BASKETBALL

Craig Randall II scored 34 points as the Long Island Nets made 20 3-pointers in beating the Maine Celtics 118-108 Monday in Uniondale, New York.

Sam Hauser scored a team-high 22 points for Maine to go with nine rebounds and six assists. Luke Kornet chipped in 18 points and two blocks and Juwan Morgan put up 13 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

Deonte Burton had 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Chris Clemons and Eric Demers also put up 14 points a piece.

Long Island’s Bryce Brown had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double. Jordan Crawford posted 22 points, six rebounds and five assists. Wayne Blackshear scored 14 points.

OLYMPICS

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LUGE: Natalie Geisenberger has made it official: She’s heading to the Beijing Games and seeking a third consecutive Olympic women’s luge gold medal.

The German slider, generally considered the best in the history of her sport, had considered skipping the Olympics for a multitude of reasons – including human rights issues, and her belief that luge athletes were not treated well by Chinese officials when training there earlier this season.

But in a social media post, the four-time world champion and eight-time World Cup overall champion laid out her reasons for deciding to compete in what presumably will be her final Olympics.

“We athletes have absolutely nothing to do with the decision to award the Olympic Games to Beijing – the (International Olympic Committee) decides and we athletes are presented with a fait accompli,” Geisenberger wrote. “We only have the choice: do I fly there and give everything or do I just let my sporting dream burst so close to the end.”

She chose to go and will be considered among the top medal hopefuls – along with fellow Germans Julia Taubitz and Anna Berreiter, Austria’s Madeleine Egle and American sliders Summer Britcher and Emily Sweeney.

SOCCER

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AWARDS: Robert Lewandowski was voted the best men’s player in the world, retaining the FIFA award he won last year despite being left off the ballot paper filed by runner-up Lionel Messi.

The Bayern Munich forward overturned the result last month of the Ballon d’Or prize where he placed second behind Messi, who finally led Argentina to a senior title at the 2021 Copa America. Mohamed Salah of Liverpool placed third.

“I am very honored to win this trophy,” Lewandowski said on a video link from Munich. The trophy was presented by club officials during the online ceremony hosted at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

Lewandowski was the overwhelming choice of national team captains and coaches plus selected media in more than 200 countries, yet was almost caught by Messi, who got more than double the number of votes from fans worldwide than the Poland captain.

All three candidates voted as captains of their national teams, and Lewandowski ranked Messi second of his three choices. Salah had Lewandowski and Messi in his top three.

Messi did not pick either of his closest rivals in the voting. His top two choices were Neymar and Kylian Mappe, now his teammates since joining Paris Saint-Germain in August.

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Lewandowski broke two Bundesliga records by scoring 41 goals for Bayern in its title-winning 2020-21 season and 43 in the calendar year of 2021. Both marks were held since 1972 by another Bayern great, Gerd Muller.

In the women’s award, Alexia Putellas added the FIFA trophy to her Ballon d’Or victory. Putellas captained Barcelona to its first Women’s Champions League title and teammate Jennifer Hermoso placed third in the FIFA vote. The runner-up was Sam Kerr of beaten finalist Chelsea.

Chelsea swept the coaching awards in a year when its men’s and women’s teams led by Thomas Tuchel and Emma Hayes reached their Champions League finals.

Tuchel again finished ahead of Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola to repeat the result of their European title game. Guardiola placed third having led City to the English Premier League title, and into a runaway lead this season after beating Chelsea on Saturday.

Roberto Mancini was second in the FIFA voting after leading Italy to win the European Championship.

Hayes seemed surprised to win the coaching award for women’s soccer ahead of Lluis Cortes. His Barcelona team beat Chelsea 4-0 in the Champions League final.

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Sarina Wiegman, who moved from 2017 European champion Netherlands to take over at England, was third.

PREMIER LEAGUE: Burnley’s English Premier League match against Watford has been postponed for a second time, leaving the last-placed team having played five fewer games than some others.

It was a coronavirus outbreak in the Watford squad that led to the game being called off initially in December. Now it’s a shortage of players at Burnley that has seen the league agree to postpone their attempt to play on Tuesday.

The league also took into account injuries and Maxwel Cornet being with Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations in accepting that Burnley lacked 13 outfield players to contest the fixture.

It is the 22nd time a Premier League game has been postponed since December.

Burnley is a point behind Newcastle but having played three games fewer.

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Norwich, which is two points off last place, has played four games more than Burnley.

Teams like leader Manchester City have played 22 matches, while Burnley has played 17.

TRACK AND FIELD

OBIT: Richard “Rink” Babka, a former world record holder who was part of a U.S. medals sweep in the discus at the 1960 Rome Olympics, has died. He was 85.

Babka died Saturday of congestive heart failure in a hospital, according to the University of Southern California, which was informed by his partner, Sharon.

Al Oerter and Babka were gold-medal favorites at the Rome Games. Babka defeated Oerter at the U.S. trials and tied the world record of 196.55 feet a month before the Olympics.

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At the Games, Oerter broke his Olympic record in the second set of qualifying round throws at 191.69 feet. Babka exceeded the old mark three times and American teammate Dick Cochran did so once in the final. But only Oerter was able to lower his mark again with a throw of 194.16 feet (59.18 meters) to earn the gold.

Babka took silver and Cochran earned bronze to complete a U.S. podium sweep.

Born Richard Aldrich Babka on Sept. 23, 1936, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, he starred in football, basketball, baseball, and track and field at Palo Alto High in Northern California before graduating in 1954. He attended nearby Menlo College before going to USC.

He lettered in track and field at USC from 1956-58, helping the Trojans win the 1958 NCAA track and field championship and tying for first place in the discus as a senior.

His throw of 198.10 is still tied for fifth on USC’s all-time list.

Knee injuries derailed Babka’s plans to play football and basketball at USC. He was inducted into school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.

He retired from competition in 1969. He later owned a beverage distributorship in Stockton, California, where he raised quarter horses and cattle.

Babka was an artist and had some of his work displayed with Art of the Olympians, which was started by his former teammate Oerter, who died in 2007.
Besides his partner, Babka is survived by sons Kord, Dirk and Beau and daughter Tanja.


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