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Former England coach Graham Taylor dies at 72

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer   LONDON (AP) — Graham Taylor, the England coach derided for failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup after flourishing as a club manager working for pop star Elton John, has died. He was 72. Taylor, who won admiration by leading Aston Villa and Watford into the top-flight in the 1980s, died early Thursday of a suspected heart attack, his family said. 'The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss,' a family statement said. Taylor is one of only four managers to have taken the same team from the fourth to the top division in English soccer, and he achieved it within five years at Watford. Elton John, who owned Watford during Taylor's two stints in charge, said it was a 'sad and dark day' for the club. 'He was like a brother to me,' John wrote on an Instagram post . 'We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever. 'He took my beloved Watford from the depths of the lower leagues to uncharted territory and into Europe. We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius.' Taylor reached the pinnacle of English management when he was hired by the national team in 1990, inheriting a side that reached the World Cup semifinals. 'His enthusiasm for life and football was incredible,' former England player Paul Gascoigne said. Taylor guided England to the 1992 European Championship, but the team was eliminated at the first stage, setting the tone for the rest of his time with the national team. After England lost 2-1 to Sweden in its final game at Euro 92, The Sun tabloid trashed Taylor with the headline: 'Swedes 2 Turnips 1.' Taylor's head was superimposed on a turnip, a caricature that led to the manager becoming known harshly as 'Turnip Taylor.' 'It hurts and that's what really, really annoys me,' Taylor recalled in a 2012 BBC documentary. 'They have no recognition about how much it hurts you. They think you don't care. 'And those people that know it hurts you, they put the knife into you so it hurts you even more.' Taylor's decision to grant behind-the-scenes access to a television crew for the qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup backfired when the extent of the strain of the job was exposed. In 'The Impossible Job,' Taylor was filmed complaining about a refereeing decision during a qualifier against the Netherlands, telling the linesman: 'Tell your mate he's just cost me my job.' Reflecting later on his shortcomings in the England job, Taylor said: 'I am not bitter. I am just disappointed in myself.' The failure to reach the 1994 World Cup in the United States was a blot on Taylor's accomplishments in management after a modest playing career ended at age 28 due to a hip injury. Having already become the youngest person to attain a full Football Association coaching badge, Taylor was able to move straight into management with Lincoln after playing for the team. After winning the fourth tier, Taylor moved south to Watford. With the boardroom backing of John, Taylor guided Watford from the fourth division to the first division (then the top tier), an FA Cup final and European competition in five years from 1978. John then allowed Taylor to move to Aston Villa, where he secured promotion to the top-flight and a second-place finish in 1990. He returned as club management after his England management, taking Watford back into the Premier League and enjoying one final spell at Villa before leaving the dugout for good in 2003. He was a regular commentator on matches in recent years for BBC radio. He is survived by wife Rita and daughters Joanne and Karen. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — Capping what he called the best year of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo won his fourth FIFA best player award on Monday. The double European champion with Portugal and Real Madrid beat great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards. 'It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sporting level,' the 31-year-old Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming 'Wow, wow, wow.' Ronaldo's fourth career FIFA award closed the gap on five-time winner Messi, who has been the runner-up to each Ronaldo victory. His 34.54 percent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot was clearly better than Messi's 26.42 percent. Griezmann got 7.53 percent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online. Messi did not attend after being pulled out hours before the ceremony by his club Barcelona to prepare for a cup match on Wednesday. 'Of course, I wish that they (Barcelona players) had been here tonight like in the other years. We have to respect the decision,' Ronaldo said. Yet again, Ronaldo and Messi snubbed each other on ballot papers they got as captains of Portugal and Argentina. Ronaldo selected three Real Madrid teammates headed by Gareth Bale, and Messi picked Luis Suarez atop an all-Barcelona ballot. Ronaldo's 2016 trophy haul included the European Championship, Champions League, and Club World Cup, plus individual best player awards from UEFA and France Football magazine. 'I won a lot trophies, collective and individual, so I am proud,' said Ronaldo, adding he would send the inaugural silver FIFA Best trophy to the museum dedicated to his career on his home island, Madeira. Messi's Barcelona won the Spanish league and cup double in 2016, though Argentina lost another Copa America final. Griezmann's France and Atletico Madrid lost their finals to Ronaldo's teams. Ronaldo's mentors for club and country were beaten to the coaching award by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the prize for a stunning English Premier League title. 'What happened last year was something strange. The God of football said Leicester must win,' said Ranieri, who was in his first season at the unfashionable provincial club widely tipped for relegation. Ranieri rose from his seat and politely shook hands with his two opponents, Madrid's Zinedine Zidane and Portugal's Fernando Santos, plus their partners before heading to the stage. The 65-year-old Italian collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters. Carli Lloyd of the United States won a FIFA player prize for the second straight year, despite a quarterfinals exit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. With gold-medal winner Melanie Behringer of Germany in third place, Lloyd got more than 20 percent of the vote and five-time winner Marta of Brazil was runner-up with 16.6 percent. Behringer got 12.34 percent. 'I honestly was not expecting this,' Lloyd said. 'I know Melanie did fantastic in the Olympics.' Germany did win the women's coaching prize as Silvia Neid earned her second FIFA prize, after also winning the 2010 award. Neid beat two previous winners: last year's winner, Jill Ellis of the United States, and Pia Sundhage of Sweden, the Olympic silver medalist. The Puskas Award for best goal was won in an online poll by Mohd Faiz Subri, who scored with a wildly swerving long-range free kick for Malaysian club Penang. A players' vote organized by international union FIFPro gave a World XI of: Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona/Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid); Messi, Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Ronaldo. The First FIFA fan award was chosen by fans and was made to supporters of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, who joined in singing the English club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before a Europa League quarterfinal. The other nominees were Iceland fans at Euro 2016, and Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord. FIFA made its Fair Play Award to Atletico Nacional, the Colombian club which was scheduled to host Chapecoense in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final on Nov. 30. After most of the Brazilian team died in a plane crash flying to the match, Atletico Nacional asked the South American soccer confederation to present the title and trophy to Chapecoense. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

A guide to FIFA's options for expanding the 2026 World Cup

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is preparing to decide Tuesday on adding 16 more teams to the 2026 World Cup for a 48-team tournament. President Gianni Infantino's favored format would break with soccer tradition to play in groups of only three teams. Two would advance from each group to a Round of 32 knockout bracket. If agreed by the Infantino-chaired FIFA Council in Zurich, the 2026 hosting contest could formally open in weeks. A co-hosted North American bid is widely seen as the best option. Here are some things to know about overhauling the greatest competition in the world's most popular sport: ___ WHY EXPAND? A bigger World Cup was an Infantino campaign promise before his election last February, when his plan was 40 teams. It might have been key. Infantino's momentum for victory in a second-round poll was a three-vote lead over Sheik Salman of Bahrain in the first. Sheik Salman had promised only to review if more World Cup teams were wanted. Infantino also pledged to give more of FIFA's money to member federations — all 211 are now entitled to $5 million from each World Cup — and send more to continental and regional soccer bodies. So, more teams also had to mean more games, earning more revenue from broadcasters and sponsors. The '16x3' format arguably works better with only group winners advancing. But that would leave total matches unchanged at 64. Infantino also wants to create fervor in the extra countries which would qualify. In the short-term, competing national teams attract more sponsors. The long-term goal is appealing to more young people who are the future players, fans and officials. Expect to hear much FIFA talk of helping the next Costa Rica or Iceland — feelgood stories at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 — by inviting 16 more teams to the party. ___ 48-TEAM OPTIONS A near-consensus is growing around the '16x3' option revealed just one month ago. All 80 games would be played in exclusive time slots. That's more hours of TV exposure for sponsors and sales time for broadcasters in the same 32-day tournament period. By advancing two teams from each group, a Round of 32 ensures most teams still play at least three matches. FIFA's own analysis predicts this format will raise revenue by 20 percent from the equivalent $5.5 billion forecast from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The flaw for purists is planning for penalty shootouts to settle drawn group matches. If each game has a 'winner' that guards against teams colluding on a mutually favorable result in the last group games. Previously, Infantino suggested an opening playoff round of 16 matches to decide who would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group phase. That was unacceptable to many FIFA members federations who said 'one-and-done' teams were not part of a real World Cup. It also would stretch the tournament to 39 days. ___ 40-TEAM OPTIONS Infantino's plan from one year ago is now almost friendless. Either of two options, 10 groups of four teams or eight five-team groups, gives lopsided or weak match schedules, FIFA judged. In '10x4,' only 76 matches are played and only six group runners-up advance from a muddled tiebreaker process to a Round of 16. In '8x5,' the 88 matches include meaningless ones in a flabby group phase ripe for collusion. Also, the four semifinalists would play eight matches and that workload is unacceptable to European clubs releasing employees to national-team duty. ___ PROVEN 32-TEAM FORMAT Why fix something that is not broken? Germany, the defending champion, has publicly asked this question. The 32-team format and perfect 64-match bracket has worked well since being introduced at the 1998 World Cup in France (where Europe had 15 teams). FIFA acknowledged that it produces the best soccer — 'the highest absolute quality' of games pitting high-ranked teams against each other. Recall that former winners Italy, England and Uruguay were drawn in the same 2014 World Cup group — and yet Costa Rica finished top. Still, enough of FIFA's 211 members want change and their chance to play. ___ WHO WILL PLAY? A big question is likely not being resolved Tuesday. FIFA has yet to announce exactly how many entry slots each of six confederations would get for their own qualifying program. Quotas for a 40-team World Cup were proposed in December 2015 by a FIFA advisory group that included Infantino, then UEFA's general secretary. Some saw a cynical move to sweeten skeptical FIFA voters who were being asked to vote through modernizing and anti-corruption reforms on the same day they picked a new president. Then, assuming a single host nation would get automatic entry, the proposal for sharing 39 qualifying slots was: Europe 14; Africa 7; Asia 6; South America 5; North, Central America and Caribbean 5; Oceania 1; plus a final slot awarded 'based on sporting merits using a method yet to be defined.' Going from 40 to 48 can add at least one more from each continent. Who could those new teams be? On current form, maybe Wales and Panama, Congo and Burkina Faso, Uzbekistan and Oman, will bring something new to the 2026 World Cup. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Djokovic beats Murray to successfully defend Qatar title

SANDRA HARWITT, Associated Press br /> DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Novak Djokovic successfully defended his Qatar Open title by beating top-seeded Andy Murray 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the final on Saturday. The dramatic match showcased the best of men's tennis for 2 hours, 54 minutes. Djokovic needed four match points - three in the second set and one in the third - to prevail. He was also fortunate not to be defaulted for accidentally hitting a woman in the stands with a ball hit in anger. 'Best scenario I could ask for for beginning of the season,' Djokovic said. 'Playing all five matches in this tournament and then three hours against No. 1 of the world, (my) biggest rival, and winning in a thrilling marathon match is something that definitely can serve as a positive incentive for what's coming up in Australia. 'It's only the beginning of the season, so we had a little laugh at the net actually about it. We both felt like if every match we're going to play against each other is going to be this way this season, we're going to have a fun time.' Murray's loss ended his 28-match winning streak that dated to Sept. 18. Djokovic had three match points in the 10th game of the second set, but couldn't prevent Murray from making it 5-5 and eventually winning the second set. Murray finally capitalized on his fourth break point - second in that 10th game - with an inside out forehand winner. Despite going up 0-30, Murray wasn't able to come up with the same magic when Djokovic served for the match a second time at 5-4 in the third set. Murray also failed to take advantage of a break point in the sixth game of the set. 'Physically, it was a good test to start the year,' Murray said. 'My body feels all right just now, so that's positive. 'Still think there are things I can do better. I wasn't that clinical on break points this week, which maybe that comes with playing a few more matches.' Djokovic's frustration got the better of him twice, which caused umpire Carlos Bernardes to hand the Serb two warnings, including the loss of a point on the second warning. The second warning resulted when Djokovic smashed his racket in frustration at 40-30 to end the 11th game of the second set prematurely. The first warning came in the sixth game of the first set. Annoyed at losing a point, Djokovic angrily smacked a ball to the ground that accidentally flew into the stands and hit a woman. While that could have resulted in a default, Bernardes just issued Djokovic a warning. 'I definitely didn't want to hit the ball at anybody,' Djokovic said. 'Just happened. Fortunate not to get a bigger fine. I have to be more careful I guess. I accept that I made a mistake. It was not intentional at all.' The top-ranked Murray has lost all 20 matches he's played against Djokovic when he's lost the first set. Overall, Djokovic held a 25-11 career record over Murray. 'Playing against Andy, somehow it feels like playing the mirror image of (me) because we have very similar styles of game,' Djokovic said. 'I can't recall out of the 35-plus matches how many were kind of one-sided really. Most of the matches we play it's always going down to the very last few points to decide the winner.' Murray won their last encounter 6-3, 6-4 in the ATP Finals in November. That victory catapulted Murray ahead of Djokovic to the year-end No. 1 ranking for the first time. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017

Man City routs West Ham 5-0 to reach FA Cup 4th round

LONDON (AP) — Manchester City swept aside West Ham 5-0 to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup on Friday, bringing an upbeat end to a testing week for coach Pep Guardiola. Midfielder Yaya Toure's penalty, Norwegian defender Havard Nordtveit's own goal and a strike from midfielder David Silva made it 3-0 by halftime. Top scorer Sergio Aguero and defender John Stones added goals after the break to give Guardiola the easiest of introductions to world soccer's oldest knockout competition. As well as a handsome win, it was welcome relief for Guardiola — the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach, who is still adapting to his first season in England. He has been facing criticism following some erratic recent performances in the Premier League. City scraped past a gritty Burnley side 2-1 at home on Monday, following on from a 1-0 defeat away to title rival Liverpool — City's fourth league defeat of the campaign. This rout vindicated Guardiola's decision to field a strong line-up, and he clearly showed he is taking the competition seriously by recalling two of his best players in Silva and Aguero. West Ham, by contrast, left star player Dimitri Payet on the bench and immediately found itself under pressure against a City side which is fourth in the Premier League, seven points behind leader Chelsea after 20 games. Silva's early cut-back found Pablo Zabaleta, whose goalbound shot was blocked by Winston Reid, before Gael Clichy set up Silva only for his effort to be kept out by goalkeeper Adrian at the near post. Raheem Sterling was then denied by a superbly timed Reid tackle and from the resulting corner Adrian tipped Aguero's volley over. The pressure was always going to tell, though, and in the 32nd minute Zabaleta tumbled to the floor under Angelo Ogbonna's challenge. There was only minimal contact but referee Michael Oliver quickly pointed to the spot and Toure converted the penalty. West Ham then collapsed at the Olympic Stadium. City doubled its lead in the 41st minute, as Sterling arrived at the far post and forced an own goal from Nordtveit trying to clear Bacary Sagna's cross. It was all too easy for City as two minutes later Sterling took his turn to race down West Ham's weak left flank. The winger laid the ball across goal to Silva, who from six yards (meters) out had time to take a touch and steady himself before slotting in. Five minutes into the second half, Toure rifled a shot through a crowded area and Aguero diverted the ball into the net. A chastening evening for West Ham got even worse in the final 10 minutes when Stones headed in Nolito's corner. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

Djokovic wins, then poses for selfie, Murray advances

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Defending champion Novak Djokovic and top-seeded Andy Murray posted straight-set wins on Wednesday to reach the Qatar Open quarterfinals, but only Djokovic was asked to pose for a selfie by his opponent after the match. Djokovic, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, honored the unusual request of Horacio Zeballos of Argentina after his 6-3, 6-4 win. 'I just have to mention making a selfie after the match was over, that was the first time that I ever had this kind of experience in my career,' Djokovic said on the court. 'So, Horacio, well done. Very original.' Murray had a challenging outing against Gerald Melzer of Austria, the younger brother of former world No. 8 Jurgen Melzer, before advancing to the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (6) 7-5 win. 'He played great, great tennis and was dominating large parts of the match,' said Murray, who was on the defense through much of the match. 'He made it extremely, extremely difficult. I was a bit lucky to through in two sets today. 'I think he's playing much better than someone ranked 69 in the world,' Murray added. In the first set, Murray required nine set points before Melzer mis-hit a forehand to surrender the set. In the second, Melzer saved two Murray match points on his own serve in the ninth game, and then broke for 5-5. Murray broke Melzer's serve on a fourth break point in the 11th game and then sealed the victory on a third match point when Melzer blasted a shot long. 'Today was a perfect example of the depth in the men's games just now,' Murray said. 'I actually played pretty good, but he was hitting the ball huge from both sides. You need to be ready for every single match.' Murray, a two-time champion in Doha, will face Nicolas Almagro of Spain in the quarterfinals. Djokovic never offered Zeballos a break point opportunity, but could only carve out one service break in each set against the Argentine's serve. 'Credit to Zeballos for playing some fearless tennis,' Djokovic said. 'He was stepping in and trying to go for his shots. He wasn't backing up to the baseline.' Djokovic will play qualifier Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic, in the quarterfinals. At 38, Stepanek, who ranked a career-best No. 8 in July 2006, is the oldest ATP Tour quarterfinalist since a 42-year-old Jimmy Connors reached the final eight at the 1995 Halle tournament. Stepanek defeated wildcard entrant Arthur De Greef of Belgium 6-3, 6-2 for his quarterfinal berth. Spaniard Fernando Verdasco needed six match points, three in the second set tiebreaker, to upset fourth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium 6-1, 7-6 (6). Verdasco will play sixth-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia in the last eight. The other quarterfinal will pit third-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic against fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, who beat Dustin Brown of Germany 6-1, 6-3. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

World Sports: Bisping beats Henderson, keeps belt

IT was a "double victory" for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion Michael "The Count" Bisping yesterday at "UFC 204" in Manchester, England, as he got to successfully defend his title while at the same time exacting payback on Dan ".....»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsOct 9th, 2016

3-time defending champion John Isner reaches Atlanta final

ATLANTA (AP) — Three-time defending champion John Isner won the tallest matchup in ATP World Tour history, beating Reilly Opelka 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday in the BB& T Atlanta Open semifinals. The 6-foot-10 Isner had 22 aces and never faced .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 7th, 2016

Darvish wants to prove himself in final year of Texas deal

STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer br /> DALLAS (AP) — Yu Darvish marked his five-year anniversary as a Texas Ranger this week. Now healthy again, he wants to prove how good a pitcher he is. 'It's not much about my contract, but coming back from Tommy John surgery,' Darvish said through his interpreter at the Rangers' winter banquet Friday night. 'This will be my second year to see how my body reacts and how much I can do to prove how good of a pitcher I am. That's what I'm looking forward to.' Darvish is entering the sixth and final year of the contract he signed with the Rangers in January 2012 after seven seasons in Japan. While the 30-year-old Darvish is 46-32 with a 3.29 ERA in 100 career starts for Texas, he missed all of the 2015 season because of the surgery and didn't pitch for the Rangers last season until May 28. Darvish was 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 100 1/3 innings during the regular season. But in his first AL Division Series start last October, he gave up a career-worst four homers. Three of them were in the same inning of a 5-3 loss to Toronto in Game 2 of the best-of-five series that the Blue Jays swept. 'I would love to pitch in that kind of situation again this year,' Darvish said. 'And I would like to pitch very well.' Darvish said he just started throwing again and feels 'really good.' Texas spent more than two years scouting Darvish and getting to know him personally before committing more than $107 million to get him. On top of his guaranteed $56 million contract, the Rangers had to pay in the old system a massive $51,703,411 posting bid to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, his team in Japan. The 2017 season could have become a player option without a buyout had Darvish won the Cy Young and finished second-through-fourth another time, or finished second in the voting once and second-through-fourth two other times. Darvish finished second behind Max Scherzer in the 2013 AL Cy Young voting, when the Rangers right-hander was 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA and a league-high 277 strikeouts. He was an All-Star each of his first three seasons (2012-14), a span in which he had 680 strikeouts before getting shut down late in the 2014 season because of elbow inflammation. 'I am really grateful to the Texas Rangers organization by just giving me this big of a contract. They've been taking care of me really well,' he said. 'So I just want to show the Rangers how much I can do and then show them that they were right giving me that contract.' Darvish said he considered it too much of a risk just two years after surgery to compete in the World Baseball Classic this spring. Then, he smiled and said, 'At the end, let me tell you that I didn't get offered' a spot. NOTES: The Rangers announced they will retire uniform No. 7 during an August ceremony to honor former catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week and will be inducted with the class of 2017 on July 30 in Cooperstown, New York. The only other Rangers to have their numbers retired by the club are Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan (No. 34) and former manager Johnny Oates (No. 26). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

A tournament without Djokovic to hit home in Australia

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The stark reality of an Australian Open third round without Novak Djokovic — for the first time in 11 years — hits home on Saturday when the remaining players in his half of the draw, Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic among them, attempt to advance to the second week of the tournament. Djokovic was beaten on Thursday in five sets by wild-card entry Denis Istomin, the earliest that the Serbian star has left Melbourne Park in singles since his first appearance here in 2006 when he was beaten by American Paul Goldstein in the first round. 'What Novak did here is just amazing, six victories here, six titles ... so it is not possible to be every time in that situation, no?' Nadal said after his second-round win. 'So then today was probably an accident, that's all. We are athletes. We know when we are going on court we can lose and we can win. It probably was a combination that Denis played a great match and Novak didn't play his best. When this combination happens, then you are in trouble. Everything can happen. And (it) happened.' Istomin, meanwhile, plays on. He's up against 30th-ranked Pablo Carreno Busta on Show Court 2 on Friday. Here's a look at some of the key matchups Saturday: ___ RAFA'S TOUGH ASSIGNMENT: Nadal plays 19-year-old Alexander Zverev in an afternoon match at Rod Laver Arena. The young German was voted the ATP Star of Tomorrow in 2015 and has mostly lived up to the hype, seeded 24th here. 'He is one of the best players in the world, without a doubt ... and one of the next Grand Slam winners,' Nadal said. 'He has a big chance to become the future world No. 1 if he's able to keep improving the way that he's doing.' Nadal has been playing well since his return to the circuit after two lengthy injury spells last year, the 14-time major winner looking almost flawless in his straight sets win over Marcos Baghdatis in the second round. Still, he's expecting to have his hands full with Zverev: 'I know I have a very tough match ... I know I need to play my best if I want to have a chance.' ___ A SERENA BREATHER?: Six-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams had two fairly tough matches through the first two rounds, facing Belinda Bencic, a former No. 7-ranked player now sitting at 59, and Lucie Safarova, ranked No. 61 but who Williams beat in the 2015 French Open final. Williams won both matches in straight sets. Her third-round match is against fellow American Nicole Gibbs, who Williams beat in straight sets at Stanford in 2012 in their only previous meeting. Williams said she feels she's better for the experience of having had tough opposition in the first two rounds. 'When I play players like Bencic and Safarova, they force me to play better,' Williams said. 'It forces my game from the very first day to be at a high level. I needed something to start really fast. I'm not going to complain about it.' ___ CONTRASTING STYLES: Third-seeded Milos Raonic plays Gilles Simon on Hisense Arena and the Canadian holds a 3-1 edge in career meetings. Their only Grand Slam match came in the fourth round of the 2014 French Open, when Raonic won in five sets, including 7-5 in the fifth. 'I know a lot about his game. I've watched him play a lot,' Raonic said. 'He's going to be there really trying to get me to play at his speed, his rhythm. Obviously he tries to slow things down, play low. I won't have the opportunity to get too many swings at many shots.' Which means Raonic, with one of the best serves in the game, will try to get points over quickly. 'I've got to serve well and I've got to be aggressive and I've got to take it to him. The last thing I want to do is get into this sort of game of playing long rallies with him.' ___ KONTA vs WOZNIACKI: Last year's semifinalist Johanna Konta and Caroline Wozniacki, a former No. 1 who made it to the final four here in 2011, meet for the first time in an afternoon match at Margaret Court Arena. Both have been playing well, Konta coming off a win in the Sydney International last week, and Wozniacki having dropped just seven games in her first two matches at Melbourne Park. 'She had a good last year,' Wozniacki said. 'But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter who is on the other side.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Germany launches bid as favorite to host Euro 2024

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The German soccer federation has formally launched a bid to host the 2024 European Championship. Federation president Reinhard Grindel says it will choose 10 stadiums and work with Transparency International during bidding ahead of UEFA's decision in September 2018. German organizers of the 2006 World Cup are criminal suspects in a Swiss federal investigation of irregular payments linked to FIFA. Still, Germany has been seen as the favorite to host Euro 2024 since reaching a deal with England to withdraw from competing to host the Euro 2020 semifinals and final. A combined Scandinavian bid has also been suggested for Euro 2024. However, UEFA said last month a maximum of two hosts would get direct qualification to the 24-team tournament. UEFA set a March 3 deadline for federations to express interest. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Raonic continues streak by reaching 3rd round in Australia

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Third-seeded Milos Raonic ended one streak and continued another with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) Thursday over Gilles Muller to reach the third round at the Australian Open. Raonic, who reached the semifinals here last year and the final at Wimbledon, had lost both previous matches to Muller — including one when he retired with an injured hip in the second round at Wimbledon in 2012. His win Thursday maintained Raonic's record of reaching the third round at least all seven years he has contested the Australian Open. The 33-year-old Muller entered the season's first major after capturing his first tour-level title in Sydney last week. Raonic was unable to defend his Brisbane title in the first week of the season, but is finding rhythm quickly in Melbourne — he fired 21 aces, hit 56 winners and only had 15 unforced errors against Muller. He left the court complaining of a sore throat, and will get a day off before his next match against No. 25 Gilles Simon. No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Raonic in the semifinals before winning the Brisbane International earlier this month, moved into the third round with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over Chung Hye-on. Dimitrov will next play No. 18 Richard Gasquet. No. 32 Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Donald Young 7-5, 6-3, 6-0. David Ferrer, the former world No. 3 who has only missed the quarterfinals once in the previous six years at Melbourne Park, recovered to beat U.S. qualifier Ernesto Escobedo 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and set up a third-round match against fellow Spaniard and No. 13-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut. No. 30 Pablo Carreno Busta had a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Kyle Edmund to move into a third-round match against either six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic or Denis Istomin. U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova and No. 9 Johanna Konta carried their winning form from warmup tournaments into the third round of the season's first major. Brisbane International winner Pliskova beat Anna Blinkova 6-0, 6-2 in 59 minutes, and has dropped just four games en route to the third round. She was leading 6-0, 4-0 in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena before the 18-year-old Russian qualifier, ranked 189th, held serve and later held up her arm to acknowledge the cheers from the crowd. 'It's always good to be in the zone,' said fifth-seeded Pliskova. 'It can always be a bit better.' 'I'm feeling pretty good on the court, confident,' she said. 'Also, people are talking I have a good chance to win a Grand Slam, but we are just in third round, so let's see.' She will next play Jelena Ostapenko, who beat No. 31 Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-1. Sydney International winner Konta, who made a surprising run to the semifinals in her debut Australian Open last year, advanced 6-4, 6-2 over Naomi Osaka. Konta, voted the WTA Tour's most improved player of 2016 after moving from 48th to 10th in the rankings, will next play former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki. WTA Finals winner Dominika Cibulkova held off Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 7-6 (8) and will next play No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova, who was leading 6-2, 3-2 when Sara Errani retired because of a leg injury. No. 14 Elena Vesnina advanced to a third-round encounter against U.S. qualifier Jennifer Brady, who saved five match points before beating Heather Watson 2-6, 7-6 (3), 10-8. Andy Murray returned to the practice court for an afternoon hitting session under the scrutiny of coach Ivan Lendl, allaying concerns about his injured right ankle. Top-ranked Murray, a five-time runner-up at Melbourne Park, twisted his ankle and tumbled to the court during the third set of his otherwise routine second-round win on Wednesday night. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Lazio beats Genoa 4-2 to set up quarterfinal against Inter

ROME (AP) — Lazio substitutes Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile secured a 4-2 win over Genoa in the Italian Cup on Wednesday and a quarterfinal against Inter Milan. Lazio appeared to be in control after half an hour following goals from Filip Djordjevic and Wesley Hoedt. Felipe Anderson had also seen his weak penalty saved by Genoa goalkeeper Eugenio Lamanna after Lucas Orban tripped Djordjevic. However, strikes from Mauricio Pinilla and Goran Pandev in the final four minutes before halftime got Genoa right back into the match. Milinkovic-Savic and Immobile were introduced shortly before the hour and the former put Lazio back in front in the 71st minute. Immobile restored Lazio's two-goal advantage five minutes later with his third goal in as many matches. Ocampos had hit the post in the 66th. Earlier, second-division Cesena caused an upset by coming from behind to beat Sassuolo 2-1 with two late goals. Lorenzo Pellegrini got Sassuolo off to the perfect start by giving it the lead in the fourth minute. Sassuolo missed several chances to double its lead and Camillo Ciano leveled from the penalty spot nine minutes from time after Luca Antei tripped Andrea Cocco. Karim Laribi, who is on loan at Cesena from Sassuolo, scored what was to prove the winner four minutes later to set up a quarterfinal against either Roma or Sampdoria. It was the second top-flight club that Cesena has knocked out of the tournament this season after Empoli. It was also only the second time it has reached the quarterfinal after 1970-71. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Williams, Safarova in French Open final rematch at Melbourne

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — On paper, Serena Williams' second-round match on Thursday against Lucie Safarova should be no contest. The six-time Australian Open champion in search of her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title has beaten the Czech player all nine times they've met, including the 2015 French Open final. But Safarova, ranked 61st, saved nine match points in the second set of her first-round match here against Yanina Wickmayer before advancing 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1. So Williams may need to be patient, or ruthless, in the match which opens night play at Rod Laver Arena. After her win Tuesday, Safarova wasn't aware of the extent of her feat. 'I stopped counting after a few (match points), I was like, just another one,' she said. 'But I was like, 'I'm just going to go for it and if she closes the match, well OK, but I'm just going to play my game.' It was exciting.' Safarova is expecting a fast start from Williams. 'Serena's always a tough opponent,' Safarova said. 'She hasn't played many matches so that could be maybe a little bit to my advantage, but she always comes out strong. I have nothing to lose so I'll be ready.' ___ Here is a look at some other matches in the bottom half of the draw on Thursday, the fourth day of the Australian Open: CONCERN FROM RAONIC: Milos Raonic takes on Gilles Muller, who is coming off his first career tournament victory at the Sydney International last week. Muller broke down at the trophy presentations in Sydney, relieved that he finally achieved a win. Raonic lost to Muller in Valencia, Spain in 2012, although that was before Raonic developed into the third-ranked player in the world. Raonic also had to retire from a second-round match at Wimbledon in 2011 while leading 3-2 in the first set due to a right hip injury. 'I have struggled with him,' Raonic said. 'He had a great, phenomenal week last week. For him it was something very special, and obviously it was pretty special to see, as well, that final and his reaction to it.' They play an afternoon match on Margaret Court Arena. ___ MUTUAL RESPECT: Johanna Konta beat Naomi Osaka in straight sets in their only previous meeting in the semifinals of qualifying at the U.S. Open in 2015. The pair, who meet again Thursday — the opening match of the day at Rod Laver — made positive impressions on each other during that match in New York. 'I remember playing her, and she had a real good serve and a really good return,' Osaka said of last year's semifinalist. 'I think it's really awesome like how she rose so high and quickly. She's a really good player.' Konta returned the favor: 'She's improved a lot. I know she plays a big game. She has big shots. I'm definitely prepared to go in for a battle.' ___ DOMINATING DJOKOVIC: Six-time champion Novak Djokovic has beaten his second-round opponent, Dennis Istoman, all five times they have met. Two of those matches have come at the Australian Open, although it wasn't until the third round. Istoman has won only one set in those five career matches. Among other matches Thursday, 2009 champion Rafael Nadal plays 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis and No. 3-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska takes on Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Chile amateur goes from no big victories to Masters

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   HONOLULU (AP) — Toto Gana hit what he described as the 'best shot I've hit in my whole life,' a wedge to 3 feet for a birdie to win the Latin America Amateur Championship and earn a trip to the Masters in April. His best shot produced his biggest trophy. Asked what his greatest achievement in golf was before his victory in Panama, the 19-year-old from Chile said: 'I didn't have any achievements, to be honest. I had won a couple of tournaments at home when I was really, really young.' The Latin America Amateur completed its third year, a stroke-play tournament created by Augusta National, the USGA and the Royal & Ancient to spur growth in that part of the world. It follows the successful launch of the Asia Pacific Amateur. The Asia Pacific Amateur is producing a higher pedigree of champions — Hideki Matsuyama won twice, and the winner last year was Curtis Luck, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. The last two Latin America winners were surprises — Gana and 16-year-old Paul Chaplet of Costa Rica last year. The other winner was Matias Dominguez of Chile, who was a junior at Texas Tech. Gana said the only hard part about his victory was beating Joaquin Niemann of Chile, one of his best friends who won the Junior World in 2015 at Torrey Pines. 'I really never thought I could win this tournament because all the other players have won many other tournaments, very big tournaments,' Gana said in a conference call after his victory Sunday. 'What I did was keep a cool head. When I saw that I had a chance to win, I believed in myself that I could do. And I gave it my all.' Chile will have a player represented at Augusta National for the second time in three years. The only other Chilean player at the Masters was Enrique Orellana, who missed the cut in 1964. Gana has flair, and he showed how much passion he has for golf when explaining how he got started. 'When I was a little boy, 8 years old, my stepfather taught me to play golf on the practice range,' he said. 'When I shot a really nice shot, I never quit.' Gana will be enrolling at Lynn University in Florida. ___ BLOOMING START: Justin Rose played the Sony Open as part of the new 'strength of field' regulation on the PGA Tour that requires players who played fewer than 25 events last year to add a tournament they had not played in four years. Rose was so excited about this year that he might have started earlier if he would have been eligible. He failed to win a PGA Tour event for the first time since 2009. But in a year slowed by injury, Rose geared himself for golf's return to the Olympics and won the gold medal in Rio. That was worth an exemption into the four majors (Rose already is eligible for them), but the PGA Tour did not offer a spot in SBS Tournament of Champions. 'I didn't inquire,' Rose said about Kapalua. 'But in my mind, I was surprised that it didn't count in a way, just because, why wouldn't it? It's a one-off thing.' He thought maybe the tour would only give a spot to Kapalua if the gold medalist was already a PGA Tour member, much like it treated the HSBC Champions early on in its World Golf Championships history. Rose chuckled, however, when he realized his history in Hawaii. 'It's funny enough, I don't have the right to say I should have been at Kapalua,' he said. 'Because I've won six years in a row and I've only been once.' A birdie on the final hole at the Sony Open gave him second place alone, which was worth $648,000. ___ PLAYING TO HIS STRENGTH: Jason Dufner is the defending champion at the CareerBuilder Challenger, where he won last year for the first time since the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill. What changed? Very little. He attributed the drought to a neck and shoulder injury that he suffered at the 2014 Masters. Dufner tried to play through it all year until he was forced to pull out of his title defense in the PGA Championship at Valhalla, which kept him off the Ryder Cup team. Playing with the injury led to bad habits with his swing, which led to bad shots, too many memories of bad shots and eventually shattered confidence. 'People don't realize, once you start playing, you have to redo everything,' Dufner said. 'You see it with a lot of guys coming back. It takes them 6, 8, 12 months. I spent 2015 trying to get back to where I was.' Where he wants to be is one of the top ball-strikers in the game. As for putting? He manages. Dufner has finished no higher than No. 143 in the key putting statistic over the last four years, and while he has to pay attention to his setup, it's not as though he's going to abandon what got him here (his swing) to pour everything into becoming Jordan Spieth. 'I've been putting bad for 17 years,' he said. 'It's tough to change. I can hit it good enough to make up for it. I'll wait for my weeks where I putt good and try to win.' ___ THE RACE TO MEXICO: Mackenzie Hughes won the RSM Classic, and his first thought was going to the Masters. Now that it's beginning to sink, the Canadian rookie has reason to consider other tournaments that were not on his schedule at the start of the season. First up is the World Golf Championship in Mexico. The top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings through the Honda Classic are eligible for the Mexico Championship, and there are only six tournaments between now and then. That's also true for Pat Perez, who tied for third at Kapalua and is No. 3 in the FedEx Cup. Rod Pampling is at No. 6. The other World Golf Championships event in March is based off the world ranking, so those three players have much more to do for them to get into the top 64. One player who might have secured his spot was Kevin Kisner, who shot 60 in the third round of the Sony Open and wound up in a tie for fourth. That took Kisner from No. 51 to No. 41, making it difficult to fall that far in two months. ___ DIVOTS: Justin Thomas moving to No. 8 in the world means that six of the top 10 players are under 30. ... The Golf Writers Association of America has voted former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem for the William D. Richardson Award for outstanding contributions to golf. For the GWAA's award for press cooperation, it was a tie between Ben Crenshaw and Stewart Cink. They will be honored at the GWAA annual awards dinner on April 5 in Augusta. ... The three courses used for the CareerBuilder Challenge — PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus and La Quinta — ranked among the top 10 in easiest courses on the PGA Tour last year. ... The fourth Latin America Amateur Championship will be played at Prince of Wales Country Club next year in Santiago, Chile. ... The European Tour now has eight events in its Rolex Series with China-based HNA Group signing a five-year deal to be title sponsor of the French Open. That will raise the purse to $7 million in line with other Rolex Series events. ___ STAT OF THE WEEK: Justin Thomas hit 34 drives that went at least 330 yards during his two weeks in Hawaii — 20 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, 14 at Waialae Country Club. ___ FINAL WORD: 'If there's no defense, then you ought to be able to make birdies. If there's wind, you ought to be struggling.' — Kevin Kisner. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Big wins for Justin Thomas, proud moments for his father

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   HONOLULU (AP) — Justin Thomas used to call his father when he arrived at junior tournaments, and the conversation almost always started the same way. 'What's the number?' The father wasn't asking what score it would take to win, the length of the course or even the entry fee. The number in question was how many greens his son would be able to reach in regulation, and not just on the par 4s. 'I was guaranteed to hit driver into at least one par 3,' Thomas said. Mike Thomas was in the gallery along the ninth fairway at Waialae Country Club when his 23-year-old son nearly left his feet while launching a 358-yard drive, setting up a wedge into the par 5. It was only his seventh-longest drive during his time in paradise. This Aloha State adventure was the best two weeks of Thomas' career. He joined Ernie Els as the only players to sweep the Hawaii swing and became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win by at least three shots in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour. Thomas rose to No. 8 in the world and he is the third-ranked American behind Dustin Johnson (No. 3) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5). 'Unforgettable,' Thomas said of the last two weeks. That goes for his parents, too, mainly because they had yet to see him win on the PGA Tour. His other two victories were in Malaysia, so Mike and Jani Thomas had to stay up until the early morning hours to watch him beat Adam Scott one year, Hideki Matsuyama the next. Watching in person with an ocean view is better. Mike Thomas has been the head pro at Harmony Landing outside Louisville, Kentucky, for the last 28 years, and golf is really all his son has ever known. Justin was not even 2 when his father gave him a cut-down driver with a wooden head to whack golf balls around the house and at Harmony Landing. As a toddler, when the boy wanted to play he would tell his mother, 'Bag of balls, bag of balls.' But the boy fell in love with golf by himself. 'I made sure there was no formal instruction until he asked for it,' Mike Thomas said. 'There were a lot more little lessons than big lessons.' Part of the reason is that he had a golf shop to run, members to serve and lessons to give. A larger part was that Mike Thomas had seen too many kids pushed too hard and he didn't want to be that parent. 'I decided that I wanted to be his best friend more than his father,' he said. 'There were times I had to get on him as a parent. But mostly we had just had a lot of fun.' Even now, when he takes time away from Harmony Landing to watch his son on tour, he stands quietly behind Thomas and caddie Jimmy Johnson without saying a word unless his son asks him to shoot video of a swing with his phone. They will look at it together. Mike Thomas tends to wait to see if his son can figure it out first. His fondest memories are not the tournaments he won as a junior, but the time they spent on the golf course in twilight hours, sometimes playing nine holes, other times creating games by seeing who could throw a golf ball closest to the pin. Golf has been in the family for three generations. Paul Thomas was the longtime club pro at Zanesville Country Club in Ohio who qualified for the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Mike Thomas played at Morehead State and competed in college against Kenny Perry, but his aspirations of playing the PGA Tour didn't last long. He spent one year on the mini-tours before working fulltime as a PGA professional. He took three jobs, in Ohio and Pittsburgh, before moving to Kentucky. Justin was in elementary school, still swinging away, when his father began a tradition of keeping golf balls from every tournament he won. There were 128 balls at Harmony Landing when they left for Hawaii. The father headed home with five more golf balls — and he wanted six. Two were from the victories at the SBS Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open, bringing the victory count to 130. A special display will hold the golf ball that Thomas rolled in from 15 feet for eagle on the final hole of his opening round for a 59. Another ball is from the 36-hole scoring record (123) he set on Friday, and the fifth is from the 72-hole record (253) Thomas set Sunday. 'I wanted the one after Saturday for the 54-hole record,' Mike Thomas said with a laugh. 'But Justin said that wasn't a record, it was only a tie.' It's tempting to think back to the toddler who said 'Bag of balls' the way most kids ask for candy, and see where his son is now. But only the stage has changed. 'The feeling is the same,' Mike Thomas said. 'I know this is the PGA Tour, but when he had a chance to win as an 8-year-old at a U.S. Kids event, it was like, 'This is really cool.' ... As a parent, I'm just glad he's healthy, I'm glad he's safe and I'm glad he's doing what he wants to do. What else could any parent want?' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Jokic scores career-high 30, Nuggets beat Magic

em>By Pat Graham, Associated Press /em> DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic scored a career-high 30 points, Emmanuel Mudiay dished out a career-best 13 assists and the Denver Nuggets followed up their 'home' win in London with another at the Pepsi Center, beating the Orlando Magic 125-112 on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Jokic also grabbed 11 rebounds and Kenneth Faried scored 20 points for the Nuggets, who certainly packed their surging offense with them when they returned home from London. They routed Indiana 140-112 last Thursday (Friday, PHL time) in England and remained on that sort of shooting streak, hitting a season-high 58.4 percent from the floor. They also had 33 assists. Elfrid Payton scored 20 points and had 12 assists as the Magic fell to 1-4 on their current six-game trip. Denver arrived home from London late on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), took Saturday off (Sunday, PHL time) and then went through an intense practice Sunday (Monday, PHL time) designed to shake any sort of lingering jet lag. 'Now, it's mental,' Nuggets coach Michael Malone said before the game. 'Can you push all that tiredness and fatigue and jet lag out of you mind?' They certain did. Up 69-63 early in the third quarter, the Nuggets pulled away with a 16-2 run. The Magic cut into a 22-point deficit, but Faried put the game way with an emphatic dunk with 1:28 remaining. The officials operated with a two-person crew after Nick Buchert was a late scratch for personal reasons. It really didn't seem to be an issue for Tom Washington and Justin VanDuyne, who were never really out of position. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Magic: /strong> /em> G/F Evan Fournier was out with a bruised right heel. C Nikola Vucevic scored 17 points, and the Magic had seven players in double figures. em> strong>Nuggets: /strong> /em> G Gary Harris suffered a sprained right ankle early in the first quarter and didn't return. X-rays were negative. Jokic had five assists. He entered the game averaging 3.9, which is fourth-best among centers. strong>ALL-STAR ATTENTION? /strong> Although Jokic is averaging 13.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists, Malone doesn't expect his big man to be in All-Star consideration just yet. That has to do with Denver's sub-.500 record and not his play. 'Unless you're winning, I don't think you're going to be in the conversation,' Malone said. 'With that being said, everybody in the NBA knows Nikola and what he brings to the table. He's probably one of the most fun players to watch.' strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Magic: /strong> /em> At New Orleans on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for the sixth and final game of this trip. em> strong>Nuggets: /strong> /em> At Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). The Nuggets are 1-6 in the second game of a back-to-back this season. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Wizards get hot from beyond the arc to beat Trail Blazers

em>By Stephen Whyno, Associated Press /em> WASHINGTON (AP) — Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon (Tuesday, PHL time). The Wizards, who rely less on the three-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13-of-23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The three-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8-of-26 on three-point attempts. After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11-of-29 from the floor. The Wizards have won four of their last five games. On the final day of All-Star voting, Wall put on show by dunking over Mason Plumlee and hitting a step-back three-pointer from the top of the arc. He finished 10-of-17 and Beal was 7-of-11, including 3-of-3 from three-point territory. Washington opened the game shooting 4-of-5 to jump ahead 10-0 and led by 30 after Marcin Gortat's layup with 4:24 left in the third quarter. Portland cut it as close as 17 in the fourth, forcing Wall and Beal back on the floor, but lost its second game in a row. strong>MLK DAY /strong> Wearing a shirt with the message: 'His dream inspired the world. Never stop dreaming,' Beal took the microphone to address the crowd of 17,395 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Brooks said he always stops by the MLK Memorial during his walks around the National Mall. Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said about half the team went to the National Museum of African American History and Culture after practice Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). 'It's a little sobering, the African-American experience in this country and also celebrating the contributions of the African-American community,' Stotts said. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Trail Blazers: /strong> /em>McCollum's streak of consecutive games with 25-plus points ended at eight. He became the eighth player to score 1,000 points this season, joining Russell Westbrook, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant and Isaiah Thomas. F Maurice Harkless, who was questionable with a left calf injury, was 0 of 5 with no points. F Ed Davis, who had a left ankle injury, played just five minutes and scored two points. em> strong>Wizards: /strong> /em>Improved to 10-2 when F Otto Porter has at least three triples.. Their 37 first-quarter and 75 first-half points are season-highs. Their last 12-game home winning streak came in 1989 as the Bullets. F Markieff Morris had 17 points and 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Kelly Oubre's 18 points were one shy of his career-high. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Trail Blazers: /strong> /em> Visit the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). em> strong>Wizards: /strong> /em>Look to extend their home winning streak to 13 when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

On ballot for final time, Tim Raines hopes for Hall entry

SEAN FARRELL, Associated Press br /> MONTREAL (AP) — The 1982 All-Star Game at Olympic Stadium was the first outside the United States, the host Montreal Expos giving the event a distinctive international flair. As Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn looked on, center fielder Andre Dawson, catcher Gary Carter and left fielder Tim Raines were among five players wearing that tri-color hat of the hometown team. On Wednesday, Raines is likely to join Dawson and Carter as Expos in the Hall of Fame, expected to be voted the honor in his 10th and final year of eligibility. 'If I get in, that's the team I deserve to go in for, regardless if they no longer have a team,' Raines said in a phone interview from his home in Phoenix on Tuesday. 'That was the team I played with and I'm real comfortable with that.' Despite falling short of the 75 percent of votes necessary for election last year, Raines was named on 69.8 percent of the ballots cast by eligible members of the Baseball Writers of America. That was up significantly from 2015, when he finished seventh in voting with 55 percent. 'I was happy that I had gained a lot more votes,' Raines said. 'I was only 23 short and this is actually the first year of the 10 years that I really feel pretty excited about the prospect of it happening. But this will be the first year that I really feel that I have a legitimate shot.' An All-Star in each of his first seven seasons with the Expos, Raines is the only player to have four seasons hitting .300 or higher with at least 70 stolen bases; Ty Cobb and Rickey Henderson each had three. A switch-hitter, Raines batted .294 with 2,605 hits, including 713 for extra bases, and 1,330 walks. He scored 1,571 runs and ranks fifth with 808 stolen bases in a career from 1979 to 2002 with Montreal, the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland, Baltimore and Florida. His 84.7 percent stolen base success rate is the best of any player with at least 400 attempts. Raines finished with a .385 on-base average. 'When you think about the caliber of career that Timmy had, he was an impact player,' Dawson said in a phone interview from Miami on Monday. 'You think about all the greatest leadoff hitters of all time, he measures right there.' To some, Raines' only fault was that he wasn't as great as Rickey Henderson, considered the best leadoff man ever. Carter became the first player inducted into the Hall with an Expos cap on his plaque in 2003, his sixth year on the ballot. Dawson was inducted in 2010 after his ninth try. 'I think it's a tribute to that organization that they are probably going to have three Hall of Famers that were teammates at the same time,' Dawson said. 'I do think that it's going to happen, first of all, but you didn't really get the notoriety, you didn't really get the same publicity as if you had been playing in the States. So it was a really, really tough environment I think playing across the border when it came to recognition.' Traded by Montreal after the 1990 season, Raines spent five seasons with the White Sox. He hit .444 and scored five runs in the 1993 AL Championship Series, which Chicago lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, and then won the World Series twice in three seasons with the Yankees from 1996-98. He signed with Oakland as a free agent in 1999 but was diagnosed with lupus midway through the season. A failed bid to make the United States Olympic team in 2000 fueled Raines' desire to prove he could still play, and Montreal offered him that opportunity in 2001. Raines was greeted with a standing ovation when he returned to Olympic Stadium as the starting left fielder for the Expos' home opener. The crowd of 45,183 remained on its feet all through his first plate appearance and cheered wildly when he drew a walk from Mets starter Glendon Rusch. 'The ovation that I got was really, really emotional,' Raines said. 'I remember I stole my 800th base against the Expos with the Yankees, and that was kind of emotional. The fans gave me a really big standing ovation, but the ovation I got in '01 topped anything that I could have even imagined, and at that time I knew that I was in love with Montreal.' Raines got to play with Vladimir Guerrero, who is on the ballot for the first time this year and could also enter the Hall as an Expos player if he is elected. 'Well, I think he's among the top players that ever played the game, that's for sure,' Raines said. '... He didn't really say much, but when the game started, you know who was top dog out on the field, and it was going to be him.' Late in the 2001 season, the Expos traded Raines to Baltimore to give him the opportunity to play with his son, Tim Jr., who was called up to make his major league debut with the Orioles. Raines, who retired after playing with Florida in 2002, was back with the Expos as a special coach at the end of the 2004 season when Major League Baseball announced that the team, which joined the National League in the 1969 expansion, was moving to Washington, D.C. The world's second-largest French-speaking city, which embraced Jackie Robinson when he played for the Montreal Royals of the International League in 1946, still pines for 'nos amours,' a term of endearment so profoundly French that it defies appropriate translation into English other than to say Montrealers love their Expos. 'Timmy happened to be one of those individuals that really made an impact not only with that organization but with the country for what he did, what he brought to the game, how he played the game, and how he was perceived all around baseball amongst his peers,' Dawson said. 'But I do feel that the Hall of Fame itself is the due recognition in the end.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

McIlroy to have tests on his injured back

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — One tournament into the new year, Rory McIlroy is going for tests on his back Monday to make sure he is fit enough to play Abu Dhabi without further damage. McIlroy felt pain in his back before the second round of the South African Open, and it lingered throughout the final round, where he closed with a 67 and lost in a playoff to Graeme Storm. McIlroy was flying to Dubai on Sunday and said he would have an MRI 'just to see what's up with this joint in my back.' 'It's OK,' McIlroy said on the European Tour's website. 'It was manageable this week. I'm taped up and I've got a few pills in me and I'm fine. But first and foremost, that's the most important thing, to get fit and healthy again. And hopefully, I'll be all right to play next week.' The runner-up finish looks to be enough for McIlroy to have a chance to return to No. 1 in the world if he were to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which in recent years has been the strongest field of the year among regular European Tour events. Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler are among those playing. McIlroy has not been atop the world rankings since September 2015. He is scheduled to play Abu Dhabi and then Dubai two weeks after that. 'If I go to Abu Dhabi next week and win, I think I get back to No. 1, so it's a nice goal to have going into next week,' McIlroy said. 'I really want to make next week because there's so much to play for. But at the same time, there's so much to play for this season. I don't want to jeopardize long-term goals for short-term gains. So we'll see. Hopefully, I'll be good to go.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017