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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2019

No Garden upset: Golovkin knocks out Rolls in 4th round

BARRY WILNER (AP Sports Writer) NEW YORK (AP) -- Now that he has taken care of his return to the ring in typical Triple G fashion, Gennady Golovkin can look ahead. Well aware of the lesson Anthony Joshua learned in the same Madison Square Garden ring last weekend, Golovkin used a vicious left hand to prevent a second Garden shocker. In his first fight since his initial loss, last September to Canelo Alvarez, Golovkin knocked out Steve Rolls with 51 seconds remaining in the fourth round of their super middleweight fight Saturday night. There were no titles on the line, and Triple G ensured there was no stunner like Andy Ruiz Jr.'s upset of Joshua for four heavyweight belts. Golovkin looked slow and tentative, perhaps rusty from the layoff, until he began landing regularly in the fourth round. That massive left decked Rolls, who struggled to get up and clearly was in no condition to continue. Golovkin (39-1-1, 37 knockouts) previously had Rolls in trouble in the round thanks to a series of strong and quick combinations that looked like vintage Triple G. ''I love knockouts,'' Golovkin said. ''I love New York. ''It was a great night all around. I'm ready to come back in September and bring back the big drama show.'' That, of course, could be a third go-round with Alvarez, who owns the victory and the draw on Golovkin's record. Both are under contract to DAZN, which streamed Saturday night's bout, Golovkin's first without a championship involved since 2009, a span of 22 fights. Asked in the ring who he wanted to fight next, the Kazakh star smiled widely as the crowd of 12,357 cheered. ''We know who the fans want me to fight next,'' he said. Yes, perhaps, he can look to Alvarez-Golovkin III, probably the biggest money fight out there in a sport that could be filled with them over the next year. Promoter Tom Loeffler is relatively certain that's where the middleweight division is headed. ''I know DAZN signed Triple G to make the third fight, that would be the marquee fight of their lineup,'' Loeffler said. ''They are in the business of putting on the biggest fights. The Canelo fight is his biggest fight just as the Triple G fight is the biggest for Canelo. The fans are demanding they want to see a third fight. ''We will do everything on our side to make that fight. DAZN wants to make that fight. Both are bigger than whatever belts are around their waists. Those are mega-events.'' Rolls, a Canadian in his first bout at the Garden - Golovkin is 6-0 here - sustained his first defeat after 19 wins. He looked particularly adept in Round 2, when he was by far the busier and more accurate fighter. Still, two judges gave that round to Triple G. No matter. Golovkin found the range with both hands in the third round, and after that it looked like the Triple G who ruled the ring for nearly a decade until his two extremely close bouts with Alvarez. So no historic upset in a building that has seen so many of them. Unlike Joshua, who appeared to be looking ahead in the buildup to Ruiz and then took his first loss, Golovkin was focused only on Rolls, who at 35 is only two years younger than Golovkin and was stepping way up in class. Golovkin weighed 163 pounds in his first fight with trainer Johnathan Banks, who liked what he saw - particularly in the lopsided fourth round. ''It's always good to get a knockout,'' Banks said. ''We're going in the right direction.'' In the featured undercard bout, Ali Akhmedov, a rising star from Kazakhstan, stopped Marcus McDaniel in the third round with a series of hard rights that stunned the American. Akhmedov is now 15-0 with 11 knockouts and is someone to reckon with in the super middleweight division. It was the second fight for McDaniel since he was shot and injured in a drive-by shooting in his native New Orleans nine months ago. He had won his first 15......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2019

30-1 odds on Ruiz against Joshua say it all

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — The odds of 30-1 say it all. Andy Ruiz barely was on anyone's heavyweight radar when he was summoned as a replacement to fight champion Anthony Joshua. On Saturday, massive underdog Ruiz promises he could be the next Buster Douglas. "I've been an underdog all my life," Ruiz said Thursday in the final news conference before the fight that will be four-belt champion Joshua's Madison Square Garden debut and is close to attracting a sellout crowd. "The body shape I have and the way I look, maybe, but once I get into the ring ..." He will take a 32-1 mark with 21 knockouts into the ring, and that's nothing to scoff at. Except that his range of opponents hasn't been stellar, and in Ruiz's biggest bout thus far, he lost a very close decision to Joseph Parker for the WBO crown that Joshua now owns. He's also stepping in after fighting on April 20, when he stopped Alexander Dimitrenko. Jarrell Miller's failed drug tests sent the trash-talking New Yorker to the sidelines. Still, Douglas pulled off one of the great upsets in sports history when he knocked out Mike Tyson in 1990. When Douglas' name was mentioned to Ruiz, he smiled. "If he looks past me," Ruiz said of Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), "I think he should be focused on this fight first." Joshua is. Sort of. He claimed the overview of the heavyweight division, particularly unifying all the titles, remains on his mind. But not ahead of his American debut Saturday night in the fight for the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts that will be streamed on DAZN. "I've been practicing and am prepared for June 1," the champion from England said. "But I cannot not look at the bigger picture. I am not looking past him, but I know if I beat this guy what's out there for me." That would be WBC champion Deontay Wilder at some point, though Wilder has a rematch with Luis Ortiz on his plate. It also could be an all-British fight with Tyson Fury, who drew with Wilder last year and likely would mean a huge purse. Still, in heavyweight boxing, anyone who steps into the ring has a puncher's chance. Ruiz, whose father, a native of Mexico, got him into the gym when he was 6 and had his son in bouts a year later, knows how his life would change with a win. Boxing, in fact, changed his outlook on life. "Boxing kept me away from big trouble," he said, noting he hung around with the wrong crowd and saw friends wind up in jail or on drugs in Imperial, California. "Then I joined the Mexican Olympic team when I was 16, and started getting serious about boxing. "When my dad (first) took me to the gym, kids were beating my butt. I didn't want to go back. I end up keep doing it and a few months later I ended up beating them up." Ruiz laughs, then looks ahead, not back when envisioning the scene on Saturday night. "My hand raised" is what he sees. "I don't predict the knockout, the knockout comes when it comes. I'll stay focused and humble. Know why you're here." He's here as nothing more than an opponent in the eyes of many, including, obviously, the bookmakers. Joshua, who knows Ruiz from the amateur ranks, credits him as a "top professional," but soon after saying that is busy talking about potential fights with Fury and Wilder. "Some say he will be easy, some say he can cause problems," Joshua noted of Ruiz. "I am confident I can beat Ruiz." Should he do so, a megafight later in 2019 is quite possible. Should Ruiz stun Joshua — and the boxing world — a rematch would make sense. But a Ruiz win might not make any sense. Then again, neither did Douglas against Tyson......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 31st, 2019

Cech retires, beaten by the team he helped build

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — As Eden Hazard celebrated in a huddle with his Chelsea teammates, Petr Cech stood to one side, staring straight ahead. The last time Hazard and Cech played a Europa League final six years before, they won the trophy for Chelsea. On Wednesday, Hazard had just scored Chelsea's fourth goal, this time against Cech who was playing for Arsenal. One of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation, the 37-year-old Cech had what seemed the ideal stage for his last game before retirement — a European final against the team where he had his greatest success. Instead, he was on the wrong end of a 4-1 loss, which wasn't the way he wanted to go. But Cech said he was still proud after a string of saves to keep Chelsea from an even bigger margin of victory. "I had to perform," he told British broadcaster BT Sport. "I have to say I've done everything so I can look back and have no regrets about today — apart from the fact that we worked so hard during the whole year and in the end we have nothing." The four goals Cech conceded were the most for a goalkeeper in a Europa League final since Sevilla scored four against Middlesbrough's Mark Schwarzer in 2006. Cech could have missed the game altogether. Amid speculation he is due to take up a role as sporting director at Chelsea in the summer — something he hasn't denied — some coaches would have wanted to avoid any hint of a conflict of interest. Not Arsenal's Unai Emery, even though Cech had been the backup to Bernd Leno for most games this season. Still under contract with Arsenal, Cech wouldn't comment on his future. "I wanted to lift the trophy and then sit down and think. Until the 30th of June I'm still an Arsenal player," he said. "So obviously until that point I won't decide on anything." Cech's career was almost very different. Back in 2006, when he collided with Reading's Stephen Hunt and received a serious head injury, it seemed doubtful he would ever play again. But with two metal plates inserted into his skull, and the rugby-style headgear which he's worn ever since, Cech was back on the field three months later. Cech retires a hero not only for Chelsea, where he won the Premier League four times and the Champions League once, but for his native Czech Republic. "I'd like to thank Petr for everything he has done for Czech football," Czech national team coach Jaroslav Silhavy told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "His 124 international games clearly prove how important he was for the national team. And he proved his top class in England. I'm really glad that I had a chance to cooperate with him briefly. And at the same time I'd like to wish him the best for his next career, whatever it is." ___ Karel Janicek in Prague contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2019

50% of Filipinos see life improving over next 12 months SWS World

50% of Filipinos see life improving over next 12 months SWS BusinessWorld Online FIFTY percent of Filipinos foresee a good year ahead while only 4% expect it to to get worse, according to the First.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsMay 25th, 2019

50% of Filipinos see life improving over next 12 months — SWS

FIFTY percent of Filipinos foresee a good year ahead while only 4% expect it to to get worse, according to the First Quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey conducted by the Social Weathers Stations (SWS)......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Madrid sends Stay strong message to former keeper Casillas

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid's players and fans took a moment before Sunday's 3-2 Spanish league win over Villarreal to send messages of support to former star goalkeeper Iker Casillas as he recovers from a heart attack. Players posed for a team photo wearing T-shirts that said in Spanish "Iker, we are all with you," while spectators at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium chanted his name and unfurled a huge banner saying "Madrid fans are with you. Stay strong, eternal captain." The 37-year-old Casillas fell ill while training for his club, FC Porto, on Wednesday and remains hospitalized after undergoing a catheterization. Porto's doctors said the former Spain goalkeeper is expected to fully recover, but it is too early to know if he can keep playing professionally. Casillas was a fan favorite during his 16 seasons with Madrid, where he won three Champions League and five Spanish league trophies. Casillas also helped Spain to win the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships. He joined Portuguese club Porto in 2015. Against Villarreal, Madrid bounced back from a 0-0 draw at Getafe and a 1-0 loss at Rayo Vallecano as it struggles to compete consistently despite the return of coach Zinedine Zidane. Barcelona clinched the league title last week. With Madrid in a distant third place, all the talk in the Spanish capital is what the club will do in the offseason to shake up its squad. Zidane left stars Gareth Bale and Luka Modric off his squad for the match. "You can interpret it anyway you want, but I have to pick a squad (for the game), nothing more," Zidane said afterward. "I am not going to talk about the next season of anyone." Little used striker Mariano Díaz and defender Jesús Vallejo responded to their rare starts Sunday by scoring. Díaz struck twice, while Vallejo got his first goal for the club. Gerard Moreno and Juame Costa scored for Villarreal. Madrid's Vinicius Junior returned as a late substitute after two months sidelined with a leg injury. GETAFE FOUTH Getafe is trying to join Madrid, second-place Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions League next season. The modest club moved back ahead of Sevilla into fourth place and the final spot for Europe's top club competition after beating relegation-threatened Girona 2-0 at home. Jorge Molina continued his excellent season at age 37 by scoring his 14th league goal before Ángel Rodríguez put the result beyond doubt. TWO TEAMS RELEGATED Rayo and Huesca became the first teams to be relegated from the top tier. Rayo was left seven points from safety with two matches remaining — after Valladolid beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0. Huesca is also down after it was routed 6-2 by Valencia, leaving it eight points from safety......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Homa comes full circle and wins Wells Fargo Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Max Homa traded in a shovel for a ladder to get places he always thought he could reach. Two years ago in his second try on the PGA Tour, he made only two cuts the entire season and played only one round on a Sunday. Eight months ago, he was on the verge of going back to Q-school and an uncertain future until closing with four straight birdies to make the cut in a Web.com Tour event that gave him another shot at the big leagues. It made Sunday all that much sweeter in the Wells Fargo Championship. In a three-way tie for the lead, in the final group on the PGA Tour for the first time, with Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia right behind him, Homa outplayed them all with a 4-under 67 for a three-shot victory at Quail Hollow and his first PGA Tour title. "I used to say when I hit rock bottom I found a shovel and kept digging. I went to some low, low places," he said. "I'd use a shovel and dig deeper. I went to some low, low places. I realized in that year or two when I started to play bad that my attitude was going to have to get a lot better. ... I'm very proud I finally found a ladder and started climbing, because it was getting dark down there." Suddenly, the immediate future is bright as can be. He has a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a tee time at the PGA Championship in two weeks at Bethpage Black and a spot in the Masters next year. A former NCAA champion at Cal, Homa has "Relentless" in block letters tattooed on his right forearm. The 28-year-old Californian also has a signed photo from former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who once told him to look at the picture and be reminded to believe in himself. The trophy at his side, Homa's press conference was interrupted for him to take a call from the 91-year-old Lasorda. "I guess my whole world is different," he said. Golf felt so hard for Homa for so many years after he left Cal, and then he made it look so easy in a final round that made him so nervous he wanted to throw up, except when he had his hands on a golf club. He pulled away with two birdies to start the back nine for a four-shot lead. He didn't make a bogey until it only affected the final margin. But it was a one-hour rain delay that tested Homa the most. He was leading by three when he nearly went in the water on the 14th hole and chipped up to 6 feet when the horn sounded to stop play. With time he didn't need on his hands, he called his fiancée and his coach and can't remember what either of them said. And then he returned and buried the putt. Over an hour delay while trying to win for the first time on TOUR. Huge save for @maxhoma23. The lead is still three.#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/F3tvjxRrrm— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 5, 2019 "I knew in the back of my mind if I made that putt, I win this golf tournament," he said. Joel Dahmen, who pushed Homa as hard as any major champion, saved par with a tough chip over the creek for a 70 and finished three shots behind. "I didn't beat myself today, which was kind of the goal," Dahmen said. "Max is playing awesome. He's a good friend. I think we're going to celebrate tonight." Homa effectively sealed it with a perfect play to the green on the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, and a 10-foot par putt on the 17th to keep a three-shot leading playing the tough closing hole at Quail Hollow. He made a 10-foot par there, too, and the celebration was on. Homa finished at 15-under 269. "Over the moon, man," he said before going to sign his card. "It means a lot to do it under pressure, and job security is great. I haven't had that." The victory was worth $1,422,000, about $454,000 more than he had made in his previous 67 starts. Justin Rose (68) finished alone in third and moved ahead of Brooks Koepka to No. 2 in the world. Rory McIlroy was primed to join Tom Weiskopf as the only three-time winners at Quail Hollow, starting the final round two shots behind. He never got anything going until it went the wrong way. He turned a 20-foot eagle attempt into a three-putt par on the par-5 seventh, failed to get up-and-down on the reachable eighth for a birdie, and then went bogey-double bogey around the turn to take himself out of the mix. No one else was much of a threat either, just two guys who had never come remotely close to winning on the PGA Tour. Former PGA champion Jason Dufner, part of the three-way tie for the lead to start the final round, made consecutive bogeys early and had no bearing on the final round. A double bogey on the 18th gave him a 73 and dropped him into a tie for fourth. Rose pulled within two shots with a birdie on the par-5 10th, only to settle into a series of pars. By the time Sergio Garcia reached double digits under par, Homa was well on his way. Homa and Dahmen were at 13 under until Dahmen blinked first. He found a fairway bunker on No. 9, couldn't get to the green and made bogey and dropped another shot on the 11th. Homa, playing behind him in the final group, holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th for a two-shot lead, made birdie from the left rough on the 11th with a 12-foot putt and escaped more trouble off the tee on the 12th with a two-putt from 80 feet. He survived the rain delay, the nervy finish. Homa has endured a lot more than that over the last few years......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Turkey to buy Russian missiles despite U.S. threats

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Turkey on Sunday, May 5, dismissed US threats of sanctions if it went ahead with a Russian missile purchase, saying it would not renege on a pledge to Moscow. Washington has warned its NATO ally for months that Ankara's adoption of Russian S-400 missile technology alongside US F-35 ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMay 5th, 2019

Italy emerges from recession in 1st quarter of 2019

MILAN, Italy – Italy's economy returned to growth in the 1st quarter after two quarters of contraction, giving the populist government a boost ahead of European elections . Gross domestic product expanded by 0.2% in the 3 months to March, having dropped by 0.1% in the final two quarters of ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 30th, 2019

Sleepwalking Warriors snap to behind ultimate weapon Durant

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES -- The only sound in a basketball game that mimics an alarm clock blaring is the final buzzer, but by then the score is official and it’s too late to wake up. And maybe the Warriors needed seven months and 88 games to recognize this, because when you’ve won three championships in four years and bring four All-Stars in their prime and play nightly against the rank-and-file, there’s a tendency to doze off just to, you know, make things interesting. Well, nap’s over. After Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) 129-110 victory over the Clippers, the buzzer has shifted to the opening tip, and suddenly the Warriors are aware of where they are and who they’re up against and what time it is. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] At least, those are the signals they’re giving off now, on the eve of the second round of the playoffs, when there is no better moment -- to paraphrase the noted prophet Kevin Durant -- to let folks know who you are. They’ll be led into their next basketball battle by Durant, fresh off a fiddy, which of course is basketball slang for 5-0 points, which finally silenced the Clippers and made the basketball world revisit the belief that the Warriors are not to be denied. This of course will be put to the test by the Rockets, arguably the biggest threat facing the Warriors between now and a June champagne sip. But really, now: If Durant plays like he has the last few games, does it really matter what James Harden and Chris Paul bring in this upcoming best-of-seven? “He’s in a groove right now,” said Steph Curry. “Special to see.” With the exception of last year’s Western Conference finals, when Houston took Golden State to the limit, the Durant Warriors have been one level above all others in the playoffs. The Clippers just took two from them -- despite Durant -- and nobody else claimed more than one victory in a best-of-seven. Overall, excluding that Rockets’ series, the Durants are 32-5 in the postseason, a clean 9-0 in series play. Everything that the Warriors were projected to do once Durant signed up for duty two summers ago has come true. They’re three superstars ahead of good teams and two superstars ahead of very good teams. Right now, they’re alone on the island, the only true great team in the league, even on nights when they don’t play the part. With all due respect to Damian Lillard, no one has has drawn more awe lately than Durant, who’s on pace to cause major problems for whomever crouches in a defensive stance before him. In the last four games, he averaged 42 points on 55 percent shooting, and at times was a singular force against the stubborn Clippers. Remember, Steph Curry is trying to climb out of a fog, stifled and troubled by missed jumpers in the last week and momentarily sidelined Friday (Saturday, PHL time) by a tweaked right ankle, which always causes the Warriors to hold their breath. Klay Thompson, as is his pattern, went ballistic for one game, then was rather tame by comparison in the others. “I just play my game through it all,” Durant said. “I definitely don’t want to go away from my teammates if they’re struggling to shoot the ball. But at the same time, I have to be aggressive and try to win the game as well.” Given how leaky the Warriors’ defense looked and how carelessly they handled the ball, the one constant in the first round was Durant drilling shots from all angles and distances, especially once he confined his chatter to making shots instead of taking them at Pat Beverley, the Clippers’ All-Star instigator. Warriors coach Steve Kerr called it “one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen” and this is someone who rode with Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan. Whether Kerr was simply caught up in the moment, it doesn’t minimize what Durant did to close out the Clippers and what he’s capable of doing against the Rockets. “He's the ultimate weapon because there's no defense for Kevin,” Kerr said. “No matter what anybody does, he can get a good shot. And he knew we needed him badly. And he just took over the game in the first half and set a great tone.” Durant appears to be locked in and on a mission, and if this is his last run with the Warriors, it’s morphing into a gallop. His 50 points Friday (Saturday, PHL time) were a personal playoff high and his 38 in the first half tied Charles Barkley for second on the all-time list. And this came on the heels of the 45 points he delivered in a losing Game 5 effort. “Sometimes you come across special people and it doesn’t matter what defense you send to them,” said Clippers guard Lou Williams. “There is no scheme. There’s nothing you can do with special people. He’s one of them and he showed it. He put them guys on his shoulders. He proved exactly who people think he is, who he thinks of himself, and he did it.” The Warriors finished with the best record in the West this season, almost on reputation or cruise control. Once again, there were lapses that seemed suspiciously like a team bored with the schedule and awaiting a summer coronation. This breezy attitude seeped into the opening round, when the Warriors choked away a 31-point lead and then lost another home game to an eighth-seeded team devoid of All-Stars. This doesn’t happen unless the heavily-favored one-seed is taking their championship rings for granted. “I think I made a joke like this first round felt like it was two months,” said Curry. “It was just the emotional part of it, I mean, losing (DeMarcus Cousins) and a 31-point lead and trying to come back on the road and the mental investment you put into it. We’ve got to be able to flip the switch from one team to the next and that will be the biggest test.” Well, and this might be a stretch, but expect the Warriors to show the Rockets a lot more respect. Deep down, Kerr knows losing a pair to the Clippers was perhaps the face-slap his team needed, and at the right time. The Warriors know any lapse in this series will likely be their last, and a fatal one as well. “We know what Houston's about,” said Kerr. “We know how good they are. We've got to be ready.” There are positive signs beyond Durant. Thompson will be the first line of defense against Harden, the league’s leading scorer this season, and Thompson is coming off a lockdown of Williams, who finally cooled and went 3-for-21 Friday (Saturday, PHL time). This will be of major importance, of course, given Harden’s usage rate and relentlessness. “If you’re not focused,” Durant said, “he can drive past you, he shoots floaters now, he’s a strong finish with either hand and obviously the step-back three-pointers is one of his staples. He can score in a variety of ways so you have to be locked in from the beginning. You’ve got to be ready to play tough all game.” Draymond Green is coming off a triple-double, while the aging Andre Iguodala seems springy and active, usually his profile this time of year. Yes, there’s finally perhaps a sense of urgency or at least an understanding of what’s at stake and more of an emphasis on staying woke for the Warriors. “Obviously we would love to win every series 4-0,” said Durant. “That would be ideal. But we know it’s not really going to happen that way.” Perhaps not. But the Durant Warriors, based on their track record, are convincing enough. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 27th, 2019

Federer joins Murray in 4th round at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer showed against 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych that his first two wins against qualifiers at the Australian Open really were warmups. The 17-time Grand Slam champion, seeded a lowly-by-his-standards 17th after spending six months on the sidelines last season, only needed 90 minutes to beat Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round on Friday night. This was against a rival who played the Wimbledon final in 2010 and reached the quarterfinals or better in Australia the previous six years. And he'd beaten Federer in six of their previous 22 matches. Federer hit some vintage backhand winners, one that earned a hearty applause from the great Rod Laver — sitting in the crowd at the stadium named in his honor — in the second set. He had 40 winners and won 95 percent of points when he got his first serve into play. He didn't face a breakpoint. 'Crazy how quick I got out of the blocks — I did surprise myself,' Federer said of his almost flawless performance against Berdych. 'I did feel like I struggled a bit in the first two rounds.' He next plays fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori, who beat Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round for a sixth straight year at Melbourne Park. Federer leads that matchup 4-2, winning the last three. The winner of that has a potential quarterfinal against top-ranked Andy Murray, who showed no signs of trouble with his sore ankle as he advanced to the Round of 16 for the ninth straight year with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 31 Sam Querrey. It was Querrey who ended then No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic's impressive Grand Slam run in the third round at Wimbledon last year. At that time, Djokovic had won four straight major titles — Wimbledon and U.S. Open in 2015 and Australian Open and French Open in 2016. Murray, who replaced Djokovic at No. 1 last November, said he was surprised at the six-time Australian Open champion's second-round loss to Denis Istomin the previous night. But the five-time Australian Open runner-up didn't think it changed anything for him, unless he reached the final. 'I wasn't scheduled to play Novak today, so my job's to concentrate on Sam and to go into that match with a clear head and a good game plan and try to play well,' said Murray, who lost to Djokovic in four of the five finals he has contested in Melbourne. 'I did that. 'Obviously, if you're to get to the final, then it has an effect.' Murray injured his right ankle in the second round, and said he was hesitant at first but warmed into the match against Querrey. 'I felt better and better as the match went on in terms of my movement,' Murray said. 'I was moving well at the end — it was very positive.' Murray next plays Mischa Zverev. Seven-time major winner Venus Williams routed Duan Yingying 6-1, 6-0 in less than an hour to progress to the fourth round for the 10th time since her Australian Open debut in 1998. 'It's good (but) it's never enough,' she said, looking ahead to her fourth-round match against Mona Barthel. 'I've tasted it before and it's always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarterfinals. That's what I'm going to go for.' The last two Americans in the men's draw lost within an hour of each other. After Querrey's exit, No. 23-seeded Jack Sock lost 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-7 (8), 6-3 to No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. There are no more Australians in the men's draw, either, after Daniel Evans beat Bernard Tomic 7-5, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka had 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7) win over Viktor Troicki to move into a fourth-round match against Andreas Seppi. In the last match of day five, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza closed out with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Anastasia Sevastova. Top-ranked Angelique Kerber had a straight-sets win for the first time in her first Australian Open title defense, 6-0, 6-4 against Kristyna Pliskova. She next play 35th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe, who reached the fourth round in Australia for the first time with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win over 2014 semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard. Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova held off former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 5-7, 9-7 in 3 ½ hours. Australian Open organizers were briefed by Victoria state police over an incident in downtown Melbourne where a man deliberately drove into a street crowded with pedestrians, killing three people and injuring 20. Police said the incident, about three kilometers (two miles) from Melbourne Park, had no links to terrorism. 'Be assured there is no threat to the precinct,' Australian Open organizers said in a statement. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

6-time champs Djokovic, Williams post Australian Open wins

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The record will show that six-time Australian Open champions Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic each had straight-set wins. It may seem straight-forward, but it was not routine. Newly-engaged Williams, aiming for an Open-era record 23rd major title, and Djokovic, bidding to become the first man to win seven Australian titles, confronted former top-10 players in the first round at Melbourne Park. And so there was no chance for the No. 2-ranked players, in the recently unaccustomed position at the foot of the draw, to feel their way into the season's first major. Djokovic faced Fernando Verdasco, who beat Rafael Nadal in the first round last year and who had five match points in their last head-to-head encounter — only 10 days earlier. Djokovic held off the Spanish lefthander in a 71-minute, momentum-swinging second set before winning 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-2 on Tuesday. The first and third sets were great, he said, but the second was 'a gamble.' 'I'm very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form,' Djokovic said. 'He's a quality player. He's a big match, big-time player.' The 33-year-old Verdasco peaked at No. 7 in the rankings in 2009, not long after he pushed eventual champion Nadal in five sets in one of the best and latest-finishing semifinals ever at the Australian Open. 'From one perspective it was good that I got to have the very tough first-round match, because it made me prepare better and kind of approach the tournament with the right intensity, right from the first point,' Djokovic said. Williams, on the comeback after a stint on the sidelines following a U.S. Open semifinal loss, took a 5-0 lead in the second set against Belinda Bencic. But Bencic has been ranked in the top 10, and was seeded 12th in Melbourne last year. She applied pressure on Williams, who made mistakes on key points — including a double-fault to give Bencic a break point, and another on her first match point — before recovering to win 6-4, 6-3. Williams became engaged to Alexis Ohanian during the holiday break, and the Reddit co-founder was in the crowd at Rod Laver Arena. She has been asked repeatedly about her wedding plans since arriving in Australia, but only gave a time frame for that discussion after her opening match. 'February I'll start looking at the bigger picture of my life,' she said. 'Right now, I'm just so focused that this is kind of all I can think about.' Williams made a big statement, though, by walking into her news conference wearing a shirt with the word 'Equality' emblazoned across the front. It was still before midnight Monday in the United States, where the holiday in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was nearly ending. 'It's important to spread the message,' she said. Asked if she was concerned about the future of equality in the United States, Williams declined to comment apart from saying it was 'a concern for just everyone in general.' After improving her record in the first round of majors to 65-1, Williams will play Lucie Safarova, who saved nine match points before beating Yanina Wickmayer 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1. Nadal, also returning from a couple of months on the sidelines following the U.S. Open with an injured left wrist, has already improved on 2016. 'I'm happy to do an interview with you — last year, I didn't have the chance!' Nadal said in his on-court interview after a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Florian Mayer. As usual at Melbourne Park, the heat was a factor. The thermostat reached almost 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) on a day when Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic beat Dustin Brown and No. 11 David Goffin beat 19-year-old qualifier Reilly Opelka 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Ivo Karlovic was thankful that it was cooler at night, when the 37-year-old Croat fired 75 aces and held off Horacio Zeballos 6-7 (6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 in a match that set a record for most number of games (84) at the Australian Open in the tiebreak era. No. 6 Gael Monfils, No. 8 Dominic Thiem, No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 18 Richard Gasquet were among the other seeded players to advance. Heather Watson beat No. 18 Sam Stosur, extending the 2011 U.S. Open champion's drought on home soil. U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova, 2016 Australian Open semifinalist Johanna Konta, No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova, former top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, No. 14 Elena Vesnina, No. 21 Caroline Garcia and No. 28 Alize Cornet all advanced before third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska finished off her 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 win over Tsvetana Pironkova just before midnight. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Bottas replaces Rosberg at Mercedes, Massa back at Williams

LONDON (AP) — Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas will race alongside three-time champion Lewis Hamilton at Formula One team Mercedes this season. The 27-year-old Bottas will fill the seat left by world champion Nico Rosberg's retirement. With Bottas moving on, F1 team Williams said Monday that Felipe Massa will come out of retirement to race with them for a fourth consecutive season. Rosberg retired only five days after beating Hamilton to his first world title in November. Mercedes also won its third straight constructors' championship. 'Sometimes in life, unexpected circumstances provide interesting opportunities,' Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said in a statement. 'Nico's decision in December was a big surprise - certainly a challenging situation for the team to handle. But weathering the storm makes you more resilient and we see this as another opportunity for the team to grow.' Bottas finished eighth in the drivers' standings with 85 points last season. In four seasons with Williams, he started 77 races and achieved nine podium finishes. Wolff said it was time for him to step up to the next level and 'how he can challenge for race wins and championships.' 'Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy: down to earth, straightforward and very focused,' Wolff said. 'Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us.' Massa will head back to Williams only a few months after retiring from Formula One. The Brazilian has agreed to a one-year deal and will race alongside F1 debutant Lance Stroll. 'I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams. I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve,' Massa said. 'Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes.' Earlier, Mercedes' young driver Pascal Wehrlein, who had been linked with replacing Rosberg, joined Swiss team Sauber. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

British pound sags ahead of prime minister s Brexit speech

LONDON — After months of repeating the mantra that "Brexit means Brexit," Prime Minister Theresa May is set to reveal details of Britain's closely guarded pl.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Hopefully may way -- Valdez on joining SEA Games national team

Former Ateneo de Manila Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez hopes to get a compromise when Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. conducts its tryouts for the national women’s team that will see action in the 29th Southeast Asian Games. Valdez, who was a part of the PHI Team that participated in the 2015 edition of the biennial meet in Singapore, will be away for four months to play in Thailand and will not be available if the appointed head coach conducts the tryouts within the first quarter of the year. Valdez will fly to Thailand on January 15 to join 3BB Nakornnont and play in the Thai League and Thai-Denmark Super League. LVPI is set to name the national team mentor this week. The sports association is looking to form a 16-woman pool that will train as early as possible for the August 19 to 31 meet. “Ako I think as an athlete as a Filipino athlete, ‘yun din naman ang ultimate goal mo (to be a part of the national team) aside from your dreams na makapaglaro internationally,” who also played for the Nationals that participated in the Asian U-23 Women’s Volleyball Championship held in Pasig two years ago. LVPI acting president Peter Cayco earlier said that this SEA Games team will be a mix of six veterans, six young bloods and four reserves as the country guns for a medal after its last podium finish back in the 2005 Manila edition when the Pinay volleybelles snatched a bronze medal.     He also added that LVPI wants to pick players that are willing to give their full commitment to the squad. With Valdez set to play in Thailand, the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player is looking for a way to get a nod for another tour of duty. “But if 'yung mga circumstances hindi ko rin kayang (bigyan ng time) kasi siyempre may responsibilities ka din. Kasi di ba magi-start na sila ng training? And I’m away din so ayun hopefully magawan din ng paraan,” said the two-time UAAP champion. “I think in both parties naman like Thailand wouldn’t hinder me naman (to play for the national team) for sure kung sa country naman maiintindihan nila ‘yun. Hopefully may way din (na makasali ako sa national team).” The 23-year-old hitter showcased her skills and talents during the country’s first participation in the SEA Games since 2005 and was chosen as the country’s flag-bearer marching aplomb ahead of the 600-strong Team Philippines.   Valdez wants to get another crack of representing the country. “Ultimate dream mo is to represent the country,” she said. “I would really love to do that if given a chance.”       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Ronaldo favored to win his 4th FIFA award as world's best

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> Cristiano Ronaldo's remarkable run of success can continue with a fourth FIFA award as the world's best player on Monday. A European champion with club and country last year, the Real Madrid and Portugal forward is favored to beat great rival Lionel Messi and France forward Antoine Griezmann when winners of the rebranded Best FIFA Football Awards are presented in Zurich. Messi leads Ronaldo 5-3 in their career-long duel for FIFA's top individual prize. However, Ronaldo is set to complete a hat-trick of major awards for 2016 after taking home trophies presented by UEFA and France Football magazine's prestiguous Golden Ball. FIFA will also name the best women's player, and the best coaches in men's and women's soccer. Voting is by national team captains and coaches, selected journalists and — for the first time — an online poll of fans. Each category counts for 25 percent of the points. Here is a look ahead to the awards ceremony: ___ CRISTIANO RONALDO After Messi in 2015, it was Ronaldo's turn to win the Champions League in 2016 as the prolific scorer netted 16 goals in the competition. He also got the decisive penalty in a shootout after a 1-1 draw with Griezmann's Atletico Madrid. But where he really dominated Messi was on the national-team stage. Ronaldo captained Portugal to a long-awaited first title at the European Championship — two weeks after Messi's Argentina again lost the Copa America final to Chile. Portugal seemed a long way from glory, and faced a humiliating group-stage exit, before Ronaldo's two goals helped salvage a 3-3 draw with Hungary. He also netted in the 2-0 semifinal win against Wales. In the final against host France, Ronaldo went off injured in the first half, then returned to the bench for extra time as — with his knee strapped — he passionately urged teammates on to a 1-0 win. For good measure, Ronaldo scored a Club World Cup final hat trick against Kashima Antlers in December, but that was after FIFA voting had closed. ___ LIONEL MESSI Messi looks to extend a streak of being winner or runner-up in nine straight seasons since placing second behind Kaka of Brazil in 2007. Last year, Messi and won a Spanish league and Cup double with Barcelona. Yet there was another painful Copa America final loss — a third straight year Argentina lost a major final without scoring — and a Champions League quarterfinal exit against Atletico. Nearing his 30th birthday, Messi's prolific scoring rate has not slowed, and 10 goals in the Champions League group stage means that Ronaldo's season record of 17 — set in 2013-14 — is within his sight this year. ___ ANTOINE GRIEZMANN Griezmann's goals helped get France and Atletico Madrid into major finals in 2016. In the Champions League final in Milan, Atletico trailed 1-0 to its city rival when Griezmann missed with a penalty kick that struck the crossbar. Still, he confidently converted his kick in the penalty shootout. Griezmann's six goals at Euro 2016 made him the tournament top scorer. In a tricky round of 16 match, his two goals overturned an early Ireland lead, and he also struck twice — including a coolly taken penalty — against favored Germany in the semifinals. However, he missed two good chances in the final against Portugal as France 1-0 in extra time. ___ COACHING AWARD Could the coach of a provincial club side beat the men who coached European champions Real Madrid and Portugal? Yes, when that coach is Italian Claudio Ranieri and his team, unheralded Leicester City, won an English Premier League title that delighted and stunned fans worldwide. Zinedine Zidane started 2016 having never coached a senior match. The newly appointed Madrid coach won a Champions League title within five months and started 2017 riding a 37-match unbeaten run. Fernando Santos marshalled one of the less obviously talented Portugal teams of recent years to win Euro 2016 despite winning only one of its seven matches during the 90 minutes. ___ WOMEN'S AWARDS Germany's Olympic gold medal-winning team is favored to sweep the awards. Midfielder Melanie Behringer is challenging two past FIFA award winners: defending champion Carli Lloyd of the United States and five-time winner Marta of Brazil. All three coaching candidates are previous FIFA award winners: Silvia Neid of Germany, last year's winner Jill Ellis of the United States and Pia Sundhage of Sweden. ___ FIFA AWARDS FIFA has added a Fan Award to its annual ceremony, and all three candidates from an online poll are European. Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, whose fans sang You'll Never Walk Alone before a Europa League match at Anfield; Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord; and the Iceland fans at Euro 2016 for their inspirational clapping salute to players after games. A fans' vote will also decide the Puskas Award for best goal. The candidates are: Marlone of Corinthians, Daniuska Rodriguez of the Venezuela women's Under-17 team, and Mohd Faiz Subri of Malaysian side Penang. FIFA will also present a Fair Play award, and members of the players' union FIFPro worldwide have voted to select a World XI team. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017

Dustin Johnson puts great year behind him, ready to move on

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer br /> KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — For all his power and athleticism, Dustin Johnson doesn't get enough credit for his remarkable ability to quickly forget the past. That goes for the good times, too. The day after he lost a chance to win the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits by grounding his club in sand without realizing it was a bunker, Johnson was on a boat in the Atlantic throwing down a few beers with his buddies. 'Just kickin',' he said that day on the phone. The morning after Johnson three-putted from 12 feet on the final hole at Chambers Bay to lose the 2015 U.S. Open, he sped off in a golf cart to catch up with Wayne Gretzky and his group at Gozzer Ranch in Idaho. They let him sleep in. Johnson wanted to play. 'I know this much,' Gretzky said. 'If I ever lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, I wouldn't want to skate with a bunch of amateurs the next day.' How does that change after winning the U.S. Open for that elusive first major? And then adding a World Golf Championships title, a FedEx Cup playoff event and winning the money title, the Vardon Trophy and PGA Tour player of the year? Wouldn't that be enough to soak up the greatest season of your career? Not if you're Johnson, who travels through life without a rearview mirror. 'I think I'm pretty good at putting anything behind me,' Johnson said Wednesday on the eve of a new year on the PGA Tour. 'It's already happened. You can't change it. Obviously, good stuff gives you a lot of confidence, but I mean, none of that matters at this tournament. Who (cares) what I did last year?' He at least knows what worked. Johnson started in February to pour extra time into his wedges, and he went on a run last summer that showed — finally — why he is regarded as the biggest talent in golf. Over the last six months, he won three times and finished in the top 10 at all but three of his final 13 events. He arrived on Maui a week earlier to soak up some beach time and get ready for his 10th year on the PGA Tour. Johnson already has 12 victories on the tour, at least one every year except for 2014. Johnson is No. 3 in the world, though close enough to Jason Day that he could overtake him by the end of January with a victory or two. That might be a goal, though he's not consumed enough by the world ranking that he checks it weekly, as the two guys (Day and Rory McIlroy) ahead of him do. Johnson figures it's about winning, and if keeps doing that, it won't be long before he has no one left to chase. There's no need to do the math in the world ranking, either. Johnson is not big on details. 'I'm just trying to go out and do the same things I did last year,' he said. 'I know what recipe works for me to have success.' He makes it sound simple. His driving is an alarming combination of length and accuracy, the latter helped greatly by introducing a fade. He went from one of the worst to one of the best with his wedges, often referred to as the scoring clubs. He wants to hole more putts. Everyone does. Not regarded as a deep thinker on the golf course, that's also one of his greatest assets. A short memory, or even no memory, can be helpful in golf. Johnson showed that at Oakmont last year at the U.S. Open when the USGA said it would wait until after the final round to decide whether he should be penalized one shot for his ball moving on the fifth green. He played the final 11 holes not knowing his score, kept his head down, hit one big shot after another and won by four. It turned out to be a three-shot victory after he got the penalty, and that's as close as Johnson gets to being irritated. 'I was a little bit angry,' he said with a smile. 'You can ask me a thousand times, I still don't think I deserved a penalty. I was in there arguing and finally said, 'Guys, I don't care anymore. I want the trophy, let's go.' It didn't matter.' He stayed at Oakmont so late that he finally got home about 3:30 a.m. to Florida, giving him a few hours on the flight home to reflect. That's about it. That's all he ever needs. Johnson has a reasonable record at Kapalua. Top 10s are not a good measure because the field rarely has more than about 30 players. He won in 2013 in a 54-hole sprint because of high wind, and that really was the closest he came. Johnson is one who typically eases his way into a new year. There is a part of him that can't wait to get started, mainly because that means he is moving on, the only direction he knows. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

James Rodriguez comes through for Madrid in Copa del Rey win

  MADRID (AP) — James Rodriguez made the most of a rare start for Real Madrid on Wednesday, scoring twice in a convincing 3-0 win over Sevilla in a first-leg match in the Copa del Rey's Round of 16. Less than a month after he called for more playing time and said he might leave the club if things didn't change, the Colombian midfielder got to start at the Santiago Bernabeu. And his performance showed that Rodriguez believes he should still be considered for a place in Zinedine Zidane's regular starting lineup. 'Obviously we all want to play,' Rodriguez said. 'We all go through bad moments, but this is like a new beginning for me. I'm staying, I'm staying in Madrid.' He opened the scoring with a low, left-foot shot from outside the area in the 11th minute, and netted his second by converting a penalty just before halftime after Luka Modric had been fouled inside the area. 'He played a good game,' Zidane said of Rodriguez, who was cheered loudly by the crowd when he was substituted near the end. 'He scored the goals and worked well. I'm happy for the match he had.' Defender Raphael Varane scored the other goal with a header from the middle of the area in the 29th, as Madrid extended its unbeaten streak to 38 games - one short of the Spanish record set by Luis Enrique's Barcelona last season. Zidane, celebrating one year at Madrid's helm, had downplayed Rodriguez's complaints following the Club World Cup in December, saying he counted on the talented midfielder going forward. He included Rodriguez in Wednesday's lineup after resting some of the regular starters, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Madrid, which beat Sevilla in the European Super Cup five months ago, will be the clear favorite for the second leg in Seville on Jan. 12. The teams are only four points apart atop the Spanish league, with Madrid first and Sevilla third. Sevilla lost last season's Copa final to Barcelona, which plays at Athletic Bilbao on Thursday. Also Wednesday, Real Sociedad earned a 3-1 home win against Villarreal in another matchup between teams near the top of the Spanish league table - Villarreal is fourth, one spot ahead of Real Sociedad. In a game between second-division clubs, Alcorcon and Cordoba played to a scoreless draw. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017