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After beating cancer, fight isn t too big for Jacobs

By Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press LAS VEGAS (AP) — The moment won't be too big for Daniel Jacobs, of that he's certain. Not after going toe-to-toe with the fearsome Gennady Golovkin before dropping a narrow decision. Not after beating cancer that doctors were sure would end his career, if not his life. Canelo Alvarez will be just another obstacle in front of him when they meet Saturday night in a middleweight title unification fight. "It's not my first rodeo," Jacobs said. "I don't look forward to being nervous. If anything I'm excited." A lot of boxing fans are excited, too, about a 160-pound title fight that is the prime attraction in this gambling city on Cinco de Mayo weekend. On one side is the 28-year-old Mexican champion and one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the game. Alvarez ducks nobody, and his own two fights against Golovkin were textbook performances for those studying boxing styles in the future. And then there's Jacobs, the 32-year-old who has conquered the usual obstacles put in the way of any fighter — and then some. He was once "The Golden Child," a tough Brooklyn prospect with skills advanced far beyond his age. He became "The Miracle Man" after beating a cancerous tumor in 2011 that damaged his nerves and paralyzed his legs. It's a story that only boxing could deliver. And it's one Jacobs is happy to let everyone know about. "I never get tired of telling my story," he said. "I know that there's somebody out in the world who hasn't heard it, so I share it as much as I can talk about it." Jacobs shared it a little more this week, taking a break from training to look back at the winding path his career has taken since turning pro a dozen years ago. He talked about being knocked out in Las Vegas nine years ago. He talked about being particularly nervous for a fight he ended up winning with an early knockout. And he talked about living on his mother's couch as he tried desperately to beat a rare form of cancer while somehow keeping alive his dream of boxing, too. "Sleepless nights," Jacobs said. "Times where I used to cry. Times where I used to even doubt if I would walk right again." The cancer was osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of the disease that caused a tumor to wrap around his spine. Doctors removed it during a six-hour surgery, but not before they told Jacobs he would probably not walk again, much less fight. And now he's in a bout that will make him millions of dollars — and could make him one of the most sought-after fighters around. "I never thought about this opportunity," Jacobs said. "I always just wanted to give back to boxing and see how far I could take it. But I never thought I would fight for a world championship. I mean, this is the greatest opportunity that I could even have, let alone dream about." The opportunity came about largely because Jacobs put on the performance of his career before dropping a decision to Golovkin in 2017 in a fight that could have gone either way. He helped himself more by winning a piece of the middleweight crown his last time out, a split-decision win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko. After two close battles of his own with Triple G, Alvarez was looking for a different opponent on what traditionally is a big pay-per-view fight weekend for him in Las Vegas. Instead of pay-per-view, the fight is on DAZN, and Alvarez-Jacobs is being counted on to sell subscriptions to the streaming service. And while Alvarez is a 4-1 pick by oddsmakers to retain his handful of titles, Jacobs is not an opponent he or promoter Oscar De La Hoya is selling short. "What impresses me most is his coming back from cancer," De La Hoya said. "It's a very special fighter who does that, a very special person who does that. It shows you his character, his will to win. That's what worries me most in this fight, his mind and his heart." That could mean 12 rounds of a thinking man's fight. It could mean an all-out brawl, or something in between. The outcome of the fight is uncertain, yes. But for a time, the outcome of Jacobs' life was uncertain, too. "I'm self-motivated," Jacobs said. "When everything was taken away from me, all I wanted was to get back to the sport of boxing. It's nothing short of a miracle to get to this point. That motivates myself to be the best version of myself that I can be." Whether that's enough to beat Alvarez won't be known until Saturday night, though one thing does seem certain: A win for The Miracle Man might not be such a miracle after all......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2019

AP source: Cavs interview J.B. Bickerstaff for coaching job

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers are interviewing a coaching candidate with a very familiar name. Former Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff is meeting Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) with the Cavaliers about their job, a person familiar with the team’s coaching search told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team is not revealing its plans. Bickerstaff’s father, Bernie, was a longtime NBA coach and currently is a senior adviser with the Cavaliers. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The 40-year-old Bickerstaff was fired earlier this month by the Memphis Grizzlies, who made a coaching change and demoted general manager Chris Wallace to their scouting department in the wake of a disappointing 33-49 season. The Grizzlies had numerous injuries and crumbled after a 12-5 start. Bickerstaff was named the Grizzlies’ interim coach in November 2017 to replace David Fizdale. Bickerstaff has previous experience as an assistant with Charlotte, Minnesota and Houston, and he has been praised for his ability to help develop young players. Bickerstaff is the third known candidate to meet with the Cavaliers, along with Dallas assistant Jamahl Mosley and Miami assistant Juwan Howard. The team also is expected to interview Utah assistant Alex Jensen and has received permission to speak with Portland assistants David Vanterpool and Nate Tibbetts, who are still involved in the playoffs. The Cavaliers are looking for their sixth coach since 2013 after parting ways with Larry Drew following a 19-63 season. Drew took over in October when Cleveland fired Tyronn Lue following a 0-6 start. Earlier this month, GM Koby Altman said there was no timetable to find a coach. He promised to be respectful in talking to coaches on teams in the postseason......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2019

Australian Open quotes: Rafael Nadal says no plans to retire

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal isn't planning to give up tennis anytime soon. Johanna Konta won't take too seriously her dominating win in the Sydney International last Friday. And Sam Stosur, who has never done well at her home Grand Slam tournament, isn't getting too down on herself after her preparation — or lack of it— for Melbourne Park. Following are some thoughts and impressions from players who spoke on Sunday, the day before the start of the Australian Open: ___ RAFAEL NADAL The takeaway: Rafa is not about to call it quits anytime soon. Nadal, a 14-time major winner, is coming off two lengthy injury layoffs last year, including 2 ½ months off after pulling out of the French Open before the third round with left wrist injury and another rest at the end of the season. Just don't ask him if he's ready to pull out a rod and reel, or a 9-iron. 'If I don't believe that I can be competitive, and when I mean competitive, is fighting for the things that I fought for during the last 10 years, I will be probably playing golf or fishing at home,' Nadal said. 'I am being honest ... I am here because I believe ... I can fight for the things that really motivate me.' Given his history with injuries, Nadal was asked if he was playing pain free. 'What do you mean 'pain-free'?' he said. 'I am not injured, no. Pain-free is a long time ago.' ___ JOHANNA KONTA The Sydney-born British player, a surprise semifinalist at Melbourne Park last year, won the Sydney International final against Agnieszka Radwanska last Friday, a victory so dominating that the Polish player, ranked third in the world, said: 'I can't remember playing someone like this on that level, that consistent for the whole match. I couldn't really say that I did something wrong. She was just playing amazing tennis.' Konta said Sunday she's not reading too much into those plaudits. 'Obviously to have beaten a player like Aga, I'm definitely very pleased with the level I played,' Konta said. 'But we all know that it's not a given. It doesn't decide how you will do in the next event. I'm taking it as a positive from the week itself, but I'm looking to, again, work hard here and really try to do the best that I can here.' ___ SAMANTHA STOSUR Competing in her 15th Australian Open, the highest-ranked Australian woman in the draw has never made it past the fourth round at Melbourne Park. Her preparation for her home major wasn't helped with first-round losses at Brisbane and Sydney 'I can't change it, it is what it is,' Stosur said of her early exits. 'I'm not going into my first round freaking out that I haven't had more than two matches. Like I said, I've done everything else that I can. Obviously it would have been really nice to have played more. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in that situation from the first two weeks of the year.' The 18th-seeded Stosur has a tough first-round match against Heather Watson of Britain. ___ SIMONA HALEP The fourth-seeded Halep lost in the first round last year at Melbourne Park. This year she'll have the distinction of opening play on the main Rod Laver Arena on Monday, against American Shelby Rogers. 'I hope is going to be better this year ... it's special to open the tournament on the biggest stadium. I'm not thinking very much at that thing. I just have to go there. I know the opponent pretty well.' Halep beat Rogers in straight sets in the third round at the 2015 U.S. Open in their only previous meeting. ___ TOMMY HAAS The 38-year-old German veteran has said 2017 will be his last year on tour — he's taking over as tournament director at Indian Wells. Haas, who plays Benoit Paire of France in the first round, wants to go out with some dignity after a career of injuries. He has been ranked as high as No. 2, won 15 ATP Tour titles, reached the semifinals of the Australian Open three times and Wimbledon once, and won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. His career has been stalled by injuries since he had shoulder surgery two years ago and right foot surgery in the middle of last year. 'I think it's important to find that right time, or that moment for you when you feel it's over and it's time to do something else,' Haas said Sunday. 'For me it's very important just to be back on tour and back here at the Australian Open. It's been a while since I've played here and I'm excited to get the opportunity to go out on the court one more time and compete.' And to keep playing, hoping that his best is once again around the corner. 'When you are a dreamer, and a lot of us are, you obviously like to play at your best level again, maybe play against some of the top players somewhere on a big stage and play a great matches,' Haas said. 'Maybe get far in a tournament one more time.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Jordan tops Clippers' hot shooting in win over Lakers

em>By Beth Harris, Associated Press /em> LOS ANGELES (AP) -- DeAndre Jordan scored 24 points on 12-of-13 shooting, and the Los Angeles Clippers shot 52 percent to cruise past the Lakers 113-97 on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and improve to 6-0 in 2017. Jordan had 21 rebounds, and Chris Paul added 20 points and 13 assists for the Clippers, off to their best start since going 7-0 to begin 1974 when the franchise was located in Buffalo. Their streak is the longest active one in the NBA. The Clippers shot 52 percent and are 15-0 when they do so. Led by Jordan, they had a season-high 56 points in the paint. Jordan Clarkson scored 21 points for the Lakers, who never led in losing their third in a row and seventh in 10 games. Jordan's shooting was nearly perfect; he tipped in his lone miss with 4:41 remaining in the game. The big man put on a dunk clinic with eight, including a two-handed jam on the game's opening possession. The Lakers, who shot 44 percent, never made a run in the fourth. The Lakers cut their deficit from 19 points to 10 in the third. After an unsportsmanlike technical for hanging on the rim, Timofey Mozgov dunked to launch a 9-2 run that included consecutive three-pointers by Brandon Ingram and Nick Young and got the Lakers to 69-59. The Clippers closed with a 15-9 spurt that sent them into the fourth leading 84-68. Jordan had two more dunks, both one-handers in the quarter. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Lakers: /strong> /em> Starting F Luol Deng sat out to rest after playing 19 minutes in Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) loss to the Spurs, well under his 27-minute average. He missed his first game of the season on Jan. 5 (Jan. 6, PHL time) at Portland. G Lou Williams, the team's leading scorer, made his first start of the season. It was the Lakers' 14th different starting lineup. They were averaging 10.1 turnovers (71 total) over the previous seven games and had 15 against the Clippers. em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em> They had eight turnovers, one off their season low. They lost to the host Lakers on Christmas, snapping their 11-game winning streak in the series. The Clippers have won nine in a row at home against the Lakers. strong>CHANGING THINGS UP /strong> For just the third time in the 17-year history of Staples Center, all three tenants were playing at home on the same day. The Kings were set to host the Jets in the evening. It takes a 45-person crew nearly two hours to convert the arena from basketball to hockey. The three teams previously played on the same day in 2006 and 2008. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Lakers: /strong> /em> Host Detroit on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). em> strong>Clippers: /strong> /em>Host Oklahoma City on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Worth a mention: Williams aiming for record 23rd major title

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams definitely doesn't want to talk about the No. 23. She doesn't really want to think about planning a wedding, either, while she's pursuing a Grand Slam record. Newly engaged Williams brushed off concerns about the 88 unforced errors she had in a loss in New Zealand last week in her only warmup tournament ahead of the Australian Open, which starts Monday and where she's aiming for Open-era record 23rd major title. 'I've moved on,' she said. 'I'm feeling relaxed, calm, ready and poised.' Williams responded to questions about milestone achievements last year when she had 21 Grand Slam titles, and it didn't help — she lost the final here to Angelique Kerber and to Garbine Muguruza at the French Open before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's Open era mark of 22. She's being more superstitious this time. 'I'm not talking about that,' Williams, a six-time Australian Open winner, said as she shut down questions during a promotional activity this week. 'I said I'm not talking about that. Move on.' Another Australian title is also high on the agenda for Novak Djokovic, who already has won six. But he isn't thinking much beyond his opening match after drawing Fernando Verdasco. A first is the priority for Andy Murray, recently knighted in Britain after finishing 2016 at No. 1. He is looking at the draw from the top for the first time at a major and is hoping it comes with a change in fortunes at Melbourne Park. He has lost five Australian Open finals — the first to Roger Federer in 2010, the other four to Djokovic. Federer could again stand in his way, only at the quarterfinal stage this time. The 17-time major winner slipped down the rankings during six months off last year recovering from an injured left knee and was seeded No. 17. Williams took time off after the U.S. Open, where she lost in the semifinals for the second year running and lost the top ranking to Kerber. The big news during her break was her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month, when she posted a poem on the news website to confirm she'd accepted his proposal. After hitting this week with 16-year-old Destanee Aiava, who will be the first person born in the 2000s to play in the main draw of a major when she meets a qualifier in the first round, Williams said her mind was back entirely on business. 'I told (Ohanian) my main goal was to win this title,' she said. 'Yeah, it really doesn't feel like anything different.' No date has been set for the wedding, with Williams' mind on one major thing, so she's not thinking about a dress or a cake, and she's not wearing a ring to practice. 'Oh my God. I don't think about it really,' she said, responding to questions about her marriage plans. 'I'm just ... I don't know I'll have to ask him that. I have a job — I mean, he does too. I kinda gotta focus.' Kerber won the Australian and U.S. Open titles last year, so will be attempting to defend a major for the first time in Melbourne. She may be feeling pressure as the No. 1 seed, having won only one match in two warmup tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney. That doesn't take any pressure off Williams. 'I am No. 2, I guess. I definitely don't feel like anyone's saying that, 'Oh, there's no pressure on Serena,'' she said. 'It's always there, I'm used to it. 'I feel like I've been No. 1 for so long, so many times. I've done things that are amazing. Sometimes that ranking really means a lot, but also I feel like sometimes just winning events ... means just as much.' That's something Djokovic understands. His 122-week streak at No. 1 ended amid Murray's incredible finish to last season, when he won Wimbledon and defended the Olympic gold medal among eight titles he won after reuniting with Ivan Lendl as coach. Before then, Djokovic had beaten Murray in the Australian and French Open finals, his 11th and 12th major titles. Half of those have come in Melbourne, where his victory last year equaled the record six Australian titles Roy Emerson won (1961 and 1963-67). 'I'm feeling phenomenal,' Djokovic said after arriving in Australia following a win over Murray in his season-opening event at Doha. 'Maybe this is the year — 2017 for seven. I'm not a numerologist, but it sounds good.' Murray jumped on a flight almost immediately after last year's final to be with his wife, who was expecting their first child. There have been plenty of changes for him since, becoming a father for the first time, No. 1 in the world for the first time, and reuniting with Lendl. 'Each time I come, I think I've got a chance of winning but it's just never happened,' he said. 'Hopefully, this year will be different. 'I do think the last few months of last year can help me with giving me confidence — other players look at that and see you're playing well and (I) feel physically and mentally strong.' Fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who ended the run of wins by Djokovic and Murray when he won the U.S. Open last September, said the next generation of players such as Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori would be among the contenders for the Australian title. But he thinks it will be difficult for any new champion to emerge against the likes of the in-form Murray and Djokovic, and the returning Federer and Rafael Nadal. 'So far, last 10 years, the 'Big Four' was really strong,' Wawrinka said, 'so it's going to be interesting to see this year how Novak, Andy, Rafa, and Roger will play.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Who is the 2016 NBA Person of the Year?

em>NBA.com blogtable /em> Your NBA Person of the Year and why? strong>Steve Aschburner: /strong> I referred to this elsewhere on this week’s Blogtable -- em> strong>my choice is LeBron James /strong> /em>. In 2014, James mad.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2016

Raptors on brink of first Finals berth in franchise history

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO -- Twenty-one would be a very cool number for the Toronto Raptors. Before they get it, though, they’ll need to get one. And one would be beyond cool. Off the charts, historic, potentially transformative and largely indescribable. Twenty-one: That’s how many teams in NBA playoff history will have overcome an 0-2 start to win a best-of-seven series, if the Raptors manage to close out the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals. Whether it happens in Game 6 Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) at Scotiabank Arena or in Game 7 back in Milwaukee Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), Toronto would buck outlandish odds -- this is the 289th series to begin with the same team winning the first two games, so we’re talking a seven percent likelihood (20-of-288). [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] One: That’s all that stands between the Raptors and the first NBA Final appearance in Toronto franchise history. One more victory in the next three days would validate the risks and twists of this 2018-19 season for the Raptors, while exorcising nearly a quarter century’s worth of demons. One little win and Toronto finally will break through, capping a stellar six-year run of promising regular seasons and heartbreaking postseasons. They will have earned, in the face of so much uncertainty, their best shot yet at a championship, even if it means going through the mighty Golden State Warriors. When Raptors president Masai Ujiri traded for star forward Kawhi Leonard, he was gambling not just that Leonard could recover from the right quadriceps injury that scuttled his 2017-18. He was guessing that swapping in Leonard for former All-Star wing DeMar DeRozan could push Toronto to, well, right where they’re at. And he was hoping Leonard, a rent-a-player able to leave this summer in free agency, would enjoy the whole experience enough to let Ujiri pay him $220 million over the next five seasons. It’s impossible to know where things stand on that last front, owing to Leonard’s inscrutability and a decision that’s still six weeks away. But the Raptors never have gotten this far, so there is an opportunity here to be savored, with more potentially to come. “It would be a very, very long summer thinking about what could have been or what you could have done,” guard Fred VanVleet said, framing things a bit negatively after raining 7-of-9 three-pointers on Milwaukee in the 105-99 Game 5 victory. “So we've just got to go out there and have no regrets. … One win away from the Finals sounds pretty good to me.” Sounds a little easier, maybe, than it actually will be. The Raptors are at home for Game 6 and the crowd at Scotiabank crowd, already dialed high, will be able to let it rip without any fear -- immediate fear, anyway -- of failure. But Milwaukee will be desperate. Giannis Antetokounmpo has pledged that his team will not “fold.” And the Bucks have zero interest in a knock-knock year, believing all season that they were good enough to reach and win the championship. They wouldn’t be human if they weren’t shaken by the three consecutive defeats Toronto has dealt them. The Raptors have managed to surround and partially stifle Antetokounmpo, while still firing out enough to bother Milwaukee’s three-point shooters into repeated misfires. The Bucks’ defense has been probed and poked like a cut-rate steak. They resorted again to some uncharacteristic switching in Game 5 but had most of their success inside the arc. Late in the pivotal loss, they got beat for five offensive rebounds, when grabbing two or three might have swung the outcome. “It's win or lose,” coach Mike Budenholzer said Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in a conference call with reporters. “When you win, there are things that [still] are concerning and unsettling that you need to work on and improve. I think there's just enough possessions where there's a couple of rebounds that stand out. “Can we do a little bit better job in some of our activity in certain situations. Offensively, I think at times can our spacing be better and our ball movement be better? But I would say it's like a lot of games. We didn't get it done.” One area in which Budenholzer refuses to budge, dire circumstances be darned, is in his use vs. overuse of Antetokounmpo. The load the Greek Freak carries when he’s on the floor, the activity he generates, leads to fatigue and wear-and-tear that requires regular breathers. Extending his star’s minutes, Budenholzer believes, would lead to less “peak Giannis” rather than more, an inevitable tradeoff of quality over quantity. And the Bucks need every bit of Antetokounmpo’s best, or what’s left of it in their 97th game of the season. “Giannis, it's so impressive what he does and how important he is,” Budenholzer said. “I maintain that him getting appropriate rest, appropriate kind of just a chance to catch his breath, refuel… At the end of the day, you need to be able to produce and perform, including in the fourth quarter.” At the possible end of your season, though, you’ll have plenty of time to refuel if the opponent pounces while your star sits. Said Raptors coach Nick Nurse, in his own teleconference: “It's a ‘whatever it takes’ game. It's an unlimited-minutes night. This is just like any other critical must-win game.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News11 hr. 29 min. ago

PVL: BaliPure: Ready for the challenge

BaliPure will make its return in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference after skipping last year’s season-ending tournament. New head coach Romel Abella welcomes the new challenge of leading a revamped Water Defenders, who won the 2017 Open Conference title.   “Challenge na rin kasi na puro bago ang mga players namin and at the same time yung mga players namin since bago nga it’s their time to prove na yung skills nila at par sa level ng pagplalaruan namin,” said Abella, who steered former team Pocari Sweat to the throne in the inaugural staging of the import-laden conference. “Challenge sa akin, sa coaching staff and sa mga players na rin. Pero masaya ang challenge,” added Abella. The Water Defenders skipped the 2018 Open Conference after a sixth place finish in the Reinforced contest where BaliPure fielded a core of high school and college standouts from National University. This time, BaliPure will lean on the leadership of veteran player Grazielle Bombita, who played for Iriga last year. Helping Bombita are first-time imports Danijela Dzakovic from Montenegro and Slovakian Alexandra Vajdova. Other local stars looking to prove their mettle in the league are Menchie Tubiera, setter Necelle Gual of Perpetual Help, Vira Guillema and Jewelle Bermillo of San Sebastian College, Sandy Delos Santos, Satrianni Espiritu of San Beda College, Carrie Pronuevo, Miracle Mendoza, Patria Pena and Kat Racelis of Mapua University.   “Masaya ngayon since bago ang tuturuan mo, nandoon ang eagerness na ma-prove ang sarili nila,” said Abella. BaliPure will open its campaign on Sunday against newcomer ParificTown Army. “Nilu-look forward ko kung ano ang ilalabas ng mga players natin, na kung hanggang saan ang maipapakita namin as individuals and a team,” Abella said. “Hopefully, mag-translate yung pina-practice namin sa laro namin.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News11 hr. 29 min. ago

F1 eyes may have opened after Alonso s Indy 500 flop

By Dave Skretta, Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Alexander Rossi had no idea what he was getting into when he moved from Formula One to IndyCar. Turning left the whole race? Looks easy. But as Rossi soon found out — and as two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and his McLaren team learned in failing to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 last weekend — getting around Indianapolis Motor Speedway at speeds eclipsing 230 mph is a lot tougher than it looks. "I didn't understand what oval racing was. I didn't understand what IndyCar racing was, because there is no exposure to it in Europe," said Rossi, an American who moved to Europe as a teenager and made his F1 dreams come true with seven starts during the 2014 and '15 seasons. "So when guys haven't been a part of it," Rossi said, "they don't understand how difficult it is, how unique it is to everything they've done. On TV, let's be honest, it doesn't look that challenging, so being a European driver, in your mind you're at the pinnacle of the sport. You think, 'Of course I can go over there and do that and it wouldn't be a problem.'" That inherent arrogance was underscored two years ago, when Alonso showed up at the Indy 500 for the first time. He ran near the front all race, only for his Honda engine to let him down. Naturally, many F1 drivers were quick to pounce on their rival open-wheel series, claiming it must not be too difficult to win in IndyCar if Alonso could be competitive right out of the gate. "I looked at the times and, frankly, for his first-ever qualifying for Fernando to be fifth — what does that say about Indy?" five-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton mused to L'Equipe shortly afterward. "A great driver," he said, "if he cannot win in Formula 1, will look for other races to win." In other words, Hamilton was calling IndyCar second-rate. That's part of why so many eyebrows jumped at McLaren's spectacular disappointment. "Fernando may have done well in 2017, so there may have been a feeling like all he has to do is show up and take it over," said Mark Miles, the chairman of Hulman & Co., which owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I think this causes that sense of, 'Hey, this is harder than we thought.'" The team that bumped the well-funded, England-based team with the rich racing heritage from this year's field? None other than Juncos Racing, the tiny team founded by Argentina-born Ricardo Juncos and to this day run on such a shoestring budget that it was still signing up sponsors on Wednesday. The moment Kyle Kaiser put their car in the field last Sunday was the moment McLaren's world collapsed, leading to the firing of Bob Fernley, who headed its IndyCar operation. "We got it wrong," the team's boss, Zak Brown, said Thursday ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, the showcase race on the F1 calendar. "There are little stories behind each of those individual issues and how they transpired, but you know, we didn't execute and therefore we didn't qualify for the Indy 500." In doing so, they showed just how difficult it is to win the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," and perhaps earned IndyCar drivers a certain measure of respect from their F1 counterparts. "You've got to be a good driver, but setup and all those things at those margins is so important," said F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, who has never driven an Indy car or raced on an oval. "I don't know the ins and outs, but everything needs to work right and that's the thing with race cars. It's a love-hate relationship. Obviously, this year for (Alonso) was more of a hate one. "It's sad to see," Ricciardo added. "Obviously as part of the F1 family, we want him to do well." One of the reasons the Indy 500 is so difficult is it tests the machines — and how they are tuned — just as much as the drivers. Manufacturers such as Mercedes and Ferrari can pump $300 million into their teams and essentially buy the crucial tenths of a second they need to win races, but IndyCar teams work with a relatively stock setup that puts the onus on crew and driver. "A big team like McLaren, and you see a small team like Juncos, it just shows this competition, it's not easy no matter who you are," three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves said. "It is one of the toughest places on Earth to get in, and you've seen big teams like Penske have failed." Rossi has so far bucked the trend, winning the 100th running of the Indy 500 in his 2016 debut. He was second the following year and fourth last year, each time benefiting from the experience, equipment and resources that his Andretti Autosport team has poured into its efforts over the years. "Fernando is a world champion. You expect him to do a good job," Rossi said. "But at Indianapolis, to find speed, it's experience, kind of the tricks of the trade that money can't buy, and I think that gets lost on a lot of people, and I think that was on full display this past week." ___ AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer and AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Nadal opens bid for 12th French Open title against qualifier

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal will start his campaign for a record-extending 12th title at the French Open against a qualifier. And if he makes it to the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam, another qualifier will be waiting. The defending champion was handed what looked like quite an easy draw Thursday at Roland Garros stadium, where the Spanish player attended the ceremony and said he was happy with his form. Nadal won his first title of the season last week at the Italian Open, where he looked close to his best after some uncharacteristic struggles on clay. "It was an important title for me," Nadal said. "I played very well throughout the tournament, I'm very happy to find myself in this situation." In the women's draw, Simona Halep will open the defense of her title against Ajla Tomljanovic. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka, who seeks a third consecutive major championship, will be up against Anna Karolína Schmiedlová. Coming to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was drawn into the top half of the draw with Osaka and Halep. She will take on Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round. Osaka will be up against a tough opponent if she gets past Schmiedlova, facing the winner of a first-round match pitting 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko and former top-ranked player Victoria Azarenka. Nadal, who last year became the first male player to win 11 titles at the same Grand Slam tournament, could meet his old foe Roger Federer in the semifinals. Federer, in his first French Open match since 2015, will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and could face Stefanos Tsitsipas in a potential quarterfinal matchup. Federer is back on clay after skipping that part o the season for the past two years. He reached the quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome, where he withdrew because of a right leg injury. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will begin his run against Hubert Hurkacz. The Serb has been enjoying a good run of form during the clay season, winning the title in Madrid before losing to Nadal in Rome. Organizers announced before the draw that Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic had withdrawn from the tournament, which starts on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

PBA: Help is on the way for NLEX

After losing its 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup opener by 15 points, things might be a little rough for NLEX now, but help is on the way for the Road Warriors. Well, actually help is already here. He’s just waiting to be unleashed. Kiefer Ravena, NLEX’s no. 2 pick of the 2017 Draft, is about a month away from finally rejoining the Road Warriors officially. Ravena, suspended for 18 months by FIBA last year, can join NLEX in practice on June 24. He can suit up for the Road Warriors starting August 24. “Malapit na rin yun,” NLEX and national team head coach Yeng Guiao said of Kiefer’s eventual return. “Malaking epekto noon sa team namin. Namomroblema kami sa point guards, we’re looking for somebody who can anchor us in the point guard position,” he added. NLEX has a promising backcourt duo but it has been decimated in one form or another. Ravena is suspended and Kevin Alas just suffered a second ACL injury in as many years. Alas needs time to recover but Kiefer... well he’s just counting down the days. “Kailangan talaga si Kiefer, si Kevin malayo pa, matagal pa, next year pa yun,” Guiao said. “So our best chance really of improving our performance at the point guard position is Kiefer in about two month's time,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2019

FRENCH OPEN 19: Serena Williams tries again for 24th major

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Women to watch at the French Open, where play begins Sunday: ___ NAOMI OSAKA Ranked: 1 Country: Japan Age: 21 2019 Match Record: 19-5 2019 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 3 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 — Australian Open (2019), U.S. Open (2018) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-Lost in 3rd Round, 2017-1st, 2016-3rd, 2015-Did Not Play, 2014-DNP Aces: After going only 5-4 on clay last year, heads to Paris with a 7-1 mark on the surface in 2019. ... Withdrew with injuries from tournaments in Stuttgart (abdominal muscle) and Rome (thumb). Topspin: Big hitting carried her to two Grand Slam titles in a row on hard courts. Clay presents different challenges. ___ SIMONA HALEP Ranked: 3 Country: Romania Age: 27 2019 Match Record: 23-8 2019 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 18 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — French Open (2018) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-Won Championship, 2017-Runner-Up, 2016-4th, 2015-2nd, 2014-RU Aces: Among the WTA's top 10 in break points converted and first-serve percentage in 2019. ... Pulled out of Italian Open with hamstring problem, but said she was sure she'd be OK for Paris. Topspin: Tries to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time. Her movement and defense-to-offense skills have carried her to three of the past five finals at Roland Garros. ___ KIKI BERTENS Ranked: 4 Country: Netherlands Age: 27 2019 Match Record: 26-10 2019 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 9 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: SF, French Open (2016) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-3rd, 2017-2nd, 2016-SF, 2015-1st, 2014-4th Aces: Ranks in the tour's top two in aces and service points won this season. ... Hit 20 aces in one match. ... At past three clay events, went semifinals-title-semifinals. Topspin: Has the game and the confidence to go far in Paris. Many in tennis think she is ready to play well deep into the second week at a major tournament. ___ PETRA KVITOVA Ranked: 6 Country: Czech Republic Age: 29 2019 Match Record: 28-8 2019 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 27 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 2 — Wimbledon (2011, 2014) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-3rd, 2017-2nd, 2016-3rd, 2015-4th, 2014-3rd Aces: Pulled out of Rome with a left calf issue. ... Is third on tour in aces this year, but also has hit by far the most double-faults. Topspin: Since getting to the 2012 semifinals at Roland Garros, only has been past the third round once. Her strong lefty strokes and recent form on clay could mean that changes this year. ___ SLOANE STEPHENS Ranked: 7 Country: United States Age: 26 2019 Match Record: 14-9 2019 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 6 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open (2017) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-RU, 2017-DNP, 2016-3rd, 2015-4th, 2014-4th Aces: Recently hired coach Sven Groeneveld, who has worked with such past French Open champions as Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic. Topspin: Run to last year's final in Paris showed that Stephens is capable of winning a Grand Slam championship on clay to go with her hard-court title from the U.S. Open. ___ ASH BARTY Ranked: 8 Country: Australia Age: 23 2019 Match Record: 24-5 2019 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 4 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, Australian Open (2019) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-2nd, 2017-1st, 2016-DNP, 2015-DNP, 2014-1st Aces: After going 1-6 against top-10 opponents in 2018, she is 6-4 in those matches in 2019. ... Played cricket while away from the tour for nearly two years after the 2014 U.S. Open. Topspin: After major breakthroughs at the Australian Open in January and when she collected the title at the Miami Open in March, seems poised to show big improvement on her 2-5 career record at the French Open. ___ SERENA WILLIAMS Ranked: 10 Country: United States Age: 37 2019 Match Record: 7-2 2019 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 72 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 23 — French Open (2002, 2013, 2015), Australian Open (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017), Wimbledon (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016), U.S. Open (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014) Last 5 French Opens: 2018-4th, 2017-DNP, 2016-RU, 2015-W, 2014-2nd Aces: Back in the top 10 this year after dropping out of the top 400 while away from the tour to have a baby. ... After missing about 1½ years of majors, reached two Grand Slam finals in 2018. ... Pulled out of last two tournaments because of injured left knee. Topspin: Comes to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open. There's also uncertainty about the status of her knee. So while she's always considered a favorite, no matter the site or surface, when she is healthy, it is hard to know what to expect from her this time around......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2019

UST s Sisi Rondina, AU s Regine Arocha are first-ever Volleyball Players of the Year

Volleyball has made its mark as one the biggest collegiate spectator sports in the country next to basketball. With the sport’s impact and huge following especially in the women’s division, it is just fitting that the best and brightest volleyball student-athletes share the spotlight with the collegiate basketball’s finest.   For the first time, a pair of volleyball stars will be feted in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps Awards presented by SportsVision to be held at the Amelie Hotel in Malate, Manila on Monday. University of Sto. Tomas’ Sisi Rondina and Regine Arocha of Arellano University will be the recipients of the Volleyball Player of the Year awards in the annual event organized by the Collegiate Press Corps, composed of scribes from print and online outfits covering the NCAA and UAAP. The graduating hitter Rondina wrapped her fifth and last playing year as a Tigress by completing an amazing three-peat in beach volleyball, giving UST its first gold medal in UAAP Season 81. Rondina delivered the Espana-based squad’s fourth sand court crown in five years while bagging for herself four Most Valuable Player awards. The 5-foot-6 Cebuana then turned her focus on indoor volleyball as she led the rookie-laden Tigresses back to the Finals for the first time in eight years in a showdown with a well-experienced Ateneo de Manila University side. UST came a win away from ending a nine-year title drought but eventually bowed down to the Lady Eagles in three exciting games. Nevertheless, Rondina’s heroics all season long earned her the MVP award, UST’s first in 12 years, to become the second person to capture the highest individual recognition in beach and indoor volleyball on the same season since Far Eastern University’s Wendy Semana did the feat 11 years ago.               Meanwhile, Arocha delivered the goods when needed the most for the Lady Chiefs in NCAA Season 94. Arocha played clutch in the Finals, leading Arellano to a thrilling series comeback win over Perpetual Help to complete the Lady Chiefs’ three-peat and winning her second straight Finals MVP award. Rondina and Arocha will be joined by the National University women’s basketball team (Award of Excellence), Ateneo's Angelo Kouame and San Beda's Javee Mocon (Pivotal Players), Lyceum's CJ Perez and Adamson's Sean Manganti (Impact Players) in the awards night supported by Amelie Hotel, Rain or Shine, NorthPort, World Balance, Arellano, and AXA Team EDS. The 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps Awards presented by SportsVision will be aired live over Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas and Tiebreaker Times on Facebook......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2019

Mbappe hints at move away from PSG

PARIS (AP) — Kylian Mbappe has opened the door for a move away from Paris Saint-Germain. Just after receiving the award for the French league's player of the season, the 20-year-old World Cup winner said he wants more responsibility, either at PSG or "elsewhere with a new project." Mbappe, who joined from Monaco in 2017 for 180 million euros, had never speculated before on a possible transfer away from the French champions. "I feel it may be the right time to take more responsibilities," Mbappe said after succeeding Neymar as the league's best player. "Hopefully it will be at Paris Saint-Germain, it would be with a great pleasure. Or maybe elsewhere, with a new project." After winning the World Cup in Russia, Mbappe followed up with 32 league goals this season, becoming the first French player to reach at least that tally since 1966. Mbappe has been linked with a possible move to Real Madrid, where Zinedine Zidane returned as coach earlier this season. PSG sealed a sixth French league title in seven years but failed to defend its French Cup and French League Cup crowns this season. PSG was eliminated in the Champions League last 16 for the third straight year. Mbappe was also named the young player of the season for the third straight year. After leading Lille to a second-place finish, Christophe Galtier won the coach of the year award......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2019

Bucks making case as favorites to win title

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com MILWAUKEE -- In the wake of a wire-to-wire, 125-103 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, a question for the group: Shouldn't the Milwaukee Bucks be the favorites to win this thing? No, not the conference finals. At this point, they're obviously the heavy favorite to win the East. Prior to this year, 72 teams had a 2-0 lead in the conference finals, and 67 of them went on to win. But why aren't the Bucks the favorites to win the NBA championship? Is there a case to be made against 1) what was the best team in the regular season and 2) what has been an even better team in the playoffs? [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Maybe this is a we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it league. How can you pick a team to win a championship when its best player had never won a playoff series prior to this year? Until they lost in five, it was easier to imagine the Celtics, with their talent and with their recent history of playoff success (back-to-back trips to the conference finals), being the team to represent the East in The Finals in the first year A.L. (after LeBron). And then the Bucks outscored the Celtics by a total of 65 points over the last four games of the conference semis. It's similarly difficult to pick against the Golden State Warriors until they actually lose. The two-time defending champs have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Presumably, they'll have Kevin Durant back for The Finals should they finish off the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals. And even without Durant, the Warriors boast the same 2-0 conference finals lead the Bucks currently possess. But the Warriors haven't been as sharp as they were in each of the previous two postseasons. Five of their 10 playoff wins have been within five points in the last five minutes. Last year, only four of their 16 wins were within five in the last five. In 2017, it was four of 16 as well. With the postseason's 10th-ranked defense, Golden State has outscored its opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions over its 14 games. The Bucks have outscored their opponents by more than double that: 15.1 per 100. That feels like the mark of an eventual champion. Through 10 playoff wins last year, the Warriors had outscored their opponents by 9.6 points per 100 possessions. Through 10 playoff wins in 2015, they had outscored their opponents by just 7.7 points per 100. It was only in 2017, when they won their first 15 playoff games in Durant's first season in Golden State, that the Warriors were as dominant as the Bucks have been thus far. At 10-0 two years ago, Golden State had outscored its playoff opponents by 16.5 points per 100 possessions. At that point, the Warriors had the No. 2 offense and the No. 1 defense in the postseason. That's exactly where the Bucks stand after Game 2 on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Milwaukee is a complete team in more ways than one. The defense has been there almost every night. The Bucks have held their opponents under a point per possession (the measure of elite defense) in six of their 11 games and only once (their Game 1 loss to Boston) have they allowed them to score more than what was the league average (109.7 points scored per 100 possessions) in the regular season. Even with the rise in three-point shooting over the last few years, the most important shots on the floor remain those at the basket, and no team has been better at both preventing and defending those shots than the Bucks. After allowing a league-low 29.6 points per game in the restricted area in the regular season, the Bucks have allowed just 22.0 per game in the playoffs. In this series, Raptors drives have been met with a swarm of Milwaukee defenders, making it difficult to either score in the paint or get off a clean pass to an open shooter. After shooting 57 percent in the paint through the first two rounds (in which they faced two very good defenses), the Raptors have shot just 49 percent (36-for-73) in the paint through the first two games of the conference finals. On Toronto's first possession of Game 2, Marc Gasol posted up Khris Middleton after a switch and spun around Middleton for a layup, only to be rejected by Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Raptors went scoreless on their first five possessions, had just 39 points on 49 possessions at halftime, and were too far behind for a 39-point third quarter to matter much. "I think the way we played on both ends of the court in the first half," Budenholzer said afterward, "is what we're trying to get to." After a bit of an offensive struggle in Game 1, the Bucks broke out on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). The elite defense led to 28 fast-break points, a size advantage inside led to 17 second-chance points, and six of their nine rotation players scored in double-figures. Three of those six came off the bench. While Toronto coach Nick Nurse has had to both shorten and alter his rotation in these playoffs, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has seemingly found contributors wherever he has turned. George Hill and Pat Connaughton were huge in the Boston series, Malcolm Brogdon didn't need long to find his rhythm after missing the first eight postseason games, and on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), Ersan Ilyasova had what Budenholzer called "clearly his best game of the year," scoring 17 points, drawing three charges, and registering a plus-22 in just over 21 minutes off the bench. The Bucks have the presumed Kia MVP, but their biggest strength in these playoffs has been their depth. Through 11 games, they've outscored their opponents by 12.0 points per 100 possessions with Antetokounmpo off the floor. Unlike his fellow Eastern Conference coaches, Budenholzer has never had to rush his best player back onto the floor. And this team is now 10-1 with Antetokounmpo ranking 40th in postseason minutes per game at 32.3. While the Raptors' offense has struggled to take advantage of the attention paid to Kawhi Leonard, every Bucks rotation player has played with confidence and freedom. "They're not going to let me play one-on-one," Antetokounmpo said after registering 30 points, 17 rebounds and five assists in Game 2. "So this series is not going to be about me; it's going to be about my teammates being ready to shoot, being ready to make the right play." "We try and empower them," Budenholzer said of his team's role players. "We try to play a way where they all feel like they can contribute and do things. Hopefully that's paying off for us." There's no argument to the contrary. But is there an argument against this team being the favorite to win the championship? While it remains difficult to pick against the team that won last year and remains intact, new champions come along all the time, and it's easier to see them in hindsight than in the moment. Of course, as good as they've been playing and as special as this run has felt, Bucks players refuse to get ahead of themselves. "You can't," Eric Bledsoe said. "That's how you lose focus. The biggest thing with this group is just taking a game at a time, and not looking forward to The Finals. Anything can happen. So we're focused on Game 3." "It's a great opportunity that we have," George Hill added, "but it means nothing until we get there." The players have to keep their minds on Toronto. But the rest of us can feel free to envision the future, one that includes an NBA championship. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

Spieth tries to stay close to Koepka at PGA Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Jordan Spieth doesn't feel as though his confidence is getting higher. All that mattered was his score getting lower. Spieth did his best to stay within range of Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship on Friday by making five birdies over his last 11 holes for a 4-under 66 and his lowest 36-hole score in a major since he won the British Open two years ago. He had to wait on Koepka playing in the afternoon to see how close he could stay. But this was an important step for Spieth, who hasn't won since his 2017 British Open victory gave him the third leg of the career Grand Slam, which he can complete by winning the PGA. That was still far from his mind. "I haven't been in contention on a Sunday since The Open last year," said Spieth, who shared the 54-hole lead at Carnoustie and tied for sixth. "And if I'm able to put some good work in tomorrow, I will be in contention on Sunday. And at that point, it will be just more of trying to win a golf tournament. It won't matter to me what tournament it is." It will be proof to Spieth that his struggles over the last year — he even used the words "bit of a slump" earlier this week — are finally turning in his favor. He was at 5-under 135, one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson (67) and Daniel Berger (66) among those who finished early. Koepka started with a 7-under 63, after becoming the only player to post 63 in the same major twice. He opened with three birdies over the opening four-hole stretch at Bethpage Black and threatened to pull away. Tiger Woods, playing in the same group as Koepka, started at 2 over and was trying to make sure he at least made the cut. Spieth has been showing signs of making progress, only to be done in by one round or a nine-hole stretch. It looked as though that might be the case Friday when he made bogey from the right rough on the 15th and bogey from the left rough on the 16th, putting him 1 over for his round. The key moment was a 6-iron to 8 feet for birdie on the par-3 17th, mainly because it got him back to even after the toughest stretch. "My goal in turning was try and get to a few under for the championship," Spieth said. "You don't expect Brooks to fall at all, so I thought I needed to be within five or six or seven to feel like I had a chance on the weekend." He was helped by his tidy short game. Spieth used his putter only 13 times over the last 11 holes, making five birdies and four par saves, only from about 12 feet after finding a bunker on the par-3 third. Berger is best known in these parts for his 66 in the third round at Shinnecock Hills in the U.S. Open last year that put him in the final group. He dropped only one shot early in his round at No. 12. Johnson played alongside Spieth and reached 5 under for the tournament approaching the 18th, only to miss the fairway and go over the green. He also three-putted from long range on the par-3 third, but made a 20-foot birdie putt late in his round at No. 7 for a 67. "The afternoon guys still got 18 holes to play," Johnson said. "I feel like I'm in a good position. I'm happy with where I'm at no matter what the lead is after today. I'm going to be somewhere around it or close enough to where with 36 holes left, I'm OK." Danny Lee was among the few early starters who failed to take advantage. He opened with a 64 and was one shot behind Koepka, and he never got any closer. Lee made a pair of double bogeys on the back nine for a 41, and salvaged a 74 to join a group at 2-under 138. Rory McIlroy was happy to still have any chance at all. He started with two double bogeys and a bogey and was 7 over for the championship through three holes when he rallied with four birdies over his last six holes for a 71. Spieth did enough to believe the worst days of his slump are behind him. It was only in the last few weeks that he felt comfortable enough to return to a familiar philosophy: aim small, miss small. "I'm not 100% hitting it as well as I did a couple of years ago," Spieth said. "But I'm hitting it a lot better than I did the end of last year, beginning of this year." And the putting looks as strong as ever. So when someone suggested Spieth looked freer than he has lately, he smiled and said, "When you're making everything you look at, anybody is going to walk around feeling pretty free.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

Rose seeks 2nd major at PGA Championship at Bethpage Black

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Justin Rose sees uniqueness in the PGA Championship because, well, it doesn't have a specific identity. Unlike the Masters and its green jacket, the U.S. Open and its "toughest test in golf" character, and the British Open with its links-style golf and often inclement weather, the PGA doesn't stand out in individuality. It is, of course, a major title, and one that Rose — and every other golfer in the 156-man field — covets. "I've always felt that the PGA Championship is the championship that probably doesn't have an identity in terms of a style of golf," said Rose, who owns one major, the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and a third, fourth and ninth in his 16 previous PGAs. "You know, I feel like it's dependent on the golf course. It's dependent on the time of year. And it doesn't try to sort of fit in any particular category. "Even par doesn't mean anything necessarily at a PGA Championship. You get what the course gives you. And I think we've all respected that, to be honest with you." Still, there is a taste of the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black this week. The public course has hosted two of those, won by Tiger Woods in 2002 and Lucas Glover in 2009. The rough is going to be deep and, if the rain that plagued Long Island for nearly a week returns — it was dry and sunny Wednesday — this monster of a course will play even longer than its 7,459 yards. "I think this one in particular, this one, if I was to bring — I don't want to bring in the word U.S. Open — but the golf course has more of that feel to it this week, I would say. And if it was a U.S. Open, you would say, 'Wow, this is a really fair test of golf.' "So I think from that point of view, it's going to be fun for the players. I think we all regard this test and this setup as incredibly fair but demanding. And it's probably ... one of the most demanding PGA Championship setups and venues that I've seen in those 17 years." The 2016 Olympic gold medalist , Rose, 38, has been a mainstay on the European Ryder Cup team, making five appearances. He is usually near the top of the leaderboard in the most pressure-packed events on the PGA Tour and is the current FedEx Cup champion. So big-time challenges are more routine for Rose than for most athletes. Yet he has just the one major among his 10 PGA Tour victories. "I think the pressure of trying to win a second is far less than the pressure of trying to win your first," he said. "From that point of view I haven't given it a second thought. Obviously I want to win more; I've been close on a couple of occasions; lost in a playoff there at Augusta (to Sergio Garcia in 2017 ). So a putt here, a putt there, a chip here, a chip there, I could have added a second to it. "And yeah, I feel like I'm still waiting for my run in the majors. I'm still waiting for a hot run where I can hopefully get an opportunity to put two, three, four away quite quickly." That's territory few golfers ever reach. Sure, Tiger Woods is way up there with 15 majors, and defending PGA champ Brooks Koepka has won three in the last two years. They are favorites this week, and Rose feels he should be in that category, too, among what he estimates as 30 players with a true shot to leave with the Wanamaker Trophy. "You know, I feel like the style of golf does suit me generally, so I'm still working hard," Rose said. "There's still a lot of focus for me. I try to build my whole year around trying to play well and peak in the majors. I still feel at this point in my career, yeah, second major, and then obviously on from there will kind of define my career from that point of view. I've done a lot of other really cool things, obviously, alongside my major championship win, but more majors equal a better career, there's no doubt.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2019

Beltré missing baseball less than he thought after 21 years

By Stephen Hawkins, Associated Press DALLAS (AP) — Adrián Beltré was afraid of how he was going to feel after announcing his retirement last November, a decision the former third baseman had pretty much reached privately a few months earlier during the season. While at peace after 21 MLB seasons and 3,166 hits, Beltré still wasn't sure what to expect when the Texas Rangers went to spring training, or when they opened this season without him. "I thought I was going to miss it more, but I'm good," Beltre said Wednesday. "So far it's been good, so hopefully stays that way." Beltre's appearance at the SMU Athletic Forum came about 3½ weeks before he will be back in Texas when the Rangers retire his No. 29 jersey on June 8. "I've seen the guys play, and talked to the guys and every game I see, I don't feel like I wish I could be there," said Beltré, who passed a big test during spring training when he visited the Rangers' complex when his 12-year-old son was playing a baseball tournament in Arizona. "I miss the guys, hanging around the guys. ... Beyond that, I don't think that I'm missing the game that much." The Dominican-born Beltré, the career hits leader for foreign-born players , turned 40 last month. Many of his former teammates were able to celebrate his birthday with him at his California home, since the Rangers' first road trip was against the Los Angeles Angels. While the Rangers are about one-fourth of the way through their 162-game season, Beltré spends his days with his family, transporting his three kids to school and their various activities. "Retirement is nice, but getting a little busy, too," he said. Beltré spent the last eight seasons of his Hall of Fame-caliber career with the Rangers. The four-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner went to his only World Series in 2011, his first season in Texas, and joined the 3,000-hit club in a Rangers home game two years ago. He hit a Texas-high .273 with 15 homers and 65 RBIs in 119 games last season, but was on the disabled list twice because of a strained left hamstring. Calf and hamstring issues in 2017 limited him to 94 games, his fewest since 77 as a 19-year-old rookie with the Los Angeles Dodgers. When he was hurt last season, Beltré said he pretty much decided it was time to retire. But he never publicly revealed what he was thinking, not even to his immediate family, and allowed himself a chance to mentally prepare that his playing career was going to end. "It gave me time to force my mind to this is it," said Beltré, a .286 career hitter with 477 homers whose 2,759 career games at third base are second only to Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson. Beltré, who was a key leader in the Rangers clubhouse, doesn't expect to be a coach any time soon — if at all. "I don't think I have the patience for it. I don't say I will never do it, I just don't see myself doing it," he said. "I was away my house pretty much for 20-something years, and coaching takes more time. ... I don't think I can do that to my family, at least not yet.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2019

The Trail Blazers patience has been rewarded

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Bravo, Portland. Bravo. Doing the right thing isn’t easy in the NBA, where patience is a rare virtue. The Trail Blazers were swept in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. They got swept again in the first round last season. Portland had lost 10 consecutive playoff games going into this year. Ordinarily, that’s a recipe for firings, trade demands and roster dismantling. Instead, the Blazers stayed the course. And their reward is a trip to the Western Conference final, starting Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) against two-time defending champion Golden State. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “It speaks to the character of our organization and what we’ve become,” All-Star guard Damian Lillard said. The Blazers have become a model of consistency. They could have gone the other way. A lot of teams have gone the other way. Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ general manager, took an uncommonly measured approach last season and kept Terry Stotts — currently the fourth-longest-tenured coach in the NBA. Lillard stayed committed and didn’t stomp his feet or force a trade like so many other players in his situation have done or tried to. CJ McCollum, Lillard’s backcourt partner who carried them Sunday (Monday, PHL time) with 37 points, doesn’t mind that he could get more shots elsewhere. “This is arguably the biggest win that we’ve had in the franchise for a long time,” Stotts said after Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) Game 7 win at Denver — the first Game 7 road win in team history. “To be a part of it, to do it the way we did, I’m thrilled.” In a lot of ways, Sunday (Monday, PHL time) epitomized what the Blazers have done in recent years. They got down 17 early on the road in a Game 7. They battled, chipped at the deficit, eventually found the right combination of things that worked and didn’t panic. “Just stay with it,” Stotts said. “Trust was the biggest thing.” He was speaking of Game 7. He could have meant the last two offseasons. Trust takes time to build, and the Blazers now have it from top to bottom. This is how close-knit they are: After the game, Lillard lauded teammates, coaches, the training staff, the front office, the team’s security and the members of the sports media relations staff. He forgot nobody. “Everybody we see every day, everybody’s invested in what we’ve created,” Lillard said. Some teams should be taking notes. So should some players. This is an era in which teams spend years tanking instead of competing, yet still charge plenty to fans willing to come see their inferior product. An era where a bad team like Phoenix somehow decides after one year that a well-regarded coach like Igor Kokoskov needs to be fired — a move that means Devin Booker will start his fifth NBA season playing for a fifth different coach. An era where an elite player like Anthony Davis can pursue a trade with a year and a half left on his contract in New Orleans, starting a circus that became a massive problem for both the Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Blazers didn’t demand that someone else fix their mistakes. They did it themselves. Olshey knew Portland’s roster was flawed after being swept by Davis and the Pelicans last season, that it wasn’t deep enough to handle injury issues. So he took a chance on Seth Curry, Warriors star Stephen Curry’s brother who wasn’t in the league last season, and signed him over the summer. He swung a trade in February and got Rodney Hood to fortify the bench. He fought off plenty of other clubs to sign Enes Kanter when he was freed by the New York Knicks — and that move proved enormous after center Jusuf Nurkic went down with a broken leg. But the moves Olshey didn’t make the last two summers are part of why the Blazers are here now. So are the moves he made three months ago. So, too, are the moves he made four years ago when the Blazers were rebuilders after LaMarcus Aldridge and three other starters left. “We had the roster turnover four years ago and everybody was quick to shoot us down, count us out,” Lillard said. “And at that point, we didn’t know for sure what direction we were going to go in.” Now they know. They’re heading to Oakland and the Western Conference final. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2019

Federer loses to Thiem in Madrid Open quarterfinals

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Roger Federer's return to clay lasted only three matches. A day after saving two match points at the Madrid Open, Federer squandered two match points himself in the quarterfinals against Dominic Thiem on Friday, losing 3-6, 7-6 (11), 6-4. It may have ended his first appearance at a clay-court tournament in three years, but Federer wasn't leaving the Spanish capital too disappointed with the outcome of his return. "I feel very good about my game. I thought I had some good matches here," Federer said. "I feel good on the clay right now. It's been a good week. Frustrating, clearly. Losing with match points is the worst, so that's how I feel. But nevertheless, if I take a step back, it's all good." Federer skipped the clay swing the past two years to remain fit for the rest of the season. He decided to return this year in preparation for his first French Open appearance since 2015. The fifth-seeded Thiem, runner-up in Madrid the last two seasons, will next face top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who didn't have to play his quarterfinal after Marin Cilic withdrew because of food poisoning. Thiem has a chance to win his third title of the year after victories in Barcelona and Indian Wells, where he defeated Federer in a three-set final. "Facing him, it always requires my absolute best game and also a little bit luck, which I both had in Indian Wells and also here, and that's why I won these two matches," Thiem said. The other semifinal will be between Stefanos Tsitsipas and five-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal. Tsitsipas defeated defending champion Alexander Zverev 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, while Nadal cruised past Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-2. Nadal lost only seven points on his service games, conceding no break opportunities against the 34th-ranked Wawrinka. The Swiss lost the 2013 Madrid final to Nadal. "It was one of my best matches in a long time, my best match on clay this year," the second-ranked Spaniard said. "It means a lot to have this feeling in this crucial moment of the clay season." On the women's side, Simona Halep made it back to the Madrid final for the first time since 2017 with a 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-0 win over unseeded Belinda Bencic. The French Open champion can surpass Naomi Osaka for the No. 1 ranking if she wins Saturday's final. "I don't want to think about that. For me, it is more important to win the trophy here than being No. 1," the third-ranked Halep said. "I prefer titles than numbers and rankings. So this is my goal, to play finals and to win trophies." She will face last year's runner-up Kiki Bertens, who defeated Sloane Stephens 6-2, 7-5. The 37-year-old Federer was trying to win his third Madrid title, and first since 2012. He has already won hard-court titles this season in Dubai and Miami. Federer got off to a great start against Thiem at the Magic Box center court, breaking the Austrian's serve early and cruising to a first-set win. He squandered five break points in the second, and then had match points at 8-7 and 10-9 in the tiebreaker before Thiem forced the deciding set by converting his sixth set point. Federer had saved two match points in his difficult three-set win over Gael Monfils on Thursday. Thiem broke Federer for the first time in the third game of the third set, converting his ninth break opportunity of the match. Federer got back on serve at 4-4, but started his next game 0-40 and couldn't recover. Thiem then served out for the victory, converting on his second match point. Thiem has won the last two matches he played against Djokovic, who got the day off because of Cilic's withdrawal. "It was supposed to be definitely a good match," said Djokovic, who has played only four sets this week. "I went back on the court, trained for another hour and got a good sweat in. Happy that I'm going to be fresh for my semifinal." The top-seeded Serb is seeking a third Madrid Open title, and his second of the season after winning the Australian Open. Thiem lost the Madrid final to Nadal in 2017 and to Alexander Zverev in 2018. "I was playing Novak last year and two years ago and he was not at his best I guess, and now he is again," Thiem said. "He's won the last three Slams and he is at the top of the ranking again. So the challenge couldn't be bigger.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2019