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Belangel dislodges Ateneo teammate Sotto out of top spot in NBTC 24

The UAAP Season 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament closed out its elimination round with a bang, but as the day ended, one student-athlete stood head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. Ateneo de Manila High School's senior floor general SJ Belangel dropped a whopping 31 points against Nazareth School of National University, leading the Blue Eaglets to an immaculate 14-0 record en route to an automatic Finals berth. With this outing and the consistency he showed during the preliminaries, Belangel took over the top spot as the best high school prospect in Week 5 of the National Basketball Training Center Chooks-to-Go 24. The NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 is a weekly ranking of high school players taking part in the UAAP, CESAFI-NBTC, MMBL, and FCAAF tournaments as well as the recently concluded NCAA competition. Ateneo big man and 23 for 2023 cadet Kai Sotto dropped to second after sitting atop the ladder for the last four weeks. Rounding out the top five are La Salle Greenhills' Joel Cagulangan, Mapua University's Will Gozum, and Far Eastern University-Diliman's L-Jay Gonzales. For dragging University of Sto. Tomas to a playoff match against Adamson High School, CJ Cansino, who is bound to win the UAAP Jrs. MVP, went up to seven.  On the other hand, Baby Falcons ace Joem Sabandal also rose in the weekly rankings, going up to 16. Making the biggest leap this week is CESAFI MVP Alex Visser. Visser rose to 17th, four spots higher than a week ago.  The biggest loser this week is Baby Tamaraws off-guard RJ Abarrientos. The FEU-commit was a non-factor during his team's loss to the Tiger Cubs last Sunday resulting to a drop from eighth to 14th. Here is the complete rankings after Week 5: 1. SJ Belangel, ADMU (2) 2. Kai Sotto, ADMU (1) 3. Joel Cagulangan, LSGH (3) 4. Will Gozum, MU (4) 5. L-Jay Gonzales, FEU (5) 6. Rhayann Amsali, NU (6) 7. CJ Cansino, UST (9) 8. Dave Ildefonso, ADMU (7) 9. Aaron Fermin, AU (10) 10. Clint Escamis, MU (11) 11. John Galinato, CKSC (12) 12. Inand Fornilos, LSGH (13) 13. Warren Bonifacio, MU (14) 14. RJ Abarrientos, FEU (8) 15. Evan Nelle, SBC (15) 16. Joem Sabandal, ADU (17) 17. Alex Visser, SHS Cebu (21) 18. Terrence Fortea, NU (16) 19. Raven Cortez, DLSZ (18) 20. Beirn Laurente, UV (20) 21. Mac Guadana, LPU (22) 22. Joaqui Manuel, ADMU (19) 23. Harvey Pagsanjan, HCHS (23) 24. Maui Cruz, EAC (24) The Juniors stars were ranked using the following criteria: league stats, impact in team, team record, leadership, defense, offense, and level of competition. These rankings will be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the MOA Arena......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnFeb 13th, 2018

SJ Belangel joins Ateneo teammate Kai Sotto in top three of NBTC 24

Ateneo de Manila High School's towering teen Kai Sotto and La Salle Greenhills' court general Joel Cagulangan remained the top two high school players in the NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24, but there was a lot of movement this week, including the rise of SJ Belangel. The NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 is a weekly ranking of high school players taking part in the UAAP, CESAFI-NBTC, MMBL, and FCAAF tournaments as well as the recently concluded NCAA competition. Belangel, the Blue Eaglets' graduating floor leader had a sensational week, helping steer his squad to an unblemished 10-0 record. With his exploits, he was the consensus third-ranked player of the week, leapfrogging NCAA MVP Will Gozum of Mapua University. Far Eastern University-Diliman do-it-all guard L-Jay Gonzales and Katipunan swingman Dave Ildefonso also moved up the ladder while University of Sto. Tomas ace CJ Cansino dropped to eighth after finishing fourth last week. Besides movement at the top, there were also a lot of debutatants in this week's list. Ateneo double-double machine Joaqui Manuel's workhorse type of game paid off as he was ranked 21st this week. After firing 51 markers last weekend, Bacolod Tay Tung High School's Harold Alarcon was named as the 22nd top prospect. Joshua Yerro of University of Visayas then rounded out the list. NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 End of Week 2 1. Kai Sotto, Ateneo Last wk rank: 1 2. Joel Cagulangan, CSB-LSGH Last wk rank: 2 3. SJ Belangel, Ateneo Last wk rank: 5 4. Will Gozum, Mapua Last wk rank: 3 5. L-Jay Gonzales, FEU-Diliman Last wk rank: 6 6. Dave Ildefonso, Ateneo Last wk rank: 8 7. Rhayann Amsali, NU Last wk rank: 7 8. CJ Cansino, UST Last wk rank: 4 9. Clint Escamis, Mapua Last wk rank: 9 10. Aaron Fermin, Arellano Last wk rank: 9 11. Terrence Fortea, NU Last wk rank: 16 12. RJ Abarientos, FEU-Diliman Last wk rank: 15 13. Inand Fornilos, CSB-LSGH Last wk rank: 11 14. Evan Nelle, San Beda Last wk rank: 12 15. Warren Bonifacio, Mapua Last wk rank: 13 16. John Galinato, CKSC Last wk rank: 14 17. Mac Guadana, LPU Last wk rank: 18 18. Raven Cortez, DLSZ Last wk rank: 19 19. Harvey Pagsanjan, Hope Christian Last wk rank: 20 20. Maui Cruz, EAC Last wk rank: 23 21. Joaqui Manuel, Ateneo Last wk rank: N/A 22. Harold Alarcon, Bacolod Tay Tung Last wk rank: N/A 23. Jancork Cabahug, UV Last wk rank: 17 24. Joshua Yerro, UV Last wk rank: N/A The Juniors stars were ranked using the following criteria: league stats, impact in team, team record, leadership, defense, offense, and level of competition. These rankings will be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the MOA Arena......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 22nd, 2018

SJ Belangel overtakes Kai Sotto as best HS player in NBTC rankings

MANILA, Philippines – A Blue Eaglet soared to top of the NBTC-Chooks To Go High School Power Rankings but it is not the towering Kai Sotto. SJ Belangel overtook teammate Sotto, who lorded over his class for the first 4 weeks, in Week 5 of the rankings as he ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2018

NBTC 24 Week 2: Eaglet SJ Belangel catapults to top 3

MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo Blue Eaglets big man Kai Sotto and La Salle Junior Blazers point guard Joel Cagulangan continue to banner the Chooks-to-Go/National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) 24.  Ateneo's senior point guard SJ Belangel dropped 20 points that helped steer the Blue Eaglets to an unblemished 10-0 record. With ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 22nd, 2018

Eaglets survive scare from Baby Tams to seize playoff berth

STANDINGS Ateneo 10-0 NU 7-2 UST 5-4 FEU-Diliman 5-5 Adamson 4-5 DLSZ 3-6 UPIS 2-7 UE 1-8 For the first time in the 80th Season of the UAAP Juniors Basketball Tournament, Ateneo de Manila High School’s matchup went down the wire. Far Eastern University-Diliman put up the best fight the undefeated league-leaders have faced thus far, but team captain SJ Belangel and Joaqui Manuel came up big in a 68-65 decision, still in favor of the Blue Eaglets on Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre. The three-point margin is the smallest the kids from Katipunan have registered after 10 games. It is also the first and only time their winning margin was not in double-digits. Dominant throughout the tournament, Ateneo was under siege after the first half and was down by eight before their team captain got together with Dave Ildefonso to outscore their opponents in the third, 15-10. Behind that 21-point quarter, they mounted a three-point lead heading into the final frame. There, last year’s Finals MVP L-Jay Gonzales came alive with all but two of his 12 points, but was quickly responded to by Belangel. In the endgame, it was then Manuel who took charge. In all, he had eight of his 12 points in the last seven minutes. He also had a total of 14 rebounds and four assists. Ildefonso chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds while Kai Sotto contributed 16 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. While it was their first game that didn’t end in a rout, head coach Joe Silva said the close contest was actually good for them as it showed their character. Indeed, Ateneo is gladly taking the hardfought win as it already guarantees them a spot in the playoffs. At 10-0, they are also four more wins away from an elimination round sweep that automatically advances them into the Finals. On the other hand, the defending champions remain winless up against the three other contenders above of them in the standings in Ateneo, Nazareth School of National University, and University of Sto. Tomas. This, despite a strong showing from RJ Abarrientos who had 16 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals. At 5-5, FEU-Diliman is in need to get a win run going as Adamson High School continues to lurk behind them. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME ATENEO 68 – Belangel 20, Sotto 16, Manuel 12, Ildefonso 11, Credo 9, Escalona 0, Chiu 0, Angeles 0, David 0, Jaymalin 0, Lopa 0 FEU-DILIMAN 65 – Abarrientos 16, Alforque 12, Gonzales 12, Torres 12, Sajonia 10, Celzo 0, Ona 1, Boc 0, Tolentino 0, Mariano 0 QUARTER SCORES: 10-20, 25-33, 46-43, 68-65 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2018

Ateneo coach Silva on 3 Eaglets in NBTC 24: ‘They deserve to be there’

Ateneo de Manila High School is undefeated in the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament. And with a lineup as talented and as deep as they have, the Blue Eaglets are expected to go all the way to the Finals – and even get the championship. Led by three players in the top five in terms of Statistical Points (SPs) in the UAAP in second-running Kai Sotto, third-running SJ Belangel, and fourth-running Dave Ildefonso, indeed, no team is as talented and as deep as the kids from Katipunan. For head coach Joe Silva, those three are only worthy of being mentioned as top talent not only in the UAAP, but also the entire Philippines. “The three of them really are blue-chip talents sa high school,” he said. The first-ever NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 high school player rankings seems to agree with him as in the initial list revealed last Monday, Sotto was deemed the top talent among all players taking part in the NCAA, UAAP, CESAFI (Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc.), MMBL (Metro Manila Basketball League), and FCAAF (Filipino-Chinese Amateur Athletic Federation). The NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 is a weekly ranking of high school players which will ultimately be used to select the participants in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game at the MOA Arena. There, Belangel was ranked fifth while Ildefonso was eighth. That means that Ateneo has three players in the top eight in all of the Philippines. In Silva’s eyes, there is no doubt that his three prized prospects are nothing but deserving of their ranks. “They deserve to be there,” he said. That statement is even truer for Sotto, the towering teen who has long had scouts drooling about his potential. “If you put him in another team, he’d dominate, double-double yan easily. We’re not about individual stuff, but it’s not a surprise that Kai’s number one,” he said. The 7-foot-1, 15-year-old has per game counts of 12.6 points in 53.7 percent shooting, 12.6 rebounds, and 4.9 blocks in just 23.2 minutes of play. Silva was quick to remind Sotto, Belangel, and Ildefonso, however, “Good for them, pero they shouldn’t settle. They should work harder, stay humble, and focus on their studies.” The Blue Eaglets mentor, though, would also like to see two more names of his players on the NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24. “For me, Jason Credo and Joaqui Manuel should be there. Maybe they’re being overshadowed kasi medyo malakas yung team namin kaya they don’t get their numbers,” he said. He then continued, “Pero versatility-wise, value to the team, I believe they should be there.” Manuel has been their breakout player with averages of 11.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists while Credo has been their glue guy with norms of 10.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.6 steals. Manuel and Credo’s next chance to get on the list will be next Monday when the new rankings will be released. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2018

NBTC to release weekly rankings of 24 best high school players in PH

Spicing up the seventh edition of the High School All-Star Game, the SM-National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) is introducing a new innovation to determine who are the best high school players in the country. The official grassroots arm of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will release weekly power rankings naming the top 24 high school players from the UAAP, NCAA, CESAFI, MMBL, and FCAAF tournaments in the buildup for the much-anticipated All-Star exposition this March. Every week, a selection committee made up of reputable sportswriters, coaches, and a statisticians will convene to make the list. Ateneo's Kai Sotto and SJ Belangel, UST's CJ Cansino, and NCAA MV...Keep on reading: NBTC to release weekly rankings of 24 best high school players in PH.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 8th, 2018

Kai Sotto, Will Gozum, high school standouts to be ranked in NBTC 24

The SM-National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) is already gearing up for the seventh High School All-Star Game this coming March. In doing so, the SM-NBTC will release weekly rankings for high school players taking part in the UAAP, CESAFI-NBTC, MMBL, and FCAAF tournaments as well as the recently concluded NCAA competition.   Every week, a selection committee composed of several reputable sportswriters covering the various high school tourneys including two coaches and one statistician will meet to rank the top 24 players around the country. As such, for the first time ever, players like Ateneo de Manila High School’s SJ Belangel and Kai Sotto, Mapua University’s Will Gozum, La Salle Greenhills’ Joel Cagulangan, and University of Sto. Tomas’ CJ Cansino will be ranked on a weekly leaderboard that may or may not change based on their performance. Criteria for judging includes the following: offense, defense, team record, statisics, impact on team, and level of competition. The eighth and final of these rankings will then be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the MOA Arena.   For program director Eric Altamirano, this is nothing but a step forward for all of Philippine basketball. “SM-NBTC believes that these rankings will make the race to be part of the top 24 high school players more exciting while also making more of people aware of the abundance of talent that’s at hand in the high school level,” he said. The SM-NBTC 24 will be announced every Monday from January 15 to March 5......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2018

EYES ON YOU, KID: UAAP 80 Jrs. players to watch

The first round of the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with. And we can’t wait for the second round to get started just so we could get even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players: CJ CANSINO – University of Sto. Tomas (yellow jersey with ball) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 27.6 points, 43.5 percent shooting, 14.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals (yellow jersey number 27) CJ Cansino has single-handedly made University of Sto. Tomas matter again – and that’s not an exaggeration. Through his sheer will, the Tiger Cubs find themselves well inside the playoff picture at the end of the first round. The long-limbed forward is an all-around weapon who can get his shots inside the paint, from the perimeter, and even from the charity stripe where he has already scored a mind-boggling 60 points – that’s out of 76 attempts, giving him a 78.9 percent shooting clip from there. It’s not just scoring where he makes an impact, though, as he also can also make plays for teammates like scoring guard Kobe Palencia as well as disrupt plays for opponents. And oh, the six-foot-two graduating player is also tops in the league in rebounding – yes, he has more rebounds than the next kid on our list. The even better news for UST? Cansino wants to stay for college. KAI SOTTO – Ateneo de Manila High School (blue jersey number 11) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.9 points, 52.5 percent shooting, 12.7 rebounds, 4.9 blocks (blue jersey number 11) All eyes have been on Kai Sotto ever since he was discovered in the Jr. NBA. Now in his second season for currently league-leading Ateneo de Manila University, he has given all of us more than enough reason to never take our eyes off of him and all of his now 7-foot 1-inch stature. A legitimate inside presence the likes of which the high school ranks have never seen before, Sotto is unstoppable in getting points near the basket and collaring rebounds from anywhere inside the paint. And yeah, the kid atop our list has more rebounds than him, but nobody in the Juniors can touch the 15-year-old’s rim protecting ability. 34 blocks through seven games? That’s unheard of! The even better news for Ateneo? He’s just in Grade 9, that’s three more seasons of eligibility after this one. SJ BELANGEL – Ateneo de Manila High School (white jersey number 0) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 50.6 percent shooting, 5.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals (blue jersey number 0) Sotto has been getting all the attention, but just like a year ago, Ateneo has been SJ Belangel’s show to run. The kid who famously scored 99 points back in his hometown of Bacolod is now a complete player. The scoring has always been there for Belangel, but it’s his now pinpoint passing that is the more welcome development for the still undefeated Blue Eaglets. It doesn’t hurt either that the 18-year-old is doing nothing but living up to being a floor leader. L-JAY GONZALES – Far Eastern University-Diliman (yellow jersey number 0) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.6 steals (yellow jersey number 0) No doubt, the shots have yet to fall for L-Jay Gonzales as he is only shooting 32.4 percent from the field. Just like what he showed in his starmaking stint in last season’s Finals, however, it has again become clear that he doesn’t have to score to make an impact. In all of the league, Far Eastern University-Diliman’s main man is first in steals, second in assists, and fifth in rebounds. And there’s one thing we all learned last season, it’s never to count out the Baby Tamaraws and their do-it-all guard. DAVE ILDEFONSO – Ateneo de Manila High School (white jersey number 10) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.9 points, 42.7 percent shooting, 8.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals (white jersey number 10) Dave Ildefonso is not top five in the league in anything – he is well inside the top 10 in many things, though. With Sotto, Belangel, and the rest of Ateneo’s stacked lineup, it’s easy to forget that they have a versatile player who can score from all over the floor while also defending the opposing team’s forwards and guards. And among all of high school, the son of Philippine basketball legend Danny Ildefonso has one of the most college-ready bodies – he can bump with the best of them and he can move with the best of them. That is exactly why make no mistake about it, Dave Ildefonso has been a key cog in the Blue Eaglets’ ascent to the top of the leaderboard. RHAYYAN AMSALI – Nazareth School of National University (blue jersey number 13) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 13.0 points, 43.2 percent shooting, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.1 steals As expected, there has been an adjustment period for Nazareth School of National University and new head coach Goldwyn Monteverde. That hasn’t stopped Rhayyan Amsali from producing as expected, though. Already having proven himself as an all-around offensive weapon, the third-year forward is now displaying the development of his defense to the tune of a third-best steals total. RJ ABARRIENTOS – Far Eastern University-Diliman (green jersey number 17) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steals FEU-Diliman is already fortunate to have somebody like L-Jay Gonzales and yet, they actually have two of that kind of player on their roster. RJ Abarrientos can do the very same things his Finals MVP teammate can, but when focused, has proven himself to be an impactful 3-and-D swingman. The nephew of “Flying A” Johnny Abarrientos will never have the ball in his hands all that much, but when he does, good things happen more often than not. JOEM SABANDAL – Adamson High School (blue jersey number 21) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 45.9 percent shooting, 6.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.2 steals A new day has dawned upon Adamson High School and serving as the brightest ray of light is Joem Sabandal. The heady guard is best in the league in assists, second in steals, and third in points – doing anything and everything in his power to keep his team afloat. The journey back to the heights they once reached is far and long, but the Baby Falcons are nothing but glad that they already have the person to steer them there. AGEM MIRANDA – University of the East (white jersey number 4) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.9 points, 41.1 percent shooting, 8.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.1 steals University of the East remains winless Round 1, but unlike a year ago, there is reason to watch and there is reason to hope. Agem Miranda has made the most out of his opportunities on a talent-lacking squad and has opened eyes on how his all-around game will translate if given more help. The one-and-done guard will have to find that out on some other team, but at the very least, he has energized the Junior Warriors back on track. RAVEN CORTEZ – De La Salle Zobel (green jersey number 6) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.6 points, 64.2 percent shooting, 10.9 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, 1.1 assists It looks like Boris Aldeguer, the mentor who molded Joshua Webb and Arnold Van Opstal into promising big men, has finally gotten his hands on his next project. There is no doubt that Raven Cortez is raw, even rawer than Ateneo’s Sotto, but his size and skill give him all the potential in the world, much like Ateneo’s Sotto. The Batang Gilas member may not have an outside shot just yet, but he has already put his 6-foot 7-inch frame to good use as the second-best blocker and fourth-best rebounder in the league......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2018

Sotto, Belangel top NBTC high school player rankings

Sotto, Belangel top NBTC high school player rankings.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 29th, 2018

FEU downs NU, DLSZ dismantles Ateneo in juniors football action

Defending champion Far Eastern University-Diliman needed only two first-half goals to repulse National University, 2-0, and move closer in securing a Finals berth in the UAAP Season 80 juniors football tournament at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Sunday.       Gio Pabualan scored in the 16th and 37th minute to power the Baby Tamaraws to a league-best 16 points.       With nine goals, Pabualan became the league's leading goalscorer, surpassing his teammate Kieth Absalon, who is now in second with eight.       A draw in its last two matches will be enough for FEU-Diliman to make it to the championship game set on Feb. 3.       De La Salle-Zobel boosted its hopes for the other Finals berth with a masterful 9-1 dismantling of Ateneo.       The Junior Archers are now level with the Bullpups in second spot with 13 points, but the Muntinlupa-based booters are way ahead in goal difference.         Joshua San Diego produced a hat-trick while Shanden Vergara, John Rhey Lagura and Sherwin Basindanan had braces for De La Salle-Zobel.         Justin Luis Uy delivered the lone goal for the Blue Eaglets, who are still at the bottom of the table without a point.        Action resumes on Sunday at the same Malate pitch, with NU taking on University of Santo Tomas at 8 a.m., followed by the 3 p.m. match between FEU-Diliman and Ateneo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2018

Ateneo still spotless after shutting down MVP leader Cansino

STANDINGS Ateneo 8-0 NU 6-2 UST 5-3 FEU-Diliman 4-4 Adamson 3-4 DLSZ 2-5 UPIS 1-6 UE 1-6 On Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre, Ateneo de Manila High School showed that second, third, and fourth combined is better than first all by himself. Kai Sotto, SJ Belangel, and Dave Ildefonso all together to power Ateneo de Manila High School right through MVP frontrunner CJ Cansino and University of Sto. Tomas, 78-54. Sotto is second, Belangel is third, and Ildefonso is fourth to first-place Cansino in the MVP leaderboard of the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament. Together, however, they again proved to be too much for one of the other contenders in the tournament. “Kahit ganito, marami pa rin kaming kailangang ayusin. We still have lots to improve,” head coach Joe Silva said. Ildefonso had 20 points, seven assists, and three assists; Belangel had 13 points, six assists, and six rebounds; and Sotto had 11 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks to make sure Ateneo remained undefeated through eight games. The Tiger Cubs actually got off to a strong start and owned an eight-point lead in the early going before the league-leaders settled down. Just trailing by one late in the second quarter, Belangel then orchestrated a 9-0 run that put the Blue Eaglets on top, 35-27, at the half. They would only keep their foot on the gas pedal from there and in all, crushed their opponents, 65-36, in the last three quarters. The offense took some time to get going, but the defense was on-point from the get-go as the kids from Katipunan frustrated Cansino to only 16 points, seven coming when the game was already over, in 6-of-20 shooting along with three turnovers. “Actually, we were expecing a shaky start sa offense kaya second quarter, we locked it down,” Silva said. He then continued, “The boys were proud enough to lock Cansino down.” With another convincing victory, they have now defeated UST twice, Far Eastern University-Diliman once, and Nazareth School of National University once all by double-digits. On the other hand, the Tiger Cubs dropped to third in the standings now at 5-3. With the MVP frontrunner struggling, nobody else stepped up as Vince Dolendo was the only other one in double-digits with 10 points BOX SCORES ATENEO 78 – Ildefonso 20, Belangel 13, Credo 12, Manuel 11, Sotto 11, Jaymalin 3, Chiu 2, Escalona 2, Tandeo 2, Diaz 2, David 0, Lopa 0, Gusi 0, Ong 0 UST 54 – Canaino 16, Dolendo 10, Benzonan 9, Villapando 8, Lina 6, Narvasa 3, Baquial 2, Anunciacion 0, Dea Cruz 0, Palencia 0, Esplana 0, Manabat 0 QUARTER SCORES: 13-18, 35-27, 58-41, 78-54 —- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2018

Eaglets battle Cubs

ATENEO hopes to sustain its perfect run against University of Santo Tomas today as the UAAP juniors basketball tournament resumes today at the Filoil Flying V Centre. The Blue Eaglets, powered by sophomore center Kai Sotto and veteran guard SJ Belangel, gun for a eighth consecutive victory in their 11….....»»

Category: newsSource:  journalRelated NewsJan 12th, 2018

UST’s CJ Cansino leads Ateneo’s Kai Sotto by 26 points in MVP race

All eyes have been on Ateneo de Manila High School’s Kai Sotto in the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament – but perhaps, most, it not all, of them should be on CJ Cansino. University of Sto. Tomas’ shining star is, far and away, the frontrunner for MVP after the first round of eliminations. Cansino has tallied 100.57 Statistical Points (SPs) built on per game counts of 27.6 points in 43.5 percent shooting, 14.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.7 steals. With that, the Tiger Cub swingman leads the tally for top individual player by a whopping 26 points. This, even though it has been Ateneo, and not UST, which remains undefeated and stands as title favorite. A distant second is Sotto who registered 74.43 SPs on averages of 12.9 points in 52.5 percent shooting, 12.7 rebounds, and 4.9 blocks. The 7-foot-1 towering teen has been the apple of the eye for many Filipinos, but most probably is one or two years away from being the standard for MVP. Two other Blue Eaglets are behind him with SJ Belangel at third (69.00 SPs) and Dave Ildefonso (67.00 SPs) at fourth. Rounding out the top five is first-year player Agem Miranda of University of the East whose award bid has been boosted by Nazareth School of National University’s forfeiture. Also in the top 10 are Far Eastern University-Diliman’s L-Jay Gonzales and RJ Abarrientos, Adamson High School’s Jorem Sabandal, De La Salle Zobel’s Raven Cortez, and Bullpup Rhayyan Amsali. —- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2018

UAAP: Blue Eaglets sweep first round

Ateneo capped off its first round schedule in the UAAP Season 80 juniors basketball tournament with a resounding 87-63 win over De La Salle-Zobel Saturday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The Blue Eaglets now have an immaculate 7-0 card with SJ Belangel putting up 23 points to lead the team. Joaqui Manuel added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Ateneo while Kai Sotto finished with his own double-double of 11 points and 16 rebounds that went with four blocks. Meanwhile, National University ended its first round schedule by blasting University of the Philippines 103-79 with RJ Minerva leading the 6-1 Bullpups with 18 points and eight boards. University of Santo Santo Tomas ea...Keep on reading: UAAP: Blue Eaglets sweep first round.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 16th, 2017

Another five-peat for Ateneo? Isaac Go thinks it’s possible

Before last Sunday, five years ago was the last time Ateneo de Manila University celebrated a championship. That 2012 title capped off a five-peat that saw the Blue Eagles running rougshod in the UAAP. That five-peat featured top-notch talent such as Ryan Buenafe, Kiefer Ravena, Eric Salamat, Greg Slaughter, and Chris Tiu. While this new cast of characters for Ateneo isn’t that renowned, or not yet at least, their belief that they can do great things remains. So much so that Isaac Go, one of the heroes of this most recent championship, believes they are not stopping here. “This band of brothers, we feel we accomplished something, but we want another one,” he told reporters before Ateneo’s bonfire inside campus on Saturday. He then continued, “This is the start of a new five-peat.” The statement drew chuckles from the media present, the Blue Eagles and Go himself. After all, these boys from Katipunan were never ones to make grand claims. Still, a second straight championship isn’t a farfetched idea for this Ateneo team. Aside from team captain Vince Tolentino, Nigerian big man Chibueze Ikeh, and reserve Kris Porter, they will remain mostly intact for a title defense. As for a five-peat? Well, Aaron Black, Nieto twins Matt and Mike, and Thirdy Ravena are only in their third year; Jolo Mendoza and Raffy Verano are only in their second year; and Troy Mallillin, Gian Mamuyac, and Tyler Tio are only in their first year. They also have 6-foot-10 Angelo Kouame, Filipino-Kiwi Patrick Maagdenberg, and former San Beda College Red Lion William Navarro waiting in the wings. And that’s not even including the “wealth of talent” from their high school in the likes of heady point guard SJ Belangel and versatile forwards Jason Credo and Dave Ildefonso, all set to graduate from the Juniors by next year, as well as 7-foot-1 teen Kai Sotto and court general Forthsky Padrigao, both members of Batang Gilas. While he isn’t guaranteeing anything just yet, coach Tab Baldwin said the Blue Eagles will just continue what they have been doing – better themselves each and every day. “We managed to climb the mountain, but when we look up, we see another peak,” he expressed —- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 9th, 2017

Belangel does it all against Bullpups as Blue Eaglets remain unscathed

Ateneo de Manila High School remains the lone unbeaten team in the UAAP 80 Men’s Basketball Tournament. And following a 64-49 dismantling of Nazareth School of National University on Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre, the Blue Eaglets now have convincing victories versus all other contenders. SJ Belangel spearheaded the Katipunan blitz to begin the game which had them racing to a 19-5 edge after the first quarter. It was also the graduating guard’s back-to-back assists to Angelo David and then to Jason Credo that capped off a 7-0 burst that built up the biggest lead of the game for Ateneo, 36-13, late in the second quarter. By halftime, the Blue Eaglets were still ahead thanks to Belangel’s 13 points, six assists, three steals, and two rebounds as well as the rim protection of Kai Sotto who had six blocks and five boards. With the 7-foot-1 Sotto patrolling the paint, Rhayyan Amsali, Terrence Fortea, and Paul Manalang could not get going and combined for 0-of-13 shooting. Still, the Bullpups didn’t quit and neared to 48-58 inside the last four minutes only to see two dishes from the Ateneo captain again lead to two baskets. That kept Belangel – who wound up with 14 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and four steals – and company ahead for good and also kept their perfect record intact after six games. “We’re talking it one game at a time. We want to stay focused,” head coach Joe Silva said Dave Ildefonso also added a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double while Sotto chipped in 12 rebounds and eight blocks on top of six points. Without a doubt, though, it was defense that won the game for the Blue Eaglets as they stymied their opponents into missing 59 of their 78 attempts. “Again, it’s all about defense. Dun talaga kami naka-focus this year,” Silva sais. This latest win adds erstwhile undefeated NU to Ateneo’s list of fallen contenders that already included Far Eastern University-Diliman and University of Sto. Tomas. No Bullpup was in double-digits as they suffered their first setback. In the first game, UST got for itself a mighty rebound, throttling De La Salle Zobel, 83-72. CJ Cansino kept his double-double-streak in the season going with 23 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists in this one. Kobe Palencia also had 16 markers, five boards, and five dimes to help the Tiger Cubs improve to 4-2. The Junior Archers had their two-game win run get snapped as they drop to 2-4. RC Calimag showed the way for them with 14 points. Defending champion FEU-Diliman also got a bounce back win by pounding on University of the Philippines Integrated School, 90-63. L-Jay Gonzales had 15 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals in just 20 minutes to show the Baby Tamaraws the way to 3-3. RJ Abarrientos contributed 12 markers, nine dimes, and six boards of his own. Matt Santiago’s career-high 23 points, on the other hand, were all for naught as the Junior Maroons dropped to 1-5. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME UST 83 – Cansino 23, Palencia 16, Baquial 11, Benzonan 9, Dolendo 8, Lina 5, Anunciacion 5, Manabat 4, Dela Cruz 2, Co 0, Biag 0 DLSZ 72 – Calimag 14, Santos 13, Pascual 11, Cortez 10, Bonalos 7, Vesagas 6, Damiles 5, Terrado 3, Cosejo 3, Buncayo 0, Carlos 0, Escandor 0, Barcuma 0, Udal 0 QUARTER SCORES: 23-10, 44-23, 65-51, 83-72 SECOND GAME ATENEO 64 – Belangel 14, Ildefonso 12, Manuel 10, Credo 9, Sotto 6, Angeles 6, David 4, Diaz 2, Chiu 1, Jaymalin 0, Santos 0, Gusi 0, Lopa 0 NU 49 – Fortea 9, Oczon 8, Minerva 7, Pradella 8, Amsali 6, Javillonar 4, Gonzales 3, Malonzo 2, Felicida 2, Pangilinan 1, Manalang 0, Coyoca 0 QUARTER SCORES: 19-5, 36-17, 50-34, 64-49 THIRD GAME FEU-DILIMAN 90 – Gonzales 15, Abarrientos 12, Alforque 10, Armendez 10, Ona 10, Tolentino 7, Celso 6, Bautista 6, Sajonia 6, Boc 4, Escoto 2, Escarda 2, Torres 0, Barasi 0, Mariano 0, Libago 0 UPIS 63 – Santiago 23, Vergiere 11, Labao Ral 8, Tupaz 7, Labao Raf 5, Estrera 3, Gregorio 3, Dimaculangan 3, Villa-real 0, Condalor 0, Gomez de Liano 0 QUARTER SCORES: 22-9, 50-21, 70-37, 90-63 —- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 9th, 2017

UAAP Juniors Basketball: Kai Sotto leads Ateneo to 4-0 record

Kai Sotto led the way for the Ateneo Blue Eaglets as they demolished the previously undefeated UST Tiger Cubs, 94-63, in the UAAP Season 80 juniors basketball tournament at the Blue Eagle Gym Sunday. Sotto made his interior presence felt with 20 points on an efficient 10/14 shooting clip, 13 rebounds, and seven blocks, as Ateneo won their fourth straight game to start the season. Sean Ildefonso added 19 points while SJ Belangel registered 15 markers. The Tiger Cubs, who fall to a 3-1 record, led at the end of the first quarter from a buzzer-beating triple by Vince Dolendo, 18-15.  However, it would be the final time UST would take control of the game as the Blue Eaglets suddenly shifted to a higher gear and launched a 21-5 blitz that gave Ateneo a 36-20 lead. The Tiger Cubs then lost the guidance of head coach Chris Cantonjos immediately after the huge Ateneo run as he was ejected for storming the court. Things never got in UST's way again as the Blue Eaglets cruised through the rest of the game, leading by as much as 33 points in the payoff period, 94-61. John Cansino paced UST's scoring with a 20-point performance. Bismark Lina was the only other Tiger Cub in double figures with 10. "If we let UST hung around, we knew it would have been a close game," Blue Eaglets head coach Joe Silva said. "I just told my team to play defense. Defense is really the team's identity." In the second game, the Adamson Baby Falcons defeated the UPIS Junior Maroons in a wire-to-wire victory, score. Jose Sabandal had an all-around game for Adamson, scoring 19, grabbing four rebounds, and dishing six assists. Andrey Doria added 17 points and six rebounds. Jacob Estrera meanwhile led the way for the FIghting Maroons with 13 points. Matt Santiago and Rafael Labao contributed 12 points apiece. It was all Adamson in the game as the Baby Falcons soared from the get-go and never looked back, leading by as much as 35, 81-46, in the fourth quarter. Adamson improved to a 2-3 slate while the Junior Maroons fall to 1-4. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME ADMU (93) - Sotto 20, Ildefonso 19, Belangel 15, Jaymalin 14, Manuel 10,  Diaz 6, David 4, Credo 2, Chiu 2, Escalona 2, Lopa 0, Ong 0. UST (63) - Cansino 20, Lina 10, Manabat 9, Dolendo 6, Bayquial 6, Palencia 4, Dela Cruz 3, Anunciacion 2, Estrella 2, Biag 1, Co, 0, Relucio 0, Narvasa 0, Villapando 0. Quarter Scores: 15-18, 45-35, 74-49, 94-63. SECOND GAME ADU (86) - Sabandal 19, Doria An 17, Padilla 9, Doria Ad 6, Manlapaz 6, Baculio 5, Engbino 5, Santos P 5, Santos R 5, Perez 4, Padilla 3, Sevilla 2, Canoy 0, Prodigo 0, Bantiles 0. UPIS (55) - Estrera 13, Santiago 12, Labao Raf 12, Tupaz 9, Gregorio 3, Lopez 3, Labao Ral 1, Vill-Real 0, Vergeire 0, Dimaculangan 0, Colandor 0. Quarter Scores: 28-16, 46-25, 62-40, 86-55......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 3rd, 2017

Kai Sotto s double-double powers Eaglets in drubbing Baby Falcons

MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eaglets sapped strength from Kai Sotto and SJ Belangel to pull off an 82-64 win over the Adamson University Baby Falcons in the opening day of the UAAP Season 80 boys’ basketball tournament at the Arena in San Juan Saturday, November ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 11th, 2017

With LA as backdrop, NBA opens latest ASG chapter

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES — There’s a very real chance of seeing it all at the NBA All-Star Game from the world’s greatest players and athletes, who are trained to entertain. And they deliver on that, every year, for the most part. Which brings us to this year’s showpiece: Will we finally see the All-Stars play defense, or not? Simple question. Over the last three years, they game morphed into a blob of uncontested shots and layups with the pace of a NASCAR event and the intensity level of a turtle race. Last year Steph Curry comically dropped to the floor rather than putting his body between Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rim (maybe wisely, but still). That was a flash-point moment. Perhaps because of fear of getting injured, or maybe the body just needs a break after a half-season, players rarely spent much energy trying to stop anyone. That led to wild and repetitious scoring sprees, where the losing team averaged 170 points, and ultimately, new changes designed to encourage players to at least simulate a real game and turn it up two notches. And so, Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) game at Staples Center will serve as the laboratory rat and perhaps usher a new era for the midseason game. If today’s players treat it the way the old-timers did, then this could be special. If not, this could be 194-187. “I think it’ll be different,” said Curry. The rules committee was alarmed enough by the public backlash of the last two games, where the winning West team came a combined 12 points from hitting the 200-point mark, that the traditional format was scrapped. No longer is it East vs. West, now it’s the leading vote-getter in both conferences choosing their own squad, regardless of conference. Therefore, Team Stephen will tip against Team LeBron with the mixed squads lending some intrigue and could cure the defense and intensity issues. As an added bonus, each member of the winning team will receive $100,000 vs. $25,000 for the losers, although it must be mentioned that the only player in an All-Star uniform making below eight figures is Karl-Anthony Towns. Still, the idea was to raise the incentive level and hoping it raises the fourth-quarter heat. The coach of the LeBron team, Dwane Casey of the Raptors, said he plans to do his part by shuffling the minutes based on who’s trying the hardest. “I went to our players individually and asked two questions: ‘Do you want to put on a show, or do you want to win? Let me know.’ I’d like them to go and compete. I want to win. We owe it to the league and the fans to let them know that the NBA isn’t about rolling the ball out there. There are a lot of fundamental things we can do on the court, and it starts with the All-Star Game, with everyone watching.” It helps that the game will feature a few subplots designed to make it interesting. Such as: LeBron and Kyrie Irving, together again. They had a mysterious split last summer after Irving, two years removed from a championship in Cleveland and with the chance of additional chances to win another, demanded and received a trade. He’s in Boston now, creating a rivalry with Cleveland whereas none existed before the deal. But apparently there was no acrimony generated by the split and the two have remained on decent terms, based on the chatter between them. Nothing personal, in other words. And anyway, LeBron chose Irving for this team. The reunion, says Irving, will be “pretty awesome.” LeBron: “Listen, anytime I get an opportunity to be with a fellow teammate of mine on the same court, and then you add on the fact of what we were able to accomplish in the three years, they just make it special. You automatically start thinking about the moments. There was a time when I was in Miami when I thought about if there was a chance for me to be Kyrie's teammate at All-Star Weekend. I thought about that. I didn't think it would be possible, and then we became teammates. We were on the same All-Star court together as teammates. Those thoughts still go into my head of how great it was to break the drought in our city, over 50-plus years, when the both of us had magical, magical Finals runs. So, it's always special. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, together again. Well, the two ex-Thunder ‘mates did play for the West squad last season, yet kept their distance, both on and off the court, the entire weekend. Also, they had testy exchanges this season, evidence that if nothing else, the competitive spirit between them remains high. Yet, all seems civil regarding the split two years later, maybe because Westbrook gained a half-measure of revenge when Paul George arrived this season. Curry and James Harden, together. As team captain, Curry selected Harden, and at least for one weekend, the two will put aside some natural conflict. One: They’re among the leading candidates for the MVP award, and those in the Harden camp believe he was robbed of the second MVP won by Curry. Two: The Warriors and Rockets are engaged in a thermal race for top spot in the West, with the Rockets beating Golden State twice this season so far. (Side note: Curry responded “Ha” the other day when asked who should win the MVP this year, him or Harden. Just “ha.”) Joel Embiid. The fun-loving big man makes his All-Star debut and promises to bring his infectious personality to the game and also his astonishing skills, rare for a seven-footer. Look for Embiid to make a strong big for game MVP and doing so apologetically. His competition could come from Antetokounmpo and either winner would signal a victory for a league looking for yet another superstar. But, the game itself. Will it be taken seriously? “We've talked about it.” said Irving. “Like I said, I think it's more individually based in terms of the competitive fire. But I know that we're pretty excited to be out there and compete and go at one another for a little bit and have a little fun.” Last year, Antetokounmpo was playfully chastised by his teammates for going full-tilt and challenging shots and essentially treating it like a playoff game. It was his first All-Star appearance and he was surprised by the mild tone of the pace. Victor Oladipo, a first-timer this year, doesn’t believe that’ll happen to him. “My competitive nature is going to get the best of me,” he said. The unspoken concern, of course, is injury, although there’s no documented case of a player ever pulling up lame in the game. Imagine the outcry, for example, if the intensity soars and someone grabs a body part. The fallout will be steep, and with that in mind, many coaches tell their players to ease off the gas pedal. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” said Casey, “but we want to change the narrative about this game and how it’s played. I find that when players do things half-way or go through the motions, that’s when they’re more liable to get hurt.” And so, with that in mind, with a revamped format and a bit more pocket change for the winner and an audience that would like to see some floor burn for a change, the All-Stars just could make this game interesting. That starts with defense. “The challenge is, if you’re going to play to win, you’re going to compete on the defensive end, especially in transition,” said Casey. “That’s where the all-star game kind of deteriorates. You got to start your transition defense, our one on one defense, and put defense in the game because if you don’t, it will be 160, 170 points. I don’t know if we’re going to change it all in one game, but that’s our goal is to try to be more serious on defense, and not trick passes and trick shots and circus mentality. “These guys can entertain and also play defense and give a more competitive game. They are good enough to pull it off. That’s what I hope to see and what fans hope to see.” 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 News3 hr. 46 min. ago

With LA as backdrop, NBA opens latest ASG chapter

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES — There’s a very real chance of seeing it all at the NBA All-Star Game from the world’s greatest players and athletes, who are trained to entertain. And they deliver on that, every year, for the most part. Which brings us to this year’s showpiece: Will we finally see the All-Stars play defense, or not? Simple question. Over the last three years, they game morphed into a blob of uncontested shots and layups with the pace of a NASCAR event and the intensity level of a turtle race. Last year Steph Curry comically dropped to the floor rather than putting his body between Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rim (maybe wisely, but still). That was a flash-point moment. Perhaps because of fear of getting injured, or maybe the body just needs a break after a half-season, players rarely spent much energy trying to stop anyone. That led to wild and repetitious scoring sprees, where the losing team averaged 170 points, and ultimately, new changes designed to encourage players to at least simulate a real game and turn it up two notches. And so, Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) game at Staples Center will serve as the laboratory rat and perhaps usher a new era for the midseason game. If today’s players treat it the way the old-timers did, then this could be special. If not, this could be 194-187. “I think it’ll be different,” said Curry. The rules committee was alarmed enough by the public backlash of the last two games, where the winning West team came a combined 12 points from hitting the 200-point mark, that the traditional format was scrapped. No longer is it East vs. West, now it’s the leading vote-getter in both conferences choosing their own squad, regardless of conference. Therefore, Team Stephen will tip against Team LeBron with the mixed squads lending some intrigue and could cure the defense and intensity issues. As an added bonus, each member of the winning team will receive $100,000 vs. $25,000 for the losers, although it must be mentioned that the only player in an All-Star uniform making below eight figures is Karl-Anthony Towns. Still, the idea was to raise the incentive level and hoping it raises the fourth-quarter heat. The coach of the LeBron team, Dwane Casey of the Raptors, said he plans to do his part by shuffling the minutes based on who’s trying the hardest. “I went to our players individually and asked two questions: ‘Do you want to put on a show, or do you want to win? Let me know.’ I’d like them to go and compete. I want to win. We owe it to the league and the fans to let them know that the NBA isn’t about rolling the ball out there. There are a lot of fundamental things we can do on the court, and it starts with the All-Star Game, with everyone watching.” It helps that the game will feature a few subplots designed to make it interesting. Such as: LeBron and Kyrie Irving, together again. They had a mysterious split last summer after Irving, two years removed from a championship in Cleveland and with the chance of additional chances to win another, demanded and received a trade. He’s in Boston now, creating a rivalry with Cleveland whereas none existed before the deal. But apparently there was no acrimony generated by the split and the two have remained on decent terms, based on the chatter between them. Nothing personal, in other words. And anyway, LeBron chose Irving for this team. The reunion, says Irving, will be “pretty awesome.” LeBron: “Listen, anytime I get an opportunity to be with a fellow teammate of mine on the same court, and then you add on the fact of what we were able to accomplish in the three years, they just make it special. You automatically start thinking about the moments. There was a time when I was in Miami when I thought about if there was a chance for me to be Kyrie's teammate at All-Star Weekend. I thought about that. I didn't think it would be possible, and then we became teammates. We were on the same All-Star court together as teammates. Those thoughts still go into my head of how great it was to break the drought in our city, over 50-plus years, when the both of us had magical, magical Finals runs. So, it's always special. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, together again. Well, the two ex-Thunder ‘mates did play for the West squad last season, yet kept their distance, both on and off the court, the entire weekend. Also, they had testy exchanges this season, evidence that if nothing else, the competitive spirit between them remains high. Yet, all seems civil regarding the split two years later, maybe because Westbrook gained a half-measure of revenge when Paul George arrived this season. Curry and James Harden, together. As team captain, Curry selected Harden, and at least for one weekend, the two will put aside some natural conflict. One: They’re among the leading candidates for the MVP award, and those in the Harden camp believe he was robbed of the second MVP won by Curry. Two: The Warriors and Rockets are engaged in a thermal race for top spot in the West, with the Rockets beating Golden State twice this season so far. (Side note: Curry responded “Ha” the other day when asked who should win the MVP this year, him or Harden. Just “ha.”) Joel Embiid. The fun-loving big man makes his All-Star debut and promises to bring his infectious personality to the game and also his astonishing skills, rare for a seven-footer. Look for Embiid to make a strong big for game MVP and doing so apologetically. His competition could come from Antetokounmpo and either winner would signal a victory for a league looking for yet another superstar. But, the game itself. Will it be taken seriously? “We've talked about it.” said Irving. “Like I said, I think it's more individually based in terms of the competitive fire. But I know that we're pretty excited to be out there and compete and go at one another for a little bit and have a little fun.” Last year, Antetokounmpo was playfully chastised by his teammates for going full-tilt and challenging shots and essentially treating it like a playoff game. It was his first All-Star appearance and he was surprised by the mild tone of the pace. Victor Oladipo, a first-timer this year, doesn’t believe that’ll happen to him. “My competitive nature is going to get the best of me,” he said. The unspoken concern, of course, is injury, although there’s no documented case of a player ever pulling up lame in the game. Imagine the outcry, for example, if the intensity soars and someone grabs a body part. The fallout will be steep, and with that in mind, many coaches tell their players to ease off the gas pedal. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” said Casey, “but we want to change the narrative about this game and how it’s played. I find that when players do things half-way or go through the motions, that’s when they’re more liable to get hurt.” And so, with that in mind, with a revamped format and a bit more pocket change for the winner and an audience that would like to see some floor burn for a change, the All-Stars just could make this game interesting. That starts with defense. “The challenge is, if you’re going to play to win, you’re going to compete on the defensive end, especially in transition,” said Casey. “That’s where the all-star game kind of deteriorates. You got to start your transition defense, our one on one defense, and put defense in the game because if you don’t, it will be 160, 170 points. I don’t know if we’re going to change it all in one game, but that’s our goal is to try to be more serious on defense, and not trick passes and trick shots and circus mentality. “These guys can entertain and also play defense and give a more competitive game. They are good enough to pull it off. That’s what I hope to see and what fans hope to see.” 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 News16 hr. 20 min. ago