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END OF THE ROAD FOR STL: Money woes force Iloilo operator to close shop

THE Small Town Lottery (STL) franchise in Iloilo is now open to interested players. This, as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) terminated and canceled its agreement with Eagle Crest Gaming and Holding Corp. (ECGHC) allowing the latter to operate STL in Iloilo province. Based on PCSO Resolution No. 0118, Series of 2018, Eagle Crest, […] The post END OF THE ROAD FOR STL: Money woes force Iloilo operator to close shop appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource: thedailyguardian thedailyguardianMay 11th, 2018

Donovan Mitchell hits his own postseason bump

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SALT LAKE CITY -- He saved one of his best performances for the morning of a playoff game, when Donovan Mitchell once again showed the poise and maturity that’s taken him places where few rookies in history have earned the right to travel. Hours after Ben Simmons, the unapologetic and self-proclaimed best rookie in the NBA, laid an egg against the Celtics by scoring one measly point and instantly became a social media punch-line, Mitchell refused to pile on his rival. This took guts, especially after Simmons dismissed any comparisons between himself and Mitchell weeks ago, but Mitchell went high road and had a veteran’s response anyway: “The biggest thing that people don’t understand is that every player has that night. You look at LeBron against the Mavs in the Finals … there was one year when I was watching Harden in a playoff game against the Warriors and he had like 10 turnovers. So it happens to everybody.” Yes, to everybody … and how prophetic, even to Mitchell, who rose to stardom by chopping down Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the first round, only to come close to pulling a Simmons in Game 3 of the Jazz-Rockets series Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). “I didn’t really do much as a whole,” he said. He struggled. He wasn’t a factor. This wasn’t the rookie who pulled the Jazz to the playoffs by commanding double teams and dunking with force and dropping shots from deep. This was different. This was … one of those games Mitchell spoke about. He missed 10 of his first 11 shots. His 10 points were his lowest for a game since Feb. 7 (Feb. 8, PHL time) when he scored seven against the Grizzlies. “I had terrible shots,” he said. “I don’t know how many shots I missed, but the shots I missed were terrible shots that weren’t good looks. I can’t do that.” Therefore, there were two factors which made for a strange and non-typical night for the Jazz. His disappearance, along with Utah’s No. 1-rated defense coughing up 39 points in the first quarter, gave the Rockets a breezy 113-92 victory and a 2-1 series lead. The Rockets finally broke 110 points for the first time this series, no major surprise given James Harden and Chris Paul and their three-point mentality. That’s too much fire to keep contained for very long. And whenever the Rockets break loose as they did, it puts massive pressure on the Jazz to keep up, which they couldn’t, if only because they’re not built for engaging in a scoring contest with most teams, let alone the Rockets. It’s the surest way to a quick basketball death. “For us,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder, “the margin for error is not so great when you play a team [like Houston].” Just as alarming is Mitchell’s slow fade this series. He’s shooting 33 percent overall and 24 percent from deep, and this is sudden and unexpected, even against the No. 1 seed in the West. Maybe not for most rookies. But Mitchell raised the bar for himself after a strong regular season and a ballistic effort against Oklahoma City where he averaged 28.5 points and 7.2 rebounds and never once looked overmatched or uncomfortable in his first taste of the playoffs and high stakes. And isn’t that the ultimate sign of respect for a player, when a poor game, or a small string of them, are met with a surprise reaction? Mitchell has made himself into that special player already. He’s the rare dunk contest winner who’s just as dangerous from deep, a one-two combo that won over his Jazz teammates quickly and made him the club’s No. 1 option almost from the jump. Mitchell’s money move is a rapid burst off the dribble into the lane, where he’ll then execute a smooth spin move garnished with a gentle finger roll for the basket. OKC still has flesh wounds from that move. He delivered constantly in the final few months when the Jazz became one of the top three teams in the NBA, at least record-wise, and soared up the West standings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only rookies to hit 200 points faster in the playoffs than Mitchell, who did so in eight games. But those shots haven’t fallen with regularity here in the second round, and this was punctuated in Game 3. Either the Rockets have wised up -- which usually happens when a team sees the same player every other night in a playoff series -- or the rookie wall is playing a cruel trick on Mitchell by rising up in May. Snyder is betting on the former: “They shaded Donovan to his left hand and he has to adjust to that, and I think he can.” Mitchell doesn’t really have a choice if the Jazz plan to extend this series. There’s nobody riding shotgun on Utah that frightens anyone; Joe Ingles dropped 27 on Houston in Game 2 but followed up with six. Other than Mitchell, there’s no consistency, nobody who’s a big threat, and when others turn chilly, Mitchell is often forced to press, which he did Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Chris Paul said: “We just tried to make it tough on him. Donovan’s been great all year but Trevor [Ariza] is good defensively and Clint [Capela] is challenging him at the rim. He’s a tough cover and it’s hard to stop him with one person. Guys have to do it collectively. We try to make him feel crowded.” Which means the Rockets will take their chances on Ingles and Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert beating them, a wise strategy. Mitchell’s load is heavier than most rookies, even more burdensome than Simmons’ in Philly from a scoring standpoint. Simmons has Joel Embiid and JJ Redick. Mitchell must be the lead singer for Utah, or else. Those are the odds, anyway, and the Rockets exploited that Friday. “I think the biggest thing is, my mindset has always been the aggressor,” Mitchell said. “Now they’re playing me in a certain way where I’ve got to make certain passes that I just didn’t make the entire game. That will be what I’ll take away the most. It’s like I would’ve been better off not showing up, and that’s what I did. I didn’t show up for my teammates. I’ll fix it.” That’s some pretty strong accountability there. However, Mitchell can’t do it all against a team like Houston, even though he’s done exactly that up to this point of the season. He may not be a “rookie” anymore, or play like one, but he’s human. Much like Simmons and everyone else. Here’s more of what Mitchell said about Simmons: "It just so happens that it happened to him, and I expect him to respond back. He’s a good player. Good players respond back, and it's all about the response. It's a testament to his character. But it happens. He can't play great every night. It's not as easy as some people think.” No, it isn’t, and the league’s showpiece rookies discovered the hard way, on back-to-back nights, here in the playoffs where rookies don’t normally shine or at least for long before they’re figured out. Yet, as Mitchell said: It’s all about the response. Game 4 is Sunday (Monday, PHL time), a day for atonement. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2018

Are the Sixers too young for playoff success?

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com The learning curve of the Philadelphia 76ers has taken on a new, more direct and simpler geometric shape. It’s now a straight line, pulled and yanked that way by an impatient team determined to take the expressway from now on. And so this is where The Process has led them, to the NBA playoffs, a place exclusively reserved for Big Boy Basketball, where we get to see if the Sixers will skip another floor in their rapid developmental rise or if youth is about to get served a lesson. Hey, if nothing else, it beats wiping away the stench of losing, which is what coach Brett Brown was doing this time the last few years before this club finally grew up and as we now see, blew up. "This year we exceeded 50 wins and when you do that, you get into NBA elite territory which is something different for us,” he said. “But what’s interesting is we want more. We have more room to grow and we want to do that now.” Yes, the Sixers, finally sprung free of the dark ages, have crashed the annual spring show and are doing so rather emphatically in addition to surprisingly. Surely you saw this coming this quickly, no? On Christmas Eve they were 14-18. Their sensational big man, Joel Embiid, was getting the kid glove treatment, rarely playing extended minutes or consecutive games because of his brittle injury history. Their top draft pick, Markelle Fultz, was out with a bad shoulder and a broken jumper. Obviously, they’d just emerged from their four years of Tankapalooza with the trepidation of a chick stumbling from the nest. And quite simply, four months ago they just weren’t good enough to be lumped with the lead pack. Yet. But since then, what the hell just happened? “This group has come together from a toughness standpoint, a spirit standpoint,” Brown said. To say the least. The Sixers are 50-game winners, with a strong Kia Rookie of the Year candidate in Ben Simmons and a top-10 talent in Embiid, whose orbital injury that cost him the final eight regular season games should be healed for the playoffs at some point. Everything has fallen into place to make Philly a basketball destination once again, and these Sixers find themselves in a unique situation heading into the weekend. That’s because the playoff landscape in the East is favorable for someone like Philly to pull a surprise or two. Can they last a round? Of course; they’ll be a favorite initially. How about reaching the Eastern Conference finals? That’s trickier, and it’ll come down to matchups, but stranger things have happened. And, the NBA Finals? Well. Consider that there’s no true beast taking up space in the East and sending shivers everywhere. All of the contenders are showing a scratch or two: Toronto brings a blah playoff history; some of LeBron James’ supporting cast in Cleveland is untested; the Celtics are without Kyrie Irving, not to mention Gordon Hayward. The Sixers are the wild card in the playoff picture. Their wart is their inexperience in these matters. And so: Are they too young to be taken seriously? “I understand why people might think that, but I think we’ll be fine,” said JJ Redick, the resident senior citizen at age 33. “I don’t expect any of us to play differently than we have lately. These young guys are all gamers.” The Sixers are uniquely built; their twin core of Simmons and Embiid has played a combined three NBA seasons. Redick is the only starter with playoff experience and is also the only player in the rotation who ever played a major role in the playoffs. The Sixers are cubs compared to most of the East, even those teams below them. Essentially, the veterans on the Sixers orbit around the youngsters, instead of vice versa. Brown regularly takes the temperature of his players and has yet to pause at the results he’s seeing. For the most part, this has worked out better than he and they expected. “At this stage you figure how you deliver a team to the playoffs, how do you arrive at the playoffs,” Brown said. “Well, you can check three boxes: Their health, their spirit and their form. And finally: Are they playing good basketball? They’re all very interconnected, they’re all closely intertwined. Those things rule my day when I watch film and see how hard and long we’re going to go in practice. These guys have embraced and improved in those areas. Our defense has been excellent and we’re regularly getting 30 assists as a team, another example of a team enjoying each other’s company.” This makes for an interesting postseason baptism. There’s hope in Philly that Simmons and Embiid and Robert Covington and Dario Saric won’t know the difference between March basketball and May basketball. “We’ll just come and play the same way we’ve been doing,” Simmons said. The other advantage for Philly is Simmons appears well beyond his years. His expression is stoic, no matter the game circumstances, and his poise has yet to shatter memorably and cost the Sixers when it counts. He’s giving 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists a night and had at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in 58 games, second only to Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. He is the first rookie in NBA history to average eight assists on a 50-win team. It remains to be seen how a 56-percent free throw shooter will respond if he’s put in that situation with the game on the line. Otherwise, his court direction and ability to reach the rim should not suffer from springtime stage fright. “Ben sits behind a glass wall and watches everyone else on the other side,” Redick said. “There’s nothing that affects him. He plays with the same demeanor and purpose no matter what’s going on around him. He brings a calm presence, and the maturity he plays with is beyond his years. Impressive.” Brown said: “He’s the stone cold Rookie of the Year and to me it’s not even close.” Philly’s best player is Embiid, though, and he’ll play with a mask once he does return, perhaps sometime in the first round. If he doesn’t suffer any lasting effects from the facial injury (vision, lack of balance), he’ll be the premier big man on the floor in the East. This allows the Sixers to exploit their low-post advantage over the Celtics, Raptors and Cavs should Philly meet any of those contenders along the way. The Sixers are also working with a pair of bonuses in Fultz and Ersan Ilyasova, two players they didn’t anticipate being in the playoff mix just a few months ago. Fultz is finally free of his shoulder woes and his shooting is starting to come around, to the point where Brown says he’ll find a role for Fultz in the rotation. Basically, the Sixers feel safe enough to put him on the floor, something that would’ve been a reach before he was activated, when he showed a nasty mechanical hitch in a jumper that somehow went south on him. “We don’t feel we’re going to be caught off guard with him,” Brown said. Ilyasova was gift-wrapped to Philly by the Hawks at midseason and has since been a solid source of scoring (17 points in a two-point win over Cleveland last week) and deepened the Sixers’ bench, allowing Brown to use a variety of different lineups and strategies. In all, the manner in which the season has come together is paying off at the right time for Philly. “We didn’t have this level of maturity in November and December,” Redick said. “If you look at some of our losses early in the season I felt they were immature losses. We’re more focused, more together, developed a mental toughness. Sometimes in life and in this league you have to go through things and experience things to grasp how to do them. There’s no better learning tool than the actual experience. So blowing a lead or coming back from a large halftime deficit, you have to do those things to understand that you can do it. Having those lessons early in the season has prepared us to have a great run since Christmas; we have the second best record in the league since then. This is better than what I expected or even hoped for. It’s been a long sustained growth period.” What does it all mean? Well, even though they’re entering the playoffs with the force of a hurricane, this isn’t the NCAA tournament. This is best-of-seven basketball, which means a team must prove itself worthy of moving on, instead of hoping to get lucky or hot. In the case of Philly and others in the East, that means beating LeBron four times in a series, and that hasn’t happened since 2010. You could also make the case the Sixers are playing with house money at this point, no matter what happens; after enduring The Process and painful progress, this is a blessing, a reward. The Sixers aren’t seeing it that way, though, not after growing up in a hurry. They want to seize the opportunity now, and any playoff success will largely depend on how they handle this as first-timers. Your guess is as good as Brown’s. “You really don’t know what to expect,” Brown said. “There’s no body of work. I will give our guys the benefit of the doubt. The poise they have shown in the regular season, the poise they’ve shown in big games and key moments, gives me tremendous confidence that we will handle this stage with a greater level of poise than what I might have guessed in October, or what I might have guessed not so long ago if you asked me questions about how will rookies and young guys handle this very different part of the season.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

Manning, Pierre-Paul and rest of Giants stun Broncos 23-10

By Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — Eli Manning ignored the loss of four wide receivers, and the reeling New York Giants capped a stormy week of injuries and infighting by stunning the Denver Broncos 23-10 on Sunday night. The Giants (1-5) pulled off one of the season's biggest upsets by dominating Denver in every phase from start to finish. The Broncos (3-2) blew a golden opportunity to close in on Kansas City in the AFC West after the Steelers knocked off the last unbeaten team in the league earlier Sunday. Visiting teams went 8-5 in Week 6 and are 46-44 overall this upside-down NFL season. Jason Pierre-Paul had a trio of sacks for the Giants, who came into Denver tottering from a tumultuous week in which three wide receivers landed on injured reserve, five other starters were sidelined with injuries and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended for insubordination. It was a wipe-out, all right, just not the one everyone was expecting. "Nobody is giving us a chance in hell to win this ballgame," coach Ben McAdoo said as he prepared to bring his team to Denver, where the Broncos were healthy, coming off a bye and leading the league in defense. Yet the Giants had a goal-line stand to go with four sacks and two interceptions, double their season total. And it was the Broncos who bumbled their way through a nightmarish night filled with muffs and mistakes, flags and frustration. Quarterback Trevor Siemian was knocked out of the game briefly, and he lost his right tackle Menelik Watson (calf) along with receivers Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Isaiah McKenzie to ankle injuries. Before being soundly booed as they retreated to the locker room trailing 17-3 at the half, the Broncos kept hollering at each other in the huddle, couldn't convert third downs and gave up more big plays than they had all season. The biggest came when Siemian, who earlier threw into triple and even quadruple coverage while overlooking open targets, threw a pick-six to cornerback Janoris Jenkins . His 43-yard interception return for a touchdown with 48 seconds left before halftime gave New York a two-touchdown cushion and left Siemian writhing in pain. Siemian dived at Jenkins as he scooted past him near the goal line, and Siemian jammed his left shoulder into the ground. It's the same shoulder that bothered him almost all of last year and required surgery in January. He was replaced by Brock Osweiler but returned to start the second half. On this night, it was the Broncos who were the team in turmoil, falling behind 20-3 before Siemian hit Jeff Heuerman from 13 yards out with four minutes remaining. Aldrick Rosas hit a 40-yard field goal in the final minute, and then made the tackle of Brendan Langley after a 47-yard kickoff return. FIRST QUARTER FOLLIES: Denver hadn't allowed any points and just two first downs in the first quarter before yielding a 13-play, 69-yard drive that ate up seven minutes and ended with a 25-yard field goal that gave the Giants a 3-0 lead. The Broncos surrendered four first downs on the drive that set the tone for the game. KICKING WOES: Brandon McManus' miss from 35 yards out, his fourth missed chip shot of the season, was an ominous sign for Denver. He also had a 53-yard attempt that was blocked. McManus has been anything but money since signing an $11.25 million extension last month. His 53-yarder blocked by Kerry Wynn was his fifth miss in 13 tries. Last year, he missed five times in 34 tries. Adam Gotsis returned the favor by blocking Rosas' 49-yard field goal try. BIG GAIN: The Broncos were allowing just 50.8 yards rushing per game. Orleans Darkwa gained almost that many on one run in the second quarter when he knifed right up the middle and wasn't pulled down until safety Justin Simmons caught up with him 47 yards later. That set up Manning's 5-yard TD toss to tight end Evan Engram that gave New York a 10-0 lead. Darkwa finished with 117 yards, the most this season against Denver, which had shut down Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch before their bye. M*A*S*H UNIT: In addition to being without star Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants didn't have five other starters. Defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle) and linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck) were missing from a defense that was already without Rodgers-Cromartie, who was suspended indefinitely. Center Weston Richburg (concussion), running back Paul Perkins (ribs) and receiver Sterling Shepard (ankle) were also missing on offense. Not that the Giants missed any of them on this night. UP NEXT New York returns home to host the Seattle Seahawks before a bye week. The Broncos visit the Los Angeles Chargers in the first of three consecutive road games......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2017

Celtics stumble offensively in most costly road loss yet

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com CLEVELAND – The Boston Celtics solved their first-quarter problem in Cleveland, and it didn't matter. In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics trailed 32-17 after the first quarter. Game 4: 34-18. And in neither game did they cut the deficit to less than seven points thereafter. So, heading into Game 6, with an extra level of desperation in the Cleveland Cavaliers facing elimination, there was an obvious "survive the first quarter" thought from pundits as priority No. 1 for the Celtics. And they did it. The Celtics scored 11 points on the last five possessions of the period to close it with a 25-20 lead. They survived the first quarter, but they did not survive the second. And after a 109-99 Cavs victory on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), the series is heading back to Boston for a deciding Game 7 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). A 25-point quarter isn't huge, but in what was a very slow-paced game (89 possessions for each team), it was efficient. The Celtics went to Al Horford in the post eight times in the opening 12 minutes and the Cavs mostly sent an extra defender at Horford, which seemed to play into the Celtics' hands. Horford surveyed the floor, his teammates moved without the ball, and the results were generally good. The first Horford post-up was on the Celtics' second possession. LeBron James joined Tristan Thompson for the double-team and the ball swung to Terry Rozier, who got into the paint and found Jaylen Brown for a corner three. A few minutes later, there was no double-team, but Horford found Brown cutting to the basket for an and-one. Midway through the first, a double-team on Horford resulted in a short jumper for Marcus Morris. Later, Horford found Marcus Smart on a cut, and Smart made a brilliant pass out for another corner three from Brown. On the next possession, Brown snuck behind Kyle Korver on the baseline for a layup. The Celtics didn't score on all those Horford post-ups, but the eight in the first quarter produced 12 points on good shots. Horford didn't score a single point in the first, but having the offense run through him generated a strong quarter on the road against a desperate opponent. "I thought our spacing was excellent," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of the early execution. "The way we moved it out of the double." The Celtics had a lead after the first quarter and Kevin Love was done for the night after a collision with Jayson Tatum. The door was open for the Celtics to put their postseason road woes behind them and close the series out. Horford was off the floor to start the second quarter, and the Celtics took their foot off the gas. They scored five points on their first three possessions of the period, but the shots weren't good and the ball didn't get into the paint until possession No. 7. Smart took an ill-advised three-pointer and then looked confused when Morris did the same on the very next possession. "We missed some opportunities," Stevens said about the second quarter. "But I thought we also just got lax a little bit offensively. When we get lax offensively, we open up transition opportunities for them, and that's a problem." The Celtics couldn't recapture their first-quarter rhythm, they didn't get Horford in the post once in the second quarter, and a 20-4 Cleveland run was ultimately the difference in the game. "We stopped getting the ball inside," Rozier said. "The second quarter definitely killed us today." James had himself one of those nights, shooting 10-for-17 from outside the paint (where Boston wants him shooting from) on his way to 46 points. He finished the Celtics off with two ridiculous, step-back threes from the left wing. "Hats off," Stevens said of the daggers. "The first one, that was ridiculous." The Cavs scored 89 points on just 67 possessions (1.33 points per possession) after the first quarter and the Celtics couldn't keep up. They didn't try to get Horford in the post nearly as much in the second half as they did in the first quarter. "We weren't looking for them as much as we were earlier," Horford said of the post-up opportunities. A few post-ups did result in free throws, but the Celtics left some points at the line, shooting 11-for-20. "The question about did we go to him enough, probably a good question," Stevens said. "And one that when we review it, we'll look at it and figure out if we need to do more." If you asked the Celtics at the beginning of the postseason if they'd like to have one game on the floor for a trip to The Finals, they'd surely have accepted it. "It's an absolute blast to prepare for as a coach," Stevens said of Game 7, "and to play in as a player." But the Celtics may have let one get away on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), and though they're 10-0 at home in these playoffs, anything can happen in a Game 7, especially with the best player in the world on the other side. James has won the last five Game 7s that he's played in and scored 45 points in Game 7 against Indiana in the first round. Maybe he doesn't shoot so well from the outside on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), but maybe he does. Maybe the Celtics shouldn't even be here, given that they're missing two of their three best players. But they've made it this far, and they'd best keep their foot on the gas on Sunday (Monday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 26th, 2018

Budding Sixers take control of series in Miami

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com MIAMI — Back in 2014, when the Miami Heat were wrapping up their championship-fueled era, the Philadelphia 76ers began plotting their own. And they did it unconventionally, laughably and by any measure, dreadfully. It was Year One of the most ambitious rebuilding plan before or since, when the Sixers willingly laid down and became a doormat and allowed other teams to wipe their sneakers on them. That season, while LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh cruised to a fourth straight appearance, and their last together, in the NBA Finals, the Sixers lost 63 games. And then they got better at this tanking technique and lost 64 and 72 the next two years. But fast-forward to now, to Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) at American Airlines Arena, and the roles with the Heat and Sixers are threatening to flip. Maybe not so drastically, but it’s clear through four games of this first-round playoff series that the Sixers are going one way and the Heat another. The Sixers have Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, a pair of young bedrocks slowly building something with the potential to be big. The Heat? They have banners in the rafters commemorating what they used to be, not so long ago. Philly also has something else on Miami, namely a 3-1 series lead after Simmons became the first rookie since Magic Johnson to drop a triple-double in a playoff game and Embiid fought through a poor shooting game and an irritating protective mask to spook any Heat player that challenged him at the rim. It was the Sixers who made all the right plays in the final crucial moments in the 106-102 win, getting key stops and buckets and pulling away, a team with a young core turning mature, and doing it rapidly, despite their lack of post-season experience. And having a front-row seat to this new Process was none other than Wade, a proud if aging member of the extinct Big Three who realizes something unique is happening with the Sixers. “This is a very good team,” said Wade. “They’ve got talent at almost every position. This is definitely one of the best first-round opponents I’ve played in my career.” Are the Sixers all that, already? “They’re good,” said Wade. “They’re special. They put the right team together.” Yes, they have. Maybe it wasn’t properly done in the spirit of competition, and perhaps they embarrassed themselves if not the league while doing so, but that’s all behind the Sixers right now. What’s ahead of them is a potential series-clinching Game 5 in Philly and from there, who knows? Yes, the core of the Sixers is Simmons, Embiid and Dario Saric, all under 25, and in the playing rotation only JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli earned any significant playoff money. But if a young team is ever going to reach the NBA Finals, this is the right time, and this is the right team. Just look at the wide-open landscape in the East: LeBron and the Cavaliers, winners of the last three East titles, are down 2-1 to the Pacers and haven’t appeared this fragile since LeBron returned to Cleveland. The Celtics are missing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Toronto is the No. 1 seed in the East but inspires few outside Canada. Why not the Sixers? Why not now? Simmons is lacking a jump shot and little else, and still manages to score anyway. His direction of the club in the fourth quarter of Game 4 was near-masterful; Simmons stayed poised, found the open man and popped the Heat’s comeback hopes with an uncontested dunk when Miami pulled within a point. Embiid couldn’t hit a shot and yet didn’t fall into a funk; rather he terrorized Miami by being a defensive force, punctuated by his spike of a Goran Dragic late-fourth quarter breakaway layup attempt (followed by an Embiid stare down). “They make you pay every time you make a mistake,” said Wade. Speaking of which, the Sixers had 27 turnovers, certainly the recipe for disaster, and still found a way. In the words of coach Brett Brown: “I’m surprised we won this game. We really didn’t have any right to win this game.” But maybe it’s just additional proof that this is Philly’s time. It’s quite a contrast to the ex-bully on the block. Four years after LeBron made the second biggest decision of his life, the Heat are still searching for the identity they had when the champagne flowed, and the party rolled on South Beach. The only reminder is Wade, and at age 36 he’s only capable of having flashes now, like his 28 points in Game 2 and an impressive 25-point follow up Saturday that was marred only by a missed free throw in the final seconds. Besides that, there’s nothing special. Pat Riley’s latest attempt to recreate a winner is looking dubious right now. Riley decided two summers ago to build the Heat around a seven-foot center with low post-skills, which means Riley gave a $100 million to a dinosaur. And one with a decaying relationship with coach Erik Spoelstra. Hassan Whiteside can’t get on the floor in today’s NBA, where small-ball makes him a liability in certain situations. With no shooting range, and perhaps no incentive to develop one, Whiteside finds himself on the bench in fourth quarters and on the nerves of Spoelstra. “He’s a prisoner of the style of play,” said Brown. Plus: Riley also paid Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson and Kelly Olynyk. Which means the Heat are almost guaranteed to be a 43-win team fighting for the final playoff spot for the next few years. When the Heat searched for someone to bail them out Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), who did they turn to? An aging All-Star who’s on the downside, which says something about Wade … and the Heat’s roster. “He ended up being our best option,” said Spoelstra. There’s another path the Heat can take, of course. They could follow the current Hawks, Nets, Lakers and Magic, who all took their cues from the 2014 Sixers, and take a few steps back before moving forward. But that’s not a fool-proof plan — have you seen the Magic the last few years? — and besides, losing by any means isn’t in Riley’s DNA. So, mediocrity it is, then. Meanwhile, the Sixers have Embiid and Simmons and if you ask fans in Philly, they’d say it was well worth the steep price, in terms of the misery of tanking, paid for them. “They’re two players that have the chance to be great,” said Brown. “Joel has no right to be doing some of the things he does. Ben’s composure down the stretch is amazing. Those two are exceptional.” What the Sixers just did was win a pair in Miami, under the banners that hung over them, was fly in the face of basketball convention which says youth doesn’t get served in the post-season. They can close out at home and then get the survivor of Celtics-Bucks, and Philly can expect to be the favorite in that conference semifinal. “I can see how much we’ve grown and how much more room we have to grow,” said Brown. “To come here and get a win, in this building, against an organization of winning and culture and history, it’s special.” There’s another story here: If the Sixers eliminate the Heat, then it could be curtains for Wade, who doesn’t have a contract for next season, who hasn’t committed to playing beyond this season, and who paused suspiciously for about three seconds when asked if Saturday was his final game in Miami. “I don’t want to answer that right now,” he said. Whether he sticks around or takes the sunset cruise, Wade must realize that a transformation is taking place in the East. After years of deliberately bad basketball the Sixers are finally bearing fruit, and oh, speaking of food, Wade and the Heat can chew on this for a minute: The Sixers have room under the salary cap to give Embiid and Simmons some help next season. LeBron James, free agent-to-be, might reach the conclusion that the Sixers are his best championship option. for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.   The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2018

Gutsy Batangas crowned as first-ever king of MPBL

On the ground for the very first time in the playoffs of the inaugural Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Anta Rajah Cup, Batangas wasted no time in standing back up. And not only did they stand up, the Athletics also marched forward, right through overmatched Muntinlupa, 68-66, to claim the throne as first-ever kings of the new national league. Big guns Bong Quinto and Paul Varilla as well as key reserve Moncrief Rogado all came to play and made sure the visitors didn’t waste another shot at history. Quinto wound up with 12 points, Varilla had 10 points and nine rebounds, and Rogado dropped a season-high 14 points of his own. Two days ago, Batangas suffered its first setback in the playoffs and saw their opponents cut their deficit in the best-of-five series to 1-2. “There’s no safe lead. We were up by 15 tapos nawala diba,” head coach Mac Tan said. Indeed, Pari Llagas and Dave Moralde yet again willed the Cagers in this one, rallying them from as much as 15 points down to up 65-63 inside the last two minutes. Quinto and Jhaymo Eguilos had the answer for the Athletics, however, and connived for five unanswered points and a 68-65 advantage in their favor. With 18.2 ticks to go on the clock, the home team still had several shots to force overtime, or even win the game, but Moralde and Llagas combined to convert only one of their four free throws. The clutch makes of Quinto and Eguilos, along with the crucial misses of Moralde and Llagas, proved to be more than enough for Batangas to take home the title. “Ang adjustment namin, yung willingness ng players na ayaw na nilang bumalik pa ‘to ng Batangas,” Tan said. The well-earned win was just the perfect ending for a maiden campaign which saw them romp through the eliminations and rise as the top-seed of the playoffs and the favorites for the title. The Athletics only lived up to the hype, sweeping both the quarterfinals and the semifinals then ringing off back-to-back wins in the championship round before losing Game 3. Bouncing back big-time in Game 4, they cap off their playoff run with a standout 7-1 record. For Muntinlupa, Llagas topped the scoring column with 19 points to go along with 14 rebounds and two blocks. Moralde chipped in 14 markers, seven boards, and two assists. They will be looking back at their woes from the line as the foremost reason why their conference has come to a close. In all, they muffed on 15 of 31 free throws that, without a doubt, would have changed the complexion of the contest. BOX SCORES BATANGAS 68 – Rogado 14, Quinto 12, Varilla 10, Teodoro 9, Eguilos 7, Santos 6, Acuna 5, Olayon 4, Villamor 1, Grimaldo 0, Alvarez 0, Pasculado 0 MUNTINUPA 66 – Llagas 19, Moralde 14, Reverente 12, Mangahas 11, Ylagan 7, Jaime 3, Apreku 0, Vergara 0, Stevens 0 QUARTER SCORES: 16-12, 43-28, 54-47, 68-66 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 19th, 2018

Road closure during overpass demolition – PSTMO

THE Iloilo City Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO) will close Bonifacio Drive in City Proper to give way to the demolition of a pedestrian overpass in front of Museo Iloilo, said PSTMO head Jeck Conlu. Conlu said his office has started preparing for the traffic rerouting and road closure plan in case the […] The post Road closure during overpass demolition – PSTMO appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsApr 19th, 2018

10 things to know about the 2018 NBA Playoffs

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press With the NBA playoffs starting Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), here are 10 things to know: LEBRON’S STREAK Pacers fans, avert your eyes. LeBron James hasn’t experienced losing a first-round game in nearly six years. James’ teams have won 21 consecutive opening-round contests, a streak that started in Game 5 of the Miami-New York series in 2012. Combining his Cleveland and Miami years, James’ teams have won 46 of their last 51 first-round games. James and the Cavs play Indiana in the first round this season. MORE LEBRON James could set a slew of NBA records in these playoffs. He’s already the all-time postseason leader in points, is seven steals from passing Scottie Pippen (395) for the playoff record in that department, is four shots from passing Kobe Bryant (4,499) for another career postseason mark. Depending on how long Cleveland’s postseason lasts, James also has a shot at passing Ray Allen (385) for career postseason 3-pointers; he’s 55 shy of taking over the No. 1 spot there. And if the Cavs make a deep run James could also catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2,356) for most field goals. KERR BATTLE Golden State coach Steve Kerr is estranged from his son. Temporarily. Nick Kerr works for the San Antonio Spurs — the Warriors’ opponent in a Western Conference first round series. This has long been a source of great amusement for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who coached Steve Kerr as a player and remains close with him now. Popovich has said that Nick Kerr is the subject of additional security screenings at work, just to ensure he’s not a spy for the Warriors. (No, Pop wasn’t serious.) Steve Kerr says he and his son are “recusing ourselves” from family interaction during the series. “I think they already confiscated Nick’s phone,” he said. SO CLOSE ... You have to feel for Omri Casspi and DeMarcus Cousins. No active players have appeared in more regular-season games without any getting any postseason run than Casspi and Cousins. Casspi has played in 552 games, Cousins 535. And both were right on the cusp of ending their droughts this year; Casspi was waived by Golden State because it needed a roster spot once he hurt his ankle, and Cousins tore his Achilles’ to end his season with New Orleans. Tom Van Arsdale (929) is the record-holder for most regular-season games without seeing postseason play, followed by Otto Moore (682), Nate Williams (642), Sebastian Telfair (564), then Casspi and Cousins. GLOBAL GAME These NBA playoffs will be more global than ever. A record 62 international players, from a record 33 countries, are headed to the postseason. Every playoff team has at least one international player on its roster, with Utah and Philadelphia both featuring seven and Boston, Toronto and San Antonio six each. France and Australia lead the way in international representation in these playoffs, with seven players from each nation making it to the second season. Canada and Spain both have four. STREAKING SPURS This wasn’t San Antonio’s best season; the Spurs got “only” the seventh seed in the West. But their streak lives. This is the 21st consecutive season the Spurs have made the playoffs, one shy of matching Philadelphia for the longest NBA run. To put their current streak in perspective, the soonest any other NBA club will be able to say that it has a 21-season postseason streak will be 2033. Golden State and Houston have the second-longest active postseason streaks, at six. Portland and Toronto have been to five in a row, and four teams in this postseason — Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia and New Orleans — didn’t qualify for the playoffs a year ago. MONEY MATTERS Portland and Philadelphia have already won a little extra money. By winning on the season’s final night to ensure each finished alone in third in their respective conferences, the Trail Blazers and 76ers picked up another $64,842 from the NBA’s record $20 million playoff pool this season. Playoff teams split payouts from the pool, often toward bonuses for players and staff. Houston is assured $1,380,065 from the pool so far. Toronto is assured $803,222 while Boston and Golden State are up to $704,169. Every playoff team will receive at least $298,485 — and the payouts keep rising as teams keep advancing. The NBA champion will claim at least $4,782,438; the runner-up, at least $3,587,489. START FAST Of the 15 series played in the 2017 postseason, Game 1 winners ultimately won the best-of-seven 12 times. That 80 percent clip is consistent with the league norm. Since the 1983-84 season, winners of Game 1 have gone on to win the series 79 percent of the time. But that guarantees nothing — over the last seven years, four teams have lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals and gone on to win the championship anyway. DEFEND HOME COURT Home-court “advantage” really didn’t exist in the 2017 playoffs. Road teams won 43 percent of the postseason games played last year, and it’s reasonable to think such a success rate might be in play again this year. The 16 teams in these playoffs combined to win 351 games on the road in the regular season, or 54 percent. Ordinarily, road teams win playoff games about 35 percent of the time. FINALLY, MINNESOTA The Timberwolves are in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. During that 14-year drought, the franchise had nine different coaches, used 131 different players, 92 different starters, took 93,776 field-goal attempts and scored 112,664 points. Here might be the best illustration of how long the postseason wait was for Minnesota: Only 12 of the 59 players taken in the 2004 draft were still in the NBA this season. The only player the Timberwolves drafted in the year of their last playoff run was Blake Stepp, who never made the NBA but played at least three times in the World Series of Poker......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

Determined Dzeko delivers a Romantada over Barcelona

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Edin Dzeko surprised a lot of people when he turned down a lucrative offer from Premier League champion Chelsea in January to stay with Roma. Pledging his allegiance for Roma then, Dzeko declared that he was determined to accomplish something important with the Italian club. Consider his desire realized. Dzeko's sheer will and brute force were the primary reasons behind Roma's shocking elimination of Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals. The Bosnia and Herzegovina striker scored two goals and drew a penalty to set up another over the two legs as Roma clawed back from a three-goal deficit to advance to the semifinals. "I stayed with Roma to experience matches like these. I'm happy to be with Roma and I think the club should be, too," Dzeko said after Roma's 3-0 win Tuesday overturned a 4-1 first-leg defeat. "I turned down a lot of money by not going to Chelsea but that's not what I'm interested in. If we play like this we can play with anyone. I've never seen Barcelona in so much difficulty." Dzeko should know. He was on the Manchester City team that was eliminated by Barcelona in the last 16 in both 2014 and 2015. Roma suffocated Barcelona with high pressure, prompting the Catalan club to make a series of errant passes and turnovers. Barcelona had no answer for the aerial abilities of Dzeko and fellow forward Patrik Schick, who was the revelation of the night. Sparingly used previously this season due to a series of injuries, the 22-year-old Czech Republic striker had been set to join Juventus during the offseason but the deal collapsed because of a reported heart problem. So Roma picked him up instead from Sampdoria, where Schick scored 11 Serie A goals last season. Cengiz Under, another young attacking player, scored six goals for Roma in February and March and returned from injury by coming off the bench in the second leg. The 20-year-old Turkey winger's corner set up the header from Kostas Manolas that provided Roma's third goal. That came moments before Stephan El Shaarawy, another speedy and talented winger, was denied from close range. In all, Roma is developing a wealth of options in attack that combine velocity and strength, and Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco was hailed for his 3-4-1-2 formation. "We had never tried it before but over just three days he got it into our heads," said Roma captain Daniele De Rossi, who converted a penalty for Roma's second goal. "After the first leg we saw that the gap between us and them wasn't really all that large." Own-goals from De Rossi and Manolas handed Barcelona a 2-0 lead last week but Dzeko's late consolation goal in that match proved decisive when Roma advanced on away goals. Dzeko also scored the key goal when Roma eliminated Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 16. He has six goals in all in this season's competition. "The best is yet to come. The semifinal will be even greater," Dzeko said. "But of course, tonight is unforgettable," Dzeko added. "I don't have an adjective to describe it. Let's just say it was a crazy match — incredible. Nobody believed in us." Roma fans celebrated throughout the night, waving flags and driving scooters around the central Piazza Venezia. "Imperiali!" — Imperials — said the headline in Wednesday's Gazzetta dello Sport. French sports daily L'Equipe labeled it a "Romantada" — a play on the Spanish word "remuntada," which translates as comeback. It's the first time that Roma has reached the last four since it lost the 1984 final to Liverpool on penalties in its own stadium. The semifinal draw is scheduled for Friday and so far the only other club which has advanced is Liverpool, which is spearheaded by former Roma striker Mohamed Salah. While Roma keeps on surprising in the Champions League — see its 3-0 domination of Chelsea in the group stage — the Giallorossi have struggled in Serie A. Roma is fourth in the Italian league, a distant 21 points behind leader Juventus and level on points with Lazio entering Sunday's Rome derby. "Honestly I don't know why we can't transfer the mentality we have in the Champions League to Serie A," said Dzeko, who led Serie A with 29 goals last season. Still, this season already marks a turning point for Roma's American ownership team led by Boston executive James Pallotta. Roma has received preliminary approval to build a long-delayed new stadium with a design inspired by the Colosseum. The Champions League success might help speed up the stadium process — especially if Roma reaches the final in Kiev. "We can't think like we've achieved a miracle," De Rossi said. "We've got to keep playing and try to go all the way.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2018

Kiefer on missing free throws: I should not be thinking anything else

NLEX Road Warriors rookie guard Kiefer Ravena vows to take his free throw woes against Magnolia against himself, and start focusing more when taking them as they prepare for Game 4 of the PBA Philippine Cup semis against the Magnolia Hotshots on Friday. The two-time UAAP MVP shot 6-of-16 from the field, a dismal 1-of-6 from three, and missed five shots from the line, including some in crunch time. Ravena is not blaming anyone else but himself, and acknowledged that some of the pressure exerted by the semifinals is slowly creeping up to him. "Nawawala ka sa focus, nawawala ka sa moment. Yun ang hindi pwede mawala. Kung free throw, yun lang iisipin mo. You cant be thinking about the scoreboard, thinking about the next play, siguro it comes with the pressure with the semifinals…. I am a rookie," Ravena said after the game. He then added that he will try clearing out his mind once practice rolls along tomorrow before going to battle again the day after. For NLEX, a franchise that has reached the Philippine Cup semis for the first time, the leading Rookie of the Year candidate pointed out the calmness of their veteran opponents in the clutch, lamenting that they controlled that part of the game like many times before. "Naalaagan na nila yung lead. Medyo kahit papano nung nagrrun kami, they would make their free throws or score. Medyo mahirap yung ganung ano pag dating sa dulo," Ravena said. "For a team like Magnoloa, medyo mahirap yun pag lumamang sila, kaya nilang alagaan talaga. So for us, just keep it close." As they are set to joust again for Game 4 on Friday, which his coach Yeng Guiao called a "make-or-break" game for them, Ravena noted that they need to take advantage the situation gives them, much like how the team took the cudgels from from the stunned Magnolia team that had lost veteran Marc Pingris to a season-ending ACL tear. "[We] just have to take care of business come Friday and nothing more important than the game on Friday. We lost our advantage that first game. Period of adjustments. 24 hours. Go back to battle." -- Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 14th, 2018

LeBron James helps spark new All-Star Game era

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES -- Before tipoff at the 2018 All-Star Game, LeBron James took the courtside mic and thanked the fans and the city for showing out. Two hours later, when he accepted the Kia All-Star MVP trophy, he was barely audible, his throat too scratchy to explain what just happened. Well: To quote an ex-All-Star and noted philosopher Rasheed Wallace, both teams played hard. Those words were never used to describe recent All-Star Games, especially the last two, when defense (196 and 192 points for the winning teams) and the competitive spirit took an extended break, embarrassingly so. The league’s midseason showcase absorbed a rather well-deserved thrashing from fans and even players themselves. Nobody was fooled. Something had to change and someone had to volunteer to be the game-changer. And so, on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), the NBA season took on an 83rd game, as in a real game, thanks to commissioner Adam Silver’s willingness to fix what was broken and LeBron’s desire to set the tone for the most meaningful All-Star Game in years. The players gave the Staples Center crowd the usual acrobatic thrills associated with the game, naturally, but also some spills. As in, bodies on the floor. Every player who checked in did so with a strut and a mission to make a February game feel like June, or close enough, and not just during the close finish, either. Virtually from the start, when LeBron soared and swatted a cross-course pass just minutes into the game, this atmosphere had an edge. As Kevin Durant said: “We just wanted to change the narrative of the All-Star Game being a joke.” It was Team LeBron 148, Team Stephen 145 in the new format where sides were chosen regardless of conference and captains were assigned by fan vote. This created a new and fresh mix of players, intriguing tandems and raised overall interest for the game. It also helped that prize money, $100,000 to each winning player, was increased and lent a financial incentive. Yet it wouldn’t have mattered if layups went unchecked and jumpers were uncontested. Everything had to fall in line, and everyone had to cooperate. And that’s what led to this, a game decided by defense when it truly mattered, with LeBron and Durant swamping Stephen Curry beyond the three-point line on the final possession, keeping Curry and his team from getting a potential game-tying shot off as time expired. This is what the NBA needed, a more representative effort and result from the collection of the game’s finest players. It was a much cleaner look and it’s not a stretch to say the format and intensity rescued the All-Star Game from itself. “The hope is that, as we go forward, it gets even better than this,” said Kyrie Irving. “The game started to get away and we took it personally.” It’s hardly a surprise that LeBron was the force of change. His 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the win earned him his third Kia All-Star MVP trophy, yet those numbers didn’t accurately reflect how involved he was for four quarters. He lost his voice because of constant yelling and instructing and prodding his teammates to finish the job. He actually influenced both teams; his own by motivating them to play harder, and Team Stephen’s by issuing a challenge. Here’s the final sequence, dictated by LeBron: - His step-back three-pointer tied the score at 144; - He switched onto James Harden and forced the league’s scoring leader to badly miss a 3-pointer; - He put his team up for good on a driving layup on a give-and-go, thanks to a pair of timely passes from Irving and Russell Westbrook; - His double-team with Durant on Curry deep in the corner was the finishing touch. LeBron encouraged his team to apply a full-court press to end the first half -- has that ever been used in an NBA Game, let alone an All-Star Game? -- and simply took charge throughout. It was a personal mission to keep folks intrigued and interested. This was his game, his tempo, his personality taking over. “I believe I can make an impact and make a difference,” he said. At 33, and winning his first All-Star MVP in a decade, LeBron helped launch a standard that the game badly needed and, if this spirit holds true in the coming years, he’ll serve as the torch-bearer for a new age All-Star Game. Just one more productive layer to his lengthy legacy. “We all know how great a player he is,” said Team LeBron coach Dwane Casey. “I’m jealous of [Cavs coach Ty Lue] that he has someone like that. But tonight, he was on our team. He’s a joy to coach. He reiterates exactly what should be said, the right things. No BS. In the huddle, defensively, he got the guys jacked up and juiced as far as wanting to get a stop.” There was help; Durant was LeBron’s teammate for the first time in an NBA-sanctioned game and scored 19 points (the two were Olympic teammates in 2012). Irving rejoined LeBron after bolting from the Cavs last summer and they connected on the game-winning shot. Paul George was terrific defensively and chipped in 16 points. If not for Team LeBron winning, the MVP could have gone to DeMar DeRozan, who returned to his hometown and dropped 21 points (but threw an errant pass in the final seconds). Or maybe Damian Lillard, who matched DeRozan’s 21. Or Joel Embiid, a first-timer who supplied a big blocked shot right before LeBron’s layup. Therefore, an exhibition game that had grown stale and suffered from lapses and a lack of energy suddenly has a new beginning. East vs. West doesn’t exist anymore, and players purposely feeding a specific player so he can win MVP, and maybe no more matador defense, either, at least not for 48 minutes. It’s a small sample size, and the game must prove itself each year, but this is a push from LeBron and Silver into the right direction. The only possible tweak, perhaps next year, will be with televising the team selection. But that’s a nit-pick. This worked out well. “The format was great,” James said. “I think the fans did a great job of reacting to it in a positive way. It definitely worked out for everyone., not only for the players, not only for the league, but for the fans, everybody. It was a great weekend and we capped it off the right way.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 20th, 2018

Pampanga town police chief arrested for extortion

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga: The Philippine National Police–Regional Police Counter Intelligence Task Force (PNP–CITF) on Tuesday arrested the chief of police here while in the act of receiving P30,000 alleged protection money from the operator of a “peryahan” (fiesta fair). Chief Supt. Amador Copuz, Central Luzon Police Office director, said Chief Insp. Romeo Bulanadi, Sasmuan town police chief, received… link: Pampanga town police chief arrested for extortion.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

DILG exec says road closure order is legal

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government-Iloilo City opined that Mayor Jose Espinosa’s Executive Order on the use of a portion of Rizal St. in Jaro district for the annual agro-industrial fair is legal. “If we look at it, the authority to close (the road) temporarily, specifically for the agro-industrial fair, conforms with Section […] The post DILG exec says road closure order is legal appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Warriors keep evolving in rivalry with Cavs

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- You might expect, given the familiarity from what’s gone on for four years now, that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have worked up some serious mutual contempt. They both covet what the other wants -- in fact, the Warriors or the Cavs could make a persuasive case that, if not for the other guys, one already would have notched a three-peat and be chasing Bill Russell’s Celtics in pursuit of a fourth consecutive championship. They both have poured buckets of blood, sweat, tears, money, Gatorade and offseason counter moves into their nouveau NBA rivalry. And they both, well, as Golden State coach Steve Kerr phrased it to the San Jose Mercury News Sunday (Monday, PHL time), “We just want to kick each other’s ass.” And yet the Warriors and the Cavaliers -- who play again Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena in the NBA’s prime-time MLK showdown -- have more in common with each other than they do with any of the league’s other 28 teams. Playing 100 games or so every year. Locking in mentally and surviving physically longer than anyone else. Showing up each night targeted as a measuring stick, even a season maker, by the opponents. While trying like heck to keep things fresh. Renew. Find and tap into a new source of energy, because old ones wane over time. “It’s the biggest challenge of this whole season,” Kerr told NBA.com late last week, with the Warriors starting a back-to-back in Milwaukee and Toronto on their way back to The Land. Even if it were possible -- and it realistically is not, given free agency, injuries, trades, the salary cap, luxury taxes, hirings and firings each NBA offseason -- playing a pat hand from one championship-level season to the next isn’t desirable. Voices, locker rooms, relationships get stale. Rivals adjust and escalate in the arms race. Some players ebb in the pecking order, others flow. It’s important to inject new faces, add skills and even find fresh themes to fend off monotony, even boredom, through the 82-game slogs. The Warriors, in winning 20 of 23 games over the past seven weeks, largely have managed to do that. The Cavaliers, at 26-15 after 2-7 stretch that started at Golden State on Christmas (Dec. 26, PHL time)? Not so much. Golden State shifts gears after each season It’s easy to think of Golden State’s success since Kerr’s hiring before the 2014-15 season as one uninterrupted run of excellence. Three-pointers, “death lineups,” and the rest. But the differences from one year to the next have been fairly pronounced. “In Year 1, we were trying to prove ourselves to the world,” Kerr said. “Then we win the championship -- it was all so fresh. There were no letdowns at all that year. It was the most exciting, it was the most energized, it was the most refreshing. It was brand new to all of us. It felt like we were riding this wave all year -- we were all giddy, like, ‘Oh my God, we’re really good!’ We didn’t know we could be like that. And for me, it was my first year coaching.” Steph Curry won his first MVP award. He and Klay Thompson generated considerable conversation about the best shooting backcourts in league history. Draymond Green forever changed the old NBA notion of “’tweeners.” The Warriors finished 67-15, ranked second in the league in offense (111.6) and first in defense (101.4) and beat Cleveland in the Finals in six games. “It was maybe like the first stages when you fall in love,” Kerr said. “You’re just on Cloud 9 and she can’t do anything wrong. There’s infatuation and then you truly fall in love, and it’s amazing. “The second year, we sort of rode that wave of euphoria of being the best team in the league and having won the title. The next thing you know, we’re 24-0 and we’ve got a chance to set an all-time record. That 73-win mark carried us all year. We were going to prove that, not only were we the champs but we were one of the best teams ever.” The Warriors were -- by regular season standards. Curry won his second MVP award. Kerr missed the first 43 games due to health issues but assistant coach Luke Walton steered them to a 39-4 mark. They bought into the chase for 73 victories fairly late, but instead of a 16-5 playoff run like the previous spring’s, the Warriors went 15-9 -- coming up one victory short when the Cavaliers became the first team to claw back from a 3-1 deficit. That led directly to Golden State’s next new wrinkle, a reconfiguration that came close to buckling the league’s knees. “We got KD,” Kerr said. “Now we’re changing our team, right? Last year was about incorporating KD, welcoming this incredible player into our organization and our roster. Figuring how to do it, how we were going to adjust. I felt like there were times last year that were tiring, where our guys were done a little bit. But it was ‘new’ again.” Even the challenges were fresh, like counting Curry’s or Klay Thompson’s touches relative to Durant’s or closing ranks around Golden State’s thin man as his reputation took blows for the first time in his NBA career. Not interested in shooting for 74 victories, the Warriors simply took care of business and stayed coiled for the postseason. Then it was a 16-1 dash to title No. 2, Durant snagging the Finals MVP trophy after the five-game dispatching of the Cavs. All of which just set the Warriors’ bar higher, requiring them to search for something new, somebody borrowed, presumably nothing blue. “This year it’s just survive and advance,” Kerr said. “It’s ‘let’s get to April, May, June in one piece.’ There’s a reason we’ve lost six home games already. We don’t have the driving force that we had the last few years. We’re dealing with what any team in NBA history that’s tried to do this has dealt with. The Lakers (1982-85), the Celtics (1984-87, 1957-66)... It’s just really hard and you need that driving force.” Said Warriors vet Andre Iguodala: “Your body is mindful of it, because it hurts.” A couple of young guys -- Patrick McCaw, Kevon Looney -- have taken on bigger roles. Nick Young brings some sort of buzz into any locker room that will have him. Still, as veteran guard Shaun Livingston said: “We’re not chasing any records. We’re not adding another All Star. We’re just trying to make it through the marathon.” Cavs' challenges mount during 2017-18 The Cavaliers are just trying to make it through the marathon, too. But if they could, they might do it like Rosie Ruiz, the 1980 women’s “winner” of the Boston Marathon who perpetrated a hoax by hopping the subway and running only the final mile of Beantown’s famous race. The 2017-18 has been anything but fun for Cleveland so far. It began with the departure of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, a not-so-funhouse mirror image of Durant’s arrival a year earlier in the Bay Area. Irving, for reasons still not quite explained, made it known in the offseason that he wanted out. He wanted to be the man on his own team. Or he didn’t want to be left in the lurch if (when?) LeBron James took his talents elsewhere again. Or both. Or neither. Regardless, once the Cavaliers made his request come true by dealing him to Boston for All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas and Brooklyn’s coveted first-round pick this June, their task got tougher and their season longer. Losing one of the league’s best ball handlers and shot makers doesn’t qualify as “renewal” any more than what went on in Oklahoma City when Durant packed up. There’s been more. Shooting guard J.R. Smith seemingly got old overnight. Jae Crowder, who came from the Celtics in the Irving deal, hasn’t meshed with the Cavs’ style. Kevin Love has been moved to center but hasn’t done anything to satisfy the Cavs’ need for rim protection. Thomas only returned to action from a hip injury as the calendar turned to 2018 and has played only four games in these two weeks. Even with so many new faces -- seven of the top 12 in coach Tyronn Lue’s rotation weren’t here 12 months ago -- it’s a group heavy on veterans, players a little too established or mature to naturally instill raw energy. James said recently that none of this is new, it’s another case of the Cavs biding their time for the “second” season that means everything. But Lue also introduced the topic of “agendas,” suggesting that some of his guys were looking out for their own responsibilities and performances -- particularly on defense -- rather than the group’s. At best, this is another dose of the midseason blahs, the Cavs in their doldrums in need of an All-Star break. At worst, though, they might be honing some bad habits that won’t be so easy to break in May or June. Especially if East rivals such as Toronto, Boston or Washington are emboldened after witnessing or administering some of the Cavs’ more embarrassing beat downs this season. Will any of this matter come spring? It will if the switch each team is minding stubbornly decides not to flip. “That’s the key. You’ve got to find that balance,” Kerr said. “Are you flipping the switch or are you navigating? The idea is, don’t let bad habits slip in. Right now, this moment, we’re into some bad habits. Our defensive efforts  the last five, six games [before the weekend] were awful. We got away with it because Steph was going nuts.” The Cavaliers repeatedly have not gotten away with bad defensive habits, even on nights when James has been dominant. “It’s tough,” Livingston said. “They’re a team that’s built for the playoffs. But our core guys still are in there prime. Their core guys are still good. But we’re talking about ‘prime.’” Most still would pick both Golden State and Cleveland to advance all the way to a “Finals Four” (after last year’s “Rubber Match” series). But one of these years, most will be wrong -- about one or both. That alone might be motivation enough. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Capitol buys weighing scales for overloaded vehicles

THE ILOILO provincial government is expected to apprehend more overloaded trucks that destroy road networks following the purchase of two weighing scales to be used by Task Force on Overloading. The Swiss-made heavy duty weighing scale with a 15-ton capacity is worth P1.6 million each. Provincial Administrator Raul Banias said the task force is now […] The post Capitol buys weighing scales for overloaded vehicles appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated NewsDec 20th, 2017

Awesome Christmas gift ideas for the Pinoy sports fan in your life

Christmas season is here, and along with the cold weather comes the bevy of various NBA games and sporting events that makes any Pinoy sports fan feel the Holidays even more. What better way to make the sports fan in your life happy this Yuletide season than to give them some awesome athletics gear? In this list, we try and offer some great gift ideas for your special someone who happens to be a sports fan.  From your loved one, to your family, friends, and even your inaanak, we've got you covered. Official NBA Apparel No professional sports league celebrates the holiday season better than the NBA.  From its special uniforms, to its yearly tradition of cheery commercials, and its epic slate of Christmas day games, the Association certainly knows how to tickle each and everyone’s holiday soft spot. For the NBA fan in your life, there are lots of choices in officially licensed apparel. Nothing else comes close than wearing your favorite player or team’s threads. Official jerseys and shirts that have licensed logos and designs? This is a classic gift, a no-brainer. NBA Tops  Stephen Curry Nike Statement name and number tee (P1,395) NBA Shorts Cleveland Cavaliers Nike Swingman Shorts (P2,975)   NBA for Youth Los Angeles Lakers Toddler Logo Tee (P1,295)   NBA Caps Golden State WarriorsTwo-tone Wordmark Strapback (P1,790)   Sneakers Nike KD Trey5 V (P4,795) Fresh set of kicks Imagine going to your family Christmas trip with new sneakers on. That’s just the best feeling for any sports fan, and you can help them by trying out any of these fresh kicks. adidas Harden Vol. “1 Driveway” (P8,500) Inspired by Houston Rockets superstar James Harden and his early basketball days, adidas introduces Harden Vol. 1 Driveway. Taking design cues from Harden’s LA home, the latest edition features a cream upper with contrasting Primeknit threads and suede toe shroud.     The Driveway colorway is now available in select adidas retailers and shop.adidas.com.ph. adidas EQT Cushion ADV(P7,500) An evolution of the original EQT Cushion 91 model, the EQT Cushion ADV shoe design features a fluid Primeknit upper with welded synthetic overlays and structural nubuck quarter panels, accented by webbing tape 3-stripes marks, and reflective accents The EQT Cushion ADV will be available in select adidas stores and shop.adidas.com.ph starting 7th December 2017.  adidas Ultraboost ATR (P9,995) Got a runner in the family? Help them shatter their excuses with the latest additions to the UltraBOOST family. The adidas Ultraboost ATR is designed to empower runners and encourage them to embrace any condition whether rain, hail, darkness or cold.  It has features that can help withstand even the most unpredictable weather. The new UltraBOOST All Terrain and UltraBOOST X All Terrain are now available in adidas.com.ph/UltraBOOST and leading adidas stores and retailers.  Merrell Chameleon 7 Stretch in Boulder (Php 5,995.00) The Merrell Chameleon 7 collection is inspired by the adaptable animal itself, and it recently got an upgrade. This core style and fan favorite features an iconic look, style, durability and function. Check out the Chameleon 7 collection in Merrell stores at Glorietta 3, TriNoma, SM North EDSA Annex, Market! Market!, Robinsons Place Manila, Festival Mall, SM Dasmarinas, Marquee Mall, Harbor Point, SM City Cebu, SM Iloilo, SM City Davao, SM Lanang, Abreeza Mall, Gaisano Mall Davao, LimKetKai Mall, and Centrio Mall, select specialty & department stores nationwide and online at merrell.com.ph.   Ultraboost laceless (P10,000) adidas has broken down barriers by working closely with athletes to test and re-work its renowned PrimeKnit upper to create a compression fit which supports and guarantees peak performance from the wearer without the need for laces.  The UltraBOOST Laceless hit stores on 6th December 2017, and retails in shop.adidas.com.ph and leading adidas stores and retailers.   Sports Tech Fitness has become a common interest and lifestyle among many Filipinos as different types of workouts become more accessible and convenient.  These advanced peripherals from Samsung would make anyone drool. Whether your loved one is a fitness nut, or a tech geek, they’ll certainly appreciate the features of each gadget that’s packed into such a luxurious piece of technology. Gear Icon X (P8,490) Listening to music to get that extra pump during your workout is made easier with the Gear IconX.  No more running with your phone in hand and tangled cord because while the Gear IconX are wireless Bluetooth earphones, you can also load them up with your favorite workout playlists. It also boasts up to 7 hours of battery life.   Samsung Gear Sport (P14,990) This device can do everything from tracking your exercise and calorie intake down to replying to notifications and playing music. This smartwatch is packed with functionalities yet comfortable to wear.   Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro (P8,990) Featuring a minimalist, no-nonsense aesthetic, the Gear Fit 2 Pro offers flawless functionality and seamless integration with your smartphone. You have the option to custom design exercises and goals, and let the software do all the heavy lifting when it comes to tracking your progress.  You can get your own Samsung Gear device starting November 17, 2017 in Samsung Experience Stores, partner retailers, Lazada, and Abenson.com.      A piece of history Adidas Telstar 18 (P6,500) Telstar 18, the official 2018 FIFA World Cup™ game ball is the perfect gift for the dedicated football fan.  It pays homage to the first ever adidas World Cup ball, the 1970 Telstar. It’s a reinvention of the classic with a brand new panel design and the latest in ball technology and it will be used by the world’s best players as they seek to claim the biggest prize in football next summer. The Telstar now available at select adidas retail stores and the adidas online shop at shop.adidas.com.ph. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 15th, 2017

How will the Spurs meld Aldridge, Leonard?

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com A top-three team in the Western Conference is ready to get its best player back from injury. He's someone who, last season, made first-team All-NBA, had a seat at the MVP roundtable and nearly chopped down the champion Golden State Warriors in a playoff game (before being chopped down himself). And this will be good for the San Antonio Spurs, most would agree. What’s less certain is what Kawhi Leonard’s return from an achy quadricep means for LaMarcus Aldridge, who looks comfortable playing the lead right now without his co-star, yet squirmed to find peace when he had to ride shotgun. The Spurs star could make his season debut on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) against the Mavericks. The Spurs’ season rides on a happy balance between the two and a way to once again lurk as the team that gives the Warriors a severe case of the creeps, more than any other in the West. Despite all the fuss made over Chris Paul joining James Harden in Houston, and the star-infused Thunder in Oklahoma City, it’s the same-old Spurs who spooked Golden State in Game 1 before losing the Western Conference finals. They were also the last non-Warriors team to reach the NBA Finals. And look who’s sitting a bounce pass from the top of the West, despite missing Kawhi all season? That opening playoff game last May against Golden State was a flash point for San Antonio. The series of events that followed managed to put Leonard in a bad place physically, saw Aldridge melt epically the rest of that series and generate trade talk in the off-season, forced a major sit-down/showdown between coach Gregg Popovich and Aldridge and then, out of seemingly nowhere and somewhat surprisingly, a peaceful resolution was reached and wins followed. “As you can see, based on the evidence,” said Aldridge the other day, “everything’s good.” Yes, it appears so. With Kawhi out of the lineup, the Spurs are doing what they usually do, using disciplined basketball to stamp themselves as a contender. Some nights, Aldridge has been a force, ripping double-doubles and looming large in close games. The ball is finding him in a greedy groove; Aldridge is taking almost 17 1/2 shots a game and the Spurs’ No. 2 shooter, Rudy Gay, is getting nine. As a result, his scoring average is up from a year ago, from 17.3 points per game to 22.6 ppg, matching his best production during his peak with the Portland Trail Blazers. Now in his third season with the Spurs, Aldridge has never felt this frisky and once again is leaning on his money maker: the floating 18-foot jumper. Most important, the Spurs are winning because of him, and Popovich is gloating over him. “Are you kidding?” Popovich said. “We’d be in the toilet if it wasn’t for L.A. He’s been a complete basketball player at both ends of the floor, great rebounding, defensively, running the floor, scoring. What’s really been great is his leadership. And him bringing it every night.” It’s a short sample size after 25 games, but Popovich and the Spurs are cautiously encouraged by this. The Spurs veered from their usual draft-and-develop ways when they signed Aldridge to a big free-agent contract three summers ago. Because of that, Aldridge was considered an outsider, someone who wasn’t a true Spur, but who was needed by a team that craved proven talent to remain a contender in the post-Tim Duncan era. But it’s been a learning process for Aldridge, Popovich and the Spurs. He came from the Blazers anxious to break free of a team that began to orbit around Damian Lillard, but wouldn’t you know it, Leonard turned into a superstar almost overnight after Aldridge arrived. The timing was good for the Spurs ... and awkward for Aldridge, who was forced to adjust his game with prodding from Popovich. Aldridge bit his tongue last season when he averaged his lowest point total since his rookie season. When Leonard suffered his ankle sprain against the Warriors, Aldridge suddenly had the burden of carrying the load, and he failed spectacularly for the rest of that series. He averaged just 11.3 points in the final three games and became low hanging fruit for critics. Popovich was asked the other day if Aldridge had to atone for that this season and the coach came to his player’s defense. “I don’t know if the word ‘atone’ is accurate,” Popovich said. “If your leading scorer and also your point guard (Tony Parker, who was also out against the Warriors) isn’t there, then it falls on someone else. If you take away the two top players from any playoff team, it’s probably going to be tough to move on. I don’t think he has anything to atone for.” Still, something wasn’t right; anyone could see that. Aldridge requested a summertime meeting with Popovich and came with demands. On the surface, that might seem a risky strategy, given the coach’s credentials vs. someone without a single title, and Aldridge knew he was walking on eggshells. “I didn’t know how it would go because he’s Gregg Popovich. I didn’t know how he’d take me saying things. I didn’t know what to expect, with me coming at a person a different way but I was very honest and I think he could tell this was maybe different from what he was used to. But I was not disrespectful. I was trying to express how I was feeling and he was very receptive to it. We kept talking and things got better. I was pleasantly surprised.” For anyone who thought one of the game’s greatest coaches didn’t have a humble side, guess again. Popovich said: “We broke bread a few times, talked about it, laughed about it, discussed what we thought needed to happen, and frankly 95 percent of it fell on me because I made an error in trying to change him too much. That might sound odd, but he’d been in the league nine years and there’s one way he plays on the offensive end and feels comfortable with. I tried to turn him into Jack Sikma, told him I was going to teach you how to play on the elbow, go on the wing, face up. It was confusing for him. It really didn’t fit his style of play. I was guilty of over coaching in a sense. “We came to an agreement on what had to happen. Well, on defense, I told him ‘I’m going to get on you like I do everyone else. But on offense, I don’t even want to talk to you. When they double you, kick it. Other than that, you be LaMarcus Aldridge.’ You see the result right now. He’s happy, confident and kicking everybody’s butt.” Every star player’s ego needs a degree of pampering, and Popovich did admit that dealing with Aldridge was different than any player he’s ever had, yet says there’s a reason for that. “When guys like Kawhi and Tony Parker and others came to me, they were young kids. When a guy’s been in a league nine years and is used to doing something and I try to take it away, that’s not right. That wasn’t very wise on my part.” Popovich didn’t pull rank in the meeting with Aldridge and if anything, he put his ego in check, something you see from coaches who haven’t accomplished one-fourth of what he’s done. But Pop has never strayed from the first rule in coaching players, especially the good ones: Keep them happy by any means necessary. “You gotta look at things and make it better as a coach,” he said. “It’s your responsibility. This was mostly me.” Here’s Aldridge this season so far: Back-to-back 33- and-41-point games a few weeks ago, sharper court awareness, better rebounding and passing than a year ago. Aldridge: “I was frustrated. I just wanted to help more and I think he understood that. Now I feel as confident as I was in Portland. I’m definitely being myself and playing my game and not overthinking and not worried about what’s going to happen if I don’t play well. I’m not a face-up guy. I like to have my back to the basket more. Pop’s given me the freedom to be myself again and that has shown itself on the court.” The issue, both say, wasn’t necessary the number of shots, though that was certainly one of the issues. It also was about the spot on the floor, when those shots needed to be taken. Aldridge said he has no problem with Leonard as the core -- he called Kawhi “our main guy” -- but wanted the same amount of comforts within the system. “He’s a go-to guy also,” said Aldridge. “The plan is to have him be the guy he is, and I be who I am now.” And there’s the key word: now. Leonard was bothered by the quad all last season and it didn’t respond quickly to offseason treatment. But now he’s nearly 100 percent and hopes a quick return to the level of last season when he jacked his scoring and finished third in the MVP voting, one spot ahead of LeBron James. Count Parker among the teammates who’ve said the obvious about Aldridge and how the power forward, in Leonard’s absence, has looked All-Star quality. “Everything’s going through him right now and he’s doing a better job knowing when to score and when to pass,” Parker said, “along with reading double teams and playing good defense.” But then Parker, the most senior Spur after Manu Ginobili, stressed that everyone, including Aldridge, must sacrifice for Leonard and not vice-versa, for the sake of the system and ultimately, wins. “When you play for the Spurs you don’t get a lot of big stats,” Parker said. “Now that Kawhi is out, he obviously has the ball more and he’s going to shoot more shots.” Then he added the kicker: “When Kawhi comes back we will share” -- Parker said while smiling -- “like we always do here.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 9th, 2017

Stiffer fines for anti-smoking ordinance violators

By: Perla Lena  THE Iloilo City Anti-Smoking Task Force (ICAST) warned of stiffer penalties for violators of the Anti-Smoking Ordinance as it gears to enforce the amended version of the law anytime this month. In an interview on June 18, 2018, ICAST Head of Operations Karl Maridable said the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) has approved in December […] The post Stiffer fines for anti-smoking ordinance violators appeared first on The Daily Guardian......»»

Category: newsSource:  thedailyguardianRelated News11 hr. 44 min. ago

As Saudis wilt on field, kingdom pursues soccer power grab

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — The Saudis have ambitions to seize control over parts of international soccer. Losing 5-0 by Russia in the World Cup opener shows they might have bigger problems at home. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had to endure the humiliation in the stadium on Thursday, with Saudi Arabia's mauling in Moscow coming at the hands of a side just below the Saudis in the FIFA rankings. Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi studiously sidestepped a question about whether his federation had been distracted lately. But it has. Just when the Saudis had a first World Cup appearance in 12 years to prepare for, the federation has been mounting a power grab of soccer far beyond the kingdom. What appears the creation of just another bureaucratic institution within the sport could actually have wider ramifications. On its face, the establishment of the South West Asian Football Federation by the Saudis, including the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, to help to develop the game appears a benevolent undertaking, especially when the existing regional governing body is so vast. "Football is about growth and if you don't grow economically, socially, technically, you will not be moving," Saudi federation president Adel Ezzat told The Associated Press. "It's not enough for us to be in the World Cup. "We have a vision that an Asian country will win the World Cup one day, but there must be a start for that. Football is underdeveloped in many areas in Asia." Is the Asian Football Confederation to blame? "Ambitions have to be higher than winning the Asian Cup," Ezzat said. Confederation president Sheikh Salman, a Bahraini, said he "had no objection to the creation of SWAFF as long as it remains as a football body outside of the AFC's zonal structure." Scratch deeper below the surface and the true objectives of the new body seem a little cloudy. It is unclear why SWAFF is required when there are already regional offshoots of the AFC, including the West Asian Football Federation, which is led by Jordan's Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein who resisted an attempt by the Saudis to seize power of his organization before the new regional force emerged. "It will help Asia and it will help FIFA," Ezzat told The Associated Press. "We don't see anything wrong creating that connection between the south and the west. Football needs to grow." Ezzat maintained that SWAFF had followed the right legal steps to avoid breaching the rules of world football's governing body. Ezzat said FIFA governance committee head Mukul Mudgal had been dispatched by FIFA President Gianni Infantino to the SWAFF meeting on May 31 in Jeddah. The Indian judge denied he was in attendance. SWAFF said the founding members also include Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Maldives, Yemen, Oman and Kuwait. Oman Football Association General Secretary Said Othman Al Bulushi told the AP his nation was waiting to assess the statutes and legality of the body within FIFA before confirming its membership. The entire Gulf is not in SWAFF. Take a look at the map and three countries in particular are missing: Iran, Qatar and Yemen. "It's not about the geographic map," Saudi federation president Adel Ezzat said. "It's about zones." Could it also be about politics? For three years, a Saudi-led coalition has been trying to drive out Iranian-aligned Shiite rebels known as Houthis from Yemen to break the civil war in the Arab world's poorest nation and restore the exiled government. Across the Gulf, the Saudis are part of a quartet, including the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, which has spent the last year putting the squeeze on Qatar. Diplomatic ties with the energy-rich country have been severed amid allegations that Qatar supports extremist groups in the region, which Doha denies. The Qataris, though, have plowed ahead with preparations to host an event that will put them at the center of the world's attention: the next World Cup in 2022. Ezzat won't discuss Qatar, or the 2022 World Cup. Turki Al-Sheikh, head of Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority, has been less circumspect, demanding earlier this year that Qatar be stripped of the hosting rights if corruption around its bid was proven. For now, in Saudi sights is Qatar's flagship sports network, which owns exclusive Middle East and North African rights to the World Cup. The BeIN Sports coverage of the Russia World Cup opener was watched across Saudi Arabia — but on a pirate channel. The beoutQ signal is transmitted by a Riyadh-based satellite provider, whose largest shareholder is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Still, the BeIN coverage was seized on by Al-Sheikh to threaten legal action against the network for "wrongdoings against KSA, its sports and officials, and for exploiting sports to achieve political goals." In a tweet, Al-Sheikh added Friday that this "proves Saudi authorities' true stance when banning this network from airing on its soil." Soccer's world body, though, is finally intervening. FIFA said it is "exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights, including in relation to action against legitimate organizations that are seen to support such illegal activities." What FIFA would not say is whether Infantino raised Qatar's concerns when he watched the opener in the Luzhniki Stadium alongside the Saudi crown prince. Infantino has been a keen visitor to Saudi Arabia over the last year, including meeting King Salman, as intrigue has swirled about the country's role in a consortium's plans to underwrite $25 billion to launch a vastly expanded Club World Cup and an international Nations League. "He knows for a fact the importance of Saudi Arabia in the region," Ezzat said. "That's why I believe he is paying a lot of attention to Saudi Arabia. ... That's a very important sign. (FIFA) know this country can play a very important role in the development of football." Infantino, though, said he believed the backing for the new competitions was "not part of a wider Saudi sports grab." The proposals have stalled because of opposition within the council to Infantino's secrecy over the financial backers. Growing football is part of a sweeping "Vision 2030" plan to wean Saudi Arabia off its near-total dependence on oil money. Prince Mohammed is trying to push Saudi Arabia to become a more cosmopolitan nation that appeals to international investors. Ezzat wants to create new soccer competitions under the auspices of SWAFF and invite countries to participate from beyond the region — particularly Europe. "The country is going through an important change," Ezzat said. "Football can be a catalyst for change. The FIFA president I'm sure knows this very well. ... My country can play an important role in football." Just not the Saudi national team at the moment......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

PBA: NLEX still clinging to flicker of hope remaining

With a 2-7 record, the NLEX Road Warriors' playoff hopes are getting slimmer by the minute. However, for coach Yeng Guiao, NLEX will still be trying to hold on to a 'flicker of hope remaining,' if they could win their remaining games against San Miguel and Magnolia, and hope for the best to force a tie at the bottom of the playoff picture. The 11th-seeded NLEX were able to make things interesting in the third quarter, taking a four-point lead briefly against the top-seeded Aces before collapsing in the final quarter. Even though they were not able to last against the Aces, Guiao commended his wards for making the game competitive up until the buzzer, a trait he wants to see the rest of the way. "If we're not lucky enough to make the playoffs this conference we’ll play as hard as we can the last two games and we’ll consider that as preparation for the  next conference...Baka may ano pa, baka-maka-tie ka pa. Meron ka pang playoffs ano? There's still a ficker of hope remaining, so we will hang to that." The six-time PBA champion coach was impressed with Mac Tallo's NLEX debut, who contributed 11 points, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 two blocks in his first game in six months, recovering from latent tuberculosis. He also let go of Tallo's blunders, who gave away the ball four times, but he vows to give a strong piece of his mind in the following games. "We have to demand something better out of his judgment, out of his decision-making, I think that will happen ano? Because MVP to sa Cebu, he's a go-to-guy, he can score, he can pass, he's a creator no for the team. And that's exactly what we need even without Kiefer and Kevin." As another project seen by the longtime coach, Guiao sees a combination of former Red Bull guard and Cebu teammate Jimwell Torion and the body structure of former league MVP Willie Miller. "He’s a strong point guard who can withstand a physical game," he said of the comparison for the first-round pick in the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft. Despite trying to fill the shoes of the backcourt of Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas, the NLEX mentor is not putting expectations for Tallo, already entrusting him with almost 20 minutes of playing time. "Wala akong pressure sa kaniya. I just want his natural game to develop, I just want him to be able to grasp the system of the team and the philosophy. Kaya binabad ko na siya today." __   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2018