Sporting Digest: Basketball

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The National Basketball Association Board of Governors yesterday ratified the labour deal approved on Wednesday by the player's union, which paves the way for a belated start to the NBA season in America. The abbreviated season will begin on 5 February and run until May, with teams expected to play an average of four games a week. The agreement will herald a frantic month as teams strengthen their squads and try to get their players into shape, while more than 200 free-agent players, who have been unable to move while the lock-out has been in force, must now find themselves new employers. The lock-out lasted for a total of 190 days, with 437 games cancelled prior to yesterday's agreement.

Michael Olowokandi, the No 1 pick in June's NBA draft who moved to the Italian team Kinder Bologna in the final days of the lock-out, made a diasppointing debut for his new side as they fell to a 71-57 defeat at the hands PAOK Salonika in Greece in the Men's Euroleague last night.