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At least 24 teams to do battle in MPBL’s second conference

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) is just getting started in its aim of giving a bigger stage for players from all over the country the chance to shine. And now, the upstart league will have a 24-strong stable of squads all ready and raring to push it farther. “The vision of the league is to give a chance to homegrown players. Now may 24 teams tayo, we’re still striving to be a place for many more homegrown players,” commissioner Kenneth Duremdes said in the league-wide owners’ meeting on Wednesday at the Raffles Hotel in Makati. Last month, the MPBL closed the curtain on what was a successful first conference with the Batangas Athletics topping nine other teams to win the league’s inaugural championship. Then, the Bataan Defenders (now Risers), Bulacan Kuyas, Caloocan Supremos, Imus Bandera, Muntinlupa Cagers, Navotas Clutch, Paranaque Patriots, Quezon City Capitals, and Valenzuela Classic rounded out the leaderboard. Now, at least 14 new squads will be challenging both Batangas and the already established league hierarchy. Joining the MPBL are the the Cebu Sharks, Davao Occidental Tigers, General Santos Warriors, Laguna Heroes, Makati Skyscrapers, Mandaluyong El Tigre, Manila Stars, Pasay Voyagers, Pampanga Lanterns, Pasig Pirates, San Juan Knights, and Zamboanga Valientes. Rizal and Marikina are also new members of the league, but their monickers are yet to be determined. Meanwhile, Basilan and Sta. Rosa have also signified their intent to compete, but their memberships are yet to be finalized. Whatever the final number of teams is, Duremdes has no doubt that the league will only be bigger and better in its second conference tipping off in June. “You can expect every game to be a full-packed game. Yun yung naging initial success ng liga - yung nakakalaro yung sinasabi nating local heroes,” he said. League owners are still discussing the format, scheduling, and venues of the tournament as of press time. What’s sure is that the games will all be in Luzon. “Big thanks to our teams from the south kasi they all agreed na yung games nila, Luzon muna,” the commissioner said. If and when any from Cebu, Davao Occidental, General Santos, or Zamboanga make the playoffs, though, then the MPBL will have to consider granting them home games. “Kung nakapasok sila ng playoffs, who knows, yun yung chance nila to host home games,” Duremdes remarked. —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 16th, 2018

PVL: Valdez, Pablo cross paths in explosive showdown

Two of the league’s biggest names collide on Sunday when Alyssa Valdez and Creamline meet Myla Pablo and the Pocari Sweat-Air Force Lady Warriors in an exciting Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference battle at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.    Action is set to begin at 6:00 p.m. that 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 and via livestream.  Tied at 3-1 win-loss slates, the Cool Smashers and Lady Warriors will dispute the second spot behind league-leading and unbeaten BanKo (5-0). Also at stake for both teams are their winning streaks. The two squads started out on the wrong foot but gained back their confidence by winning their next three games, respectively. Leading Creamline is power hitter Valdez, who is averaging 21 points per game, backed by a solid crew led by Risa Sato, Jema Galanza, setter Jia Morado, veteran libero Mel Gohing and the returning Pau Soriano. Jem Gutierrez also made her presence felt in the Cool Smashers’ emphatic sweep of Adamson-Akari after scoring eight points, thus, giving head coach Tai Bundit another option on offense. But Creamline will definitely need to bring its A-game when they face Pablo and the Lady Warriors. The reigning Most Valuable Player Pablo is averaging 19 points per game and displayed solid floor defense for Poacri Sweat. Pablo will also have a veteran crew to help her with middles Jeanette Panaga and Del Palomata, setter Wendy Semana and hitter May Ann Pantino.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 13th, 2018

No surprise, the West title still runs through the Warriors

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Golden State coach Steve Kerr is a happy man these days. He’s got a new contract. He’s got his son Nick, who was helping out in San Antonio, working in the Warriors’ video room now. He’s leading a team that has won three of the last four NBA championships and is the overwhelming favorite to win it again this season. Staying happy will be the challenge for Kerr and the Warriors this season, when Western Conference rivals resume their attempts to take down the champs. “Our place in the history of the league is pretty secure,” Kerr said. “I don’t think our guys should feel a ton of pressure. I think they should feel the importance of trying to do it again, because this may be the last time we have this current iteration of the Warriors, just given all the free agents and the money crunch and everything else.” LeBron James took his talents to Los Angeles, signing with the Lakers and moving out of the East for the first time in his career. Houston had the NBA’s best regular-season record a year ago and has reigning MVP James Harden. Utah has a budding superstar in Donovan Mitchell, and certainly got the league’s attention with its playoff run last season. But in the West, until further notice, it’s still the Warriors and then everybody else. “It’s a marathon,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “There’s a lot of time between now and April and May and June, but if we go about it the right way to start the season, it can feed on itself in terms of the expectation we have night in, night out.” A look at the West, in predicted order of finish: PLAYOFF BOUND 1. GOLDEN STATE — Warriors aiming for their third consecutive NBA championship, something only the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls franchises have done. 2. UTAH — Donovan Mitchell is a legitimate star, coach Quin Snyder has been underrated for far too long, and the Jazz went 29-6 to finish last season. 3. HOUSTON — The Rockets have the MVP in James Harden, a leader in Chris Paul and added Carmelo Anthony, but expecting another 67-15 season is a lot. 4. L.A. LAKERS — LeBron James is still the best player in the game and shows no signs of slowing down, so doubting his chances seems less than brilliant. 5. OKLAHOMA CITY — This is a sign of how loaded the West remains: The Thunder are really good, and that won’t assure them home-court for Round 1. 6. DENVER — Losing Game 82 last season to Minnesota and missing the playoffs because of that outcome should serve as a massive motivator for Denver. 7. NEW ORLEANS — DeMarcus Cousins is gone, Rajon Rondo is gone, but Anthony Davis is still there and that should be enough for a Pelicans playoff run. 8. SAN ANTONIO — Dejounte Murray’s ACL tear is a disaster, but any team with LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan and Gregg Popovich still has a lot. IN THE MIX 9. PORTLAND — The West’s No. 3 seed last season, the Blazers were only three games ahead of No. 9 and will face a serious battle in a very loaded West. 10. DALLAS — Luka Doncic is NBA-ready, DeAndre Jordan will make the Mavs better and Dirk Nowitzki deserves to see his franchise trending up again. 11. L.A. CLIPPERS — A possible transitional year for the Clippers, who should be major players in free agency next summer and could add a lottery pick. FACING LONG ODDS 12. MINNESOTA — The Jimmy Butler debacle shows that some big changes in direction are probably going to happen in Minnesota, and sooner than later. 13. PHOENIX — Devin Booker got his max deal and the Suns got No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, but firing GM Ryan McDonough so close to the season was odd. 14. MEMPHIS — Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are savvy vets, but they are going to need a lot of help if Memphis is going to seriously improve this season. 15. SACRAMENTO — Kings had a league-high 44 games last season where they didn’t score 100 points, and a very young team might not change that much. WHAT TO KNOW L.A. BRON: If he has even an average-for-him season, new Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James will rise to No. 4 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list this season. He’s currently No. 7, with No. 6 Dirk Nowitzki, No. 5 Wilt Chamberlain and No. 4 Michael Jordan well within reach. Add 2,000 or so points to James’ total of 31,038, and only No. 3 Kobe Bryant, No. 2 Karl Malone and No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — all former Lakers — would still be ahead of him. STEPH RISING: Speaking of rising up career charts, Golden State’s Stephen Curry could easily be No. 3 on the all-time list for 3-pointers made by the end of this season. Curry has 2,129 3s in 625 career games, a rate of 3.4 made per game. The six players ahead of him — Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, Jason Terry, Kyle Korver, Jamal Crawford and Paul Pierce — averaged 1.8 made 3s per game. BIG NUMBERS: The only players in the last 30 seasons to average 30 points and eight assists were Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in 2016-17 and Houston’s James Harden last season. Probably not coincidentally, Westbrook and Harden won MVP awards for those seasons. There are seven active players with at least one MVP award in the NBA right now, and all seven play in the West. GREAT COACHES: San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich enters the season with 1,197 wins, fifth-most in NBA history — 13 behind Pat Riley and 24 behind Jerry Sloan. Meanwhile, Golden State’s Steve Kerr comes into the year with the highest winning percentages during both the regular season (265-63, .808) and the postseason (63-20, .759) in NBA history. Here’s how far ahead Kerr is on the NBA’s all-time regular season winning percentage list: If the Warriors go 24-58 this season, which seems less than likely, he would still be above Phil Jackson for the No. 1 spot. VERSUS EAST: The West beat the East for the ninth consecutive season in head-to-head matchups, winning nearly 53 percent of the cross-conference matchups in the regular season (and 100 percent of them in the NBA Finals). Over the last nine seasons, West teams have beaten East teams nearly 57 percent of the time......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 11th, 2018

PVL: Perlas Spikers, Lady Eagles stake unbeaten cards

BanKo and Ateneo-Motolite will part ways on Sunday in the clash of unbeaten teams in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Game time is at 4:00 p.m. and will air live LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183 and via livestream. The Perlas Spikers, who finished third in the Vinh Long Cup in Vietnam recently, are currently at solo top spot with 3-0 win-loss record just one win ahead of the Lady Eagles (2-0). BanKo is coming off a four-set win over listless Adamson-Akari on Saturday in its first of back-to-back weekend schedule. Head coach Dong Dela Cruz knows that it won’t be an easy task to defeat a taller and very young Lady Eagles. “Kailangan pagalawin namin sila kasi matatangkad talaga ang Ateneo,” said Dela Cruz. The mentor will bank on veterans former Ateneo star Dzi Gervacio, who scored 24 the last time out, Amanda Villanueva, Kathy Bersola and Nicole Tiamzon. Ateneo-Motolite is fresh from a morale-boosting five-set escape over PetroGazz. Head coach Oliver Almadro hopes that his wards will sustain their momentum to remain unbeaten. Kat Tolentino, who has been averaging 22 points per game, Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon and rookie Vanessa Gandler will be on the frontline of Ateneo-Motolite’s march into battle.   ---      Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 6th, 2018

PVL: FEU to bank on Finals experience against newbie UP

If there will be one specific advantage in the Finals that Far Eastern University will look to capitalize on when the Lady Tamaraws face University of the Philippines for the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference crown, it’s definitely their championship experience. Head coach George Pascua sees it as a weapon that they could use against the first-time finalists Lady Maroons when their best-of-three title showdown begins Sunday. FEU finished runner-up in last year’s edition and took home silver in UAAP Season 80. The Lady Tamaraws also enjoy the luxury of having a seasoned and battle-tested core.    UP’s best finish in a high level tournament was a Final Four stint in the UAAP three years ago.        “Ah oo, malaking advantage ‘yun kasi ‘yun na nga experienced na ‘yung players namin. ‘Yung UP first time nila so kahit papano (lamang kami doon),” said Pascua, whose squad booted out University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four in a come-from-behind series win for a return stint in the Finals. Pascua will pin his hopes on veterans Jerrili Malabanan, Celine Domingo, Heather Guino-o, setter Kyle Negrito and top rookie Lycha Ebon. Still, the mentor knows that UP isn’t a pushover team especially after the fourth seed Lady Maroons scored a huge upset over Adamson University, which swept the elimination.         “Pero syempre mahirap din magkumpyansa kasi ang labanan ngayon character na lang eh kasi lahat ng teams unpredictable eh,” he said. “Hindi mo alam kung sino ‘yung mananalo that day so depende na lang sa player kung ano ang magiging desire nila.” FEU defeated UP in the elims but the Lady Tams will face a different Lady Maroons side. UP started out shaky but slowly jelled and found their rhythm as the conference progressed. The Lady Maroons’ veterans also stepped up their game with the likes of Marian Buitre, Marist Layug, Aie Gannaban and sophomore Roselyn Rosier helping out prized hitter Isa Molde on offense and in floor defense.  UP head coach Godfrey Okumu also has at his disposal veteran setter Ayel Estranero and a young but steady playmaker Marianne Sotomil. With the Lady Maroons' seemingly diverse rotation despite the absence of injured Tots Carlos and Nicole Magasarile, Pascua and his coaching staff are devicing a good game plan to defeat the Diliman-based squad.   “‘Yung UP very unpredictable din ang laro nila kumbaga hindi mo alam kung sino ang magle-level up sa kanila,” Pascua said. “Every game kasi iba ‘yung ano nila so meron din kaming specific person na binabantayan sina Molde, Buitre.” “Siyempre paplanuhin namin ‘yang game plan for UP,” he closed.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2018

PVL: Lady Blazers try to keep semis bid alive

College of St. Benilde looks to breathe life to its Final Four hopes when the Lady Blazers clash with also-ran University of Perpetual Help in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The match begins at 4:00 p.m. and will air via livestream. The Lady Blazers are one of the three teams still in contention for the last Final Four spot with a 2-4 win-loss record tied with San Beda University. Unbeaten Adamson University (6-0), University of Sto. Tomas (5-1) and Far Eastern University (5-1) occupy the other best-of-three semifinals seats. CSB is in a must-win situation against the Lady Altas, who are looking to play the spoilers’ role after bowing out of the race with a 1-5 slate. A win by the Lady Blazers will give them a chance to force a playoff for a semis ticket. But their fate will also depend on the Lady Red Spikers’ match against University of the Philippines (3-3). CSB must win in straight or four sets and wish that San Beda will defeat UP in five sets to earn higher quotient in case of a three-way tie at 3-4. If the Lady Blazers, Lady Red Spikers and Lady Maroons close the elims in a three-way logjam, the two squads with higher quotient will faceoff for the last semifinals seat. Meanwhile, UST and FEU battle to end their elims on a high note and a good position heading into the Final Four in PVL on Tour’s Cagayan De Oro stop. Game time is at 4:00 p.m. at the Xavier University gym.   ---             Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 24th, 2018

MPBL: Munti tops San Juan in battle of unbeaten teams

Only one between Muntinlupa and San Juan was going to stay spotless at the end of their heavyweight bout in the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta-Datu Cup. That only one proved to be the home team Cagers as Allan Mangahas rallied them to a well-earned 77-71 win over the Knights last Wednesday at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex. Mangahas dropped 21 points on top of five assists, four rebounds, and three blocks and was backstopped by Chito Jaime and Dave Moralde who scored 17 and 15 markers, respectively. Behind those three, the home team erased a 20-point deficit early in the third quarter. With that, Muntinlupa rose to 5-0 in the standings. They are now the only undefeated team in the tournament. For San Juan, Larry Rodriguez topped the scoring column with 14 points to go along with seven rebounds and five blocks. John Wilson and Rian Ayonayon also chipped in 13 and 12 markers, respectively, as they suffered their first setback in six games. In the day’s other matchup, Imus downed Valenzuela, 81-71. Genmar Bragais poured in 20 points while Ian Melencio stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, eight rebounds, and eight assists as the Bandera improved to 3-3. Ford Ruaya paced the 2-3 Classic with 13 points and nine rebounds. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 23rd, 2018

PVL: Ang Benilde lalakas yan knowing coach Jerry -- Molde

Coming from a player molded into a star under the tutelage of seasoned coach Jerry Yee, University of the Philippines standout Isa Molde knows that College of St. Benilde will go a long way under his watch. The incoming fourth year Lady Maroon saw the familiar system of her former mentor Wednesday when UP faced Yee’s Lady Blazers in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Molde and the rest of the Lady Maroons crossed paths with Yee for the first time since the mentor stepped down from his position a year ago and was replaced by Kenyan coach Godfrey Okumu. UP emerged the victor in the meeting, 26-24, 27-25, 29-27, but not before a very tight battle. Experiencing firsthand the level of play displayed by CSB, Molde was convinced that the Lady Blazers are in good hands coming into the NCAA season.          “Happy ako for him kasi syempre may Benilde na siya and for sure Benilde lalakas ‘yan knowing coach Jerry,” said Molde, who played under Yee since her high school days with Hope Christian School and in her first two years with the Lady Maroons. CSB has been giving big teams especially UAAP squads in the tournament a hard time although still dropping those matches in the end. The Lady Blazers gave Far Eastern University a scare in five sets, Adamson in four and unbeaten University of Sto. Tomas in a challenging three-set duel.      But for Yee, he would rather see real results.  “Ayaw na natin ng morale victory you can look at it that way. Pero ‘yun nga working hard naman ‘yung girls so buti pinapahirapan namin sila pero yun nga morale victory pa rin yun eh. So they would have got a win pero wala e di na bale, go lang,” he said. Asked about his experience steering a team against his former players, Yee just took it professionally. “Okay lang, normal. Kumbaga players mo sila dati, friends pa rin naman tayo so wala lang,” said Yee.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2018

Cesca Racraquin brings San Beda to first win

The Cesca Racraquin-led San Beda University finally made it to the win column of the PVL Collegiate Conference at the expense of the hapless San Sebastian Lady Stags, 25-24, 21-25, 25-20, 25-16, Saturday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre. In a battle of two winless teams, San Beda came out as the winners thanks to the return of their leader, Racraquin. It was Racraquin’s first game after recovering from a mild left knee and ankle injury last week. "Sobrang importante itong [game na ito] sa akin. Kasi for the past games namin na talo kami, I can see na wala silang leader sa loob and parang nasasaktan ako kasi ako yung leader nila tapos wala ako dun," she said. The San Beda ace tallied a total of 18 points, nine from attacks and another nine aces. "Ang focus ko ay mag lead sa team namin para maging isa kami and yun naman, nakatulong naman siya dun sa panalo namin today." Nieza Viray added 15 points while Satrriani Espiritu chipped in 13 for San Beda. Joyce Sta. Rita and Sofia Sarmiento paced the Lady Stags with 13 and 10 points respectively. The Lady Red Spikers are now at 1-3 and will face Perpetual on August 19 while the Lady Stags will continue to seek for their first win on the same day against Benilde......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2018

Complementary league to PBA, MPBL tipping off on August 25

A new regional league has been formed to stand behind and provide support for both the PBA and the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League. The National Basketball League will feature 12 teams ranging from Central Luzon to Bicol, all of which will be parading fully homegrown players. The NBL aims to be another venue for lesser heralded players to be able showcase their skills on a national stage. “We are focused on grassroots development. It is our dream that our players will be noticed by professional and semi-professional leagues,” chairman Celso “Soy” Mercado said in the preseason press conference on Thursday in Mandaluyong. As such, organizers are hoping that the league will be a “complementary league” for the PBA, Asia’s first pay-for-play league, as well as the MPBL, the country’s fastest-growing regional league. The dozen squads making up NBL’s inaugural season are the Bataan Elite, Bulacan Makabayan, Camarines Sur Express, Dasmarinas Monarchs, Laguna Pistons, Marikina Shoemakers, Nueva Ecija Bespren, Pangasinan, Paranaque Aces, Quezon City Rising Stars, Rizal Spartans, and Taguig Generals. All 12 teams will have 18 fully homegrown players and will host home games – giving their respective communities a chance to watch their very own players up close and personal. Being fully homegrown is the greatest promise the league has – if commissioner Nandy Garcia is to be believed. “My life in basketball has gone full circle in now being the commissioner of the NBL. I’m looking forward to seeing new potential talents from our member teams,” the former pro said. The NBL’s inaugural season is scheduled to tip-off on August 25 in either Paranaque or Taguig. After the single round robin elimination round, the top two teams will automatically advance into the semifinals and the bottom two teams will be eliminated. The third to 10th ranked teams will then match up in the quarterfinals. At the end of it all, the first-ever champion will be crowned and will set a date opposite the kings of the Vietnam Basketball Association......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 9th, 2018

Daquis returns to old form, Cignal sees bright things ahead

Coming into the 2018 Philippine Superliga Invitational Conference, head coach Edgar Barroga challenged seasoned hitter Rachel Anne Daquis to turn back the hands of time and show that she can still pull the trigger. The open spiker heeded the call and worked doubly hard to bring back the same form that once made Daquis the brightest volleyball star in the country. “Chinallenge ko kasi si Rachel kasi kung titignan niyo medyo pababa na ‘yung laro niya,” Barroga said. “Sabi ko (sa kanya), Chel, sumunod ka lang sa mga gagawin ko, trust ka lang marami akong ipapagawa sayo, icha-challenge ulit kita.” Daquis averaged 15.25 points in the preliminary round and led Cignal to an unbeaten run into the semifinals. A misstep in the knockout Final Four may have spelled doom for the HD Spikers’ back-to-back title journey but it didn’t dampen the fact that Daquis performed well for Cignal.   “Personally syempre nagpakundisyon ako, so talagang ‘yung motivation ko na talagang gustung-gusto ko silang… unang-una syempre mapa-champion. Pero syempre step-by-step ‘yun,” said Daquis, who scored 18 points in Cignal’s 25-15, 22-25, 25-20, 25-18, win over Smart-Army in the battle for third as the HD Spikers salvaged a podium finish. “Patient ako sa process na yun, so ito ibinigay ni Lord ‘yung third place, masayang-masaya kami kasi from seventh nu’ng first time kami hinawakan ni coach naging third,” said Daquis, who gave FEU its last UAAP crown back in 2008 and collected numerous titles in the commercial leagues including five in the PSL. “So happy ako and sobrang cooperative ng teammates ko and ng coaches so yun talaga yung nagdala.” Barroga praised the dedication of Daquis, who, despite her age of 30 and numerous achievements, kept her feet on the ground and was willing to listen and train under his guidance.   “Ayun marami siyang mga ginagawa tapos kung mapapansin niyo puro mabibilis ‘yung play niya tapos tinuturuan ko pa rin siyang mag-dive, mag-roll sa ensayo so sobrang na-challenge siya although may konti siyang nararamdaman,” said Barroga. “Very satisfied (sa performance ni Rachel) lalong lalo na itong (last game),” he added. “Ine-esxpect ko na lalabas ang laro nilang lahat kasi ito na ‘yung pinakahuling laro namin for this season.” Daquis was thankful for the patience and guidance of Barroga. “For coach Edgar kasi, nilabas nya lahat eh. Yung talent mo, lahat ng skills na pwede mo palang gawin. Yung mga nagagawa mo nung college, nagagawa mo ulit ngayon,” she said. “So grabe yung tiwala nya. Ang sarap mag-ensayo kasi magugulat ka, ibabalik nya yung ganitong laro mo, ibabalik nya yung ganitong mga spikes. So sobrang happy ako and thankful kay coach Edgar.” With Daquis back into her dangerous form, Cignal is now looking at a good run come All-Filipino Conference. “Next siguro in preparation para sa All-Filipino, we’ll try to recruit more competitive (players) at saka para makasabay tayo doon sa malalakas na teams,” said Barroga.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 26th, 2018

PBA: Coach Caloy Garcia happy with Rain or Shine’s heart in loss to Ginebra

Had just one or two of Rain or Shine’s shots dropped in the final few moments of Monday’s 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals Game 4 against Ginebra, we could easily be getting ready for a do-or-die Game 5 on Wednesday. Unfortunately for the Elasto Painters, running it back with Ginebra won’t be in the cards, as they ultimately came up short, 96-94 in Game 4. And while it was a painful end to what was a great conference for Rain or Shine, head coach Caloy Garcia sees nothing to be ashamed of in the conference-ending loss. “It’s a good game for us. Ginebra deserves it. They were able to execute in the end and we missed open three point shots. And yun, LA hit a big three points to get back the lead.” Garcia told the media after the game. “The nice thing about this was our players played their hearts out today. They don’t want  to lose but its’ part of the game and sometimes losing can you make better.” After being down by as much as 14 points, the Elasto Painters came back in the second half end even led by two with less than three minutes to go in the game. Again, had just one or two of those missed shots fallen, the Rain or Shine would still be in the running. And for Garcia, keeping it close against a powerhouse team like Ginebra late is a testament to what the Elasto Painters can do. “It speaks about our character. It’s hard to play Ginebra in a series but it’s also a good learning point of our team. It is always good to play against them because you get to learn a lot of things. Like I said, they got the best tactician right now in Coach Tim [Cone]. We gave them a battle and we were able to at least make our fans proud, and even the management happy.” “We just have to learn how to get over that hump.” Garcia added. Now, as with the six other teams that have fallen short in the playoffs, Garcia and the Elasto Painters set their sights on the upcoming Governor’s Cup, and Coach hopes that his team can sustain their spectacular play, the same play that led them to the top seed after the elimination round. “Wag lang sila mawala sa kundisyon. We performed well. Nobody felt that our team was capable of ending the elimination as number one. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s more of a lesson to be learned. The nice thing in the dugout is we’re happy. We’re happy on how we performed. We just have to get better.” Garcia said.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 23rd, 2018

PVL: Lady Bulldogs brace for tough title defense

A young National University squad will march into battle hoping to defend its crown when the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference opens shop on July 21. The Lady Bulldogs ruled the inaugural edition of the tournament last year via a clean sweep of the conference behind Most Valuable Player Jaja Santiago. But this time, NU will parade a different lineup following the departure of Santiago and Aiko Urdas, while key players Jorelle Singh and Jasmine Nabor are doubtful to see action.        Head coach Babes Castillo will parade the core of his BaliPure squad composed of a mix of veterans, incoming Lady Bulldogs and Nazareth School-NU high school standouts.     Bannering the squad will be incoming rookie setter Joyme Cagande, Ivy Lacsina, libero Jennifer Nierva, Princes Robles and high school star Faith Nisperos. Eight teams will try to dethrone the Lady Bulldogs led by the returning 2017 runnerup Far Eastern University. Also joining the fray are UAAP teams University of Sto. Tomas, Adamson University and University of the Philippines and NCAA squads College of St. Benilde, University of Perpetual Help, San Sebastian College and San Beda University. Taking a leave of absence are Ateneo de Manila University and NCAA champion Arellano University. Playing in the men’s division are FEU, NU, Adamson, San Beda, Perpetual, De La Salle University, UST, UP and CSB. Defending champion Ateneo will skip the tournament.   ---      Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

Lillard dismisses talk of unhappiness with Blazers

NBA.com staff report Only five months ago, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard was telling reporters he wanted to someday be known as 'the best Trail Blazer ever.' That statement came just about two years after he talked of being a part of an the Blazers' organization for his entire career. Yet, this summer, a report surfaced that the Los Angeles Lakers might try to trade for Lillard. Lillard himself, though, isn't having such talk and made sure to discourage any notion he is unhappy in Portland. While he was indeed disappointed to see Ed Davis leave via free agency (he signed with the Brooklyn Nets this summer), Lillard is overall pleased with the Blazers and the direction of the team. Joe Freeman of The Oregonian has more: "I'm not unhappy," Lillard said Sunday. "I love where I live. I love the organization. I love our coaching staff. I love where I am." Lillard spoke to reporters after watching the Blazers' NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas, where he has been working out in preparation for a USA Basketball minicamp, and addressed a wide range of topics, including Davis' free agent exodus, the Blazers' offseason moves and the loaded Western Conference. He admitted to being upset the Blazers let Davis go. Not only did Davis want to stay in Portland, but Lillard had lobbied for it to happen, saying he hoped the respected and hard-working veteran big man would become Portland's version of Miami's Udonis Haslem. But shortly after free agency opened, Davis agreed to a 1-year, $4.4 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets, prompting Lillard to tweet a broken heart emoji. ... "I loved Ed," Lillard said. "One of my best friend's in the league (and) favorite teammates I've played with. To lose him, that's a loss for our team. Bazz played big minutes for us. Pat played big minutes for us. So we lose three rotation players that gave us a lot, that contributed to our season last year." ... At this point, Lillard said, he's accepted the obvious: The Blazers' finances and Portland's reputation among NBA players were to blame for the relative quiet offseason and his path to the playoffs will only be more challenging next season. "It's going to be a battle," Lillard said. "The way I see it, you're going to have the Golden State's, the Rockets. We were the third best team in the West and every other team behind us, they brought their guys back. So they're going to be one more year experienced together, probably going to be a little bit better. Teams like Denver, Utah and Minnesota, all those teams are going to be improved. So, us, we can't look at free agency and who we didn't get and (say) we didn't make this trade and all that stuff. Once the season starts, we've got to go. And we've got to do what we've got to do ... we've just got to find a way to make it happen." In 2017-18, Portland made it to the playoffs for the fifth straight year after finishing the season 49-33 and winning the Northwest Division title for the seventh time in franchise history. The Blazers were boosted by a 13-game winning streak that started with a victory over the Golden State Warriors just before the All-Star break, and secured the third seed in the Western Conference. The team’s streak matched the franchise record. Lillard drove the team’s success during that span. In March he averaged 27.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.5 assists. He also set a franchise record by making 64 straight free throws. He was named the West’s player of the week twice. And, at season's end, he was named All-NBA first team for the first time in his career. Aside from sharing his thoughts on the Blazers' offseason and his happiness with being in Portland, Lillard also recently commented about the WNBA -- specifically how much the league's players are paid. In an interview at Saturday's (Sunday, PHL time) Connecticut Sun vs. Las Vegas Aces game, Lillard spoke with HerHoopStats on Twitter about WNBA wages: .@dame_lillard on the @WNBA: “They deserve a lot more respect. They deserve to make a lot more money than they do. I think it’s time people start recognizing that they are professional athletes and they should be treated like it and their league should be elevated...” pic.twitter.com/QHgst1dSjI — Her Hoop Stats (@herhoopstats) July 8, 2018 In addition, Toronto Raptors star guard DeMar DeRozan spoke out about WNBA wages, too, in an interview with HerHoopStats: .@DeMar_DeRozan: “Women’s game in general is awesome. I think they deserve way more recognition than what they’re getting and tonight’s game is a great example of that. The excitement, how hard they play...” @WNBA #wnba #WatchMeWork pic.twitter.com/rtkxCtkKGO — Her Hoop Stats (@herhoopstats) July 8, 2018 Information from The Associated Press was used in this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 9th, 2018

MPBL inaugural champ Batangas sends statement at expense of QC

Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League inaugural champion Batangas has wasted no time in proving it remains one of the top teams now in the 2018 Anta Datu Cup. Leaning on former pros Bong Galanza and Dennice Villamor, the Athletics fought off a late rally by expansion team Quezon City for a 95-90 decision on Wednesday at the Caloocan Sports Complex. Galanza, who last played for Mahindra (now Columbian), was red-hot in his league debut and wound up with a game-high 28 points while former Ginebra Gin King Villamor had for himself a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double in their season-opening win. It was also those two who connived in the fourth, delivering the clutch makes even as the Capitals had a 31-point outburst in the quarter. The two new recruits were backstopped by a couple of players who had already played for Batangas when they won the championship last conference. Paul Varilla tallied 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists while Teytey Teodoro chipped in 11 markers of his own. QC was at the losing end in its debut even after ex-PBA D-League standout Jay Collado’s 21-point, 12-rebound effort as well as 19 points from former University of Sto. Tomas hero Jojo Duncil. Meanwhile, home team Caloocan made good use of its homecourt advantage, burying Pasig in the final frame for a 91-81 come-from-behind win. The Supremos (1-0) had six players in double-digits led by Mar Villahermosa who had 18 points on top of six rebounds and three assists. Bernzon Franco paced the Pirates (0-1) with 15 points. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

MPBL: National Champions to get trophy worth ten million pesos

At the end of the 2018-2019 MPBL Anta Datu Cup, the last team standing will be taking home this bad boy... Senator @mannypacquiao, MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, and the MPBL Officials bring out the Datu Cup trophy@abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/rie29gOjY1 — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) June 12, 2018 That is the new and improved MPBL National Championship trophy.  It doesn't look any different from the trophy that the Batangas Athletics took home when they won the inaugural MPBL Anta Rajah Cup, but now, with even more teams looking to hoist the trophy, of course, the MPBL had to raise the stakes a bit.  p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #454545} "Yung trophy, the same lang siya from the last conference, it’s just this time, yung full season natin, it’s an 18-Karat gold trophy siya," said MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.  Yup, you read that right. 18-Karat gold.  "It weighs around five kilos, and it was designed and suggested by the good Senator natin." Here's where it gets even more intense.  Commissioner Duremdes revealed just how much the trophy is worth.  "Napaka-bigat niya, and it’s worth P 10 million."  So, just to recap, at the end of the 2018-2019 MPBL tournament, the National Champions will be hoisting a five-kilogram, 18-Karat gold trophy that's worth a whopping ten million pesos.  How's that for motivation?  Duremdes added that the trophy was locally made, and Senator Manny Pacquiao suggested that it resemble the NBA's Larry O'Brien trophy.  And while Commissioner Duremdes knows that the trophy will indeed be an added motivation for the players, he believes that even more valuable for the winners will be pride.  "It’s an added motivation for the teams, but to me, ang importante dito is yung pride," said Duremdes. "Whatever the result of the tournament, ang mangingibabaw dito ay yung pride ng bawat team, because they’re playing for their cities." .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2018

MPBL: Better prepared QC Capitals coming with 'NSD attitude

Given that they only had a couple of weeks to prepare, the Quezon City Capitals’ quarterfinals run in the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Rajah Cup was definitely an impressive feat. Being one of the last teams to confirm their participation, the Capitals only had two weeks to prepare for the season, and still managed to finish fifth out of ten teams and qualify for the post season. Now after a full conference of experience and a full training camp, the Capitals are looking to build on from their past success and go even further in the postseason. QC Capitals head coach Vis Valencia addressing the crowd. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/yIINy7kOoc — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) June 5, 2018 “Ngayon mas maganda yung preparation ng Quezon City Capitals, if you remember last conference, we only had less than two weeks, we had a good start, we were able to make it to the quarterfinals pero nag-short kami ng preparation.” Capitals head coach Vis Valencia told ABS-CBN Sports. “Now, we have better preparation, we have a good combination of players, young and experienced players, combined. Kumbaga maganda yung naging jelling nila, ang aga nila mag-jell actually because they’re all professionals.” Joining the Capitals for the Datu Cup will be a couple of ex-pros in Jojo Duncil and Magi Sison. Duncil, a former UAAP Champion and UAAP Finals MVP, spent eight years in the PBA while Sison was a former Gilas call-up and played three years in the pros. (READ ALSO: Ex-pro Jojo Duncil continues basketball life with the QC Capitals) Coach Vis hopes that the addition of experienced pros such as Duncil and Sison can not only bolster the Capitals’ talent, but also provide much-needed guidance and leadership. “We’re glad to have Jojo Duncil, Magi Sison, marami silang maitutulong, lalo na with our young players. Sila yung parang kuya ng team, they share a lot of their experiences to the young players.” said Valencia. “It’s a good combination, we have young and athletic players and at the same time we have senior players like Jojo Duncil who can guide us for the whole season.” Coming from a four-month tournament that featured ten teams, the upcoming Datu Cup will now feature a much bigger 26-team tournament that’s expected to stretch out for ten months. For Valencia, physical and mental fitness will be key in surviving the long, gruelling season. “Of course, we have to really make sure that we are prepared physically, its a very long and rough season, 25 games, home and away. Sabi ko nga nung last conference, we only had nine teams [to face], pero we felt yung, we got exhausted pagdating nung six, seven, eight games, we already felt the pagod of the conference.” “That’s one thing, we prepare everybody physically, then also we prepared everybody mentally. I told the boys it’s a long and rough season pero let’s enjoy every moment, at practice, at games. That will help us the whole conference, yung physical and mental preparations.” After an impressive inaugural run, Valencia promises that the Capitals will at an even higher level in the upcoming Datu Cup. “You can expect the Quezon City Capitals to come with that never say die attitude, we will play our hearts out, expect that the team this conference will really give their hearts, especially for Quezon City.“ The 2018 MPBL Datu Cup opens on Tuesday, June 12th at the Araneta Coliseum......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

LOOK: Complete 2018 MPBL Datu Cup rosters

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) has grown nearly three-fold since its first conference. From nine founding teams in the Anta Rajah Cup, the league has now increased to 25 squads all looking to bring pride to its home town. A tougher challenge is now posed for defending champion Batangas, who will not only ward off more opponents, but also better ones as each team has been hard at work recruiting eager players. Check out the complete MPBL rosters to get to know each squad beforet the league returns on June 12 at the Araneta Coliseum.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

Legacies at stake for Rockets, Warriors in Game 7

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com HOUSTON — So much riding on one game, which goes beyond which team reaches The Finals and which one reaches for the golf clubs. Reputations and images and legacies also can and will be determined in this winner-take-all battle between the Warriors and Rockets. Such is the way of professional sports and instant analysis and fortunes, both teams and players and coaches. That said, here’s what’s on the line for the main figures in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals: * James Harden. He can make a solid case for being the second-best player in the NBA over the past three seasons, having finished top three in Kia MVP voting twice and will perhaps take home the award this season. But LeBron James went to The Finals three times in that span and won once. Harden, on the other hand, doesn’t know what June basketball feels like since he joined the Rockets. He’ll have his best chance Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). He’ll be on his court, playing before his crowd, 48 minutes away from facing LeBron and the Cavaliers for a championship. If he loses against the Warriors, then Harden will keep the crown as Best Active Player Without A Championship, which isn’t an honor he embraces. With the possibility of playing this game without Chris Paul, Harden might need to explode for 40 points or more. And that still might not be enough. He’s still in his prime, but reaching The Finals, much less winning, isn’t guaranteed to happen. Remember how Oklahoma City was “destined” to return to The Finals when Harden played there? * Kevin Durant. His championship demons were destroyed last summer when he joined a loaded team and did exactly what everyone expected. Yet Durant didn’t sign up for a one-and-done. The only way to justify leaving OKC is by winning multiple titles. His performance in this series has gone hot and cold. This isn’t the same Durant who tore through everyone last spring and summer; he seems bewildered at times by the Houston defense. If he comes up flat and the Warriors lose, the sensitive Durant might want to stay off social media. * Chris Paul. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said what everyone feels about Paul and his hamstring injury: It stinks. Paul deserves so much more, especially after such a solid run through the playoffs in every round, including outplaying Steph Curry until the injury. Paul never reached the conference finals until now and at 33 is running out of chances to play for the championship. He’ll become an instant hero in Houston if he pulls a Willis Reed and inspires the Rockets in Game 7, then again if he beats his pal LeBron in The Finals. If not? Then he’ll wonder why the Basketball Gods are against him. * Steph Curry. A fourth straight trip to The Finals would make Curry the LeBron of the West. He shook himself free from a shooting slump to recover nicely in this series and save the Warriors from elimination in six games. * Mike D’Antoni. Validation would come finally for D’Antoni should he mastermind a victory over the four All-Star Warriors, especially so should he do it without Paul in Game 7. D’Antoni heard too often about how his offenses weren’t built to last in the postseason but nobody’s saying that now. Anyway, the Rockets employ a far different system than the one he used in Phoenix. Translated: Give him credit for adjusting and cooking up an offense to suit the talents of his players and not vice versa. Also, with the help of lead assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik, the Rockets’ defense is causing plenty of issues for the Warriors this series. Overall, D’Antoni has pushed all the right buttons. * Steve Kerr. Has he already done enough for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach just off two championships alone? If not, then a fourth straight trip to The Finals might be the trick. But Kerr hasn’t always convinced his players to remain calm in fourth quarters. Why did the Warriors’ offense suffer costly breakdowns in Games 4 and 5? Yes, Houston’s defense rose up, but adjustments by Golden State were slow to come, if at all. * Andre Iguodala. He isn’t expected to play Game 7 and if the Warriors advance, you wonder if he’ll be ready for another shot at LeBron. The Warriors gave him a nice contract extension here in his twilight because of what he means to them in spring and summer. They could use his on-court leadership. * Draymond Green. The Warriors are still looking for a breakout game in this series from their emotional leader. It’s not that Green has been a ghost; rather, he just hasn’t stood out in the small lineup or made his presence known in a big way, other than with the referees (as usual). It would help if Green began hitting those open three-pointers the Rockets are generously giving him. * Daryl Morey. Often celebrated as one of the top general managers in the game, Morey built this Rockets team with beating the Warriors in mind. He traded for Paul and signed P.J. Tucker last summer, and those two have repaid that faith with solid playoff performances. How many more times must Morey tweak the Rockets here in the Harden era before Houston finally strikes gold. For his sake, hopefully, this was the final time. But again, much depends on Paul’s hamstring. Sometimes, the fate of your team is beyond your control. Sometimes, you need luck. * Houston. This city endured a deadly flood, then lifted itself with the help of ordinary citizens and a handful of local athletes and celebrities, then celebrated its first World Series triumph courtesy of the Astros. For the last several months, therefore, Houston has been in the headlines, and would like to add another late Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2018

LeBron James reigns supreme over Eastern Conference yet again

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BOSTON – For nearly a decade, the general managers of the NBA’s Eastern Conference have had, essentially, one job: Arm, equip and overhaul their teams specifically to get past LeBron James and whatever squad with which he happened to be rolling. They have failed. Miserably and spectacularly. And that’s even spotting them the first couple of summers to get their bearings after the whole “Super Team” genesis in Miami back in 2010-11. James’ domination of the conference continued Sunday (Monday, PHL time) when he and the Cleveland Cavaliers persevered in Game 7 against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Clawing back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in the series, and playing the final seven quarters without their second All-Star, forward Kevin Love (concussion protocol), the Cavaliers hung around in an ugly game. They took advantage of a Boston team on training wheels – 7-of-39 on three-pointers, oh my! – and snagged a ticket to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals. For James, it’s eight in a row and nine overall, these Cleveland four added to the four he reached with the Heat from 2011-14. It’s a run unprecedented since Bill Russell’s Celtics were winning 11 championships in 13 years, a stranglehold on half of all Finals opportunities this decade. He has a 6-2 record in Game 7 situations, with nothing but triumphs after dropping his first two. “I mean, the bigger the stage, the bigger the player, and he's been doing it for us since we've been here,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “The great quote from the great [Clippers coach] Doc Rivers is, ‘You always want to go into the Game 7 with the best player,’ and we have the best player on our team going into a Game 7. I like our chances. And he delivered again.” Next year at this point, maybe by league proxy, James will have one hand tied behind his back. That’s the next logical step in handicapping him against the field. He has made it to The Finals without his most talented sidekicks. He has taken or dragged along an ever-changing cast of teammates. This time, he did with arguably the Cavaliers’ barest cupboard since first dipping their collective toes in The Finals water back in 2007. Two All-Star point guards, Kyrie Irving (with whom James won a ring in 2016) and Isaiah Thomas (from whom James won his freedom after five awkward weeks), already were long gone when Love went down. And now he was facing elimination with a shaky crew and a huge, inflated question mark hovering over his and Cleveland’s offseason, whenever it comes. Then again, the Celtics were facing him. Like the Raptors, the Pacers, the Bulls, the Hawks and several others before them, Boston well understood the player through whom its playoff ambitions had to go. “I think we’ve played now until May 25th and May 27th the last two years and we started on September 25th. That’s every day,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said about his team’s 2017 and 2018 tangles with Cleveland in the East finals. “Every day you’re totally focused on this, and he’s gone past that eight straight times. “It’s ridiculous. And he does it at this level and with the pressure, with the scrutiny – doesn’t matter.” Plenty of the foes chasing James when his Finals streak began have headed into retirement ringless and unfulfilled. Others were in high school or grade school. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, for instance, was 13 years old when James began his streak against Dallas in 2011. There are so many others like Horford, with tire tracks on their backs, no mercy coming their way from James and very little hope on the horizon. At age 33, James played all 82 games in the regular season for the first time in his 15-year career. He made it an even 100 with Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) appearance and he did it with aplomb, staying on the floor for all 48 minutes. “Our goal going into the series was to make him exert as much energy as humanly possible, and try to be as good as we can on everybody else,” Stevens said. “For the most part, I thought we were pretty good at that. Multiple games now in TD Garden, held them under 100, three games in the 80s – but he still scored 35. It’s a joke.” James’ stats line – 35 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists – was enough this time because he got a reasonable amount of help. Three other Cavaliers scored in double figures, including Jeff Green, the journeyman forward who started in Love’s spot. Being one of James’ teammates requires a thick skin for when things don’t go well. It also carries a sense of obligation, to occasionally come through the way Green did in Game 7 (19 points, eight rebounds) given the debt they all owe their resident superstar. “You want to be there for him,” Green said. “You want to be in the trenches, in the battle, helping him achieve the ultimate goal. For me, it’s a no-brainer to go out there and give it all I have.” Green was a part of James’ most tumultuous campaign yet, with so many twists and turns – the shotgun Irving trade, Thomas’ bad fit, a rash of injuries, a desperate reset at the trade deadline and a bumpy learning curve once the new guys arrived – that James and Lue casually referred to it as “five seasons” crammed into one. “It's now six seasons in one,” James said after midnight. “I guess this is the last chapter for our team in this season. It's been a whirlwind. I mean, it's been [a rollercoaster]. It's been good, it's been bad, it's been roses. There have been thorns in the roses. There's been everything that you can ask for.” For eight years, a conference full of rivals has targeted one player, who happens to be the league’s best, the first among alleged equals with the Heat and clearly the leader when he headed back home to Ohio. In that time, the players have worked, the coaches have schemed and the GMs have plotted. No one has found the answer. None have stopped him. Fact is, nobody’s really laid a glove on him. It’s his conference, seemingly for as long as he wants it. “It's been a satisfaction in the fact that I like to be successful,” James said. “But more importantly, just the work that I put into it. I mean, it's an every-single-day work ethic that I have while I'm playing this game, while I have the ability to play this game at this level. I love the competition. “I think about the teams that I've played over this run and the players that I've played over this run, slightly. But more importantly, me just being healthy. I've been healthy throughout this run. I put a lot of work into my body, into my craft. Being available to my teammates and being available to my franchise, the two franchises I've been with, and throughout this run is what's been more important to me than anything. Always being available.” It was late. James was weary. Another Game 7 in less than 24 hours would determine his and the Cavaliers’ next playoff challenge. “I'll be available for at least four more games,” he said. “And we'll see what happens.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2018

Long-awaited matchup arrives for Rockets, Warriors

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com James Harden and the Rockets must get past the Warriors to reach their first Finals since 1995. Finally, it’s here. The series the NBA world has been waiting for from the moment Chris Paul requested a trade last summer that sent him to the Houston Rockets to join forces with James Harden has arrived. It's the Rockets vs. the four-time Western Conference and two-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors for West supremacy. The Rockets had a feeling they could see this journey through to this point, even when the teams met on opening night at Oracle Arena. Houston was built to beat the champs, and did it twice in their three regular season encounters. Rockets center Clint Capela voiced his opinions on the matchup after a January win, saying his team was superior to the champs. And he’s just as eager for this match up, in which the Rockets hold home-court advantage. “I’m real excited,” Capela said. “This [Warriors] team is going to be hard, it’s going to be a fight. There’s going to be a lot of adjustments after every game. It’s going to be a chess game. Of course, we’re going to be ready. They’ve been to The Finals three straight years. So we’re just excited. Everybody's excited about it. I’m sure all the NBA fans are excited about it, too.” The Warriors are fired up, too, and have heard all the chirping. “Now you’ve got to play the game,” All-Star forward Draymond Green said. “You wanted us, now you’ve got us.” The Warriors are attempting to conquer the West for a fourth straight season, but this will be their first West finals without home-court advantage. Doing it against a team specifically designed to take them down just adds to a battle wrought with connections. Harden, Paul, Green, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all won gold medals together, be it on the Olympic or World Cup of Basketball stage. Harden and Durant were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder team that lost The Finals in 2012. Paul’s LA Clippers squad in 2014 was the last West foe to knock the Warriors out of the playoffs before The Finals. And the Rockets were the team the Warriors beat in the 2015 West finals to jump-start their would-be dynasty. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni pioneered the style the Warriors have used to dominate the league while he was coaching in Phoenix, where Warriors coach Steve Kerr was the Suns GM. The three-pointers will fly from all directions. Both teams are capable of defending at a championship level. The personnel on both sides is ideally matched. Perhaps best of all, though, is that both teams are healthy and without any ready-made excuses overshadowing this showdown. It’s best on best, a test of collective wills between the “cream of the Western Conference crop,” as Curry declared after the Warriors and Rockets each won their West semifinal series just hours apart on May 8 (May 9, PHL time). The NBA world has been waiting on this heavyweight showdown. Now, it’s finally here. 3 quick questions and answers 1. Who flinches first, Kerr with his “Hamptons Five” lineup or D’Antoni with his Harden-Paul-Capela trio? Against every other team in the league, the Warriors’ small-ball unit of Durant, Thompson, Curry, Green and Andre Iguodala has a clear advantage. No one else has three shooters like Durant, Curry and Thompson playing alongside the versatile Green and Iguodala. The Rockets come close with Harden, Paul and Capela alongside defensive specialists and three-point marksmen Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker. It’ll be a fascinating study in styles watching them matchup against each other. But advantage Warriors ... until we see someone crack the code against the "Hamptons Five." 2. What’s more valuable -- Houston's home-court advantage or Golden State's experience? Home-court advantage is always preferred. The Warriors know that. It’s been good to them in each of the past three seasons grinding through the West playoffs to The Finals. But it’s not infallible (as the Cleveland Cavaliers taught us, rallying from a 3-1 Finals deficit to take Game 7 at Oracle Arena). Which is exactly why the Rockets need to have the threat level turned all the way up for Games 1 and 2. Lose either one of the first two games at Toyota Center and the Warriors will pounce in this series. 3. Who is the biggest wild card for each team? And, are they capable of swinging this series? It’s Eric Gordon for the Rockets and whichever big man (JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Kevon Looney or perhaps Jordan Bell) that Kerr taps for service for the Warriors. Gordon has to shoot more consistently than he has thus far in the playoffs (34.2 percent overall, 31.4 percent on three-pointers) if the Rockets hope to match the Warriors basket for basket. The Warriors have a big man for basically every season, it’s just a matter of which one will fare best against a much-improved Capela. He has outplayed two more heralded bigs (All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and the Jazz's Rudy Gobert) in each of the Rockets’ series to date. Overall, though, there's too much star power in this series for any role player to swing the momentum for more than a few minutes. The number to know 100.7 --The two best offensive teams in the regular season have been the two best defensive teams in the playoffs, combining to allow just 100.7 points per 100 possessions on their way to the conference finals. In the first round, the Rockets and Warriors held the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs to 5.6 and 5.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they scored in the regular season, respectively. And in the conference semifinals, they held the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans to 7.0 and 16.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they scored in the first round, respectively. The Rockets' starting lineup has allowed just 92 points per 100 possessions in its 153 minutes, having forced more than 21 turnovers per 100 (the best mark among lineups that have played at least 75 minutes). The Warriors' "Hamptons Five" lineup, meanwhile, has allowed less than 87 points per 100 possessions in its 54 minutes, and the champs have allowed just 94 points per 100 possessions in 250 total minutes with Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala on the floor together. These teams aren't just here because of how potent their offenses are, and the team that advances to The Finals will be the one that continues to defend at a high level. -- John Schuhmann Making the pick The Rockets made it their mission to put together a group to avenge their 2015 and 2016 playoff failures, with the Warriors serving as their primary target. They’ve got home-court advantage, an inspired Paul and what appears to be all of the requisite parts needed to interrupt the Warriors’ dynasty plans. But do they have the nerve to snatch it all from Golden State, which took a measured approach to 2017-18 and has seemingly flipped the proverbial with another championship run on the line? Experience over ambition this time. Warriors in 6. 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 NewsMay 11th, 2018