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SPORTS NOTEBOOK : Cerritos Player's Injury Hurts U.S. Team's Chances in World Cup

April 22, 1993|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONG BEACH AREA — Marcelo Balboa's career-threatening injury could be devastating to the national soccer team's 1994 World Cup hopes.

The Cerritos native, a veteran sweeper and the 1992 soccer player of the year, was scheduled to undero an operation Wednesday to correct what doctors say is a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament and a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Balboa was hurt Saturday in the U.S. team's 1-1 tie with Iceland.

A tear of the anterior cruciate is among the most common athletic injuries, sports orthopedist Robert Kerlan. The ligament cannot be repaired by surgery, so part of a kneecap tendon is often removed and used as a replacement.

Many athletes, including basketball players Danny Manning of the Clippers and Ed O'Bannon of UCLA, have returned to their sport after suffering this type of injury, but the average recovery period is 12 to 15 months and there is no guarantee that a player will be able to perform at past levels, Kerlan said.

With the start of the World Cup 14 months away, Balboa, 25, would have to make remarkable progress. "At least it's better to have happened now than in December," he said. "At least I have a chance to come back."

Balboa was injured when he made a leaping header between two defenders, then landed in a depression that usually marks the yard lines on the Orange Coast College football field.

When he came down after heading the ball, he tried to plant his right foot and make a left turn. "The ball was played into me and I tried to plant my right foot, make a left turn and play it back to the front," Balboa said. "My foot rolled in on me when I came down."

Balboa seemed to fit nicely into Coach Bora Milutinovic's plans for the 1994 U.S. national team. A starter for the U.S. at the '90 World Cup in Italy, he had played more minutes than anyone last year, and his 72 international appearances rank second in U.S. history.

Although sweepers primarily play defense, Balboa has scored six goals in his international career, including one on an over-the-shoulder kick that beat Trinidad and Tobago, 2-1, in a tournament at the Rose Bowl two years ago.

Pyramid Project Digs Deep for $2.5-Million Donor

The hole in the former parking lot has grown so deep that Cal State Long Beach administrators kiddingly asked the contractor if he had the plans for the new 17-story Pyramid sports center upside down.

Ground was broken last month for the center on Atherton Street, although the project needs an additional $5 million to $7 million to be completed. The state has given the university $10 million in educational bond money to build the structure; the university must raise the rest.

Acting Athletic Director Dave O'Brien was clearly pleased about the start of the project after years of anticipation. "This signifies a new era in that Long Beach has always been an institution that is facility-poor," O'Brien said. "(This) symbolizes the beginning of an era where we hopefully will be facility-rich."

The Pyramid is expected to house a fitness center, classrooms, physical education offices and a 6,000-seat sunken arena suitable for volleyball, basketball and small concerts.

The athletic department offices are now in trailers between the school's two antiquated gyms.

Two stories below ground, the arena will be the cornerstone of the Pyramid project and is targeted to open in the fall of 1994. Other facilities will open as funds become available, O'Brien said.

The university has been seeking a donor who will give $2.5 million in exchange for having his name put on the arena. About $2 million of that would pay for seating, which is not included in state funds. It will take another $1 million for concession stands, restrooms and scoreboards, O'Brien said, as well as about $3 million for landscaping, offices, the fitness center and a hall of fame.

The priority will be to get the arena finished, O'Brien said, although fund raising has not gone as well as expected.

"While we don't have (the $2.5 million) yet, we haven't gotten any no's (from those we have talked to)," he said. "It's been going a little slower than we hoped, but we are still very, very optimistic."

Handball Player Wins National Juniors Title

David Silveyra, 15, of Commerce won his age division of the recent National Juniors Handball Tournament in Cincinnati.

"He's a great player," said Bob Peters, commissioner of the United States Handball Assn. "He has tremendous confidence, great strokes, and his athleticism is fantastic."

Silveyra is coached by Commerce resident Tony Huante, who has developed some of the nation's best handball players in the past 15 years.

Octavio Silveyra, David's older brother, was top-ranked on the professional three-wall handball circuit last year. After losing in a recent tournament in Milwaukee, he dropped to No. 2, according to Handball magazine.

Lynwood Girls Basketball Team Will Play in Greece

The Lynwood High girls' basketball team, the state Division I champion, has been chosen to represent the United States in the International Schoolsport Federation's 1993 tournament May 5 to 12 in Athens, Greece.

The selection was made by the National Federation of State High School Associations, in conjunction with Schoolsport, an international organization made up of more than 40 countries that holds international competition in various sports.

"This is really something for us to represent the United States," said Coach Ellis Barfield, who led the Knights to a 31-0 record.

49ers Volleyball Hitter Has Shot at Career Kill Record

Senior outside hitter Brent Hilliard of Cal State Long Beach has a good shot at becoming the NCAA volleyball career kill leader when the 49ers play their Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular-season finale at 7:30 p.m. Friday at USC.

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