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Kremlin says Brittney Griner prisoner swap with USA must be discussed without publicity

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The Kremlin says it is open to talking about a possible prisoner exchange involving American basketball star Brittney Griner but strongly warned Washington against publicising the issue.

A judge convicted Griner, 31, on Thursday of drug possession and smuggling, and sentenced her to nine years in prison.
Griner, recognised as one of the greatest players in WNBA history, has been detained since February 17 after police said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage upon landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. She was returning to Russia, where she has competed since 2014.

The two-time US Olympic champion and an eight-time all-star with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, listened with a blank expression as an interpreter translated the verdict by Judge Anna Sotnikova, but her lawyers said later she was “very upset.” Griner also was fined one million rubles (about £13,400).
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke last week to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about a trade to free Griner, and the two of them were both in Cambodia for an Asian summit on Friday.
US President Joe Biden denounced as “unacceptable” the verdict and sentence, which came amid soaring tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine.
Lavrov said Moscow was ready to discuss a prisoner swap but that Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin only could talk about a deal via confidential channels.
Lavrov said: “There is a special channel [of communication] agreed upon by presidents. No matter what anyone says publicly, this channel remains relevant. If the Americans decide to rely on public diplomacy and make loud statements that they are going to take some steps, that is their business, and I would say, their problem.

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“Because Americans often can’t stand agreements on quiet, professional work, not only on this topic, on many other topics. That’s the answer: we are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework agreed upon by the presidents, (Vladimir) Putin and (Joe) Biden.”

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Emir of Doma Hosts Women’s B’ball League Players in Lafia

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The Emir of Doma, Dr. Aliyu Amadu, has called on the sponsors of the Women’s Basketball League in Nigeria, Zenith Bank, to do more for basketball in the country.

He stated this while receiving all the teams and officials participating in the Second Phase of the Savannah Conference of the ongoing Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League in Lafia, Nasarawa State yesterday.

The Emir who was a former basketball player appreciated the bank and the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) for allowing the state to host the national competition while assuring all the players and other visitors a great stay in the community.

The teams; Nigerian Customs, Nigerian Army, Air Warriors, Nasarawa Amazons and Plateau Rocks alongside their officials and all the referees were at the Andoma Palace on a courtesy visit while also getting the royal blessings.

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“I want to welcome the ladies, who made this tournament possible, you are welcome to Nasarawa State and Doma Kingdom, the only palace in Nigeria with a basketball court,” he said.

“I want to specifically appreciate Zenith Bank for facilitating this competition, we are hoping they will do more for basketball so that the day the NBA players will be coming, we will see their banner side by side with other sponsors and it will document what they have been doing for the game of basketball in Nigeria.

The emir said that it was possible to bring NBA to Nigeria.

“We can bring NBA teams to Nigeria, we have hosted the World Cup in football, and other sports have been to Nigeria and basketball must have its place, all the other sports have been hosted and sponsored by the Nigeria government, they should do same with basketball. Several Nigerians are bringing fortunes from NBA, so why can’t we bring the game here for our people? It will be on record that Nigeria have hosted superstars here.“

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Meanwhile, Nigerian Customs Ladies whitewashed Nigerian Army 76-36 points yesterday to seal their qualification to the finals in Lagos.

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UCL: Bayern compounds Man U’s woes in 7goals thriller, as Arsenal return with a bang

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Bayern Munich on Wednesday night compounded Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United’s woes in a seven-goal thriller at the Allianz Arena.

The German champion beat Manchester United 4-3, leaving manager Ten Hag with more questions than answers about his defensive options following the team’s humiliating 3-1 home defeat to Brighton over the weekend.

Goals from Leroy Sane, and Serge Gnabri gave the German side a two-goal advantage in the first half before United fought their way back into the game.

Harry Kane and Mathys Tel completed Bayern’s lead over Man United in a game that was more of a contest than many expected.

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After the break United again started well, pulling a goal back on 49 minutes with Rasmus Hojlund recording his first goal for the club with the aid of two deflections.

Within minutes, Bayern won a penalty which made the game safe, and Eriksen was adjudged – first by VAR, who advised the ref to watch a replay – to have handled Dayot Upamecano’s header.

From the penalty spot, Kane made no mistake, and though Casemiro bagged two late goals to make things interesting, Tel’s goal saw the German champions take control of the group while United desperately needed a break.

Arsenal on the other hand enjoyed a fine return to the Champions League as they thrshed PSV Eindhoven 4-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners made a return to the Champions League after six years of absence from Europe’s elite competition. Arsenal last played in the Champions League in 2017.

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Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard, Gabriel Jesus, and Martin Odegaard all scored as Arsenal sent the right warning across.

Arsenal started a goal rush with Saka getting Gunner’s first inside eight minutes before Trossard doubled the lead, Jesus added a third before the break and Odegaard capped off a fine evening.

David Raya retained his place in the Arsenal goal having replaced Aaron Ramsdale for Sunday’s Premier League win at Everton.

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Amusan relishes historic Diamond League win

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World women’s 100m hurdles record holder, Tobi Amusan, says the track in Eugene, Oregon holds a special place in her heart and her list of conquests.

The Nigerian wrapped up her season on an outstanding and record-breaking note by clinching the Wanda Diamond League title for the third consecutive year on Sunday night on the track she has come to affectionately call her own.

The 26-year-old posted an impressive performance in the 100m hurdles event at the Oregon Diamond League despite facing tough competition from Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, Kendra Harrison, Danielle Williams, Nia Ali, Tia Jones and Megan Tapper.

Amusan started off strong and maintained her lead, clearing the final hurdle and finishing with an impressive season best time of 12.33secs. Camacho-Quinn from Puerto Rico gave a strong chase, coming in second in 12.38secs, while USA’s Harrison took third place in a time of 12.44secs.

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The world champion, Jamaica’s Williams, finished fourth in 12.47secs.

This remarkable victory marked Amusan’s third consecutive Diamond League title, making her only the second woman in Diamond League history to achieve a hat-trick of 100m hurdles titles.

The Nigerian athlete accomplished this feat on the same track in Oregon, where she had won the World Championship the previous year and set the current world record of 12.12secs.

After the race, an elated Amusan said, “I came out here and said it’s my race to lose, and I will give my all. I said it’s 200 or nothing because, 100 per cent, I am not winning today (Sunday). So, I came out here, and I told God to give me the strength.

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“I said this (racing in Eugene) is God’s track. I came here, I’m like ‘This is my track; I’m going to dominate’ and God did just that.”

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Amusan expressed gratitude to God, dedicating her win to her coach, her family, her fans and everyone who had supported her throughout the challenging year.

“Right now, I just want to rest. I’m just grateful to God; that’s all I can say this season. This win is not about me; it’s for my coach, my family, and everyone who supported me throughout this year. It’s been a rough one, and I’m just thankful,” she said.

The record-setting victory provided a glorious end to the season for Amusan, who had experienced disappointment after failing to defend her world title at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August.

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