Advertisements


BLOGTABLE: Team with the biggest turnaround in 2018-19 will be?

NBA.com blogtable Which team do you predict will have the biggest turnaround in 2018-19? * * * David Aldridge: Memphis. The Grizzlies had a great offseason (as I detailed in my 1-30 summer rankings) and they could easily double their 22 wins from last season. Mike Conley, Jr.'s return is most important of course, but the infusion of both talent and toughness from both the Draft and free agency/trades will revitalize the team just as much. The Grizz no longer will be held hostage by Chandler Parsons' status on a given night; they should be able to go eight deep with ease going forward whether or not he can contribute. Tas Melas: The Grizzlies. They had a very solid under-the-radar offseason, adding Kyle Anderson, Garrett Temple, and Jaren Jackson Jr. But more importantly, they are getting back two of the best at their positions: Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Yes, Gasol was there last season, but he was not himself with all the “T-word” that was going on. And Conley is one of the best guards in the game. The Grizz were 5-2 to start 2017-18 with Conley. Are you seriously bringing up the Grizzlies’ record after seven games?! I gotta remind people of how good their core is after a 22-win season. Before whatever last year was, Memphis made the playoffs seven straight seasons. Shaun Powell: The Memphis Grizzlies, by a hair over the Lakers. How can they not distance themselves from a 22-win season, especially with a healthy Mike Conley and a much better performance from Marc Gasol? And that doesn't mean the Grizzlies will make the playoffs, so let's keep it in the right context. But a leap of 15 or 17 wins sounds reasonable for a team that was a mess a year ago without Conley. John Schuhmann: LeBron James' last two moves produced win increases of 11 games with Miami in 2010-11 and 20 games with Cleveland in 2014-15, but those teams (were in the East and) added additional All-Stars (Chris Bosh and Kevin Love) who fit better with James than any of the other players that the Lakers added this summer. Still, L.A. has a young core that should be improved and is the only team that looks 10 wins better than it was last season. Memphis, with a healthy Mike Conley and the addition of some vets that will defend, has a chance. Sekou Smith: The Lakers.No one signals a shift in a team's fortunes the way LeBron James does. And adding him to the mix in Lakerland means the bottom line in L.A. is at least a double-digit improvement in the win column, if we're going by LeBron's track record when he relocates. The scrutiny on these Lakers should be epic, rivaling the traveling circus that was the Miami Heat in the first year of the "Heatles" (LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) era. Think about the mix of youngsters and veterans the Lakers have put together and tell me they wouldn't make up the cast of the best reality show of all time. The drama should be non-stop and as robust as we've seen in any training camp in years. But if things hold true to the way LeBron has navigated both of his previous relocations, there's at least a 10-game improvement in the win column on the way as well......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 11th, 2018

Rookie Ladder: Big performances abound at season s midway point

By Drew Packham, NBA.com Due to a much-needed holiday break on my part, it’s been two weeks since we last checked in on this impressive rookie class, and they didn’t disappoint since then. There have been some monster games in the past 14 days including the following: - Luka Doncic scored a career-high 34 points on Dec. 29 (PHL time) in New Orleans, going 7-for-10 from beyond the arc (10-for-16 overall) in a 114-112 loss to the Pelicans.       - Deandre Ayton scored a career-high 33 points with 14 rebounds (10 offensive) and four steals (also a career high) on Dec. 30 (PHL time) in a 122-118 loss to the Nuggets. Ayton was 16-for-20 from the field.       - Landry Shamet scored a career-high 29 points to lead the Sixers to a 132-115 win over the Wizards on Jan. 9 (PHL time). Shamet was 8-for-14 from three-point land in what was easily his biggest night of his career.       - Hawks rookie Kevin Huerter scored a career-high 22 points on Jan. 1 (PHl time) in a 116-108 loss to the Pacers. Huerter was 8-for-15 from the field, going 6-for-8 from beyond the arc.       - Pelicans rookie Frank Jackson scored a career-high 17 points Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in 17 minutes in a 114-95 win over the Grizzlies, then topped that two nights later with 19 points -- hitting all four three-point attempts -- in 19 minutes in a 140-124 win over the Cavs.   We’ve just hit the midway point of the season, and big games should start becoming more common as teams falling further out of the playoff race give their youngsters more opportunities. * * * 1. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks Last week: No. 1 Doncic dominated his third matchup with No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, notching 30 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. It was Doncic’s fourth 30-point game of the season, while no other rookie has more than one. It was also his seventh game with 20-5-5. All other rookies have combined for five such games. Over the past two weeks, the Slovenian has averaged 22.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists while shooting 40 percent from 3-point land. 2. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns Last week: No. 2 While Ayton has had some monster games over the past two weeks -- averaging 16.2 points and 9.7 rebounds over nine games -- he’s also had some clunkers in the New Year. In a 121-111 loss to the LA Clippers, Ayton finished with four points and five rebounds with four turnovers, then struggled mightily in Wednesday’s (Thursday, PHL time) loss to the Mavs. In 20 minutes, the big man had six points and five rebounds while hitting just 1-of-7 shots. "For the first time, I think I ever, went scoreless in the first half and stuff like that just started to get to me a little bit," said Ayton. "It was just me being the bad egg today. I'm going to apologize to them about this, but yeah, it was a bad game for me." 3. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks Last week: Not ranked Young has shot more consistently over the last two weeks, shooting 44.7 percent overall and 47.4 percent on three-pointers. I’ve hammered Young repeatedly for his poor shooting numbers, so I have to give him props for his turnaround. Over his last nine games, he’s averaged 15.9 points and 7.6 assists and has generally looked more in control and selective with his shots. Young continues to lead rookies in assists at 7.3 per game, which puts him ninth among all players. 4. Kevin Knox, New York Knicks Last week: No. 3 Knox was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December after averaging 17.1 points and six rebounds. The 6'9" forward out of Kentucky is certainly on the rise, but also admitted he may not even be done growing. “Doctors said I have a half-inch or an inch left in the tank,” Knox told the New York Post recently. “You never know -- hopefully I have an inch [left]. Maybe 6-10, 6-10.5. If not, I’m perfectly fine with where I’m at.” For his part, coach David Fizdale is letting his young prospect grow with more minutes and responsibility. “Right now, he’s gained momentum, and [I want to] keep him rolling. It’s starting to become I need him on the court. That’s pretty good to say about a 19-year-old. We need him out there.” 5. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies Last week: Not ranked Jackson has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 11 games, but his rebounding and foul troubles are areas of concern. Jackson is first (or worst, depending on how you look at it) among all players in fouls per game (3.9) and is just sixth in rebounds per game among rookies. "Because of how long, tall and narrow he is, when guys lock him up he has a hard time escaping or staying on balance," Bickerstaff told The Commercial Appeal last week. "To be honest, with him, with his length and athleticism, he needs to be trying to escape people more and not let them get their hands or body on him where they can wedge him out." These are all things the 19-year-old will figure out, as Bickerstaff says. “The way he works, the way he studies, he's going to figure it out.” * * * Just missed the cut: Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets Kurucs falls out of the top five, but it was a close call thanks to an impressive night in Boston. Kurucs tied a career high with 24 points. He finished 8-for-15 from the field, hitting a career-high five triples on eight attempts. Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls Carter has scored in double-digits in five of his last seven games, with a pair of double-doubles to close out 2018. Most notably, he had a 17-point, 13-rebound, three-block showing in a win over the Wizards on Dec. 28 (Dec. 29, PHL time). Landry Shamet, Philadelphia 76ers Shamet not only scored a career-high 29 on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), but he also set personal bests by making eight three's (one shy of Dana Barros’ team record set in ‘95) on 14 attempts. He scored 15 of his points in the third quarter when he was 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. “It just happens,” Shamet said afterward. “That might not be the answer you’re looking for, but it’s just simple, and it just comes in the flow of everything.” Frank Jackson, New Orleans Pelicans This could be an anomaly and Jackson won’t stick around these parts, but he deserves some love for his work off the bench. With E’Twaun Moore nursing a quad injury, Jackson has stepped up, scoring 17 points in a win on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), followed by 19 in Wednesday’s (Thursday, PHL time) win over the Cavs. Jackson was 11-for 15 overall in the two games, going 7-for-12 from three-point land (7-for-7 from the FT line). Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers Sexton has scored in double figures in his last six games, but the Cavs are mired in an 11-game skid and the rookie is dealing with his own shooting woes. During the slide, Sexton is shooting 32.4 percent from the field, 35.5 percent on three-pointers. * * * (All stats through Jan. 10, PHL time).....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2019

BLOGTABLE: 2018 pre-playoffs predictions

NBA.ph blogtable 1) Which first-round series in the West is most likely to see an upset result (lower seed beating higher seed)? Enzo Flojo: For sure it’s Portland-New Orleans. I love Damian Lillard’s game, but the Pels are a really tough bunch with a lot of weapons, even sans Boogie Cousins. Jusuf Nurkic will have a really tough time containing AD; that’s one reason this has a high potential for an upset! Migs Bustos: The Jazz and Thunder matchup. It's a tale of upward momentum versus inconsistency. The Jazz have won seven out of their last 10 games, and OKC are 5-5 in their last 10. With how the Jazz are playing great team basketball, led by super rookie, Donovan Mitchell, they have a great chance of upsetting the erratic OKC Thunder. If maganda ang gising ng Utah for four games, may tulog ang OKC sa kanila. Marco Benitez: I think the Thunder-Jazz series is the one where most likely we will see an upset. The Thunder experiment of Westbrook-George-Anthony has been up and down all season, while the Jazz are a well-coached team anchored on a great defensive presence in Gobert. The Thunder win if Westbrook dominates the game and Adams is able to neutralize Gobert. But if OKC becomes stagnant on offense and their usual selves defensively, then the Jazz can wreck havoc on this matchup. Favian Pua: Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans: In order for the Pelicans to stun the Blazers, Anthony Davis must cement his status as the best player on both ends of the floor throughout the series. A Playoff Rondo sighting paired with the feisty defense of Jrue Holiday should stymie the backcourt attack of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Adrian Dy: If it turns out Kawhi Leonard was just saving himself for a postseason run, then the Spurs would absolutely wreck the Stephen Curry-less Golden State Warriors. Barring such a comeback though, I'm riding high on the Pelicans. The Blazers don't have the bigs to even slow down Davis, and the Jrue Holiday + Playoffs Rajon Rondo combo could make things really tough for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum 2) Which first-round series in the East is most likely to see an upset result (lower seed beating higher seed)? Enzo Flojo: Don’t look past the veteran-laden Miami Heat. Philadelphia is by far the deeper team, sure, but if Embiid is hampered by his injury and both D-Wade and Goran Dragic have their way, Miami can push the Sixers to the distance and an upset may not be that surprising. Also, coach Spo shines in 7-game series! Migs Bustos: In the East, it's a bit more challenging. We all know about the success of the Sixers this season; no matter what seed Lebron's team is, it will be hard to upset them; the Raptors have been long consistent at the number 1 spot all season. So, the best bet would be the Bucks overthrowing home court advantage. And this is because Kyrie is out of the season. It's just up to Giannis and Co. to take advantage of that disadvantage by the Celtics to pull through. Marco Benitez: The plague of injuries to the Boston Celtics really hurt their chances of contending in the East, much less win a championship this season. Without Kyrie, Marcus Smart, and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are vulnerable against the Greek Freak-led Bucks, who are long and talented. With that being said, Boston is still an extremely well-coached, albeit young team, and Giannis will have to be the best player on the floor for most of the series for the inconsistent Bucks to pull off the upset. Favian Pua: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat: Though the Sixers are rolling into the playoffs, only J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli can boast of a legitimate postseason resume. Led by All-Star Goran Dragic, the Heat are an unrelenting unit of two-way veterans who can both muck it up inside and bait opponents into a long-range shootout. Joel Embiid’s uncertain status will force Sixers head coach Brett Brown to find a counter for Hassan Whiteside. Adrian Dy: Though I have the 76ers advancing, it wouldn't surprise me if the Heat shut down Ben Simmons and shut up Joel Embiid. Erik Spoelstra has a knack for getting the best out of his squads, Dwyane Wade could have some clutch moments, and if the aforementioned Embiid doesn't return as soon as expected, South Beach could be singing after round one. 3) Which team that missed the playoffs has the best shot at making it next season? Enzo Flojo: I’d love to say Denver, but their being in the West really makes their window tight. That’s why I’m picking the Detroit Pistons, who have enough talent to make quite a big impact in the East, especially if their big names (e.g. Drummond, Griffin, Jackson) all stay put and stay healthy! Migs Bustos: To be honest, there are not much compelling story lines on teams that barely missed the playoffs this year. There's nothing like one of the most recent examples -- the Heat's 2016-2017 season where they made a late season run but just missed it at .500 (41-41), or how about Phoenix having a winning record at 48-34 in the 2013-2014 season missing out? The 16 teams were more or less 'predicted' to make the postseason this year so there wasn't a big surprise. Marco Benitez: I think a healthy Memphis Grizzlies team, with Conley, Gasol, Parsons and Tyreke Evans (assuming all are still with the Grizzlies next season) will be a lock to make the playoffs after a disappointing 22-60 win-loss record this season that saw a season-ending surgery for Conley happen in late January. Favian Pua: The Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic and his ragtag bunch of scorers were an overtime loss away against the Minnesota Timberwolves from getting their first taste of the postseason. To do so, the Nuggets will need to handle their business and take care of bottom-feeders, as it was backbreaking losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks in March that prevented them from securing an outright playoff berth. Adrian Dy: The Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki will likely want to go out with a bang, Rick Carlisle is still a really good coach, Dennis Smith Jr. is a fantastic attacking guard, and if the lotto balls bounce the right way, they could return to the upper echelon of the West. 4) Which team that made these playoffs has the biggest chance of missing it next season? Enzo Flojo: It may sound crazy, but the Spurs are at great risk for next season. Kawhi continues to be a huge question mark and their veterans will get even older in 2018-2019. They nearly didn’t make it this year, and next year could be the tipping point! Migs Bustos: I'd have to go with the San Antonio Spurs. No doubt all of the other teams are on the up-swing, and they all boast of youth. If Kahwi does not play for the Spurs next season, expect younger teams with great potential like the Nuggets and Lakers to overtake SAS. Marco Benitez: Depending on what happens in terms of offseason trades, and assuming that the rest of the Western Conference regains full strength next season, the two teams I feel have the biggest chance of missing the playoffs next season are Miami and New Orleans. For Miami, DWade is not getting any younger, and Hassan Whiteside has not been at a consistent All-Star level all season. With Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond getting a full year under their belt in Detroit and Kristaps Porzingis back at full strength in New York, I see Miami as the most likely team to get bumped off in the East next season. For New Orleans, the Davis-Cousins experiment did not necessarily turn them into a legitimate playoff contender in the West, and when Cousins fell to injury, they've had to rely on AD to carry them almost entirely on his shoulders. With the ultra competitive West getting healthier next season, unless the Pels are able to get better on the wings -- assuming of course Cousins doesn't bolt in the offseason -- they may find themselves out of the playoffs. Favian Pua: Cleveland Cavaliers. Hinging on the premise that LeBron James bolts for the Sixers or Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this offseason, the Cavaliers are headed for a massive nosedive towards the number one pick in the 2019 draft. No other team has more to lose than the Cavaliers this postseason, and it is highly probable that winning the title is the only way The King stays in The Land. Adrian Dy: If we get another round of LeBron James free agency sweepstakes, and he winds up getting the Banana Boat Gang together in Houston, it's hard to see the Cleveland Cavaliers being competitive, let alone back in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Should that happen, I'd expect them to trade guys like Kevin Love, and hope that lotto luck favors them anew. 5) Which team is your early favorite to win it all? Enzo Flojo: Despite all the injuries and all their inconsistencies, the Warriors are still my odds-on fave to win it all. They have four big time playoff performers, and they know this is where their real season begins. Migs Bustos: Don't count out the Warriors. Even though they have been plagued with injuries towards the end of the season, the Dubs will hope that they will be healthy in time and turn 'on' the button with their championship experience Marco Benitez: Still the Warriors. Although they'll be without Steph in the first round, I foresee the same dominant Dubs starting the second round all the way to the Finals. The regular season has been a bit of a drag for them this season, and I believe that's why we haven't seen the same Warriors squad as that of past years. But come playoffs, there's no reason why the defending champs don't get locked in; and when they do, frankly, there's still no better team in the league than Golden State. Favian Pua: The Houston Rockets. The playoffs is all about trimming the fat in the roster and letting star power take over in the biggest moments. In James Harden and Chris Paul, the Rockets will always have at least one elite shot creator and facilitator on the court for all 48 minutes. Flanked by capable three-point shooters and wing defenders acquired specifically to neutralize the Golden State Warriors’ juggernaut, Clutch City is on track for its first Larry O’Brien trophy since 1995. Adrian Dy: Yes the defending champions are banged-up and looked uninterested as the regular season wound down, but now that it's winning time, I expect the Warriors to do their thing, although there's no way it'll be as smooth as their 16-1 romp last season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

2018 MLB preview: AL Central

By The Associated Press Capsules of American League Central teams, listed in order of finish last year: ___ Cleveland Indians 2017: 102-60, first place, lost to Yankees in ALDS. Manager: Terry Francona (sixth season). He's Here: 1B-DH Yonder Alonso, LF Rajai Davis, RHP Alexi Ogando. He's Outta Here: 1B Carlos Santana, OF Jay Bruce, RHP Bryan Shaw, RHP Joe Smith, OF Austin Jackson, LHP Boone Logan. Projected Lineup: SS Francisco Lindor (.273, 33 HRs, 89 RBIs, 44 2Bs, 15 SBs, 10 errors), 2B Jason Kipnis (.232, 12 HRs, 35 RBIs in 90 games), 3B Jose Ramirez (.318, 29, 83, AL-leading 56 2Bs), DH Edwin Encarnacion (.258, 38, 107), 1B Yonder Alonso (.266, career-high 28 HRs, 67 RBIs with Athletics and Mariners), RF Lonnie Chisenhall (.288, 12, 53 in 82 games), C Roberto Perez (.207, 8, 38, club went 44-22 in his starts) or Yan Gomes (.232, 14, 56), CF Bradley Zimmer (.241, 8, 39, 18 SBs, 0 errors), LF Michael Brantley (.299, 9, 52 in 90 games) or Rajai Davis (.235, 5, 20, 29 SBs with Oakland and Boston). Rotation: RH Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 Ks, 2nd Cy Young Award), RH Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29, 226 Ks), RH Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19, 10-1 in final 13 starts), RH Mike Clevinger (12-6, 3.11, 137 Ks in 121 2/3 innings), RH Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.28, 12.67 Ks per 9 innings). Key Relievers: RH Cody Allen (3-7, 2.94, 30/34 saves, 96 saves past 3 seasons), LH Andrew Miller (4-3, 1.44, 2 saves), RH Dan Otero (3-0, 2.85, walked just 19 of 511 batters since 2016), LH Tyler Olson (1-0, 0.00 in 20 innings over 30 games), RH Zack McAllister (2-2, 2.61 in 50 games). Hot Spots: Kipnis and Brantley. The former All-Stars have been hindered by injuries in recent years, but both appear on track to bounce back in 2018. The Indians need them to produce. Cleveland is better defensively with Ramirez at second base, but he'll stay at third as long as the 31-year-old Kipnis hits. Kipnis has been mentioned in trade talk for two years. Brantley, once considered one of baseball's best all-around talents, has played in only 101 games since 2015. Outlook: No team has felt postseason pain lately quite like the Indians. They blew a 3-1 lead and lost the 2016 World Series to the Cubs, and squandered a 2-0 advantage in last year's best-of-five Division Series against the Yankees. With arguably baseball's strongest rotation led by Kluber, the Indians are poised to possibly end a championship drought approaching its 70th anniversary. Alonso must help the offense offset the losses of Santana and Bruce. Francona won't have Shaw in the bullpen anymore after the durable reliever pitched in at least 74 games each of the past four seasons. Winning the AL Central won't suffice for the Indians, who are determined to finish the job this year. ___ Minnesota Twins 2017: 85-77, second place, lost to Yankees in wild-card game. Manager: Paul Molitor (fourth season). He's Here: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Jake Odorizzi, DH-1B Logan Morrison, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Addison Reed, LHP Zach Duke, SS-3B Erick Aybar, RHP Michael Pineda. He's Outta Here: RHP Matt Belisle, RHP Bartolo Colon, C Chris Gimenez, DH-1B Kennys Vargas, LHP Hector Santiago, LHP Glen Perkins, LHP Buddy Boshers, RHP Michael Tonkin. Projected Lineup: 2B Brian Dozier (.271, 34 HRs, 93 RBIs, 106 runs), 1B Joe Mauer (.305, 7, 71, .384 OBP), 3B Miguel Sano (.264, 28, 77, 173 Ks in 114 games), DH Logan Morrison (.246, 38, 85, .868 OPS with Rays), LF Eddie Rosario (.290, 27, 78), SS Eduardo Escobar (.254, 21, 73), CF Byron Buxton (.253, 16, 51, 29/30 SBs), RF Max Kepler (.243, 19, 69), C Jason Castro (.242, 10, 47). Rotation: RH Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA, 5 CGs, 211 1/3 IP, expected to begin season on DL), RH Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.89), RH Lance Lynn (11-8, 3.43 with Cardinals), RH Jake Odorizzi (10-8, 4.14 with Rays), RH Kyle Gibson (12-10, 5.07). Key Relievers: RH Fernando Rodney (5-4, 4.23, 39/45 saves with Diamondbacks), RH Addison Reed (2-3, 2.84, 19 saves with Mets and Red Sox), LH Taylor Rogers (7-3, 3.07), LH Zach Duke (1-1, 3.93 in 18 1/3 IP with Cardinals), RH Ryan Pressly (2-3, 4.70), RH Trevor Hildenberger (3-3, 3.21, 1 save), RH Phil Hughes (4-3, 5.87 in 53 2/3 IP). Hot Spot: Left Side Of The Infield. Sano had surgery in November to have a rod inserted in his left shin after a stress reaction kept him out for the last six weeks of the 2017 regular season, and the burly slugger has struggled to keep his weight down. He's also been under investigation by Major League Baseball, facing potential discipline, for alleged harassment of a woman during an encounter in 2015. Jorge Polanco, who got so hot at the plate down the stretch of his first full season as a regular in the lineup that he wound up third in the batting order, was suspended for the first 80 games this season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Escobar can fill in capably at shortstop, but he's also the top backup for Sano if the All-Star has to sit for any reason. Outlook: After their massive 26-win turnaround last season, earning Molitor the AL Manager of the Year award and a new contract through the 2020 season, the Twins were already on the upswing with their 25-and-under core of Berrios, Buxton, Sano, Rosario and Kepler. Then, after spring training began, they traded for Odorizzi and signed Morrison and Lynn, all at market-bargain prices. They've already had some setbacks, with finger surgery for Santana expected to keep him out for most or all of April, and the gut-punch news of Polanco's suspension, plus the uncertainty that surrounds Sano. But this is a team, even with the bold offseason moves made by AL heavyweights Boston and New York, and the strength of reigning AL Central champion Cleveland, that has the talent and spunk to be right in the playoff mix. With Hughes and Tyler Duffey on track for long-relief roles and a spate of well-regarded prospects set to fill out the rotation at Triple-A Rochester, this is as much starting pitching depth as the Twins have had in years. After using 16 different starters in 2017, they needed that. Rodney, Reed and Duke were important additions to bolster the bullpen, too, after Minnesota relievers ranked 22nd in the majors with a collective 4.40 ERA. ___ Kansas City Royals 2017: 80-82, third place. Manager: Ned Yost (ninth season). He's Here: RHP Jesse Hahn, CF Jon Jay, 1B Lucas Duda, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Justin Grimm. He's Outta Here: 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, LHP Jason Vargas, RHP Joakim Soria, LHP Mike Minor, OF Melky Cabrera, LHP Scott Alexander, DH Brandon Moss, RHP Mike Morin, LHP Ryan Buchter, RHP Trevor Cahill. Projected Lineup: CF Jon Jay (.296, 2 HRs, 34 RBIs with Cubs), 2B Whit Merrifield (.288, 19, 78, AL-leading 34 SBs), 3B Mike Moustakas (.272, 38, 85), C Salvador Perez (.268, 27, 80), 1B Lucas Duda (.217, 30, 64 with Mets and Rays), DH Jorge Soler (.144, 2, 6), LF Alex Gordon (.208, 9, 45), RF Paulo Orlando (.198, 2, 6), SS Alcides Escobar (.250, 6, 54). Rotation: LH Danny Duffy (9-10, 3.81 ERA), RH Ian Kennedy (5-13, 5.38), RH Jason Hammel (8-13, 5.29), RH Jakob Junis (9-3, 4.30), RH Nate Karns (2-2, 4.17). Key Relievers: RH Kelvin Herrera (3-3, 4.25, 26/31 saves), RH Wily Peralta (5-4, 7.85 in 19 games, 8 starts with Brewers), RH Brandon Maurer (2-2, 8.10 in 26 games with Royals; 1-4, 5.72 in 42 games with Padres), RH Justin Grimm (1-2, 5.53 with Cubs), LH Brian Flynn (5-3, 5.40 at Triple-A Omaha), RH Kevin McCarthy (1-0, 3.20), RH Brad Keller (10-9, 4.68 ERA at Double-A Jackson). Hot Spots: Just About Everywhere. The Royals struggled to score last year, and losing Hosmer and Cain in free agency won't help. They'll turn to Moustakas, who set a club record for home runs in a season, and newcomers Jay and Duda to ignite the offense. The only starting pitcher with a track record of success is Duffy, while the bullpen features plenty of unproven talent that must show it can close down games if the Royals are to approach .500 this season. Outlook: This was supposed to be a rebuilding year in Kansas City, when most of the Royals' top players hit free agency en masse. With Moustakas and Escobar finding little market, both returned to Kansas City with prove-it contracts. That gives the Royals a fighting chance to stay competitive into July, and then all bets are off. But the reality is there are still far too many holes, both in the lineup and on the pitching staff, for the Royals to be considered contenders. They would do well to match the 80 wins they had last season, and could be a big seller at the July 31 trade deadline, which would allow them to replenish a shallow farm system and begin their rebuilding job in earnest. ___ Chicago White Sox 2017: 67-95, fourth place. Manager: Rick Renteria (second season). He's Here: RHP Miguel Gonzalez, C Welington Castillo. He's Outta Here: LHP Derek Holland, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Al Alburquerque, RHP Jake Petricka, C Geovany Soto, OF-2B Alen Hanson, RHP Zach Putnam. Projected Lineup: 2B Yoan Moncada (.231, 8 HRs, 22 RBIs), RF Avisail Garcia (.330, 18, 80), 1B Jose Abreu (.304, 33, 102), DH Matt Davidson (.220, 26, 68), C Welington Castillo (.282, 20, 53 with Orioles), SS Tim Anderson (.257, 17, 56), 3B Yolmer Sanchez (.267, 12, 59), LF Nicky Delmonico (.262, 9, 23), CF Adam Engel (.166, 6, 21). Rotation: RH James Shields (5-7, 5.23 ERA), RH Lucas Giolito (3-3, 2.38), RH Reynaldo Lopez (3-3, 4.72), RH Miguel Gonzalez (8-13, 4.62 with White Sox and Rangers), RH Carson Fulmer (3-1, 3.86) or LH Hector Santiago (4-8, 5.63 with Twins). Key Relievers: RH Nate Jones (1-0, 2.31, 11 appearances), LH Luis Avilan (2-3, 2.93 with Dodgers), RH Joakim Soria (4-3, 3.70, 1 save with Royals), RH Juan Minaya (3-2, 4.53, 9 saves), RH Gregory Infante (2-1, 3.13), RH Danny Farquhar (4-2, 4.20 with White Sox and Rays). Hot Spot: Bullpen. A particular strength for the first half of 2017 is now a major question mark after Chicago traded away Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and closer David Robertson last season. Soria has 204 career saves but his best days might be behind him, and there aren't many other proven late-inning options. Renteria and respected pitching coach Don Cooper might have their hands full mixing and matching while trying to figure out how to hold leads. Outlook: For a team with five straight losing seasons and a record that ranked among baseball's worst last year, the White Sox are generating plenty of buzz. That's because they're loaded with promising young players after going all-in on a rebuild prior to last season. The moves have sparked a belief that better days are ahead. Moncada and hard-throwing pitchers Giolito and Lopez showed promise in the majors last season. Right-hander Michael Kopech, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and outfielder Luis Robert are elite prospects on their way in the minors. Garcia, coming off a breakout season, is looking to prove he's not a one-hit wonder. Anderson hopes to bounce back from a trying season in which a close friend was shot to death. Abreu is back after the slugger was viewed as a potential trade candidate this winter. Left-hander Carlos Rodon is expected to be out until at least June following shoulder surgery last September. It's not clear when he'll be ready. Rodon also was sidelined at the start a year ago because of shoulder and biceps problems. The big question is whether he'll ever develop into the pitcher the White Sox envisioned when they drafted him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2014. ___ Detroit Tigers 2017: 64-98, fifth place. Manager: Ron Gardenhire (first season). He's Here: OF Leonys Martin, RHP Mike Fiers, LHP Francisco Liriano, OF Victor Reyes. He's Outta Here: Manager Brad Ausmus, 2B Ian Kinsler, RHP Anibal Sanchez, INF Andrew Romine, RHP Bruce Rondon. Projected Lineup: CF Leonys Martin (.172, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs with Mariners and Cubs), 3B Jeimer Candelario (.283, 3, 16 with Cubs and Tigers), 1B Miguel Cabrera (.249, 16, 60), RF Nicholas Castellanos (.272, 26, 101), DH Victor Martinez (.255, 10, 47), C James McCann (.253, 13, 49), LF Mikie Mahtook (.276, 12, 38), SS Jose Iglesias (.255, 6, 54), 2B Dixon Machado (.259, 1, 11). Rotation: RH Michael Fulmer (10-12, 3.83 ERA), RH Jordan Zimmermann (8-13, 6.08), LH Francisco Liriano (6-7, 5.66 with Blue Jays and Astros), RH Mike Fiers (8-10, 5.22 with Astros), LH Daniel Norris (5-8, 5.31) or LH Matthew Boyd (6-11, 5.27). Key Relievers: RH Shane Greene (4-3, 2.66, 9/13 saves), RH Joe Jimenez (0-2, 12.32), RH Alex Wilson (2-5, 4.50, 2 saves), LH Daniel Stumpf (0-1, 3.82). Hot Spot: The Farm System. After finishing tied for the worst record in baseball last year, the Tigers enter 2018 with no real expectations of success at the big league level, so the question is how quickly the franchise can make it through this rebuilding stage. Franklin Perez, a right-hander acquired last season when Detroit traded Justin Verlander, is expected to be out at least until June with a lat strain, and right-hander Matt Manning is also dealing with an injury. Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows are other pitching prospects to watch as they try to work their way toward the majors. Wins may be few and far between in Detroit, but Tigers fans will hope Cabrera — one star who avoided the roster purge of the last year — can rebound from a rough season. Outlook: The Tigers traded Verlander, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez last season, then dealt away Kinsler during the offseason. There could be more big moves on the horizon — Fulmer, Iglesias and Castellanos should all have some trade value, but each of them is young enough that he could be useful to the Tigers when they become competitive again. That's especially true of Fulmer, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year. Barring a huge surprise in terms of on-field results, the biggest suspense this season might revolve around how general manager Al Avila approaches the next few steps in the rebuild......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

ABL: Malaysia extinguishes red-hot Alab Pilipinas

Just as Alab Pilipinas could not get going the way they usually do, Malaysia just seemed to be able to hit the mark all game long at home in the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. Torching the nets to the tune of a total of 14 triples before Jonathan Wong took care of the game-winner, the Dragons doused cold water on the defending champions with a well-earned 72-71 win in the continuation of the 2018-2019 Asean Basketball League. The Filipinos were up by five with six minutes remaining and one with 31.6 ticks to go, but Wong kept the home team in the game all throughout with a total of 21 points on top of six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. It was also the Singaporean reinforcement who willed in a layup over Caelan Tiongson to lift Malaysia to just its third win in six games. Still, without a doubt, this is their biggest win of the season – becoming the first team to put a blemish on the Philippines’ record. Of course, Wong was no one-man show as Nnanna Egwu and Chris Eversley also made an impact with 21 and 15 points, respectively. They also combined for five of the Malaysians’ total triples that, in all, frustrated their opponents. Alongside being unable to defend the three-point line, Alab also lacked contributions from its locals as only Puerto Rican reinforcements Renaldo Balkman and PJ Ramos proved effective with the former finishing with 31 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks, and three assists and the latter ending with his own 16-marker, 11-board double-double to go along with five dimes. Back-to-back Local MVP Ray Parks Jr. just had five points to his name as he and his squad suffered their first setback in six games. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2019

ONE Championship: Honorio Banario looks to showcase skills in ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix

Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio "The Rock" Banario is ready to make a huge splash in ONE Championship's stacked lightweight division this 2019.   Banario went on a five-bout unbeaten streak for two years before it was snapped by Singaporean sensation Amir Khan at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON last September when he lost by way of first-round submission.   "The Rock" ultimately concluded 2018 on a winning note, picking up a unanimous decision win over Rahul Raju at ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS this past November.   Banario aims to muster all the lessons and experiences that he has had thus far and utilize it in his upcoming bouts.   "I learned a lot in 2018, and I’m hoping to learn a lot more and grow more this 2019. I think the biggest lesson for me is to continue to stay hungry to learn, and to achieve more," he said.   "The loss to Amir once again humbled me, and I was sent back on a path of learning. Improving my skills and getting in prime condition, as well as staying active and on my toes, is important to keep my edge.   "You can’t relax in this game, because things change rapidly all the time. It’s always evolving."   Banario is also keen on proving his worth in the highly-anticipated ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix, which will be participated by the best athletes that the world and his division have to offer.   With the eagerness to test his mettle in the eight-man tourney, the 29-year-old native of Mankayan, Benguet is confident that he will leave a lasting impression.   "I plan to show that I am one of the best lightweights in the promotion. There is a lot of buzz surrounding our division because of the tournament, and because of the new crop of athletes who joined ONE. There is a lot of pressure to perform," Banario stated.   "I would be happy to put on a show for the fans against anyone ONE puts me in the cage with. It doesn’t matter to me. I am confident in myself and in my team. Through hard work, we will achieve great things."   The tournament winner would a guarantee a shot at the intricately-crafted ONE Lightweight World Title that is currently held by Banario's teammate Eduard Folayang.   However, Banario cites that the goal is not to come after Folayang's gold-plated strap, but to challenge himself and find out who's the second best in the talent-filled lightweight division.   "It is a great way to really see who is the best in the division, apart from my brother Eduard Folayang, who is the world champion," he stressed. "I am definitely aiming to be the Grand Prix tournament champion. That’s my number one goal next year.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019

Top sports headliners in the year that was

From the FIFA World Cup to the NBA, the PBA to the UAAP and NCAA, the Asian Games to Manny Pacquiao, volleyball to MMA, the past 12 months truly was a great year for Filipino sports fans.   Here are some of the most memorable sports headliners that bannered the year that was.    San Miguel Corporation dominates PBA San Miguel Corporation owned 2018. For the first time in the history of the Asia’s first professional basketball league one company dominated all three conferences of the PBA. The San Miguel Beermen annexed their fourth straight Philippine Cup title against sister team Magnolia last May, while Ginebra rode on undersized do-it-all forward Justin Brownlee to the Commissioner's Cup title at the expense of San Miguel last August. Then it was Magnolia's time to shine in December. The Hotshots dismantled Alaska in six games to complete SMC’s domination of PBA 2018. Outside of basketball, SMC also made its presence felt in volleyball as Petron bagged the Grand Prix, Challenge Cup (beach volleyball) and the All-Filipino Conference in the Philippine Superliga.   Kai Sotto stands tall as Ateneo takes title vs NU Kai Sotto became a household name in 2018 as the 7'1" wunderkind showed off in the UAAP Season 80 juniors' basketball tournament. The eventual Finals MVP was a beast in Game 1 of the Finals against the NU Bullpups, tallying a triple-double of 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks in the 86-70 win, the first of its kind since 2003. Ateneo finished the season almost unscathed at 16-1, with their lone loss in Game 2 of the series, a very chippy one to say the least. In Game 3, Sotto came up clutch, scoring the go-ahead basket, 60-58, with about 30 seconds left as Ateneo came away with the 63-58 win to take the title.  SJ Belangel, Joaqui Manuel, Dave Ildefonso and Jason Credo, and coach Joe Silva all appeared in their last games for the Blue Eaglets.   DLSU completes three-peat; NU dethrones Ateneo  The UAAP Season 80 volleyball tournament was filled with lasting memories that will surely be remembered for a long time. Numerous upsets in the eliminations, great games, and much more were the name of the game for the women's tournament. However, a long-time rivalry was rekindled when two-time defending champs De La Salle Lady Spikers met 29-time title holders FEU Lady Tamaraws for all the marbles last May. Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, and Dawn Macandili all ended their careers on a high note as they swept graduating Bernadeth Pons and the Lady Tamaraws in two straight games to win their third straight title. Graduating libero Macandili was named Finals MVP for the first and final time in her collegiate career.  Behind their magnificent floor defense and some stellar play from Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas, the NU Bulldogs also swept three-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles to reclaim a title they last enjoyed in Season 76. Espejo, a five-time UAAP MVP, had an awesome performance for the world's record books, scoring a record-55 points to force the FEU Tamaraws to a do-or-die Final Four. The Blue Eagle legend had played his last, and has since suited up for a semi-pro team in Japan's topflight volleyball league.   Alab fends off Mono Vampire to claim ABL title San Miguel-backed Alab Pilipinas were such a glorious sight to see in the eighth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last March. Coached by perennial fan favorite Jimmy Alapag in his very first season, the trio of Renaldo Balkman, Justin Brownlee, and Local and Finals MVP Bobby Ray Parks to their first title in home soil. Alab faced Thailand-based Mono Vampire, who were led by Mike Singletary, towering Sam Deguara, Fil-Am Jason Brickman and Pinoy Paul Zamar. In the very same day as the coronation of the UAAP volleyball championships, Alab took home the crown in a rousing 102-92 victory in Sta. Rosa, much to the delight of the home crowd. Balkman, the league's Defensive Player of the Year led Alab in scoring with 32, while Brownlee added 24 of his own. Parks added 13 markers. The two imports played in the PBA for the Commissioner's Cup, where Balkman (San Miguel) and Brownlee (Ginebra) would face each other in the Finals.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Warriors send LeBron packing to Los Angeles The Golden St. Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers locked horns in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season after the two teams were pushed to the brink in the Conference Finals. Both teams were down 3-2 and won Game 7 on the road to win their respective conferences, with both teams banking on experience to forge another bout in the championship series. Game 1 was undoubtedly the most exciting game in the series as LeBron James had an epic performance of 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  However, JR Smith's blunder at the end of regulation became the lasting image of that game, as he dribbled out the clock with the score tied at 107-all. The defending champions rode the surge and took the opening game, 124-114. Stephen Curry's brillant performance throughout the series was overshadowed by Kevin Durant's dagger in Game 3, a few feet away from the spot where he launched the go-ahead three in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Durant was named as the Bill Russell Finals MVP after norming 28.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the four-game sweep, demolishing the Cavs 108-85 in the series finale last June. It would also be the last game LeBron James had in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform, as he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers almost a month later.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) France rules 2018 FIFA World Cup The most-coveted title of the beautiful game returned to France after two decades. The youthful French squad celebrated their conquest soaked in a downpour in Moscow after a 4-2 victory over first-time finalist Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup last July. Teenager Kylian Mbappe stood out in the French team composed of a bunch of 25 and under players. Speed, strength and youth became France’s biggest asset during the quadrennial football spectacle watched by almost 3.5 billion viewers around the world.  The 19-year-old migrant scored one of the four goals in the championship match to become the second teen to score a goal in the Finals after the legendary Pele back in 1958. France defeated Belgium in the semifinal, 1-0, while Croatia outlasted the favored Russians in penalty shootout, 4-3 (2-2). The French team also displayed diversity, with players born of migrant parents including Alphonse Areola, whose parents are both Filipinos working in France.   Pac on top, The Filipino Flash returns The most-celebrated Filipino athlete continued make the headlines this year. Manny Pacquaio stripped Lucas Matthysse of his WBA welterweight world championship belt with a seventh round technical knockout win in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July. Pacquiao split with long-time trainer Freddie Roach during his build up for the Matthysse bout back in April but confirmed their partnership once again for the 40-year old boxer’s title defense against Adrien Broner next year. Nonito Donaire Jr. announced that he would be going back down to super bantamweight after a loss to Carl Frampton in April for the interim WBO Featherweight belt and would be taking part in the World Boxing Super Series' super bantamweight tournament.  Matched up in the quarterfinal round against Ryan Burnett back in November, Donaire scored what many consider an upset, winning via TKO after the Irishman suffered a back injury to snatch the WBA (Super) Bantamweight World Championship.  Up next for Donaire will be WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in the semifinals.           Pinay power in the Asian Games   The Philippines participated in the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia that ran from August 18 to September 2. A total of 272 athletes that participated in 31 sports represented the country in the quadrennial meet with Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and medalist Margielyn Didal marching as flagbearers in the opening and closing ceremonies, respectively. Rio Olympian Hidilyn Diaz gave the PHI its first gold medal in women’s -53 kg. weightlifting. Five days after Diaz’s victory, the trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go accounted for the women’s golf team mint. Saso also bagged the individual gold. In Palembang, Didal rolled her way into winning the women’s street skateboard gold. The celebrated men’s basketball team started out strong after routing Kazakhstan but lost by two-points to China in the group stage. The Gilas Pilipinas squad advanced in the quarterfinals but bowed down to South Korea by nine points eventually settling for a fifth spot in the classification phase after wins over Japan and Syria. The PHI finished with a 4-2-15 gold-silver-bronze haul and landed at 19th spot, three places higher that its 2014 finish in Incheon, South Korea.      Red Lions roar, Blue Eagles soar San Beda University continued its mastery over the NCAA as it annexed its third straight title and 22nd overall. The Red Lions grabbed its 11th crown in 13 years at the expense of Lyceum of the Philippines University. It was one-sided championship series – just like in their Finals meeting last year – with the San Beda ripping the Pirates apart in Game One with LPU playing sans its best player in CJ Perez, who was banned for one game after failing to notify the league of his intention to join the PBA Draft. Perez returned in Game 2 but even his presence didn’t stop the Red Lions from painting the NCAA red once again. In probably one of the most memorable UAAP season in recent years, Ateneo de Manila University won its second straight crown. Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year 6-foot-11 Ange Kouame made an immediate impact for the Blue Eagles complementing the already stacked Ateneo squad led by Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena. But the glory of Ateneo was overshadowed by the Cinderalla story of the team it vanquished in the Finals. Climbing up from the cellar in the past years, University of the Philippines made history by making it in the Finals for the first time since winning it all in 1986. But before their championship stint, the Fighting Maroons ended a two-decade Final Four drought. UP then shocked twice-to-beat Adamson University with both games decided by game-winners. Ateneo came in the series as the title favorites but overwhelming support from a very hungry UP community and underdogs fans backed the Fighting Maroons. But in the end, it was the Blue Eagles championship experience that prevailed.       Pinoys make wave in MMA Fighters under Team Lakay flexed their muscles in One Championship. Flyweight star Geje Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Eustaquio then defeated two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau last July to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  Joshua Pacio earned the ONE Strawweight World Championship last September after a unanimous decision win over two-time champion Japanese Yoshitaka Naito. Kevin Belingon dropped former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April. He followed it up with a dominating win over then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to capture the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion. Belingon ended the five-year reign and seven-year winning streak of of long-time bantamweight king Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes in November via split decision.  Eduard Folayang outclassed Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to bag the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.  Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera needed only 64 seconds to knockout hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila early December to remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    Petron, Creamline rule respective club leagues Creamline claimed its breakthrough championship in the Premier Volleyball League by sweeping PayMaya in the Reinforced Conference Finals series last July. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought with the Cool Smashers' victory. Creamline opposite hitter Michele Gumabao was named Miss Globe-Philippines during the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 last March. Gumabao represented the country in the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania last October and won the Miss Social Media and Dream Girl awards while landing a spot in the Top 15.     The Cool Smashers completed a sweep of the PVL’s Season 2 after claiming the Open Conference crown at the expense of Ateneo-Motolite via an emphatic series sweep this month. In the Philippine Superliga, Petron reigned supreme in the Grand Prix after taking down archrival F2 Logistics last May. Petron extended its supremacy in the sands after the tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadethn Pons defeated Dhannylaine Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia of Sta. Lucia in the Challenge Cup final last May. The Cargo Movers got its revenge in the Invitational Cup, toppling the Blaze Spikers in a series sweep last July. Petron wrapped the year with the All-Filipino Conference in its pocket. The Blaze Spikers won its first 14 games before dropping Game 2 of the Finals. Petron swept F2 Logistics in Game 3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Irving enters chase with work on, off the floor

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com The best of Kyrie Irving, both on and off the floor, has been on display the past few weeks. With the Boston Celtics’ season at an early crossroad, of sorts, it was Irving who stepped into the leadership void to steer things in the right direction. With injuries to key players complicating matters and chemistry issues still being sorted out, Irving was the veteran willing to step up and speak out in an effort to make sure the Celtics dealt with their issues head on. The Celtics had an inconsistent start to the season (10-10) before going on a eight-game win streak that was more like what was expected of them, only to hit the skids again briefly and lose three straight games before Irving piped up. "I think everyone can see that we've obviously had some inconsistencies regarding our play,” he said, “so I think it was just time to address it." A 36-minute players meeting in the locker room after a Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) home thumping from Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks was enough for Irving, who didn’t spare anyone (himself included) from the harsh spotlight. It was a cathartic moment for the Celtics, who saw Al Horford return from a seven-game absence just in time for Sunday’s win in Charlotte. Kyrie was at his superstar best with the bright lights shining on Christmas. He torched the Philadelphia 76ers for 40 points, unleashing his full offensive arsenal (shooting 17-for-33 from the floor, 5-for-10 from deep), while also grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out three assists. He was in showtime mode again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) against James Harden and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center, finishing his night with 23 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and just one turnover. The Celtics simply had no answer for Harden, who like Irving moves up the ranks on this week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder. But it’s clear Irving is ready to shoulder the burden of leading these Celtics, in whatever way necessary. * * * The top five this week in the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 26.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.3 steals Antetokounmpo turned Madison Square Garden into his very own Christmas playground when he smoked the Knicks for 30 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks to kick off the league’s showcase day. And just so the Knicks know it wasn’t a fluke, he hurried them again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum with 31 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks in another rout. The Greek Freak is making it tough for anyone to nudge him from the top spot on this list; he’s averaging 24.8 points (on 60.9 shooting), 12.6 rebounds  5.6 assists and 1.7 blocks in his last 10 games. The Bucks are cruising during this stretch as well, solidifying their position as one of  the top teams in the Eastern Conference and the entire league at the close of the calendar year 2018. If this is just the warm up for 2019, Antetokounmpo can really crank up his MVP campaign between now and the All-Star break. 2. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 26.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals Leonard and the Raptors didn’t get an opportunity to showcase themselves for the world to see on Christmas but made up for that scheduling snafu with an instant classic in a win over Miami on the day after the holiday. Leonard scored 30 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had two assists and two steals in the winning effort. December has been good to the Raptors’ prized summer acquisition — he’s averaging 30.1 points (on .520 shooting) to go along with his 8.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals. For all of the chatter about how good the Raptors have been with Leonard out of the lineup and how good their quality depth is and has been all season, the fate of this team rests on Leonard’s broad shoulders come playoff time. He’s the one element they’ve lacked in previous runs, as a true crunch-time, go-to player in the postseason. All that noise about him not being an ideal vocal leader looks like just that at this stage of his tenure in Toronto. 3. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.3 steals Lakers Nation held its collective breath earlier this week, awaiting the word on LeBron’s MRI after he heard a “pop” when he went down in the third with a groin injury in the third quarter of the Lakers’ Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) blowout over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The news was better than expected but the catalyst for the Lakers’ revival this season is still expected to miss “several games.” This could actually prove to be a critical stretch for the Lakers. If they can manage to maintain their position in the Western Conference standings without LeBron in uniform, it’ll speak volumes about the growth and development of their youngsters. It will also instill some confidence in the entire group if they can piece together a few wins without the new king of Los Angeles. All that said, it would be shortsighted of anyone to dismiss the work LeBron has put in during the early-season turnaround this team has undergone. He was playing as well as anyone in the league this month (25.8 points on .516 shooting, 9.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.3 steals). 4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 28.6 points, 5.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals Curry bounced back from yet another uncharacteristic Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) performance (just 15 points on an ugly 5-for-17 shooting) with a big night against his brother Seth and the Portland Trail Blazers. But his 29 points and a triple-double from Kevin Durant wasn’t enough to lift the Warriors past Damian Lillard’s late-game heroics against his hometown team. If there was ever a time to be concerned about Curry and these Warriors, it’s now. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson cannot find their marks. The bench production is non-existent at times. And the edge the Warriors have used to their advantage for years seems to have vanished. The boost they need is more than just adding a superstar talent like Boogie Cousins (whose recovery from his Achilles injury seems to be in hyperdrive). The Warriors might need both Curry and Durant to go off script a bit and shake things up by going nuclear offensively to strike fear in teams the way this team once did. They’ve become far too predictable a target without the proper support from their other stars. 5. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 7 Season stats: 32.3 points, 8.4 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals The reigning Kia MVP will not be denied any longer. Harden has been on an absolute tear of late and is bringing the Rockets back into focus in the Western Conference playoff chase while doing so. He’s posted back-to-back 40 point games (45 in their Friday, PHL time showdown win over the Boston Celtics and 41 in their Dec. 26, PHL time win over the Oklahoma City Thunder). He’s currently on a career-best eight-game run scoring 30 or more points, the first player to do so since Russell Westbrook did it in November of 2016. Harden’s the first to score 35 or more in six straight games since former teammate Carmelo Anthony accomplished the feat in April of 2013. Harden’s eight games of 40 or more points this season leads the league (Anthony Davis is second with five). The Celtics tried every player in uniform to stop him but to no avail. But Harden’s best work has been pulling the Rockets out of their sub-.500 hole at Thanksgiving to a season-best four games over .500 as they close out the 2018 portion of their schedule. * * * The next five 6. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets T-8. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors T-8. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers 10. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics And five more: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans; De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings; Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers; Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

ONE Championship: Mark Sangiao looks to carry over Team Lakay s success in 2019

2018 will be over and done in a few days, but it will be remembered as the banner year of the legendary Team Lakay.   Widely associated with the local mixed martial arts scene in the Philippines due to the big number of notable homegrown talents that it has produced since its inception in 2003, Team Lakay has reached new heights in 2018 as it now houses four world champions under the ONE Championship banner.   Since the beginning of the year, the legendary camp from Baguio City, Benguet has been on an extraordinary run in the organization.   Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio kicked off the year for Team Lakay by copping the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship with a unanimous decision victory over Kazakhstan’s Kairat Akhmetov in a rematch this past January.   Eustaquio was enshrined as the undisputed flyweight kingpin of the promotion five months later when he edged out Brazilian arch-nemesis Adriano Moraes in a world title unification bout.   It was followed by Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, who had his first taste of gold last July when he routed two-division titleholder Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen by way of clear-cut unanimous decision for the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Championship.   Belingon became ONE Championship’s official bantamweight champion by defeating longtime division ruler Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes via split decision in their highly-anticipated title unification rematch last November.   Meanwhile, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio settled the score with Yoshitaka Naito in September, dethroning his Japanese rival by unanimous decision to bring home the ONE Strawweight World Championship.   Eduard Folayang joined Eustaquio, Belingon and Pacio in the cast of Team Lakay world titleholders, recapturing the ONE Lightweight World Championship at the expense of Singapore’s Amir Khan this past November.   Speaking on behalf of his teammates, Folayang believes that Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao played a pivotal role in their success.   “Coach Mark should have a belt,” Folayang said. “We are a good team because we have a brilliant and selfless coach who supports us all the way.”   At the peak of his professional career in 2010, Sangiao opted to hang up his gloves for good to focus on coaching Folayang and other members of Team Lakay.   Although he had to make the ultimate sacrifice of calling it a career at the age of 30, Sangiao disclosed that there is no tinge of regret in his decision, especially after seeing what his athletes have become.   “When I see these belts, I know that my sacrifice was worth it. I feel that I’m also a champion,” the Team Lakay headmaster stated. “I decided to retire eight years ago. I’m a positive guy, so I don’t regret my decision to retire. I’m very happy with it.”   Finishing their campaign with four world titles in ONE Championship, Sangiao acknowledges that 2018 is Team Lakay’s most successful year so far.   “It’s our biggest year. We won titles and received many awards this year. This is the result of our hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. These awards and titles are just the fruit of our hard labor,” he mentioned.   With the achievements that they are presently basking in, Sangiao conceded that not even in his wildest dream did he expect Team Lakay to be highly acclaimed in the sport or reach its present stature.   “When I started this group in 2003, I did not even think that it would get to this. All I thought at the time was that I liked what I was doing,” he remembered. “I am happy with the outcome of my passion.”   It appears that everything Team Lakay lays its hands on turns into gold, but for Sangiao, this is only the tip of the iceberg.   “It’s only the beginning. There is more to come. We look forward to defending our belts and prevailing as champions for a long time,” he declared.   Sangiao may be looking to carry over Team Lakay’s success into 2019, but he knows that it will be no walk in the park.   “We had an amazing run in 2018. With all of the titles that we won, we have a big target on our back. Tougher challenges await us next year. Like we always say, we will do our best,” he expressed.   Pacio, Eustaquio and Folayang are all booked to defend their respective world titles in the first quarter of 2019.   Team Lakay may have cemented its position as a global force in mixed martial arts in 2018, but Sangiao assured that he and his wards are not resting on their laurels.   "This is definitely the best year for us, but of course, we will not stop. We have to keep on improving and defend those belts,” he vowed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

Reasons to watch 2018 slate of NBA X mas day games

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2018

Filipino star Kevin Belingon hailed as ONE Championship’s 2018 Warrior of the Year

2018 has been nothing but spectacular for Philippine-based mixed martial arts stable Team Lakay. The humble gym located in the La Trinidad, Benguet has, in 2018 alone, produced four world champions under the ONE Championship banner. Veteran Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio became the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion in Macau, China back in June, while young star Joshua “The Passion” Pacio captured the ONE Strawweight World Championship in Jakarta, Indonesia back in September. Arguably the biggest star in Philippine mixed martial arts today, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang, became a two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion after dominating Amir Khan in Manila,  Philippines back in early-December. Rounding out the four world champions from Team Lakay is none other than Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon, who completed a long road to the ONE Bantamweight World Championship. While Eustaquio, Pacio, and Folayang all had impressive runs in 2018, Belingon’s year was arguably the most dominant. Already riding an impressive four-fight winning streak dating back to 2016, Belingon kicked 2018 off with a dominant performance over former world championship contender Andrew Leone, obliterating the American wrestler with a spinning back-kick heard ‘round the world. Many believed that Belingon had already earned another crack at the world championship, then held by Brazilian submission ace Bibiano Fernandes. Fernandes however, was still injured at the time and had no timetable for a return. Belingon instead drew Vietnamese-Australian two-division world champion Martin Nguyen - who was hunting for a third world title in as many divisions - for the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Championship. In July at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Belingon and Nguyen squared off in an exciting five-round war and in the end, it was the faster Pinoy star who earned the unanimous decision nod. The win finally secured Belingon a rematch with Fernandes and a shot at the ONE Bantamweight World Championship. While Belingon has improved exponentially since their first encounter back in 2016, the Team Lakay star was considered an underdog. Fernandes, after all, had not tasted defeat since 2010, and was riding a five year reign as the ONE bantamweight king. Many have tried and all have failed to dethrone “The Flash” from his place atop the bantamweight division, Belingon included. At ONE: Heart of the Lion in Singapore however, Belingon made sure that history would not repeat itself. Banking on superior striking and a much-improved grappling skillset, Belingon survived multiple submission attempts and dictated the pace in the standup department for much of the five-round affair. In the end, Belingon earned the split decision nod, and had accomplished what no one else has in ONE Championship, and that’s defeat Fernandes. It was Belingon’s stellar 2018 campaign that earned him the nod for ONE Championship’s 2018 Warrior of the Year, beating out the likes of reigning ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang of Myanmar, reigning ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion “The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan, former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki, and Team Lakay stablemate and reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang. Of the four ONE world champions from Team Lakay, only Belingon has yet to be scheduled for a title defense, with all three of his brothers set to put their titles up for grabs in 2019. The smart money would be on a trilogy match with Fernandes for the title in 2019......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2018

NBA s Christmas lineup headlined by LeBron vs Warriors

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press There’s no NBA Finals rematch this year on Christmas. Not technically, anyway. It’s LeBron James vs. the Golden State Warriors for the fourth consecutive year on Dec. 25 (Dec. 26, PHL time), though James will be wearing a Los Angeles Lakers uniform this time. It was a predictable matchup. It isn’t, however, a break from tradition. That’s one of the biggest misnomers about the NBA and the schedule. An NBA Finals rematch is not common, not the norm, not a guarantee for the last two teams that were standing the previous season. The league has crowned a champion every year since 1947, and the tradition of Christmas Day games started later that same year. (They’ve been an annual fixture since, with the exception of 1998, when a lockout didn’t allow that season to begin until February.) But there have been only nine NBA Finals rematches on Dec. 25 (Dec. 26, PHL time). The recent Golden State-Cleveland history may make it seem like more. James has been in five Finals rematches on Christmas, all since 2011: Miami vs. Dallas that year, Oklahoma City vs. Miami the following year, and Cleveland vs. Golden State in each of the last three years. The other four rematches on the holiday: Orlando vs. Houston in 1995, Philadelphia vs. the Lakers in 2001, San Antonio vs. Detroit in 2005 and Boston vs. the Lakers in 2008. So instead of a Cavs-Warriors rematch, getting Lakers vs. Warriors — for the first time in the LeBron L.A. era — makes perfect sense. “Bron is Bron,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “They’re going to be tough, a tough matchup on Christmas Day, but we’re looking forward to it.” Inevitably, so will James. Even with the Lakers having lost four of their last six games, they’re off to a 19-14 start — their best since the 2011-12 season. “We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” James said in September. He’s about to get his first look at how the Lakers measure up with the champs. CHRISTMAS LINEUP Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) slate starts with Milwaukee at New York, followed by Oklahoma City at Houston, Philadelphia at Boston, the Lakers at the Warriors and then Portland at Utah. It’s Milwaukee’s first Christmas game since 1977, which will end what was by far the league’s longest Dec. 25 (Dec. 26, PHL time) drought. Utah hasn’t played on Christmas since 1997. A look at each of the five games: BUCKS AT KNICKS Congratulations to the schedule-makers, because there’s no way they could have known this Christmas game would be wrapped in animus. Giannis Antetokounmpo was peeved at New York forward Mario Hezonja — who dunked on him, stared at him and then stepped over him when the teams last met on Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time). THUNDER AT ROCKETS A rematch of a game from Christmas 2017, which the Thunder won 112-107. Oklahoma City is 6-2 on Christmas since the team moved there; when the franchise was in Seattle, it was 0-11 on the holiday. Rockets star Chris Paul will miss Christmas for the third straight year — with the Clippers, he had a left hamstring strain and missed their game with the Lakers in 2016, sat out last year’s Houston-OKC game with a groin strain and this year, it’s another left hamstring issue that will keep him out. 76ERS AT CELTICS These are heated, historic rivals, but they’ve met on Christmas only once before — in 1961, when the 76ers were the Syracuse Nationals. Boston, which famously avoided home Christmas games forever (the Celtics played their first 30 such games away from Boston), will be at home on the holiday for the second consecutive season. LAKERS AT WARRIORS It’s the 20th consecutive Christmas appearance for the Lakers, and with LeBron James there now don’t expect that streak to end anytime soon. Warriors star Kevin Durant apparently loves playing on the holiday; he’s averaging 31.1 points in his eight previous Christmas games. TRAIL BLAZERS AT JAZZ Portland is 14-3 all-time on Christmas, and could tie Miami (10-2) for the best winning percentage on the holiday if it tops the Jazz. Meanwhile, for Utah, it’s a chance for Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell to get his first — but almost certainly not his last — look at playing on Christmas. CHRISTMAS HISTORY The NBA’s five-game Christmas lineup is back for an 11th consecutive year, and that may seem like a lot of matchups but has been exceeded plenty of times in the past. There were seven games on the holiday in 1949, 1971 and 1977, as well as six in 1970 and 1976. And there were some years where everybody played on Christmas. In 1952, the league had 10 teams so that meant five Christmas games. In 1956, the league’s eight teams got together for two Christmas doubleheaders — two games at Madison Square Garden, two others at the War Memorial in Rochester, New York. And in 1959, eight teams meant four games on the holiday again. With Milwaukee playing, the league’s longest Christmas drought will belong to the Atlanta Hawks, who haven’t appeared on the holiday since 1989. After the Hawks, the longest droughts will be held by Charlotte (no appearances in 29 seasons), Memphis (no appearances in 24 seasons), Toronto (2001), Sacramento (2003), Indiana (2004) and Detroit (2005). Everyone else has played at least one Christmas game since 2009. YEAR OF THE 3 Houston set the NBA record for three-pointers made in a game with 26, doing that against Washington last week. It cemented that, without question, 2018 in the NBA was the year of the three-pointer. So far this season, 11 franchises — Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Golden State, Houston, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York, Sacramento and Utah — have set or tied team records for three-pointers made in a regular-season game. That doesn’t even take into account Brooklyn, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Oklahoma City and Philadelphia also doing it in 2018, albeit last season. Maybe the craze hasn’t caught on in Canada. The longest-standing team record for three's in a game is held by the Toronto Raptors, who made 21 on March 13, 2005. Orlando’s mark of 23 has stuck since Jan. 13, 2009 and Phoenix’s record of 22 came on Nov. 14, 2010. Meanwhile, Zaza Pachulia’s quest for a three continues. Pachulia has the NBA record for most three's attempted in a career without a make — the Detroit backup center is now 0-for-29 in the regular season, 0-for-31 when including playoffs. He’s 0-for-3 in 2018, though all those tries in this calendar year were desperation heaves from midcourt or deeper. And in fairness, only six of his career three-point tries have been shots inside of 30 feet......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2018

2018: The year of collegiate champions and people s champions

From Katipunan to Mendiola, from Intramuros to San Marcelino, and from Morayta to Las Pinas, the year 2018 will be tough to top. That goes for both the NCAA and the UAAP as both leagues learned that it all begins here before experiencing unparalleled heights. Now, it’s high time for look back at the year that was in collegiate basketball. New year, new regime Before we can look back, however, we first need to look ahead as several new eras are already underway even before the year has ended. Over at La Salle, American coach Jermaine Byrd has been tapped with the hopes he can do to the Green Archers what American-Kiwi mentor Tab Baldwin has done for Ateneo. The same task of a turnaround is also what’s expected from the new hires of Mapua in Randy Alcantara, EAC in Oliver Bunyi, and Arellano in Cholo Martin. Immediate impact Alongside talented tacticians, however, teams need talented players. Fortunately for a handful of teams, they got just that from their first-year players. Ateneo won back-to-back championships all while featuring a brand new paint presence in Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year Ange Kouame. While being a force is already a given for any 6-foot-11 player like Kouame, both CJ Cansino and Dave Ildefonso also exceeded expectations in their rookie seasons for UST and NU, respectively. Over in the NCAA, Filipino-American high-flyer Justin Gutang propelled CSB just right outside the playoffs while Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang helped re-establish Letran as a powerhouse. The Walls of Intramuros are up again Speaking of Letran, it’s nothing but a welcome development to see them contending once more for the first time since their magical season and championship in 2015. Head coach Jeff Napa, at long last, has a team he can call his own and the Knights look like they will be big, big threats for the foreseeable future. Of course, size was never the advantage for neighboring LPU and rather, they have run-and-gunned their way to back-to-back Finals. With new head coach Randy Alcantara, Mapua is nothing but hoping it can finally catch up with its fellow Intramuros occupants. Started from the bottom, now we’re here Just four years ago, Adamson and UP were cellar-dwellers and were fighting over wins that were meaningless in the standings, but meaningful to their morale. Now, the two teams have just figured in classic semifinals series with both games going down the wire. In the end, it was the Fighting Maroons who advanced to the Finals, but the Soaring Falcons have nothing to be ashamed of, especially as they were one of only two teams that had downed champion Ateneo. Controversy, controversy The on-court action in both the NCAA and the UAAP was, without a doubt, intense. The same can be said, however, for the off-court happenings. The NCAA season started with San Sebastian being forced to forfeit a couple of its wins due to RK Ilagan playing in a commercial league, continued with Perpetual also being questioned about having players who suited up in a different commercial league, and ended with LPU main man CJ Perez getting suspended in Game 1 of the Finals. The UAAP had its share of colorful events with Thirdy Ravena getting suspended and therefore, getting disqualified from individual awards as well as FEU being indirectly helped into the playoffs by the untimely injuries to Adamson’s Jerrick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti. 2 MVPs, 1 alma mater It’s a universally accepted truth that Prince Eze deserved the NCAA MVP and Bright Akhuetie deserved the UAAP MVP. What’s funny is that, at one point in time, those two were actually teammates over at Perpetual. Yes, the Altas had both Nigerian tower Eze and Nigerian powerhouse Akhuetie seeing action for them for two seasons. Even more, they were also teammates with now Ginebra star Scottie Thompson for one year. Of course, the NCAA MVP and the UAAP MVP agreed that they had to go their separate ways so that both of them can spread their wings and fly. Good thing they did. Good thing they did. Just another season in the office for San Beda So much happened in the NCAA season – LPU’s continued contention, Letran and Perpetual’s resurgence, CSB and San Sebastian being darkhorses. In the end, however, San Beda left no doubt that it was still their kingdom by blanking the Pirates in the Finals. With that, the Red Lions extended their league-leading title total to 22 – with half coming in the last 13 years. We can talk about all the teams and all the players we want, but at the end of the day, the NCAA title will still go through Mendiola. Blue Eagle, still the king At the end of the first round of the UAAP season, Ateneo found itself in a three-way tie for the top spot with FEU and Adamson. By virtue of having lost to both the Tamaraws and the Soaring Falcons, the Blue Eagles were actually in third-place entering the second round. From there, however, Ateneo never lost – and was never even threatened – all the way to back-to-back championships. They did that, with court general Matt Nieto injured for most of the second round and do-it-all forward Thirdy Ravena incurring a suspension as well. Come the Finals, however, Ateneo just unleashed both Nieto and Ravena and ultimately, took the fight out of UP. Her-story for Lady Bulldogs These are the most important numbers for the NU Lady Bulldogs at the end of the UAAP season: five straight championships, 80 wins in a row. Yes, NU has not dropped any of its last 80 games dating back to 2014. With that, they not only eclipsed the 72-game winning streak of the Adamson softball squad, once the longest winning streak in league history, but also ran way past it. Oh, that winning streak – and the five-peat, for that matter – is still ongoing. That’s short of saying that the Lady Bulldogs will only continue to make history next year. Indeed, up was where the Fighting Maroons went From 2007 to 2015, UP only won 13 times out of 126 games. Those days have been self-depreciatingly called “the dark days.” In the recently concluded UAAP season, the Fighting Maroons finally found light at the end of the tunnel. First, at 7-6 with one game to go in the elimination round, they already registered their best showing in 14 seasons. Then, at 8-6 to end the elims, they claimed their first Final Four berth since 1997. Then, in discarding Adamson’s twice-to-beat advantage, they won in the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. Then, by doubling down against the Soaring Falcons, they climbed to their first Finals since 1986. In the end, UP’s Cinderella run didn’t get a happy ending at the hands of Ateneo. But maybe, just maybe, the Fighting Maroons actually aren’t Cinderella. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2018

Kings of the World: Team Lakay s dominance highlights 2018 in Mixed Martial Arts

As always, 2018 offered up another year's worth of memorable moments from the world of mixed martial arts.  From the East to the West, the world's fastest growing sport found a way into sports headlines, and here are some of the biggest stories inside and out of the cage from the past twelve months.    "CHAMPIONS ARE NOT BORN, THEY ARE MADE" 2018 definitely belonged to famed Filipino mixed martial arts stable Team Lakay.  The humble La Trinidad, Benguet-based gym has established themselves as the top team in the Philippines for the past few years, but in 2018, they cemented their status as one of the best in the world.  Building off their elite-level striking skills and continuously-improving grappling accumen, the boys from Baguio City dominated Singapore-based MMA promotion ONE Championship, capturing four world championships in just a span of a single year.  Flyweight star Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Six months later, Eustaquio dropped the "interim" tag by defeating two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  After putting together a tremendous winning streak, young strawweight star Joshua "The Passion" Pacio earned a well-deserved rematch for the ONE Strawweight World Championship against two-time champion Yoshitaka "Nobita" Naito. Back in September, Pacio erased the bitter memory of his previous defeat against Naito two years prior by stifling the Japanese submission specialist with impeccable grappling defense to earn a unanimous decision win and capture the strawweight crown in Jakarta. Much like his stablemate Eustaquio, Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon had to go through two world champions to take his place at the top of the bantamweight division. After blasting former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April, Belingon dominated then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to become the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion and finally earn a long-awaited rematch with long-time bantamweight king Bibiano Fernandes. In November, Belingon did what no other man in ONE has done and defeated Bibiano Fernandes via split decision to become the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion, ending Fernandes' seven-year winning streak and five-year reign as ONE world champion.  Capping off Team Lakay's spectacular 2018 campaign was the return to glory of arguably the biggest homegrown MMA star in the country, Eduard "Landslide" Folayang. After losing his title twelve months prior, Folayang put on a masterclass against dangerous Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to once again capture the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  Outside the ONE Championship banner, another world champion from Team Lakay continues to reign, as BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen "The Sniper" Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.    THE TRUTH RETURNS Speaking of Filipino world champions, the biggest one of them all finally made his return in 2018.  After a two-year absence due to outside commitments, reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera made his way back to the cage, and his comeback was nothing short of explosive.  Taking on the hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila last December 7th, Vera needed only 64 seconds to dispatch Cerilli via knockout and remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    NOTORIOUS Conor "The Notorious" McGregor was arguably the biggest combat sports star of 2017, after crossing over to boxing and facing off against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the year's biggest combat sports event.  In 2018, the Notorious one was all over the headlines once again.  In April of 2018, McGregor was stripped of the UFC Lightweight World Championship due to inactivity.  Earlier that month, the Irish star was at the forefront of a backstage melee during the UFC 223 media day in Brooklyn, New York that saw McGregor hurl a dolly at a bus full of fighters, leading to a number of minor injuries. McGregor would later be slapped with charges due to the attack.  In August, it was announced that McGregor would be making his return to the Octagon to challenge reigning lightweight king Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov, who was the initial target of McGregor's backstage bus attack earlier that year.     "I COME FOR SMASH THIS GUY" The drama-filled leadup to the UFC Lightwieght World Championship bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor made it no doubt one of the most anticipated matches of the year, and when the two were finally locked inside the Octagon, it didn't disappoint.  Nurmagomedov ultimately imposed his will, grounding McGregor for three rounds, before finishing the Irishman off in the fourth round with a rear-naked choke to remain unbeaten and retain the UFC's 155-pound strap.  What happened after, however, overshadowed everything that came before it.  After forcing McGregor to tap out, Nurmagomedove scaled the Octagon fence and jumped out to the crowd to confront Dillon Danis, McGregor's grappling coach.  It didn't take long for mayhem to ensue, as chaos broke out inside and out of the cage.  Both Nurmagomedov and McGregor have been suspended indefinitely, with the final hearing, which will decide the fate of the two fighters, expected to take place this month.    THE HOME OF MARTIAL ARTS Since ONE Championship's inception in 2011, it has primarily operated as a mixed martial arts promotion. In the past years, ONE has put on grappling superfights and special martial arts bouts.  In 2018 however, ONE took it to a whole new level by introducing the ONE Super Series back in April, which features Muay Thai and kickboxing bouts.  The new wrinkle has attracted some of the world's best strikers, including Giorgio Petrosyan, Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, Andy Souwer, Cosmo Alexandre, and many more.  ONE also dipped their foot in boxing, bringing in reigning WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai as the headliner for ONE's October card in Bangkok, where he successfully defended his title against Mexican challenger Iran Diaz in front of a raucous hometown crowd at the Impact Arena.    "DC" ALSO STANDS FOR "DOUBLE CHAMP"  No other fighter has had a better 2018 than Daniel "DC" Cormier.  After being named the UFC Light Heavyweight World Champion after Jon Jones tested positive for banned substances during their 2017 title bout, Cormier successfully defended the 205-pound belt against Volkan Oezdemir.  Six months later, Cormier jumped up to heavyweight and shocked the world by knocking out the once-dominant champion Stipe Miocic to become just the fifth two-division world champion and the second simultaneous two-division world champion in UFC history.  In November, DC made even more history by becoming just the first fighter in UFC history to successfully defend world titles in two weight divisions after submitting Derrick Lewis in the second round.    BIG STARS HEAD EAST Asian mixed martial arts giant ONE Championship made worldwide MMA news in 2018 after snagging a handful of big name talents in former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion Eddie "The Underground King" Alvarez, former long-time UFC Flyweight World Champion and pound-for-pound great Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, and former UFC lightweight and welterweight standout  "Super" Sage Northcutt.  Alvarez and Northcutt signed with ONE after their UFC contracts had expired, while Johnson made his way to ONE via the first-ever trade in MMA history, which sent former ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben "Funky" Askren to the UFC.  All three stars are set to make their debuts in 2019.  Aside from bringing in top-tier athletes, ONE also brought in another big name to fill an executive spot, with former UFC and Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight World Champion Miesha Tate coming in as a Vice President. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2018

ONE Championship: Four World Titles make Team Lakay’s Christmas special this 2018

Christmas is one the biggest holidays in the Philippines. Incomparable to other countries, Christmas lights and holiday jingles start to play as early as September.   People from all walks of life gather on this special occasion and celebrate the holiday with food, drinks, and by spending time with friends and family.   Members of Team Lakay, the country's most renowned mixed martial arts group, have its own way of holding an annual celebration for the Yuletide season.   Housing four ONE World Champions such as Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio and Joshua Pacio, the Baguio City-headquartered camp holds a yearly Christmas party in mid-December to cap off the year.   "We have an early celebration coming up this Saturday, 15 December. We are going to have a beach house party in San Juan, La Union," Eustaquio shared.   "The gathering will celebrate our accomplishments this 2018, and also prepare for 2019. Everybody will come that day, most notably our professional athletes.”   Their way of celebration is not like any other party as it involves honoring their native tradition with a sumptuous feast and holding insightful talks for the advancement of their athletes’ career.   "We have a program, a feast, and an open mat for whoever wants to roll. Our world champions will share their experience and tell what they went through this year," Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao bared.   "This kind of gathering is our way to spend quality time with each other. This is our way to inspire other athletes, tighten our bond, and learn from each other.”   Finishing their campaign with four gold-plated belts under the ONE Championship banner, Sangiao believes that 2018 is Team Lakay’s most successful year since its inception in 2003   “It’s our biggest year. We won championship titles and received many awards this year. This is the result of our hard work, dedication, and sacrifice,” the Team Lakay headmaster said.   “Like we always say, this is our passion. We love what we do. These awards and titles are just the fruit of our hard labor.”   Although Team Lakay hauled all the titles, recognition and accolades that they could possibly get in 2018, all that matters to them is seeing each individual with gleeful smiles on their faces by the year's end.   "We are grateful for every year. We are always full of joy,” Eustaquio stated. “Seeing each other happy, seeing everyone living a peaceful life is more than enough.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 13th, 2018

Lao hopes to join UP teammates Desiderio, Dario in the PBA

He may have taken the road less travelled, but Kyles Lao has no regrets with the path he took in his basketball career.   Opting to forego his final playing year in the UAAP, the former Xavier standout missed on a chance to be a part of the UP Fighting Maroons, which reached the Finals of the recently-concluded Season 81 cage wars and finished runner-up to defending champion Ateneo.   But rather than look on what could have been, all he feels is pride with what his alma mater was able to accomplish.   "A part of me is happy and proud na UP overcame the culture of losing and became a finalist this season," Lao said as the Fighting Maroons reached the championship round for the first time since 1986.   It doesn't mean that Lao drew the short end of the stick, too.   The UAAP Season 76 Rookie of the Year have made the most of his time away from Diliman, suiting up for AMA Online Education in the PBA D-League and Manila Stars in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), and now, will be making the biggest gamble of his career as he enters the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft.   "Instead of going back to UP, I've joined a lot of commercial leagues, MPBL and D-League which I've learned a lot from. My teammates and coaches imparted a lot of knowledge on me, on how I prepare myself and how I approach the game," said Lao at the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, Tapa King, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) at Tapa King-Cubao on Tuesday.   "I'm not saying na hindi ko siya makukuha sa UP, but it's not a bad path that I took. I have no regrets because this is where I am now," he said.   Lao is one of the 48 hopefuls who are set to infuse new blood to the 44-year-old professional league through the annual rookie draft proceedings, set on Sunday at Robinson's Midtown in Ermita, Manila.   Coming in confident on what he feels is "the best shape of his career," Lao also wouldn't mind linking it up with former UP brethrens in Paul Desiderio and Diego Dario, both of whom are also making the leap to the pros, wherever that team may be.   "Syempre, I would be happy. Being with familiar faces isn't bad in any case,” said Lao.   “I know how Paul and Diego play and within the system of any coach, I know I can jell with them easily. To be given the chance, it will be reminiscent of our UP Maroon days kung bibigyan kami ng pagkakataon," Lao added.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 12th, 2018

UAAP Finals: Matty Ice extinguishes flames of red-hot UP

Safe to say, the UAAP 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament hasn’t gone according to plan for Matt Nieto. Ateneo de Manila University’s court general, now in his fourth season, has only averaged 6.4 points, 2.5 assists, and 2.3 rebounds after playing only 11 out of 15 games. Once he went on the biggest stage and under the brightest lights of the tournament, however, the real Matt Nieto showed up. Scoring a career-high 27 points built on four triples, the heady guard keyed the Blue Eagles’ convincing victory versus the University of the Philippines in Game 1 of the Finals. He did all of that, in the face of the red-hot Fighting Maroons, who were backed by a rowdy crowd. Of course, if there’s one collegiate team which knows how to persevere through that, it’s Ateneo – and if there’s one collegiate player which knows how to persevere through that, it’s “Matty Ice.” “Yung mindset namin as a team, paglabas namin sa MOA, nakita namin yung crowd, sabi ko, ‘Hindi ba naranasan na natin ‘to,’” he shared. “Yung Jones Cup experience namin, naranasan na namin yan so sabi ko, we were overpowered by the Taiwanese (fans) when we were up against them. This is nothing new for us.” During the 2018 Jones Cup last July, the Blue Eagles flew to Taiwan to take on national and club teams from other countries. There, Nieto also hit a memorable game-winner against Chinese Taipei Blue. Since then, he has had to power through a left pinky fracture as well as dengue – injury and illness that have slowed down his current campaign. That is exactly why, now in the Finals, the 6-foot playmaker was nothing but thankful for retaining the full faith of head coach Tab Baldwin – in what has been a down season for him.  “I credit Coach Tab and my teammates for trusting me in that situation. I just want to win because I’m a competitive person and I don’t want to lose to any team,” he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 1st, 2018

UAAP: Clutch knows clutch as Cabagnot gives props to Desiderio

Without a doubt, Paul Desiderio is the most clutch player in all of the University of the Philippines. It shouldn’t be forgotten, however, that not far from him, there’s somebody who could very well out-clutch him. Only, that somebody is not a teammate. Rather, it’s Fighting Maroons assistant coach Alex Cabagnot – currently the point guard for San Miguel Beer who has been called “The Crunchman” for all his heroics throughout a 13-year playing career. That is exactly why, when State U needed a shot to make history, Cabagnot knew whose hands the ball should be in. “He hit a couple of huge shots. Actually, even before that shot, I wanted him to shoot it and we just looked at each other,” he shared, talking about Desiderio. He then continued, “He knew that I wanted him to take that. I’m blessed that he made it.” That shot the Beerman was referring to? Why, it’s just the biggest shot that has gone in for Diliman in the last 32 years. Paul Desderio delivers the final five points for UP. What a finish. #AtinToPapasokTo #UAAPSeason81 pic.twitter.com/wWlYNSG0jQ — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) Nobyembre 28, 2018 And, apparently, the shot was what it looked like – a shot made possible by UP’s team captain and UP’s team captain alone. “Walang play yun. Nasa kanya lang talaga yun. Gusto niya lang talagang akuin,” head coach Bo Perasol said, confirming that he did not call any play with his team all even with Adamson University in their knockout bout last Wednesday. He then continued, “Makapal lang talaga mukha nito. Nakita mo naman na ang dami niyang mintis before that, pero alam niya na for the win, aakuin niya talaga.” Indeed, Desiderio was 2-of-18 from the field before hitting a triple and then that midrange jumper over the outstretched arms of Sean Manganti which proved to be the game-winner. That never-give-up mentality is just the proof that he has that clutch gene. “He’s very happy-go-lucky, but when it’s crunch time, he’s assertive. That’s the only thing I could as for,” Cabagnot said. He then continued, “Hindi niya tinataguan yung bola and we don’t have to tell him to shoot or to make a stop. He just knows it.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2018

UAAP: What it feels like to be with 21,000 UP-Adamson fans in the Araneta Coliseum

After the University of the Philippines forced a do-or-die game versus Adamson University last Saturday, Paul Desiderio expressed how much he loved the support of the UP community present at the Mall of Asia Arena. To him, the cheers and the chants pumped him up for every play. When asked if Saturday's crowd was the biggest crowd he has ever played in front of, he had this to say. "Hindi pa ito, mayroon pa sa Wednesday," said the team captain. With his 'Atin 'To' promise from last season came another prophecy fulfilled from Desiderio. Come Wednesday, this time in the Araneta Coliseum, nearly 21,000 fans clad either in blue or maroon filled the coliseum to the brim. The blue side came earlier than the maroon side. At least 45 minutes before the tipoff, a jam-packed Adamson side was already belting out their signature cheers while waving their blue and white balloons. Crowd check at 2:40, around an hour before the tipoff. First photo, Adamson. Second photo, UP. #UAAPFinalFour #UAAPSeason81 pic.twitter.com/MEGxmP1S6R — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) November 28, 2018 Adamsonians' show of force 45 mins before tipoff. #UAAPSeason80 #UAAPFinalFour pic.twitter.com/dwzTJHmnJ2 — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) November 28, 2018 It was a powerful show of force from the Adamson community, which exhausted all efforts to show up for the Soaring Falcons. Classes were suspended and bus services were provided. The Adamson supporters consisted mostly of current students and youthful fans. Bright Akhuetie shared hearing those cheers while he was still in the locker room preparing for the match. "When I was in the dugout I actually asked someone if there was a game going on. Seriously, I asked, 'Who's playing out there? Are we playing after that game?' and they were like 'No, nobody's playing,' then I said 'Why are they shouting?," said the Fighting Maroon in between laughs. As the tip-off neared, the UP community composed of students, middle-aged alumni, and even senior citizens caught up and started filling their side of the coliseum. Team captain Paul Desiderio made a quick eye test of their crowd and deduced a funny observation which head coach Bo Perasol revealed after the game. "Sabi ni Paul pagbalik niya, sabi niya 'Coach talo tayo sa crowd.' Sabi ko, 'Bakit?' Sabi niya, 'Matatanda 'yung crowd natin, mga bata 'yung Adamson. Napaka-energetic, sigaw ng sigaw.' 'Eh 'yung atin?' 'Nakatunganga doon, matatanda.' Sabi ko, 'Mga alumni natin 'yan!," said Perasol beside a laughing Desiderio. "[Adamson] got kids and they hyped! They were super hyped but wow," Akhuetie added. When the game started, it was pandemonium. All game long, both jam-packed sides were screaming out loud with their cheers. There was rarely a moment that neither "UP Fight" nor "Unawakanahimo" was heard. One can literally feel the magnitude of every shot courtesy of the fans' jumping in the stands. Desiderio's observation that Adamson's crowd was more youthful can be validated by the fun gimmicks the blue-and-white supporters did during timeouts. There were times that Adamson supporters raised flashlights from their smart phones and there were also times that they would do waves around their half of the venue. The Maroons on the other hand just did the classic variations of their cheers -- the UP Fight callbacks and the U-nibersidad verse complete with actions. The usual trash talk between both sides was also present. The boos, the lutos, the iyakins were all there. The mood of the crowd was telling. Something spectacular was really about to happen. Jun Manzo's spin move and scoop shot in regulation happened. Jerom Lastimosa's game-tying triple to force an overtime happened. Then the crazy back-and-forth extra five minutes happened. Then Desiderio's jumper that provided to be marginal basket happened. The final buzzer sounded and it signalled the end of the Finals drought for the Maroons. After 32 years, UP is back in the biggest stage of the UAAP. It was UP's turn to raise their flashlights. "I saw a lot of maroon. All I saw was flashlights. Everywhere. I was like, 'Oh my God, these people, they came out ready," Akhuetie shared. The supporters who Desiderio referred to as young once screamed and jumped their hearts out. "Eh ngayon naman, tumayo din kahit matanda. Umingay na rin, namaos na rin ang mga alumni namin from the ages," Perasol narrated. Tears of joy and screams of relief were heard from the maroon side while sighs of frustration and exasperation creeped through the blue side. But everyone still went home with a warm heart and a memory of their school cheer sung by the whole coliseum. As per UAAP tradition, the UP Pep Squad Drummers played the A-D-A-M-S-O-N cheer as the whole 360-degrees of the venue joined screaming every letter and syllabication of the name of the school that just gave them the toughest yet sweetest game. UP fans pay tribute to the Adamson University after the do-or-die thriller. #UAAPFinalFour #UAAPSeason81 pic.twitter.com/IUvWQQ6ai8 — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) November 28, 2018 The Adamson Drummers paid the favor back and hit the U-nibersidad cheer as everyone regardless of color celebrated the victory of a history-seeking team. Adamson University's turn to sing U-nibersidad after the close game. #UAAPFinalFour #UAAPSeason81 pic.twitter.com/vFD73yIvLy — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) November 28, 2018 It was sportsmanship at its finest.  After the high of that instant classic match, one thing is for sure -- UP and Adamson just gave the fans the most complete UAAP basketball experience. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @the9cruz.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2018

ONE Championship Chairman Chatri Sityodtong all praise for Filipino champions Vera, Folayang, and Team Lakay

For the fourth time in 2018, ONE Championship came to Manila and delivered another exciting night of martial arts action. ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS, which was held last 23 November at the Mall of Asia Arena was another one for the books as the event saw two Filipino stars walk out with world championship belts. In the co-main event, Team Lakay star Eduard “Landslide” Folayang achieved history by becoming a two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion with his win over Singapore’s Amir Khan. The main event saw the triumphant return of ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera as he smashed Italian challenger Mauro “The Hammer” Cerilli in just 64 seconds to retain his title. It was one of the biggest nights in Filipino mixed martial arts, and ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong had nothing but praise for the night’s biggest winners. “Congratulations to Eduard Landslide Folayang on becoming the ONE Lightweight World Champion again! You inspire all of us with your courageous journey of overcoming adversity, defeating odds, and chasing dreams,” Sityodtong said on Facebook. Sityodtong has long been one of Folayang’s biggest believers, and was confident that the Filipino hero would reclaim his spot at the top of the division, even after losing to Martin Nguyen a year ago. “It was truly the best Eduard Folayang that I have seen in the almost 10 years we have known each other. You proved all of the doubters, haters, and naysayers wrong. I remember vividly how some idiot journalists were calling for your retirement exactly a year ago after you lost the belt,” Sityodtong continued. ONE Championship’s head honcho also had some kind words to say about Vera and Cerilli as well. “Congratulations to my bro Brandon Vera on another magnificent, flawless performance! Mauro Cerilli is a dangerous champion with monster KO power, and Brandon made it look easy.” “I was equally impressed by how gracious and humble you were to Mauro after your victory. I am proud to call you our ONE Heavyweight World Champion because you embody everything that is beautiful about martial arts,” he added. At the end of the night, the Philippines had control of five of ONE Championship’s eleven mixed martial arts world championships. Of those five, four were held by members of famed Benguet-based stable Team Lakay. Because of this dominance, Sityodtong went as far as calling the Filipino stable the best in the world. “I would also like to congratulate my good friend, Mark Sangiao, for building the greatest team in martial arts in the world! There is no question that Team Lakay is the #1 team in the world,” he proclaimed. “They have achieved so much on the world stage with so little. With a humble little gym in Baguio, Team Lakay has toppled some of the greatest teams and athletes in the world through its passion, tenacity, excellence, and humility.” “Thank you for showing the world that nothing is impossible and for exemplifying the true meaning of martial arts,” he concluded......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 27th, 2018

UAAP: Juan GDL: I didn t want this to be Paul s last game

Paul Desiderio’s tough, tough jumper put the University of the Philippines up by two on Adamson University with 5.5 ticks to go on the clock in their Final Four match-up on Saturday. Paul Desiderio has clutch in his veins. #UAAPSeason81 pic.twitter.com/HAo0SeN7kJ — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) Nobyembre 24, 2018 It looked like the Fighting Maroons’ team captain had another “Atin ‘to, papasok ‘to” moment right then and there. And so, Juan Gomez de Liano was right then and there to give him a huge hug. Of course, that didn’t prove to be the game-winner as State U needed a beautifully executed play for Bright Akhuetie to get its first playoff win since 1997. Whatever it was, there was no doubt several UP players turned in one of their best games to make it happen for their squad. In the end, Akhuetie had six points, the last two of which was the biggest shot of his career, to go along with 14 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Desiderio and Juan GDL then chipped in 19 markers each. Without a doubt, Juan GDL said they were giving it all for team captain Desiderio. “I just didn’t want this to be his last game,” he said. And that also goes for the rest of their graduating players – Diego Dario, Jarrell Lim, and Gelo Vito. “Not just him, but all our seniors,” he also added. Indeed, the Fighting Maroons proved just that and powered their way just one win from the Finals. “Now we’re here, we’re gonna make the most out of it. Our confidence just keeps getting higher,” he said. He then continued, “On to the next one still.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 24th, 2018