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Coach of England wins the nation s heart by being a nice guy

By Danica Kirka, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — In an age of tattoos, tongue piercings and tensions over Brexit, a soft-spoken man in a dark blue waistcoat and striped tie is uniting England amid dreams of victory in soccer's World Cup. Coach Gareth Southgate is the buttoned-down leader of a new generation of players who speak softly and let their victories silence critics. And England supporters have found that refreshing after years of underperforming teams led by stars such as David Beckham, who became as much a celebrity as an athlete. "He's very much about a team spirit. It's more about the collective — you can see it in the way he deals with the squad," said Paul Willis, who was in the stands last Saturday in Samara, Russia, when England reached the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Sweden. "We had superstars, but we didn't have a team." Southgate's focus on teamwork and civility has made him an unlikely icon in a country that is deeply divided by bitter arguments over plans to leave the European Union and a widening gap between rich and poor. England Captain Harry Kane may be the tournament's leading scorer, but fans are donning waistcoats and ties — even as the country enjoys an unusually hot summer — in homage to Southgate as pundits extol the 47-year-old coach's calm leadership. "He has shown us the value of courtesy, kindness, hard work and that most derided of virtues, niceness," columnist India Knight wrote in the Sunday Times. "He has redefined not just how to be a manager, but how to be a man." Southgate displayed his character after England's July 3 victory over Colombia, offering a supportive hug to Colombian player Mateus Uribe after his miss in a penalty shootout helped England advance. The England coach understood Uribe's agony, having missed a similar shot at the 1996 European championships. The moment of empathy also reminded the country how Southgate once lampooned his own failure with a Pizza Hut commercial in which he wore a bag over his head to shield his identity from angry fans. Southgate's compassion sparked a hashtag for the coach's real and imagined acts of kindness such as "#GarethSouthgateWould stop and help you put the chain back on your bike even if he was all dressed in his waistcoat and late for the game." Southgate became manager less than two years ago after the Football Association's first choice was forced out after unguarded comments to undercover reporters. Since then he has quietly ushered out the last of the old stars and brought together a group of youngsters who modestly shrug off compliments and give kudos to their teammates. Perhaps more importantly, he recognized the contribution of the fans, something that had been eroded during the superstar era. After every game, Southgate and his players walk across the field to applaud the supporters who have traveled to Russia to cheer for the team. "We had lost a bit of connection," Willis, a 57-year-old fan from Birmingham, said of past regimes. "That is now back. All the team and the back room applaud our input to the game." That has also translated into huge support back home in football-mad England. At least 20 million people, 38 percent of England's population, watched Saturday's victory over Sweden, according to figures from the BBC. Commentators say the actual number was much higher because so many people watched the game on huge screens in parks and shopping centers. London authorities are inviting 30,000 fans to the city's Hyde Park for a screening of Wednesday's semifinal against Croatia. Fearing demand will far exceed that, authorities stressed that only those with tickets should come to the park. Ticket services reported hundreds of people were trying to dump theater tickets for Wednesday because they had more pressing business elsewhere. Social media sites are urging fans to wear waistcoats — please don't call them vests — to the office ahead of the big match — a "Waistcoat Wednesday" if you will. Marks & Spencer, the official tailor to the England team, says sales of the grandfatherly garments have doubled during the World Cup. Rio Ferdinand, one of the previous "golden generation" of players who is now a commentator for the BBC, has been leading the cheers for this year's team, asking fans to post video of their beer-throwing, chest-bearing, flag-waving celebrations after the win over Sweden. On Sunday, Ferdinand tweeted his own mea culpa for past failures, while also highlighting Southgate's unique contribution. "Why weren't the golden generation... the golden generation???" he tweeted. "We as players look at ourselves first...we never performed....but sometimes you have to be allowed to perform! Gareth is allowing this current @England to do this." That's paying off. Kane, who turns 25 later this month, has scored six goals in the tournament. Dele Alli, 22, came back from injury to score the team's second goal against Sweden. Fabian Delph, 28, played the last 15 minutes of Saturday's game after missing the previous game against Colombia because Southgate allowed him to go home for the birth of his third child. Southgate himself recognizes the contributions of everyone, from the physiotherapists to the players who push their teammates in practice but rarely get into a game, even to fans back home. "Our country has been through some difficult moments recently in terms of its unity, and I think sport has the power to do that and football in particular has the power to do that," he said. "So for us, we can feel the energy and we can feel the support from home, and that's, that's a very special feeling. It's a privilege." Barring that, it does help to have a snappy waistcoat. "Quite frankly, I don't care what he wears," Willis said. "He can wear a tutu if we carry on winning.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 11th, 2018

Revitalized Dortmund brings excitement back to Bundesliga

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — A draw with Hertha Berlin may have come at just the right time for Borussia Dortmund. The team had failed to score four or more goals in only one of its previous six games — a 3-0 win over Monaco — and had taken a three-point lead in the Bundesliga after playing some outstanding football. Suddenly, after years of Bayern Munich dominance, Dortmund was helping to make German soccer exciting again. Lucien Favre's side was drawing comparisons with Juergen Klopp's team of Bundesliga winners in 2011 that followed up with a league and cup double the next year. The current team, like Klopp's, is young, hard-working, fast and skilled, brimming with confidence after a series of eye-catching wins. Dortmund's 4-0 victory over a tough Atletico Madrid team on Wednesday captured widespread attention. Even Diego Simeone was impressed despite his heaviest defeat since he took over in December 2011. "They are doing very well at the moment, it is very nice to watch," the Atletico coach said of Dortmund. "I hope they keep playing like that." Klopp, now in charge of Liverpool, sent his congratulations from England. It was all too much for Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc. "Enough praise, that's it," Zorc said last week. "There's no reason to get carried away with celebrations." Hertha put the brakes on any lingering euphoria on Saturday when Salomon Kalou scored a penalty in injury time to snatch a 2-2 draw for the visitors as Dortmund let a seventh straight victory slip away. While Dortmund remains the only unbeaten team in the Bundesliga, the draw provides a reality check. After routing Nuremberg 7-0 on Sept. 26, Dortmund fell two goals behind Bayer Leverkusen in its next match before it turned the game around to win 4-2. Marco Reus said he noticed his teammates weren't as focused as they should have been. Reus has grown into his role as captain. The Germany forward, now 29, is one of the senior figures in a squad stocked with youth. The 18-year-old Jadon Sancho became Dortmund's youngest player to score two goals in a Bundesliga game on Saturday. Apart from conceding the penalty, the 19-year-old Dan-Axel Zagadou has been impressive in defense. Fellow defender Achraf Hakimi shone with three assists against Atletico. The 19-year-old, on loan from Real Madrid, has been involved in eight goals in his last six competitive games. Jacob Bruun Larsen has also been impressive since returning from a loan spell at Stuttgart. The 20-year-old Danish midfielder has three goals and three assists, while 22-year-old Christian Pulisic already feels like a veteran in his third full season at the club. "The mix makes it work," said Zorc, whose offseason transfer dealings have balanced youth with experience. Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel, 29, has settled in perfectly since his arrival from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian, helped by 27-year-old Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney, who joined from Werder Bremen. Dortmund has also been boosted by Paco Alcacer since his arrival on loan from Barcelona. He has scored on average every 18 minutes, with seven goals in four appearances. Meanwhile, Dortmund quietly allowed players like Nuri Sahin, Andre Schuerrle, Erik Durm, Andrey Yarmolenko, Gonzalo Castro and Sokratis to leave. Perhaps Zorc's biggest coup was getting Favre to join. Dortmund wanted the former Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hertha coach the previous year, but French side Nice didn't let him go. The tactically astute Favre has restored some defensive stability to a lineup that appeared brittle and prone to collapse last season. Dortmund allowed rival Schalke to come from four goals down to draw 4-4 in the Ruhr derby. It's hard to imagine Favre's side doing the same. Apart from not taking chances on Saturday, Dortmund seems to be scoring goals for fun. Before the Hertha game, Dortmund clocked up 37 goals and conceded just nine in 12 competitive games. It won 10 of those and lost none. Raphael Guerreiro scored two goals against Atletico after coming on as a substitute, continuing Favre's golden touch with changes. Altogether, Favre's substitutions have contributed 16 goals so far. The Swiss coach also appears to be bringing Mario Goetze back to his old self after difficult times for the 2014 World Cup winner. Goetze was critical after the draw with Hertha, upset about "two lost points." Favre was taking a more balanced approach, though, saying "that's football.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

England hands Spain its first home loss in 15 years

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It was an odd scene at Benito Villamarin Stadium in Seville: The few visiting English fans were chanting "Ole" at every touch of the ball by their squad, while the home Spanish crowd was jeering its own players. It was only halftime on Monday and the Spaniards had already seen their national team concede three goals for the first time ever in a competitive match at home. By the end, they were witnesses to La Roja's first home loss in 15 years. Raheem Sterling scored twice and Marcus Rashford once in a stunning first half for England, which held on to beat Spain 3-2 in the UEFA Nations League to get back in contention for a spot in the final four of Europe's newest competition. In the other match in League A, Iceland lost to Switzerland 2-1 and was relegated to the second-tier League B. Sterling ended his three-year scoring drought with England with goals on each side of Rashford's strike before the break, leading England to its first win in Spain since 1987. "For a young team, they put in an incredibly mature performance, withstood pressure reasonably well and should all be really proud," England coach Gareth Southgate said. Spain suffered its first loss in a competitive match at home since 2003 against Greece. It hadn't lost at home in 38 matches, and had not conceded three goals in a home match since 1991 in a friendly against Hungary. "It shows how tough it is to come here and win and we have done that," England forward Harry Kane said. "We came out of the blocks firing, great pressing." Paco Alcacer scored Spain's first goal early in the second half and Sergio Ramos claimed the second on the final play of the match. "We have to admit we played very badly in the first half," Spain coach Luis Enrique said. "We made a lot of individual mistakes." Despite the loss, Spain stayed ahead in Group 4 of League A with two more points than England after three matches. Croatia, with a game in hand, was five points behind Spain. Spain could have secured a spot in the last four with a win, while a draw would have ended England's chances of advancing. Only the group winner moves on. Spain started well but its high defensive line struggled against the speed of England's young forwards. The visitors were clinical, scoring on all of their attempts on goal. Spain totaled 25 attempts and 70 percent of possession, and blew it. England opened the scoring early in a fast breakaway. Rashford sent a nice ball into space for Sterling, who entered the area with only the goalkeeper to beat and found the top of the net with a superb finish. It was his first goal for England since 2015, and first ever away from Wembley. "It was a beautiful feeling," Sterling said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to get in the box and score. Sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn't, but it's my position to score goals so I need to keep that going." Rashford added to the lead in the 30th after a perfect through ball by Kane, entering the area and finishing with a shot from near the penalty spot. Sterling got on the board again from close range after Kane's set-up in a move which started with a nice pass by Ross Barkley over the top of the Spanish defenders. Spain got on the board in the 58th through a header by substitute striker Alcacer, who has 10 goals in his last six games with club and country. Ramos' last-minute goal also was a header. RELEGATED ICELAND Iceland needed to beat Switzerland for the first time to avoid relegation but the Swiss got off to a two-goal lead and held on to victory. Switzerland routed Iceland 6-0 at home in the team's opener. It moved into a tie with Belgium for first place in Group 2. The Belgians have a game in hand. LOWER LEAGUES In League B, Bosnia-Herzegovina defeated Northern Ireland 2-1 at home to take a six-point lead over Austria atop Group 3. In Group 2 of League C, Finland beat Greece 2-0 at home to remain perfect with four wins and a clean sheet after four matches. Estonia and Hungary drew 3-3 in the group's other match. Luxembourg defeated San Marino 3-0 to take the lead in Group 2 of League D, ahead of Belarus, which was held by Moldova to 0-0......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2018

Young and united, England looks good as a title contender

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — A famous song lyric neatly describes the upbeat feeling around England's rejuvenated national soccer team. It's not "football's coming home." Instead, try the old punk rock line: "If the kids are united, they will never be defeated." The positive emotions of England's young players are evident toward coach Gareth Southgate despite the 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time in the World Cup semifinals. "You've brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation," 20-year-old forward Marcus Rashford wrote on his Twitter account Thursday. You’ve brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation ❤️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/2meUAFlIN5 — Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) July 12, 2018 Over-achieving in a first major international test for Southgate and many of the squad has banished the anxiety that harmed too many England teams in recent years. Rashford, a sharp and fast second-half substitute in Moscow on Wednesday, is not even the youngest of Southgate's players in Russia. At 19, Trent Alexander-Arnold impressed in the Champions League final for Liverpool in May, and weeks later started his first World Cup game, against Belgium. "It has been an honor to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger," Alexander-Arnold wrote on Twitter early Thursday. Absolutely devastated that our journey is over! We enjoyed every moment as a nation, I’d like to thank all the staff and fans for being behind us. It has been an honour to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger 💔🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 pic.twitter.com/LErwj4QqZm — Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) July 11, 2018 Alexander-Arnold, a quick, right-sided defender, will need to force his way into the team past Kieran Trippier, perhaps the standout success of England's tournament. Trippier delivered world-class corners, crosses and free kicks, including the fifth-minute goal against Croatia that raised hope of a first World Cup final berth since 1966. The Tottenham player gave an emotional endorsement of Southgate, who seems likely to guide England's team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. "It all comes from the manager, unbelievable manager for me personally, the way he handles the team," Trippier said at the Luzhniki Stadium. "He sets the tone, he brought this team together." A relatively late bloomer at 27, Trippier is a rare England player who will turn 30 before kickoff in Qatar on Nov. 21, 2022. The four attackers who started Wednesday, including 24-year-old captain Harry Kane, are between 22 and 25. The heart of the defense — John Stones, Harry Maguire, plus goalkeeper Jordan Pickford — are in the same age bracket. It's a talent pool setting up England as a serious title contender in the coming years. There is still room for envy if England can bear watching the World Cup final on Sunday. In the midfield duels, France fields the elegance and power of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante against Croatia's precise pair of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. There isn't likely to be a Modric-type player in England's team ahead of the 2020 European Championship to help retain the ball, pace the play, and manage the toughest games. Those are the kinds of qualities England needed after halftime against Croatia. "If we're in the position again, we'll be better off because of the experience of what we've just had," said 28-year-old Jordan Henderson, who was Liverpool's captain in that Champions League final loss to Modric and Real Madrid. The incentives are huge. Euro 2020 is being hosted across 12 countries, but England could qualify and be placed in a group based at Wembley Stadium, travel for two knockout rounds, then come home for the semifinals and final at Wembley. "The aim if we're at the Euros in two years' time is to go again," said Kane, who should be Southgate's chosen captain for years to come. Before qualifying starts next March, England is in a fascinating group for the inaugural UEFA Nations League, which starts in September. Spain, under new coach Luis Enrique, visits Wembley on Sept. 8. England then travels to face Croatia on Oct. 12. The return games will be completed by November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Belgium, team of tomorrow, hopes to finally win now

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Belgium is the team of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. De Rode Duivels, as the Red Devils are known, have been playing for 114 years and remain in search of their first major title. A polyglot known for waffles, chocolate and beer, the nation of 11 million hopes for soccer to join the national identity, boosted by a golden generation that includes Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bryune. Belief is growing. Philippe, King of the Belgians, was on hand wearing a bright red tie and team scarf. "Belgium is a small country, you know? So we're very happy that we have this kind of talent," defender Toby Alderweireld said after Saturday's 5-2 rout of Tunisia all but clinched a round-of-16 World Cup berth. "Hopefully we can do something special." Lukaku tied Cristiano Ronaldo for the tournament lead with four goals, becoming the first with consecutive two-goal games in the World Cup since Diego Maradona and Gary Lineker in 1986. Hazard also scored twice , and Michy Batshuayi added a 90th-minute goal after failing to convert a trio of prime chances. Belgium opened with a 3-0 victory over Panama and has an 8-2 goal difference. Ranked third in the world behind defending champion Germany and Brazil, the Red Devils have become a chic choice to join the exclusive club of eight World Cup winners: Brazil (five), Germany and Italy (four), Argentina and Uruguay (two), and England, France and Spain (one). "Belgium was not the favorite because of the history of the country — and especially the history of the other countries," said former Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf, now a Fox analyst. "They're growing. Also, they're playing with important team spirit. So for me, it's not really a big surprise what they're doing at the moment." Training is conducted in English under Spanish coach Roberto Martinez, who spent a decade managing in England. Postgame interviews sound like a corridor at European Union headquarters in Brussels, with players alternating among English, French, Dutch and Spanish. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has picked up a Scouse accent after five seasons with Liverpool. Seventeen of the 23 players were on Champions League clubs last season, a glamorous group that includes Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. "That gives them the confidence and the experience to play at the highest level. That is what a World Cup is about," Mignolet said. "For us, it's now the third tournament in a row where we play, which gives you the experience, so nobody's really fussed about the occasion anymore. Maybe the two tournaments were a bit different where we arrived and we were thinking about what was going to happen. Everything was new." After completing the group stage against England on Thursday, Belgium would face Colombia, Poland, Senegal or Japan in the second round, and then could have a possible quarterfinal against Germany, Brazil or Mexico. Since losing their first match under Martinez to Spain two years ago, Belgium is unbeaten in 21 games (16 wins) and has outscored opponents 72-17 during the run. But while outscoring Panama and Tunisia by 8-2, the defense and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois looked like they could be exploited by better opposition. "Today what I saw is a team that it was prepared to suffer, prepared to work for each other, and we look well-balanced in that respect," Martinez said. "So when you've got that, then the individuals can show their talent." Lukaku has 15 goals in his last 10 international matches but left in the 59th minute after injuring an ankle ligament. Hazard came off nine minutes later with a calf problem, and forward Dries Mertens came out in the 86th after an ankle issue. Belgium came closest to a title at the 1980 European Championship, losing 2-1 to a German team that got a pair of goals from Horst Hrubesch. It has reached semifinals twice at major events, losing 2-1 to West Germany at the 1972 Euros and to Maradona's Argentina at the 1986 World Cup. After missing two straight World Cups, the Red Devils returned four years ago, beat the U.S. in extra time in the round of 16, then lost to Argentina in the quarters. At the 2016 Euros, they wasted an early lead in a 3-1 quarterfinal loss to Wales. Given the past and the sound and fury that would follow any misstep, Martinez wants to manage expectations. "To be a favorite in a World Cup, you need to have the know-how of winning a World Cup," he said. "The World Cup is something that probably gives you an advantage psychologically when you've won it before.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2018

Falcons show playoff poise in 26-13 win over upstart LA Rams

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons jumped to an early 13-point lead before the Rams mounted two swift scoring drives. Los Angeles went to the Coliseum locker room at halftime with just a three-point deficit amid raucous cheers from a home crowd thirsty for playoff success. And then Matt Ryan and the tough, tested Falcons showed the upstart Rams what postseason poise is all about. Ryan passed for 218 yards and hit Julio Jones for an 8-yard touchdown with 5:48 to play, and the defending NFC champion Falcons advanced from the wild-card round with a 26-13 victory over the Rams on Saturday night. Devonta Freeman rushed for an early score and Matt Bryant kicked four field goals for the Falcons (11-6), who spoiled the Rams' first playoff game in 13 years with a methodical performance derived from hard-earned experience. Atlanta's journey to the Super Bowl last season ended infamously with that blown 28-3 lead against New England. In their first playoff game since, the Falcons allowed no surprises from the NFC West champion Rams (11-6). "We knew it was a situation we've been through before," Atlanta defensive tackle Dontari Poe said. "We just had to keep playing and use what we've learned." Jones caught nine passes for 94 yards for Atlanta, which never trailed while winning playoff games in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. Against an opponent that had just six players on its roster with prior postseason appearances, the Falcons' experience showed through. "I think having gone through these situations, understanding what it's like, the atmosphere, those kinds of things, knowing that it's going to be tough, all those things kind of carry forward," Ryan said. "But at the end of the day, experience or no experience, you've got to execute." The Falcons advanced to face the top-seeded Eagles on Jan. 13 in Philadelphia. "Doesn't matter where we're going, we're going," Ryan said. "And that's the most exciting part." A raucous crowd of 74,300 packed the Coliseum on a crisp evening for the first NFL playoff game in the nation's second-largest city since early 1994. Los Angeles went 21 years without pro football before the Rams returned last season, and the franchise emphatically ended a 13-year streak of non-winning seasons this fall with an inspiring run to the Rams' first division title since 2003. But the Falcons have been here before, and they showed it. The Falcons jumped to their early lead by capitalizing on two mistakes by Pharoh Cooper, the Rams' Pro Bowl kick returner. Atlanta's offense then chewed up the clock and field position, with the first drive after halftime consuming 8:15. "To end with a time of possession over 37 minutes, that's hard to do in our league," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. "There was a nine-minute drive to start the second half, and I thought that really set the tone." The Falcons' defense did more than enough to slow down the NFL's highest-scoring offense, harassing Jared Goff into a 24-for-45 performance in his playoff debut. "They did a real nice job there moving the ball up the field and keeping us on the sideline," Goff said. "That can sure get you out of your rhythm." Robert Woods caught nine passes for 142 yards for the Rams, but rookie Cooper Kupp scored their only touchdown late in the first half. Atlanta held MVP candidate Todd Gurley to 101 yards rushing — just 43 in the first three quarters — and four receptions for a mere 10 yards. The Falcons ruined a celebratory night for the Rams, who rebounded from a rough homecoming season in 2016 with an outstanding debut year under 31-year-old Sean McVay, the youngest head coach to reach the playoffs in NFL history. "You see why the Falcons are the defending NFC champs," McVay said. "Certainly this is a humbling game. ... This is an experience that we can learn from. But I don't think this game was too big for our guys." The Rams' offense finally figured it out late in the first half: Goff made several sharp throws on a 79-yard drive ending in Kupp's TD catch, and Sam Ficken's first field goal trimmed the halftime deficit to 13-10. But the Rams' defense simply couldn't get off the field in the third quarter, whether due to missed tackles or clever play-calling by the Falcons. Los Angeles trimmed the lead to 19-13 with 10:49 to play, but the Falcons made another drive highlighted by a beautiful 52-yard screen pass from a blitz-avoiding Bryant to Mohamed Sanu. Jones then caught the sixth playoff TD pass of his career. Goff drove the Rams deep into Falcons territory, but LA turned it over on down at the Atlanta 5 with 2:05 to play. The Falcons stopped the Rams again on downs at midfield with 1:08 left. SARK'S RETURN Although the Falcons' offense took a step back in production this season, Atlanta chipped away at the Rams' defense throughout the Coliseum return of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who coached USC here until 2015. Ryan was methodical under relentless pressure from All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald, repeatedly avoiding trouble and making big throws. Freeman rushed for 66 yards, and Sanu had that key 52-yard gain on a screen pass. "Great call by Sark," Ryan said. COOPER'S MISTAKES Cooper is headed to the Pro Bowl after his outstanding regular season as a kick returner, but the second-year pro's misadventures in his playoff debut cost the Rams dearly. He muffed a punt that bounced off teammate Blake Countess in the first quarter, and Bryant subsequently hit the Falcons' first field goal. After Bryant's second field goal later in the quarter, Cooper got stripped by Damontae Kazee during a kickoff return at the Rams 32, and the Falcons drove for Freeman's short TD run. UP NEXT After the Falcons' defensive performance against Goff, they look like a potential problem for the powerful Eagles without quarterback Carson Wentz in the early Saturday divisional playoff game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

The thunderclap heads to Russia: Iceland gets World Cup spot

em>By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press /em> MADRID (AP) — The Icelandic thunderclap is making its way to Russia. Iceland added to its incredible European Championship campaign by becoming the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup on Monday. That means the Viking chant popularized by Iceland fans at Euro 2016 will be heard across Russia next year. Iceland secured an automatic berth by defeating Kosovo 2-0 in Reykjavik to win Group I and kick-start celebrations in the island nation of about 330,000 people. Fireworks were set off after the match at a packed Laugardalsvollur Stadium, and captain Aron Gunnarssonled immediately led the crowd in the traditional chant in which players and fans yell and clap their hands at a rhythmic crescendo that is likened to a Viking war chant. The chant was a success when Iceland made its major tournament debut at the Euros in France last year, when it stunned by reaching the quarterfinals after drawing with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the group stage and eliminating England in the last 16. Serbia also qualified for the World Cup for the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. Ireland secured a playoff spot from Group D, while Gareth Bale's Wales was eliminated only 15 months after reaching the semifinals at Euro 2016. Spain and Italy won their last qualifying games in Group G, which had already been won by the Spaniards. Italy was already assured of a playoff spot. Here's a look at the action on Monday: strong>GROUP D /strong> Serbia qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 2010 by beating Georgia 1-0 in Belgrade with a goal by Aleksandar Prijovic's in the 74th minute. The result left Wales and Ireland to decide their fate in the Celtic showdown in Cardiff, and the Irish got the victory and a playoff berth after James McClean's 57th-minute goal following a defensive mix-up by the Welsh. 'That last half hour seemed an eternity,' Ireland manager Martin O'Neill said. 'We had to withstand pressure but we knew at some stage we would have to try to win the game and we did it.' Bale couldn't play for Wales because of injury. Serbia finished with two more points than Ireland, and four more than Wales. The Irish will try to qualify for the World Cup for a fourth time — and first since 2002. They will not be seeded in the playoffs draw which will take place on Tuesday. strong>GROUP G /strong> Spain ended its qualifying campaign by beating Israel 1-0 in Jerusalem, while Italy scraped past Albania 1-0 in Shkoder in another poor effort which will do little to inspire confidence in coach Gian Piero Ventura and his team. 'We have some limitations at the moment but today there was the desire to try and do things,' Ventura said. With a World Cup berth already secured, Spain played without most of its regular starters in Jerusalem but won thanks to a long-range strike by Asier Illarramendi in the second half It finished unbeaten with nine wins and a 1-1 draw against Italy in Turin last year. The Italians ended five points behind Spain. Macedonia beat Liechtenstein 4-0 in the match between the two bottom sides in the group. Liechtenstein was outscored 39-1 in its 10 qualifiers. strong>GROUP I /strong> Iceland made history by beating last-place Kosovo with a goal by Gylfi Sigurdsson in the first half and another by Johann Gudmundsson in the second, keeping the momentum from its inspiring run at Euro 2016. The result left the Icelanders two points in front of Croatia, which beat Ukraine 2-0 in Kiev to secure the playoff spot. Ukraine ended three points behind Croatia in third place. It was the tightest group in European qualifying. Iceland entered the final round with a two-point lead over both Croatia and Ukraine. Kosovo completed its maiden qualifying campaign for a major tournament with a single point from a draw at Finland. Iceland, unbeaten in 13 competitive home games, will be the smallest nation in terms of population to play in soccer's showcase event. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 10th, 2017

Atletico puts new stadium to the test in Champions League

A look at what's happening around the Champions League this week: ___ strong>ATLETICO'S HOME SUCCESS /strong> Atletico Madrid will try to extend its successful home streak when it makes its Champions League debut at the new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Wednesday against Chelsea. It will be Atletico's third match at the venue which replaced the Vicente Calderon Stadium, where Atletico was unbeaten in its last 11 games in the European competition. Atletico has won both of its matches at the Wanda Metropolitano — 1-0 against Malaga and 2-0 against Sevilla, both in the Spanish league 'The Metropolitano has the feel of a Roman circus,' Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. Barcelona travels to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday, riding a seven-game winning streak that includes the emphatic 3-0 win over Juventus in its Champions League opener. Sporting, off to a great start in the Portuguese league, can make it two wins in a row to start its Group D campaign. On Tuesday, Sevilla will host Maribor, which is coming off its first loss of the season against Atletico Madrid. ___ strong>MOSCOW CHALLENGE /strong> The Champions League provides Russian authorities with a key test of their World Cup readiness this week, and a glimpse at the welcome fans can expect next year. Two of England's fiercest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester United, play on consecutive nights in Moscow. Liverpool is first up against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday, and CSKA Moscow plays United the following night. There isn't typically disorder when the teams — separated by about 30 miles (48 kilometers) in northwest England — meet on home soil. But since England fans were attacked by Russians at the 2016 European Championship in Marseille, concerns have heightened about hooliganism in the 2018 World Cup host nation. United and Liverpool fans have been advised by the British government not to wear club colors on the streets of Moscow and to avoid walking alone. On the pitch, United and CSKA both won their opening games in Group A. Liverpool and Spartak are chasing their first wins after starting Group E with draws. ___ strong>DORTMUND THRIVING BUT FLAWED /strong> Real Madrid heads to Germany to face on Tuesday a Borussia Dortmund side enjoying its best start to the Bundesliga. Dortmund hadn't even conceded a goal in five domestic games until Lars Stindl netted Borussia Moenchengladbach's consolation in a 6-1 rout on Saturday. While Dortmund has scored 19 goals in six league games, there is no perfection in the high pressing game. The team remains prone to lapses at the back and opponents can suddenly find themselves with wide spaces to run into behind the Dortmund defense. That happened three times alone in the first half against 'Gladbach but it didn't prove as costly as when Dortmund visited London earlier this month and lost its Group H opener against Tottenham 3-1. ___ strong>NEEDING NEYMAR /strong> A bust-up between Edinson Cavani and Neymar combined with a goalless draw at Montpellier have generated a sense of trouble at Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Bayern Munich's visit on Wednesday. Cavani and Neymar have reportedly made peace after arguing on the pitch, but PSG dropped its first points this season following a dismal performance at Montpellier that raised concerns about the side's dependence on its Brazilian star. Neymar sat out Saturday's game because of a toe injury and his absence was obvious. Facing a very defensive side which closed spaces efficiently, PSG did not find a way to break the deadlock in a 4-3-3 system that lacked rhythm and creativity. 'We need to push more in order to score goals,' PSG coach Unai Emery said. 'This match leaves us with a lot of things to analyze in order to continue our progression.' Neymar is expected to return for the Bayern game in Group B. ___ strong>ROMA'S NEGATIVE STREAK /strong> Roma will be hopeful of ending a woeful away record in the Champions League when it travels to Azerbaijan for the first time, to play Qarabag on Wednesday. Including qualifying, Roma has won only one of its past 13 matches on its travels in Europe's elite competition, with that sole victory coming against Basel in 2009. But coach Eusebio Di Francesco will be hopeful of success against Qarabag, which lost 6-0 at Chelsea in the last round. He will again look to an in-form Edin Dzeko, who netted his fifth goal in three matches in Saturday's 3-1 win over Udinese. Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice in that match and Di Francesco has described him as 'the ideal attacker' for his preferred 4-3-3 formation, which he hopes will boost Roma in Europe as well as domestically. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2017

PBA: Marqus Blakely disappointed as he misses playoffs for the first time

It was not to be for the Marqus Blakely and the TNT KaTropa pairing.  The 2017-18 PBA season of the KaTropa had prematurely ended at the hands of the two-time defending conference champions Ginebra San Miguel with a deflating 112-93 loss Sunday evening at the Big Dome.  For the first time in his PBA career, the veteran import failed to make a postseason, a far cry from his glory days as the reinforcement of the Grand Slam San Mig Coffee team coached by none other than Tim Cone. Per PBA head statistician Fidel Mangonon III, it is also the first time since the 2015 PBA Governors' Cup that the flagship franchise of the MVP group failed to qualify to the playoffs. As the third import for the embattled conference which also saw a coaching change in the person of Bong Ravena and consultant Mark Dickel, Blakely knew that it was going to be a gigantic task to help tow the team to a top-eight finish. "We came together as a team. Got a couple of wins, but unfortunately, we didn't finish strong. That's one thing that veteran teams and teams with chemistry can do," Blakely said. "There's a lot of things going on in this conference. I think for what we had, the time that we had, we did all right. We did pretty well. I figured it takes a little bit more time and practice to get where we wanted to be." The Metuchen, New Jersey native however did not point fingers at anybody else but himself, for he believed that the team could get over the hump, but unfortunately for them, they could not. He also shared that he had a light moment with Cone, whom he has not seen since their Grand Slam finish back in 2014. "[I]t's just good to see him, talk to him. Unfortunately, he was on the other side. We just talked for a little moment." The decision on whether to return to the country or not as a player will not rely entirely on himself, but Blakely assures he'll be ready if any team calls him for another tour of duty. Meanwhile for Cone, Blakely will always have a special place in his heart since he was his second import since Sean Chambers back in 1996 to have completed the rare three-peat. "I have so many many fond memories of Marqus and how he turned around our program at that time. He came in and played with such heart and intensity. He’s defensive-minded and he turned everybody that way and how we played. He’s a great influencer," the winningest coach in PBA history said. "I have just tremendous feelings for Marqus. He’s a great guy. He’s a great competitor." Blakely meanwhile returned the love the seasoned coach gave to him. "I miss him, too," before ending it with a laugh.  __ Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2018

ONE Championship: Exchanging strikes with Kevin Belingon won’t be a problem for Bibiano Fernandes

Team Lakay’s Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon is one of the most feared strikers under the ONE Championship banner. ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes is completely aware of his tremendous knockout power ahead of their title unification contest at ONE: HEART OF THE LION. Belingon owns a number devastating stoppages inside the world's largest martial arts organization, including a one-punch knockout of Spain’s David Aranda in December 2013, and his famous spinning back kick finish of Andrew Leone this past April. Even though many believe that Belingon has the advantage in the striking department courtesy of his wushu background, Fernandes has no qualms in trading punches and kicks with the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion in their highly-anticipated rematch in Singapore on 9 November. “I’ve seen him develop as a fighter, and since the first time we met, I know how strong and explosive he is, but I just want him to know that my striking is not that bad,” he said. “I can turn the lights out when he gives me that opening.” They are set to face each other for the second time at the landmark event inside the state-of-the-art Singapore Indoor Stadium, which features two World Champion versus World Champion contests. The rematch with Belingon will be Fernandes’ ninth defense of his ONE Bantamweight World Title, an incredible run that started when he outpointed South Korea’s Soo Chul Kim in a title unification contest back in October 2013. Fernandes is known to be a world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, as eight of his 22 career wins have come by way of submission, but his ability to exchange strikes should not be underestimated. The bantamweight king has exhibited on numerous occasions that he packs power in both hands. In his July 2015 title defense, Fernandes got the job done in the third round by knocking out Finland’s Toni Tauru with one punch. He also had success in his latest battle with Martin Nguyen, wobbling the hard-hitting challenger in the final round. Fernandes, who has been training with top-notch athletes at AMC Pankration, admitted that he and his team are spending time sharpening his stand-up arsenal to compliment his exceptional Brazilian jiu-jitsu pedigree. “I always work on my strikes at the gym. As a competitor, I should be prepared in all aspects of the fight because this is mixed martial arts. This sport has a lot of elements. For big matches like this one, I always have a good striking coach in my corner,” he stated. “I don’t give a lot of power. It is all about the timing, but once it connects, it will definitely hurt. My team and I have been very dedicated to elevating my stand-up game, just like how we focus on my jiu-jitsu,” Fernandes explained further. "The Flash" stressed that he is willing to exchange strikes with Belingon, claiming that he has already figured out his Filipino rival’s style inside the cage. “He comes with the right kick on the outside and left kick inside, and he comes with the big overhand,” Fernandes mentioned. “If you want to fight standing up, I’ll fight standing up with you. I don’t fear the fight in the stand-up.” Although he has witnessed Belingon’s evolution from one-dimensional striker to well-rounded mixed martial artist first-hand, the 38-year-old grappling wizard pointed out that his ground game would still play an integral part of his offense in the rematch. “Whether it’s striking or grappling, it’s absolutely fine with me, especially against Kevin who showed tremendous growth as an athlete. “But going to the ground with me, it’s a different story. No one has solved my jiu-jitsu for the past eight years. It will always be the same for everybody.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2018

Cora-nation! Rookie manager leads Red Sox to championship

LOS ANGELES --- Hard to believe now, all these wins later, but the Alex Cora Era in Boston began with a loss. A brutal one, in fact. Opening day at Tropicana Field in late March, none of his late moves worked out as the bullpen blew a big lead in a 6-4 setback. No fan in New England would admit it now --- still, chances are some had already started to wonder whether he was the right guy for the Red Sox. "It's baseball," Cora reassured that afternoon. "We know it's going to happen. ... I guess get it out of the way right away." Yep, guess so. A calming presence in a boiling sports cauldron, Cora capped off one of the greatest runs by a first-year skipper in leading Boston to the Wo...Keep on reading: Cora-nation! Rookie manager leads Red Sox to championship.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Mbappe stars again as PSG wins 2-0 at Marseille for 11th win

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Left out by his coach for disciplinary reasons, Kylian Mbappe watched his teammates struggle in the first half and then came off the bench to score as French league leader Paris Saint-Germain won 2-0 at rival Marseille on Sunday. Angel Di Maria, who grabbed PSG's injury-time equalizer on Wednesday in a 2-2 home draw with Napoli in the Champions League, set up Mbappe with a threaded pass behind the defense in the 65th minute. The France World Cup star sprinted clear before drilling a low shot into the bottom left corner for his 10th league goal in seven games. He found the net just four minutes after coming on, justifying his importance in an attack which has plundered 39 goals in 11 games. "A big team needs leaders and they need to make the difference," said Mbappe defiantly, after being dropped by coach Thomas Tuchel because he was late for the pre-match team talk. "I think I can fulfill that role." Tuchel stood by his decision to bench Mbappe and midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who was also late for the talk. "(It was) a disciplinary situation," the German coach said on Canal Plus television, confirming what happened. "We needed to do that." Mbappe helped create the second goal by finding Neymar with a pass behind the defense, and the Brazil forward's scuffed shot landed perfectly for Julian Draxler to slide home at the back post five minutes into injury time. It was defending champion PSG's 11th straight league win — matching English side Tottenham's run from the start of the 1960-61 season — and kept the team eight points ahead of second-place Lille. Marseille is 14 points behind in fifth spot. Marseille strangely played without a recognized center forward, yet had the better of the first-half chances at Stade Velodrome as PSG looked tame in attack without Mbappe. "They are very strong at home and they had several phases of play where we were in trouble," Mbappe said. "Credit to them. But we were able to respond." Still, PSG almost scored just before halftime when Di Maria's shot was cleared off the line by midfielder Kevin Strootman. At the start of the second half, some Marseille fans threw objects at Neymar when he took a corner from the left, but he did not seem worried and took it anyway as some stewards formed a shield around him. PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola made a good save to keep out midfielder Dimitri Payet's free kick early in the second half, and saved again from left back Jordan Amavi's dipping shot from the edge of the penalty area shortly after Mbappe's goal. ___ OTHER MATCHES Midfielder Wylan Cyprien's first goal of the season helped Patrick Vieira's Nice to a much-needed 1-0 win at Bordeaux. Cyprien scored in the 54th minute after being set up by pacey winger Allan Saint-Maximin. Bordeaux then hit the crossbar and Nice goalkeeper Walter Benitez made a brilliant injury-time save to keep out a header from forward Andreas Cornelius. Vieira, a standout midfielder for France and Arsenal during his playing days, took charge this summer. His team has been inconsistent, with striker Mario Balotelli lacking match fitness and yet to find the net this season after scoring 18 league goals last season and 15 the season before. The win moved Nice up to 10th place after 11 matches, behind Reims on goal difference. Forward Remi Oudin also netted his first goal of the campaign as Reims won 2-0 at Rennes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 28th, 2018

Patriots, Brady top Chiefs for wild 43-40 win

By The Associated Press FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Stephen Gostkowski hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired, and the New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs 43-40 on Sunday night after blowing a big halftime lead. Tom Brady passed for 340 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score in his 200th victory as a starting quarterback, tops in NFL history. Brady also passed former teammate Adam Vinatieri for most career wins in the regular season and playoffs combined with 227. It was the first loss of the season for the Chiefs (5-1). New England (4-2) led 24-9 at intermission, but Patrick Mahomes directed an impressive rally by Kansas City in the second half. He finished 23 of 36 for 352 yards in his first loss as a starting quarterback, with three of his four TD passes going to Tyreek Hill. Mahomes threw two interceptions in the first half, but was unflappable down the stretch. He found Hill for a 75-yard touchdown pass that tied it with just over three minutes remaining. STEELERS 28, BENGALS 21 CINCINNATI (AP) — James Conner ran for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the eve of Le'Veon Bell's possible return, and Antonio Brown turned a short pass into a 31-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left as Pittsburgh pulled off another improbable comeback in Cincinnati. The Steelers (3-2-1) have won eight in a row against their AFC North rival, three times rallying in the final minute at Paul Brown Stadium to keep it going. After Joe Mixon's 4-yard touchdown run with 1:18 left got the Bengals (4-2) thinking this might finally be the time they end the streak, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers stunned them again. Brown caught a short pass and outran the secondary for the winning score, leaving thousands of Steelers fans twirling their towels in the stands. The Steelers are 16-2 at Paul Brown Stadium during Marvin Lewis' 16 seasons as Bengals coach, including a pair of playoff wins. Same outcome as usual. This one ended with a brief scuffle after Andy Dalton's final pass fell incomplete, leaving him 3-12 all-time against Pittsburgh. The Steelers have found their stride behind Conner , who became the featured back when Bell decided to hold out. He has run for more than 100 yards in each of the last two games, and his two 1-yard touchdown runs Sunday put him in the company of a pair of Steelers Hall of Famers. Conner has seven rushing touchdowns in six games, joining Franco Harris (1976) and Jerome Bettis (2004) as the only Steelers with that accomplishment. RAVENS 21, TITANS 0 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Ravens piled up a franchise-record 11 sacks in the rain. Za'Darious Smith had three sacks and Patrick Onwuasor had two for the Ravens (4-2), who had six sacks by halftime. They finished a sack off the NFL record for a game, shared by five teams. Dean Pees and the Titans simply couldn't stop his old team as the Ravens outgained Tennessee 361-106 and punted only once against a defense led by their former defensive coordinator. Pees came out of a short retirement to join first-year head coach Mike Vrabel. Joe Flacco threw for 238 yards and a touchdown for Baltimore. Alex Collins scored on TD runs of 13 and 2 yards. The Titans (3-3) lost their second straight and were shut out at home for the first time since moving into Nissan Stadium in 1999. Tennessee has not scored a touchdown in eight straight quarters. The Ravens couldn't have looked much better handing Tennessee its first shutout since Nov. 28, 2010. Marcus Mariota tried playing both with and without the partial glove covering his ring and pinkie fingers on his throwing hand. It didn't' help as Mariota was sacked the most in his four-year NFL career and most allowed by the Titans since giving up seven in a loss at Houston on Nov. 1, 2015. Coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired two days later. RAMS 23, BRONCOS 20 DENVER (AP) — Todd Gurley rushed for a career-high 208 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries and the Rams celebrated Wade Phillips' homecoming. The Rams, who had surrendered 31 points in back-to-back games, improved to 6-0 in sending the Broncos (2-4) to their fourth straight loss. The Broncos pulled to 23-20 on Case Keenum's 1-yard dart to Demaryius Thomas with 1:22 remaining, capping a 77-yard drive that included three defensive penalties. Rams receiver Robert Woods, however, knocked Brandon McManus' onside kick out of bounds, and the Rams ran out the clock with Jared Goff (14 of 28 for 201 yards) twice taking a knee. Phillips was the Broncos' beloved bandmaster when they were celebrating their Super Bowl 50 triumph, but his contract wasn't renewed after the 2016 season and he joined Sean McVay in sunny Southern California. After an overnight snowstorm, the game-time temperature of 25 degrees marked the second-coldest in Denver prior to November in franchise history. The cold did nothing to slow down Gurley, who scored his 10th and 11th touchdowns of the season. COWBOYS 40, JAGUARS 7 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes to Cole Beasley to spark the previously punchless Dallas passing game and rushed for a career-high 82 yards. Perhaps pumped up by some pregame mingling with UFC fighter Conor McGregor, the Cowboys rolled to a 24-0 halftime lead. Beasley got his first two touchdowns of the season for the NFL's 30th-ranked passing offense that was facing the league's No. 1 pass defense. Prescott had 151 of his 183 yards passing in the first half because Dallas didn't need to throw while coasting during a second-half blowout that dropped Jacksonville to 3-3. The 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year had already set his personal best in rushing for a game when he spun out of a sack for the longest run of his career, a 28-yarder. He scored Dallas' first touchdown on a 17-yard run. The Cowboys (3-3) won their first three games of the season at 9-year-old AT&T Stadium for the first time. Most of their offensive struggles have been in the three road losses. Blake Bortles, who established a career high in yards passing in consecutive weeks and had a chance to become the fifth NFL quarterback with three straight games of at least 375 yards, was 15 of 26 for 149 yards with a touchdown and an interception. DOLPHINS 31, BEARS 28, OT MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Jason Sanders kicked a 47-yard field goal on the final play of overtime after Cody Parkey missed a 53-yard try for the Chicago Bears, who blew an 11-point lead in the final 16 minutes of regulation. Miami's Brock Osweiler threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns subbing for Ryan Tannehill, who sat out because of an injured throwing shoulder. Albert Wilson turned two short passes into long touchdowns in the fourth quarter and finished with 155 yards on six receptions. The Dolphins took the kickoff to start overtime, marched 74 yards and were on the verge of victory when Kenyan Drake fumbled just before crossing the goal line. Eddie Goldman recovered for the Bears, who then drove to the Miami 35. But former Dolphin Parkey was wide right on his attempt with 2 minutes left. Miami (4-2) snapped a two-game losing streak and ended a three-game winning streak for Chicago (3-2). The Bears' offense came alive after they trailed 7-0 at halftime. Miami then rallied from a 21-10 deficit in the final 16 minutes of regulation to tie the game twice and force overtime. Mitchell Trubisky threw for 316 yards and three second-half touchdowns, but the Bears were hurt by two turnovers in the red zone. Jordan Howard lost a fumble at the 1, and Trubisky was intercepted in the end zone by T.J. McDonald. FALCONS 34, BUCCANEERS 29 ATLANTA (AP) — Matt Ryan threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns as the Falcons snapped a three-game losing streak, holding off Tampa Bay in Jameis Winston's return as Buccaneers starting quarterback. The Falcons (2-4) scored on their first three possessions and held off a wild comeback by Tampa Bay (2-3), avoiding their first 1-5 start since 2007. Winston and the Bucs almost pulled off a miracle on the final play of the game after driving to the Atlanta 21. With no timeouts, the quarterback took the snap and tried to surprise the Falcons by taking off up the middle of the field. When he was about to be tackled at the 10, he pitched toward receiver Adam Humphries, who couldn't hang on. The ball skipped to Mike Evans, who blindly flung it in the direction of DeSean Jackson at the 5. Jackson might've had a chance to dive for the end zone, but he couldn't come up with another bouncing ball. It hopped out of bounds to end the game. Jackson ripped off his helmet, kicked the pylon in disgust and headed straight for the locker room. Winston threw for 395 yards and four TDs but also had a pair of interceptions. Ryan's three TD passes gave him 274 in his career, passing Joe Montana for 16th on the career list. JETS 42, COLTS 34 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Jason Myers kicked a franchise-record seven field goals, Sam Darnold threw two touchdown passes, and the Jets held on to win consecutive games for the first time in more than a year. Morris Claiborne returned the first of three interceptions thrown by Andrew Luck for a touchdown as the Jets (3-3) moved to .500 by taking advantage of mistakes by the short-handed Colts (1-5), who lost their fourth straight. With Joe Namath and the 1968 Super Bowl-winning team celebrating its 50th anniversary, Darnold was 24 of 30 for 280 yards, with TD throws to Terrelle Pryor and Chris Herndon and an interception to give New York its first back-to-back victories since taking three in a row in Weeks 3-5 last season. Myers hit field goals from 30, 48, 32, 37, 45, 37 and 45 yards to break the Jets record previously held by Jim Turner (1968) — the kicker for the Super Bowl champions — and Bobby Howfield (1972). Luck was 23 of 43 for 301 yards with touchdowns to Marcus Johnson, Eric Ebron, Erik Swoope and Chester Rogers, the last coming with 1:51 left to make the score close. Neal Sterling recovered the Colts' onside kick to seal the win for the Jets. TEXANS 19, BILLS 14 HOUSTON (AP) — Johnathan Joseph's 28-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:23 remaining lifted the Texans. Houston trailed by three when Phillip Gaines was called pass interference on Will Fuller in the end zone with 2 minutes remaining, moving the Texans 41 yards to the 1-yard line. But the Texans (3-3) lost 7 yards on three plays, capped by an incomplete pass intended for Ryan Griffin that Matt Milano knocked down to force Houston to kick. A 27-yard field goal by Ka'imi Fairbairn tied it with 1:34 remaining. Two plays later, Joseph stepped in front of a pass from backup Nathan Peterman intended for Kelvin Benjamin and dashed untouched into the end zone to put the Texans on top and help them avoid their third straight overtime game. Kareem Jackson intercepted Peterman with 35 seconds left to secure the victory, dropping Buffalo to 2-4. Joseph's late-game heroics helped Houston to its third straight win on a day that quarterback Deshaun Watson committed three turnovers. VIKINGS 27, CARDINALS 17 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Latavius Murray helped the Minnesota Vikings revive their running attack with 155 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, wearing down the Cardinals. Even Kirk Cousins joined the fun for the Vikings (3-2-1) with an option-style run across the goal line in the third quarter, before throwing to Adam Thielen for a score on the following possession. Thielen had 11 receptions for 123 yards, his sixth straight 100-yard game to become the first player in the NFL since 1961 to start a season with a streak that long. Thielen's 58 catches are the most in league history through six games. Budda Baker returned a fumble off a sack by Chandler Jones for a 36-yard touchdown and Tre Boston had a diving interception later in the second quarter, and the Cardinals (1-5) constantly pressured Cousins with four sacks, seven hits and seven deflected passes. Cousins managed to complete 24 of 34 attempts for 233 yards, thanks mostly to Thielen and his exceptional ability to get open anywhere on the field and turn off-target throws into clutch catches. SEAHAWKS 27, RAIDERS 3 LONDON (AP) — Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns, including one off a botched snap in the second quarter. Chris Carson rushed for 59 yards and rookie Rashaad Penny gained an additional 43 for the Seahawks (3-3), who played to a vociferously supportive crowd — a London-record 84,922 were in attendance — despite the Raiders (1-5) being the designated home team. Oakland quarterback Derek Carr left with an apparent left arm injury with 8:52 remaining in the fourth quarter after the last of his six sacks and did not have the chance to return before the Seahawks ran out the clock. Carr went 23 for 31 for 142 yards. He was hit by Jarran Reed on third down and immediately grabbed his upper left arm as he sat up before being helped to the sideline for evaluation. Wilson, who completed 17 of 23 attempts for 222 yards with an interception, connected with Jaron Brown for a 5-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter; a 19-yard touchdown pass to David Moore in the second; and a 10-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett in the fourth. After picking up a low snap, Wilson faked a throw and stepped forward, then made a throw to Moore over Daryl Worley. Moore punctuated his touchdown, his third in the Seahawks' past two games, by accidentally crashing into and tumbling over the temporary video advertising boards set up around the field. Sebastian Janikowski, who joined the Seahawks in the offseason after 17 seasons with the Raiders, made two field goals. REDSKINS 23, PANTHERS 17 LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Josh Norman bounced back from his prime-time benching by intercepting former teammate Cam Newton and forcing a fumble. Norman ended his 19-game interception drought by catching a jump ball thrown by Newton on a third-and-long play early in the second quarter, his first pick since Dec. 24, 2016. Norman also popped the ball out of Panthers rookie receiver D.J. Moore's hands in a showcase performance against the team that abruptly cut ties with him after his All-Pro 2015 season. Newton threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns on 27 of 40 passing and rushed for 43 yards in a turnover-marred loss. He engineered a late drive that got the Panthers to the Washington 16-yard line, but threw incomplete on second, third and fourth downs to seal the loss. Carolina (3-2) was long before that doomed by turnovers, including Moore's on a punt return that set up Smith's 22-yard TD pass to Davis. In his second game with the Panthers, safety Eric Reid continued his tradition of kneeling during the national anthem. Reid took a knee just at the corner of the American flag on the field by the Carolina sideline, the only Panthers player to do so. Reid last week became the first Carolina player to kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner." CHARGERS 38, BROWNS 14 CLEVELAND (AP) — Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes to Tyrell Williams — the veteran quarterback threw a block — and Melvin Gordon had three TD runs as the Chargers banged around rookie Baker Mayfield and the Browns. The 36-year-old Rivers continued one of the best starts of his 15-year career, leading the Chargers (4-2) to their third straight win. Rivers finished 11 of 20 for 207 yards and had only one mistake, an interception midway through the fourth quarter. San Diego did most of its damage on the ground, with Gordon running for 132 yards and scoring on runs of 4, 10 and 11 yards. Rivers and Williams connected on scoring plays of 45 and 29 yards in the first half, and Gordon's 11-yard run put the Chargers up 35-6. Mayfield's third start as a pro was a rough one. The No. 1 overall pick was sacked five times, tweaked his ankle when he slid on a sideline marker and threw two interceptions. The Browns (2-3-1) were blown out after playing five tight games — three going to overtime — and showed there's still a long road ahead......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2018

Looking for an edge: Teams trying to turn data into wins

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Data is pored over by coaches and staff of the Orlando Magic on a regular basis. They’ll dissect how far a player runs during practice, how quickly that player accelerates and decelerates, how his performance changes as the workout goes along, biometric measurements like his heartbeat or when his workload is particularly heavy. The charts and graphs are detailed and precise. But how it’ll help the Magic win, that’s still an unknown. Wearable technology — chips worn during practice to collect information that analysts churn into reports — has been around the NBA for the past several seasons. It’s not permitted on game nights, and anything specific about processes the 30 teams are using falls into the category of closely guarded secrets. And when it comes to coaches deciding what play to call in the final seconds with a game on the line, it doesn’t seem to have an impact quite yet. “It’s all very beneficial stuff,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “But I can only digest X amount of information. And it has to be the right amount of information.” That’s one of the challenges that NBA teams are facing in this information age. Everyone knows analytics can help in countless ways. But the question remains simple: How? “You’ve got to take it and use it as best you can,” said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, who said he resisted using some data that he was presented several years ago when he coached in Phoenix — and wound up taking that Suns team to the Western Conference finals. “But at the end of the day, I think the instincts that you have as a coach become just as important, really.” There are some consistencies in what’s being collected. Regardless of what hardware a team is using, everything basically tracks the same things: distance of movement, speed of movement, acceleration and deceleration, workload and heart rate. Teams work on their own, largely without NBA oversight except for some rules laid out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It’s already been a boost in how teams monitor a player’s recovery from injury or surgery. But some also have wondered if the data collection is too invasive, or could be used against a player — something that isn’t supposed to happen under league rule. “It seems inherently geared to advantage the team,” University of Illinois law professor Michael LeRoy said in comments posted to his blog last year. “When it’s not linked to performance and not actually linked to injury, just correlation ... it’s hard to see where that data can be used to the advantage of a player.” The NBA has put together a list of what brands (like Catapult and STATSports) and types of products that teams can use, much in the same way it approves knee braces and other accessories. Teams aren’t mandated to share the data they’re collecting from the wearables with the league, although that may change once devices are permitted to be used during games. “Data collected through wearable devices has the potential to have a number of applications to improve player health — but it’s not a silver bullet,” said Dr. John DiFiori, the NBA’s medical director. “Information from wearables can add more detail on each player’s loading, which, together with a team’s overall toolkit, can help develop more individualized injury prevention programs, and assist teams in promoting safe return to play following an injury.” There could be benefits to standardizing the data, but that seems a long way off — especially since teams are still figuring out how to best go forward individually. The league and the NBA Players Association are working on finalizing a validation program will be in place to ensure that devices are measuring what the manufacturers say they’re measuring, and that they do so accurately. Atlanta rookie Kevin Huerter said in his short time as a pro, he’s learned a ton about his body that he didn’t even know because of what he’s gleaned off what his team has collected. “At this level, they worry and care so much more about your body,” Huerter said. “The technology monitors how tough practices are and how tough you’re pushing yourself. It’s a longer season, everybody knows that. So I think a lot of it is making sure guys stay healthy and listening when guys are hurting a little bit one day.” It might extend careers, help with injury management, maybe develop ways to avoid injuries. But whether this data will ever be sharpened to the point of helping a team figure out how to overcome a five-point deficit with 28.2 seconds remaining, that’s anyone’s guess. “Where the league is going, you’re looking for every edge,” Clifford said. “But as a coach, what you can’t do is you can’t stop watching the film. The data, talking to people, the numbers, all that, it’s all good information. But to have the clarity I think you need to make the right decisions, you better have watched enough film because that’s where you can see why, why, why it’s happening.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 14th, 2018

Melecio, La Salle still have Adamson s number in UAAP 81

De La Salle University has re-asserted its mastery over Adamson University now in the UAAP 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament. Battling back from a five-point deficit in the last three minutes of regulation and showing heart in overtime, the Green Archers got the better of the Soaring Falcons once more, 79-78, on Saturday at the MOA Arena. With the win, La Salle remains undefeated up against Franz Pumaren-coached Adamson – that’s seven straight wins since 2016. More importantly, with the win, the Taft-based team bounced back into the win column now at 4-3. “After that loss, we made sure na yung errors namin last game, ma-correct agad namin,” head coach Louie Gonzalez said post-game. It almost wasn’t meant to be as Sean Manganti put the Soaring Falcons up, 64-59, inside the last three minutes of the fourth quarter until Santi Santillan’s triple jolted life back into the Green Archers. Still, they were down by two with under a minute remaining before Aljun Melecio’s floater over the outstretched arms of Papi Sarr tied the tally and forced overtime. There, Santillan, Melecio, and Justine Baltazar got together for a 9-0 run and a 73-64 advantage in favor of their team. “Kahit may glitches pa rin, at least it’s good to see yung composure ng mga bata,” coach Louie said. Adamson would not quit, however, and Manganti’s triple pulled them to within 75-77 with 18.3 ticks to go on the clock only to see Kib Montalbo make good on two free throws to push La Salle ahead by four. Jerrick Ahanmisi hit another trey for the Soaring Falcons, but by then, only 0.5 seconds was left. Sent to the line, Melecio missed the first three throw and intentionally muffed again on the second to just let time run out. In the end, Melecio had 22 points on top of four rebounds and two assists while Santillan had 16 markers, nine boards, three dimes, and two blocks. Baltazar was also a force with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks of his own to help the Green Archers take control of solo fourth in the standings. For Adamson, Manganti topped the scoring column with 27 points and seven rebounds while Manganti had 23 markers, seven boards, and four assists to his name. Unable to finish off their opponents in regulation and unable to finish off their rally in overtime, however, they suffered a second straight setback and now stand in a three-way tie for the league lead at 5-2. BOX SCORES LA SALLE 79 – Melecio 22, Santillan 16, Baltazar 16, Caracut 8, Montalbo 8, Serrano 5, Bates 2, Manuel 2, Dyke 0, Go 0. ADAMSON 78 – Ahanmisi 27, Manganti 23, Sarr 9, Catapusan 5, Camacho 4, Lastimosa 3, Bernardo 2, Colonia 2, Espeleta 2, Magbuhos V. 1, Pingoy 0, Mojica 0. QUARTER SCORES: 22-16, 33-32, 49-49, 64-64, 79-78 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 13th, 2018

Tom Brady loses for 1st time in 9 games vs Jaguars, 31-20

By Mark Long, Associated Press JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady trudged off the field with his helmet in one hand, grass stains on his jersey and a look of frustration on his face. This was a different feeling for the New England Patriots quarterback — at least against Jacksonville. Brady lost for the first time in nine starts against the Jaguars, a 31-20 setback Sunday in which Blake Bortles outshined the three-time league MVP and five-time Super Bowl champion. Jacksonville had been the only remaining AFC team to never beat Brady. The Jags (2-0) finally got it done in a rematch of last season's AFC championship game. It shouldn't take long for Brady and the Patriots (1-1) to bounce back. They play winless Detroit next week. "It's a long year," Brady said. "I think you have a bad day against a good team, it's a recipe for losing." Brady completed 24 of 35 passes for 234 yards, with two touchdowns and a turnover. He was sacked twice, including once by Dante Fowler in the fourth quarter that caused a fumble. He said New England's offensive execution has room for improvement. "I don't think it's anywhere near where we're capable of or what we've done at different points through a season," Brady said. "We've got to make improvements, and I think September and October, that's what they're for. I think there's a lot of practices we need and a lot of time that we need to figure out what we do well and what we don't do so well. But you have to try to win in the meantime. And today obviously wasn't enough." The Jaguars, who can get to 3-0 for the first time since 2004 next week against Tennessee, did just about everything right. They held tight end Rob Gronkowski to two catches for 15 yards. They slowed New England's running game to 3.4 yards a carry. They allowed just two plays longer than 25 yards. And Bortles delivered the best game of his five-year career. Bortles threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns. He tossed perfect passes in the end zone to Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the first half, and then connected with Dede Westbrook on a short crossing route in the fourth quarter that Westbrook turned into a 61-yard score . "We go against Blake in practice," Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell said. "He has some days where he is just lights out and gets us. If he can get us, he can get anybody because we feel pretty good about ourselves. I know what's going to happen. If he keeps getting opportunities, he's going to be a big-time player. "I was just grabbing popcorn every time the ball was in Bortles' hands. I say, 'He's going to do something great', and then he's running and spinning and, man, it was impressive." Here are some other things we learned from the game: COLE STEPS UP Cole had the key block on Westbrook's big play that sealed the victory and is proving to be the team's go-to receiver. He finished with seven catches for 116 yards and a score. He made a spectacular, one-handed catch on Jacksonville's second drive and beat Eric Rowe for a 24-yard touchdown three plays later that got Rowe benched. "Keelan made an unbelievable play on the sideline," coach Doug Marrone said. "Everybody saw that. He's a guy that has been really steady for us, really worked his butt off. ... The first year is tough. You're trying to find your way. That second year you kind of get set in a way, and he's been good right from the beginning, very focused and has done a nice job for us." HOME STREAKING The Jaguars can set a franchise record next week by winning their eighth consecutive game at home. They host Tennessee next Sunday. Jacksonville hasn't lost at home since falling to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 6 of last season. RECORD HEAT The teams played in the hottest game in Jaguars history. Temperature at kickoff was 97 degrees, with a heat index of 107 degrees. According to the NFL, it was the warmest game since Green Bay played at Arizona in 2003. KEY INJURIES The Patriots lost two of their best defenders to concussions. Defensive end Trey Flowers left the game in the first quarter, and safety Patrick Chung was hurt injured in the second half. Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson injured his left knee in the first quarter and was helped off the field. UP NEXT The Patriots play at Detroit, where former New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is now the head coach. The Jaguars host AFC South rival Tennessee in the second of three straight home games......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2018

PBA: Coach Yeng on NLEX s 2-0 start: 'Hanap na ako work dito sa Jakarta'

ANTIPOLO CITY --- NLEX is having a dream start in the 2018 Governors' Cup. Without Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Asi Taulava, and head coach Yeng Guiao, the Road Warriors have two impressive wins in three days to start the season-ending joust, taking over first place with a 2-0 record. The team is doing well without several key pieces, with assistant coach Jojo Lastimosa doing a great job filling in for coach Yeng. After NLEX beat Northport Sunday, 123-107, Coach Jolas read a message from coach Yeng post-game and Guiao is now considering taking job offers in Indonesia. Guiao is currently in Jakarta leading Gilas Pilipinas' campaign in the 2018 Asian Games. The whole thing is a joke of course. "Congrats coach, nice job. Hanap na ako work dito sa Jakarta mukhang di ako kailangan diyan," coach Jolas said as he read coach Yeng's message on his phone. Despite the stellar start with him in charge, Lastimosa is quick to give credit to the entire NLEX coaching staff, adding that it's a complete team effort to keep the team afloat with Guiao out. "This is not my sole responsibility," he said. "I'm just here facing you guys but the other guys have been doing the heavy lifting. I'm just doing the subs and I have to aske them if it's okay if they say don't, then I won't put the guys in. A lot of preparation happens in practice and the other coaches are really, really working," Lastimosa added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2018

Son feels ashamed after South Korea s upset loss to Malaysia

By John Pye, Associated Press BANDUNG, Indonesia (AP) — In his last start a week ago Son Heung-min helped Tottenham to a win in the Premier League. In his last start in a South Korea jersey Son scored late in a World Cup upset group stage win over 2014 champion Germany in late June. He was a long way from there on Friday, when his belated start to the Asian Games ended in a 2-1 loss to Malaysia that left him feeling ashamed in front of 4,125 fans on the outskirts of Bandung, the capital of Indonesia's West Java province. After getting permission from Tottenham to pursue a gold medal that would earn him an exemption from national military service, Son finally got on the field in the 57th minute of South Korea's second group game. By then, the defending champions were down 2-0 after a pair of first-half goals from Safawi Rasid and all the warnings Son had given his young teammates about the potential threats of every opponent appeared to have gone unheeded. "I feel ashamed about this shocking loss," Son said in Korean. "The players sort of took it easy. After the Malaysians scored two goals, the players were perplexed." He was unable to spark a comeback win at SI Jalak Harupat Stadium, the art deco-inspired 27,000-seat stadium that is set amid volcanic hills and tea plantations about a four-hour drive southeast of Jakarta. Son had some good touches but, after Hwang Ui-jo scored for South Korea in the 87th, he pushed a long-range free kick wide in the last minute. South Korea had more than two-thirds of the possession and took 14 shots to Malaysia's five but lacked finish in the front third and were exposed early in defense. Defense is the key for this South Korean team. A gold medal will exempt them from 21 months of military service, an obligation Son is otherwise expected to start within the next two years. That's the kind of commitment that could hurt his playing career. He's at the Asian Games in Indonesia as one of the three wildcard — or overage players — in the under-23 South Korean squad. And he's one of four members of South Korea's World Cup squad selected for the roster, along with Hwang Hee-chan, Lee Seung-woo and goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo. Only one of them — Hwang — started against Malaysia. South Korea coach Kim Hak-bum admitted he made a tactical blunder by rotating his players too early in the tournament. "That was my mistake ... I regret that," Kim said through a translator. "Because of today's result we've got a difficult pathway to the finals. First place and second place in this group is quite different in the round of 16 ... but we'll get through." Kim responded to question about Son's limited playing time by saying the star player had only been with the squad a couple of days and his fitness and condition had to be properly managed. The 25-team tournament is not officially recognized by FIFA, but Tottenham allowed the 26-year-old Son to leave England after the 2-1 win at Newcastle. Son missed South Korea's run to the Asian Games title in 2014 because he was not released by former club Bayer Leverkusen, adding to the pressure on him to win gold this time. "I should have controlled the game better and helped the (young) players in their mind controls — I feel a big responsibility for that," Son said. "I and our coach told players that we could face a big trouble if we lowered our guard. Of course, this thing should not happen, but I feel very relieved that this happened during the group preliminaries. I hope our players have learned that." South Korea will round out the group stage against Kyrgyzstan on Monday and will need a big win to restore confidence ahead of the knockout stage. Malaysia leads Group E with two wins and is three points clear of South Korea, which had opened its campaign by thrashing Bahrain 6-0 on Wednesday. Bahrain and Kyrgyzstan had a 2-2 draw Friday to pick up their first points of the tournament and remain in contention. The top two teams from each group and four best-performing third-placed teams advance to the round of 16......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2018

Koreas extend conciliatory steps to Asian Games

By Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — With the Koreas, there's no separating their sports from their politics. The war-separated rivals will take their reconciliation steps to the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia, where they will jointly march in the opening ceremony and field combined teams in basketball, rowing and canoeing. "Sports have played the role of peacemaker between the Koreas," said Kim Seong-jo, vice chairman of South Korea's Olympic committee and the country's chef de mission at the Asian Games. "If the combined teams put out good performances and win medals, that would be putting the cherry on the top." North and South Korea have used sports diplomacy this year in a bid to decrease animosity and initiate a new round of global diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang. South Korea leaders consider goodwill gestures as crucial to keep the positive atmosphere alive for what could become a long and difficult attempt to persuade the North to give up its nuclear and missile programs. There's not much Seoul can do beyond such gestures, though, as joint economic projects are out of the question when lifting sanctions against North Korea is far beyond the South's control. The more substantial discussions on the North's denuclearization — including what, when and how it would occur— are always going to be between Washington and Pyongyang. Here's a look at what the Koreas are planning for the Asian Games and their ebbs and flows in sports diplomacy: ___ BLUE FLAGS AND COMBINED TEAMS In the opening ceremony in Jakarta, athletes from North and South Korea will parade together under the flag featuring a blue map that symbolized a unified Korean Peninsula. It will be virtual repeat of the joint march during February's Winter Olympics in the South Korean ski resort of Pyeongchang, minus the gloves, parkas and fur hats. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent hundreds of athletes, artists and government officials to the Pyeongchang Olympics. The Koreas also fielded their first combined Olympic team in women's ice hockey, which drew passionate support from crowds despite losing all five of its games with a combined score of 28-2. At the Asian Games, the Koreas will be expected to deliver more than just feel-good stories. There's pressure for the investment to yield gold. A group of 34 North Korean athletes, coaches and officials have been in South Korea since last month for combined teams in women's basketball and the men's and women's events in rowing and canoeing. Coach Lee Moon-kyu, who has retained a core of South Korean players who won gold at the 2014 Asian Games at home in Incheon, got a first-hand look at North Korean players during exhibitions in Pyongyang in early July. Lee later picked three North Korean players for the Asian Games squad, including center Ro Suk Yong. Lee will also have a North Korean assistant coach on his bench. The Koreans will face Taiwan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and India in their preliminary group. South Korean forward Lim Yung-hui said the chemistry between the players has been improving. "The Northern players share the same goal of the gold medal and we talk a lot about how we should be putting out a good performance there," Lim said. "We weren't given much time, but we are practicing hard in a positive atmosphere." The Koreas will field combined teams in dragon boat events in canoeing and the lightweight men's four, lightweight men's eight and lightweight women's double sculls in rowing. If a combined team wins gold, athletes on the podium will hear the traditional folk song of "Arirang,"used in both Koreas as an unofficial anthem for peace, instead of their respective national anthems. The Korean athletes are likely to become an attraction at the Asian Games, where the international media will follow closely. At the Pyeongchang Olympics, South Korean figure skater Kam Alex Kang-chan created a media frenzy by taking a selfie with North Korea's Kim Ju Sik and posting it on Instagram. The photo recalled a famous 2016 selfie taken by two North and South Korean gymnasts at the Rio Olympics which International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach described as a "great gesture." ___ THEY DON'T ALWAYS PLAY NICE The Koreas have a history of using sports to foster diplomacy since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The 1991 world table tennis championships in Japan were the first time the Koreas fielded a combined team at a major international event. The atmosphere wasn't always friendly, though. During the height of their Cold War rivalry and recurring periods of animosity since, sports often became an alternate political battlefield. North Korean athletes and coaches would reject handshakes with their South Korean competitors and berate South Korean reporters during news conferences. The sports detente of 1991 evaporated when a North Korean athlete who competed at the world judo championships in Barcelona defected and arrived in South Korea amid heavy media coverage. North Korea boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the '88 Summer Olympics in Seoul, and relations dramatically worsened on the eve of the Seoul Olympics with the bombing of a South Korean passenger jet that killed all 115 aboard in December 1987. The inter-Korean warmth heading into this year's Asian Games contrasts with the awkwardness between the rivals surrounding the 2014 Asiad held in South Korea. Seoul's then-conservative government invited North Korean athletes to compete, but made it clear it had no interest in joint marches or combined teams. North Korean subsequently withdrew an offer to send its all-female cheering squad to Incheon after squabbling with the hosts over costs. North Korean leader Kim did send a senior government delegation to the closing ceremony, but they returned home without meeting then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye. The North was still seething over the Asian Game treatment years later as it gleefully observed Park's presidency crashing over a corruption scandal. "The Park Geun-hye group's mad confrontational racket is to blame for why (the North Korean) visit to Incheon did not result in improved relations," the North said in a statement in April last year. ___ WILL THE GOOD TIMES LAST? Kim has found a willing counterpart in Moon, a liberal who won the presidential by-elections to replace Park last year. Since the Pyeongchang Olympics, Kim has met Moon twice and leveraged the summits to get to U.S. President Donald Trump. After their June summit in Singapore, Kim and Trump issued a vague aspirational goal for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing specific plans. Sports exchanges and other goodwill gestures are important policy tools for Moon, who wants Seoul to be in the "driver's seat" in international efforts to deal with Pyongyang. The Koreas have also agreed to resume temporary reunions between relatives separated by the war and are holding military talks to reduce tensions across their heavily armed border. "Hopefully, (the Asian Games) will provide an opportunity to use sports to facilitate diplomacy and cooperation," Moon said while meeting Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Seoul last month. Seoul's presidential office hasn't announced yet whether Moon would attend the opening ceremony in Jakarta on Aug. 18. Whatever happens in Indonesia or with nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang, the Koreas will always have those heartening selfies posted by athletes. "Sports can be used to build momentum and trust, but they don't solve fundamental problems," said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University and a policy adviser to Moon. "There's not much South Korea can currently do, but at least it's trying to actively do the things it can to keep the positive atmosphere alive. ".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2018

HOF preview: Moss went deep to ignite Vikes, transform NFL

By Dave Campbell, Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The ball was flying down the field often for Minnesota during that drizzly night in Green Bay, and Randy Moss kept going over and past the defense to get it. Five games into his NFL career, Moss was a star. He was a revolutionary, too. There was no moment that better defined his arrival as the league's premier deep threat than that breakout prime-time performance against the two-time reigning NFC champion and bitter rival Packers. "Seeing Randall Cunningham smile, seeing him energetic," Moss said, reflecting on his five-catch, 190-yard, two-touchdown connection with Cunningham that carried the Vikings to a 37-24 victory. "It was just a great feeling." When the Vikings landed in Minnesota, his half-brother, Eric Moss, who was briefly his teammate, wondered about celebrating the big win. "I said, 'Going out? No, I want to go home,'" Moss said. Then defensive tackle John Randle tapped him on the shoulder. "Man, we're going to party tonight!" Moss said, recalling Randle's pronouncement to the rookie. "That's when I finally understood what it really meant to the guys for us to go into Lambeau and win." Twenty years later, with Moss set to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend after being elected in his first year of eligibility, the swift, sleek and sometimes-sassy wide receiver has finally understood the depth of his impact on the game and the privilege of opportunity to serve as a celebrant of the sport. "I came into the league with, I guess, my head not really screwed on my shoulders properly," Moss said recently on a conference call with reporters. Over time, the "homebody-type guy" from tiny Rand, West Virginia, who ranks second in NFL history in touchdown receptions (156) and fourth in receiving yards (15,292), learned how to soften some of the edges he's carried since he was a kid. "I've been able to open myself up and meet more people, be able to travel the world," said Moss, who's in his third season as an ESPN analyst. "Football here in America is a very powerful sport, and just being in that gold jacket, hopefully I can just be able to continue to reach people and continue to do great things." Moss will become the 14th inductee from the Vikings, joining former teammates Cris Carter, Chris Doleman, Randall McDaniel and Randle. He'll be the 27th wide receiver enshrined at the museum in Canton, Ohio. That's a three-hour drive from his hometown, but it's sure a long way from poverty-ridden Rand where Moss and his sports-loving friends played football as frequently as they could in the heart of coal country next to the Allegheny Mountains just south of the capital city, Charleston. "It was something that just felt good. I loved to compete. I just loved going out there just doing what kids do, just getting dirty," Moss said. He landed at Marshall University after some off-the-field trouble kept him out of Florida State and Notre Dame, and he took the Thundering Herd to what was then the NCAA Division I-AA national championship in 1996. Several NFL teams remained wary of his past, but Vikings head coach Dennis Green didn't flinch when Moss was still on the board in the 1998 draft with the 21st overall pick. Moss never forgot the teams that passed on him, with especially punishing performances against Dallas, Detroit and Green Bay. "I just carried a certain chip on my shoulder because the way I grew up playing was just basically having a tough mentality," Moss said. "Crying, hurting, in pain? So what? Get up, and let's go." The Vikings finished 15-1 in 1998, infamously missing the Super Bowl by a field goal. The next draft, the Packers took cornerbacks with their first three picks. Moss never escaped his reputation as a moody player whose behavior and effort were often questioned. That led to his first departure from Minnesota, via trade to Oakland in 2005. The Raiders dealt him to New England in 2007, when the Patriots became the first 16-0 team before losing in the Super Bowl, to the New York Giants. After a rocky 2010 for Moss, including being traded by the Patriots and released by the Vikings, he took a year off. He returned in 2012 to reach one more Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers. Moss was not a particularly physical player, but for his lanky frame he had plenty of strength. His combination of height and speed was exceptional, and his instincts for the game were too. Carter taught him how to watch the video board at the Metrodome to find the ball in the air, and he had a knack for keeping his hands close enough to his body that if the defensive back in coverage had his back to the quarterback he couldn't tell when the ball was about to arrive. In an NFL Films clip that captured a sideline conversation between him and Cunningham during one game, Moss yelled, "Throw it up above his head! They can't jump with me! Golly!" For Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, who has lived his entire life in Minnesota, was a sports-loving 8-year-old in 1998 when Moss helped lead the Vikings to what was then the NFL season scoring record with 556 points. The first team to break it was New England in 2007 with, again, Moss as the premier pass-catcher who set the all-time record that year with 23 touchdown catches. "It's fun to look back at his career and watch his old film. I love when that stuff pops up on Instagram, to be able to watch some of those old Randy plays that made me want to play this game," Thielen said. "I try to emulate him as much as I can.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 31st, 2018

Riding high again, Team Lakay lauded by ONE chairman as best team in Asia

At the end of 2017, Benguet-based MMA stable Team Lakay found themselves on a bit of a downslide. After riding high for the latter part of 2016 and most of 2017, the team absorbed a number of bitter losses, including the KO loss that cost Eduard Folayang his ONE Championship Lightweight world title. Now, a little over seven months into 2018, Team Lakay is once again reaching new heights. 2018 saw flyweight star Geje Eustaquio become the interim flyweight world champion in January, and then unify the titles against Adriano Moraes in June. Friday at ONE: Reign of Kings in Manila, Team Lakay gained another world champion in bantamweight knockout artist Kevin Belingon, who defeated two-division world champion Martin Nguyen to become the interim ONE Championship Bantamweight World Champion. Team Lakay is also home to reigning BRAVE FC Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman. Already with three current world champions in their stable, it’s highly likely that there’s more to come. Former champions Folayang and Honorio Banario are currently tearing it up in the lightweight division, and both of them are very much in the title picture. Strawweight standout and former title contender Joshua Pacio is on a solid streak of his own, with three straight wins via stoppage. The 22-year old could be getting another crack at the championship again soon. While names like Edward Kelly, Danny Kingad, Gina Iniong, and April Osenio are also all part of the top-tier of their respective divisions. It’s shaping up to be yet another banner year for Team Lakay, and head coach Mark Sangiao saw it coming. After all, bouncing back isn’t anything new for the Philippines’ most prestigious MMA team. “Mayroon yung mga time, nasabi ko nung huli, nung unang mga ONE, matatalo kami ng 0-5, pero pinilit namin.” Coach Mark said during the post-fight press conference, Friday evening. “Tinignan namin talaga yung mga kulang, yung mga weak side nila, tapos na-improve hanggang sa bumawi kami, same with sa 2016.” 2016 saw Team Lakay go on a 16-fight winning streak, and then in November of that year, Folayang captured the ONE lightweight crown after dethroning long-time champion Shinya Aoki. “Tapos pumunta sa 2017, medyo may mga nag-pabaya.” Sangiao bared. “Nasabi ko nung huli na babalik yung team na mas-malakas pa.” True enough, Team Lakay has managed to bounce back and has gained even more prestige in the last couple of months. In fact, ONE Championship founder and chairman Chatri Sityodtong has even gone so far as to say that he believes Team Lakay is the best team there is in Asia. “ I have massive respect for all fight teams, but I believe there is no question that Team Lakay is now the #1 fight team in Asia today.” Sityodtong said in a Facebook post. “Despite a very modest budget and limited resources, Mark Sangiao has produced one of the best fight teams in the world. Every fighter on Team Lakay is a genuine monster with outstanding skills, unlimited cardio, and extraordinary gameness.” High praise from the head honcho himself, and the owner of Evolve MMA in Singapore, another one of Asia's most talent-laden MMA stables. With all the success that the team is enjoying now, it’s up to them to keep the momentum going. They've been low, and now they're on a high. There's no doubt that they possess the talent, the skills, and the heart to go even higher......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 30th, 2018