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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | SPOTLIGHT / The
Short and Sweet Side of the Games

Rules Mess? Blame Canada

September 24, 2000

Get out your calculators.

The Canadian men's basketball team might have cost itself a chance at a medal because of confusion over the tiebreaking procedure, dribbling away precious time at the end of an 18-point loss to Russia on Saturday before trying to score.

The point will be moot if Canada beats Yugoslavia in its final preliminary game Monday and wins its pool.

If not, there would be a possible three-way tie for second that Canada would lose, finishing in the dreaded fourth spot and advancing to face the U.S. team in the quarterfinals--a virtually certain loss.

The problem is that Canada thought it would win the tiebreaker with an 18-point loss--which seems absurd enough.

The first tiebreaker is a team's record against the tied group, which in this case would still leave the teams tied.

The second tiebreaker isn't the standard point differential--which would have left Canada tied for third with Australia, a team it beat.

Instead, the tiebreaker is something called "goal average"--a number derived by dividing points scored in the games among the tied teams by points allowed.

By that calculation, Russia would be second at 1.1044, followed by Australia at 0.9593 and Canada at 0.9581.

One more point would have put Canada in third, away from the dreaded U.S. matchup.

Canada Coach Jay Triano and his staff are facing a potentially monumental gaffe, but one thing can save them from criticism.

"It won't matter if we go out and beat Yugoslavia," Triano said.

RAMPTON COMES ALIVE

In his junior season at Iowa State, Tony Rampton, a 7-foot center, averaged 1.3 points and 1.8 rebounds. Yet there he was Saturday, playing against the likes of Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett and the rest of the U.S. team.

"It was one of those chances that was too hard to pass up," Rampton said of leaving the Cyclones after the 1999 season to play for New Zealand. "I just loved my experience at Iowa State. It was a tough decision. But I think I made the right decision. This atmosphere and everything, it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us."

Rampton, who has a degree in marketing, had seven points and four rebounds in the 102-56 loss to the U.S. He fouled out in just over 14 minutes.

"He does get pretty hyper," New Zealand Coach Keith Mair said of Rampton.

HE WON, NOW GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE

They said it would be a race that stopped a country. They were amazingly right.

When Australians Kieren Perkins and Grant Hackett dove into the water for the 1,500-meter freestyle Saturday afternoon, most of downtown Sydney stopped.

People crowded around giant TVs in parks, or small TVs in store windows, or loudspeakers hanging from light poles.

They stopped in the middle of sidewalks to listen to radios. They blocked doors to gather around somebody else who had a radio.

A normal 20-minute walk through the upscale Darling Harbor area took twice that long, as people simply stopped in their tracks to listen to two of this country's favorite swimmers in this country's favorite race.

Hackett eventually won the 15-minute affair, and life resumed.

THE GOING RATE FOR AN AMATEUR

Ian Thorpe, who won three gold medals in swimming, plans to attend college in the United States to escape, at least for a while, the adulation he receives in Australia. But NCAA rules won't allow him to compete for the university of his choice because of his various sponsorship deals. Estimates are that Thorpe will earn $10 million over the next three years.

SHE ENJOYS THE VIEW

A big red-eyed salute goes to Diana Mocanu, the Romanian swimmer who won the 200-meter backstroke earlier this week.

She swam four lengths of the pool, in a middle lane, with water crashing all around her, without goggles.

SIX SECONDS TO GLORY

Today's too-bad award goes to Robert Ball, an Australian heavyweight judo competitor.

After working four years for this one opportunity, he stepped into the ring for his first-round match against Uzbekistan's Abdullo Tanigriev . . . and six seconds later was thrown down and defeated.

"My mind just wasn't on the job," Ball said.

Four years, and his mind just wasn't on the job?

THE PRESSURE GOT TO HER

Reebok has pulled a television commercial featuring two-time defending Olympic 400-meter champion Marie-Jose Perec.

The ad had been showing only in France, Reebok spokeswoman Denise Kaigler said.

Reebok pulled the ad because Perec abruptly pulled out of the Olympics on Thursday and flew home to Paris. Under intense criticism from the Australia media since her arrival, Perec said she left because she had been threatened by a man who tried to force his way into her hotel room. Police said they have no report of such an incident.

"It was tied to the Olympic Games, so since she was not competing, we pulled the ad," Kaigler said.

The decision was made on Saturday, she said.

The commercial's theme was Olympic pressure, with Perec saying, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

SWOOP, THERE IT IS

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