By BRIAN LANDMAN, TIMES WIRES
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002
U.S. basketball team stunned again
Cheered on by a raucous crowd of flag-waving, frantic fans who drowned out the home country's supporters, Yugoslavia advanced to the semifinals of basketball's World Championships at Indianapolis with a 81-78 victory over the United States Thursday.
Much like Argentina did after defeating the USA on Wednesday, the Yugoslavs celebrated, danced and hugged at midcourt as the stunned U.S. team watched.
"Right now, after beating the U.S., we think we can win the gold medal," Peja Stojakovic said.
Andre Miller had a chance to force overtime, but his long 3-point attempt just before the final buzzer came up short.
Stojakovic, one of five NBA players on Yugoslavia's roster, scored 20. Vlade Divac added 16 -- all in the first half -- and Milan Gurovic had 15.
Gurovic hit his third 3-pointer of the fourth quarter to give Yugoslavia a 77-73 lead with 56 seconds left. Miller answered with a 3-pointer 18 seconds later, and Marko Jaric sank two free throws with 23 seconds left.
Reggie Miller got open underneath for a layup with 13 seconds left, and the Americans quickly fouled Jaric. He calmly sank both, and the Americans -- out of timeouts -- were forced to try to tie from behind the 3-point arc.
When Miller's shot missed, Yugoslavian fans, players and media celebrated. Jurovic was hoisted onto teammates shoulders.
"This is a great victory for us," said Divac, who said a week ago that his team knew it could beat the United States. "It's not fair for the U.S. team because there is so much pressure on them, and the international game is a different game than they're used to."
MORE BASKETBALL: Louisville junior guard Prileu Davis had surgery to repair a fractured left eye orbit. ... Free-agent guard Travis Best signed with the Miami Heat, his third team since February, and becomes a possible successor to starting point guard Rod Strickland. ... Jason Parker, dismissed from Kentucky Aug. 30, will enroll at South Carolina.
BOXING: World heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis vacated his International Boxing Federation title because he said he didn't want to fight mandatory challenger Chris Byrd because there was "no public interest" in the fight.
COLLEGES: Twenty-four Florida State softball players, including past All-American Susan Buttery (Tampa Chamberlain) and current players Jessica van der Linden and Brandi Stuart, have been named to the ACC's 52-member 50th Anniversary team. Maryland and former Northeast High standout pitcher Amanda Bettker is also on the team. ... The Florida women's and men's golf teams each ranked third in Golfweek's preseason top 30 polls.
HOCKEY: Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore became the highest-paid player in franchise history, signing a three-year, $16.5-million contract. ... Defenseman Martin Skoula signed a three-year contract with the Avalanche. ... The Sharks signed defenseman John Jakopin, right wing Tavis Hansen, center Jeff Nelson and right wing Scott Thomas.
HORSES: Sky Jack, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup in July, will have a third operation next week and will be out several months. ... Canzone defeated Nepenthe by 2 lengths to win the $76,050 Thoroughbred Owners of California Handicap at Del Mar.
TRACK: Justin Gatlin of Pensacola, who won six NCAA sprint titles as a freshman and sophomore at Tennessee, ended his collegiate career by signing a professional track contract with Nike.
SOCCER: Rodrigo Faria scored two goals in the second half as New York/New Jersey beat host Dallas 3-1 in MLS play.
BASEBALL: Rained forced postponement of two of three games Thursday in the Women's World Series at Al Lang Field at Florida Power Park. Japan defeated Australia Thursday morning. Japan-USA was rescheduled for 9 this morning and Canada-Japan is scheduled for noon. Australia-USA is scheduled for 5 p.m. and Australia-Canada is at 8. Thursday's tickets will be honored today and a $5 ticket purchased today is good for all five games.
ET CETERA: Olympic gymnastics star Olga Korbut's son Richard Bortkevich pleaded guilty in Lawrenceville, Ga., to making $20,000 in counterfeit money. The 23-year-old faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and possible deportation. ... William Barton, a high school football player from Groesbeck, Texas, had his left foot amputated after a game-related injury.
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