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Rare sightings of big bug draw fans from around the world

ONONDAGA, N.Y. (AP) --- Students from Japan and a researcher from New Zealand are among the scientists and hobbyists flocking to central New York for rare sightings of a big bug. The area's cicada (sih-KAY'-duh) brood emerges once every 17 years. The Post-Standard says the eastern U.S. is one of three places in the world with periodical cicadas. The others are the Pacific Ocean island of Fiji, where cicadas emerge every eight years; and northern India, where they emerge every four years. In New York, some of the cicada fans have congregated at a farm and brewery in Onondaga (ah-nahn-DAH'-gah), just south of Syracuse. Several researchers recorded audio and video as the cicada...Keep on reading: 
Rare sightings of big bug draw fans from around the world.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerJun 14th, 2018

Germany, England seal World Cup qualification; Poland close

em>By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press /em> Germany and England booked places at the World Cup in Russia next year, while Poland was made to wait for qualification in Europe despite thrashing Armenia 6-1 on Thursday. Defending champion Germany never looked like missing out as early goals helped it to beat Northern Ireland 3-1 in Belfast, maintaining its perfect record with nine wins from nine games in Group C. England qualified in contrasting fashion, scraping past Slovenia 1-0 thanks to Harry Kane's injury-time strike in a poor team performance at Wembley Stadium. Robert Lewandowski scored a hat trick in Yerevan, Armenia, to become Poland's all-time highest scorer and put his team on the verge of qualification. A draw later between Montenegro and Denmark would have meant Poland clinched Group E, but Christian Eriksen gave Denmark a 1-0 win in Podgorica to keep alive its slim hope of topping the group. Group winners qualify automatically for the finals in Russia. Here's a closer look at the action across the three groups: strong>GROUP C /strong> Northern Ireland hadn't lost a qualifier in Windsor Park for four years, but it got off to a bad start when Germany's Sebastian Rudy fired the ball inside the top corner from distance in the second minute. Sandro Wagner brought a good save from Michael McGovern and hit the post before he finally scored in the 21st to give Germany a comfortable lead. Joshua Kimmich wrapped it up late, and Josh Magennis got the enthusiastic home fans singing again with the home side's consolation after a corner in injury time. Northern Ireland was already assured of at least second place, but only the top eight runners-up from the nine groups advance to playoffs. Already out of contention, the Czech Republic defeated Azerbaijan 2-1 in Baku to move to third, and Mohamed 'Moi' Elyounoussi scored a hat trick as Norway routed San Marino 8-0. Germany coach Joachim Loew said before his side's game in Belfast that he wants to complete qualifying with 10 wins from 10 games, a feat accomplished previously by only Spain before it won the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. strong>GROUP E /strong> With his third hat trick in the campaign, Poland striker Lewandowski became the most prolific scorer in a European qualifying campaign with 15, one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. Lewandowski curled in a free kick to tie Wlodzimierz Lubanski's record as Poland's all-time leading scorer on 48 goals and then added two more to own it outright with 50. Following Denmark's 1-0 win in Montenegro, Poland leads by three points over Denmark, and it needs a point from the last-round match on Sunday against Montenegro in Warsaw to automatically qualify as the group winner. Denmark, which handed Poland its only defeat in the group stage by 4-0, hosts Romania in the last round and must win to top the group. strong>GROUP F /strong> Kane secured England's place in the fourth minute of additional time when he latched onto Kyle Walker's cross and struck under goalkeeper Jan Oblak for the side's flattering win over Slovenia. It was a rare highlight on a dreary and subdued night that highlighted the limitations of Gareth Southgate's Russia-bound team. England, which hasn't missed a World Cup since 1994, could still be joined in Russia next year by neighbor Scotland. Martin Skrtel's own goal gave Scotland a 1-0 victory over 10-man Slovakia in Glasgow. The Scots, missing from the World Cup since 1998, will be guaranteed second place and a potential place in the playoffs if they beat Slovenia in the last round of games on Sunday. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 6th, 2017

ABS-CBN Sports, Garena partner for 2018 Globe Conquerors Manila LoL tournament

Another major eSports event will soon be watched on ABS-CBN S+A as ABS-CBN Sports and Garena come together for the “2018 Globe Conquerors Manila” League of Legends (LoL) tournament this August. Fans of the popular multiplayer online video game can witness the best teams in Southeast Asia battle for pride and prize when the tournament goes LIVE from the Mall of Asia (MoA) Arena on ABS-CBN S+A, as well as via livestream and YouTube live for the semifinals and finals this Saturday (August 18) and Sunday (August 19). Garena is exclusive operator of top tier games in Southeast Asia and a leading advocate of eSports in the region. For this tournament, it brought eight teams from the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand who have already started battling it out in the preliminaries happening at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila until Friday (August 17). S+A’s coverage on Saturday (August 18) will start at 10 am for the opening ceremonies of the semifinals. The semifinals will be a best of five series between the Group A toppers and Group B 2nd placer in the morning, while the second seed of Group A faces the top seed of Group B in the afternoon. Viewers can also catch the celebrity showmatch featuring popular gamer, musician, and cosplayer Ashley Gosiengfiao, comedian Empoy Marquez, and James Reid’s brother, Jack, among other personalities. On Sunday (August 19), the victors in the semifinals will figure in another best of five series at 2 pm for the right to book a trip to the 2018 League of Legends World Championships in South Korea as the Southeast Asian representative. There will also be band performances for those who will troop to the venue while it will be hardcore battles for those tuning in to S+A. eSports has been a rising phenomenon all over the world, especially in the last few years, where events such as the League of Legends World Championship can draw over 30 million viewers to rival traditional sports. S+A, which also previously aired a major DOTA 2 event, is committed to helping strengthen the local gaming community and promote eSports as a legit and competitive sporting event.   ---- Don’t miss the heart-pounding action of the various heroes in the virtual world of League of Legends in the live broadcast of the semifinals and finals of the “2018 Globe Conquerors Manila” LoL tournament this Saturday (August 18) starting 10 am and on Sunday (August 19) at 2 pm LIVE on S+A and S+A HD, as well as via livestream and YouTube live. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 14th, 2018

Roger Federer withdraws from Rogers Cup

Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer has pulled out of next month's ATP Rogers Cup tournament in Toronto due to scheduling concerns. The 36-year-old Federer said he needs to be prudent about how many tournaments he plays in a season. "I'm so disappointed not to play at the Rogers Cup this summer," said world number two Federer. "I had a fantastic time in Montreal last year and always enjoy playing in front of the Canadian fans. "But unfortunately with scheduling being the key to my longevity moving forward, I have regrettably decided to withdraw from Toronto this year." Jeremy Chardy of France will take Federer's place in the main draw. Organizers said the...Keep on reading: Roger Federer withdraws from Rogers Cup.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 24th, 2018

Young and united, England looks good as a title contender

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — A famous song lyric neatly describes the upbeat feeling around England's rejuvenated national soccer team. It's not "football's coming home." Instead, try the old punk rock line: "If the kids are united, they will never be defeated." The positive emotions of England's young players are evident toward coach Gareth Southgate despite the 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time in the World Cup semifinals. "You've brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation," 20-year-old forward Marcus Rashford wrote on his Twitter account Thursday. You’ve brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation ❤️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/2meUAFlIN5 — Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) July 12, 2018 Over-achieving in a first major international test for Southgate and many of the squad has banished the anxiety that harmed too many England teams in recent years. Rashford, a sharp and fast second-half substitute in Moscow on Wednesday, is not even the youngest of Southgate's players in Russia. At 19, Trent Alexander-Arnold impressed in the Champions League final for Liverpool in May, and weeks later started his first World Cup game, against Belgium. "It has been an honor to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger," Alexander-Arnold wrote on Twitter early Thursday. Absolutely devastated that our journey is over! We enjoyed every moment as a nation, I’d like to thank all the staff and fans for being behind us. It has been an honour to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger 💔🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 pic.twitter.com/LErwj4QqZm — Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) July 11, 2018 Alexander-Arnold, a quick, right-sided defender, will need to force his way into the team past Kieran Trippier, perhaps the standout success of England's tournament. Trippier delivered world-class corners, crosses and free kicks, including the fifth-minute goal against Croatia that raised hope of a first World Cup final berth since 1966. The Tottenham player gave an emotional endorsement of Southgate, who seems likely to guide England's team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. "It all comes from the manager, unbelievable manager for me personally, the way he handles the team," Trippier said at the Luzhniki Stadium. "He sets the tone, he brought this team together." A relatively late bloomer at 27, Trippier is a rare England player who will turn 30 before kickoff in Qatar on Nov. 21, 2022. The four attackers who started Wednesday, including 24-year-old captain Harry Kane, are between 22 and 25. The heart of the defense — John Stones, Harry Maguire, plus goalkeeper Jordan Pickford — are in the same age bracket. It's a talent pool setting up England as a serious title contender in the coming years. There is still room for envy if England can bear watching the World Cup final on Sunday. In the midfield duels, France fields the elegance and power of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante against Croatia's precise pair of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. There isn't likely to be a Modric-type player in England's team ahead of the 2020 European Championship to help retain the ball, pace the play, and manage the toughest games. Those are the kinds of qualities England needed after halftime against Croatia. "If we're in the position again, we'll be better off because of the experience of what we've just had," said 28-year-old Jordan Henderson, who was Liverpool's captain in that Champions League final loss to Modric and Real Madrid. The incentives are huge. Euro 2020 is being hosted across 12 countries, but England could qualify and be placed in a group based at Wembley Stadium, travel for two knockout rounds, then come home for the semifinals and final at Wembley. "The aim if we're at the Euros in two years' time is to go again," said Kane, who should be Southgate's chosen captain for years to come. Before qualifying starts next March, England is in a fascinating group for the inaugural UEFA Nations League, which starts in September. Spain, under new coach Luis Enrique, visits Wembley on Sept. 8. England then travels to face Croatia on Oct. 12. The return games will be completed by November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

New putter doesn t do much for slumping Woods

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press POTOMAC, Md. (AP) — The guy who has been fiddling with putters because he wasn't happy with the results finally saw his share of putts go in. If only Tiger Woods could have looked behind him, he might have seen J.J. Spaun match his best score of the year with a 7-under 63 to share the lead with Andrew Landry in the Quicken Loans National. Spaun, who has gone back-and-forth with putters four times in his last six tournaments, quietly went about his business Thursday while most of the attention was on Woods in the group ahead of him using a mallet-style putter to help him shake out of a slump. A new putter gave Woods a better feel, but the same middling results. He had six birdie chances from 10 feet or closer and made two of them to offset a double bogey early in his round, and he had to settle for an even-par 70. "I shot about the score I should have shot today," Woods said. Landry shot his 63 in the morning when the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm was soft, though still punishing with its thick rough. Spaun did his work in the windier afternoon, even if no one noticed. He played in the group behind Woods, and didn't even get leftovers from thousands of fans watching golf's biggest draw. "Hell, no," Spaun said with a laugh. "They don't even know who I am. They played so fast, actually. They were a solid hole ahead of us. ... I was kind of nervous, but I was more excited. I was like, 'Oh, I'm going to get to see his second shots from looking back from the tee.' But they played so fast, I didn't even see him at all. I just saw his pink shirt way in the distance." He would have seen solid play early, some wild shots off the tee by Woods in the middle and flawless work from tee-to-green late. Spaun wouldn't have seen many putts go in. Woods had five straight birdie chances from 8 feet or closer on the back nine. He made two of them — one of them from 3 feet — and didn't make a putt longer than 10 feet the entire round. Woods kept the round from getting away from him two big par saves to start the back nine, both times having to chop it back to the fairway. He got up-and-down from 147 yards on No. 11 by making a 6-foot putt. "I rolled it well," Woods said. "I mean, hey, if I'm hitting putts on my line with my speed, then I'm happy. They'll go in eventually." It was the first competitive round for Woods on the TPC Potomac, and his first time playing the tournament since 2015. This also is the last edition, and the field is among the weakest this year on the PGA Tour. Rickie Fowler is the only player in the top 10 in the world, and he also rallied for a 70. Even when he kept it in the short grass off the tee, Woods didn't have a reasonable birdie chance until No. 5, and he missed from 10 feet. And then he ran into trouble on the par-4 sixth, starting with a tee shot he pulled left that caromed off a tree and landed in a the mown path that leads from the tee to the fairway. Woods tried to hit a 3-wood to the green and it came up short and into the hazard. He had to drop it in more rough, came up just short of the green and wound up making a 4-foot putt to escape with double bogey. Going with an iron off the tee at the par-5 10th, he pulled that into the hazard but at least was able to chop it back to the fairway, rip fairway metal around the green and chip it close to save par. On the next hole, he blasted a tee shot well right, over the gallery, and had to pitch out back into play again. That par felt like a birdie. "That kept the momentum somewhat on my side," Woods said. "I knew I had some birdie holes coming up to try to get back to under par for the day, and I was close." The course was the fourth-toughest on the PGA Tour last year, trailing only three majors, though it was soft enough and the wind was mild so that low scores were available. Kyle Stanley won at 7-under 273 last year. Landry and Spaun shared the lead at 7 under after one round. "I expect that if we don't get any rain the next few days, the course is going to firm up, greens get firm, get a little bit quicker, but it's not going to be like last year," Billy Horschel said after his 64. "So you're going to have to go out with the mindset that it's a little bit different course, you can't be as conservative, you've got to still try and make birdies." Andrew Putnam also was at 64 while playing in the afternoon. Beau Hossler and Abraham Ancer were another shot behind. Woods has been at least six shots behind — and no better than a tie for 29th — after the opening round of his last six tournaments dating to the Masters......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2018

Basketball? Not in 2 Iloilo towns

  In the Iloilo towns of Barotac Nuevo and Santa Barbara, shrieks and cheers in houses in the middle of the night in recent weeks were not a cause of alarm for residents.   Those were just the sound of football fans cheering for their teams in this year's World Cup being held in Russia, a spectacle rare in basketball-crazy Philippines.   "Many residents stay up late or wake up early to watch the games on television," said Roceller "Boyet" Sumbillo, a native of Santa Barbara and president of Panay Football Association (PFA).   "It's more exciting if the games are watched in groups over drinks or arroz caldo (chicken rice porridge)," he said. ...Keep on reading: Basketball? Not in 2 Iloilo towns.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 27th, 2018

Quaresma gets some playing time, and a goal for Portugal

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press SARANSK, Russia (AP) — Criticized back home and spurned by many of Portugal's fans, Ricardo Quaresma sat on the bench for his team's opening two World Cup matches. He finally got some playing time in the third on Monday, and he scored in the 1-1 draw against Iran that earned Portugal a spot in the round of 16. "Yes, this goal is an answer," Quaresma said, referring to the flak he has been taking in Portugal. "It was a great goal. I was lucky to hit it where I had to." The veteran striker scored a spectacular goal with the outside of his foot at the Mordovia Arena — a shot likely to be remembered by all those who had wanted him to stay home. The 34-year-old Quaresma was picked by coach Fernando Santos to replace Goncalo Guedes. He was applauded by the fans in Saransk when he left the field in the middle of the second half. Quaresma said the same critics didn't want him to play at the 2016 European Championship in France. But Portugal came back from that tournament as champions and Quaresma was seen as a key leader of that squad. "I still have a lot to offer," said Quaresma, who plays for Turkish club Besiktas. "People can say whatever they want." Portugal finished second in Group B and will next face Uruguay in Sochi on Saturday. Quaresma said he didn't know if he would play in that match, but he still had praise for Santos. "Our coach has the power to take the best of us," Quaresma said. "We had a very tough group in the World Cup and now a different tournament begins. He will be even more important now." Quaresma also praised teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed a penalty in the match against Iran but has scored four goals at this year's World Cup. "I don't know what else Cristiano has to do for Portugal," Quaresma said. "He is the key to our success.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 26th, 2018

Sweden has a lot to be upset about after last-minute loss

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press SOCHI, Russia (AP) — A last-minute goal. A non-called penalty. A disrespectful celebration. Sweden had a lot to be upset about when the final whistle blew on Saturday. The Swedes were within seconds of holding defending champion Germany to a draw, and moving into good position to advance to the round of 16 at the World Cup, when Toni Kroos scored deep into stoppage time to give Germany a 2-1 come-from-behind victory. "I'm sorry that we didn't get at least one point," Sweden coach Janne Andersson said. "But I'm not blaming anyone tactically or analyzing too much right now, there are so many emotions going around. This is probably the heaviest conclusion that I've experienced in my career." Kroos' goal from a set piece came in the fifth and final minute of injury time. The draw would have kept Sweden ahead of Germany in Group F and needing only a draw against Mexico in the last match. "It was just bad luck," Sweden forward John Guidetti said. "Now we need to try to find a way to win the last match. In a few days we play again and we have to win it. It's simple." Germany, which is tied with Sweden on points and goal difference, will play against South Korea in the final round. "We still have an excellent opportunity to qualify," Andersson said. "Now we have to clean up, tidy up after this game. We're going to do that." The Swedes were leading Germany at halftime thanks to Ola Toivonen's goal in the 32nd minute at Fisht Stadium. They felt they could have been ahead even earlier if the referee had called a penalty when Marcus Berg appeared to be fouled inside the area with a clear chance to score. There was no formal video review called for. "If we have the (VAR) system, it's very unfortunate that he (the referee) can feel so secure in the moment that he doesn't go and have a look at the situation," Andersson said. He and the Swedish players said they also couldn't understand why Germany decided to celebrate near their bench. "You shouldn't celebrate in front of our bench the way they did, that's disrespectful," Guidetti said. "You can celebrate with your own fans. Don't celebrate in front of our bench like that. That's why they apologized, because they knew they did something wrong." Andersson said he was "very annoyed" by seeing the Germany team "running in our direction and rubbing it in our faces by making gestures." "We fought hard for 95 minutes," he said. "And when the final whistle blows, you shake hands.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2018

Switzerland, Serbia coaches don t want to talk about Kosovo

By Mike Corder, Associated Press KALININGRAD, Russia (AP) — The coaches of Serbia and Switzerland only want to talk about football, not about an entrenched political dispute casting a shadow over their teams' World Cup showdown in Russia. Tensions have been building in Serbia before the Group E match Friday in Kaliningrad. Not between Swiss and Serbian fans, but between Albanian and Serbian supporters. That is because several players in the Swiss squad have Kosovo Albanian roots, including midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri who was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Serbia doesn't recognize Kosovo's independence and relations between the two countries remain tense. Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic didn't want to discuss the issue Thursday. When a reporter asked Petkovic him how he would discuss it with his players, he sidestepped the question. "We will tell them we had a great match against Brazil. That's not enough; we have to play better against Serbia," Petkovic said through an interpreter. Switzerland held Brazil to a 1-1 draw in their opening match, while Serbia beat Costa Rica 1-0 to top the group after one round. Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic was equally reluctant to be drawn into the debate. "I'm not into politics," he said, also speaking through an interpreter. "We have our goals. We're here for sports to represent our country in the best possible way and we're not at all interested in anything else." Shaqiri makes no secret at his pride for his heritage at the World Cup. At training Thursday, he wore football boots with Kosovo's flag on his right heel and the Swiss flag on his left. Midfielder Valon Behrami grew up in what is now Kosovo, moving to Switzerland with his family in 1990 amid rising tensions between ethnic Albanians and Serbs. He has the flags of Switzerland and Kosovo tattooed on his left arm. Such displays have angered some Serbian fans, who often wear T-shirts bearing the map of Kosovo with the Serbian flag on it. The reaction of some Serbian players has also been sharp. "If they are such great patriots, why don't they play for their own countries instead of Switzerland?" Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic asked recently. Friday's match also features two coaches who both come from Bosnia, a country that emerged from the former Yugoslavia after a bitter war in the 1990s. Bosnia finished third in its qualifying group and didn't make it to Russia. "I think that Mr. Petkovic is from Sarajevo. I hail from Zenica," Krstajic said. "So we have two coaches from Bosnia-Herzegovina representing different teams at the World Cup." Zenica is a town about 70 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Sarajevo, Bosnia's capital. ____ Associated Press writer Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Kolarov scores from free kick, Serbia beats Costa Rica 1-0

By ANNE M. PETERSON ,  AP Sports Writer SAMARA, Russia (AP) — Aleksandar Kolarov scored from a left-footed free kick in the 56th minute and Serbia opened its World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica on Sunday. After David Guzman was handed a yellow card, Kolarov curled the ensuing free kick over the wall. Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who plays for Real Madrid, couldn't reach it. Serbia, which missed out on the 2014 tournament, had the early advantage in a tough group that includes five-time champion Brazil and Switzerland. After a scoreless first half, Navas fought off a barrage of challenges to open the second with the boisterous Costa Rican fans cheering him on at Samara Arena. The final moments of the match were marked by a squabble on the sidelines as Nemanja Matic got into a tussle with a Costa Rican coach. Players from both teams rushed toward the scrum but it was quickly diffused. The Ticos were the surprise of the last World Cup, sweeping through to the quarterfinals in Brazil before being ousted by the Netherlands on penalties. It was the furthest the small Central American nation had advanced in soccer's premier tournament. But there was some uncertainty surrounding the Ticos after a pair of friendly losses heading into the World Cup, including a 4-1 rout by Belgium a week ago. Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic, who replaced Slavoljub Muslin last year, put together a veteran defense with Kolarov, who plays for Roma, and former Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic. Also included were Manchester United midfielder Matic, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who had an apparent falling out with Muslin but was brought to Russia by Krstajic. The opening half between Costa Rica and Serbia was back and forth from the start: Aleksandar Mitrovic's header missed the target in the opening minute and moments later Marco Urena's angled shot for Costa Rica was saved in the left corner by Vladimir Stojkovic. Ivanovic made his record 104th appearance for the national team, surpassing Dejan Stankovic's mark. The 34-year-old Ivanovic had matched Stankovic's record last Saturday in a 5-1 friendly win over Bolivia. Stankovic, known as "Deki," played for the national team from 1998-2013, through three different eras: Yugoslavia, Serbia-Montenegro and finally Serbia. Ivanovic currently plays for Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg, but he's best known for his time at Chelsea (2008-17). Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita was ruled out of the World Cup earlier this week because of a right hamstring injury. He was replaced on the roster by Kenner Gutierrez. GROUP DYNAMICS Costa Rica advanced out of the group stage in Brazil with victories over Uruguay and Italy and a draw with England, but the country's players insisted in the run-up to Sunday's game that this team should not be judged on the past. "There's always a lot of talk about four years ago, but this is a new World Cup, a new history," Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzales said. "Some of us are repeating, but there are teammates who are playing their first World Cup. We know the eyes of the world are on us." Costa Rica will next face Brazil on Friday in St. Petersburg, while Serbia plays Switzerland on Friday in Kaliningrad. KEYS TO SUCCESS Milinkovic-Savic gave Navas a workout in the first half, and while he didn't score, he is clearly a potent weapon for Serbia. He challenged Navas in the 27th minute from just outside the box, but Navas fell on the ball. Navas also stopped Milinkovic-Savic's bicycle kick in front of goal in the 42nd minute, but it was ruled offside. Currently with Italian club Lazio, rumors have swirled that Manchester United might be interested in the dynamic 23-year-old Milinkovic-Savic......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Messi misses penalty, Iceland holds Argentina to 1-1 draw

By GRAHAM DUNBAR,  AP Sports Writer MOSCOW (AP) — Lionel Messi missed yet another penalty kick and Iceland held on for a 1-1 draw against Argentina in an impressive World Cup debut on Saturday. Messi failed to give his team the lead when his 64th-minute penalty was stopped by Hannes Halldorsson. The Iceland goalkeeper dived to his right and got two hands behind the ball. It was Messi's fourth missed penalty in his last seven attempts for Argentina and Barcelona. The Argentines took the lead in the 19th minute when Sergio Aguero scored with a rising left-footed shot. Alfred Finnbogason equalized for Iceland four minutes later after Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero pushed a low cross into the forward's path. The penalty was awarded after Aguero was pushed in the back by Hordur Magnusson as both chased Messi's floated cross in the 63rd. The small Nordic island nation's team created several first-half chances despite having only 22 percent possession, and pushed back Argentina's waves of second-half attacks. Messi had a final chance to redeem his team with the final kick of the game, but his free kick from 25 yards failed to clear a solid Iceland defensive wall. At the end, Messi retreated alone into the center circle with his head bowed and hands on his knees. Iceland played its debut on soccer's biggest stage like it belonged alongside the 2014 runners-up. Before trailing, Iceland could have taken the lead but Birkir Bjarnason side-footed a shot wide of goal when Caballero was exposed. That chance came in a nervous ninth minute for Argentina's defense, which seemed unsettled by Iceland's strength and their own unease with loose balls in the penalty area. No Iceland defender was at fault for failing to stop Aguero's goal. The forward executed a classy spin move to create his chance when a miscued shot by Marcos Rojo arrived at his feet near the penalty spot. It was a finish worthy of Argentina great Diego Maradona, who was watching in the VIP section at Spartak Stadium. The FIFA ambassador was puffing a large cigar despite smoking being banned in all World Cup venues. KEY TO SUCCESS Argentina fans booed and whistled when the giant stadium screen showed that Halldorsson was man of the match. But his faultless handling and excellent shot-stopping was deserving of the accolade. In contrast, Caballero caused uneasy moments for his defense in the first half. Iceland also protected Halldorsson well with swarming running and tackling to shut down Messi and Argentina's attacking lanes. Messi has missed more than 20 penalty kicks in his career, showing there is perhaps one flaw in his genius. GROUP DYNAMICS This was the first game in Group D, which looks even more evenly balanced now than it did at kickoff. Croatia and Nigeria are also in the group. Argentina will next play Croatia on Thursday in Nizhny Novgorod, while Iceland plays Nigeria on Friday in Volgograd......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

Neymar makes spectacular return as Brazil beats Croatia 2-0

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Only three months ago, Brazil striker Neymar was on an operating table and in danger of missing the World Cup in Russia. Those fears largely disappeared Sunday when Neymar returned to action with smart dribbling, fluent passing and an impressive individual goal, which he celebrated with his surgeon. Playing for the first time since February, Neymar scored the opener in Brazil's 2-0 friendly win against Croatia in Liverpool after coming on for the second half. He then ran to hug Brazilian soccer confederation doctor Rodrigo Lasmar on the sidelines at Anfield. "I am so happy to play football again. I have waited and worked a lot for this. I suffered, these were very tough three months," Neymar said. "When I saw the ball hit the net I only thought of those that helped me, Dr. Lasmar, my family, friends." Neymar, who also withstood a few challenges in the game, received the ball from midfielder Philippe Coutinho in the 68th and dribbled past Croatia defenders Sime Vrsaljko and Duje Caleta-Car. He smashed the ball into the net from around five meters (yards) with his right foot. The Brazilian injured the same foot playing for Paris Saint-Germain and underwent surgery in Brazil in early March. He did not warm up with the Brazilian team on Sunday, which had again raised concerns among supporters. Neymar said he was 80 percent at his best for the Croatia game. Brazil coach Tite said Neymar's return was "above the expected standard." "Neymar is only human, but he came back above my expectations too," Tite said. "I was expecting much less." Neymar had replaced midfielder Fernandinho at halftime with the score at 0-0. He quickly made his mark and raised the hopes of Brazilian fans for the World Cup, which starts June 14. Tite wasn't getting carried away, though. "Neymar is going to have ups and downs like he had in training until the third, fourth game (on his return). Then he will have his normal standard," Tite said. Croatia captain Luka Modric was among many impressed with Neymar. "It is beautiful to watch him play again, he is special, one of the best in the world," Modric said. Brazil "improved in the second half after Neymar made the difference." Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scored Brazil's second goal in the 90th. After Casemiro put the ball in the penalty box, Firmino controlled with his chest and sent the ball over Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic to step up his challenge for a starting position in the team. Brazil captain and No. 9 Gabriel Jesus was replaced by Firmino after an hour. "I am here to help Brazil. I respect Tite's opinion (in starting with Jesus) 100 percent," Firmino said. The striker also thanked local fans for their support, saying "it is good to play at home." The same Liverpool supporters who cheered Firmino went out of their way to jeer Coutinho, who left the Reds for Barcelona earlier this year. Until Neymar stepped onto the pitch it was Croatia which had the best opportunities in a match that seemed headed for a dull draw. Defender Dejan Lovren had the best chance to open with a header that grazed Brazil goalkeeper Alisson's right post after a corner. When Fernandinho went off, Coutinho played a greater role and Brazil's game improved. The five-time World Cup champions play their last pre-World Cup friendly against Austria on June 10. Monday will be a rest day for the team and Brazilian media claimed midfielder Fred will be traveling to Manchester for medical tests before signing a deal with Manchester United. Tite did not confirm the move but said: "Our orientation is for them (players) to solve (transfers) as quickly as possible so they keep their head and effort focused on Brazil. If I were the manager there, I would try to sign him too." Brazil's World Cup opener is on June 17 against Switzerland......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

Kompany exits early as Portugal holds Belgium to 0-0 draw

BRUSSELS (AP) — European champion Portugal held Belgium to a tame 0-0 draw Saturday, a result overshadowed by fears that defender Vincent Kompany may have sustained an injury early in the second half. Without waiting to be substituted, the injury-prone Kompany walked off shortly after the break after appearing to overstretch while making a defensive challenge. It was not immediately clear if he was injured or left the field as a precaution. The Manchester City defender's career has been blighted by injuries, but he appeared fit ahead of the pre-World Cup friendly at the King Baudouin stadium. Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne said it was too early to say whether 32-year-old Kompany was seriously hurt. "Maybe he only has something small to deal with," De Bruyne said. Kompany's departure was the major talking point in a disappointing goalless draw which underscored that Belgium's star-studded squad still has work to do if it is to live up to its billing as one of the favorites to win the World Cup in Russia. Belgium fans jeered their team off the pitch at full time. Portugal was without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested after winning the Champions League a week ago with Real Madrid. Without him, Portugal missed the handful of chances it managed to carve out. Portugal faces neighbor Spain, Iran and Morocco in Group B at the World Cup, while Belgium is in Group G alongside England, Panama and Tunisia. Belgium opened strongly, outplaying Portugal in the midfield, but could not turn its pressure into a goal. Portugal weathered the early storm and gradually took control. In the closing minutes of the first half, Bernardo Silva saw his powerful shot deflected just wide by City teammate Kompany and Gelson Martins shot across the face of the goal as Portugal came close to breaking the deadlock. Belgium's only serious effort of the opening half came when Yannick Carrasco shot just wide in the 31st minute. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez made four changes in the break, but the substitutes could not change the team's fortunes. Despite the Red Devils' wealth of midfield and attacking quality, it was left back Jan Vertonghen who came closest after the break. The Tottenham defender nearly marked his 100th appearance for Belgium with a goal, but saw Portugal goalkeeper Beto tip his effort over the bar just before the hour mark. "It wasn't bad, but we could do better," De Bruyne said. "We still have two or three weeks to get ready.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

Atletico celebrates Europa League title on streets of Madrid

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Thousands of fans lined the streets to salute Atletico Madrid players as they paraded through the Spanish capital Friday to celebrate the team's Europa League triumph. Players, coaches and club officials met with the city mayor and the community president before parading through some of the city's main roads and plazas on an open bus. They ended the night on the Fountain of Neptune — the club's traditional celebration spot — where a stage and large screens were set up to welcome the players. Each team member was introduced to loud chants from the crowd packing the plaza, and the team's captain Gabi and other players draped an Atletico scarf around the Neptune statue. Antoine Griezmann heard fans and his teammates call for him to stay at the club for another season. Griezmann, who scored twice in the team's 3-0 win over Marseille on Wednesday, is rumored to be on his way out of Atletico. Barcelona is reportedly interested in signing the France forward. Fernando Torres, one of the club's greatest idols, is definitely leaving at the end of the season. The veteran forward received some of the loudest cheers from the crowd, along with popular coach Diego Simeone. "I've won a lot of things in my career, but without a doubt this is the best one," said the 34-year-old Torres, who won a Champions League trophy with Chelsea plus two European Championships and a World Cup with Spain. "I remember when I was an 11-year-old and I was here as a fan celebrating the team's double in 1996. At the time I had a dream of one day being here where I am right now. To all kids who have a dream, nothing is impossible, especially if you are an Atletico fan." Atletico president Enrique Cerezo, in a speech after meeting with local officials, proudly foresaw Atletico "playing the Champions League final in our stadium" next year. The final will be held at the club's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. "We want to be back here in a year celebrating the title," he said. Atletico was eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League this year after having lost two finals to city rival Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016. Atletico needs a home draw against Eibar on Sunday to secure second place in the Spanish league, behind champion Barcelona. Atletico's women's team, which won the Spanish league, paraded along with the men's team. Thousands of Atletico fans had already packed the Fountain of Neptune plaza shortly after the team won its third Europa League title......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

Manila Open beach volley draws stellar cast

Local fans get the rare chance to watch world-class beach volley action when the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open fires off tomorrow at the Sands SM by the Bay at the MOA grounds......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

Barcelona unable to find its stride in Champions League

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Suddenly, the Champions League has become a tough challenge for Barcelona. The Spanish club thrived in nearly every competition it played over the last few years but has failed to succeed recently in the top European club competition. Lionel Messi and his teammates lost to Roma 3-0 on Tuesday in Italy, relinquishing a 4-1 first-leg win and getting eliminated in the quarterfinals for the third straight season. "All we can do is apologize to our fans for the way we lost," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. "This is the toughest loss since I've been with Barcelona, because of the way it happened. I'd be lying if I said that this could help us in some way in the future, because last year we lost in a similar manner." Barcelona was eliminated by eventual runner-up Juventus last season, losing 3-0 in Turin and being held to a scoreless draw at home in the second leg. In 2016, Barcelona fell to Spanish rival Atletico Madrid 3-1 on aggregate, winning 2-1 at home and losing 2-0 in Madrid. "We want to be contending for the Champions League title year after year," Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said. "We were hopeful of advancing to the semifinals after having played a great first leg. Now we have to carefully analyze what happened and try to move on." Since 2015, when it won its last Champions League title, Barcelona was dominant in other competitions, winning two Spanish leagues, three Copa del Reys, one Club World Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and one Spanish Super Cup. Messi was a crucial component in nearly all of those triumphs for Barcelona, but the playmaker performed below expectations in the team's recent Champions League failures. He didn't score in the six quarterfinal games that led to Barcelona's recent eliminations. The team's other players couldn't do enough help Barcelona advance then, and this time Messi had even less support. Neymar left in the offseason, and the players who joined the club after his departure were not able to play up to the same level. Ousmane Dembele, touted as the main replacement for the Brazil forward, was marred by injuries and wasn't able to establish himself as a reliable attacking partner for Messi and Luis Suarez. Dembele was on the bench Tuesday, entering the match in the final minutes as a substitute. Philippe Coutinho also arrived to help fill Neymar's absence, but he was ineligible to play in the Champions League because he had already played for Liverpool earlier in the tournament. Right back Nelson Semedo, another offseason signing for Barcelona, was the player unsuccessfully trying to stop Roma defender Kostas Manolas when he scored the 82nd-minute decisive goal for the hosts on Tuesday. This was Barcelona's first Champions League loss under coach Ernesto Valverde, who replaced Luis Enrique at the end of last season. "We have a very competitive team and it will recover from this," Bartomeu said. "We still have other tournaments to play and we have to focus on them." Although the loss in Rome ended Barcelona's chances of winning the treble, the team remains in good position to win the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey. Barcelona has an 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid with seven matches left, and it will face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on April 21 trying to win its fourth straight Copa title. "It will be very difficult to recover," said veteran Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, who most likely played in his last Champions League match. "But we don't have any other option. On Saturday we have another match to play and we have to give our best to try to win the titles that are still achievable." Barcelona hosts third-place Valencia on Saturday looking to achieve a Spanish league record of 39 consecutive games unbeaten. It shares the record that Real Sociedad set in 1979-80......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2018

France s poor defending exposed again as Colombia wins 3-2

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) — France's casual defending was exposed again as ruthless Colombia rallied from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in a World Cup warmup on Friday. European Championship runner-up France scored twice inside 26 minutes through striker Olivier Giroud and wide midfielder Thomas Lemar. But poor concentration from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris let Colombia back in two minutes later, when Luis Muriel's cross eluded him and went in. Roared on by huge swathes of yellow-shirted fans at Stade de France, Colombia leveled in the 62nd when striker Radamel Falcao swept in James Rodriguez's perfect cross from the right for his 29th international goal. A clumsy foul just inside the penalty area from Samuel Umtiti gifted Colombia a chance to win, and substitute Juan Quintero slammed the spot-kick past Lloris in the 85th. "Colombia really showed the character of a World Cup side. Not only did we turn the match around, we won it," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said through a translator. "The players really understood what they needed to do. They switched positions on the pitch and things changed." Colombia's fans, seemingly filling half the stadium, celebrated wildly at the final whistle. France coach Didier Deschamps, meanwhile, has plenty of thinking to do prior to Tuesday's game away to World Cup host Russia in St. Petersburg. It must have felt like deja vu for Deschamps. His side twice led away to World Cup winner Germany in November, only to draw 2-2. Against a spirited and tough-tackling Colombia, France often gave the ball away too easily, particularly in midfield. Colombia caused panic with every attack, particularly down the flanks. "Our first half hour was of the highest quality. It seemed easy at 2-0 but it never is," Deschamps said. "Colombia knows how to hurt you. We made a few mistakes and they really taught us a lesson, we'll have to learn from it." Deschamps further underlined his players' shortcomings. "There's a lot of quality in this team but it's not enough. The highest level requires much more determination," he said. "We had the same amount of possession in the first and second half without the same result. It's happened before, when we've alternated between good and less good, and the second half really wasn't good." Giroud's 30th international goal moved him level with Jean-Pierre Papin and France great Just Fontaine, who holds the single-tournament scoring record for a World Cup with 13 goals in 1958. It has been a frustrating season for Giroud, who became No. 3 striker at Arsenal following the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund. He moved to Chelsea in January, but he has managed only one goal so far for the Blues. But back with France, Giroud shook off his club woes. He swiveled and slammed a shot into the roof of the net in the 11th minute after a handling error from goalkeeper David Ospina — his former Arsenal teammate — from left back Lucas Digne's cross. France's second goal owed nothing to luck. Antoine Griezmann's backheel found Kylian Mbappe, who dummied a defender and passed left to Lemar. He steadied himself before smacking a powerful shot past Ospina and into the right corner. Ospina denied the lively Griezmann shortly before the break, but for all of its flair France leaves holes at the back. Muriel volleyed wide in the 50th and, shortly after, Lloris saved his angled shot. France also has friendlies against Ireland, Italy and the United States before its World Cup opener against Australia on June 16. Les Bleus then face Peru and Denmark in the group stage......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 2018

With LA as backdrop, NBA opens latest ASG chapter

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES — There’s a very real chance of seeing it all at the NBA All-Star Game from the world’s greatest players and athletes, who are trained to entertain. And they deliver on that, every year, for the most part. Which brings us to this year’s showpiece: Will we finally see the All-Stars play defense, or not? Simple question. Over the last three years, they game morphed into a blob of uncontested shots and layups with the pace of a NASCAR event and the intensity level of a turtle race. Last year Steph Curry comically dropped to the floor rather than putting his body between Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rim (maybe wisely, but still). That was a flash-point moment. Perhaps because of fear of getting injured, or maybe the body just needs a break after a half-season, players rarely spent much energy trying to stop anyone. That led to wild and repetitious scoring sprees, where the losing team averaged 170 points, and ultimately, new changes designed to encourage players to at least simulate a real game and turn it up two notches. And so, Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) game at Staples Center will serve as the laboratory rat and perhaps usher a new era for the midseason game. If today’s players treat it the way the old-timers did, then this could be special. If not, this could be 194-187. “I think it’ll be different,” said Curry. The rules committee was alarmed enough by the public backlash of the last two games, where the winning West team came a combined 12 points from hitting the 200-point mark, that the traditional format was scrapped. No longer is it East vs. West, now it’s the leading vote-getter in both conferences choosing their own squad, regardless of conference. Therefore, Team Stephen will tip against Team LeBron with the mixed squads lending some intrigue and could cure the defense and intensity issues. As an added bonus, each member of the winning team will receive $100,000 vs. $25,000 for the losers, although it must be mentioned that the only player in an All-Star uniform making below eight figures is Karl-Anthony Towns. Still, the idea was to raise the incentive level and hoping it raises the fourth-quarter heat. The coach of the LeBron team, Dwane Casey of the Raptors, said he plans to do his part by shuffling the minutes based on who’s trying the hardest. “I went to our players individually and asked two questions: ‘Do you want to put on a show, or do you want to win? Let me know.’ I’d like them to go and compete. I want to win. We owe it to the league and the fans to let them know that the NBA isn’t about rolling the ball out there. There are a lot of fundamental things we can do on the court, and it starts with the All-Star Game, with everyone watching.” It helps that the game will feature a few subplots designed to make it interesting. Such as: LeBron and Kyrie Irving, together again. They had a mysterious split last summer after Irving, two years removed from a championship in Cleveland and with the chance of additional chances to win another, demanded and received a trade. He’s in Boston now, creating a rivalry with Cleveland whereas none existed before the deal. But apparently there was no acrimony generated by the split and the two have remained on decent terms, based on the chatter between them. Nothing personal, in other words. And anyway, LeBron chose Irving for this team. The reunion, says Irving, will be “pretty awesome.” LeBron: “Listen, anytime I get an opportunity to be with a fellow teammate of mine on the same court, and then you add on the fact of what we were able to accomplish in the three years, they just make it special. You automatically start thinking about the moments. There was a time when I was in Miami when I thought about if there was a chance for me to be Kyrie's teammate at All-Star Weekend. I thought about that. I didn't think it would be possible, and then we became teammates. We were on the same All-Star court together as teammates. Those thoughts still go into my head of how great it was to break the drought in our city, over 50-plus years, when the both of us had magical, magical Finals runs. So, it's always special. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, together again. Well, the two ex-Thunder ‘mates did play for the West squad last season, yet kept their distance, both on and off the court, the entire weekend. Also, they had testy exchanges this season, evidence that if nothing else, the competitive spirit between them remains high. Yet, all seems civil regarding the split two years later, maybe because Westbrook gained a half-measure of revenge when Paul George arrived this season. Curry and James Harden, together. As team captain, Curry selected Harden, and at least for one weekend, the two will put aside some natural conflict. One: They’re among the leading candidates for the MVP award, and those in the Harden camp believe he was robbed of the second MVP won by Curry. Two: The Warriors and Rockets are engaged in a thermal race for top spot in the West, with the Rockets beating Golden State twice this season so far. (Side note: Curry responded “Ha” the other day when asked who should win the MVP this year, him or Harden. Just “ha.”) Joel Embiid. The fun-loving big man makes his All-Star debut and promises to bring his infectious personality to the game and also his astonishing skills, rare for a seven-footer. Look for Embiid to make a strong big for game MVP and doing so apologetically. His competition could come from Antetokounmpo and either winner would signal a victory for a league looking for yet another superstar. But, the game itself. Will it be taken seriously? “We've talked about it.” said Irving. “Like I said, I think it's more individually based in terms of the competitive fire. But I know that we're pretty excited to be out there and compete and go at one another for a little bit and have a little fun.” Last year, Antetokounmpo was playfully chastised by his teammates for going full-tilt and challenging shots and essentially treating it like a playoff game. It was his first All-Star appearance and he was surprised by the mild tone of the pace. Victor Oladipo, a first-timer this year, doesn’t believe that’ll happen to him. “My competitive nature is going to get the best of me,” he said. The unspoken concern, of course, is injury, although there’s no documented case of a player ever pulling up lame in the game. Imagine the outcry, for example, if the intensity soars and someone grabs a body part. The fallout will be steep, and with that in mind, many coaches tell their players to ease off the gas pedal. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” said Casey, “but we want to change the narrative about this game and how it’s played. I find that when players do things half-way or go through the motions, that’s when they’re more liable to get hurt.” And so, with that in mind, with a revamped format and a bit more pocket change for the winner and an audience that would like to see some floor burn for a change, the All-Stars just could make this game interesting. That starts with defense. “The challenge is, if you’re going to play to win, you’re going to compete on the defensive end, especially in transition,” said Casey. “That’s where the all-star game kind of deteriorates. You got to start your transition defense, our one on one defense, and put defense in the game because if you don’t, it will be 160, 170 points. I don’t know if we’re going to change it all in one game, but that’s our goal is to try to be more serious on defense, and not trick passes and trick shots and circus mentality. “These guys can entertain and also play defense and give a more competitive game. They are good enough to pull it off. That’s what I hope to see and what fans hope to see.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 19th, 2018

With LA as backdrop, NBA opens latest ASG chapter

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES — There’s a very real chance of seeing it all at the NBA All-Star Game from the world’s greatest players and athletes, who are trained to entertain. And they deliver on that, every year, for the most part. Which brings us to this year’s showpiece: Will we finally see the All-Stars play defense, or not? Simple question. Over the last three years, they game morphed into a blob of uncontested shots and layups with the pace of a NASCAR event and the intensity level of a turtle race. Last year Steph Curry comically dropped to the floor rather than putting his body between Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rim (maybe wisely, but still). That was a flash-point moment. Perhaps because of fear of getting injured, or maybe the body just needs a break after a half-season, players rarely spent much energy trying to stop anyone. That led to wild and repetitious scoring sprees, where the losing team averaged 170 points, and ultimately, new changes designed to encourage players to at least simulate a real game and turn it up two notches. And so, Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) game at Staples Center will serve as the laboratory rat and perhaps usher a new era for the midseason game. If today’s players treat it the way the old-timers did, then this could be special. If not, this could be 194-187. “I think it’ll be different,” said Curry. The rules committee was alarmed enough by the public backlash of the last two games, where the winning West team came a combined 12 points from hitting the 200-point mark, that the traditional format was scrapped. No longer is it East vs. West, now it’s the leading vote-getter in both conferences choosing their own squad, regardless of conference. Therefore, Team Stephen will tip against Team LeBron with the mixed squads lending some intrigue and could cure the defense and intensity issues. As an added bonus, each member of the winning team will receive $100,000 vs. $25,000 for the losers, although it must be mentioned that the only player in an All-Star uniform making below eight figures is Karl-Anthony Towns. Still, the idea was to raise the incentive level and hoping it raises the fourth-quarter heat. The coach of the LeBron team, Dwane Casey of the Raptors, said he plans to do his part by shuffling the minutes based on who’s trying the hardest. “I went to our players individually and asked two questions: ‘Do you want to put on a show, or do you want to win? Let me know.’ I’d like them to go and compete. I want to win. We owe it to the league and the fans to let them know that the NBA isn’t about rolling the ball out there. There are a lot of fundamental things we can do on the court, and it starts with the All-Star Game, with everyone watching.” It helps that the game will feature a few subplots designed to make it interesting. Such as: LeBron and Kyrie Irving, together again. They had a mysterious split last summer after Irving, two years removed from a championship in Cleveland and with the chance of additional chances to win another, demanded and received a trade. He’s in Boston now, creating a rivalry with Cleveland whereas none existed before the deal. But apparently there was no acrimony generated by the split and the two have remained on decent terms, based on the chatter between them. Nothing personal, in other words. And anyway, LeBron chose Irving for this team. The reunion, says Irving, will be “pretty awesome.” LeBron: “Listen, anytime I get an opportunity to be with a fellow teammate of mine on the same court, and then you add on the fact of what we were able to accomplish in the three years, they just make it special. You automatically start thinking about the moments. There was a time when I was in Miami when I thought about if there was a chance for me to be Kyrie's teammate at All-Star Weekend. I thought about that. I didn't think it would be possible, and then we became teammates. We were on the same All-Star court together as teammates. Those thoughts still go into my head of how great it was to break the drought in our city, over 50-plus years, when the both of us had magical, magical Finals runs. So, it's always special. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, together again. Well, the two ex-Thunder ‘mates did play for the West squad last season, yet kept their distance, both on and off the court, the entire weekend. Also, they had testy exchanges this season, evidence that if nothing else, the competitive spirit between them remains high. Yet, all seems civil regarding the split two years later, maybe because Westbrook gained a half-measure of revenge when Paul George arrived this season. Curry and James Harden, together. As team captain, Curry selected Harden, and at least for one weekend, the two will put aside some natural conflict. One: They’re among the leading candidates for the MVP award, and those in the Harden camp believe he was robbed of the second MVP won by Curry. Two: The Warriors and Rockets are engaged in a thermal race for top spot in the West, with the Rockets beating Golden State twice this season so far. (Side note: Curry responded “Ha” the other day when asked who should win the MVP this year, him or Harden. Just “ha.”) Joel Embiid. The fun-loving big man makes his All-Star debut and promises to bring his infectious personality to the game and also his astonishing skills, rare for a seven-footer. Look for Embiid to make a strong big for game MVP and doing so apologetically. His competition could come from Antetokounmpo and either winner would signal a victory for a league looking for yet another superstar. But, the game itself. Will it be taken seriously? “We've talked about it.” said Irving. “Like I said, I think it's more individually based in terms of the competitive fire. But I know that we're pretty excited to be out there and compete and go at one another for a little bit and have a little fun.” Last year, Antetokounmpo was playfully chastised by his teammates for going full-tilt and challenging shots and essentially treating it like a playoff game. It was his first All-Star appearance and he was surprised by the mild tone of the pace. Victor Oladipo, a first-timer this year, doesn’t believe that’ll happen to him. “My competitive nature is going to get the best of me,” he said. The unspoken concern, of course, is injury, although there’s no documented case of a player ever pulling up lame in the game. Imagine the outcry, for example, if the intensity soars and someone grabs a body part. The fallout will be steep, and with that in mind, many coaches tell their players to ease off the gas pedal. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” said Casey, “but we want to change the narrative about this game and how it’s played. I find that when players do things half-way or go through the motions, that’s when they’re more liable to get hurt.” And so, with that in mind, with a revamped format and a bit more pocket change for the winner and an audience that would like to see some floor burn for a change, the All-Stars just could make this game interesting. That starts with defense. “The challenge is, if you’re going to play to win, you’re going to compete on the defensive end, especially in transition,” said Casey. “That’s where the all-star game kind of deteriorates. You got to start your transition defense, our one on one defense, and put defense in the game because if you don’t, it will be 160, 170 points. I don’t know if we’re going to change it all in one game, but that’s our goal is to try to be more serious on defense, and not trick passes and trick shots and circus mentality. “These guys can entertain and also play defense and give a more competitive game. They are good enough to pull it off. That’s what I hope to see and what fans hope to see.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 18th, 2018

Barcelona s Pique scores late to silence Espanyol crowd

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Jeered from his first touch of the ball, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique found a way to silence Espanyol fans in Sunday's Catalan derby. Pique scored a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw as the Spanish league leader narrowly avoided losing to its crosstown rival for the second time in less than three weeks. The outspoken Pique celebrated by putting a finger in front of his mouth as if to tell the crowd to be quite. "We have a responsibility as players, but we are also humans and we react to what happens," Pique said. "Part of the crowd was insulting my family. There is a limit to everything." Pique had previously made comments criticizing Espanyol, and the crowd showed their disapproval by jeering him nearly every time he touched the ball. His 82nd-minute goal helped Barcelona extend its unbeaten streak in the league to 22 matches, surpassing the record set under coach Pep Guardiola in 2009-10. It also left Barcelona nine points in front of Atletico Madrid, which defeated third-placed Valencia 1-0 later Sunday. Gerard Moreno put Espanyol ahead midway through the second half and Pique equalized with a header in a heated match at RCDE Stadium. "These types of situations motivate Pique," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "His gesture comes as part of the rivalry that is natural in a derby." There were shoves and heated discussions throughout the match, which was played under steady rain and on a heavy pitch. Messi, who provided the cross for Pique's goal, came off the bench near the hour-mark after getting some rare rest time from Valverde. Espanyol had ended Barcelona's 29-match unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Jan. 17, when Messi missed a penalty kick. Barcelona eventually eliminated Espanyol by winning the second leg 2-0. After that match, Pique's tone when talking about Espanyol infuriated rival fans and prompted an official complaint by the club. Pique did not back down on Sunday, questioning Espanyol's links to Barcelona because it moved its base to nearby Cornella and has a foreign owner. The Espanyol crowd was furious after Pique's celebration on Sunday. Right after the goal, Moreno fouled the defender, prompting a heated altercation between players from both teams. Moreno had to be contained as he tried to go after Pique. There were also discussions in the tunnel to the changing rooms. "One player won't silence our crowd," Espanyol coach Quique Sanchez Flores said. "His gesture was what it was. Our fans are above that." Pique's only other goal this season was also against Espanyol. ___ CORREA WINNER Atletico Madrid moved nine points clear of third-placed Valencia with Angel Correa's second-half winner at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Correa scored with a superb shot into the top corner from outside the area, giving Atletico its second consecutive victory. "We played against one of the best teams in La Liga and we were superior," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. Uruguay defender Diego Godin had to be substituted early in the second half after a hard collision with Valencia goalkeeper Neto, injuring his mouth and apparently losing some teeth. Defender Stefan Savic was replaced in the first half, also because of an injury. ___ ATHLETIC'S RUN ENDS Athletic Bilbao's nine-game unbeaten streak ended with a 2-0 loss at Girona. Cristhian Stuani scored a goal in each half for the hosts, which moved to ninth in the standings. Athletic was debuting defender Inigo Martinez, who was acquired from Basque Country rival Real Sociedad as the club's most expensive signing at nearly 30 million euros ($37 million). Athletic defender Yeray Alvarez returned to action more than eight months after being sidelined for testicular cancer treatment. ___ DRAW IN DERBY Leganes and Getafe could not manage more than a 0-0 draw in the derby between rivals based just south of Madrid. Host Getafe had the best chances, twice hitting the woodwork in a match played under light snow during parts of the second half. It was the fifth straight game without a loss for Leganes, which rested several regular starters ahead of its game at Sevilla in the Copa del Rey semifinals on Wednesday. The teams drew 1-1 in the first leg in Leganes last week......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2018