In Brief

BASKETBALL

NBA opens office in Moscow, embraces Russian fan base

The NBA has opened an office in Russia, shortly after approving Mikhail Prokhorov as owner of the New Jersey Nets.

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver made the announcement Thursday, saying the league wanted to move closer to its fan base in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Prokhorov, a billionaire who became the NBA’s first owner from outside North America, said he looks "forward to working together with the NBA to create more opportunities for boys and girls and students throughout Russia to become active basketball participants."

The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks toured the Soviet Union in 1988, and Russian power CSKA Moscow will play three preseason games in the United States against NBA teams.

Also: The fiance of Los Angeles Lakers player Matt Barnes says a domestic violence accusation against him is false, and he has never physically abused her or her family.

Gloria Govan made the comments in a released statement.

Barnes was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of domestic violence in Sacramento after deputies responded to a disconnected 911.

Sacramento County sheriff’s spokesman Tim Curran said when deputies went to the home that Barnes shares with Govan they found her with visible injuries. Curran said Barnes was arrested after deputies determined he was the primary aggressor.

Barnes, released after posting a $50,000 bond, is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl and an assistant have been contacted by the NCAA about possible recruiting violations, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The NCAA is looking into possible excessive contact with recruits, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, which was first reported by recruiting website Volquest.com. The NCAA also has talked with Vols associate head coach Tony Jones.

Tennessee spokesman Jimmy Stanton said the university has not received official notification from the NCAA of a formal investigation.

The University of Dayton will host all four first-round games of the newly expanded men’s basketball tournament next March, the NCAA said.

Two games will match the tournament’s lowest seeds, Nos. 65 through 68, with the winners advancing as No. 16 seeds to play a top seed. The other two games will match the last four of the 37 at-large qualifiers.

The 68-team field will be announced March 13, with first-round games taking place Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15 and 16.

MISCELLANEOUS

Beckham returns to Galaxy, is eager to get back onto pitch

Although David Beckham says his six months away from soccer have been the toughest times of his career, they only served to remind the English superstar just how much he still loves his sport.

The Los Angeles Galaxy activated Beckham from their disabled list. The midfielder hopes to appear as a reserve in the Galaxy’s home game Saturday night against Columbus, although coach Bruce Arena says it’s unlikely he’ll play.

Beckham tore his left Achilles’ tendon March 14 while playing on loan with AC Milan, having surgery two days later on an injury that prevented him from playing in the World Cup. His recovery is slightly ahead of schedule, but Beckham feels he’s ready to play again.

"Not playing for six months is tough," Beckham said after a workout at the Galaxy’s training complex in Carson, Calif. "It’s the first time it’s happened to me. I’ve had injuries, but nothing that’s kept me out for so long. It did make me realize how much I love the game, and I’m not ready to finish."

Beckham, 35, thinks he could play for "quite a few more years," growing excited about the Galaxy’s playoff push and the faint possibility of returning to the English national team someday.

Also: Mary Joe Fernandez will captain the U.S. Fed Cup team for at least two more years after the U.S. Tennis Association extended her contract.

Fernandez took over as captain last year and led the Americans to their first final since 2003.

Nicolas Colsearts of Belgium carded an 8-under 62 to upstage a trio of European Ryder Cup players and take the first-round lead at the Dutch Open in Hilverum, Netherlands.

The long-hitting Colsearts birdied five of his last six holes to sit two shots ahead of Kenneth Ferrie of England and Shiv Kapur of India.

European Ryder Cup player Ross Fisher was among seven players tied for third after shooting 65. Ryder Cup teammates Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari finished with a 67 and 68, respectively.

The Phoenix Coyotes extended their affiliation agreement with the ECHL’s Wranglers.

Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving announced the deal.

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