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All the feels this Valentine season with online series & lsquo;FindHer& rsquo;

All the feels this Valentine season with online series & lsquo;FindHer& rsquo;.....»»

Category: entertainmentSource: thestandard thestandardFeb 10th, 2019

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. 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 NewsFeb 16th, 2019

PVL: MOA Arena brings back Valdez’s ‘vintage form’

The vibe of playing inside the Mall of Asia Arena brought back a lot of memories for Alyssa Valdez. The Creamline star used it as an inspiration to fuel her desire to end a long title drought. Valdez dropped 18 points to help the Cool Smashers beat PayMaya, 25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 25-19, Sunday in Game 1 of the best-of-three Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference Finals. It was in the same arena when Valdez rallied Ateneo to its breakthrough crown against the then thrice-to-beat DLSU in Season 76 and in the Lady Eagles’ historic sweep of Season 77.   “It’s always good to be back naman sa place na siyempre first ever championship rin namin dito eh, ng Ateneo sa MOA,” said Valdez. “So iba rin ang feels din na babalik at babalikan mo sa unang venue yung Arena na nakakuha ka ng gold.” Outside last year's Battle of the Rivals, Game 1 was the first competitive game of Valdez back in the state-of-the-art venue since leading Ateneo de Manila University to winning Game 2 of UAAP Season 78 back in 2015 against archrival De La Salle University that evened their series. Unfortunately, Valdez and the Lady Eagles fell short in the series decider.          “Iba ‘yung napaparamdam sa akin, malapit sa puso ko itong MOA Arena ever since,” added Valdez, who had 11 digs. The Cool Smashers team captain now has a chance to end a three-year title-less stretch on Wednesday at the same venue. Valdez last won a crown back in 2015 while playing for PLDT alongside Jaja Santiago, Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Grethcel Soltones, who is now playing for PayMaya, in the defunct V-League Reinforced Conference. “Hindi mo maitatago na siguro nasi-spread naming ang vibes na gusto namin lahat mag-champion hindi lang naman ako,” said Valdez. “More than ever its everyone who wanted this win, who wanted to win the championship that’s why maganda ang teamwork namin.”     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2018

Stephen Curry back in full practice mode for Warriors

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry resumed full practice with contact and could play for the defending champion Golden State Warriors as soon as Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) against New Orleans. Curry looked strong as he practiced Thursday (Friday, PHL time) wearing a protective brace over his sprained left knee, which has sidelined him since the injury March 23 (Mar. 24, PHL time) — the same day he returned from a six-game absence because of a hurt right ankle. Coach Steve Kerr is calling Curry questionable for Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). That could change if the two-time NBA MVP still feels fine Friday (Saturday, PHL time) and is fine after one more day of full practice before the Pelicans visit Oracle Arena to begin the best-of-seven series. “Steph practiced at 100 percent, he did everything, he looked good,” Kerr said. “What we have to do is see how his body responds the rest of the day, put him through another practice tomorrow. I think he needs to string together two good days but it was very positive today. ... I think it’s been coming along pretty well. When we were in San Antonio and I was asked a question about how he was doing, I think I was able to give an answer, ‘He’s doing great but we haven’t ramped him up yet.’ I think today was an important day because it’s the first time he’s actually gone live action and he was allowed to go through practice. And he appears fine.” Stephen Curry, black brace protecting left knee, currently on the court shooting with Kevin Durant. pic.twitter.com/WPLtFSNorO — Janie McCauley (@JanieMcCAP) April 26, 2018 Curry went through his usual shooting work with Kevin Durant from various spots after practice, cutting and exhibiting his fancy footwork and dribbling skills. The Warriors have played well without their floor leader, eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the first-round series with a 99-91 win Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). The Pelicans will present a different, faster pace for the Warriors, so getting Curry back to push the ball and direct the offense would be important. Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, started in the first round in his place while Quinn Cook handled point guard duties late in the regular season with Curry out. “We’re excited. I know he’s very eager to play,” said Klay Thompson. “He’s a competitor, so sitting out I know kills him. We can’t wait for him to get back whenever that is.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 27th, 2018

Paul Zamar proving full-blooded Filipinos can be world-class reinforcements

STA. ROSA, LAGUNA – Paul Zamar was playing with a black eye in Game 1 of the 2017-2018 Asean Basketball League Finals. And yet, he turned in one of his best games of the season, scoring 25 points and helping Thailand’s Mono Vampire almost steal homecourt advantage. Zamar, Mono’s Asean Heritage import from the Philippines, had his right eye all black now, four days after it got up close and personal with the elbow of Chong Son Kung Fu slotman Justin Howard. “Ang liit kasi niya e,” the Mono guard jokes now. That didn’t stop him, or even slow him down, in Game 1 of the championship round, though. “Hindi ko iniinda. Pinoy tayo, hindi tayo aatras sa laban,” he said. Of course, the fact that he was playing in his native land and with his family, including coach Boycie Zamar, in attendance also motivated Zamar. “Inspired lang ako kasi nandito yung family ko. Tapos siyempre, nandito tayo sa Pilipinas,” he shared. He then continued, “Taga-rito ako e so itotodo ko.” The now 29-year-old has been pushing it to the limit all throughout the season and not just whenever he is in the Philippines. He, along with Filipino-American Jason Brickman, have formed a potent backcourt that has been a big part of Vampire’s surprising Finals run. For him, it’s all about living up to the Filipino fighting spirit. “Hindi ko lang nire-represent yung Mono at Thailand. Nire-represent ko rito yung lahat ng Pilipino,” he said. He then continued, “Pinapatunayan natin na pang-world class tayo. ‘Di lang tayo pang-Pilipinas, kaya nating mag-import sa ibang bansa as pure Filipino.” Well aware of that Filipino fighting spirit, however, Zamar also saw Alab Pilipinas erase a two-point lead in the last two four seconds of regulation and ultimately come away with a 143-130 overtime win in Game 1. “Never say die talaga e. (Ang) Pilipino, ‘di titigil hanggang mag-buzzer,” he said post-game, after he and the rest of Vampire now find themselves in a 0-1 hole in the best-of-five series. He then continued, “Pero siyempre, lesson learned na sa amin. Dapat matuto kaming mag-concentrate lalo na sa dying moments.” Nonetheless, the former University of the East star is relishing facing off with his kababayans for all the glory in the ABL. Asked about how it feels to playing in the Philippines again, he answered, “Ang sarap. Ito yung the best feeling ever.” And along with that, spending time with the family whom he hadn’t been with for almost half a year now. “May team policy kami na siyempre, dapat magkakasama kami sa hotel (in Alabang), pero during free time, umuuwi ako sa amin (sa Paranaque),” he shared. With his family still behind him and his kababayans still proud of him even though he’s at the opposing side, Zamar vowed to only be better as the series goes along. “I can still be better in the coming games. As a basketball player, hindi ka dapat makukuntento sa laro mo kasi you can always do better,” he said. He then continued, “And as a team, alam naming we came up short this game, but we can also do better. Of course, they’re (Alab) also gonna do better, may the best team win na lang.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2018

Paul Zamar proving full-flooded Filipinos can be world-class reinforcements

STA. ROSA, LAGUNA – Paul Zamar was playing with a black eye in Game 1 of the 2017-2018 Asean Basketball League Finals. And yet, he turned in one of his best games of the season, scoring 25 points and helping Thailand’s Mono Vampire almost steal homecourt advantage. Zamar, Mono’s Asean Heritage import from the Philippines, had his right eye all black now, four days after it got up close and personal with the elbow of Chong Son Kung Fu slotman Justin Howard. “Ang liit kasi niya e,” the Mono guard jokes now. That didn’t stop him, or even slow him down, in Game 1 of the championship round, though. “Hindi ko iniinda. Pinoy tayo, hindi tayo aatras sa laban,” he said. Of course, the fact that he was playing in his native land and with his family, including coach Boycie Zamar, in attendance also motivated Zamar. “Inspired lang ako kasi nandito yung family ko. Tapos siyempre, nandito tayo sa Pilipinas,” he shared. He then continued, “Taga-rito ako e so itotodo ko.” The now 29-year-old has been pushing it to the limit all throughout the season and not just whenever he is in the Philippines. He, along with Filipino-American Jason Brickman, have formed a potent backcourt that has been a big part of Vampire’s surprising Finals run. For him, it’s all about living up to the Filipino fighting spirit. “Hindi ko lang nire-represent yung Mono at Thailand. Nire-represent ko rito yung lahat ng Pilipino,” he said. He then continued, “Pinapatunayan natin na pang-world class tayo. ‘Di lang tayo pang-Pilipinas, kaya nating mag-import sa ibang bansa as pure Filipino.” Well aware of that Filipino fighting spirit, however, Zamar also saw Alab Pilipinas erase a two-point lead in the last two four seconds of regulation and ultimately come away with a 143-130 overtime win in Game 1. “Never say die talaga e. (Ang) Pilipino, ‘di titigil hanggang mag-buzzer,” he said post-game, after he and the rest of Vampire now find themselves in a 0-1 hole in the best-of-five series. He then continued, “Pero siyempre, lesson learned na sa amin. Dapat matuto kaming mag-concentrate lalo na sa dying moments.” Nonetheless, the former University of the East star is relishing facing off with his kababayans for all the glory in the ABL. Asked about how it feels to playing in the Philippines again, he answered, “Ang sarap. Ito yung the best feeling ever.” And along with that, spending time with the family whom he hadn’t been with for almost half a year now. “May team policy kami na siyempre, dapat magkakasama kami sa hotel (in Alabang), pero during free time, umuuwi ako sa amin (sa Paranaque),” he shared. With his family still behind him and his kababayans still proud of him even though he’s at the opposing side, Zamar vowed to only be better as the series goes along. “I can still be better in the coming games. As a basketball player, hindi ka dapat makukuntento sa laro mo kasi you can always do better,” he said. He then continued, “And as a team, alam naming we came up short this game, but we can also do better. Of course, they’re (Alab) also gonna do better, may the best team win na lang.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2018

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

Newly-appointed head coach Roger Gorayeb looked at his line-up heading into UAAP Season 71. A champion mentor of NCAA powerhouse San Sebastian College - Recoletos, Gorayeb had in his hands a gargantuan task of rebuilding Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program. Just a few months before, Ronald Dulay, the mentor before him landed a trio of blue chip recruits who were fresh from a successful stint in the Palarong Pambansa. Angeline "Dzi" Gervacio, Fille Saint Cainglet and Jamenea "Jem" Ferrer just joined the Katipunan-based squad. Gervacio and Cainglet were products of St. Scholastica's College in Manila while Ferrer was a gem from Hope Christian School under girl’s volleyball guru Jerry Yee. Looking at his 15-woman line-up with the season just a few months ahead, Gorayeb knew he needed to do something drastic. The roster just won’t do. Talking to then athletic director Ricky Palou and team manager Tony Boy Liao, the mentor told the team officials that he intended to cut five players from the list. One could just imagine the shock in their faces. “Nakita ko may line-up pero player-playeran lang yung ganoon bang tipo, 15 ata yun. Sabi ko ‘Magtatanggal ako ng lima then magre-recruit ako,’” he said. The three rookies were in. Middle Bea Pascual, Kara Acevedo and libero Steph Gabriel retained their spots. He needed more. “Sa mga tinira kong players, si Kara Acevedo sabi niya, ‘Coach mayroong player ang ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy) na gumraduate naka-exam na rito pasado.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige papuntahin mo,’” said Gorayeb. It was Gretchen Ho. “Sa akin kasi ang talagang nagyaya sa akin si coach Ron Dulay. Si Kara Acevedo teammate ko and she’s been recruited by Ateneo. So one summer wala akong magawa naki-train lang ako noon tapos nagustuhan nila ang laro ko and then fourth year noong graduate na ako I passed the ACET then niyayaya na nila ako,” she said. “Then nagbago ng coach na si Coach Roger and dun niya ako nakita.”   “Pagdating ko ng March (sa Ateneo) wala na akong way para maka-recruit pa. Ang nangyari yung tatlo accepted na kaagad. Si Gretchen tinanong ko sabi ko, ‘ano ba ang laro mo?’ Sabi niya the usual panggitna, tres,” Gorayeb recalled. “So sinubukan ko pero ang laro niya tres hindi quick. Siya panggitna pero hindi quicker na gusto ko saka yung height niya (maliit). Kaya lang si Gretchen takbo ng takbo, mahilig magtatakbo so sabi ko sige pwede na yan. Wala namang player na during that time. So kinuha ko si Gretchen.” Gorayeb just needed just one more. “Ngayon nagkaroon ng STCAA (Southern Tagalog Calabarzon athletic association) eh kulang pa ako ng isa, wala akong panggitna. Ang gitna ko during that time si Bea lang tapos si Gretchen so wala akong pamalit. So naisipan ko may nakita ako sa STCAA,” he said. He spotted a lanky player from Canossa Academy-Lipa, Aillysse Nacachi. “Sabi ko kay Sir Tony pagtyagaan ko na lang ito kahit hindi naman kalakasan at wala naman na rin akong choice na makapili kasi rush ang pagdating ko dyan. Nakiusap lang sila sa akin na magbuo ako ng team kasi si Ronald nag-resign,” said Gorayeb. Another freshman could’ve had ended up with Ateneo, Hope’s libero Melissa Gohing. But a few obstacles prevented her from fulfilling her promise to join Ferrer in Ateneo. She instead chose to join the ladies in green and white in Taft.    SOMETHING PROMISING December 7, 2008. Far Eastern University Gym. Excitement filled the air. Fans, mostly volleyball purists and some who just came to support their classmates or were just curious to see a new spectacle after the basketball season ended, slowly settled in their seats for the women’s division’s second game. It was Adamson University, the previous year’s runner-up, which just visited the turf of their arch nemesis and defending champion FEU, which was led by that era’s finest and most popular volleybelle Rachel Anne Daquis. Fans wanted to see if the Lady Falcons still had the same firepower they had the previous season with the loss of top setter Janet Serafica and power hitter Sang Laguilles. A rookie-laden Ateneo squad should be easy pickings with Angela Benting, rookie Pau Soriano and libero Lizlee Anne Gata in the roster. Besides the Lady Falcons got the Lady Eagles’ number. Or so they thought. “Naalala ko nu’ng time namin sinasabi sa amin ng seniors namin na, ‘Hay naku ang lakas ng Adamson, never kami nanalo dyan,’” Cainglet, now happily married to film director Lino Cayetano and with three beautiful children, recalled.  But the Lady Eagles stunned Adamson in the opening set. The Lady Falcons took the next two frames. Ateneo stole the fourth.  “Ako naalala ko ano eh, parang alam namin na lahat kasi kami palaban. Nasa amin yun. Tapos binigyan kaming lahat ng chance to be in the first six so parang dream come true,” said Ho, now an ABS-CBN host. “Naalala ko rin na palaban kaming lahat kumbaga nothing to lose eh so ang ano namin, sumasabay kami sa laro and nu’ng nakita na namin na ‘Ay kaya pala natin ‘to guys. Kaya pala naming lumaban.’” Still, Adamson had the upper hand in experience. The Lady Falcons, used to pressure and were steady at crunch time, outlasted Ateneo.           The young Katipunan-based squad fell short, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, 25-15, 8-15. But for the Fab 5, it was a loss that felt like a resounding victory. “Parang sobrang natutuwa kami and everybody in the crowd, kaya siguro kami natawag na Fab 5 kasi rookies kami pero kahit ganoon palaban kami,” said Ho. “Saka close game. Five sets yun.” However, it was the first of five five-set matches that Ateneo will drop that season including one in the second round against the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University. “Pero ang problema di kami nananalo ng five sets. Parang ilan lang ang naipanalo namin na ganoon. Feeling ko na-overwhelm kami na ‘Uy nananalo tayo.’ May ganoong disbelief ng konti pero alam namin na may ibubuga kami,” said Ho. “Definitely, our rookie season was full of five-set matches. It was tough, we felt like we were so close, but still so far away. At some point, it gave us frustration also. We just couldn't figure out that time what is it that's still lacking because we couldn't win the five-set matches,” according to Nacachi. “People said, it was because the team was still so inexperienced. We still didn't have the tenacity unlike of those more matured teams. But we didn't take it as bad, it was a learning experience for us all at the end. We had to learn how to develop that finishing will to be able to win games like that in the future.” The Fab 5 finished their rookie season with a 6-8 slate at fifth spot.   ‘MAY MEDAL NA TAYO’ Gorayeb remembered on their second year the look on Pascual’s face in their last elimination game match against Adamson. Already wrapping up their first win over the Lady Falcons, Pascual was giddy. “Natatawa nga ako dyan kay Bea kasi papanalo na kami nu’n tapos sumesenyas na siya ng tres. Sabi ko, ‘Hoy anong ginagawa mo?’ Yun pala sobrang saya na niya kasi for the first time in 30 years magkaka-medal na sila,” he said. It was the most important match of the season for the Lady Eagles. With the Fab 5 already in their sophomore year, Ateneo was already making great strides. The Lady Eagles closed that season’s elims with five straight wins capped with a victory over Adamson. Ateneo posted a 10-4 win-loss mark to enter the Final Four legitimately. “Ang nangyari kasi nu’ng time nila Charo (Soriano) kaya sila nakapasok sa semis kasi may nag-squeal na si (Jacq) Alarca di pala naka-enroll nu’n kaya na-forfeit mga laro ng La Salle,” said Gorayeb. The Fab 5 proved that they were not just a bunch of much-hyped up pretty faces. They backed it up with their skills on court. It didn’t matter that Ateneo were swept by eventual champion University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four.      But the podium finish of Season 72 was short-lived. Adamson got its revenge in the last game of Season 73 elims, bumping off the Lady Eagles in the podium finish. The loss put Ateneo in a collision course with the twice-to-beat DLSU, who could’ve completed an elims sweep if not only for a forfeited match against University of the East after UAAP found out that Carmela Garbin and Clarisse Yeung participated in a ‘ligang labas’ while the season was onoing, in the Final Four. Ateneo gave the Lady Spikers a scare before succumbing in another heartbreaking five-set match. The Lady Eagles finished fourth but that lone semis game gave Ateneo and its maturing Fab 5 enough experience to dream for something big – A ticket into the Finals.      ‘HINOG NA KAYO’ The first three years saw the gradual improvement for Ateneo. But Season 74 proved to be the turning point for the Fab 5. A fresh new recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school, who just completed a year of residency, came into picture and with the Fab 5 armed with years of experience, the Lady Eagles’ fate will forever be changed. Alyssa Valdez, a highly recruited open spiker just like Gervacio, Cainglet-Cayetano and Ferrer years back, gave renewed excitement for the Ateneo faithful. “Alyssa's joining with Ateneo was a great turning point for us. We needed as much support we can get, and Alyssa's entrance to the team was a great boost to the team's morale,” said Nacachi. “The girl is a powerhouse and we felt like with her presence, the team finally became solid.” “We were able to play around with the positions and the rotations, since we had different versatile open players who can also greatly play other roles,” she added. “We were also able to formulate a lot of plays and attacks because Alyssa can generally do all kinds; open, running, quick, name it all. She gave the team the power and the versatility that we previously lacked from the past seasons.” Social media was just gaining traction then but the Lady Eagles were already on the radar of volleyball purists through online forums. For the first time, Ateneo was considered a legitimate contender.   The Fab 5 proved it by winning 11 games in the elimination round, losing only to UST once and dropping two against the Lady Spikers. Valdez’s arrival gave Ferrer an even broader option on offense. It eased the scoring load off the shoulders of Cainglet and Gervacio, who was then moved to an opposite position. “I guess sakto lang din yung dating niya because by that time Kara Acevedo graduated so someone had to fill in her spot so coach Roger decided for me to move to utility or opposite,” said Gervacio. “And then sakto Alyssa naman could fill in the spot na other open spiker.” “So timing din na we had all the pieces put together at the right time,” she added. With a good performance in the elims despite missing a legit middle in Bea Pascual and the entry of Aerieal Patnongon barred by academic problems, Ateneo finished second and for the first-time was armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles faced an experienced Tigresses side in the last stepladder semis stage. UST just came from a hard-fought four-set do-or-die match against FEU and were banking on their four-set win over Ateneo in the second round to force another sudden death. Ateneo’s date with destiny was sealed with a four-set win over the Tigresses, who then bid goodbye to Maika Ortiz and Judy Anne Caballejo. “Pinu-push na rin kami ni Coach Roger noon eh, ‘Hinog na kayo ngayon. Kasi dalawang taon na lang, kailangan makapasok na kayo sa Finals,’” said Ho. “Somehow senior na rin kami,” added Cainglet.  “Season 74 was really the target season for us to be in the finals and target even to win the championship,” according to Nacachi. “During this time, we were already thinking we could not afford to not go in the finals.” “So it was with our mindset and our level of commitment that we were able to finally reach our goal of reaching the finals,” she added. “We had enough experience that time already, and it was really time for us to show the level of game maturity the team had obtained from the past seasons.” But then they had to face an unbeaten team. Unscathed in 14 games, De La Salle University was poised to complete a perfect season. The Lady Eagles spoiled it. Ferrer outplayed DLSU setter Mika Esperanza, 57-42, in excellent sets as Ateneo handed the Lady Spikers its first loss after 25 straight victories in a come-from-behind 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, Finals opener win. Witnessed by 3,002 spectators inside the then The Arena in San Juan, all of the Fab 5 produced points. Cainglet had 19 behind Valdez’s 24, Gervacio scored 12, Ho had 10, Nacachi finished with five while Ferrer had one. Gorayeb made a big gambit and it worked. “Dahil sa wala kong panggitna, yung laro namin ng La Salle, ginawa kong quicker si Alyssa. Kasi si Alyssa nakakapalo. Nagulat si Ramil (de Jesus) dun.” It was a big win. A huge upset. Unfortunately, Ateneo needed to win two more.  DLSU held a thrice-to-beat advantage.   THAT SWAG After Ateneo made a miracle in Game One, fans began to feel a new rivalry born. The attendance spiked. From just 3,000 spectators, the gate attendance more than doubled its size. The interest was there. Fans of traditional powers began to notice the Lady Eagles as a rising team. For the first time, a squad with no previous championship experience except for a title during the Marcos era in a different collegiate league, made a giant jolt. Everybody wanted to see what these girls would do next.    The Lady Eagles, still high on adrenaline after their Game 1 upset, took the opening set in Game 2. But just like in their opener, a well-experienced DLSU squad adjusted to take the next three frames to move a step closer to a repeat crown. With then Rookie of the Year Ara Galang, Season Most Valuable Player Aby Marano, an intimidating Michele Gumabao and a very efficient Finals MVP Cha Cruz teaming up for the kill, the Lady Spikers ripped Ateneo apart in Game 3 in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13. “Sabi nga ni Dzi na nadyan na lahat eh. So I guess noong Season 74 nandoon na pero may kulang pa rin,” said Ho. “I guess we we’re able to make it to the Finals pero wala pa kaming championship experience.” Ferrer agreed. "Siguro ang kulang yung championship experience kasi nasa La Salle na ‘yun eh. Ilang years na silang nagpa-finals, nag-champion and for Ateneo doon pa lang namin sinimulan," said the three-time Best Setter. Lacking championship experience is one thing, but Ateneo during that time wasn’t ready for DLSU’s most feared weapon: the Lady Spikers’ swag.  “They have that swag,” said Gervacio. “Everyone knows about it naman. It’s really coach Ramil’s style talaga kasi as I remember when we were first year, four out of six of the players inside the court were rookies and even if we go against the powerhouses UST, FEU, Adamson, hindi sila yung nakikita nyo na kapag championship na rivalry, na swag, angas, stare down. Pero La Salle talaga kahit sino ang kalaban nila they’ll bring that attitude inside the court.” That Finals series cemented a new rivalry that will become one of the most celebrated in the sport. “I think it also helped that Ateneo-La Salle basketball didn’t face also,” said Gervacio. “Siyempre nandoon ang hunger for the rivalry eh and timely din na its been Ateneo-La Salle na rin sa volleyball.”   CLOSING A CHAPTER The Fab 5 were now in their fifth and last year. They wanted to leave a winning legacy. The pieces were already there. Gorayeb had at his disposal five seniors, a rising star in Valdez, a sophomore middle in Amy Ahomiro, a versatile Ella De Jesus, a steady libero in Denden Lazaro and a new kind of weapon – a massive crowd that can turn any venue into a sea of blue.              As expected, the second installment of the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry was set into place. Both sweeping their semis opponents. The Lady Spikers crushed National University while the Lady Eagles shot down Adamson. Game One was a shocker. DLSU heading into the Finals are on a 14-game roll but were stunned in the first two sets with Ateneo stepping on the gas. But a string of miscues, mostly from the service line, did the Lady Eagles in as they allowed the Lady Spikers to force a decider. DLSU, smelling blood, punished Ateneo to eke out a 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, victory inside the Big Dome witnesses by 17,342-strong gate attendance. Then the series transferred to a newly-built, state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena that drew a crowd of 18,799. The first two frames were frustrating for the Lady Eagles.   Ateneo came back to life in the third set to gain a 9-5 lead. But DLSU easily erased it with Ateneo crumbling under pressure. The Lady Spikers were on an onslaught. Sophomore Galang pushed DLSU at matchpoint with a cold-blooded ace that went in a few inches from the baseline. The score, 24-16. It was a tense moment for the Fab 5. A long rally ensued in the next play. Gervacio, with all her might pounded a kill. Her hand making a great contact on the ball off Ferrer’s backset.     Smack! The ball ricocheted off the hands of DLSU’s Wensh Tiu before falling on the same landing area of Gervacio, who tried to dive for a dig together with Lazaro. DLSU swept Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. Game over.          “Kahit hindi kami nanalo alam naming ibinigay namin ang lahat namin, all-out talaga kaya wala kaming pagsisisi,” said Ho. It was the end of the Fab 5 era, but they left more than what any of them could have imagined. "I remember so many people or fans telling me that they started really watching UAAP Volleyball because of our batch. And that is really touching and fulfilling to know. Knowing that you were able to leave an impact like that to people. We were not able to bring even a single championship to our school, Ateneo, but we were able to touch a lot of people's hearts despite that," Nacachi shared. The Fab 5 closed a colorful chapter of Ateneo volleyball in tears. They were there during the Lady Eagles’ birth pains. They labored. They shed tears, blood and sweat. They laid the foundation for something big. The Fab 5 planted the seeds that would eventually bear fruit and would change the course of Ateneo women’s volleyball program forever. Glory didn’t happen during their time. It started in theirs.    Amidst the roar of the crowd, the falling confetti, banging of drums and the echoing chant of ‘Animo La Salle’ from the sea of green, the Fab 5 hugged each other tight. They found comfort in each other. It was their time to say goodbye. For those who remained – Valdez, Lazaro, Ahomiro, De Jesus – the defeat added fuel to their already blazing desire to bring glory for the blue and white. They were the next in line, heirs to unfinished business. WATCH: FAB 5 Reunion Part 1 and Part 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

How will the Spurs meld Aldridge, Leonard?

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com A top-three team in the Western Conference is ready to get its best player back from injury. He's someone who, last season, made first-team All-NBA, had a seat at the MVP roundtable and nearly chopped down the champion Golden State Warriors in a playoff game (before being chopped down himself). And this will be good for the San Antonio Spurs, most would agree. What’s less certain is what Kawhi Leonard’s return from an achy quadricep means for LaMarcus Aldridge, who looks comfortable playing the lead right now without his co-star, yet squirmed to find peace when he had to ride shotgun. The Spurs star could make his season debut on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) against the Mavericks. The Spurs’ season rides on a happy balance between the two and a way to once again lurk as the team that gives the Warriors a severe case of the creeps, more than any other in the West. Despite all the fuss made over Chris Paul joining James Harden in Houston, and the star-infused Thunder in Oklahoma City, it’s the same-old Spurs who spooked Golden State in Game 1 before losing the Western Conference finals. They were also the last non-Warriors team to reach the NBA Finals. And look who’s sitting a bounce pass from the top of the West, despite missing Kawhi all season? That opening playoff game last May against Golden State was a flash point for San Antonio. The series of events that followed managed to put Leonard in a bad place physically, saw Aldridge melt epically the rest of that series and generate trade talk in the off-season, forced a major sit-down/showdown between coach Gregg Popovich and Aldridge and then, out of seemingly nowhere and somewhat surprisingly, a peaceful resolution was reached and wins followed. “As you can see, based on the evidence,” said Aldridge the other day, “everything’s good.” Yes, it appears so. With Kawhi out of the lineup, the Spurs are doing what they usually do, using disciplined basketball to stamp themselves as a contender. Some nights, Aldridge has been a force, ripping double-doubles and looming large in close games. The ball is finding him in a greedy groove; Aldridge is taking almost 17 1/2 shots a game and the Spurs’ No. 2 shooter, Rudy Gay, is getting nine. As a result, his scoring average is up from a year ago, from 17.3 points per game to 22.6 ppg, matching his best production during his peak with the Portland Trail Blazers. Now in his third season with the Spurs, Aldridge has never felt this frisky and once again is leaning on his money maker: the floating 18-foot jumper. Most important, the Spurs are winning because of him, and Popovich is gloating over him. “Are you kidding?” Popovich said. “We’d be in the toilet if it wasn’t for L.A. He’s been a complete basketball player at both ends of the floor, great rebounding, defensively, running the floor, scoring. What’s really been great is his leadership. And him bringing it every night.” It’s a short sample size after 25 games, but Popovich and the Spurs are cautiously encouraged by this. The Spurs veered from their usual draft-and-develop ways when they signed Aldridge to a big free-agent contract three summers ago. Because of that, Aldridge was considered an outsider, someone who wasn’t a true Spur, but who was needed by a team that craved proven talent to remain a contender in the post-Tim Duncan era. But it’s been a learning process for Aldridge, Popovich and the Spurs. He came from the Blazers anxious to break free of a team that began to orbit around Damian Lillard, but wouldn’t you know it, Leonard turned into a superstar almost overnight after Aldridge arrived. The timing was good for the Spurs ... and awkward for Aldridge, who was forced to adjust his game with prodding from Popovich. Aldridge bit his tongue last season when he averaged his lowest point total since his rookie season. When Leonard suffered his ankle sprain against the Warriors, Aldridge suddenly had the burden of carrying the load, and he failed spectacularly for the rest of that series. He averaged just 11.3 points in the final three games and became low hanging fruit for critics. Popovich was asked the other day if Aldridge had to atone for that this season and the coach came to his player’s defense. “I don’t know if the word ‘atone’ is accurate,” Popovich said. “If your leading scorer and also your point guard (Tony Parker, who was also out against the Warriors) isn’t there, then it falls on someone else. If you take away the two top players from any playoff team, it’s probably going to be tough to move on. I don’t think he has anything to atone for.” Still, something wasn’t right; anyone could see that. Aldridge requested a summertime meeting with Popovich and came with demands. On the surface, that might seem a risky strategy, given the coach’s credentials vs. someone without a single title, and Aldridge knew he was walking on eggshells. “I didn’t know how it would go because he’s Gregg Popovich. I didn’t know how he’d take me saying things. I didn’t know what to expect, with me coming at a person a different way but I was very honest and I think he could tell this was maybe different from what he was used to. But I was not disrespectful. I was trying to express how I was feeling and he was very receptive to it. We kept talking and things got better. I was pleasantly surprised.” For anyone who thought one of the game’s greatest coaches didn’t have a humble side, guess again. Popovich said: “We broke bread a few times, talked about it, laughed about it, discussed what we thought needed to happen, and frankly 95 percent of it fell on me because I made an error in trying to change him too much. That might sound odd, but he’d been in the league nine years and there’s one way he plays on the offensive end and feels comfortable with. I tried to turn him into Jack Sikma, told him I was going to teach you how to play on the elbow, go on the wing, face up. It was confusing for him. It really didn’t fit his style of play. I was guilty of over coaching in a sense. “We came to an agreement on what had to happen. Well, on defense, I told him ‘I’m going to get on you like I do everyone else. But on offense, I don’t even want to talk to you. When they double you, kick it. Other than that, you be LaMarcus Aldridge.’ You see the result right now. He’s happy, confident and kicking everybody’s butt.” Every star player’s ego needs a degree of pampering, and Popovich did admit that dealing with Aldridge was different than any player he’s ever had, yet says there’s a reason for that. “When guys like Kawhi and Tony Parker and others came to me, they were young kids. When a guy’s been in a league nine years and is used to doing something and I try to take it away, that’s not right. That wasn’t very wise on my part.” Popovich didn’t pull rank in the meeting with Aldridge and if anything, he put his ego in check, something you see from coaches who haven’t accomplished one-fourth of what he’s done. But Pop has never strayed from the first rule in coaching players, especially the good ones: Keep them happy by any means necessary. “You gotta look at things and make it better as a coach,” he said. “It’s your responsibility. This was mostly me.” Here’s Aldridge this season so far: Back-to-back 33- and-41-point games a few weeks ago, sharper court awareness, better rebounding and passing than a year ago. Aldridge: “I was frustrated. I just wanted to help more and I think he understood that. Now I feel as confident as I was in Portland. I’m definitely being myself and playing my game and not overthinking and not worried about what’s going to happen if I don’t play well. I’m not a face-up guy. I like to have my back to the basket more. Pop’s given me the freedom to be myself again and that has shown itself on the court.” The issue, both say, wasn’t necessary the number of shots, though that was certainly one of the issues. It also was about the spot on the floor, when those shots needed to be taken. Aldridge said he has no problem with Leonard as the core -- he called Kawhi “our main guy” -- but wanted the same amount of comforts within the system. “He’s a go-to guy also,” said Aldridge. “The plan is to have him be the guy he is, and I be who I am now.” And there’s the key word: now. Leonard was bothered by the quad all last season and it didn’t respond quickly to offseason treatment. But now he’s nearly 100 percent and hopes a quick return to the level of last season when he jacked his scoring and finished third in the MVP voting, one spot ahead of LeBron James. Count Parker among the teammates who’ve said the obvious about Aldridge and how the power forward, in Leonard’s absence, has looked All-Star quality. “Everything’s going through him right now and he’s doing a better job knowing when to score and when to pass,” Parker said, “along with reading double teams and playing good defense.” But then Parker, the most senior Spur after Manu Ginobili, stressed that everyone, including Aldridge, must sacrifice for Leonard and not vice-versa, for the sake of the system and ultimately, wins. “When you play for the Spurs you don’t get a lot of big stats,” Parker said. “Now that Kawhi is out, he obviously has the ball more and he’s going to shoot more shots.” Then he added the kicker: “When Kawhi comes back we will share” -- Parker said while smiling -- “like we always do here.” 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 NewsDec 9th, 2017

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per NBA.com/Stats, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. 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 NewsOct 17th, 2017

NU bigs on facing Kai: Di pwedeng isiping mas magaling siya

Kai Sotto has found no match in the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament. That is, except each and every time he’s up against Nazareth School of National University and its endless supply of bigs to throw at him – from Carl Tamayo to Pao Javillonar, from Kevin Quiambao to Aaron Buensalida, and even from Reyland Torres to Dom Dayrit. In their first meeting, Sotto had 23 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, and two steals only to be outdone by Tamayo who had his own 13-marker, 10-board double-double all while keying the Bullpups’ win. Come Round 2, Ateneo de Manila High School’s towering teen posted 24 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks, but was again bested by Tamayo who only had seven markers to go along with nine boards, but dropped the dagger in the endgame With that, NU completed an elimination round sweep of Sotto and company. Afterward, though, the Season MVP did nothing but will his team into the Finals. Only, waiting for them there were the very same Bullpups. And in the opener of the three-game Finals series, the story was the same. Sotto muscled his way to a 16-point, 15-rebound double-double and had twin tower Geo Chiu, standing at 6-foot-8, backing him up with 12 markers and 11 boards of his own. Tamayo, also at 6-foot-8, and Quiambao, an agile 6-foot-7, went toe-to-toe with them, however, with the former finishing with a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double and the latter ending with 14 markers and 13 boards of his own. In the end, it was the Tamayo-Quiambao connection which got the win at the expense of the Sorto-Chiu pairing. And for those two, matching up with the Blue Eaglets’ talented tower is pretty simple – it’s all in the mind. “‘Di pwedeng isipin naming mas magaling siya sa amin. Ang pinaka-mindset talaga namin is ma-stop siya,” Tamayo said. Quiambao can only agree, noting that NU’s game plan starts with them as Sotto is the end-all and be-all for Ateneo. As he put it, “Ako po, one at a time lang. Iniisip ko lang talagang i-stop si Kai kasi siya ang main scorer nila.” With its bigs having that mindset, NU has time and again proven to be the biggest speed bump thus far in Sotto’s promising career. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News5 hr. 59 min. ago

UAAP: Kai calls on Eaglets to fight Bullpups fire with their own fire

Ateneo de Manila High School got swept in the elimination round of the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament by modern-day rival Nazareth School of National University. However, the Blue Eaglets got a golden opportunity to get back at the Bullpups as the two teams were pitted against one another for all the glory in the Finals. There, Sotto expected one thing and one thing only – for the challengers to their throne to keep bringing it to them. “Alam naman natin na yung NU, talagang physical maglaro,” he said. And that is exactly why, in the Season 81 MVP’s eyes, the defending champions had to bring it right back. “Dapat kami, ‘di kami mag-back down. Talagang i-aaccept namin yung challenge,” he said. He then continued, “Kung maging physical sila, magiging physical din kami. Lalaban din kami.” In the first half and early third quarter of Game 1, Ateneo did just that. Sotto teamed up with twin tower Geo Chiu to power their side to a five-point lead. Only, the Blue Eaglets took their foot off the pedal the rest of the way and never recovered. And in the end, NU took a well-earned 70-58 win and took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. For the 7-foot-1, 16-year-old, it was clear that they fell short of sustaining the physicality needed to match up with the Bullpups. As he put it, “Nandun yung effort, kaso may times na nawawala. Inconsistent kami.” That is exactly what they will be working on as they head into a must-win Game 2 on Friday. There, Sotto had but one promise. “’Di namin basta-basta ibibigay yung championship,” he said, full of confidence. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News5 hr. 59 min. ago

NCAA Season 94: Pakiramdam namin ayaw na lumaban ng Perpetual -- Ebuen

Arellano University surrendered the opening set of the Finals best-of-three series decider to University of Perpetual Help, but the calm and composed Lady Chiefs knew that their championship experience would come into play when push came to shove. The next three sets proved that as the Lady Chiefs flexed their muscles to silence the feisty Lady Altas, 22-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-18, Tuesday to complete their grand slam bid in the NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball competition at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.    Arellano U bagged its third straight title and fourth overall crown in the last five seasons at the expense of the last team to score a three-peat.   “Pakiramdam po namin kanina, sabi po namin ayaw na lumaban ng Perpetual,” said Season Most Valuable Player Necole Ebuen, who punished the defense of the Lady Altas with 11 points all coming off attacks. Arellano U, just like in their four-set win in Game 2 that forced the rubber match, squandered a 14-7 lead to yield the opening frame. The Lady Chiefs were quick to adjust and bounced back mightily in the next three frames, dropping the hammer early to stun the Lady Altas.    Arellano U successfully shut down Perpetual’s main scorer Cindy Imbo as the Lady Altas crumbled under pressure witnessed by a jam-packed crowd. “Siyempre po ‘yung key player nila na si Imbo parang naba-block na rin po, napipigilan na rin po siya kanina,” added Ebuen. “Parang sabi po namin i-grab na po namin yung opportunity na hindi na sila lumalaban. Sabi namin magtuluy-tuloy lang tayo. Tayo ang mananalo.”     The Lady Chiefs smelled blood as early as the second set and when they saw the Lady Chiefs in disarray they knew they already got the crown in the bag. “Sinabi namin noong nag-usap po kami, sabi namin na ‘Ibinibigay na sa atin, heto na kunin na natin,’” said back-to-back Finals MVP Regine Arocha, who fired 16 points and 11 digs. “Tapos noong nakakalamang na kami gaya ng sinabi ng mga coaches po namin na ‘Kapag nakita nyo ng nakadapa wag nyo ng patayuin pa. Tapakan n’yo pa para ‘di na makabangon pa,” she added. This the Lady Chiefs did and the rest is history.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2019

NCAA Season 94: Para kay coach Nes –- Javier

Arellano University head coach Obet Javier was teary-eyed as he mentioned the name of the late legendary volleyball mentor Nes Pamilar during the Lady Chiefs post-game interview moments after completing a grand slam in the NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball competition.   “Itong game na ito kung mapapansin natin one month ni Coach Nes ngayon eh,” said Javier, whose squad beat University of Perpetual Help, 22-25, 25-15, 25-18, 25-18, Tuesday in the decider of the best-of-three Finals series at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.  “Itong game na ito inaalay ko talaga sa kanya.” The multi-titled Pamilar died due to heart failure exactly a month ago. Javier worked as one of Pamilar’s most trusted deputies with his club teams Power Smashers and Tacloban in the Premier Volleyball League. Arellano U's title conquests have been a bittersweet experience for Javier. The Legarda-based squad reclaimed the crown it lost in 2016 in Season 92 just two weeks after he lost his wife, Amy Marie, to cancer while the Lady Chiefs dedicated their second straight title last year to another legandary coach Kid Santos, father of Javier's lieutenant  Mike, who died November 2017 from cardiac arrest.      The Lady Chiefs won their fourth crown in five years and became the third winningest team in the league behind San Sebastian College (23) and Letran (8). Arellano U surpassed Perpetual, which earned three titles from a three-peat feat it did from Seasons 87 to 89.        The Lady Chief have cemented their dynastic rule in the NCAA but head coach Javier is not resting on their laurels. “Sinasabi nyo nga na dynasty, pilit naming panghahawakan kasi minsan lang dumating sa isang team ‘yan eh,” he said. “Hangga’t maari di namin dapat pakawalan.” “Continue pa rin kami, hindi porke’t nag-three-peat kami hihinto kami,” Javier said. “Patuloy kaming mag-aaral, magi-improve dapat para sa school sa susunod na taon.”     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2019

UAAP Season 81: Ang nagpabalik ng korona sa Espana -- Rondina on her legacy

Graduating Sisi Rondina would like to be remembered by fans, especially by the true University of Sto. Tomas supporters, for just one thing. “Ang nagpabalik ng korona sa Espana,” Rondina’s bold statement heading into another action-packed and exciting UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament set to open on February 16. The Cebuana hotshot has been lording it over in the beach volleyball tournament, snaring four championships in her five years of service for UST on the sand highlighted by a three-peat this season. Rondina may have enjoyed success in beach volleyball, but the passionate Tigress has yet to bite a mint in the indoor event – the only missing crown in her colorful career. Now in her last dance for the black and gold, Rondina vowed to leave a winning legacy.      “’Yun ang gusto ko, always naman eh, first year pa lang ako. Siyempre ang tagal ng hindi nag-cha-champion ang UST. Goal namin ang maibalik ang korona,” the team captain said. Last season, Rondina averaged a season-best 21.1 points per game with 38.44% success rate in attacks and three digs per frame. Unfortunately, a series of injuries, inconsistency and lack of on-court support for Rondina doomed UST to its worst finish in the Final Four era. The Espana-based squad tallied a disappointing 4-10 win-loss record at seventh place.            'Please cooperate' Rondina knows that UST will need total team effort to win a championship and end a nine-year title drought so the very vocal leader wants just one thing from her teammates. “Before sabihin sa akin ni coach na ako ang captain ball sinabi ko sa kanila na, ‘Please cooperate. If may sasabihin kayo sa akin feel free to approach me. Puwede kayong maglabas ng sama ng loob. Anything. Basta ang gusto ko lang maayos ko kayo and sana ‘yung gusto kong mangyari ay may ganoon din kayong attitude,’” she said. “Kasi siyempre gusto ko rin na ‘yung willingness (na manalo) talaga sa team siyempre hindi yun mabubuo sa sarili namin kung wala kaming ganoon. Sana magsimula sa sarili namin and sana nga mag-cooperate ang mga bata. Kasi mga bata kami ngayon eh. More on rookies.” After singlehandedly carrying UST’s campaign last year, Rondina is expected to get all the help she needs with the return of Milena Alessandrini, who was named Rookie of the Year last season despite missing a couple of games because of a shoulder injury, Dimdim Pacres, Caitlyn Viray, Alina Bicar and Rica Rivera and the arrival of prized rookie Eya Laure.    “Sabi ko sa kanila na, ‘Hindi ko na kayo papakialam sa labas basta sa loob (ng court) mag-perform lang kayo ng maayos. I-commit nyo ang self nyo sa kung saan kayo naka-commit,’” added Rondina. For her part, Rondina promises to play with the same heart and passion she has been displaying all these years while donning the UST jersey. “Same pa rin po na igi-give ang best at masasabi ko na mas igi-give ko pa ang best ko in my final roar for UST,” she said. “Mindset ko talaga ngayon ‘yung gusto naming mangyari (na mag-champion). Everybody wants naman talaga ‘yun. Sa amin sana makuha namin.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 9th, 2019

NCAA Season 94: Pinasukan ng takot -- Carino on Lady Altas’ loss

University of Perpetual Help head mentor Macky Carino saw in the eyes of his players what coaches fear the most. “Takot,” Carino pointed out moments after the Lady Altas bowed down to defending two-time champion Arellano University, 25-23, 9-25, 18-25, 25-22, 12-15, in Game 2 of the best-of-three NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball Finals at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. “'Yung sinasabi ko nga sa players ko every time sa training, na kapag pinasukan niyo na takot 'yung ginagawa niyo, dalawa lang 'yung pupuntahan noon: either magkamali ka or 'di mo magagawa 'yung task na binigay sa'yo,’” added Carino. The Lady Chiefs tied the series, 1-1, and forced a winner-take-all match on Tuesday. Perpetual recovered from 1-2 match deficit with a huge comeback in the fourth set after trailing, 17-20. The Lady Altas kept the fifth set close before crumbling in the closing stretch. “Wala kasing positibo sa ganoon, kung sa utak mo pa lang negative na. Kung di sana kami natakot, kung wala sana kaming doubt sa ginagawa namin, pagdating noong dulo nanalo pa kami,” said Carino, who is trying to deliver the Perpetual’s first title since its three-peat five years ago. The mentor, who steered College of St. Benilde to its breakthrough title in Season 91 at the expense of thrice-to-beat San Sebastian College led by three-time Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones, felt that Arellano U was able to utilize their championship experience at crunch time.   “Lahat ng players ko wala pang championship experience. Sila meron. 'Yung team na 'yan, 'di basta-basta magpapatalo 'yan kasi champion 'yan,” said Cariño. “Sabi ko, ‘Hindi nila ibibigay sa amin 'yan nang madalian. Ang kailangan natin gawin is laruin natin 'yung game natin and pakita natin 'yung kagustuhan manalo.’” “Doon siguro kami nagkulang. Noong third set ang dami naming errors. 'Yung second set was our worst, sobrang worst. From nanalo ng set, sobrang worst. Doon nagsimula tapos sinamahan pa ng crowd ng Arellano. Siguro mas experienced sila sa amin,” he added. Carino also rued his squad’s second set meltdown which saw Perpetual score only two hits, two aces and a kill block in the frame. “Wala 'yung utak namin sa set na 'yun. Takot na 'yun. 'Yung mga ginagawa ng spiker ko, na-deplete. Noong fifth set, kinapos lang. Marami 'ring breaks of the game,” he said. “Wala kaming ibang gagawin kundi panoorin 'yung game na 'to. Kailangan every rotation, wise kami.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2019

NCAA Season 94: Papatunayan ko na deserve ko ‘to – Ebuen on MVP award

Sophomore Necole Ebuen fought through pain in the fifth set and delivered crucial hits not only to help Arellano University extend the best-of-three NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball series but to prove that she deserved the recognition as Most Valuable Player. Ebuen was in tears during the post-game interview moments after the Lady Chiefs equalized in Game 2 of the Finals in a 23-25, 25-9, 25-18, 22-25, 15-12, victory over University of Perpetual Help Friday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. “Iniisip ko po noong tinanggap ko ang award na ‘yun, sinabi ko sa sarili ko na ipapakita ko pa po ang best ko,” said Ebuen, who scored 18 points, all from kills, despite suffering a right ankle sprain midway in the fifth frame. “Kasi maraming nagsasabi na hindi ko po deserve ‘yung award na ‘yun,” said Ebuen in between sobs. “Pero sabi ko papatunayan ko sa inyo na deserve ko itong award na ‘to. Ipinakita ko po talaga ang best ko kanina, kumapit po ako sa game namin.” Ebuen, who also won the Best Opposite award, hurt her foot midway in the tight fifth set after landing on the foot of Lady Altas Bianca Tripoli. “OK lang po medyo masakit lang po pero hindi ko po ininda sa game kanina,” said Ebuen, a transferee from Letran who won Rookie of the Year last year. “Pumasok po kasi ang paa ni Bianca tapos naapakan ko po,” she said. “Masakit po siya pero hindi ko po ininda, sabi ko po ilalaban ko yung game namin na ito para makaaboit kami ng Game 3.” Arellano U broke an 8-8 deadlock with three straight points before Perpetual stopped the bleeding in the fifth frame. The Lady Chiefs again took a 13-9 lead but committed back-to-back errors as Perpetual closed in. Ebuen pushed Arellano U at match point with an off the block hit. Cindy Imbo saved a point with a down the line hit but Hershey Llorente overcooked her serve to end the two-hour, 23-minute match. Game 3 is on Tuesday.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2019

NCAA Season 94 volleyball: Blazers head back to the Finals

College of St. Benilde marched back into the Finals after submitting Emilio Aguinaldo College, 25-18, 25-23, 25-20, Tuesday in the closing phase of the NCAA Season 94 men’s volleyball stepladder semifinals at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The no. 2 seed Blazers forged a rematch of the championship series two years ago against unbeaten reigning titlist University of Perpetual Help, which advanced straight into the best-of-three Finals after sweeping the elimination round. Game 1 of the championship is on Friday.   CSB, which won it all in Season 92 behind the leadership of national team captain John Vic De Guzman, relied on its experience to control most of the match to complete the sweep against a young but very feisty Generals.  “Natyaga ng mga players ko on the last part and pagdating doon sa end game sabi ko, ‘mas mananaig pa rin ang beterano kasi siyempre sanay sila sa ganoong sitwasyon.’ ‘Yun lang siguro ang ikinalamang din namin bukod sa mas lamang kami doon sa ibang area siguro yung pagiging veteran ng team,” said CSB coach Arnold Laniog, who steered the Blazers to its breakthrough title two seasons ago. Ruvince Abrot scored 12 points to lead CSB while Joshua De Sequera and skipper Francis Basilan finished with nine points each. After easily taking the opening set, the Blazers needed to come back from two points down in the second frame. EAC took a 22-20 lead only to see it evaporate after a Basilan hit followed by back-to-back attacks by Abrot. The Generals tied it at 23 but a Ralph Pitogo error followed by a De Sequera quick attack gave the frame to CSB.   It was all Blazers in the third set. Joshua Mina and Joshua Ramilo posted 13 and 10 points, respectively, for EAC, which defeated Arellano University in the first phase of the stepladder. In the juniors division, Letran set up a championship date with reigning four-time champion Perpetual after knocking out no. 2 seed Lyceum of the Philippines University, 30-28, 25-21, 25-20. Christian Dela Cruz had a 21-point explosion with 19 coming off attacks while Mark Denver Omega and Cedric Lim scored 13 and 11 markers, respectively, for the Squires. Letran, which defeated EAC in the first phase of the semis, and Perpetual will face of in Game 1 of the best-of-three title series on Friday.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 29th, 2019

NCAA Season 94 volleyball: Perpetual earns Finals berth in thrilling comeback

University of Perpetual Help wanted to make history. The No. 4 seed Lady Altas wrote it Tuesday with a miraculous win. Perpetual came back from a 1-2 match deficit and showed nerves of steel in the closing stretch of the fifth set to escape with a hard-earned 25-17, 27-29, 19-25, 26-24, 16-14, win over top seed College of St. Benilde and clinch the last NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball Finals berth at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan Tuesday. The Lady Altas showed their big hearts and mental toughness, erasing a 12-22 deficit in the fourth set to force a decider and coming back from a 7-10 down in the fifth to set up a best-of-three Finals series against two-time defending champion Arellano University.   “Mental toughness,” said Lady Altas coach Macky Carino, whose squad defeated the twice-to-beat Lady Blazers in the Final Four opener last week. “Sabi ko sa kanila, ‘Hangga’t di tapos ang game, 'wag titigil na lumaban ng lumaban.”            Graduating hitter Cindy Imbo played her heart out to post a career-high and season-best 32 points to lead the Lady Altas back into the Finals for the first time in last four years. Imbo scattered 29 kills, two aces and one kill block while adding 14 digs and 11 receptions for an all-around performance for Perpetual, which last held the title back in Season 89 and first Finals appearance since finishing runner-up to Arellano U in Season 90. Jenny Gaviola got 10 markers while Hannah Suico and Jhona Rosal posted nine and eight markers, respectively, for the Las Pinas-based squad, which got its women's, men's and juniors team advance in the championship.  Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series opens on Friday. Perpetual saw itself get buried, 12-22, in the fourth frame before mounting an incredible 12-1 scoring spurt capped by Imbo's easy drop off CSB's misreceive to take a 24-23 lead. The two squads traded service errors in the next play before Imbo completed the fourth set comeback with a hit.     The Lady Altas again went down, 7-10, in the fifth frame before Imbo scored five of the next six points of Perpetual for a 13-10 advantage. The Lady Blazers countered to tie it at 14 before Imbo took matters on her own hands with a through the block hit and the championship berth-clinching service ace. Graduating Rachel Austero scored 17 points while Klarisa Abriam had 16 markers for CSB. Chelsea Umali landed seven aces for 14 markers while Felicia Cui got 11 for the Lady Blazers, who missed a return stint into the Finals for the third straight year since the Taft-based squad captured its breakthrough title under Carino in Season 91.      --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 29th, 2019

VOLLEYBALL IS LIFE: A look back at Philippine volleyball in 2018

Glorious victories, dynasties, historic feats, controversies and memorable moments once again highlighted another fruitful year for Philippine volleyball.   Now, let us take a look back in the year that was in volleyball:   DYNASTY Powerhouse teams continued to thrive in the country’s most popular collegiate leagues. Arellano University muscled its way back into the NCAA Season 93 Finals and met a newcomer in San Beda University. The Lady Chiefs did find the Lady Red Spikers as feisty opponents in their first championship meeting, needing five sets to survive San Beda in Game One. But it didn’t take long for Arellano U to stomp its class over the newbies to capture its second straight title and fourth overall crown in five years. De La Salle University painted UAAP Season 80 green after annexing its third straight title handing legendary head coach Ramil De Jesus his third grand slam in the country’s most popular and competitive collegiate league. Second year setter Michelle Cobb stepped up to the challenge of filling the big shoes left by Kim Fajardo and complemented the depth and firepower of DLSU. Far Eastern University, which advanced into the Finals for the first time after a decade, stood no chance against the onslaught of the Lady Spikers, which swept their way onto throne. University of Perpetual Help completed a four-peat in the NCAA juniors after sweeping Letran. Philippine Air Force snatched the Premier Volleyball League men’s Reinforced Conference crown and the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference title. Sisi Rondina cemented her legacy as the UAAP’s queen of the sands after completing a three-peat in women’s beach volleyball. Rondina wrapped her tour of duty with four titles in five years. The Tigers ruled the men’s division.       YEAR OF THE UNDERDOGS San Beda University made great strides in NCAA Season 93 after earning its first-ever Finals appearance behind the efforts of Cesca Racraquin and twins Nieza and Jiezela Viray. The Lady Red Spikers closed the elims with an 8-1 win-loss record and took down Perpetual in the semis. Languishing at the bottom half of the standings since the return of its women’s volleyball program in 2008, Jose Rizal University made history by advancing into the Final Four. Shola Alvarez capped the Lady Bombers’ remarkable season by pocketing the Most Valuable Player award.   Far Eastern University made it to the UAAP women’s volleyball Finals by booting out crowd-favorite Ateneo de Manila University in the semis.  For the first time in five years, the Blue Eagles found themselves in a very difficult position in the Final Four. With a twice-to-win disadvantage, the Marck Espejo-led Ateneo shocked FEU – a team that beat them twice in the elims – to march to its fifth straight championship appearance.      But the real underdog story belonged to NU. After three years of finishing runner-up to the Blue Eagles, the Bulldogs led by Bryan Bagunas finally got their long-awaited revenge as they swept Ateneo off its three-year reign at the throne.     OFF COURT STORIES, CONTROVERSIES University of the East parted ways with head coach Francis Vicente midway in Season 80 after three and a half seasons with the Lady Warriors. Vicente left for ‘personal reasons’ with a UE coaching record of 2-45 (win-loss). Red Warriors head coach Sammy Acaylar also resigned from his post midway in the season. University of Sto. Tomas hitter EJ Laure after months of speculations to the real reason of her sitting out UAAP Season 80 broke her silence by saying that needed time to recover from her right shoulder injury to end all the rumors circulating including an alleged pregnancy.    Sound bites, videos and clips that show collegiate players’ ‘human side’ made its rounds around social media that drew mixed reactions from fans.  Just like in the previous years, controversy filled the formation of the national women’s volleyball team. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. initially named Ramil De Jesus as the national team coach but just two months after his designation, the multi-titled DLSU mentor resigned from his post citing ‘conflict of schedule’. Shaq Delos Santos took over De Jesus’ spot. Netizens went abuzz when the composition of the national team that participated in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games was released as fans give their different views on who should and should not be included in the roster.             LVPI named a new president in Peter Cayco of Arellano U to replace Joey Romasanta during the association’s election.   WRITING HISTORY Smart’s Cuban import Gigi Silva carved a world scoring record in the Philippine Superliga after scoring 56 points in a lost cause against Cocolife in the 2018 Grand Prix. Silva pounded 53 kills and had three aces to land her name in the fourth spot in the women’s world scoring record behind Polina Rahimova of Azerbaijan’s 58 points in 2015 while playing in Japan, American Madison Kingdon’s 57 (2017 Korea Volleyball League) and Bulgarian Elitsa Vasileva’s 57 (2013 Korea Volleyball League). Silva also surpassed the 55 points of Americans Nicole Fawcett (2013 KVL) and Alaina Bergsma, who led Petron to the 2014 PSL Grand Prix crown, (2016 KVL).     Not to be outdone, local volleyball star Marck Espejo had a 55-point explosion of his own in the Blue Eagles’ five-set Game 1 UAAP Final Four win over FEU. The five-time MVP pounded 47 attacks, had six kill blocks and two service aces for the Katipunan-based squad. Espejo scored 11 points in the deciding frame including Ateneo’s last four to seal the win in the match that lasted for two hours and 21 minutes. Espejo’s feat fueled Ateneo’s eventual semis series win over the twice-to-beat Tamaraws.  Espejo and DLSU libero Dawn Macandili were named as the Philippine Sportswriters Association’s 2017 Mr. and Miss Volleyball.     The Philippines saw three players make their mark in the international scene this year as Espejo and sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat were tapped as imports in Japan’s V. Premier League. Espejo is now playing for Oita Miyoshi Weiss Adler while Jaja and Dindin suit up for Saitama Ageo Medics and Toray Arrows, respectively.     After 36 long years, the Philippines sent a women’s volleyball team to participate in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The squad won against Hong Kong in straight sets in pool play in the country’s first Asian Games victory since defeating India in the 1982 New Delhi Games. The PHI advanced in the quarterfinals but went home empty-handed. The Filipinas ended up at ninth place in the AVC Asian Cup. Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio made waves in the country’s hosting of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open after the duo barged in the quarterfinals. The tandem eventually bowed down to eventual champion Japan. The NU Bulldogs brought its bark into the international scene and howled its way to giving honor to country by winning the ASEAN University Games gold medal at the expense of Thailand. Volleyball proved to be the most talked about sport in the country as #UAAPSeason80Volleyball became the most tweeted sports hashtag in 2018.   SMASHING WIN, BLAZING VICTORY Creamline became the most successful club in the Premier Volleyball League this year after winning its breakthrough Reinforced Conference crown before following it up with a title romp in the Open Conference. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought after leading the Cool Smashers to the Reinforced Conference throne.   Creamline’s Michele Gumabao joined Binibining Pilipinas and represented the country im the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania, landing at the top 15.     Petron lorded it over in the PSL after winning the Grand Prix and All-Filipino Conference titles at the expense of archrival F2 Logistics, which ruled the Invitational Conference. University of the Philippines ended a 36-year title drought by claiming the PVL Collegiate Conference championship and followed it up by reigning supreme in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam The SiPons tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons of Petron annexed their second straight PSL Challenge Cup beach volleyball title. University of Perpetual Help reclaimed the NCAA men’s title after taking down Arellano University as the Altas bagged it 11th title overall.           National University took back the title it lost last year in the UAAP boys’ tournament while De La Salle-Zobel bagged the girls’ mint. The Beach Volleyball Republic continued its advocacy of propagating the sport throughout the country.   END OF THE ROAD After winning three straight UAAP titles, the Lady Spikers bid goodbye to its Big Three in Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili. Season 80 saw the end of the six-year Ateneo-DLSU Finals rivalry as the Lady Eagles bowed down to FEU in the semis. The Blue Eagles three-year reign ended at the hands of NU as Ateneo gave its farewell to its greatest men’s volleyball star Marck Espejo and prized setter Ish Povorosa.    NU’s four-year domination in the girls’ division was snapped by DLS-Zobel. After a dry 2018 PVL season, Pocari Sweat parted ways with its franchise player Myla Pablo as newcomer Motolite agreed to buyout the hitter’s last three contract years.      Thai coach Tai Bundit after five years and bringing two titles including a rare tournament sweep to the Lady Eagles finally called it quits after Ateneo’s campaign in UAAP Season 80. Creamline gave Bundit a farewell championship trophy in the PVL.      A NEW BEGINNING It was a colorful 2018, indeed, for volleyball but 2019 is another promising year for the sport. Can the Lady Chiefs complete a three-peat in the NCAA? Newcomers are sure to bring more excitement and interest in the UAAP. DLSU will try to extend its reign for another season while NU is looking for a repeat crown in the men’s side. Another season for the PSL and the PVL will open while the national men’s and women’s team will highlight the country’s Southeast Asian Games hosting.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

UAAP: Now NU s pillar, Carl Tamayo just wanted to watch June Mar Fajardo before

Last season, Nazareth School of National University just had no answer for Kai Sotto. Ateneo de Manila High School’s towering teen, well, towered above all in the three-game Finals series to lift the Blue Eaglets over the Bullpups and onto the mountaintop of the UAAP Juniors. A year later, it looks like Sotto finally has an equal from the blue and gold. In the rematch between NU and Ateneo last Saturday, the 16-year-old, 7-foot-1 generational talent had 23 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and two steals for the Blue Eaglets. Only, the Bullpups also had a 17-year-old, 6-foot-8 promising prospect who posted a 13-point, 10-rebound to help lead his side to victory. That 17-year-old, 6-foot-8 promising prospect? Carl Tamayo. While the fact that they finally have an equal for Sotto is a welcome development, NU still had to go through a lot for this to happen. Of course, head coach Goldwin Monteverde first had to transfer from Adamson High School – and bring along many of the tantalizing talents he had already recruited. Tamayo, one of those tantalizing talents, wouldn’t have been found, however, if only the Passerelle wasn’t being held in Cebu a few years back. “Galing po ako sa Cebu tapos nung time na yun, Passerrelle Finals sa Cebu. Dun po ako nahanap at nakausap nina coach Gold,” he shared. As it turns out, however, the Cebuano big man wouldn’t have gone with coach Gold to Manila if not for a definite desire to watch his kababayan. Asked how he was convinced to come, he answered through chuckles, “May kwento yan. ‘Di talaga ako dapat sasama nun, pero sabi kasi nila, papanoorin daw nila ako ng PBA.” He then continued, “E sobrang gusto kong manood ng PBA, gusto kong mapanood si June Mar Fajardo, sumama na ako.” Yes, a ticket to a San Miguel game featuring, of course, man in the middle Fajardo, got Tamayo to say yes to coach Gold. The rest, as they say, is history. “Blessed naman na nakarating din ako kina coach Gold kasi sobrang ganda ng program nila,” he said, looking back at his origin story. Until now, Fajardo is apparently playing a big role in Tamayo’s development. In particular, the NU big man is inspired by how, slowly but surely, the Beermen’s franchise player turned himself from a raw talent into a six-time champion and four-time MVP in the PBA. “Nagsimula rin siya sa hindi pa siya ganun marunong maglaro so iniidolo ko talaga siya. Sa kanya ko talaga ginagaya mga galaw ko,” he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2018

F2 Logistics stops rampaging Petron, forces title decider

F2 Logistics spoiled defending champion Petron’s tournament sweep attempt as the Cargo Movers shocked the erstwhile unbeaten Blaze Spikers to force a decider in their best-of-three 2018 PSL All-Filipino Conference Finals series Tuesday at the MOA Arena. The Cargo Movers shook off a rusty start to carve out a 21-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-17, Game 2 win to tie the series and hand Petron its first loss in the season-ending conference. F2 Logistics swung the momentum to their side with a dominating second set showing that saw the Cargo Movers lead by 12 and sustained the same intensity in the next two to seal the all-important win in two hours and 25 minutes. Ara Galang showed the way for F2 Logistics with 20 points including 17 off kills while skipper Cha Cruz-Behag displayed an all-around effort with 13 markers laced with 25 digs and 15 excellent receptions. Majoy Baron and Aby Marano wreaked havoc at the net combining for seven of F2 Logistics’ 12 kill blocks. Baron posted 14 points off 10 kills, three kill blocks and an ace while Michelle Morente and Marano scored 10 and eight, respectively, for the Cargo Movers. “Medyo tight noong first set tapos madami pang bad calls ‘yung referee, nandoon na ‘yung momentum tapos mapuputol na hindi nakikita, judgement call eh. Hindi naman challengeable ‘yung mga calls ng referee noong pa-end ang first set so hindi [na ako] nag-challenge,” said Cargo Movers coach Ramil De Jesus. “Noong second set medyo relaxed na eh so sabi ko masyado nang malayo ‘yung naging score ng set so nahirapan humabol,” he added. “So ibig sabihin kaya, sabi ko sa kanila, basta pag tyagaan lang ang situation ng nangyayari.” Game 3 is on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.       The Blaze Spikers, which took the series opener, 25-23, 25-11, 25-17, last Saturday, went off to a good start and looked poised to duplicate the same feat they did when Petron swept the 2015 edition of the conference. But F2 Logistics were quick to regroup to open up a 22-10 lead in the second set that changed the complexion of the match. “Naniniwala ako na it's by God's grace, binibigyan niya kami ng lakas, kahit ano ‘yung mga nararamdaman namin at ano yung line-up namin. Plus, pinaalala ni coach kung sino talaga kami, kung ano kaya gawin namin, and nagkaroon kami ng kumpyansa sa sarili, sa bawat isa, and kumpyansa para sa kasama, at malasakit din,” said Cruz-Behag. “Kaya nakuha namin yung Game 2, and may focus kami and may goal kami na makuha yung Game 3.” Ces Molina scored all but one of her 17 points off kills while Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Bernadeth Pons finished with 11 and 10 markers, respectively, for Petron. Meanwhile, De La Salle-Dasmarinas finished its campaign on a high note after taking down College of San Agustin-Binan, 25-23, 25-18, 21-25, 25-16, in the maiden Collegiate Grand Slam. Skipper Eunice Castillo got 16 points while Dasilyn Delfin and Rain Ramos scored 14 markers each for DLSU-Dasma. Aliah Marce had 14 points while Lency Duarte posted 13 for CSA.   ---  Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 18th, 2018