Lietuvos Rytas became the new SEB Baltic Basketball League champion after beating their biggest rival Zalgiris 86-74 on April 16. Although Zalgiris wanted revenge for their recent 30-point loss to their main rivals, Lietuvos Rytas' players wereÂ prepared to win and dominated on both ends of the court. Almost every player on the "black and red" team contributed to the win.
Real Madrid team captain David Beckham (photo) has denied rumors that gambling incidents had caused rifts among players. Representatives for Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen denied stories that the two fell out over Rooney's alleged gambling debts to a friend of Owen's. "People were saying there was an issue between Michael and Wayne, but it is only because they are the two main strikers," Beckham said. "In our squad it is impossible to fall out over something like that." The 30-year-old added: "The banter and the togetherness of the England team is too strong to be affected by card schools."
Latvia's New York Marathon champion Jelena Prokopcuka finished second in the Boston Marathon on April 17, with a time of 2 hours 23 minutes and 48 seconds. Kenyan Rita Jeptoo crossed the finish line 10 seconds ahead of the Latvian to take first place. The two women were neck-and-neck for most of the race, until Jeptoo sprinted ahead in the last stretch. Prokopcuka is a three-time Olympian, who finished fourth in Boston last year and won the Osaka Marathon.
Tennis star Rafael Nadal began defending his title at Monte Carlo on April 18, hoping his performance will foretell success at the upcoming French Open. Over the past five years, winners at the Monte Carlo Country Club have invariably gone on to do well at Roland Garros in Paris. Nadal, who is the world number two seed, warmed up for the Open last year with a victory on the south coast, after which he played at top performance in Paris. Gustavo Kuerten, in 2001, and Juan Carlos Ferrero, in 2003, are two other players whose success in Monaco helped them prepare for wins in Paris.
After months of searching, Estonia's basketball community has located American player George Jackson, who helped the Kalev team win the Soviet Union Championship in 1991. In commemoration of that historic win, a team of Kalev veterans 's including Jackson - will play Real Madrid in Tallinn on June 3. Jackson currently lives in Edmonton, Canada with his family. Estonian basketball coach Heino Enden, who has maintained contact with Jackson, said the American expressed great interest in returning to the Baltics, while inquiring about former teammates. The African American joined Kalev for the 1990/1991 season - his first ever venture out of North America. He later played in the World Basketball League, established for players under 195 centimeters, and then spent a few seasons with the CBA's Detroit team.