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BLOGTABLE: What are you looking forward to in 2018?

NBA.com blogtable What one thing are you most eager to see in 2018? * * * Steve Aschburner: More competitive playoff series than we got a year ago and, most of all, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers really being pushed to the wall in at least one round each. I think last year’s hunger for The Rubber-Match Finals made us accept without too much grumbling the relative breezes both Golden State and Cleveland had through the April and May portions of the postseason. But seeing some new blood, however unlikely, would be fine, maybe even welcome, this time around. That requires some fine team on either side -- Toronto, Washington, Boston out East, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City to the West -- mustering a serious challenge. And, allowing for an injury or suspension or whatever, maybe pulling off something more notable than that. We can always find context and storylines for The Finals, if we get a bit of freshness dialed in. Shaun Powell: I'm eager to see the playoffs and if someone can come along and disrupt another Golden State Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers matchup in June. Because nobody is creating much doubt as of yet. The team that's coming the closest is the Houston Rockets but they have three people who have underperformed in the playoffs: Mike D'Antoni, Chris Paul and James Harden. There's always the San Antonio Spurs, yet they seem a star shy. And in the East, the Boston Celtics of 2019 stand a better chance and the rest ... meh. Which means, I'm most eager to see Warriors-Cavs in June. John Schuhmann: I want to see what will happen with the Thunder, both on and off the floor. Can they continue to make progress offensively and if they do, will that encourage Sam Presti to keep the group together through the trade deadline? Or will the threat of Paul George leaving in free agency (and the long odds at beating the Warriors) force Presti to see what he can get for George by Feb. 8? Is it a guarantee that Carmelo Anthony will decline his early termination option this summer and stay under contract for another year? Do other stars want to play with Russell Westbrook? Sekou Smith: As much fun as the trade deadline can be in a given year, I have to admit that the free agent summer has me daydreaming about the chaos that a couple of moves could cause. Of course, LeBron James could turn the basketball world upside down if he were to decide to take his talents elsewhere (I'm not suggesting he should or I even think he will, I'm only thinking about the seismic activity it would cause). What happens with Paul George is also another potential game-changer for several teams around the league. That said, it's the great unknown that most intrigues me about 2018. None of us saw the Kyrie Irving trade request coming or the Chris Paul-to-Houston move coming. Things like the Draft and trade deadline offer a season of speculation that usually centers on name players we know will be involved in the process. It's the moves we don't see coming, the things we cannot forecast, that produce the best drama......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 4th, 2018

Ricci s sole focus now is Gilas Pilipinas

After leaving De La Salle University, high-flying Ricci Rivero is practically a free agent. He's not in a rush to find a new school though. Ricci is taking his time. For now, his sole focus is with the Philippine national team, which is one item off his bucket list. Rivero will team up with the returning Kobe Paras to lead Gilas Pilipinas' youth brigade this year, starting with the 2018 Filoil Flying V Premier Preseason Cup. "I'm so excited nga kasi I wasn't able to play last time for the U-18 team," Ricci said. "Now syempre, I left La Salle, and then I don't know yet where I'm going so I told my parents na I want to focus on Gilas first, kasi it's my dream talaga to play for the national team," he added. Gilas Pilipinas will first see action on Saturday against Thirdy Ravena and his UAAP Champion Blue Eagles. Kobe, Ricci, and Thirdy in one game shoule be must see. In fact, Rivero says all Gilas games will be must see. "I'm so excited kasi I'm gona play again with Kobe," Rivero said. "Syempre, who doesn't want Kobe back di ba? Everyone's looking forward to watching our games kasi nga Kobe is going back," he added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News18 hr. 17 min. ago

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

Report: Curry targeting return in Western Conference semis

NBA.com staff report The Golden State Warriors' playoff quest for another championship is starting without star guard Stephen Curry. He's on the mend from from his Grade 2 MCL sprain suffered in late March and, based on a new report, is hoping to return in the Western Conference semifinals. Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania reports that Curry is expecting to return to the Warriors' lineup at some point in the Western Conference semifinals. The Warriors open their 2018 playoff run on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1. Warriors star Stephen Curry (sprained MCL) is targeting expected return at some point in the Western Conference semifinals, league sources told Yahoo. Curry has three-week evaluation on Saturday. — Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 13, 2018 During a 117-100 romp against the Phoenix Suns on April 8 (April 9, PHL time), Curry joined the Warriors' broadcast team mid-game to provide an update on how his rehab work from his MCL sprain is going. The injury, which Curry suffered on March 23 (Mar. 24, PHL time), has kept him out of the lineup since then. However, Curry is happy with the progress he's seen in his injury since suffering it. “I haven’t had any setbacks,” Curry told the Warriors' broadcast crew. “So that’s the positive, every day has been something good, advancing the rehab process. I’m looking forward to making more progress as we get towards the playoffs.” “It’s been an interesting two weeks so far,” Curry said during the 20-minute interview. “Just trying to get some rhythm, some strength back, some flexibility, range of motion, all that type of stuff." Curry was officially ruled out for at least three weeks after the latest injury. This season, Curry played in 51 games, averaging 26.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

Charlotte Hornets relieve Steve Clifford of coaching duties

Charlotte Hornets press release Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today that the team has relieved Steve Clifford of his head coaching duties. NEWS: The @hornets have relieved Head Coach Steve Clifford of his head coaching duties. — Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) April 13, 2018 “I want to thank Coach Clifford for his contributions to the Hornets,” said Kupchak. “I know he has worked incredibly hard on behalf of the organization and we wish him the best moving forward. The search for a new coach will begin immediately.” Clifford was named Charlotte head coach on May 29, 2013. He finished with a regular-season record of 196-214 (.478 winning percentage). Charlotte qualified for the NBA Playoffs in 2013 and 2016. The Hornets finished the 2017-18 campaign with a 36-46 record......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 13th, 2018

Eight NBA Playoffs storylines to watch

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Suddenly, we’re not quite as certain that Warriors-Cavs, Part IV, Sure to be Way Better than “Jaws: The Revenge” and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”, is going to make air, are we? The 2018 playoffs are just about here, and Stephen Curry isn’t, and Kyrie Irving won’t be, and Joel Embiid might be, and Jimmy Butler will be -- if his team is, that is. And both conference champions from a year ago are equally unsettled going into the postseason, for different reasons. The Golden State Warriors are banged up, while the Cleveland Cavaliers are brand new. Golden State hasn’t looked like an offensive leviathan, while Cleveland has been one of the league’s worst defenses. And, most importantly, each has legit challengers this year in Houston and Toronto in its respective conferences -- deep, tough, elite defensively, hard to stop offensively, and tempered/hardened/driven by recent playoff failures. Which should make late May and early June even more compelling than normal. At the least, we’ll have the Warriors going for three rings in four years, and LeBron James going for an eighth straight Finals appearance -- each representing something special. The postseason, then, should provide some theatre that Meryl Streep will drop what she’s doing to watch. Among the biggest storylines: 1. The Hinkie Referendum, Passed The Philadelphia 76ers’ scintillating run to end the regular season sets up them for a glorious postseason run, that will finalize a season in which the decisions by former GM Sam Hinkie -- the successful ones, anyway -- are rightly celebrated. (The failures of Jahlil Okafor and Michael Carter-Williams to fire as stars after Hinkie took each high in the first round are not only not ignored by Hinkie’s biggest supporters, they are cited as proof that he had to do what he did for as long as he did, because you’re going to have some misses at the top of the Draft. God, I love Hinkie Stans.) It says here that a healthy Joel Embiid and an exponentially improving Ben Simmons are the one team that can give LeBron’s Cavs true night sweats in the Kyrie-less east playoffs. Embiid is a problem for any team, but especially for the defensively indifferent and ineffective Cavaliers, who have no one remotely capable of keeping “The Process” from running wild. Since New Year’s Day, only Curry (120.4), Chris Paul (116.1) and Jamal Murray (114.7) have better Offensive Ratings among point guards than Simmons’s 113.9, per NBA.com/Stats. Who, from among George Hill (6'3"), Jose Calderon (6'1"), Jordan Clarkson (6'5") and J.R. Smith (6'5") is Cavs coach Tyronn Lue going to put on the 6'10" Simmons? Yes, Lue could try James on Simmons, who is no threat to shoot from deep or run through a maze of pindowns. But that doesn’t make him any easier to slow down. No matter who Philly plays in the postseason, the Sixers are going to be a problem. 2. Indiana George and the Tempo of Doom It’s taken the Oklahoma City Thunder much longer than any of us thought, but OKC is a win from the postseason (even if the Thunder can’t beat the Heat in Miami tonight, the Cancun-bound Memphis Grizzlies will be in Oklahoma City Wednesday). And that’s when Paul George will determine whether his future is in the 405 or elsewhere. The Thunder’s up-and-down regular season doesn’t provide much clue to how far they could go in the playoffs, thought OKC looked formidable in ending the Rockets’ 20-game home win streak Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). It was a game that featured Russell Westbrook successfully taking on the challenge of defending James Harden down the stretch. When Oklahoma City plays with pace and gets up and down the floor, it can beat anyone. The Thunder will likely have to take down an elite unit like Houston at some point in the playoffs to convince George to stay. 3. A Series of Fortunate Events With Irving’s injury, the Washington Wizards’ failure to launch and other maladies to Eastern Conference contenders, the Cavaliers have an increasingly clear path back to The Finals. Doing this is best way to keep LeBron: The Sequel in town for an extended run, but the proof will be in the doing, of course. Cleveland will need Larry Nance, Jr., Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson to perform under playoff pressure, which Nance and Clarkson have never had to do and Hood did briefly in the 2017 playoffs with the Utah Jazz. 4. She packed my bags last night, pre-flight/Zero Hour, 9 a.m The Rockets have been the best team in the league most of this season -- an offensive and defensive juggernaut, the logical extension at both ends of the floor of the standards the Warriors set the last few seasons. James Harden will likely walk away with Kia MVP honors after the season and Chris Paul has been everything Houston hoped he’d be. But Houston must finish the deal with a championship to make its own mark. 5. Jurassic Park Everything is set up for Toronto, as well -- the Raptors have the Eastern Conference’s best record and are tied with Houston for the best home record (34-7) in the league. They have home court until The Finals. Their two lynchpins, All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, are healthy. They’ve diversified their offense and learned to love the 3-pointer. They’re back to guarding at an elite level. The East is laid out open for a Toronto run to The Finals. There’s no excuse for the Raps not to. 6. ‘Brow’, Beating We don’t know for sure that the New Orleans Pelicans will make the playoffs. As of this writing, they haven’t clinched yet, although beating the Warriors in Oakland on Saturday went a long way toward their getting to the postseason. But assuming New Orleans is playing next weekend, its success in the playoffs can only help the franchise as it recovers from the recent death of former owner Tom Benson. “The Brow” (aka Anthony Davis) may have got us on April Fool’s Day, but the next couple of weeks will be dead serious. What if the Pelicans manage a first-round upset? Don’t say it’s not possible with the way Davis is playing. That would go an awful long way to quieting the “How the Boston Celtics Will Get Anthony Davis in 2020, Vol. MCMLXXXVII” hot takes. 7.  The Boston Medical Group The Celtics as imagined played exactly five minutes together this season. Everything that’s transpired since has been wrapped in gauze and sutured shut. Kyrie Irving’s latest knee procedure has everyone hopping off the Celtics’ postseason bandwagon -- a mistake, unless coach Brad Stevens pulls a hammy before Game 1 in the first round. Stevens has coached up whatever 12 guys are active pretty damn well since he’s come to the NBA, and he’ll still have a lot to work with in the playoffs: Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier (the Celtics hope they can get Marcus Smart back after the first round). The bigger issue, of course, is Irving’s health going forward -- and into next season, after which he can opt out of the last year of his deal and become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. The current belief in Boston is that Irving’s knee -- the cartilage, ligaments, tendons and bones -- is sound and that he’ll have no long-term issues with it. But Irving and the team thought taking out the tension wire that had helped heal his broken patella after his 2015 surgery would do the trick. It didn’t.   There should be no doubt Boston will be all in on Irving. But after missing these playoffs after going out in Game 1 of the Finals in ’15, Irving will again have to show he’s able to handle a season-long campaign and still be able to bring his best to the postseason. 8. Bah Gawd, That’s Kawhi Leonard’s Music! We have all worked on the assumption that Leonard isn’t going to play for the Spurs any more this season as he rehabs his quad injury, even though they’ve never quite actually said he’s out for the year -- and he, as per usual, has said next to nothing. The Spurs have ridden LaMarcus Aldridge’s All-NBA-level season to the cusp of the playoffs, but no one has much expectation they’ll be there very long if they make it without their former Finals MVP. “Do I have any expectation I’ll see Kawhi?,” Danny Green said a week ago, repeating my question to him. “As of right now, my mindset is no. I’m just going to forward without him … if he does come back, great. Our mindset is this is the group we have today, this is the group we’ll have tomorrow. If somebody does come and join, we’ll have them and it’ll be great. But right now we’re moving forward with the expectation that this is who we have.” But, it’s not like we haven’t seen guys come back suddenly for the playoffs after missing large chunks of a season. A fellow named Michael Jordan played just 18 regular season games in his second season with the Bulls in 1986, recovering from a foot injury and not returning to the lineup until mid-March. True, he did get 15 games under his belt before the playoffs. But that did not prepare anyone for his showing up in Boston Garden in Game 2 of the first round against the Celtics and dropping 63 on the home team. There are, to be sure, issues between Leonard and the Spurs, and maybe they’re insurmountable. But if, somehow, “The Klaw” wakes up one morning this month and says he’s good to go, and reports for duty … who doesn’t think San Antonio can’t start assimilating opponents into its collective just like old times? Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2018

Lo Domingo’s breakout reminds us that Alab is deepest team in ABL

HO CHI MINH, VIETNAM – Alab Pilipinas put away Saigon last Saturday at the CIS Arena, finishing off a quarterfinals sweep that sends them back into the Final Four. Facing the tough, tough Heat and their rowdy, rowdy crowd, the Filipinos needed to play their best to come out on top. They did just that as Renaldo Balkman and Justin Brownlee both did their thing, Ray Parks Jr. and Josh Urbiztondo provided support, and even Pao Javelona and Pamboy Raymundo delivered contributions of their own. The star of Game 2, though, was sixth man Lo Domingo who had 21 points, six rebounds, and three assists in 25 minutes of action – bar none, his best game in the season. Lawrence Domingo escapes his defender for the JAM! #ABL8Playoffs pic.twitter.com/EkhVNhLEfa — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) Abril 7, 2018 It was also his thunderous throwdown that ignited the 10-2 blast that boosted the Philippines ahead for good. Asked about it post-game, he answered, “That dunk, I was kind of really bouncy in warmups. I had the lane there and that gave me a chance to do it so I did.” The six-foot-five forward would only continue his strong play from there, outmuscling the likes of Maxie Esho, David Arnold, and Moses Morgan and having his way inside. For head coach Jimmy Alapag, Domingo’s breakout was yet another proof that hard work pays off. “He’s been great for us for a while now and it’s great to see a young kid come in and work hard every day. It’s great see him reap the rewards of his hard work,” he said. For the Filipino-American from New Mexico, his breakout was just him doing anything and everything to help his team win. “I was just being patient, knowing that my time is gonna come. It’s already come now that it’s the playoffs,” he said. He then continued, “I feel like I’ve been playing hard all year and this is just something that comes from playing hard. In the end, I’m just gonna do whatever my team needs me to do.” With Domingo, Balkman, Brownlee, Parks Jr., Urbiztondo, Javelona, and Raymundo all on-point, Alab is indeed proving Heat point guard Akeem Scott’s statement that “they have a deep bench and it’s hard to beat a team like that.” They are going to need to keep proving that if they are to go through defending champion Hong Kong in the semifinals and then a Finals battle up against whoever among top-seed Chong Son of China, upstart Mono of Thailand, or rival Singapore. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 8th, 2018

Ex-Falcons Tyrus Hill, Kurt Lojera to DLSU?

De La Salle University may have lost Ricci Rivero, but it looks like the Green Archers are already gearing up for an upcoming rebuild. Former Adamson Soaring Falcon Tyrus Hill raised speculation online about his apparent transfer to Taft after a photo of him, and fellow Filipino-American Kurt Lojera surfaced wearing DLSU shirts was posted by a La Salle supporters group Twitter account, and was confirmed by Matthew Li of Tiebreaker Times.  😁 pic.twitter.com/P6czGHWpOV — GoArchers Sports (@GoArchers) April 7, 2018 Adamson assistant coach and former DLSU Green Archer Don Allado Tweeted a statement that may hint to the cagers' upcoming move. It's okay if you want to leave. You know what's best for you. However there is a proper way to do it. Never burn bridges not worth burning. — Don C Allado (@alotofDON) April 3, 2018 Hill, an ultra-athletic forward known for his highlight reel dunks, spent one year in the UAAP as a key piece in Adamson's Final Four run in season 80.  The 6'5" wingman normed 4.4 points, 2.9 rebounds in a shade over 13 minutes during his lone year with Adamson. Lojera, a 6'1" guard, had per-game stats of 4.9 points, 2.5 rebounds in 15.5 minutes. If they do complete the move, they both will have two playing years left, and will be eligible to suit up for La Salle as soon as Season 82. Earlier last month, guard Jordan Bartlett moved from the NU Bulldogs to DLSU.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 7th, 2018

Meet the Malditas: See who’s wearing the Philippines’ colors at the Women’s AFC Asian Cup in Jordan

As the Philippine Women’s National Team begins their quest for a first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup berth by going through the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, we thought it would be proper to get to know at least a bit about the 23 ladies that will be representing the country in Amman, Jordan.   Patrice Impelido - Captain/Midfielder Captaining the Malditas will be 30-year old Patrice Impelido. The Sydney, Australia-born midfielder played collegiate football in Western Michigan and had her first call-up to the national squad in 2005, and has appeared in 28 matches for the country.   Tahnai Annis - Co-Captain/Midfielder Tahnai Annis will be sharing captain duties with Impelido as they try to lead the Malditas to a 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup berth. The 28-year old Annis played for the University of Florida in college and played professionally in Iceland for Thor.   Inna Palacios - Goalkeeper A familiar name among UAAP women’s football fans, Inna Palacios was the defensive anchor for the DLSU women’s football team from 2013 to 2017. A two-time UAAP Beast Goalkeeper, Palacios ended her UAAP career on the highest of high notes: with UAAP championship and her lone collegiate goal. GOAL DLSU! Palacios seals the match for La Salle! #UAAPSeason79 pic.twitter.com/vblv7OmaLC — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) May 7, 2017 Palacios made her women’s national team debut back in 2012.   Kearra Bastes-Jones - Goalkeeper Kearra Bastes-Jones is a junior out of Bishop Amat High School in California, and was recently named to the 2018 San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, Whittier Daily News Girls Soccer All-Area First Team.   Stacey Cavill - Goalkeeper 24-year old Fil-Aussie Stacey Cavill plays for the Perth-based Beckenham Angels, and played for Northern University in the collegiate ranks. The six-foot-tall keeper has been playing football since the tender age of 5.   Claire Lim - Defender 21-year old Claire Lim is currently a senior in UC Santa Cruz, where she’s also the captain of the Women’s Soccer team. Based in Piedmont, California, Lim was a decorated football player during her time in Piedmont High, before becoming a two-time Defender of the Year in College.   Alesa Dolino - Defender Another homegrown talent from the UAAP ranks, Alesa Dolino is a decorated product of the FEU system, instrumental in helping the Lady Tamaraws to a three-peat. In UAAP Season 77, Dolino capped off a magical season with a championship, an MVP trophy, as well as Best Defender and Best Striker honors.    Krystal De Ramos - Midfielder Also a decorated player during her youth career, US-based Filipina Krystal de Ramos was named to a number of all-tournament teams as well as earning a handful of championships and MVP honors. The 21-year old is currently a member of the Portland State University women’s football team. She made her National Team debut back in 2016 and has appeared in three matches for the Philippines.   Hali Long - Defender   23-year old Hali Long was a pivotal part in the Malditas’ AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers run, scoring four of her five international goals in just two matches. The Missouri-based Fil-American played her college career for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, playing four seasons with the Trojans.   Morgan Brown - Defender A defensive ace during her high school days, Morgan Brown made her international football debut back in 2013 as part of the 2014 Asian Cup qualifiers squad. The same year, Brown was one of the top women’s football recruits at the Santa Clara University in California.   Cam Rodriguez - Striker A star striker for the Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles back in her college days, Cam Rodriguez earned Best Striker honors in UAAP Season 77 and Mythical XI honors in her senior year. In 2011, at just 14 years old, Rodriguez made her National Team debut and scored her first goal in the AFF Women’s Championships. In 2017, after taking time off to focus on her education, Rodriguez returned to the National Team in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.   Marisa Park - Midfielder Wake Forest University product Marisa Park helped lead her Demon Deacons to the ACC Championship in 2010, in the same year that she was named as part of the ACC All-Tournament team. The 26-year old made her Malditas debut back in 2013 for the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers.   Jesse Shugg - Forward Fil-Canadian Jesse Shugg finished her collegiate career in the University of Miami, before making her professional debut for KW United in the USL W-League in Canada. Shugg is currently signed to Icelandic club Fylkir. The 25-year old has appeared for the Philippine Women’s National Team eight times since her international debut back in 2014.   Caitlyn Kreutz - Forward California native Caitlyn Kreutz has left an impact in every level she’s played on. From gathering individual honors in High School to earning All-Tournament teams in her two years with Cal Poly, the 21-year old is now wrapping her collegiate career up at UNLV, where she’s started in all 20 matches she’s played so far. Kreutz made her Malditas debut back in 2016 as part of the AFF Championships squad.   Ryley Bugay - Midfielder Currently a junior at Marquette University, Ryley Bugay led her Golden Eagles Women’s Soccer team in minutes played, also earning Defensive MVP honors on the Marquette Invitational Team. Her younger sister Sammi has also recently signed with Marquette.   Leah Larot - Forward A graduate of Sacramento State University, Leah Larot capped off her senior season with an All-Conference First Team nod, as well as the Golden Boot after scoring ten goals in the season.   Sara Castañeda - Midfielder A UAAP Rookie of the Year, Best Midfielder and UAAP Champion, Sara Castañeda was one of the integral parts of the Lady Archers’ championship run in UAAP Season 79 and established herself as a key player for DLSU in just her sophomore season. The 21-year old has also had stints in the U-16 and U-19 teams before making her senior National Team debut back in 2015.   Alexa Diaz - Defender Washington-based Alexa Diaz played collegiate football for Seattle Pacific University. The 24-year old made her Malditas debut in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games.   Calah Simarago - Defender 22-year old Cali-based Calah Simarago is a senior at UC Santa Barbara, where she plays for the Gauchos Women’s Soccer team.   Quinley Quezada - Midfielder Rosemead, California’s Quinley Quezada is currently a junior at UC Riverside and is coming off a 2017 season that saw her start in 17 of 20 matches played. Quezada becomes the first member of the UC Riverside Women’s Soccer program history to be called up to a senior World Cup Qualifying roster.   Jessica Miclat - Midfielder 19- year old UC Irvine sophomore Jessica Miclat is one of the youngest players on the team, but has a ton of experience under her belt, having been part of the USA U-18 training camp, as well as training stints with the Philippine U-16 and U-19 teams.   Chalise Baysa - Defender The most senior member of the team, 37-year old Chalise Baysa played her collegiate career at the University of Oregon, where she’s in the history books as the third all-time leading scorer with 31 goals. In the professional ranks, Baysa played for the Seattle Sounders Women. She made her Philippine Team debut back in 2013.   Sarina Bolden - Midfielder 22-year old Sarina Bolden is a junior at Loyola Marymount University, where as a sophomore, she was one of five players to start in all 19 matches. The Milipitas native led LMU with six goals in 2016    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 6th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Which non-playoff team has brightest future?

NBA.com blogtable Which team missing out on the playoffs this season has the brightest future, looking ahead to next season? +++ Steve Aschburner: Got to go with the Lakers, both for the talent they already have on board and the free agents they’re positioned to woo this summer. Frankly, one of their biggest challenges may be sorting out what they have vs. what they want, because the core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle and Lonzo Ball could develop nicely on its own merits. But Magic Johnson isn’t going to dawdle. Tas Melas: The Lakers. Their young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Julius Randle have been playing well beyond their years. For such a young bunch to rank 12th defensively is very impressive (as my man John Schuhmann details with some stats below). Regardless if a superstar joins them via free agency, I’m most excited about the ceiling of their young players over any other lottery team because three of the guys I mentioned are rookies, and Ingram’s only a second-year guy. They do not look, behave, or play that green. Shaun Powell: It's the Lakers, and by a landslide if they enjoy the offseason of their dreams. They're just set up to rebound better than the other teams, with money to spend, a dollop of young stars on rookie contracts and a guy in the front office (Magic Johnson) who happens to be a winner in all things basketball. We all know who they're chasing, and if the Lakers do hit bull's-eye this summer in free agency and/or through trades, they'll be a title contender. John Schuhmann: The Lakers. They already have four good young players on rookie contracts on their roster. Brandon Ingram showed some serious improvement with his offensive game in his second year, Kyle Kuzma is an all-around talent, and while Lonzo Ball can't shoot, he's been the rare rookie guard who makes an impact defensively. If the Lakers lose Julius Randle in free agency, it's probably because they got an upgrade. The Lakers have been the league's most improved defensive team this season (having allowed five fewer points per 100 possessions than they did last season), and have been the league's most improved offensive teams since the All-Star break (having scored 5.8 more points per 100 possessions than they did before the break). They've taken real steps forward already and have something to build on. Sekou Smith: The Los Angeles Lakers possess the best combination of young, developing talent and salary cap flexibility heading into what could be a wild free-agent summer. The Lakers still have to sort out some internal issues (Isaiah Thomas and his future being the most glaring) and decide which of their young core pieces are keepers (Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, once thought to be, clearly were not). But we've seen enough from Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball to know that the Lakers have plenty of talent to work with moving forward. If they make any sort of splash in free agency, go ahead and place the Lakers on your playoff fast track for next season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 5th, 2018

Volvo Cars more affordable under TRAIN program

Volvo Philippines, the local authorized distributor and dealer of Volvo cars in the country, has lowered the prices of 2018 models in accordance to the government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN). “We look forward to the advantages that the new tax reform program will bring. This new tax scheme allows us to price [...] The post Volvo Cars more affordable under TRAIN program appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsApr 3rd, 2018

PBA: Heruela and San Miguel s bench starting to roll in these Finals

After an embarrassing one-point performance in Game 1, San Miguel's second unit is starting to come alive in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Finals. The Beermen's reserve crew submitted their best outing in Game 3 Sunday, sparking a huge fourth-quarter effort as the three-time champs took over the Finals with a convincing 111-87 win over Magnolia. In particular, Gabby Espinas and Brian Heruela were notable for the champs, giving the Beermen more than enough cushion to rest their starters as the win as secured with time to spare. Heruela fired 11 points in 22 minutes and eight of them came in the blistering fourth-quarter performance where San Miguel outscored Magnolia, 36-19. "We're just trying to bring the energy up, the intensity, give our first group a good rest," Heruela said. "Get some stops, that's the most important thing for us is defensively, we have to make stops and execute. Coach has been preaching that over and over again, we have to make stops and then execute our plays to give ourselves a chance," he added. As for Espinas, the veteran forward scored nine points, seven in the second quarter, helping the Beermen not lose ground as Magnolia made a run to end the opening half. As the bench starts to get rolling in these Finals, Gabby says it's just keeping it up all the way to the title. "Pag nakaka-produce kami sa opensa, nakaka-depensa kami, mas humahaba yung pahinga nung first group namin eh. Kailangan ma-maintain lang namin yun. Minsan talaga ang hirap lalo pag championship, ang hirap maka-bwelo eh," he said. Even with sparing minutes, Espinas says it's key to always be ready for when head coach Leo Austria digs deep from his bench. "Yun talaga ang pinakamahirap kasi minsan papawisan ka pa lang, alam mo naman s coach, bigla ka na ilalabas. Pero part of the job na lang siguro kasi gusto namin pare-parehas manalo," Espinas said.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 1st, 2018

PBA: Rested June Mar only means more problems for Magnolia

As if Magnolia doesn't have enough problems to deal with in the 2018 PBA Finals, the Hotshots will now face an extra fresh June Mar Fajardo in Game 4 of the series come Wednesday. Magnolia was smashed anew in Game 3 Sunday, taking an 87-111 beating to surrender series lead. While the Beermen's bench took the spotlight especially in the fourth quarter, lost in all of it was June Mar's 21 points and 17 rebounds in just 33 minutes. The Kraken didn't play in the final 12 minutes as San Miguel's reserve crew, and Marcio Lassiter, took care of the win. "Maganda kasi yung nilaro ng second group namin," Fajardo said. "So nabigyan nila kami ng pahinga. Credit talaga sa mga teammates ko, nag-step up talaga sila kaya nakapag-pahinga kami," he added. After leading by at least 20 points in each of the three games, June Mar says it's key for San Miguel to stay focused moving forward. The Beermen are two wins away from a four-peat and now is not the time to let up. "Sana maging focused ulit kami, hindi kami maging kampante sa next game namin kasi for sure, yung kabila, bibigay nila 'yung best talaga nila para manalo," he said. "So ganoon din kami. Gusto nila manalo ng championship, kami din gusto din namin," Fajardo added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 1st, 2018

Brownlee, Balkman help Alab get its first-ever playoff win

History was made on Sunday inside the Filoil Flying V Centre. Getting the better of Saigon, 110-100, in the quarterfinals opener of the 2017-2018 Asean Basketball League, Alab Pilipinas scored its first playoff win in its two years of existence. San Miguel @AlabPilipinas 🇵🇭 claim their first playoff win in franchise history with a win over @SaigonHeat 🇻🇳 110-100.#ABL8Playoffs#MakeHistory pic.twitter.com/BzMCWgEon1 — ABL (@aseanbasketball) Abril 1, 2018 The Filipinos made the playoffs in their maiden campaign a year ago, but got swept in the best-of-three series. Now, they raise their post-eliminations record to 1-2. For American reinforcement Justin Brownlee, the win was special – even though he was a little late in fully grasping its significance. Told that he had just helped the new Philippine representatives to their first-ever playoff win, he reacted, “That was the first-ever? Oh wow!” He then continued, “It’s special, man. It always feels great to be the first to be able to do something.” And one win away from winning their first-ever playoff series, Brownlee said this is just the start for them. “This just shows the character of this team. Hopefully, there’s gonna be a lot more playoff wins in the near future,” he said. Indeed, Puerto Rican reinforcement Renaldo Balkman also said this is far from the end for Alab. As he put it, “It’s a great win tonight, but we gotta take care of business on Saturday so we keep moving forward.” Even Ray Parks Jr., who has been with the squad for both of its two seasons, wasn’t celebrating just yet. “It feels great, but we have to continue to grow. We can’t overlook our opponent because they’re a great team and they got firepower,” he said. That is exactly why, even after the 10-point margin of victory, head coach Jimmy Alapag vowed that his wards will be much more determined and disciplined in Game 2 next Saturday at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. “I’m happy we won, but from an effort standpoint, we were far from the sharpest we could be,” he said. He then continued, “That’s on me. We will prepare better for (the next game).” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 1st, 2018

Bledsoe drops 39 as Bucks slip past Lakers in OT

Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe (6) shoots as Los Angeles Lakers forward Josh Hart (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles Friday, March 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) LO.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsApr 1st, 2018

2018 MLB preview: NL East

By The Associated Press Capsules of National League East teams, listed in order of finish last year: ___ Washington Nationals 2017: 97-65, first place, lost to Cubs in NLDS. Manager: Dave Martinez (first season). He's Here: 1B-OF Matt Adams, C Miguel Montero, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Joaquin Benoit, INF Matt Reynolds. He's Outta Here: Manager Dusty Baker, LF Jayson Werth, 1B-LF Adam Lind, C Jose Lobaton, RHP Matt Albers. Projected Lineup: SS Trea Turner (.284, 11 HRs, 45 RBIs, 46 SBs in 98 games), LF Adam Eaton (.297, 2, 13 in 23 games), RF Bryce Harper (.319, 29, 87), 3B Anthony Rendon (.301, 25, 100, 41 2Bs), 2B Daniel Murphy (.322, 23, 93, 43 2Bs, expected to begin season on DL recovering from knee surgery), 1B Ryan Zimmerman (.303, 36, 108, 33 2Bs), CF Michael A. Taylor (.271, 19, 53), C Matt Wieters (.225, 10, 52). Rotation: RH Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.51 ERA, NL-high 268 Ks, 200 2/3 IP, 3rd Cy Young Award), RH Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52, 204 Ks), LH Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96, 79 walks), RH Tanner Roark (13-11, 4.67), RH A.J. Cole (3-5, 3.81 in 11 appearances) or RH Jeremy Hellickson (8-11, 5.43 with Phillies and Orioles). Key Relievers: LH Sean Doolittle (2-0, 2.81, 24/26 saves with Athletics and Nationals), RH Ryan Madson (5-4, 1.83, 2 saves with Athletics and Nationals), RH Brandon Kintzler (4-3, 3.03, 29/35 saves with Twins and Nationals), LH Sammy Solis (1-0, 5.88, 1 save), RH Shawn Kelley (3-2, 7.27, 4 saves), RH Joaquin Benoit (1-6, 4.65, 2 saves with Phillies and Pirates). Hot Spots: Fifth Starter and Catcher. The Nationals have as good a 1-2 combination at the front of their rotation as anyone in the big leagues, with Scherzer and Strasburg. Their 3-4 slots aren't too shabby, either, with Gonzalez and Roark. But the big question is, who will be the fifth starter — the inexperienced Cole or late free-agent pickup Hellickson? The only other spot with some real doubts is catcher, where Wieters is coming off a terrible year at the plate. Outlook: This might very well be the end of an era at Nationals Park, with Harper eligible to leave as a free agent after the season and GM Mike Rizzo's contract set to expire, too. The team has won four NL East titles in the past six years but has zero playoff series wins to show for it. That's why yet another manager (Baker) lost his job, and yet another rookie skipper has been brought in (will Martinez have more success than Matt Williams?). Rizzo has made no secret of the need to start making postseason inroads — a World Series is the stated goal, and that's certainly not an outrageous aim, given all the talent he's assembled. The lineup remains almost exactly the same, although Werth is gone after playing out his seven-year contract, and the rotation and bullpen are also nearly identical to the way they looked at the end of 2017. ___ Miami Marlins 2017: 77-85, second place. Manager: Don Mattingly (third season). He's Here: INF Starlin Castro, CF Lewis Brinson, OF Cameron Maybin, 1B Garrett Cooper, RHP Jacob Turner, OF-1B Scott Van Slyke, RHP Jumbo Diaz, RHP Sandy Alcantara. He's Outta Here: RF Giancarlo Stanton, LF Marcell Ozuna, CF Christian Yelich, 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Tom Koehler, OF Ichiro Suzuki, RHP Dustin McGowan, C A.J. Ellis. Projected Lineup: RF Cameron Maybin (.228, 10 HRs, 35 RBIs, 33 SBs with Angels and Astros), CF Lewis Brinson (.106, 2, 3 in 21 games with Brewers), 2B Starlin Castro (.300, 16, 63 in 112 games with Yankees), 1B Justin Bour (.289, 25, 83, .902 OPS in 108 games), C J.T. Realmuto (.278, 17, 65), LF Derek Dietrich (.249, 13, 53), 3B Brian Anderson (.262, 0, 8 in 25 games), SS Miguel Rojas (.290, 1, 26 in 90 games). Rotation: RH Jose Urena (14-7, 3.82 ERA), RH Dan Straily (10-9, 4.26, 170 Ks), RH Odrisamer Despaigne (2-3, 4.01), RH Jacob Turner (2-3, 5.08 with Nationals), LH Justin Nicolino (2-3, 5.06). Key Relievers: RH Brad Ziegler (1-4, 4.79, 10/15 saves), RH Kyle Barraclough (6-2, 3.00, 1 save), RH Drew Steckenrider (1-1, 2.34, 54 Ks in 34 2/3 IP), RH Junichi Tazawa (3-5, 5.69), RH Nick Wittgren (3-1, 4.68). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. Urena had a breakout season in 2017, and Straily tied for the NL lead with 33 starts, but they're the only established starters. The other three spots will likely be a revolving door occupied by a mix of prospects and journeymen, and the results could be ugly. One potential bright spot is the 22-year-old Alcantara, who had a 4.32 ERA in eight games for the Cardinals last year. He'll begin the season in the minors but might join the Marlins before summer. Outlook: New CEO Derek Jeter is accustomed to winning, and that is about to change. He traded away half of last year's starting lineup, including the NL MVP in Stanton, which means the Marlins are rebuilding yet again. Even with an entirely new outfield, the offense could be decent. But Castro and Realmuto are potential trade bait and might be gone before August, and the season will almost surely end Sept. 30, leaving the Marlins out of the playoffs for the 15th year in a row. This season is really all about developing prospects acquired in those offseason trades, and if youngsters such as Brinson and Alcantara perform well, 2018 will be considered a successful start for the Jeter regime. ___ Atlanta Braves 2017: 72-90, third place. Manager: Brian Snitker (third season). He's Here: RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Anibal Sanchez, LHP Scott Kazmir, INF Charlie Culberson, OF Preston Tucker, OF Ronald Acuna, 3B Austin Riley, OF Jeff Decker, 2B Christian Colon, RHP Shane Carle. He's Outta Here: OF Matt Kemp, RHP R.A. Dickey, 3B Adonis Garcia, 1B Matt Adams, INF Jace Peterson, RHP Jason Motte. Projected Lineup: CF Ender Inciarte (.304, 11 HRs, 57 RBIs, 22 SBs, Gold Glove), 2B Ozzie Albies (.286, 6, 28, 8 SBs in 57 games), 1B Freddie Freeman (.307, 28, 71 in 117 games), C Tyler Flowers (.281, 12, 49) or Kurt Suzuki (.283, 19, 50), RF Nick Markakis (.275, 8, 76), LF Ronald Acuna (.325, 21, 82, 44 SBs with 3 minor league teams) or Lane Adams (.275, 5, 20, 10 SBs), 3B Johan Camargo (.273, 14, 65) or Charlie Culberson (.154, 0, 1 in 15 games with Dodgers), SS Dansby Swanson (.232, 6, 51). Rotation: RH Julio Teheran (11-13, 4.49 ERA), RH Mike Foltynewicz (10-13, 4.79), RH Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 3.98 in 19 games with Dodgers), LH Sean Newcomb (4-9, 4.32 in 19 games), RH Anibal Sanchez (3-7, 6.41 with Tigers), LH Scott Kazmir (10-6, 4.56 with Dodgers in 2016) or LH Luiz Gohara (1-3, 4.91 in 5 games). Key Relievers: RH Arodys Vizcaino (5-3, 2.83, 14/17 saves, 64 Ks in 57 1/3 IP), RH Jose Ramirez (2-3, 3.19), LH A.J. Minter (0-1, 3.00, 26 Ks, 15 IP in 16 games), RH Dan Winkler (1-1, 2.51 in 16 games), LH Sam Freeman (2-0, 2.55 in 58 games). Hot Spot: Third Base. Camargo was the probable starter before an oblique injury left his status uncertain for the beginning of the season. Culberson, expected to play a utility role, or Rio Ruiz would be next in line. Austin Riley, a 2015 first-round pick who has not yet reached Triple-A, might be a year or two away. Camargo, who shared time with Swanson at shortstop last year, could be more than a stopgap if he can provide some of the power the Braves need at a corner infield spot. Outlook: Teheran, Foltynewicz and Newcomb have provided reasons this spring to believe they can improve their 2017 numbers. The progress of Newcomb, one of the team's many touted pitching prospects, became especially important when Gohara sustained a groin injury that will keep him from being ready for the start of the season. For a change, the spring spotlight was on a position player; Acuna was hitting .432 with four homers, 11 RBIs and four steals when he was sent to minor league camp. The move involving the 20-year-old top prospect was expected. It was made to maintain an extra full season of contractual control down the road, but Acuna likely will be recalled in April and immediately start in left field. He could provide a needed power bat to help Freeman in the middle of the lineup. The Braves likely are still at least a year away from contending in the NL East, but improved starting pitching could push them closer to .500 this year. ___ New York Mets 2017: 70-92, fourth place. Manager: Mickey Callaway (first season). He's Here: 3B Todd Frazier, RF Jay Bruce, LHP Jason Vargas, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RHP Anthony Swarzak, LHP Matt Purke, C Jose Lobaton. He's Outta Here: Manager Terry Collins, LHP Josh Smoker, LHP Josh Edgin, RHP Chasen Bradford, OF Norichika Aoki, RHP Erik Goeddel, RHP Tyler Pill, LHP Tommy Milone, OF Travis Taijeron. Projected Lineup: 2B Asdrubal Cabrera (.280, 14 HRs, 59 RBIs, .351 OBP), LF Yoenis Cespedes (.292, 17, 42, .892 OPS in 81 games), RF Jay Bruce (.252, 36, 101 with Mets and Indians), 3B Todd Frazier (.213, 27, 76, .344 OBP with White Sox and Yankees), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.242, 3, 30, .642 OPS in 71 games with Dodgers) or Dominic Smith (.198, 9, 26, .658 OPS, 49 Ks in 49 games), C Travis d'Arnaud (.244, 16, 57, .293 OBP in 112 games) or Kevin Plawecki (.260, 3, 13, .364 OBP in 37 games), CF Brandon Nimmo (.260, 5, 21, .379 OBP, .797 OPS in 69 games) or Juan Lagares (.250, 3, 15, .296 OBP, .661 OPS in 94 games), SS Amed Rosario (.248, 4, 10, 49 Ks, 3 BBs, .271 OBP, .665 OPS in 46 games). Rotation: RH Noah Syndergaard (1-2, 2.97 ERA, limited to 30 1/3 innings by lat injury), RH Jacob deGrom (15-10, 3.53, 239 Ks, 201 1/3 IP), LH Jason Vargas (18-11, 4.16, 179 2/3 IP in 32 starts with Royals), RH Matt Harvey (5-7, 6.70, 110 hits, 21 HRs, 67 Ks, 47 BBs in 92 2/3 IP), LH Steven Matz (2-7, 6.08 in 13 starts), RH Zack Wheeler (3-7, 5.21, 97 hits, 81 Ks, 40 BBs, 86 1/3 IP in 17 starts). Key Relievers: RH Jeurys Familia (2-2, 4.38, 6 saves in 26 games), RH AJ Ramos (2-4, 3.99, 27 saves with Marlins and Mets), RH Anthony Swarzak (6-4, 2.33, 91 Ks, 22 BBs, 58 hits, 77 1/3 IP in 70 games with White Sox and Brewers), LH Jerry Blevins (6-0, 2.94, 1 save, 69 Ks, 24 BBs, 49 IP in 75 games), RH Paul Sewald (0-6, 4.55, 69 Ks, 21 BBs, 65 1/3 IP in 57 games), RH Seth Lugo (7-5, 4.71, 101 1/3 IP in 19 games, 18 starts) or RH Robert Gsellman (8-7, 5.19, 119 2/3 IP in 25 games, 22 starts). Hot Spot: First Base. The 35-year-old Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star weakened by a bad back last season, was signed at a bargain price to provide competition and short-term insurance for Smith, a top prospect who struggled in his initial taste of the majors last year. Smith, 22, slimmed down in the offseason but was disciplined early in camp for arriving late one day. Then he strained a quad, keeping him out of the lineup for most of spring training, so it seems unlikely he'll make the opening day roster. Gonzalez, meanwhile, batted .182 with one extra-base hit and 11 strikeouts in his first 44 Grapefruit League at-bats before connecting for a home run. Wilmer Flores can play first against left-handers, but vs. righties the Mets either need Gonzalez to find the Fountain of Youth or Smith to live up to his first-round hype. Outlook: Callaway had great success with Cleveland's arms and the injury-plagued Mets are counting on his methods, along with new pitching coach Dave Eiland, to keep their talented but fragile rotation intact. New York also overhauled its medical department, hoping to keep star players on the field. Syndergaard and deGrom make for an imposing 1-2 punch. So if Harvey, Matz and Wheeler — even one or two of them — can finally stay healthy and approach their initial big league form, the pitching staff could be terrific again after unraveling last year with a 5.01 ERA that ranked 28th in the majors. Vargas was signed to eat innings but will miss some time at the beginning of the season following surgery for a broken right (non-pitching) hand. All-Star outfielder Michael Conforto (27 HRs, .384 OBP, .939 OPS) is targeting a May 1 return from surgery for a dislocated left shoulder. His status is critical to a lineup that lacks speed and a natural leadoff hitter. Nimmo made strides last season and is a potential candidate for that role while platooning early with Lagares to fill Conforto's spot in center field. After the Mets spent nearly $90 million to plug holes in free agency, it still might be a stretch to envision them seriously challenging star-studded Washington for NL East supremacy. But with better health in a soft division, they could certainly rejoin the wild-card hunt. ___ Philadelphia Phillies 2017: 66-96, fifth place. Manager: Gabe Kapler (first season). He's Here: RHP Jake Arrieta, 1B Carlos Santana, RHP Pat Neshek, RHP Tommy Hunter. He's Outta Here: Manager Pete Mackanin, SS Freddy Galvis, INF Andres Blanco, OF Daniel Nava, OF Hyun Soo Kim, RHP Clay Buchholz, 1B Tommy Joseph. Projected Lineup: 2B Cesar Hernandez (.294, 9 HRs, 34 RBIs, 15 SBs), 1B Carlos Santana (.259, 23, 79 with Indians), RF Nick Williams (.288, 12, 55) or Aaron Altherr (.272, 19, 65), LF Rhys Hoskins (.259, 18, 48), CF Odubel Herrera (.281, 14, 56), C Jorge Alfaro (.318, 5, 14), 3B Maikel Franco (.230, 24, 76), SS J.P. Crawford (.214, 0, 6 in 23 games). Rotation: RH Aaron Nola (12-11, 3.54 ERA, 184 Ks), RH Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53, 163 Ks with Cubs), RH Vince Velasquez (2-7, 5.13 in 15 starts), RH Nick Pivetta (8-10, 6.02), RH Zach Eflin (1-5, 6.16) or RH Ben Lively (4-7, 4.26). Key Relievers: RH Hector Neris (4-5, 3.01, 26/29 saves), RH Pat Neshek (5-3, 1.59, 1 save with Phillies and Rockies), RH Tommy Hunter (3-5, 2.61, 1 save with Rays), LH Adam Morgan (3-3, 4.12), RH Luis Garcia (2-5, 2.65). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. There are a lot of question marks beyond Nola, who emerged as a reliable starter in 2017. Arrieta, the former Cubs ace, had a rough first half in 2017 but finished strong. Yet he was a free agent until mid-March. He's getting paid big bucks to be a No. 1 guy again. Jerad Eickhoff will begin the season on the DL and Velasquez is coming off a disappointing year after showing promise in 2016. Pivetta has upside but needs more maturity. The team has plenty of depth at Triple-A, including several pitchers who have big league experience, in case any of the starters falter or get hurt. Outlook: The decision to sign Arrieta signals the rebuild is over. The Phillies added Santana, Neshek and Hunter to a talented young roster in hopes of being competitive. A month into spring training, they added Arrieta because management thinks it's time to contend now. The lineup has the potential to be dynamic if the young hitters continue to emerge and Santana does what he did in Cleveland. The bullpen should be formidable with Hunter-Neshek-Neris at the back end. If Arrieta regains his old form, Nola lives up to his promise and a couple other starters take steps forward, the Phillies can not only end their five-year run of losing seasons but maybe even make a surprise push for a postseason berth......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

2018 MLB preview: AL East

By The Associated Press Capsules of American League East teams, listed in order of finish last year: ___ Boston Red Sox 2017: 93-69, first place, lost to Houston in ALDS. Manager: Alex Cora (first season). He's Here: DH J.D. Martinez. He's Outta Here: Manager John Farrell, RHP Doug Fister, OF Chris Young, RHP Addison Reed, OF Rajai Davis, LHP Henry Owens, LHP Fernando Abad. Projected Lineup: RF Mookie Betts (.264, 24 HRs, 102 RBIs), LF Andrew Benintendi (.271, 20, 90), 1B Hanley Ramirez (.242, 23, 62) or Mitch Moreland (.246, 22, 79), DH J.D. Martinez (.303, 45, 104 with Tigers and Diamondbacks), 3B Rafael Devers (.284, 10, 30 in 58 games), SS Xander Bogaerts (.273, 10, 62), CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (.245, 17, 63), C Christian Vazquez (.290, 5, 32) or Sandy Leon (.225, 7, 39), 2B Eduardo Nunez (.313, 12, 58, 24 SBs with Giants and Red Sox) or Dustin Pedroia (.293, 7, 62, .369 OBP in 105 games, expected to be out until late May following knee surgery). Rotation: LH Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90 ERA, MLB-best 308 Ks, MLB-high 214 1/3 IP), LH David Price (6-3, 3.38, 11 starts, 5 relief appearances), RH Rick Porcello (11-17, 4.65), LH Drew Pomeranz (17-6, 3.32, expected to begin season on disabled list with strained left forearm), RH Hector Velazquez (3-1, 2.92) or RH Steven Wright (1-3, 8.25 in 5 starts) or LH Eduardo Rodriguez (6-7, 4.19). Key Relievers: RH Craig Kimbrel (5-0, 1.43, 35/39 saves), RH Carson Smith (0-0, 1.35, 1 save in 8 games), RH Matt Barnes (7-3, 3.88), RH Joe Kelly (4-1, 2.79), RH Tyler Thornburg (injured in 2017, expected to begin season on DL). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. This group has the potential to be the strength of the team, with two Cy Young Award winners and four All-Stars to choose from. But other than Sale, it has been spotty. And in the four-game playoff loss to the eventual World Series champion Astros last year, the Red Sox didn't get a single quality start as the rotation totaled just 11 1/3 innings. The first four spots are spoken for, aside from the injury to Pomeranz. Among those competing with Velazquez for the fifth spot are Wright, Rodriguez and Brian Johnson. Wright, a knuckleballer and 2016 All-Star, had left knee surgery in May and missed the rest of the 2017 season. Rodriguez had major right knee surgery in October. It's possible neither will be ready for opening day, but both could be back by mid-April. Outlook: The Red Sox won 93 games last year for the second straight season and claimed the franchise's first back-to-back AL East titles. But Farrell was fired after they failed to advance in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row. The key — and really only — addition is Martinez, who gives them someone to replace longtime slugger David Ortiz after finishing last in the AL in homers without Big Papi in 2017. The theory behind Boston keeping up with the reloaded New York Yankees goes something like this: A full season of a healthy Price will bolster a rotation that already has a quality ace in Sale, plus 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Porcello and All-Stars Pomeranz and Wright. The Red Sox also are staking their chances on the hope that Ramirez can be more like the player he was in 2016 (.286, 30, 111); that Pedroia will return quickly and be healthy and productive; that 20-year-old third baseman Devers will be able to stay up for a full season; and that Bradley won't have another second-half slump. The bullpen, anchored by Kimbrel, remains strong. ___ New York Yankees 2017: 91-71, second place, wild card, lost to Houston in ALCS. Manager: Aaron Boone (first season). He's Here: OF Giancarlo Stanton, 2B Neil Walker, 3B Brandon Drury. He's Outta Here: Manager Joe Girardi, 2B Starlin Castro, 3B-1B Chase Headley, 3B Todd Frazier, DH Matt Holliday, LHP Jaime Garcia. Projected Lineup: LF Brett Gardner (.264, 21 HRs, 63 RBIs, 96 runs, 23 SBs), RF Aaron Judge (.284, AL-leading 52, 114, MLB-high 208 Ks), 1B Greg Bird (.190, 9, 28 in 48 games), DH Giancarlo Stanton (.281, MLB-leading 59, MLB-best 132, 163 Ks with Marlins), C Gary Sanchez (.278, 33, 90, 120 Ks in 122 games), SS Didi Gregorius (.287, 25, 87), CF Aaron Hicks (.266, 15, 52 in 88 games), 2B Neil Walker (.265, 14, 49 with Mets and Brewers), 3B Brandon Drury (.267, 13, 63 with Diamondbacks). Rotation: RH Luis Severino (14-8, 2.98 ERA, 230 Ks in 193 1/3 IP), RH Masahiro Tanaka (13-12, 4.74, 194 Ks), LH CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69), RH Sonny Gray (10-12, 3.55 with Athletics and Yankees), LH Jordan Montgomery (9-7, 3.88 in 29 starts). Key Relievers: LH Aroldis Chapman (4-3, 3.22, 22/26 saves, 69 Ks, 50 1/3 IP in 52 games), RH David Robertson (9-2, 1.48, 14/16 saves in 61 games with White Sox and Yankees), RH Dellin Betances (3-6, 2.87, 10/13 saves, 100 Ks, 50 2/3 IP in 66 games), RH Tommy Kahnle (2-4, 2.59, 96 Ks in 62 2/3 IP with White Sox and Yankees), RH Chad Green (5-0, 1.83, 103 Ks in 69 IP), RH Adam Warren (3-2, 2.35 in 44 games), LH Chasen Shreve (4-1, 3.77 in 44 games). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. There is little seasoned depth if injuries develop, with Luis Cessa the first candidate to step up, and Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield needing more time in the minors. Sabathia turns 38 in July and while he is coming off his best and most durable season in five years, his surgically repaired right knee requires periodic injections of painkiller. Severino must maintain his consistency of 2017 after going 3-8 the previous year, when he was demoted to the minors. Montgomery is expected to increase his innings from 155 1/3. The back end of New York's rotation puts pressure on its bullpen: While Severino averaged 99 pitches per start, Gray 98 and Tanaka 94, Sabathia and Montgomery were at 87 each. Outlook: New York figures to score a lot and strike out a lot, a reason the Yankees signed the switch-hitting, high-contact Walker during spring training. Drury also was a late addition, enabling New York to start prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar in the minors. Betances faded in the second half last season, struggling with his mechanics and control and diminishing from a four-time All-Star to a mop-up man. After a pair of injury-decimated seasons, Bird is being counted on as a left-handed power bat in the middle of the batting order who can prevent opponents from bringing in right-handed relievers to attack Judge, Stanton and Sanchez. Hicks missed nearly half of last season with oblique injuries but has displaced Jacoby Ellsbury as the regular center fielder. Having never managed or coached at any level, Boone succeeded Girardi and must establish with players and the public that he knows what he is doing. ___ Tampa Bay Rays 2017: 80-82, third place. Manager: Kevin Cash (fourth season). He's Here: OF Denard Span, 1B C.J. Cron, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, OF Jake Bauers. He's Outta Here: 3B Evan Longoria, RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Jake Odorizzi, OF-DH Corey Dickerson, OF Steven Souza Jr., 1B Logan Morrison, 1B-DH Lucas Duda, RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Steve Cishek, RHP Tommy Hunter, OF Peter Bourjos, INF Trever Plouffe, RHP Chase Whitley. Projected Lineup: LF Denard Span (.272, 12 HRs, 43 RBIs, 31 2Bs, 12 SBs in 129 games with Giants), CF Kevin Kiermaier (.276, 15, 39 in 98 games), C Wilson Ramos (.260, 11, 35 in 64 games), RF Carlos Gomez (.255, 17, 51 with Rangers), 1B C.J. Cron (.248, 16, 56 with Angels), DH Brad Miller (.201, 9, 40), 3B Matt Duffy (sidelined by Achilles tendon injury), 2B Daniel Robertson (.206, 5, 19) or Joey Wendle (.285, 8, 54 in 118 games with Triple-A Nashville), SS Adeiny Hechavarria (.261, 8, 30 with Marlins and Rays). Rotation: RH Chris Archer (10-12, 4.07 ERA, 249 Ks in 34 starts), LH Blake Snell (5-7, 4.04 in 24 starts), RH Nathan Eovaldi (missed season following Tommy John surgery), RH Jake Faria (5-4, 3.43 in 16 games, 14 starts). Key Relievers: RH Alex Colome (2-3, 3.24, 47/53 saves), RH Matt Andriese (5-5, 4.50), RH Sergio Romo (3-1, 3.56 in 55 appearances with Dodgers and Rays; 2-0, 1.47 in 25 games with Rays), LH Dan Jennings (3-1, 3.45 in 77 games with White Sox and Rays), RH Andrew Kittredge (0-1, 1.76 in 15 games), RH Chaz Roe (0-0, 9.00 in 3 games with Braves), RH Austin Pruitt (7-5, 5.31), LH Joe Alvarado (0-3, 3.64). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. Normally, the Rays are built around good, young starting pitching and solid defense, a formula that will be tested after losing Cobb to free agency, trading Odorizzi and settling on a plan to use a four-man rotation, instead of the customary five. Cash intends to use multiple relievers on floating "bullpen days" slotted to allow the four starters to pitch on regular rest. It may not be a conventional setup, but the Rays are confident they have enough good arms to make it work. Outlook: The Rays sport a new look after a winter of trimming payroll. In addition to the departures of Cobb and Odorizzi, the heart of a batting order that hit a club-record 228 homers — Longoria, Dickerson, Souza and Morrison — is gone, too. Archer, a two-time All-Star, is set to make his franchise-record fourth opening day start, and Colome is back at closer, too. The question that remains unanswered is, for how long? Cash and general manager Erik Neander aren't making any bold predictions but they insist that despite all the changes, the Rays have a chance to be a lot more competitive than it appears on paper. ___ Toronto Blue Jays 2017: 76-86, fourth place. Manager: John Gibbons (sixth season of second stint, 11th overall with Blue Jays). He's Here: LHP Jaime Garcia, OF Randal Grichuk, OF Curtis Granderson, RHP Seung-hwan Oh, INF Yangervis Solarte, INF Aledmys Diaz, RHP John Axford, RHP Tyler Clippard, INF Danny Espinosa, RHP Taylor Guerrieri, INF Gift Ngoepe, LHP Sam Moll, RHP Sam Gaviglio. He's Outta Here: OF Jose Bautista, OF Ezequiel Carrera, RHP Dominic Leone, LHP Brett Anderson, INF Darwin Barney, RHP Leonel Campos, OF Darrell Ceciliani, RHP Taylor Cole, INF Ryan Goins, C Raffy Lopez, RHP Tom Koehler, RHP Dominic Leone, C Miguel Montero, INF Rob Refsnyder, OF Michael Saunders, RHP Bo Schultz, RHP Cesar Valdez. Projected Lineup: 2B Devon Travis (.259, 5 HRs, 24 RBIs in 50 games), 3B Josh Donaldson (.270, 33, 78), 1B Justin Smoak (.270, 38, 90), DH Kendrys Morales (.250, 28, 85), LF Steve Pearce (.252, 13, 37) or Curtis Granderson (.212, 26, 64 with Mets and Dodgers), C Russell Martin (.221, 13, 35), SS Troy Tulowitzki (.249, 7, 26 in 66 games), RF Randal Grichuk (.238, 22, 59 with Cardinals), CF Kevin Pillar (.256, 16, 42). Rotation: LH J.A. Happ (10-11, 3.53 ERA), RH Aaron Sanchez (1-3, 4.25 in 8 games), RH Marco Estrada (10-9, 4.98), RH Marcus Stroman (13-9, 3.09), LH Jaime Garcia (5-10, 4.41 with Braves, Twins and Yankees). Key Relievers: RH Roberto Osuna (3-4, 3.39, 39/49 saves), RH Ryan Tepera (7-1, 3.59, 2 saves), RH Danny Barnes (3-6, 3.55), RH Seung Hwan Oh (1-6, 4.10, 20 saves with Cardinals), LH Aaron Loup (2-3, 3.75), RH John Axford (0-1, 6.43 with Athletics), RH Tyler Clippard (2-8, 4.77, 5 saves with White Sox, Yankees and Astros). Hot Spot: Shortstop. Tulowitzki is owed $20 million in each of 2018 and 2019, and $14 million in 2020, the final season of a 10-year contract he received from Colorado. Tulo has missed at least 30 games in six straight seasons, and will begin 2018 on the disabled list because of a bone spur in his right heel. Although the Blue Jays have multiple backup options, they could be waiting at least a month, if not longer, for the five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner to return. Tulowitzki sustained a season-ending injury to his right ankle in late July last year. Outlook: The powerful Yankees and reigning division champion Red Sox are considered playoff favorites in the AL East, so the expectation is the Blue Jays will be left to compete for the second wild card. If Donaldson and Smoak help the offense rebound from last season's injury-induced stumble, when Toronto scored an AL-low 693 runs, and the starting pitching stays strong and healthy, the Blue Jays might be able to mount a playoff push. Health concerns remain plentiful, however. Besides Tulowitzki's troublesome heel, Travis will need scheduled downtime to rest his surgically repaired right knee. Stroman was slowed by a sore shoulder in spring training, and Sanchez will be closely monitored after making just eight starts last year because of blister issues. ___ Baltimore Orioles 2017: 75-87, fifth place. Manager: Buck Showalter (ninth season). He's Here: RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Andrew Cashner, OF Colby Rasmus, LHP Nestor Cortes Jr., C Andrew Susac, INF Engelb Vielma, OF Austin Hays. He's Outta Here: C Welington Castillo, SS J.J. Hardy, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Jeremy Hellickson. Projected Lineup: LF Trey Mancini (.293, 24 HRs, 78 RBIs), 2B Jonathan Schoop (.293, 32, 105, 35 2Bs), SS Manny Machado (.259, 33, 95, 33 2Bs), CF Adam Jones (.285, 26, 73), 1B Chris Davis (.215, 26, 61, 61 BBs, 195 Ks), 3B Tim Beckham (.259, 12, 36 in 87 games with Rays; .306, 10, 26 in 50 games with Orioles), DH Mark Trumbo (.234, 23, 65, 149 Ks), RF Colby Rasmus (.281, 9, 23 with Rays), C Caleb Joseph (.256, 8, 28). Rotation: RH Dylan Bundy (13-9, 4.24 ERA, 152 Ks), RH Kevin Gausman (11-12, 4.68, 179 Ks), RH Alex Cobb (12-10, 3.66 with Rays), RH Andrew Cashner (11-11, 3.40 with Rangers), RH Chris Tillman (1-7, 7.84) or RH Miguel Castro (3-3, 3.53 in 39 games, 1 start). Key Relievers: RH Brad Brach (4-5, 3.18, 18/24 saves), RH Darren O'Day (2-3, 3.43, 2 saves), LH Richard Bleier (2-1, 1.99), RH Mychal Givens (8-1, 2.75). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. The late addition of Cobb fills out a previously shaky unit, but depth and experience are still an issue. Bundy and Gausman were decent last season, but the young right-handers must take another step forward. Jimenez and Hellickson have been replaced by Cashner, on his third team in four years, and Castro, a converted reliever with one career start. Tillman, re-signed as a free agent, has to prove that his miserable 2017 season was merely a fluke rather than the beginning of the end of a career that two years ago appeared to be blooming. Should any of the starters get injured, the team has very few options on the staff and in the minors beyond right-hander Mike Wright, who's got a lifetime ERA of 5.86. Outlook: The Orioles were 25-16 and in first place last year before fading to their first losing season since 2011. The prospect for improvement will rest on a power-laden lineup that needs Davis and Trumbo to rebound from poor performances, but both sluggers fought through injuries this spring and Trumbo will be on the disabled list on opening day. With a shaky rotation and a bullpen that is without injured closer Zach Britton, the Orioles must score plenty of runs to make some noise in the AL East. Baltimore's defense, usually a strong point, was not particularly efficient in 2017. The team addressed the problem by switching Machado to shortstop and working hard on fundamentals this spring. Most important, this could be the last season in Baltimore for Jones and Machado, whose contracts expire after 2018. If the Orioles are sputtering in July, the most intriguing aspect of the team might be whether one or both stars get jettisoned before the July 31 trade deadline......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

STAR HOTSHOT: Rafi Reavis will be forever relevant

It was early in 2017 when Rafi Reavis proved that he's still relevant. More than just relevant, in fact. In Game 2 of the Manila Clasico semifinals featuring Ginebra and Star, Reavis was the "star" for the Hotshots in the clutch, grabbing two crucial offensive rebounds in the last 20 seconds to deny the Gin Kings any chance of a "Never Say Die" comeback. With seven seconds to go in the ball game, the then 39-year-old Rafi calmly made two pressure-packed free throws and Star took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7. "I got a lot left in the tank, man. A lot left," Reavis said then. He was right. STAR BOY Literally a week after his heroics against Ginebra in Game 2 of last year's series, Reavis played his best game in a long, long time in Game 5. Rafi dropped 17 points and 13 rebounds, leading the Hotshots to a crucial 3-2 lead. While Star ended up losing in seven games, that was perhaps Reavis' best performance in the last four or five years, including the current year were having right now. And yet even then, the veteran forward was the least surprised. It's as if he knew. He's going to be relevant in the league until he decides he's done. "I'm not surprised at all. That's me," Reavis said in 2017. "That's the way I play. That's what I'm always trying to do, just be a leader, trying to do what's needed. The only thing that matters is the W. However that comes, I'll go with it," he added. ALL I DO IS WIN It's kinda cool for Rafi Reavis to say that he'll go with winning, regardless of how his team gets there. Over the course of his current 16-year PBA career, Reavis has done a lot of winning. Seriously, a lot. Rafi has 10 PBA championships and up until the 2017 Commissioner's Cup, he was the winningest active player in the league. He's won with different teams as well. Reavis picked up his first pair of titles with the old Coca-Cola Tigers before winning another two with Brgy. Ginebra. When he landed at Purefoods, Reavis would win six more championships, including the Grand Slam in 2014. Simply put, Rafi Reavis is an asset to any team. A valuable asset. He's done all that winning in a way only he knows how. "Defense. Defense wins championships," Reavis said. "I don't care about the glamour, the points, the fame. I don't need that,  that's not what gets me paid. Being part of a team that was winning a championship, that's all I care about. I'm team first and I'm all about the big goal, the big picture," he added. PLASTIKMAN Rafi's Twitter handle is @Plastikman. If it sounds familiar, it's almost a play on the local comics superhero "Lastikman" which is a character is most definitely based from Marvel's Mister Fantastic. Fifteen years ago in 2003, "Bossing" Vic Sotto gave the character life in a movie and while this useless rambling doesn't necessarily say and mean that Rafi was inspired by it and put his own twist to the name, it does make some sense. Reavis has some pretty long arms and legs, which come in handy while he's trying to defend the paint. His physical gifts and his brilliant mind make him the basketball player that he is. A player relevant to this day. "He's very smart, ang taas ng basketball IQ niya. Plus the fact na ano siya, hindi siya nagpapabaya. Yung katawan niya, inaalagaan niya talaga," Chito Victolero said of Reavis. Victolero was teammates with Rafi in the old MBA and he was the second overall pick in the 2002 Draft. Now he's Reavis' head coach with Magnolia. "He won a lot of championships and he knows what to do. Siguro mas beterano pa siya sakin in terms of dun sa loob ng court eh. I trust him very much and alam ko kung ano yung ginagawa niya," Victolero added. Sticking with the superhero theme, Reavis wants to add something to his list of achievements that's outside of winning championships. Plastikman wants to outlast the Rock in the PBA. "I'm trying to take care of myself and that guy, he's amazing," 40-year-old Reavis said of 45-year-old Asi Taulava, NLEX's center and the 2003 PBA Most Valuable Player that is still going strong as well. "I think he just had a birthday recently and it's going to make it a little harder for me but I can do it. I'm having fun. And I think as long as I play for a guy like coach Chito, I can meet that goal," he added. BREAKING RECORDS Rafi Reavis was the league's winningest active player up until the 2017 Commissioner's Cup. When San Miguel Beer won last year's mid-season prize, Yancy De Ocampo joined Reavis at the top with 10 titles. Yancy was the no. 1 pick in 2002 and Rafi was second. San Miguel and Magnolia are currently locked in a heated Finals for the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup and either De Ocampo or Reavis will take over as the winnigest active player in less than two weeks time. "None of that really means anything to me," Reavis said, doubling down on his team-first mentality. "I think it will probably mean something when I'm all said and done and my career is over with, but I'm still an active player. I have a duty to perform. It's all great and it's all glory but at the end of the day it doesn't really mean anything," he added. ALL I WANT TO DO IS KEEP WINNING It was in early 2017 when Rafi Reavis made it known that he still has a lot left in his tank. Fast forward to 2018 in Game 1 of the Philippine Cup Finals against San Miguel and Reavis practically won the Purefoods franchise yet another Finals game. With the Hotshots holding on to a two-point lead with 2.2 seconds, Reavis disrupted San Miguel's final offensive possession basically by himself to make sure Magnolia completed a comeback from 20 points down. Rafi first tipped the inbound pass to foil the Beermen's first option for June Mar Fajardo and after Arwind Santos picked the ball up to shoot a game-tying jumper, Reavis was there too to block the shot. Rafi Reavis has won a lot but he wants to keep winning. "We're still  active so we're still out there trying to get one more," he said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

Muntinlupa books a semis ticket; Paranaque forces rubbermatch

Muntinlupa turned to Allan Mangahas in the last 41 seconds to bury the dagger straight into the heart of Navotas as the Cagers clinched a Final Four spot with a 72-69 win in Game 2 of their best-of-three 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Rajah Cup quarterfinals Tuesday night. Protecting a slim lead with under a minute remaining, Mangahas scored on a layup to give the host team a five-point margin. Jamil Gabawan answered with a basket in the next play to cut Navotas’ deficit to 72-69 with only 37 seconds remaining. Cagers forward Chito Jaime missed his three-point attempt but Chester Saldua missed on a potential equalizer from beyond the arc for the Clutch as time expired to the delight of the home crowd inside the Muntinlupa Sports Complex. Mangahas finished with 23 points, six rebounds and six assists while Dave Morale and Chito Jaime scored 14 and 12 markers, respectively, for the home team, which will face in the best-of-three semis the survivor between Bulacan and Paranaque in the other quarters pairing. JP Calvo put Navotas on top, 67-64, on a triple with 3:50 left. Moralde scored on a layup before Felix Apreku gave Muntinlupa the lead on two charities followed by a basket by Mangahas as the Cagers took a 72-67 advantage with 1:16 remaining. JP Calvo had 20 points while Jamil Gabawan posted 20 markers and 17 rebounds for Muntinlupa. Meanwhile, Paranaque forced a rubbermatch for a spot in the semis after blowing out Bulacan, 81-54. The Patriots limited the Kuyas to only 27 points in the first half to dictate the tempo of match before cruising to a rout that evened the series, 1-1. Juneric Baloria led the way for Paranaque with 26 points while Harold Arboleda had 12 markers and 13 boards. Jorey Napoles and Stephen Siruma fired 12 points each for Bulacan. The rubbermatch is set on April 3 at KB Gym in Malolos, Bulacan. Valenzuela and Quezon City will cross paths at 7:00 p.m. for the right to face Batangas in the semis to be followed by the Paranaque-Bulacan sudden death at 9:00 p.m.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 28th, 2018

Thibodeau laments lack of toughness; Wolves try to hang on

By Dave Campbell, Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves have seven games to go in this strenuous regular season, coming tantalizingly close to the tormented franchise’s first appearance in the playoffs in 14 years. The trouble is their once-sturdy postseason bid is also teetering on the brink of being painfully denied. Beginning a supposedly softer stretch of their schedule that has the potential to help propel them to the finish line, the Timberwolves took an egregious loss on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) to a languishing Memphis team that had lost all 17 road games to date in 2018. The outcome only furthered the doubt among an embittered fan base about whether the Wolves can hang on long enough without All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler to finish in the top eight in the Western Conference. “We have to keep pushing forward. For some guys, this is a new experience. This is about your will,” coach Tom Thibodeau said after the 101-93 loss. “You can’t approach it without knowing what you have to put into it.” The word Thibodeau kept using in his postgame lament was toughness, the intangible trait that the truly elite teams use to supplement their top-flight talent. That’s what Butler has provided and then some in his first year with the Wolves, his reunion with Thibodeau after the two developed a strong working relationship in Chicago. Power forward Taj Gibson, another reclaimed asset from Thibodeau’s time with the Bulls, has done the same. Point guard Jeff Teague, the other major offseason acquisition, has hit his stride lately and supplied plenty of his own grit. That’s the experienced portion of the team, along with sixth man Jamal Crawford. Young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, going through the rigors of a playoff race for the first time, haven’t yet built up that resilience. The Grizzlies pushed around the Wolves with a playoff-style physical approach, and the home team didn’t produce enough resistance. “I like those kinds of games. It was on both ends. Both teams were playing physical, and they were letting us play,” Teague said. “People just haven’t been a part of those kinds of games, so it was an adjustment for some of us.” Teague didn’t have to name names. Thibodeau didn’t either, when he praised the tenacity by Gibson and Teague and left out the rest of the Butler-less starting lineup. Nemanja Bjelica, who has often taken his game to a higher level during extended action in Butler’s absence, was scoreless with a minus-18 rating in 22 minutes against Memphis. Towns was overshadowed by Grizzlies center Marc Gasol. Wiggins was 7-for-17 from the floor, missing 4-of-5 attempts from three-point range. “I just think at times we just miss shots,” Gibson said, downplaying the toughness factor. “It was a gritty game. It came down to the wire. We had good looks. It just didn’t go the way we wanted it to. If you’re playing in this league and you’ve got 40-some wins, you’re a tough team. It’s nothing about grit, nothing about physicality. It just comes down to misses and strong rebounds and knowing your coverages.” The Wolves (42-33) are in eighth place in the conference race, just as close to fourth as they are to ninth. They host Atlanta on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) and play at Dallas on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) before hosting seventh-place Utah on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). Denver, one of the teams trying to bump Minnesota off, appears twice on the final four games of the schedule. Perhaps Butler will join them. He did some light jogging and three-point shooting on the court after practice on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), but Thibodeau declined to reveal a timetable for his return. Butler has not yet been cleared for contact, so the Wolves can’t simply bank on his return. “I believe we will get it done,” Thibodeau said, “so I told them that today. We’ve just got to keep fighting.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 28th, 2018

Revellers barge into DL q’finals

Che'Lu Bar and Grill-San Sebastian barged into the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup quarterfinals with an emphatic 99-60 victory over Batangas-EAC on Monday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig. The Revellers took advantage of their 20-day break, pouncing on the also-ran Generals on their way to their fifth straight win. Allyn Bulanadi and Ryan Costelo spearheaded the 39-point rout as they combined for six treys as Che'Lu-San Sebastian shot 15-of-37 from the field. Costelo shot 13 points and had 10 rebounds, while Bulanadi also produced 13 points. Veteran forward Samboy de Leon led all scorers with 15 points. Che'Lu-San Sebastian coach Stevenson Tiu said he can finally heave a ...Keep on reading: Revellers barge into DL q’finals.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMar 26th, 2018