Hoops Dream Team II Set For World Championships

IF you didn't get enough basketball this past weekend, stay tuned. The National Basketball Association playoffs will last into June, and some NBA players will compete even beyond that. The basketball world championships, held every four years, will be in Toronto Aug. 4-14. The United States will be sending ``Dream Team II,'' made up of NBA stars, modeled on the Dream Team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Spain.

Last Wednesday, USA Basketball, the sport's national governing body, filled in the team's vacant roster with Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers and Shaquille O'Neal of the Orlando Magic.

Rounding out the USA team are: Derrick Coleman, New Jersey Nets; Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons; Tim Hardaway, Golden State Warriors; Larry Johnson, Charlotte Hornets; Shawn Kemp, Seattle SuperSonics; Dan Majerle, Phoenix Suns; Alonzo Mourning, Charlotte Hornets; Mark Price, Cleveland Cavaliers; Steve Smith, Miami Heat; and Dominique Wilkins, Los Angeles Clippers. They will be coached by Don Nelson of the Golden State Warriors.

Miller is the Pacers' career leader in number of three-pointers made, attempted, and the percentage scored, as well as free throws made and attempted (since the Pacers joined the NBA).

National teams that have qualified so far include: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Greece, China, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Korea, and Spain.

The Boston Celtics' Dino Radja will be returning home to Croatia in July to play for his country's national team. Radja played for the silver medal-winning Croatian national team in the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona. He says he has become a better player since joining the Celtics.

Speaking of the Celtics, they aren't having their usual winning season, but they're still up to their old tricks. At a game against the Pacers, only one shower in the visitors' locker room was working, and the water was cold. Byron Scott, now a Pacer and a former Los Angeles Laker, says the Celtics are known for their sorry locker rooms. When the Lakers and Celtics were rivals in the 1980s, the Lakers always knew they would be getting cold showers in Boston, Scott says. So the Laker players simply wore their sweatsuits to the game and returned to their hotel for showers. North Carolina women win

IN a buzzer-beating shot, Charlotte Smith of the North Carolina Tar Heels netted a three-pointer to beat Louisiana Tech 60-59 on Sunday. It was the first NCAA championship for the Tar Heels, who denied Tech a third national title. Smith, whose mother wore the same number for North Carolina, finished with 20 points and 23 rebounds, a championship game record, and was named outstanding player in the Final Four. Tennis's comeback kid

AFTER finishing No. 24 in the world last year, Andre Agassi is staging another comeback. He's taken five months off and returned to the men's tour sporting a trimmed-down body (he still has the long locks, though) and a new attitude. He told Sports Illustrated that he used to play tennis to please others. Now he wants to do it for himself. ``For the first time, I feel I have purpose,'' Agassi said. ``It's the worst thing to feel I could have done more, especially if it's a question of discipline.''

He has a new exercise regimen, a new diet, and is trying out new coaches. So far, it's working. He has won 11 of 13 matches he's played this year, and he has reached two finals. At last month's Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla., he beat Boris Becker, 1993 US Open finalist Cedric Pioline, Stefan Edberg, and Patrick Rafter - all in straight sets - before losing the final to Pete Sampras. He was defeated again by Pete Sampras this past weekend in the semifinals of the Salem Open in Osaka, Japan. But his successes have put him back in the top 20.

And he's still the same entertaining crowd pleaser. During the Becker match, the German became so disgusted with his play that he handed his racket to a ball girl. Agassi motioned her onto the court where he played a point with her. She won the point, and the crowd came to its feet in approval.

* Sports Columnist Ross Atkin is on vacation.

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