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UAAP Volleyball: Morado sees Wong as Lady Eagles leader in Season 82

Former Ateneo de Manila University playmaker Jia Morado sees next season as Deanna Wong’s litmus test as the Lady Eagles' new leader when they try to defend their recently reclaimed throne. The Lady Eagles completed a Season 81 Finals series comeback over University of Sto. Tomas last Saturday to end a four-year title drought and capture their third crown overall. But Ateneo also saw the departure of middles Maddie Madayag and Finals Most Valuable Player Bea De Leon along with Kim Gequillana. Top hitter Kat Tolentino, who is still eligible to suit up next season, has not yet committed to play in Season 82. With the departure of Ateneo’s veterans, Wong will pilot a relatively young crew next year – almost the same situation that Morado was in during her last run as a Lady Eagle in Season 79 following the exit of three-time MVP Alyssa Valdez the year before.   “Actually, I think I had seasoned players on my last year. A lot of my spikers, nakasama ko na rin for at least a year or two,” said Morado on Monday during her club team Creamline’s photo shoot for the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference at the ABS-CBN Integrated Sports Office.   “But Deanna next year, although nakasama niya rin naman sila this year, hindi sila nabigyan ng time together talaga sa loob ng court so it will be interesting kung paano niya ibi-build ang connection niya with the spikers,” added Morado, who helped the Lady Eagles capture the Season 76 and 77 titles. The Cool Smashers setter said that although Ateneo will miss the services of its reliable veterans, the Lady Eagles and Wong will have the luxury of playing with young and aggressive talents looking to prove themselves in the country’s premier collegiate league.   “Siyempre ‘yung familiarity with her spikers is very important and next year more of rookies ang spikers niya. But the good thing about that you can go really far with young blood lalo na ‘yung mga rookies kasi sila ganado sila,” said Morado. “If you can lead them well, man them well, marami pa ring good weapons si Deanna kasi malalakas ‘yung mga batang papasok next year. So all she has to do is be able to lead them.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

UAAP Season 81: Tigresses claw Lady Spikers for twice-to-beat advantage

University of Sto. Tomas head coach Kungfu Reyes said they are ready to face three-time defending champion De La University with or without a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four after the Tigresses closed the elimination of UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament. But when the golden chance came for the Tigresses to steal the semifinals incentive, UST grabbed the opportunity to move a win away from a return stint to the championship round for the first time in nine years. The Tigresses demolished the Lady Spikers in the playoff for the no. 2 spot and semis incentive with an emphatic, 25-14, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19 victory on Wednesday at the jam-packed FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Graduating hitter Sisi Rondina and rookie Eya Laure caught fire early while the rest of the Tigresses followed suit, playing their roles well to arm UST with a semis advantage for the first time since its runner-up finish in Season 73 behind DLSU. The two teams battled for the twice-to-beat bonus after closing the elims tied at 10-4 win-loss slates.       Rondina had 29 points off 25 attacks, two kill blocks, and two aces for the Espana-based squad. Laure chipped in 17 markers while freshman Ysa Jimenez and Caitlyn Viray got eight and seven markers, respectively for UST. “Maganda ‘yung experience na sa sobrang tagal ng panahon ganoon pala ang experience ng may playoff. Masarap na yung pakiramdam na naglalaro ka pero mas masarap kung nanalo ka doon sa game. Luckily kami ang nanalo. Another history para sa amin,” said Reyes, whose squad fell to twice-to-beat DLSU in the Tigresses last semis stint in Season 79. The Final Four match between UST and DLSU is on Sunday, with the Lady Spikers marching in the semis with a twice-to-win disadvantage for the first time in 11 years. No. 1 seed Ateneo de Manila University and Far Eastern University, which defeated the Lady Spikers at the end of elims that forced a playoff, semis match is on Saturday.          UST broke a 12-12 deadlock in the fourth set with a telling run that saw Rondina send missile after missile for  a 19-13 advantage. The Lady Spikers tried to make a comeback after cutting their deficit to 18-22 but a service error by rookie Jolina Dela Cruz followed by a Rondina ace gave the Tigresses the match point advantage. Lourdes Clemente saved a match point before Laure's game-clinching kill.    The Lady Spikers squandered an early 6-1 lead in the third set as the Tigresses fought back to take a 23-22 lead after an overreaching call on DLSU middle Des Clemente. The transferee from University of Perpetual Help made amend on her error with a kill to tie the frame before Aduke Ogunsanya hammered an attack followed by a Laure mishit as DLSU stole the set.    The Tigresses blasted 10 straight points to turn a 7-5 deficit in the second set to a 15-7 lead capped by a Rondina backrow hit. DLSU answered with a run of its own to cut its deficit to 15-17.    Laure pounded back-to-back hits to put the Tigresses at set point, 24-18, before the Lady Spikers saved five set points capped by a May Luna service ace before Laure put the frame away with a crosscourt hit. UST waxed-hot early in the game, building a comfortable lead in the first frame before cruising to take the set.    Rookie Jolina dela Cruz got 12 points as the only Lady Spiker in double figures while Des Cheng and May Luna finished with nine markers each.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2019

Almadro, Vicente, Acaylar lead nat'l team coach list

Ateneo de Manila University coach Oliver Almadro, University of the East’s Francis Vicente and Perpetual Help tactician Sammy Acaylar lead the shortlist of mentors Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. is looking into to call the shots for the national women’s team that will see action in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur. The association has in its list 23 names limited to the members of the LVPI coaches commission. LVPI acting president Peter Cayco said that they will narrow down the list to 8 to 6 coaches for interview and in a week’s time he will recommend one to the board who will take the position. Among the names in the list, Almadro and Acaylar stood out as possible national team coaches as they led their respective collegiate teams to the throne. Almadro steered the Blue Eagles to back-to-back UAAP men’s volleyball titles and was the head coach of the men’s U-23 team and Singapore Southeast Asian Games two years ago while Acaylar led Altas back on top of the NCAA in Season 91 and was part of the coaching staff of the national squad that won gold in the 1993 SEA Games in Singapore. Acaylar also coached the national team in the 2015 AVC Asian Senior Women's Championship in China.  Vicente, meanwhile, handled the national youth team in a couple of international stints last year. Macky Carino of defending NCAA women’s volleyball champion College of St. Benilde and Obet Javier of NCAA Season 90 titlist Arellano University are some of the other prominent names on the list. Other big names like multi-titled mentor Ramil de Jesus of reigning UAAP champion De La Salle and University of Sto. Tomas’ Kungfu Reyes all begged off for various reasons but are willing to offer their help and support.                 San Sebastian College and National University mentor Roger Gorayeb, who called the shots for the national team in the 2015 SEA Games, is not included in the list “Ang kailangan natin ay ‘yung may oras,” said Cayco. “Meron d’yan magagaling pero wala naman silang oras.” LVPI is also looking to tap Serbian mentor Moro Branislav, who handled the PSL-F2 Logistics Manila in the 2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship and the Philippine Superliga back-to-back Grand Prix champion Foton, as team consultant.  The chosen head coach will be tasked to form a 16-woman pool. As part of the preparation the national team will play in the Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship from August 9 to 17 before heading to Malaysia for the SEA Games from August 19 to 31.   “We have all time to prepare and that’s the best part,” Cayco said. Also included in the list are Lerma Giron, Mac Gepuela, Marcelo Joaquin, Jason Gabales, Michael Inoferio, Bryan Esquibel, Raymund Castillo, Jeremiah Barrica, Raplh Dablo, Leovimo Rivera, Michael Santos, Roberto Javier, Carl Bryan Vitus, Richard Estacio, Ruel Pascual, Leonardo Toyco, Benjamin Mape, Michael Carino, Dexter Clamor and Alvin Dumalaog. The participation of the men’s team in the SEA Games is yet to be discussed.       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Warriors play final game at Oracle trying to force Game 7

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry offered a long list of things motivating the Golden State Warriors to extend their season once more and keep alive the chase for a third straight championship. Winning for injured teammate Kevin Durant certainly ranks No. 1 heading into Game 6 of the NBA Finals. A victory in the last game at Oracle Arena is right up there, too. “I don’t think much needs to be said about the motivation that we have or are going to have tomorrow,” Curry said Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). ”... To protect our home court, feed off our crowd’s energy, play for ‘K’ and try to keep our season alive. There are a lot of things that you can kind of tap into for energy tomorrow. We’ll be ready.” Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and the Raptors are playing for Canada’s first NBA crown, not to mention the country’s first major title since the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993. Toronto lead the series 3-2 series and are 3-0 on the Warriors’ home floor this season. “For some reason I think both teams are really good road teams and have been all season,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “That’s one thing. Two, two really tough-minded teams playing and you’ve got to be a little more tough-minded on the road. And I think a lot of those games probably could have went either way.” The Warriors might have to overcome being both emotionally and physically spent after watching two-time reigning Finals MVP Durant go down again. Durant had returned from a monthlong absence with a strained right calf to start Game 5 only to rupture his right Achilles tendon in the second quarter. Durant announced Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) on Instagram the severity of his injury and that he had undergone surgery. The Warriors also lost reserve big man Kevon Looney as he re-aggravated a cartilage fracture in his right collarbone area. Klay Thompson expects more energy than ever given the Warriors have recently gone through, not to mention all of the highs and lows during 47 seasons at Oracle. “We’re just thinking about enjoying this last show at Oracle we’re about to give our fans. And I expect our fans to be the loudest they have ever been, especially in the name of Kevin and bringing his type of spirit he would bring to the fight and the competitiveness,” Thompson said. “I know our fans will do that because we deserve it, but more importantly Kevin does for what he gave this team, this organization. There wouldn’t be banners if it wasn’t for his presence.” Here are some other things to watch for going into Game 6: SPLASH AWAY Splash Brothers Curry and Thompson will be looking to repeat their hot shooting from Game 5, when they combined to go 19-for-44 from the field and 12-of-27 from deep. “We don’t want to give up that many to those guys,” Nurse said. “I think you got to guard them, got to find them in transition. They get a good chunk of them in that.” Momentum maybe? “It’s definitely a real thing,” Curry said. SUPPORTING DURANT Some well-intentioned Raptors fans, meanwhile, started a campaign to support Durant’s foundation as a way to offer their care and concern after some fans at Game 5 cheered the injury. “Sorry KD. That’s not what Canada is about. We want to make it up to you!” the post read. GREEN’S TECHS Draymond Green has six technicals during this postseason, and one more draws an automatic suspension. Green needs to control is emotions in Game 6 because should the Warriors win he would not want to sit out Game 7 in Toronto on Sunday (next Monday, PHL time). Green had 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in Game 5. MOVIN’ ON UP Leonard goes into Game 6 with 710 points this postseason, 14 shy of passing Allen Iverson (723) for fourth place on the NBA’s single-postseason scoring list and 16 from moving past Hakeem Olajuwon (725) for third. LeBron James is second with 748 last year behind Michael Jordan’s 759 points in 1992. “He’s a gamer. He’s shown that. He’s a Finals MVP back in the San Antonio Spurs days for a reason,” Curry said of Leonard. “He just makes winning plays. He’s obviously expanded his game since then and shown offensively how dynamic he is. He requires attention at all times.” END OF AN ERA Game 6 will be the final hurrah for Oracle. Golden State’s players have said all season the want to leave a legacy on this special home court — and winning a Game 6 would be the ideal outcome for Warriors fans. The Warriors already watched LeBron James and the Cavaliers clinch a Game 7 finals win in Oakland three years ago — it’s not something the home team wants to repeat. “This has been just an incredible environment in which to coach and play back in the day,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Even when the Warriors weren’t any good, to come in here as a visitor and feel the energy in this building, you could tell that the fans loved the game. This was a basketball hotbed. And just the atmosphere out there, the energy, the noise, over the last five years with our team’s rise, combined with that organic energy that this place has always had, it’s just been an incredible experience to coach here.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2019

Warriors F Durant undergoes surgery for ruptured Achilles

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant announced Wednesday on social media that he underwent surgery for a ruptured right Achilles tendon. Durant revealed the severity of his injury two days after getting hurt during Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto in his return following being sidelined for a month with a right calf strain. The 30-year-old posted a photo on Instagram showing himself in a hospital bed and wrote: “I wanted to update you all: I did rupture my Achilles. Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY.”         View this post on Instagram                   What’s good everybody I wanted to update you all: I did rupture my Achilles. Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY My road back starts now! I got my family and my loved ones by my side and we truly appreciate all the messages and support people have sent our way. Like I said Monday, I'm hurting deeply, but I'm OK. Basketball is my biggest love and I wanted to be out there that night because that’s what I do. I wanted to help my teammates on our quest for the three peat. Its just the way things go in this game and I'm proud that I gave it all I physically could, and I'm proud my brothers got the W. It's going to be a journey but I'm built for this. I’m a hooper I know my brothers can get this Game 6, and I will be cheering with dub nation while they do it. A post shared by 35 (@easymoneysniper) on Jun 12, 2019 at 12:54pm PDT Just 15 minutes before Durant went public, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said during a finals media availability that he didn’t yet have a formal update on Durant. Durant has made his own announcements before, such as writing on The Players’ Tribune website about his decision to leave Oklahoma City to join Golden State in July 2016. Kerr said the team had no idea that Durant risked a serious Achilles injury by returning from a strained calf. After the game Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), a teary, emotional general manager Bob Myers asked anyone who was looking to place blame to do so on him — not Durant, the medical staff or athletic trainers who worked so tirelessly to get him back. Kerr said he also understands people wanting to point blame somewhere, though he noted, “Kevin checked all the boxes, and he was cleared to play by everybody involved,” including doctors from within the organization and from the outside. “Now, would we go back and do it over again? Damn right,” he said. “But that’s easy to say after the results. When we gathered all the information, our feeling was the worst thing that could happen would be a re-injure of the calf. That was the advice and the information that we had. At that point, once Kevin was cleared to play, he was comfortable with that, we were comfortable with that. So the Achilles came as a complete shock. I don’t know what else to add to that, other than had we known that this was a possibility, that this was even in the realm of possibility, there’s no way we ever would have allowed Kevin to come back.” The two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP was injured Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in the second quarter of Golden State’s 106-105 victory that forced a Game 6 at Oracle Arena on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). The Raptors lead the best-of-seven series 3-2. Durant initially was injured May 8 (May 9, PHL time) in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets, then missed the next nine games. A pending free agent, it’s unclear what might be next for Durant now that he is set for a long rehab and recovery. Teammate DeMarcus Cousins returned in January nearly a year after rupturing his left Achilles tendon and undergoing surgery last season while with New Orleans. Stephen Curry can only imagine how much Durant is hurting emotionally not being able to play — but second-guessing benefits nobody at this stage, the two-time MVP said. “Everybody has great 20/20 hindsight,” Curry said, then added: “I trust our medical staff and know Bob Myers has our best interests in terms of not just what we can do in this series, but long term in our overall health. You see how hard he took it, talking to you guys after the game. And that’s really genuine and authentic. So you can waste time talking about the what-ifs and this and that. Injuries are tough and they suck. They’re a part of our game, and they’re going to continue to be a part of our game. But everybody putting their collective brains together to make the sound, smart decisions, you kind of just live with that, because that’s what’s a part of our game.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2019

Durant s injury devastates victorious Warriors as they head home

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2019

MPBL: Manila Stars aiming for better finish in Lakan Cup

All things considered, the Manila Stars had a pretty good campaign in the 2018-2019 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup.  The Stars finished the elimination round with a 20-5 slate and went as far as the Divisional Finals, where they fell to eventual National Champions San Juan Knights in three games.  With their maiden season in the books, Manila is now looking to put on an even better showing in the upcoming MPBL Lakan Cup.  "It was good season for the Manila Stars, lalong-lalo na sa akin, kasi siyempre may Divisional Finals appearance," said Stars playmaker Chris Bitoon. "Makikita mo talaga yung players na gumagaling sa Divisional Finals eh, yung mga nag-iisip." "Sana ngayong dadating na MPBL, makakapag-laro ulit kami sa Divisional Finals, para yung bawat isa sa amin, mag-improve pa," he continued.  Bitoon himself had a pretty good maiden season in the league, averaging just under 15 points, nearly four rebounds, and four assists per game, good for a spot in the All-MPBL First Team.  And while an individual achievement is always nice, Bitoon maintains that it's just a bonus. The main goal remains the same, and that's to go far into the postseason.  "Sa akin, yung pagiging kasama ko sa First Team, bonus na lang ‘yun, talagang ginawa ko lang yung trabaho ko, pero sana ngayon yung expectation is makapag-laro muli kami sa Divisional Finals, ma-feel yung crowd na ganun ka-lakas yung sigawan, sana ma-bless kami ni God na makapag-laro ulit doon." With another Divisional Finals, and even a National Finals stint on their crosshairs, Bitoon says that a 'more organized' Manila Stars squad plans on taking things step by step, and among those steps is adding some depth in their roster.  "Siguro yung Manila Stars ngayon, mas naging-organized, naging organized, nag-recruit din kami ng mga bagong players, mga potential players na alam naman namin na makaka-tulong sa team namin," Bitoon shared. Among those new recruits include former PBA All-Star Carlo Lastimosa, former Mandaluyong standout Gian Abrigo, and former De La Salle Green Archers Jollo Go and Mark Dyke, and former UST Growling Tiger Marvin Lee.  The Stars hope that these additions will more than make up for the loss of forward Riel Cervantes.  "Sana, ngayong darating na season, siyempre step-by-step, makapag-laro kami ng Finals, pero ang nasa isip muna namin ngayon ay bawat game eh, elimination, Divisional Finals, then yung National Finals," Bitoon added.  With so much new blood injected into the Stars' system, Bitoon is confident that he and fellow All-MPBL First Teamer Aris Dioniso will have a lot of help in the coming conference.  "Laging sinasabi ng coach namin na kahit sinong pwedeng ipasok, makaka-contribute eh. Siguro sa amin ngayon, kailangan lang namin na mag-tiwala sa isa’t-isa eh, hindi pwedeng kami lang ni Aris Dionisio, Chris Bitoon. Kailangan lang namin mag-tiwala sa isa’t-isa. Andiyan naman yung mga ex-pro pa namin na maasahan." Right now, Bitoon is relishing the opportunity that the MPBL has given him, and playing for the capital city's home team has given him the perfect avenue to showcase his skills.  "Sobrang saya kasi ultimo mga bata, hanggang sa mga matatanda, mga nanay, talagang naka-support sa amin eh. Pag pumupunta kami sa venue namin sa practice, may mga ‘Idol, idol!’, magpapa-picture sila, kaya sobrang nakaka-proud kasi kahit hindi ka kilala, kahit hindi ka galing sa malaking school, nabibigyan ka ng halaga sa Manila."   The 2019-2020 MPBL Lakan Cup begins on Wednesday, June 12, 4:00 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Catch it LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!   .....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 10th, 2019

MPBL: Manila Stars aiming for better finish in Lakan Cup

All things considered, the Manila Stars had a pretty good campaign in the 2018-2019 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup.  The Stars finished the elimination round with a 20-5 slate and went as far as the Divisional Finals, where they fell to eventual National Champions San Juan Knights in three games.  With their maiden season in the books, Manila is now looking to put on an even better showing in the upcoming MPBL Lakan Cup.  "It was good season for the Manila Stars, lalong-lalo na sa akin, kasi siyempre may Divisional Finals appearance," said Stars playmaker Chris Bitoon. "Makikita mo talaga yung players na gumagaling sa Divisional Finals eh, yung mga nag-iisip." "Sana ngayong dadating na MPBL, makakapag-laro ulit kami sa Divisional Finals, para yung bawat isa sa amin, mag-improve pa," he continued.  Bitoon himself had a pretty good maiden season in the league, averaging just under 15 points, nearly four rebounds, and four assists per game, good for a spot in the All-MPBL First Team.  And while an individual achievement is always nice, Bitoon maintains that it's just a bonus. The main goal remains the same, and that's to go far into the postseason.  "Sa akin, yung pagiging kasama ko sa First Team, bonus na lang ‘yun, talagang ginawa ko lang yung trabaho ko, pero sana ngayon yung expectation is makapag-laro muli kami sa Divisional Finals, ma-feel yung crowd na ganun ka-lakas yung sigawan, sana ma-bless kami ni God na makapag-laro ulit doon." With another Divisional Finals, and even a National Finals stint on their crosshairs, Bitoon says that a 'more organized' Manila Stars squad plans on taking things step by step, and among those steps is adding some depth in their roster.  "Siguro yung Manila Stars ngayon, mas naging-organized, naging organized, nag-recruit din kami ng mga bagong players, mga potential players na alam naman namin na makaka-tulong sa team namin," Bitoon shared. Among those new recruits include former PBA All-Star Carlo Lastimosa, former Mandaluyong standout Gian Abrigo, and former De La Salle Green Archers Jollo Go and Mark Dyke, and former UST Growling Tiger Marvin Lee.  The Stars hope that these additions will more than make up for the loss of forward Riel Cervantes.  "Sana, ngayong darating na season, siyempre step-by-step, makapag-laro kami ng Finals, pero ang nasa isip muna namin ngayon ay bawat game eh, elimination, Divisional Finals, then yung National Finals," Bitoon added.  With so much new blood injected into the Stars' system, Bitoon is confident that he and fellow All-MPBL First Teamer Aris Dioniso will have a lot of help in the coming conference.  "Laging sinasabi ng coach namin na kahit sinong pwedeng ipasok, makaka-contribute eh. Siguro sa amin ngayon, kailangan lang namin na mag-tiwala sa isa’t-isa eh, hindi pwedeng kami lang ni Aris Dionisio, Chris Bitoon. Kailangan lang namin mag-tiwala sa isa’t-isa. Andiyan naman yung mga ex-pro pa namin na maasahan." Right now, Bitoon is relishing the opportunity that the MPBL has given him, and playing for the capital city's home team has given him the perfect avenue to showcase his skills.  "Sobrang saya kasi ultimo mga bata, hanggang sa mga matatanda, mga nanay, talagang naka-support sa amin eh. Pag pumupunta kami sa venue namin sa practice, may mga ‘Idol, idol!’, magpapa-picture sila, kaya sobrang nakaka-proud kasi kahit hindi ka kilala, kahit hindi ka galing sa malaking school, nabibigyan ka ng halaga sa Manila."   The 2019-2020 MPBL Lakan Cup begins on Wednesday, June 12, 4:00 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Catch it LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!   .....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 10th, 2019

Five things we learned from Game 4 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 105-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2019 NBA Finals on Friday at Oracle Arena: 1. Dynasties eventually become ‘die-nastys’ Will we get one more game at Oracle Arena? The scene of so much Golden State wonderfulness the past five seasons? A building about to be abandoned when the Warriors move from Oakland to a state-of-the-art arena across the Bay? Hold up. Asking one more game out of the Warriors seems a lot at the moment. These guys just suffered their second consecutive home playoff loss by 10 points or more, something that hasn’t happened to this franchise in 50 years. After three straight games scoring precisely 109 points, the Warriors came up 15 short Friday (Saturday, PHL time). They are 0-9 overall this season when held to double digits, and 0-11 in the playoffs during the Steve Kerr era, when they score 94 or fewer. And now they’re on the wrong side of a 3-1 deficit, lacking everything from certain healthy bodies to an edge, a sharpness that was missing in the second half. Granted, Golden State once held a 3-1 edge in a Finals, all the way back in 2016 … when LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers chased them down and became the only Finals team to claw out of such a chasm. The Warriors did the same to Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference finals. So they not only have a blueprint, they have the know-how and an opportunity to do it again. Like Kerr before him on Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) postgame podium, Warriors forward Draymond Green spoke of simply trying to win one basketball game, the next game, as the proper way to dig out of this series hole. But then he dropped his guard and mentioned winning three in a row, something the Warriors have done often. But they’re a whole year removed from doing that in a Finals (last year’s sweep of the Cavs) with a healthy Kevin Durant. This is a more worn-down, tired team. In fact, Game 4 was more than Golden State’s 102nd game of 2018-19, regular and postseason combined. It was the 102nd playoff game of their five consecutive Finals runs, which means they have crammed an extra season-plus into their schedules compared to the underachievers on lottery teams sitting at home. From the looks of it Friday (Saturday, PHL time), these guys are ready to be toppled, like the Lakers in 1989 and again in 2004, like the Heat in 2014 and the Cavaliers last June. The boisterous Raptors fans who staged their takeover of the Warriors’ building after Game 4 were merely mirroring what their favorite team did on the court from halftime on. Golden State could not stop it. Rudy Tomjanovich might still be inclined to scream into the darkness. (“Never underestimate the heart of a champion!”) But pride only takes you so far, and that’s mostly what the Warriors have left. 2. Third quarter? That’s Toronto’s now It took the Raptors more than 18 minutes to score 30 points Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), stymied by the pace of the game and particularly Golden State’s scrappy, hustling defense. Immediately after halftime, it took Toronto only 12 minutes to put up 37. The time of death for Golden State on Friday was immediately after Kawhi Leonard drained consecutive three-pointers – “F-you” shots, teammate Fred VanVleet memorably coined them – that boosted Toronto from a four-point deficit to a 12-point advantage. The Warriors already had played well enough to rightly feel they should have had a bigger cushion; falling behind so rudely seemed to buckle the defending champs. That they feel third quarters are their birthright made the switcheroo intolerable. “We had a big problem with the third quarter in Game 2,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “We had to make some adjustment there to try to combat the way they come out of the half. We made the decision to put Fred in, [first] in Game 3 and then Game 4 again. Mostly it's to try to keep up pace of our offense going. It gives us two point guards out there that can push the ball, get it in and get it going, and it kind of paid off. “I know Kawhi's two big three's to start the half really changed the whole feel of everybody. Everybody was like, ‘Okay, man, we know we are here, let's go,’ and we just kind of kept going from those two three's.” For the Warriors, who have done that to so many others, turnabout was a pain in the rump. “Oh, this sucks,” Draymond Green recalled thinking as Toronto took control of the quarter. “It sucks really bad. You just try and do whatever you can to change it. Get a stop, get a bucket, get some momentum.  Every time we did, they answered.” Green was asked about the difficulty of rattling the stone-faced Leonard with whatever defensive tactic Golden State could muster, and brushed the question aside. “I don't think you're ever going to rattle Kawhi. Not sure we used that word one time in our scouting report, ‘We're going to rattle him,’” Green said. But it’s not just Leonard now. It’s the Raptors. Time after time, whenever Golden State revved up with a couple of scoring possessions, signaling to their fans they ready to make a run, Toronto snuffed it with a three-pointer or a well-executed pick and roll. They’ve got a team of Kawhis-in-training, unflappable lately if not as inscrutable. “Most teams will take cues from their leaders or their star players, so I think that spreads around a little bit,” Nurse said. But he also praised vets such as Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and VanVleet for how steady they’ve been. Now, with the temptation to imagine hoisting a championship trophy, the Raptors might be expected to buy into the stat that, of the 34 teams in The Finals who have led 3-1, 33 of them got their rings. But this team is so focused, so resolute in taking care of business down to the smallest and most mundane task, that all Nurse might have to do is remind them how many aspiring champs won three games in a Finals and still headed into summer empty-handed. (It's 19.) No trophy, no rings. 3. A surge from Serge The chemistry between Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry was evident in their playful banter on the podium Friday night. Each slipped into his role, Lowry as the instigator, Ibaka as the target of his playful jibes. “You joining me?” Lowry asked, as Ibaka got to the podium a half minute after him. “Serge Ibaka, everybody. You all know him. Nice outfit. Worth a lot of money. Is that jacket real leather?” “Yes, it’s real leather,” Ibaka said. "Pants too tight, he can't even sit down,” Lowry said. On court, Ibaka’s defensive impact and 20 points in reserve dampened a lot of Warrior enthusiasm. There are nights when Ibaka comes across like Chief in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a large, lumbering and rather stiff option near the rim with very little to say. Some nights, he even seems to be asleep. But still waters often run deep, too deep for the Warriors in Game 4, it turned out. Ibaka’s here-today, gone-tomorrow shooting touch had him playing in a way that none of Golden State’s three centers – DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney or Andrew Bogut – could match. “Once he gets into the series," Nurse said, "which he did in Game 3 with the blocked shots and the rebounding and stuff, he seems to stay in the series. He usually gives you all of it.” Said Lowry, about knowing when a Serge surge is coming: “He doesn't say anything. When Serge is effective defensively is when he's at his best. I think the scoring just comes. We're going to make sure he gets that pick-and-pop jump shot, he's rolling … When he brings that intensity and that fierceness, it's kind of tough to stop him on both ends of the floor.” 4. Stephen Curry had a bad game One of the most famous pieces of magazine journalism ever was entitled, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” by Gay Talese, a profile written when Sinatra obviously was ill of body and temper, and didn’t even grant Talese an interview. So our headline kind of tells the story as his did: Curry, one of the top five players in the NBA and probably the greatest overall shooter of all time, was not his two-time MVP self. He wasn’t even the Game 3 version (47 points). The Warriors point guard scored 20 fewer points in this one, and was 2-of-9 from three-point range. He missed all five of his shots from the arc in the first half and he picked up some obvious frustration fouls. Curry played 43 of the 48 minutes, and Golden State was outscored by 11 points when he was on the court. “It wasn’t his best game,” Kerr said. Evaluating Curry, for the Warriors, was going to come down to breaking down video and keeping the faith. Evaluating him, for the rest of us, is getting complicated these days by a sense that Curry did not get his due in past Finals – at least in terms of winning the Bill Russell Award as Finals MVP. But that’s no excuse to don rose-colored glasses every time he hits the floor. As scintillating as his performance was in defeat Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) as the Warriors’ only healthy threat, his Game 4 work was raggedy and unproductive. “They have been aggressive all series and trying to take space away from me and Klay,” Curry said. “I missed some shots early that I usually make, especially from the three-point line. But overall, I thought I got good looks.” Every game doesn’t need to be a referendum on the level of Curry appreciation. He might have deserved more consideration as Finals MVP in 2015, when Andre Iguodala snagged it with a strong performance in the clinching game. And even though Kevin Durant was an easy choice in 2017, there were some who felt Curry was more essential (including this voter). In some cosmic and just way, Curry probably should have been recognized with hardware somewhere among the three. But all signs are pointing to Leonard now, so Curry might have to muddle along with "only" those two Maurice Podoloff trophies for regular-season MVP, along with his All-NBA berths and assorted accolades, his ginormous contract and bounty of commercial endorsements, three rings (unless this series turns around) and a better life than most people who’ve ever walked the planet. 5. Durant to play in Game … 8? It’s possible that Durant will come walking through Rick Pitino’s proverbial door and seize what’s left of the championship series by the throat, playing like the two-time Finals MVP he is. Failing that, if there’s a Game 6, maybe that’s the night Durant at least does a Willis Reed impersonation, limping through the Oracle tunnel to a thunderous roar and hitting a couple of early shots to inspire his teammates to something special. (There still, alas, would be a pesky Game 7 for which to account, back in Toronto, likely muddying the drama.) Then again, maybe Durant doesn’t come back at all. For The Finals or with the Warriors, period. Speculation at this point is all over the map. Some think the Warriors planned to hold him out until things got really dire, to buy extra healing time and maybe not use him at all. Others now believe Durant’s rehab process of his strained right calf back-slid to some degree on Thursday, when he participated in a checkpoint workout with the training staff. A few folks think he never was going to return, regardless. After all, the All-NBA forward hasn’t played since May 8 (May 9, PHL time), missing nine fairly important games. This is a league where injuries typically face an “If this were a playoff game, would he play?” threshold. Durant has been nearly as absent from this NBA postseason as LeBron James. Look, all injuries are different, and even the same type of injury can have different timelines with different sufferers. Klay Thompson rushing back from his hamstring issue after skipping only Game 3 is at the crazy-resilient end of the durability scale. Kevon Looney basically rose from the ashes, giving the Warriors a rim runner and 10 points with six rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. He had been ruled out for the rest of the series after suffering a rib cartilage fracture in his crash to the floor in Game 2. After anticipation of Durant’s availability got out in front of his reality for a few days, the chatter is more tempered now. There’s a shrug and a whiff of uncertainty folded into every mention. If Durant had his Thursday workout, he would have played Friday (Saturday, PHL time). If he had a setback … Heck, at this point it might be more pragmatic for the medical peeps to declare him out and let the Warriors who’ve come this far see this through, yea or nay. “As far as KD, there's been hope that he will come back the whole series,” Draymond Green said. “So that's not going to change now. Obviously we hope to have him, but we'll see what happens. We don't make that final call, he don't really even make that final call.  His body will tell him if he can get out there or not. And if he can, great. And if not, you still got to try to find a way to win the next game.” The Warriors had been holding out hope for Durant’s return as if he was their ace in the hole, imagining him with zero rust or rhythm issues once back and no limitations on his gait. But he has passed the “In case of emergency, break glass” point of urgent help possibilities. Now Durant resembles more the keg hanging from a Saint Bernard dog’s collar. It’s a nice idea, but when was the last time one of those dogs saved somebody who literally drank from the little barrel? Toronto is in a foreign land, by NBA standards. But it ain’t the Alps. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2019

Raptors a win away from first-ever championship

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2019

Espejo tows Nat’l squad back in win column

Wih Marck Espejo back, Rebisco-Philippines made quick work of the Philippine Army Troopers, 25-12, 25-20, 25-8, in the 2019 Spikers’ Turf Reinforced Conference at the Paco Arena in Manila on Thursday. Espejo led the Philippines’ balanced attack with 13 points while Mark Alfafara added 10 to up Rebisco’s standing to 4-1. After cruising through the first two sets, Team Philippines proved to be too much for Army. Up by 16 points in the third frame, Espejo put an emphatic end to the match with a powerful kill. “Nag-rotate lang talaga kami sa ilang tao eh, kumbaga kasi ‘yung iba naglaro kanina, tapos may problema ‘yung ibang player kaya nag rotate lang kami sa i-ilang tao kaya siguro mas maganda ‘yung laro,” said assistant coach Dong Dela Cruz, who was sitting in for Dante Alinsunurin as he is in Japan. The 3-2 Troopers were led by Pj Rojas with seven markers. Meanwhile, defending champion Philippine Air Force-Go for Gold added more woes to winless AFP Olympics rival Philippine Coast Guard Dolphins,  25-15, 24-26, 25-18, 25-19. Ranran Abdilla scored 24 points built on 18 attacks, five aces, and a block while Kim Malabunga added 15 points on 11 attacks, three blocks and an ace for the 4-1 Air Force. Esmail Kasim had 21 points for the Coast Guard who fell to 0-5 in the tournament. In the first game, the IEM Phoenix Volley Masters scored an upset, come-from-behind victory against the Animo Green Spikers, 17-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-18, 15-10, for their breakthrough win in the tournament. Former San Beda star Mark Enciso fired 19 points for IEM while Razzel Palisoc chipped in 18. Animo, who fell to a 3-2 card, was led by Green Archer Cris Dumago with 14 points while Joshua De Sequera added 11 points.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

& lsquo;Godzilla& rsquo; stomps its way to a box-office lead

& lsquo;Godzilla& rsquo; stomps its way to a box-office lead.....»»

Category: entertainmentSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJun 4th, 2019

Cousins returns from injury, returns to form and delivers win

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com TORONTO — It was the moment the Warriors waited so long to see, and finally it arrived in the nick of time: The still-recovering former All-Star, out of the starting lineup for more than a minute, returning and dismissing the noise about how the team is better without him by impacting the game in multiple ways and pulling the Warriors to victory. And get this: If the Warriors are truly fortunate, Kevin Durant will recover soon and duplicate what DeMarcus Cousins just did. In the NBA Finals. If he does, it could serve a critical blow to Toronto’s chances of pulling off a late-series surprise. “We know what we’re dealing with here,” said Raptors guard Fred VanVleet. Cousins provided the help that the two-time defending champions needed Sunday (Monday, PHL time) to draw even in the series and snatch momentum with a 109-104 victory at Scotiabank Arena. He played more than anyone thought, rebounded more than anyone imagined, defended and scored more than Toronto bargained for, and gave the Warriors what they missed the last 6 1/2 weeks with him on the shelf. The 11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots from Cousins didn’t fully encapsulate how much relief he brought to the Warriors. He had a galvanizing effect on a team that used an 18-0 run to start the second half to seize control of Game 3 and then used Andre Iguodala’s three-point shot to ice it. They haven’t been in one piece since April 15 (April 16, PHL time), in the first round against the Clippers, when Cousins chased a loose ball, stumbled and grabbed his left leg. The torn quad required no surgery but a lengthy rehab period, and this after Cousins went through a 10-month rehab for a torn Achilles' tendon in the spring of 2018. He was feeling beat up. Cousins attacked the process anyway, determined to return from an injury that normally would mean the end to his postseason, for the simple reason that he hadn’t been to the playoffs in his career to this point. There’s also a matter of free agency awaiting in July; a strong return could improve his bottom line. “Once they told me I have a chance, a slight chance, of being able to return, it basically was up to me and the work I put in,” he said. “So I put the work and the time in and with God’s grace I’m able to be out here and play the game I love.” Cousins was clearly out of rhythm from the layoff in Game 1, his timing rusty, his execution unsure. He played just eight minutes without scoring a basket or drawing much attention from Toronto. But Warriors coach Steve Kerr made the surprise decision to start Cousins three nights later, and that faith was repaid handsomely. Cousins was active, his confidence growing stronger by the minute -- 27 of them, actually, and he only asked to be subbed out once. “We came in thinking he can maybe play 20 minutes,” said Kerr. “He was fantastic and we needed everything he gave out there: his rebounding, his toughness, his physical presence, getting the ball in the paint, and just playing big, like he does. We needed all of that.” What the Warriors hoped was for Cousins to be the best big man on the floor. In Game 1, that honor went to Raptors center Marc Gasol, who uncharacteristically became a prime scoring option for the Raptors with 20 points, most on open jumpers. Cousins didn’t give him that amount of breathing space in Game 2, and Gasol (six points) was never a factor. Cousins' teammates offered rave reviews. Steph Curry: “Obviously you get more comfortable with more minutes and playing aggressive. He puts a lot of pressure on their defense. It’s a big lift for us. More to come.” Draymond Green: “The more he plays, the better feel he gets. He was great on both ends. It allowed us to play through him in the post. Toronto knows. They’ve got to honor that, and we know what he’s capable of doing if they don’t.” Cousins had an amusing reaction to learning he was in the starting lineup — “I was like, ‘Cool’” — and feels as though he has more to give. “When I step on the floor, I’m going to leave it out there,” he said. “I want to be on this stage. This is what I’ve worked for my entire career, to have this opportunity to play for something.” Cousins spent seven years in purgatory in Sacramento, where he racked up losses and technicals. It was a frustrating time for him; he had no faith in the franchise's leadership and it soured his attitude. His trade to the Pelicans two years ago was met with enthusiasm; he teamed with Anthony Davis to form an intimidating front line, but the Achilles’ injury cut short his time on the floor and, ultimately, in New Orleans. The team refused to offer him a contract last summer, leading him to join the Warriors at a discount. So his purpose is to salvage what’s left of the season, capture a ring for his troubles and see what it brings this summer. And then there’s the matter of Durant. The two-time Finals MVP hasn’t been cleared for full-contact practice, and the Warriors will hold only one prior to Game 3. Kerr said it’s “feasible” that Durant could play with only one practice under his belt, yet that’s not the ideal scenario. What Cousins does is buy them more time with Durant. With the series tied 1-1, and the next two games in Oakland, and Cousins apparently rounding into form, there’s a bit less urgency to see Durant on the floor. Yet it appears to be a matter of when, not if, Durant will see action in this series. And it might be at the perfect moment, with Klay Thompson suffering a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter that forced him off the court. The All-Star guard later told Kerr he’s fine and that the hamstring tightness is minor, but his status will be determined by MRI. Given what’s happened so far, the Warriors can never be too careful or take the rosy view when it comes to muscle issues. They’ve established a theme that tells the story of their 2019 postseason, and it’s not one they designed or even wanted, but it fits their existence nonetheless: “recovery” and their ability to do so on all front. It's not just injuries. Even in sweeping Portland, Golden State had to recover from deficits of 17, 18 and 17 points in the Western Conference Finals. Trailing 1-0 in these NBA Finals, they recovered from 12 down to win on the road for a 23rd straight series, an NBA record. What the Warriors reminded everyone at Scotiabank Arena, in case folks forgot, is that they’re champions and bring plenty of know-how to this series, and are fully capable of winning games by any means necessary. “It’s big respect for them,” said Kawhi Leonard. “They have been here each of the last four years, won the last two, and you’ve got to take the challenge. They’re a great team.” But the Warriors would rather put a fully-loaded and healthy squad -- one that is clearly the class of the NBA -- on the court and win with that. This NBA Finals might finally get the Warriors at full strength. If not, they still might be more than the Raptors can handle. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2019

Five things we learned from Game 1 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 118-109 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of The Finals Thursday (Friday, PHL time) at Scotiabank Arena ... 1. So much for ‘glad to be here’ If we thought we had learned one thing about the Toronto Raptors when it comes to the NBA playoffs, it was this: They back their way into most series. Losing the opener was a tradition for this franchise -- they were 3-15 in Game 1s prior to Thursday (Friday, PHL time), dating back to their inaugural playoff run in 2000. Nothing shoves a team closer to elimination in a best-of-seven showdown than a lousy start. That’s why grabbing the opener against Golden State was so essential. Had the Raptors squandered their home-court advantage on the first night, we all would be assuming the worst for these Finals in competitive, stylistic and entertainment terms. Only by rocking the Warriors in Game 1 -- and most impressively, by refusing to cough up all of their 12-point lead in the second half -- could the Raptors generate legitimate excitement for Game 2 and beyond. Had we all been honest (and able to pull this off), we would have begun this series by spotting Toronto to a 1-0 lead -- just to handicap the defending champions and force them to show us something they haven’t in their four previous Finals trips. But such a move would have been demeaning, of course, to the Raptors. Instead, coach Nick Nurse and his affable newbies seized early control themselves. How Portland looked in the Western Conference finals, as if the Trail Blazers had maxed out and were just happy to still be involved? Toronto wanted none of that. It found a way to win when Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry were ordinary at best. And now we have a series worthy of the Larry O’Brien Trophy. 2. Triple-doubles continue to decline in value It’s fun as a game progresses to track stats, whether it’s Pascal Siakam’s absurd 11 consecutive field goals or Stephen Curry’s refusal to miss a free throw. We’re always aware of the leading scorer and his growing point total, particularly as it passes the big round numbers (30, 40, 50…). But Draymond Green’s latest triple-double was a reminder that the bar has been set too low for that stat from its inception. Green finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, which makes it a minimalist’s triple-double at best and more of a statistical fluke than an achievement. Ten assists? That’s strong any night. Ten rebounds? Solid, and necessary if no one else on your roster is claiming more than six. Ten points, though? Come on now. Green had a Jason Kidd triple-double, which isn’t mean to disparage the Hall of Fame point guard but speaks to Kidd’s limitations as a scorer for most of his career. Heck, the Warriors’ versatile forward had six turnovers, inspiring the bad “quadruple-double watch” that Kidd sparked on occasion. What Green didn’t do was put the ball through the net effectively, shooting 2-for-9 overall and 0-for-2 on three-pointers. Yes, his value to Golden State usually doesn’t rise or fall on his scoring, but he could have been more helpful in that area Thursday. When Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double in 1961-62 (and cumulatively did it over his first six NBA seasons), he was scoring 30 points per game. When Russell Westbrook matched what had been a rare feat two years ago, he too was up above 30 points nightly. But Westbrook has done it the past two seasons as well, with his scoring average dipping below 23 this season. That would seem to be near the minimum -- say, 20 points -- to gush over a player’s triple-double on a given night. We get it, double figures means 10 or more. But 10 points is no big deal at all in the NBA, so it seems silly to celebrate it when it’s the free rider on the triple-double quirk. 3. Don’t double-dawg dare an NBA player Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted after Game 1 that, by mistake more than by design, his team didn’t defensively do its job well in the early minutes against center Marc Gasol. “Gasol we left a couple times early in the game and didn't rotate, we just gave him a couple of dare shots and he knocked them down,” Kerr said. Daring is not defending, and the Warriors would be well-advised not to do that again to a player as proud and as accomplished as Gasol. He’s struggled at times as a shooter in these playoffs, shooting 34 percent in the Eastern Conference finals while going 2-for-9 on three-pointers in Games 1 and 2 of that series (both losses). It was embarrassing at times to see the affable 7'1" Spaniard miss shots badly, whether he felt that way or not. But Gasol was 10-for-20 on three-pointers entering The Finals, all during the Raptors’ four consecutive victories to eliminate the Bucks. He went 2-for-4 in Game 1 of The Finals, scoring a playoff-high 20 points to help compensate for Leonard’s and Lowry’s muted firepower. Asked about it afterward, on taking such a “dare” personally, the big man shrugged. “If you're open, you got to shoot them. Dare, no dare,” he said. “And then we go from there. If they go in, great. If not you keep taking them with confidence.” That’s speaking truth to a dare. 4. The ratings for Game 1 will soar… … if they can somehow count the number of times the Warriors and the Raptors watch and re-watch the video tape. A big theme heading into this series was the relative lack of familiarity the teams had with each other. Now, that’s a common aspect of The Finals, pitting the champs of opposite conferences and all. But given Golden State’s knowledge of the Cleveland Cavaliers after four consecutive Finals, Toronto is a relative stranger. Beyond that, key players from both sides were absent in the two regular-season meetings. But now they have a whole 48 minutes to dissect, digest and learn from. For the Warriors, who spoke about it the most, they saw things they might not have expected and things they definitely did not like. Such as? Try Siakam’s attacks on the basket (in transition and otherwise), their own inability to be the team that pushes pace and Fred VanVleet as the game’s essential reserve (15 points on a night when his three-point shot was MIA). Green, in particular, sounded as if he was going to binge-watch Siakam’s romp and figure a way to thwart the unorthodox flip shots the forward from Cameroon deployed. “He's become ‘a guy,’” Green said phrasing that as a nod of respect. “He put a lot of work into get there and I respect that. But like I said, I got to take him out of the series and that's on me.” Toronto can make use of the video for as long as the Warriors roster stays the way it is, which means sans Kevin Durant. Which leads into … 5. Who's here (and who isn't)? (And no, we don’t mean LeBron James.) Durant’s continued absence with a calf injury since Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals became an official problem in Game 1 of The Finals (the team’s first loss without him). Questions that had been bottled up for a couple weeks -- What did you miss most without Durant? How might he have changed your offense or defense? -- came spilling out from the large media crew that covers the NBA’s glamour team. Neither Kerr nor his players took the bait, which was smart. Not only would it look like excuse-making (considering how they hadn’t needed those before), it might have opened a crack of vulnerability into something wider and more troublesome. Durant is out for Game 2, but per a Yahoo Sports report is expected back at the series’ midway point (read: Game 3 or Game 4).  “KD's an all-time great player on both ends of the floor,” Curry said, “so I could sit here and talk for days about what he adds to our roster.  We obviously have proven that when he's out we can have guys step up, and that's going to be the case until he gets back.” Rushing him back would seem desperate, something the Warriors aren’t and shouldn’t be. Plus, it is early in a long series. And it really is irrelevant: NBA players and teams’ medical staffs don’t “rush back” anyone these days. Then again, once they’re ready to play -- as Golden State showed in using DeMarcus Cousins in Game 1 -- there’s no sense in letting talent help languish in street clothes. No time too, either. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 1st, 2019

PVL: Will Creamline bring back coach Tai Bundit?

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 29th, 2019

Raptors on brink of first Finals berth in franchise history

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO -- Twenty-one would be a very cool number for the Toronto Raptors. Before they get it, though, they’ll need to get one. And one would be beyond cool. Off the charts, historic, potentially transformative and largely indescribable. Twenty-one: That’s how many teams in NBA playoff history will have overcome an 0-2 start to win a best-of-seven series, if the Raptors manage to close out the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals. Whether it happens in Game 6 Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) at Scotiabank Arena or in Game 7 back in Milwaukee Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), Toronto would buck outlandish odds -- this is the 289th series to begin with the same team winning the first two games, so we’re talking a seven percent likelihood (20-of-288). [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] One: That’s all that stands between the Raptors and the first NBA Final appearance in Toronto franchise history. One more victory in the next three days would validate the risks and twists of this 2018-19 season for the Raptors, while exorcising nearly a quarter century’s worth of demons. One little win and Toronto finally will break through, capping a stellar six-year run of promising regular seasons and heartbreaking postseasons. They will have earned, in the face of so much uncertainty, their best shot yet at a championship, even if it means going through the mighty Golden State Warriors. When Raptors president Masai Ujiri traded for star forward Kawhi Leonard, he was gambling not just that Leonard could recover from the right quadriceps injury that scuttled his 2017-18. He was guessing that swapping in Leonard for former All-Star wing DeMar DeRozan could push Toronto to, well, right where they’re at. And he was hoping Leonard, a rent-a-player able to leave this summer in free agency, would enjoy the whole experience enough to let Ujiri pay him $220 million over the next five seasons. It’s impossible to know where things stand on that last front, owing to Leonard’s inscrutability and a decision that’s still six weeks away. But the Raptors never have gotten this far, so there is an opportunity here to be savored, with more potentially to come. “It would be a very, very long summer thinking about what could have been or what you could have done,” guard Fred VanVleet said, framing things a bit negatively after raining 7-of-9 three-pointers on Milwaukee in the 105-99 Game 5 victory. “So we've just got to go out there and have no regrets. … One win away from the Finals sounds pretty good to me.” Sounds a little easier, maybe, than it actually will be. The Raptors are at home for Game 6 and the crowd at Scotiabank crowd, already dialed high, will be able to let it rip without any fear -- immediate fear, anyway -- of failure. But Milwaukee will be desperate. Giannis Antetokounmpo has pledged that his team will not “fold.” And the Bucks have zero interest in a knock-knock year, believing all season that they were good enough to reach and win the championship. They wouldn’t be human if they weren’t shaken by the three consecutive defeats Toronto has dealt them. The Raptors have managed to surround and partially stifle Antetokounmpo, while still firing out enough to bother Milwaukee’s three-point shooters into repeated misfires. The Bucks’ defense has been probed and poked like a cut-rate steak. They resorted again to some uncharacteristic switching in Game 5 but had most of their success inside the arc. Late in the pivotal loss, they got beat for five offensive rebounds, when grabbing two or three might have swung the outcome. “It's win or lose,” coach Mike Budenholzer said Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in a conference call with reporters. “When you win, there are things that [still] are concerning and unsettling that you need to work on and improve. I think there's just enough possessions where there's a couple of rebounds that stand out. “Can we do a little bit better job in some of our activity in certain situations. Offensively, I think at times can our spacing be better and our ball movement be better? But I would say it's like a lot of games. We didn't get it done.” One area in which Budenholzer refuses to budge, dire circumstances be darned, is in his use vs. overuse of Antetokounmpo. The load the Greek Freak carries when he’s on the floor, the activity he generates, leads to fatigue and wear-and-tear that requires regular breathers. Extending his star’s minutes, Budenholzer believes, would lead to less “peak Giannis” rather than more, an inevitable tradeoff of quality over quantity. And the Bucks need every bit of Antetokounmpo’s best, or what’s left of it in their 97th game of the season. “Giannis, it's so impressive what he does and how important he is,” Budenholzer said. “I maintain that him getting appropriate rest, appropriate kind of just a chance to catch his breath, refuel… At the end of the day, you need to be able to produce and perform, including in the fourth quarter.” At the possible end of your season, though, you’ll have plenty of time to refuel if the opponent pounces while your star sits. Said Raptors coach Nick Nurse, in his own teleconference: “It's a ‘whatever it takes’ game. It's an unlimited-minutes night. This is just like any other critical must-win game.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2019

Football: Neil Etheridge fully intent on staying with Azkals and helping them move forward

Filipino-British goalkeeper Neil Etheridge has every intention of suiting up for the Philippine Men's National Men's Football Team moving forward.  The 29-year old has been the Azkals' first-string keeper the better part of his eleven-year career with the national team, and he plans on keeping it that way.  "Of course, I want to be part of the Azkals going into the World Cup Qualifiers," Etheridge said in a press conference in Manila, Thursday morning. "I decided to play for the Philippines at 18 years old. I’m 29 now, so [since] eleven years ago, I’ve been with that team." "Yes, people have said, ‘Is he just gonna play Premier League Football and just drop the Azkals?’ No, because I’ve been a part of that team for eleven years, and you don’t just drop something after eleven years," he continued.  More than just being on the team, Etheridge added that he would also like to be part of the team's progress moving forward, even if he has club commitments abroad.  "I want to be a part of it, I want to move it forward, I’d love to have the responsibility, not just from the Premier League or wherever I’m playing in England or Europe, I want to have a responsibility here. Moving forward, I want to continue being part of the Azkals, I feel like I’ve got a lot more to give, I just hope and pray that the Federation and everyone involved gets along the same lines and moves in the same direction." While Etheridge was part of the lineup that ultimately clinched a historic spot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, he wasn't able to join his Azkals during the tournament itself due to his club team commitments with Cardiff City FC.  Etheridge believes that while the Azkals were ultimately unable to record a win in the tournament, they were able to show that they indeed deserved to be on that stage of competition.  "Even though I wasn’t part of the Asian Cup, I think the team did extremely well, and they probably exceeded a lot of expectations without winning a game, they were very strong and they did very well," he said.  The promising Asian Cup performance, Etheridge hopes, will be a springboard for the Azkals and everyone involved to aim for an even better result moving forward.  "Do we just stop there and accept it? Or do we move forward and go ‘Right now, we want to try to qualify for the World Cup. Now we want to try to get to the next Asian Cup and do better.’ That’s what I want to see and I think everyone involved in that team wants the National Team, the Azkals to move forward, but that needs to, not just come from the players and the coaching staff, that needs to come from everyone behind the scenes all the way to the top." More than just again qualifying for the Asian Cup, Etheridge hopes to be able to, in his career, see the Azkals earn a coveted spot in the FIFA World Cup.  .@Neil38Etheridge talks about @TheAzkalsPH in the Asian Cup and moving forward | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/qGfYw8sFOR — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) May 23, 2019 "I’ve always said it, the Philippine National Team, the Azkals have really had a strong base, and I’ve been fortunate enough to play for the team for ten years. Maybe five years ago, we had a very strong team and people were wondering ‘Are we ever coming back to create a team like that?’ and we did and qualified for the Asian Cup, which is a massive achievement...I just hope that we can keep moving forward. Later on this year, we’ve got the World Cup Qualifiers, which I hope to be a part of, and we’ve created waves. First time we’ve ever qualified for the Asian Cup and I hope, maybe, in my career, that we’ll be able to qualify for the World Cup." The Azkals return to the pitch for an international friendly match against China in Guangzhou on June 7th.  The second round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers will begin on September later this year, with the Philippines among the 40 teams to participate in the qualifying tournament.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2019

PVL: May Jia kami – Valdez on Creamline’s advantage

It is fact that Creamline has a really stacked line-up, but prized hitter Alyssa Valdez sees one very important advantage against the competition. Setter Jia Morado. “One of our advantages as a team aside from chemistry is really Jia,” said Valdez as the Cool Smashers gear up to defend their title in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference. Valdez and Morado will be back for the import-laden tournament together with a solid local line-up along with Thai import Kuttika Kaewpin and Venezuelan veteran Aleoscar Blanco.  “Madami kaming players na magagaling na spikers but I think Jia will play a crucial role and a crucial player in our team because she’s gonna run the plays,” said Valdez, who has been teammates with Morado since their UAAP days with Ateneo de Manila University. “She’s the one who would decide kung kanino niya ibibigay ang bola. With Jia, we’re really (going to) be composed. Hopefully ma-achieve namin ang goal namin.” Morado welcomes the beautiful problem of having a vast arsenal of talent to work with. “Oo naman. It’s hard kasi iba-iba sila ng sets pero parang nakikita ko naman and nakikita rin naman ng coach namin how we can utilize ‘yung strengths ng bawat players sa loob ng court,” said Morado. The playmaker will get a lot of scoring options in Valdez, their imports and local stars in Jema Galanza, newcomer Heather Guino-o, Michele Gumabao, Pau Soriano, Rissa Sato, Coleen Bravo, Rizza Mandapat, Fille Cainglet-Cayetano, Rose Vargas and Celine Domingo. Setting up the plays will also be an easy task for Morado with reliable liberos in Mel Gohing and Kyla Atienza while she can get a good rest if needed with another veteran playmaker Kyle Negrito coming off the bench. However, Morado down plays their tag as a ‘super team’.    “I don’t think we’re the super team,” she said. “I think all of the teams are equally strong this year. It just boils down to who jells well with their imports.” “Kasi we’re not only looking at all-Filipino line-ups eh, na-up pa ng level with a couple of imports per team,” the three-time Best Setter added. “So dun ang question kung sino ang aabot ng dulo and kung sino ang kayang i-absorb ng import ang system ng team.” Morado points out that the strength of Creamline is not with the names of their stars, but on the roles they are willing play to help the cause.  “We’re still hoping na balance pa rin ang offense namin na we’re not relying too much on our imports, we’re noyt relying on a couple of locals. We’re relying on a balance scoring offense,” said Morado. The Cool Smashers open their campaign on Sunday against PetroGazz.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2019

PVL: Ako ang Ate nila – Pablo on young Motolite squad

Battle-tested and well-experienced, Myla Pablo embraces her role not only as newcomer Motolite’s ace hitter, leader and franchise player but also as an older sister of a very young crew in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference. “Ang role ko is as an Ate sa team namin kasi itong mga ‘to first time nilang mag-pro so ako ilang years na rin akong nasa pro so kailangan ako mismo ang magdadala this coming conference,” said Pablo, who will lead a squad composed of the core of Adamson University and University of the Philippines. Pablo transferred to Motolite from Pocari Sweat after last season and is expected to bring her experience and the same intensity of play in Motolite’s maiden campaign under head coach Air Padda.      The squad will pin its hopes on youthful hitters Isa Molde, Tots Carlos, setter Ayel Estranero and middle blockers Marist Layug and Aie Gannaban of UP, which won the 2018 Collegiate Conference title. Also joining the team are Eli Soyud, Thang Ponce, Bernadette Flora, Jellie Tempiatura and Fhen Emnas, who transferred from BanKo.     Known for her scoring prowess as well as superb floor defense, Pablo welcomes the chance of playing alongside younger players. “Ngayon siguro mas magaan din kasi itong mga bata siyempre kumbaga ganado pa silang maglaro. Gutom sa bola, gustong manalo,” said the two-time conference Most Valuable Player. But Pablo knows that her teammates will need her maturity come game time. “Pero ang mga bata ‘di pwedeng pabayaan mo lang sa loob ng court kailangan may magha-handle sa loob ng court,” she said. “Ako kasi nasanay na akong may kasamang beterano sa loob ng court and ngayon ako na ang Ate ng Motolite so I hope madala ko sila.” Pablo will have foreign guest players Bosnian Edina Selimovic and Cuban Gygy Silva to her guide the young Motolite squad. “Siyempre nadyan ang mga imports namin pero kaming mga locals kami yung susuporta kung ano ang dapat naming gawin,” said Pablo. Motolite will open its campaign on June 1 against BaliPure.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2019

Antetokounmpo learning how to deal with playoff disappointment

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO – Whenever LeBron James struggled through the sort of playoff performance Giannis Antetokounmpo had Sunday (Monday, PHL time), he seemed to want to put it behind him as swiftly as he could. His routine – assuming it wasn’t The Finals, where he got summoned to the podium, win or lose – typically went like this: the door to the Cleveland or Miami dressing room would swing open and there James would be, ready to face the questions, antsy to move on ASAP. Once he ‘fessed up to the shots he’d missed or the plays he’d botched, that was it. Oh, you knew he’d be looking plenty at video of that game in the hours before he played again, as a way to find and fix the flaws. But for public consumption at least, he shed it fast, like an ill-fitting suit. Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks’ young star, is still learning this face-of-the-franchise and cutthroat competitor stuff. He took his time afterward in the spartan visitors’ room at Scotiabank Arena. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] There he sat, with his knees wrapped and his feet plunged into an ice bath. The Kia MVP candidate stared at the score sheet that had been handed to him, the one bearing all sorts of dreary news from the double-overtime setback that cut Milwaukee’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1. Antetokounmpo barely looked up as the semicircle of cameras, microphones and reporters around him grew with media people tip-toeing that fine line between giving him some space and blocking out for position whenever he’d finally take their questions. (“Talk,” as we say in the trade). Heck, Antetokounmpo barely looked up when Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer strode through the dressing room and tapped him on his left knee, a little atta-boy bonding near the end of a long, disappointing night. While teammates poked habitually at their phones in the aftermath of Milwaukee’s 118-112 loss, Antetokounmpo mostly let his lie there on the seat next to him. By the standards he set this year as an MVP favorite, he knew he’d had a lousy night. The reporters standing there, like fans everywhere, knew he’d struggled, of course, in ways rarely seen since his first taste of the postseason four years ago. And he knew that they knew, so… “Obviously it wasn’t my best game,” Antetokounmpo said eventually. “I’ve got to be more aggressive… I’ve got to make the right play.” Defensively, Antetokounmpo was pretty much his usual self, grabbing 23 rebounds for the Bucks, challenging Toronto’s players out on the floor and close to the rim, and blocking four shots. Offensively, though, Antetokounmpo was a mess. He scored only 12 points, his fewest in a playoff game since he was first dipping his toe into postseason waters as a 20-year-old back in 2015. Through three quarters, Antetokounmpo had only six points on 3-for-8 shooting. Seven Milwaukee players and five Raptors had outscored him to that point, and he hadn’t earned his way to the foul line even once. What made it all worse was that the game was sitting there, aching to be taken by someone, anyone. Antetokounmpo got himself going a bit in the fourth quarter, making a couple of shots and earning five free throws. But he missed three. Then he went scoreless while playing the entire first overtime. And then he fouled out just 36 seconds into the second OT. He didn’t object, either, when that sixth foul for stepping in front of Toronto’s Pascal Siakam sent him to the side. Antetokounmpo just took it and exited, sealing it as one of those “not your night, kid” hard lessons. Asked about the frustration that Antetokounmpo might have shown to teammates, if not the public, Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe said: “If you don’t feel bad when you play bad, you don’t need to be playing this game. That’s the feeling that drives you to success. I’m happy he’s feeling like that.” Antetokounmpo’s game didn’t just spin sideways on its own. Raptors coach Nick Nurse switched some defensive duties around and assigned Kawhi Leonard – a two-time Defensive Player of the Year with the wingspan, instincts and reflexes to confound any open-court player – as the tip of Toronto’s spear against the Greek Freak. Then, as expected, Toronto sent second defenders at him, the surest way to get the ball out of Antetokounmpo’s hands or force him into difficult shots. So he tried to make the right basketball plays, as they say, and sometimes he did – he dished a team-high seven assists. Sometimes, though, he did not, turning over the ball eight times. For the record, Antetokounmpo has played 31 postseason games in his young career. In the games in which he has scored fewer than 19 points, his team’s record is 3-6. When he scores 19 or more, the Bucks are 14-8. Not to lay it all at Antetokounmpo’s feet. Fellow All-Star Khris Middleton was way off his usual offensive form, missing 13 of his 16 shots. And Bledsoe matched that. Together, those three starters were a combined 11-of-48. The rest of the team shot 50 percent (27 of 54). “We have the utmost respect and belief that the next game is not going to be as bad as [this] was,” said guard George Hill, who scored 24 points off the bench. “But I know it's sitting in their head that they go for a combined 11-of-48 or something like that. We're not worried about it.” Right. Who’s even counting? Budenholzer and his staff are going to have to figure out ways to get scoring opportunities without being stymied by all the defensive traffic. Teammates are going to have to shoot better, to keep those diggers honest in their matchups. And Antetokounmpo is going to need to play more aggressively and take what happened in Game 3 very personally. He wasn’t quite there yet, Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). “Obviously I want to stay aggressive. But we stick to our game plan,” Antetokounmpo said. “Some days I’m going to have a bad night. But my team has to focus on doing their job and I’ll do mine.” Said Brook Lopez, after watching the throng swallow Antetokounmpo on the opposite side of the room: “We know he’s not going to quit or stop playing. He’s going to continue to be him.” As he talked, Lopez’s phone began vibrating next to him. He said it was Bucks GM Jon Horst calling and, in a bit of gallows humor after a stinging loss, joked that maybe he shouldn’t answer. “I don’t know if I should pick up or not,” the Milwaukee center said, “’cause I want to be here tomorrow.” Antetokounmpo has a call to answer now, too. In Game 4, Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019