US Women's Basketball Could Use a Dream

THE absence of a women's professional basketball league in the United States no doubt contributes to the struggles faced by the US women's team, which captured the bronze last weekend at the world championships in Sydney. The third-place finish was another in a series of disappointments for the defending champions, whose troubles began after capturing the 1990 world title. The US was third at the 1991 Pan Am Games, the 1992 Olympics, and the 1993 World University Games.

The US men, some may have forgotten, were bronze medalists at the '88 Olympics, but then reasserted their dominance at Barcelona in 1992 when National Basketball Association players became eligible for the first time. The original US Dream Team was an NBA all-star squad. Ditto for Dream Team II, which competes Aug. 4-14 at the men's world championships in Canada.

The top US women do not enjoy the same ``Dream Team'' chance, since the top collegians pursue pro careers overseas. These postgraduates then are brought together with still-active collegians in hurry-up fashion for major international competitions. Their talent simply isn't sufficient to ensure outstanding results. Brazil handed the Americans their first loss at the world championships in 11 years, 110-107, then defeated China in the gold-medal game. The US defeated Australia, 100-95, for the bronze. Major league baseball looks south

mexico reportedly will be considered as a major league baseball expansion site. At the moment, there's no plan to add teams, but the invitation has been extended to Mexico to pursue a franchise when the next one is available. St. Petersburg, Fla., and Phoenix are among American cities known to be interested. More major leaguers hail from the Dominican Republic (70), Puerto Rico (40), and Venezuela (20) than from Mexico (9), according to Major League Baseball's latest statistics, but the second-largest metropolis in the world, Mexico City, represents a huge untapped market with its 21 million residents. Rangers break half-century drought

yesss! There will be a ticker-tape parade at noon in New York, writes Monitor correspondent Ron Scherer.

After 54 years, the New York Rangers finally won the coveted Stanley Cup, the ultimate trophy in professional hockey. The Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks by 3 to 2 Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden, in the seventh game of the best-of-seven series. The Rangers last won the Cup in 1940.

``We didn't start the season with the goal of making the playoffs or having the best record,'' said player Adam Graves. ``We wanted to win the Cup from the first day.'' The Rangers had the best record in the National Hockey League this season.

The victory was especially important to Viacom Communications. It recently purchased Paramount, which owns the Rangers, pro-basketball's Knicks, and Madison Square Garden. Viacom is now searching for a buyer for the Madison Square Garden complex and teams. The victory means Viacom can ask for a higher price.

New York sports fans, meanwhile, are turning their attention to the Knicks, who are battling the Houston Rockets for the National Basketball Association title. If the Knicks win, it may mean another parade.

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