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Cuban basketball player defects

A ninth Cuban left the team's delegation at the Pan American Games, saying Saturday he planned to seek asylum in the United States.

Basketball player Juan Leopoldo Vazquez defected before a morning game. He turned up elsewhere in Winnipeg accompanied by Ninoska Perez, director of the Cuban American National Foundation.

Vazquez would be the ninth member of the Cuban delegation to leave, and the seventh athlete. Last month, five members of Cuba's national basketball team defected while in Puerto Rico for the Olympic qualifying tournament.

American swimmers finished strongly, getting golds from Denali Knapp in the women's 200-meter backstroke, from Timothy Siciliano in the men's 1,500 freestyle, and from Tammie Spatz in the women's 50 freestyle. It was not enough, however, to avoid the worst showing in Pan Am history.

In 32 events, the Americans won only 10 gold medals, seven by the women. Not since 1963, when there were only 16 events, had either of the U.S. teams won fewer than 10 golds.

Canada won nine women's events. Jessica Daglau became the first Canadian to win four golds, taking the women's 200 butterfly. Teammate Curtis Myden, the 1996 Olympic bronze medalist in the 200 individual medley, won his specialty. Earlier, he won the 400 IM.

Brazil capped the meet by winning the men's 400 medley relay.

Seminole's Scott Tucker was a member of the silver-medal-winning U.S. 400 medley relay team. Brazil won in 3:40.27. The U.S. time was 3:50.57.

With a history of medals staring at them, the U.S. women came through in basketball.

They won the bronze with an 85-59 victory over Brazil, which defeated the Americans in preliminary play. The United States continued its streak of earning a medal in women's basketball in every Pan Ams since the sport was added in 1955.

"I told them about that before the game," coach Nell Fortner said. "I said if we don't win, we're the only USA team that goes home without a medal in the Pan Am Games. They need to know things like that. I think that served as extra motivation and they came out and played hard."

Amy Herrig scored 16 of her 18 in the first half. Edwina Brown scored 13 of her 19 in the second half.

Cuba beat Canada 72-63 for the gold. Cuba's Licet Castillo, who played the entire tournament on a bad left knee, led all scorers with 20 points. Kelly Boucher had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Canada.

Janette Piesczynski won the women's bowling gold medal by one pin, giving the United States its third title in the sport. Piesczynski of Cheektowaga, N.Y., beat Alicia Marcano of Venezuela 216-205 in the 16th and last match. That was enough to beat Marcano 3,328 to 3,327.

In two tight softball games against Canada, the American women won the gold 1-0 in eight innings, and the men lost a controversial 4-3 decision.

Lisa Fernandez singled in Dot Richardson in the eighth and Michele Smith pitched a two-hitter as the U.S. women finished 12-0. They outscored opponents 83-1.

The American men weren't so fortunate, as Canada won its sixth straight Pan Ams gold. Kevin Bobroske's infield single off pitcher Michael White's glove with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh won it. But the inning was extended when U.S. first baseman Shawn Rychcik was ruled off the bag on a routine groundout; replays showed he was touching the base, and the Americans argued to no avail.

"You'd rather see a base hit straight off the bat or a home run," Rychcik said. "Lose that way and you always have doubt."

Wes Barnett, chosen by Team USA captains to carry the flag for today's Closing Ceremony, won a bronze in the 105-kilogram weightlifting class.

Omar Narvaez of Argentina beat Jose Navarro of Los Angeles 10-1 for the flyweight gold medal in boxing. Super-heavyweight Davin King of Temple Hills, Md., forfeited because he had two stitches in his upper lip, which he received in the semifinals. He got a silver medal.

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