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2018 WORLD CUP: Germany gets reality check before defense

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — Germany coasted through World Cup qualifying with 10 wins out of 10 and a European record 43 goals before getting a reality check. The World Cup holders haven't won any matches since qualifying for Russia. After drawing friendlies against England, France and Spain, Joachim Loew's team lost 1-0 to Brazil to end a 22-game unbeaten run. Becoming the first team since Brazil in 1962 to defend their World Cup title now looks even trickier for the Germans. "We're not as good as we're made out to be, or as some think we are," midfielder Toni Kroos said. "There's huge room for improvement." The recent slump in friendly matches could be a blessing in disguise if it eradicates any complacency going into the World Cup. "I'm not worried. In 2014 and 2010 we also lost in March," Loew said. "You can be sure that we'll improve." The first task for Loew's side will be to top Group F to avoid a likely second-round clash against Brazil. Here's a closer look at the Germany team: COACH Loew was assistant coach to Juergen Klinsmann during Germany's "summer fairytale" hosting of the 2006 World Cup and was promoted to the top job after its third-place finish. Loew favors a fast-paced possession-based game, pressing opponents to recover the ball and switching quickly from defense to attack. He has overseen steady progress since taking over, reaching the final of the 2008 European Championship, claiming third place at the 2010 World Cup and reaching the semifinals at Euro 2012 before finally winning a title in convincing fashion at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. A disappointing semifinal exit to France at Euro 2016 followed, but Loew laid the groundwork for a successful World Cup title defense by winning the Confederations Cup with a young team of promising talent last year in Russia. Loew hasn't been afraid to test young talent, and Germany's strength in depth means one of his hardest tasks is leaving players out of the 23-man squad. Loew also has the unfortunate tendency to find himself in the headlines for other reasons. The 58-year-old has previously apologized after being caught on camera picking his nose or in other compromising positions during games. GOALKEEPERS The biggest concern is captain Manuel Neuer's fitness. The Bayern Munich goalkeeper sustained a repeat of the hairline metatarsal fracture in his left foot while training last September and hasn't played since. Marc-Andre ter Stegen could well establish himself as the No. 1 with doubts over Neuer's fitness. The Barcelona goalkeeper has overcome a shaky start to his international career and helped Germany win the Confederations Cup. Bernd Leno of Bayer Leverkusen and Kevin Trapp of Paris Saint-Germain are also options, while Sven Ulreich has been filling in impressively for Neuer at Bayern. DEFENDERS Bayern defender Jerome Boateng faces a race to be fit with a thigh injury sustained in the Champions League semifinals against Real Madrid in April. Bayern teammate Niklas Suele would be an able replacement to partner Mats Hummels in the center. Another Bayern player, Joshua Kimmich, has emerged to soften the blow of Philipp Lahm's retirement at right back. The modest Jonas Hector will likely keep his place on the left despite Cologne's relegation. MIDFIELDERS Toni Kroos will be among the first names on Loew's team sheet. The Real Madrid midfielder is the driving force behind the side. He will likely be partnered by Juventus' Sami Khedira, who provides more of a defensive presence, with Mesut Ozil in front, flanked on either side by Thomas Mueller and Marco Reus — if the latter proves his fitness. Reus has been unlucky with injuries and has only recently returned to shine again for Dortmund. But Germany has a wealth of options in midfield, with Ilkay Gundogan, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Julian Draxler, Julian Weigl and Julian Brandt all providing ample backup options. FORWARDS Timo Werner seems sure of his place after another good season for Leipzig, albeit with most of his goals in the first half of the campaign. The 22-year-old Werner has seven goals in 12 international appearances, but it's his runs into space and the problems he causes defenders that benefit the team. Loew will likely bring one of Mario Gomez or Sandro Wagner as a more experienced option for Werner, while Mario Goetze is another option to play up front if he gets recalled following a disappointing season for Dortmund. Goetze scored the winning goal for Germany to beat Argentina in the 2014 final. GROUP GAMES Germany kicks off its title defense near its tournament base in Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium against Mexico on June 17. The side then faces a long trip south to Sochi for its second game against Sweden on June 23, before wrapping up Group F against South Korea in Kazan four days later......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnApr 30th, 2018

Revitalized Dortmund brings excitement back to Bundesliga

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — A draw with Hertha Berlin may have come at just the right time for Borussia Dortmund. The team had failed to score four or more goals in only one of its previous six games — a 3-0 win over Monaco — and had taken a three-point lead in the Bundesliga after playing some outstanding football. Suddenly, after years of Bayern Munich dominance, Dortmund was helping to make German soccer exciting again. Lucien Favre's side was drawing comparisons with Juergen Klopp's team of Bundesliga winners in 2011 that followed up with a league and cup double the next year. The current team, like Klopp's, is young, hard-working, fast and skilled, brimming with confidence after a series of eye-catching wins. Dortmund's 4-0 victory over a tough Atletico Madrid team on Wednesday captured widespread attention. Even Diego Simeone was impressed despite his heaviest defeat since he took over in December 2011. "They are doing very well at the moment, it is very nice to watch," the Atletico coach said of Dortmund. "I hope they keep playing like that." Klopp, now in charge of Liverpool, sent his congratulations from England. It was all too much for Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc. "Enough praise, that's it," Zorc said last week. "There's no reason to get carried away with celebrations." Hertha put the brakes on any lingering euphoria on Saturday when Salomon Kalou scored a penalty in injury time to snatch a 2-2 draw for the visitors as Dortmund let a seventh straight victory slip away. While Dortmund remains the only unbeaten team in the Bundesliga, the draw provides a reality check. After routing Nuremberg 7-0 on Sept. 26, Dortmund fell two goals behind Bayer Leverkusen in its next match before it turned the game around to win 4-2. Marco Reus said he noticed his teammates weren't as focused as they should have been. Reus has grown into his role as captain. The Germany forward, now 29, is one of the senior figures in a squad stocked with youth. The 18-year-old Jadon Sancho became Dortmund's youngest player to score two goals in a Bundesliga game on Saturday. Apart from conceding the penalty, the 19-year-old Dan-Axel Zagadou has been impressive in defense. Fellow defender Achraf Hakimi shone with three assists against Atletico. The 19-year-old, on loan from Real Madrid, has been involved in eight goals in his last six competitive games. Jacob Bruun Larsen has also been impressive since returning from a loan spell at Stuttgart. The 20-year-old Danish midfielder has three goals and three assists, while 22-year-old Christian Pulisic already feels like a veteran in his third full season at the club. "The mix makes it work," said Zorc, whose offseason transfer dealings have balanced youth with experience. Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel, 29, has settled in perfectly since his arrival from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian, helped by 27-year-old Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney, who joined from Werder Bremen. Dortmund has also been boosted by Paco Alcacer since his arrival on loan from Barcelona. He has scored on average every 18 minutes, with seven goals in four appearances. Meanwhile, Dortmund quietly allowed players like Nuri Sahin, Andre Schuerrle, Erik Durm, Andrey Yarmolenko, Gonzalo Castro and Sokratis to leave. Perhaps Zorc's biggest coup was getting Favre to join. Dortmund wanted the former Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hertha coach the previous year, but French side Nice didn't let him go. The tactically astute Favre has restored some defensive stability to a lineup that appeared brittle and prone to collapse last season. Dortmund allowed rival Schalke to come from four goals down to draw 4-4 in the Ruhr derby. It's hard to imagine Favre's side doing the same. Apart from not taking chances on Saturday, Dortmund seems to be scoring goals for fun. Before the Hertha game, Dortmund clocked up 37 goals and conceded just nine in 12 competitive games. It won 10 of those and lost none. Raphael Guerreiro scored two goals against Atletico after coming on as a substitute, continuing Favre's golden touch with changes. Altogether, Favre's substitutions have contributed 16 goals so far. The Swiss coach also appears to be bringing Mario Goetze back to his old self after difficult times for the 2014 World Cup winner. Goetze was critical after the draw with Hertha, upset about "two lost points." Favre was taking a more balanced approach, though, saying "that's football.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Heat, Knicks clash in first NBA 2K League Finals

NBA 2K League press release NEW YORK – Heat Check Gaming and Knicks Gaming will make history when they meet in the first NBA 2K League Finals, a best-of-three series that will take place Saturday, Aug. 25 beginning at 4 p.m. ET (4am, Sunday, Aug. 26, PHL time) on Twitch. Below please find numbers related to the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League: NBA 2K League At-A-Glance: 102 – The NBA 2K League, a professional esports league co-founded by the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., launched in 2018 and features the best 102 NBA 2K players in the world selected from 72,000 hopefuls. 132M – NBA 2K League content has generated more than 132 million video views on social media channels. 1.6M – The NBA 2K League and its teams feature more than 1.6 million likes and followers across all league and team social media platforms. 1M – The NBA 2K League awarded $1 million in prize money over the course of its inaugural season, with the largest prize pool reserved for the end of season champions.  The best-of-three NBA 2K League Finals will see the winning team receive $300,000, and the remainder of the $600,000 total prize pool will be awarded to the remaining seven playoff teams. 186 – The NBA 2K League regular season consisted of 186 games. 17 – The 2018 season ran for 17 weeks, beginning in May and ending in August, and featured 12 weeks of weekly matchups, three weeks of in-season tournaments and two weeks of postseason. 10M – NBA 2K18 has sold approximately 10 million copies worldwide and is the best-selling edition in franchise history. NBA 2K League Teams:      90 – NBA 2K League teams have formed more than 90 corporate and marketing partnerships. 21 – Affiliates of four NBA teams – the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves – will join the NBA 2K League for its second season, bringing the total number of teams from 17 to 21. 8 – Eight teams qualified for the inaugural NBA 2K League playoffs: No. 1 seed Blazer5 Gaming (12-2), No. 2 seed 76ers GC (10-4), No. 3 seed Pistons GT (9-5), No. 4. seed Raptors Uprising GC (8-6), No. 5 seed Cavs Legion GC (8-6), No. 6 seed Heat Check Gaming (8-6), No. 7 seed Wizards District Gaming (8-6), and No. 8 seed and THE TICKET tournament winner Knicks Gaming (5-9). NBA 2K League Players: 677 – Wizards District Gaming’s Austin “Boo Painter” Painter, the league-leader in points scored, tallied 677 points during the regular season. 84 – Grizz Gaming’s Mehyar “AuthenticAfrican” Ahmed-Hassan set the NBA 2K League single-game scoring record with 84 points. 57 – Blazer5 Gaming’s Dayne “OneWildWalnut” Downey, the Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 57 blocks during the regular season. 25 – NBA 2K League players compete as unique characters in 5-on-5 gameplay.  Each position can choose between five different archetypes, creating 25 total archetypes* 15 – New York has produced 15 NBA 2K League players, more than any other state. 9 – There were nine international players on 2018 opening-night NBA 2K League rosters: Yusuf “Yusuf_Scarbz” Abdulla (Raptors Uprising GC; Canada), Mehyar “AuthenticAfrican” Ahmed-Hassan (Grizz Gaming; Canada), Jamie “vGooner-” Bull (Pacers Gaming; U.K.), Ryan “Devillon” de Villon (Mavs Gaming; Canada), Thomas “Speedbrook” Genaj (Celtics Crossover Gaming; Canada), Harry “HazzaUK2K” Hurst (Mavs Gaming; U.K.), Jannis “JLB” Neumann (Mavs Gaming; Germany), Basil “24k Dropoff” Rose (Heat Check Gaming; Canada), and Jomar “Jomar12 PR” Varela-Escapa (Blazer5 Gaming; Puerto Rico). 5 – Five players have recorded triple doubles in the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League: Heat Check Gaming’s Juan “Hotshot” Gonzalez, Raptors Uprising GC’s Kenneth “Kenny” Hailey, Celtics Crossover Gaming’s Ahmed “Mel East” Kasana, Wizards District Gaming’s Austin “Boo Painter” Painter, and Knicks Gaming’s Idris “Idrisdagoat6” Richardson. *An archetype is a preset combination of attributes and skills. For more information about the NBA 2K League, visit NBA2KLeague.com and follow @NBA2KLeague on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2018

LOOK: Full lineups for all 32 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ squads

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is just ten days away, and the full squads for all 32 teams were finally released by FIFA via their website as anticipation heats up. [LOOK: Full FIFA World Cup Russia LIVE telecast schedule on S+A ] The announcement of the 23-man lists confirms the sporting dreams of 736 players, who will all head to the 21st edition of the finals, which are set to kick-off when hosts Russia face Saudi Arabia in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday 14 June. From Argentina's no. 1 Nahuel Guzman, through to Martin Silva, Uruguay's no. 23, you can take in each and every player set to touch down on Russian soil, and the numbers they will be wearing when they take to the field. Nine of Germany’s squad are returning champions, having lifted the title in Brazil 2014, meanwhile 16 of the host side will be enjoying their first experience of going to a global finals. Check out the FULL lineups below:  Visit our dedicated section for the World Cup here to stay updated on the latest news......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

Japan, Germany emerge victorious in inaugural FIVB Manila Open

Despite coming from countries which experience the cold confines of winter, Japan and Germany sizzled and came out as the Queens and Kings of the sand court at the conclusion of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open at the SM Sands by the Bay. The Japanese tandem of Nishibori Takemi and Kosano Ayumi defeated Spain's Paula Soria Gutierrez and María Belén Carro Márquez de Acuña despite the scorching bayside afternoon heat in straight sets, 21-14, 21-18. With the victory, the gold medallists have gone undefeated in the tournament, 6-0, while the silver medalists ended the tournament with a 5-1 slate.  Meanwhile, their countrymates were not as lucky in the bronze medal match, as the top-seeded Paraguay tandem of Erika Bobadilla and Michelle Amarilla managed to eke out a 21-17, 21-16 victory over Tanaka Shinako and Sakurako Fujii in the preceding match. Takemi and Nishibori advanced to the Finals after beating Tanaka and Fujii, 21-13, 21-16, in the semis while Bobadilla and Amarilla won over Soria Gutierrez and Carro Márquez de Acuña, 21-16, 21-15. #FIVBManilaOpen Women's Division Podium Finishers: 1st: Japan 🇯🇵 2nd: España 🇪🇸 3rd: Paraguay 🇵🇾@abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/PLxetGh9aN — Philip Matel (@philipptionary) May 6, 2018 In the men's division, the Germans defeated the Russians as they came back and won a grueling three-set affair,15-21, 23-21, 15-9, to be crowned the kings of the Manila sand court. Max-Jonas Karpa and Milan Sievers took advantage of the visibly tired Russian duo of Petr Bakhnar and Taras Myskiv, finding open holes in the defense and winning jousts to take home the gold an a $1000 cash prize.  Meanwhile, Switzerland's Michiel Zandbergen and Gabriel Kissling won third after stifling Spanish brothers Javier and Alejandro Huerta Pastor in a thrilling match, 22-20, 19-21, 15-13. It was a see-saw third set which saw both teams exchanging leads. However, it seems the final change of the sides of the court did wonders for the Swiss nationals as Zandbergen emphatically rejected two straight attacks to clinch the third spot.  Bakhnar and Myskiv went to the finals by defeating the Huerta Pastor brothers, 21-18, 17-21, 21-18, while Karpa and Sievers won over Zandbergen and Kissling in the semis, 21-17, 21-16. #FIVBManilaOpen Men's Division Podium Finishers: 1st: Germany 🇩🇪 2nd: Russia 🇷🇺 3rd: Switzerland 🇨🇭@abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/hwwXsj5w75 — Philip Matel (@philipptionary) May 6, 2018  The four-day tournament, which featured teams from 23 different countries, featured eight teams, four each for the men's and women's bracket from the Philippines. #FIVBManilaOpen winners celebrate at the podium with champagne @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/VdVEvPU3Ew — Philip Matel (@philipptionary) May 6, 2018 UAAP beach volleyball veteran Sisi Rondina and Beach Volleyball Republic founder Dzi Gervacio, used their wit and skill up to the quarterfinals, where they bowed to Japan's Shinako Tanaka and Fujii Sakurako, which went to three sets and went in the favor of the Japanese, 13-21, 21-17, 11-15, Saturday afternoon. READ MORE: Kaya nating sumabay, kaya nating manalo -- Rondina “Sana ito na talaga ang reason why the Philippines should have a good, long term and continuous program for beach volleyball,” said Gervacio to ABS-CBN Sports' Mark Escarlote after their loss against Japan. “Kita naman natin na with just two weeks of practice, never ko ‘tong naging partner si Sisi and never ko itong naging teammate kahit saan but we’ve managed to play until the quarterfinals.” The former Ateneo Lady Eagle also hopes that this will be a springboard for the development of the popularity of the sport in the country. "Sana ito na ang heads up to everyone na, ‘Tara let’s start a beach volleyball program.’ We’ve won against USA and Canada and I think that’s a good turnout for someone who’s very young and a young team in beach volleyball." With the win in the one-star tournament, the participants recieved a $1000 prize for first, $700 for second, and $500 for third, coupled with their corresponding FIVB ranking points.       -- Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Since 2014 highs, a struggle for Colombia, James

By Jairo Anchique, Associated Press BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia has a lot to live up to in Russia after providing one of the standout moments of the last World Cup. James Rodriguez was catapulted to football stardom when he took the ball on his chest and swiveled before smashing a volley in off the underside of the bar in the Maracana against Uruguay. It helped to secure Colombia's spot in the quarterfinals in 2014 — and ultimately a move to Real Madrid. But James has struggled to live up to the highs of Brazil, where he scored a tournament-leading six goals. He struggled to make an impact in Spain and has been trying to regain form ahead of this World Cup at Bayern Munich. It was a struggle, too, for Colombia to even qualify for a second straight World Cup with a spot only sealed in the last match. It enables Radamel Falcao to finally appear at football's biggest event after missing the trip to Brazil with a left knee injury. Here's a closer look at the Colombia team: COACH Jose Pekerman has spent six years in charge of Colombia, following successes with his native Argentina. He guided Argentina to under-20 world titles in 1995, 1997 and 2001 and then guided the senior squad to the 2006 World Cup quarterfinals, where it lost to host Germany in a penalty shootout. Pekerman has long had close ties to Colombia: He played with Independiente Medellin in the 1970s and Vanessa, his eldest daughter, was born in the capital in 1975. GOALKEEPERS David Ospina is the undisputed choice to top the team sheet, despite being restricted to playing in cup competitions for Arsenal while Petr Cech starts English Premier League matches. Camilo Vargas, who plays for Deportivo Cali in Colombia, is Ospina's understudy, just like at the 2014 World Cup. Jose Fernando Cuadrado, who also plays at home for Once Caldas, is also set to make the cut. DEFENDERS Pekerman has been forced to reshape the defense due to the retirement of Mario Alberto Yepes and the trio of Pablo Armero, Camilo Zuniga and Carlos Valdes losing form and fitness. But quality center backs have broken through: Yerry Mina of Barcelona, Oscar Murillo of Mexican side Pachuca and Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham. Cristian Zapata is set for a second World Cup, along with right back Santiago Arias. Frank Fabra has taken the place of Armero on the left. MIDFIELD James, Juan Cuadrado of Juventus and Carlos Sanchez of Fiorentina are set for a second World Cup. Edwin Cardona, Mateus Uribe, Wilmar Barrios, Giovanni Moreno and Juan Fernando Quintero are other options. The goals of the flyers were vital when the attackers spent about a year without converting. FOWARDS Falcao is the only striker who looks certain of a starting spot while Duvan Zapata, Luis Fernando Muriel, Carlos Bacca, Miguel Angel Borja, Duvan Zapata and Yimmi Chara are competing for the remaining places. Pekerman tends to go for a lone strike either in 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 formations. GROUP GAMES Colombia opens Group H on June 19 against Japan, plays the second game near its Kazan base against Poland on June 24, and concludes against Senegal on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Lewandowski powers Poland revival

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press Poland's hopes at the World Cup depend on Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich forward scored 16 goals in 10 games — a European qualifying record — to propel Poland to its first World Cup in 12 years. Lewandowski offers hope of a return to the fruitful period during the golden era in the 1970s and 1980s when Grzegorz Lato and Zbigniew Boniek were on the team and Poland played in four straight World Cups, finishing third in 1974 and 1982. Former international Adam Nawalka has crafted a hard-working cohesive unit since taking over as coach from Waldemar Fornalik in 2013. Poland was 69th in the FIFA rankings when Nawalka took over. After qualifying for the 2016 European Championship, where the team lost on penalties to eventual champion Portugal in the quarterfinals, and a strong qualifying campaign for Russia, Poland is now 10th. Here's a closer look at the Poland team: COACH Nawalka, who has never worked outside of Poland, was handed the job after the country failed to qualify for the last World Cup. He ensured qualification was never really in doubt this time, a 4-0 loss in Denmark notwithstanding, as Poland won every home game. Nawalka, who played at the 1978 World Cup for Poland, coached several Polish teams, including three stints at hometown club Wisla Krakow before leading Gornik Zabrze to promotion six months after taking over in 2010. Gornik was at the top of the Polish league standings when he took over the national team. Nawalka was also briefly an assistant to former Poland coach Leo Beenhakker during qualification for Euro 2008. GOALKEEPERS Wojciech Szczesny, now playing for Juventus as an understudy to Gianluigi Buffon, started Euro 2016 but missed the rest of the tournament after picking up an injury in the opening game against Northern Ireland. Former Arsenal teammate Lukasz Fabianski, now with Swansea, filled in and helped the team reach the quarterfinals. Fabianski played most of the qualifiers but Szczesny returned for the final two. Roma goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski should provide additional backup. DEFENDERS The 190-centimeter (6-foot-3) Kamil Glik marshals Poland's defensive line and provides a commanding presence at center back. Tough-tackling and hard-working, Glik also excels in organizational skills, and is adept at quickly switching play to wingers Kamil Grosicki or Jakub Blaszczykowski. Glik, formerly Torino's captain, played a big part in helping Monaco win the French title in 2017. Borussia Dortmund right back Lukasz Piszczek will be another who ensures Poland gets forward quickly from defense. MIDFIELDERS Apart from the tireless Blaszczykowski and Grosicki, Poland has a new creative force in 23-year-old Piotr Zielinski. The Napoli midfielder played in every qualification game and is among the first on Nawalka's teamsheet. Grzegorz Krychowiak is another vital cog for Nawalka. A move from Sevilla, where he had excelled, to Paris Saint-Germain in 2016 didn't work out as well as he hoped, and the 28-year-old defensive midfielder has been playing this season on loan at Premier League club West Bromwich Albion. Krychowiak epitomizes the team's hard working ethic and is already a veteran for Poland after making his senior debut in 2008. FORWARDS While Lewandowski is undoubtedly the star, Poland does have another option in attack in Arkadiusz Milik, a teammate of Zielinski's at Napoli. Milik had little success for Bayer Leverkusen or Augsburg in Germany, but excelled in a loan spell at Ajax, which consequently made his loan permanent. Napoli signed the 24-year-old Milik as a replacement for the Juventus-bound Gonzalo Higuain in 2016. Two serious knee injuries have blighted his time in Italy. Milik made five appearances for Poland in qualifying. Even with Milik at his best, however, Lewandowski is irreplaceable for Poland. The 29-year-old Lewandowski provided more than half of the team's goals in qualifying alone. Clinical in front of goal, strong and skillful, Lewandowski is the key to success. GROUP GAMES Poland will be based in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and will begin its campaign against Senegal in Moscow on June 19. The team then faces Colombia in Kazan on June 24 before wrapping up Group H play against Japan in Volgograd four days later......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: England looks to beak cycle of pain

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — England is attempting to break a cycle of heartache and humiliation at major tournaments that plunged the birthplace of football to its lowest ebb. A loss to Iceland in the last 16 of the 2016 European Championship was perhaps the ultimate embarrassment. Or maybe that came when the English endured their shortest World Cup campaign two years earlier whey they were only in contention for eight days. Before that, there were penalty shootout losses in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012. And before that, who could forget Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal that denied England in the World Cup semifinals in 1986? It's no surprise that the nation's expectations are low heading to Russia. England coach Gareth Southgate has long been tempering his team's prospects. Defender Kyle Walker even acknowledged it would be a "miracle" if England won football's biggest prize this year. England won the 1966 World Cup, but has only reached the semifinals of a tournament twice since then. What next for one of the underachievers of international football? Encouraging draws in recent friendlies against Brazil, Germany and Italy show the English are heading in the right direction but they have been here before in the run-up to tournaments. Here's a closer look at the England team: COACH Southgate was promoted from England's under-21 team to become coach of the senior side in September 2016, with the appointment widely viewed with skepticism because of his lack of managerial experience in top-level soccer. However, opinions are changing on the former England defender who missed the decisive penalty in a shootout against Germany in the European Championship semifinals in 1996. He has made brave selection decisions — dropping Wayne Rooney, for starters — and has implemented a bold approach that has seen the team adopt a three-man defense and play the ball out from the back as much as possible. GOALKEEPERS Long-time starter Joe Hart has lost his place after a tough two years on loan at Torino and West Ham from Manchester City, with Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland moving ahead in the pecking order. Pickford, whose distribution is superior to Butland's, is expected to begin the World Cup as first choice. Hart should still be in the squad as third-choice goalkeeper, with Southgate valuing his experience gained playing for City and at international level since 2010. DEFENDERS Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young — attacking full backs with good delivery and energy — look to be England's starting wing backs, so it is the center-back combination that will be occupying Southgate's thoughts. John Stones and Harry Maguire are favorites to start even though the former is fourth choice at Manchester City and has barely played in 2018, while the latter is inexperienced. Kyle Walker, a pacey right back, has impressed in recent friendlies as a right-sided center back and other options include Joe Gomez, James Tarkowski and Alfie Mawson. MIDFIELDERS England will play with either two or three central midfielders, depending if the team is deployed in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 formation, and they are likely to be functional, hard-working players. It's a far cry from the days when the country could call upon stars of the Premier League like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes. Instead, Southgate will rely on selfless players such as Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier, Jake Livermore and the unheralded Lewis Cook, who will keep their shape and allow the wing backs and forward players to offer a goal threat. With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain definitely out injured and Adam Lallana unlikely to prove his fitness, the injury-prone Jack Wilshere could again make the plane as a wildcard midfielder. FORWARDS The most straightforward department for Southgate: Harry Kane will start as the central striker, with Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford as backups. Kane has been hit and miss for Tottenham this season, especially in recent weeks after returning quicker than expected from an ankle injury, but is England's most lethal striker and arguably its most important player. Raheem Sterling will be the main support for Kane, maybe along with either Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli or even 22-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek if Southgate opts for a 3-4-3 formation. GROUP GAMES England, which is based just outside St. Petersburg, opens Group G against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18. The team then plays Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24 and finishes against Belgium in Kaliningrad on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Sweden not defined by just Zlatan

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Sweden has shed its major distraction: Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn't coming back for the World Cup. The Los Angeles striker, who retired from international duty in 2016 after scoring a record 62 goals in 116 games, will be a spectator from California when Sweden heads to Russia. The Swedes have moved on from the 36-year-old Ibrahimovic. Playing more as a team, they are a tighter and more efficient unit — as shown when they kept two clean sheets against Italy to advance to the World Cup via the playoffs. They beat France in their qualifying group and were undefeated at home. From having a lineup defined by one player, Sweden is now a team without superstars. Here's a closer look at the Sweden team: COACH Janne Andersson took charge after the European Championship in 2016 as the replacement for Eric Hamren, following a coaching career based solely with Swedish clubs. The highlight was leading Norrkoping to the Swedish league title in 2015. The 55-year-old Andersson values organization above everything and has made the national team defensively strong and a force on the counterattack. GOALKEEPERS Robin Olsen has established himself as the starting goalkeeper heading into the World Cup, having opted to play for Sweden over Denmark — where his parents were born. He is tall and lean, standing at 6-feet-6 (1.98 meters). DEFENDERS Ibrahimovic's decade-long reign as Sweden's player of the year ended last year when national team captain Andreas Granqvist won the "Golden Ball" award for the first time. Those who voted for Granqvist might have been influenced by the center back's stoic display in the two-legged playoff victory over Italy, which earned him a last chance to play at a World Cup. At 33, he is the experienced organizer of the defense — alongside the more youthful Victor Lindelof of Manchester United — and plays for Russian club Krasnodar, where the Swedes will be based for the tournament. MIDFIELDERS Emil Forsberg, a quick attacking midfielder who usually starts on the left wing, is the team's standout player and has become a big name in the German league because of his form for Leipzig. He had the most assists in the Bundesliga last season. A relatively late developer, he only made his international debut at the age of 23 so has experience of just one major senior tournament. Sebastian Larsson is the other high-profile player in the midfield, having played for the national team for a decade and in the Premier League with Birmingham and Sunderland after starting his professional career at Arsenal. FORWARDS Marcus Berg leads the forward line in the absence of Ibrahimovic and scored eight goals in qualifying. He remains key to Sweden's plans despite being out of the limelight, at least to European audiences, following his decision to join Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates from Greek team Panathinaikos in the 2017 offseason. He is top scorer in the Arabian Gulf League, showing he is in prime form heading to Russia. Ola Toivonen plays just off Berg and scored Sweden's best goal in qualifying, an effort from near halfway to beat France 2-1. GROUP GAMES Sweden opens Group F against South Korea on June 18. The team will then face Germany on June 23 and finish the group stage against Mexico on June 27......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: SKorea wants to avoid 2nd candy attack

By John Duerden, Associated Press SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Progress for South Korea's players will be avoiding being pelted with candy again on their return from the World Cup. After enduring three poor performances by the team in Brazil four years ago, fans were waiting at Incheon International Airport to make their anger felt. If collecting a solitary point in a group containing Russia, Algeria and Belgium was tough, the challenge looks even more daunting this time with World Cup holder Germany, Mexico and Sweden in Group F. The road to Russia offered few signs of progress. In the third round of Asian qualifying, South Korea picked up only two points from five away games to leave a place at a ninth successive World Cup looking uncertain. Coach Uli Stielike was fired and Shin Tae-yong was drafted in as a replacement to get the team over the line with two tense goalless draws. As the players celebrated in Uzbekistan, there was criticism at home that the party was undeserved given the unconvincing performances. The country has become accustomed to World Cup qualification since the 1982 failure and there is a desire to see more appearances in the knockout stage. Only twice have the Taeguk Warriors advanced from their group, in 2002 when they made the semifinals on home soil and in 2010 when they reached the round of 16. Performances have improved in warm-up games recently with a change to a 4-4-2 formation partly in an attempt to get the best out of attacker Son Heung-min. Son is the team's shining star and is coming off a fine season with Tottenham in the English Premier League. There are some lesser-known players who can show their worth including Kwon Chang-hoon and Lee Jae-sung, two of the highest-rated midfielders in Asia. South Korea is likely to be more defensive than usual in the hope of keeping out the opposition while hoping the attacking stars may be able to pinch a goal. Here's a closer look at the South Korea team: COACH Shin Tae-yong took the job in July 2017 and did just enough to ensure qualification. Shin's coaching reputation was forged during the 2010 Asian Champions League title triumph with K-League team Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, which led to him comparing himself to Jose Mourinho. A coach who likes to surprise tactically, Shin has experience in tournaments — with the Under-23 team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and 2017 Under-20 World Cup. On both occasions, South Korea breezed through the group stage before being eliminated in the first game of the knockout round. Shin might have to restrain his attacking instincts to focus on ensuring the senior side is hard to beat in Russia. GOALKEEPERS While there are more options than in the past, the country still lacks a top-class goalkeeper. Kim Seung-gyu is the established No. 1 but the arrival of Cho Hyun-woo on the scene has increased competition. DEFENDERS Shin is not averse to a three-man defense but usually opts to use four. South Korea is traditionally strong in the fullback position with Lee Yong strong on the right, and Kim Min-woo and Kim Jin-su, if fit, competing for the spot on the left. All have the ability to get forward and support the attack. Central defense has been more of an issue over the years but Jang Hyun-soo is a likely starter with another spot up for grabs. Regardless of the personnel, the defense is often undermined by concentration problems and is vulnerability from set pieces. MIDFIELDERS A major question hangs over picking a central midfield partner for Ki Sung-yeung, the captain who is the fulcrum of the team. Han Kook-young has often been an unassuming partner for the Swansea player but sometime fullback Park Joo-ho has been effective there too. The energetic Lee Chang-min has also been staking a claim. FORWARDS Coaches have been trying for years to come up with a formation that gets the best out of Son Heung-min on international duty. At times, the 25-year old Tottenham player has featured on the left, as a second striker and as a lone striker. It looks as if Son will start as part of a two-pronged attack with the other three forwards in the squad vying to partner him GROUP GAMES The first game is against Sweden on June 18, followed by a meeting with Mexico on June 23. South Korea is likely to be relying on collecting points from those games before closing out Group F against Germany on June 27. None of South Korea's group games are in St. Petersburg where the team is based......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Nigeria calm under Rohr for now

By Gerald Imray, Associated Press Gernot Rohr has restored stability to Nigeria heading into the World Cup. The German brought a sense of calm to a team that went through five coaches in two years following the 2014 tournament in Brazil. Africa's most populous nation flew through qualifying and was the first team to qualify from the region, seeing off continental champion Cameroon. Nigeria then showcased its qualities by winning a friendly last year against Argentina — its final Group D opponent. Nigeria has an array of attacking options that includes Premier League talent in Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa. The challenge is to ensure the defense is similarly strong and the squad doesn't get sidetracked by off-the-field issues that have undermined previous campaigns at major tournaments. At the 2014 World Cup, it was a disagreement over player payment that almost caused the team to go out on strike ahead of the last 16 game against France, which Nigeria lost. Rohr will be hoping there's no repeat. Here's a closer look at the Nigeria team: COACH Rohr hasn't had a high-profile career, coaching Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso before taking on one of Africa's most demanding football jobs. Rohr has set out to experiment with various formations in an effort to make the team more tactically aware and versatile, and able to compete with the best in the world like Argentina. Nigeria has lost just twice since Rohr took over in August 2016. GOALKEEPERS This area has been an issue for Nigeria ever since regular No. 1 Carl Ikeme revealed last year that he had been diagnosed with leukemia. Rohr made Ikechukwu Ezenwa, one of the few Nigeria-based players in the squad, the new first-choice goalkeeper for the remainder of the World Cup qualifying campaign. But there may be a surprise in goal in Russia, with Rohr recently talking up 19-year-old prospect Francis Uzoho, who last year became the youngest foreign goalkeeper in La Liga when he made his debut for Deportivo La Coruna at 18. The 6-foot-5 teenager is definitely a talent. DEFENDERS Leon Balogun, born in Germany, and William Troost-Ekong, born in Netherlands, are the preferred central defensive partnership. Either side of them, places are up for grabs. Elderson Echiejile appears to be the first option at left back and Shehu Abdullahi at right back. But there are other contenders for starting places. One of the most intriguing is left back Brian Idowu, who was born in St. Petersburg to Nigerian parents and has lived his whole life and spent his entire career in Russia. MIDFIELDERS Captain John Obi Mikel and Ogenyi Onazi are the rocks of the team in central midfield and their diligence allows Nigeria to play three and sometimes four players in advanced positions. The 21-year-old Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester also has a growing reputation. FORWARDS Victor Moses' recent resurgence means Rohr expects the Chelsea forward to lead Nigeria's attack, which promises to be a handful for opponents. Alongside Moses, Musa and Alex Iwobi could be the other starting forwards if Rohr continues with a formation that gives him two men playing either side of central striker Musa. But the competition for places in Nigeria's attack is fierce. There's also Iheanacho, Moses Simon and China-based striker Odion Ighalo. GROUP GAMES Nigeria's opening game is against Croatia on June 16, it then plays Iceland on June 22 before the big one to finish its Group D campaign, against Lionel Messi and Argentina in St. Petersburg on June 26......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

Up close with The Art of Eight Limbs : My first experience of watching Muay Thai live

I’ve been a combat sports fan for nearly a decade now. I began watching MMA back in 2009, around the time that stars like Georges St-Pierre and BJ Penn were at their peak, and immediately got hooked, and it’s actually that fandom that got me to where I am now today…a sportswriter. It’s also that appreciation for the sport that got me to try and get into combat sports, and I’ve been practicing on a regular basis since then. The first time I ever set foot inside a boxing gym and put on a pair of 16-ounce gloves was for my first ever Muay Thai class. I saw these fighters on TV throwing these beautiful kicks, knocking the bejeezus out of their opponents. I wanted to be able to do that too, I decided to try it out. That first session was really fun, but real tiring…and painful. I was sore for days after that, but I enjoyed it and decided to make it a regular part of my life. It wasn’t necessarily to be a pro-level practicioner, rather a way to keep fit and stay healthy. My first session was around eight years ago, and I’ve been going as regularly as I can ever since. Of course, my appreciation for the widely popular martial art grew, I started doing some research and watched some Muay Thai fights online, and eventually being able to try and train Muay Thai in Thailand and getting to watch a legit fight became parts of my ‘Bucket List’ so to say. Fortunately, I got to tick one of those things off my list late last year.   The Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. Home of some of the world's best Muay Thai fighters. pic.twitter.com/yKCRvLqtDf — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 When I was sent to Bangkok (to cover ONE Championship MMA, fittingly enough), I was able to catch a big Muay Thai card at the most popular Muay Thai arena in Thailand, the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium. A quick look at the Lumpinee Stadium schedule on their website shows that there’s usually a fight card thrice a week, every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, which gives you an idea of how popular it is to patrons, and how many competitors there are. It’s a 5,000 seater arena, no bigger than the San Juan Arena, but boy, the place was buzzing on that Friday night.   A look inside the Lumpinee Stadium. It's fight night Friday here in BKK. pic.twitter.com/Tagws4qZCC — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 Unlike here in the Philippines, where boxing or MMA shows don’t get filled up until about midway through the card, the Lumpinee Stadium had a decent number of people after the first fight of the night, and amazingly, the fans were already into it, a testament of just how big Muay Thai is in the country. It is, after all, their national sport.   But before I go on any further, here’s a quick backgrounder on what Muay Thai is. A striking-based form of self-defense and combat sport that rose to prominence in Thailand during the 1900s, Muay Thai makes use of one’s hands and elbows, knees, and feet to inflict damage. It’s commonly known as “The Art of Eight Limbs” because practicioners can punch, kick, knee, and elbow their opponents. Names like Samart Payakaroon, Buakaw Banchamek, and Saenchai have made names for themselves in Muay Thai. In MMA, former champions such as Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, and Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke are known for their high-level Muay Thai.   So, going back… The card I went to that night was apparently a big one, with three championships up for grabs. The ticket cost me 1000 Baht, which is around 1500 PHP. A small price to pay, I believe, to get to see some honest-to-goodness Muay Thai action in the country’s most popular stadium. (I did, however, get into an argument with the ticket lady because I tried haggling for a lower price, to the point that she let out an exasperated 'OH MY GOD!' in the thickest Thai accent I've ever heard.) There was no reserved seating, at least for the ticket I paid for, so I had to find a spot that gave me a good view. Being that the stadium itself was small, my spot wasn’t too far away from the ring. Think lower box seats. It was close enough for me to see the action.   Also known as 'The Art of Eight Limbs" Muay Thai utilizes punching and kicking techniques, as well as knee strikes, elbow strikes and clinching. pic.twitter.com/lN8z8LbPO5 — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 When I said that Thai fans were immediately in to the action, I meant it. When I got in, it was towards the end of the first fight of the night, but it felt like it was already the main event, as the fans were as rowdy as they could get.   While the 5000-seater stadium isn't particularly packed, the active crowd makes it feel as though it is. pic.twitter.com/kQ1NC5QpOU — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 With every kick and with every punch, the people would go “EYYYYYY!!!” whether or not it connected or it missed, and with every knee, they’d yell out “KNEEEEEE!!!” Every fight had that ‘big fight feel.” The fights lasted for up to five three-minute rounds, and while much shorter than boxing bouts, there was definitely no shortage of action. Again, with the small stadium, you could hear every time that flesh hit flesh, which was both entertaining and at the same time unnerving.   All the fights have this "big fight feel" because the crowd roars with every hit. pic.twitter.com/XYl72AUL4Z — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 One thing that you’ll notice in Muay Thai fights is that the competitors do a little dance before the fight commences.   Before each fight, the fighters perform a ceremonial dance known as the Wai Khru. This is to give honor and pay respects to their teachers. pic.twitter.com/ZJLCCUHRFZ — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 This ritual is called the “Wai Khru” and it’s done to pay their teachers respect and show their gratitude. Interesting note: the Wai Khru isn’t just limited to Muay Thai. Students in schools in Thailand participate in this ritual as well. I asked my trainer about this years ago, and he said that usually, the actions and gestures in the Wai Khru are thought of on the spot. The thing that struck me the most about this experience was that bets were being placed inside the arena as the fights were going on. After every round, a few people in the crowd, would yell out and call for bets, much like the ‘Cristo’ that you see in cockfighting arenas. I really hate the comparison, but it looked a lot like human cockfighting. Be that as it may, when you look past the gambling aspect of it, (which in reality, is prevalent anywhere anyway, just not as blatant), you’ll see that the martial art is very much a part of Thai culture. If you can fill up a 5,000 seater arena three times a week, I’d say that you’re doing something right. The experience was really something worth going through, especially if you enjoy combat sports in it’s purest form. I’ve gotten to watch boxing and mixed martial arts in bigger, sold out stadiums, but getting to watch Muay Thai in a tiny arena such as the Lumpinee Stadium was very different experience. The action and the atmosphere was unlike any I’ve ever seen before, and it’s something that I highly recommend to anyone who gets to visit Bangkok, whether or not you’re a fight fan. If you are a fight fan, it’s definitely something to experience. I’m really happy that I did. Now to check that other thing on the bucket list off........»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2018

HEADS UP: 10 sporting events to watch out for in 2018

2017 has come and gone, and it delivered some exciting sporting moments that has every sports fan clamoring for more. Worry not, though, as 2018 looks primed to satisfy even the most die-hard Pinoy sports aficionado with its bevy of local and international sporting events. Let's welcome the upcoming year with 10 of the most exciting sporting events to watch out for this 2018.   NCAA 93 & UAAP 80 VOLLEYBALL The cagers are out, and the spikers are in. Volleyball season begins this January 4 with NCAA season 93, followed by the 81st season of the UAAP this February. NCAA volleybelles are once again ready to take center court, and the defending women's champion Arellano University Lady Chiefs, led by heavy hitters Jovie Prado and Regine Arocha are banking on their undisputed team play to propel them to another title. Playing inspired volleyball throughout the season, the Lady Chiefs stunned the thrice-to-beat San Sebastian Lady Stags in the Finals last year, ultimately ending Grethcel Soltones' collegiate career with a dud. Rising stars like San Beda's Ces Racraquin, JRU's Karen Montojo also make the upcoming NCAA volleyball season worth waiting for. UAAP volleyball begins a month later the NCAA tournament, but expect the field to be even more tumultuous. With no clear-cut number 2 team to challenge the two-time defending champions DLSU Lady Spikers, it will be a toss-up against basically the other seven schools to step up. Dangerous squads include the much-improved Adamson Lady Falcons, last year's pleasant surprise UST, the dynastic Ateneo Lady Eagles, and the intact NU Lady Bulldogs and FEU Lady Tamaraws. NBA ALL-STAR GAME & 2018 NBA FINALS The annual showcase of the NBA's brightest stars just got a major revamp. That's right, the league has done away with the traditional East-West teams, and will now have a playground-type pool selection of players between its two captains when the exhibition tips off in Los Angeles. This raises a lot of interesting questions: Will the captains pick their teammates or will they go with a more controversial pick and select a rival? Will we able to know the order of the draft? Will this actually work in making the game better? While answers to those questions might not be answered until a few months, one thing's for sure, the NBA Finals, the spectacle that actually counts, will be epic. Will we be treated to Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Pt. 4? Or will another squad swoop in to spoil the party? The league has indeed improved, with surprising teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Pistons out in the East already staking claim to playoff spots, and the Wild, Wild, West staying true to its monicker. The Houston Rockets and the perennial powerhouse San Antonio Spurs are still the favorites to pull the rug under the Warriors, while the Oklahoma City Thunder is right behind. Either way, with months of hoops already invested in it, the NBA Finals will surely be another explosive one, as it always is.   HOMECOMING QUEEN Alyssa Valdez spent the majority of 2017 overseas, spreading her wings in Taiwan with volleyball club Attack Line. This 2018 though, The Phenom plans on staying in the Philippines, armed with two year’s worth of international experience to focus on her home club team in the Creamline Cool Smashers.  "Next year, I'm planning to focus sa Creamline. Just this year, I travelled a lot talaga. They supported me throughout, esepcially doon sa National Team stint ko. They sacrificed a lot for me talaga. I think I have to focus sa team ko talaga,” she said last week.Alyssa Valdez just got scarier.   PINOY HOOP DREAMS: REMY MARTIN, KOBE PARAS  Two proudly Pinoy ballers based in the U.S. set out this 2018 to continue shooting for our island nation’s humble hoop dreams. Kobe Paras is still serving residency this 2017-2018 season with the California State University-Northridge Matadors, but his development is sure to be a joy to watch. The 6’6” Pinoy swingman accomplished a tour of duty with Gilas Pilipinas earlier in the year, and many Pinoys saw why we should all be excited about high-flying forward. Remy Martin, a 5’11” point guard dazzled in his first few games with the Arizona State Sun Devils, with his athleticism, explosiveness and feisty defense. The Filipino-American cager is proud of his roots and hopes to represent flag and country with Gilas Pilipinas in the future.   WHO (OR WHAT) IS NEXT FOR MANNY PACQUIAO? The never-ending saga of what’s next for Manny Pacquiao looks like it'll seep into 2018.  Following a rather controversial loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, Pacquiao has been “courting” the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a rematch, even taking to Instagram to ”greet” MMA superstar Conor McGregor before finally admitting that he’s been in talks with the Irish fighter’s camp. Whether he actually retires from boxing for good, or takes on another foe in the squared circle, one thing’s for sure: we’ll all have our eyes on Manny Pacquiao’s next move.   2018 WORLD CUP RUSSIA™ After four years, the best of world football will once again converge, this time in Russia to crown the Kings of the beautiful sport. The stage is set, the groups are finalized, and the 32 squads are promising the best 30-day football extravaganza in the hopes of dethroning defending champions Germany this June. Some group stage clashes to look out for are Germany vs Mexico, England vs Belgium, Portugal vs Spain, to name a few. June couldn’t come soon enough.   CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER'S PBA DEBUT No PBA rookie has probably come into the league as pro-ready as the Filipino-German standout Christian Standhardinger. The 6’9” big man was the consensus top overall pick of the 2017 PBA draft, and was also at the center of the controversial trade that sent Kia Picanto’s rights to the number 1 selection to the already-dominant San Miguel. While the trade did go down, so did former commissioner Chito Narvasa. Standhardinger’s entry to the PBA has come at a cost, but San Miguel is more than ready to wait one more conference to bulk up their already stacked squad. Seeing Standharinger play alongside 6’11” center and reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, versatile forward Arwind Santos, and the Beermen’s bevy of guards in Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross, is definitely a sight to see, just look at how he's tearing it up in the ASEAN Basketball League.    2018 ASIAN GAMES INDONESIA The Philippines’ less than stellar performance at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games was met with widespread flak. Not directed at our athletes however, but aimed at our sports development and governing body for its subpar work in getting our sports representatives ready. While the 2018 Asian Games isn’t so far away, a handful of Pinoy medalists from the SEA Games are going into the continental meet with high hopes. After dominating the SEA Games’ triathlon event, our Filipino endurance athletes, led by gold medalists Kim Mangrobang, and Nikko Huelgas, are once again primed to take home hardware. Marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, and boxers John Marvin, and Eumir Marcial, all gold medalists at Malaysia, are all bright spots that could soon unravel into full-fledged stars come 2018.   GILAS PILIPINAS IN THE FIBA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS It’s official, basketball is coming home to the Philippines this 2023 by way of the FIBA World Cup, but Gilas Pilipinas will first have to try its luck in the 2019 meet. After dealing with Chinese Taipei and Japan this 2017 for a perfect 2-0 slate in the qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas still has to face the Japanese anew, and the powerhouse Australian team early in 2018. A good showing against these squads will help Gilas strengthen its bid to international basketball’s biggest stage before we actually host the event in six years’ time.   UAAP 81 BASKETBALL UAAP season 80 just came to an end, but the next season just got way more interesting. Aside from the title defense of the intact Ateneo Blue Eagles and their ongoing rivalry with La Salle, a certain move by a coach has shaken up the league. With Aldin Ayo reportedly accepting the job as the new head coach of the struggling University of Sto. Tomas, we might just be witnesses to the rebirth of the once proud basketball program under the fiery mentor. That, and the way the DLSU Green Archers can adjust from the departure of Ayo and former two-time MVP Ben Mbala, key cogs to their season 79 championship run. The tight race for the MVP award will also be one to watch, with Mbala gone, it’s up to the local stars to step up to the challenge......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017

LOOK: Six must-see matches at 2018 World Cup

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Next year's World Cup sees an old rivalry revived as Spain and Portugal meet in the group stage. Defeat for either 2010 World Cup winner Spain or reigning European champion Portugal means they would need to be careful against fellow Group B nations Morocco and Iran to avoid early elimination. Meanwhile, reigning champion Germany starts its defense against Mexico at Moscow's vast Luzhniki stadium in another centerpiece game. Here are six World Cup group stage games to watch: ___ RUSSIA vs. SAUDI ARABIA June 14, Moscow It may look more like a friendly than a show-stopping World Cup opener, but the first game of the tournament is always special. Ranked 63rd and 65th in the world respectively, the Saudis and Russians are the worst teams in the tournament according to FIFA. At least they're evenly matched, which could make for an exciting spectacle. Saudi Arabia won their only previous meeting 4-2 in a 1993 friendly. ___ PORTUGAL vs. SPAIN June 15, Sochi For many, this will be the game that really kicks off the World Cup in style — Cristiano Ronaldo against Andres Iniesta, the reigning European champion against the 2010 World Cup winner. Spain beat Portugal at the 2010 World Cup, and again in the semifinals of the 2012 European Championship, going on to win the tournament both times. Their World Cup meeting on the Black Sea coast may not be a thriller, though — the 2010 games finished 1-0, and the second was a goalless draw decided on penalties. ___ ICELAND vs. ARGENTINA June 16, Moscow The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup has a huge reward. Lionel Messi's Argentina risks becoming the latest victim of the Icelanders, who beat England and drew with Portugal at last year's European Championship, winning the hearts of neutral fans across the continent along the way. If Argentina drops points, it will be under more pressure to beat tenacious Croatia and Nigeria in its next games. The stadium in Moscow has a capacity of 45,000 — or more than 10 percent of Iceland's population of around 330,000. If last year is anything to go by, there will be a huge exodus of Icelanders heading to Russia. ___ GERMANY vs. MEXICO June 17, Moscow The title defense begins here for Joachim Loew and Germany. The venue — Moscow's 81,000-capacity Luzhniki — befits a world champion, while Mexico brings quality opponents like forward Javier Hernandez and midfielder Giovani dos Santos. Anything less than a win will be a disappointment for Germany, which beat Mexico 4-1 in the Confederations Cup semifinals in June. Germany showed its immense strength in depth by winning that tournament with an experimental team lacking some of its biggest stars. Sweden and South Korea are on hand in Group F to take advantage of any dropped points. ___ SERBIA vs. SWITZERLAND June 22, Kaliningrad Switzerland is a long way from the Balkans, but there could be a Yugoslavian rivalry in Group E. The Swiss have several players of Kosovan and Albanian heritage in their squad, such as midfielders Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, while the coach is Vladimir Petkovic, who comes from a Bosnian Croat background. That won't escape the attention of the Serbian fans, whose games against other Balkan nations routinely require heavy security because of the region's long-running rivalries between ethnic groups. With Brazil the heavyweight in Group E, both teams will likely fight for second place, with Costa Rica also in the mix. ___ ENGLAND vs. BELGIUM June 28, Kaliningrad It's almost an English Premier League game when England meets Belgium in their final group stage game. England coach Gareth Southgate predicts "banter" at various Premier League clubs, thanks to Belgium's Premier League stars like Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku. Belgium's coach Roberto Martinez is a Premier League fixture too from his time with Everton and Wigan. If both England and Belgium have won their preceding games against Panama and Tunisia, the meeting could lose its edge — but if either team risks elimination it will be a crucial fixture......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 2nd, 2017

Still alive: Teams chasing World Cup spots through playoffs

A look at the lineup of teams in the intercontinental and European playoffs for the 2018 World Cup in Russia: ___ em> strong>EUROPEAN PLAYOFFS (matches to be confirmed) /strong> /em> strong>ITALY /strong> Four-time world champion Italy will be favored to qualify no matter which opponent it faces, yet the Azzurri aren't in top form after four discouraging results — a 3-0 loss to Spain, slim 1-0 wins over Israel and Albania, and a 1-1 draw with Macedonia. However, the expected returns from injury of center forward Andrea Belotti and veteran midfielder Daniele De Rossi could provide a boost. The playoff outcome will likely determine the future of Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura. Milan's San Siro or Palermo's Renzo Barbera stadium are being considered to host the home leg of the playoff. strong>CROATIA /strong> Croatia finds itself in familiar territory. Led by playmaker Luka Modric and other high-profile players in Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, the Croatians faced the same hurdle before the 2014 tournament in Brazil, eliminating Iceland 2-0 on aggregate. In this campaign, Croatia was on course to qualify automatically from the first place before two poor results — a 1-0 loss in Turkey and a 1-1 draw at home to Finland. Those results cost coach Ante Cacic his job. Under new coach Zlatko Dalic, Croatia won a needed 2-0 victory at Ukraine to seal a playoff spot behind Iceland. strong>SWITZERLAND /strong> Switzerland was perfect in World Cup qualifying for more than one year: Nine games, nine wins. Now coach Vladimir Petkovic must lift his players after a 2-0 loss in Portugal on Tuesday sent them to the playoffs, where the best runner-up record counts for little except being seeded. The Swiss have a reputation for being an efficient team in group-stage games that falls just short against good opponents in elimination games. They lost to Argentina at the 2014 World Cup, and Poland at Euro 2016. Their opponents next month are likely to be below that class, and Petkovic can expect that forward Breel Embolo — a substitute in Lisbon — will be fully fit after a one-year injury absence. strong>DENMARK /strong> There's a chance Denmark could face neighbor Sweden, which denied the Danes a spot in the 2016 European Championship by winning their playoff. Christian Eriksen is the undoubted star of the Denmark team, the playmaker having been one of the best players in the English Premier League over the last two years and scoring eight times from midfield in qualifying. Denmark was second to Poland in its group, only missing out on automatic qualification in the final round. strong>GREECE /strong> Reaching the playoffs came as a relief for Greece's players and coach Michael Skibbe following an embarrassing qualification campaign for Euro 2016, when the team was twice beaten by the Faeroe Islands and finished last in the group. An obdurate defense was again the key to earning a runner-up spot, nine points behind Belgium, with Skibbe struggling to find stability in midfield and a strike partner for Kostas Mitroglou. The German coach may look forward to the development of 21-year-old Tassos Donis, who provided some badly needed pace in midfield, as well as the talents of the Portuguese-born Carlos Zeca. strong>SWEDEN /strong> Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist says he'd prefer to not play Italy or Scandinavian archrival Denmark and would rather face Croatia or Switzerland. Sweden, for example, has never beaten Italy in the last 17 years. Sweden finished behind France in its group, but ahead of the Netherlands, in its first qualifying campaign without retired striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Marcus Berg has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's leading striker and scored eight times in the qualifying. strong>IRELAND /strong> This will be Ireland's ninth time in the playoffs for a major tournament. The Irish have progressed on three occasions, with their most high-profile failure coming against France in the playoffs for the 2010 World Cup when Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball in the build-up to the crucial goal. In the final round of group play, Ireland beat Wales in Cardiff in a virtual playoff for the playoffs. Coach Martin O'Neill's counterattacking tactics worked perfectly in that 1-0 win and it would be no surprise if he does the same in the playoffs. strong>NORTHERN IRELAND /strong> After reaching the knockout stage at Euro 2016, the Northern Irish continued their rise in international soccer by finishing runner-up behind Germany in their group. They have never been to back-to-back major tournaments. There's no chance of a potentially spicy match against neighbor Ireland, as both are set to be among the non-seeded teams after the seedings are confirmed on Monday. ___ em> strong>INTERCONTINENTAL PLAYOFFS /strong> /em> strong>HONDURAS vs. AUSTRALIA /strong> Both countries have been regulars in recent World Cups, with Honduras looking to make it for a third straight tournament and Australia seeking a fourth in a row. Los Catrachos — as the Honduras national team is nicknamed — were squeezed out of an automatic place in Russia by Panama, which scored a late winner in a dramatic denouement to qualifying in the CONCACAF region. Asian Cup champion Australia had its chances to qualify directly, but failed to capitalize on a glut of scoring chances in the last group game against Thailand and ended up finishing in third spot behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. The Socceroos then beat Syria 2-1 after extra time to clinch the two-legged Asian playoff, but only after Syria hit the post with a free kick in the last moments of the second leg. The Australians were most recently in an inter-confederation playoff in 2006, when they ousted Uruguay over two legs. strong>PERU vs. NEW ZEALAND /strong> On New Zealand's side is a more recent appearance at the World Cup — going through the group stage in 2010 unbeaten but still being eliminated — and a first taste of Russia by qualifying for the Confederations Cup in June. But more than a 100 places separate New Zealand and Peru in the FIFA rankings. While New Zealand is at No. 113, Peru has surged to 12th as it chases a first visit to the World Cup since 1982. Peru claimed fifth place in the tough South American qualifying group to set up the intercontinental play-off that will be played over two legs on Nov. 6 and 14. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Atletico puts new stadium to the test in Champions League

A look at what's happening around the Champions League this week: ___ strong>ATLETICO'S HOME SUCCESS /strong> Atletico Madrid will try to extend its successful home streak when it makes its Champions League debut at the new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Wednesday against Chelsea. It will be Atletico's third match at the venue which replaced the Vicente Calderon Stadium, where Atletico was unbeaten in its last 11 games in the European competition. Atletico has won both of its matches at the Wanda Metropolitano — 1-0 against Malaga and 2-0 against Sevilla, both in the Spanish league 'The Metropolitano has the feel of a Roman circus,' Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. Barcelona travels to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday, riding a seven-game winning streak that includes the emphatic 3-0 win over Juventus in its Champions League opener. Sporting, off to a great start in the Portuguese league, can make it two wins in a row to start its Group D campaign. On Tuesday, Sevilla will host Maribor, which is coming off its first loss of the season against Atletico Madrid. ___ strong>MOSCOW CHALLENGE /strong> The Champions League provides Russian authorities with a key test of their World Cup readiness this week, and a glimpse at the welcome fans can expect next year. Two of England's fiercest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester United, play on consecutive nights in Moscow. Liverpool is first up against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday, and CSKA Moscow plays United the following night. There isn't typically disorder when the teams — separated by about 30 miles (48 kilometers) in northwest England — meet on home soil. But since England fans were attacked by Russians at the 2016 European Championship in Marseille, concerns have heightened about hooliganism in the 2018 World Cup host nation. United and Liverpool fans have been advised by the British government not to wear club colors on the streets of Moscow and to avoid walking alone. On the pitch, United and CSKA both won their opening games in Group A. Liverpool and Spartak are chasing their first wins after starting Group E with draws. ___ strong>DORTMUND THRIVING BUT FLAWED /strong> Real Madrid heads to Germany to face on Tuesday a Borussia Dortmund side enjoying its best start to the Bundesliga. Dortmund hadn't even conceded a goal in five domestic games until Lars Stindl netted Borussia Moenchengladbach's consolation in a 6-1 rout on Saturday. While Dortmund has scored 19 goals in six league games, there is no perfection in the high pressing game. The team remains prone to lapses at the back and opponents can suddenly find themselves with wide spaces to run into behind the Dortmund defense. That happened three times alone in the first half against 'Gladbach but it didn't prove as costly as when Dortmund visited London earlier this month and lost its Group H opener against Tottenham 3-1. ___ strong>NEEDING NEYMAR /strong> A bust-up between Edinson Cavani and Neymar combined with a goalless draw at Montpellier have generated a sense of trouble at Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Bayern Munich's visit on Wednesday. Cavani and Neymar have reportedly made peace after arguing on the pitch, but PSG dropped its first points this season following a dismal performance at Montpellier that raised concerns about the side's dependence on its Brazilian star. Neymar sat out Saturday's game because of a toe injury and his absence was obvious. Facing a very defensive side which closed spaces efficiently, PSG did not find a way to break the deadlock in a 4-3-3 system that lacked rhythm and creativity. 'We need to push more in order to score goals,' PSG coach Unai Emery said. 'This match leaves us with a lot of things to analyze in order to continue our progression.' Neymar is expected to return for the Bayern game in Group B. ___ strong>ROMA'S NEGATIVE STREAK /strong> Roma will be hopeful of ending a woeful away record in the Champions League when it travels to Azerbaijan for the first time, to play Qarabag on Wednesday. Including qualifying, Roma has won only one of its past 13 matches on its travels in Europe's elite competition, with that sole victory coming against Basel in 2009. But coach Eusebio Di Francesco will be hopeful of success against Qarabag, which lost 6-0 at Chelsea in the last round. He will again look to an in-form Edin Dzeko, who netted his fifth goal in three matches in Saturday's 3-1 win over Udinese. Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice in that match and Di Francesco has described him as 'the ideal attacker' for his preferred 4-3-3 formation, which he hopes will boost Roma in Europe as well as domestically. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2017

Resorts World Manila – Euro Pop 2018 Grand Prize Winner Jay Kent with Martin Paz on Magic 89.9

Check out the full segment of Good Times with Mo Twister earlier featuring Euro Pop 2018 Grand Winner Jay Kent with RWM’s Martin Paz. #RWManila Resorts World Manila – Euro Pop 2018 Grand Prize Winner Jay Kent with Martin Paz on Magic 89.9 Source link: Resorts World Manila – Euro Pop 2018 Grand Prize Winner Jay Kent with Martin Paz on Magic 89.9.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsDec 13th, 2018

FIBA WORLD CUP: Gilas Pilipinas absorbs shock upset from Kazakhstan

MANILA, Philippines --- Obviously, this is not the Asian Games. Kazakhstan scored a big-time upset Friday at the MOA Arena here, beating the Philippines, 92-88, in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Losing by 37 points to Gilas in Jakarta a couple of months back in the 2018 Asiad, Kazakhstan would frustrate the Filipinos on their home floor, making the Group F race all the more interesting. After Marcio Lassiter hit a triple to put the Philippines within two, 88-90, with 26 seconds to go, Rustam Yergali found Anton Bykov down low for a crucial layup, giving Kazakhstan a two-possession lead. With 12.7 seconds to work with, Gilas got LA Tenorio a wide-open three but the Ginebra playmaker missed. Bykov was fouled on the rebound but ended up missing two free throws as well but Kazakhstan's four-point lead was more than enough to hold on. With the shock win Kazakhstan win, Gilas Pilipinas is now tied with the red-hot Japan for third place in Group F with identical 5-4 records. Australia maintains pole position with an 8-1 mark after a win over Iran and the Boomers are through to the World Cup next year. Iran is second with a 6-3 record and will face the Philippines Monday in another crucial clash while Kazakhstan is fifth with a 4-5 mark with the Akatsuki Five up next in Toyama. Tied at 79 with 2:39 to go, Gilas took the lead after Tenorio buried a quick jumper of a timeout. However, it was quickly answered by Yergali with a triple for an 82-81 lead for Kazakhstan. Pringle pushed the Philippines ahead for the last time, 83-82, following a driving layup but Nikolay Bazhin scored four straight for Kazakhstan and the visitors took over for good. "Well of course we're disappointed," Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao said. "But we still have one game on Monday and we can't feel too negative about ourselves. I think we can salvage the situation if we're able to play a good game against Iran and learn from this game, the lessons from this game," he added.   STAN THE MAN Stanley Pringle carried the Gilas offense for the first five minutes of the third period, at one point scoring seven straight for a 51-50 lead for the Philippines. Pringle would keep the national team afloat, cashing in on two unsportsmanlike fouls from Kazakhstan to give Gilas a three-point lead before he headed to the bench with a minute and change left in the quarter. In total, Pringle scored 14 points in the third but it was not enough as back-to-back triples from Alexandr Zhigulin and Shaim Kuanov pushed Kazakhstan ahead, 65-62.   WE'RE PLAYING DEFENSE It was a slow start for the two teams, with the defense forcing bad shots on both ends. However, Kazakhstan was getting enough to take a 7-2 lead early before the Gilas responded with a 9-0 run sparked by the San Miguel Beermen. Marcio Lassiter first found June Mar Fajardo for an easy layup before Fajardo returned the favor, setting up his shooter for a booming triple. The Philippines took its first lead of the game after a layup from Lassiter and Fajardo scored on a hook shot to complete the run, forcing Kazakhstan to call a timeout down 7-11. Come the second quarter, the Kazakhstan defense swarmed Gilas, forcing a couple of turnovers in the first minute alone. Anton Bykov cashed in twice, giving the visitors a 23-18 lead and forcing the Filipinos to burn an early timeout. Matthew Wright  would then make things happen for Gilas, and his play was good for eight points as the Philippines forced another tie at 26-all. Still, Kazakhstan would keep its cool and back-to-back triples from Rustam Murzagaliyev from pretty much the same spot capped a 9-2 run for a seven-point lead. The Philippines managed to take over late in the first half, 39-38, with Scottie Thompson and Stanley Pringle sparking a 9-0 blitz. However, Kazakhstan managed to beat the clock for a one-point lead at the break. Pringle was the high man for the Philippines with 29 points while June Mar Fajardo finished with a 14-point, 13-rebound double-double. Marcio Lassiter added 13 points for Gilas Pilipinas. For Kazakhstan, it was Alexandr Zhigulin that led the way with a game-high 30 points while Anton Bykov was good for 20. Rustam Murzagaliyev has 11 points and Rustam Yergali dropped 10 points. The Philippines will next host Iran Monday while Kazakhstan is off to Toyama to take on Japan.   The Scores: KAZAKHSTAN 92 -- Zhigulin 30, Bykov 20, Yergali 12, Murzagaliyev 11, Kuanov 8, Bazhin 7, Marchuk 4, Chsherbak 0, Lapchenko 0, Gavrilov 0. PHILIPPINES 88 -- Pringle 29, Fajardo 14, Lassiter 13, Tenorio 8, Norwood 7, Thompson 6, Wright 5, Aguilar 4, Erram 2, Cabagnot 0, Belga 0, Slaughter 0. Quarters: 17-18, 40-39, 65-62, 92-88.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2018

Rejuvenated Dutch strike late, into Nations League s Final 4

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press The Netherlands' recovery from one of the lowest ebbs in its history continued with a last-gasp qualification for the Final Four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League on Monday. Virgil van Dijk volleyed home a 90th-minute equalizer to seal a dramatic Dutch comeback in a 2-2 draw in Germany, allowing Ronald Koeman's rejuvenated side to top its qualifying group on goal difference ahead of France, and join fellow group winners Portugal, England and Switzerland in a five-day finals competition in June. So instead of seeing Kylian Mbappe, France's new wonderkid and star of the team's World Cup triumph in Russia in July, vying for another piece of international silverware, soccer fans will get to see if the Netherlands truly has turned the corner. The slump of the Dutch has been profound since they finished third at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. They failed to qualify for an enlarged European Championship in 2016 and also didn't make it to the World Cup this year. Three coaches — Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind, and Dick Advocaat — came and went. And with Dutch soccer at club level also in strife, debate swirled as to how one of the long-time heavyweights of the world game could recover. Under Koeman, though, the future of the Oranje looks bright. Youngsters like center midfielder Frenkie de Jong and center back Matthijs de Ligt are regarded as two of the most promising players in the world; Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum have returned to their best form over the last 18 months; and, in Van Dijk, the Netherlands has one of the best defenders around. A rock for Liverpool this season and last, Van Dijk — soccer's most expensive defender following his $99 million move from Southampton in January — sidefooted in a cross from the left to follow up an 84th-minute goal from Quincy Promes that gave the Dutch a glimmer of hope in Gelsenkirchen. The Germans had gone 2-0 up after 19 minutes thanks to Timo Werner's dipping shot from 25 meters and Leroy Sane's deflected effort from just inside the area. They couldn't hold on, though, and finished group play with no wins, just two points, and in something of a crisis. They didn't get out of their group in Russia in a dismal defense of their World Cup title, while relegation to League B of the Nations League — featuring Europe's second-tier teams — had already been confirmed after failing to win any of their first three group games. Germany coach Joachim Loew opted to stay in the job after the World Cup, but is now under mounting pressure. The Nations League, a new competition devised by UEFA to replace unpopular international friendlies with competitive matches between teams of a similar level, appears to have won over the skeptics, and the lineup for the Final Four is intriguing if hardly a marketer's dream. Portugal, which will be playing on home soil, has a superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo who should be back in the team after an extended absence from international soccer since the World Cup. England has Harry Kane, the top scorer at the World Cup, and a talented, dynamic group of young players under forward-thinking coach Gareth Southgate. Switzerland, which hasn't reached a quarterfinal of an international tournament since 1954, will be the outsider. The Netherlands, at No. 15, will be the lowest-ranked team in the competition but should not be discounted. This victory came three days after the team produced one of its best performances in years to beat France 2-0, while it beat Portugal 3-0 in March and Germany by the same score at home in the Nations League. The draw for the Final Four, which comprises of two semifinals and then a third-place playoff and final, will take place in Dublin on Dec. 3. Some other loose ends were tied up in the Nations League, which offers teams a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the Nations League playoffs and compete for the last four qualifying places for Euro 2020. NORWAY, MACEDONIA PROMOTED Norway was promoted to the second-tier League B after finishing top of Group C3 with a 2-0 win at Cyprus. The Norwegians started the final round of group play tied for points with Bulgaria, which could only draw at home to Slovenia 1-1. Macedonia went up to League C after beating Gibraltar 4-0 to top Group D4. Armenia, the only team that could have finished above Macedonia, ended up second after drawing at Liechtenstein 2-2. SLOVAKIA RELEGATED Slovakia was relegated to League C after losing at neighbor Czech Republic 1-0, with Patrik Schick scoring the winner in the first half with a deft lob over the goalkeeper on a counterattack. Denmark was already guaranteed promotion to the top tier and Ireland was sure of being relegated before they drew 0-0 in Aarhus......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2018

Pacquiao vs. Broner officially set for January 19th

It's official.  Eight-division boxing world champion and current reigning WBA (regular) Welterweight World Champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao will be making his way back into the squared-circle next January.  Pacquiao, who will be 40 years old by fight night, will be defending his title against former four-division world champion Adrien Broner on January 19th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  The welterweight title bout will be Pacquiao's return to the US after a two-year absence.         View this post on Instagram                   PACQUIAO vs BRONER January 19 | Showtime PPV #PacquiaoBroner A post shared by Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) on Nov 19, 2018 at 11:14am PST "I just want to prove that I’m still in boxing, Manny Pacquiao is still in boxing, and my career is just continuing, my journey in boxing is continuing," Pacquiao said during the officiall press conference in New York, early Tuesday morning, Manila time. "I just want to entertain people and to give a good show on January 19." When asked why he chose Broner as his first challenger, Pacquiao said that he believes it would be a good fight for the fans.  "I chose Adrien Broner because I believe we can have a good fight and we can entertain fans. Adrien Broner is a calibre fighter, he is a good fighter and we cannot underestimate him. Everyone knows about Adrien Broner,"  Broner was significantly more animated on the microphone, as he addressed the fight and had some pretty interesting words for Pacquiao as well.  "I’m happy, there’s a lot of people who wanted this fight, and God blessed me to get it, I’m just the chosen one." "It’s gonna be a hell of a fight. All bullsh*t aside, I’m not just coming here to pick up a check. F*ck the money. I know when I win this fight, there’s more money to come, and y’all [gave me] a chance to make a hundred million. Y’all got me f*cked up if you think I’m going to lose to Manny Pacquiao," he added.  The Pacquiao-Broner welterweight clash will be the main event of a Showtime PPV card. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2018

ONE Championship: Eduard Folayang Wants To Celebrate His Birthday With A World Title Win

With his highly-anticipated encounter against Singapore’s Amir Khan for the vacant ONE Lightweight World Championship set to take place a day after his birthday, local hero Eduard “Landslide” Folayang cannot think of a better present for himself than to have a gold-plated belt wrapped around his waist once again. The Filipino superstar will celebrate his 35th birthday on Thursday, 22 November, a day before his scheduled five-round championship bout with Khan in the co-main event of ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS, which emanates from the 20,000-capacity Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila. “There’s no greater gift I can receive on my 35th birthday other than winning the ONE Lightweight Word Title back,’’ he expressed. “And there’s no better place to do it but in front of my countrymen.” After relinquishing his lightweight crown to Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen in November 2017, Folayang immediately went back to the drawing board to check where things went wrong. He amazingly worked his way back to the upper echelon of the talent-filled lightweight division — first dominating Kharun Atlangeriev in three rounds last May, and then edging out Aziz Pahrudinov in a 15-minute thriller two months later. The Baguio City native treats the opportunity of reclaiming the ONE Lightweight World Championship both as a reward and vindication. “There were some who doubted my decision to continue fighting after the knockout loss to Martin Nguyen nearly a year ago. After two wins in ONE Championship, I am back in the title picture,” Folayang stated. “I feel very fulfilled because I made the right decision to compete again. Also, my hard work has paid off. It will be a great birthday present for me to bring home the belt again. It's an added motivation going into the bout against Amir Khan.” Even if he is pegged as the heavy favorite to win the bout against the Singaporean, Folayang stressed that he is not taking his opponent for granted. Khan holds the exceptional records for the most wins (11) and finishes (10) in ONE Championship, scoring impressive victories over the likes of Bashir Ahmad, Jimmy Yabo, Jaroslav Jartim, and Sung Jong Lee. The 24-year-old phenom is coming off the biggest win of his promotional stint yet, submitting Folayang’s Team Lakay stablemate Honorio “The Rock” Banario with a first-round rear-naked choke this past September. “Landslide” knows the Evolve MMA representative poses a dangerous threat, but he is confident of his chances. “He is young and talented. I am also sure that he is hungry,” Folayang said.  “There is no room for complacency in this match. Of course, the momentum is on my side, but I plan to sustain it. I started the year with a win. I followed it up with another big win. The timing speaks for itself.” In his return to the global stage, Folayang boldly predicts that fans in attendance at the Mall Of Asia Arena will witness the coronation of a fifth Filipino mixed martial arts World Champion on Friday. “2018 has been a very good year to me,” he continued. “After November 23, I’m confident that the Philippines and Team Lakay will have another new world champion in the sport.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018