- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2008

From combined dispatches

HAINING, China | Diana Taurasi scored 21 points as the United States beat American Becky Hammon and Russia 93-58 on Monday night in the FIBA Diamond Ball tournament.

In a much-hyped matchup against her native country, Hammon scored 10 points, but her adopted team was no match for the United States. This was the first meeting between Team USA and Russia since the Russians beat the Americans in the 2006 world championship semifinals.

“She made her choice, and that was up to her,” U.S. co-captain Katie Smith said. “We’re here to represent our country. We have a nice rivalry with Russia with or without her. It’s always been a battle whether she’s here or not. We’ll always bring our best.”

Sylvia Fowles and the U.S. team came out focused and showed flashes of the dominance that has helped them win three straight Olympic gold medals. They got easy uncontested shots on the offensive end while defensively containing Russia.

Hammon wasn’t in the 29-player pool used to select the U.S. Olympic team. So she chose to play for Russia.

“It’s not an issue anymore. We’re playing against Russia now, and it’s 12 people,” U.S. coach Anne Donovan said. “Anyone who puts that uniform on is our opposition. There is no individual that we look at or highlight.”

A South Dakota native, Hammon competes for a Russian club team during the winter and became a naturalized citizen there. Since she hadn’t played for the United States in any major FIBA-sanctioned international events, she was allowed to compete for Russia in the Olympics, which begin Friday.

Even though she was wearing a Russian uniform, Hammon had her eyes closed and her hand over her heart during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“I think the pregame was worse than anything,” Hammon said. “Once the ball went up, it was just another basketball game.”

Judge may crash Web site

SAN FRANCISCO | The U.S. Olympic Committee asked a federal judge for the second time Monday to shut down a Web site it says is fraudulently selling tickets to the Beijing Games.

Lawyers for the USOC want the judge permanently to disable beijingticketing.com, which they contend has scammed numerous U.S. residents out of thousands of dollars by falsely promising to deliver tickets to the games starting Friday.

The site was apparently disabled by its operators Monday, but the lawyers want the court order to make the take down permanent. A USOC lawyer said company managers notified customers via e-mail Monday morning that the promised tickets would not be delivered. The e-mail advised patrons to contact their credit card companies.

Nadal eyeing gold medal

MADRID, Spain | Rafael Nadal has two major achievements so far this year - taking the Wimbledon title by beating Roger Federer in an epic final and stacking up enough wins to unseat the Swiss star atop the rankings.

Now the 22-year-old Spaniard is aiming to add Olympic glitter to his trophy room.

“I’m going to really enjoy the Olympic atmosphere, I’m sure, and I’m out to try and win a medal,” Nadal told the Associated Press in an exclusive telephone interview before catching a 13-hour flight to the Chinese capital. “It’s an honor to represent your country, and I look forward to taking part.”

In two weeks Nadal automatically will appear on the Aug. 18 rankings as No. 1, breaking Federer’s record 235 consecutive weeks tenure.

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