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Aoki defends title at ONE Championship s & ldquo;Enter the Dragon& rdquo;

Aoki defends title at ONE Championship s & ldquo;Enter the Dragon& rdquo;.....»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardMay 16th, 2019

Strikers and Submission Specialists headline ONE Championship in May

A pair of explosive Muay Thai world title fights takes to the grand arena of ONE Championship this Friday (May 10) when Muay Thai superstars Nong-O Gaiyanghadao and Petchdam Petchyindee Academy take on separate foes in ONE Championship’s WARRIORS OF LIGHT card that will air LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A, S+A HD, and iWant Sports starting at 9:30 pm. The two Thai superstars will be fighting for the ONE Muay Thai Bantamweight World Championship and ONE Flyweight Kickboxing World Championship belts respectively. Nong-O will be competing against Japanese warrior Hiroaki Suzuki while Petchdam faces Elias Mahmoudi of Algeria. The largest fight promotions outfit in Asia also prepared an explosive MMA card for May 17, that will be ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki’s first defense against Singapore’s submission artist, Christian Lee, in ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON which will also air LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, and iWant Sports at 8:30 pm.   Aside from the striking masters, Pinoy MMA fans can also look forward to the return of Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio to the cage, months after his defeat from Adriano Moraes, in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix against Korean Kim Kyu Sung. Former UFC fighter Sage Northcutt will also make his ONE Championship debut against Brazilian mixed martial artist Cosmo Alexandre. Fight fans will be able to witness explosive kickboxing and Muay Thai masterclasses from the likes of Italian stallion Giorgio Petrosyan, against Petchmorakot and Dutch striking master Nieky Holzken versus compatriot Regian Eersel, in the successive fightcards. The names of the fighters lined up may be new to Filipino fight fans’ ears with the exception of Eustaquio and Aoki, who put to sleep Filipino MMA hero Eduard Folayang in Japan, and Lee. But the competing Muay Thai and kickboxing masters have already been introducing themselves via the ONE Super Series that focuses on the art of striking with powerful roundhouse kicks, dangerous elbows, as well as flashy spin attacks.   Don’t miss the two explosive ONE Championship fightcards airing on S+A, S+A HD, and streaming LIVE on iWant Sports starting with ONE: WARRIORS OF LIGHT this Friday (May 10) at 9:30 pm. ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON will air on May 17 LIVE on S+A and S+A HD, with livestreaming on iWant, at 8:30 pm.   For more stories and news on Aisa’s largest fight promotions company, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abscbnpr.com......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2019

ONE Championship: Geje Eustaquio hopes to see teammate Danny Kingad become a champion

It wasn’t too long ago that Team Lakay’s Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio was on top of the ONE Championship flyweight  landscape.   In 2018, the Filipino striker defeated Kairat Akhmetov and Adriano Moraes - the division’s only other titleholders - on his way to becoming the ONE Flyweight World Champion.   Eustaquio’s reign came to a halt at the start of 2019 however, when he dropped the title back to Moraes in a trilogy match in Manila that saw the Brazilian grappler score a unanimous decision win after five rounds.   While many believed that Eustaquio deserved to win the bout, himself and his Team Lakay stablemate included, as the saying goes, “it is what it is.”   Now, Eustaquio is on the comeback trail and has bounced back with a unanimous decision win over South Korean newcomer Kim Kyu Sung at ONE: Enter The Dragon in Singapore and is hoping to once again regain his spot at the pinnacle of the division.   While the 30-year old is working his way back up, he is also helping his teammate and fellow flyweight contender Danny “The King” Kingad make it to the top as well.   The 22-year old Kingad is currently in the semifinals of fhe ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix and is set to face a familiar opponent in Akhmetov.   Eustaquio hopes that young stablemate can mirror what he did to defeat the Kazakh wrestler.   “For now, yung bata is hungry, and the skills we are working on, we are working with his distance right now, para if we can duplicate the things I did the last time that we fought for the interim title,” Eustaquio shared. “Hopefully magagawa din niya yun and we will have the same result.”   “So basically, ang ginagawa namin now, in terms of kay Danny is the distance and the timing,” Eustaquio added.   Kingad is two wins away from becoming the Flyweight World Grand Prix champion and is two wins away from once again challenging Moraes for the title, and fully behind him is Eustaquio and the rest of Team Lakay. Eustaquio is hopeful to see his teammate also become a champion in the in the biggest martial arts promotion in the world.   “We talk about it as a family here, and we encourage each and every one. We motivate him na don’t stop training, you have to keep grinding, you’re close to your goals or your dream to become a world champion, because I believe they’re going to give a belt to the Grand Prix, the Grand Prix Champion has a belt.”   “It’s a title, and it’s every athlete’s dream to become a World Champion, and he’s almost there. Two wins, and he’ll also be considered as a titleholder or a World Champion. Hopefully, he will work his ass off and he will have the right attitude in this competition,” Eustaquio continued.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2019

ONE Championship: Heading into cage return, Geje Eustaquio’s focus is on getting better

Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio has a great opportunity to get back on track this coming Friday, May 17th at ONE: Enter The Dragon in Singapore.   In his first match since dropping the title to Adriano Moraes in Manila back in September, the former flyweight king makes his return against South Korean Kyu Sung Kim.   And while Eustaquio’s journey back to the title could begin with a win against Kim, the Team Lakay star says that his only focus is on getting better.   “For now, ang nasa isip ko is to get better and better, and of course to implement yung gameplan na ginawa namin ni Coach Mark [Sangiao] and the rest of the team sa upcoming May 17,” Eustaquio told ABS-CBN Sports. “Yun lang muna ang nasa attention ko as of now.”   [RELATED: Geje Eustaquio hungry and motivated in comeback, says head coach]   Against the taller and younger Kim, Eustaquio faces a competitor who is a proven finisher, with seven of his nine wins coming via stoppage, five coming via KO or TKO.   Eustaquio, a gifted striker in his own right, welcomes the challenge that the South Korean possesses.   “Based sa mga nakita namin na competition niya, he’s more of a striker, most of his wins are via punches, so sa tingin ko it’s going to be a good fight.”   And while he’s more than willing to stand and trade with Kyu, Eustaquio isn’t afraid to take whatever opportunities that fight may present.   “Sa akin, I believe we have the best, world class striking in Team Lakay, we can do that, but of course, this is mixed martial arts, if you have the opportunity, you have to take it.” Eustaquio stated. “Sometimes, you have to focus on the game plan, but if you have the opportunity, why not take it? Capitalize on the opportunity and take the chance.”   Former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio, who will be fighting on May 17th at ONE #EnterTheDragon in Singapore, sparring with Brave CF bantamweight Jeremy Pacatiw | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/RybPltvsuj — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) May 11, 2019   For the past few years, Eustaquio has enjoyed seeing his name on the marquee of ONE Championship cards, headlining his last four events all over Asia.   This time around, the 30-year old finds himself on the middle of the card, but maintains that this isn’t much of an issue to him.   After all, he’s been here before, he says.   “Sa akin, actually it doesn’t matter. It’s just another day in the office. I’ve been there for many times, it’s just another day in the office.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2019

Team Lakay s Gina Iniong and Joshua Pacio: Two paths, one goal

Lakay. It is the Ilocano word for old man.   But when you go up to Baguio, it has an altogether different meaning. You cannot miss that word when you drive down Benguet road, on a nifty sign attached to a normal-looking office building: Team Lakay.   The home of the best Philippine mixed martial arts team in history. Almost all of the big names local fight fans have come to cheer and love as our modern-day heroes trace their roots to the relatively small, packed training room down Benguet road, where mats are soaked with the sweat of the fighters.   Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, Honorio Banario, Rey Docyogen, Roldan Sangcha-an, and Mark Eddiva are all hallowed names in the annals of Philippine mixed martial arts, disciples of Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, who established, and groomed Team Lakay to the fearsome fighting factory that it is today.   While all the names above have ensconced themselves on pedestals, Team Lakay’s pipeline includes two more who have been fighting for recognition in recent fights: lone female fighter Gina Iniong, and ONE’s current Strawweight lynchpin and youngest champion, Joshua Pacio.   Both fighters may have started their professional fighting careers for different reasons, but Iniong and Pacio still have a lot to offer and prove for mixed martial arts in the country and in the international stage, such as being prominent fighters in the prestigious cage of ONE Championship.   CHANCE OF A LIFETIME   Gina, the first female Filipino mixed martial artist to fight and win abroad, started boxing back in high school as part of her after-school activities. When she was about to graduate, she actively sought scholarships in order to finish her education. One such opportunity presented itself in the form of an athletic scholarship, concentrating on the martial art of Wushu, which has a huge following in her hometown of Baguio City, with the University of the Cordilleras having a team of its own.   “Our former boxing coach, who was a former student of Coach Mark (Sangiao), approached me one day, telling me to join the upcoming wushu competition then for the college scholarship. So I joined it, and took a chance,” Iniong shared, recounting how she got into the world of combat sports as a young lady.   However, it was too good to be true, as she had to hurdle quite a huge problem if she wants that scholarship: a fight record. Sangiao told the young Iniong it would be difficult to get her a scholarship if she does not have a record to show in active combat in Wushu.   “I was lucky because there was a Wushu National Games here in Manila and we immediately went down and made our way there. Thankfully, I got the gold after the competition, and that paved the way for my scholarship,” said Iniong.   From there, the “Conviction” was born. After competing in numerous Wushu tournaments, Iniong finally caught the eye of Sangiao, who decided to take her under his wings and train her to be his female version inside the MMA cage.   After debuting in the Universal Reality Combat Championship in 2010, Iniong hasn’t looked back in the 12 bouts she has figured in, compiling a professional record of 8-4.  As the lone female representative of the most-successful mixed martial arts team in the Philippines, she has displayed that trademark fearsome striking prowess of fighters coming from the Lakay camp.   When asked about the fact that she is one of the only five Filipinas making the country proud inside the ONE cage, the 29-year old’s face lit up, in disbelief, in honor, in humility, for she cannot believe it herself.   “I’m very proud, and humbled, of the fact that I am the lone female fighter representing Team Lakay in ONE Championship. Many very skilled female fighters dream of being part of ONE Championship, and fight under Team Lakay, yet I am the one that Coach Mark has seen with the most potential to carry the flag inside the cage,” she said.   However, what drives Gina to fight, and it has been a well-known fact, is her mother, diagnosed with a stage 5 chronic kidney disease. In her fight against Jihin Radzuan last February, Iniong dedicated the fight to her mother, who to this day, is scared of seeing her daughter mix it up in the ring.   “To this day, she hasn’t watched me fight live, not even on TV because she is quite the nervous person, and she would only watch if she knew I won, during replays. She is very unlike my dad, who has fully supported my life as an athlete, after being a boxer himself in his younger days,” she shared.   CHALLENGE ACCEPTED   Joshua “The Passion” Pacio never intended to make mixed martial arts fighting a career growing up. The 23-year old fighter deemed it impossible back then, to reach a stage as huge as ONE Championship, due to the excellence of the fighters that he used to watch with his uncle through videos.   Add to the fact that Pacio was overweight. Obese, specifically. It made it all the more difficult for the kid to follow his dream and passion to be a fighter.   It all changed when his uncle started training him in Muay Thai, the art of the eight limbs that originated from Thailand, and considered one of the deadliest forms of combat striking. It started out as training just for fitness, but as if seeing a tiny ray of light in a dark tunnel, Pacio wanted more.   “At first, it was only for fitness, with my uncle training me, and watching videos of various MMA fights, which really inspired me to push myself harder. I really wanted to test myself, compete with the best, and it all seemed impossible when I was out of shape. My uncle really pushed me starting with Muay Thai. I started competing a few months after that, but I suffered defeat after defeat in amateur competitions. I questioned myself why I still trained afterwards. But at the same time, that’s when I realized that this is really my passion, that even if I lost my last fight,” shared the ONE Championship Strawweight king, who has not looked back since then.   “The goal for me has ever been to prove to myself that I have improved in skills, and be the best fighter I can be,” Pacio added.   He made his ONE debut three years ago, finally fulfilling his lifelong dream of professional mixed martial arts, facing a more experienced Filipino fighter in Robin Catalan at the age of 20, one of the youngest to enter ONE’s cage.   “Before I got to represent Team Lakay in ONE Championship, the roster spot was actually up for grabs. Fighters of the team figured in a Team Lakay Championship, a grand-prix style tournament within the team, for the ONE Championship contract. I fought twice victoriously in one night to get it. Two weeks later, with a ONE Championship event in Manila, that’s when I found out I am making my professional debut,” said an astounded Pacio.   Everything about the man they call “The Passion” has been hard earned. He finally tasted gold last 2018 when he decisioned the famed Yoshitaka Naito, a Japanese ground and wrestling master that forced Pacio to tap via a rear-naked choke when they first met. Facing, and losing to Naito, according to Pacio, was a revelation that he has to improve his overall skills, especially his ground game in order to play with the big boys of the cage.   Striking will definitely get you somewhere, as is with Pacio’s base as a martial artist, but one has to have more tricks up his sleeve when they aspire for the pinnacle of the competition. Joshua came back with a vengeance in 2018 to show “Nobita” that “The Passion” is no longer the young kid who will be submitted easily.   However, 2019 did not start of great for Pacio and Team Lakay, after he lost the belt in January to Naito’s contemporary in Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta in a questionable split decision. But that did not deter the young man, who has made it his personal goal to continue improving and treat each loss as a lesson, in ONE Championship’s “Roots of Honor” fight card, where he faced Saruta once more.   This time, in front of a racous Filipino crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena, Pacio did not let the judges’ cards decide as he detonated a right knee to the side of Saruta’s head late in the fourth round to reclaim his throne. The dreaded Team Lakay striking power knocked the lights out from the Japanese fighter as Baguio’s young lion let out a furious roar to celebrate his redemption.   TWO PATHS, ONE GOAL   One did it for education, the other for health. Nowadays, however, MMA means more to Iniong and Pacio than just a stepping stone to something else. It is their passion, their advocacy, their bread and butter.   They continue to grind each day, waiting for another opportunity to show what they got and get the win, not just for personal glory, but also for the country and their family.   Inspired by her ailing mother, the “Conviction” promises to keep her current winning streak up despite being up against a formidable foe in her next match. After tasting defeat from Brazilian Istela Nunes, Iniong bounced back with a split decision over Radzuan last February to get herself back on track. Right now, Gina has one thing in mind with their goal: chase that ONE Women’s Atomweight division title, currently held by Angela Lee, and become the Philippines’ very first female ONE world champion.   However, Iniong acknowledges that the path towards the gold may not be easy, as she is currently eyeing a rematch with Japanese tormentor Mei Yamaguchi, the number one-ranked Atomweight fighter whom she has fought with twice, in order to settle who the rightful challenger to Lee’s belt is.   “Everyone has gotten belts. My big brothers in the team have tasted championship. I felt jealous because I do not have a belt, and lost my fight that would have given me a title shot. This time, I will make sure that I will do my best to secure a title fight,” rued Iniong in a previous interview with ONE Championship prior to fighting Radzuan.   While Iniong wants hit paydirt, it’s all about keeping the belt on his waist for Pacio, the reigning ONE Strawweight champion. His most probable foe is his nemesis Yoshitaka Naito who he does not have a problem with facing for the third time.   “I really want to prove I am the champion, and if it’s by facing him (Naito), so be it. I also want to prove that I have greatly improved as well from the last time we fought,” he shared.   While Iniong and Pacio await their next fighting assignment, their teammates are in the thick of training for the upcoming “Dawn of Heroes” megafight card happening on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena. It features Team Lakay members, led by Edward “Landslide” Folayang, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, and Danny “The King” Kingad, who will face the best of the world as represented by Eddie Alvarez, Reece McLaren, and Yuya Wakamatsu.   The entire country will be cheering on them as the whole world watches. And maybe somehow, somewhere there will be new blood encouraged and inspired by them to take on the challenge of continuing the legacy of the nation’s best fighting team alongside Iniong and Pacio.   After all, Sangiao did not establish Team Lakay just to be some Bagiuo-based fitness gym down Benguet road. He made Team Lakay to provide a home, a family, for young Filipinos who have the heart to fight for their dream, their family, and the country.     Watch “ONE: Dawn of Heroes” on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena, to be broadcast LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD with livestreaming on iWant for all the Pinoy fight fans to see. For more stories and news one ONE Championship, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2019

PBA: Terrence Jones new tropa wants to send him back to the NBA

Over the last couple of seasons, the PBA has seen its share of super imports. Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee immediately comes to mind. Meralco’s Allen Durham and Phoenix’s Eugene Phelps fit in that mold too. Alaska’s Mike Harris is in that list as well. The uber-talented Glen Rice Jr. could have made it if he just got it together. But for the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, TNT brought not just any other import. Tired of underperforming for the past few conferences, the KaTropa went ahead and signed former Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones for the mid-season joust. With Jones, TNT went the super — SUPER — import route and it has been worth every penny for the KaTropa, at least so far.   ROCKET MAN Many former NBA players have played in the PBA before, that’s not a new thing. But what makes Jones special is that he’s at his peak of his powers now as he plays his first stint in the PBA. Jones is a former first-round pick and was a legitimate NBA contributor. In his best NBA season, in 2013-2014 for Houston, Jones started 71 games and had career-high numbers of 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. This dude is legit. “Oo iba, iba siya talaga,” guard RR Pogoy said of Jones. (Yes, he’s really different). In just one conference, Pogoy and Jones have clicked as teammates. Terrence has admitted that RR is one of his favorite local targets when he’s trying to spot an open teammate when opposing teams double on him. Pogoy admits that Jones is one of the best, if not the best, import he’s ever played with. “Pwedeng-pwede pa siya talaga sa NBA eh. Iba yung skills niya,” he added. (He could still play in the NBA. His skills are just different).   THE DIFFERENCE TNT has ran pretty much the same system for years. Whether you like this team or now, they know what style they want to play andd they identify players that fit that system well. The KaTropa have dominated the PBA without a traditional big man. Ask other teams, they’ve been blindsided and bamboozled by a TNT offense led by diminutive point guards like Jimmy Alapag and Jayson Castro. However, the KaTropa have hit another rough patch. The team hasn’t made it to the PBA semifinals since 2017. Their 2018 campaign was a lot like the horror 2016 year with the only difference being three seasons ago, they actually made it to the semifinals of the Governors’ Cup as a no. 1 seed. Last year, they won zero playoff games and missed the playoffs altogether once so in essence, 2018 was a worse nightmare for the KaTropa. It didn’t help that in the previous All-Filipino, they were practically a missed 24-second violation away from ending the San Miguel Beer Philippine Cup dynasty. The winning formula no longer works for TNT. Or at the very least, it’s not as effective. Enter Terrence Jones. “Malaking tulong talaga siya sa team namin. Kung ano yung kulang samin, parang fit na fit talaga siya eh. Napa-dali na lang yung mga buhay namin sa basketball,” Pogoy said of Jones. (He’s a big help to our team. What we lack, he fits right in. Our basketball lives are easier with him). “Yung rebounding tsaka yung pagka-shot blocker niya [malaking tulong]. Naiilang din yun kalaban namin eh, sa rebound naman naco-control namin kasi may malaki na kami, yun naman talaga kulang namin,” Pogoy added. (His rebounding and his presence as a shot blocker is a huge help). In 10 games so far, Jones is averaging 14.9 rebounds per game. That may not seem much for an import but he’s never had fewer than 10 in a game and has hit a high 22 rebounds. His shot blocking has helped TNT shore up its overall defense as well with Jones averaging 2.9 rejections a game with his three best performances coming against Columbian (7 blocks), Ginebra (6 blocks), and San Miguel (5 blocks). The last two teams feature perhaps the two best frontlines in the league today by a wide margin. Aside from his defensive presences, Jones is a force on offense as well, averaging 34.5 points on close to 50 percent shooting. He’s hit over 30 points eight times and over 40 points four times. Scoring will be a given for a player of his caliber but what sets him apart is his ability to locate open teammates and willingly pass the ball to them. Jones is good for at least four assists in every game and he’s topped out at 16 dimes so far. In 10 games, he’s rounding up to 7.7 assists per outing which leads all imports, and the whole league actually. “Talagang willing passer siya, hinahanap din niya talaga yung mga kasama niya. Kumbaga di niya inaako lahat yung scoring load,” forward Troy Rosario said of his new frontcourt tandem in Jones. (He’s a willing passer. He really tries to find his teammates and he’s not trying to shoulder all the scoring load). “Kami ready pa rin kami lagi. Syempre yung experience niya sa NBA talagang pinapakita niya dito, natutulungan din niya kami kung saan kami dapat lumugar sa plays kasi advanced na siya eh, kahit di na sabihin ni coach alam na niya dapat gawin,” he added. (We’re just ready as locals. He’s really showing his NBA experience here, he’s helping us to where we need to be on plays because he’s so advanced he knows what to do even before coach tells us).   THE LEADER Aside from putting up big numbers across the board, there’s one underrated factor about Terrence Jones that has led to him making a positive impact on TNT. Jones made an effort to be a leader for the KaTropa and his teammates have rallied behind him for sure. The result is in the way they play and the way they win in the Commissioner’s Cup. “I think it’s come to them [TNT locals] listening and understanding that I have a little experience on what it takes to try to win and be a good teammate,” Jones said of his leadership role with the KaTropa and how it worked out. “They listened and understood that and we’ve been having fun ever since,” he added. TNT is full of alpha-level players but Jones’ NBA resume has certainly helped in making them line up behin their import and provide support. The the KaTropa have been running like a well-oiled machince with that set up. “Leadership pa lang niya ang laking tulong na samin. As locals, ginagawa lang namin kung ano dapat namin gawin para maka-contribute din and para matulungan din siya,” Rosario said. (His leadership alone is a big help for us. As locals, we just try to do what we need to do to contribute and to help him out). “Magaling siya, isa talaga siya mga leader namin ngayon. Talagang nili-lift up niya kami, di lang sa salita pati sa gawa,” Pogoy added. (He’s great, he’s one of our leaders now. He really lifts us up not just with words but with action as well)   THE LONG ROAD BACK TO THE ASSOCIATION It would be incredible if TNT ends up having Terrence Jones as a resident import the same way Ginebra has Justin Brownlee or Phoenix has Eugene Phelps or Meralco having Allen Durham. However, the KaTropa know that their super import still has a good shot of returning to the NBA and they plan on helping him get back there. “Syempre goal namin makapasok sa playoffs, nagawa na namin yun. Ang susunod na step is next round sa playoffs. Malaking tulong din yun sa kanya kasi yung pangalan niya bumabango ulit,” Rosario said. (Our goal is to make the playoffs and we did that. Now the next step is to get to the next round of the playoffs. That’s a big help for him to get his name out there again). “Preparation na rin kasi alam namin na after dito, meron siyang invites sa mga training camps,” he added. (It’s also good preparation because we know after this, he has some invites to camps). With TNT at 9-1 and a top-2 seed in the playoffs, the team is certainly favored to win in the Commissioner’s Cup. And perhaps one of Jones’ best ways to once again get some traction is to put up great numbers for a championship team in a big league like the PBA. There’s a big check mark on the numbers part and while he can’t win a title by his lonesome, Jones has an entire tropa that has his back. “Lalo na kung mag-champion kami, mabango yung pangalan niya di ba?” Pogoy said. (If we win the championship, that’s good for his name, right?). “Marami naman nags-scout diyan, nakikita siya and maganda pinapakita niya. Feel ko [kaya bumalik sa NBA],” he added. (There’s people that scout him, seeing him and how good he’s been performing. I feel [he can make it back to the NBA]). Of course, winning a PBA championship does not directly award Jones and NBA roster spot. However, he appreciates that his team backs him up in that regard. Right now TNT’s super import is just concerned about playing well with his team and winning more games. “I appreciate it, I wish nothing but the best for all my teammates as well,” Jones said. “I hope you guys see that while we’re playing, we’re smiling and enjoying one another when anybody scores. It’s just like a family atmosphere,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2019

Leonard-George tandem turns Clippers into legit contender

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com At the moment of truth, Kawhi Leonard went against his persona and caused a shakeup that wasn’t so quiet after all. Quite stunning, actually, was the Friday (Saturday, PHL time) series of events that directly affected four teams, caused a major trade of unprecedented details, and influenced the NBA Finals MVP to sign a free agent contract with the Clippers and instantly turning a franchise without a banner into a hardcore contender. Get your first look at the NBA’s top Rookies during NBA Summer League LIVE on NBA League Pass! Leonard is now joined by Paul George, who finished third in the 2018-19 MVP balloting and who requested a trade from Oklahoma City at the 11th hour to essentially swap Russell Westbrook for Leonard. The Clippers are now bringing a pair of swingman who excel on both ends of the floor, giving them the sort of dynamic tandem that’s almost required to win a title these days. The price for George was steep — basically, the Clippers surrendered more for George than the Lakers did for Anthony Davis. They handed over a chunk of their future, with three unprotected first-round picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) belonging to the Clippers, a pair of coveted Heat first rounders (2021 unprotected and 2023 protected 1-14) that were owned by LA, and the option to swap first-rounders with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025. OKC also gets 20-year-old point guard Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and veteran shooter Danilo Gallinari. And so the Clippers drastically changed their personality in the span of a few years, replacing the “Lob City” era of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan with a feisty defensive club led by Kawhi, George, Pat Beverley and Montrezl Harrell. It’s also a team with three reputable scorers as well: Kawhi, George and Lou Williams. Imagine: The Clippers just upstaged the Lakers in an offseason where the Lakers added Davis to join LeBron James. Adding to the intrigue is the presence of Jerry West, the Laker Hall of Famer whose reign as general manager helped raise multiple banners, but whose touch as a consultant with the Clippers in this process is undeniable. Two summers ago when he joined the Clippers after serving the same role with the Warriors, it was West who persuaded the Clippers to trade Griffin, whom they just gave a maximum contract, to the Pistons. West believed Griffin’s best years were behind him and thought the Clippers would be better as a team with more salary cap flexibility going forward. Plus, West and GM Lawrence Frank traded Tobias Harris, the team’s leading scorer, to Philly at the February deadline rather than re-sign Harris this summer in free agency. All of this was done with the idea of signing an impact player in mind, and Leonard was that player and the Clippers’ top target over the last year. Leonard’s appeal to the Clippers was evident and easy to understand. He’s a player who can score 25 points and grab 7-8 rebounds and lock down his man on the other end of the floor. And of course, he just led the Raptors to a championship without being generously helped by a fellow superstar. Interestingly, Leonard had the option of having not just one, but two fellow superstars this summer had he chosen the Lakers. LeBron and Davis and Leonard would make for a championship favorite, especially when you add Kyle Kuzma to the mix. In the end, Leonard wanted to beat the Lakers, not join them. The Lakers still bring those three players, though, and will now garnish the team with minimum-waged players to fill out the roster. Already, Danny Green announced he’ll sign a two-year, $15 million deal with the Lakers, and Rajon Rondo is perhaps not far behind. Both the Lakers and Clippers could compete in the coming days for DeMarcus Cousins as well. The team harmed the most, at least in the immediate sense, is OKC. With the amount of top competitors in the West — Clippers, Lakers, Rockets, Nuggets, Jazz and Blazers among others — the Thunder likely will take a step back and could enter a semi-rebounding phase without George. Also: Could OKC be forced to part ways with Westbrook? The former MVP struggled at times last season and especially in the playoffs, and turns 31 in November, and is on a max contract. It’s not the type of atmosphere that fits Westbrook, who’ll soon enter his twilight. Thunder GM Sam Presti, if nothing else, has shown a willingness to do whatever it takes if it works for OKC. Lastly, there’s the Raptors, who must now go forward without their lone superstar. There are no other players on the level of Leonard that Toronto can chase this offseason. In addition, the core of their rotation is on expiring contracts — Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. The Raptors will surely groom Pascal Siakam to take a lead role with Leonard gone, yet will face major decisions next summer as they attempt to reshape the team. All of this is because Leonard caused a domino effect that ultimately moved mountains. Something of this nature and this magnitude doesn’t happen often in the NBA and is never done virtually overnight, given the amount of pieces involved and teams who put their existence on hold while Leonard stretched his decision nearly a week since free agency began. Evidently there was a reason for that. He wanted the Clippers but only if they could add another major piece. When other options dried up — Jimmy Butler unexpectedly signing with Miami and Kevin Durant with Brooklyn, for instance — the Clippers had to go the trade route. And George had to be convinced by Kawhi to force a trade. And OKC had to agree to that, rather than risk going through a season with an unhappy player. When the Clippers coughed up a bevy for draft picks, that put the entire process in motion. And in the end, basketball in LA became the big winner. It would not be unusual or unexpected if the road to the next conference championship goes through Staples Center and gets decided by one of its two home teams. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsJul 6th, 2019

Unfinished business brought title contender Eduard Folayang back to ONE Championship

A little over a month from now, Pinoy mixed martial artist and Team Lakay star Eduard “Landslide” Folayang will be challenging Japan’s Shinya Aoki for the ONE Championship lightweight title. It’ll be Folayang’s fi.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 14th, 2016

Danny Kingad doesn t want to face teammate Geje Eustaquio, not even for a title shot

No amount money or negotiations can make Danny "The King" Kingad step inside the Circle against his teammate Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio. The 23-year-old from Baguio City will lock horns with former ONE Bantamweight World Title challengerReece "Lightning" McLaren in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semi-finals at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES on 2 August at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. On the other hand, the former ONE Flyweight World Champion Eustaquio will also appear on the same card when he takes on Yuya "Little Piranha" Wakamatsu in a ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix alternate bout. A win from "Gravity" that evening would give him a guaranteed slot in the Grand Prix if any athletes withdraw from the tournament - meaning a Team Lakay versus Team Lakay matchup could be on the horizon. “If it was up to me, I really don’t want it,” Kingad said. “But that’s if it’s up to me. I just don’t want to split our team on the premise of a World Title shot.”  The young phenom, however, understands that at the end of the day - it’s the higher ups of ONE Championship that have the final say on their potential clash.  “If they really want it, they’ll have to give us a raise,” Kingad said with a laugh. "Maybe they should just visit us in the gym to watch us spar. There we grind everyday.”  Jokes aside, Kingad said he does not see himself competing against a fellow martial artist from Team Lakay.  He would rather step down and give any of his teammates the opportunity to vie for a World Title, citing that the renowned stable is too invested in its tight-knit brotherhood for him to even entertain the thought of standing across the Circle against a family member. And maybe that is what makes Team Lakay special.  “Maybe I would just beg off and give the opportunity to them,” said Kingad. “We’re brothers and we’re a family. I don’t want to do anything that could affect that.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 22nd, 2019

ONE Championship: Eddie Alvarez in for a tough test against Eduard Folayang

American mixed martial arts veteran Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez will get a shot at redemption when he takes on local hero Eduard “Landslide” Folayang at ONE: Dawn Of Heroes on 2 August at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.    Alvarez made his ONE Championship debut at ONE: A NEW ERA, but it didn’t exactly go as he had imagined. The multiple-time World Champion succumbed to Timofey Nastyukhin via shock first-round knockout. Still, Alvarez remains unfazed and as determined as ever to restart his journey towards the ONE World Title.   “Look, I got the first one out of the way. I lost, no problem. I did the same thing in the UFC [against Donald Cerrone] and I honestly almost did the same thing in my debut in Bellator. I got dropped terribly. My debut in Bellator against an Irish kid (Greg Loughran) that no one knew. I got caught pretty clean.    “I bounced back and got the win, but I’m not a big fan of my debuts, put it that way. So I got it out of the way, got it past me, and now I can go full-on, go undefeated straight to the belt,” said Alvarez.   “I go out there and I’ve given my all every time, but I think at every once in a while it’s good to take a loss and put the fire back in your belly, and I think it’s a good time to have that. Sometimes you need that fire to burn long enough to get to that World Title.”       For this upcoming bout, Alvarez will face another tough and exciting foe in Folayang, the former ONE Lightweight World Champion who has seen his fair share of success against formidable opponents and will be competing in his homeland.   “He’s incredibly tough, incredibly durable. I understand the power of Wushu, because the guys I train with, Zabit [Magomedsharipov] and a lot of the Russians that come over to spar with us in [New] Jersey, they’re all from a Wushu background,” shared Alvarez.    “So the art is for real, it applies very well to MMA. And I’m looking forward to the toughest Eduard Folayang.   “It’s in his hometown. So I’m looking forward to a tough opponent and I’m viewing the fight as one that I absolutely have to finish. I am not coming in for a decision. I expect to lose if it goes to a decision. So I have every intention to finish.”   As an exemplary athlete and mixed martial artist, Alvarez wants to show fans what he is capable of, especially against Folayang who has a ton of championship experience under his belt and will draw from the cheers of the hometown crowd.   “I’m excited. This match-up in particular, I feel like this guy’s such a hard-nosed, tough fighter. This could be a Fight of the Year. Just my attitude and my mentality going into the fight, I like to feel that my back’s against the wall. I do really well there. I don’t like to feel respected. I like when people think a certain way, whether it’s negatively or whatever, and then I get an opportunity to shock them all,” Alvarez said.   “I never want an easy fight. My only desire is for the ONE Championship title. And this guy’s held it not once, but twice already.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 22nd, 2019

FIBA: Gilas feeling the pressure of limited prep for World Cup

With a little over six weeks away from its first game in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas is starting to feel the pressure of its limited preparation. Currently, the national team’s set up is to practice twice in one week, once during Mondays and another Thursdays. Gilas has been living with that but they know it’s not enough. Now, they’re truly feeling that that’s not quite enough. “That’s the urgency right now, masyadong madalang yung twice a week [practice] for such a big responsibility like representing the country sa World Cup,” head coach Yeng Guiao said. “We’re trying to get at least two more days of practice kung kaya,” he added. Guiao is generally happy with the way the national team has been practicing. But for Gilas to truly nake the most out of its sessions and hammer things home, more time is needed. With the PBA season still ongoing, in particular the Commissioner’s Cup playoffs starting this week, national team players can’t quite go all in on Gilas just yet. Most of the players in the Gilas pool will compete for the Commissioner’s Cup title. “There’s always a divided focus in the minds of the players,” Guiao said. “Request namin best-of-3 na lang yung championship. Anyway, to me it’s becoming urgent kasi we keep going back. Yung prinactice namin nung Monday, pagdating ng Thursday halos nakalimutan na tapos uumpisahan mo na naman,” coach Yeng added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2019

PBA: Job’s not done even as TNT locks up top seed

With yet another impressive win, TNT has locked up the no. 1 seed in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs. By punishing the Magnolia Hotshots Wednesday, the KaTropa have won eight straight games and will enter the playoffs as the league’s no. 1 team. A perk of that is that TNT will have a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals against Alaska or Meralco. A nice winning streak and a no. 1 ranking naturally has the KaTropa happy. However, the job is far from over. No team gets awarded a title after finishing first in the elimination round. “Tuwang-tuwa lahat, yung mag coaches pati mga boss,” guard RR Pogo said. “Pero di pa tapos eh. May quarters pa, semis. Di pa tapos,” he added. Since taking an early beating at the hands of Northport, who ended up taking the no. 2 seed, TNT has been on a tear. Behind super import Terrence Jones, the KaTropa have been practically unstoppable in their eight-game run. That streak should give the team a much-needed boost for the playoffs. “Siguro dagdag kumpiyansa samin to lalo na papuntang playoffs. Sinusunod lang talaga namin kung ano yung game plan ni coach. Nagbunga naman so sana tuluy-tuloy na to sa playoffs,” Pogoy said. “Mindset talaga namin kahit anong mangyari, number 1 or number 2, every game talagang nilalaro namin. Yun laging sinasabi ni coach,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 17th, 2019

PBA: Job’s not done even as TNT locks up top seed

With yet another impressive win, TNT has locked up the no. 1 seed in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs. By punishing the Magnolia Hotshots Wednesday, the KaTropa have won eight straight games and will enter the playoffs as the league’s no. 1 team. A perk of that is that TNT will have a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals against Alaska or Meralco. A nice winning streak and a no. 1 ranking naturally has the KaTropa happy. However, the job is far from over. No team gets awarded a title after finishing first in the elimination round. “Tuwang-tuwa lahat, yung mag coaches pati mga boss,” guard RR Pogo said. “Pero di pa tapos eh. May quarters pa, semis. Di pa tapos,” he added. Since taking an early beating at the hands of Northport, who ended up taking the no. 2 seed, TNT has been on a tear. Behind super import Terrence Jones, the KaTropa have been practically unstoppable in their eight-game run. That streak should give the team a much-needed boost for the playoffs. “Siguro dagdag kumpiyansa samin to lalo na papuntang playoffs. Sinusunod lang talaga namin kung ano yung game plan ni coach. Nagbunga naman so sana tuluy-tuloy na to sa playoffs,” Pogoy said. “Mindset talaga namin kahit anong mangyari, number 1 or number 2, every game talagang nilalaro namin. Yun laging sinasabi ni coach,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 17th, 2019

PBA: Job’s not done even as TNT locks up top seed

With yet another impressive win, TNT has locked up the no. 1 seed in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs. By punishing the Magnolia Hotshots Wednesday, the KaTropa have won eight straight games and will enter the playoffs as the league’s no. 1 team. A perk of that is that TNT will have a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals against Alaska or Meralco. A nice winning streak and a no. 1 ranking naturally has the KaTropa happy. However, the job is far from over. No team gets awarded a title after finishing first in the elimination round. “Tuwang-tuwa lahat, yung mag coaches pati mga boss,” guard RR Pogo said. “Pero di pa tapos eh. May quarters pa, semis. Di pa tapos,” he added. Since taking an early beating at the hands of Northport, who ended up taking the no. 2 seed, TNT has been on a tear. Behind super import Terrence Jones, the KaTropa have been practically unstoppable in their eight-game run. That streak should give the team a much-needed boost for the playoffs. “Siguro dagdag kumpiyansa samin to lalo na papuntang playoffs. Sinusunod lang talaga namin kung ano yung game plan ni coach. Nagbunga naman so sana tuluy-tuloy na to sa playoffs,” Pogoy said. “Mindset talaga namin kahit anong mangyari, number 1 or number 2, every game talagang nilalaro namin. Yun laging sinasabi ni coach,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 17th, 2019

ONE Championship: Alvarez match the perfect gauge for Folayang s future

Eduard "Landslide" Folayang says he will see a glimpse of his future when he shares the Circle with former lightweight World Champion Eddie "The Underground King" Alvarez.   The former ONE Lightweight World Champion from Baguio City is slated to lock horns with the American mixed martial arts legend in a ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinal bout at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES on 2 August at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.   Eager to become a World Champion yet again in The Home of Martial Arts, Folayang, will find out if he still has what it takes to reign over the talent-rich division.    After all, Folayang is not getting any younger and he believes that his battle with Alvarez will only show him where he stands right now.    “This is very important because this is where I’ll my see future and where I am right now,” said Folayang.    “It’s like a measurement fight. This is where I’ll see if I still have what it takes and the things I need to do in order to become a champion again.”    Folayang realizes that he is about to mix it up with the most decorated opponent he has faced to date. With pressure mounting to perform in front of his hometown crowd, "Landslide" is bent on getting the win in hopes for another World Title shot.   “The home crowd will certainly be a factor, especially since I’m facing a very good opponent. I think all of the fans know that,” said  Folayang.    “They know what’s at stake and that’s why we should be at our best. Sometimes all they care for is winning or losing, so we really have to be better.”    With less than a month left before the highly-anticipated showdown between the two best lightweights the East and West has to offer, Folayang is banking on his countrymen's cheers to uplift his warrior spirit at the Mall of Asia Arena.   “It’s a different feeling when they cheer. Your spirits are lifted and your adrenaline is through the roof.”   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2019

PVL Finals: ‘Yung momentum is with us -- Laniog

PetroGazz is looking to use the momentum of its morale-boosting, series-equalizing win to finish off defending champion Creamline and annex the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference throne on Sunday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo. Less than 24 hours after tying the best-of-three title showdown to one game each, the Angels set their eyes to claiming their breakthrough title in the decider that will start at 4:00 p.m. and will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and via livestream. “Parehas lang na pagod, walang advantage. Pero siguro ang pinaka-advantage namin is yung momentum is with us,” said Laniog, whose squad snapped the Cool Smashers’ 12-game winning streak. PetroGazz came back from a set down to prevail over Creamline, 15-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-12, in Game 2 on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Cuban Wilma Salas and American Janisa Johnson, who powered the Angels with 23 points the last time out, are expected bring out another monster game while locals Jonah Sabete, Jeanette Panaga, Cherry Nunag, libero Cienne Cruz and setter Djanel Cheng as support.      “Ang tanong gaano namin iha-handle ang momentum namin habang mainit pa para maipakita namin bukas sa do-or-die championship,” said Laniog. The Cool Smashers will play back-to-back games for the first time in the conference but Laniog doesn’t see it as their advantage heading into Game 3. “Wala namang advantage, it’s all players game. If you want it talagang makukuha talaga,” said Laniog.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2019

ONE Championship: With title shot in mind, Danny Kingad unaffected by change of foe

Flyweight prospect Danny "The King" Kingad is too focused in training to get bothered by a replacement of opponent ahead of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semifinals.   The 23-year-old from Baguio City was originally scheduled to square off against former ONE Flyweight World Champion Kairat "The Kazakh" Akhmetov, but the latter had to withdraw from the tournament after he suffered an injury.   The recent development led "The King" to receiving former ONE Bantamweight World Title challenger Reece "Lightning" McLaren as his new adversary, and he has no problems facing the Australian sensation.   “I don’t think there’s much difference in training. It’s pretty much the same, they’re good wrestlers and in jiu-jitsu,” said Kingad.    “The game plan is to strike and to defend the ground well. I’ll try to keep the fight standing, there’s little changes I made in my gameplan.”  McLaren, an Australian with Filipino roots himself, was eliminated from the prestigious tournament when he lost a unanimous decision against Akhmetov in the quarterfinals.    Despite the loss, Kingad is convinced his new opponent is just as good as Akhmetov, as he knows better than to underestimate the challenge in front of him.   “I think they’re on the same level. Just for me, they’re pretty much the same," he explained.   “Reece is very technical in the ground and that’s what I’m trying to avoid. I don’t think I’ll have a problem in the striking department cause that’s my game plan.” Kingad has nothing but high regards for McLaren, who has faced some of the best and biggest names on the ONE Championship roster. A former bantamweight contender, Kingad, however, feels that McLaren was a better athlete in the upper weight class.   “He was strong in bantamweight, but I feel like when he moved to flyweight, I have the upper hand now,” Kingad stressed.    “That’s my advantage over him. In case the match goes to the ground, I have something to show for, something he won’t expect.”  In his past few bouts, "The King" was bent on getting a knockout.   He is willing to let it slide against McLaren, as he stressed the importance of getting a win over a highlight-reel finish.   “Whether it be by knockout, submission or decision, my target is to win.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 10th, 2019

ONE Championship: Geje Eustaquio also added to ONE: Dawn of Heroes card in Manila

Filipino former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio of Team Lakay will be heading back to the cage after being added to the already-stacked ONE: Dawn of Heroes card in Manila this coming August 2nd.    Eustaquio will be facing hard-hitting Japanese flyweight Yuya Wakamatsu in a ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix alternate bout.    Eustaquio is coming off a unanimous decision win over South Korean Kim Kyu Sung in Singapore back in May, his comeback bout and his first win since losing the title to Adriano Moraes back in January.   Wakamatsu was originally scheduled to face Fil-Australian Reece McLaren, but McLaren was tapped to replace former ONE Flyweight World Champion Kairat Akhmetov in his ONE Flyweight Grand Prix semifinals bout against Eustaquio’s teammate, Danny Kingad.    Also added to the card was Indian-Canadian former UFC heavyweight Arjan Singh Bhullar, who makes his ONE debut against former title challenger Mauro “The Hammer” Cerilli of Italy.    Catch ONE: Dawn of Heroes on Friday, August 2nd at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Watch it live on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2019

Kawhi Leonard: 10 things to know

NBA.com staff report Kawhi Leonard has quickly risen from unheralded prospect to global superstar during his eight-year NBA career. With his highly anticipated free agent decision made, here are 10 things to know about the two-time Finals MVP. * * * Raised In California: Kawhi Anthony Leonard was born on June 29, 1991, in Los Angeles, California. He was the youngest of five children with four older sisters. During his freshman year of high school, his mother was out of town for work during his team's basketball tryouts so he missed the session. He played football instead that season and didn't start playing basketball at Canyon Springs High School until his sophomore year. Mr. Basketball: He played his next two seasons at Riverside King, where he went on to win California's Mr. Basketball during his senior year. After the tragic death of his father in 2008, he scored 17 points the next night and broke down in his mother's arms after the game. "Basketball is my life, and I wanted to go out there and take my mind off it," he said postgame. Aztec Legend: Kawhi took his talents to nearby San Diego State University for his collegiate career. He was dominant in college, especially on defense, as he led the Aztecs to back-to-back Mountain West Conference tournament championships. His team reached the Sweet 16 before being eliminated by eventual NCAA Tournament champion UConn during his sophomore season. After the tournament, Kawhi declared his intention to enter the 2011 NBA Draft. Draft Night Deal: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called the decision to trade for Kawhi on Draft night the "toughest" decision he had to make during his 20-plus seasons in San Antonio. The decision was difficult because the Spurs had to part ways with valued young guard George Hill in the deal with the Indiana Pacers. But the move paid off for San Antonio as Kawhi quickly adjusted to the NBA game and showed flashes of star potential. He finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting and earned a spot on the 2012 All-Rookie First Team. Mr. Economical: Despite his early success, Kawhi didn't let his first NBA paychecks steer him away from his frugal ways. During his first few seasons in the NBA, he continued to drive the same Chevy Malibu he drove in college. "It's paid off," he said in 2004. "I don't have a car note on it. It's good on gas. It's a good commuter car if you don't want to drive your luxury car." His friends and family eventually convinced him to buy a Porsche, which he would only drive on gamedays. Daily Grind: Kawhi quickly earned a reputation in San Antonio for his work ethic as he trained alongside legendary Spurs players Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Longtime Spurs assistant coach Chip Engelland helped Kawhi perfect his shooting form by having him study the forms of Kobe Bryant and Richard Jefferson. Breakthrough Moment: The hard work paid off for Kawhi as he continued to blossom on the title-contending Spurs. After losing to the Miami Heat in seven games during the 2013 Finals, the Spurs returned to The Finals in 2014 and avenged their defeat with a 4-1 series win over Miami. Kawhi was key for San Antonio with averages of 17.8 points on 61.2 percent shooting, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks. At age 22, Kawhi became the third youngest player in NBA history to win Finals MVP and the youngest since Magic Johnson in 1980. Out Of The Spotlight: His rise to fame during the 2014 Finals didn't change his day-to-day mindset. According to Engelland in 2017, "He hasn’t been tricked by any of the NBA glamour or bright lights, big city. A lot of smart, great players have been. You get lost and forget the process, forget why you began to play. With him, it’s like, ‘What’d you do last night?’ ‘Watched a little TV. I was with friends. My mom cooked dinner.’ Those are very common nights for him.” Derailed By Injury: The two-time Defensive Player of the Year enjoyed a relatively injury-free start to his career with the Spurs. But everything changed when he re-aggravated an ankle injury during Game 1 of the 2017 West finals. The injury, and subsequent recovery, forced Kawhi to miss the remainder of the series and all but 9 games during 2017-18. After the season, Kawhi expressed his desire to be traded by the Spurs. He was dealt to the Toronto Raptors on July 18, 2018. Legendary Company: It was a storybook season for Kawhi and the Raptors as he led Toronto to their first NBA championship in franchise history. Kawhi was unstoppable throughout the playoffs with clutch play after play, including an instantly iconic series-winner in the East semifinals. He joined LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in NBA history to win Finals MVP with two different teams......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 6th, 2019

NCAA 95: Will third time be the charm for TY Tang-coached CSB?

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 10-8, 5th YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Kendrix Belgica, Justin Gutang, Yankie Haruna, Clement Leutcheu, Unique Naboa WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Ladis Lepalam, Mark Sangco GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Carlo Young WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM CSB? A year ago, CSB came oh so close to finally breaking through to the Final Four. Now in NCAA Season 95, the Blazers are bringing back a mostly intact core that only lost two-way guard Carlo Young. Even so, rising star Justin Gutang remains in green and white alongside tireless workhorse Kendrix Belgica, hard-nosed forward Edward Dixon, pint-sized playmaker Unique Naboa, and Cameroonian center Clement Leutcheu. “We have no doubt Edward Dixon and Kendrix Belgica will be stepping up for us big time.” – head coach TY Tang They will also be joined by a couple of sophomores being eyes to take the next step in Prince Carlos and Robi Nayve as well as a pair of standouts from CSB-La Salle Green Hills in 6-foot-8 raw project Ladis Lepalam and long-limbed wing Mark Sangco. All that may very well be the perfect mix TY Tang has long been looking for now in his third year at the helm – and that elusive playoff berth may very well be within reach for the Taft-based team. “We can always say we are ready but the result will show if we are or we are not. For us, we are just looking forward to again play in the NCAA.” – head coach TY Tang WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM CSB? NCAA Season 95 is Gutang’s time to transform from an impact rookie to a bonafide star. Without a doubt, CSB will go wherever its Filipino-American takes it, but that also means that the do-it-all swingman would need to take on more of a leadership role for his young supporting cast. “In terms of playing inside the court, no doubt na siya talaga ang leader namin, but more than the on-court stuff, it's more of his character, yun ang hinahanap namin sa kanya. When you're a leader, you're supposed to command and earn the respect of your team. That's where we want him to lead. He's still a work-in-progress with his maturity, pero nag-improve naman.” – head coach TY Tang In that light, it’s only a step in the right direction that the Blazers are, at long last, getting to add talent from its thriving high school program. Lepalam and Sangco may be under the radar pickups, but both are more than capable of being key cogs for a contender. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR CSB? CSB has long been longing for another run to the Final Four, or even the Finals, after the school took the league by storm by winning the championship in its early years of membership. In recent history, the Blazers have fallen a win or two short of the playoffs more than a few times. With the field as wide open as it has been in a long while, NCAA Season 95 may just be the opening they need to finally get that Final Four monkey off their backs. “To get to the playoffs is our main goal.” – head coach TY Tang WHERE WOULD CSB BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 95? CSB will be fighting with its all for a place in the Final Four, but it is far from a shoo-in. Coach TY needs even more lucky bounces to go his way if he is to finally accomplish the mission he set out for with the Blazers. WHEN IS CSB’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 95? CSB begins its quest for a breakthrough when it wages war against Emilio Aguinaldo College on July 9 at the Filoil Flying V Centre. As always, the latest season of the first and oldest collegiate league in the country will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream. HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE NINE OTHER TEAMS IN NCAA SEASON 95: Young guns to be wind beneath JRU’s wings for NCAA 95 EAC turning over a new leaf for NCAA 95 Kent Salado back in the driver's seat for Arellano in NCAA 95 Mapua Srs. out to reap the rewards of its champion Jrs. team Health only thing standing in way of Baste's best shot at a title --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2019

10 NCAA players to watch in Season 95

It’s important to note that half of the players who were picked in the first round of the 2018 PBA Draft were products of the country’s first collegiate sports league. CJay Perez and Robert Bolick have immediately become the cornerstones of Columbian Dyip and NorthPort Batang Pier, respectively. Javee Mocon, Jesper Ayaay, Michael Calisaan and JP Calvo have all received high praise from the coaches of their new teams. While last season’s heroes are now living their lifelong dreams in the PBA, new stars are looking to shine as NCAA Season 95 opens on July 7 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. James Kwekuteye (SBU)   If there is one player worthy enough to succeed Bolick as the King Lion of Mendiola, it’s the 6’3” Fil-Canadian shooting guard, James Kwekuteye. As a rookie, Kwekuteye came off the bench for majority of the season and had limited time to really put his talent on display. But, when he did start, particularly in San Beda’s second round game against LPU, Kwekuteye proved that he could be a major threat as he scored a career-high 18 points for the Red Lions, matching the scoring output of Bolick. In that game, Bolick motivated Kwekuteye by saying, “they can’t stop you.” James Kwekuteye introduces himself to Lyceum with 18 big points! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/OQS5eZBTJL — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 18, 2018 As the new starting shooting guard of Coach Boyet Fernandez, Kwekuteye led San Beda in scoring in the 2019 Fil-Oil Flying V Pre-season Cup averaging 14.1 points per game.    Evan Nelle (SBU)   Another talented player who didn’t see the floor much last year due to the loaded roster of guards on the San Beda lineup was former NCAA Jrs. Finals MVP Evan Nelle. Evan Nelle repays coach Boyet Fernandez' trust by drilling the early three! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/kpfdsnro2i — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 11, 2018 Nelle was the fourth string point guard behind Bolick, Jo Presbitero and Radge Tongco in Season 94. But, with the graduation of all three aforementioned players, the keys to the Red Lions’ offense has fallen straight into Nelle’s hands. While sharing the backcourt with Kwekuteye, Nelle led San Beda to the 2019 FilOil Championship and averaged a league-best 4.7 assists per contest.    Donald Tankoua (SBU)   Aside from capturing the title in the country’s most prestigious pre-season tournament, Kwekuteye and Nelle were also named to the Mythical Five along with their starting center, Donald Tankoua.  Donald Tankoua drops 23 points to help San Beda end the eliminations on a high note. #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/EUFpXnAt8T — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 23, 2018 The 6’6” Cameroonian big man has always been one of the most consistent players, year in and year out in the NCAA and will continue to be as he plays out his final year of eligibility in Season 95. Because he’s a walking double-double, expect Tankoua to be the early favorite to win MVP.   Mike Harry Nzeusseu (LPU)   Now, if there is anybody who possesses the physical attributes and the numbers to challenge Tankoua’s MVP campaign, it’s LPU’s Mike Harry Nzeusseu. Mike Harry Nzeusseu gets NASTY ???? #NCAASeason94 #NCAAFinals pic.twitter.com/yEAr0ywBPd — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 12, 2018 Nzeusseu ended last season without confirming that he would return to play one more year with the Pirates but his participation in the Fil-Oil tournament tells us that he will be back to anchor the defense of Coach Topex Robinson. And without Perez, the 6’6” center from the Republic of Cameroon will also have to do major damage on the offensive end as well.  Jayson David (LPU)   Jayson David picks Robert Bolick's pocket for the transition finish! #NCAASeason93 #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/Inl17UZbKq — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 7, 2017 Back in Season 91, the NCAA added a Most Improved Player trophy to their list of awardees for every basketball tournament. Based on the pre-season, former San Sebastian guard Jayson David has emerged as the frontrunner for that award as he has assumed the starting spot of Perez with LPU. David is no “Baby Beast”, but it seems that Robinson trusts him enough to be a critical piece in the Pirates’ quest to capture that elusive NCAA championship. He averaged 7.3 PPG, 6 RPG and 2.1 APG in the Fil-Oil tourney.   Jeo Ambohot (CSJL)   Another player who seems to have earned the trust of his coach is Jeo Ambohot. Under Coach Jeff Napa, the ‘23 for 23’ Gilas World Cup pool member came off the bench and underachieved, only averaging 7.2 PPG and 7.2 RPG for the Knights in Season 94. Jeo Ambohot can hit this all game long! ???? #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/5NCj7tV7Gt — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 9, 2018 However, under new Letran Head Coach Bonnie Tan, Ambohot was being utilized as the starting center with last year’s Rookie of the Year, Larry Muyang coming off the bench in their pre-season games. Nevertheless, a player like Ambohot should not be happy with his dismal outing last year and should come out stronger in Season 95.    Renato Ular (CSJL)   Here’s a guy you probably haven’t heard about before. His name is Renato Ular. Ring a bell? Probably not. The last time he saw action was during his rookie year in Season 92. Actually, he didn’t even do much back then. He only played in four games in did not score a single point in any of those games. After two years as a spectator, Ular has finally rejoined the Letran lineup and was their best player in the Fil-Oil tournament averaging 9.8 PPG and 8.1 RPG. The last left-handed legend from Letran was Rey Nambatac. This lefty’s got a long way to go to get on the Sting Rey’s level, but expect him to be one of the Knights' primary attackers this year.   RK Ilagan (SSC-R)   RK Ilagan was FEELING IT from downtown, dropping a new career-high 2??6?? PTS vs Mapua! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/SDIaVmtzCF — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 12, 2018 Speaking of attacking, one player who will be more relentless than he’s ever been this Season 95 is RK Ilagan. The pride of Barrio Fugoso, Tondo, Manila ranked seventh in scoring last year, averaging 15.2 PPG and was the Golden Stags’ leading scorer despite the presence of Calisaan. Coach Egay Macaraya loves a shooter and will continue to give the green light to Ilagan who made more triples (40) than any player in the NCAA in Season 94.    Kent Salado (AU)   Prior to injuring his right knee on October 10, 2017 in an 85-79 Arellano win over SSC-R in Season 93, Kent Salado was one of the most exciting players in the NCAA. The spitfire point guard from Cagayan de Oro was averaging 19.1 PPG (2nd behind Perez) and 5.0 APG (2nd behind Bolick) for the Chiefs, taking over the driver’s seat that Jiovani Jalalon occupied during their run to the Finals in Season 92. Lervin Flores with a nice block, Kent Salado with an even better finish! #NCAASeason93 #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/ohK28fFFhS — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 15, 2017 Now that he’s finally had surgery to repair what was eventually revealed to be a torn ACL, Salado is looking to excite fans anew especially since Arellano University will serve as the host of the NCAA for the first time in league history. Justin Gutang (CSB)   Recently, I asked former Arellano Head Coach Jerry Codi?era who he thought had the makings of a star in the NCAA now that the likes of Perez and Bolick are in the pros. The “Defense Minister” immediately mentioned one name: Justin Gutang. The 6’3” Fil-American forward from San Francisco, California had an impressive rookie season, averaging 13.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 4.3 APG for the Blazers and winning the Slam Dunk contest along the way. Although we haven’t heard much from Gutang in the off-season, the fact that a PBA Legend still has him on his radar means that the kid’s potential cannot be ignored. ?Editor's Note: The list is based on pre-season performances of teams. There are some NCAA teams who have not partcipated in pre-season tournaments nor released line-ups.  ?Catch NCAA Season 95 starting July 7, Sunday, 11:30 am LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, Liga, Liga HD, iWant and via livestream.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 27th, 2019