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Dragic, Davis named NBA Players of the Week

Miami Heat press release MIAMI – The NBA announced today that Miami HEAT guard Goran Dragić was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, November 20 through Sunday, November 26 (Nov. 21-27, PHL time). It is the third time Dragić has been named Player of the Week, the first time in the Eastern Conference, in his career and the 56th time in franchise history a HEAT player has earned the honors. Dragić led the HEAT to a perfect 3-0 record for the week, averaging 23.7 points, 4.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.00 steals while shooting 52.4 percent (22-of-42) from the field, 57.9 percent (11-of-19) from three-point range and 84.2 percent (16-of-19) from the foul line. He led the team in points and steals twice and in assists and minutes once each. He scored at least 20 points in each contest, including a game-high 27 points in a victory against Boston, snapping their 16-game win streak. He also moved into the HEAT’s all-time top 10 assist leaders list with his 1,063rd dish as a member of the HEAT this week after previously recording his 1,000th assist in just his 176th game with Miami, the fifth-fewest number of games needed to achieve the feat in team history. Dragić started the season scoring at least 17 points in the first eight games of the season, the third-longest such streak in franchise history to begin a campaign as he also connected on at least one three-point field goal in each of the season’s first 14 games, a new career-best mark. Additionally, he has led the team in scoring and assists a team-high eight times each this season. Dragić led off the week with a game-high 27 points as he paired with Dion Waiters (26 points) to become the first pair of HEAT starting backcourt teammates to each post at least 26 points in the same game since 2009, helping Miami end Boston’s 16-game win streak with a, 104-98, victory. He then added 20 points while dishing out six assists, including shooting 5-of-8 from three-point range, in a, 109-97, win at Minnesota. In that game, Dragić, along with Wayne Ellington (6-of-9), became just the 14th pair of Miami teammates to each connect on at least five treys in the same game. He ended the week with a game-high 24 points in a, 100-93, victory at Chicago to help give the HEAT a season-long three-game win streak. New Orleans Pelicans press release NEW ORLEANS – The NBA announced earlier today that Anthony Davis was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from November 20-26 (Nov. 21-27, PHL time). Davis led the Pelicans to a 3-1 week behind averages of 29.5 points on .586 shooting from the floor, 12.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 blocks. During the week, Davis led the Western Conference in total points scored (118), total field goals made (41) and highest field goal percentage for any player that attempted at least 50 field goals during the week. Additionally, Davis ranked fourth in rebounds (50) and blocks (five). Davis was the only player in the NBA during the week that recorded a 35-point, 15-rebound game, which he had two of (11/20 vs. OKC; 11/25 at GSW). During New Orleans’ win over Oklahoma City, Davis set new franchise records for both free throws made and attempted, going 18-of-22 from the charity stripe. This marks the third time Davis has earned Player of the Week honors during his career, and the first time during the 2017-18 season. Earlier this season, teammate DeMarcus Cousins took home Player of the Week honors, marking the first time that two different New Orleans players have won the award in the same season since Chris Paul and David West during the 2008-09 campaign. Davis is currently averaging 26.0 points (ranked fifth in the NBA) on .571 shooting from the floor (ranked 10th in the NBA), 11.3 rebounds (ranked eighth in the NBA) and 1.8 blocks (ranked third in the NBA) on the season for the Pelicans. .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnNov 28th, 2017

DeRozan, Davis named NBA Players of the Week

Toronto Raptors press release The National Basketball Association announced Monday that DeMar DeRozan has been selected as Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Feb. 26-Mar. 4 (Feb. 27-Mar. 5, PHL time). This marks the ninth time DeRozan has earned the honor during his nine seasons in Toronto and the fourth time this season. He was also named East Player of the Week for games played Nov. 13-18, Dec. 18-24 and Jan. 1-7 (Nov. 14,19, Dec. 19-25, and Jan. 2-8, PHL time). Eastern Conference Player of the Week @DeMar_DeRozan of the @Raptors (20.8ppg, 5.8apg, 4-0) in action! pic.twitter.com/qfbpMPmta1 — NBA (@NBA) March 5, 2018 DeRozan averaged a team-high 20.8 points, 5.8 assists and 3.0 rebounds during four games last week. He shot .482 (27-for-56) from the field and .794 (27-for-34) at the free throw line. DeRozan led or was tied for the team lead in scoring during all four of Toronto’s victories. The Raptors were the only team in the NBA to win four games last week, and secured a winning record for a fifth consecutive season. DeRozan, a native of Compton, California, is currently tied for 13th in the NBA averaging 23.7 points through 62 games. The four-time NBA All-Star was selected ninth overall by Toronto in the 2009 NBA Draft and is the franchise’s all-time leader in career points (12,923), field goals made (4,586), free throws (3,445) made and games played (657). New Orleans Pelicans press release NEW ORLEANS – The NBA announced earlier today that Anthony Davis was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from Feb. 26-Mar. 4 (Feb. 27-Mar. 5, PHL time). Davis led the Pelicans to a 3-0 week behind averages of 34.0 points (ranked first in the NBA) while shooting .507 from the floor, and .872 from the free throw line, 15.3 rebounds (ranked third in the NBA and second in the Western Conference) and 2.7 blocks (ranked third in the NBA). Additionally, Davis was the only player to average at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in the NBA over the course of the week. Davis helped propel New Orleans to two comeback wins against Phoenix (17-point comeback) and San Antonio (15-point comeback) and recorded a season-high 53 points in the Pelicans’ win on Feb. 26 (Feb. 27, PHL time) versus the Suns. The reigning KIA Western Conference Player of the Month became the first player in NBA history to register at least 53 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks in a game, while setting new franchise records for free throws made an attempted, going 21-of-26 at the line. Western Conference Player of the Week @AntDavis23 of the @PelicansNBA (34ppg, 15.3rpg, 3-0) in action! pic.twitter.com/mSKSwRcoFG — NBA (@NBA) March 5, 2018 This marks the fourth time Davis has earned Player of the Week honors during his career, and the second time during the 2017-18 season, becoming the first player in franchise history to earn multiple Player of the Week honors in the same season since Chris Paul in 2008-09. Davis is currently averaging 28.0 points (ranked second in the NBA) on .536 shooting from the floor (ranked 15th in the NBA), 11.1 rebounds (ranked eighth in the NBA) and 2.2 blocks (ranked second in the NBA) on the season for the Pelicans......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 6th, 2018

DeRozan, Curry named NBA Players of the Month

NBA press release NEW YORK – The Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan and the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry today were named the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in January. DeRozan ranked second in the Eastern Conference in scoring (25.3 ppg) and added 5.9 assists as the Raptors went 10-5 in January to pull within a game and a half of the East-leading Boston Celtics. The 6'7" guard scored at least 30 points in four of 15 games, highlighted by a franchise-record 52 points in a 131-127 overtime victory against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 1 (Jan. 2, PHL time). DeRozan recorded at least eight assists four times and posted the highest assist average for any month of his nine-year career.    The Warriors were 10-2 with Curry in the lineup in January, with six of those wins coming on the road (Golden State went 11-3 overall).  The 6'3" guard led the NBA in scoring (29.5 ppg) and added 6.7 assists and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 51.4 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from three-point range. Curry scored at least 30 points on six occasions, including a season-high 49 points in a 109-105 win over the Celtics on Jan. 27 (Jan. 28, PHL time). He connected on an NBA-high 62 three-pointers for the month, including eight threes as part of a 45-point effort in a 121-105 victory against the LA Clippers on Jan. 6 (Jan. 7, PHL time). DeRozan and Curry will play together on Team Stephen in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, which will be played on Sunday, Feb. 18 at Staples Center in Los Angeles (Feb. 19, PHL time). Curry drafted DeRozan for Team Stephen after both players were voted to start the 67th NBA All-Star Game. Here are additional highlights for DeRozan and Curry in January: Eastern Conference @Kia NBA Player of the Month @DeMar_DeRozan of the @Raptors in action! #KiaPOTM pic.twitter.com/yD08q0XrcB — NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2018 DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors Jan. 3 (Jan. 4, PHL time) @ Chicago: Hit five three-pointers and made all 10 of his free throw attempts as part of a 35-point effort in a 124-115 win over the Bulls. Jan. 8 (Jan. 8, PHL time) @ Brooklyn: Scored 35 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with 26.1 seconds left in overtime, in a 114-113 victory against the Nets. Jan. 30 (Jan. 31, PHL time) vs. Minnesota: Contributed 23 points, eight assists and four rebounds in a 109-104 victory over the Timberwolves. Western Conference @Kia NBA Player of the Month @StephenCurry30 of the @Warriors in action! #KiaPOTM pic.twitter.com/XqsuOiNVsN — NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2018 Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Jan. 3 (Jan. 4, PHL time) @ Houston: Scored a team-high 29 points and added nine rebounds and five assists in a 124-114 victory over the Rockets. Jan. 17 (Jan. 18, PHL time) @ Chicago: Recorded 30 points, nine rebounds and four assists in a 119-112 win against the Bulls. Jan. 23 (Jan. 24, PHL time) vs. New York: Shot 8-for-15 from three-point range and finished with 32 points and seven assists in a 123-112 win over the Knicks.   Other nominees for the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month were Boston’s Kyrie Irving, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, the LA Clippers’ Lou Williams, Miami’s Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and Portland’s Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 2nd, 2018

Cousins injures Achilles in Pelicans victory over Rockets

By Brett Martel, Associated Press NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 27 points, DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists before seriously injuring his left Achilles, and New Orleans survived a furious Houston rally for a 115-113 victory over the Rockets on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). A person familiar with the situation said Pelicans team physicians have provided a preliminary diagnosis of an Achilles tear, which would end Cousins' season little more than a week after he was named an All-Star starter. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because, officially, the team said an MRI will determine the severity of the injury. Yahoo! first reported the initial diagnosis. The injury, which occurred as Cousins pursued a missed free throw with 12 second left in the game, all but squelched the jubilation from a team and its fans, who otherwise would have been celebrating a fourth straight victory and seventh in eight games. "We were just figuring everything out. That's the tough part," Davis said, adding that he hadn't spoken to Cousins and wasn't yet certain if the injury was season-ending. "We've got to keep going and just keep finding a way to win. "We've got enough guys in here who are professionals who are always ready when their number's called, so we've got to make sure that we stay locked in." Jrue Holiday scored 21 points and unconventionally sealed the victory by purposefully missing a free throw with 1.8 seconds left, causing time to run out as players fought for the rebound. "Right now, just praying everything's OK," with Cousins, Holiday said, adding that it made the win victory "bitter-sweet." "Just unfortunate, really. I think we've been doing really well, got in a great groove," Holiday added, noting that Cousins' triple-double against Houston was his second in three games. "The way we've been playing, and him in particular, has been awesome." Players were quick to send messages of support to Cousins: Prayers up @boogiecousins 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 — Devin Booker (@DevinBook) January 27, 2018 Thoughts out to @boogiecousins! Hope you good big fella. 🙏🏾 — LeBron James (@KingJames) January 27, 2018 All prayers up for big fella @boogiecousins 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 — Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) January 27, 2018 My prayers go out to @boogiecousins 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 — DWade (@DwyaneWade) January 27, 2018 Prayers up for. @boogiecousins I’ve been there — Rudy Gay (@RudyGay) January 27, 2018 Prayers go out for @boogiecousins...Stay positive through this man! — Gordon Hayward (@gordonhayward) January 27, 2018 Prayers to my bro @boogiecousins Minor setback major comeback! — Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) January 27, 2018.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2018

Dragic, Williams named NBA Players of the Week

Miami Heat press release MIAMI – The NBA announced today that Miami HEAT guard Goran Dragić was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for week 13 (games played Tuesday, January 9 through Monday, January 15, PHL time). It is the fourth time Dragić has been named Player of the Week in his career, including the second time this season after also earning the honor on November 27 (Nov. 28, PHL time). He has now become just the fourth player in the Eastern Conference to earn the award on multiple occasions this season and the first HEAT player to do so since LeBron James during the 2013-14 campaign. It also marks the 57th time in franchise history a HEAT player has earned the honor. Dragić led the HEAT to a perfect 3-0 record for the week, helping to extend their current seven-game winning streak and their NBA-best 14 consecutive victories in January dating back to last season, after averaging 23.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.00 steals while shooting 50 percent from the field, including 46.2 percent from three-point range. He led the team in points in all three games, in assists and steals twice and minutes once. He scored at least 20 points in each contest, matching his season high for consecutive 20-point games. Additionally, he has led the team in assists 19 times and in scoring on 15 occasions this season, both team-highs. Dragić led off the week with a 24-point, 12-rebound double-double at Toronto on January 9 (Jan. 10, PHL time), helping Miami to a 90-89 win, handing the Raptors just their second loss at home this season. He also dished out a team-high four assists in the contest while his 12 boards tied his career high. On the second night of a back-to-back set on the road, he scored a team-high 20 points while dishing out a game-high nine assists in a 114-106, victory at Indiana, helping Miami snap a 10-game road losing streak to the Pacers. Dragić capped off the week scoring a game-high 25 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter in a, 97-79, win vs. Milwaukee on January 14 (Jan. 15, PHL time). NBA Players of the Week... @Goran_Dragic​ of the @MiamiHEAT​ (EAST) and @TeamLou23 of the @LAClippers​ (WEST) in action! pic.twitter.com/6hH46hFZYS — NBA (@NBA) January 15, 2018 LA Clippers press release The National Basketball Association today announced that L.A. Clippers guard Lou Williams has been named Western Conference Player of the Week for Week 13 (games played Tuesday, January 9 through Monday, January 15, PHL time). This is Williams’ second Player of the Week award this season (Week 11) and the third of his career. Williams helped the Clippers to a 4-0 week behind averages of 35.0 points, 4.8 assists and 1.50 steals, while shooting 45.7% from three-point range and 96.7% from the free-throw line in 36.5 minutes. He tallied an NBA best 140 points and scored at least 30 points in three of the team’s four games last week, highlighted by a 50-point performance at Golden State on Wednesday, Jan. 10 (Jan. 11, PHL time). It was the highest scoring effort by any Clipper in a single game since Charles Smith tied a franchise record with 52 points on Dec. 1, 1990. Now in his 13th NBA season, Williams is averaging career-highs in points (23.1), assists (4.9), three-point percentage (41.4%) and minutes (31.7) this season. He is currently the NBA’s leading bench scorer, averaging 21.8 points per game as a reserve, the highest scoring average of any bench player since Ricky Pierce averaged 23.0 points per game as a reserve in 1989-90......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2018

Jazz hope Hood can pick up scoring slack after Hayward exit

em>By Kareem Copeland, Associated Press /em> SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Rodney Hood wasn’t shy about announcing that he wants to be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player this season. The Utah Jazz may need that kind of effort from him to earn a second consecutive playoff berth. The franchise was shaken when Gordon Hayward signed with the Boston Celtics on July 4. The Jazz had been building the program for years with Hayward as its offensive centerpiece and were left twisting when the team’s leading scorer decided to head East. “Kind of understood that during the summer when everything went down,” Hood said of the new opportunity. “Just preparing for it. Got in the gym, put in a lot of work. Getting ready for that opportunity. To be in my fourth year and get this opportunity to lead such a great team and be alongside [Rudy Gobert] and help us get back to where we were ... I’m ready for it.” Between Hayward and George Hill, who signed with the Kings, the Jazz lost their top two scorers, who combined for 38.8 points per game. That’s exactly where they need Hood to step up. Hood has shown the ability to be a big-time scorer, but injuries and consistency have been a persistent issue. He worked on his post game with Joe Johnson during the summer and has been aggressive in the preseason. Recent history suggests Hood will need at least a 7.3 jump in his scoring average to be named Most Improved. He averaged 12.7 points in 59 games last season and the last four winners of the award all averaged at least 20 — Giannis Antetokounmpo (22.9), C.J. McCollum (20.8), Jimmy Butler (20.0) and Goran Dragic (20.3). That’s a significant jump for Hood. Only 31 players averaged 20-plus points last season and that was the first time in Hayward’s career. The Jazz hadn’t had a player average 20 points since Deron Williams during the 2010-11 season. A healthy Derrick Favors and Gobert are expected to help on offense, but the Jazz are hoping Hood can make the kind of leap that Hayward did in recent years that turned him into an All-Star. “Our challenge is going to be to score,” coach Quin Snyder said. “Being able to score in the half court, particularly at the end of the game. [Hayward] developed into that for us. That’s one thing everybody agrees on, we have a really balanced team and are looking for guys to step forward and want the ball in those situations.” Here are some things to watch for with the Jazz: strong>LOCKING UP: /strong>That Jazz led the league in scoring defense (96.8 points per game) last season, were No. 2 in 2015-16 and No. 1 in 2014-15. That effort on the defensive end won’t change. The unit is anchored by Gobert, who led the league in blocks last season, and the Jazz added known defenders in Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha and Epke Udoh. Rookie Donovan Mitchell is also a dogged defender. strong>STILL TRENDING UP?: /strong> Gobert has turned himself into one of the league’s best defenders in the last three seasons as his rebounding average has risen from 9.5 to 11.0 to 12.8. The 7'1', 245-pounder’s points per game have done the same — 8.4 to 9.1 to 14.0. Expectations are for those offensive numbers to keep trending upward. He’s one of the better big men in the pick-and-roll with excellent screens and the ability to dive toward the basket. Gobert has also worked to develop a knack for catching lobs and passes in traffic and finishing around the basket. “I’ve just got to keep doing the things I do well even better,” Gobert said. “Yes, I’m going to be in some different situations where I get the ball in the post or on the elbow. So, I’ve got to be able to help my team in those situations.” strong>NO LUCK: /strong>Guard Dante Exum has sustained a significant injury for the second time in three years. The 2014 No. 5 overall pick missed 2015-16 with a torn ACL and could now miss all of 2017-18 with a shoulder injury suffered last week. Many believed Exum was on the verge of a breakout season after struggling early in his career. strong>SPREADING IT AROUND: /strong> Snyder’s system has always emphasized ball movement, but he’s only had shoot-first point guards leading the way between Trey Burke and George Hill. Rubio brings a traditional pass-first guard to the starting lineup for the first time in years. The seventh-year veteran has struggled with his shot throughout his career, but the Jazz anticipate more easy buckets because of Rubio’s natural court vision. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

US Open hopes ultimate test doesn t feature trick questions

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — The U.S. Open wants to be the ultimate test in golf, and sometimes that leads to a series of trick questions. One of them was 14 years ago at Shinnecock Hills. A year after Jim Furyk tied the U.S. Open scoring record at Olympia Fields, the 2004 U.S. Open was so bone dry and lightning fast that only three players broke par on the weekend, none on Sunday. Fans having to move to the side because of a golf ball rolling toward them is not unusual, except when the player hit the shot with his putter from the green. Tee shots that landed on the seventh green rolled off the putting surface and into a bunker. One year after Rory McIlroy broke the U.S. Open scoring record at Congressional, no one broke par at Olympic Club in 2012 when Webb Simpson won. Moments like this lead to criticism that the USGA overreacts. Justin Rose sees it another way. "When everything is in balance, it's kind of boring," he said. "And I think in life, the closer you get to the edges, that's where the excitement is. So I would say the USGA is not reactionary. It's counterbalancing. So if you go too far one way, you've got to come back the other way. You don't want to fall off the edge." That's the question going into the 118th U.S. Open that starts Thursday. Might the USGA lean toward going easy on players because of what happened the last time at Shinnecock Hills? Or will it make it tougher on them because of the record scoring last year at Erin Hills? Brooks Koepka tied the record to par at 16 under, and six other players finished at 10 under or lower. "We're confident this should be a marvelous test," said Mike Davis, the chief executive of the USGA who has been in charge of setting up the courses for the U.S. Open since 2006 at Winged Foot, when the winning score was 5 over. Davis believes Shinnecock Hills is right where the USGA wants it, even with a light, steady rain on the final day of practice. Wednesday is never the measure of how a golf course presents itself. McIlroy is among those who likes what he sees. It's not a U.S. Open if players are not complaining, but it's been a quiet three days ahead of competition. The biggest question is whether the fairways are narrow enough. They are tighter than last year at Erin Hills, for sure, and an average of 15 yards wider than in 2004. "Honestly, I think they've got it right," McIlroy said. "It presents guys with options off the tee. You have to make a decision basically on every tee box what you're going to do. I'm obviously not that old, but when I watched U.S. Opens on TV and saw these long, narrow corridors of fairways and thick rough, that's what I was used to at a U.S. Open. ... If you look at the venues that are coming up, they're very traditional venues like Oakmont, Winged Foot, Pebble Beach. "Maybe you'll see more of what we perceive as a traditional U.S. Open setup." Rain was expected to yield to plenty of sun over the next four days, with the strongest wind on Thursday. Davis said he already has called several audibles on the original plan of where to put the pins on the greens, an example of the USGA not wanting the course to get on the wild side. Davis also said the winning score is not an issue at a major where par tends to be at a premium. "Never since I've been at the USGA — and it's been almost 30 years — I've never heard anybody at the USGA say we're shooting for even par," Davis said. "But we talk incessantly, 'How do we get the course to be really a great test of golf?' As we say, get all 14 clubs dirty to make sure that these players are tested to the nth degree." And what makes a good championship inside the ropes? The quality of the winner? Different players have won the last 15 U.S. Opens, the longest stretch of the four majors. The margin? The last playoff was 10 years ago when Tiger Woods won at Torrey Pines. Three of the last four U.S. Opens have been decided by three shots or more. "You need some great players in the mix," Rose said. "You need some great story lines." This U.S. Open is not lacking for either. Five players have a chance to replace Dustin Johnson at No. 1 in the world this week. Woods is hitting the ball well enough to win any week if he ever gets all parts of his game working together. To win a record-tying fourth U.S. Open would cap off an unlikely comeback following four back surgeries. Phil Mickelson, in the USGA record book with his six runner-up finishes, needs only this trophy to complete the career Grand Slam. "And then just a good test of golf where people think, 'Wow, they've really stepped up and played great golf under pressure,'" Rose added. "I think that's what people would like to see in this tournament is that guys are tested to the ends of the ability, to whether they can cope or not. And I think that's part of the charm ... not charm, but part of the allure of this tournament." The ultimate test starts Thursday. Results won't be available until the end of the week......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Djokovic s next French Open foe was cleared of match-fixing

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — In his record 12th French Open quarterfinal, Novak Djokovic will face a man he knows well, even if the rest of the world does not. What a tale Marco Cecchinato (it's pronounced Cheh-key-NAH'-toe) can tell, though. He is a 25-year-old from Sicily who once was handed a match-fixing suspension that later was thrown out on appeal. His tour-level career record was 4-23 before this season. His Grand Slam record was 0-4 before last week. Yet here he is, earning the right to face Djokovic for a spot in the semifinals at Roland Garros by eliminating the No. 8-seeded David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 on Sunday. How surprising is this run? Cecchinato's ranking of No. 72 is the lowest in a decade for a man in the final eight at the French Open. Asked whether he could have envisioned, even as recently as April, that he would get this far at a major tournament, Cecchinato answered with one word, "No," before breaking into as wide a smile as can be. "For me," he continued, "this is the best moment of my life." Cecchinato and Djokovic, who meet Tuesday, have crossed paths often in Monte Carlo. Djokovic, a 12-time major champion, lives there; Cecchinato has worked on his game at an academy there. "I have known of him for many years," Djokovic said after his 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 30 Fernando Verdasco. "I know now his game and I practiced with him. I watched him play. For sure, he's playing the tennis of his life." Yes, Djokovic was thrilled to get back to a ninth consecutive quarterfinal in Paris after dealing with elbow trouble for more than a year and needing surgery in February. And in other men's action Sunday, No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev was relieved to win a third consecutive five-setter — after trailing 2-1 in sets each time — to get to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, where he will face No. 8 Dominic Thiem. But one of these is not like the others. At all. In July 2016, Cecchinato was one of three Italian players initially suspended by their national tennis federation for allegedly influencing the outcome of matches. He was banned for 18 months and fined 40,000 euros (about $45,000), accused of losing on purpose during a lower-tier Challenger event at Morocco in 2015. Cecchinato appealed, and the Italian Olympic Committee announced in December 2016 that the sanctions were dropped entirely. Asked Sunday whether he wanted to explain what happened, Cecchinato replied in Italian: "Right now, I want to enjoy this moment. That year was a tough time. I want to think about the present. Maybe we can talk about it after the tournament. Now I want to enjoy the fantastic moment that I am living. And I think that's good enough." Fact is, his French Open probably should have ended in the first round. Cecchinato dropped the opening two sets that day against someone named Marius Copil, a Romanian ranked 94th, and then was two points from losing, right then and there. But Cecchinato came all the way back, winning 10-8 in the fifth set. And so the journey began. Next came a straight-set win over 190th-ranked Marco Trungelliti. The "lucky loser" made the 10-hour, 650-mile drive with his 88-year-old grandmother, mother and younger brother from his home in Barcelona to Paris once he realized there was a spot in the field available because someone else withdrew. That was followed by a four-set upset of 10th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta, and then the surprising win over Goffin. "When he made me run, he was actually dictating the rallies," said Goffin, whose right elbow was looked at by a trainer during the match, "so it was hard for me to have the upper hand." Cecchinato certainly appeared to be appreciating every moment of his time on Court Suzanne Lenglen. He chatted with himself during changeovers — "I like to talk," he said later — and dropping down onto the red clay after one last backhand winner on match point. And what a beautiful, one-handed backhand that is. A reporter wanted to know whether he thinks that shot of his is more like Gustavo Kuerten's or Stan Wawrinka's, a pair of past French Open champions. "Honestly," came the reply, "I want to be like Cecchinato.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

Of Pizzas and Ensaymada: The PBA Press Corps issue emphatic response to Ali Peek s accusations

The PBA Press Corps is taking none of Ali Peek's rather controversial comments. In an official statement released Tuesday, the PBA Press Corps condemned Peek's accusations on social media, saying that the group will not back down from anyone who questions its integrity. In a series of social media posts on Twitter and on Facebook, Peek, a 16-year PBA veteran who now works as a TV analyst, questioned the non-inclusion of Globalport's Sean Anthony and Alaska's Vic Manuel to any of the All-Star teams that will see action this week. Peek specifically singled out the "guys in [the PBA] Press Room" and even accused the Press Corps of taking bribes, whether in the form of money, pizza, and/or ensaymada, in exchange of votes for award and All-Star selections. The only problem with Peek's argument is that the PBA Press Corps has no say whatsoever in choosing players that will participate in the All-Star Games. "Mr. Peek got his facts wrong, first, because the media doesn’t determine who the members of the All-Star teams are, and second, the PBA Press Corps has never asked for anything in return from anyone for an award," the PBAPC statement said. "It was unimaginable on his part – not knowing how the All-Star members are named – considering that he was in the league that long and that he is a member of the television panel covering the games for Cignal’s HD Channel," the statement added. Ali Peek has since apoligized on his Facebook account, saying he "got carried away," and he was in a "very aggressive mood," as of late. However, the PBA Press Corps feel that Peek could have done better. "The PBA Press Corps doesn’t make decisions in a heartbeat, the group makes them after long deliberations and careful consideration," the statement said. "That’s why it pains the group so much that Mr. Peek decided to come up with his rants without any provocation.  And in his apology posted on Facebook today, the group wonders why Mr. Peek did not talk to the PBAPC first considering “that we are right next door to each other” before he came up with them?" the PBA PC added. The full PBA Press Corps statement can be read below.   Official statement from the PBA Press Corps in response to Ali Peek's rather controversial accusations on social media #PBA2018 pic.twitter.com/AgCY3TeoJN — Paul Kennedy Lintag (@paullintag8) May 22, 2018     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Mane leads Senegal s 23-man World Cup squad

By Ken Maguire, Associated Press DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal named its final 23-man squad for the World Cup on Thursday, with Liverpool forward Sadio Mane leading a group that includes key defender Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli and midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate of West Ham. Coach Aliou Cisse, captain of the 2002 team that reached the quarterfinals in the country's only previous World Cup appearance, gambled on the fitness of Monaco winger Keita Balde and Anderlecht defender Kara Mbodji. Balde last played on April 7 while Mbodji missed most of this season with a knee problem but has recently returned to training. The 20-year-old Rennes winger Ismaila Sarr also made the squad. The midfield has an English league look with Kouyate, Idrissa Gueye of Everton, Cheikh Ndoye of Birmingham and Pape Alioune Ndiaye of Stoke selected. Cisse, appointed in 2015, is relying on the players who brought Senegal through the qualifying campaign. "This team, this selection above all reflects continuity and coherence," Cisse said at a news conference in Dakar. "For me, it's essential to preserve this positive dynamic." Cisse said he's been monitoring Mbodji's recovery and is confident the defender will be fit. If so, he'll likely form a strong partnership in central defense with Koulibaly. Much of Senegal's hopes rest with the 26-year-old Mane, who has been in sizzling form with 10 goals in 29 appearances in the Premier League. Although it's only Senegal's second World Cup appearance, there is plenty of expectation with the squad having been drawn with Poland, Japan and Colombia in Group H at the finals in Russia. Cisse's men will have training sessions next week at a resort town outside Dakar before moving camp to Vittel, a city in northeast France. Mane will join up late as Liverpool prepare for the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26. Senegal has pre-World Cup friendlies scheduled against Luxembourg (May 31), Croatia (June 8) and South Korea (June 11). ___ Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo (Rennes, France); Khadim Ndiaye (Horoya, Guinea); Alfred Gomis (Spal 2013, Italy). Defenders: Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli, Italy); Lamine Gassama (Alanyaspor, Turkey); Moussa Wague (Kas Eupen, Belgium); Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux, France); Kara Mbodji (Anderlecht, Belgium); Saliou Ciss (Valenciennes, France); Salif Sane (Hanover, Germany). Midfielders: Cheihkou Kouyate (West Ham, England); Alfred Ndiaye (Wolverhampton, England); Idrissa Gana Gueye (Everton, England); Cheikh Ndoye (Birmingham City, England); Pape Alioune Ndiaye (Stoke, England). Forwards: Sadio Mane (Liverpool, England); Diafra Sakho (Rennes, France); Moussa Sow (Bursaspor, Turkey), Moussa Konate (Amiens, France); Ismaila Sarr (Rennes, France); Keita Balde (Monaco, France); Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke, England); Mbaye Niang (Torino, Italy)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Panama tweaks defense to limit damage

By Juan Zamorano, Associated Press PANAMA CITY (AP) — In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama makes its first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the U.S. has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival," and he has been working on how to contain the speed and strength of two strikers in particular: Belgium's Romelu Lukaku and England's Harry Kane. To avoid embarrassing defeats, he has experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticizing and destroying the dream that we've achieved," Gomez told The Associated Press. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: COACH Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. GOALKEEPERS Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. DEFENDERS The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. MIDFIELDERS Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. FORWARDS Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. GROUP GAMES Panama opens Group G in Sochi on June 18 against Belgium, then plays England in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24 and finishes on June 28 against Tunisia in Saransk, where the team will be based for the tournament......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

Blazers overall good season ends on a disappointing note

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Another late-season surge, another first-round exit. The Portland Trail Blazers head into the offseason with plenty of questions, with speculation that big changes could be ahead. Minutes after the Blazers were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans in the opening round, Blazers coach Terry Stotts was already addressing how Portland gets better going forward. Stotts said he has confidence that Portland President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey will keep the team pointed in the right direction. “It’s tough to evaluate after a playoff loss,” Stotts said. “We had a good regular season. We did a lot of positive things in the regular season, but ultimately you’re defined by the postseason. I think it’s still a little early right now to say what direction we’re going to go and what needs to be done moving forward, but one thing is that Neil is really good.” Portland made it to the playoffs for the fifth straight year after finishing the season 49-33 and winning the Northwest Division title for the seventh time in franchise history. The Blazers were boosted by a 13-game winning streak that started with a victory over the Golden State Warriors just before the All-Star break, and secured the third seed in the Western Conference. The team’s streak matched the franchise record. Damian Lillard drove the team’s success during that span. In March he averaged 27.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.5 assists. He also set a franchise record by making 64 straight free throws. He was named the West’s player of the week twice. But New Orleans was able to contain him in the playoffs. He averaged 18.5 points during the series, after scoring 26.9 per game during the regular season. “We had ups and downs early in the season, but we were really solid. We had a great group. We played together for the entire season. We stuck together for the entire season. You work so hard to give yourself the opportunity to play in the playoffs and it’s disappointing to lose it,” Lillard said. The Blazers have lost 10 straight playoff games. They were understandably stunned when the Pelicans took the first two games at the Moda Center. While they fought in Game 4, it was too late. New Orleans had the momentum. No sixth seed had ever swept a No. 3 in a best-of-seven series. But the cracks were already there, when the Blazers lost four of their last five to end the regular season. Perhaps that late-season surge had caught up with the team. “We had a very successful regular season, but kind of faltered down the stretch,” CJ McCollum said. “We lost games that we felt like that we should have won, but put ourselves in a position to have home court, but lost home court as well. Losing in the first round is never ideal and never something that you want to experience, but it is what happened and we have to learn from it.” Already there were rumors regarding Stotts’ future with the team, not to mention the status of several players. Olshey emphasized on Sunday that there would be no hasty decisions, especially in light of what the team accomplished during the regular season. “It’s our job to be measured and not overreact,” Olshey said. But like many of the players who faced reporters following exit interviews, Lillard was unsure of the solution. “I’m not sure. I’m not the guy making decisions,” he said. “It’s a great organization. I think everyone has done a great job. Coach Stotts has done a great job since Day 1. We’ve been in the playoffs five years straight.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2018

MVP Ladder: No topping Harden in award chase

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Stump speeches aren’t necessary. Not when your campaign drives itself on performance alone, when you elevate the conversation with each and every outing, the way James Harden did from the opening tip of this regular season until the final buzzer. So if it seems like Harden has skillfully avoided getting caught up in this reporter-crafted Kia MVP pickles that often drive the rest of our NBA dialogue on a daily basis, it’s by design. Besides, who needs to dive in on the debate when you have unsolicited celebrity endorsements from the likes of Kobe Bryant, who made clear to USA Today Sports that Harden’s time is now. “It’s got to be James,” Bryant said. “I really don’t understand the debate about picking somebody else. I don’t get it. Like, what the hell does this guy have to do? I mean for the last three years, the guy has been absolutely lights out, and now you still want to sit here and debate who should be MVP when he leads the league in scoring (30.4 points per game), his assists numbers (8.8 apg) are off the charts, they have the best record in the league (65-16). “If he doesn’t win MVP this year, what the hell is he supposed to do to win MVP, average 40 [points], 15 [assists] and 15 [rebounds]? I mean, come on now. Enough is enough.” After coming up short twice in the past three seasons, Harden is poised to capture the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. It is something he felt he earned last season, when his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, Russell Westbrook, used a triple-double season to claim the hardware. Stephen Curry won the award in 2015 and 2016, his star rising in concert with the Golden State Warriors' surge from lottery team, to contender to championship-winner in two of the last three seasons. While Curry claimed those awards, Harden won MVP honors in a vote of his peers at the NBPA’s first Players Awards in July 2015. There will be no dispute this time around. There is no other narrative that trumps Harden’s.   No other player's performance rises above what he’s done for the Rockets this season, the first with he and fellow superstar point guard  Chris Paul sharing the leadership load of the league’s best team. Not even four-time Kia MVP LeBron James, who turned in one of the finest seasons of his 15 year career in Cleveland, could catch Harden on the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder or in the minds of most voters. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni coached Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and two-time Kia MVP Steve Nash. Yet it was Harden who received D'Anton's greatest compliment after a win in Portland last month when called Harden the “best offensive player I’ve ever seen.” “He’s a hell of a player, first off,” D’Antoni told USA Today Sports when asked to explain his declaration. “It’s a combination of everything. There are other players who might be better at this, or a little bit better at that. But when you put everything together, and the way he passes, the way he sees teammates, the way he can lob, the way he can fight through a foul. I mean even on an off night, he’s probably getting 30, 40 points, and I mean efficiently. And he doesn’t even have anything going. But he’s so efficient, and he gets other guys involved.” If the strength of Harden’s MVP case this season was just his own individual offensive brilliance, he’d still have a rock-solid case. He did record the first 60-point triple-double in NBA history this season and won the scoring title a season after leading the league in assists. But, as D’Antoni noted, Harden's ability to raise the level of play from teammates like Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and others is what stands out. “I don't think there's a player that's had to create as much as I've had to in these last three years," Harden said in a GQ profile that came out this week. "I don't know if there's a guy in NBA history.” That comment can be interpreted in a number of ways, and it’s sure to spark yet another debate as the conversation continues deep into this postseason about who is most deserving of Kia MVP honors. But we’re done here. “It’s James Harden, no doubt about it,” a Western Conference executive told me when asked if there was any dispute about this season’s most valuable player. “Harden in a landslide.” * * * The top five in the Final Edition of the 2017-18 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: 1. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 2017-18 season stats: 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds Harden declared early on that this was the Rockets’ season. He felt they finally had the pieces to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference standings, and, therefore, the entire league. He served notice on opening night, when he and the Rockets spoiled the Warriors' championship banner and rings celebration at Oracle Arena by claiming a win. Harden’s 27 points, 11 assists and six rebounds was the opening salvo in what turned into the best season in Rockets history. Harden’s ability to blend his point guard responsibilities with his role as the most lethal scorer in the league fueled one brilliant performance after another. As well, Harden also silenced the critics who suggested he and Paul would not be able to play well off of each other. The Rockets enter the postseason with the No. 1 overall seed and with all the confidence needed for a championship run. 2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Last week: No. 2 2017-18 season stats: 27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds LeBron put the final touches on his outstanding 15th NBA regular season by capturing Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for March/April, the fourth time this season he took those honors (October/November, December and February). In addition to the parade of milestones LeBron reached this season, he also piled up a career-high 18 triple-doubles, led the Cavaliers through a tumultuous year that ended with 50 or more wins for the fourth straight season. He shot better than 54 percent from the floor (.542) and also had his best shooting from beyond the 3-point line (.367) since returning to Cleveland from Miami before the 2014-15 season. The true test of his super powers, though, will be on display in this postseason. The Cavaliers finished as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference but go into the playoffs as the favorite, in the eyes of most, to survive the gauntlet due in large part to LeBron’s work the past seven seasons guiding his teams to The Finals. 3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last week: No. 3 2017-18 season stats: 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks Davis turned it on when the Pelicans needed it most, after DeMarcus Cousins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. He powered the Pelicans with 50 double-doubles, one triple-double and, when the Pelicans needed grind their way into the postseason as 2017-18 waned, he picked his game up even more. He averaged 29 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks during the Pelicans’ season-ending five-game win streak that helped them secure the No. 6 seed. That sealed up Davis' second career playoff run and he’s still looking for his first playoff win. His ability to carry the load for the Pelicans the way he did, though, is easily the most impressive part of his season. There was no guarantee the Pelicans would make the playoffs in a rugged Western Conference even with Cousins healthy. To do it without him speaks volumes about the impact Davis had on his team. 4. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Last week: No. 4 2017-18 season stats: 26.9 points, 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds Lillard has done what few thought possible after the Portland team he joined as a rookie was taken apart and rebuilt around him. The catalyst for a Blazers team that finished third in the West, Lillard forced his way onto that short list of names in the best-point-guard-in-the-game discussion. He lacks the championship and/or Kia MVP hardware guys like Curry, Kyrie Irving and Westbrook all have. But his body of work as the face of Portland's franchise makes it difficult to leave him out of the discussion. The Blazers wouldn't have come anywhere close to that No. 3 seed without Lillard going nuclear in February (31.4 points, six assists and nearly five rebounds in 10 games). This has been a transformative year on and off the court for Lillard, who is not only had a career-best season, but also celebrated the birth of his son late last month. 5. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 5 2017-18 season stats: 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists Durant followed up his 2017 Finals MVP honors with a steady season, by his lofty standard, but not one that pushed him closer to the top of this list. His understanding of the way the regular season connects to the postseason no doubt played a role in the way he paced himself. That’s not to say that Durant didn't have an outstanding regular season, because he did. But just like James and to an extent his All-Star teammate, Curry, Durant’s seasons are now measured against the high standard he’s set in past ones. He actually averaged more points and assists this season compared to his first with the Warriors. And he set a career-high with 1.8 blocks per game, showing off his improved awareness and effectiveness on defense. With Curry out for the first round of the playoffs due to injury, Durant will get a chance to remind the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the league just how dangerous he can be with everything on the line. The next five 6. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors 8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 9. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks 10. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

Eight NBA Playoffs storylines to watch

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Suddenly, we’re not quite as certain that Warriors-Cavs, Part IV, Sure to be Way Better than “Jaws: The Revenge” and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”, is going to make air, are we? The 2018 playoffs are just about here, and Stephen Curry isn’t, and Kyrie Irving won’t be, and Joel Embiid might be, and Jimmy Butler will be -- if his team is, that is. And both conference champions from a year ago are equally unsettled going into the postseason, for different reasons. The Golden State Warriors are banged up, while the Cleveland Cavaliers are brand new. Golden State hasn’t looked like an offensive leviathan, while Cleveland has been one of the league’s worst defenses. And, most importantly, each has legit challengers this year in Houston and Toronto in its respective conferences -- deep, tough, elite defensively, hard to stop offensively, and tempered/hardened/driven by recent playoff failures. Which should make late May and early June even more compelling than normal. At the least, we’ll have the Warriors going for three rings in four years, and LeBron James going for an eighth straight Finals appearance -- each representing something special. The postseason, then, should provide some theatre that Meryl Streep will drop what she’s doing to watch. Among the biggest storylines: 1. The Hinkie Referendum, Passed The Philadelphia 76ers’ scintillating run to end the regular season sets up them for a glorious postseason run, that will finalize a season in which the decisions by former GM Sam Hinkie -- the successful ones, anyway -- are rightly celebrated. (The failures of Jahlil Okafor and Michael Carter-Williams to fire as stars after Hinkie took each high in the first round are not only not ignored by Hinkie’s biggest supporters, they are cited as proof that he had to do what he did for as long as he did, because you’re going to have some misses at the top of the Draft. God, I love Hinkie Stans.) It says here that a healthy Joel Embiid and an exponentially improving Ben Simmons are the one team that can give LeBron’s Cavs true night sweats in the Kyrie-less east playoffs. Embiid is a problem for any team, but especially for the defensively indifferent and ineffective Cavaliers, who have no one remotely capable of keeping “The Process” from running wild. Since New Year’s Day, only Curry (120.4), Chris Paul (116.1) and Jamal Murray (114.7) have better Offensive Ratings among point guards than Simmons’s 113.9, per NBA.com/Stats. Who, from among George Hill (6'3"), Jose Calderon (6'1"), Jordan Clarkson (6'5") and J.R. Smith (6'5") is Cavs coach Tyronn Lue going to put on the 6'10" Simmons? Yes, Lue could try James on Simmons, who is no threat to shoot from deep or run through a maze of pindowns. But that doesn’t make him any easier to slow down. No matter who Philly plays in the postseason, the Sixers are going to be a problem. 2. Indiana George and the Tempo of Doom It’s taken the Oklahoma City Thunder much longer than any of us thought, but OKC is a win from the postseason (even if the Thunder can’t beat the Heat in Miami tonight, the Cancun-bound Memphis Grizzlies will be in Oklahoma City Wednesday). And that’s when Paul George will determine whether his future is in the 405 or elsewhere. The Thunder’s up-and-down regular season doesn’t provide much clue to how far they could go in the playoffs, thought OKC looked formidable in ending the Rockets’ 20-game home win streak Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). It was a game that featured Russell Westbrook successfully taking on the challenge of defending James Harden down the stretch. When Oklahoma City plays with pace and gets up and down the floor, it can beat anyone. The Thunder will likely have to take down an elite unit like Houston at some point in the playoffs to convince George to stay. 3. A Series of Fortunate Events With Irving’s injury, the Washington Wizards’ failure to launch and other maladies to Eastern Conference contenders, the Cavaliers have an increasingly clear path back to The Finals. Doing this is best way to keep LeBron: The Sequel in town for an extended run, but the proof will be in the doing, of course. Cleveland will need Larry Nance, Jr., Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson to perform under playoff pressure, which Nance and Clarkson have never had to do and Hood did briefly in the 2017 playoffs with the Utah Jazz. 4. She packed my bags last night, pre-flight/Zero Hour, 9 a.m The Rockets have been the best team in the league most of this season -- an offensive and defensive juggernaut, the logical extension at both ends of the floor of the standards the Warriors set the last few seasons. James Harden will likely walk away with Kia MVP honors after the season and Chris Paul has been everything Houston hoped he’d be. But Houston must finish the deal with a championship to make its own mark. 5. Jurassic Park Everything is set up for Toronto, as well -- the Raptors have the Eastern Conference’s best record and are tied with Houston for the best home record (34-7) in the league. They have home court until The Finals. Their two lynchpins, All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, are healthy. They’ve diversified their offense and learned to love the 3-pointer. They’re back to guarding at an elite level. The East is laid out open for a Toronto run to The Finals. There’s no excuse for the Raps not to. 6. ‘Brow’, Beating We don’t know for sure that the New Orleans Pelicans will make the playoffs. As of this writing, they haven’t clinched yet, although beating the Warriors in Oakland on Saturday went a long way toward their getting to the postseason. But assuming New Orleans is playing next weekend, its success in the playoffs can only help the franchise as it recovers from the recent death of former owner Tom Benson. “The Brow” (aka Anthony Davis) may have got us on April Fool’s Day, but the next couple of weeks will be dead serious. What if the Pelicans manage a first-round upset? Don’t say it’s not possible with the way Davis is playing. That would go an awful long way to quieting the “How the Boston Celtics Will Get Anthony Davis in 2020, Vol. MCMLXXXVII” hot takes. 7.  The Boston Medical Group The Celtics as imagined played exactly five minutes together this season. Everything that’s transpired since has been wrapped in gauze and sutured shut. Kyrie Irving’s latest knee procedure has everyone hopping off the Celtics’ postseason bandwagon -- a mistake, unless coach Brad Stevens pulls a hammy before Game 1 in the first round. Stevens has coached up whatever 12 guys are active pretty damn well since he’s come to the NBA, and he’ll still have a lot to work with in the playoffs: Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier (the Celtics hope they can get Marcus Smart back after the first round). The bigger issue, of course, is Irving’s health going forward -- and into next season, after which he can opt out of the last year of his deal and become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. The current belief in Boston is that Irving’s knee -- the cartilage, ligaments, tendons and bones -- is sound and that he’ll have no long-term issues with it. But Irving and the team thought taking out the tension wire that had helped heal his broken patella after his 2015 surgery would do the trick. It didn’t.   There should be no doubt Boston will be all in on Irving. But after missing these playoffs after going out in Game 1 of the Finals in ’15, Irving will again have to show he’s able to handle a season-long campaign and still be able to bring his best to the postseason. 8. Bah Gawd, That’s Kawhi Leonard’s Music! We have all worked on the assumption that Leonard isn’t going to play for the Spurs any more this season as he rehabs his quad injury, even though they’ve never quite actually said he’s out for the year -- and he, as per usual, has said next to nothing. The Spurs have ridden LaMarcus Aldridge’s All-NBA-level season to the cusp of the playoffs, but no one has much expectation they’ll be there very long if they make it without their former Finals MVP. “Do I have any expectation I’ll see Kawhi?,” Danny Green said a week ago, repeating my question to him. “As of right now, my mindset is no. I’m just going to forward without him … if he does come back, great. Our mindset is this is the group we have today, this is the group we’ll have tomorrow. If somebody does come and join, we’ll have them and it’ll be great. But right now we’re moving forward with the expectation that this is who we have.” But, it’s not like we haven’t seen guys come back suddenly for the playoffs after missing large chunks of a season. A fellow named Michael Jordan played just 18 regular season games in his second season with the Bulls in 1986, recovering from a foot injury and not returning to the lineup until mid-March. True, he did get 15 games under his belt before the playoffs. But that did not prepare anyone for his showing up in Boston Garden in Game 2 of the first round against the Celtics and dropping 63 on the home team. There are, to be sure, issues between Leonard and the Spurs, and maybe they’re insurmountable. But if, somehow, “The Klaw” wakes up one morning this month and says he’s good to go, and reports for duty … who doesn’t think San Antonio can’t start assimilating opponents into its collective just like old times? Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2018

June Mar will never let San Miguel down

San Miguel has its full trust on June Mar Fajardo. And more often than not, the star center delivers for San Miguel. The reigning four-time league MVP once again came through for the Beermen Friday for Game 5 of the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Finals, leading San Miguel to a fourth straight All-Filipino title. In a double-overtime classic, Fajardo scored a playoff career-high 42 points to go along with 20 rebounds, powering San Miguel's comeback from 23 points down to stun the Magnolia Hotshots. He was named Finals MVP as well. "Ever since, kilala ko si June Mar eh," head coach Leo Austria started when talking about his prized ward. "Sometimes pag tinatanong namin yan, 'June Mar, mananalo ba tayo?' 'Coach, mananalo tayo.' You can see it naman from his facial expression," Coach Leo added. June Mar was practically unstoppable after the third quarter of Game 5. He scored 14 points in the fourth period and another 12 in overtime, eight in the second extra session. "That's the sign na he wants to finish this championship dahil alam niya na pagod na pagod na siya. He wants to have vacation dahil remember guys, during Holy Week, nasa bahay lang kami, kanya-kanyang nagpapa-kundisyon instead of going back to their respective families," Austria said. Fajardo was one of the San Miguel players who didn't get to go home. He stayed in Manila while his parents were in Cebu. Ever the team player, June Mar deflected credit once again despite being clearly the best player on the floor. "Thankful ako sa teammates ko na hindi kami nag-give up," he said. "Hinahanap ako ng teammates ko eh kailangan ko mag-produce, buti pumapasok tira ko. Dami ko mintis nung first half buti pumasok na nung fourth until the end," Fajardo added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 7th, 2018

Warriors win over Kings marred by scary injury to McCaw

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Golden State guard Patrick McCaw left on a stretcher late in the third quarter of the Warriors’ 112-96 win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) after a terrifying thud to the floor following an undercut by Vince Carter that appeared unintentional. McCaw was transported to UC Davis Medical Center for further evaluation, the team said. He drove the baseline and went down with a thud at the 41.8-second mark of the third quarter, hit in the lower body by Carter. McCaw lay still and in agony for about 10 minutes as the crowd quieted. Carter, who was given a Flagrant-1 foul, knelt nearby as medical personnel from both teams along with Warriors coach Steve Kerr rushed out to the baseline beneath Golden State’s basket. Players for both teams eventually came to the floor as McCaw was placed on a stretcher and wheeled away with his neck stabilized. McCaw, who appeared to be trying to dunk, did a scissor kick in the air over Carter’s right shoulder before landing hard on his troublesome back. Kerr swore and was visibly frustrated and hollered “He knows better,” referring to Carter, before going out to the court to check on his second-year guard. Carter got close to McCaw and offered some words just before the stretcher was pulled away. The two teams then gathered in a huddle before the game resumed. Kevin Durant had 27 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in his first full game back from a rib injury. Durant had returned Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) against Milwaukee but got ejected just before halftime for using vulgarities. Fellow All-Star Klay Thompson played Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) following an eight-game absence with a broken right thumb and contributed 25 points on 10-for-19 shooting as the defending champions snapped a rare three-game losing streak. Everything appeared peaceful outside Golden 1 Center, where police on horses and officers in riot gear surrounded the arena hours before tipoff. Protesters have joined hands at recent games following the shooting death by police of unarmed black man Stephon Clark on March 18 (Mar. 19, PHL time). Earlier Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), former Kings star and Sacramento native Matt Barnes organized a rally and pledged to create a scholarship fund for the children of black men killed by police. Warriors coach Steve Kerr found himself on the defensive before the game for not attending the rally after he pledged his organization’s support to Clark’s family and the community. “I’m coaching the Warriors tonight and we’re kind of busy today,” Kerr said before adding, “I think you guys know our team, we’re very socially aware and active and we’ve got a lot of players who do a lot of good in the community and who care about what’s going on. And we all care about what’s happening here and we’re very compassionate first and foremost to the Clark family but also to the community. We support the protests. Everybody in our organization wants to see a change and wants to see justice.” De’Aaron Fox had 15 points and eight assists and Buddy Hield scored 19 off the bench in the Kings’ fourth straight defeat. After taking an elbow, Shaun Livingston grabbed a driving Skal Labissiere with 4:40 left in the second quarter and tempers flared. Officials went to replay review and Livingston received a Flagrant 1. TIP-INS Warriors: F Omri Casspi missed playing against his former team, sitting out a seventh straight game with a sprained right ankle. ... Golden State won both meetings in Sacramento but lost twice to the Kings at home. ... The Warriors haven’t lost four straight since Feb. 26-March 2, 2013. Kings: Sacramento was trying to become the first Western Conference team since 2014-15 to beat Golden State three times in the same season. ... Sacramento signed F Nigel Hayes. ANOTHER MARK Golden State won 55 games for the fourth straight season, the 15th time it has happened in NBA history and first since the Spurs did so five consecutive times from 2012-2017. WELTS TO HALL OF FAME Warriors chief operating officer Rick Welts was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, part of a 13-person class that also includes player development consultant and former MVP Steve Nash. UP NEXT Warriors: Host Phoenix on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time), their second-to-last time playing on consecutive nights. The Warriors have beaten the Suns 13 straight times, 12 in a row at home. Kings: At the Lakers on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) to open a stretch of four road games before ending the season at home against Houston......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 1st, 2018

MVP Ladder: Davis shrugs off pain, makes case for MVP

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com You’ll have to forgive New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry for not feeling the need to mount some coordinated public campaign for Anthony Davis for Kia MVP. Gentry figures the voters have eyes, so they've seen the same jaw-dropping things from the superstar big man that he sees every night. “He’s great, man. Just an absolutely great player in every aspect,” Gentry said in a hallway at the Smoothie King Center after Davis and the Pelicans came up short in a critical game against the Portland Trail Blazers. “You want to know what kind of guy he is? He’s in there beating himself up saying he should have done more. What more could he have done? He got 36 and 14 with three guys handing on him all night. Come on, man, he’s just a great, great player.” Davis finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks and played the final 17 minutes in pain after injuring his left ankle late in the third quarter. He took a minute to shake it off and finished the game favoring the ankle, that required treatment after the game. These are the sorts of performances he’s turned in routinely this season, particularly since the Pelicans’ other All-Star big man, DeMarcus Cousins, went down with a season-ending Achilles injury Jan. 26 (Jan. 27, PHL time). He and Cousins were on pace to become the first pair of teammates in NBA history to each average better than 25 points and 10 rebounds. Davis is averaging 31.1 points, 12.3  rebounds and 3.6 blocks since the All-Star break, after averaging 27.4, 10.7 and 2.1 in the 51 games before the break. So the “M-V-P” chants he heard in those final minutes against the Trail Blazers were well warranted for a player with range and versatility as a two-way performer that might be unrivaled in the league. “I can only think of a couple guys in this league who can impact a game the way he can from end to end. It’s AD and … ” Gentry said, before a reporter blurted out the name of the other player he was thinking of, “yeah, LeBron. I mean, these guys can guard from the three-point line to the rim and can score from those same spaces on anybody. Guys like that, wth that ability and those talents, they are just very rare.” James and Davis (who occupy the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively, in this week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder) will square off today at Quicken Loans Arena. It’ll be another chance for Davis to be measured against the league’s standard-bearer in regards to the MVP conversation. James has four MVPs in his war chest, and could (and probably should) have a couple more. Meanwhile, Davis is still searching for his first. At 33, James has shown a durability and staying power that Davis, 25, is also still searching for. If there is a knock on his game, it’s that he’s struggled with injuries, bumps and bruises to a degree that’s greater than you’d expect from a player as physically gifted as the 6'11", 253-pound dynamo. Tuesday night’s (Wednesday, PHL time) spill against the Trail Blazers marked the 11th time this season Davis has had to exit a game because of an injury. The reaction of the crowd, a collective hush as Davis writhed in pain under the basket, was followed by wild cheers when he got to his feet and limped to the bench. Davis refused to go to the locker room, choosing instead to take a moment to gather himself and return to the game, knowing the severity of his injury was overshadowed by the weight of the Pelicans’ current predicament. They need every single game to reach the postseason for just the second time in his career, the same postseason he suggested the Pelicans would have dominated had Cousins not gotten injured. That’s why he’ll play through whatever lingering discomfort he has to against the Cavaliers tonight. The gravity of the Pelicans’ situation demands that he fight through the pain, dust himself off and get back on the floor the same way he did Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). “Just knowing the type of situation we’re in,” Davis told reporters in New Orleans Thursday (Friday, PHL time), “I just wanted to be on the floor. I felt I couldn't leave that game, even though it was bothering me. I just tried to tough it out and just play through it.” * * * The top five in the Week 24 edition of the 2017-18 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 30.7 points, 8.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds Harden took a rare night off Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) and the Rockets still rolled over the Chicago Bulls. The Rockets are good enough to go on auto-pilot the way they’re playing. They’ve already set the franchise record for wins in a season and secured the Western Conference's No. 1 seed ... all with seven games to go in their season. Harden’s work from the start of training camp has been the catalyst for this special season for the Rockets. He worked to integrate the new additions to the lineup, but did so without sacrificing any of the things that made him the strong MVP candidate he was last season. Topping his performance from last season should be more than enough to secure his first Kia MVP. The official word will come on June 25 (June 26, PHL time) at the NBA Awards show. But with the way the Rockets have played down the stretch of this season with Harden leading the way, the suspense in this MVP chase has evaporated. 2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 27.6 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds You have to appreciate LeBron’s admission that he would indeed vote for himself if he had a say in the race for the Kia MVP. And it’s hard to argue with his logic. Given all that the Cavaliers have endured since Kyrie Irving’s trade request was made public, it’s truly remarkable that he’s been able to compartmentalize the way he has and continue to play at an otherworldly level. If not for James Harden, LeBron would be clearing space on his mantle for his fifth Maurice Podoloff Trophy. Instead, he’ll have to settle for another season of milestones and his continued assault on nearly every career statistic the league has to offer. Not to mention he's still on track to play all 82 games for the first time in his career. And if you were wondering how the old man (relatively speaking, of course) bounces back after tough night (18 points in their Wednesday, PHL time, loss to Miami), catch the highlights from his 41-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist masterpiece in Charlotte on the second night of a back-to-back set. 3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 28.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 blocks Back-to-back losses at Houston and at home to Portland have put Davis and the Pelicans in a familiar position in the Western Conference playoff chase. Every game until the finish is a must-win affair, with today’s tilt against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers serving as the ideal showcase for Davis. He’s been an absolute monster of late (29.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.8 blocks and 2.4 assists in his last 10 games). He knows what it will take to push the Pelicans into the playoff mix without DeMarcus Cousins, as that is something Davis had to do three years ago to secure his lone playoff voyage. It took a home win over San Antonio on the final night of the regular season to clinch a spot and it might take the same this time around -- Davis and the Pelicans finish up the regular season April 11 (April 12, PHL time) with a home game against the Spurs. 4. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 23.3 points, 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds Saturday’s trip game in Boston (Sunday, PHL time) couldn't have come at a better time for DeRozan and the Raptors, who still have some work to do secure the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Their lead over the Celtics is down to three games. Given Toronto's recent losses to the Cavs and LA Clippers, a statement win on the road against the surging Celtics would go a long way towards resetting the Raptors' collective confidence. DeRozan’s continued evolution as a playmaker has remained on full display (15 assists in his last two games) and will be crucial to the Raptors’ offensive effectiveness in the playoffs. That's assuming coach Dwane Casey does indeed plan to keep his rotation as deep in the playoffs as he has all season. But the scoring prowess that has propelled DeRozan to All-Star status the past four seasons will be just as important, if not more so, given the relative inexperience of several of the Raptors’ role players. Both DeRozan and fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry know how vital it will be for them to be in a good rhythm for the postseason. 5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Last week: No. 5 Season stats: 26.8 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds Lillard was spectacular in a critical road win in New Orleans Tuesday night, finishing with a game-high 41 points (and nine rebounds, six assists and four steals). He did all that while out-dueling fellow MVP candidate Davis in what was a thrilling, must-see fourth quarter. It didn’t matter who was guarding Lillard -- sometimes it was Davis and other times it was Pelicans defensive wiz Jrue Holiday. Lillard was locked in and on absolute fire in a playoff atmosphere. His importance to the Trail Blazers, though, was even more evident a night later when he was missing from a deflating road loss to in Memphis. Lillard missed the game for a good reason: the birth of his son. But it should be clear by now that these Trail Blazers will go only as far as the mercurial Lillard can take them in the postseason. C.J. McCollum is as good a No. 2 option as you’ll find and Terry Stotts has done Coach of the Year-caliber in developing the roster. It’s Lillard’s scoring and playmaking, however, that takes them from a solid team to a top-three seed in the Western Conference. The next five: 6. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 7. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 9. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics 10. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves And five more ... LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers; Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers Next up? An inside look at LaMarcus Aldridge from an Western Conference advance scout: “I would love to know exactly what was said in the conversation he had with [Spurs coach Gregg] Pop[ovich] after last season, from both sides. Because whatever it was, it’s produced the best season I’ve seen from LA since he’s been in the league. And I’m dating that back to his best years in Portland. The Spurs aren't close to the team they are with all of the heavy lifting he’s done this season. He’s been more physical and much more active on the defensive end than he was last season and obviously, with Kawhi Leonard missing from the lineup for basically the entire season, his responsibilities as the No. 1 option for them offensively has been tremendous. He’s always been a skilled, face-up big. Working from the L and on the baseline extended, he’s as tough a cover as you’ll find at that position. "He embraced the other stuff, though, and perhaps at Pop’s urging. He’s made himself a more physical presence around the basket and at the rim. When he’s working in space against opposing [centers], that’s when he really has an advantage, because he’ll abuse guys his size and bigger who aren’t as mobile, guys who cannot match his quickness. He’s not an above the rim guy or a rim protector that causes you any concern, but he’s stronger than he looks and this season, he’s mixed it up more when necessary. He’s been more physical than usual. I’d suggest that’s a direct result of what Pop was trying to convey to him. Without Kawhi out there, someone had to play that role as their offensive catalyst and to do that LaMarcus was going to have to toughen up and show more fire than he did last season. I give him credit for stepping up to that challenge. I’ll admit, I was a bit of a skeptic when he was the hot free agent name a couple summers back. It’s easy to forget that. He was the player everybody wanted and the Spurs got him. And it seems like he’s finally comfortable there now in the role he’s playing leading that team right now. I’ve gained a lot of respect for him and his game with the way he’s played this season.” Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 31st, 2018

Who is No. 1? Top college player often not top NBA prospect

By Aaron Beard, Associated Press RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Arizona’s Deandre Ayton and Oklahoma’s Trae Young are certainly high NBA draft picks, one of them could easily be the top overall selection. Still, that doesn’t make any of them the best player in college basketball. That’s a different question. Villanova’s Jalen Brunson is a leading candidate to be anointed the national college player of the year. While several freshmen will likely hear their names called as one of the top-five draft picks, Brunson has been the man in college. And Brunson has NBA talent at the helm of a team playing in this weekend’s Final Four in San Antonio, but recently there seems to be a disconnect between college production and NBA potential. “I think it’s hard for players to figure that out,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “Like, ‘Hey, I’m one of the best players in college basketball, how can I not be a first-round draft pick?’ There’s just a big difference between what the NBA guys think they want to use draft picks for and who’s the best player in college basketball.” For years, those two things seemed intertwined. Ten of the 19 different players named The Associated Press college player of the year between 1980-2000 — Virginia’s Ralph Sampson won three times — became the No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, including Sampson, Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, Navy’s David Robinson, LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal and Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan. But in the years since, only three players — Utah’s Andrew Bogut in 2005, Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin in 2009 and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in 2012 — have been AP player of the year and the No. 1 overall pick. Last year’s AP winner, Frank Mason III of Kansas, was a second-round draft pick. This year’s leading contenders include possible No. 1 draft picks in Ayton and Bagley, along with a potential top-10 pick in Young, while Brunson could be a second-rounder like Mason. The shorter college careers of top players can explain some of that change. Formerly, they routinely developed over three- and four-year stays that offered a clearer picture of player potential. Now, as top prospects stick around only a year or maybe two, that evaluation has changed. “There’s less of an emphasis on college productivity,” said ESPN analyst Dino Gaudio, Wake Forest’s head coach from 2007-10. “Is it a factor? Sure it is, but it is less of a factor than what it was many years ago because of the one-and-done [rule] and how early kids can come out. “I think the word is projection. I think that’s the biggest word.” Brunson is still playing in the Final Four as the top-seeded Wildcats pursue a second national championship in three seasons. Bagley helped the Blue Devils reach the Elite Eight before losing in overtime to Kansas, while Ayton and Young both suffered first-round losses. The AP named its All-America team Tuesday, with Brunson and Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham joining Bagley, Ayton and Young on the first team. The AP names its player of the year Thursday in San Antonio. Ayton is an athletic 7'1" freshman with power and a soft shooting touch, averaging 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds. Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said Ayton “may be the best big I’ve seen in college as a player or coach” — high praise considering Hurley played against O’Neal and Michigan’s Chris Webber, and alongside Christian Laettner at Duke. “He’s a once-in-a-generation player,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “I doubt if I’ll coach anyone like him again.” Bagley, a 6'11" forward, has the wingspan to score over defenders, rebound through traffic and step out to the arc, making him the Atlantic Coast Conference’s leading scorer (21.1) and rebounder (11.5). The 6'2" Young led the country in scoring (27.4) and assists (8.7), including games of 48 points and a Division I record-tying 22 assists. “You’re trying to develop as an individual, you’re trying to win as many games as a team,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “If you can do all those things well, as Trae has done, you’re going to position yourself well.” Ayton and Young have declared for the draft, while Bagley has yet to make the expected official. And there are several other freshmen looking like potential lottery picks, including Mo Bamba from Texas and Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. (who was injured nearly all year) along with possible one-and-done guard Collin Sexton of Alabama. Meanwhile, there’s Brunson, the steady 6'3" junior leading a team that spent a national-best eight weeks atop the Top 25. He averages 19.2 points and shoots 53 percent, though he lacks elite athleticism and isn’t regarded as the best pro prospect on his team (that would be 6'7" junior Mikal Bridges). “So is Jalen Brunson the best player in college basketball?” Gaudio said. “For me, I think so. And I think he is a great college player. Will he be one of the top five picks in the draft? No, because it’s so heavily weighted on how these guys can impact a team at the next level. And so much of that is related to athleticism, how high their ceiling is.” ___ AP Basketball Writer John Marshall in Phoenix; and AP Sports Writers Cliff Brunt in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Dan Gelston in Philadelphia; contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 28th, 2018

LeBron James has a favorite for the MVP award - himself

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James has someone in mind for the MVP award this season. Himself. This is a season where prohibitive MVP favorite James Harden has done phenomenal things with NBA-leading Houston, where reigning MVP Russell Westbrook has been fantastic again for Oklahoma City, and where Anthony Davis has found a new stratosphere to take his game, especially after New Orleans lost DeMarcus Cousins. James raves about them all. But ... “I would vote for me,” James told The Associated Press. “The body of work, how I’m doing it, what’s been happening with our team all year long, how we’ve got so many injuries and things of that nature, guys in and out, to be able to still keep this thing afloat, I definitely would vote me.” It’s not an unreasonable take. His numbers this season compare favorably — or exceed — the five-season run between 2008-09 and 2012-13 where he won the MVP award four times. His averages then: 27.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.3 assists on 52 percent shooting while playing 38 minutes per game. This season’s numbers: 27.4 points, 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds on 55 percent shooting. They are MVP-worthy, without question. “He’s continued to prove everybody wrong and find new levels,” said Miami guard Dwyane Wade, James’ longtime friend and two-time former teammate. “In his 15th season, to be 33 years of age and to be playing the way he’s playing, as consistent as he’s playing, that is as impressive as anything that anybody has ever done.” Averaging 27 points, nine assists and eight rebounds is an NBA rarity. Oscar Robertson had numbers like those five times, in five consecutive seasons from 1960-61 through 1964-65 (he won his lone MVP award in the 1963-64 season). No one posted averages like that again until last year, when Harden and Westbrook both pulled it off. Robertson, Harden and Westbrook were all twentysomethings when they had those numbers. James is in position to join them, at 33. A fifth MVP wouldn’t define him. He’s long been a Hall of Fame lock, but believes this one would be earned. “At this point in my career, I’m just trying to break the mold, break the narrative of guys in their 15th year. ... I’m trying to do things that have never been done before,” James said. “It’s crazy because I’m not setting out to do it. It’s just kind of happening organically. I’m just training my body and training my mind and going out and playing and seeing what happens.” The Cavaliers are in the mix to finish as high as No. 3 in the Eastern Conference, despite having 21 different players on the roster, 24 different starting lineups and counting, a slew of injuries, even with head coach Tyronn Lue falling ill and missing games. The season has been rocky. James says he’s been at his best anyway. “I’ve said it,” James said. “Obviously, I’ve had some unbelievable seasons before, but I’ve said it: This is the best I can go, just from a complete basketball player standpoint.” Time will tell if MVP voters agree. ___ STORM LIFE The Heat got stuck in Indianapolis on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time), losing in overtime to the Pacers and then being unable to get home because of plane difficulties. They made the best of the situation. A quick call to the Capital Grille in Indianapolis — where the manager initially didn’t believe that the Miami Heat, travel party of 51, were on the way — set up dinner for everyone, and hotel rooms were secured while everyone dined. The restaurant was in shutting-down mode for the night, then scrambled to get the staff needed to deal with that many diners arriving all at once. The team wound up flying out Monday morning (Monday evening, PHL time). ___ THE WEEK AHEAD Some of the games to watch over the next seven days: — Boston at Utah, Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time): The game that was slated to be Gordon Hayward’s return to Salt Lake City still matters plenty to both teams. — Milwaukee at Golden State, Thursday (Friday, PHL time): The Warriors think this is the game where they’ll get Kevin Durant back in the lineup after a rib injury. — New Orleans at Cleveland, Friday (Saturday, PHL time): Notable for one reason in particular: Larry Drew coaches the Cavs, son Larry Drew II plays for the Pelicans. — Toronto at Boston, Saturday (Sunday, PHL time): The Raptors are trying to lock up the No. 1 seed in the East, and the Celtics are the only team still in their way. — Houston at San Antonio, Sunday (Monday, PHL time): One of 13 games on Sunday’s NBA schedule, before everybody gets Monday off for the NCAA championship. — Indiana at Denver, Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time): The Pacers are in and now thinking about seeding, while the Nuggets are merely trying to stay in the West chase. ___ STAT LINE OF THE WEEK Kemba Walker, Charlotte: His 46-point effort on March 22 (Mar. 23, PHL time) was against tanking Memphis, but it still should be remembered for at least a couple of reasons. One, he needed only 28 minutes to score like that. And two, he became just the third player in NBA history to make at least 10 three-pointers and 10 free throws in the same game. The others? Kyrie Irving in 2015, and Joe Dumars in 1994......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 28th, 2018

Clamping down: Wade, Heat stymie Cavaliers, 98-79

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points, Dwyane Wade blocked a pair of shots by LeBron James as part of a stifling defensive effort by Miami, and the Heat had little trouble on the way to beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-79 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Josh Richardson and James Johnson each scored 15 points for Miami, which led 54-34 at halftime and has won 10 of its last 11 home games. Wade finished with 12 against the team he spent part of this season with before getting traded back to Miami. Goran Dragic added 10 for the Heat, who could clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot by week's end. James finished with 18 points for the Cavaliers, whose previous season-low for points was 88. The Cavs are 1-13 this season when held under 100; they're 43-17 when scoring more than 100. It was the 865th consecutive regular-season game in which James scored at least 10 points, putting him one shy of tying Michael Jordan for the longest such streak in NBA history. James can tie the mark in Charlotte — against the Jordan-owned Hornets — on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Rodney Hood added 15 for Cleveland, which lost Kevin Love at halftime to a loose tooth. He finished with only one point in seven minutes. It was Miami's 14th consecutive home win over the Cavaliers, including a 4-0 mark when James plays in Miami since leaving the Heat after the 2014 NBA Finals. Wade blocked his close friend once in the second quarter, once more in the fourth, both times from behind — and finished with four of Miami's nine blocks in the game. Cleveland came in averaging 31 points per quarter over its last five games, then managed only 34 in the first half against the Heat. They shot 30 percent in the half, just nine percent — 1-for-11 — from the three-point line and were an awful 9-for-22 inside the paint. James had 13 points, four assists and three rebounds by the break; the other four Cavs starters combined for seven points, two assists and four rebounds. It was great for Miami, ghastly for Cleveland. Love got hurt while committing a foul 1:22 into the game, taking an elbow from Heat center Jordan Mickey and getting a loose tooth in the process. Love returned to start the second quarter, then was ruled out after being evaluated again at halftime. Cleveland showed life in the third, getting within 13 late in the quarter and then having three shots to cut even more off Miami's lead. But Miami was still up 75-59 going into the fourth, after Wade — moments after checking in for the first time in about an hour of real time — connected on a step-back jumper with 17 seconds left in the third. TIP-INS Cavaliers: James has played in all 74 Cavs games, matching his total from last season. It was his first time playing at Miami since March 19, 2016. ... Cleveland changed its starting lineup, with Jeff Green in for Larry Nance Jr. ... Kyle Korver remained away from the team, one day after the funeral for his brother. Interim coach Larry Drew said Korver is expected back soon, though the team has not revealed if an exact comeback date has been determined. Heat: Coach Erik Spoelstra was back with the team, two days after he and his wife Nikki's first child — Santiago Ray Spoelstra — was born. ... Miami was down two centers — Hassan Whiteside (left hip) remains out, and Bam Adebayo missed the game with a sprained ankle that the Heat think will be better in a few days. LONG BENCH In three games against Miami this season, the Cavaliers used a total of 20 players. The only Cavs to play in all three meetings were James, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson. GO TIME Miami's next five games are all against teams well out of the playoff picture, with the next three of those games — against Chicago, Brooklyn and Atlanta — all at home. After road games at Atlanta and New York, the Heat then finish at home against Oklahoma City and Toronto. UP NEXT Cavaliers: Visit Charlotte on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Heat: Host Chicago on Thursday (Friday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 28th, 2018

WATCH: UE libero Kath Arado shows heart, stands up seconds after injury scare

It was a scary moment for both University of the East players and fans alike when libero Kath Arado crumpled to the floor after failing to save a wayward ball against Adamson University late in the second set of their clash in the UAAP season 80 women's volleyball tournament. The 19-year-old volleybelle stayed on the ground for a few seconds before UE's physical therapist, head coach Rod Roque, and her teammates stood close by to see how she is doing. "Kaya pa?" the PT is heard in the TV broadcast, surveying the injured defensive specialist, who had both hands covering her face. Fighting off tears, Arado showed just why she remains as one of the UAAP's best. The heart of Kath Arado 🙏 #UAAPSeason80Volleyball pic.twitter.com/paIlv1srda — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) March 18, 2018 Staying true to the Lady Warriors' monicker, Arado, who has been instrumental in UE's two-game winning streak, and was named UAAP Player of the Week, she shook off the pain and stood up to return in position. Kath Arado, ladies and gentlemen! 🙏 #UAAPSeason80Volleyball pic.twitter.com/MhJGkm3qpY — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) March 18, 2018 UE went on to drop the second set against Adamson, 11-25, but Arado is still on the court as of press time in Set 3. The Match is tied at 1-1 after the Lady Warriors took Set 1, 25-19......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 18th, 2018