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National briefs: Bobcats hire marketing firm

Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó The Charlotte Bobcats have hired a marketing company to help find sponsorships and other revenue streams for the team and Time Warner Cable Arena.
The deal announced on Monday with Los Angeles-based Premier Partnerships comes two months after the Bobcats reached a naming rights agreement with their downtown arena.
The expansion team has struggled to win over fans and bring in sponsorship money in its four-year history. Owner Bob Johnson has drawn criticism for the teamís ticket and concession prices, and the Bobcats have yet to post a winning record or make the playoffs.
YAO
HOUSTON ó The prognosis for Yao Mingís left foot is ivery good,î but it remains uncertain whether the Houston Rocketsí center will be cleared to play in time for a pre-Olympics tournament, his agent said Monday.
Agent John Huizinga said Yao had a checkup Monday that went well, but he disputed reports that his client would play July 17-20 in the Stankovic Cup, a pre-Olympics tournament in Hangzhou, China.
Yao, 27, averaged 22 points and nearly 11 rebounds for the Rockets this season. But a stress fracture in his left foot sidelined him on Feb. 27, and he hasnít played since.
SOCCER
VIENNA, Austria ó Germany captain Michael Ballack scored on a wicked second-half free kick Monday for a 1-0 win over Austria and a place in the quarterfinals of the European Championship.
Germany finished Group B as runner-up to Croatia and will face 2004 runner-up Portugal in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
* KLAGENFURT, Austria ó Ivan Klasnic, the first kidney transplant recipient to play at the European Championship, scored for Croatia in a 1-0 victory against Poland. The
28-year-old striker connected in the 53rd minute when he swept in a left-footed shot from a cross by stand-in captain Danijel Pranjic.
Croatia was assured the top spot in the group and will play Turkey in the quarterfinals Friday in Vienna.
SUPERSONICS
SEATTLE ó A deal is a deal, and the SuperSonics should stay.
That was the message from city of Seattle lawyers as a federal trial began Monday to determine whether the NBA franchise will be forced to stay at KeyArena until its lease expires in 2010.
Sonics owner Clay Bennett is trying to move the team ó Seattleís oldest professional sports franchise ó to his hometown of Oklahoma City, two years before the lease expires. Bennett, who sat expressionless at the defense table, is hoping to pay Seattle no more than $10 million in lost rent for the next two seasons.
NFL
LAS VEGAS ó A police spokesman says Oakland Raiders wide receiver Javon Walker was found unconscious on a Las Vegas street after apparently being the victim of a robbery.
Police spokesman Bill Cassell said in a statement that Walker was taken to a hospital with isignificant injuriesî after being found early Monday on a street off the Las Vegas Strip. He also said Walker remains in fair condition at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center.

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