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As preseason winds down, NBA stars are getting some rest

By The Associated Press Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward's preseasons ended early. And they weren't alone around the NBA on Saturday, either. The Boston Celtics left the biggest two stars on their roster — both of whom are coming off serious injuries, and now apparently dealing with far more minor ones — out of the lineup for their preseason finale at Cleveland. The official reasons where lower back pain for Hayward and a rib contusion for Irving. Hayward's last game at Cleveland was opening night of the regular season a year ago, when he suffered a gruesome ankle and leg injury that ended his season. Irving was sidelined for the final month of the regular season and the entirety of Boston's run to the Eastern Conference finals with a knee problem. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers kept Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, George Hill and Kyle Korver out of the matchup. At the Indiana-Memphis game, the Pacers rested their entire projected starting five — Victor Oladipo, Darren Collison, Thad Young, Myles Turner, and Bojan Bogdanovic. And the Grizzlies sat some regulars as well, including Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, with neither move there coming as a surprise given that Memphis was playing a preseason back-to-back and both of those veterans played Friday against Atlanta. And when the Lakers and Clippers met in the last of three preseason contests Saturday, LeBron James was sitting out to rest. The Lakers were also without Lonzo Ball again, though he may play before the preseason ends. All those rest moves Saturday came one day after San Antonio lost rookie guard Lonnie Walker IV for several weeks with a torn meniscus. Walker got hurt in the Spurs' preseason game Friday, and will have surgery on Monday. CAVALIERS 113, CELTICS 102 Ante Zizic scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting and Collin Sexton had 13 points for Cleveland. Sexton made 4 of 6 from the field, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range and Jordan Clarkson added 12 points, six rebounds and three assists in 14 minutes. Larry Nance Jr. had 10 points for Cleveland (2-0). Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier scored 17 points apiece for Boston and Al Horford finished with 10 points and seven assists in 21 minutes. Boston's Marcus Smart was ejected following a dustup that started when his teammate Aron Baynes was pushed by Cleveland's J.R. Smith. "He wants to be so tough in that situation," Smith said of Smart. "He leads the league in flops, easily. You can't flop as much as you do and then be tough. How does that even work?" CAVALIERS: Isaiah Taylor, who signed with the Cavs last month, had eight points, three assists, three steals and a block in 17 minutes. CELTICS: Kyrie Irving announced on Thursday that he intends to re-sign with the Celtics (1-3) after season's end. ... Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum each scored eight points while combining to shoot just 7 of 22 from the field, including 0 for 4 from behind the arc. UP NEXT: Boston returns home to play Philadelphia in the season opener on October 16. ... Cleveland continues preseason play at home against Indiana on Monday. GRIZZLIES 109, PACERS 104, OT Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 18 points and Wayne Selden had 16 points, nine assists and two steals for Memphis. Garrett Temple and Yuta Watanabe, who was 5-of-7 shooting, added 11 points apiece. Domantas Sabonis had 17 points, 14 rebounds and four assists for Indiana (1-1). Aaron Holiday, picked 23rd overall in June's draft, hit 4 of 8 from 3-point range and finished with 20 points but committed eight turnovers. GRIZZLIES: Ivan Rabb, a second-round pick in 2017, had seven points, 12 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. ... Kyle Anderson did not play. PACERS: Tyreke Evans, who scored 19.4 points per game while playing for Memphis last season, had 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting. ... Alize Johnson, the 50th overall selection in the draft out of Missouri State, had eight points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes. UP NEXT: The Grizzlies (2-1) play the Magic in Orlando on Wednesday. ... Indiana travels to Chicago to play the Bulls on Monday. CLIPPERS 103, LAKERS 87 Lou Williams hit 3 of 4 from 3-point range and finished with 19 points and Tobias Harris had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Clippers. Montrezl Harrell and rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 12 points apiece. Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 15 points while Brandon Ingram and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 10 apiece. CLIPPERS: Marcin Gortat, acquired via trade from Washington in June, had 10 points, on 5-of-7 shooting, and nine rebounds in 21 minutes. ... Avery Bradley scored two points and committed five turnovers in 26 minutes. He had made 3 of 16 from the field, including 1 of 10 from 3-point range, in two games this preseason. LAKERS: JaVale McGee had eight points and nine rebounds. ... Rajon Rondo had six rebounds and 10 assists. ... The Lakers made just 3 of 18 (16.7 percent) from 3-point range. UP NEXT: The Lakers (1-3) play Golden State at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Wednesday. ... The Clippers (3-0) play host to Denver on Tuesday......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnOct 7th, 2018

With LeBron gone, Eastern Conference set for a new champion

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press The roadblock has been removed. With LeBron James gone, the path to the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference is open again. Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto and more are hoping to win the race to it. James ruled over the East for eight years, making four straight trips to the finals from Miami and then moving back to Cleveland in 2014 and getting there every year since. From Boston to Indiana, up north in Toronto all the way down to Atlanta, teams would emerge with what they thought was a title contender only to see James send them home for the summer. Now King James has abdicated his throne and moved to Los Angeles, and there should be rejoicing in the land he left behind. “It’s a new lease on life in the Eastern Conference,” said Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Reggie Miller, who faced a similar situation when he played in the East during the era of Michael Jordan’s Bulls. “It’s great that LeBron has taken his talents out West because it opens up the doors for not only a lot of these young players, but these organizations now. Fresh blood, something new to kind of see who can compete for that Eastern crown.” The Celtics nearly won it last year, falling to the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. They were without the injured Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and now that the two stars are healthy and have rejoined Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and the rest of a deep team that made a valiant run without them, Boston is probably the favorite in the East. But there’s intrigue beyond that, which rarely existed during James’ reign. Philadelphia finished strong in its first season with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons playing together, and now might get a full one with 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz joining them after his shoulder problems last season. Toronto shook up a 59-win team by firing coach Dwane Casey and shipping DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio in the trade for Kawhi Leonard, and Indiana bolstered a team that took Cleveland to seven games in the first round. Any of them have a chance to get to the place that James wouldn’t let them. “An appearance in the finals is going to be sweet,” Embiid said. A look at the East, in predicted order of finish: PLAYOFF BOUND 1. Boston — Depth of talent is not only tops in the East, but comes closest in the NBA to rivaling Golden State’s. 2. Philadelphia — If either Simmons or Fultz develops a jump shot to open things up more for Embiid, look out. 3. Indiana — Victor Oladipo has emerged as an All-Star and the Pacers are balanced behind him. 4. Toronto — If Leonard is fully healthy and motivated, Raptors added a top-five player to a 59-win team. 5. Milwaukee — Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to make the Bucks fun to watch in their new arena. 6. Washington — John Wall and Bradley Beal will give the Wizards plenty on the perimeter, but they need Dwight Howard provide a boost on the interior. 7. Miami — Heat won’t want to send Dwyane Wade into retirement without one final playoff appearance. 8. Detroit — A full season with Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin together should be enough to get the Pistons back into the postseason. ___ IN THE MIX 9. Cleveland — Kevin Love and the remainder of the Cavaliers that James left behind should still be good enough to fight for a spot in the top eight. 10. Charlotte — The Hornets will host an All-Star Game in February. They’ll try to host playoff games in April. ___ FACING LONG ODDS 11. Orlando — Steve Clifford is the latest coach to try to mix a collection of young players into one that can defend enough to be a decent team. 12. Brooklyn — Nets made a seven-win improvement last season even while being dismal at defending and rebounding. Do either better and they can take another leap. 13. New York — Kristaps Porzingis remains out indefinitely while rehabbing a torn ACL, so new coach David Fizdale will give rookie Kevin Knox an early green light. 14. Atlanta — Trae Young may be exciting to watch, but he won’t be able to stop another long season of losing in Atlanta. 15. Chicago — The Bulls of Tom Thibodeau were veterans who always defended hard. The Bulls of Fred Hoiberg have been none of the above. ___ WHAT TO KNOW CANADA’S CHANCE: The Raptors gambled on acquiring Leonard from San Antonio, and now Toronto has a year to show him it’s worth sticking around when he becomes a free agent next summer. BEST MAN: A popular question after James left was who is the best player now in the East? Irving, Embiid, Antetokounmpo and Leonard are among those who can make compelling cases. HOWARD’S HEALTH: Dwight Howard has sat out his first preseason with the Wizards because of a balky back, the kind of injury that can sometimes linger, and Washington needs a presence in the middle no matter how good its backcourt is. OPENING NIGHT PREVIEW? Cleveland and Boston met in the opening game in the East last season and ended up squaring off in the conference finals. This time, it’s Boston and Philadelphia to open things in the East and they’ll be good candidates to close them......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 11th, 2018

Coach Brad Stevens excited for fully healthy Celtics

NBA.com staff report Five days from now, the Boston Celtics will hold their first official training camp practice as they (and every other NBA team) begin preparation for the 2018-19 season. After months of waiting and hoping, it appears everyone on the Celtics' roster -- including injured stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving -- will be ready to go come Sept. 25. Celtics coach Brad Stevens informed the media of that on Wednesday as he spoke at the BCSF Golf Tournament at Old Sandwich Golf Club in Plymouth, Mass. Stevens has been watching as the team has held an "open gym" at the Celtics' practice facility in Brighton and has been impressed with what he has seen, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “As of last I’ve heard, we should have everybody full go,” Stevens said. “Everybody that’s been here has been playing five-on-five and been looking good. “The exciting part is that we should have a full group of guys healthy and ready to go. And the tough part is that we know we’ve got a lot to cover in a short amount of time.” Brad Stevens took a break from today's Shamrock Foundation golf tournament to give us an update on how the team is expected to look next week for training camp. pic.twitter.com/5xuHJvl3iY — Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 19, 2018 Stevens' comments about the health of the roster weren't much of a surprise, especially since Boston has been trending toward having everyone ready for camp all summer. Yesterday, Stevens said Irving and Hayward are looking much like their old selves on the court. “I saw him this morning at the facility and he looks good," Stevens said of Irving. "He’s worked really hard, I think he’s really excited and it’s good to see that. I think both he and Gordon will appreciate all the little things and all the mundane things even more, because Kyrie’s had the end of the season taken away from him twice in the last four years, and the one with us last year was such a shock because of the unfortunate event with the infection.” Irving and Hayward missed 22 and 81 games, respectively, with injuries last season. Irving missed the final 15 games of the 2017-18 season and the entire playoffs to repair his left knee. Hayward suffered a gruesome ankle injury just five minutes into his Celtics debut after defecting from the Utah Jazz via free agency last summer. Stevens told reporters he doesn't plan on playing anyone "a ton" in the preseason opener on Sept. 28 vs. the Charlote Hornets (Sept. 29, PHL time). In addition, he does not expect to rest Irving or Hayward during the season unless team trainers instruct him to do so. “Not my call at all,” Stevens said. “So the medical team comes and says this person can’t play in a back-to-back, then they don’t play in a back-to-back. If they can and it’s good for them, barring anything else unforeseen, then obviously they’ll play. “We haven’t sat in front of it and said that’s the case with certain guys yet and I’m not sure I anticipate that with either of those guys. They’ve made great strides.” Like Irving, Hayward has worked diligently to recover from his injury and Stevens has seen the progress in Hayward's recovery all along the way. The mental challenge in Hayward's comeback -- taking that first hit, playing at NBA speed and more -- is not something Stevens is worried about his star forward overcoming. “He’s been really diligent all the way through his rehab and progressing each step,” Stevens said. “I watched him through the steps of working out to going to one-on-one, to two-on-two, to three-on-three, and he can play some of the open gyms the guys are having. “Like anything, there’s always going to be a period of adjustment, but from my eye, and I think from everybody else that may have watched him work out, he looks like he’s looked before. That’s positive, I’d say.” Backup center Daniel Theis, who missed the Celtics' playoff run with a season-ending knee injury, has also looked solid in the workouts, Stevens said. Boston suffered minimal offseason roster losses among its key rotation players as only center Greg Monroe (who signed with Toronto) and guard Shane Larkin (who will be playing in Turkey) won't be back for 2018-19. Despite the loss of their starting backcourt last season, the Celtics still advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, falling to the Cavaliers in seven games. They are expected by many to be a top contender for the East title in 2018-19......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2018

Ibrahimovic joins Ronaldo in skipping MLS All-Star Game

By Paul Newberry, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — The MLS All-Star Game will feature one of the world's most storied clubs. Unfortunately for the more than 70,000 fans expected at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Cristiano Ronaldo is not along for the ride. After Portugal's elimination from the World Cup and his transfer from Real Madrid, the five-time FIFA Player of the Year took time off rather than accompany Juventus on its American preseason tour, which includes Wednesday night's game against top players from Major League Soccer. The decision will surely be a disappointment to the big crowd that had hoped Ronaldo would make his unofficial debut while touring the United States with the Italian club that has won seven straight Serie A championships. Juventus acquired the 33-year-old from Real Madrid on July 10 in a deal his new club said was worth 112 million euros ($131.5 million) — the largest for a player older than 30 . Also sitting out the U.S. tour, which includes three other exhibitions, is Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain. He is coming off a scoreless World Cup in which he didn't start in the round of 16 loss to eventual champion France. "Obviously these guys are world-class players," said Atlanta United's Brad Guzan, a goalkeeper for the MLS team. "With or without them, it will be a difficult game. But their names alone bring a lot of attention. It's a shame for everybody on the outside. For me, personally, hopefully it makes for an easier night." Most players take three weeks off after the World Cup. Juventus opens its Serie A schedule at Chievo Verona the weekend of Aug. 18-20 . "We are sorry not to have the Ronaldo, and Higuain as well," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said through a translator. "Unfortunately, they played in the World Cup. They needed some days to rest." Ronaldo and Higuain won't be the only big names missing from the game. One of MLS' top new stars, LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, announced Monday that he's skipping the All-Star match rather than make a cross-country trip to Atlanta. The 36-year-old Swede cited the grind of playing three matches in an eight-day span, including Sunday night's 4-3 victory over Orlando City in which he scored his first MLS hat trick. Ibrahimovic ranks second in MLS with 15 goals. He played with Juventus from 2004-06. "I am disappointed to miss the 2018 All-Star game against Juventus, one of my former clubs," Ibrahimovic said in a statement. "I want to thank the fans for voting me to the team. My main focus is to score goals and help the LA Galaxy to the playoffs." The Galaxy (10-7-5) are unbeaten in nine games and have climbed to third place in the Western Conference. Per MLS rules, Ibrahimovic will also have to sit out LA's next match Saturday against Colorado, one of the league's worst teams. New York City forward David Villa also will skip the All-Star Game after missing six matches with a knee injury. Ibrahimovic and Villa were replaced on the MLS roster by Minnesota forward Darwin Quintero and New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams. Atlanta United coach Gerardo Martino, who will be guiding the MLS team, said the timing of the game does pose problems. "In reality, I recognize it's a little bit of a challenge for coaches who have players participating," Martino said through an interpreter. "Some players are coming from teams where they've played three games (in the last week). Some had a long trip to get here, like from Vancouver. I understand it's a very beautiful spectacle for the league and the United States. But I think what we have to look at in the future is to have it at a different time, either before or after the season. "We have to make sure the players arriving here in good condition are also returning to their teams in good condition." But MLS is eager to show off its most compelling success story. Atlanta shattered the MLS attendance record in its debut season, averaging 48,200 per game, and is on pace to break that mark this year at nearly 52,000 per game. The club already has the five biggest stand-alone crowds in MLS history — each more than 70,000 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The league expects another record crowd for its All-Star Game, breaking the mark of 70,728 in Houston for the 2010 match in which Manchester United defeated the MLS squad 5-2. An extra 1,500 tickets have been put on sale to meet the demand. "It's been fantastic to see the support that the city has given the club," Guzan said. "There's not many cities around the world that have what we have here in Atlanta. I'm happy to have the opportunity to showcase this to everyone.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 31st, 2018

For summer vet Goodwin, NBA hope springs eternal

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press LAS VEGAS (AP) — Archie Goodwin is about to set a record. It won’t be cause for celebration. Goodwin is a veteran of 165 NBA games, has scored 20 points on 10 different occasions, had a monthlong stretch with Phoenix two years ago where he started and averaged 16 points per game while playing against a slew of All-Stars in that span. He thinks he’s proven. The rest of the league doesn’t see it the same way. So he’s back in the NBA Summer League — where, after scoring six points for Portland on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) in the Trail Blazers’ 93-78 win over the Utah Jazz, he moved within 13 points of matching Coby Karl’s all-time record for the Las Vegas event. Karl scored 337 points, Goodwin is up to 324, according to data compiled by RealGM. “It comes with the job,” Goodwin said. “My world is just different. I’m just trying to stay positive and continue to fight, looking for a chance to show how I can help a team.” Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) was Day 2 of the Summer League in Las Vegas, with another 10 games on the schedule. More 10-game slates await on Sunday and Monday (Monday and Tuesday, PHL time), and the tournament runs through July 17 (July 18, PHL time). Most guys in Vegas are playing for the first or second time. Goodwin is playing in the event for the fifth time. Drafted No. 29 overall by Oklahoma City in 2013, Goodwin has gotten NBA time with Phoenix, Brooklyn and New Orleans. He appeared in five preseason games with Portland last season as well, but doesn’t even have as much as a training camp deal for this fall. “I’m a resilient person,” Goodwin said. “That speaks to how I was raised that way, to never give up on my dreams. Hopefully the right situation pops up.” Goodwin was one of the best guards in the G League last season, averaging 19 points on 53 percent shooting. “I feel like I’m not getting a fair shake,” Goodwin said. “But that’s how it is. That’s my motivation. I’m going to keep knocking at the door and hopefully someone realizes that this kid — I’m only 23-years-old — can help a team and bring a lot of value to a team.” Saturday’s (Sunday, PHL time) summaries: TRAIL BLAZERS 93, JAZZ 78 Wade Baldwin IV scored 20 points for Portland (1-0), which got 16 points from Gary Trent Jr. and 13 rebounds from Caleb Swanigan. Grayson Allen, Georges Niang and Tony Bradley all scored 16 for Utah (0-1). Allen struggled again from the field just as he did in two summer games at Salt Lake City earlier in the week, shooting 6-for-17, but added six rebounds and five assists. PACERS 86, SPURS 76 TJ Leaf scored 17 for Indiana, which took control by outscoring San Antonio 22-8 in the third quarter. CJ Wilcox added 13 for the Pacers (1-1). Derrick White scored 19 for the Spurs (0-1), who got 15 points from Lonnie Walker IV. SUNS 71, KINGS 63 Top pick Deandre Ayton scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds for Phoenix (2-0). Davon Reed added 12 points and Josh Jackson scored 10. Dragan Bender, the fourth overall selection in the 2016 draft, was scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting. Harry Giles had 17 points, six rebounds and five steals for Sacramento (0-1). Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 pick, had 15 points and seven rebounds. PELICANS 110, HEAT 84 Trevon Bluiett was 10-of-16 shooting, including 6-of-10 from three-point range, and had 26 points to lead New Orleans (2-0). The guard out of Xavier, who went undrafted last month, has scored 50 points, including 12 three's, in two Las Vegas Summer League games. Walter Lemon Jr. had 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, Cliff Alexander added 15 points and Cheick Diallo scored 14 for the Pelicans. Duncan Robinson scored 18 points, hitting 4-of-6 3-pointers, and Jarrod Jones had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Miami (0-1). KNICKS 91, HAWKS 89 Kevin Knox, the ninth overall selection in last month’s draft, led New York (1-0) with 22 points and eight rebounds. Troy Williams added 17 points and Allonzo Trier, who went undrafted out of Arizona, had 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. John Collins scored 30 points, hitting 4 of 7 from 3-point range, and Tyler Dorsey added 15 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta (0-1). No. 5 pick Trae Young had 21 points and 11 assists. THUNDER 90, NETS 76 Deonte Burton scored 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting and Daniel Hamilton had 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for Oklahoma City (1-1), which won for the first time in Las Vegas after 11 consecutive losses. Theo Pinson, who went undrafted last month out of North Carolina, led Brooklyn (0-2) with 16 points, Yuta Watanabe scored 13 and James Webb III added 12. GRIZZLIES 73, PISTONS 70 Wayne Selden scored 20 points and first-round pick Jaren Jackson Jr. had 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for Memphis (1-0). Kobi Simmons added 12 points and Deyonta Davis scored 10 and grabbed nine boards as the Grizzlies held on. Henry Ellenson had 15 points and seven rebounds for Detroit (0-2) but was 5-of-21 shooting, including 1-of-10 from three-point range, and committed seven of the Pistons’ 14 turnovers. Second-round picks Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown Jr. had 13 and 12 points, respectively. BULLS 86, CAVALIERS 81 Antonio Blakeney scored 25 points and Wendell Carter Jr., the seventh overall pick in last month’s draft, had 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks for Chicago (1-0). First-round pick Chandler Hutchison added 13 points. Ante Zizic led Cleveland (1-1) with 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting, and grabbed 11 rebounds. First-round selection Collin Sexton added 14 points but was just 6-of-15 from the field......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2018

New era, new challenges emerge for Warriors

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst "It’s the lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest." -- Muhammad Ali Ali defended his heavyweight championship 20 times, during two eras: when he was young and unstoppable, after beating Sonny Liston in Miami in 1964, and when he was old and vulnerable, after beating George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. He was the fastest heavyweight ever in the first era; he was smart and could take a punch in the second. A generation later, the Golden State Warriors are defending their NBA title for a second time, in three years. But they, too, are doing so in two eras. In 2014, no one had seen anything like what Golden State did on a basketball court, and how Stephen Curry’s and Klay Thompson’s shooting range changed the geometry of NBA defenses. They stretched to the breaking point trying to get out to Curry and Thompson. They couldn’t figure out how to handle the Warriors’ five-man switching defenses. They couldn’t stand up under Golden State’s withering pace. There is no need to hold a telethon yet for the Warriors, three years later. They are 49-14 today, with four All-Stars among their five starters, including Kia MVP candidate Kevin Durant, in the prime of his career, who wasn’t there when the Warriors first beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 Finals. They are still first in the league in Offensive Rating, first in True Shooting Percentage, first in Effective Field Goal Percentage. They still are unsolvable to most opponents. But maybe not all, not anymore. The margin of separation between Golden State and the rest of the league is still there, most of the time. But there are tiny signs of slippage. Tiny. You recall what Warriors assistant coach Bruce Frasier said in the preseason, when no one is injured and everyone thinks they’re going 82-0. “Teams are starting to figure us out a little bit,” he said then. “We’re talented, so that sometimes overrides strategy. But I feel like teams are figuring certain things out to do to counter what they’ve seen. Year one, it was really hard, because it was all new. The pieces have changed a little bit, but I feel like our challenge will be to see if we can layer on some of the offense, our fluid movement, and counters, and change things up, and execute better. Defense is always big, too, so I wouldn’t go into the complacent (problem). I think it’s going to be more execution, and how smart can we really be, and can we keep that energy up through this year?” In each of their previous three seasons, the Warriors led the league in margin of victory -- 10.1 points in 2014-15, 10.8 points in 2015-16 and 11.6 points last season. This year, though, they’ve fallen to third, behind the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors -- and their win margin is down to 8.5 points per game. Two years ago, the Warriors were fourth in the league in Defensive Rating (100.9). Last season, Golden State was second (101.1). This season, the Warriors are fifth, at 103.4. In 2014-15, they were 14th in the league in points allowed in the paint; this year, they’re 24th (to be fair, they were 23rd last year, when they won it all anyway). Are they bored? Tired? Aging? Is their bench inconsistency this year the result of vets saving themselves for the playoffs, or guys just getting old? And will it matter against anyone other than Houston? “Once you start getting a little older, it’s harder and harder,” guard Shaun Livingston said last week. “We definitely need the youth, we definitely need the health. We’ve got to be healthy. We’ve got to be healthy. Sometimes you see teams that maybe are over the hill -- they have the experience, but maybe not (the ability). It’s human nature. Obviously, I don’t think we’re there yet. We’ve got guys that are still in their prime. It’s mental now.” In the Jean-Pierre Coopman phase of their latest title defense (oh, how one misses spectacles like Ali fighting Coopman, the “Lion of Flanders” -- with Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier on the call!), the Warriors came to Washington last week. There was no White House visit on the docket, only time with D.C. area kids and a trip to the African-American History Museum, with owner Joe Lacob and GM Bob Myers on the trip as well. They have been in the public eye for five years now, back to Mark Jackson’s last season as coach, when the Splash Brothers exploded into the national consciousness. That’s a long time for one NBA team to have all that light and heat on it. For a minute, the Warriors tried to convince themselves that there was a backlash building against them nationally, that people had grown tired of their 3-pointers and video game point totals. It was, of course, a ridiculous posit -- Golden State and its players are more popular than ever, the love for Curry such that he felt perfectly comfortable posting a photo of the glass table he accidentally smashed in his hotel room on Instagram, any criticism surely to be muted amid America’s love for the two-time MVP.   when you feel like you’re on the @pgatour so you gotta get some swings going in the hotel room 😂😂😂 #idiot A post shared by Wardell Curry (@stephencurry30) on Mar 1, 2018 at 1:33pm PST “There was a little guy who was probably eight years old, and he came up and introduced himself,” Steve Kerr said. “His name was Ryan, and I’m talking to him, and he goes ’oh, my God, there’s Quinn Cook!’ And he ran over to Quinn Cook. Not Steph, not me -- he loved Quinn Cook. That was cool.” Throughout the Warriors’ run, they’ve faced down different challengers in the Western Conference -- the first iteration of the Rockets with Harden, a hybrid inside-out attack where Houston unhappily and unsuccessfully tried to meld Harden and Dwight Howard in the post. The Durant/Russell Westbrook one-two combo in Oklahoma City. The Spurs, morphing from the Tim Duncan/Tony Parker-led team to the Kawhi Leonard-dominant one. The “Lob City” Clippers, followed by the Chris Paul/Blake Griffin halfcourt version. But this season’s Rockets, with Paul at the point, may be the most unique and dangerous threat to the Warriors. They are much more than a team that just rains 3-pointers on you -- though they most certainly do that, and do it historically well. They’re also an outstanding defensive team, with the additions of P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute giving them a grit they haven’t had in past seasons to pair with the shot blocking and rim presence of Clint Capela. The numbers are stark: Houston is 32-1 this season when Paul, Harden and Capela all play, including two wins over the Warriors The Rockets have no obvious weakness. They have no fear of Golden State, either, having won two of the three meetings with the Warriors this season. It’s not just that they’re good, it’s how they’re good that makes them look like the greatest challenge yet to Golden State’s hegemony in the West. “I mean, yes, because they do it a different way, I guess,” Curry said last week. “They adopted the power of the three ball and try to use it as a main weapon, and obviously with James and CP together. Honestly, we know that they’re playing well. We’re chasing that number one seed and keeping tabs on how they’re playing and whatnot. But at the end of the day, we’ve got a lot of time left before we have to face them again. We know they’re serious. But so are we.” The Warriors have had to deal with great adversity during their run, to be sure. The biggest challenge came about this time last year, when a collision between teammates -- Zaza Pachulia and Durant, in D.C., ironically -- culminated in a Grade 2 MCL sprain and bone bruise for Durant, taking him out of the lineup at the worst possible part of the season. Golden State had just ripped off wins in 23 of its previous 27 games since a lamentable Christmas Day loss to the Cavs. Curry had started to figure out how to play with KD, and vice versa. They were in the middle of a brutal stretch of seven road games in eight overall, with the one brief return home to play the Celtics. When Durant went down, the initial fear was that he’d torn his ACL and would be out for the season. The Warriors’ locker room was funeral after the Wizards game. “Obviously, we were trying to figure out if he was like ’done-done’ for the year, or whether or not there was going to be a chance he’d return,” forward David West said. “We were, at the time he got hurt, we were just starting to figure out the sort of roles, everybody was getting comfortable with roles. We basically had to reset., change some of the functions we were doing. We lost a few games  trying to literaly just figure out and recalibrate and re-balance. That was one of those periods where we were just looking at each other, trying to start this thing -- we lost this huge, huge piece.” Yet the Warriors figured it out on the fly. And how they responded then provides a big clue to how they might respond to the challenge the Rockets present to them now. “It took us, I think we needed to get home before we were able to stablize,” Kerr said. “I want to say we lost three of the last four on the trip or something  (they did lose three of four, but one of the three losses was at Oracle in that one home game with the Celtics). We got home and righted the ship and got going. But sometimes (an injury is) a galvanizing force when a guy gets hurt, and you have to do certain things. Like, for us, when Kevin got hurt, we talked about it and we said we have to be the best defensive team in the league. We don’t have that luxury of throwing the ball to Kevin and saying ’get us 30 points tonight.'” During that stretch without Durant (March 2, 2017 to April 5, 2017), who returned just before the start of the playoffs, the Warriors led the league in the league in Defensive Rating (100.0, just head of San Antonio’s 100.2), first in opponent field goal percentage (.429), tied for second in opponent 3-point percentage (.316) and fourth in opponent points allowed per game (100.9). And once Durant returned for good, the Warriors again flexed. They tore through the West, winning all but one game en route to a third straight NBA Finals. And they took the Cavaliers apart in five games for their second title in three years. “You could see Draymond, Klay, Andre, Shaun, those guys, even Loon (Kevin Looney), were like, ’we didn’t have KD last year,’ ” West said. “For someone like myself, I just followed their lead. Klay got a little more aggressive. Draymond sort of settled everybody defensively. And we started winning.” That muscle memory will come in handy this year. Durant and Curry have missed time with injuries, and Golden State hasn’t figured out things at center just yet. (Would it shock me if rookie Jordan Bell played a big role there down the stretch? No, it would not.) But the Warriors still are smoking people in the second halves of games; per teamrankings.com, the Warriors lead the lead in third-quarter scoring margin at 5.3 points per game, more than double the margin of the second-place Denver Nuggets. Whether it’s adjustments or something else (“mainly, fiery halftime speeches, Knute Rockne style,” Kerr opines), they have again put a lot of opponents away with 12 minutes to spare. Since the All-Star break, they’re fourth in the league in opponent field goal percentage (.433) and Defensive Rating (100.3). “This year, obviously, knock on wood, we want to stay healthy,” Curry said. “We want to continue to push in the right direction. Every year’s different. That’s the fun part about this league. No matter how much success you’ve had and what your expectations are, it’s a different journey every year. We’re right in the middle of that right now. We have an amazing record, considering how we’ve played. I think we’d all say we haven’t lived up to our own expectations. That’s okay. We have an opportunity to build the right habits and the right momentum going into the playoffs this year and do it, all 15 guys.” 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 NewsMar 6th, 2018

Thunder add reinforcements for MVP Westbrook

em>By Cliff Brunt, Associated Press /em> OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook did it all last season and it wasn’t enough. Westbrook averaged a triple-double and topped Oscar Robertson’s single-season record for triple-doubles on his way to winning the league MVP award and the scoring title. He led the Thunder to the playoffs after Kevin Durant left for Golden State in the offseason. A five-game playoff exit at the hands of the Houston Rockets was typical of Oklahoma City’s season — great play from Westbrook but the team falling short. Reinforcements have arrived. The Thunder have acquired All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in trades, and now, Oklahoma City is poised to return to elite status. “To be able to play with those two guys and the rest of the guys we have is amazing,” Westbrook said. “I’m excited. I’m looking forward to making a great run, and I’m happy they’re here.” Anthony, now 33, appears to have plenty in the tank. He averaged 15.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in the preseason. He said he expects to score, but he will do what is needed to fit in with coach Billy Donovan’s system. George led the Indiana Pacers to the Eastern Conference finals in 2013 and 2014. He missed most of the 2014-2015 season after breaking his leg, then the Pacers lost in the first round of the playoffs the next two seasons. His early adjustment appears to be going smoothly — he averaged 20.3 points in the preseason. He believes that being paired with superstar talent gives the Thunder a chance to be special. “You need guys of that stature and that level to be able to help and create something special,” George said. “It’s just that era where you’ve got to face teams that are going to have two or three guys that can take over games and be iconic to this league.” Here are some things to watch from the Thunder this season: strong>BACKUP POINT GUARD /strong>: The Thunder sometimes ran into trouble last season when Westbrook would go to the bench to rest, and it was a particularly big issue during the playoffs. New pickup Raymond Felton should be an upgrade. The veteran has 657 NBA starts and averaged 9.5 points per game just two seasons ago for Dallas. strong>ADAMS’ DEVELOPMENT /strong>: Center Steven Adams had his best season last year, and he will be in position to be even better this year. He ranked seventh in the league in field-goal percentage last season, and with George and Anthony drawing attention, he should be open a lot more this season. He shot 62 percent from the field during the preseason. strong>HIGH-FLYER: /strong> Rookie guard Terrance Ferguson played professionally in Australia last season. He showed off his springs on several highlight-reel plays while averaging 6.3 points in the preseason. There’s substance to go with the flash. “He’s a guy that comes in and works hard, does the things we ask him to do on both ends,” Anthony said. “Wants to get better. You can’t ask for a better rookie than that. A guy who wants to be out on the court and working his way to have an opportunity to gain some minutes. So he is a guy that you guys will be hearing more of in the future.” strong>THREE-POINT SHOOTING: /strong>Oklahoma City was the worst three-point shooting team in the league last season at 32.7 percent. The addition of George, Patrick Patterson and Anthony should help that. All are good shooters, and they should get plenty of open looks playing off of the other talent on the roster. strong>REPLACING ENES: /strong>The Thunder had to give up Enes Kanter to get Anthony. Kanter was one of the best reserves in the league — just two years ago, he finished third in the race for Sixth Man of the Year. He’s an elite offensive rebounder and one of the league’s most efficient shooters. “Enes was a great guy, he was a great teammate,” Donovan said. “He in my opinion is maybe the best offensive rebounder in the game. You know, I think he’ll be missed.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Rest: Frowned upon when NBA games count, not in preseason

em>By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press /em> MIAMI (AP) — There is no NBA mandate urging teams to not rest players in the preseason. Good thing. The dog days of the exhibition schedule have arrived, with plenty of stars sitting out Monday night's (Tuesday, PHL time) games. Among those getting the night off to rest: Boston stars Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, Miami's Goran Dragic and the Orlando trio of Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and Bismack Biyombo. Indiana rested a half-dozen players, as did Sacramento — including Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph. 'It's hard to play 14 guys,' Kings coach Dave Joerger said. Houston's Chris Paul didn't play in New York because of a right shoulder contusion, the Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis (hip) and Frank Ntilikina (knee) sat out that same game with soreness, Detroit's Avery Bradley was sidelined by a turned ankle and Orlando's Evan Fournier (ankle) and Terrence Ross (hamstring) also didn't play because of minor injuries. Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox was out with a sore back. When the regular season starts next week, resting players who are healthy enough to play will be officially frowned upon by a new NBA policy. But for now, it just makes sense for clubs to either limit minutes or not take unnecessary risks. That being said, teams are still working. Joerger knows his team needs a day off — but the Kings are practicing Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) anyway. 'We have way too much stuff to do, and not just for opening night,' Joerger said. In Dragic's case, Miami is being smart since he played for two months this summer, helping Slovenia win the European championship and returning to Miami just two days before the first practice of training camp. He hasn't played much in the preseason. 'This is all relatively part of the plan I had sketched out,' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. 'I wanted him to be in training camp ... and he really wanted to be there too, just to establish the right tone out of camp. We want to try to strike that balance of keeping him in shape and making sure he's peaking for the first game, not going the other way. I think we're headed that way.' Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the lineup he went with Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) allows him to take a good look at what will be Boston's second unit. 'I feel really good about where we are, considering we're 13 days in,' Stevens said. 'I don't think we're by any means a finished product and I think we can get better.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 10th, 2017

Camp time! Warriors, Wolves prepare to open training camp

em>By Jon Krawczysnki, Associated Press /em> The Golden State Warriors were the last team standing when the NBA season closed in June. Thanks to a preseason trip to China, they are one of the first teams to get going this season as the league gets up and rolling again. The Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves will hold their media days on Friday and open training camps Saturday, a few days ahead of the rest of the league as they prepare for an early October trip to China for games in Shanghai and Shenzhen as part of the league’s ongoing efforts to grow the game in the basketball-crazy nation. Golden State will be the headliner in China, just like it has been in the NBA for the last three seasons. And the Warriors open camp this season with a major advantage over everyone else that goes above and beyond the sheer talent the organization has assembled with Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. While the rest of the league spent the entire summer scrambling to upgrade in a desperate attempt to enter Golden State’s stratosphere, the Warriors return almost the entire roster from the team that won its second championship in three seasons. In fact, Golden State should only be better this year because it will not have to spend part of the early season figuring out how to incorporate Durant’s game with three other All-Stars. Meanwhile, teams like the Rockets, Cavaliers, Thunder, Timberwolves and Celtics will need all of the preseason and then some to get on the same page with the new stars in town. There will be no such orientation process in Golden State. Free agents Nick Young and Omri Casspi will have to acclimate, but that is a lot easier to do when Durant and Curry are showing them around. ___ So as media days and training camps get up and running, here are a few things to watch at the outset: strong>HARD FEELINGS? /strong> It appeared that Durant was on his way to mending some fences in Oklahoma City after he left the organization to join Golden State last season. But the fence posts may have been torn down again when Durant disparaged the Thunder team and coach Billy Donovan as the biggest reasons he left to join the Warriors. Durant has since apologized , but the topic will likely come up again when he speaks to the media on Friday. And it should be interesting to see if Russell Westbrook has anything to say about it when the Thunder open early next week. strong>CP3 ARRIVES: /strong>The most intriguing roster experiment this year may be in Houston, where GM Daryl Morey is teaming James Harden with Chris Paul in a star-studded backcourt. Harden finished second in the MVP voting last season after moving from shooting guard to point guard and now will have to move back to accommodate Paul. Both players are used to having the ball in their hands and orchestrating the offense, so there will likely be some feeling-out that needs to be done in camp. The two have already appeared in a television commercial together, so they’re off to a running start. strong>KYRIE’S MOVE: /strong>The biggest headline in a wild offseason was Kyrie Irving’s request for a trade from the Cavaliers. He landed in Boston in a move that could define his legacy, the All-Star who didn’t want to play with LeBron James. Irving did little to shed light on his motives in an enigmatic interview with ESPN and likely will be bombarded with questions about it at media day. How the Celtics handle the early crush of attention and move past Irving’s exit from Cleveland could play a big role in their ability to truly challenge the Cavs in the Eastern Conference. strong>CRASH COURSE: /strong>The Timberwolves are one of the teams that made significant roster changes this summer after a disappointing 31-win season in Tom Thibodeau’s first year as coach. They added Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford while trading away Ricky Rubio in an offseason overhaul aimed at ending the league’s longest active playoff drought at 13 seasons. Thibodeau asked owner Glen Taylor to allow the team to hold training camp in San Diego before they head out to China to get them away from the distractions of home and allow them to bond in a preseason that only includes three games. That Butler and Gibson played for Thibodeau with the Bulls should help that transition, but it will no doubt be a process worth watching. strong>RULES CHANGES: /strong>When players start taking the court for exhibition games, it will offer an opportunity for them to start to adjust to rules changes and points of emphasis that are new every season. One notable difference this year will be the “James Harden rule,” a change in the way the game is called aimed at reducing the number of instances a player tricks a defender into fouling them and then goes into a shooting motion to try to earn free throw attempts. Harden is the master , though dozens of players do the same thing. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2017

Thirdy and Kobe come home to 3x3

The 3x3 basketball court is home to almost every Filipino who grew up loving the game. This is a narrative that both Chooks-to-Go 3x3 ambassadors Thirdy Ravena and Kobe Paras share as they participate in Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas' attempt to set a world record this weekend in Cebu. Ravena, Paras, and the rest of over 2,000 Students of Sisters of Mary Boystown and Girlstown from Minglanilla and Talisay will simultaneously play 3x3 basketball over the weekend to break the initial record of 1,898 players. "It's truly an honor to be part of something historic," said Paras, "Growing up in 3x3, this brings a lot of memories for me." "Noong bata ako, three-on-three talaga ang nilalaro ko," added Ravena. The pair are set to spend time with the kinds in both campuses. While playing a full game is not set in stone for the two, they promised that they will make sure to make the students happy as they make history together. In addition to setting a world record, the two-day tournament will help the Philippines in racking up FIBA 3x3 federation points to help their bid for a 2020 Tokyo Olympics spot. 3x3 will officially be a medal event in the coming Olympics. This is a fact that both college stars are very thrilled to help with especially that they have both played in the international stage of 3x3. Paras won the gold in the Slam Dunk event in the 2015 FIBA 3x3 Under-18 Championship while Ravena had a chance to suit up in the 2013 FIBA Under-16 3x3 World Cup in Jakarta. "Now that it's a growing sport and an Olympic event, talagang dream come true ito for us," said Ravena......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 11th, 2019

Basketball in 2018: The San Miguel takeover

It was another good year for basketball in 2018. In the case of the Philippine Basketball Association, they literally took one full year to complete. One year and two days actually. That's a lot of basketball. And that's just one league. Basketball die-hards were truly blessed in 2018. To be honest, some of the things that happened literally only about five months ago, seem like a long time ago. That's how crazy this year has been. In order to try and fit everything together in this year-end review, let's do things by category. Let's play ball.   SAN MIGUEL TAKEOVER Just to be clear here, by San Miguel, we mean San Miguel Corp. SMC teams continued to lord it over in basketball in 2018, at least on this part of the world. The flagship Beermen extended their dynasty in the Philippine Cup, beating Magnolia for a record four straight All-Filipino titles. [Related: June Mar scores 42 as Beermen complete Philippine Cup four-peat] Considering how easy they won this year and with significant upgrades present, it looks like there's still no stopping the San Miguel Beermen in the most prestigious tournament the Philippines has to offer. One team that did stop the Beermen this year were the Gin Kings of Brgy. Ginebra. With super import Justin Brownlee saving the day once again, Ginebra stopped San Miguel's Grand Slam drive for the second straight season, capturing the Commissioner's Cup in six games at the expense of the Beermen. [Related: Gin Kings dethrone San Miguel after sensational Game 6 win] The Gin Kings stay winning with Brownlee, if the guys makes the Finals, he's pretty much right on the money. Ginebra is a perfect three-fo-three in the Finals with Brownlee as import and in five conferences with the super scorer, the Gin Kings have made at least the semifinals each time. In the Governors' Cup, we got Manila Clasico in the semifinals and for a change, it was Magnolia that came out on top in an absolute classic of a series. [Related: Hotshots dominate Alaska to win Governors' Cup] The Hotshots used that momentum to win their first title since their Grand Slam season, completing an SMC Grand Slam in 2018. It's the first time in history all three San Miguel teams won a title in the same year. That alone makes 2018 special.   SAN MIGUEL TAKEOVER PART 2 After Gilas Pilipinas pretty much imploded on its own (more on that later), the San Miguel takeover has finally extended to the national team. [Related: Pressure mounts for Guiao with "best Philippine team ever"] The SMC stars were finally full force with Gilas and while the wins have not come just yet, it's pretty cool to see guys like Marcio Lassiter, Scottie Thompson, Greg Slaughter, and the rest of them play with the Gilas regulars of the yesteryears.   SAN MIGUEL TAKE OVER PART 3 Going away from the PBA a little bit, San Miguel stays winning as Alab Pilipinas brought the Asean Basketball League title back to the Philippine. Alab, with Jimmy Alapag coaching and Renaldo Balkman and Justim Brownlee as lead import, beat Thailand's Mono Vampire in five games for the title. [Related: Alab Pilipinas lights it up for country’s first title since 2013] It's the first ABL title for the Philippines since you guess it, San Miguel Beer's 2013 title with head coach Leo Austria and Asi Taulava.   BASKETBRAWLS Now we're getting to the good stuff. In a year where commotions were a little more common than usual, one very specific commotion managed to stand out. Actually, it was no mere commotion. It was a full-on fight. Back in July, Gilas Pilipinas engaged the Boomers of Australia in a massive brawl that resulted in ejections, suspensions, and fines that cost millions of pesos. [Related: 10 Gilas players suspended for brawl with Boomers] It also led to a national team coaching change and the San Miguel takeover in Gilas that we talked about before. In between, we actually finally saw Jordan Clarkson in Gilas Pilipinas so that counts as a win even though we only placed 5th in the Asian Games. [Related: ASIAN GAMES: Is Clarkson actually worth all that trouble for Gilas?] Ultimately, the sad and unfortunate event that was the Gilas-Boomers brawl casted a bad reputation on the Philippine national team, one that Gilas might take a while to recover from.   DUST-ED Another rather unfortunate event this year was Kiefer Ravena's FIBA suspension. [Related: Kiefer banned 18 months for using PEDs] We all know the story so let's not dwell to much about such a tragic event. Let's just patiently wait for the Phenom's comeback. August 2019 can't come soon enough.   LOOKING AHEAD If you thought 2018 was hectic, wait until we get to 2019. The ABL is already in full swing and Alab's title defense should get into high gear as the new year starts. The PBA opens a new season in January. Also, Gilas still has some stuff on the way with the national team's FIBA World Cup chase. We also host the Southeast Asian Games so that's another two weeks of basketball. Other opportunities include the Asia League, NLEX and Blackwater did well in their Super 8 stints in Macau and it's interesting to find out who's going to represent the country in the emerging power in Asia. [Related: Asia League boss wants more PBA teams in his tournaments] If you thought 2018 was filled with great basketball, you're right. 2019 should be no different.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2018

Reasons to watch 2018 slate of NBA X mas day games

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Bucks vs. Knicks (1am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: Two words; Giannis Antetokounmpo. The most dominant force in the league this season resides in Milwaukee. That’s right, the Greek Freak sits atop the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder heading into the Christmas Day showcase games. And with good reason. The Bucks are riding the wave their dynamic superstar forward has created in his first season in Mike Budenholzer’s system. Open it up and enjoy because … The Bucks are more than a one-man show. Antetokounmpo should be joined on the All-Star team this season by Khris Middleton, who is playing at that level, and point guard Eric Bledsoe is shooting better than he ever has in Budenolzer’s aggressive, shooter-friendly system. Watching the Bucks try and set a record for three-pointers taken and made should be entertaining enough. But the Knicks will offer some entertainment value of their own as they attempt to match the Bucks shot-for-shot with Tim Hardaway Jr. leading the way. The gift we’re hoping for is … The Knicks could use a statement win before a global audience to jump start the post-Christmas portion of their season-long grind. The Bucks have spent most of this season frightening the competition, both in the Eastern Conference and beyond. They’ve got the gift that’ll keep on giving for years in Antetokounmpo, who’ll get another chance to show the basketball public that what they’ve hard about a contender rising in the Central Division is real. Thunder vs. Rockets (4am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: Do we really need anyone to remind us to tune in for every Russell Westbrook-James Harden matchup for the foreseeable future? Didn’t think so. The matchup of the last two Kia MVPs winners is enough of an incentive to lock in on this one. And the fact that the Thunder occupy the space in the standings most thought was reserved for the Rockets only adds to the intrigue. Open it up and enjoy because … The real showstopper in this one isn’t either one of the MVP winners. Thunder swingman Paul George is the player you need to lock in on as he continues his dark horse MVP campaign for a much-improved team (the Thunder are light years away from the group that started the season 0-4). There are few soap operas better right now than the Rockets, who are dealing with yet another injury to All-Star point guard Chris Paul (hamstring) and a failure to play up to expectations that threatens to swallow up their season before Santa’s finished off his cookies and milk. The gift we’re hoping for is … What Westbrook and Harden wear into the building is worth a few moments of your time as these two fashion-forward superstars never fail to make an impression. But it’s the competitive fervor on the court that should provide the ultimate viewing pleasure. The Thunder would love to take over the position the Rockets held last season, as the legitimate threat to the Golden State Warriors’ stranglehold on the Western Conference throne. In the absence of a Christmas tilt against the two-time defending champs, the Rockets make an ideal fill in. Sixers vs. Celtics (6:30am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: The Eastern Conference version of Thunder-Rockets, the schedule makers look pretty good slotting the Sixers and Celtics in this spot. No one relishes an opportunity to take down a projected heavyweight the way the Sixers do (what else would you expect with Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid leading the charge?). The suddenly chummy Celtics, however, appear to be the team most eager to prove that they are indeed who we all thought they were in the summer, when they were the consensus pick to ascend to the top of the heap in place of Cleveland. Open it up and enjoy because … Kyrie Irving has embraced his role as the leader of this disjointed Celtics bunch in ways that fans in Cleveland have to be enjoying with an eyebrow raised. Kyrie trying to convince his young teammates to follow his lead is rich, given his reluctance to do exactly that when he was in their shoes. As far as rivalries go, this is perhaps the day’s deepest and most volatile. The Sixers are still smarting from that playoff ouster at the hands of the Celtics. And they won’t have ant sympathy for the Celtics as they continue their search for good health and better chemistry. The gift we’re hoping for is … A Ben Simmons-Kyrie point guard duel will make this game shine even brighter than usual. And they’re both more than capable of going off on the big stage. But the real treat here is going to be watching Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum match wits in what could be a preview of fireworks to come in a potential playoff matchup. Tatum’s sophomore season has been a bit choppier than expected. And Butler, whose shown a penchant for schooling youngsters (teammates and opponents) is surely betting on himself in this game within the game. Lakers vs. Warriors (9am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: With all of the recent history dripping off of this LeBron James-Warriors rivalry, the inclusion of the Los Angeles Lakers into the mix only serves to take this spectacle to the next level. LeBron insists this isn’t a measuring stick game for the upstart Lakers, not against a Warriors juggernaut that has won three of the last four Larry O’Brien trophies. Yeah, whatever you say big fella. Folks who haven’t watched a minute of NBA basketball season will be tuned into this one. Count on it. Open it up and enjoy because … Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have moved into that cosmic zone that only the all-time greats are capable of locating (see their work in their Monday, PHL time win over the Los Angeles Clippers for proof). We already know how the superstars respond in a matchup of this nature. The great unknown is how the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball will react to the marquee spotlight at Oracle Arena. The Lakers’ youngsters have thrived at times and struggled at others in their first season inside the LeBron bubble. But they haven’t seen anything like what they’ll experience in Oakland on this night. The gift we’re hoping for is … Draymond Green hasn’t had a true breakout game since returning from his extended injury absence. With Lance Stephenson in uniform on the other side, the opportunity for fireworks would appear to be extremely high. We’d settle for some Finals-level intensity from both of the world class agitators in the building. That and vintage performances from LeBron, Steph, KD and Klay Thompson are expected. Anything else beyond that is really gravy on the best basketball meal of the day. Trail Blazers vs. Jazz (11:30am, PHL time) Why you should be watching: We’re dubbing the nightcap of the Christmas Day showcase the “Respect Bowl.” The Trail Blazers are always on the hunt for more respect and the Jazz, one of the trendy summer picks as a team poised to become a contender in the Western Conference this season, could stand to show a little self-respect in the way they tackle the remainder of this season. Open it up and enjoy because … Second-year Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is suffering from the same sophomore spell that has plagued Jayson Tatum in Boston. It’s one thing to surprise the basketball world as a rookie and another to come back better and even more dangerous the second time around. We’re betting on Spider showing up and showing out for the Christmas Day crowd. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Damian Lillard will not allow someone else to steal the spotlight from him. He warmed up for Mitchell and the Jazz by finishing off Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks Sunday night. You know his swagger travels, so expect to see his competitive best against Mitchell and the Jazz. The gift we’re hoping for is … Joe Ingles stealing the show would make for an ideal end to a day full of some the league’s biggest and brightest superstars. And the sweet-shooting Jazz swingman is one of the league’s criminally underrated stars. It would also be nice to see the rest of that Jazz team we expected to make things interesting this season make an appearance. Christmas Day games have always served as a launching pad/turning point for teams willing to dive in. And the Blazers and Jazz both seem like prime candidates to take advantage of the opportunity. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 NewsDec 25th, 2018

Road to 2020 Olympics via 3x3 basketball now underway

The Philippines' road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics via 3x3 basketball has started. National team backer Chooks-to-Go, in partnership with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, is opening up the first-ever 3x3 league in the Philippines order to help the country pile up points in FIBA competitions. The end result is to have more than enought points to qualify for the Summer Games in 2020. "We are very excited with this 3x3 league backed by Chooks-to-Go. Ito yung unang pagkakataon natin na magkaroon ng liga for 3x3," said league commissioner Eric Altamirano Friday. "Though the point system of FIBA is complicated, it all starts by having a league," added Altamirano. "Then when we have a league, we can now join the World Tour which comprises of forty events. That's where all the points come from." To get the league starting, the first season will have 12 teams in total from MPBL club teams Manila Stars, Go for Gold-San Juan Knights, Bataan Risers, Bacoor Strikers, Valenzuela Classic, Marikina Shoemasters and Bulacan Kuyas. Also committing are the Zark's Burger-backed Quezon City, the Dondon Hontiveros-owned Cebu, and a team from from Davao Occidental and Pasig. The opening season will have six total legs to be played mainly in SM Malls. Each leg will have its own champion and after those six, the 12 teams will be ranked according to points and the top 4 are seeded to the quarterfinals. The rest will then figure in a knockout round. The champion team will win a nice P1,000,000 cash prize and will be given priority for the FIBA tour events abroad to represent the country. Pre-season starts January 14 at Ynares Pasig and in order to help the country earn points, Chooks-to-Go will also sponsore a grassroots program in Cebu early next year.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2018

It means a lot of pressure – Okumu on UP’s pre-season romp

Two women’s volleyball titles in the pre-season means a lot for University of the Philippines. For the faithful, it’s the fruit of the school’s long and arduous task of building and training a competitive team. An accomplishment and a source of pride for the Diliman-based squad, which for years lagged behind compared to other schools’ volleyball program. For the players, those trophies serve as morale-booster that will fuel their drive to achieve more success. However, those mints also mean high expectations and pressure to live up to the hype coming into the UAAP Season 81 two months from now. A fact that head coach Godfrey Okumu knows too well. “It means a lot of pressure. For them and for me. That's what it means,” said the second year mentor after the Lady Maroons beat University of Sto. Tomas in their Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam title showdown Thursday. The Lady Maroons ended a long championship drought last September after defeating Far Eastern University in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference Finals to hoist their first major tournament title since winning it all in the 1982 edition of the UAAP. In those tournaments, Okumu utilized different lineups with star hitters Isa Molde and Tots Carlos suiting up alternately in the PVL and PSL, respectively. Carlos skipped the PVL to recover from an injury while Molde got a much-deserved rest as she sat out the whole PSL tournament.         “I've tried all my players in these preseason games. I've played almost 28, at least 25 or 26 players. I've been able to recycle them in all the tournaments we've played,” said Okumu, whose squad received a P350,000 prize money for winning the PSL Grand Slam. With his two units delivering crowns in the pre-season, Okumu now faces another dilemma: choosing his final lineup for the UAAP. “It's gonna be hard to choose, so don't ask me my line-up for UAAP, because I don't know,” he said. “We played well, and everybody gave... We had a trophy, and this is the second one. It's just a big pressure, and just hoping for the best.” Still, the feat they achieved in the pre-season attested his belief to the team he inherited after UP parted ways with former coach Jerry Yee last year. “I believe since two or three years ago, this team was a champion team, and it was just a matter of time,” said Okumu, who first met the team during a training camp a couple of years back. “But as I said before, big pressure. UAAP is another game altogether. We only played against three of the other teams. So, I don't wanna judge ourselves before playing against everybody else,” he added. “So yes, we want to go out there and win the UAAP, but we have to tread carefully.” “We have to be polite as we move on, train, work hard. Because it's a really big challenge for us, and we wouldn't like to play so well in the offseason, and when the real tournament comes up, we don't perform,” said Okumu. “So I believe, it puts us in a very tight situation, but the fight is there. So we're gonna fight until the end.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2018

Hotties Alert: These 3rd Gen K-Pop Visuals Are Top Tier In Our Eyes

These stars shine brighter than the rest!.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2018

UAAP men’s Final Four: Franz Pumaren uses break to rest, recharge Falcons

Adamson coach Franz Pumaren hopes to capitalize on their break before the No. 2 Falcons’ upcoming UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball Final Four duel with third-ranked University of the Philippines to not only prepare thoroughly for the Maroons but also get the injured stars Sean Manganti and Jerrick Ahanmisi fit again for action......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Pumaren stands by move to rest ailing stars in no-bearing game vs FEU

Adamson University head coach Franz Pumaren doesn't care about what outsiders think of his basketball decisions in the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball tournament. The Soaring Falcons were already assured of the second seed, and a twice-to-beat advantage, even before their 82-56 loss to Far Eastern University and Pumaren decided to rest star players Sean Manganti and Jerrick Ahanmisi against the Tamaraws. Manganti was suffering from fever and a sore throat while Manganti was nursing a sprained left ankle and Pumaren elected to have his two best players take the game off so as not to aggravate any health issues the wingmen may have. "Given the scenario I don't think any coach ...Keep on reading: Pumaren stands by move to rest ailing stars in no-bearing game vs FEU.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 18th, 2018

November 11, 2018 Visayas Weather Forecast

VALID BEGINNING: 6:00 AM today until 6:00 AM tomorrow SYNOPSIS: Northeast monsoon is affecting Extreme Northern Luzon and Easterlies affecting the rest of the country Forecast: Mostly cloudy skies with light to moderate rainshowers/thunderstorms Winds: 30-40 KPH NE Coastal Waters: Mod (1.25-2.5m) Temp: 24-31°C Maximum Heat index: 38°C PAGASA.....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsNov 11th, 2018

Team Lakay big winners at 2018 Global Martial Arts Awards

Filipino mixed martial arts stable Team Lakay were big winners at the 2018 Global Martial Arts Awards, Thursday evening at the JW Marriot in Singapore The night's big winners. Congratulations to @efolayang, Coach @MarkSangiao Joshua Pacio and the rest of @TeamLakay. Huge 2018 for these guys, and it could get even bigger by the end of the year. | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/rfP5FsE0Ks — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) November 8, 2018 Former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard "Landslide" Folayang was honored as the Martial Arts Hero of the Year at the 2018 Global Martial Arts Awards, Thursday evening in Singapore.  The Team Lakay star beat out fellow world champions and MMA stars such as Angela Lee, Aung La N Sang, Daniel Cormier, Henry Cejudo, Martin Nguyen, and Tenshin Nasukawa for the most prestigious award of the night.  Martial Arts Hero of the Year @efolayang accepts his award and addresses the audience at the 2018 Global Martial Arts Awards in Singapore | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/mtv6ruNDBR — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) November 8, 2018 "I believe this award represents the start and beginning of a neverending journey of discipline, hard work, perseverance, and pushing for an even higher standard," said Folayang.  2018 has been a solid year for the Filipino martial arts hero, who has won two straight to earn another shot at the world title that he first captured back in 2016.  Folayang has the massive opportunity to end the year on an even higher note as he meets Singaporean star Amir Khan for the vacant ONE Lightweight World Championship in Manila on November 9th. The Benguet-based gym also took home Gym of the Year honors, beating out other world-class gyms such as AKA, American Top Team, Evolve MMA, Tiger Muay Thai, Tribe Tokyo MMA, and TriStar.  Members of Team Lakay, including Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, and Joshua Pacio present to accept their Gym of the Year Award. | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/URUUvVTKKf — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) November 8, 2018 Team Lakay has had quite the banner year, producing three world champions in 2018 alone, with Geje Eustquio becoming the ONE Flyweight World Champion, Joshua Pacio capturing the ONE Strawweight World Championship, and Kevin Belingon winning the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Championship. Much of Team Lakay's success can be credited to head coach Mark Sangiao, who was named Coach of the Year over legendary mentors such as Duane "Bang" Ludwig of Bang Muay Thai, Firas Zahabi of TriStar, George Hickman of Tiger Muay Thai, Javier Mendez of AKA, Mike Brown of American Top Team, and Ryo Chonan of Tribe Tokyo.  Coach Mark Sangiao accepts his Coach of the Year Award | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/xJFCtnfPqV — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) November 8, 2018 Joshua Pacio nabbed Submission of the Year for his stunning first-round submission victory over Pongsiri Mitsatit in Manila.  Dubbed as the "Passion Lock", the modified  keylock earned Pacio another shot at the ONE Strawweight title which he successfully captured last September in Jakarta. Joshua Pacio of Team Lakay accepts his Submission of the Year award | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/n5zXk8cAvv — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) November 8, 2018 Other winners include Aung La N Sang for Male Athlete of the Year, Angela Lee for Female Athlete of the Year, Brian Ortega for Knockout of the Year, and Aung La N Sang versus Ken Hasegawa for Bout of the Year.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 8th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Hot start pushes Curry to forefront

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com When Kevin Durant raised the Finals MVP trophy in the air in June -- his second straight, mind you -- it was supposed to be over for Stephen Curry. The prevailing wisdom said there was no way the former two-time Kia MVP winner Curry would be able to contend for a third Maurice Podoloff Trophy playing alongside Durant (a former Kia MVP himself). Their individual brilliance would be muted by the collective strength of their partnership as the two best players on the best team in the league. This notion they would continue to split Kia MVP votes made sense given their super team required all of its stars to sacrifice personal glory for the greater team good. That was the thinking before the first nine games of this season ... and then Curry decided to attack things as he did in 2015-16. That season, he went nuclear -- averaging 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 50.4 percent overall and 45.4 percent on three-pointers -- becoming the NBA's first unanimous MVP winner as the Warriors won an NBA-record 73 games. Durant was still toiling for the rival Oklahoma City Thunder then, sharing the spotlight with another eventual Kia MVP in Russell Westbrook. Curry’s opening salvo this season, though, has been nothing short of staggering. His pace right now -- leading the league in scoring while shooting nearly 55 percent overall and 53 percent on three-pointers  -- could top that 2015-16 season. Doing all this with teammates who could make their own compelling cases for Kia MVP honors makes Curry’s start even more mind-boggling. Both Durant (check out his 25-point fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden) and Klay Thompson (who topped Curry’s three-pointers made record in Chicago) are taking turns showing out, all of which speaks to the Warriors' mastery of a situation that easily could have overloaded these three stars. Curry’s consistent brilliance sticks out in a sea of transcendent scoring performances in the early stages of this season. He was the one who dropped 51 points in 32 minutes in a win over Washington, making 11 of his 16 three-pointers. He went 6-for-11 on three-pointers en route to 29 points when Durant worked the Knicks for 41 points at MSG. When Thompson was in the zone against the Bulls, Curry scored 23 points (on 7-for-9 shooting) in just 25 minutes. And when the New Orleans Pelicans showed up to Oracle Arena Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), Curry lit them up for 37 on 12-for-20 shooting and a 7-for-11 night on three-pointers. That's all why Curry sits atop the first Kia Race to the MVP Ladder this season. And if he keeps this up, there’s no reason Curry won't be in the thick of this season's MVP conversation when the dust settles. The top five in the Week 1 edition of the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Season stats: 33 points, 5.9 assists, 5.0 rebounds Here's the kind of damage Curry is doing so far: he’s not only leading the league in scoring, but doing so while shooting a preposterous 54.9 percent overall and an equally bonkers 52.9 percent on three-pointers. Scoring around the league is on the rise this season, and perhaps no one is taking more advantage of the freedom of movement rule the way Curry has. He’s scoring from everywhere, against any and everyone whenever he wants in a system built around his skills. He’s got one of the league’s early 50-point games (51 points, vs. Washington), and, given the way he’s shooting now, could go for another 50-spot at any time. That’s a warning for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who will see Curry today. 2. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Season stats: 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists Leonard is off to a monstrous start with Toronto, shattering that pesky myth that he was a product of a system in San Antonio. Anyone who forgot just how devastating a two-way player he could be after his nine-game run with the Spurs last season should have a clearer understanding of what he can do when healthy. Just ask Philadelphia 76ers stud Ben Simmons, who couldn't praise Leonard enough after matching wits with the two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year. “He’s a freak,” Simmons said after turning the ball over 11 times while being guarded by Leonard on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “His hands are huge. He’s got long arms. He’s a great defender.” The scary part for the rest of the league? Leonard is shooting as good or better than ever on three-pointers (44.4 percent) while logging a career-high 34.7 minutes. And, technically, he is still undefeated in a Raptors uniform (he got a rest day for Bucks-Raptors). 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Season stats: 26.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists It took a franchise-record 24 made three-pointers for the Boston Celtics to hold off Antetokounmpo and the Bucks Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at TD Garden. It was the Bucks’ first loss this season, but it wasn’t because the "Greek Freak" didn’t show up. He roasted the Celtics for 33 points (on just 22 shots), 11 rebounds, three steals and two assists. The increased floor spacing that comes with the arrival of coach Mike Budenholzer has allowed Antetokounmpo to put opposing defenders in compromising positions. His three-point shot is still in the development stage, but if Budenholzer can help transform that part of his game (as he did for Al Horford and Paul Millsap in Atlanta), the rest of the league will be on notice. As for Antetokounmpo's groove elsewhere on the court, it has made him virtually unstoppable when he’s in attack mode. 4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Season stats: 25.2 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.2 blocks Had there been a top five after the first four games of this season, Davis would have been a runaway pick for the No. 1 spot. He was that good in powering New Orleans' 4-0 start. But the Pelicans have lost four straight and three to the four games since as Davis deals with nagging right elbow pain. Davis missed back-to-back games against Utah and Denver, then played Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) against the Warriors. It was clear he wasn’t at his best, as he had 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. (Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry held him out in a road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.) Davis hasn’t been shy about proclaiming that he’s chasing both Kia MVP and Kia Defensive Player of the Year honors, a double-dip that only half a handful of players could realistically set as a goal. The talent and high ceiling have never been in question. His availability to chase such lofty goals, however, remains a question at times. 5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Season stats: 29.1 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds Lillard entered this season as determined to prove his team’s early 2018 playoff exit wasn't a true measure of Portland's status. Still, getting swept by the Pelicans sent the Blazers into the offseason with tons of questions and skeptics. Since the first whistle of training camp, Lillard has gone about the business of answering those questions. He’s averaging career-highs in points (29.1), field goal percentage (49.7 percent), three-point percentage (40 percent) and free throw percentage (94 percent). The Blazers finished their recent four-game road trip at 3-1, which included wins against Orlando, Indiana and the struggling Houston Rockets. Thursday night’s (Friday, PHL time) win over the Anthony David-less Pelicans was fueled by Lillard’s team-high 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Saturday night’s home game against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers could be another opportunity for Lillard and Co. to show they aren’t stepping aside for anyone. * * * The next five 6.  Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets 7.  Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 8.  Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz 9.  LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers 10.  Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves; DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs; Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 NewsNov 3rd, 2018

Letran’s coach Jeff: Ngayon pa lang, we re ready sa NCAA 95

Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s strong season ended with a whimper at the hands of rampaging Lyceum of the Philippines University last Friday. All throughout the NCAA 94 Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Knights proved that they are a playoff team – and even more, a title contender. While that didn’t necessarily show in their loss to the Pirates, they nonetheless remain upbeat that they could do all of that all over again next year. In fact, even now, Letran is already talking like a favorite. “Ngayon pa lang, we’re ready sa Season 95,” head coach Jeff Napa said right after their elimination in the ongoing season. With triple-double threat Bong Quinto and steady leader JP Calvo already graduating, it will be a tall task for coach Jeff to back up his claim. Still, he has nothing but full faith on those who will be returning. “Next year, definitely, Jerrick will be 100 percent. I think, January (next year), good to go na siya,” the mentor said, talking about starting off-guard Jerrick Balanza who was forced to undergo brain surgery just two months ago. He then continued, “Nandyan pa naman si Bonbon, si Larry, si Christian, si Jeo so pretty confident talaga ako dun sa maiiwan.” Indeed, Quinto and Calvo were the shining stars, but the likes of Jeo Ambohot, Bonbon Batiller, Christian Fajarito, Koy Galvelo, and Larry Muyang turned the Knights into a force to reckon with. For his part, recovering Balanza gave off the same sort of confidence. “Buo pa rin kaming makakapasok sa Final Four next year. Masasabi ko ngayon pa lang na ramdam na namin kung gaano kahirap sa Final Four so alam na namin kung paano namin tatagusin ito next year,” he said. He then continued, “Expect ninto na magfa-Finals ang Letran next year.” And in the same light, coach Jeff and Balanza have nothing but full faith on those who will be coming in. As the former put it, “Next year is a different story. A lot of guys are coming in from our Team B so actually, pinagpreparahan na rin namin yung pagkawala ni (Bong, JP, Alex Mandreza, at Jeremiah Taladua),” he said. He then continued, “Team B namin, binugbog na namin sa Team A para at least, ma-experience na nila kung ano yung level of competitiveness. It’s a matter of kailangan lang namin i-polish at saka i-jell together yung mga naiwan.” Who are those players on the Knights’ Team B? Former University of Sto. Tomas swingman Jordan Sta. Ana, former Nazareth School of National University versatile forward Allen Mina, and former Squire stud guard Kiefer Cordero, just to name a few. Without a doubt, Letran is adamant that it will still be stacked for next season. As for the rest of the NCAA, though? “At the same time, yung mga kalaban namin, marami rin naman silang mawawala. Problema na nila yun kung paano kami haharapin next year na mas malakas,” coach Jeff said, alluding to the departures of CJ Perez from LPU, Robert Bolick from San Beda University, and Prince Eze from University of Perpetual Help. He then continued, “Mas malakas, tapos mas sugatan ngayon kaya babawi kami next year.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 31st, 2018