and "when the house is complete that will be my main residence," Jones said.

    Later this month, Jones will be competing in the American national championships, the U.S. qualifier for the world championships in Edmonton in August.

    Jones told Reuters less than two weeks ago she would not try to duplicate her Olympic schedule by bidding for five gold medals in Canada, saying: "I've kind of established myself now, and really don't have to prove anything."

    Raleigh, N.C. - Reuters

    With everything going right, will Devils stumble again?


    With a second straight Stanley Cup and third since 1995 within their grasp, there are some things the New Jersey Devils don't want to discuss.

    Dynasty heads the list, and the dreaded hiccup isn't far behind.

    The dynasty thing is easy to understand.

    The Devils don't want to talk about their place in history until they finish off the Colorado Avalanche. They'll have two chances. The first will be in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals here on tonight, and the second would be in a deciding Game 7 in Denver on Saturday, if necessary.

    That's where the hiccup comes in.

    If the Devils have had a trademark in the playoffs this year, it's been their inability to handle prosperity.

    As soon as they start looking unbeatable, as they did in posting a 3-2 win in Game 4 and a 4-1 triumph in Game 5 against the Avalanche, the Devils have pulled a no-show or two.

    "This would be a great time to be beyond that," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "We're not looking into it too much, saying what happened in this series or that series. We just want to go out and play the game. All we have to do is play one good game."

    For the Devils, that's been easier said than done.

    After winning the first three games against Carolina in the opening round, New Jersey needed three more to finish off the Hurricanes.

    In the second round, New Jersey took a 2-1 lead in the series and then let Toronto steal Games 4 and 5. It forced the Devils to win two games or go on vacation.

    While they had a relatively easy time with Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals, the Devils still found a way to take six-minute nap in Game 2. It cost them the game.

    East Rutherford, N. J. - The AP

    Fair play pays: Finnish, Slovak clubs gain UEFA Cup berths


    Myllykosken Pallo-47 of Finland and a Slovakian club will play in next season's UEFA Cup competition, European soccer's governing body said on Wednesday.

    The teams gain entry to the first qualifying round of the event. They were chosen in a draw from 11 clubs who topped their countries' fair play rankings.

    The Finnish team, known as MyPa, actually came third in the national fair play rankings, but was entered because the two teams above it had already qualified for the UEFA Cup. The lucky Slovakian team is not yet known because the season doesn't finish until mid-June.

    Shakhtior Soligorsk of Belarus had already been given direct entry into the UEFA Cup first qualifying round after the Belarus national association topped the UEFA Fair Play rankings.

    UEFA's fair play assessment is based on the number of red and yellow cards, positive play, respect of the opponent, respect of the referee, behavior of team officials and behavior of the crowd.

    Nyon, Switzerland - The AP

    Jerry Rice moves across the bay to sign with Raiders


    Future Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice signed a free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders after 16 years with the neighboring San Francisco 49ers.

    One day after being released by the Niners, the NFL's most prolific pass catcher signed a deal on undisclosed terms and participated in the Raiders' mini training camp.

    The Niners saved $2.5 million against the salary cap by cutting the 38-year-old.

    Rice, who reportedly chose the Raiders over the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, shattered all the major receiving records with San Francisco.

    Rice said he was nervous at first during Tuesday's practice but relaxed after making his first reception.

    "I'm living a dream right here," said Rice. "A situation like this doesn't happen that often."

    Rice hold League records for his 1,281 receptions and 187 touchdowns.

    The 12-time Pro Bowl receiver may no longer be a deep threat, but can still serve as a valuable possession receiver.

    "I know this is a beginning for me," said Rice, who is likely to take a secondary role to star receiver Tim Brown.

    "I think this is going to jumpstart my career all over again."

    Raiders coach Jon Gruden coached Rice as an offensive assistant under George Seifert with the Niners in 1990.

    "I've always been excited talking about Jerry Rice and watching Jerry Rice play," Gruden said.

    Oakland, Calif. - Reuters

    Strip club owner had dancers meet Dennis Rodman at hotel


    A former manager of Atlanta's hottest strip club dropped more names of famous athletes, testifying that his boss arranged for dancers to have sex with Dennis Rodman and 1998 NFL MVP Terrell Davis.

    Thomas "Ziggy" Sicignano is a key witness in the government's racketeering case against Gold Club owner Steve Kaplan and six associates.

    Sicignano testified Tuesday that he and Kaplan arranged for two dancers to meet Rodman in his hotel room for sex once in 1998. He said Rodman was a frequent Gold Club visitor from 1996 to 1998.

    Kaplan also arranged a sex show for New York Knicks rookies John Wallace, Walter McCarty and Dontae' Jones in 1997 in Charleston, South Carolina, where the basketball team was training, Sicignano testified. He said six club dancers had sex with them.

    Sicignano also said dancers provided sexual favors at the club for former World Championship Wrestling executive Eric Bischoff, NBA player Jerry Stackhouse and Davis.

    Prosecutors have charged that Kaplan used sex to attract celebrities and build the strip club into the most profitable in the nation.

    As part of a bargain for a shorter sentence, Sicignano pleaded guilty to withholding information from investigators about a fraud scheme in which associates got free or discounted tickets on Delta Air Lines.

    Sicignano also testified that he once gave a former Atlanta police officer $5,000 in cash that Sicignano understood was to be passed on to the city attorney's office to help the Gold Club get a license to open on Sundays.

    Another former police officer frequently fixed traffic tickets for Kaplan and other club employees in exchange for cash, food and entertainment at the club, Sicignano said.

    On Monday, Sicignano said Kaplan paid dancers to have sex with former Knicks Patrick Ewing and John Starks; Reggie Miller and Antonio Davis of basketball's Indiana Pacers; and Atlanta Braves outfielder Andruw Jones.

    Agents for Miller and Antonio Davis on Monday denied their clients had had sex with club dancers. Spokesmen for the Knicks, the NBA and individual athletes all declined to comment when the allegations were raised earlier this year.

    The defendants face racketeering charges, including accusations of credit card fraud, prostitution, loansharking and funneling money to the Gambino crime family.

    Atlanta - The Associated Press

    Destiny calls for Hingis and Capriati

  • The other women's semifinal today pits two Belgian teenagers who had never before reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal -- Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin

  • Serving for her first place in the semifinals of the French Open in 11 years, Jennifer Capriati tensed up, double-faulted and blew a match point.

    A set later, her nerves had settled and she was ready to reclaim the spot she last held as a 14-year-old tennis prodigy.

    Next round, Capriati might not be so lucky.

    In the semis, she faces another player who badly wants to win a French title: Martina Hingis.

    Today's showdown, worthy of a Grand Slam final, pits two women whose tennis careers have become inextricably linked to the clay courts of Roland Garros.

    For Capriati, Paris is where it all began. In 1990 she became the youngest semifinalist in Grand Slam history and was propelled to the forefront of the tennis stage.

    She failed to reach the final that year, and for the next decade was unable to get past the semis in any Grand Slam event.

    She finally fulfilled her teen-age promise four months ago by winning the Australian Open, capping a comeback from tennis burnout and personal problems.

    Hingis was her unlucky opponent.

    "I'll have that in my mind," said Capriati, recalling her straight-set win in Melbourne. "I think that will be an advantage."

    While Capriati is trying to compensate for 11 years of lost opportunities, Hingis is motivated by more recent disappointments.

    Like Capriati, the Swiss world No. 1 made her mark at the French at a young age, reaching the final in 1997 when only 16. She lost to Iva Majoli, blowing a chance to take a sweep of all four Grand Slam titles in the same year.

    In 1999, Hingis was three points from victory when Steffi Graf made a comeback and claimed her sixth Roland Garros crown.

    Two years on, the French remains the only Grand Slam title Hingis hasn't won.

    Hoping to change her luck in Paris, Hingis has sought coaching from her mother Melanie Molitor, reversing a decision to put an end to their professional relationship. In an energy-saving measure, she has also chosen not to play doubles.

    "I never felt this good in previous years because I always was a little bit tired toward the end of the tournament," Hingis said.

    She will need all her energy against Capriati, one of the biggest hitters in the women's game. "(Capriati's) just a bigger, stronger girl," she said. "I think I've improved since the last time I played her."

    Hingis will undergo her first real test of the tournament against the American, who is only the second seeded player she has had to face.

    Capriati, seeded fourth, has the advantage of winning a tough quarterfinal against No. 6 Serena Williams, who took her to three sets, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, for the first time this tournament.

    Capriati blew her first match point with a double fault and went on to lose the second set. She closed out the match when Williams sent her last backhand long.

    Capriati has lost to Hingis five times but won their past two matches.

    Whoever wins today will be the favorite to take the title.

    The other semifinal pits two Belgian teen-agers who had never before reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal.

    Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, seeded 12th and 14th, easily progressed through the draw thanks to the first-round ouster of No. 2 Venus Williams and No. 5 Amelie Mauresmo. No. 15 Jelena Dokic, who was also expected to shine at the French, was a third-round casualty.

    Henin has a 2-1 record against Clijsters but lost their most recent match, a third-round meet at Indian Wells last March.

    Men's

    Top-seeded Gustavo Kuerten will play No. 4 Juan Carlos Ferrero in the men's semifinals for the second consecutive year on Friday. Kuerten, the champion in 1997 and 2000, beat No. 7 Yevgeny Kafelnikov at Roland Garros for the third time in as many meetings, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4. Ferrero swept No. 6 Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.

    Paris - The Associated Press

    Holdsclaw scores 19 as Mystics rally to defeat the Monarchs


    Chamique Holdsclaw had 19 points and 16 rebounds as the Washington Mystics rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to beat the Sacramento Monarchs 75-72 on Tuesday night.

    Holdsclaw took over the game in the final three minutes, drawing a foul on a triple-team, making a contested 14-foot (4-meter) jumper and scoring on an offensive rebound in a 6-0 run that broke a 69-69 tie.

    Rookie guard Helen Luz of Portugal added 13 points, five assists, three steals and two blocks in a reserve role as Washington (2-1) beat Sacramento for the first time. The Mystics were 0-6 against the Monarchs over three years.

    Tangela Smith had 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Monarchs (2-1). Yolanda Griffith had 20 rebounds, one short of the WNBA record.

    Sol 63, Fever 61

    In Miami, Sheri Sam scored 21 points as Miami extended Indiana's losing streak to four games.

    Elena Baranova scored 12 points and Sandy Brondello added 11 for the Sol (2-0), who won their seventh straight home game dating to last season.

    Rita Williams scored 15 points and Nadine Malcolm added 12 for Indiana (0-4).

    Miracle 92, Shock 71

    In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Nykesha Sales scored 19 points and Elaine Powell added a career-high 16 as Orlando beat Detroit for the fourth straight time.

    Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Jessie Hicks added 12 points for the Miracle (1-1).

    Rookie Deana Nolan scored 12 points for the Shock (0-2). Elena Tournikidou added 10 points.

    Comets 72, Starzz 68

    In Salt Lake City, Janeth Arcain scored a career-high 27 points and Tina Thompson had 23 points and 10 rebounds as Houston won its third straight road game after a season-opening homecourt loss to Los Angeles.

    Utah took its first lead, 66-64, on Adrienne Goodson's two free throws with 2:36 remaining. Arcain scored eight unanswered points in the last 2:03 to secure the victory.

    Natalie Williams led the Starzz with 14 points. Margo Dydek had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Jennifer Azzi had 13 points.

    Sparks 58, Rockers 50

    In Los Angeles, Lisa Leslie had 23 points and eight rebounds as Los Angeles extended its season-opening winning streak to four games.

    A crowd of 11,445 attended the Sparks' first home opener at Staples Center, where they moved after playing four seasons at the aging Forum in Inglewood.

    The victory equaled the Sparks' 4-0 start of last season, when they finished 28-4 and were swept by Houston in the conference finals.

    The Rockers (1-2) were led by Merlakia Jones' 18 points and 12 rebounds.

    Mercury 76, Sting 69

    In Phoenix, Bridget Pettis scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half to lead Phoenix past Charlotte.

    Trisha Fallon scored a career-high 18 points for the Mercury (2-3). Jennifer Gillom added 13 points and Lisa Harrison 10.

    Charlotte's Andrea Stinson finished with 22 points, scoring in double figures for the 15th consecutive game.

    Clarisse Machanguana had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Sting (0-2).

    Washington - The Associated Press


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