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Sixers' boat rocked by mounting injuries

With the 76ers reeling after another injury and their third consecutive loss of the preseason, Dikembe Mutombo addressed the skeleton squad, those who, unlike Eric Snow and Allen Iverson and Aaron McKie and George Lynch, are not held together by bandages or surgical screws.

Before the Sixers' practice at Allen Field House at the University of Kansas, Mutombo told the team members that they are on a boat rocked by violent ocean waves trying to tip it left, then right, and ultimately over.

"We have to gain control," Mutombo said. "We have to balance this boat."

Mutombo's message was necessary because the Sixers are in disarray.

Tuesday night in San Antonio, Snow returned to the starting lineup after months of ankle rehabilitation, only to suffer a broken left thumb late in the first half of their 94-75 loss to the Spurs. He will have surgery in two to five days -- once the swelling recedes -- to repair the fractures and could miss another three months, said coach Larry Brown.

"It's a big blow," Brown said.

Additionally, in the third quarter, Matt Harpring left the game with a cut of the webbing between the index and ring fingers on his right hand, which required six stitches. He probably will be out a week.

Iverson (right elbow), McKie (right shoulder), and Lynch (left foot) remain unable to practice, much less play with the regular-season opener at Minnesota less than two weeks away.

And the players the Sixers do have available for action are not ready to pick up the slack.

In other NBA news: NBC Sports elevated Bill Walton and Steve (Snapper) Jones to join Marv Albert as its No. 1 NBA broadcast team.

Walton and Jones are replacing Doug Collins, who bolted the microphone to become coach of the Washington Wizards.

P.J. Carlesimo, who worked in NBC's NBA studio last season, moves to the No. 2 team, where he will be paired with either Tom Hammond or Mike Breen.

Breeders' Cup field starts to grow

Officer, a pair of Bobby Frankel-trained fillies and European star Galileo were among 117 horses pre-entered Wednesday for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Officer, the 2-year-old heir apparent to the retired Point Given in Bob Baffert's stable, is unbeaten in five starts and is the Daily Racing Form's 3-5 early favorite to beat 12 rivals in the 1 1/1 6-mile Juvenile, one of eight races on the Oct. 27 card at Belmont Park.

Flute, winner of two Grade I stakes this year, is the 2-1 pick among 13 fillies and mares in the 1 1/8 -mile Distaff.

You, winner of three of four starts, is the 5-2 choice in a field of nine for the Juvenile Fillies over 1 1/1 6 miles.

Frankel, who has failed to win a Breeders' Cup race with 38 previous starters, also has the early 2-1 favorite in Aptitude for the $4 million Classic over 1 1/4 miles. This race drew 16 pre-entries, and BC fields are limited to 14 starters.

Aptitude is assured of being in the field when official entries are made and post positions drawn next Wednesday.

Earthquakes, Galaxy reach MLS title game

Troy Dayak's overtime goal gave San Jose a 1-0 victory over Miami and advanced the Earthquakes to the MLS Cup.

The Earthquakes advanced to Sunday's championship game in Columbus, Ohio, against Los Angeles, which beat Chicago Fire in the other semifinal series.

Miami won the opening game of the series, but San Jose evened it with a 4-0 victory Sunday. The second win gave them six points in the first-to-five points format.

Dayak scored his first goal of the playoffs when he headed in a loose ball in the 94th minute after Richard Mulrooney's corner kick caromed off Fusion defender Carlos Llamosa.

Mauricio Cienfuegos scored in the eighth minute of overtime to send Los Angeles to to the MLS Cup and hand Chicago its first playoff loss at Soldier Field in the team's four-year history.

The Galaxy needed only to tie the Fire to get the one point they needed to clinch the series.

Capriati is far from top form in win

Jennifer Capriati made an unconvincing start to her reign as the No. 1 player, needing three sets to beat Russian wild card Nadia Petrova at the Swisscom Challenge in Zurich, Switzerland.

This was her first singles match since she overtook Martina Hingis for the top ranking.

She showed little intensity against Petrova, winning, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, in the second round against a player ranked 46th.

"I played pretty good under the circumstances," Capriati said. "Going out there as the new No. 1, I was able to go out there and put it out of my mind."

Agassi stumbles in early going

Andre Agassi lost a chance to reclaim the No. 1 ranking this week when he was upset by Hicham Arazi in the second round of the Stuttgart Masters Series in Germany.

Arazi defeated the tournament's second-seeded player, 7-6 (4), 7-5. Agassi's exit comes a day top-ranked Gustavo Kuerten was ousted. Agassi could have regained the No. 1 ranking by winning the event.

"Unfortunately, you've got to win to be No. 1," Agassi said.

Agassi was ranked No. 2 in the Champions Race. U.S. Open champ Lleyton Hewitt, who was idle Wednesday, can advance from No. 3 to No. 1 by capturing the Stuttgart title.

Around & About

Dante Pasqualoni, father of Syracuse University head football coach Paul Pasqualoni, has died. He was 78. Pasqualoni, of Cheshire, Conn., died Monday at his home after a long battle with lung cancer.

Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga remains in second place after the sixth round of the PWBA Three Rivers Open in Pittsburgh. Johnson advanced to the finals with a pinfall total of 9,724. That was 53 pins behind Michelle Feldman of Skaneateles. Janette Piesczynski of Cheektowaga finished in 22nd place.

Kenmore East boys volleyball coach Gary Tocke won his 400th match Wednesday with a three-game sweep of North Tonawanda. The win made Tocke 400-207 in a 34-year career.

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