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Facebook move will play out in long-term, analysts say

NEW YORK -- Facebook's move to highlight posts from friends and family over those from brands and publications follows months of turmoil for the social network and will result in lower advertising revenue -- at least in the short-term, analysts said. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the shift in the configuration of the News Feed on Thursday, saying it would reduce engagement by users at first but would lead to their improved "well-being." While Zuckerberg described the move as being designed to bring people closer together and foster more "meaningful social interactions," analysts noted that it comes amid criticism of the world's leading social network on various...Keep on reading: Facebook move will play out in long-term, analysts say.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerJan 13th, 2018

Oladipo, Sabonis helping Pacers move forward

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com INDIANAPOLIS – Victor Oladipo has a fever and the only prescription is ... no, not more cowbell. Cowbell might make sense, if you factor in Oladipo’s love of and commitment to music (his debut R&B album has been available since Oct. 6). But the fever currently afflicting Oladipo, shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers, has nothing to do with extracurriculars and everything to do with the odes and anthems he’s been performing within the confines of 94 feet by 50 feet. If the fifth-year guard out of Indiana University, by way of the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder, looks comfortable in his new star turn for the Pacers, well, just remember that’s your word. Not his. “You could say I’m comfortable with the people here,” says Oladipo, who spent three seasons with the Hoosiers before becoming the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. “I played in front of these fans, they mean a lot to me and I gave a lot to them just like they gave a lot to me while I was in college. “But I’m never comfortable in any situation I’m in. I will never be comfortable. That’s what kind of makes me get up and work every day. It’s like, never be satisfied. Because for some reason, ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted more.” Oladipo’s eyes just about glow after a weekend practice as he delves into his unflagging intensity. He doesn’t undercut it with a smile or a token laugh. This is real heat. “Maximize my talent and exhaust my potential,” he says. “In order to do that, I’ve got to come to work every day. That’s my thought process. Wake up each day and be great that day.” Each day would include tonight, when Oladipo will share center stage at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with the more decorated and once-beloved star who preceded him in the Pacers lineup. Paul George, a four-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist during his seven seasons in Indiana, was due to face his old team for the first time since being traded to Oklahoma City in July. It was a parting necessitated by George, who had made clear his desire to sign a maximum-salary contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018. But the trade was orchestrated by Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, and Chad Buchanan, their general manager, who surprised the NBA by swapping George to OKC for Oladipo and big man Domantas Sabonis. You want intense? The initial reaction to that deal was intensely negative, quickly reaching hysterical proportions. The Pacers immediately were mocked for having traded George for nickels on the dollar. Reports out of Boston characterized Indiana’s POBO as more of a bobo for allegedly spurning a Celtics’ offer of multiple players and draft picks. *Takes a well deserved nap for 3 hours ** Opens Twitter: pic.twitter.com/xWNYaVfKTy — Myl3s Turn3r (@Original_Turner) July 1, 2017 The west is sick!!!! Best conference in the world!!!! — Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) July 1, 2017 Vic to the Pacers?! He might as well run for governor while he's at it! — Cody Zeller (@CodyZeller) July 1, 2017 Former Thunder star Kevin Durant called the move “shocking” and of George said “Indiana just gave him away.” Among much of the media that covers the league, there was a general feeling of “rubes” afoot -- that the Pacers had been snookered in taking back an overpaid ($21 million annually through 2020-21) second-tier talent and an overbilled guy who had disappeared in OKC’s postseason. And now? Not so much on any of those fronts. ‘He knows how good he is’ George’s stats are down in the “OK3” core he’s formed with reigning Kia MVP Russell Westbrook and aging Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder (12-13) are the NBA’s consensus disappointment, team category, with nearly a third of their season in the books. Sabonis has boosted the Pacers off the bench in a half dozen ways. And Oladipo has all but earned himself a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team while speeding his new team’s fans past their heartbreak over George’s jilting. Generally, the best trades in sports are win-win, but for Indiana right now, a bit of win-lose has made the start of 2017-18 downright sublime. “We happened to really like Sabonis in the draft,” former Pacers president and ongoing consultant Donnie Walsh said last week. “We wanted more of everything in the trade too. But when it came down to it, we had this offer with Oladipo, who we also liked. They’ve come in here and the more they’ve been here, the more we like ‘em. We’re happy.” The Pacers also are 16-11, two weeks ahead in the victory column over their 42-40 finish last season that was good for a playoff berth. Oladipo is the biggest reason why, averaging more points per game (24.5) than George ever has. The 6'4" guard who attended famous DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Md., spent much of last season being beaten up for his contract and negligible impact in Oklahoma City. He had taken grief earlier for his status as the second pick in 2013, a lofty status not of his doing. And here he was again in the summer, hearing it all over again for a transaction he didn’t design. “He came in with a chip [on his shoulder],” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought he should come in with a chip.” Some would have flinched from the pressure. A few might have curled up, full blown fetal. Oladipo has gone entirely the other way. “His confidence is at an all-time high,” backup point guard Cory Joseph said. “He knows how good he is.” As Joseph spoke after the Pacers’ upset of Cleveland Friday, a game in which Oladipo scored 20 of his game-high 33 points in the third quarter, a lilting voice drifted from behind the scenes in the home dressing room. “Look at it right now, he’s singing in the shower,” Joseph said, tilting his head and laughing. “He’s confident. You guys are all in here, he’s just singing. He’s a confident guy. Everybody in this locker room, everybody in this organization definitely welcomes that.” Trade not driving Oladipo’s breakout season Don’t misunderstand. The critics still are out for Oladipo. “My mom told me yesterday I need to work on my free throws,” he said with an eye roll after practice Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). She had noticed, during her son’s run of big games in December -- 36 points at Toronto, 27 vs. Chicago, 33 against the Cavs the night before her chiding text -- that he had missed 18-of-31 foul shots. This, by a career 80 percent shooter from the line. “I’m over that,” Oladipo said. “I’m not going to miss no more. I’ll make ‘em next time. And if I miss ‘em, I’ll make ‘em the next. If that’s my problem right now, I think I can fix it.” Twenty-four hours later, Oladipo took 13 free throws against Denver and made 11. He scored 47 points in all, hitting 15-of-28 shots and half of his 12 three-pointers. The comeback victory in OT got the Pacers to 4-for-4 on their six-game homestand and continued to shrink whatever chip it was that the 25-year-old was shouldering. “In the beginning of the year, I said, ‘I don’t have a chip. I have a brick house on my back,’” Oladipo said. But not anymore, right, now that some folks are referring to it as “the Victor Oladipo trade” rather than “the Paul George trade?” “That’s what I feel like every morning, no matter what’s going on,” he said. “I don’t even think about the trade, honestly. It’s in the past for me. People’s opinions are going to be there whether you like it or not. From the outside looking in, I guess you could say [then] that was a great trade for OKC. That’s what they believed. But it wasn’t going to change the way I worked. It wasn’t going to change my approach.” This step up in status is considered perhaps the most difficult an NBA player can make. Suddenly, opposing coaches are X&O-ing him to death. The player dogging him up and down the court is the other guys’ best defender. Often, they’ll send double-teams to get the ball into one of his teammates’ hands. “He hadn’t had that,” McMillan said. “When he was in OKC, the game plan was focused on Westbrook. When he was in Orlando, he was just a young player. Now he is seeing the defenders like a LeBron [James], like a [DeMar] DeRozan, what these stars are seeing. He’s seeing the best defenders and he’s seeing teams game-plan to take him out. “Learning how to play and be consistent every night with that challenge is something he’s going through.” Oladipo’s quick success with the Pacers has kept any crowd critics at bay. They were pre-disposed to like him just as their rebound date after George, but had he underperformed, Oladipo’s service time in Bloomington wouldn’t have protected him for long from criticism. But now, it’s George who likely will get the harsh reception. Oladipo, overtly after each of the recent victories, has made it clear to the home fans via some emphatic pointing and body language that the Fieldhouse happens to be his house. “I don’t say it, they say it,” he said. “I just do the gesture and they do the rest of the work for me. I let them do all the talking. We feed off them -- when they’re into it, we play better. I don’t know why, that’s just how basketball’s always been. They’re our sixth man and we need ‘em every night.” Oladipo’s breakout season has been bolstered, too, by the Pacers’ second-through-15th men. Those who already were in Indy knew how valuable George was at both ends. Those who, like Oladipo and Sabonis, were new this season were within their rights to be as skeptical as the national headlines of the guys coming in trade. Go-to guy emerges for Pacers OKC was a specific challenge, Oladipo having to learn on the fly how to fit his own darting, ball-heavy style to only the second man in NBA history to average a triple-double. Westbrook’s usage was off the charts, rendering the other Thunder players to supporting cast whether suited to that role or not. Just like that, Oladipo had to catch and shoot as someone to get Westbrook into double digits in assists. It wasn’t his nature and it made for an individually forgettable season. “I had a role. I tried to play that role to the best of my ability. And I improved certain areas of my game in that role,” was all he’d say Saturday, stiffly, about the OKC experience. Said Walsh: “I felt like he was going to get a different opportunity here. ... When he got to Oklahoma City, he was playing wih a guy who was averaging a triple-double. And he liked Russell Westbrook. But he comes here, he’s got an opportunity to be ‘our guy.’ “I think he might have been looking for that. I never asked him. He’s a really cool guy. He knows what he wants to be, I think.” Oladipo needed this and the Pacers needed him to need it. With George gone, they were like a smile missing a front tooth. The other teeth weren’t just going to move up in the pecking order -- no matter how good young big man Myles Turner is -- and replace the one they’d lost. If they were going to have any success this season, if McMillan was going to be able to coach and adjust in his second year taking over for Frank Vogel, the players needed to fill their roles and welcome this new addition. That’s why this tale of Oladipo’s growing success is about what the Pacers have done for him, as much as it is what he’s done for them. “We didn’t really present it like that,” McMillan said, “because we were still trying to develop who our ‘go-to guy’ was. He has been slowly taking on that role through the things he’s done. I haven’t had to say anything. He’s making good decisions with the ball. And the guys are getting a feel for what we’re doing down the stretch because we’ve had some success, and we’ve had it with Victor having the ball.” Chemistry change for Pacers There might be NBA teams with chemistry as solid as the Pacers’ right now, but it’s hard to imagine there are any with better. It’s more than mere relief that someone has stepped up, easing their own loads a bit. It is a genuine eagerness for Oladipo to max out, for each of the rest of them to do the same in whatever lane they’re riding. “Vic’s been everything at this point,” Turner said. “He’s done a great job of stepping up and being that guy, being that dude. It’s amazing to have that when you’re going through a situation where it’s a brand-new team. We’re still learning each other and he’s showing that he’s ready.” Did Turner know this would happen and, if so, when? “First couple days he started texting me in the summertime,” the big man said. “I saw what his mindset was, and I loved it from the jump. He carried that right in when we started playing pickup this summer. “Vic’s been traded, what, [two] times? He finally comes back home and he has a team that’s telling him to go, telling him to be him. I don’t think he had that with his former teams. Now that he’s here and he’s doing that, I’m pretty sure he’s [enjoying it].” Said Joseph: “He’s been a beast for us and he’s going to continue to be a beast for us. ... He’s been running with that opportunity and opening eyes around the world.” Even strong-willed, uber-confident Lance Stephenson, has backed up for Oladipo. “There’s no hate, know what I mean?” he said over the weekend. “Some guys get mad about somebody doing good. This team wants its teammates to do good. That’s what’s going to make us even better.” Oladipo keeps referring to the other Pacers in a legit lubricating of the “no I in Indy” process. “Honestly I think it’s the personalities and the men that we have in this locker room,” he said. “My teammates are phenomenal people -- not just basketball players, phenomenal people. When you surround yourself with great people, people who sincerely care about you and your team, the chemistry just comes naturally.” Sabonis shows glimpses of success, too The other guy in the trade, Sabonis, has developed more organically, his maturation seemingly inevitable regardless of locale when you tote up his youth, his work ethic and his bloodlines (son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis). He has gone from that rookie who logged just six minutes in the Thunder’s five 2017 playoff games against Houston to an essential piece in McMillan’s rotation. “Once I got traded, I knew this was a great opportunity for me to show people what I can really do,” said Sabonis, the No. 11 pick in 2016. “I was a rookie last year. Everything was new. Here, I’m being used more at the 5. That’s more the position I’ve been used to playing my whole life.” Sabonis’ minutes are up from 20.1 in OKC to 24.6 off Indiana’s bench. His scoring has doubled from 5.9 ppg to 12.1. And his PIE rating has soared from 4.9 last season to 12.6, a sign of the versatility the skilled big man possesses. “I love Sabonis,” Walsh said. “His father was one of the greatest players in the world, so I don’t like that comparison -- it kills him. He [Domantas] is just more of everything you think he is. He’s stronger than you think. He can shoot the ball better. He’s got good hands, he can catch the ball. I’ve seen him make moves in game that I’ve never seen him make in practice.” Said Turner: “I played against Domas in college -- I knew what kind of player he was. I was excited when we got him. He’s gotten bigger and stronger since then, obviously, and he just didn’t have a chance to show himself last year. But he’s been big for us now, especially when I was out with the concussion. He stepped up huge in that role and we’ve played well since then.” The Pacers are playing faster this season, up from 18th in pace last season to 10th now, part of their improvement from 15th in offensive rating (106.2) to 6th (108.3). They’re doing better, too, in contesting shots and throttling opponents’ field-goal accuracy. The biggest reason why has been Oladipo’s blossoming. Whether due to the sunshine of new, happier surroundings or from that darker, more intense place, to prove cynics wrong. No one can now talk of the Pacers’ bungling of what, after all, was a deal to rent George, not to have him long-term. Fans at Bankers Life figure to boo George on his first visit back, with an inventory they haven’t needed or used on Oladipo. Some might see that as ingratitude, others as respect. It’s a little bit of love lost, too. “Look, they loved Paul when he was here,” Walsh said. “They guy is a great player. One thing I’ve always felt: These guys that play here, they always know more about what they want for their lives than we do. How you gonna argue with that? He treated us good, we treated him good. No bad blood here. I don’t know about fans.” Folks in Indy have a new crush now, one they hope lasts for a while. 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 NewsDec 14th, 2017

Lakers rally from 19-point deficit to beat Bulls 103-94

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kyle Kuzma had 22 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 11 of his 21 in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a 19-point deficit in the second half for a 103-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Brandon Ingram had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists as the Lakers won consecutive games for the second time this season. Los Angeles had a miserable first half and trailed 61-42 early in the second, but put together a 38-19 run. Caldwell-Pope's layup with 3:08 to play gave the Lakers their first lead since the first quarter. Caldwell-Pope added back-to-back three-pointers to get the LA crowd on its feet. After Ingram made a difficult layup with 1:16 left, Caldwell-Pope alertly kept a loose ball alive after Lonzo Ball missed a three-pointer, allowing the Lakers to seal their first win over the Bulls at Staples Center in three tries. Denzel Valentine scored 17 points and Antonio Blakeney added 15 — all in the first half — for the Bulls, who dropped to 3-12 with their seventh loss in eight games. Kris Dunn had 12 points and six assists in his second start of the season for Chicago. Ball had eight points, 13 rebounds and four assists. After posting his second career triple-double Sunday (Monday, PHL time) against Denver, the touted rookie missed seven of his first eight shots against Chicago, but provided strong playmaking down the stretch. The NBA's worst shooting team hit seven triples in the first half while taking an 18-point lead over the step-slow Lakers. Blakeney was a rookie surprise, hitting a career-high six shots in the opening minutes while the Bulls surged well ahead. Los Angeles committed 13 first-half turnovers, played poor defense and would have been buried without Kuzma's gritty scoring. TIP-INS Bulls: Fred Hoiberg promoted Dunn to the starting lineup in place of Jerian Grant, and the coach expects it to be a long-term move. Dunn has been a steady force off Chicago's bench, and Hoiberg expects Grant to take a similar role with the reserves going forward. ... David Nwaba missed the game with a sprained ankle. The LA native became a steady bench contributor for the Lakers last season, but Chicago snatched him off waivers in July while the Lakers shuffled their roster. Lakers: Los Angeles visits Chicago on Jan. 26 (Jan. 27, PHL time). ... F Larry Nance Jr. could be back with the team as early as next week. He had surgery on his broken left hand only three weeks ago, but has healed quicker than expected. TWINS Brook Lopez had four points on 2-for-10 shooting and nine rebounds for the Lakers against his twin brother, Robin, who had 14 points and three rebounds for the Bulls. The twins grew up in North Hollywood rooting for the Lakers, who acquired Brook Lopez in a trade with Brooklyn last summer. UP NEXT Bulls: At the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Lakers: At the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2017

Report: Several Cavs challenged Love over absences

NBA.com staff report All is not well in Cleveland. This is not news, especially after the Cavaliers gave up a whopping 148 points in Saturday's (Sunday, PHL time) loss to Oklahoma City. They are 4-10 over their last 14 games, tied for the third-worst mark in the league over that span. The rough stretch has not only dropped Cleveland into a virtual tie for third place in the East, but also created tense questions in the locker room. Some have been dismissed, including the notion that coach Tyronn Lue might be on the hot seat. Kevin Love, however, is reportedly not being so easily forgiven. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the team held an "emotional" meeting before Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) practice in which several Cavalier players challenged the legitimacy of the illness that forced Love to leave Saturday's (Sunday, PHL time) game early, as well as miss Sunday's (Monday, PHL time) team practice. The Cleveland Cavaliers held an emotional team meeting prior to Monday’s practice, where several players challenged the legitimacy of Kevin Love leaving OKC loss on Saturday ill and missing Sunday’s practice, league sources tell ESPN. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 23, 2018 Love played just over three minutes in the contest, going 0-for-2 from the field while failing to make any other statistical impact. The four-time All-Star told reporters after Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) practice that he felt dizzy during the game, but that he was now feeling better and was planning to play against San Antonio on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). .@kevinlove says he is feeling better and will play tomorrow in SA..says he felt super dizzy Sat vs OKC and had to come out of the game pic.twitter.com/GuwE9yUdeb — Fred McLeod (@CavsFredMcLeod) January 22, 2018 The Cavaliers were counting on Love to step up this season after trading point guard Kyrie Irving to Boston last summer to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and a first-round pick. Thomas has only recently resumed playing after recovering from a complicated hip injury. Love's production, however, has seen minimal improvement. Wojnarowski added that there was some sense of closure after Love defended and explained himself on Monday (Tuesday, PHl time), but whether long-term peace had been achieved "remains to be seen." In a locker room increasingly full of finger-pointing, Love defended himself and explained his side to teammates, coaches and management, sources said. At end of meeting, there was a sense with some that team had worked out some issues, but that ultimately remains to be seen. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 23, 2018.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News16 hr. 50 min. ago

With no World Cup for US this year, Altidore shifts focus

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press For Jozy Altidore, this was supposed to be the time when the United States was preparing for this summer's World Cup. That changed early in October when the Americans got bounced from the tournament. The stunning failure shifted Altidore's focus. He spent the beginning of 2018 in Grand Cayman, where his foundation is bringing soccer to kids in a region hit by hurricanes last fall. Soon, he'll start the new season with defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC. As for this summer? Altidore will watch a few of the matches in Russia on television. The 28-year-old forward isn't stewing in the loss, he's looking with hope to the future. "Of course I'll obviously be disappointed not to be there, but at the end of the day, man, we're blessed to do what we do," he said. Apart from the national team loss, Altidore is coming off one of the better years of his career. He scored 18 goals with the Reds and another four with the U.S. national team. Toronto FC won the Supporters' Shield for the best regular-season record before sweeping through the playoffs and defeating Seattle 2-0 for the league title. Altidore scored in the final and earned MLS Cup MVP honors. The victory was a bit of revenge for a loss to the Sounders for the MLS Cup the previous season, but Altidore said Toronto's motivation was part of a season-long journey he took with his teammates and coach Greg Vanney. "I think more than anything we understood how close we were and how it hurt that we had come up short that season," he said. "The focus for us was to do what we did that last year and if we got to the last game, obviously make sure we got the W and make the most of our chances." Toronto teammate and fellow national team player, Michael Bradley, echoed the sentiment after the title match. "When push comes to shove, you want to step into the biggest moments with people that you would do anything for, that you love, that you believe in, that you trust, that you know have your back," Bradley said. But it wasn't all smooth. Altidore got into a confrontation with New York Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan in a tunnel at BMO Field during the conference semifinals. Altidore and Kljestan were handed red cards in the aftermath. Altidore sat out Toronto's next game, while Kljestan was suspended an additional game and won't be able to play the first two games of the upcoming season. Kljestan, who was also fined, was traded in the offseason from the Red Bulls to Orlando. Altidore and Bradley were also jeered — sometimes with profane and personal attacks — by opposing fans over the U.S. team's qualifying performance. "Look, all that stuff I think would have been magnified had we not achieved our objective," Altidore said. "But we did, and we did it in such a convincing manner." Following the 2-1 U.S. loss in Couva, Trinidad, that cost the national team a spot in the World Cup, coach Bruce Arena stepped down and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said he would not run for another term. Interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan called 30 players into January training camp in advance of an exhibition game against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 in Carson, California. Altidore and many of the team's veterans were not invited. The camp roster includes 15 players who have never played in a match for the senior national team. The most experienced was LA Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes, who is 26. Twenty-one of the players are 24 and younger. Altidore, who has 41 goals in 110 appearances with the national team, understands that developing young talent is important heading into the next World Cup quadrennial. "We have to do a better job of identifying new talent, for sure," he said, suggesting that missing out on the past two Olympics — where under-23 teams compete — has hurt development efforts. For now, Altidore is pouring his energy into charitable endeavors. Altidore, whose parents are from Haiti, launched his foundation in 2011 following the devastating earthquake that hit the country the year before. The foundation built a well to provide water to a town of more than 400 in Haiti, along with other rebuilding efforts. In 2016, he paid to bring the Copa America matches to television in the country. The latest effort in the Cayman Islands focuses on getting youth involved in soccer. "I think the whole region, the Caribbean has a lot of talent and has a lot of kids who want to become players. And I think it helps to see and identify with players who have played in different leagues from around the world," he said. "If I'm able to be one of those guys that can start that whole thing, it's a great opportunity and honor for me."      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Congress eyes temporary budget as U.S. shutdown deadline looms

WASHINGTON DC, USA – US lawmakers will resort to passing a short-term federal spending deal next week to avoid an embarrassing government shutdown, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Friday, January 12, as prospects for a long-term 2018 agreement dimmed. A move to extend temporary funding beyond the January 19 deadline would ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 13th, 2018

Atlanta s Matt Ryan aims for happy homecoming in Philly

By Rob Maaddi, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Quarterback Matt Ryan has another shot at a happy homecoming. A berth in the NFC championship game is at stake when Ryan leads the Atlanta Falcons (11-6) against the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) in a divisional playoff Saturday. Ryan, who grew up rooting for the Eagles and went to Philadelphia's William Penn Charter School, is 1-3 at the Linc. "I'm used to it now," Ryan said about returning home. "Playing as long as I have, I understand regardless of where we play you have to be at your best every week. The one nice part is there will be a lot of familiar faces, friendly faces after the game, which is always nice." Ryan had his worst game of his MVP season last year in Atlanta's 24-15 loss in Philly on Nov. 13, 2016. He was 18 of 33 for 267 yards with one touchdown and one interception. "Obviously, there will be some scheme from that game that we'll take, what went well and what didn't go well and try to improve on that," Ryan said. "We're a different team than we were last year when we played them and they're a different team. It will be some carry over, but it will be a little bit different." Here's some things to watch for when the teams meet in the playoffs for the first time since Philadelphia's win over Michael Vick's Falcons in the 2005 NFC championship game: NICK'S UP: Nick Foles makes his fourth start since replacing Carson Wentz after the MVP candidate tore his ACL in Week 14. Foles played well in his first five quarters and struggled in the next five. He's certainly a dropoff from Wentz, but he's also capable of spectacular performances. Wentz once tossed seven TDs in a game in 2013. He had four TDs in his first start in Week 15. "There's enough substance behind his career that merits having confidence," Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. 'NORTHEAST' NOISE: There's crowd noise, and then there's the noise generated by Philadelphia fans known for their intensity. Falcons coach Dan Quinn seemed to search for a polite term to compare Eagles fans with the fans the team heard in last week's wild-card win at the Los Angeles Rams. "I'm not going to say more passionate, but I would say more Northeast," Quinn said with a smile. The Falcons have pumped in artificial noise in practice this week but will lean heavily on Ryan and center Alex Mack to use their experience with silent counts and hand signals. "That's huge," said tight end Levine Toilolo. "That's where it all starts, coming off the ball, the cadence and stuff like that. We definitely work on that every week. Their fans, we're expecting a loud crowd in a big playoff game." Mack said he expects Philadelphia's fans "to be really dedicated, really loud, really involved. So it's going to be a challenge just in terms of crowd noise." COMFORT ZONE: After leading the league in scoring in 2016, the Falcons finished the regular season 15th with first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Atlanta averaged 22.1 points per game, down from 33.8 last season. Ryan says he has become more comfortable with Sarkisian, especially the last two weeks in wins over Carolina and the Rams. "I think Sark has done a great job of finding who we are week to week, specifically the last two weeks I think he's done a great job," Ryan said. STOPPING JULIO: The Eagles had some success against Julio Jones in their win last year, keeping him out of the end zone but allowing 10 catches for 135 yards. Jalen Mills held him to four catches for 48 yards when he was matched up against Jones. The second-year pro is confident he can contain Jones again. Ronald Darby will have to cover Jones when he's on his side. "You have to think the ball is coming to him each and every play," Mills said. "Whether they're having a run or a pass play, you've just got to think the ball is coming to him." MULTIPLE BACKS: Both teams have options in the backfield. The Falcons are led by Devonta Freeman, who had 865 yards rushing and seven TDs. Tevin Coleman had 628 yards rushing and five TDs. LeGarrette Blount led the Eagles with 766 yards rushing and scored two TDs. Jay Ajayi had 873 yards rushing and one TD combined with the Dolphins and Eagles. He ran for 130 yards against Atlanta in Miami's win on Oct. 15. ___ AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2018

Coach Tim says Ginebra better off if it lost to Global

Despite completing a classic NSD comeback against Globalport to go 2-0 in the 2018 Philippine Cup, Ginebra head coach Tim Cone was not happy about the way his team played Sunday. While his team won the game, Cone had a problem with the Gin Kings having to come back against a Batang Pier crew that was missing Terrence Romeo. "Well that's what teams coming from championships do. This is the way they do it. They sleepwalk for 3 and a half quarters and try to win a game down the stretch," Cone said on Ginebra's 104-97 victory against Globalport.  "That's what we're trying to avoid. In my experience I've seen it. They don't play until they really have to and I'm very distrubed by that," he added. The Gin Kings were lethargic almost all game long as Globalport took control, leading for 33 and a half minutes on the strength of Sean Anthony's offensive explosion and a near triple-double from Stanley Pringle. Cone was visibly upset at the bench as well as the Gin Kings struggled to erase a nine-point deficit before tha brave fourth-quarter stand in the last six minutes and change of the game. The winningest PBA head coach even went ahead and said that Ginebra might have been better long-term if it lost this one. "Happy, I'm not happy. I'm okay with the win, but I'm not happy about the way we played. We need to be better if we're going to make some noise in the All-Filipino," he said. "We might have been better off losing this basketball game to wake us up and realize that we can't do that. Because now, it's gonna encourage us to do it again. We think we can get away with it, and I've just known through experience, you just don't get away with those things over the long haul," Cone added. Ultimately, the champion mentor says that it all boils down to Ginebra beating the teams they're supposed to. With a loaded lineup, the Gin Kings are certainly more than capable of taking down all PBA teams and do it convincingly. "We need to get ourselves fired up right from the very start of the basketball games and play," Cone said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: What are you looking forward to in 2018?

NBA.com blogtable What one thing are you most eager to see in 2018? * * * Steve Aschburner: More competitive playoff series than we got a year ago and, most of all, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers really being pushed to the wall in at least one round each. I think last year’s hunger for The Rubber-Match Finals made us accept without too much grumbling the relative breezes both Golden State and Cleveland had through the April and May portions of the postseason. But seeing some new blood, however unlikely, would be fine, maybe even welcome, this time around. That requires some fine team on either side -- Toronto, Washington, Boston out East, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City to the West -- mustering a serious challenge. And, allowing for an injury or suspension or whatever, maybe pulling off something more notable than that. We can always find context and storylines for The Finals, if we get a bit of freshness dialed in. Shaun Powell: I'm eager to see the playoffs and if someone can come along and disrupt another Golden State Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers matchup in June. Because nobody is creating much doubt as of yet. The team that's coming the closest is the Houston Rockets but they have three people who have underperformed in the playoffs: Mike D'Antoni, Chris Paul and James Harden. There's always the San Antonio Spurs, yet they seem a star shy. And in the East, the Boston Celtics of 2019 stand a better chance and the rest ... meh. Which means, I'm most eager to see Warriors-Cavs in June. John Schuhmann: I want to see what will happen with the Thunder, both on and off the floor. Can they continue to make progress offensively and if they do, will that encourage Sam Presti to keep the group together through the trade deadline? Or will the threat of Paul George leaving in free agency (and the long odds at beating the Warriors) force Presti to see what he can get for George by Feb. 8? Is it a guarantee that Carmelo Anthony will decline his early termination option this summer and stay under contract for another year? Do other stars want to play with Russell Westbrook? Sekou Smith: As much fun as the trade deadline can be in a given year, I have to admit that the free agent summer has me daydreaming about the chaos that a couple of moves could cause. Of course, LeBron James could turn the basketball world upside down if he were to decide to take his talents elsewhere (I'm not suggesting he should or I even think he will, I'm only thinking about the seismic activity it would cause). What happens with Paul George is also another potential game-changer for several teams around the league. That said, it's the great unknown that most intrigues me about 2018. None of us saw the Kyrie Irving trade request coming or the Chris Paul-to-Houston move coming. Things like the Draft and trade deadline offer a season of speculation that usually centers on name players we know will be involved in the process. It's the moves we don't see coming, the things we cannot forecast, that produce the best drama......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2018

Stable Packers embark on offseason of change with GM search

By Genaro C. Armas, Associated Press GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — One of the NFL’s model franchises for stability and success, the Green Bay Packers have embarked on an offseason of change after missing the playoffs and finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2008. Ted Thompson is out after 13 years as general manager but will remain as senior adviser of football operations. President/CEO Mark Murphy said a search for a replacement has started. This should be an attractive opening since the Packers aren’t far off from returning to contender status. Two-time NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers is expected to return to full health next season following a collarbone injury. “I think with our organization, the success we’ve had in the past, I think very realistically we can win Super Bowls in the near future,” Murphy said Tuesday at Lambeau Field. “And it’s now on us to get the right people in place and move forward.” The Packers have several in-house candidates. But whoever replaces Thompson will have Mike McCarthy under contract through 2019, after Murphy said the coach was given a one-year extension during the season. The extension prevents McCarthy from having lame-duck status with a new GM. “Kind of like Ted, the two of them together have had a great run. We have all the confidence in the world in Mike,” Murphy said. The Packers’ Super Bowl victory in 2010 was the highlight of Thompson’s 13-year tenure, which also included four NFC championship game appearances. The Packers abided by a “draft-and-develop” philosophy on Thompson’s watch. “The organization, our fans and our community were fortunate to have had one of the NFL’s all-time great general managers leading our football operations,” Murphy said. But Green Bay lost its season finale 35-11 on Sunday to the Detroit Lions, slipping below .500 in a season in which Rodgers missed nine games with the collarbone injury. The offense struggled with backup Brett Hundley, and a defense stocked with high draft picks failed to improve again. Murphy said the subject of a transition was broached with Thompson after the season finale. Thompson, who has often spoken about his love of scouting, was given options. But Murphy said he wasn’t forced out. “It was a decision we made jointly,” Murphy said. “It was something in my mind I think it’s going to be good for the organization and Ted.” Thompson, notoriously media shy, did not attend the news conference. “This is a special place and we’ve had some success along the way, but it’s the relationships that I value most,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting this team in my new role as we strive to win another championship.” Several players spoke about the transition as they cleaned out their lockers on Tuesday after a team meeting. “It is a little uncharted territory for us. It’s going to be different, we’re going to have some different voices, some different faces in here,” said kicker Mason Crosby, one of the team’s longest tenured players. “Ted Thompson with his transition through my 11 years here, it’s always hard to see people leave.” Thompson took over on Jan. 14, 2005, and selected Rodgers in the first round of the draft that year. He hired McCarthy as head coach the following year, and the Packers won six NFC North titles under his watch. “It’s tough to see him step down. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him, taking a shot on me coming out as a free agent meant a little more,” said guard Lane Taylor, a fifth-year player who rose from undrafted free agent to starter. But standards are high in a city nicknamed “Titletown.” The Packers are the only publicly owned team in the NFL and play in the league’s smallest market, about a two-hour drive north of Milwaukee. Thompson has long been a target for some restless fans eager for the club to take a more aggressive approach in free agency. A defense plagued by injuries at cornerback had some moments trying to adjust to the loss of Rodgers on the other side of the ball. But production slacked off toward the end of the season. Green Bay lacked a consistent pass rush and didn’t force a turnover over the season’s final three weeks. While the team has not made a formal announcement about the departure of veteran defensive coordinator Dom Capers, Murphy said McCarthy has the go-ahead to search for a replacement without waiting for a new GM. “Mike has that authority,” Murphy said when asked about the coordinator search. “This is the time of year when things move pretty quickly, and I think on the coaching side, you don’t want to put yourself at a disadvantage.” Green Bay, which finished 22nd in total defense for a second consecutive year, used its top draft pick in each of the past six seasons on defensive players. The Packers were 15th in defense in both 2014 and 2015......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2018

Past frustrations fuel efficient results for Mo Tautuaa

Since being drafted first overall by TNT in the 2015 Draft, Mo Tautuaa has been a little disappointing to say the least. He's not bad, it's just that his production does not merit a number 1 overall ranking. Well, if the KaTropa's win against Alaska in the 2018 Philippine Cup is any indication, it appears that Mo is finally starting to live up to expectations. Tautuaa was rather effective against the Aces, scoring 18 points in almost 24 minutes of play to go along with nine rebounds. His 66 percent shooting clip from the field, he only missed four of 12 attempts, particularly got the attention of head coach Nash Racela. "Efficient si Mo and that's what we need from our players. We condition their minds that they're gonna get shorter minutes but with the minutes we entrust we make sure they'll perform at the highest level," he said. "Mo was the perfect example. Less minutes than Kelly [Williams] but very efficient. That's the goal for everyone," Nash added. For Mo, he says it's about time to contribute in that high level. "Yeah, about time, right? Finally. It's been a long road," Tautuaa said. "I mean, I just gotta find my niche. I gotta find my groove," he added. Seeing results, Mo is just about improving from here on out. He adds that he doesn't want to be frustrated on the court anymore because his play is far from what he envisioned. "Of course, it's frustrating when you're not getting results that you want," he said. "But I mean I'm happy cause I could see work, like progression. I don't wanna be stuck still. I don't wanna be stuck in a mud. As long as we continue to move forward, that's what's most important," Tautuaa added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Who is the NBA s Person of the Year for 2017?

NBA.com blogtable Using Time magazine’s “for better or worse” criterion, who is your choice for NBA Person of the Year for 2017? * * * David Aldridge: Good question. I'm going to take a different tack and say Kyrie Irving. Think about everything that went haywire because one guy -- Irving -- decided he didn't want to play with LeBron James any more. Everybody wants to play with LeBron James. But in part because of Irving's decision, the Cleveland Cavaliers weren't able to add Jimmy Butler or Paul George, and Cleveland had to ship its 25-year-old future to its biggest Eastern Conference rival to get anything approaching equal value for him. Does anyone doubt that LeBron would have already extended in Cleveland by now if Irving and either or Butler or George were there with him? As I said at the time, I thought Irving was nuts for demanding to be traded -- but I'm not 25, and I didn't hit the shot that brought Cleveland its first major sports championship in 50-plus years. From his perspective, I kind of understood why he wanted out, and his play so far in Boston proves his point -- he would have never had this kind of freedom, both on the court and to lead his team, in James' shadow in Cleveland. Steve Aschburner: An obvious choice would be LeBron James for how he stands astride NBA world in matters on the court and off. Isaiah Thomas embodied much of what players face, good and bad, from performances worthy of Kia MVP consideration to the tumult of getting traded to the disruption of careers and goals by injury. But I’ll go with Kevin Durant as 2017’s “Person of the Year” for having his hand in so many storylines. He won himself a ring, without earning respect or enhancing his reputation because of how he got it -- about as bloodlessly as buying a bunch of Apple stock. His departure from OKC ignited Russell Westbrook, which culminated in the calendar year with Westbrook’s historic triple-double season, a Kia MVP award and a long-term commitment to the fans Durant left. There’s Durant’s growing game and climb toward James’ status as the league’s best player. And there’s his increasingly prickly attitude, which makes him less nice as a guy but maybe interesting as a case study of success. Shaun Powell: Kevin Durant walks away with this prize. He combined brilliance and a championship with polarization. The best player on the floor in The 2017 Finals was also mocked in some public corners for hitching a ride on the Warriors train and being hypersensitive to any and all criticism. Inside the body of a true superstar is a nice guy who is desperate to be loved. In his entire charmed basketball life, Durant never heard the level of boos and hisses that followed his departure from OKC and it rattled him to the bone. John Schuhmann: Mike D'Antoni. The 2016-17 season was the most efficient offensive season we've ever had, and '17-18 is on track to top it. In The Finals, with the traditional bigs on the rosters seeing their playing time reduced as the series went on, the Cavs and Warriors combined for an effective field goal percentage of 57 percent (a mark higher than any team has ever recorded in a season in NBA history) over the final four games. Teams are spacing the floor better and shooting 3-pointers more than ever before. There are a lot of people who have pushed that trend along, but none more than D'Antoni, architect of the seven-seconds-or-less Suns and coach of the team that's now taking more than half of its shots from beyond the arc. Sekou Smith: As much as this year was about Kevin Durant finally cashing in his chips for a title and the Warriors winning it all again, I can't help but think about the year LeBron James has enjoyed/endured. Some 15 years deep into his unbelievable career and he's still sitting atop the heap. He doesn't need team (Durant and Stephen Curry took care of that) or individual hardware (Russell Westbrook snagged that) to validate his position, either. That is pretty remarkable in our what-have-you-done-lately era of sports (and life in general). The seventh straight trip to The Finals and the summertime break up with Kyrie Irving stick out as well. The fact is, LeBron's impact on and off the court, his influence on the game and his reach and position in the culture beyond the game transcendent. His fearlessness when it comes to speaking his mind on social and political issues is perhaps the most memorable thing he's done this year, the thing history will highlight most in retrospect......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2017

Matter of when Man City wins title and how many records fall

By Steve Douglas and Rob Harris, Associated Press English soccer has never seen a team so utterly dominant as Manchester City entering the packed Christmas program. There seems little doubt Pep Guardiola will be raising the Premier League trophy for the first time in May. It is just a question of when City will wrap up its third title since 2014, and how many records will tumble on the way. City has already reeled off the most consecutive English top-flight wins — a record extended at the weekend to 17 games. Manchester United's record Premier League title-winning margin of 18 points from 2000 could also be under threat. And England could be looking at its third unbeaten "Invincibles" team after Preston in 1888-89 and Arsenal in 2003-04. So it doesn't bode well for a compelling second half of the Premier League season? Think again. The chase for the other three Champions League spots should be fierce with eight points separating second-place Manchester United and Arsenal in sixth. Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham are in the mix among them. Two leading sides will fall by the wayside and be denied a place among the European elite. The battle to stay in the world's richest soccer league is also intense. No team is stranded at the bottom, with Swansea in 20th place only six points behind Southampton in 13th. A closer look at the first half of the season: ___ TITLE RACE City leads by 13 points at the halfway stage after winning 18 of its 19 games and drawing one in the best ever start to a Premier League season. The only dropped points came at home to Everton in the second game on Aug. 21, when City played more than a half with 10 men following Kyle Walker's sending-off. Guardiola won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in late March in 2014 — aided by a winning streak of 19 games never before seen in a major European league. It will be tough for Guardiola to win the title that early in England as he chases a quadruple after finishing his first season at the club without a trophy. City is already through to the League Cup semifinals, into the Champions League last 16 and begins its FA Cup campaign in two weeks. Man United is in second place, with defending champion Chelsea three points further back in third. United manager Jose Mourinho says the title race is still on, but the rest of his peers among the chasing pack don't see City faltering now. It will be intriguing how Mourinho reacts to be seeing his title ambitions further fade in his second season at United, having already opted to publicly call out his "childish" players after a draw at Leicester on Saturday. ___ PICK OF THE PLAYERS Kevin De Bruyne is playing in a deeper role for City this season, virtually as a center midfielder, and it is bringing the best of out the Belgium midfielder. He has provided many of this season's wow moments, from scoring the winning goal at former club Chelsea in September with a fierce left-footed strike from outside the area to the assists for goals by Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling in the 7-2 win over Stoke in October Dovetailing perfectly with fellow playmaker David Silva, De Bruyne has six goals and eight assists but it's more than just his statistics. His prodigious work rate, range of passing and crossing ability — arguably the best in the Premier League since the days of David Beckham — that make him a strong contender for the player of the season awards. No wonder City is determined to nail down the 26-year-old De Bruyne to an improved, longer contract. ___ EMERGING TALENT Amid an offseason of record spending in English soccer, little was made of Watford signing Richarlison from Brazilian team Fluminense for 13 million pounds ($17 million). Yet the 20-year-old forward is proving a bargain, settling in quickly to the pace and intensity of the Premier League and being one of the key factors in Watford's impressive start to the season that, at one stage, saw them challenging around the top four. Direct, skilful and quick, Richarlison already has five goals and keeps getting himself in great positions to score more, with his finishing sometimes letting him down. Opponents have cottoned on to his impact, with Richarlison telling ESPN Brazil this month: "Teams are already marking me individually, they are putting two players there on my side." Chelsea and Tottenham have been linked with the Brazil under-20s player, who has yet to earn a call-up to the senior squad. That appears only a matter of time. Other players to break through this season are Chelsea's Andreas Christensen, the Danish center back who has ousted David Luiz, and Liverpool's Joe Gomez, the right back who has ensured long-term injury absentee Nathaniel Clyne hasn't been missed. ___ SURPRISE TEAM An unfashionable club is mixing it with the heavyweights of the Premier League against all the odds. We've heard this before, right? Two years ago, it was Leicester delivering a soccer fairy tale by somehow winning the league. Now it's Burnley's turn to provide the feel-good story of the season. Widely regarded as a relegation candidate at the start of the season, Burnley is currently seventh. Don't rule Burnley out of staying in the tussle for the Champions League qualification places, with Liverpool only three points better off in fourth. The northwest team hasn't finished a season higher than sixth place in the top flight since 1974. Burnley, which has conceded just 15 goals in 19 games, has already beaten Chelsea away and drawn at Tottenham and Liverpool. Not bad for a team that returned a profit of about $20 million in summer player sales when most of the rest of the Premier League was spending freely. ___ POINTS TO PROVE Alexis Sanchez is a superstar performing well below expectations this season, perhaps as a result of failing to secure a move to Man City from Arsenal during the summer. That transfer could be revived in January — Guardiola cut an awkward figure recently when asked about making a new bid for the Chile forward — to potentially leave City with an even greater wealth of attacking riches. Sanchez has five league goals. By this stage last season, he had already scored 12 on his way to career-high haul of 24 for a single league campaign. In the dugout, these are testing times for two British managers: Alan Pardew and Mark Hughes. Pardew succeeded Tony Pulis a month ago with a mission to keep West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League. Then the Baggies were two points above the bottom three. Now they are next-from-bottom after collecting only two points from Pardew's first five games. Hughes' future appears on a knife-edge at Stoke despite a pressure-relieving victory over West Brom on Saturday that hauled the team three points from the danger zone......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2017

Jr. NBA Philippines 2018 to engange Pinoy youth and coaches nationwide

Jr. NBA PH press release MANILA, PHILIPPINES, Dec. 23, 2017 – Jr. NBA Philippines 2018 presented by Alaska will tip off Jan. 13 at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati and runs through May 2018 as part of the league’s effort to encourage youth basketball participation. This year’s program is set to reach more than 250,000 participants and 900 coaches across the country.  Online registration is open now at www.jrnba.asia/philippines. Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball participation program for boys and girls, teaches the fundamental skills and core values of the game at the grassroots level in an effort to enhance the youth basketball experience for players, parents and coaches.  During the 2017-18 season, the NBA will reach more than 26 million youth in 71 countries through a variety of camps, clinics, skills challenges, league play and outreach events.   The program remains free and open to boys and girls ages 10-14 throughout its four stages: skills clinics in schools and communities, Regional Selection Camps, a National Training Camp and an NBA experience trip.  Since its launch in 2007, Jr. NBA clinics have been implemented in 110 cities and municipalities across the country and the 2018 program will return to key provinces including Agusan Del Norte, Batangas, Benguet, Cavite, Misamis Oriental, and Negros Occidental.  Regional Selection Camps will be held in Bacolod (Feb. 10-11), Butuan (Feb. 24-25), Baguio (March 17-18) and Metro Manila (April 7-8), with the top 37 boys and 37 girls advancing for the National Training Camp in Manila in May 2018, which will feature an NBA and WNBA player or legend.  The program will culminate with the selection of 16 Jr. NBA All-Stars, comprised of eight boys and eight girls, who will embark on an overseas NBA experience trip with fellow Jr. NBA All-Stars from Southeast Asia.  Prior editions of the Jr. NBA Philippines program have featured notable alumni including Aljon Mariano, Kobe Paras, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Ricci Rivero, and Kai Sotto.  “For the past 10 years, Jr.  NBA Philippines has established itself as a platform to improve the youth basketball experience and promote an active and healthy lifestyle among the Filipino youth,” said NBA Philippines Managing Director Carlo Singson.  “Together with Alaska, we are committed to providing proper guidelines to how the game should be played and taught to more youth, coaches and parents in the country.” “As part of our long-standing partnership with the NBA, Alaska Milk Corporation is proud to play an active role in shaping the basketball players of tomorrow through good nutrition and proper life values,” said Alaska Milk Corporation Marketing Director Blen Fernando.  “We look forward to making a lasting impact on the lives of aspiring athletes on and off the court through the Jr. NBA program.” The 2018 edition of Jr. NBA Philippines will also include the Jr. NBA Coach of the Year program, led by Jr. NBA Head Coaches Carlos Barroca and Alaska Power Camp Coach Jeff Cariaso, to provide training for 14 Jr. NBA coaches during the National Training Camp, with two Jr. NBA Coaches of the Year awarded with an NBA experience trip.   Jr. NBA Philippines furthers the mission of Alaska Milk’s NUTRITION.ACTION.CHAMPION. program that highlights the nutritional benefits of milk, encourages physical activity through play, and instills values that are essential to becoming a champion.   AXA, CloudFone, Gatorade and Panasonic serve as Official Partners of the Jr. NBA in the Philippines, while Spalding is a Supporting Partner.  ABS-CBN Sports + Action, Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV are the Official NBA Broadcasters of the Jr. NBA in the Philippines.  Coaches and participants can now register the Jr. NBA program online at www.jrnba.asia/philippines, where the program terms and conditions can be found.  Fans can also follow Jr. NBA on Facebook and the NBA at www.nba.com and on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about the Alaska Milk Corporation, visit www.alaskamilk.com and follow PlayPH at www.playph.com and on Facebook and Twitter. About the NBA The NBA is a global sports and media business built around four professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the NBA G League and the NBA 2K League, set to launch in May 2018.  The NBA has established a major international presence with games and programming in 215 countries and territories in 50 languages, and merchandise for sale in more than 125,000 stores in 100 countries on six continents.  NBA rosters at the start of the 2017-18 season featured 108 international players from a record 42 countries and territories.  NBA Digital’s assets include NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA App and NBA League Pass.  The NBA has created one of the largest social media communities in the world, with 1.4 billion likes and followers globally across all league, team, and player platforms.  Through NBA Cares, the league addresses important social issues by working with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes. About Alaska Milk According to the 8th National Survey of FNRI and DOH (as of 2013), obesity is one of the most prevalent nutritional problems of Filipino children and adults, with about 5 out of 100 Filipino children being classified as overweight. Obesity can lead to different health problems like heart diseases and even diabetes at a young age, which could lead to serious health, economic and social implications later on in life. In line with Alaska Milk’s mission to bring affordable nutrition and a love of active play to every Filipino household, powering the Jr. NBA is a major part of Alaska’s “NUTRITION. ACTION. CHAMPION.” initiative. By highlighting milk’s nutritional benefits and encouraging children to go out and play, Alaska consistently works to instill the values Determination, Hard Work, Teamwork, Discipline and Sportsmanship in tomorrow’s champions......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2017

Credit rating upgrade bodes well for PH global bond offering

MANILA, Dec. 16 --The recent move by Fitch Ratings to upgrade the Philippines' long-term foreign currency rating to "BBB" augurs well for the Philippines' next global bond offering and provides a reso.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsDec 18th, 2017

Credit rating upgrade bodes well for PH global bond offering

MANILA, Dec. 16 --The recent move by Fitch Ratings to upgrade the Philippines' long-term foreign currency rating to "BBB" augurs well for the Philippines' next global bond offering and provides a reso.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsDec 17th, 2017

Fitch upgrades lenders’ ratings

FITCH RATINGS raised its scores for government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to investment grade following its move to upgrade the sovereign’s rating earlier this week. The long-term issuer default ratings (IDRs) of Landbank and DBP were upgraded by a notch to “BBB-,” the minimum investment grade […] The post Fitch upgrades lenders’ ratings appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsDec 14th, 2017

Promising signs from Bulls young guns

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com In time, Zach LaVine’s return, development and eventual career arc will determine to a large extent how successful the Bulls’ Draft Night trade of Jimmy Butler to Minnesota was. For now, and until LaVine suits up this season and beyond, his value to Chicago is strictly to be determined. The two-time NBA Slam Dunk champ is back in the practice gym in his recovery from left knee (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery. Playing 1-on-1 with teammates, working out with the G-League Windy City Bulls in Chicago’s northwest suburbs and improving his timing and his conditioning, LaVine is penciled in to make his season debut before the end of 2017. Meanwhile, though, the Bulls have two other pieces to show from the Butler deal: stretch-four forward Lauri Markkanen and point guard Kris Dunn. Both have offered glimpses of what they can do and how they might fit into the team’s long-term vision that someday won’t prioritize losing. Markkanen, the lanky Finn by way of the University of Arizona, is averaging 13.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and in 30 minutes. He’s putting up 7.2 three-point shots per game and hitting 31.7 percent. His 140 attempts from the arc ranked 14th in the NBA – more than Bradley Beal (126), more than Carmelo Anthony (125) – and Markkanen’s 48 makes are the most by any player in his first 20 games. Dunn, whose disappointing 2016-17 rookie season with Minnesota essentially has gotten a reset, was at 12 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 4.2 apg after having 19 points, five rebounds and five assists in Thursday night's (Friday, PHL time) loss at Denver. The 23-year-old from Providence is shooting 43.2 percent on three-pointers (43.2 percent)  and his steal percentage of 3.8 – an estimate of the percent of opponents’ possessions ending in Dunn steals – ranked No. 1 in the NBA. Their trajectories have been somewhat different so far in 2017-18: Markkanen has been consistent while fighting through a flu bug and some road weariness, while Dunn has played his best most recently. But they’ve both contributed in ways that, aside from the Bulls’ relentless losing, suggests brighter days and in time a positive verdict on that headline-grabbing, bit-spitting trade. Markkanen: Stays cool, likes cold, shoots hot It’s fair to say that the Bulls, when they acquired Markkanen as the No. 7 selection in the Draft last June, got a sleeper. No, literally. That’s about all the 20-year-old native of Vantaa, Finland was able to do after a hectic spring leading up to the draft followed by a tortuous summer at the Las Vegas Summer League and a key role for his home country’s national team in the FIBA Eurobasket 2017 tournament. Markkanen’s single season at Arizona not only acclimated him to the American game, it earned him all-American status and a taste of the NCAA tournament before the Wildcats lost to Xavier. In the Euro competition, he averaged 19.5 points and 5.7 rebounds before heading to Chicago for an early jump on training camp. “When he came over here, he was exhausted,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “The week before training camp was completely lost time – he needed to recharge his batteries. So, we really didn’t know what we had. He was still tired when we started camp. We didn’t throw him out there for all the drills, just as part of the process in getting his body back. “But then every time he stepped on the floor, he showed a little more.” First Markkanen demonstrated he would crack the rotation. Then – when forwards Nikola Mirotic (facial injuries) and Bobby Portis (suspension for the punch that caused them) rendered themselves unavailable two days before the season opener – Markkanen was thrust into the starting lineup. Butterflies? Rookie mistakes? Not so much. Markkanen looked almost unflappable in averaging 17.2 points and 9.3 rebounds through his first six appearances, with a high of 25 points at Miami and double-doubles against San Antonio and Atlanta. “We had to adjust our offense,” Hoiberg said, “and put in some new things to try to get him the ball in different spots on the floor, because of his versatility to score.” Justin Holiday was one of the teammates who learned quickly to get the ball more often to the tall blond guy. “He’s playing consistent, and that’s a very mature thing to do in this league,” Holiday said. “What’s maybe surprising is his confidence in shooting the ball. He’s not afraid to shoot it.” Said Markkanen, whose father Pekka lettered at Kansas before returning home to play professionally: “I’m expecting big things from myself. I think that’s what motivates me every day. Whatever I do, I’m not satisfied. So, I try to set higher goals every time I step on the court. Try to do things better. “It’s going to get harder, I know that. I’m trying to face it like any other job. Just go at it positively, fight through it, put the work in, and I think it will work itself out.” At 20 games and counting, Markkanen will soon blow by the 37 he played in college, and the workload probably has something to do with his recent production; in his five most recent games before Thursday (Friday, PHL time), he shot 25.4 percent, including 11-of-39 from the arc. He says he has adjusted from one game to the next – “I don’t want to give my scouting report, but I try to add something new and figure out what they’re going to throw at me,” he said. He even drew praise from the great LeBron James after hitting four three-pointers in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Cavaliers. Markkanen hasn’t been fooled by Chicago’s relatively balmy late-autumn weather and has to be one of the few NBA players to welcome winter’s chill (“I’m actually looking forward to snow”). He isn’t flinching from the Bulls’ task at hand, either, which looks longer and more laborious with each lopsided defeat. “I understand this part of a process,” said Markkanen, who would appear to be on his way to the Rising Stars Challenge game at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. “We’ve got a young group. We’re having tough times. ... It’s about sticking together and having everyone know that. We can’t afford to not trust or not be a good teammate.” Dunn: Pushing a personal reset button Dunn’s young career was looking a little snakebit. He suffered a concussion in the first game he played for Minnesota in the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League. This time, he had to leave the Bulls’ Vegas entry early to attend to family matters. Then the point guard got hurt in a preseason game against Milwaukee Oct. 7 (Oct. 8, PHL time), winding up with an “open dislocation” of his left index finger. All those setbacks cost Dunn valuable learning time, as far as running first the Wolves’ and then the Bulls’ attacks. He never fully recovered from it last season, sputtering through a rookie season that fell far short of his and others’ expectations. His fellow Class of 2016 draftees had voted him the most likely to snag the Rookie of the Year award, but it went instead to Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, who’d been chosen in the second round 31 spots after Dunn. This time, Dunn was out of action until Chicago’s fifth regular season game. And the delay showed in his performances: 9.8 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 38.6 percent shooting in his first eight games. One Bulls insider said Dunn “had a lot going on in his head” from last season’s failures, even as he tried to get traction in Chicago. Said Holiday, 28, who went undrafted and bounced through five organizations in barely three years from 2013 to 2016: “When you’re young, man, everybody’s pushing. Who knows what was going on his head? He might have been trying to be perfect. Sometimes it takes time. It’s a big role. “But he has the confidence to do it, where last year maybe he didn’t have as much confidence. All you can really do is go out and play hard, and if it works out, it works out.” Over Dunn’s past seven games before Thursday (Friday, PHL time), he was a more effective, more efficient player: 13.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.0 apg, while averaging 2.1 steals and 27.7 minutes. He had made 9-of-15 three-pointers, compared to 6-of-21 to start the season. Already in the five weeks he’s been active, he has played about 30 percent of the total minutes he got in 78 appearances for Minnesota’s Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls have been 3.6 points better when he’s been on the floor, too. That’s not enough to tip outcomes, but keep in mind the Wolves were 2.6 points worse a year ago with Dunn in the game. He played probably his best NBA game Tuesday against Phoenix, scoring 24 points on 10 of 16 shooting with eight assists, four rebounds and four steals. If not for a couple of egregious turnovers among his four, he might have agreed with Hoiberg’s “terrific” assessment. That performance came 48 hours after Dunn had scored two points and missed all six of his field-goal attempts against Miami. Hoiberg sought him out and demanded that the second-year guard play more aggressively, and Dunn proved his coach right. “He called me out,” Dunn said. “When a coach calls you out, you try to play as hard as you can. I had to get through my mind, ‘Go out and play the way I used to play. With that aggression. On defense, on offense. Try to stay down in errors as much as I can and get everybody involved.’ “I want to be an elite point guard one day and I understand, the best point guards don’t make those killer turnovers. If I want to reach my goal, I have to get better each and every day in practice, watch film and, y’know, think a little smarter when you’re playing.” Some have suggested Boston’s Marcus Smart as a legitimate comparison for Dunn, given their defensive aptitudes and challenges both face when shooting from range. Dunn is a huge fan of Smart, but believes he can be a full-service, top-notch playmaker. Mostly, he finally looks comfortable with this reset to his NBA experience. “Individually for me, it is a reset,” Dunn said. “I say this is my first year because I didn’t get too many minutes and I didn’t play the right position in Minnesota. I was a two, a three, sometimes a one. But this is my first year of [regularly] playing the point guard. As a team, we don’t have Jimmy, we don’t have [Rajon] Rondo, we don’t have Dwyane Wade, so we’re all trying to figure it out. Everybody is trying to step up and come together as a unit.” With LaVine’s debut now weeks rather than months away, the Bulls – and their skeptical fans – will be able to more fully judge the yield from that Butler trade. Two out of three so far are giving glimmers of hope. 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 NewsDec 1st, 2017

Focus more on how long Tiger Woods lasts more than his score

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — One year later, the scene hadn't changed. Jordan Spieth paused on the 17th green and looked across the water to the adjacent fairway at Albany Golf Club as Tiger Woods hit his shot to the ninth green, just like he did last year at the Hero World Challenge. Curiosity is just as high over another return from injury for Woods and how he will fare after a long layoff. What's different about the expectations for this comeback — his fifth since he first had back surgery in the spring of 2014 — is they are more about how long Woods will last than what kind of scores he posts. "He seems more confident this year the way he's walking and talking," Spieth said Wednesday in a whisper, having lost his voice to illness. "He seemed more excited at the Presidents Cup before he was even swinging, more anxious. And it seemed to really bother him that he was following doctor's orders, like he really wanted to get going. So once he was given the go, I think it was exciting for him. "So we're all very interested, as we should be, in how it goes for him this week — and obviously, hoping that's the start." The start of his latest comeback is Thursday against an 18-man field that features eight of the top nine players in the world. It's the first time every shot counts for Woods since a 77 in the Dubai Desert Classic on Feb. 3. That was his seventh round in his return. He withdrew the next day, citing back spasms, and had a fourth back surgery in April to fuse two disks in his lower back. Woods reports some stiffness and not as much range in motion. But he says he has no pain. The hype about this return has been fueled by friendly rounds over the last few weeks. Justin Thomas, the PGA Tour player of the year who will be paired with Woods on Thursday, said fans will be "shocked at how good his game looks." Rickie Fowler made a casual reference to how far Woods was driving it past him. Brad Faxon, who played with Woods and Dustin Johnson last Friday in a round with President Donald Trump, said Woods looked at ease and held nothing back in his swing, especially with the driver. Woods had to keep score in his pro-am round Wednesday, and that included a 2 on the 350-yard seventh hole when he drove the green with a breeze at his back and holed a 20-foot putt for eagle. The tournament is unofficial, though it offers world ranking points. Woods is at No. 1,199 in the world, and even if he finishes last, he'll move up more than 200 spots into the top 1,000. That still seems odd for a guy who spent 683 weeks at No. 1 in the world. What enthuses Woods is playing again. "It's been a very long time, and I'm really looking forward to getting out there and playing with Justin and having a good time," Woods said. After that, it will be time to reassess. "I just really want to be able to complete this week, play all four days and give myself a chance on that back nine on Sunday to win this thing," said Woods, whose last victory was more than four years ago at Firestone in the Bridgestone Invitational. He lasted only three starts when he came back from his first back surgery in the summer of 2014. He lasted two starts after he returned at the end of 2014, and then after playing all four majors in 2015, he had a pair of back surgeries. And when he returned from those last year in the Bahamas, he lasted only three events. "My physio was certainly working overtime last year after every day and even in the morning, trying to get me ready to go," Woods said. Woods said the reason his comeback last year was over so quickly was due primarily to the rough at Torrey Pines and not realizing his disk was in bad shape. He said the deceleration in his swing when he hit out of the rough made the injury worse. That's why there's so much emphasis on his health. He looks built to last, or at least last a little longer. And this is the ideal spot for Woods to return. There is no cut. Woods is guaranteed four rounds. Interest is high. Pressure is not. "I think it's an easy week for Tiger as it is for anybody else versus other weeks — not as many people, the golf course doesn't beat you up," Spieth said. "But you can start to see it's actually, I think, pretty important, these end-of-the-year tournaments to kind of set a precedent for next year." That especially holds true for Woods......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2017

AC Milan replaces Vincenzo Montella with Gennaro Gattuso

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press In the end, Vincenzo Montella became a victim of the heightened expectations at AC Milan. When a club spends more than 200 million euros (nearly $250 million) on new players in the offseason, six wins in 14 matches and seventh place in the standings are simply not enough. Unable to produce inspiring results with a completely revamped squad, Montella was fired as coach of AC Milan on Monday and replaced by Gennaro Gattuso. "We all raised expectations a little too much in the summer but the fault lies only with the coach," Montella said. "These players deserve much more and I'm sure that they'll be able to emerge from this difficult period." Milan has won only two of its past nine matches and has as many losses — six — as wins. The Rossoneri have been beaten by Lazio, Roma, Inter, Juventus and Napoli — the top five teams in the standings. "Coaching Milan was an honor, and working with this team was even better," Montella wrote on Twitter. "I hope Rino can restore Milan to where it belongs." The move came a day after a dispiriting 0-0 draw at home with Torino. Milan announced in a statement that it had "parted ways" with Montella. "We are very grateful to Mr. Montella and his staff for all the work done up to today, their commitment and professionalism," the club said. "Management of the first team is entrusted to Gennaro Gattuso." A seven-time European champion, Milan is also facing financial fair play inquiries from UEFA after an offseason spending spree brought in an entire squad's worth of new players. There have been questions over the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that purchased Milan from Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million in April. The club needs a top-four finish and a place in the Champions League to acquire more cash flow. Gattuso, a gritty midfielder who had been in charge of the club's youth squad, won the 2003 and 2007 Champions League titles with Milan as a player. The 39-year-old Gattuso also previously coached Sion, Palermo, OFI Crete and Pisa. Gattuso, who also helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup title, was known for his intensity and relentlessness on the field — qualities the current Milan squad has lacked. After the appointment, Berlusconi tweeted that he had a "long and affectionate and cordial phone call with my old warrior Rino Gattuso." Gattuso becomes Milan's seventh coach (including caretakers) since now-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was fired in January 2014. Montella was hired in June 2016 and led Milan to a sixth-place finish and a Europa League spot last season — ending a drought of three years without playing in continental competition. Milan opened the season by winning all four of its Europa League qualifying matches and its first two Serie A games. Then a 4-1 loss at Lazio showed how vulnerable the squad was. Leonardo Bonucci, Italy's top defender who was brought in from Juventus during the offseason, has had a difficult start with his new club and the big group of new players has failed to gel. The other new players brought in were forwards Andre Silva (FC Porto) and Nikola Kalinic (Fiorentina); midfielders Franck Kessie, Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Lucas Biglia (Lazio); and defenders Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg) and Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal). Milan's few highlights this season have come in the Europa League, including a 5-1 rout of Austria Vienna last week that ensured a spot in the knockout stage. Montella's biggest achievement with Milan was winning the Italian Super Cup over Juventus in a penalty shootout in December 2016. Gattuso's debut will come at last-place Benevento on Sunday. He will be presented on Tuesday. Also, Cristian Bucchi was fired by Sassuolo on Monday, making it six firings in Serie A this season after changes by Cagliari, Benevento, Genoa and Udinese......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 28th, 2017