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Sports in brief


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O'Neal, Iverson Hall finalists

TORONTO — Shaquille O'Neal was just 9 when his stepfather began teaching him basketball with a plan to dominate like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Young Shaquille didn't even know who they were. Now he's on the verge of joining them in basketball immortality.

"He told me this day would happen, and I never believed him," O'Neal said of Phillip Harrison, who raised Shaq along with his mother and died in 2013.

O'Neal, 43, was chosen Friday as a finalist for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, joining Allen Iverson. Yao Ming was nominated by the Hall's international committee.

Other finalists are former Suns guard Kevin Johnson, college coaches Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan, Lefty Driesell, Eddie Sutton and Muffet McGraw, women's star Sheryl Swoopes, longtime referee Darrel Garretson, high school coaches Leta Andrews and Robert Hughes, 10-time AAU national champion Wayland Baptist University, and John McClendon, the first African-American coach in a professional league.

The class will be unveiled April 4 in Houston before the NCAA men's tournament final. Induction is Sept. 9 in Springfield, Mass.

All-Star Game: Heat forward Chris Bosh withdrew from today's 3-point contest and Sunday's NBA All-Star Game, citing a strained right calf. Atlanta's Al Horford, a former Florida standout, was chosen by commissioner Adam Silver to fill Bosh's spot. Bosh will still spend the weekend in Toronto, where he spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Raptors.

Et cetera

Soccer: Jerome Valcke, FIFA president Sepp Blatter's right-hand man, was banned from soccer-related activity for 12 years for misconduct in his time as the world governing body's secretary general.

Colleges: Iowa faces a wide-ranging federal civil rights investigation into allegations that its athletics department does not provide equal opportunities for women, the Associated Press reported.

Tennis: Rafael Nadal beat Paolo Lorenzi 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires. … Top seed Venus Williams beat Anastasija Sevastova 7-5, 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the Taiwan Open in Kaohsiung.

Times wires

Suncoast Invitational

What: Preseason soccer exhibition with MLS teams, hosted by the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the NASL. Games will be at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg and the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex in Clearwater.

Tickets: Free for season ticket holders, $10 and up for children and military members, $15 adults. Call (727) 222-2000 or check

Tonight at Al Lang: Rowdies vs. D.C. United, 7

Wednesday at Al Lang: D.C. United vs. Philadelphia, 4; New York City vs. Montreal, 7

Feb. 20 at Al Lang: D.C. United vs. Montreal, 4; Rowdies vs. Philadelphia, 7

Feb. 24 at Joe DiMaggio: Toronto vs. Montreal, 4; New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia, 7

Feb. 27 at Al Lang: Philadelphia vs Toronto, 4; Rowdies vs. Montreal, 7

Sports in brief 02/12/16 [Last modified: Friday, February 12, 2016 10:43pm]
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  1. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion


    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener


    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush


    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.