Pitino agrees to coach Puerto Rico national team

Louisville Coach Rick Pitino is taking on another rebuilding project. The only men’s college basketball coach to lead three teams to the Final Four has agreed to coach the Puerto Rico national team next summer in the FIBA Tournament of the Americas, with an eye toward qualifying for the 2012 Olympics.

Puerto Rico must finish in the top two in next summer’s tournament to travel to London in 2012. Pitino met with Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea and Miami Heat point guard Carlos Arroyo — both Puerto Rico natives — in Miami on Sunday to gauge their interest and came away impressed.


MLS: The Los Angeles Galaxy say David Beckham, 35, is expected back with the team next month rather than going on loan to another club during the Major League Soccer offseason. The midfielder had said that he hoped to play in Europe during the winter to boost his chances of being recalled to England’s national team.

Beckham spent the last two winters at AC Milan, but the Galaxy is reluctant to send him out on loan again after he injured an Achilles’ tendon while in Italy in March.

The Galaxy said that it is “not aware that David is looking to be loaned to any other team and we are fully expecting he reports with the rest of his Galaxy teammates in late January.”

Beckham has one season remaining on his five-year $32.5 million contract with the Galaxy and has said he has no plans to buy out the final year of the deal.

PREMIER LEAGUE: U.S. goalie Tim Howard made a series of outstanding saves in the second half, helping Everton to a 2-1 upset win at Manchester City and preventing the hosts from taking what would have been their first league lead at Christmas since 1929.

Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez withdrew his transfer request.


AMERICA’S CUP: Newport is a top contender to host the next America’s Cup in 2013 but must ensure that it can complete renovations on the fort that would serve as a village-type environment for the competitors, organizers said.


MASTERS QUALIFYING: Sean O’Hair is the only American among 12 players not already exempt for the Masters who qualified through the final 2010 world rankings released Monday.

Among other criteria, the Masters invites players who are in the top 50 at the end of the year. The ranking is mainly for players who are not PGA Tour members and have fewer avenues to qualify, such as winning a tour event or getting into the FedEx Cup finale.

O’Hair started the year No. 15 and did not win a tournament or reach the Tour Championship. He ended the year at No. 43. The other 11 qualifiers include Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, Robert Karlsson, Charl Schwartzel and Ryo Ishikawa.

That brings to 91 the number of players who have qualified for the Masters.