Sports in Brief | U.S. earns berth in Olympic basketball

Posted: September 02, 2007

Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points, Michael Redd added 23, and the United States clinched a spot in the 2008 Olympics by crushing Puerto Rico, 135-91, yesterday in the semifinals of the FIBA Americas tournament in Las Vegas.

LeBron James contributed 19 points and nine assists, Kobe Bryant scored 15 points.

The Americans are without a gold medal in their last three major events: the 2004 Olympics, and the 2002 and '06 world championships. But they remain untouchable in the Olympic qualifier, improving to 35-0.

They will try to complete a perfect run in today's final against Argentina, which beat Brazil, 91-80. Both teams locked up berths by winning their semifinal games.

Cappie Pondexter scored nine of her 33 points in the final five minutes and the Phoenix Mercury advanced to the WNBA Finals with a 98-92 win over the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars.

Auto racing

Jeff Burton turned a late pit stop and fresh tires into a NASCAR Busch Series win at California Speedway in Fontana. He passed Kyle Busch for the lead just eight laps from the end of the Camping World 300 and pulled away to win by 2.859 seconds, about 12 car-lengths.

Busch barely held off pole-winner Denny Hamlin for second place.

There were six caution flags, the final one on Lap 132 after a four-car crash. When the green came out for the final time on Lap 141, Burton pressured Busch. He got his nose ahead on Lap 143 and the two drove side-by-side for nearly half a lap before Burton's Chevrolet took control.

Three-time champion Sebastien Bourdais won the pole for the Champ Car World Series' inaugural Dutch Grand Prix, edging Justin Wilson for the top starting spot. Bourdais, hoping to become the first Champ Car driver to claim four straight titles, was timed in 1:18.765 seconds around the 2.83-mile track in Assen.

Helio Castroneves won his IndyCar Series-record seventh pole of the season in Belle Isle, Mich., edging Dario Franchitti for the top spot in the 18-car field for today's Detroit Indy Grand Prix.

Castroneves, who averaged 103.401 m.p.h., broke Billy Boat's 1998 record of six pole-position victories in a season and added to his series record total of 23.

Noteworthy

The Wings selected forward Merrick Thomson of the University of Albany as their first pick in the National Lacrosse League's entry draft and made a trade to bring back popular attackman Jake Bergey.

The Wings sent their third-round pick and a third-round selection in 2008 to reacquire Bergey from Boston. Bergey was taken by Boston in last month's expansion draft.

Led by Catalina Ponor, defending Olympic gold medalist Romania finished just 1.3 points behind China, which led with 241.175 points after the first day of qualifying in the world gymnastics championships in Stuttgart, Germany. The United States and Russia each compete today.

Romania had three of the day's four top scores on the balance beam, led by Ponor with 9.45.

New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale claimed a third consecutive gold medal in the men's single sculls in the rowing world championships in Munich, Germany. Drysdale finished in 6 minutes, 45.67 seconds to edge World Cup series winner Ondrey Synek of the Czech Republic.

Two women also won their third straight titles: Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus in the single sculls, and Marit van Eupen of the Netherlands in the lightweight single sculls.

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