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DOC VOLLEYBALL: Storming The (Blue) Keep

Winning twice in the elimination round to continue a 15-game streak, the Ateneo Lady Eagles couldn’t have asked for a better match-up in the Finals in the form of the UST Golden Tigresses as past encounters would easily sway towards a blue momentum. The top seed however went in for a surprise as the Sisi Rondina-led pack showed a whole different UST team from the eliminations and proved why her team was the best offensive team at the expense of the best defensive team for a crucial first game sweep. With a dominant three-set win over the Lady Eagles, the Golden Tigresses have breached the gates and are within reach of the throne. At this point, with momentum undoubtedly behind the Tigresses, it is quite interesting how the Lady Eagles will be able to hold their ground and last wall of defense and eventually mark a counter offensive from the inside should they wish to extend the series to a deciding championship match. Swift Claws One glaring difference between how UST played in the elimination round and the way they won Game 1 of the Finals series was the speed of their play. Despite being in the back seat for most of the elimination round, veteran setter Alina Bicar dug deep since the semifinals and has been the crucial factor in their win against the Lady Eagles even more so than the stellar dominance of Queen Tigress Sisi Rondina. Throughout her UAAP career, Bicar has been a fairly overlooked setter due to noticeable lapses in consistency, decision making and quality (height and speed) of sets. Perhaps one saving grace Bicar had prior to this season’s step-up since the semifinals would be how fast the ball is released from her hands. In Game 1 however, it was a more potent Bicar who was on display as her setting (even the bump sets at that) was noticeably faster and with better trajectory that enabled her spikers to play through the solid net defense of the Lady Eagles. Though still utilizing the combination plays in the middle that are more likely to get blocked by tall and anticipating middles such as Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag, Bicar’s decision-making was also a massive level up from how she played during the eliminations and the past seasons. Perhaps now that she has established a consistent shoot play to the left wing that proves problematic against the Atenean blockers, Bicar would find less reliance on combination plays that have less efficiency than a simple fast open to Rondina or Eya Laure. It is however an injustice to UST if credit won’t be given to the massive performance of their queen, Sisi Rondina. Just a quick look of her highlight reel is enough to tell the whole story of how she led the pack in decimating the Blue Defense be it up front or on the floor. Though expected to drop cherry bombs straight to the middle of the court to showcase her athleticism as seen throughout her career, Game 1 showed a Sisi Rondina who had long targets that proved to be a one-two punch for both the blockers and floor defenders of Ateneo. First, by going for long angle or line shots, Rondina ensures that she hits her maximum reach enough to work around the tall walls of the opponent. Second, by going for long targets, Rondina often landed her attacks on the perimeter of the blue court (a floor defense lapse exposed and exploited by rival Lady Spikers in their second round encounter). With Bicar’s fast sets, Rondina had more time and reach to work around the block and floor which proved too problematic for the Lady Eagles. Lastly, though it was a given that Rondina had the spotlight, the collective effort from Laure, Ysa Jimenez, KC Galdones and Caitlyn Viray was also a massive difference from the elimination round where UST has been branded as just a two-woman attacking team. Viray’s unorthodox set-up for a right pin attack despite being a middle and Galdones’ power from the middle earned crucial points for the team. Despite taking a backseat from her usual numbers, Eya Laure showed enough firepower to support Rondina a couple of which came from a low fast back play from Bicar which I’d like to see more of albeit pushed a little more to the right pin but with the same height and speed. Blunted Talons Right from the start of the match, the early assault of the Tigresses proved too much of a challenge for the Lady Eagles much like a dragon queen swooping over an army and decimating the wall of defense. UST clearly made prior work of how to circumvent the main asset of the Lady Eagles being their block by going for fast plays and long shots targeting unguarded zones such as high line and sharp angle. UST evading De Leon and Madayag’s defense set-up was already a big part of the equation as their offense proved successful in limiting the block points of the two middles to an unusual two and one kill blocks, respectively. It has been shown throughout the season that the main scoring output of the Lady Eagles are primarily the two middles and opposite Kat Tolentino. While there have been noticeable improvement from the second round towards the end of eliminations from both openers Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte, output from the left wing was sorely missing for the Lady Eagles for Game 1. A high output from transition could have been Ateneo’s saving grace as UST was successful in limiting them to just 17% in the passing department which is clearly not enough to active their main assets which are their middles. A combined effort of 16% efficiency by Samonte and Gaston (25% and 7% respectively) was clearly not enough to support Tolentino’s 28% efficiency to mount a counter offensive on the instances they had control of the first ball. In addition, it was noticeable how the Lady Eagles failed to capitalize with their block to hold UST at bay on a particular rotation in which only Rondina and Viray are up front and would attack from both pins without any benefit of a middle going for at least a decoy quick hit. With two relatively obvious spiker options, no quicker approaching, and no pipe or backrow attack tendencies, that specific rotation would have been the easiest for the Lady Eagles to earn points in succession. Moving forward, should the elimination top seed wish to force a Game Three, the main concern is obviously to ensure that Rondina can be neutralized. Sisi will definitely rack up the points, but by limiting her options in her attack angles, the Lady Eagles can have a relatively easier work with their defense. First option would be to slow down the setup of Bicar by serving her blind side. Should this option prove ineffective, the best possible option would be to serve long in the seam of zone 5 and 6 and target Rondina or Laure’s right side of their axis to keep them in the court as much as possible as they wind up for the approach. Doing so, their down the line shots would be a challenging option making it easier for Madayag and De Leon to block the sharp angle. Though Rondina is just one piece of the equation and much more can be expected of Laure, Jimenez, Viray, and Galdones in the upcoming match, ensuring that Bicar is hard pressed in setting up a fast play through well placed serves will be Ateneo’s best bet to force a decider match for the Season 81 throne.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 14th, 2019

UAAP Season 81 Final Four: De Jesus wishes UST, Reyes good luck in title quest

University of Sto. Tomas head coach Kungfu Reyes has high respect and admiration for legendary De La Salle University mentor Ramil De Jesus. The fourth year Tigresses tactician considered De Jesus as one of the best coaches in the country with an impressive resume in his 21-year career with the Lady Spikers. As a volleyball player himself during his days as member of the Tigers, Reyes saw how De Jesus turned DLSU into one of the most successful volleyball programs in the UAAP for the past two decades, producing 11 titles. “Kasi syempre living legend na natin sa Philippine volleyball ‘yan, sa generation nila na ito,” said Reyes. So it’s not surprising for Reyes to feel overwhelmed when one of his coaching inspirations wished him good luck in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals. “Ganoon pala ang pakiramdam kapag ginu-good luck ka ni Coach Ramil,” said Reyes following the Tigresses’ 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10 victory over the dethroned Lady Spikers in the Final Four on Sunday that ended the Espana-based squad’s eight-year wait for a championship berth. Gracious in defeat, De Jesus shook the hands of Reyes, accepting the ill-fated third try of the Lady Spikers for a historic four-peat.     “Ngayon lang nagsi-sink in sa akin ‘yung ano [usapan] namin kanina, marami man siyang gustong sabihin talagang medyo maingay na,” Reyes said, who then dropped another of his usual postgame jokes, “Gusto ko man yakapin siya baka sabihin nagro-romance na kaming dalawa kanina.” The Tigresses ended DLSU’s three-year reign as they made their first Finals appearance since finishing second to the Lady Spikers in Season 73.   “So ‘yun lang, ‘yung mga natutunan ko kay Coach Ramil during magkalaban kami malaking bagay tapos malaking pagkakataon sa akin na ‘yung champion coach, ako ang ginu-good luck para sa taon na to, para sa Finals,” said Reyes, who will try to steer UST back to the throne since winning it all back in Season 72.     “Pero ‘yun nga, ‘yung sabihan ka ni Coach Ramil ng good luck na dati sila ang nandoon [sa finals], iba rin ang pakiramdam,” added Reyes. The Tigresses will face the winner between Ateneo de Manila University and Far Eastern University in the best-of-three championship series. Game 1 of the Finals is on Saturday.         --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2019

UAAP Season 81: Tigresses claw Lady Spikers for twice-to-beat advantage

University of Sto. Tomas head coach Kungfu Reyes said they are ready to face three-time defending champion De La University with or without a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four after the Tigresses closed the elimination of UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament. But when the golden chance came for the Tigresses to steal the semifinals incentive, UST grabbed the opportunity to move a win away from a return stint to the championship round for the first time in nine years. The Tigresses demolished the Lady Spikers in the playoff for the no. 2 spot and semis incentive with an emphatic, 25-14, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19 victory on Wednesday at the jam-packed FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Graduating hitter Sisi Rondina and rookie Eya Laure caught fire early while the rest of the Tigresses followed suit, playing their roles well to arm UST with a semis advantage for the first time since its runner-up finish in Season 73 behind DLSU. The two teams battled for the twice-to-beat bonus after closing the elims tied at 10-4 win-loss slates.       Rondina had 29 points off 25 attacks, two kill blocks, and two aces for the Espana-based squad. Laure chipped in 17 markers while freshman Ysa Jimenez and Caitlyn Viray got eight and seven markers, respectively for UST. “Maganda ‘yung experience na sa sobrang tagal ng panahon ganoon pala ang experience ng may playoff. Masarap na yung pakiramdam na naglalaro ka pero mas masarap kung nanalo ka doon sa game. Luckily kami ang nanalo. Another history para sa amin,” said Reyes, whose squad fell to twice-to-beat DLSU in the Tigresses last semis stint in Season 79. The Final Four match between UST and DLSU is on Sunday, with the Lady Spikers marching in the semis with a twice-to-win disadvantage for the first time in 11 years. No. 1 seed Ateneo de Manila University and Far Eastern University, which defeated the Lady Spikers at the end of elims that forced a playoff, semis match is on Saturday.          UST broke a 12-12 deadlock in the fourth set with a telling run that saw Rondina send missile after missile for  a 19-13 advantage. The Lady Spikers tried to make a comeback after cutting their deficit to 18-22 but a service error by rookie Jolina Dela Cruz followed by a Rondina ace gave the Tigresses the match point advantage. Lourdes Clemente saved a match point before Laure's game-clinching kill.    The Lady Spikers squandered an early 6-1 lead in the third set as the Tigresses fought back to take a 23-22 lead after an overreaching call on DLSU middle Des Clemente. The transferee from University of Perpetual Help made amend on her error with a kill to tie the frame before Aduke Ogunsanya hammered an attack followed by a Laure mishit as DLSU stole the set.    The Tigresses blasted 10 straight points to turn a 7-5 deficit in the second set to a 15-7 lead capped by a Rondina backrow hit. DLSU answered with a run of its own to cut its deficit to 15-17.    Laure pounded back-to-back hits to put the Tigresses at set point, 24-18, before the Lady Spikers saved five set points capped by a May Luna service ace before Laure put the frame away with a crosscourt hit. UST waxed-hot early in the game, building a comfortable lead in the first frame before cruising to take the set.    Rookie Jolina dela Cruz got 12 points as the only Lady Spiker in double figures while Des Cheng and May Luna finished with nine markers each.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2019

Hollywood school to keep Michael Jackson s name on auditorium

LOS ANGELES, USA – Michael Jackson's elementary school in Hollywood, California will keep his name on its auditorium despite the damaging allegations of pedophilia made against the late pop superstar in a widely viewed documentary. Parents and staff members of Gardner Street Elementary School, which Jackson attended in 1969, ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 28th, 2019

Thomas stretches lead to 7 at the Sony Open

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer br /> HONOLULU (AP) — Justin Thomas made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole Saturday for a 5-under 65 to tie the 54-hole score record on the PGA Tour and build a seven-shot lead going into the final round of the Sony Open. No one has ever lost a PGA Tour event with a seven-shot lead, and Thomas has given no indication that will change. His goal was to not drop any shots on another calm day at Waialae, and he wound up stretching his lead as he goes for a sweep of Hawaii. That last birdie putt put Thomas at 22-under 188, tying the mark Steve Stricker set at the 2010 John Deere Classic. Thomas got into the record book with an eagle on his final hole in each of the previous two rounds at Waialae — a 59 on Thursday for the eighth sub-60 round in tour history, and the 36-hole scoring record Friday. He had another chance on the par-5 18th until his second shot clipped a palm frond and came up well short. He pitched to just inside 15 feet below the cup, and poured in the putt. Zach Johnson shot a 65 to keep pace, though he remained seven shots behind. Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose (66) and Gary Woodland (68) were eight shots behind, though the 23-year-old Thomas has turned this into a one-man show with one round remaining as he tries to join Ernie Els in 2003 as the only players to win both Hawaii events on the PGA Tour. The course remained so vulnerable that Kevin Kisner nearly produced the second 59 of the week. Kisner made a 25-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole to reach 9 under for his round. Needing an eagle to shoot 59, he drilled his tee shot on the fast fairways of Waialae, hit 8-iron to 9 feet and thought he had made it. The putt stayed to the right and burned the edge of the cup, and Kisner had to settle for a 60. It was the lowest round of his career — but only the second-lowest round this week. 'Can't be that upset,' Kisner said. He went from making the cut on the number to a tie for sixth, though hardly in contention. Kisner still was nine shots out of the lead. Thomas had only a few stressful moments, such as the par-3 seventh when his tee shot bounded down a steep still on the right into a fluffy lie. He hit a flop shot to about 12 feet and hit the putt so pure he started walking even before it dropped. Thomas led by at least four shots the entire round. He made his first birdie with a two-putt on the par-5 ninth, drove into a greenside bunker on the par-4 10th and got another birdie and he was on his way. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Ryan leads Falcons to NFC title game, beating Seattle 36-20

PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer br /> ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan looked very much like an MVP and the Atlanta Falcons are headed to the NFC championship game. Ryan threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Falcons to a 36-20 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round Saturday. Atlanta will face either the Dallas Cowboys or the Green Bay Packers, who meet Sunday in the NFC's other divisional game. After the Seahawks zipped down the field for a touchdown on the opening possession, Atlanta's young defense largely shut down Russell Wilson & Co. the rest of the way. Ryan and the high-scoring Falcons took it from there — getting a huge boost from a holding penalty that wiped out an 80-yard punt return by Devin Hester. Ryan hooked up with Julio Jones on a 7-yard touchdown and Tevin Coleman for a 14-yard score before finishing off the Seahawks with a 3-yard toss to Mohamed Sanu in the corner of the end zone with just under 4 minutes remaining, sparking a raucous chant of 'MVP! MVP! MVP!' from a Georgia Dome crowd that stood most of the game, giving the Falcons the sort of home-field advantage that Seattle is used to having at the Link. Before a foot injury limited him in the second half, Jones made life miserable for Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, who got away with an apparent pass interference penalty on Atlanta's star receiver when the teams met during the regular season, preserving a 26-24 victory for the Seahawks. Jones was targeted eight times, coming up with six receptions for 67 yards to set a tone that Atlanta would not be intimidate by the Legion of Boom. But, as usual, Ryan spread the ball around to everyone. Speedy Taylor Gabriel had a 37-yard reception. Running back Devonta Freeman slipped out of the backfield to haul in a 53-yard pass, putting a dazzling fake on replacement free safety Steven Terrell right in the middle of the field. In all, eight players caught passes for Atlanta. For only the fourth time in their 51-year history, the Falcons (12-5) will be playing for the conference title and a spot in the Super Bowl. They made their only Super Bowl appearance during the 1998 season, falling to Denver in John Elway's final game, and lost in the NFC title game during the 2004 and 2012 seasons. The Seahawks (11-6-1) couldn't follow up a dominating win over Detroit in the opening round, the game turning dramatically on a holding penalty in the second quarter that wiped out Hester's return to the Atlanta 7. Instead of having first-and-goal and a chance to extend a 10-7 lead, Seattle was backed up to its 7. After Thomas Rawls was thrown for a 3-yard loss, Wilson attempted to drop back for a pass. One problem: rookie right guard Rees Odhiambo, taking over after Germain Ifedi was injured, stepped back onto Wilson's foot, sending the quarterback tumbling down in the end zone. Ben Garland fell on Wilson for a safety that turned the momentum Atlanta's way. Matt Bryant's 35-yard field goal put the Falcons ahead to stay, and the home team closed out the first half with a 99-yard drive touchdown that was extended by Sanu's brilliant, one-handed catch for 22 yards with Jeremy Lane grabbing at his arm. After getting beat on Seattle's first possession, an Atlanta defense featuring four rookies and a bunch of second-year players limited the Seahawks to a pair of a field goals before giving up a meaningless 31-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin in the closing minutes. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Reyes transfers, signs deal with Petron

Petron pulled off a huge recruitment coup after signing former three-time UAAP champion Mika Reyes to beef up its middle for the next season of the Philippine Superliga. The De La Salle product, last year's league ambassadress, inked a deal with the Tri-Activ Spikers after parting ways with F2 Logistics and long-time mentor Ramil De Jesus.  Reyes signed her contract Wednesday. 'It was indeed a very tough decision but Petron made it easier as we've laid out concrete plans for my personal and volleyball career,' said Reyes, who signed her contract at the San Miguel Corporation headquarters in Pasig with Virtual Playground manager and agent Charlie Dy and SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua. Petron made a well-timed decision of getting the services of the 22-year-old Reyes to fill in the gaping hole left by CJ Rosario, who is now pursuing a new career as a flight attendant. Reyes was a vital cog for DLSU, winning three championships in her five-year stay with the Taft-based squad including an incredible swan song in the UAAP Season 78. In the PSL, the 5-foot-11 Reyes was F2 Logistics' muscle in the middle when the Cargo Movers clinched its breakthrough title in the 2016 All-Filipino Conference against Foton. She also helped F2 Logistics salvage a third place finish in the import-laden Grand Prix. Reyes, who was a member of the F2 Logistics Manila that competed in the 2016 FIVB Women's Club World Championship held in Manila, is Petron's biggest recruited star since landing former players Gretchen Ho, Rachel Anne Daquis, Aby Marano, Fille Cainglet-Cayetano and Dindin Santiago-Manabat.  The Pulilan, Bulacan native will join FIVB WCWC teammate Ces Molina and multi-awarded lefty hitter Aiza Maizo-Pontillas.    --- br /> Follow this writer in Twitter @fromtheriles .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

FIFA to expand World Cup to 48 teams in 2026

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — FIFA will expand the World Cup to 48 teams, adding 16 extra nations to the 2026 tournament which is likely to be held in North America. President Gianni Infantino's favored plan — for 16 three-team groups with the top two advancing to a round of 32 — was unanimously approved Tuesday by the FIFA Council. It meets Infantino's election pledge of a bigger World Cup, and should help fund promised raises for FIFA's 211 member federations. With 80 matches instead of 64, FIFA forecasts the equivalent of $1 billion extra income at current rates from broadcasting and sponsor deals, plus ticket sales, compared to $5.5 billion revenue forecast for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. FIFA projects an increased profit of $640 million despite some extra operating costs and prize money for teams. FIFA's six continents should find out by May how many extra places they will each get. UEFA wants 16 European teams at the tournament, which is strongly favored to be played in North America. The CONCACAF region has not hosted the World Cup since the 1994 tournament in the United States. American, Canadian and Mexican soccer leaders have had informal talks about a co-hosting bid. Africa and Asia could be winners in a bigger World Cup with up to nine places each. They had only five and four teams, respectively, at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Still, FIFA said it expects the standard of soccer to drop compared to the 32-team format locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar. The 'absolute quality' of play, defined by high-ranked teams facing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA acknowledged in a research document sent to members last month. It made 10,000 tournament simulations to reach that conclusion. Instead, Infantino wants to create fervor and months of anticipation back home in the 16 extra nations which would qualify, some probably making their World Cup debut. FIFA has pointed to Costa Rica, Wales and Iceland as examples of teams which overachieved at recent tournaments. FIFA must break with soccer tradition to make its new format work after an original 48-team plan — with an opening playoff round sending 16 'one-and-done' teams home early — was unpopular. Instead, three-team groups will replace the usual groups of four to create simple progress to a knockout bracket. However, it leaves one team idle for final group games and could risk collusion between the other two teams. FIFA said it could guard against result-rigging by introducing penalty shootouts after group games that end in draws. Despite the 16 extra games, FIFA believes the current maximum of stadiums needed will stay at the 12 used by Brazil and Russia. However, the demand for more training bases and hotels means developed countries would be better equipped to win future hosting contests. North America is the strong favorite for 2026 because European and Asian countries are blocked by a FIFA rule excluding continents which hosted either of the two previous tournaments. Russia will host the World Cup next year and Qatar in 2022. South America has been focused on a centenary tournament including original 1930 host Uruguay, and African nations are seen as lacking existing capacity and unlikely to fund multi-billion dollar infrastructure spending. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

This time around, it was SMB cheering AVO from bench

With June Mar Fajardo holding down the fort and Gabby Espinas and Jay-R Reyes backstopping him, San Miguel’s frontline is all good. As such, there isn’t much opening for Arnold Van Opstal to make his mark. “I keep on telling him every game, be patient, your time will come,” coach Leo Austria said, talking about his rookie center. Van Opstal’s time finally came in the final frame of the Beermen’s matchup with Blackwater on Friday. With under three minutes to go, he scored the first two points of his professional career. “Thanks to Chris Ross. Shoutout to him, he passed me the ball and I just made my move,” he expressed while smiling ear-to-ear afterward. From that first basket, the Filipino-German added four more points to his name to wind up with six points and one rebound in two minutes and 34 seconds on the court. Each and every time Van Opstal sent the ball through the net, the San Miguel players on the bench were up and about in cheering for him. Nothing but appreciative to see that, he expressed, “I love my teammates. They’re really cool guys and I’m really lucky to be on this team.” Of course, having difficulty in breaking through the logjam of bigs in front of him in the rotation, it’s the six-foot-nine rookie who usually finds himself cheering for his teammates. And he has no problem with that at all as he said, “I have a great group of guys here and it’s fun for me, even if I’m playing or not, I’m still having fun cheering guys on.” He then continued, “Whether I’m on the court or not, I’m just here to give positive energy to the guys so we could come up with a win.” Van Opstal then went on to say that having the right attitude is a must especially on a team of high-character guys like the Beermen. “All these guys have names and they’re just so down-to-earth, they’re just so accepting and inviting. That was a learning process (for me) in the sense that the reason they’re so successful is because they don’t let their egos in the way,” he shared. That is exactly why the rookie isn’t expecting more minutes just yet. As he put it, “Whether I get more minutes or not, it doesn’t matter to me.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

Sandiganbayan denies Gigi Reyes' motion to drop plunder charges - Rappler

Sandiganbayan denies Gigi Reyes' motion to drop plunder charges - Rappler.....»»

Category: newsSource:  googlenewsRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Sandiganbayan denies Gigi Reyes' motion to drop plunder charges

Sandiganbayan denies Gigi Reyes' motion to drop plunder charges.....»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Spieth gets his revenge on 12th at Augusta 8 months later

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Jordan Spieth hit 8-iron over the bunker on the 12th hole at Augusta National. He watched his 15-foot birdie putt tumble into the cup on the last turn, and he raised his arms in celebration. Too bad this was December. Eight months earlier, that birdie most likely would have led to another green jacket at the Masters. Spieth, who lost a five-shot lead on the back nine last April in his bid to become only the fourth back-to-back Masters champion, returned to Augusta National for the first time during a visit with AT& T chairman Randall Stephenson and Geoff Yang, a founding partner of Redpoint Ventures. Both are club members. The birdie on the 12th brought a small measure of redemption. At the Masters, he was still leading by three shots when he dumped two shots into Rae's Creek and made a quadruple-bogey 7. By the time he finished the hole, he was three shots behind Danny Willett and never caught up. 'First time back,' Spieth said of his December round. 'I was very nervous when I got on 12 tee.' And he was determined when he stood over the putt on the slower, softer greens of Augusta in the winter. Determined not to leave it short, he watched the putt slow at the front of the cup and then drop for a 2. 'I probably gave like a big fist pump,' Spieth said. 'I was walking around with my hands up, like, 'Demons gone.'' And he wasn't done. Spieth played again the next morning and, with a left pin position, hit 9-iron that spun back and nearly went in. It settled about 3 feet away for another birdie. 'So I got two 2s out of No. 12 the first time back,' he said. 'Last two times I played the hole, I made birdie.' Spieth made no secret of how much he wanted to get his revenge on the 12th hole. He said he turned to his group and said: 'Guys, we have some demons to get rid of here. I'd appreciate if y'all stood to the side of the tee box while I do my work here.' He also had a phone call to make after his round to Michael Greller to share the news. 'I know there's cameras out there, and I've requested footage from those two birdies,' Spieth said. 'I haven't received it yet. Saw the chairman (Billy Payne) and requested some footage, because somebody was watching, I'm sure, when that happened.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Giroud caps hot streak by spearheading Arsenal comeback

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer br /> LONDON (AP) — Olivier Giroud rescued Arsenal from embarrassment at Bournemouth, taking center stage for the London club yet again with his third game-changing contribution in nine days. With Arsenal three goals down entering the final 20 minutes, Giroud spearheaded a stirring fightback on the south coast in the Premier League. After setting up Alexis Sanchez's header and Lucas Perez's volley, Giroud saved the biggest moment for himself - flicking home a header in stoppage time to salvage a 3-3 draw. The 30-year-old striker only made his first start of the start of the league campaign on Dec. 26 and he has made the most of a rare break in the team. After providing the winning goal against West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day, the striker who divides opinion at the Emirates Stadium scored an eye-catching 'scorpion' goal in Sunday's win against Crystal Palace. With another influential performance at Bournemouth, Giroud has made it harder for manager Arsene Wenger to return him to his usual spot on the substitutes' bench. Not that Giroud reveled in his impact on Tuesday night, instead bemoaning the early capitulation that saw Charlie Daniels netting and Callum Wilson scoring a penalty inside 20 minutes and Ryan Fraser putting the ball through Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech's legs early in the second half. 'It's a shame we conceded three goals like that,' Giroud said. 'We should not have done these kind of mistakes. At halftime we wanted to come back ... it's very frustrating. Hopefully we are going to learn from our mistakes today.' Arsenal had already reduced the deficit to 3-2 when it gained a man advantage in the 82nd minute with the dismissal of Simon Francis for a challenge on Aaron Ramsey. 'We refused to lose the game and there's a great resilience in the team,' Wenger said. Even with Giroud's late equalizer, Arsenal missed a chance to regain third place from Manchester City and the club could be knocked out of the top four on Wednesday if north London rival Tottenham beats leader Chelsea. 'At least we have come back and shown great mental strength,' Giroud said. ___ CRYSTAL PALACE 1 , SWANSEA 2 Paul Clement took his place on the touchline hours after being appointed Swansea manager to see his new team climb off the bottom of the standings. While Clement made an instant impact as Bob Bradley's successor, Sam Allardyce remains winless after three games as Palace manager. Wilfried Zaha looked to have rescued a point for Palace in the 83rd minute when he canceled out Alfie Mawson's header but substitute Angel Rangel netted the Swansea winner five minutes later at Selhurst Park. ___ STOKE 2, WATFORD 0 Ryan Shawcross started at the end of the first half and Peter Crouch scored quickly after the interval to move Stoke nine points clear of the drop zone. A fifth winless game for Watford left the team two points further behind Stoke. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

Bluejays drop first game to defending champion Villanova

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- It was New Year's Eve, but it sure felt like March to Josh Hart and the rest of the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats. The defending national champions overcame an early 10-point deficit, Hart's slow start and a frenzied crowd to defeat No. 10 Creighton 80-70 on Saturday. ''It's good to get in here, play Villanova basketball against a tough team and have something we can build on,'' Hart said. ''We know we can get a lot better. In March we can say we played in a tough environment. We faced adversity and we overcame it.'' Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 27 points, including 11 in a row as the Wildcats wiped out their early deficit, and Villanova (14-0, 2-0 Big East) extended its school-record winning streak to 20 games. The game marked only the second time in Big East history that two unbeaten teams met in a conference game, and it lived up to the hype with nine lead changes and five ties before the Wildcats pulled away late. Kris Jenkins added 21 points and Hart had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats. Marcus Foster led the Bluejays (13-1, 1-1) with 22 points. Justin Patton had 18 points and eight rebounds. ''Certainly disappointed we lost, but a great learning experience for us,'' Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. ''Villanova is terrific. We knew they we were terrific and knew it would take a great effort to win.'' The Wildcats were the first defending national champion to visit Omaha since 1946, and the third-largest crowd (18,831) in the CenturyLink Center's 13-year history was there to greet them. The towel-waving fans filled the seats early and made the building as loud as it's ever been as the Bluejays ran onto the court. Creighton used that fuel to make its first five shots and build a quick 10-point lead. ''I'm happy this is my last time here,'' Hart said. ''This environment is crazy, it's hectic. When they get on a run, you hear it. We'll be talking on the court and we can barely hear what we're saying. One time Coach called a play, I had no idea what he was calling. Kris was 5 feet away trying to tell me, and I was like, 'What are you saying?''' After Isaiah Zierden's 3-pointer with 4:47 left tied it at 66, the Bluejays missed four straight shots before Maurice Watson Jr. snaked his way for a layup to cut the deficit to five with a minute left. The Wildcats made all six of their free throws in the last 36 seconds to finish off the win. Brunson and Hart hit clutch shots to keep Villanova mostly in control the second half. Donte DiVincenzo's tear-drop shot put Villanova up 63-54 before Patton's two dunks started a 9-0 run that tied it with 7:41 to play. Creighton went cold after that, and Villanova ran off to its fifth straight win over the Bluejays. ''We knew we had to stick to what we were doing,'' Hart said, ''and that's just being solid and playing Villanova basketball for 40 minutes. We know against the best teams it's going to take 40 minutes. This is a great team, one of the best in our league.'' BIG PICTURE Villanova: The Wildcats showed the mettle of a champion in maybe the most challenging atmosphere in which they'll play this season. Creighton: In a game with nine lead changes and five ties, the Bluejays went toe-to-toe with Villanova until the last 4 minutes and still look like a team capable of making a deep run in March. POLL IMPLICATIONS Villanova remains a solid No. 1, and Creighton does not merit a demotion from No. 10 after giving the Wildcats all they wanted. HE SAID IT ''It's a completely different crew, completely different team, and we're playing differently. But they have to deal with everyone else's impact from last season. They have to deal with everybody treating them like the No. 1 team, like former national champions, still talking about last year. It's part of the responsibility. It's a good challenge to have.'' Villanova coach Jay Wright, on how his players have handled expectations during a 14-0 start. UP NEXT Villanova visits Butler on Wednesday. Creighton visits St. John's on Wednesday. .....»»

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