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Underdogs have big day at African Cup

By Gerald Imray, Associated Press Underdogs had a big day at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt as Uganda won on its return to the tournament after 41 years and Madagascar held Guinea to a draw on its debut on Saturday. Burundi, another African Cup first-timer, pushed mighty Nigeria all the way. Uganda beat two-time champion Congo 2-0 in Cairo to start the second day of action. Both goals came through headers from set-pieces, with Patrick Kaddu scoring from a corner in the 14th minute and Emmanuel Okwi heading in a free kick early in the second half. That put Uganda top of Group A on goals scored ahead of Mohamed Salah and Egypt, who won the opening game against Zimbabwe on Friday. Uganda last played at the African Cup in the late 1970s. After winning on Saturday the players probably didn't mind that their long-awaited return came at a near empty Cairo International Stadium, an illustration of the African Cup's perennial problem with fan attendance when the home team isn't playing. In Alexandria, Nigeria needed Odion Ighalo's late winner four minutes after he came on as a substitute to deny Burundi on its debut. Ighalo pounced on his first chance. The forward slipped in behind the Burundi defense after a backheeled pass by Ola Aina and stroked a right foot shot across the goalkeeper and into the far corner. Three-time champion Nigeria deserved the win on the second half evidence, but not on the first 45 minutes. Then, Burundi was the more adventurous team on the biggest day in its soccer history. Cedric Amissi controlled a long pass superbly but had his shot blocked by Nigeria keeper Daniel Akpeyi. Akpeyi struggled to keep out a powerful long-range free kick by Gael Bigirimana and Frederic Nsabiyumva hit the crossbar with a header. Nigeria, one of the favorites for the title alongside Egypt and Senegal, ultimately prevailed over the tenacious newcomers after some second-half substitutions injected life into the team. "It was a very difficult game," Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel said. "It was tough. We knew that they are a tough team. They can run and run and run." Nigeria tops Group B ahead of Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi. Madagascar also made its African Cup debut straight after in a double-header at Alexandria Stadium on the Mediterranean coast. Sory Kaba gave Guinea the lead after running onto a long pass, pushing the ball past goalkeeper Melvin Adrien, and swerving past him to score in an empty net. Madagascar responded twice in six minutes in the second half. Anicet Andrianantenaina headed in unmarked from a corner. Guinea's defense stood waiting for the offside flag when Carolus Andriamahitsinoro scored from nothing for 2-1. Guinea won a penalty, converted by Francois Kamano, to get a draw. Midfielder Naby Keita came on in the second half to make his return from injury and couldn't connect with a cross in injury time that would have won it for Guinea. Guinea coach Paul Put said his team gave away two "stupid goals." "I hope it's a lesson for the players," he said. Nigeria clicked in the second half against Burundi after Ahmed Musa and later Oghalo came off the bench to lift a team that had struggled in the buildup with a number of players struck down with illness. Coach Gernot Rohr said "half the team" had a fever this week and couldn't train properly. Nigeria also said winger Samuel Kalu was recovering and had been released from the hospital after he collapsed at training on Friday with dehydration. This African Cup has been switched from its regular January-February slot to June and July so it doesn't clash with any European leagues. But that's landed it in the middle of Egypt's sweltering summer. Organizers warned teams that temperatures will rise to 34-38 degrees Celsius (93-100 F) and games will allow for two water breaks during play, in the 30th and 75th minutes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

Galang, Mau lead Cargo Movers to 3-0 card

IMUS CITY --- Ara Galang and Kalei Mau led the way as F2 Logistics solidified its hold of the top spot with a 25-9, 23-25, 25-22, 25-16, win over Foton in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference Saturday at the Imus Sports Center here. Galang uncorked 20 points off 16 kills, three kill blocks and an ace while Mau posted 15 markers and 22 digs for the Cargo Movers’ third win in as many games. Majoy Baron added 11 points while Aby Marano and Kianna Dy scored nine and seven markers, respectively, as F2 Logistics handed the Tornadoes their second straight loss for a 1-2 card.    Shaya Adorador had 11 points and 14 digs to pace Foton. Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jaja Santiago finished with nine and eight points, respectively. Meanwhile, PLDT Home Fibr recovered from a rusty start to overcome Sta. Lucia, 22-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-20, 15-8, to barge into the win column. Jorelle Singh provided the spark, forcing the game into a deciding fifth set before going for the kill with a game-winning attack to tow the Power Hitters to their first win in two starts. Gretchel Soltones led the charge with 16 kills, two aces and a block for 19 points, 19 digs and 18 excellent receptions while Singh proved that she belonged as she fired 16 hits off the bench, much to the delight of seasoned mentor Roger Gorayeb. “I was looking for the right combination. I already shuffled my whole lineup to find it. I’m glad that Jorelle delivered,” said Gorayeb, referring to Singh who was not part of the roster in the Grand Prix. “Jorelle is not lucky to be part of this team. She deserves it because she’s really good. She can kill the ball and outplay the blockers despite being small.” Joyce Sta. Rita and Shola Alvarez also stepped up with eight points apiece while setter Jasmine Nabor made 25 excellent sets and three points as PLDT bounced back back from their first loss to F2 Logistics, 15-25, 25-27-25, 22-25, last Tuesday. The Lady Realtors dominated the first two sets but the Power Hitters stole the momentum and took control of the third and fourth set with bench player Singh stepping up and delivering the crucial blows. Sta. Lucia completely collapsed in the fifth where it notched six of its 48 errors, allowing PLDT to mount an 11-4 lead that set the stage for Singh’s game-winning hit. MJ Phillips put up 19 points while Rachel Austero had 17 and Pam Lastimosa chipped in 14 markers for the Lady Realtors, who also drew impressive performance from Joy Dacoron and Amanda Villanueva. The Lady Realtors fell to 1-2......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

Copa America: Tite expected to make changes to Brazil s team

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — Under pressure after two lackluster performances by Brazil in the Copa America at home, coach Tite is expected to make changes to his squad ahead of its final group game this weekend. Brazil faces Peru on Saturday in Sao Paulo needing at least a draw to guarantee a place in the next round. Few doubt Brazil will make it through, as the Selecao can advance even with a loss, but only a convincing performance will satisfy the demanding Brazilian fans and relieve some of the pressure on Tite. The coach did not say who will start on Saturday but hinted he will not keep the same team from the first two games. "We have several athletes with different characteristics," Tite said on Friday. "Each one can help in different ways depending on the match." The coach's main changes are expected in the attack, which has been the team's primary weakness. David Neres, Richarlison, and Roberto Firmino, the trio that started the first two matches, are yet to score. In the 3-0 opening win against Bolivia a week ago, Brazil had two goals from Philippe Coutinho and one from substitute Everton. The second match was 0-0 against Venezuela on Tuesday. "We need to improve our precision in attack, we acknowledge that," Tite said. "We know that we need to be able to translate our superiority into goals." Brazil entered the tournament without Neymar because of an ankle injury, and none of the other forwards have been able to make up for his absence. Neymar was dropped from the squad before the tournament but showed up at the team's hotel on Friday to visit his teammates and support the team. Tite, who on Thursday completed three years as Brazil coach, said after the team's World Cup elimination last year he regretted taking too long to make changes to the squad, and that this time he would not make the same mistake. Brazil was jeered in both Copa America matches and many of the boos were aimed at Tite when he substituted defensive midfielder Casemiro with another defensive midfielder, Fernandinho, against Venezuela despite the team's inability to create scoring chances. The fans wanted him to use Everton, who played well coming off the bench in both games and is the player most likely to earn a starting spot against Peru. The quick forward helped open up the opponent's defense, allowing Brazil to improve and create more scoring opportunities. The other possible player to get a chance is Gabriel Jesus, who has also come off the bench twice. The Manchester City forward wasn't as effective as Everton, but did help improve the attack. He found the net in the second half against Venezuela, but the goal was disallowed after video review. Neres had decent performances playing in Neymar's position, but it was Coutinho who many felt should have taken over the leading role. Coutinho also had a goal disallowed by video review against Venezuela, but despite his decisive scores against Bolivia his performances have been below expectations. Fernandinho didn't practice with the rest of the squad on Friday because of a right knee ailment and will not play on Saturday. Midfielder Arthur also practiced separately on Thursday because of a foot injury, but he was back with the rest of the team on Friday and is likely to be available against Peru. Brazil and Peru are tied at the top of Group A with four points, two more than third-place Venezuela. Bolivia has no points after two matches. Venezuela and Bolivia meet in Belo Horizonte on Saturday. Peru eliminated Brazil from the 2016 Copa America with a 1-0 win in the final match of their group, handing Brazil its first group-stage elimination in the tournament since 1987......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

England beats Japan 2-0 to clinch top spot in Group D

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press NICE, France (AP) — For the first time since Bryan Robson, Peter Shilton and Glenn Hoddle, an England team finished a World Cup group stage with a 3-0 record. Ellen White scored both goals, and the Lionesses roared into the round of 16 with a 2-0 victory over Japan on Wednesday night to win the group. Phil Neville's England squad will play a third-place team on Sunday and with a victory would advance to a quarterfinal against Norway or Australia. The victory over Japan came after Neville made eight changes to the starting lineup. "Since Phil's come in he's changed different combinations of the squad and I think that's why this squad is so competitive and so great," White said. "We can change the squad and show that we can play together and we've got so many different combinations and styles and talented players and that's really important going into a tournament that's really long. "We can use all 23 players so that's exciting and it's just great to have such talented players that can perform on the biggest stage." Japan finished second with a 1-1-1 record and will play the Netherlands or Canada in the round of 16. The 30-year-old White scored in the 14th minute when she chipped the ball past goalkeeper Saki Kumagai after being sent clear by Georgia Stanway. White's third goal on the tournament came in the 84th minute following a through-ball by Karen Carney. White scored in the opening win over Scotland, then was dropped to the bench against Argentina. "We've just got to give him a headache," White said with a laugh, describing all the players pushing to start. "For us it's just about trying to perform and play well and he's got the hard job to do." Neville is likely to stick with his rotation policy for Sunday's match although he admitted he might not make as many changes. "It depends on what team we're playing," he said. "There are certain players who are our experts in certain games. We need to know which team we're playing, then decide how they play, how we're going to beat them and see the players which fit the profile the best. "That's what rotation is about. It's not about throwing 23 players into a hat and pulling out 11. We strategically plan each rotation. Sometimes if you make more than five, you suffer in the rhythm and the flow and I think we did that tonight." Trailing by a goal, Japan almost scored when substitute Yuika Sugasawa volleyed narrowly past the left post. "We managed to get through to the knockout stage, and the things we should do have been defined in our past matches," Japan coach Asako Takakura said. "We need to be very prepared for the next round.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 20th, 2019

7-man CEU takes down Cignal-Ateneo to tie PBA D-League Finals

Centro Escolar University stunned Cignal-Ateneo, 77-74, to level the 2019 PBA D-League Finals at one game apiece on Tuesday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig. Jerome Santos uncorked 28 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists to be the difference-maker for the seven-man Scorpions. Senegalese big man Maodo Malick Diouf remained solid upfront with 23 points, 16 boards, four steals, two dimes, and two blocks, as Rich Guinitaran chipped in 13 points, two assists, and two blocks. "I think we're able to redeem ourselves today. We're able to show up in the championship game," said coach Derrick Pumaren. "What I told my players is more on motivation. I told them to believe in themselves, that we can be in the same league in Ateneo. I'm just happy to see the fight and us competing in this game." It was a different CEU team from that of Game 1, grabbing a 65-55 lead midway through the fourth. Cignal-Ateneo, though, would stage a 14-4 response to knot the score at 69 with exactly two minutes remaining. The game was then ultimately decided on the charity stripe as the Scorpions converted six of their eight freebies in the endgame, with Franz Diaz burying the crucial shots in the last 10.1 ticks as it held a 77-74 lead. Guinitaran almost squandered the game with a turnover on his inbounds play, but Adrian Wong was whistled for a travelling violation that gave CEU the ball back. Wong and SJ Belangel still had their shots to force overtime, but their triples rattled out of the basket as the buzzer horned. Wong carried the Blue Eagles with 17 points on a 4-of-7 clip from beyond the arc. Ivorian slotman Ange Kouame nabbed a double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks, as Belangel got 13 off the bench in the loss. Cignal-Ateneo played without senior forward Isaac Go who was under the weather. The crucial Game 3 is on Thursday, still at Ynares Sports Arena. BOX SCORES CEU 77 -- Santos 28, Diouf 23, Guinitaran 13, Diaz 8, Bernabe 2, Abastillas 2, Sunga 1. CIGNAL-ATENEO 74 -- Wong 17, Kouame 14, Belangel 13, Ravena 10, Andrade 6, Daves 4, Mi. Nieto 4, Mamuyac 4, Ma. Nieto 2, Tio 0, Navarro 0, Credo 0, Berjay 0. QUARTER SCORES: 16-13, 34-39, 53-52, 77-74......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2019

Mau delivers in debut for 2-0 Cargo Movers

Fil-American Kalei Mau debuted with na bang for F2 Logistics as she powered the Cargo Movers to a 25-15, 27-25, 25-22, demolition of PLDT Home Fibr on Tuesday in the 2019 Superliga All-Filipino Conference at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Mau, who missed the team’s first game to give her more time to learn head coach Ramil De Jesus’ system, hammered 14 kill blocks with two aces and a kill block for 17 points for F2 Logistics, which won their second straight match. “Not bad para sa unang game ng bago sa team,” said De Jesus referring to Mau, who had 14 digs and eight excellent receptions. Team captain Aby Marano, Ara Galang and Kim Kianna Dy scored nine markers each for the Cargo Movers. Grethcel Soltones and Gen Casugod had 14 and 11 points, respectively, for PLDT.     Meanwhile, Generika-Ayala vented its ire on Marinerang Pilipinas following a 25-18, 25-15, 25-23 win for a 1-1 win-loss slate. After getting blown out by F2 Logistics straight sets in the opener last Saturday, the Lifesavers bounced back to barge into the win column, sending the Lady Skippers to their second straight loss in one hour and 23 minutes. Patty Orendain, who struggled on opener, put up an all-around performance for Generika-Ayala with 18 points off 15 attacks, a pair of aces and a block and had 16 digs and eight excellent receptions. Ria Meneses and Fiola Ceballos had 11 points each while Angeli Araneta added eight markers for the Lifesavers. Dimdim Pacres was the lone double digits scorer with 11 points while Chiara Permentilla scored seven markers off the bench for the Lady Skippers. In the other match, Elaine Kasilag finished with a game-high 20 points in Foton’s 17-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-21, victory over Sta. Lucia. Didin Santiago-Manabat had 16 points while Jaja Santiago and Maika Ortiz posted 11 markers apiece for the Tornadoes, which recovered from a poor start. MJ Phillips led the Lady Realtors with 19 points while Amanda Villanueva finished with 13 markers, 13 digs and 12 excellent receptions in a lost cause.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2019

Lloyd, a World Cup starter again, scores 2 as US beats Chile

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Carli Lloyd wasn't thrilled to open the Women's World Cup on the bench for the United States. She accepted the role, but made no secret she wanted to start. When the call came Sunday, Lloyd made it count with a pair of goals to lead the defending champions to a 3-0 victory over Chile. The win pushed the United States into the round of 16. Lloyd was the hero of the World Cup in Canada four years ago when she scored three goals in the final against Japan that gave the Americans their third World Cup title. But she was on the bench when the U.S. opened the tournament, even though she scored later as a substitute in the 13-0 victory over Thailand. "I know that my ability is there, I know this is my best version of me. I've just got to go out there and prove it," she said. "Whether that's coming off the bench and making an impact, whether that's starting and getting the opportunity, which I'm grateful for, I'm just trying to make the most of it. I want to win." Lloyd became the first player to score in six straight World Cup matches with her goal in the 11th minute. She added another on a header off a corner in the 35th for her 10th career World Cup goal, which moved her into third on the U.S. list behind Abby Wambach (14) and Michelle Akers (12). At 36, she became the oldest player to have a multi-goal game in the tournament. She nearly got another hat trick — which would have made her the first player with two in the World Cup — but her penalty kick in the 81st minute went wide left. "It's haunting me right now," Lloyd said. "Wasn't good enough." The score could have been worse for Chile without unshakable goalkeeper Christiane Endler, who finished with six saves and fended off a flurry of U.S. shots in the second half. Endler was named player of the match. "I love the balls coming towards me and being able to showcase my skills," she said through a translator. "Obviously it's difficult to maintain concentration. I think in the first half it was difficult for me to get into the game. I think the second half went better for me and in general for the team." The victory over Chile was more subdued than the U.S. team's record-breaking rout of Thailand. The Americans celebrated every goal even after the win was well in hand, and the display offended many who thought the champions should have shown more class. The controversy clouded the run-up to the match against Chile. Several of the American players reached out to their Thai counterparts following the match. Lloyd exchanged encouraging words and tweets with goalkeeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying, and FIFA posted an interview with Thailand's coach thanking the U.S. players for being professional and playing well. After such a rout, Jill Ellis made sweeping changes to the starting lineup against Chile, including a new front line with Lloyd, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh. Alex Morgan was moved to the bench along with Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath. Becky Sauerbrunn, who sat out the match against Thailand because of a minor quad injury, returned and anchored a backline that included 20-year-old Tierna Davidson, who was making her World Cup debut. Davidson is the youngest player to start for the United States in a World Cup since Tiffany Roberts against Norway in 1995. Chile made just one lineup change, starting midfielder Claudia Soto in place of Yanara Aedo. Chile lost its opener to Sweden 2-0, but Endler was solid in that game, too, keeping the Swedes out of the goal until 83rd minute. The second goal got past the 6-footer in stoppage time. Julie Ertz scored in the 26th minute with a header off a corner kick from Davidson that Endler got her hands on but couldn't stop. It was Ertz's first World Cup goal and came with her husband Zach Ertz, a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, looking on. Endler denied Lloyd another chance at the hat trick when she tipped the U.S. captain's shot over the net in the 72nd minute. Sweden also advanced out of Group F with a victory 5-1 victory over Thailand earlier Sunday in Nice. Japan, playing in Group D with England, also went through to the knockout stage because both the United States and Sweden won. Former Vice President Joe Biden was among the U.S. team's well-wishers before the sold-out game at Parc des Princes stadium. Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, referenced the team's lawsuit against U.S. Soccer alleging gender discrimination and seeking equitable pay. "As we cheer them on in the World Cup, we must support their fight off the field for equal pay. In 2019, it's past time we close the pay gap and ensure women get paid as much as men," Biden tweeted. U.S. soccer maintains the two teams have different pay structures because of separate collective bargaining agreements. But for now, the players are concentrating on France and bringing home a fourth World Cup championship. The United States plays Sweden on Thursday to wrap up the group stage. It is the first meeting between the two teams since Sweden ousted the Americans from the quarterfinals at the 2016 Olympics. Chile wraps up the group with a match against Thailand on Thursday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

PVL: Perlas Spikers part ways with Bright, bring in Chuewulim

After putting import Kia Bright on a leash the last time out, BanKo parted ways with the Americana and brought in Thai reinforcement Sutadta Chuewulim. The Thai national team member flew to Iloilo with the Perlas Spikers for their Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference encounter with defending champion Creamline at the University of San Agustin gym on Saturday. Bright, who was in her second stint with the Perlas Spikers, saw limited minutes in BanKo’s 23-25, 11-25, 25-22, 20-25, defeat at the hands of league-leading PetroGazz last Wednesday. She only played in the first two sets, coming off the bench in the opening frame before starting in the next. Bright, who averaged 16.2 points in the tournament, scored only one point. BanKo declined to comment on the real score for Bright’s limited minutes, calling it a ‘coach and management decision’.       Chuewulim, who has played in the defunct V-League and the Philippine Superliga before, gives additional scoring punch for the Perlas Spikers and will bring more muscle to BanKo’s defense. Her all-around game fits the system of the Perlas Spikers and will complement the local crew led by Nicole Tiamzon, Kathy Bersola, Dzi Gervacio and Sue Roces.      BanKo is coming off a back-to-back loss for a 2-4 win-loss record and Chuewulim’s arrival could help the Perlas Spikers turn their campaign around.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2019

Durant s injury devastates victorious Warriors as they head home

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com TORONTO — When a superstar crumples to the floor like that, after everything he’d been through, after mustering the will to return to action, after giving his team the lift it so desperately needed in a win-or-go-home game, everything that happens next is muted: The flow of a tense game, the pulsating fourth quarter, even the Warriors’ inspired Game 5 victory in the final seconds. All that’s left is a siren blaring and asking … Why? Why did the Warriors clear Kevin Durant to return to the NBA Finals on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time)? Why did he feel compelled to do so after missing nearly a month with a calf strain? Why did a segment of the basketball populace question the severity of his injury -- and, by extension, his heart -- during the lead-up? And why do the basketball Gods seem to have it in for a two-time Finals MVP and all-time great who put his team first, and possibly just put his career in jeopardy? The Raptors fans who lined up 24 hours early in the rain just to watch on TV outside Scotiabank Arena aren’t shook. The citizens who braced for a championship celebration into the wee hours and now must deal with deflation aren’t shook. Not even the Raptors, who coughed up a six-point lead with 3.5 minutes left and now must fly 3,000 miles for another tip. No, it’s the Warriors who were left dazed and confused despite extending the series to another game with the 106-105 victory, and it was all captured in the quivering voice of team president Bob Myers while revealing Durant suffered an Achilles injury early in the second quarter. “He’s a good teammate,” Myers finally managed to say. “He’s a good person … it’s not fair … he just wants to play basketball and right now he can’t.” No, he can’t, and Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) MRI will determine when that can happen again. Slow-motion TV replays that showed Durant executing a dribble move past Serge Ibaka and then dropping quickly to the floor were not positive. When Durant grabbed his leg on May 8 (May 9, PHL time), he reached high on his calf. This time, he reached low. A segment of the fans initially cheered Durant’s misfortune, and when Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka put them in check, the reaction quickly flipped from insensitive to respectful. But it didn’t matter in the big picture that they applauded Durant. He was helped to the locker room by director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini and Andre Iguodala. Stephen Curry left the bench and walked behind Durant, consoling him. Durant cursed loudly as he reached the tunnel. Then he disappeared from view and later left the arena by crutches right after halftime. In the history of the NBA Finals, there was no tougher scene to witness, no matter the rooting interest. This was a basketball betrayal, pure and simple, that happened to Kevin Durant. But should it have? Plenty of questions now surround the medical protocol used by the Warriors. Durant took part in what was loosely termed a practice for the first time just a day earlier. Was that enough? Did he pass all the stress tests by then? Did the exams and MRIs give a green light? Were the experts fully apprised? And, perhaps most crucially, how much of this Achilles injury could be directly related to the calf injury and should that have been perhaps a larger concern? “He went through four weeks with a medical team and it was thorough and we felt good about the process," Myers insisted. "He was cleared to play tonight, that was a collaborative decision. I don’t believe there is anyone to blame, but I understand in this world that if you have to, you can blame me.” Beyond that, was there any pressure -- either implied or indirectly placed or discreetly suggested -- within the organization for Durant to return and rescue the Warriors? They were down 3-1 without him. Durant is famously sensitive about how he’s perceived, especially regarding his toughness. Maybe he felt pressure himself to quiet the noise and whispers. Complicating matters is his pending free agency. Durant stood to make hundreds of millions on the market this summer, and a torn Achilles, if that’s what the MRI will show, can require a year to rehab. In the moment, Durant's injury had a temporary bonding effect between the two teams; a handful of Toronto players approached Durant before he checked out and both benches appeared equally stunned. “In this league,” explained Lowry, “we’re all brothers, and it’s a small brotherhood and you never want to see a competitor like him go down.” Before the injury, Durant showed flashes of the next-level skills that helped him lead the Warriors to the last two championships. He hit his first two shots, both from deep. He commanded coverage from Kawhi Leonard, Toronto’s best defender. He had a presence. This injected confidence within the Warriors, who broke out a nine-point lead with Durant on the floor and seized early command. He, Curry and Thompson were 12-for-19 shooting for 36 points through the early second quarter. With their missing star in the fold for the first time this series, Golden State looked whole again. Once Durant left the floor, the game tightened until the fourth. Leonard (26 points), who shot poorly to that point, made his move, with 10 quick points to send a quake through the arena. Curiously, Raptors coach Nick Nurse called a timeout with his team buzzing and up five with three minutes left. Did that kill the momentum? Curry and Thompson answered with consecutive three-pointers to tie and then take the lead with 56 seconds left. Then, on Toronto’s final possession, Thompson and Andre Iguodala trapped Leonard and forced him to surrender the ball. It found its way to Lowry, deep in the corner. But Draymond Green got his fingertips on the ball, Lowry’s shot was harmless and the buzzer sounded. No confetti fell from the ceiling, no bottles were popped in the home locker room, no trophy was ceremoniously awarded. Curry and Thompson combined for 57 points and took 27 three-pointers, making 12. They’ll need to duplicate that production Thursday (Friday, PHL time) in Oakland and beyond if the Warriors force a seventh game. DeMarcus Cousins was helpful post-Durant and had 14 points. “They’ve accomplished so much over the years and that doesn’t happen just with talent,” Kerr said. “There has to be more that goes into it and it’s that fight, that competitive desire and ability to stay poised under pressure. It was brilliant to watch.” And yet: There was little joy. “It’s hard to even celebrate this win,” said Klay Thompson. “I told the team I didn’t know what to say because, on one hand I’m so proud of them for the amazing heart and grit they showed, and on the other I’m just devastated for Kevin," Kerr said. "So it’s a bizarre feeling that we all have right now.” It’s a reflex to say the Warriors were inspired by Durant and perhaps they were. When he fell, they had their excuse, yet thought otherwise. For them to play the final 2.5 quarters while dealing with a fractured state of mind says plenty about their mental toughness. “It had made it difficult, especially with the start we got off to and Kevin was playing so well, so it was a real shock when he went down,” said Kerr. “So I give our guys credit.” Durant at times became a magnet for his personality quirks and especially his non-commitment regarding free agency; it was even raised by Green when the two infamously clashed on the bench earlier this season. If nothing else, the injury further endeared Durant to the locker room and, in particular, to his fellow MVP. “Everybody gets so wrapped up in chasing championships, but life is more important in terms of caring about an individual and what they’re going through,” Curry said. “And you see the commitment and the challenges and just what has been thrown at KD this whole year, really. He gave us what he had, he went out there and sacrificed his body and we know how that turned out. “When you get to know somebody and see how genuine they are and how committed they are to basketball, you root for those type of guys. All those emotions come into play when you see him go down like that. It’s not even about this series; it’s about long term, his mindset and being able to get back to being the player and the person he has shown consistently over the course of his career.” The Warriors return to Oracle Arena for the final game in the old barn before moving to San Francisco next season, so there is motivation to shut it down in style. Of course, there’s the goal of forcing a seventh game, and finally, to win a title so Durant’s injury won’t be in vain. “We do it for Kevin,” said Thompson. “He wants us to compete and the highest level, and we’ll think of him every time we step on the hardwood. You think of him every time you dive for a loose ball or go for a rebound, because I know him and I know how bad he wants to be out there. I’m going to miss him, man. It’s not the same being out there without him.” Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsJun 11th, 2019

MPBL: Beefed Up Bacoor City Strikers looking to go further than Divisional Semis

Considering that they were the final expansion team to be formed for the 2018-2019 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, the Bacoor City Strikers did pretty good for themselves, finishing fifth in the Southern Division to clinch a spot in the playoffs, and even going as far as the Divisional Semifinals.  There, the Strikers would fall to eventuall National Finalists Davao Occidental. It may have not been the end to the season that they wanted, but Strikers main man Gab Banal was pretty pleased with what he saw from the team.  "It was an incredible season for me and for Bacoor City, knowing that we were the last team to be formed, and still we were able to reach the semifinals of the Southern Division," Banal told ABS-CBN Sports.  Aside from a playoff berth, Banal also earned MVP honors, finishing with 18.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 6.4 assists during the stellar season.  Now, however, Banal and the Strikers are targeting a deeper run in the post-season, and are expecting to do so, now that they've gotten more time to prepare, and they've gotten more talented.  "I guess this upcoming season, we’ve had more time to prepare. We got some new players and we have a new coach also, and the team management, the players, and the coaching staff are more determined to do better than what we did last year," Banal explained. "We had the coaching changes, the decision was made by the management, and we have some new players so that we could beef up and supplement me in terms of our system, offensively and defensively." "I know that all the other teams beefed up also, and there are additional teams in the Southern Division also. It’s going to be tough, but we will just focus on ourselves and we will just go with the flow and mind our own thing, and see how far we can go this time around," he added.  Joining Banal on the Strikers will be ABL veteran Oping Sumalinog as well as Michael Mabulac, Ian Melecio, Paolo Castro, and Matthew Aquino, among others.  "[We've got] Oping Sumalinog, who played for the ABL, is coming back, and we have Michael Mabulac, Paolo Castro, Ian Melencio, and we have other players that we can rely on off the bench, because last year we were the worst in points off the bench," Banal detailed. "This time, because it’s a long season, I think it’s going to last 10 to 12 months, and it’s gonna be tiring so we need some players who can help us give us that relief off the bench." Obviously, the goal for the Strikers, as with all the other teams in the MPBL, is to be able to bring home the championship at the end of the season. Banal however says that they will take the season a game at a time and the immediate goal is to improve on a daily basis.  "Of course, we’re aiming for the championship, but we’re focusing on one game at a time, and let the season flow and just take care of ourselves, we’re being specific rather than focusing right away on a task far ahead, we’re focusing on one game at a time, one quarter at a time, one possession at a time, and eventually that will build up to a win. We just have to be better every day and focus on our immediate goals and we’ll see how far it takes us."   The Bacoor Strikers open the 2019 MPBL Lakan Cup against reigning Datu Cup Champions San Juan Knights at home in Bacoor on Friday, June 14 at 9:00 PM. Catch it LIVE on S+A channel 23 and on iWant Sports    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2019

Five things we learned from Game 4 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 105-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2019 NBA Finals on Friday at Oracle Arena: 1. Dynasties eventually become ‘die-nastys’ Will we get one more game at Oracle Arena? The scene of so much Golden State wonderfulness the past five seasons? A building about to be abandoned when the Warriors move from Oakland to a state-of-the-art arena across the Bay? Hold up. Asking one more game out of the Warriors seems a lot at the moment. These guys just suffered their second consecutive home playoff loss by 10 points or more, something that hasn’t happened to this franchise in 50 years. After three straight games scoring precisely 109 points, the Warriors came up 15 short Friday (Saturday, PHL time). They are 0-9 overall this season when held to double digits, and 0-11 in the playoffs during the Steve Kerr era, when they score 94 or fewer. And now they’re on the wrong side of a 3-1 deficit, lacking everything from certain healthy bodies to an edge, a sharpness that was missing in the second half. Granted, Golden State once held a 3-1 edge in a Finals, all the way back in 2016 … when LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers chased them down and became the only Finals team to claw out of such a chasm. The Warriors did the same to Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference finals. So they not only have a blueprint, they have the know-how and an opportunity to do it again. Like Kerr before him on Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) postgame podium, Warriors forward Draymond Green spoke of simply trying to win one basketball game, the next game, as the proper way to dig out of this series hole. But then he dropped his guard and mentioned winning three in a row, something the Warriors have done often. But they’re a whole year removed from doing that in a Finals (last year’s sweep of the Cavs) with a healthy Kevin Durant. This is a more worn-down, tired team. In fact, Game 4 was more than Golden State’s 102nd game of 2018-19, regular and postseason combined. It was the 102nd playoff game of their five consecutive Finals runs, which means they have crammed an extra season-plus into their schedules compared to the underachievers on lottery teams sitting at home. From the looks of it Friday (Saturday, PHL time), these guys are ready to be toppled, like the Lakers in 1989 and again in 2004, like the Heat in 2014 and the Cavaliers last June. The boisterous Raptors fans who staged their takeover of the Warriors’ building after Game 4 were merely mirroring what their favorite team did on the court from halftime on. Golden State could not stop it. Rudy Tomjanovich might still be inclined to scream into the darkness. (“Never underestimate the heart of a champion!”) But pride only takes you so far, and that’s mostly what the Warriors have left. 2. Third quarter? That’s Toronto’s now It took the Raptors more than 18 minutes to score 30 points Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), stymied by the pace of the game and particularly Golden State’s scrappy, hustling defense. Immediately after halftime, it took Toronto only 12 minutes to put up 37. The time of death for Golden State on Friday was immediately after Kawhi Leonard drained consecutive three-pointers – “F-you” shots, teammate Fred VanVleet memorably coined them – that boosted Toronto from a four-point deficit to a 12-point advantage. The Warriors already had played well enough to rightly feel they should have had a bigger cushion; falling behind so rudely seemed to buckle the defending champs. That they feel third quarters are their birthright made the switcheroo intolerable. “We had a big problem with the third quarter in Game 2,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “We had to make some adjustment there to try to combat the way they come out of the half. We made the decision to put Fred in, [first] in Game 3 and then Game 4 again. Mostly it's to try to keep up pace of our offense going. It gives us two point guards out there that can push the ball, get it in and get it going, and it kind of paid off. “I know Kawhi's two big three's to start the half really changed the whole feel of everybody. Everybody was like, ‘Okay, man, we know we are here, let's go,’ and we just kind of kept going from those two three's.” For the Warriors, who have done that to so many others, turnabout was a pain in the rump. “Oh, this sucks,” Draymond Green recalled thinking as Toronto took control of the quarter. “It sucks really bad. You just try and do whatever you can to change it. Get a stop, get a bucket, get some momentum.  Every time we did, they answered.” Green was asked about the difficulty of rattling the stone-faced Leonard with whatever defensive tactic Golden State could muster, and brushed the question aside. “I don't think you're ever going to rattle Kawhi. Not sure we used that word one time in our scouting report, ‘We're going to rattle him,’” Green said. But it’s not just Leonard now. It’s the Raptors. Time after time, whenever Golden State revved up with a couple of scoring possessions, signaling to their fans they ready to make a run, Toronto snuffed it with a three-pointer or a well-executed pick and roll. They’ve got a team of Kawhis-in-training, unflappable lately if not as inscrutable. “Most teams will take cues from their leaders or their star players, so I think that spreads around a little bit,” Nurse said. But he also praised vets such as Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and VanVleet for how steady they’ve been. Now, with the temptation to imagine hoisting a championship trophy, the Raptors might be expected to buy into the stat that, of the 34 teams in The Finals who have led 3-1, 33 of them got their rings. But this team is so focused, so resolute in taking care of business down to the smallest and most mundane task, that all Nurse might have to do is remind them how many aspiring champs won three games in a Finals and still headed into summer empty-handed. (It's 19.) No trophy, no rings. 3. A surge from Serge The chemistry between Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry was evident in their playful banter on the podium Friday night. Each slipped into his role, Lowry as the instigator, Ibaka as the target of his playful jibes. “You joining me?” Lowry asked, as Ibaka got to the podium a half minute after him. “Serge Ibaka, everybody. You all know him. Nice outfit. Worth a lot of money. Is that jacket real leather?” “Yes, it’s real leather,” Ibaka said. "Pants too tight, he can't even sit down,” Lowry said. On court, Ibaka’s defensive impact and 20 points in reserve dampened a lot of Warrior enthusiasm. There are nights when Ibaka comes across like Chief in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a large, lumbering and rather stiff option near the rim with very little to say. Some nights, he even seems to be asleep. But still waters often run deep, too deep for the Warriors in Game 4, it turned out. Ibaka’s here-today, gone-tomorrow shooting touch had him playing in a way that none of Golden State’s three centers – DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney or Andrew Bogut – could match. “Once he gets into the series," Nurse said, "which he did in Game 3 with the blocked shots and the rebounding and stuff, he seems to stay in the series. He usually gives you all of it.” Said Lowry, about knowing when a Serge surge is coming: “He doesn't say anything. When Serge is effective defensively is when he's at his best. I think the scoring just comes. We're going to make sure he gets that pick-and-pop jump shot, he's rolling … When he brings that intensity and that fierceness, it's kind of tough to stop him on both ends of the floor.” 4. Stephen Curry had a bad game One of the most famous pieces of magazine journalism ever was entitled, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” by Gay Talese, a profile written when Sinatra obviously was ill of body and temper, and didn’t even grant Talese an interview. So our headline kind of tells the story as his did: Curry, one of the top five players in the NBA and probably the greatest overall shooter of all time, was not his two-time MVP self. He wasn’t even the Game 3 version (47 points). The Warriors point guard scored 20 fewer points in this one, and was 2-of-9 from three-point range. He missed all five of his shots from the arc in the first half and he picked up some obvious frustration fouls. Curry played 43 of the 48 minutes, and Golden State was outscored by 11 points when he was on the court. “It wasn’t his best game,” Kerr said. Evaluating Curry, for the Warriors, was going to come down to breaking down video and keeping the faith. Evaluating him, for the rest of us, is getting complicated these days by a sense that Curry did not get his due in past Finals – at least in terms of winning the Bill Russell Award as Finals MVP. But that’s no excuse to don rose-colored glasses every time he hits the floor. As scintillating as his performance was in defeat Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) as the Warriors’ only healthy threat, his Game 4 work was raggedy and unproductive. “They have been aggressive all series and trying to take space away from me and Klay,” Curry said. “I missed some shots early that I usually make, especially from the three-point line. But overall, I thought I got good looks.” Every game doesn’t need to be a referendum on the level of Curry appreciation. He might have deserved more consideration as Finals MVP in 2015, when Andre Iguodala snagged it with a strong performance in the clinching game. And even though Kevin Durant was an easy choice in 2017, there were some who felt Curry was more essential (including this voter). In some cosmic and just way, Curry probably should have been recognized with hardware somewhere among the three. But all signs are pointing to Leonard now, so Curry might have to muddle along with "only" those two Maurice Podoloff trophies for regular-season MVP, along with his All-NBA berths and assorted accolades, his ginormous contract and bounty of commercial endorsements, three rings (unless this series turns around) and a better life than most people who’ve ever walked the planet. 5. Durant to play in Game … 8? It’s possible that Durant will come walking through Rick Pitino’s proverbial door and seize what’s left of the championship series by the throat, playing like the two-time Finals MVP he is. Failing that, if there’s a Game 6, maybe that’s the night Durant at least does a Willis Reed impersonation, limping through the Oracle tunnel to a thunderous roar and hitting a couple of early shots to inspire his teammates to something special. (There still, alas, would be a pesky Game 7 for which to account, back in Toronto, likely muddying the drama.) Then again, maybe Durant doesn’t come back at all. For The Finals or with the Warriors, period. Speculation at this point is all over the map. Some think the Warriors planned to hold him out until things got really dire, to buy extra healing time and maybe not use him at all. Others now believe Durant’s rehab process of his strained right calf back-slid to some degree on Thursday, when he participated in a checkpoint workout with the training staff. A few folks think he never was going to return, regardless. After all, the All-NBA forward hasn’t played since May 8 (May 9, PHL time), missing nine fairly important games. This is a league where injuries typically face an “If this were a playoff game, would he play?” threshold. Durant has been nearly as absent from this NBA postseason as LeBron James. Look, all injuries are different, and even the same type of injury can have different timelines with different sufferers. Klay Thompson rushing back from his hamstring issue after skipping only Game 3 is at the crazy-resilient end of the durability scale. Kevon Looney basically rose from the ashes, giving the Warriors a rim runner and 10 points with six rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. He had been ruled out for the rest of the series after suffering a rib cartilage fracture in his crash to the floor in Game 2. After anticipation of Durant’s availability got out in front of his reality for a few days, the chatter is more tempered now. There’s a shrug and a whiff of uncertainty folded into every mention. If Durant had his Thursday workout, he would have played Friday (Saturday, PHL time). If he had a setback … Heck, at this point it might be more pragmatic for the medical peeps to declare him out and let the Warriors who’ve come this far see this through, yea or nay. “As far as KD, there's been hope that he will come back the whole series,” Draymond Green said. “So that's not going to change now. Obviously we hope to have him, but we'll see what happens. We don't make that final call, he don't really even make that final call.  His body will tell him if he can get out there or not. And if he can, great. And if not, you still got to try to find a way to win the next game.” The Warriors had been holding out hope for Durant’s return as if he was their ace in the hole, imagining him with zero rust or rhythm issues once back and no limitations on his gait. But he has passed the “In case of emergency, break glass” point of urgent help possibilities. Now Durant resembles more the keg hanging from a Saint Bernard dog’s collar. It’s a nice idea, but when was the last time one of those dogs saved somebody who literally drank from the little barrel? Toronto is in a foreign land, by NBA standards. But it ain’t the Alps. 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 NewsJun 9th, 2019

Warriors hopes hinge on Durant coming back

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — When Game 4 was over, while Toronto fans were waving Canadian flags in celebration inside an otherwise-stunned Oracle Arena, a glum-faced Kevin Durant was outside the Golden State locker room to greet equally glum teammates as they sauntered off the floor. That’s been his only visible role on game nights in the NBA Finals. If that doesn’t change Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), this series is probably going to end. With it, in that case, so would Golden State’s reign as NBA champions. And then it’s possible that Durant, a free-agent-in-waiting, has played for the Warriors for the last time. Durant limped off the floor at Oracle Arena a month ago — Game 5 of the second round — with what the team called a mild calf strain. It’s apparently the most severe “mild” calf strain in the history of injuries, because he hasn’t played since and there’s no way of knowing if that’s going to change on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). And the Warriors clearly need him if they’re going to pull off a comeback against the Raptors in these NBA Finals. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us at all,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “It’s just a matter of can we get it done or not, and we’re going to leave it all out there starting on Monday.” That’ll be the case, with Durant or not. Here’s reality: Any Durant is better than no Durant for the Warriors right now. His mere presence might throw the Raptors off just enough to create more chances for the rest of the Warriors. It’s really the only card the Warriors have left to play at this point. Toronto took full control of the series Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), winning 105-92 for a 3-1 finals lead. Durant wasn’t on the bench for Game 4, and hasn’t been since getting hurt. He’ll be on the plane Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) headed to Ontario, and his uniform will be packed inside the Warriors’ equipment bags. If it goes unworn again, the Warriors are in big trouble. “There’s been hope that he will come back the whole series,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “So that’s not going to change now. Obviously we hope to have him, but we’ll see what happens. We don’t make that final call ... he don’t really even make that final call. His body will tell him if he can get out there or not. And if he can, great. And if not, you still got to try to find a way.” They’ve been trying, with limited success. Even with Durant. The Raptors are 5-1 against the Warriors this season, even going 2-0 in the regular season when Durant scored 51 in one game and 30 in another. The Warriors just looked tired on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), weary against a Toronto team that has had every answer in this series. They haven’t been able to muster the offense they need against Toronto. With Durant, that story could be different. But even if he plays on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), after not playing for a month, how good could he be anyway? Even someone as talented as Durant, who is in the conversation of “best player in the world” right now, can’t fake rhythm. Throwing him into an elimination game in the NBA Finals, after not playing for a month, is an unbelievably daunting ask. It might be what’s required. “We’re hoping he can play Game 5 or 6,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And everything in between I’ve decided I’m not sharing because it’s just gone haywire. There’s so much going on, and so it doesn’t make sense to continue to talk about it. He’s either going to play or he’s not.” The Warriors will practice on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). With so much at stake, unless his calf muscle just won’t allow it, Durant will probably try to do something that day. It’s hard to believe that he doesn’t want to play, and the fact that he hasn’t been seen yet in this series just reiterates how not mild this “mild” strain was. A shot at a third straight ring is slipping away. Maybe it was gone the second Durant got hurt. When the Warriors swept Portland in the Western Conference finals, there was silly talk about how the team might be better without Durant. That talk is nonexistent now. Any team is better — a lot better — with Durant. And if he finds a way back to the court, the Warriors might just get a lot better in a hurry. Or else, this era could end Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). “We’ve got to win one game,” Green said. “We win one, then we’ll build on that.” Without Durant, winning that one game on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) might be too tough an ask, even for the Warriors......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2019

PVL: Bundit happy to be back

Thai coach Tai Bundit made his return on Creamline’s bench on Saturday and the mentor was just glad to once again call the shots for the repeat-seeking Cool Smashers. “I’m happy because Creamline is my team,” said Bundit after winning his debut in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference over listless Motolite, 13-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-23, at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The mentor, who steered the Cool Smashers to last year’s import-laden and Open Conference titles, was re-signed by the team’s management six months since parting ways. He replaced Chinese coach Huanning Li after the star-studded Creamline squad suffered a straight sets loss to PetroGazz in its debut. Bundit, who left the team six months ago, flew in last Monday. “Six months ago I went back to fix everything and my son he (took) an exam to go to high school. That high school is Top 5 in Thailand and my wife says, ‘OK. {Our] son is in high school so you can go [back] to Philippines,’” said Bundit. He was welcomed by top local hitter Alyssa Valdez and the rest of the Cool Smashers with their third straight win. “Knowing Coach Tai’s program, most of us na nasa team niya na-mentor na niya eh, napagdaanan na ‘yun,” said Valdez. “I guess we’re trying to adapt sa pagbabalik niya, sa system.” “More than ever we have to bring back the happy and heartstrong mantra of coach Tai,” added Valdez, who has been under Bundit’s guidance since 2013. “I think ‘yun ang pinaka-crucial at key this season kasi nga lahat ng teams malalakas.” The Cool Smashers are at solo second spot with a 3-1 win-loss slate behind unbeaten league-leading PetroGazz. Creamline will close the first round on Wednesday against BaliPure.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2019

Raptors a win away from first-ever championship

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kawhi Leonard’s hot hand is sending the Raptors home to Toronto on the cusp of a startling upset for Canada. Leonard out-dueled the Splash Brothers for 36 points and 12 rebounds, and the Raptors moved within one victory of the franchise’s first championship by winning a second straight game on Golden State’s home floor, beating the Warriors 105-92 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) for a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Klay Thompson made a strong return after missing Game 3 with a strained left hamstring and scored 28 points with six three-pointers in what might have been the final game after 47 seasons at Oracle Arena before the team’s move to new Chase Center in San Francisco next season. Stephen Curry added 27 points but shot just 9-for-22 and 2-of-9 from three-point range on the heels of his postseason career-best 47-point outing in a 123-109 Game 3 defeat. Serge Ibaka scored 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench for the composed and confident Raptors, who for a second straight game found an answer to every Warriors threat at raucous Oracle — where home fans were stunned and silenced when the final buzzer sounded. A huge section of Toronto fans over, repeatedly singing “O Canada!” The two-time defending champions’ quest for a three-peat is suddenly in serious jeopardy. Toronto will take its first try at the title in Game 5 on Monday night (next Tuesday, PHL time) back at Scotiabank Arena. Golden State, still hopeful of injured star Kevin Durant’s return, must stave off elimination to guarantee one more game at Oracle. It would be next Thursday (next Friday, PHL time). Leonard’s 2017 postseason with San Antonio got cut short against the Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals after he re-injured his troublesome left ankle when Zaza Pachulia’s foot slid under his. He’s picked up where he left off in that game. Leonard’s two jumpers in the final 42 seconds of the third put the Raptors up 79-64 heading into the final 12 minutes. Fred VanVleet then dealt another dagger on the first possession of the fourth with a 30-footer. A bloodied VanVleet then went to the locker room with 9:35 left after being hit in the face by Shaun Livingston’s left elbow when the Warriors guard went up for a shot and VanVleet was just behind him. Replays showed a tooth in the middle of the key even after play resumed. These poised Raptors kept level heads again after falling behind by 11 points in the first half. Pascal Siakam scored 19 for Toronto. Two days earlier, Kyle Lowry was praised for staying calm when shoved on the sideline by Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens, who received a one-year ban by the team and NBA along with a $500,000 fine for the incident. Now, the Raptors as first-time finalists and in their 24th year of existence can bring Canada its first NBA championship. Toronto outscored Golden State 37-21 in the decisive third, a complete reverse of the Warriors’ dominance after halftime with an 18-0 run in the Game 2 victory. Draymond Green delivered another impressive all-around performance with 10 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Warriors coach Steve Kerr challenged his team to do a better job defensively and Golden State did so early but couldn’t handle Toronto’s depth. Kevon Looney, a key backup big man, scored 10 points for the Warriors after it was initially believed he would be out the remainder of the series because of fractured cartilage near his right collarbone. He was hurt in the first half of Game 2. Looney drew huge applause as he checked into the game at the 6:45 mark of the first. Danny Green, who hit six three's in Game 3, began 0-for-6 with five missed three's before finally connecting from deep midway through the fourth. His 48th three-pointer in the finals tied him with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher for seventh place on the NBA list. TIP-INS Raptors: Toronto overcame being outrebounded 29-18 in the first half and a 42-38 deficit overall. ... The Raptors were 10-of-32 from deep after making 17 three's in Game 3, but converted 23-of-24 free throws Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Warriors: The Warriors’ streak this year of 19 straight postseason games scoring 100 points ended. It was 25 dating to last season’s run. ... Golden State fell to 4-2 this postseason in games following a loss. ... Livingston played in his 100th career playoff game with the Warriors, the fifth in team history to reach the mark. ... The Warriors held a closed pregame shootaround 2.5 hours before game time. ATTLES’ PRESENCE Hall of Famer Al Attles, the Warriors’ former general manager, coach and player, attended Game 4. It was the first game in approximately eight months for the 82-year-old Attles, who has had health issues. DURANT’S STATUS Durant missed his ninth straight game since the injury May 8 (May 9, PHL time) in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets. Kerr is done providing every detail and step of Durant’s rehab progress. “We’re hoping he can play Game 5 or 6. And everything in between I’ve decided I’m not sharing because it’s just gone haywire,” Kerr said. “There’s so much going on, and so it doesn’t make sense to continue to talk about it. He’s either going to play or he’s not. So tonight he’s not playing.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2019

Warriors injuries create opening with Finals in balance

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — From now until further notice, each game of the 2019 NBA Finals will be largely influenced not by a go-ahead basket or a big stop or a rally-induced comeback, but a hot-off-the-press medical update prior to tipoff. Is Klay Thompson's tweaky hamstring a go? Will this be the day Kevin Durant finally shakes that lingering calf strain and suits up? The hints and subtle signs seem to point toward the positive for Golden State. Thompson was a late scratch Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) because the Warriors -- with a mixture of confidence and arrogance and concern -- felt the guard missing Game 3 was perhaps best for his recovery without proving deadly in the long run. And as for Durant, he’s still “ramping up” his workouts, in the description of coach Steve Kerr, and so his status has been upgraded to "stay tuned." It has become must-watch after a 123-109 loss. Yet if the answer is negative to all of the above, the next entry on the medical report might be the grim health of the dynasty built by these two-time defending champions. Their still-under-construction monument now teeters, prone to a nudge from Toronto. The Warriors find themselves down 2-1 to the Raptors, lacking any guarantee they’ll see two of their three leading scorers back in the lineup Friday (Saturday, PHL time) for Game 4 ... or for however long this series lasts. Thompson joined Durant on the sideline, and the Raptors (as could be anticipated) pounced on the gift to seize control of the series. It was a game the Raptors had to win, and they did. The production came from multiple players, with Kyle Lowry finally making an imprint on this series and Danny Green rediscovering his long-lost three-point touch. Meanwhile, the Warriors consisted of Steph Curry and not much else. The two-time Kia MVP dazzled and fought through traps and triple-teams all night to drop a career-high 47 points, some of it on shot-making wizardry. But the short-handed Warriors were doomed when Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins in particular were underwhelming on a night they needed to be stellar for Golden State to have a chance. As a result, the atmosphere inside Oracle Arena was flatter than most of the shots taken by Curry's teammates, and this was partly due to the introduction of the starting lineups, when Thompson’s name wasn’t announced. The fans knew then, officially, that their eyes and the home team were in for a long night. While the Warriors fought, scrappy doesn’t win games at this point in the postseason, not when the other team is good and opportunistic. Playing in a hostile building for the first time in the Finals, the Raptors made a collective decision to greet fire with fire. Or, as they wrote on the blackboard inside the visitor’s locker room: Let It Rip. “I think we all kind of followed that advice,” said Danny Green. “We hadn’t really had a good team shooting night and I knew we were due.” For Toronto, it wasn’t just that they won, but that they did so with their most impressive outing in the series. And now, the question for the Raptors is this: Will their inconsistent players use this outing to turn the corner and push the Warriors, even if Thompson and/or Durant return? This is aimed, first and foremost, at Lowry. He took the “let it rip” plea personally. Entering this game, he had six baskets total in this series and at times suffered defensively. Challenged by a pregame talk from coach Nick Nurse, Lowry embraced his inner pit bull and was relentless all night. The All-Star point guard took 16 shots, making eight, for 23 points and nine assists while making his presence felt for the first time this Finals. “For me, it was just not being so passive and trying to get everyone else involved and get myself going and let everyone else feed off that,” Lowry said. He and Green re-introduced the three-pointer to the Raptors’ offense. The two shot 11-for-19 and repeatedly stole whatever momentum Golden State could generate by responding with long-distance daggers that forced fans to slump back into their seats. This from the same player who had five total three's in his previous five playoff games, ruining more than a handful of runs with momentum-deflating misses. There’s no other way to describe the last three weeks of Green’s postseason shooting but dreadful. He has only one job: Stand in the corner and shoot open 3s. He’s made a career of that. So what do the Raptors make of Green shooting 6-of-10 from deep Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)? In the short term, it helped win Game 3. In the big picture, will this confidence carry over from one night to another, or does it depend on whether Green hits his first few? Nurse said: “Danny’s buckets boosted our whole team’s confidence because we were used to relying on those most of the year.” With better production from players who had been mostly missing, the Raptors had the balance needed to deliver their highest-scoring and most efficient (52 percent shooting) contest of the series. Green and Lowry joined Kawhi Leonard (30 points) and Pascal Siakam (18) and Marc Gasol (17) to take turns pummeling the Warriors from all different directions and manners. One reason for this was Thompson’s absence. Not only is he a proven outside shooter, but his defense is top-notch as well. You could even argue that Thompson’s missing defense was just as costly as his jumper. Yet the 109 points Golden State did manage were mainly because of Curry providing nearly half the offense. Given the circumstances of being without Thompson and Durant, and the constant pressing by Toronto whenever he had the ball, this was Curry’s finest post-season effort. His shooting was superb all across the floor, making three's (six) and free throws (13-14) and in general (14-31). “It’s the Finals,” Curry said. “You give everything you’ve got, sacrifice your body when you have the opportunity. Just competitiveness and trying to play until the buzzer.” “He does things that honestly I don’t think anyone has done before," Kerr added. "The way he plays the game, the way he shoots and the combination of his ball-handling, it’s incredible to watch.” If only he had someone riding shotgun. Cousins was sloppy on both ends, with three turnovers and one basket, and a step slow on defense against Gasol. This came one game after he seemingly regained his legs and confidence to gave Golden State a much-needed lift. Green’s continued recklessness was mystifying; he often made questionable decisions as a playmaker, suffered four turnovers and once again struggled to contain Siakam. The Warriors needed Green’s best, given their missing parts, and received something less. “We’ve got to be more solid with the ball and it starts with me,” he said. “I’ve had a bunch of turnovers in every game of this series. I think if I played better with the night (Curry) had, we would have won.” And so the Warriors, while talking bravely about their next-man-up mentality and embracing their “Strength in Numbers” slogan, must realize, deep down, that preventing the Raptors from winning two more games with a handicapped team might be difficult, if not impossible. Keep in mind that Golden State hasn’t sparkled for four quarters since the first game of the Western Conference finals. The last three games of that series, and the first three of the NBA Finals, the Warriors trailed by double digits. Thompson has an off day and Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) pregame period for therapy on his hamstring, although such strains are unpredictable and tricky. Will he be able to cut and fight through screens and be bouncy for 35-plus minutes through the intensity of an NBA Finals game, or will the injury restrict him and cause Kerr to seek a healthier, yet less productive replacement? “The whole point was to not risk a bigger injury that would keep him out the rest of the series,” said Kerr, explaining a decision made in consultation with the team doctors. “I feel very comfortable with it. I never would have forgiven myself if I played him and he had gotten hurt. So you live with the decision you made. The good thing is Klay has done well the last two days; hopefully he’ll be out there Friday.” Then there’s Durant, who last played May 8 (May 9, PHL time). After doing nothing but individual drills the last few days, he’ll go through a more normal practice session that will be simulated with the help of some assistant coaches and bench players. They'll see how Durant holds up. But that won’t match the stress level of a real game. And even if Durant gets clearance for Game 4, he hasn’t played in roughly a month. What about his timing? His wind? His touch? His ability to bring the same energy on defense? All legit questions and concerns for the Warriors -- until they’re not, whenever that is. “No one cares if guys are hurt,” Green said. “Everyone wants to see us lose anyway. So I’m sure people are happy they’re hurt.” Chances are that basketball fans, even if they’re against the Warriors, want to see stars on the floor this time of year. That’s what the NBA Finals is always about: Premium players doing premium things, or failing to do so, and letting the championship odds rise or fall on their performances. This year’s Finals have been denied one star for every game, and an additional star for one game. The battle with star attrition finally cost the Warriors a postseason loss, and at the worst possible time. The flow of the remainder of the NBA Finals, then, could rest with aching tendons and muscles and the recovery powers of those who own them. “We’re missing 50 points with KD and Klay, but we’ll adjust,” said a confident Curry. “It’s a long series, you know. It’s going to be fun for us.” The next Warriors medical update will arrive Thursday afternoon (Friday, PHL time). And another one Friday (Saturday, PHL time) just prior to tipoff. All along, the Warriors have led everyone to believe that it’s only a matter of time before they’re fully healthy. But will it be in time? And even then, will it be enough against a Toronto team suddenly thinking big? Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsJun 6th, 2019

Raptors regain Finals lead, survive Curry flurry in Game 3

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Kyle Lowry kept finding answers for every big shot by Stephen Curry and the beat-up Warriors, and the Toronto Raptors grabbed a pivotal road win in the NBA Finals by beating Golden State 123-109 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for a 2-1 series lead. Curry scored a playoff career-best 47 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists, but couldn't do it all for the two-time defending champions, down starters Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and key backup big man Kevon Looney because of injuries. Leonard scored 30 points, Lowry contributed 23 with five three-pointers and Green had 18 points with six triples after Pascal Siakam got the Raptors rolling early as Toronto shot 52.4% and made 17 from deep. Splash Brother Thompson missed his first career playoff game after straining his left hamstring late in Game 2, while Looney is out the rest of the series after a cartilage fracture on his right side near the collarbone that also happened Sunday (Monday, PHL time). Durant, a two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP, is still out because of a strained right calf. Golden State hopes to get healthier by Game 4 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) back at Oracle Arena. The Warriors trailed 96-83 going into the final quarter then Curry's three free throws at 10:37 made it a seven-point game before back-to-back baskets by Serge Ibaka. Siakam scored 18 points and established the momentum for Toronto from the tip, hitting his first three shots and setting a tone for a defensive effort that stayed solid without the foul problems that plagued the Raptors in Game 2. Golden State greatly missed not only Thompson's touch from outside but also his stifling defense. Raptors coach Nick Nurse challenged his team to produce more defensive stops in order to get out in transition — "make them miss more," he said. Ibaka produced six blocked shots in the effort. "We're at a point in the series we've got to get out and guard these dudes," Nurse said. Curry shot 14-for-31 including 6-of-14 on three's while making 13-of-14 free throws in his sixth career 40-point playoff performance. Nurse pulled out a box-and-one to try to stymie Curry in Golden State's 109-104 Game 2 win, then the Raptors made Curry's short-handed supporting cast try to beat them this time — and it sure worked. TIP-INS Raptors: All five Toronto starters scored in double digits and Fred VanVleet added 11 off the bench. ... The Raptors began 10-for-14 and scored 12 early points in the paint. .. Former Warriors G Patrick McCaw, who departed after last season in contract dispute, drew boos from the crowd when he checked into the game late in the first. Warriors: Curry's 17 first-quarter points matched his most in the period for the postseason. He also did so on April 27, 2014, against the Clippers. ... In the first half, Curry was 4-of-8 from three-point range, the rest of the Warriors just 1-for-11. ... Draymond Green's streak of double-doubles ended at a career-best six games. A 12th overall this postseason would match Denver's Nikola Jokic for most in the 2019 playoffs. ... Tim Hardaway from the Warriors' "Run TMC" era attended the game. WARRIORS INJURIES Durant went through extensive workouts both Tuesday and Wednesday (Wednesday and Thursday, PHL time) at the practice facility with the hope he would do some scrimmaging Thursday (Friday, PHL time). While the Warriors weren't scheduled for a regular practice Thursday (Friday, PHL time), coach Steve Kerr said some of the coaches and younger players might be called upon to give Durant the full-speed court work he still needs before being medically cleared to return. He missed his eighth straight game since the injury May 8 (May 9, PHL time) in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets. Thompson was hurt in Game 2 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) and was to be evaluated by the training staff before tipoff. He didn't end up warming up on the court. Thompson did some running and shooting earlier in the day but Kerr said the Warriors weren't going to play him "if there's risk" of further damage at this stage of the series. Thompson is averaging 19.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists this postseason, including 23.0 points through the first two finals games. He will have another full day to recover before Game 4. ORACLE OVERDUE The home fans waited 20 days between home playoff games with the long layoff after the Western Conference finals sweep of Portland then Golden State opening the finals in Toronto. It had been since Game 2 against the Trail Blazers on May 16 (May 17, PHL time) that the Warriors hosted — the second-longest lapse between home games since the current 16-game, four-round format was established in 1983. The Warriors hosted a Game 3 in the finals for the first time since winning the 1975 title, having begun at home in each of the previous four......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

Curry s heroics not enough to save Warriors in Game 3

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry did all he could to lead the injury-depleted Golden State Warriors. It wasn't enough. Curry scored 47 points — a playoff career-high for the three-time champion — but the Warriors still find themselves in some postseason trouble. Missing Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Kevon Looney with injuries, the Warriors fell 123-109 to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) and now trail these NBA Finals 2-1. "Steph was incredible," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "The stuff he does is, he does things that honestly I don't think anybody has ever done before. The way he plays the game, the way he shoots it and the combination of his ball handling and shooting skills, it's incredible to watch. He was amazing." Though it's no consolation to Curry, his 47 points were the second-most ever by a player in a finals game loss. The only time someone scored more and wasn't on the winning team that night was LeBron James, who scored 51 points on this same Oracle Arena floor in Game 1 of last year's title series. Golden State wound up sweeping Cleveland. Thompson didn't play because of his strained left hamstring, Looney's season is over because of an upper-body injury sustained in Game 2 and Durant sat out for the eighth consecutive game with a calf injury. Game 4 of this series is Friday (Saturday, PHL time), and it wouldn't be surprising to see both Durant and Thompson back in the lineup for the two-time defending NBA champions. Thompson was lobbying to play Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), and Durant has been ramping up toward a return. The Warriors need them. Or else their reign might end, no matter how great Curry is the rest of the way. "The moment is now," Curry said. "You've got to try to have a next-man-up mentality, like we always say, and just go out and fight. We did that tonight. We can play better, obviously better on the defensive end. But I liked the competitiveness that we had, understanding that we're missing 50 points pretty much between KD and Klay." It was evident from the outset that if the Warriors were going to somehow win without both Thompson and Durant in the lineup, it would be Curry carrying the load. He darn near made it happen. "Not that he's not amazing pretty often," Warriors forward Draymond Green said, "but tonight was a special performance by him." Curry scored Golden State's first five field goals. He had 25 points and eight rebounds by halftime, the first time in his 803-game career that he put up those numbers in the first 24 minutes of a game. Midway through the third quarter, he was outscoring all of his teammates combined. He had his entire arsenal working — three-pointers, layups, free throws. He was diving for loose balls. He even won a jump ball. He conceded nothing. Curry just didn't have enough help. Or, maybe more accurately, the Raptors had too many answers. "We tried to up our presence on him a little bit with some double teams, but it doesn't really matter," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "All that matters is ... my dad used to tell me the stats don't matter, just the final score. So we'll just take the win and be thankful for that." All five Toronto starters scored somewhere between 17 and 30 points. The Raptors made 17 three-pointers, Fred VanVleet's desperation triple with just under 2 minutes left put Toronto up by 13, and that's when Kerr decided to empty the bench. Curry's night ended there, with the eighth-highest single-game scoring performance in NBA Finals history. He also had eight rebounds and seven assists, ending with a stat line that only James has done in a finals game. "We fought, but we lost," Curry said. "So we've got to go back to the drawing board and just recalibrate for Game 4.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

Warriors head into Game 3 vulnerable, yet pressure is on Raptors

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. -- The two-time defending champion Warriors will be of divided attention here in the next few days. They’ll be occupied by Game 3 of The Finals … and Game 1 of Kevin Durant’s rehabilitation. The two go hand-in-hand, actually, and hold equal importance. With untimely injuries threatening to delay the Warriors’ third straight title or downright prevent it from happening, the club teeters on edge, unsure whether its next step will be on the gas pedal or a banana peel. Klay Thompson is iffy for Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) because of a gimpy hamstring that cut short his floor time in Game 2, which the Warriors managed to win anyway. He did some light shooting on the eve of Game 3 against the Raptors and, Klay being Klay, counted himself in after three days’ rest. But it’s not really up to him, is it? It’s up to the team medical staff and mostly a tendon that’s moody and doesn’t always cooperate with the human attached to it. And so: This all depends on what side of the bed the hamstring lands on Wednesday morning. Kevon Looney, the fast-developing big man who has been a pleasant surprise throughout the postseason, is done for the summer with a cartilage fracture in his collarbone area. At least in this case, his loss is minimized by the re-emergence of DeMarcus Cousins, back from two months off with a bum quad muscle and feeling frisky about it and his encouraging effort in Game 2. OK, now here’s the elephant in the emergency room: What does the future of The Finals hold for Durant, MIA for roughly a month now, who has been ruled out for Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)? Durant didn’t practice with the team Tuesday morning (Wednesday evening, PHL time), but he did go through an individual workout that afternoon. There is no scheduled team practice on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), the only off-day between Games 3 and 4 at Oracle Arena. Yet all signs point to Durant putting his body through a workout/practice/scrimmage at some point between now and Friday’s (Saturday, PHL time) Game 4 because coach Steve Kerr said the former MVP is “ramping up” his workouts. It’s safe to say the Warriors will be interested spectators for that one, biting their fingernails to the knuckle, although Kerr indicated Durant’s availability for The Finals is more “when” than “if.” That means Durant has given them some reason to feel optimistic about Friday (Saturday, PHL time) if not Game 5 in Toronto. “Klay and Kevin, we’re very hopeful we’re going to get them back out there,” Kerr said. In a worst-case scenario, the Warriors in Game 3 would be without two players averaging more than 50 points combined in the postseason, and their scoring and defensive presence is impossible to replace. That would put them in a tough spot, needing to rely on replacements who aren’t familiar with, or quite capable of, carrying that amount of minutes with impact. Yes, it’s true the Warriors finished Game 2 without either player and managed to win. Yet, no disrespect to the champs, that’s a big chore to do for four full quarters and against a solid defensive team such as the Raptors. Even if Thompson plays, will he be healthy enough to supply the energy and flexibility needed to perform his usual top-notch defense and running through screens for his jumper? “If I can just be out there even at 80 percent, I still think I can be very effective,” he said. “From the progress I've made these last two days, I'm very encouraged that I'll be able to go out there. As long as nothing is torn or really injured, I'm not too fearful of it because, knock on wood, I've been very blessed with not very many traumatic injuries in my career. I don't think this one is of greatest concern. It's just the day and age we live in where little things can just grow to be big problems, but I don't think this will be one of them.” How would a diminished or missing Klay affect the Warriors? Well, Stephen Curry could not afford to be anything less than MVP-ish. He’d see doubles and triples thrown his way by the Raptors and that would cause him to take tougher shots than normal. In that situation, as the Warriors’ only volume scorer and shooter on the floor, Curry could feel overwhelmed and force the issue. Cousins would be required to ratchet up his shooting and intensity on offense, but will he stay clear of foul trouble, which would put a crimp in his playing time? Finally, the Warriors would lean more on Shaun Livingston, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Quinn Cook than normal. Cook made a pair of important shots in Game 2 after Thompson limped off and could be an X-factor, or at least he’d need to be for Golden State’s sake. “Our team is very adaptable,” Kerr said. “We have a lot of versatility. What it requires is bench players being ready to step up, like they always are, and guys just playing hard and playing together. I think you have to be fearless, too, which our team is. You can't worry about anything. You just go out there and play and compete and let it fly and whatever happens, happens.” And then there’s Toronto. A weakened or missing Thompson would be an opportunity they simply couldn’t afford to blow. How many times does a gift present itself in the biggest series of the season? Not often. It must be seized. In such a situation, the Raptors would be wise to occupy Curry and dare others to produce for four quarters. If Thompson plays, they’d be best to take advantage by running him ragged through screens on defense, putting that hamstring to the test. That would be one less player with high defensive credentials for Kawhi Leonard to deal with. Assuming that scoring will be an issue for the Warriors, the Raptors must get a bounce-back game from Pascal Siakam (who regressed from 32 points to 12) and more punch from Kyle Lowry (six baskets total for the series) to make it tough if not impossible for the Warriors to keep up. If the Raptors have any shot at winning this title, they must win at least one game at Oracle anyway, and from a practical standpoint, Game 3 is the most inviting. They may never see the Warriors this vulnerable, this ripe for the taking again. “I think we come into a sense of urgency, period,” said Lowry, “no matter the situation. We want to be the first to four, and every game is an urgent game. You're in the NBA Finals, so it doesn't matter. They still have professional basketball players down there, and they're really talented basketball players. So you still got to be ready to go out there and play your butt off and play hard.” The Warriors do not feel the same level of urgency because they’re not down 0-2, and the next two games are at home, and the core group is championship tested. As they demonstrated in Game 2, they don’t get rattled by tense championship games, even with Thompson and Durant off the floor. They also know, or at least feel strongly, that Thompson and Durant will suit up soon. “If there’s pain, it will be a no-go (for Game 3) because of the position we’re in,” Thompson said. “This could be a longer series, so there's no point in trying to go out there and re-aggravate it and potentially keep myself out of the whole entire Finals instead of just one game.” The Warriors might not get much sympathy from a basketball world that perhaps feel the champs are finally getting their just due. Everyone saw them play the 2015 championship series against Cleveland without Kevin Love and all but one game without Kyrie Irving. In the 2017 Western Conference finals, Leonard, then with San Antonio, went down after lighting it up for most of Game 1. And how can anyone forget Chris Paul missing Houston's final two games of a seven-game playoff series last season? Not saying those were the reasons for three championships in four years; still, all of those misfortunes suffered by others favored the Warriors. But who’s keeping score? “There's a certain amount of luck involved with this, and we know that,” Kerr said. “We have been on both sides of that. Some of our opponents have suffered injuries. We have suffered injuries. It's just part of the deal. You just keep pushing forward.” Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsJun 5th, 2019

Here s why the Raptors will win the 2019 NBA Finals

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Last time Kawhi Leonard played Golden State in the playoffs, he was running the Warriors off the floor. The only thing that stopped him that day was Zaza Pachulia’s foot, which Leonard landed on after taking a jumper in the third quarter of Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference finals. Before he left soon after that play with an ankle injury, he scored 26 points and San Antonio led by 23 on Golden State’s home floor. [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] “He was having a great game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr recalled. “The Spurs were kicking our butts.” Leonard might even be a better player now. And he might be on a better team. One that could be the very best in the NBA. The Toronto Raptors are tough, battle-tested, and way more complete than the Cleveland team that cakewalked through a weak Eastern Conference the last couple years and was ultimately no match for Golden State. “Yeah, they have a very good team, and they’re here for a reason,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “So you can’t take them lightly just because they haven’t been here before. They have our respect and we’ll come correct” on Thursday. The Raptors are new to the NBA Finals, but their roster is loaded with veteran guys who understand how to play. Like Leonard, the 2014 NBA Finals MVP who has been perhaps the best player in this postseason. Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Danny Green have all played in plenty of big games, and won’t be intimidated by the defending champions or the bright lights. They have high basketball IQs and defensive mindsets — Leonard and Gasol have been Defensive Players of the Year. That helped them fight out of a 2-0 hole to win four straight against Milwaukee, which had the best record in the NBA, in the last round. Coach Nick Nurse said there were times in that series when the Raptors may have been in the wrong coverage, but the players on the floor would talk among themselves and figure it out. “I think against this team, I think against most teams in the NBA, you have to play that way, especially this time of year,” Nurse said. With Leonard, Gasol, Pascal Siakam and Ibaka, the Raptors have length in the frontcourt that can make it tough for anyone — even MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo — to get good looks around the rim. It will be even tougher for Golden State if the injured Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins remain out of the lineup much longer. The Warriors didn’t need them in the last round, but Toronto is a different challenge. Leonard is scoring better than 30 points per game and playing shutdown defense, Lowry is throwing his body all over the floor, and Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell are coming off the bench to deliver clutch shooting. The Raptors had the best record in the East last season but shook things up after getting swept by Cleveland in the second round, firing coach Dwane Casey and trading All-Star DeMar DeRozan in the deal for Leonard, who can be a free agent in a month. They were aggressive moves which might have been too risky for some teams, but the kind that can turn a team that couldn’t beat the Cavaliers into one that can topple the Warriors. “That’s why we play the game is to win,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said, “and that’s what we want to do here, is to win.” They will. Raptors in seven......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2019

PVL: Will Creamline bring back coach Tai Bundit?

Creamline decided to part ways with Chinese coach Huanning Li as management wanted a more suitable program for the defending champions Cool Smashers. Li was sacked from his post on Monday, a day after Creamline suffered a devastating straight sets loss to PetroGazz to open the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference. Assistant coach Ed Ortega took over Li’s spot for the meantime. “Actually, sinabihan ako ng management to take over the training and the game. They are trying to find a suitable program for the team,” said Ortega on Wednesday after Creamline’s 25-21, 25-16, 25-18 beating of PacificTown Army for a 1-1 win-loss slate tied with their victim. “Sad to say, Creamline and coach Li kailangan talaga mag part ways,” added Ortega. Li, a former China national juniors team mentor, replaced Tai Bundit after the Thai mentor’s contract expired last year. Bundit steered the same Cool Smashers core to a Season 2 title sweep, winning the Reinforced and Open Conference crowns. Ortega followed the system of Bundit during practice and reverted to the Thai coach’s tried and tested rotation and plays that resulted in the quick win. “Yes, even the training, the drills tsaka 'yung happy happy,” said Ortega. Veteran Michele Gumabao, who played only in the third set off the bench in their opener and finished with only one point under Li’s watch, exploded with 13 points to lead Creamline.            A source privy with the transaction said Bundit received a message from the Creamline management on Tuesday asking for his return and the former Ateneo de Manila University mentor is expected to fly back to Manila on Monday. Ortega said that the management has yet to give a name of Li’s replacement. “Sinabihan lang ako ng management na may head coach pero hindi nila sinasabi kung sino,” Ortega said. “Wala talaga akong idea so ngayon, ako pa rin bahala sa trainings.” Ortega is expected to call the shots on Sunday in Creamline’s match against BanKo Perlas.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 29th, 2019