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Coutinho must live up to cost, legacy of Barca s Brazilians

JOSEPH WILSON, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Philippe Coutinho arrives at Barcelona bearing both his huge price tag and the legacy of the long line of Brazilian stars who have dazzled at Camp Nou. The comparisons will be constant with Neymar, whose world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain in August provided Barcelona with the 160 million euros ($192 million) it needed to acquire Coutinho at a cost that would have seemed ludicrous just six months before. Only Neymar and PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe surpass it. But while Neymar, as before him Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Romario, all became fan favorites by staring in Barcelona's attack, Coutinho will have to measure up to the Spanish club's long line of top-notch_and largely homegrown— midfielders. The 25-year-old Coutinho will come to Spain charged with the daunting task of one day taking over as its midfield leader with Andres Iniesta entering the twilight of his career at age 33. Coutinho can count on the big advantage of setting up Lionel Messi for goals as he strives to justify the club-record fee Barcelona agreed to pay on Saturday, when it finally pried him away from Liverpool after the English club had refused to let him go in the summer. Even though coach Ernesto Valverde has successfully kept Barcelona winning after predictions of decline abounded following the unwanted departure of Neymar, Coutinho will greatly increase his options in a midfield that is still heavily reliant on Iniesta for its playmaking spark. His signing signals Barcelona's intention to refocus on the patch of the pitch that has defined its passing style for decades, an emphasis that had slipped somewhat in recent years with Neymar, Messi and Luis Suarez forming a powerful attack, albeit sometimes at the expense of its ability to dominate possession. Since the exit of Xavi Hernandez two and a half years ago, and those of Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara, Barcelona was in danger of seeing its lineage of great midfielders broken. Coutinho showed at Liverpool that he can play anywhere in the midfield: in a more attacking role, as a wide player in a four-man line, or deeper to help start the attack. That versatility will help ensure him a place in a Barcelona midfield that has a set group of first-choice players in Iniesta on the left, Ivan Rakitic on the right, and Sergio Busquets in a defensive role, but little else. Coutinho, who has the vision and quick passing skills that Barcelona needs, can also provide goals with his accurate strike from distance. He scored 41 times in 152 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, including seven in 14 matches in the first half of this campaign. With Coutinho set to feature, Barcelona will likely part ways with one or more of midfielders Andre Gomes, Arda Turan, Rafinha and Denis Suarez. Barcelona has also recently seen the return of summer signing Ousmane Dembele, which cost it a then-club record fee of 105 million euros plus add-ons that could take the total to 147 million euros, from a tendon injury that had sidelined him since September. Dembele would likely need to play in a 4-3-3 alongside Messi and Suarez, while Coutinho could play on the right side of a midfield line with Iniesta and Busquets. But Valverde has also gotten good results this year— including a 3-0 victory at Real Madrid last month— with just Messi and Suarez in attack and a four-man midfield including Paulinho, who has given the team goals and added muscle since his arrival in the offseason. Valverde will have to use different lineups regardless, because Coutinho will be limited to playing in the Spanish league, which Barcelona leads, and the Copa del Rey for the remainder of this season since he cannot play for another team in the Champions League after participating in the group phase with Liverpool. He will then have five more seasons under the contract he has agreed to sign to help Barcelona win a sixth European Cup......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 7th, 2018

For fully loaded UP, it s first Final Four since 1997 or bust

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 6-8, fifth YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Paul Desiderio, Javi Gomez de Liano, Juan Gomez de Liano, Jun Manzo, Gelo Vito WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Bright Akhuetie, Will Gozum, David Murrell, Jaydee Tungcab GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Kyles Lao, Ibrahim Ouattara, Noah Webb WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM UP? This is the year fans of the University of the Philippines have been waiting for – because this is the year it’s all supposed to come together for this long-suffering team. Head coach Bo Perasol has always said that, slowly but surely, the Fighting Maroons will be in contention once more. “Nobody can assure success in terms of winning, but I know we are progressing. From where we were and where we are right now, nag-iimprove from year-to-year, month-to-month. We’re just positive na dapat lang, mas mahigit sa anim yung aming maipapanalo this coming season.” – head coach Bo Perasol And the upcoming UAAP Season 81 is the culmination of all the development, of all the recruitment, and of all the hype. “We anticipated this, we planned this. In everything we improved on, expectations are really high. (That means) that we are doing the right thing.” – head coach Bo Perasol The core of Paul Desiderio, Jun Manzo, and Gomez de LIano brothers Javi and Juan is back and better than ever – with Paul and Juan even getting valuable experience as Gilas cadets. Only now, that core has also welcomed with open arms even more talent in the form of Nigerian powerhouse Bright Akhuetie, NCAA Juniors MVP Will Gozum, former Adamson University slasher Jaydee Tungcab, and versatile Filipino-Amerian forward David Murrell. Hands down, this is the strongest lineup UP has ever had on paper – yes, even stronger than that 1986 championship led by Benjie Paras and Ronnie Magsanoc. Still, that championship team had long proven to be winners before they even got to DIliman. That is yet to be determined for this current crop of Fighting Maroons. WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM UP? Desiderio wants his legacy in UP to be that of the captain who led his team to its first Final Four since 1997 – and its first Final Four of many for the foreseeable future. After a championship in the PBA D-League, the main man is nothing but willing to do it all for more of that winning feeling now in his alma mater. For the first time since the days of Paras, the Fighting Maroons will have a dominant inside presence in Akhuetie who once powered University of Perpetual Help to the Final Four and a near-upset of dynastic San Beda University. the rest of the frontline isn’t too shabby either with Javi GDL, Jerson Prado, and Gelo Vito. The most must-watch aspect of State U’s season, however, has got to be the leap Juan GDL is supposed to make. The former Juniors MVP and reigning Rookie of the Year was always destined for superstardom – the only question is will he be getting there as a sophomore. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR UP? For years, UP has said that there is nowhere to go but up. With just 13 wins in nine seasons from 2007 to 2015, that is indeed the case. The loveable underdogs are no more though, as the Fighting Maroons have the makings of a league powerhouse for years to come. “Wala na kaming excuses. Lahat (training camp, gym, weights room, et al) yan, at par na sa malalakas na programa. Ang kulang na lang is for us to deliver.” – head coach Bo Perasol If they live up to the hype, then a 21-year wait will come to an end and a long-awaited, much-wanted Final Four berth will be theirs to celebrate. “The important (thing) is we believe we can. We believe it’s difficult, but we’re willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it.” – head coach Bo Perasol WHERE WOULD UP BE AT THE END OF UAAP SEASON 81? Ready that bonfire at the Sunken Garden, Diliman. UP’s playoff drought will end – there will be a lot of hiccups on their way there as they are still on the process of learning how to win, but they will get there. “I don’t know where we’re going, but the mere fact that people are trying to pressure us, (that means) we’re stronger now. Before, I don’t think people were expecting people to win. This time, we’re happy and we’re up for it.” – head coach Bo Perasol This team is too talented and Desiderio is too determined for them not to get there. “Hindi (na) lang enough yung fighting, we have to win. Kailangan, iniintindi namin na hindi pwedeng Fighting Maroons kami – we have to be the Winning Maroons.” – head coach Bo Perasol WHEN IS UP’S FIRST GAME IN UAAP SEASON 81? UP is out for a confidence-booster right out of the gates when it is matched up opposite new-look University of the East on September 7. Of course, It All Begins Here on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and livestream. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2018

Iconic Michael Jackson music videos that changed the music industry

Nine years since his death, the legacy of Michael Jackson still lives on. A true artist and an all-around performer, Michael has greatly changed the landscape of pop music through his long and impressive list of life's works. I think it's safe to say that to this day, his impact on pop music remains unmatched. We remember him for his songs, iconic dance moves, revolutionary fashion, among others. Everything he does, he gives his 100 percent. His live performances are epic, but his music videos are a league on its own too. Making them into genuine works of art, his videos are more like short films, and are remembered just as much as the songs they accompany. In honor of the one and...Keep on reading: Iconic Michael Jackson music videos that changed the music industry.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 30th, 2018

MTV VMAs working to craft tribute for Aretha Franklin

NEW YORK — The MTV Video Music Awards plans on honoring the legacy of Aretha Franklin — they’re just not sure how they will do it. The VMAs will air live Monday. Show executive producer Jesse Ignjatovic tells The Associated Press on Friday that his team is “working on a lot of different options.” Franklin,… link: MTV VMAs working to craft tribute for Aretha Franklin.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsAug 18th, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Middle 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Middle 10 * * * 11. TORONTO RAPTORS 2017-18 RECORD: 59-23; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals ADDED: Coach Nick Nurse; G Danny Green (acquired from Spurs); F Kawhi Leonard (acquired from Spurs) LOST: Former coach Dwane Casey; G DeMar DeRozan (traded to Spurs); F Alfonzo McKinnie (waived); C Jakob Poeltl (traded to Spurs) RETAINED: G Fred VanVleet (two years, $18.1 million) THE KEY MAN: Nurse. The former Raps assistant has extensive G League head coaching experience. But the NBA isn’t just about a coach’s Xs and Os acumen. We know Nurse can do that. But an NBA coach has to have command presence in a locker room not only full of millionaires, but full of Alpha males who have their own very strong opinions on how they should be used and how their teammates should help them. Nurse will have to show he can put his own stamp on a team that will have some new faces while still having extremely high expectations. THE SKINNY: You may well think Toronto should be higher, based on Leonard’s standing as a top-five player in the league when fully healthy. No matter what you think of DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, no one can realistically say he’s better than “The Klaw” when both are 100 percent. But, of course, we don’t know if Leonard’s 100 percent. And, trading DeRozan, who’d been the franchise’s biggest advocate during his nine seasons there -- and who had led the team to its greatest extended run of success ever -- is not a transaction without consequence for the Raptors. He helped get the best out of Kyle Lowry. He could help recruit free agents. And, the circumstances of his departure have not helped the franchise’s reputation. Still, this is a talent-based league, and Leonard has it. His and Green’s presence on the perimeter gives Toronto the chance to be a switching defensive monster -- and will help the Raptors be able to match up better with the likes of the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers in a late-May playoff matchup, as long as the Raptors’ young core in which it believes so strongly continues to play as well in reserve as it did last season. 12. MILWAUKEE BUCKS 2017-18 RECORD: 44-38; lost in first round ADDED: Coach Mike Budenholzer; G Donte DiVincenzo (No. 17 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trevon Duval; F Ersan Ilyasova (three years, $21 million); C Brook Lopez (one year, $3.32 million); F Pat Connaughton (two years, $3.2 million); LOST: Former interim coach Joe Prunty; G Brandon Jennings (waived); F Jabari Parker (signed with Bulls) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: G Eric Bledsoe. His departure from Phoenix early last season was messy. But once he got to Brewtown, Bledsoe solidified the Bucks at the point, averaging 17.8 points and 5.1 assists per game in 71 starts. At 28, Bledsoe faces the last year of his contract and will have to show a new coach he’s capable of running things long-term and playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo through the meat of his prime. THE SKINNY: Budenholzer’s arrival should coincide with an improvement in the Bucks’ defense, something that former coach Jason Kidd could never quite accomplish. Ilaysova’s return for a second tour in Milwaukee should help, with his celebrated charge-taking skill and Lopez’s still-substantial size a double-boon to Milwaukee’s interior D as the Bucks were bottom 10 last season in points allowed in the paint (47.4 per game). If the paint becomes a little tougher to traverse, the Bucks should finally able to use their substantial length on the wing to get back to create deflections and turnovers, and get out in transition, where Antetokounmpo and Friends do their best work and their most damage to the opposition. They’ll do so 41 nights a year for the next couple of decades in the 17,500-seat Fiserv Forum, the Bucks’ new arena that will open in early September with a concert and should pump new revenues into the Bucks’ bloodstream, giving them more financial wherewithal to keep “The Greek Freak” surrounded with high-quality talent. 13. UTAH JAZZ 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in Western Conference semifinals ADDED: G Grayson Allen (No. 21 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jarius Lyles; G Naz Mitrou-Long LOST: F Jonas Jerebko (waived) RETAINED: G Dante Exum (three years, $33 million); F/C Derrick Favors (two years, $37.6 million), G Raul Neto (two years, $4.4 million); F Georges Niang (three years, $4.9 million) THE KEY MAN: C Rudy Gobert. He’s a monster presence, the hub of the Jazz’s defensive wheel and the reigning Kia Defensive Player of the Year. And he has to take a step back in Utah next season for the Jazz to take the next step forward. He has to understand what Utah has in Donovan Mitchell and let that kid eat. Nobody in the league can do what Gobert does defensively. So embrace that and concentrate on that -- take the Draymond Green attitude about being the “defensive guy” on a great team (not that Jazz fans want you to do anything that Green does). Gobert’s handsomely paid and the DPOY award found him in Salt Lake City; there’s no small-market bias at work here. So let Mitchell and Joe Ingles carry the shooting/scoring load, let Ricky Rubio orchestrate, and snuff out opponent dreams at the other end, night after night. It’s what you were born to do. THE SKINNY: My God, Mitchell had a great rookie season. And Utah brought most of the band back from last season to provide advice and consent for him again, re-signing Favors, Exum and Neto each on very reasonable contracts. Doing so leaves Utah over the cap, still comfortably under the tax, and with nothing on the books that should raise an eyebrow financially. (Utah’s front office should handle my checking account for a while.) Anyway, no reason to expect any backsliding next season with the crew returning, though coach Quin Snyder will surely miss the counsel of his longtime friend Igor Kokoskov, off to run the Suns. 14. ATLANTA HAWKS 2017-18 RECORD: 24-58; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Lloyd Pierce; F Justin Anderson (acquired from 76ers); G Kevin Huerter (No. 19 pick, 2018 Draft); C Alex Len (two years, $8.5 million); G Jeremy Lin (acquired from Nets); F Omari Spellman (No. 30 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trae Young (No. 5 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former coach Mike Budenholzer; G Antonius Cleveland (waived); G Damion Lee (signed with Warriors); F/C Mike Muscala (traded to 76ers); G Dennis Schröder (traded to Thunder); G Isaiah Taylor (waived) RETAINED: C Dewayne Dedmon (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: GM Travis Schlenk. The second-year executive will be judged on how well Atlanta uses its trove of Draft picks -- three firsts this year, three firsts next year, two firsts in 2022 -- the next few years. And, ultimately, the Hawks will live or die by whether Young or Luka Doncic becomes the bigger NBA producer. Schlenk’s chances of completing the rebuild may well ride on that. THE SKINNY: The Hawks’ roster teardown is nearing completion, but the renovated Philips Arena will come online faster than the team, which now needs Young to live up to all the hype after his one season at Oklahoma. He has incredible range and great potential, but he’ll be challenged every night to stay in front of the legion of great points in this league. Pierce, the former Sixers’ assistant, is going to have a very tough time melding all the newcomers with the small core of players who survived, including John Collins, Kent Bazemore, DeAndre' Bembry and Taurean Prince. 15. LA CLIPPERS 2017-18 RECORD: 42-40; missed playoffs ADDED: C Marcin Gortat (acquired from Wizards); G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 11 pick, 2018 Draft); F Johnathan Motley (acquired from Mavericks); F Mike Scott (one year, $4.3 million); F Luc Mbah a Moute (one year, $4.3 million), G Jerome Robinson (No. 13 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Austin Rivers (traded to Wizards); C DeAndre Jordan (signed with Mavs); G C.J. Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Avery Bradley (two years, $24.9  million); C Montrezl Harrell (two years, $12 million); G Wesley Johnson (picked up player option); G Milos Teodosic (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Tobias Harris. He was the key tangible piece of the Blake Griffin trade last season (the intangible being the unprotected first from Detroit in the deal that eventually became Gilgeous-Alexander after a Draft night trade with Charlotte). And Harris played quite well in his 32 games with the Clips, averaging 19.3 points and six rebounds per game. Those numbers could each well go up in a contract year and with few others outside of Lou Williams on the roster that can go get their own buckets. THE SKINNY: Amazing, but true: the Clipper player with the longest current tenure is … Wesley Johnson, who came aboard in 2015. “Lob City” is in the history books and change will be the norm here for a while, including next summer, when the Clippers expect to be a free-agent destination. The Clips did what they could with that not-insignificant restriction, but the best stuff was in the Draft, winding up with a potential long-term point in Gilgeous-Alexander and a two in Robinson that rocketed up the pre-Draft charts. Bradley’s on a very team-friendly and controllable contract, as is Patrick Beverley, whose modest 2018-19 salary isn’t guaranteed until January. Those two and Mbah a Moute can give coach Doc Rivers hope that he can get some stops on the perimeter, because while Gortat is still willing defensively and still takes a bunch of charges, he is not Jordan when it comes to rim protection. 16. BROOKLYN NETS 2017-18 RECORD: 28-54; missed playoffs ADDED: F/C Ed Davis (one year, $4.4 million); F Jared Dudley (acquired from Suns); F Kenneth Faried (acquired from Nuggets); G/F Treveon Graham (two years); F Rodions Kurucs (No. 40, 2018 Draft); F Dzanan Musa (No. 29 pick, 2018 Draft); G Shabazz Napier (two years, $3.7 million) LOST: F Darrell Arthur (traded to Suns); F Dante Cunningham (signed with Spurs); C Dwight Howard (waived); G Jeremy Lin (traded to Hawks); C Timofey Mozgov (traded to Hornets); G Nik Stauskas (signed with Blazers); G Isaiah Whitehead (traded to Nuggets) RETAINED: G Joe Harris (two years, $16 million) THE KEY MAN: Co-owner Joseph Tsai. The Alibaba executive and billionaire has 49 percent of the team, and can buy majority control from Mikhail Prokhorov by 2021. Until then, they’ll run the team jointly, so no matter Prokhorov’s ups and downs, Brooklyn’s financial spigot should never run dry. Tsai reportedly has designs on expanding the Nets’ brand further in China, just as Prokhorov believed the Nets had global reach. They didn’t, at least not the post-KG and Pierce squads. THE SKINNY: If you love Ed Davis like smart people who know basketball do, Brooklyn makes the top half by bringing the ex-Blazer in on a short deal. If he plays great, he’ll cost the Nets a pretty penny in 2019, but Brooklyn has to take chances on guys who can outperform their contracts. The only thing the Nets couldn’t do was take on more ’19 salary when they’ll be in line to potentially add two max players. Won’t be easy to lure the elites, but Brooklyn also has accumulated enough assets to be able to make uneven trades for salaries if need be. In the interim comes next season, with coach Kenny Atkinson needing to continue to develop diamonds in the rough like Graham, who Cleveland wanted and who will help the Nets at multiple positions. 17. CHICAGO BULLS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: G Antonius Cleveland; C Wendell Carter Jr. (No. 7 pick, 2018 Draft); F Chandler Hutchison (No. 22 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jabari Parker (two years, $40 million) LOST: F Jerian Grant (traded to Magic); G Sean Kilpatrick (waived); G Julyan Stone (waived); F Noah Vonleh (signed with Knicks); G Paul Zipser (waived) RETAINED: G Antonio Blakeney; G Zach LaVine (matched four year, $78 million offers sheet from Kings) THE KEY MAN: G Kris Dunn. As the 24-year-old will be every season he’s in Chicago. The Jimmy Butler trade in 2017 yielded the pick that became Lauri Markannen, and he’s also a key piece to the Bulls’ future. But Chicago won’t ever get elevation again if Dunn doesn’t become an elite point guard in a league full of them. He showed signs last season that he could be just that, most notably a December in which Dunn averaged 14.9 points and eight assists, and the Bulls went 10-6. But a concussion in January derailed Dunn’s progress and his production fell sharply the rest of the season. THE SKINNY: Can Parker play the three, as the Bulls insist he can? There isn’t a ton of evidence suggesting so, and Parker’s hypothesis that he isn’t getting paid to play defense does not provide much comfort. But the Bulls will try him there alongside Markannen and rookie Carter Jr. in what would be a huge frontcourt. Almost $20 million annually for LaVine going forward is also a stretch, but less of one if LaVine comes all the way back from his 2017 ACL tear with a full training camp and season. Carter may be more important to the Bulls’ hoped-for resurgence than Parker and LaVine; the Duke big man has that much potential. 18. WASHINGTON WIZARDS 2017-18 RECORD: 43-39; lost in first round ADDED: C Thomas Bryant; G Troy Brown (No. 15 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jeff Green (one year, $2.5 million); C Dwight Howard (two years, $11 million); G Austin Rivers (acquired from Clippers); G Issuf Sanon (No. 44 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Marcin Gortat (traded to Clippers); F Mike Scott (signed with Clippers) RETAINED: G Jodie Meeks (picked up player option); C Jason Smith (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Coach Scott Brooks. Entering his third season in Washington, Brooks keeps saying he wants the Wizards to defend and play fast. But he has to follow that up with action, especially when and if John Wall doesn’t provide the on-ball defense Washington needs to have any chance to unleash a still-potent fast break. Wall is 27 and, if healthy, in his prime. The team takes almost all of its cues from him; when he’s locked in, the Wizards can compete with anyone. But when he’s indifferent, so are they -- as evidenced by their horrible record against bad teams. Brooks has to demand Wall’s best, or be ready to limit his minutes. THE SKINNY: NBA protocol almost demands you hate the pickup of Howard, such is his current perceived valued among many after multiple stops the last few seasons. The guess here is that Howard won’t hijack the Wizards’ locker room, as he had been accused of while in with the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets, especially. Howard’s skill set can help Washington, which fell off defensively last season. But there’s also not much sense he’ll be a significant pick-me-up in D.C., either. He can’t stretch the floor and he’s not especially potent finishing in pick and roll, either. But the Wizards should at least be deeper off the bench with Green, who played well for the Cavs last season, and Rivers, who gives Washington legit guard depth along with Tomas Satoransky. 19. SACRAMENTO KINGS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: F Nemanja Bjelica (three years, $20.4 million); C Marvin Bagley III (No. 2 pick, 2018 Draft); G Yogi Ferrell (two years, $4.1 million); G Ben McLemore (acquired from Kings); F Deyonta Davis (acquired from Grizzlies) LOST: G Garrett Temple (traded to Grizzlies) RETAINED: G Iman Shumpert (picked up player option); C Kosta Koufos (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Harry Giles. The Kings traded for the one-and-done forward on Draft night 2017 and redshirted him, feeling he needed a year to fully recover from the multiple knee surgeries he’d undergone the last three years. Those surgeries stopped his top-five Draft potential in its tracks, before and after a year at Duke. But Giles is back on the floor, having flashed his skills during NBA Summer League, as Sacramento gushed about his progress. If the 20-year-old is ready to roll come October, he could be an enormous boost. He’ll have to at least become a contributor, lest folks remind the Kings they passed on the likes of Kyle Kuzma and O.G Anunoby to trade for his rights. THE SKINNY: Bagley III has superstar potential, and he better become one, or the Doncic Stans among the Kings’ fan base will have aneurysms. The Kings were all over everyone, seemingly, this summer, dropping sheets on Zach LaVine, almost doing the same with Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker, and going after unrestricted free agent Mario Hezonja. All well and good, and getting Bjelica out from under Philly and prying Ferrell from Dallas were decent late July pickups. But it will be Bagley III who’ll be under the microscope. His skill sets are prodigious and he’s been working out feverishly all summer. And he wants to make a mark in restoring the Kings to where they were on the floor during the Webber Years. He worked out for them. He’s enthusiastic about them. That counts for something. 20. HOUSTON ROCKETS 2017-18 RECORD: 65-17; lost in Western Conference finals ADDED: G Michael Carter-Williams (one year, $1.5 million); G De'Anthony Melton (No. 46 pick, 2018 Draft); F Vincent Edwards (No. 52 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Trevor Ariza (signed with Suns); Luc Mbah a Moute (signed with LA Clippers); C Chinanu Onuaku (traded to Mavs) RETAINED: C Clint Capela (five years, $90 million); G/F Gerald Green (one year, $2.3 million); G Aaron Jackson (picked up team option); G Chris Paul (four years, $159 million) THE KEY MAN: Jason Biles, Joe Rogowski, Keith Jones and Javair Gillett -- the Rockets’ athletic trainers, sports performance and rehab staff. Their only mission next season, should they decide to accept it, is to get Paul through an 82-game regular season and a two-month playoff slog without breaking or pulling anything of importance that keeps him out of key games. Of course, should any of the staff be unsuccessful, the Morey will disavow any knowledge of their employment. Good luck, men. THE SKINNY: We have not yet included Carmelo Anthony, who will be signing in Houston any minute now. When he’s officially on the roster, he’ll certainly help, and we all saw that even Houston can go through extended scoring droughts in the playoffs. Having Anthony around should alleviate that. The Rockets may have had the best signing of the summer, keeping the 24-year-old Capela locked up long-term for $18 million per -- incredible value these days, given the way salaries are skyrocketing. But that was mitigated by the losses of Ariza and Mbah a Moute, who were crucial to the switching defense Houston employed and perfected by the playoffs, which threw sand in the gears of the Warriors’ impenetrable offense and would likely have propelled the Rockets to The Finals if Paul hadn’t gotten hurt in Game 5. Ennis and Carter-Williams will help some in that regard, but they don’t have the resume of Mbah a Moute and Ariza -- which means they sometimes won’t get the benefit of the doubt from refs that the old heads do. Houston’s still the clear number two to Golden State in the West, but the gap between the Rockets and the best of the rest has closed. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

Legacy of anomalies

TAXPAYERS are not the only victims of the anomalous Barangay Health Station (BHS) project of the Department of Health’s past administration under then Secretary Janette Garin. This ambitious project of constructing 5,700 school-based BHS nationwide at a cost of more than P8 billion in the name of “inclusive health” was never fully completed on its […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 10th, 2018

Back on track

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia (AFP) - Brazil needed two injury-time goals to defeat a dogged Costa Rica on Friday as Philippe Coutinho and Neymar scored to put the five-time World Cup winners back on track for the last 16. The Brazilians looked to be heading for a second frustrating draw in….....»»

Category: newsSource:  journalRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2018

Brazilians heave sigh of relief with World Cup win

By Yesica Fisch, Associated Press RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilians breathed a sigh of relief Friday after the national team scored two stoppage time goals to beat Costa Rica 2-0 at the World Cup, bringing it closer to a berth in the round of 16. With yellow-and-green T-shirts and Brazilian flags draped over their shoulders, thousands of people across Latin America's biggest country gathered in bars, restaurants, coffee shops and public squares to watch the game on large TV screens. They went wild when Philippe Coutinho and Neymar scored Brazil's two goals with only a few minutes left in the game. The narrow streets, homes and storefronts of Rio's Alemao complex of slums, one of the city's largest, were decorated with Brazilian flags and small yellow and green banners. Sipping beer with a group of friends and residents at one bar, Daisy Gouveia shouted and cheered when Brazil scores its first goal. "My heart was beating very quickly during the first half," Gouveia, who is studying for her high school diploma, said. "But in the second half Brazil started playing well and went on to score." At the same bar, motorbike taxi driver Marcio de Souza said he was elated with the result. "The match was wonderful. The Costa Ricans blocked us for a while but Brazil was better and clinched the victory, bringing happiness to all Brazilians." Nearby, a group of friends gathered around a table in front of a flag-decorated house where coffee and cake was being served as they watched the match. For a while several of them complained that Brazil wasn't playing well, but when the first goal was scored the hope of being world champions emerged in their enthusiastic shouts and cheers. "It is difficult to say who will win the World Cup," slum resident Leandro de Castro said. "The other teams are also very good, so it will be difficult. But I think we can get there and win the World Cup.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2018

Former 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark dead at 61

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Dwight Clark, who helped launch a dynasty for San Francisco with his iconic catch that sent the 49ers to their first Super Bowl, has died one year after revealing he had ALS. He was 61. Clark said in March 2017 that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), which attacks cells that control muscles. He suspected playing football might have caused the illness. The team said he died Monday surrounded by friends and family. "My heart is broken," former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. said in a statement. "Today, I lost my little brother and one of my best friends. I cannot put into words how special Dwight was to me and to everyone his life touched. He was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother and a great friend and teammate. He showed tremendous courage and dignity in his battle with ALS and we hope there will soon be a cure for this horrendous disease. I will always remember Dwight the way he was — larger than life, handsome, charismatic and the only one who could pull off wearing a fur coat at our Super Bowl parade. He was responsible for one of the most iconic plays in NFL history that began our run of Super Bowl championships, but to me, he will always be an extension of my family. I love him and will miss him terribly." Clark won two Super Bowls with the 49ers during a nine-year career that ended in 1987. He memorably pulled down the winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana in the NFC championship game against the Dallas Cowboys following the 1981 season, a play remembered simply as "The Catch." It's considered one of the most significant plays in NFL history and sent the Niners to their first of five Super Bowl titles in a span of 14 seasons. The play happened on Jan. 10, 1982, when the upstart 49ers hosted the Cowboys in the NFC title game. With the 49ers facing a third down at the Dallas 6 with less than a minute to play, coach Bill Walsh called "Sprint Right Option." Montana rolled out and retreated under pressure from Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Larry Bethea before lofting the ball toward the back of the end zone. Clark leaped to make a fingertip catch over Everson Walls and the 49ers went on to win the game 28-27 and then their first Super Bowl two weeks later against Cincinnati. "Start of a dynasty," said former 49ers president Carmen Policy, who later hired Clark as general manager of the Cleveland Browns. "I don't let myself go down the road of what would have happened if he doesn't make that catch? As Joe Montana says, what would have happened if I didn't throw that pinpoint pass perfectly angled to be in the only spot where he should catch and no one else would be able to interfere with it. But without that play, I wonder where we would have been. And I stopped thinking about it, because so much happened after that. And yet, Dwight seemed to handle it in stride and the two of them, The Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they used to have fun playing off of each other, or who would take the credit, and this and that and so forth. But it was a special day." Clark joined the Niners as a 10th round pick out of Clemson in 1979 in the same draft class that brought Joe Montana to San Francisco. He got there by good fortune after only 33 catches in three college seasons as former 49ers coach Bill Walsh needed someone to catch passes from Steve Fuller at a pre-draft workout. Clark impressed Walsh enough to get drafted and eventually made the team even if he never felt comfortable despite playing on two Super Bowl winners, making two Pro Bowls and catching 506 passes for 6,750 yards and 48 touchdowns in nine seasons with San Francisco. "He's meant the world to me for so many years," Montana said last year after a street near the site of Candlestick Park was named for him. "We came into the league together and we laugh about things that he did all the time. I don't think he ever unpacked. By his rookie year he always left the playbook on his bed just in case he ever got cut. He kept trying to tell me he was getting cut every day, I kept trying to tell him, 'what are you doing? You're crazy.'" Clark made his last public appearance in October when the 49ers hosted "Dwight Clark Day" at Levi's Stadium. Clark spoke to the crowd from a suite that afternoon in a weakened voice, calling his disease a "little thing" he was dealing with at the time. He also thanked the fans and dozens of teammates who came back for the event. DeBartolo recently hosted a reunion in Montana where many of Clark's former teammates came for one final goodbye. "For almost four decades, he served as a charismatic ambassador for our team and the Bay Area," the 49ers said in a statement. "Dwight's personality and his sense of humor endeared him to everyone he came into contact with, even during the most trying times. The strength, perseverance and grace with which he battled ALS will long serve as an inspiration to so many. Dwight will always carry a special place in our hearts and his legacy will live on as we continue to battle this terrible disease." Clark is survived by his wife, Kelly, and three children, daughter Casey, and sons Riley and Mac, from a previous marriage. I’m heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband. He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight’s friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle with ALS. Kelly Clark. — Dwight Clark (@DwightC87) June 4, 2018 "I'm heartbroken to tell you that today I lost my best friend and husband," Kelly Clark said on Twitter. "He passed peacefully surrounded by many of the people he loved most. I am thankful for all of Dwight's friends, teammates and 49ers fans who have sent their love during his battle with ALS." ___ AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

Paul paves way for Rockets, but will he be there in the end?

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com HOUSTON — If he doesn’t take another step on that tender right hamstring in these Western Conference finals, Chris Paul did what he came here to do. That won’t be enough for him, of course. No Hall of Fame-level competitor is ever satisfied with just reaching the precipice of a dream. They want it all. And you know Chris Paul’s every intention is to get to the summit. You don’t wait as long as he has, fight through as many barriers as he has throughout his career and get to the final seconds of a defining game like Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, and not feel the burn when you have to watch the outcome from the bench. Paul’s right hamstring didn’t allow him to take in the final, frantic 22.4 seconds of the Houston Rockets’ 98-94 win over the Golden State Warriors Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Toyota Center. He tweaked it trying to drive to the basket on Quinn Cook with the Rockets clinging to a 95-94 lead. Another injury for the man who has seen so many of his playoff dreams vanish in a haze of different injuries over the course of his career. It has to sting. He went from shimmying at Stephen Curry after knocking down a wild three-pointer to being forced to watch the end unfold without him on the court to finish what he’d started. But the Rockets are here, up 3-2 in this series and four quarters away from dethroning the defending three-time Western Conference champion Warriors. Paul's availability for Saturday’s (Sunday, PHL time) Game 6 remained a mystery late into the night; he received treatment after the game and did not speak to the media. “He’ll be evaluated tomorrow,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who for the second straight game in this series relied on just a seven-man rotation. “But obviously you saw him limp off, and he’s a tough guy. So they’ll do whatever they can do. If he’s there, great, good for him. If he isn’t, we have enough guys, it’s time for somebody else to step up. We’ve got plenty of guys over there that will have some fresh legs, that’s for sure. So we’ll be alright. We’ve just got to continue doing what we’re doing and we’ll find our way.” The Rockets found their way with Paul lighting the path of another heavyweight fight. Rockets fans left the building on an emotional high thanks to Paul, who scored 18 of his 20 points after halftime, after a brutal 1-for-7 shooting performance in the first half that made you wonder if he came into this game injured already. Once again he willed these Rockets past adversity, the same way he did in the close-out game of the conference semifinal against Utah when he piled up 20 of his playoff career-high 41 points down the stretch of a Game 5 masterpiece. “Well his spirits aren’t great,” D’Antoni said. “He wanted to be out there, and for sure he’s worried and all that. That’s normal. And like I said, we’ll see [Friday] how it goes. But what he did was remarkable. When we were kind of teetering, he made two or three three's. That’s just his heart. He made something out of nothing. His heart, his will to win, I don’t know how many times everybody’s got to see it in this league. He’s one of the best players that have played the game. Just his will alone and what it means to basketball, I don’t know. If you can’t root for him, I think you’ve got some problems.” The Warriors are loaded with problems then. Because they’ve surely seen enough of Paul in the deciding moments of the last two games in this series. Paul led the charge in Game 4 at Oracle Arena and did it again in the third quarter of Game 5, keeping the Rockets right with the Warriors during the period they’ve owned by draining three of his four attempts from beyond the three-point line during an unconscious third-quarter stretch. “It was well-deserved,” Curry said, a showman tipping his cap to a fellow showman. “It was a tough shot. If you can shimmy on somebody else, you’ve got to be alright getting shimmied on. So I’ll keep shimmying and maybe he will too, so we’ll see what happens.” It was more than just the shimmying, though. Time after time Paul got the switch he wanted, backed up and went at bigger Warriors defenders and got whatever he wanted. “Well, Chris is a Hall of Fame player, this is what they do,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “They put James [Harden] and Chris in pick-and-roll every single time. So they’re going to challenge you. We did a great job. They combined to shoot 11-for-40. He hit two 35-foot three's that were just unbelievable. You’ve got to live with that.” The Rockets have lived off of it all season. They knew it would the moment Paul was acquired in that blockbuster trade with the LA Clippers that set this Rockets’ Western Conference takeover attempt in motion. The aesthetics be damned. Keep your analytics. Sometimes the biggest moments require the unthinkable, unbelievable shots Kerr spoke of. “That’s the most difficult shots you can imagine,” Harden said of Paul’s three-point heroics and his entire arsenal of shot-clock beating artistry. “He’s been doing it all year, and he just manages to get those shots off and make big plays. He was built for it.” If only his body was built for the pounding that comes with the work he has to do, often as the smallest man on the floor. Paul’s body always seems to betray him at the very worst times. Dragging up the long list of bumps, bruises and season-derailing instances won't do any good now. It won’t do the Rockets any good, with or without him in Game 6, or even a Game 7, back here Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) if needed. Paul’s right leg will be on the minds of each and every one of his teammates as they prepare for the next step on this wild ride that began with a humbling Game 1 defeat that temporarily cost them home court advantage they’ve since snatched back. Can they win three straight and finish this? Is it even a realistic possibility without Paul available? “There is concern, obviously,” Rockets veteran Trevor Ariza said. “I hope he’s healthy. I hope he gets better and if not, somebody else has to step up and do what we’ve been doing all year, step in and try and help this team win.” Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2018

Barcelona jets in for a day to beat South African champs

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Andres Iniesta returned to the scene of his greatest triumph in his penultimate game for Barcelona as the Spanish champion beat South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 in a friendly in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Iniesta played the first 45 minutes at FNB Stadium, where he scored the goal that won Spain the World Cup in 2010. Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes scored for Barcelona against the South African league winner in a game that formed part of South Africa's celebrations to mark 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon who died in 2013. Lionel Messi didn't start but drew a roar from the crowd as big as any other on the night when he got up off the bench and started to warm up 20 minutes into the second half. He came on for the last 15 minutes, enough time for him to launch a stinging, long-range shot that goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene struggled to stop. It was a quick turnaround for the Barcelona squad, which arrived in South Africa on the morning of the match and was expected to head home again a couple of hours after the final whistle. Barcelona plays its last game of the Spanish season on Sunday against Real Sociedad, Iniesta's farewell after 22 years at the Catalan club. Dembele, Suarez and Gomes all took advantage of defensive errors, with Dembele curling a left-foot shot into net in the third minute and Suarez doubling the lead in the 18th minute. Gomes added the third in the 66th. Sibusiso Vilakazi scored Sundowns' goal late on but Barca was in cruise control. Barcelona fielded two completely different lineups in each half. Suarez, Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets played the first half. Gerard Pique and Philippe Coutinho were in the 11 for the second half and Messi joined the action near the end. Earlier, Messi and the rest of the squad drew hundreds of South Africans to OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg at 6 a.m. local time to see Barcelona arrive. Runway workers at South Africa's biggest airport temporarily abandoned their jobs to gather near the plane and cheer the team's arrival......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 17th, 2018

UAAP greats assemble in ABS-CBN Sports The Legacy of Greatness online special

Before the 80th season of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) finally closes its curtains, ABS-CBN Sports is gathering a super lineup of legendary UAAP athletes for an exclusive interview at the Far Eastern University Auditorium that can be watched via livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com and the ABS-CBN Sports Youtube channel, and via Facebook Live on the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook page starting at 2 pm. Dubbed “The Legacy of Greatness,” the online special hosted by ABS-CBN Sports digital head Mico Halili and “Upfront” host Janeena Chan brings together former UAAP women’s volleyball stars led by Ateneo De Manila University’s phenom and current Creamline Cool Smashers’ skipper Alyssa Valdez, former UST Golden Tigresses star-turned-volleyball analyst Mozzy Ravena, and former De La Salle University Lady Spiker Manilla Santos-Ng, the first and only female athlete to have her jersey number retired by her school. Joining them are erstwhile kings and queens in their respective sports and teams like former National University (NU) Bulldogs captain Gelo Alolino, University of the East’s (UE) champion fencer and current coach Rolando Canlas, Jr., Adamson University’s (AdU) 8-peat softball coach and two-time SEA Games gold medalist Ana Santiago, former University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Fighting Maroon Rep. Pia Cayetano, and the Philippines’ first woman grandmaster and UAAP Season 77 Athlete of the Year, Janelle Mae Frayna from Season 80 hosts Far Eastern University. These UAAP greats will take a look back at their UAAP journey, the hardships they had to endure and triumphs they got to savor individually and as a team, as well as discuss how the times and competition have drastically changed the landscape of the UAAP, among others. Aside from that, they’ll also answer questions from Twitter that are posted with the hashtag #UAAPS80GoForGreat. Watch “The Legacy of Greatness” online exclusive on sports.abs-cbn.com, the ABS-CBN Sports Youtube channel, and the ABS-CBN Sports Facebook page at 2 pm followed by the UAAP Season 80’s closing ceremony and turnover for UAAP Season 81 at 4:30 pm. Join the conversation by tweeting using the #UAAPS80GoForGreat hashtag......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

UAAP Volleyball: Bernadeth Pons: Probinsyana with a Superstar Soul

In a time where gadgets have pretty much taken over the lives of majority of the world’s population, Bernadeth Pons prefers to keep things simple. Instead of swiping her phone for the latest news on Twitter or organizing her feed on Instagram, FEU’s Team Captain and graduate of Financial Management would rather spend time inside the athlete’s dormitory to sleep. While that sounds boring, the 21-year old Pons reasons that she needs all the energy she can get to complete her Master’s degree in Business Administration and perform at the highest level in her final season in the UAAP. The 5’7” open spiker is currently the fourth best scorer in the league averaging 15.2 points per match. She is also ranked third in both digging and receiving. Because of her all-around brilliance, there is a fairly good amount of fans on social media who have been campaigning for Pons to be named MVP of Season 80. But, of course, Pons is oblivious to that. In fact, she didn’t even know that she was included in the 34-player wish list of new National Team Head Coach Ramil de Jesus. It took a text message from her younger sister, Melody, who lives in their hometown of Talisay, Negros Occidental for Pons to learn about the development. “Ha? Saan galing yan?” was her honest reply. To Pons, playing for the national team goes beyond her wildest dreams. And while she feels very much honored to have her name considered for a spot, Pons says her current focus is with FEU. After all, it was the school that provided her with a means to fulfill her goals and make her parents proud. From Softball to Volleyball Pons was born in Malolos, Bulacan where her father, Roberto and mother, Maryjen met. A year after her birth, the family moved to Talisay where Roberto started playing baseball recreationally. When his eldest daughter grew big enough to play, she also took a liking to the sport. Pons would even join the boys play catch during her elementary days at Efigenio-Enrica Lizares Memorial School. Unfortunately, there was no softball team for Pons to try-out for. That’s when her classmate, Allen Joy Esponilia invited her to try-out for the volleyball team. “Nung una, sobrang hirap kasi wala talaga akong alam eh. Kahit dig, dig lang, kung saan-saan pumupunta. Nahihiya ako sa ka-partner ko kasi syempre, alam na niya yung basics ng volleyball. Naiiyak na nga ako kasi palagi nalang tumatalsik,” recalled Pons, who was 10 years old at the time. But, the challenge of excelling at a sport where she had no background in challenged the young Pons. Eventually, she learned how to dig up powerful spikes and became a libero. In the fifth grade, she experienced her first major competition by participating in the Palarong Pambansa held in Palawan and representing Region 6 – Western Visayas where she teamed up with Kim Gequillana and Ayel Estraňero. It was the first of five Palarong Pambansa events she would participate in. In those competitions, Pons played against numerous future UAAP stars like Jia Morado, Desiree Cheng, Majoy Baron, Jhoana Maraguinot and a powerhouse Region 7 – Central Visayas squad that featured Sisi Rondina, Dimdim Pacres, Rica Rivera and CJ Saga. Leap of Faith As she got older, Pons began developing her spiking prowess and caught the eye of the legendary Roger Gorayeb, who wanted to bring her to San Sebastian College-Recoletos. But, she was reluctant to leave home. “Wala akong idea about life dito sa Manila. So, hindi ko alam kung tutuloy ba ako or hindi. Dumating sa point na nag-decide kami ng Papa ko na doon nalang sa amin ako mag college,” explained Pons. During her final year in high school in 2013, then FEU Head Coach Shaq delos Santos went to the Regional Meet in Roxas City, Capiz to recruit the reluctant Pons. Delos Santos was persistent in convincing her to come and be a part of his plan to revive the volleyball program of the university. The free education, food and accessibility to the training facilities finally convinced Pons to take a leap of faith.   “Naisip ko, pag doon ako sa probinsya, mamamasahe ako every day, mabigat din sa parents ko. So, yun talaga yung sabi ko, ‘O-oo na ako’. Nag-decide ako na mag go-go na ako sa Maynila,” recalled Pons. For someone who never imagined leaving her hometown, Pons didn’t have any trouble making her mark in the UAAP as she immediately led the Lady Tamaraws in scoring (11.8 points per match) as a rookie. She would become FEU’s leading scorer in each of her UAAP stints which includes Final Four appearances in the past three seasons. Last Stretch Now that Pons is approaching the last stretch of her collegiate career and with FEU in a good position to attain a twice-to-beat advantage in the post-season for the first time since 2009, she is more focused than ever on the task at hand. Should the Lady Tamaraws beat NU in their last elimination round game on Sunday and if Ateneo loses to La Salle, FEU will enter the Final Four as the number two ranked team. But, Pons knows it won’t be easy as the Lady Bulldogs will be out for redemption. “Kami kasi yung unang tumalo sa kanila sa first round. So, palagi namin rine-remind yung bawat isa na yung NU, pipilitin nilang bumawi sa atin. Tapos sila, nothing to lose kasi kahit ano mangyari, number four na sila. Eh tayo, may hinahabol tayo na number two. Hindi puwedeng magpabaya tayo kasi NU pa rin yan. Lalaban at lalaban yan,” shared Pons. It’s been a decade since FEU last won the UAAP Women’s Volleyball title. While Pons has already achieved her initial goal of earning a college degree, she still has that burning desire to give back to the school that gave her the opportunity to help her family and leave a lasting legacy in the process. “Gusto ko maalala nila ako bilang isa sa mga nakapagbalik ng crown sa FEU. Sobrang tagal nang nawala ang FEU sa championship. Yun yung gusto namin ibalik ulit,” declared Pons. All Pons ever wanted was to ease the burden on her parents by graduating from school. The game of volleyball has given her a means to accomplish that and so much more. She’s become one of the UAAP’s brightest stars and may wear the colors of the Philippine flag one day. But, no matter what happens, she will always be that same humble girl from Talisay, inspiring countless others like her to be brave and go for great. Catch Bernadeth Pons and the FEU Tamaraws take on the NU Bulldogs on April 15, Sunday, 12 noon LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, Liga, Liga HD and via livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2018

Brazil beats Russia 3-0 in friendly ahead of World Cup

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Brazil cruised to a 3-0 friendly win at World Cup host Russia on Friday without the injured Neymar. In freezing temperatures at Moscow's vast Luzhniki arena, the Brazilians worked hard to break down Russia's deep defense before three goals in 13 minutes early in the second half. Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev parried Thiago Silva's 53rd-minute shot into the path of Miranda, who scored from close range. Philippe Coutinho made it 2-0 from the penalty spot nine minutes later, and Paulinho added Brazil's third in the 66th with a header off Willian's cross. "I think the team is completely ready for the World Cup," said Brazil coach Tite, whose team faces reigning World Cup champion Germany in another friendly in Berlin on Tuesday. "We had our chances and we scored our goals," he said through a translator. "The team achieved the goal I had set for them and that means the team understood what I would like to see from them." Brazil is now unbeaten in eight games since a 1-0 loss to Argentina in September, while the Russians haven't won any of their last four. Tuesday's game against the Germans is the first time those teams will meet since Germany demolished Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup. "We can't change the past, we can't change history," Tite said. "So what can we do against Germany? We've just got to play football. We've got to be strong tactically, we've got to be strong technically." Less than three months before the World Cup opens at Luzhniki, the defeat highlighted Russia's vulnerability at the back. Severe injuries to two central defenders this year forced coach Stanislav Cherchesov to field a makeshift five-man back line which was often able to do little more than stay deep and defend in numbers. The three central defenders had never played together before, so "we are starting from zero once again," Cherchesov said. On a pitch which seemed worn after hosting a giant election rally for President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, Brazil's margin of victory would have been greater if not for some soft shooting by Brazil in the first half and good saves from Akinfeev in the second. The Russian keeper showed quick reactions to keep out shots from Paulinho and Coutinho and stopped what might have been an own goal from Alexander Samedov. Up front, the Russians missed the injured Alexander Kokorin — who is unlikely to return for the World Cup — but still managed to create chances against a sometimes-shaky Brazilian defense. An excellent chance went to waste late on when Anton Miranchuk hit the bar before his fellow substitute Anton Zabolotny missed an open goal on the rebound. Alexander Samedov and Miranchuk's brother, Alexei, both failed to score from good positions in the first half. Overall, Russia was simply outclassed, Cherchesov said. "There's fault and there's misfortune, and this is a case when it's misfortune, because it's difficult to leap from a certain level up and over several steps," he said. "If you look at the technical side, that team is a bit above us.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 2018

Southeast Asia legacy airlines rethink strategies

Most of Southeast Asia’s legacy carriers either registered losses or showed lackluster performance last year owing to the competition posed by low-cost airlines. Data gathered at the ongoing Singapore Airshow showed low-cost carriers account for 53.7 percent of all airline seats offered in Southeast Asia......»»

Category: newsSource:  interaksyonRelated NewsFeb 11th, 2018

Up close with The Art of Eight Limbs : My first experience of watching Muay Thai live

I’ve been a combat sports fan for nearly a decade now. I began watching MMA back in 2009, around the time that stars like Georges St-Pierre and BJ Penn were at their peak, and immediately got hooked, and it’s actually that fandom that got me to where I am now today…a sportswriter. It’s also that appreciation for the sport that got me to try and get into combat sports, and I’ve been practicing on a regular basis since then. The first time I ever set foot inside a boxing gym and put on a pair of 16-ounce gloves was for my first ever Muay Thai class. I saw these fighters on TV throwing these beautiful kicks, knocking the bejeezus out of their opponents. I wanted to be able to do that too, I decided to try it out. That first session was really fun, but real tiring…and painful. I was sore for days after that, but I enjoyed it and decided to make it a regular part of my life. It wasn’t necessarily to be a pro-level practicioner, rather a way to keep fit and stay healthy. My first session was around eight years ago, and I’ve been going as regularly as I can ever since. Of course, my appreciation for the widely popular martial art grew, I started doing some research and watched some Muay Thai fights online, and eventually being able to try and train Muay Thai in Thailand and getting to watch a legit fight became parts of my ‘Bucket List’ so to say. Fortunately, I got to tick one of those things off my list late last year.   The Lumpinee Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. Home of some of the world's best Muay Thai fighters. pic.twitter.com/yKCRvLqtDf — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 When I was sent to Bangkok (to cover ONE Championship MMA, fittingly enough), I was able to catch a big Muay Thai card at the most popular Muay Thai arena in Thailand, the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium. A quick look at the Lumpinee Stadium schedule on their website shows that there’s usually a fight card thrice a week, every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, which gives you an idea of how popular it is to patrons, and how many competitors there are. It’s a 5,000 seater arena, no bigger than the San Juan Arena, but boy, the place was buzzing on that Friday night.   A look inside the Lumpinee Stadium. It's fight night Friday here in BKK. pic.twitter.com/Tagws4qZCC — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 Unlike here in the Philippines, where boxing or MMA shows don’t get filled up until about midway through the card, the Lumpinee Stadium had a decent number of people after the first fight of the night, and amazingly, the fans were already into it, a testament of just how big Muay Thai is in the country. It is, after all, their national sport.   But before I go on any further, here’s a quick backgrounder on what Muay Thai is. A striking-based form of self-defense and combat sport that rose to prominence in Thailand during the 1900s, Muay Thai makes use of one’s hands and elbows, knees, and feet to inflict damage. It’s commonly known as “The Art of Eight Limbs” because practicioners can punch, kick, knee, and elbow their opponents. Names like Samart Payakaroon, Buakaw Banchamek, and Saenchai have made names for themselves in Muay Thai. In MMA, former champions such as Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, and Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke are known for their high-level Muay Thai.   So, going back… The card I went to that night was apparently a big one, with three championships up for grabs. The ticket cost me 1000 Baht, which is around 1500 PHP. A small price to pay, I believe, to get to see some honest-to-goodness Muay Thai action in the country’s most popular stadium. (I did, however, get into an argument with the ticket lady because I tried haggling for a lower price, to the point that she let out an exasperated 'OH MY GOD!' in the thickest Thai accent I've ever heard.) There was no reserved seating, at least for the ticket I paid for, so I had to find a spot that gave me a good view. Being that the stadium itself was small, my spot wasn’t too far away from the ring. Think lower box seats. It was close enough for me to see the action.   Also known as 'The Art of Eight Limbs" Muay Thai utilizes punching and kicking techniques, as well as knee strikes, elbow strikes and clinching. pic.twitter.com/lN8z8LbPO5 — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 When I said that Thai fans were immediately in to the action, I meant it. When I got in, it was towards the end of the first fight of the night, but it felt like it was already the main event, as the fans were as rowdy as they could get.   While the 5000-seater stadium isn't particularly packed, the active crowd makes it feel as though it is. pic.twitter.com/kQ1NC5QpOU — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 With every kick and with every punch, the people would go “EYYYYYY!!!” whether or not it connected or it missed, and with every knee, they’d yell out “KNEEEEEE!!!” Every fight had that ‘big fight feel.” The fights lasted for up to five three-minute rounds, and while much shorter than boxing bouts, there was definitely no shortage of action. Again, with the small stadium, you could hear every time that flesh hit flesh, which was both entertaining and at the same time unnerving.   All the fights have this "big fight feel" because the crowd roars with every hit. pic.twitter.com/XYl72AUL4Z — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 One thing that you’ll notice in Muay Thai fights is that the competitors do a little dance before the fight commences.   Before each fight, the fighters perform a ceremonial dance known as the Wai Khru. This is to give honor and pay respects to their teachers. pic.twitter.com/ZJLCCUHRFZ — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) December 8, 2017 This ritual is called the “Wai Khru” and it’s done to pay their teachers respect and show their gratitude. Interesting note: the Wai Khru isn’t just limited to Muay Thai. Students in schools in Thailand participate in this ritual as well. I asked my trainer about this years ago, and he said that usually, the actions and gestures in the Wai Khru are thought of on the spot. The thing that struck me the most about this experience was that bets were being placed inside the arena as the fights were going on. After every round, a few people in the crowd, would yell out and call for bets, much like the ‘Cristo’ that you see in cockfighting arenas. I really hate the comparison, but it looked a lot like human cockfighting. Be that as it may, when you look past the gambling aspect of it, (which in reality, is prevalent anywhere anyway, just not as blatant), you’ll see that the martial art is very much a part of Thai culture. If you can fill up a 5,000 seater arena three times a week, I’d say that you’re doing something right. The experience was really something worth going through, especially if you enjoy combat sports in it’s purest form. I’ve gotten to watch boxing and mixed martial arts in bigger, sold out stadiums, but getting to watch Muay Thai in a tiny arena such as the Lumpinee Stadium was very different experience. The action and the atmosphere was unlike any I’ve ever seen before, and it’s something that I highly recommend to anyone who gets to visit Bangkok, whether or not you’re a fight fan. If you are a fight fan, it’s definitely something to experience. I’m really happy that I did. Now to check that other thing on the bucket list off........»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2018

Coutinho completes ‘dream’ Barcelona move

BARCELONA: Philippe Coutinho said he is targeting titles at Barcelona after finally completing his “dream” 160 million-euro ($192 million) move from Liverpool on Monday (Tuesday in Manila). The Brazilian signed a five-year contract in a ceremony sitting alongside Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, making him the third-most expensive player in history. “It’s an honour for [...] The post Coutinho completes ‘dream’ Barcelona move appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsJan 9th, 2018

Best in history Ronaldo put to test by Messi in clasico

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo has made his claim. Now he has to live up to it. Ronaldo will face Lionel Messi on Saturday for the first time since the Portugal forward declared himself “the best player in the history” of soccer after equaling the Argentine’s five Ballon d’Or awards this month. Basking in the spotlight of a glitzy ceremony under the Eiffel Tower, Ronaldo felt confident enough to put himself at the pinnacle of the sport, ahead of Messi and other greats like Pele and Diego Maradona. “You will go and say that I have a big head, but when you’re at the top, it’s normal that you’re criticized,” he told France Football. “I am the best player in history, in both good and bad times.” Personalities aside, Ronaldo has a tough case to make. He and Messi both have four Champions League titles, but Messi’s eight Spanish league titles double Ronaldo’s tally for Madrid and Manchester United. Messi also has the edge in their head-to-head duels. Messi has outscored Ronaldo 19-17 since Ronaldo joined Madrid in 2009. Prior to that, Messi scored in a 2-0 win over Ronaldo’s Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final. The Barcelona-led Messi has also had a clear advantage over Ronaldo’s Madrid. Messi has helped Barcelona beat Ronaldo’s side 13 times, to eight wins for Madrid and seven draws. Overall, Messi holds the “clasico” record with 24 goals in 36 matches. Ronaldo is one goal shy of matching Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano’s 18 goals against Barcelona. The camera-shy Messi insisted again on Monday when he was recognized for leading the Spanish league in goals last campaign that he put more value on team titles than individual honors. “Titles are our goal,” Messi said. “If individual statistics are there also, that’s even better, but they are not the objective.” Ronaldo has no doubt closed the gap with Messi after he led Madrid to back-to-back Champions League titles in the last two seasons. But for Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres, this past decade is still set to bear Messi’s mark. “If it wasn’t for (Ronaldo), Messi would have won twice as much,” Torres said Wednesday. “What Ronaldo has done in the age of Messi says a lot about him.” Ronaldo will need to be at his best on Saturday because anything other than a victory will deal a huge blow to Madrid’s title defense before the season reaches its midway point. Madrid enters the match in fourth place and trailing Barcelona by 11 with a match in hand. Atletico Madrid and Valencia are in second and third. “Given the situation we are in we are obligated to win,” Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. Messi had one of his most memorable performances at Madrid last season when he scored his second of two brilliant goals in stoppage time to silence the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid got revenge with wins of 3-1 and 2-0 in the Spanish Super Cup in August, when Barcelona was reeling from the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, however, quickly rallied his team and the Catalan club has not lost since, a run of 24 matches. With Neymar gone, Valverde has succeeded in tightening up Barcelona’s defense. “It would be important to win for everything that would represent, since the match is so special, and we are playing at their ground,” Messi said. “There would still be a long way to go for the league title, but a victory would be a nice before the Christmas break.” Here are some other potential keys to the “clasico.” ___ SUAREZ Striker Luis Suarez has rediscovered his scoring touch at just the right time for Barcelona. After only scoring three times in the first 11 matches, Suarez has six goals in his last five league games. They will need him even more with backup forwards Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu injured. ___ BENZEMA Karim Benzema has only scored two goals in 11 league appearances for Madrid this season. The drop in production has contributed to Madrid’s stumbles, leading many fans to lament the exit of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea. ___ ALBA Jordi Alba has flourished going forward into the hole that Neymar used to occupy. The Spain left back is a favorite of Messi to weave together short-passing combinations that unlock packed defenses. His matchup against Madrid right back Dani Carvajal should be key. ___ BALE Gareth Bale is playing for his future. Recurrent injuries have cost the Wales winger his spot in Madrid’s starting lineup, with coach Zinedine Zidane preferring the playmaking — and sturdier legs — of Francisco “Isco” Alarcon. Bale returned after his latest injury layoff to help Madrid win the Club World Cup, but as a second-half substitute. He is likely to have that role against Barcelona and will need to make the most of the minutes he gets. ___ VERMAELEN Thomas Vermaelen was considered a lost cause. That was until defenders Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano got injured, giving the Belgian another chance to find his spot in Barcelona’s rotation. Vermaelen has played six consecutive matches, a personal record for him at Barcelona. Injuries limited him to 11 league appearances in two seasons before he was loaned out to Roma last year. Now that he is back, the former Arsenal player will be critical to Barcelona’s chances of stopping Ronaldo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

LOOK: Pinoy sports world celebrates Kobe Bryant s jersey retirement

Even from half the world away, Kobe Bryant's effect in our hoops-crazed nation manifested itself during his jersey retirement with the Los Angeles Lakers. Both his #8 and #24 jersey numbers were hung in the rafters, and for good reason. His career spanned two eras, all defined by himself, and he was able to inspire a LOT of fans during his 20-year career. His legacy, even in the Philippines was made known by some of the popular sports people of the country, as they celebrated the monumental occasion by posting their favorite memory of the one and only Kobe Bryant.     Ang tunay na #lodi at #petmalu 🐍 @kobebryant #mamba #mambamentality #frobe A post shared by Renren Ritualo (@renrenritualo414) on Dec 18, 2017 at 10:20pm PST   🐍 A post shared by Mico Halili (@micohalili) on Dec 18, 2017 at 6:58pm PST Kobe talking to his daughters now about hard work. Can you imagine Kobe being your dad and being your tutor in math? I mean, Kobe as a mamba mentality math tutor at home: natatakot ako just thinking about it. — Mico Halili (@micohalili) December 19, 2017   #MambaDay #ko8e24 24 8vs24 🐍🐍 @kobebryant #ThingsIveLearnedFromKobe A post shared by Chris Newsome (@new11new) on Dec 18, 2017 at 10:15pm PST   Legends are FOREVER...Salute to the Mamba🐍 #MambaMentality A post shared by Jimmy Alapag (@jalapag3) on Dec 19, 2017 at 1:21am PST That #Ko8e24 ceremony made me wna work right nowwww 💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽 — Angeline Gervacio (@dzigervacio) December 19, 2017 My 2 favorite players of all-time. It’s no coincidence that 8 + 24 = 32 #magicmamba #Ko8e24 pic.twitter.com/swFhFMSdYa — Chot Reyes (@coachot) December 19, 2017 That. Was. Awesome. From the cartoon, the voice over, Magic & Jeanie, the unveiling, and eventually Kobe’s messages. Great job, @Lakers! I’m glad @abscbnsports got to show that LIVE 🙂👍🏼 #Ko8e24 — TJ Manotoc (@tjmanotoc) December 19, 2017.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 19th, 2017

As Olympics near, South Korea agonizes over post-Games costs

By Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — South Korean officials have ruled out turning a state-of-the-art Olympic skating arena into a giant seafood freezer. Other than that, not much is certain about the country's post-Winter Games plans for a host of expensive venues. As officials prepare for the games in and around the small mountain town of Pyeongchang, there are lingering worries over the huge financial burden facing one of the nation's poorest regions. Local officials hope that the Games will provide a badly needed economic boost by marking the area as a world-class tourist destination. But past experience shows that hosts who justified their Olympics with expectations of financial windfalls were often left deeply disappointed when the fanfare ended. This isn't lost on Gangwon province, which governs Pyeongchang and nearby Gangneung, a seaside city that will host Olympic skating and hockey events. Officials there are trying hard to persuade the national government to pay to maintain new stadiums that will have little use once the athletes leave. Seoul, however, is so far balking at the idea. The Olympics, which begin Feb. 9, will cost South Korea about 14 trillion won ($12.9 billion), much more than the 8 to 9 trillion won ($7 to 8 billion) the country projected as the overall cost when Pyeongchang won the bid in 2011. Worries over costs have cast a shadow over the games among residents long frustrated with what they say were decades of neglect in a region that doesn't have much going on other than domestic tourism and fisheries. "What good will a nicely managed global event really do for residents when we are struggling so much to make ends meet?" said Lee Do-sung, a Gangneung restaurant owner. "What will the games even leave? Maybe only debt." ___ TEARING THINGS DOWN The atmosphere was starkly different three decades ago when grand preparations for the 1988 Seoul Summer Games essentially shaped the capital into the modern metropolis it is today. A massive sports complex and huge public parks emerged alongside the city's Han River. Next came new highways, bridges and subway lines. Forests of high-rise buildings rose above the bulldozed ruins of old commercial districts and slums. The legacy of the country's second Olympics will be less clear. In a country that cares much less now about the recognition that large sporting events bring, it will potentially be remembered more for things dismantled than built. Pyeongchang's picturesque Olympic Stadium — a pentagonal 35,000-seat arena that sits in a county of 40,000 people — will only be used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics before workers tear it down. A scenic downhill course in nearby Jeongseon will also be demolished after the games to restore the area to its natural state. Fierce criticism by environmentalists over the venue being built on a pristine forest sacred to locals caused construction delays that nearly forced pre-Olympic test events to be postponed. Gangwon officials want the national government to share costs for rebuilding the forest, which could be as much as 102 billion won ($95 million). ___ NO FISH Despite more than a decade of planning, Gangwon remains unsure what to do with the Olympic facilities it will keep. Winter sports facilities are often harder to maintain than summer ones because of the higher costs for maintaining ice and snow and the usually smaller number of people they attract. That's especially true in South Korea, which doesn't have a strong winter sports culture. Not all ideas are welcome. Gangwon officials say they never seriously considered a proposal to convert the 8,000-seat Gangneung Oval, the Olympic speed skating venue, into a refrigerated warehouse for seafood. Officials were unwilling to have frozen fish as part of their Olympic legacy. Gangwon officials also dismissed a theme park developer's suggestion to make the stadium a gambling venue where people place bets on skating races, citing the country's strict laws and largely negative view of gambling. A plan to have the 10,000-capacity Gangneung Hockey Center host a corporate league hockey team fell apart. Even worse off are Pyeongchang's bobsleigh track, ski jump hill and the biathlon and cross-country skiing venues, which were built for sports South Koreans are largely uninterested in. After its final inspection visit in August, the International Olympic Committee warned Pyeongchang's organizers that they risked creating white elephants from Olympic venues, though it didn't offer specific suggestions for what to do differently. Cautionary tales come from Athens, which was left with a slew of abandoned stadiums after the 2004 Summer Games that some say contributed to Greece's financial meltdown and Nagano, the Japanese town that never got the tourism bump it expected after spending an estimated $10.5 billion for the 1998 Winter Games. Some Olympic venues have proved to be too costly to maintain. The $100 million luge and bobsled track built in Turin for the 2006 games was later dismantled because of high operating costs. Pyeongchang will be only the second Olympic host to dismantle its ceremonial Olympic Stadium immediately after the games — the 1992 Winter Olympics host Albertville did so as well. ___ 'MONEY-DRINKING HIPPOS' Gangwon has demanded that the national government in Seoul pay for maintaining at least four Olympic facilities after the Games — the speed skating arena, hockey center, bobsleigh track and ski jump hill. This would save the province about 6 billion won ($5.5 million) a year, according to Park Cheol-sin, a Gangwon official. But the national government says doing so would be unfair to other South Korean cities that struggled financially after hosting large sports events. Incheon, the indebted 2014 Asian Games host, has a slew of unused stadiums now mocked as "money-drinking hippos." It would also be a hard sell to taxpayers outside of Gangwon, said Lee Jae-soon, an official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Unlike the 1988 Olympics and the 2002 World Cup, which were brought to South Korea after bids driven by the national government, the provincial government led the bid for the Pyeongchang games and it did so without any commitment from Seoul over footing the bill. Under current plans, Gangwon will be managing at least six Olympic facilities after the games. These facilities will create a 9.2 billion won ($8.5 million) deficit for the province every year, a sizable burden for a quickly-aging region that had the lowest income level among South Korean provinces in 2013, according to the Korea Industrial Strategy Institute, which was commissioned by Gangwon to analyze costs. Hong Jin-won, a Gangneung resident and activist who has been monitoring Olympic preparations for years, said the real deficit could be even bigger. The institute's calculation is based on assumptions that each facility would generate at least moderate levels of income, which Hong says is no sure thing. He said that could mean welfare spending gets slashed to help make up the lack of money. South Korea, a rapidly-aging country with a worsening job market and widening rich-poor gap, has by far the highest elderly poverty rate among rich nations, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development figures. If Seoul doesn't pay for the Olympic facilities, and Gangwon can't turn them into cultural or leisure facilities, it might make more sense for Gangwon to just tear them down. Park said the national government must step up because the "Olympics are a national event, not a Gangwon event.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 15th, 2017

ONE Championship: Ben Askren and Shinya Aoki battle for welterweight strap in Singapore

Two MMA superstars go head to head, while a Filipina warrior looks to take another step towards world championship gold when the ONE Championship cage returns to Singapore for ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT, Friday evening at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.  Headlining the card will be a legend versus legend superfight for the ONE welterweight world championship as reigning and defending champion Ben 'Funky' Askren steps into the cage one last time and puts his title on the line against former ONE lightweight world champion and global MMA legend Shinya Aoki.  In what will be his retirement bout, Askren goes back to where his reign of dominance in the ONE welterweight began, and hopes to leave the cage the same way he came in: as ONE welterweight world champion.  A decorated collegiate and amateur wrestler with a spotless 17-0 (1) MMA record, Askren believes that he's been the best welterweight in the world, and on Friday night, he looks to cement his legacy as one of the best to ever set foot in the ONE cage.  Standing across the cage from Askren on fight night will be another icon in former titleholder Aoki.  One of the most feared grapplers in the mixed-martial arts world, Aoki left his mark in Asian promotions such as Pride, Shooto, Dream, until eventually taking his dominance to ONE Championship, where he held the ONE lightweight title for over two years.  Now, Aoki finds himself on the verge of ONE history as he tries to become just the second man to hold two championships win two weight divisions. In a featured women's atomweight matchup, Team Lakay's Gina 'Conviction' Iniong steps up on two weeks' notice to take on top contender Mei 'VV' Yamaguchi in a match that has serious title implications.  When reigning ONE atomweight world champion Angela Lee withdrew from her title defense against Yamaguchi after getting concussed in a car accident, Iniong was offered to take her place on short notice.  Fresh off her demolition of Priscila Lumban Gaol in Manila, Iniong accepted, and now could be just a win away from challenging for the world championship.  A rematch of their 2014 bout that saw the Team Lakay standout victorious via split decision, Iniong will look to repeat history, while Yamaguchi will try to strengthen her claim as the number one contender. Also on the card, former waiter-turned-full time mixed martial artist Richard Corminal tries to get his first win under the ONE Championship banner as he welcomes French veteran Arnaud 'The Game' Lepont back from a two-year hiatus.    FIGHT CARD Ben Askren vs. Shinya Aoki (ONE welterweight world championship) Amir Khan vs. Adrian Pang Leandro Issa vs. Dae Hwan Kim May Ooi vs. Vy Srey Kouch Li Kai Wen vs. Ahmed Mujtaba Tiffany Teo vs. Puja Tomar Gina Iniong vs. Mei Yamaguchi Richard Corminal vs. Arnaud Lepont Yang Fei vs. Muhammad Aiman Miao Li Tao vs. Sim Bunsrun   ONE Championship: Immortal Pursuit comes to you live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday, November 24th.  Catch all the exciting MMA action on S+A channel 23 starting at 8:30 PM!  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 23rd, 2017