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5 questions ahead of the NBA s 2017 Christmas Day games

It's already December 25 in the Philippines, but that's still a few hours away in the United States, meaning we have to wait before holiday's best tradition will take place: the NBA's annual slate of Christmas Day games. This year's batch of games sees the 76ers head to MSG to play the Knicks, the Cavaliers go to the Bay to face the Warriors in an NBA Finals rematch, the Wizards tackle the Celtics in an Eastern Conference semis redux, the Rockets battle the Thunder, also a 2017 postseason rematch, and the Timberwolves face off versus the Lakers. While you're unwrapping gifts and munching on Noche Buena leftovers, here are five questions to ponder: 1. Will the injury bug play Grinch to this set of holiday games? The Golden State Warriors officially ruled out Stephen Curry from playing. The LA Lakers just announced that Lonzo Ball is sidelined. Chris Paul is a question mark, while fingers are crossed that Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis will be able to go long when they face off. Injury report for tomorrow's game vs. Cleveland: Shaun Livingston (sore right knee), Kevon Looney (gluteal strain) & Zaza Pachulia (left shoulder soreness) are probable. Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) is out. — Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) December 25, 2017 Hurt superstars are definitely the coal in an NBA fan's stocking, but let's hope that despite the absence of some of the bigger names, the games will still be able to provide plenty of entertainment. Bonus question: We may not get Curry vs. LeBron this Christmas, but how great of a consolation gift is Durant vs. LeBron? 2. Who will be the Christmas unicorn? Kristaps Porzingis is of course, the OG unicorn, having the tag bestowed upon him by Kevin Durant. The nickname refers to the mythical convergence of height, ball-handling, skill, and three-point shooting, all of which, Porzingis possesses. He's not alone though, as the 76ers' Joel Embiid has all of that in spades too, it's just that, seeing him on court has been more rare, due to an assortment of injuries that have held him back. Imagine, I suppose, if My Little Ponies could draw DNPs. When Porzingis' Knicks and and Embiid's 76ers collide, all eyes will be on the two, as they will inevitably go head-to-head against each other. As of writing, the Knicks are in the eighth seed in the East, while a 1-9 stretch in their last 10 games has the 76ers on the outside looking in at 10th place, three back of the Knicks. Therefore, it's not just pride at stake here; the East is wide open and every game will matter, as both squads harbor postseason dreams. Bonus question: Will 76ers rookie point guard Ben Simmons wind up stealing the show? 3. Who will triumph in the Wall vs. Irving point guard duel? After some strong starts to the season, the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards, the two squads most picked to be potential spoilers to the Cleveland Cavaliers' march to yet another Finals, are going through some rough patches. The Celtics of course, lost Gordon Hayward and started 0-2, but eventually righted the ship through tough defense, only to finish just 5-5 in their latest stretch (though they're still #1 in the conference). Meanwhile, injuries to John Wall and some of their role players have really prevented the Wizards from taking off. They're 18-15, and occupy the seventh spot in the East right now. If someone's going to take charge for either side in this Christmas duel, it'll be each side's respective point guards. Kyrie Irving has embraced being the man for the green and white, while John Wall is an established superstar in the Chocolate City. A Christmas day win for either team could be the foundation for a lengthy run of wins if they can maintain momentum. Bonus question: Who will be the better Morris twin - Boston's Marcus or Washington's Markieff? 4. Which nu-super team will do the most damage, the Rockets or the Thunder? The two most aggressive teams this offseason in revamping their roster to take on the defending champs were without a doubt, the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. H-Town added Chris Paul and a bevy of long-limbed, rangy defenders who can nail open three's, while OKC formed their version of a big three by trading for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. The early returns have looked better for the Rox than the Thunder. Even with Paul sidelined, the team was able to shoot to the top of the West standings, and looked even better when CP3 was healthy alongside the Beard, James Harden. On the other hand, it's been an on-going adjustment for reigning MVP Russell Westbrook to integrate the two other established stars. Their defense has been on-point, but their offense is prone to long, fatal droughts. Chris Paul has been listed as doubtful for this one (among several other Houston players), so we may not get the full experience, but this Western Conference Playoffs rematch from last season should still be interesting, even if it's just in an offense versus defense kind of way. Bonus question: Better odds of happening in this game, Harden scores 50+ for a third straight game or Westbrook adds another triple-double to his season tally? 5. Can Kyle Kuzma carry the Lakers? One can make a pretty convincing argument that Kyle Kuzma should be the Rookie of the Year. Despite not being a lottery pick, Kuz has had a major impact on the court, his scoring prowess adding quite the punch to a Lakers team that needs some (okay, a lot). Originally, this question was going to involve Lonzo Ball too, but with the Lakers announcing that his shoulder will keep him out of this game and the rest of the week, this could be a rare opportunity for Kuzma to steal the LA spotlight. Doubly so if Brandon Ingram remains sidelined too. Sure, he'll likely need to contend with the Timberwolves placing super-stopper Jimmy Butler on him, but wouldn't that be a fun duel to watch? Bonus question: How bummed are you that we won't be having LaVar Ball Christmas shenanigans with Lonzo out? The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnDec 25th, 2017

Notes to know: 2017 NBA Christmas Day games

NBA press release Here are some important stats and info about this year's batch of NBA Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) games PHILADELPHIA 76ERS @ NEW YORK KNICKS (1am, PHL time on NBA League Pass) All-Time Head-to-Head: PHI leads 244-201 Christmas Head-to-Head: PHI leads 6-5 Christmas Day Records: PHI – 16-13 (Last: 2001) | NYK – 22-29 (2016) • Philadelphia and New York are meeting for the first time this season. • The Knicks are playing in their NBA-high 52nd Christmas Day game, a history that dates to 1947, when the team defeated the Providence Steamrollers 89-75 during the first edition of the NBA on Christmas. New York’s 22 victories are tied for the most on Christmas with the Lakers. • Philadelphia is playing on Christmas for the first time since 2001 – an 88-82 loss to the Lakers in a rematch of the 2001 NBA Finals. • New York and Philadelphia are meeting on Christmas for the first time since 1978. • The matchup features three potential first-time All-Star selections in the 76ers’ Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis. All three international standouts have unique skill sets relative to their size and position. • Both teams have a substantial international presence. Five of the 10 projected starters hail from outside the U.S.: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Dario Saric (Croatia) and Ben Simmons (Australia), and New York’s Enes Kanter (Turkey) and Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia). Other countries represented on the two rosters are France, Spain and Canada.   • Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek played for the 76ers for two seasons (1992-94). He was part of the trade the sent Hall of Famer Charles Barkley from Philadelphia to Phoenix in 1992. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS @ GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (4am, PHL time on S+A and NBA Premium) All-Time Head-to-Head: GSW leads 57-52 Christmas Head-to-Head: Tied 1-1 Christmas Day Records: CLE – 7-6 (Last: 2016) | GSW – 11-15 (Last: 2016) • Cleveland and Golden State are meeting for the first time since the 2017 NBA Finals. • This is the third consecutive Christmas Day matchup between the teams. The last teams to meet three straight years on Christmas were the Lakers and Heat from 2004-06. • Last season’s Christmas matchup was a classic. Cleveland rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and Kyrie Irving made a game-winning shot with 3.4 seconds left. • Last season, the Cavs and Warriors became the first teams to meet in three straight NBA Finals. • The rosters have combined for 55 All-Star selections and eight of the last nine MVP awards. • Cleveland’s Dwyane Wade is the NBA’s winningest player on Christmas Day (10-2). This year will be his 13th Christmas game, tied for the second-most appearances behind Kobe Bryant (16).   • Teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are tied for third in scoring (301 points) and assists (76) on the NBA’s all-time Christmas Day lists, making them the active leaders in both categories. Kobe Bryant (395) and Oscar Robertson (377) are the top two in scoring. Robertson (145) and Bryant (85) are the top two in assists. • Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas could be back in time from his hip injury to play on Christmas. Last season, Thomas finished fifth in the MVP voting – just behind new teammate LeBron James and just ahead of his point guard counterpart in this game, Stephen Curry (health permitting). • Golden State forward Kevin Durant’s 44-point performance for Oklahoma City against Denver in 2010 is the highest-scoring game by an active player on Christmas Day. WASHINGTON WIZARDS @ BOSTON CELTICS (6:30am, PHL time on NBA League Pass) All-Time Head-to-Head: BOS leads 187-111 Christmas Head-to-Head: BOS leads 1-0 Christmas Day Records: WAS – 15-7 (Last: 2014) | BOS – 13-17 (Last: 2016) • This is the first meeting between the Celtics and Wizards since their dramatic playoff series in the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Boston won in seven games. • The Celtics have four new starters since last facing the Wizards – including 19-year-old Jayson Tatum and 21-year-old Jaylen Brown – and yet Boston has gotten off to the NBA’s best start. • The Celtics are playing a home game on Christmas Day for the first time in franchise history. Boston has played 30 previous games on Christmas – 28 on the road and two at neutral sites. • In the teams’ only Christmas Day matchup, Boston defeated the Baltimore Bullets 113-99 in 1965. In that game, Bill Russell grabbed 34 rebounds for the Celtics. • Twin brothers Marcus Morris of the Celtics and Markieff Morris of the Wizards square off for the first time with Marcus in a Celtics uniform. Marcus was traded from Detroit in the offseason. • Washington’s John Wall (2010) and Boston’s Kyrie Irving (2011) were the top overall picks in their respective NBA Drafts and have each appeared in four NBA All-Star Games. • Washington’s Bradley Beal is making a strong push to be a first-time All-Star selection. He recently scored a career-high 51 points in a game against Portland. HOUSTON ROCKETS @ OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (9am, PHL time on BTV) All-Time Head-to-Head: OKC leads 107-106 Christmas Head-to-Head: First meeting Christmas Day Records: HOU – 5-4 (Last: 2015) | OKC – 5-13 (Last: 2016) • Houston and Oklahoma City are meeting for the first time since the Rockets defeated the Thunder in five games in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. • Former teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden dueled for the MVP last season. Westbrook earned the honor and Harden finished second. Harden, however, was the only unanimous selection to the 2016-17 All-NBA First Team.   • James Harden leads the NBA in scoring and narrowly trails Russell Westbrook for the assists lead. The only player to lead in both categories for a season is Tiny Archibald in 1972-73. Last season, Harden ranked second in scoring behind Westbrook and was the league leader in assists.   • The center matchup features two top young international big men in Houston’s Clint Capela (Switzerland) and Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams (New Zealand).    • Carmelo Anthony is averaging 33.2 points in five Christmas Day games, the highest mark among all players who have appeared in four or more games on the holiday. • The Seattle SuperSonics went 0-11 on Christmas Day. Since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder, the team is 5-2 on Christmas. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES @ L.A. LAKERS (11:30am, PHL time on NBA Premium) All-Time Head-to-Head: LAL leads 77-29 Christmas Head-to-Head: First meeting Christmas Day Records: MIN – 0-1 (Last: 2016) | LAL – 22-21 (Last: 2016) • Minnesota and Los Angeles are meeting for the first time this season. • This year marks the Lakers’ 19th consecutive appearance on Christmas Day. Los Angeles has appeared in the second-most Christmas Day game in history (43) and is tied with the Knicks for the most victories (22).   • The Lakers made their first 11 Christmas Day appearances (1949-1959) when the franchise was in Minneapolis. • Last year was Minnesota’s first game on Christmas Day. The Timberwolves lost to Oklahoma City 112-100. • Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins averaged 37.8 points in four games against the Lakers last season, including a career-high 47 points on Nov. 13, 2016, and 41 points on April 9, 2017. • The Timberwolves, fifth in the West midway through Week 8 of the season, are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. That season, they lost in the Western Conference Finals to a Lakers team that included current Lakers coach Luke Walton. • The Lakers are seeking to build around former No. 2 overall draft picks Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball in much the same way that the Timberwolves are bringing along former No. 1 overall draft picks and NBA Rookie of the Year winners Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2017

‘Fortnite’ gunning for ‘PUBG’ in the western world

The studio behind free multiplayer game "Fortnite" is pushing the idea that their game is, will be, or could become the biggest of its kind in the western world. So what about everywhere else? Free multiplayer action game "Fortnite: Battle Royale" is talking up its impact ahead of a map update due this week. Developed by Epic Games, which is also responsible for one of the industry's game development suites, the Unreal Engine, "Fortnite" established itself as a direct competitor to one of Unreal's most high-profile exemplars, "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds". "PUBG" burst onto the scene in March 2017, honing a last-man-standing Battle Royale formula its creative director was ...Keep on reading: ‘Fortnite’ gunning for ‘PUBG’ in the western world.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Resilient Vikings have taken their cue from Zimmer

By Dave Campbell, Associated Press EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Mike Zimmer was already smiling more than usual, sporting a relaxed look of satisfaction rarely revealed in public during the NFL season, when he really let his guard down a few minutes into his postgame news conference deep inside Minnesota's still-buzzing stadium. "Hey, let's open these things up!" Zimmer blurted out mid-sentence, prodding a Vikings official to push the button that removes the window shades and allows the premium ticket-holders in an adjacent lounge to peer in the room. His wish to interact with the customers who cheered the Vikings on to a last-play divisional round victory was granted. Zimmer then proceeded to slowly and rhythmically clap above his head, dignifying the ritual "Skol" chant performed by the purple-clad fans at each game honoring the area's Scandinavian heritage and the team's nickname. "You deserve it!" Zimmer said, again interrupting his own answer to acknowledge the crowd. From peers around the league to players in the locker room to people up and down the organization, there's a strong sentiment that Zimmer has earned this, too, pulling within one win of a Super Bowl appearance. The way the Vikings finished their 29-24 victory over New Orleans on a last-chance 61-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs suggested they're on some kind of charmed path, an uncharted territory for this championship-deprived franchise. Zimmer, for his part, has experienced his own share of painful setbacks. "I just think he was so proud of us," tight end Kyle Rudolph said. "Proud of us for fighting until there were zeros on the clock." Zimmer is only here, preparing the Vikings for the NFC title game in Philadelphia on Sunday, because he himself resisted the urge to quit. After being passed over for so many head coach vacancies during a six-year run as Cincinnati's defensive coordinator, Zimmer nearly canceled a second interview in Minnesota in 2014 after a different team that considered him chose a different candidate. He ignored the discouragement in his head, instead accepting the offer to become the ninth head coach in team history at age 57. "Sometimes you wonder, but I have a lot of confidence in myself," Zimmer said at his introductory news conference at team headquarters. "I feel like I was destined to do this." That first season, the Vikings improved by two wins to finish 7-9 with rookie Teddy Bridgewater forced into action ahead of schedule at quarterback and running back Adrian Peterson absent for all but one game because of the child abuse case and subsequent NFL discipline dispute he was involved in. In 2015, they went 11-5 and ended Green Bay's four-year hold on the NFC North title. The potholes in the road were waiting, though. Blair Walsh's 27-yard field-goal try went wide left at the end of the one-point wild-card round loss at home to Seattle. The 5-0 start in 2016 was washed away by a torrent of season-ending injuries, including Bridgewater, Peterson and several offensive linemen. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned the day after Zimmer had the first of eight eye surgeries to address a torn retina. The third procedure forced him to miss a game for the first time in his career . The first quarter of the 2017 season brought knee injuries to quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Dalvin Cook, who needed reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL. The Vikings didn't blink, though, particularly with the experience of 2016 so fresh. Case Keenum deftly took over for Bradford, and Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray became a productive backfield tandem. All of these on-field hurdles have paled next to the pain Zimmer has endured in his personal life. His wife, Vikki, died suddenly in 2009. His father and former high school coach, Bill, passed away during training camp in 2015. Zimmer was hired by the Vikings because of his acumen as a defensive strategist and teacher, having started his 24-year NFL career as the defensive backs coach for Dallas before a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2000. Calling plays has been his forte, a responsibility he has yet to give up despite his duty as the main man on the staff on game day, but his ability to mold a disciplined, selfless unit from a collection of alpha males and high draft picks helped the Vikings' defense rank first in the league in 2017 in both fewest yards and points allowed. Beneath the gruff exterior is a deep affection for his players, an emotion that has caused his voice to crack and his eyes to well up several times over the years in various public discussions of their development or character. He's a football coach just like his father, though, and the critical eye and demanding approach are always quick to come out. "We can't make these mistakes in playoff games or we'll be going home," Zimmer said on Monday, reflecting on the reality of the performance after the euphoria of the winning play had worn off. Now the Vikings must go on the road to face a team with a 14-3 record just like theirs, the last and biggest obstacle looming before they can experience a Super Bowl. "We've got a bunch of fighters on this team," Zimmer said. "They've been a resilient bunch all year long. I expect it to continue to be that way.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Warriors keep evolving in rivalry with Cavs

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- You might expect, given the familiarity from what’s gone on for four years now, that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have worked up some serious mutual contempt. They both covet what the other wants -- in fact, the Warriors or the Cavs could make a persuasive case that, if not for the other guys, one already would have notched a three-peat and be chasing Bill Russell’s Celtics in pursuit of a fourth consecutive championship. They both have poured buckets of blood, sweat, tears, money, Gatorade and offseason counter moves into their nouveau NBA rivalry. And they both, well, as Golden State coach Steve Kerr phrased it to the San Jose Mercury News Sunday (Monday, PHL time), “We just want to kick each other’s ass.” And yet the Warriors and the Cavaliers -- who play again Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena in the NBA’s prime-time MLK showdown -- have more in common with each other than they do with any of the league’s other 28 teams. Playing 100 games or so every year. Locking in mentally and surviving physically longer than anyone else. Showing up each night targeted as a measuring stick, even a season maker, by the opponents. While trying like heck to keep things fresh. Renew. Find and tap into a new source of energy, because old ones wane over time. “It’s the biggest challenge of this whole season,” Kerr told NBA.com late last week, with the Warriors starting a back-to-back in Milwaukee and Toronto on their way back to The Land. Even if it were possible -- and it realistically is not, given free agency, injuries, trades, the salary cap, luxury taxes, hirings and firings each NBA offseason -- playing a pat hand from one championship-level season to the next isn’t desirable. Voices, locker rooms, relationships get stale. Rivals adjust and escalate in the arms race. Some players ebb in the pecking order, others flow. It’s important to inject new faces, add skills and even find fresh themes to fend off monotony, even boredom, through the 82-game slogs. The Warriors, in winning 20 of 23 games over the past seven weeks, largely have managed to do that. The Cavaliers, at 26-15 after 2-7 stretch that started at Golden State on Christmas (Dec. 26, PHL time)? Not so much. Golden State shifts gears after each season It’s easy to think of Golden State’s success since Kerr’s hiring before the 2014-15 season as one uninterrupted run of excellence. Three-pointers, “death lineups,” and the rest. But the differences from one year to the next have been fairly pronounced. “In Year 1, we were trying to prove ourselves to the world,” Kerr said. “Then we win the championship -- it was all so fresh. There were no letdowns at all that year. It was the most exciting, it was the most energized, it was the most refreshing. It was brand new to all of us. It felt like we were riding this wave all year -- we were all giddy, like, ‘Oh my God, we’re really good!’ We didn’t know we could be like that. And for me, it was my first year coaching.” Steph Curry won his first MVP award. He and Klay Thompson generated considerable conversation about the best shooting backcourts in league history. Draymond Green forever changed the old NBA notion of “’tweeners.” The Warriors finished 67-15, ranked second in the league in offense (111.6) and first in defense (101.4) and beat Cleveland in the Finals in six games. “It was maybe like the first stages when you fall in love,” Kerr said. “You’re just on Cloud 9 and she can’t do anything wrong. There’s infatuation and then you truly fall in love, and it’s amazing. “The second year, we sort of rode that wave of euphoria of being the best team in the league and having won the title. The next thing you know, we’re 24-0 and we’ve got a chance to set an all-time record. That 73-win mark carried us all year. We were going to prove that, not only were we the champs but we were one of the best teams ever.” The Warriors were -- by regular season standards. Curry won his second MVP award. Kerr missed the first 43 games due to health issues but assistant coach Luke Walton steered them to a 39-4 mark. They bought into the chase for 73 victories fairly late, but instead of a 16-5 playoff run like the previous spring’s, the Warriors went 15-9 -- coming up one victory short when the Cavaliers became the first team to claw back from a 3-1 deficit. That led directly to Golden State’s next new wrinkle, a reconfiguration that came close to buckling the league’s knees. “We got KD,” Kerr said. “Now we’re changing our team, right? Last year was about incorporating KD, welcoming this incredible player into our organization and our roster. Figuring how to do it, how we were going to adjust. I felt like there were times last year that were tiring, where our guys were done a little bit. But it was ‘new’ again.” Even the challenges were fresh, like counting Curry’s or Klay Thompson’s touches relative to Durant’s or closing ranks around Golden State’s thin man as his reputation took blows for the first time in his NBA career. Not interested in shooting for 74 victories, the Warriors simply took care of business and stayed coiled for the postseason. Then it was a 16-1 dash to title No. 2, Durant snagging the Finals MVP trophy after the five-game dispatching of the Cavs. All of which just set the Warriors’ bar higher, requiring them to search for something new, somebody borrowed, presumably nothing blue. “This year it’s just survive and advance,” Kerr said. “It’s ‘let’s get to April, May, June in one piece.’ There’s a reason we’ve lost six home games already. We don’t have the driving force that we had the last few years. We’re dealing with what any team in NBA history that’s tried to do this has dealt with. The Lakers (1982-85), the Celtics (1984-87, 1957-66)... It’s just really hard and you need that driving force.” Said Warriors vet Andre Iguodala: “Your body is mindful of it, because it hurts.” A couple of young guys -- Patrick McCaw, Kevon Looney -- have taken on bigger roles. Nick Young brings some sort of buzz into any locker room that will have him. Still, as veteran guard Shaun Livingston said: “We’re not chasing any records. We’re not adding another All Star. We’re just trying to make it through the marathon.” Cavs' challenges mount during 2017-18 The Cavaliers are just trying to make it through the marathon, too. But if they could, they might do it like Rosie Ruiz, the 1980 women’s “winner” of the Boston Marathon who perpetrated a hoax by hopping the subway and running only the final mile of Beantown’s famous race. The 2017-18 has been anything but fun for Cleveland so far. It began with the departure of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, a not-so-funhouse mirror image of Durant’s arrival a year earlier in the Bay Area. Irving, for reasons still not quite explained, made it known in the offseason that he wanted out. He wanted to be the man on his own team. Or he didn’t want to be left in the lurch if (when?) LeBron James took his talents elsewhere again. Or both. Or neither. Regardless, once the Cavaliers made his request come true by dealing him to Boston for All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas and Brooklyn’s coveted first-round pick this June, their task got tougher and their season longer. Losing one of the league’s best ball handlers and shot makers doesn’t qualify as “renewal” any more than what went on in Oklahoma City when Durant packed up. There’s been more. Shooting guard J.R. Smith seemingly got old overnight. Jae Crowder, who came from the Celtics in the Irving deal, hasn’t meshed with the Cavs’ style. Kevin Love has been moved to center but hasn’t done anything to satisfy the Cavs’ need for rim protection. Thomas only returned to action from a hip injury as the calendar turned to 2018 and has played only four games in these two weeks. Even with so many new faces -- seven of the top 12 in coach Tyronn Lue’s rotation weren’t here 12 months ago -- it’s a group heavy on veterans, players a little too established or mature to naturally instill raw energy. James said recently that none of this is new, it’s another case of the Cavs biding their time for the “second” season that means everything. But Lue also introduced the topic of “agendas,” suggesting that some of his guys were looking out for their own responsibilities and performances -- particularly on defense -- rather than the group’s. At best, this is another dose of the midseason blahs, the Cavs in their doldrums in need of an All-Star break. At worst, though, they might be honing some bad habits that won’t be so easy to break in May or June. Especially if East rivals such as Toronto, Boston or Washington are emboldened after witnessing or administering some of the Cavs’ more embarrassing beat downs this season. Will any of this matter come spring? It will if the switch each team is minding stubbornly decides not to flip. “That’s the key. You’ve got to find that balance,” Kerr said. “Are you flipping the switch or are you navigating? The idea is, don’t let bad habits slip in. Right now, this moment, we’re into some bad habits. Our defensive efforts  the last five, six games [before the weekend] were awful. We got away with it because Steph was going nuts.” The Cavaliers repeatedly have not gotten away with bad defensive habits, even on nights when James has been dominant. “It’s tough,” Livingston said. “They’re a team that’s built for the playoffs. But our core guys still are in there prime. Their core guys are still good. But we’re talking about ‘prime.’” Most still would pick both Golden State and Cleveland to advance all the way to a “Finals Four” (after last year’s “Rubber Match” series). But one of these years, most will be wrong -- about one or both. That alone might be motivation enough. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and 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 NewsJan 15th, 2018

Referee takes retribution on player as PSG wins 1-0

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — A bizarre foul committed by the referee overshadowed Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 win on Sunday at Nantes which moved the leaders 11 points clear at the top of the French league. In a highly unusual end to the game, referee Tony Chapron sent off Nantes center half Diego Carlos in the last minute — although the official was the culprit. Carlos was running behind Chapron near the halfway line and trying to catch up with play when he inadvertently clipped the referee's heels as their paths crossed. Chapron tumbled forward onto the turf and then, in what appeared to be a blatant act of retribution, swiped his right leg at Carlos. An irate Chapron got up and brandished a second yellow card for Carlos. "I know it's a difficult job to referee, but they must also have to ask questions of themselves," Nantes midfielder Valentin Rongier said on Canal Plus television. "If we do that it goes before a (disciplinary) commission and we get 10 games (suspension)." There is little suspense in the league with PSG dropping only seven points from a possible 60. Defending champion Monaco is in second place, level on points with Lyon, but neither seemingly has the caliber to pressure PSG by going on a lengthy winning run. Even without playing its usual scintillating football, PSG was able to scrape past a lackluster Nantes side coached by Claudio Ranieri. He guided Leicester City to the 2015-16 English Premier League title in one of the biggest upsets in soccer history, but Nantes remains in fifth place and does not seem to have enough flair to go higher. Angel Di Maria scored in the 12th minute with the home defense slow to react. Kylian Mbappe left striker Edinson Cavani's probing pass go through his legs and the unmarked Di Maria toe-poked the ball into the left corner. It was his third league goal of the season and followed his brace last Sunday in the French Cup. PSG carved Nantes open with a swift counterattacking move late in the first half, but Di Maria blazed over an open goal after midfielder Adrien Rabiot set him up perfectly. Nantes striker Emiliano Sala thought he had equalized in the 60th when he headed powerfully home from a free-kick but it was harshly ruled out for offside. There was no VAR to validate the goal, even though television replays showed Sala was level with Cavani when he made his run into the area. Cavani needed just one more goal to move level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG's all-time leading scorer on 156. He could get the record at home to Dijon on Wednesday. ___ LYON STUMBLES Lyon wasted a chance to move up to second place after being held 1-1 at home by relegation-threatened Angers. Lyon equalizer through top scorer Nabil Fekir. But Angers was hanging on after having midfielder Flavien Tait sent off in the 84th minute. Third-place Lyon is one point ahead of Marseille in fourth. It was a precious point for Angers, moving it up to 18th — the relegation playoff spot. Lyon fell behind to striker Karl Toko Ekambi's penalty kick in the 14th minute. He jogged up casually with a staggered run-up, and stroked the ball to the left as goalkeeper Anthony Lopes guessed the wrong way. Toko Ekambi has 10 league goals and his performances have caught the eye. He has been linked with a move to the Premier League in this month's transfer window, which could damage Angers' chances of staying up. Two minutes after the break, Fekir opened up the defense with a superb piece of skill — dragging the ball back and then flicking it through the legs of a defender. The ball rolled toward forward Maxwell Cornet but Fekir sprinted alongside him and drilled it into the bottom corner. It was Fekir's 14th league goal of the season in a career-best tally. He is expected to make a big-money move to a top club in the summer. ___ MOVING CLEAR Saint-Etienne moved away from the relegation zone after beating fellow struggler Toulouse 2-0. Slovenia striker Robert Beric scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot moments before halftime. Senegalese midfielder Assane Diousse got his first for the club when he sealed the win in the 86th minute. Saint-Etienne moved up to 14th place. Toulouse is 19th and the pressure is increasing on coach Pascal Dupraz......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Gearing up for 2020 Olympics, Japan breaks tourism record

A record number of tourists visited Japan last year, the government said Friday, as the country gears up to welcome the world to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. Some 28.7 million foreign tourists entered Japan in 2017, meaning the country has tripled its number of visitors in the past five years amid a massive promotional drive ahead of the Olympics. This was a nearly 20 percent gain on the previous year, driven by Chinese tourists taking advantage of more frequent low-cost flights to Japan. According to figures up to November, Chinese tourists led the way with 6.79 million trips, just ahead of South Korea with 6.46 million. Tokyo has eased visa requirements, expanded...Keep on reading: Gearing up for 2020 Olympics, Japan breaks tourism record.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 12th, 2018

Saigon drops upset ax on Standhardinger and Hong Kong

Michael Williams and Moses Morgan were shooting the lights out on Wednesday at the Southorn Stadium. So much so that they left Hong Kong and its home crowd in the dark about what was happening. Williams took charge when it mattered most, Morgan scattered seven long-range missiles, and Saigon shocked once-undefeated Eastern, 121-115, in a well-fought overtime game. Williams totaled 39 points, eight coming in the last minute of the extra period, on top of nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals as Vietnam dealt the defending champions their first taste of defeat in the 2017-2018 Asean Basketball League. Morgan contributed 27 points of his own to go along with 11 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. It was the Heat’s third win in five games – and without a doubt, their biggest. Much of it was thanks to the long ball as they made good on a league-record 18 threes. With their shooting on-point from the get-go, the upstart visitors surprised just about everybody by being in control for most of the matchup. Of course, Hong Kong kept coming behind Filipino-German Christian Standhardinger who sparked the 10-0 charge that erased a seven-point deficit and erected a 106-103 lead for them with 39 ticks to go Williams’ triple tied the tally and forced an extra period and there, he only continued to take charge. With the two teams tied at 113-all with 1:26 remaining, the American dropped a booming triple that proved to be the go-ahead basket. And as the Saigon defense finally standing strong from there, Williams added a long two and another trey to put down Eastern once and for all. The defending champions suffered their first setback in eight games in the season despite a 34-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist triple-double from Marcus Elliott as well as Standhardinger’s 37 markers and 19 boards. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2018

Popovich s odd alliance with red state fans

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SAN ANTONIO -- About 400 people gathered at the Oak Hills Country Club in June 2016 and paid $500 to $250,000 to sip iced tea and nibble hors d’oeuvres next to a golf course designed by noted architect AW Tillinghast, who built many. One is owned by the man who was feted at this political fundraiser, Donald J. Trump. The presidential campaign was in full blast and saltier than the crackers on the cheese plate being passed around. Fresh off the plane, Trump thanked the Republicans for the big ‘ole Texas welcome, witnesses say, before launching a blistering attack on the usual targets: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, illegal immigration. Then, near the end of his 30-minute lunchtime appearance, in an effort to connect with the locals, he pivoted and mentioned perhaps the most famous man in town: Gregg Popovich. Witnesses say Trump called Popovich “a great coach” and said “he does a good job” and then there was some fidgeting in the room when the soon-to-be polarizing leader of the free world said this: “I don’t know if the coach is on my side.” Confirmation came emphatically, right after Trump won a divisive election that November. The coach of the Spurs lit into the President over the next several months with a handful of rants that had the stealth of Kawhi Leonard ambushing a timid ball-handler. In no particular order, here were Pop’s Greatest Hits, all issued through the media and without prompting or provocation: “The disgusting tenure and tone and all the comments … have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in a country where half the people ignored that to elect someone.” And: “He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.” And: “The man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks he can only become large by belittling others.” And: “We have a pathological liar in the White House ... You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.” Popovich didn’t stop there with a President whose sensitivity and intelligence he questioned and accused of being guilty of “gratuitous fear-mongering.” When he took Trump to task for criticizing NFL players who knelt during the National Anthem and defended their rights to do so, Popovich also suspected a measure of the public outrage was racially motivated. “Our country is an embarrassment to the world,” he said. A 68-year-old wealthy white man, therefore, became a sports voice with weight in the political and social justice arena, where the NBA league office has greenlighted players and coaches to speak up. Popovich has done so with clarity and insight to gain national applause in certain corners. He wasn’t the first or the last in sports to verbally spank the president or tackle right-leaning sensitivities, yet he’s certainly the most unique in one respect. As a graduate of the Air Force Academy who works in a military town, and a five-time NBA champion coach who might symbolize the city more than The Alamo, Popovich has long been elevated to icon status, perhaps permanently so, in San Antonio, where folks are mad about the Spurs. Still, this is mostly conservative Texas, one of the most Republican of states based on the state legislature and the congressional delegation, a state that voted Republican in 10 straight presidential elections and saw 52.6 percent of voters punch for Trump. While voters in San Antonio-proper lean liberal, the surrounding areas swing solidly the opposite. Julianna Holt, the Spurs CEO and Popovich’s boss since March after assuming the position held for 20 years by her husband Peter, supported various Republican presidential candidates before eventually donating $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, according to Federal Election Commission records. Popovich is therefore a blue blood in a red state and the contrast makes for strange if not uncomfortable alliance between a beloved coach and a group of conflicted Spurs worshippers. His views have in fact shattered the sacrilege by generating hostility from a segment of the basketball flock, something no coach with his credentials would ever feel. The constant winning and acts of charity do not insulate him from those who would prefer Popovich stuff a sweat sock in his bullhorn. Party lines not Popovich's focus “While we all believe Gregg Popovich has the right to his opinions, where was Popovich when Hillary called half of us a 'basket of deplorables?’Many were Spurs fans who are now tired of being insulted ... many of us will never pay to see a Spurs game again.” -- Donna Howington  “The money I will save this year not attending Spurs games should buy me a nice set of golf clubs. Thanks Pop!” -- Jake Ingorgia  “I will never watch them again until Popovich is gone. He is just like all the other leftist celebrities.” -- Lee Harbach, Bulverde They arrive on cue, most from the dusty towns that orbit around San Antonio, some from the city itself. Popovich has unloaded three times this year on Trump, once after the election, once at the start of training camp and most recently by cold-calling Dave Zirin, a friend and liberal writer from The Nation, a progressive magazine. And each time, the letters land in the office of Ricardo Pimentel, the editor who coordinates the comments section of the Express-News, San Antonio’s newspaper of record. “It’s a cycle,” says Pimental, with a sigh. “He speaks out. People who disagree with him send us letters to the editor, then people who object to their disagreement write us letters to the editor defending Pop. Then they respond to one another.” The initial reaction, he said, is always stacked against Popovich and many identify themselves as Spurs fans ripping up their tickets or promising to never attend or watch games again. Even if those who made threats actually carried them out, the change in the Spurs’ home attendance is a blip, from 99.2 percent capacity last season to 98.6 so far this season. Popovich, of course, has been big for business since his first full season as coach in 1997-98. Besides the titles, the Spurs have reached the playoffs every season and won 50 games every season (except for the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 campaign, when they won 37). In short, Popovich's Spurs have a track record beyond reproach in the NBA. If the 2017-18 Spurs stay on pace, it’ll be 20 straight winning seasons for Popovich, one more than Phil Jackson for the all-time NBA record. He hasn’t been this politically vocal until lately, due to Trump, yet was always politically aware, say those who know him. Well-versed through his readings and observations, Popovich welcomes discussion with acquaintences about classism, leadership, government and preferably over a bottle of wine. His two-decades exposure to young black men from humble beginnings raised his awareness and sensitivities about race and bias. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr once played for the Spurs and lately has echoed many of the same thoughts as Popovich. But Kerr coaches in the Bay Area, where folks nod their heads in agreement. Kerr said he can only imagine the flak Popovich catches in Texas. “Here’s this iconic coach who stands for everything that’s right and for honor and integrity, he served in the military, you see him stand at attention for the American flag — man, Pop loves his country,” Kerr said. “And in the middle of Texas for him to be questioning the Republican President, some of the people down there are probably confused. Like, 'I don’t get it, we love this guy but he’s on the other side from us.' “What I love about Pop is that it’s not about party, not about politics. It’s about integrity and character and that’s what people need to pay attention to. It’s not about some policy, not about how much we pay in taxes. If we can just get back to the point where character matters, then we’ll be in better shape. The problem is, it’s clear character has gone down the tubes in many leadership positions in our country. That’s what Pop is calling out.” True enough, Popovich never publicly attached himself to a political party; to suggest he is against Republicans might be as misleading as believing Colin Kaepernick is against the military. When he played for Popovich, Kerr couldn’t recall a time when the coach was this annoyed by the country’s leadership. “The country was in a better place in terms of a relatively peaceful time back then,” Kerr said. “Yes, 9-11 happened and the whole world changed. But we didn’t have quite the same partisan nature, not only in politics but the national conversation. And so people could just admire Pop for who he was and people might not have been aware of his political leanings because they didn’t ask. When we won and went to the White House, Pop and the team went when Bush was in office. We went in ’99 when President Clinton was there. Republican, Democrat, didn’t matter. The times are so different now.” Kerr laughed quickly when asked about the semi-serious groundswell of social media support for a Kerr-Popovich ticket in 2020. Kerr said he hopes to be on his fifth NBA title as a coach then, but turned semi-serious about Popovich. “Our country needs somebody like Pop who can actually lead and unite from a position of authority and credibility,” Kerr said. “This guy served in the military, grew up in a melting pot, understands leadership. More than anything, he’ll cut through all the [expletive].” Since going nuclear on Trump, Popovich declined invites from the national political shows (and wouldn’t comment for this story). That proves what friends have maintained all along: Popovich doesn’t want to be anyone’s political hero or pundit. He’d rather speak when the moment calls for it, then be left alone. That last part is tricky, though. Empathy often marks Popovich's way “Can you imagine being Republican on the Spurs? Would you feel welcome? He’s like Berkeley -- for free speech unless you disagree with him. Shut up and coach, Gregg.” -- Shannon Deason  “When it comes to coaching basketball or drinking wine, Popovich has experience. When it comes to our country, his opinion is no better than anyone else’s." -- Harold Siemens, Seguin  “Open letter to the NBA referee who ejected Pop from the Warriors-Spurs game: Don’t feel bad about what Gregg Popovich called you. He called the POTUS worse and got away with it.” -- Larry Peabody Once the wheels touched down, the pilot jokingly announced over the loudspeaker: “Welcome to Gregg Popovich International Airport,” and one particular passenger noticed that nobody on the plane thought it was strange. Sean Elliott always knew how deeply rooted Popovich is with San Antonio. Aside from the famous Spanish missions and the River Walk, the city is known for the only professional sports team in town. And while George Gervin, David Robinson and Tim Duncan have come and gone, the one lingering reminder is a sometimes gruff and scruffy coach, maybe the NBA’s best ever. “He’s one of the pillars of the community,” said Elliott, twice an All-Star with the Spurs. “He’s looked at with great admiration. He is as respected as anyone who has ever lived in or been part of the city. It’s not just because he’s a basketball coach. Pop has been a big part of the community, huge contributor to charitable functions, good leader.” Elliott was a Spurs rookie in 1989 when their relationship began and he saw the start of Popovich’s reach in the region. Popovich then was an assistant coach under Larry Brown and just planting his feet in the NBA. That summer, Elliott and Popovich piled into a van with the team's "Coyote" mascot and conducted basketball clinics in San Marcos, Corpus Christi, Laredo and similar places. They were signing autographs in malls and running kids through drills in 100 degree heat, never hearing a complaint from the coach. Elliott said folks in those small conservative towns loved him. “If you sit and hear him talk about something, you tend to agree with him,” Elliott said. “He’ll put it in a logical way and he’s very thoughtful, well read and super intelligent, maybe the most intelligent person I’ve ever known.” The owner of the Spurs then was Red McCombs, a homespun Texan who made his fortune in car dealerships and media companies. McCombs didn’t give Popovich the coaching job after firing Brown, telling Popovich “you’ve got a chance to be a great coach” if he got more experience, which he did, going to the Warriors to work for Don Nelson. Popovich returned to San Antonio two years later as general manager, then became coach and the rest is history. Now 90, McCombs said: “Popovich has become the distinguished part of the franchise. He wears it well. Can’t say enough about what kind of man he is and what he’s meant to San Antonio. God has blessed us with Gregg Popovich.” McCombs loves to tell how Popovich, by chance, learned that a local family needed a car. The coach wrote a check, gave it to the father and walked away. McCombs said it was “typical Popovich” who has empathy for those with less. McCombs, curiously, has traditionally been one of the biggest Republican bankrollers in the state, who gave to the Trump campaign and is fully aware of what Popovich thinks of his choice for President. And so one of the most powerful men in Central Texas, who leans politically to the color of his nickname, had a strong reaction to that. “He’s earned the right to give his comments about citizenship or Trump or anything else,” said McCombs, voice rising. “Yes, he made some statements that others might disagree with. But I’ll tell you this: Popovich would be elected to anything he wants to in San Antonio.” Remaining silent never an option “Our country is not an embarrassment to the world. I will tell you what an embarrassment is. It is an American citizen who got a free education from the great Air Force Academy ... and then has the audacity to say that the greatest nation in the world is an embarrassment because the President rightly demands that Americans stand for the anthem. Popovich should be ashamed of himself.” -- Nick DeLouis, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Nowhere on God’s green Earth do they have the right to disrespect our flag and the men and women who died to keep us free. I’m appalled that you stooped so low to join in that disrespect. Shame on you!” -- Fred Martin, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Coach Pop has squashed my love and enthusiasm for the team. A national treasure, he is not. Coach Pop has a voice, but not my voice." -- Jo Ivan A few years ago Popovich was in New York with his daughter to catch a Broadway play when the coach had a last minute change in strategy. He learned that John Carlos was giving a lecture at New York University that night. So Popovich told his daughter to take one of her friends instead; said he was going to see “Dr. Carlos” speak. “When he came in I was surprised and delighted,” Carlos said recently. “Quite naturally, everyone knew who he was but he just wanted to sit and listen.” A year later, in 2015, Popovich flew Carlos to San Antonio to address the team and Carlos admitted to being star struck around Tim Duncan and others. Yet Carlos was most curious about Popovich and why the coach took a strong interest in an Olympic sprinter who raised a fist on the victory stand in 1968, which is frozen as an iconic civil rights moment. “Being with the Spurs gave me an opportunity to check his character out,” Carlos said. “I knew he was a whiz at putting players together to bring out their best ability. But through my conversations with him it became apparent that he was a social activist himself at one point in his life. He was teaching his players about activism and to be concerned about their fellow man and what was going on around their lives, not just basketball. “I was impressed. He just wanted them to know they had a larger role than just playing basketball in the society in which they live.” Carlos, therefore, was not surprised to see Popovich defend the rights of kneeling black football players who came under attack from Trump. On the first day of training camp in September, Popovich said: “Obviously race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly it is not going to get better.” What followed was another swirl of exchanges between Popovich critics and supporters in San Antonio, and Popovich acknowledged receiving mail from both sides. The anti-Pop mail, though, was jarring to Carlos, given the coach’s work in town. “When people write and lambast him for taking leaders to task for what they’re doing to society, that’s like water rolling off a duck’s back, man,” Carlos said. “When they write negative things about him, it encourages him to keep doing what he’s doing. Those people are the problem. Go ahead and throw stones and it just motivates him to do his job. “Look, I’m a black man who spoke out. Imagine what they think of him as a white man who speaks just as strong, to try and get people to see things in a better light? They throw stones at him even more, like, 'Hey you’re white, you have a great life. Keep your mouth shut.’ Well, God points people in certain directions. We know who we are. We do what we do.” And what Popovich does is enlist the help of giants in the social justice world and bring them into his world. He did that with Cornel West, the Harvard professor and civil rights activist, last fall. Popovich invited West to San Antonio to speak at an East Side community center with a few hundred mostly black and Latino students and their parents. Done without TV cameras or media invitation, the discussion was about the importance of education, the imperfect world, self respect and how to help communities. This was an audience that, presumably and unanimously, connected with a white man who didn’t live among them, but was with them. They were the people Popovich had in mind when he attacked present leadership. This was not the audience that writes to the Spurs and the Express-News asking him to take a vow of silence, though he is aware of them, too. “Some responses make you wonder what country you live in,” Popovich said, “and other responses make you very hopeful … overall, it renews my feeling that something must be done because there is enough people willing to listen.” 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 NewsJan 5th, 2018

Ginebra is Magnolia s 'Final Boss'

If the Hotshots are to break out of their "Grand Slam" semis hump, they'll have to exorcise their basketball demon that goes by the name of Barangay Ginebra. Since last season, Magnolia is 3-8 in Manila Clasico games and all of the team's wins came during the 2017 Philippine Cup semifinals. Still under the banner of Star back then, the Hotshots took a 2-0 and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. They lost. Despite the name change to Magnolia, the Hotshots still can't figure out the Gin Kings and took another beating last Christmas. It was Ginebra's third straight Christmas Day win over their fierce rivals. "Yun yung dapat naming tignan sa video kung ano yung mga kulang namin para malaman namin kung saan talaga kami nag-kulang," star guard Paul Lee said. "Kasi mahirap naman magsabi kung ano yung kulang namin, so mas maganda siguro na panoorin namin lahat para maimprove namin as a team," he added. While the Hotshots are still one of the better teams in the PBA, they made it to three straight semis last season for a reason, and are competitive against the other heavy contenders, Magnolia seems to just stumble against Ginebra every single time. And if the team is to win its first championship since the magical Grand Slam season in 2014, the Hotshots will have to figure Ginebra out. Think of the Gin Kings as the "final boss" Magnolia has to take down if this were a video game. "Of course kailangan namin paghandaan -- strong teams yung tatlo [Ginebra, SMB, TNT]. So siguro yun nga one of the humps na kailangan namin lampasan para makapunta kami sa championship," Lee said. "Of course kailangan every game ibigay namin best namin kahit sino kalaban namin. Kasi kung yun lang titignan namin, baka mabalewala namin yung iba," he added.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2018

NCAA Season 93: women s volleyball preview

Exciting volleyball action starts early this year as NCAA opens its 93rd season on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Arellano University will try to retain its women’s crown against a field filled with squad’s raring to sit on the throne. Let’s take a quick peek at the competing teams.   MAPUA UNIVERSITY LADY CARDINALS   Winless last year, can Mapua University finally put a stop on their skid?  Season 92 record: 0-9 Titles: none  Key players: Danielle Ramilo, Shaira Hermano, Katrina Racelis, Dianne Latayan This team has nowhere to go but up after a forgettable season last year. The Lady Cardinals lost four of their games in straight sets, three in four frames and a couple of matches in five. Mapua’s last victory was against Letran in five sets back in Season 91 (January 7, 2016).   EMILIO AGUINALDO COLLEGE LADY GENERALS   Emilio Aguinaldo College needs to be consistent to add more Ws in their record this season.  Season 92 record: 1-8 Titles: none Players to watch: Iona Yongco and Yvette Tongco EAC’s lone win last season came at the expense of Mapua in straight sets before closing their campaign with a five-set loss against Letran.   LETRAN LADY KNIGHTS   Can Letran contend for a spot in the Final Four this year? Season 92 record: 2-7 Titles: 8 (last title: 1999) Players to watch: Glayssa Faith Torres and Jaymeleene Parin Letran finished at eighth spot last year. They won only two games, against Mapua and EAC, but gave Lyceum, College of St. Benilde and San Sebastian College a scare before bowing down to these powerhouse teams in five sets.   JOSE RIZAL U LADY BOMBERS   Shola Alvarez is expected to carry Jose Rizal University on her shoulders but will need to get support from her teammates. Season 92 record: 3-6 Titles: none Players to watch: Shola Alvarez, Dolly Versoza, Karen Montojo (Season 92 Best Opposite Spiker) JRU is a young and vertically challenged team, mostly banking on Shola Alvarez for point production. The Lady Bombers joined the PVL’s Collegiate Conference during the offseason but lost all of their five matches.    LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES U LADY PIRATES   Lyeum of the Philippines University is considered as a darkhorse this season.  Season 92 record: 5-4 Titles: none Players to watch: Cherilyn Sindayen, Christine Miralles, Bien Juanillo An intact and veteran-laden team. But will the Lady Pirates’ exposure in the PVL Collegiate Conference be enough for them to contend for a spot in the Final Four?     UNIVERSITY OF PERPETUAL HELP LADY ALTAS   Veteran Lourdes Clemente will be one of Perpetual Help's vital cogs in their campaign to reclaim the throne.   Season 92 record: 5-4 Titles: 3 (last title: 2014) Players to watch: Lourdes Clemente, Necelle Gual, Marijo Medalla Former CSB coach Macky Carino replaced long-time mentor Sammy Acaylar but the Lady Altas lost a solid middle in Coleen Bravo and hitter Jamela Suyat. After its three-peat (2012-14), Perpetual has yet to return to the Finals.     SAN BEDA COLLEGE LADY RED SPIKERS   All eyes will be on Cesca Racraquin when San Beda College makes a run for the crown. Season 92 record: 6-3 Titles: none Players to watch: Cesca Racraquin, Satrianni Espiritu, Nieza and Jiezela Viray Season 92 Rookie of the Year Cesca Racraquin will be the go-to guy of the Lady Red Spikers, who made it into the stepladder semis last year. SBC participated in the PVL Collegiate Conference while Racraquin had good stints in the PVL Reinforced and Open conferences for Creamline.      COLLEGE OF ST. BENILDE LADY BLAZERS   Ranya Musa (left) and Rachel Austero are the players to watch for a beefed up College of St. Benilde. Season 92 record: 6-3 Titles: 1 (2016) Players to watch: Ranya Musa, Rachel Austero, Maritess Pablo, Felicia Cui Expectations are high for this team with the arrival of transferees Maritess Pablo (NU) and Felicia Cui (Ateneo) to help Rachel Austero and graduating player Ranya Musa.     Leadership will be a tough challenge for this team after the departure of ace scorer Jeanette Panaga as well as adapting to a new system under interim head coach Arnold Laniog, who replaced Macky Carino.     SAN SEBASTIAN COLLEGE LADY STAGS   San Sebastian College is looking at a rough and bumpy road ahead this season. Season 92 record: 9-0 elims, defeated thrice in the Finals Titles: 23 (last title: 2011) Players to watch: Joyce Sta. Rita, Alyssa Eroa, Nikka Dalisay The most-decorated volleyball program in the NCAA will be facing its toughest season yet. If losing scorers three-time Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones and Kat Villegas weren’t enough, head coach Roger Goreyab will have at his disposal a very short rotation on nine players. But his available players could even go down entering the season after Julie Anne Tiangco suffered a knee injury recently. Scarcity of players even forced SSC-R to field a swimmer to fill in the required minimun of nine players to be able to participate in the tournament.       ARELLANO UNIVERSITY LADY CHIEFS   Who will stop Arellano University from its back-to-back bid? Season 92 record: 8-1, won thrice in a row in the Finals Titles: 2 (last title: 2017) Players to watch: Jovielyn Prado, Regine Arocha, Andrea Marzan The Lady Chiefs lost Rialen Sante and veteran libero Eunice Galang, who both graduated, after last season but will still parade a grizzled core. Fueled by their stints in the PVL including a third place finish in the Collegiate League at the expense of UAAP team Adamson University, Arellano U is expected to make a return trip into the Finals. With SSC-R, the only team to defeat the Obet Javier-mentored squad last year, weakened after the departure of Soltones, the only question now is who will stop the Lady Chiefs’ impending rampage?       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 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

Paul George questions controversial end to Thunder vs Bucks

NBA.com staff report Giannis Antetokounmpo arguably possesses the longest reach and stride in the NBA. Oklahoma City's Paul George thought the latter should have twice disqualified his game-winning basket on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Milwaukee's young star forward drove baseline in the final seconds, squeezed past Thunder swingman Josh Huestis and dunked over Russell Westbrook with 0.9 seconds remaining to put the Bucks up 97-95. Later on Twitter, George rose a social media eyebrow over two potential non-calls, wondering aloud if Antetokounmpo had stepped out of bounds or traveled en route to the points that proved the difference. Wow?! No travel OR out of bounds huh? 🤔 — Paul George (@Yg_Trece) December 30, 2017 Westbrook was less direct, telling reporters "it's over now, so it don't matter." Westbrook on if Giannis was out of bounds: “I couldn’t see that...You’ve seen it. So it’s over now. It don’t matter.” pic.twitter.com/MrbLcBP5bV — Fred Katz (@FredKatz) December 30, 2017 In the pool reporter interview after the game, NBA Crew Chief Derrick Stafford explained why Antetokounmpo's drive was not reviewable despite the possible non-calls. "In any reviewable matter, there has to be a whistle called on the floor," Stafford said. "There was no whistle blown for the play, so we couldn't review it." The following is a transcript of the pool reporter interview following the Bucks/Thunder game with NBA Crew Chief Derrick Stafford by Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman: pic.twitter.com/9mVzRouqz0 — NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) December 30, 2017 This would be the third high-profile questioning of late-game officiating in the past week. LeBron James complained of two late-game fouls by Kevin Durant that went uncalled in Cleveland's Christmas day (Dec. 26, PHL time) loss to the defending champion Warriors. James Harden was displeased with consecutive offensive fouls that helped Boston cap off a 26-point comeback victory over the Rockets on Thursday (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2017

Manny Pacquiao and Topex Robinson headline part two of “The Final Score”

Filipino boxing legend Sen. Manny Pacquiao and LPU head coach Topex Robinson headline the second part of ABS-CBN S+A’s two-part year-ender special “The Final Score” which will air on New Year’s Day (January 1) at 10 pm on S+A and S+A HD. Anchored by TJ Manotoc and Dyan Castillejo, the special looks back at the momentous championships and memorable athletic performances that made 2017 a memorable year in sports with exclusive in-depth interviews withPacquiao, LPU Pirates head coach Topex Robinson for the episode airing on New Year’s Day (January 1).  The second part, dubbed “#Redemption,” features Topex and “People’s Champion” Pacquiao, who will share the challenges they faced in their respective disciplines. The former SSC-R Stag will recount the hard work they put in ahead of the Pirates’ historic season, his unusual coaching methods off the court, and the pain and lessons learned after their Finals loss to defending champions San Beda Red Lions. Manny, on the other hand, will reminisce about the highs of his career and how his stinging defeat at the hands of Jeff “The Brisbane Hornet” Horn this year made him tougher in life and inside the ring. Aside from that, “#Redemption” will also give spotlight to the biggest upsets in the sporting world this year, and the NBA Finals last June that saw the Golden State Warriors take the NBA crown back from the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the special's first part "#Trending" that aired on Christmas night (December 25), "The Final Score" talked to two of the most talked about athletes this year --- Thirdy Ravena, Ateneo De Manila’s King Eagle, and Ricci Rivero, the most tweeted athlete of 2017 in the entire Philippines and gave a rundown of the trending moments in the UAAP Season 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament. Don’t miss the second and final part of S+A’s year-end special, “The Final Score,” airing on New Year’s Day (January 1) at 10 pm on S+A and S+A HD with sports anchors TJ Manotoc and Dyan Castillejo . For more information, schedules, and stories, go online visit ABS-CBN’s sports hub sports.abs-cbn.com, and follow their official social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter (@ABSCBNSports)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2017

Superteams and superpowers: Basketball in 2017

The common theme in basketball as of late is rather simple: build yourself a superteam and see where it goes. 2017 saw a bunch of superteams take the court in all levels. Some panned out and some did not. Nevertheless, we live in a world of superteams. Either your favorite basketball team is one or it's not.   Warriors World For the 2016-2017 NBA Season, the 73-win Golden State Warriors, a superteam in their own right, added former Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant. Oh my goodness. The Dubs then proceeded to decimate the NBA, winning 67 games in the regular season. Golden State was even better in the playoffs, making a serious play for a postseason sweep before finishing with a 16-1 record and a second title in three seasons.   Seriously, it's a Warriors World that we live in Golden State's success has prompted other teams to try and create their own superteam. Houston snatched Chris Paul away from the Los Angeles Clippers and now the Rockets have a potent backcourt combo that also feature MVP contender James Harden. Oklahoma City completed two incredible trades that made Paul George and Carmelo Anthony members of the Thunder. Oh, OKC also has MVP winner Russell Westbrook running point. The Timberwolves also have something going on in Minnesota as Jimmy Butler joined Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins for a young and intriguing Big 3. The Eastern Conference landscape changed when Cleveland traded Kyrie Irving to Boston. The Celtics previously signed Gordon Hayward and all of a sudden, the winningest NBA franchise is in position to take over the East now and the forseeable future. Speaking of Cleveland, LeBron James is still with the Cavs and they've added Dwyane Wade of all people to join an aging but still scary superteam. The King started this whole superteam craze. Golden State just happened to perfect. We all live in a Warriors World.   Feer the Beer Over in the PBA, the Philippines' premier superteam is still pretty effective despite its stars each playing almost 40 minutes per game. A year removed from the "Beeracle Run," San Miguel made history by being only the second team to capture the Perpetual Trophy following three straight Philippine Cup titles. Then the Beermen, with the top-3 MVP candidates in June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, and Chris Ross, plus Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter, ended the franchise's 16-year championship drought in the Commissioner's Cup. With the help of import Charles Rhodes of course. San Miguel had legitimate chances to win the Grand Slam of course, but the team ultimately fell short in the Governors' Cup. However, the Beermen did add 6'8" Fil-German Christian Standhardinger to the fold. Superteam.   Return of the Kings It was the perfect set up. Meralco earned the number 1 seed and was rolling all the way to the Finals. Meanwhile, the Gink Kings had to go through yet another emotional and heated series against rival TNT in the semifinals in order to have a chance to properly defend their title. The series before that? The Gin Kings had to end San Miguel's Grand Slam dreams. In the 2017 Governors' Cup Finals, Meralco was in perfect position to take The Rematch and allow the birth of a new PBA rivalry. After seven games, none of that happened and Ginebra won back-to-back titles by virtue of their quote unquote superteam. Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance, Justin Brownlee, LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, and Scottie Thompson. How is that not a superteam? The Kangkong jokes sure died a slow death.   Systematic Mayhem Even in college hoops, superteams are the way to go. However, in the amatuers, you just have to recruit your way into building one. La Salle has perfected this method and the Green Archers are certainly the biggest --- and loudest and most aggressive ---- recruiters. The Taft superteam featuring Ben Mbala and co. got the Green Archers to two UAAP Finals and one championship. Only one championship because another superteam, quietly built in Katipunan with surgical, perhaps even robotic, precision, beat them this year. That's right, Big Bad Blue is once again on top of the UAAP as the Ateneo Blue Eagles scored a sensational, near-sweep of UAAP Season 80. Coach Tab Baldwin has a collection of incredible players that may not look like it on first glance but they do certainly qualify for superteam status. Dom't believe it? Maybe you will after they complete a five-peat. It could happen.   Sweep In the other collegiate league, two superteams dominated the NCAA for two separate periods in one season. First, Lyceum, the surprise superteam, made history by completing an 18-game sweep of the elimination round. However, the Pirates ran into the league's decade-old superteam in San Beda and the Red Lions ended up sweeping the Finals for yet another title. Most of the major characters from both squads will return for a new season and if a San Beda-Lyceum rematch does not happen, well, that's just disappointing isn't it?   OVERTIME 2017 also saw the rise and fall and rise of the Gilas Pilipinas program. Well sort of. The Philippines got off to a great star this year by absolutely dominating the SEABA Championships. Then, disaster struck in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup when Gilas was embarassed by an old foe in South Korea. To end the year, the Philippine national team recovered, albeit in an ugly fashion, to take an early lead in the 2019 World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Gilas is more than capable of forming a Pinoy superteam that could compete, and even beat, the best of Asia. Let's hope we get that in 2018. Finally, 2017 also saw the Civil War PBA edition. It wasn't funny and it wasn't good. Fortunately, it seems that bright and peacuful days are ahead of our beloved league. Let's hope that's the case and let's just leave the bad memories behind this year. Time to move on and forget about that stuff. There are basketball games to be played.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2017

Beal s 25 points carries Wizards by Celtics 111-103

By Ken Powtak, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — Bradley Beal scored 25 points, John Wall had 21 points and 14 assists, and the Washington Wizards beat Boston 111-103 on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in the Celtics' first Christmas Day home game in franchise history. Otto Porter Jr. added 20 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. finished with 16, helping Washington take the first meeting between the teams since Boston's Game 7 victory at home in the second round of the playoffs last spring. Eastern Conference-leading Boston lost for the third time in four games. Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum each scored 20 points for the Celtics, and Terry Rozier had 16. Boston opened a 95-90 lead on Irving's three-pointer with 6:18 left, but the Wizards responded with a 12-0 run. Beal capped the spurt with a three-point play and a breakaway dunk off a turnover. Wall added a layup and two free throws down the stretch to help Washington hold on Last season, the teams had a testy rivalry with lots of trash-talking and a few games filled with hard fouls. It was more civil on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), just a tight defensive game with numerous contested shots and a few hard screens. The Wizards led by two at halftime and opened the third quarter by scoring 13 of the first 17 points, pulling ahead 65-54 on Marcin Gortat's three-point play. Gortat had 11 points and 10 rebounds. TIP-INS Wizards: It was Gortat's ninth double-double this season. ... Wall was scoreless in the opening quarter. Celtics: F Marcus Morris returned after missing 10 of the last 11 games with a sore left knee. ... Reserve F Semi Ojeleye missed the game with a sore back after he tested it during pregame warmups. FIRST NOEL The Celtics played for the 31st time on Christmas, with 28 of the previous games on the road and the other two at neutral sites before Monday (Dec. 26, PHL time). "As much fun as it is to be with family, this is what our family does," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "We've been in gyms for most Christmases of our lives, so it's really fun to get a chance to compete on Christmas Day." GRONK SIGHTING Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was seated courtside wearing a Santa hat. He got a huge ovation when he was shown on the videoboard. FAMILY TIME Morris brothers Marcus (Boston) and Markieff (Wizards) were matched up against each other a few times. At one point, it looked as if they were both smiling when Marcus missed a jumper over his brother. WARM WELCOMING Injured forward Gordon Hayward walked out to center court before the game and wished the fans a merry Christmas and happy holidays on behalf of the Celtics' organization. UP NEXT Wizards: At the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Celtics: At the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Boston won the previous game between the teams on Nov. 10 (Nov. 11, PHL time) at home......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2017

Pringle wary of Ravena ahead of GlobalPort-NLEX tiff: ‘He’s already a great player’

Stanley Pringle is well aware of how good Kiefer Ravena is having shared the court with the NLEX rookie in pickup games years ago. "I've played with Kiefer since before I was in the PBA. He's great competitor and a hard worker," he said. But that was then. Now, Pringle looks to test Ravena's mettle when GlobalPort faces NLEX on Christmas Day at Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. Ravena is coming off a stupendous debut for the Road Warriors where he flirted with a triple-double with 18 points, seven rebounds, 12 assists and two steals in their 119-115 victory over Kia last Wednesday. Pringle, meanwhile, will be tasked to lead the fight for the Batang Pier in their sea...Keep on reading: Pringle wary of Ravena ahead of GlobalPort-NLEX tiff: ‘He’s already a great player’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 24th, 2017

Nets rout Wizards 119-84 to end four-game losing streak

NEW YORK (AP) -- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 119-84 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night. (To be updated) Caris LeVert scored 17 points, while DeMarre Carroll, Spencer Dinwiddie and Nik Stauskas added 15 apiece to help the Nets snap a four-game losing streak. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 13 points for the Wizards. The Nets never trailed in the game, taking an early 10-point lead before settling for a 26-23 advantage after the first quarter. A layup by Hollis-Jefferson with 2:36 left in the second quarter gave the Nets an 11-point lead, and they went into halftime ahead 53-43. Hollis-Jefferson finished the first half with 15 points and eight rebounds. Dinwiddie, who did not score in the first half, scored 11 straight to give the Nets a 64-47 lead with 9:24 left in the third quarter. That was followed by a three-point play by Carroll as Brooklyn went up by 20. Later in the quarter, Jarrett Allen put together a six-point streak to put the Nets up by 30 points and they went on to an 88-61 lead heading into the final quarter. Dinwiddie scored all of his points in that decisive third quarter. The lead continued to grow, this time with Stauskas taking the lead role. He made three consecutive 3-pointers, added a free throw and hit a driving layup with 3:32 remaining to give the Nets a game-high 40-point lead, 116-76. Allen finished with 10 points. John Wall, who played only 16 minutes for the Wizards, scored 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. Bradley Beal only scored four points, shooting 2 of 15 from the field. Overall, Washington shot 36.6 percent, while Brooklyn connected on half its shots. TIP-INS: Wizards: Washington has dropped both games to the Nets this season. They defeated Brooklyn in all four meetings last season and in all three games during the 2015-16 campaign. Nets: Brooklyn hadn't won since beating the Wizards 103-98 on Dec. 12. The Nets hadn't beaten Washington in consecutive games since March 8 and April 15, 2013. . The Nets are 7-0 this season when holding opponents under 100 points. WIZARDS WITH WALL Wall did not play in the first meeting between the teams. "We're like a different team tonight," the Wizards' Markieff Morris said before the game. "I hope they prepared for us." Wall missed nine games (Nov. 25-Dec. 12) with a sore left knee and Washington went 4-5 during that span. SEE YOU NEXT YEAR Friday's game was the Nets' last home contest of 2017. They will play five road games before returning to Barclays Center on New Year's Day to host Orlando. STANDING ALONE LeVert is the only Net to play in each of the team's 31 games this season. In contrast, four Wizards (Beal, Oubre Jr., Marcin Gortat, Jodie Meeks) have played in all 32 of Washington's games. UP NEXT Wizards: Hosts Orlando on Saturday. Nets: Visit Indiana on Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2017

Westbrook s 3-pointer lifts Thunder past Hawks 120-117

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook hit a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left to cap a 30-point, 15-assist outing, and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off the Atlanta Hawks 120-117 on Friday night. Game on the line. Westbrook for the win! He finishes with 30 PTS, 15 AST & 7 REB.@okcthunder beat @ATLHawks 120-117 for third straight win. pic.twitter.com/gR9ZL3Xa79 — NBA (@NBA) December 23, 2017 Carmelo Anthony added 24 points on 7-of-12 3-point shooting and Paul George scored 17 for the Thunder, who have won five of their last six after an 11-14 start. Atlanta, in last place in the Southeast Division, made Oklahoma City work for this one, rallying after falling behind by 16 points in the first half. The Hawks led 92-88 with 8:49 left after a basket by Kent Bazemore. Westbrook re-entered the game and led the Thunder on a 16-5 run. Anthony's 3-pointer with 5:34 left gave Oklahoma City a 104-97 lead. The Hawks came back again, eventually tying the game at 117 on two free throws by Ersan Ilyasova with 11.1 seconds left. After a timeout, George inbounded to Westbrook, who made the final shot over Atlanta's Taurean Prince. Without a timeout, the Hawks could manage only a desperation heave at the buzzer. Marco Belinelli scored 30 points to lead Atlanta, which is 2-7 against Western Conference teams this season. Ilyasova added 22 points for the Hawks, who went 15 of 32 from 3-point range. The Thunder dominated the second quarter. They broke a 28-28 tie with a 14-2 run to start the quarter, with Raymond Felton and George each hitting two 3-pointers. After the Hawks pulled within 51-43, Oklahoma City went on a 13-5 run and led 64-50 at halftime. Atlanta scored 11 straight points to cut the Thunder lead to 74-70 midway through the third quarter. Oklahoma City made only 19 of 31 free throws. TIP-INS Hawks: Atlanta played without G Dennis Schroder, who sat out with a left ankle injury and was replaced in the starting lineup by Belinelli. Schroder had started and played 32 minutes Wednesday vs. Indiana. ... Prince went 1 of 3 from 3-point range and now has at least one 3-pointer in career-best 14 straight games. ... Belinelli extended his streak of consecutive free throws to 28. Thunder: Westbrook was called for an unsportsmanlike technical foul with 3:24 left in the second quarter for shoving Malcolm Delaney after Delaney had fouled him. ... Steven Adams had 16 points and 10 rebounds. ... The Thunder now trail only 66-65 in their all-time series with the Hawks, including the franchise's time in Seattle. ... George and Westbrook entered the game ranked first and second, respectively, in the NBA in steals at 2.45 and 2.10. George had three steals against the Hawks, and Westbrook had two. UP NEXT Hawks: Host Dallas on Saturday before a four-day break. Thunder: At Utah on Saturday before starting a four-game homestand on Christmas Day against Houston......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2017

Troy Daniels hits late 3, Suns hold off Grizzlies 97-95

By Jose M. Romero, Associated Press PHOENIX (AP) — Former Memphis guard Troy Daniels hit a three-pointer with 17 seconds to play to give Phoenix the lead, and the Suns held off the Grizzlies 97-95 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) for their third victory in four games. T.J. Warren led the Suns with 27 points, and Daniels — acquired from the Grizzlies in September — added 14 off the bench. Phoenix won at home for the first time since Nov. 19 against Chicago. Tyreke Evans led Memphis with 21 points, and Marc Gasol added 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots. The Grizzlies have lost 8-of-9 games and nine straight on the road. Troy Daniels seals the @suns victory with this 3! FINAL: #SUNSat50 97 / #GrindCity 95 pic.twitter.com/3HgzFJEivT — NBA (@NBA) December 22, 2017 The teams traded baskets and leads for much of the fourth quarter, and there were three ties. Neither team scored from the 3:45 mark of the fourth quarter until Daniels' key triple. Memphis had two chanced to tie or take the lead, but Evans' shot at the buzzer missed. Greg Monroe rebounded a miss and saved the ball to Daniels for his shot. Monroe had 12 rebounds. The Grizzlies used a 15-2 run to grab a 21-9 lead in the first quarter. But Phoenix outscored Memphis 17-4 over the final four minutes of the quarter to take a 26-25 lead going into the second. Evans scored 11 of his points in the opening 12 minutes. The Suns took a 53-44 lead on Warren's three-pointer with 2:40 left in the second. Then Warren scored and was fouled, making it 56-46. Warren had 17 of his points at halftime, and the Suns led 60-51 at halftime. The Grizzlies erased a 12-point third quarter deficit and took a 76-75 lead on Evans' layup, then James Ennis stole a pass and fed Kobi Simmons for a layup and a three-point Grizzlies lead with 2:25 left in the third. Memphis took an 81-79 lead into the fourth quarter. CHALK TALK Midway through the third quarter, Suns guard Isaiah Canaan accidentally dusted a fan sitting courtside with the rosin that players put on their hands before checking into the game. It led to a brief exchange in which Canaan apologized and the two smiled. TIP-INS Grizzlies: Coach J.B. Bickerstaff was asked about speculation that the team is losing games on purpose. "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion," he said. "We are going to stay positive with our group, stay competitive and let it fall where it may."... Gasol is the Grizzlies' leader in points, rebounds, assists and blocked shots this season and is one of two NBA players to lead his team in all four categories, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee. ... F Chandler Parsons returned after resting the past two games, and F-C Brandon Wright saw his first action since Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time), returning from a groin injury. Suns: Injured star Devin Booker, out since Dec. 6 (Dec. 7, PHL time) with a goin injury, could return to practice as soon as this weekend. He took some shots in pregame warmups on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). ... Phoenix hosts Memphis the day after Christmas (Dec. 27, PHL time), at the same time as the Cactus Bowl a couple of blocks away at nearby Chase Field. ... The Suns ended a four-game Grizzlies' win streak in the series. UP NEXT Grizzlies: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Suns: Host Minnesota on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2017

Best in history Ronaldo put to test by Messi in clasico

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo has made his claim. Now he has to live up to it. Ronaldo will face Lionel Messi on Saturday for the first time since the Portugal forward declared himself “the best player in the history” of soccer after equaling the Argentine’s five Ballon d’Or awards this month. Basking in the spotlight of a glitzy ceremony under the Eiffel Tower, Ronaldo felt confident enough to put himself at the pinnacle of the sport, ahead of Messi and other greats like Pele and Diego Maradona. “You will go and say that I have a big head, but when you’re at the top, it’s normal that you’re criticized,” he told France Football. “I am the best player in history, in both good and bad times.” Personalities aside, Ronaldo has a tough case to make. He and Messi both have four Champions League titles, but Messi’s eight Spanish league titles double Ronaldo’s tally for Madrid and Manchester United. Messi also has the edge in their head-to-head duels. Messi has outscored Ronaldo 19-17 since Ronaldo joined Madrid in 2009. Prior to that, Messi scored in a 2-0 win over Ronaldo’s Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final. The Barcelona-led Messi has also had a clear advantage over Ronaldo’s Madrid. Messi has helped Barcelona beat Ronaldo’s side 13 times, to eight wins for Madrid and seven draws. Overall, Messi holds the “clasico” record with 24 goals in 36 matches. Ronaldo is one goal shy of matching Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano’s 18 goals against Barcelona. The camera-shy Messi insisted again on Monday when he was recognized for leading the Spanish league in goals last campaign that he put more value on team titles than individual honors. “Titles are our goal,” Messi said. “If individual statistics are there also, that’s even better, but they are not the objective.” Ronaldo has no doubt closed the gap with Messi after he led Madrid to back-to-back Champions League titles in the last two seasons. But for Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres, this past decade is still set to bear Messi’s mark. “If it wasn’t for (Ronaldo), Messi would have won twice as much,” Torres said Wednesday. “What Ronaldo has done in the age of Messi says a lot about him.” Ronaldo will need to be at his best on Saturday because anything other than a victory will deal a huge blow to Madrid’s title defense before the season reaches its midway point. Madrid enters the match in fourth place and trailing Barcelona by 11 with a match in hand. Atletico Madrid and Valencia are in second and third. “Given the situation we are in we are obligated to win,” Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. Messi had one of his most memorable performances at Madrid last season when he scored his second of two brilliant goals in stoppage time to silence the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid got revenge with wins of 3-1 and 2-0 in the Spanish Super Cup in August, when Barcelona was reeling from the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, however, quickly rallied his team and the Catalan club has not lost since, a run of 24 matches. With Neymar gone, Valverde has succeeded in tightening up Barcelona’s defense. “It would be important to win for everything that would represent, since the match is so special, and we are playing at their ground,” Messi said. “There would still be a long way to go for the league title, but a victory would be a nice before the Christmas break.” Here are some other potential keys to the “clasico.” ___ SUAREZ Striker Luis Suarez has rediscovered his scoring touch at just the right time for Barcelona. After only scoring three times in the first 11 matches, Suarez has six goals in his last five league games. They will need him even more with backup forwards Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu injured. ___ BENZEMA Karim Benzema has only scored two goals in 11 league appearances for Madrid this season. The drop in production has contributed to Madrid’s stumbles, leading many fans to lament the exit of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea. ___ ALBA Jordi Alba has flourished going forward into the hole that Neymar used to occupy. The Spain left back is a favorite of Messi to weave together short-passing combinations that unlock packed defenses. His matchup against Madrid right back Dani Carvajal should be key. ___ BALE Gareth Bale is playing for his future. Recurrent injuries have cost the Wales winger his spot in Madrid’s starting lineup, with coach Zinedine Zidane preferring the playmaking — and sturdier legs — of Francisco “Isco” Alarcon. Bale returned after his latest injury layoff to help Madrid win the Club World Cup, but as a second-half substitute. He is likely to have that role against Barcelona and will need to make the most of the minutes he gets. ___ VERMAELEN Thomas Vermaelen was considered a lost cause. That was until defenders Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano got injured, giving the Belgian another chance to find his spot in Barcelona’s rotation. Vermaelen has played six consecutive matches, a personal record for him at Barcelona. Injuries limited him to 11 league appearances in two seasons before he was loaned out to Roma last year. Now that he is back, the former Arsenal player will be critical to Barcelona’s chances of stopping Ronaldo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017