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Fowler and the USGA off to a good start at US Open

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Rickie Fowler had an ideal start Thursday in the U.S. Open, and so did the USGA. Pebble Beach was as gentle as could be in the opening round, and Fowler was among those who took advantage with six birdies for a 5-under 66, giving him a share of the early lead with Xander Schauffele and Louis Oosthuizen. The notorious wind off the Pacific coast was little more than a breeze. The course was lush green and relatively soft. The USGA wanted to start conservatively and make it progressively more difficult, a forecast of dry weather gives officials a lot more control. This was the day to take advantage. Schauffele, who keeps showing up in golf's biggest events, holed a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th to join Fowler at 66. Oosthuizen holed out for eagle from 95 yards at No. 11, his second hole of the day. "It's a very soft start to a U.S. Open, which is a good thing," Rory McIlroy said after a 68, his first sub-70 round at the U.S. Open since he won at Congressional in 2011. "They can do whatever they want with from here. It's not as if you're starting with a course that's in the condition like a Sunday, and then you get three days and it sort of starts to get away from you." Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods played in the afternoon. Koepka reached 4 under through seven holes until a bogey on No. 8, while Woods had three birdies to atone for a double bogey on par-3 fifth. He was 1 under through seven. Scott Piercy made bogey on the 18th for a 67. He was the first player to get everyone's attention when he made three birdies and an eagle through the opening six holes — the scoring holes at Pebble — and was 5 under. Graeme McDowell saw the score when he walked off the 10th green at the start of his round and quipped to his caddie, "All the USGA radios are going off and they're saying, 'Turn off the water — NOW!'" McDowell won the last U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010 when it was so difficult he made only one birdie in the final round and no one broke par for the week. Even as he saw low scores on the board — he had a bogey-free 69, one of 16 rounds in the 60s among the early starters — McDowell feared what was to come. What really got his attention was Phil Mickelson being some 30 feet above the hole at No. 1, which should ordinarily have been a lightning fast putt. Mickelson left it short. "I don't think level par wins this week," he said. "Careful what you wish for, because I think we're going to see it come the weekend." Mickelson, in his fifth attempt at the career Grand Slam, opened with a 72 that certainly didn't hurt him, but only two birdies held him back. Two of his bogeys came from missing the fairway with an iron off the tee. The other was a careless three-putt — he missed from 22 inches. Dustin Johnson was only one shot better, and he could have been a lot worse except for a magnificent short game, no shot better than his flop shop from well behind the eighth green to 2 feet. He nearly drove the green on No. 4, a dangerous shot because the coast line hugs the right side. Why driver? "Because I'd bogeyed the last two holes," Johnson said with a wry smile. "I needed a birdie." That wasn't impatience that often dooms chances at a U.S. Open. That was recognition that scores were to be had, and this might be the best day. Fowler picked up three birdies in seven holes, dropped a shot at the turn and added three birdies on the back. It's the second time in three years at the U.S. Open he has started well — he had a 65 in the first round at Erin Hills — but the focus is on how he finishes. Even though he's 30, with seven victories on the PGA Tour and European Tour combined, Fowler is on that list of best without a major, perhaps because he's had so many top finishes. So the start was important. "It was very stress free," Fowler said. "You never feel in cruise control at a major, especially a U.S. Open, but the execution was very good today. ... It was the worst I could have shot, so that's a good thing. I'm happy with the start. You can't go out and win it up the first day, but you can obviously take yourself out of it and you're having to fight back." Schauffele also appears poised to break through in his third full year on tour. He first gained attention with his tie for fifth in his U.S. Open debut two years ago, and he tied for sixth last year at Shinnecock Hills. He also has runner-up finishes in the British Open and the Masters. His big break came at the end when he caught his drive off the toe and it hit off a rock framing the left side, bounding down the fairway. From there, he only had 8-iron to set up his eagle. "Very fortunate, and happy we capitalized on a really lucky break," he said......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 14th, 2019

Piercy makes most of US Open chance with fast start

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — After missing the cut last week at the Canadian Open, Scott Piercy spent the weekend on his couch hoping that wouldn't cost him a spot in the U.S. Open. Piercy ended up getting one of the final qualification spots and now finds himself in good position after taking advantage of an early tee time Thursday to get off to a fast start at Pebble Beach. Piercy raced to 5-under par in the first six holes and finished with a 4-under 67 after bogeying the 18th hole. He briefly held the clubhouse lead and was one shot back of leaders Rickie Fowler, Louis Oosthuizen and Xander Schauffele after the morning rounds. "Anytime you can be under par at the U.S. Open is a good thing," Piercy said. "I got off to kind of a fiery start, which is great, and then tried to hold on there in the middle and tried to make a couple coming in. Overall the putter was there, it felt good. The ball-striking needs to be cleaned up a little bit, so I'll be on the range for a little while. But 4-under par the first round of the U.S. Open, I'll take that every time." Especially when just qualifying for the tournament was a bit dicey. Piercy went to sectional qualifying in Columbus, Ohio, last week and missed out by one shot on getting into Pebble Beach. The 40-year-old from Las Vegas still had another route into the tournament as one of the top 60 players in the golf rankings. Piercy was ranked 60th going into the week and went to play the Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club, where he earned his second career PGA Tour win back in 2012. But Piercy missed the cut and had to sweat it out. "So then you've got to sit at home and not root against guys, but hope that they don't kick you out," he said. "I was happy to get in and I was happy with the start." He ended up at 59 in the rankings and earned the spot into his eighth U.S. Open. He has missed the cut in four of his previous seven trips but also finished tied for second in 2016 at Oakmont. Piercy went off in the second group of the day off No. 1 and hooked his opening drive and drove into a bunker on No. 2. But he managed to make a great save for birdie on that hole, sparking the fast start. "That kind of just gives you a little bump of good thoughts and 'hey let's get this going,'" he said. "We kind of stole one, maybe." Piercy then added birdies on the fourth and fifth holes before his eagle on six dropped him to 5-under. Piercy then bounced back from a double-bogey on the eighth hole with a pair of birdies on the back nine. He then made a good par save out of the bunker at the par-3 17th but then ran into trouble on the final hole when he drove it into the rough and hit his second shot into a fairway bunker. Piercy then left his birdie putt from 25 feet about 8 feet short and three-putted the par-5 18th to finish at 4 under. Piercy also bogeyed the 18th hole here in the final round at the tour event earlier this year, dropping from sixth place to 10th. "I think I've made 6 the last few times," he said. "Maybe I need to learn how to play it better.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2019

Chile amateur goes from no big victories to Masters

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Player Movement: What teams have gained, lost this offseason

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com There's still a lot of work to be done before rosters are set for the 2019-20 season. Some teams (Charlotte, Utah) still have roster spots to fill. Other teams (Memphis, Washington) still have some roster trimming to do. There are about 25 two-way-contract slots that can be filled around the league. And it's certainly possible that players like Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala will be traded a second time before the end of the summer. But it's already been a season of change. At the start of training camp last September, 15 of the league's 30 teams rostered players who played at least 75 percent of the team's minutes in the previous season (2017-18). Right now -- midway through July -- only four teams are set to bring back players who played at least 75 percent of last season's minutes. Continuity Not every team has made big changes. The Denver Nuggets are set to return at least 12 of the 18 guys that played for them last season (the status of two-way, restricted free agent Brandon Goodwin is still in the air), along with Michael Porter Jr., who was with the team all season. The only players that have left the Nuggets -- Tyler Lydon, Trey Lyles and Isaiah Thomas -- played a total of eight minutes in the playoffs. Over the last three years, there has been a correlation between summer continuity and win increase the following season. But the correlation has been small. During that span, 33 teams have brought at least 75 percent of the previous season's minutes back, and only 15 of those 33 increased their win total. The highest individual return percentage of the stretch belonged to last season's Miami Heat, who brought back 97 percent of their minutes from 2017-18 ... and proceeded to win five fewer games. This summer, the two biggest winners in free agency -- the Brooklyn Nets and LA Clippers -- rank 24th and 26th, respectively, by this measure (as of Wednesday morning). And while the Nuggets have a young core that can improve on its second-place finish in the West, the Orlando Magic are bringing back an ensemble that won just 42 games in the Eastern Conference, and the San Antonio Spurs have an older group that was ousted by Denver in the first round, albeit in seven games. Gained and lost math Going forward, we'll be talking about totals gained or lost this summer. These were accumulated by non-rookies for any team last season. For example, in calculating the minutes that Indiana lost (and Milwaukee gained) with Wesley Matthews' departure, we're using all 2,091 minutes that Matthews played for Dallas and Indiana last season. That way, it's a more realistic measure of total production coming in and going out. In that regard, most teams have lost more '18-19 minutes than they've gained. In total, there are more than 230 players who were on rosters (with two-way contracts included) at the end of the season and are either on a new team (via free agency or trades) or remain unsigned. More than half of those players (about 120) have been replaced by other non-rookies. About 70 more have been replaced by rookies (including those on two-way contracts). As an example, here's the roster math for the Golden State Warriors: - LOST 11 non-rookies off their end-of-season roster - GAINED six non-rookies - ADDED three rookies - STILL HAVE one main roster spot and one two-way spot they can fill Minutes gained and lost The Warriors are one of 22 teams that have lost a group of players who played more minutes last season than the group of players that they've added. There are a few teams that have added a lot more '18-19 minutes to their roster. That group is led by the New York Knicks, who have added almost 12,000 '18-19 minutes while seeing almost 9,000 minutes exit. The Knicks have lost four guys - Mario Hezonja, DeAndre Jordan, Emmanuel Mudiay and Noah Vonleh - who played at least 1,000 minutes. They added seven, and all seven started at least 28 games last season. Of course, how many of those seven are difference makers is up for debate, as is the idea of whether the Knicks should have used at least some of their cap space to take on bad contracts -- often spiced up with future picks -- from other teams. The Nets lost as many players (6) who played at least 1,000 minutes last season as they gained. But they added four of the 31 2,000-minute players to have changed teams this summer, most notably in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Utah (3) is the only other team with more than two additions that played at least 2,000 minutes last season. The eight guys that Brooklyn brought in started a total of 363 games in '18-19, while the nine guys they lost started just 179. That's the biggest increase, with New York (+100) and Utah (+84) also seeing differentials of more than 82 games. The Sacramento Kings lost two guys that played at least 1,000 minutes last season, and one of those guys -- Alec Burks -- played only 127 minutes for the Kings. They added four 1,000-minute players, including two - Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph -- that played more than 2,000 minutes last season. As noted above, the Nuggets lead the league in continuity, bringing back all 10 guys that played more than 1,120 minutes for them last season. But they've also added Jerami Grant, who played 2,612 minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Though they've added more players (11, including four rookies) than they've lost (nine) and need to trim their roster between now and opening night, the Washington Wizards are set to see the biggest discrepancy in regard to '18-19 minutes. They've lost more than 11,000 (with Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green and Tomas Satoransky accounting for more than half of that total) and added less than 5,000. The group of players that the Wizards lost also started 208 more '18-19 games than the players added -- the biggest discrepancy in that regard. The Charlotte Hornets not only lost more than 1,000 '18-19 minutes in their Kemba Walker-Terry Rozier swap, they also lost three other guys - Jeremy Lamb, Shelvin Mack and Tony Parker - who played more than 1,000 minutes last season. There's a general consensus that the Indiana Pacers are in the "winners" category this summer, adding Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren. But they also lost five guys (four of their five playoff starters plus Cory Joseph) to have played at least 2,000 minutes last season. The only other teams who lost more than two 2,000-minute players were the the Clippers (3), Oklahoma City Thunder (3) and Wizards (3). Still available Most '18-19 minutes among still-available free agents... - Justin Holiday - 2,607 - Iman Shumpert - 1,481 - Wayne Selden - 1,439 - Jeremy Lin - 1,436 - Shaquille Harrison - 1,430 In regard to minutes played last season, the top 18 available free agents are all perimeter players (unless you want to count Jonas Jerebko as an interior guy). Among available non-perimeter players, Dante Cunningham (928), Cheick Diallo (896) and Zaza Pachulia (878) are the guys who played the most minutes last season. It's all about shooting Putting the ball in the basket is the most important thing in the NBA, and every team is always on the hunt for more shooting. But in regard to '18-19 3-pointers, half of the league (15 teams) has lost more than it's gained. There are a few teams to have seen big increases, however. The Knicks added Reggie Bullock (148-for-393, 37.7 percent), Marcus Morris (146-for-389, 37.5 percent) and Wayne Ellington (138-for-372, 37.1 percent), though creating open shots for those guys might be an issue. None of the six players that the Kings have lost made more than 61 3-pointers last season. Ariza (145) is the big gain in that regard, but they also added Dewayne Dedmon, a big man who shot 38 percent on 217 attempts from beyond the arc. On the other end of the spectrum, it's the Hornets that lost the most 3s, with Walker having ranked fifth in the league in total makes. The Atlanta Hawks ranked fourth in the percentage of their shots that were 3-pointers, but traded Taurean Prince (39 percent on 315 attempts), lost Dedmon, haven't re-signed Vince Carter (39 percent on 316 attempts) and swapped Kent Bazemore (32 percent; 300 attempts) for Evan Turner (21 percent; 52 attempts). The Toronto Raptors, meanwhile, haven't really replaced two of the four guys who made more than 100 threes for them last season. Still available Most '18-19 3-pointers among still-available free agents... - Justin Holiday - 162-for-465 (34.8 percent) - Kyle Korver - 138-for-348 (39.7 percent) - Vince Carter - 123-for-316 (38.9 percent) - Iman Shumpert - 95-for-273 (34.8 percent) - Lance Stephenson - 73-for-197 (37.1 percent) J.R. Smith, waived by the Cavs on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), made 143 threes (shooting 37.5 percent) in 2017-18, but played just 11 games last season. More notes - Eastern Conference - The Boston Celtics are one of three teams (Atlanta and Washington are the others) with a discrepancy of at least 300 between the steals + blocks registered by the non-rookies they've lost (503) and those registered by the non-rookies they've added (194). Swapping Al Horford (145 steals + blocks in 1,973 minutes) for Enes Kanter (58 in 1,639 minutes) obviously hurts. - The Chicago Bulls have seen the second biggest increase in 3-point percentage between the non-rookies they've added (36.9 percent) and the non-rookies they've lost (30.3 percent). Tomas Satoransky (39.5 percent on 162 attempts) was the big add in that regard. - The Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team that hasn't added a single player (via free agency or trade) that played last season, though they still have to add at least one player to their main roster. The only players they've added are the three guys they selected in the first round of the Draft and another rookie (Dean Wade) on a two-way contract. - The Detroit Pistons have had eight non-rookies leave (five have found new NBA teams, three haven't been re-signed) and have added only four. But the four they've added -- Tim Frazier, Markieff Morris, Derrick Rose and Tony Snell -- started the same number of games (60) and played just 11 more minutes in '18-19 as the eight that have left. They did add more scoring, with the four new guys having registered 436 more points than the eight guys on their way out. - As noted above, the Miami Heat led the league in continuity last summer, bringing back 97 percent of their minutes from '17-18. This year, with the retirement of Dwyane Wade and trades that sent Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside out, they're in the middle of the pack. In regard to out vs. in (Jimmy Butler and Meyers Leonard), they've lost total production, but have improved in regard to shooting and free throw rate. Only Denver, Brooklyn and Dallas have seen bigger increases in true shooting percentage from the non-rookies they've lost to the non-rookies they've added. - With the departure of Malcolm Brogdon, the Milwaukee Bucks lost some playmaking. Only the Magic (who didn't lose anybody from their playoff rotation) saw a bigger drop in in assist-turnover ratio from the non-rookies they lost (2.47) to the non-rookies they've gained (1.33). Tony Snell (traded to Detroit) had the fifth lowest turnover ratio (4.9 per 100 possessions) among 299 players that averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 games or more last season. - The Orlando Magic rank second in continuity, one of two teams (Dallas is the other) with nobody on their end-of-season roster having signed with (or been traded to) another team. But they've added one rotation piece by signing Al-Farouq Aminu, who represents the biggest jump in '18-19 rebounds between the non-rookies a team has added (610) and those they've lost or remain unsigned (195). The Magic were already a good rebounding team, ranking 11th in total rebounding percentage and third in defensive rebounding percentage last season. - The Philadelphia 76ers have seen the biggest discrepancy in '18-19 games played between the players they've lost (478) and the players they've added (223), though most of those lost games came from guys who weren't in their playoff rotation. More notes - Western Conference - The Dallas Mavericks have seen the second-biggest jump in effective field goal percentage (lower than only that of Denver) between the players they added (54.4 percent) and the players they've lost (47.3 percent) this summer. Swapping Trey Burke (48.2 percent) for Seth Curry (57.7 percent) goes a long way in that regard. The Mavs are also one of two teams (Orlando is the other) with nobody on their end-of-season roster having signed with (or been traded to) another team. - It remains to be seen how well James Harden and Russell Westbrook fit together and how much the Westbrook-for-Chris Paul swap hurts the Houston Rockets' defense. But we can say for certain that the Rockets got better in the rebounding department. - After ranking 28th in rebounding percentage (and 29th in defensive rebounding percentage) last season, they swapped Paul (who grabbed 7.0 percent of available boards while he was on the floor) for Westbrook (14.1 percent - highest among guards) and also added Tyson Chandler, who had a higher rebounding percentage (15.4 percent) than Nene (10.5 percent). - Good news for the team that ranked 29th in 3-point percentage last season: The non-rookies the Los Angeles Lakers have lost attempted 75 more 3-pointers than those they've gained. But the non-rookies they've gained made 34 more 3s than those they've lost. Among players that attempted at least 200 3-pointers last season and changed teams this season, Danny Green (45.5 percent) ranked first in 3-point percentage, while Quinn Cook (40.5 percent) ranked seventh. - The Memphis Grizzlies had a pretty motley rotation after making multiple trades at the deadline in February. And now they've seen the biggest roster more than any other team this summer, with 11 non-rookies leaving and nine coming in. They currently have guys that played for the Hawks, Warriors, Wolves, Pelicans, Suns, Raptors, Jazz and Wizards last season. - The six non-rookies that the Minnesota Timberwolves have added -- Jordan Bell, Treveon Graham, Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh and Tyrone Wallance -- averaged just 6.3 points per game last season. That's the lowest mark for players added among the 29 teams that have added at least one non-rookie this summer. - In regard to vets, the New Orleans Pelicans have swapped interior players for perimeter players. The (five) non-rookies that they've added had 360 fewer '18-19 field goals, but 127 more 3-pointers than the (10) non-rookies that they've lost. Chicago is the other team with a loss in '18-19 field goals (-38) and a gain in '18-19 3-pointers (+47). - The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen the most '18-19 points walk out the door, with the six guys they've lost having scored 5,619 points last season. One thing they definitely gained in the Westbrook-Paul trade (if they keep Paul) was mid-range shooting. Paul has shot 48.9 percent from mid-range the last five seasons, the second best mark (behind only that of Kevin Durant) among 55 players with at least 1,000 mid-range attempts over that time. Westbrook (37.5 percent) ranks 52nd among the 55. - The 10 non-rookies that have left the Phoenix Suns (five that have found new NBA teams and five that haven't) racked up a cumulative plus-minus of minus-1,709 last season. None of the 10 had a positive plus-minus. The five non-rookies that they've added -- Aron Baynes, Jevon Carter, Frank Kaminsky, Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric -- had a cumulative plus-minus of plus-257. That's the league's biggest differential between players in vs. players out. - The Portland Trail Blazers improved their shooting by swapping Turner for Bazemore and Aminu (34.3 percent on 280 3-point attempts) for Anthony Tolliver (37.7 percent on 215), but are one of four teams - Brooklyn, Indiana and the Lakers are the others - that have lost six players who played at least 1,000 minutes in '18-19. They've added four. - As noted above, the San Antonio Spurs are near the top of the league in regard to continuity. But they've seen the biggest increase in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) between the non-rookies that they've gained (0.335) and the players they've lost (0.181). The pair of vets that they've added (having ranked 24th in free throw rate last season) includes DeMarre Carroll (0.421), who ranked eighth in free throw rate among non-bigs with at least 500 field goal attempts last season. - The Utah Jazz rank 13th in the percentage of '18-19 minutes they're set to bring back, but are one of five teams that have added at least 9,000 '18-19 minutes and lost at least 9,000 '18-19 minutes (when we include unsigned free agents). They parted ways with four of the eight guys that played at least 1,000 minutes for them last season, but all five of their additions - Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley Jr., Ed Davis, Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay - played at least 1,400 minutes. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. 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 News19 hr. 43 min. ago

Halep wins Wimbledon, stops Williams bid for 24th Slam

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Clutching her trophy 20 minutes after becoming Wimbledon's champion, Simona Halep checked out the board inside Centre Court that lists tournament winners. Below all of the mentions of Serena Williams, her opponent in Saturday's final, there already was inscribed: "Miss S. Halep." Halep was not concerned with preventing Williams from winning a 24th Grand Slam title. All Halep cared about was winning her first at the All England Club. And she played pretty much perfectly. On top of her game right from start to finish, Halep overwhelmed Williams 6-2, 6-2 in stunning fashion for her second major championship. The whole thing took less than an hour as Williams lost her third Slam final in a row as she tries to equal Margaret Court's record for most major trophies in tennis history. "She literally played out of her mind. Congratulations, Simona. It was a little bit 'a deer in the headlights' for me," Williams said. "So, I mean, whenever a player plays that amazing, you just kind of have to take your hat off and give them a nod of the head." How good was the No. 7-seeded Halep? She made a mere three unforced errors, a remarkably low total and 23 fewer than Williams. Not bad for someone who has been frank about how jittery she has gotten in past big matches and began the day having lost nine of 10 matchups against Williams. But after losing each of her first three major finals, Halep now has won two straight, including at last year's French Open. "Well, I had nerves. My stomach was not very well before the match," said Halep, a 27-year-old Romanian, "but I knew there is no time for emotions. I just came on court and I gave my best." Couldn't have been any better, really. Williams also lost in straight sets against Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon final a year ago, and against Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open last September. The 37-year-old American hasn't won a tournament since the 2017 Australian Open, when she set the professional-era record of 23 Grand Slam championships (Court won 13 of her titles against amateur competition). Williams was pregnant when she won in Australia and then took more than a year off the tour; her daughter, Olympia, was born in September 2017. Since returning to tennis, Williams has dealt with injuries but still managed to remain among the game's elite. In part because of a bad left knee, she only had played 12 matches all season until Wimbledon. "Just got to keep fighting," Williams said, "and just keep trying." Didn't take long on Saturday for Halep to demonstrate this was not going to be easy for Williams. Not by any means. Showing off the talents and traits that once lifted her to No. 1 in the rankings, Halep never really gave Williams a chance to get into the match. Halep tracked down everything, as is her wont. She didn't merely play defense, though, managing to go from retrieving an apparent point-ending stroke by Williams to lashing a winner of her own in a blink. Her returns were exceptional, repeatedly getting back serves that left Williams' racket at 115 mph or more. On this cloudy, cool afternoon, with the temperature in the low 70s (low 20s Celsius), Halep began with a pair of service breaks and even delivered the match's first ace, at 106 mph, which put her out front 4-0 after 11 astonishing minutes. Halep won 14 of the first 18 points, with many in the crowd roaring for each of the rare ones that went Williams' way. Halep produced eight winners before a single unforced error, avoiding a miscue until the seventh game. Williams, in stark contrast, came out looking a bit tight, short-arming shots and accumulating nine unforced errors before conjuring up a single winner. She spoke after her semifinal victory about trying to remain calm on court, and that she did, even in the face of a player who was at her very best. Williams would place a hand on her hip. Or put a palm up and look at her guest box, as if thinking, "What can I do?" Williams' greatest show of emotion came after she stretched for a forehand volley winner on the second set's second point. She leaned forward and yelled, "Come on!" But the comeback never came. Halep broke to lead 3-2 in that set when Williams pushed a backhand long, and there wasn't much left from there. Halep only had been as far as the semifinals once at Wimbledon until now. But she was determined to change that and said she told the locker-room attendants at the beginning of the tournament she wanted to grab a title to earn lifetime membership in the All England Club. "So here I am," she said Saturday, the fortnight done, her trophy won. "It was one of my motivations before this tournament. So now I am happy.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2019

FIBA: Gilas draws Mighty Sports in practice game

Gilas Pilipinas tied Mighty Sports in a practice game Monday at the Meralco Gym, 85-all. Down six, the Philippines got two clutch triples from Marcio Lassiter and CJ Perez to force the tie and then stopped Mighty on the other end to secure the draw. Gilas ran two great plays to get Lassiter and RR Pogoy open. Marcio drilled his attempt on the first try but Pogoy missed. The national team had to scramble after RR’s miss and the ball wound up at the hands of Perez. The PBA’s no. 1 rookie then calmy sank the game-tying triple with 14.7 seconds to go. “Coming into the game, I didn’t really expect much but the giys really showed good effort,” Gilas coach Yeng Guiao said. “I’m happy with the results. This is a relly good quality team [Mighty]. This is a good practice, good exercise for us in terms or our preparations,” he added. Even though the national team was playing with limited players, Gilas was overall better after the break, weathering an initial storm from Mighty’s Eugene Phelps. Behind sharper movements and plays, the national team took a 60-59 lead heading into final period. Despite a strong second half effort, Gilas got a slow start in the opening period as Mighty started with four imports and point guard Jason Brickman to overwhelm the Philippine national team. Halfway through the first quarter, Gilas still only had four points and both baskets were courtesy of reigning five-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo. The Philippines was already down 10 afrer the first, 13-23. Gilas’ second unit played much better with guard RR Pogoy at the lead. TNT’s top sniper sparked the Philippine offense in the second quarter, allowing Gilas to cut the deficit to one, 37-38, before ending the half down by three.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2019

Host Brazil still looking for right balance in Copa América

By Eric Nunez, Associated Press PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — After escaping an embarrassing elimination, Brazil is trying to find the right balance for the rest of the Copa América at home. Brazil has been playing solidly on defense from the start, but has struggled in attack against teams with tight defensive systems. It was the case against Paraguay on Thursday in their quarterfinal in Porto Alegre, where Brazil needed a penalty shootout to advance after being held to 0-0 despite playing most of the second half with an extra man. Without the injured Neymar, Brazil has already endured difficulties against Bolivia and Venezuela in the group stage, drawing boos from the local fans. The exception was the match against Peru in the final group game, when Brazil scored early to open up the defense en route to a comfortable 5-0 rout. That victory oosted the team's confidence and raised hopes that coach Tite had found a solution to end the attacking slump. But despite playing with the same attackers who impressed against Peru, including youngsters Gabriel Jesus and Everton, the team struggled to find the net again. "The ball wasn't reaching the forwards," Tite said. "They defended very well in the first half. We made some adjustments and started creating more opportunities, and after the red card we tried to take advantage of that." Brazil pressed nearly full-time after gaining the man advantage in the 58th minute, but couldn't find a way to break the Paraguayan defense and a good performance by goalkeeper Roberto "Gatito" Fernández. Tite said the poor field at Arena Grêmio also didn't help his more technical attacking players. Brazil's defense — led by Dani Alves, Filipe Luis and Thiago Silva — was solid again, and is yet to concede a goal after four matches. Colombia, which plays Chile in the other quarterfinal on Friday, is the only other team yet to concede. Next up for Brazil will be Lionel Messi's Argentina or Venezuela, which meet on Friday in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil also suffered against Venezuela in the group stage, being held to a scoreless draw in Salvador. Argentina could theoretically give Brazil a better matchup in the semifinals, as it's not likely to play as defensively as Venezuela did in the group stage. "(Argentina) is a team with great individual quality," said Tite, who is under pressure to win the tournament at home a year after Brazil's World Cup elimination in the quarterfinals. Coach Dunga, Tite's predecessor, was fired in 2016 after Brazil's elimination in the Copa América. "It's part of the job as a coach, (this pressure) it's inevitable," Tite said. "The most important thing is to keep working normally.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2019

NEXT IN LINE? Yeng Guiao sees Kiefer Ravena as a successor to elite Filipino point guards

The Philippine Men’s National Basketball Program has seen a number of elite playmakers during its time, and in recent memory and in recent memory, the likes of Jimmy Alapag and Jayson Castro are top of mind. Alapag helped lead the Philippines to their first FIBA World Cup berth in 2014, and starred in a number of big-time moments for the tri-colors Like Alapag, Castro has also excelled in international play and is widely regarded as Asia’s Best Point Guard. But as the Philippines gears up for another FIBA World Cup appearance this year, the program has seemingly lost the services of their chief playmaker, with Castro begging off from National Team duty to focus on his family. With the 2019 FIBA World Cup just around the corner, Gilas is now searching for their next floor general, and while Castro and his presence is undeniably irreplaceable, head coach Yeng Guiao believes that there is enough new blood that can help fill the void. “Wide open yan talaga, they have to earn that spot,” Guiao told ABS-CBN Sports, referring to Gilas' starting point guard spot.  While there is indeed a talented crop of point guards in the Philippines, Guiao has pinpointed Kiefer Ravena as a strong candidate, but maintains that it is still something that he needs to earn. “Although of course, Kiefer is a high likelihood that he’s going to be in the regular team, earning the number one spot is a different case. He has to fight it out with Paul, with Mark Barocca, even with the new guys, hindi natin alam kung ano ipapakita niyan.” Ravena rejoined National Team practice Monday evening after sitting out for nearly a year and a half due to a FIBA-imposed suspension. The suspension will be lifted on August 24th, a week before the start of the FIBA tournament. Guiao is confident that Ravena and the other Gilas hopefuls can step into the role that Castro has given up. “Tapos na ng suspension niya by August 24 eh, so ang calculation ko is yung spot ni Jayson, as much as we will miss him, as much as he has contributed a lot to the cause of the National Team, these are able guys, Kiefer particularly, who will show their true worth in the absence of Jayson. Kahit na malaki yung void na naiwan, I think these young guards coming in, especially Kiefer, are going to be able to fill it out.” The veteran mentor even believes that Ravena has what it takes to follow in the footsteps of other elite Filipino point guards such as Alapag, Castro and the ones that have come before. “For sure. I have no doubt, he is going to be the successor to those guys.” “Number one, he is smart. He has a very high basketball IQ. Number two, he has leadership qualities, yung nakikinig sa kanya yung mga kasama niya, as young as he is, he is relatively young, nakikinig sa kanya pati yung mga beterano. Number three, he has the physical tools,” Guiao explained. “I would have wanted him to be two or three inches taller, pero kahit na hindi, I think he has the tools to play that position as well, and I think he is as big or a littler taller than Jayson, so wala tayong problema sa physical tools niya.“ Apart from missing Ravena’s services in the National Team, Guiao has also missed the former UAAP champion and MVP’s services in the professional ranks with the NLEX Road Warriors. Having Ravena back on the floor, even just for practice for now, Guiao says, is definitely a welcome sight. “I saw him play, this is what we’re missing in NLEX. This is what we’re missing in the National Team. He could have played side-by-side with Jayson actually kung available siya. Nung nakita ko siya now, after not playing for one-and-a-half years, and he’s still this good, can you imagine kung naka-laro lang siya? Gumaling pa sana siya.” Ravena will be back with NLEX for the PBA's third conference, the Governor's Cup later this year. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2019

US defense will face greater challenges in knockout round

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press REIMS, France (AP) — Much of the attention on the United States rightly goes to its prolific offense, especially after that 13-goal game to open the Women's World Cup, but the team's defense has been predictably reliable so far in France. The defense has posted shutouts in the team's first three games, marking the first time the United States has not conceded a goal in the group stage at the tournament. The defending champions open the knockout round Monday against Spain. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher saw little action during the team's rout of Thailand in the opener, but matches against Chile and Sweden provided incrementally tougher tests. "To come away from group play with three shutouts, as a team defensively, I'm very proud of that," she said. "It's a goal that we have going into every game, especially as a back line, to keep clean sheets. We put a lot of time into team defending as well, all 11 players on the field are defending, and that cohesiveness is what helps bring that." The team's backline in France has shifted due to lineup changes and injuries. Veteran center back Becky Sauerbrunn was held out of the first game because of a minor injury, but came back against Chile when coach Jill Ellis rested players. Against Sweden, Ellis used the backline that is expected to start in the knockout phase, with Abby Dahlkemper alongside Sauerbrunn, Kelley O'Hara on the right and Crystal Dunn on the left. Dunn was especially effective against Sweden and in thwarting forward Sofia Jakobsson. The United States has seven clean sheets in its last eight World Cup matches — the exception being the two goals allowed in the team's 5-2 victory over Japan in the 2015 final. The United States went 540 minutes in Canada without conceding a goal, the longest streak in the tournament since Germany's record 679 scoreless minutes from 2003-11. Former goalkeeper Hope Solo allowed just three total goals and won her second straight Golden Glove as the tournament's top goalkeeper. The backline included Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg, Julie Johnston and Ali Krieger. Johnston, now Julie Ertz, has moved up into a role as a defensive midfielder in France. She sat out against Sweden because of a hip contusion but U.S. Soccer characterized the injury as minor. Krieger won a spot on the roster for this tournament because of her big-game experience after a long layoff from the team. Naeher has replaced Solo, considered one of the game's best goalkeepers ever. Solo was dismissed from the team following the 2016 Olympics. Brushing off the inevitable comparisons, Naeher has been steady in goal. "I've played with Alyssa since I was like 16 so I've known her for a really long time. It's awesome to see her step into this role because I've always known that she has the capacity and the talent to be the starting goalkeeper on this team. She's shown that," O'Hara said. "She, for me, provides a very calm consistency back there. She's also someone with steely nerves. I think she does a really good job of just putting on a game face." The United States is currently on a streak of 594 minutes since last conceding a goal. The last came in the 81st minute of a 5-3 victory over Australia in April. Echoing Naeher, Tobin Heath said the Americans have embraced team defense. "It's huge. It's a big part of what we're trying to do, both offensively and defensively. We always talk about this idea of 360 defending, where everybody's contributing," Heath said. "I think Alyssa's been fantastic. It's not easy, especially in the first two games to not face that many shots, and then to have a quality opponent like Sweden, to be on her game." If the top-ranked U.S. can get past No. 13 Spain, there's a possibility of a clash against hosts France in the quarterfinal in Paris. The fourth-ranked French, who scored seven goals in the group stage and conceded just one, face Brazil on Sunday. "I think this is the best team we've had, and we're so confident right now, we're so motivated to want to win and succeed," Krieger said. "We know what tools we have and what we need in order to break teams down and be successful in the final third. I think that's what we've showcased so far.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

Lloyd, a World Cup starter again, scores 2 as US beats Chile

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Carli Lloyd wasn't thrilled to open the Women's World Cup on the bench for the United States. She accepted the role, but made no secret she wanted to start. When the call came Sunday, Lloyd made it count with a pair of goals to lead the defending champions to a 3-0 victory over Chile. The win pushed the United States into the round of 16. Lloyd was the hero of the World Cup in Canada four years ago when she scored three goals in the final against Japan that gave the Americans their third World Cup title. But she was on the bench when the U.S. opened the tournament, even though she scored later as a substitute in the 13-0 victory over Thailand. "I know that my ability is there, I know this is my best version of me. I've just got to go out there and prove it," she said. "Whether that's coming off the bench and making an impact, whether that's starting and getting the opportunity, which I'm grateful for, I'm just trying to make the most of it. I want to win." Lloyd became the first player to score in six straight World Cup matches with her goal in the 11th minute. She added another on a header off a corner in the 35th for her 10th career World Cup goal, which moved her into third on the U.S. list behind Abby Wambach (14) and Michelle Akers (12). At 36, she became the oldest player to have a multi-goal game in the tournament. She nearly got another hat trick — which would have made her the first player with two in the World Cup — but her penalty kick in the 81st minute went wide left. "It's haunting me right now," Lloyd said. "Wasn't good enough." The score could have been worse for Chile without unshakable goalkeeper Christiane Endler, who finished with six saves and fended off a flurry of U.S. shots in the second half. Endler was named player of the match. "I love the balls coming towards me and being able to showcase my skills," she said through a translator. "Obviously it's difficult to maintain concentration. I think in the first half it was difficult for me to get into the game. I think the second half went better for me and in general for the team." The victory over Chile was more subdued than the U.S. team's record-breaking rout of Thailand. The Americans celebrated every goal even after the win was well in hand, and the display offended many who thought the champions should have shown more class. The controversy clouded the run-up to the match against Chile. Several of the American players reached out to their Thai counterparts following the match. Lloyd exchanged encouraging words and tweets with goalkeeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying, and FIFA posted an interview with Thailand's coach thanking the U.S. players for being professional and playing well. After such a rout, Jill Ellis made sweeping changes to the starting lineup against Chile, including a new front line with Lloyd, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh. Alex Morgan was moved to the bench along with Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath. Becky Sauerbrunn, who sat out the match against Thailand because of a minor quad injury, returned and anchored a backline that included 20-year-old Tierna Davidson, who was making her World Cup debut. Davidson is the youngest player to start for the United States in a World Cup since Tiffany Roberts against Norway in 1995. Chile made just one lineup change, starting midfielder Claudia Soto in place of Yanara Aedo. Chile lost its opener to Sweden 2-0, but Endler was solid in that game, too, keeping the Swedes out of the goal until 83rd minute. The second goal got past the 6-footer in stoppage time. Julie Ertz scored in the 26th minute with a header off a corner kick from Davidson that Endler got her hands on but couldn't stop. It was Ertz's first World Cup goal and came with her husband Zach Ertz, a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, looking on. Endler denied Lloyd another chance at the hat trick when she tipped the U.S. captain's shot over the net in the 72nd minute. Sweden also advanced out of Group F with a victory 5-1 victory over Thailand earlier Sunday in Nice. Japan, playing in Group D with England, also went through to the knockout stage because both the United States and Sweden won. Former Vice President Joe Biden was among the U.S. team's well-wishers before the sold-out game at Parc des Princes stadium. Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, referenced the team's lawsuit against U.S. Soccer alleging gender discrimination and seeking equitable pay. "As we cheer them on in the World Cup, we must support their fight off the field for equal pay. In 2019, it's past time we close the pay gap and ensure women get paid as much as men," Biden tweeted. U.S. soccer maintains the two teams have different pay structures because of separate collective bargaining agreements. But for now, the players are concentrating on France and bringing home a fourth World Cup championship. The United States plays Sweden on Thursday to wrap up the group stage. It is the first meeting between the two teams since Sweden ousted the Americans from the quarterfinals at the 2016 Olympics. Chile wraps up the group with a match against Thailand on Thursday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Strong finish not enough for Woods at US Open

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The crowd was roaring, the birdies were dropping and Tiger Woods looked like his vintage self for the final 12 holes of the U.S. Open. The problem for Woods was what happened on the first 60 holes. Woods salvaged an otherwise disappointing weekend at Pebble Beach by birdieing six of his final 12 holes Sunday to finish the tournament at 2-under par, far behind the top contenders on a weekend made for low scores. Woods finally got in on the action after bogeys on four of the first six holes with an impressive turnaround that even he couldn't explain. "I wish I would have known because I would have turned it around a little earlier than that, he said. "Again, got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off. Turned back around and got it to under par for the week which is — normally it's a good thing, but this week the guys are definitely taking to it." The problem for Woods all weekend was his inability to take advantage of the scoring opportunities on the first seven holes at Pebble Beach. He played that stretch at 2-over par for the tournament and 4 over in the final two rounds. Woods left his approach shots short on three of the early bogeys on Sunday and hit a tee shot into the rough at the par-3 fifth hole on the other. As he walked off the sixth green after his fourth bogey, Woods trudged toward the seventh tee, head down, seemingly defeated. But then he made a 15-footer for birdie at 7, hit an approach to 5 feet on 8 for another birdie and drained a 40-foot putt on 13, prompting a fan to yell, "The comeback has started!" While that might have been a bit of hyperbole, Woods hit another great approach shot on 16 to get back under par for the tournament and closed it out with another on 18 to the delight of the fans. "Just because I got off to a bad start doesn't mean it's over," he said. "Keep grinding, keep playing. And I was able to turn my round around today as well as yesterday. So rounds that could have easily slipped away and kind of gone the other way pretty easily I was able it to turnaround." The final round of 69 tied for Woods' second-best closing round ever at a U.S. Open, behind only the 67 at Pebble Beach in 2000 when he had a record-setting 15-stroke win. Now after starting the year by winning his first major since 2008 at the Masters, Woods has missed the cut at the PGA Championship last month and finished far out of the lead at the U.S. Open. He plans to take a few weeks off from competition before gearing up for a run at his 16th career major next month at the British Open, played on an unfamiliar course to him at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. "I'm looking forward to getting up there and taking a look at the golf course and trying to figure out," Woods said. "I hope that my practice rounds are such that we get different winds, especially on a golf course that I've never played, and to get a different feel how it could play for the week. And definitely have to do my homework once I get there.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Even being injured, Durant leads free-agent pack

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — This was already going to be a summer filled with fireworks in the NBA. Nothing has changed. Kevin Durant’s Achilles injury, the severity of which isn’t yet confirmed, means he probably won’t be able to play much — if any — next season. But this is a testament to how much he overshadows much of the NBA landscape: Durant will still likely dictate how the free-agency dominoes fall this summer. Durant could exercise his $31.5 million player option and stay with the Warriors, and that’s likely going to be his worst-case financial scenario. He could opt out and sign a longer deal to stay in the Bay. Or he could opt out, sign elsewhere and start collecting massive checks from either the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets or Los Angeles Clippers or someone else. Kyrie Irving’s decision could hinge on what Durant does. Kawhi Leonard’s decision could be affected by what Durant does. How the Knicks, Nets, Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks and all the other teams who have cap space will start spending their money on June 30 ... it all will be determined, at least on some level, by what Durant does. If he stays in Golden State, that’s more money for everyone else. If he hits the open market, it’ll be about what team wants to gamble. Here’s a tip to those teams that wanted Durant before he got hurt again in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. If the opportunity presents itself, sign him. Free agency usually isn’t about just one year. It’s about the long haul. Durant is only 30-years-old. He’s not a high-flyer who plays above the rim all the time. He’s not a plodding big man. He’s not someone with a lot of gray in the goatee. He’s a world-class scorer and jump-shooter in his prime. A year from now, if the recovery from the Achilles injury indeed takes that long, he’ll be far from over the hill. “This is a devastating injury for a basketball player, but Durant can return to be the same or very close,” Dr. David Chao, a longtime NFL team physician, practicing orthopedic surgeon and now a sports medical analyst with a large following wrote Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “This does not mark his downfall as an elite player.” In the short term, it just means Durant’s NBA Finals are over. Game 6 is Thursday night (Friday, PHL time), and the Warriors trail the Toronto Raptors 3-2 in the title series. In the long term, it might mean so much more — including the possibility that his time playing for Golden State is over. Achilles recoveries for basketball players have typically taken about a full year. Even if it turns out to be a partial tear, it’s still a tear. Some team was going to pay Durant a lot of money in 2019-20 and some team still will, probably without the immediate on-court services of perhaps the best player in the world in return. The first decision is the medical course of action. The financial course of action will be decided soon after. All will not be lost next season for the team that has Durant on its roster. That team will apply for, and get, a disabled player exception that will allow them to sign someone else for probably about $9 million and not have that count toward the team’s cap. That player won’t be of Durant’s caliber, because so few players are. But a year or so later, the team would have Durant. There’s risk with any signing. And signing any player that will command so much of a team’s salary cap while facing a grueling rehab would seem particularly risky. “He’s going to come back stronger though,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “That’s the kind of fighter he is.” The Nets swung a trade earlier this month to clear enough cap space for two max contracts this summer — and there’s no doubt that they would love Durant to take one of those spots, possibly alongside Irving. The Knicks have been mentioned as a hopeful in the Durant sweepstakes for months. The Clippers were expected to make a pitch for him as well. The Warriors surely want to keep him. The chatter about Durant’s injury indicates it’s all a mystery now, although it really shouldn’t be. Players have made comebacks off Achilles surgery, with relative levels of success. DeMarcus Cousins, Kobe Bryant, and Rudy Gay all came back; Cousins hasn’t regained past form yet. Dominique Wilkins had an Achilles tear happen to him at the peak of his career and he arguably was good as ever afterward. Elton Brand, now leading the Philadelphia 76ers’ front office, had it as a player and said he was never the same. Christian Laettner went from a star to a role player when his Achilles ripped. “I’ve been there,” 15-time golf major winner Tiger Woods said Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) at the U.S. Open. “I’ve had it to my own Achilles. I’ve had it to my own back. I know what it feels like. It’s an awful feeling. And no one can help you. That’s the hard part.” Woods fought his way back toward the top of his sport, and is the reigning Masters champion. Durant isn’t going to let an Achilles injury end his reign as one of the game’s best. Teams would be foolish to think otherwise. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2019

Film Study: Raptors ignore the non-shooters in Game 4

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com TORONTO -- In Game 4 of The Finals on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), the Toronto Raptors went back to the box-and-one defense - four guys in a zone and Fred VanVleet chasing Stephen Curry - that helped them come almost all the way back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter of Game 2. This time, the Raptors went to the box and one for just three possessions late in the third quarter. The Golden State Warriors scored just one point on those three possessions, but then Klay Thompson checked back into the game and the Raptors returned to their standard defense. Their standard defense is, technically, a man-to-man. But often, there's at least one Toronto defender playing zone and ignoring his assignment. And in Game 4, the Warriors being ignored weren't able to do anything about it. This was the ninth straight game that the Warriors played without Kevin Durant. And it was the one where his presence, at least on the offensive end of the floor, was missed the most. Over the previous eight games, the Warriors had scored 113.3 points per 100 possessions. They were better in their 11 playoff games with Durant (117.0 per 100), but 113.3 was still sufficiently efficient. Game 4 was the Warriors' worst offensive game of the postseason, though. They scored just 92 points on 95 possessions, a rate more than 10 points per 100 possessions worse than any of their previous 19 games. Even with both Curry and Thompson on the floor, the Warriors were held to just a point per possession (77 on 77). It's hard to think that a team with Curry and Thompson doesn't have enough shooting. And the pair combined to score 55 points in Game 4. But most of those 55 points did not come easy. And getting enough offensive production from elsewhere on the roster was even more difficult. Zoning up On the Warriors' very first possession of Game 4, Pascal Siakam left Andre Iguodala alone once he cleared out to the weak side. Siakam hung near the basket for a full 12 seconds before DeMarcus Cousins committed the first of the Warriors' 19 turnovers. For contrast, note how Siakam followed Klay Thompson on a similar action just three possessions later, when Danny Green left Draymond Green to help force another turnovers out of Cousins... In regard to Golden State perimeter players not with the ball, the Raptors chased Curry and Thompson, while ignoring Green, Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston. And it's hard to argue with the results, as the latter three shot a combined 1-for-8 from outside the paint. Brick city Livingston, of course, has attempted just five three-pointers (not including shots from the backcourt) over the last three years. Iguodala attempted six three's in Game 3, but is just 4-for-24 (17 percent) from beyond the arc since the start of the conference finals. And the 10-for-49 (20 percent) that Green has shot from three-point range in the playoffs is the worst mark among 71 players with at least 25 attempts. Green was given two wide-open looks from outside in the first half on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). The first came off an Iguodala drive when Siakam was ignoring him on the right wing. Danny Green could have rotated off of Curry to contest, but chose (wisely) to stay with his man. The second jumper for Green came when Siakam helped on a Curry drive, and it doesn't get much worse than a wide-open corner three off the side of the backboard... After that shot off the side of the backboard, Green didn't attempt another shot from outside the paint. Not only was he not making shots, he wasn't even threatening to take them. Midway through the third quarter, a quick-hitting Iguodala screen for Thompson drew two defenders to the shooter. Iguodala was open on his roll to the basket, but the Toronto defense collapsed, and the ball found its way back to Green at the top of the arc. Instead of shooting an open three himself, Green got the ball back to Iguodala, who had relocated to the left corner, doing his best Curry imitation. Alas, Iguodala's shot (with 12 seconds still on the shot clock) barely touched the rim... Notice that, after Thompson gave the ball up, Kawhi Leonard never left Thompson and VanVleet never left Curry. The screen option The Warriors have ways to take advantage of a defense that doesn't want to guard their non-shooters. On the possession following the Iguodala miss above, Siakam was sagging way off of Green, who was on the right wing... Green set two screens on Kyle Lowry, the second freeing Thompson for a catch-and-shoot three before Siakam could recover and contest... But there wasn't enough of that. And even if there was more, it puts a lot of stress on Thompson and Curry to keep moving until they get open, and when they do get open, make 25-foot shots at a high rate. There also weren't a lot of Curry/Green pick-and-rolls. According to Second Spectrum tracking, Curry used a Green screen only nine times in Game 4. The first resulted in a Curry hitting a step-back jumper over Leonard, but those nine plays resulted in only eight points for the Warriors. You could certainly argue that Curry's tank wasn't full after scoring 47 points in Game 3 (with 3 and 4 being the only games with just one day of rest in between). But according to Second Spectrum, Curry's average speed on offense in Game 4 (5.02 miles per hour) was faster than he averaged through his first 19 playoff games (4.79). The missing piece The Warriors can obviously be better offensively than they were on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). But Game 4 was a pretty desperate situation (33 of 34 teams to take a 3-1 lead in The Finals have gone on to win the championship), and they just couldn't summon up the offense they needed to keep up with the Raptors. The difference between having three shooting threats on the floor and having just two is huge, especially against a defensive team as good as the one the Warriors are facing in this series. Toronto has earned this 3-1 lead and there should be no implied asterisk should the Raptors win one of the next three games. But there's no denying that a big part of their success has been their ability to have smart and athletic defenders like Siakam and Leonard play off their primary assignments and help their guards defend the Warriors' remaining threats. Durant's status for Game 5 in Toronto on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time)) is unknown as of Sunday. If he remains out, the Raptors' defensive priorities remain clear. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2019

PBA: Confident Nambatac lights up Ginebra with career shooting performance

Down 0-2 to start the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Rain or Shine wanted to avoid a 0-3 hole at all costs. Friday against defending champion Ginebra no less, the Elasto Painters did just that and finally got their first win of the mid-season joust with a convincing 23-point win. Import Denzel Bowles did his part, coming through with a strong double-double performance, but it was guard Rey Nambatac who was key for ROS in the victory. Nambatac was hot all game long, firing seven triples on his way to a career-high 30 points. He already had 21 at halftime to help the Elasto Painters weather a strong start from Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee and Japeth Aguilar. “Lucky day lang. Kailangang mag step up kasi last two games ang kulang talaga [from] young guns tulad ko,” Nambatac said. “Kasi yung mga veterans namin, especially yung import namin si Denzel, ginagawa nila ng maayos yung roles nila sa team. So kami, parang kami yung nawawala sa team,” he added. With ROS having so many weapons, Nambatac says it’s important to just stay ready. His number will be called and the ball will find its way to him. When that happens, he should be ready to take advantage. Against the Gin Kings, it was Nambatac that got the good looks and he made the most out of all of them. “Tiwala lang sa sarili. Syempre confident lang din ako na pag pinasahan ako, kailangan maisu-shoot ko,” Nambatac said. “Kasi kung ako naman yung nagpasa tapos wide-open shot, talagang nakaka-frustrate yun eh. At ayaw kong mangyari yun sa mga teammates ko na mafrusfrustrate sila. Kasi open shot tapos di masushoot? Kumpyansa lang talaga,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2019

Cantlay s past shows why the future of golf is promising

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — To the victor go the social media requests. This proved far more difficult for Patrick Cantlay than his 64 at Muirfield Village, the lowest final round by a winner in 44 years of the Memorial and a performance that suggested his move to No. 8 in the world was about more than any mathematical formula. Cantlay looked at the phone as the PGA Tour social media team tried to explain what it wanted — a short video saying what this victory meant to him. He stretched his arm and struggled to get the right angle while still being able to start the video. Finally, a tour employee held it for him. Cantlay smiled and said all the right things. "First selfie?" someone cracked as he walked off the stage. Cantlay rolled his eyes. He doesn't do social media. Cantlay appears to be anti-social on the golf course, which is misleading. In the absence of cameras and microphones, the 27-year-old from California is smart, honest and insightful with an occasional needle. On the golf course, he has a cold focus with no apologies. He knows how he comes across because when he arrived at Muirfield Village on Sunday, someone jokingly said, "It can't be that bad, can it?" Cantlay could easily fit the description of an old soul on young shoulders — except for his back. It was a stress fracture in his back that kept him out of golf for the better part of three years — two straight years without playing one tournament — and kept him from the pace set by others from his own age group. Jordan Spieth saw it coming. Neither of them had PGA Tour status when Spieth and Cantlay were paired together in the opening two rounds of the 2013 Puerto Rico Open. Spieth got him by one shot each round and went on to tie for second, the important step that led to a PGA Tour card — and victory — later that year. Cantlay, who had won the week before in Colombia on the Web.com Tour, was two months away from one swing that nearly ended his career, a pain he described as a knife in his back. That was the start of back trouble so severe there was no guarantee he would ever return. He was 20 when he turned pro. He was 25 for his official rookie season in 2017 on the PGA Tour. Trying to manage his schedule after not having competed for two straight years, Cantlay played 11 times and still made it to the Tour Championship. "If he had the full year this year, I would imagine he'd have been on the Presidents Cup team, no question," Spieth said at the TPC Boston that year. "He's extremely talented, and he's going to work his way up into the top 10 in the world, in my opinion." And here he is. Predictions are never easy in golf — Cantlay knows that better than anyone — and so where he goes remains a work in progress. It's where he has been that explains why his victory Sunday got so much attention, even if it wasn't worthy of the front of sports pages. Anyone who saw Cantlay play in Ohio eight years ago would have expected a performance like this. His time at Muirfield Village was short. Cantlay received the Jack Nicklaus Award as the best player in college — as a freshman at UCLA — and posed for photos with Nicklaus, then got ready for U.S. Open qualifying at the sectional site filled with PGA Tour players. Cantlay was the only amateur to get one of the 16 spots. Two weeks later, he was low amateur in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, his first tournament against the best in the world. The following week, he set a PGA Tour record for amateurs with a 60 in the second round of the Travelers Championship. He was low amateur at the Masters in 2012. He made the cut at the U.S. Open again at Olympic Club (Spieth was low amateur that year). Much like Spieth, he had a knack for delivering. It was a tournament Cantlay did not win that might be the most revealing. After the stabbing pain he felt at Colonial in 2013, he didn't play for three months as his status on the Web.com Tour money list kept dropping. Cantlay tried to play two more events to stay in the top 25 to earn a PGA Tour card and missed the cut in both, finishing 29th. His last chance was a four-tournament series with a special money list. Cantlay played the first one and finished one shot behind Trevor Immelman. It was enough to get his card, and then he couldn't play again for nearly nine months. Cantlay has been through a lot, but he is still relatively new considering he had to start over. "It really is my third year on tour," he said. "It's just taken me seven years to do it." He ended that first full year with a victory in Las Vegas, and Cantlay was mildly irritated that more wins didn't follow. "Being out for so long and to come back and play really well and win within a year ... I didn't think it would take me this long," he said. "But I've played a lot of really good golf, a lot of really solid golf. And so I think I was closer than it seems. So maybe this one will do it.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2019

Sloane Stephens strategy on wasted match points: Forget em

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Mulling over what might have been is never a great tactic in tennis. Just ask Sloane Stephens, who managed to regroup from four wasted match points in the second set of a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win over 71st-ranked Polona Hercog on Friday to reach the fourth round of the French Open. "Honestly, I don't even remember what happened. It seems like so long ago. But I know that I didn't win them. That was the main point of that," Stephens said after the draining victory on the hottest day of the tournament so far — with temperatures soaring to nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celsius) after the much cooler and rainy opening days. With second-seeded Karolina Pliskova losing to Petra Martic, No. 7 Stephens is the highest-ranked player remaining in the bottom half of the draw. But her next opponent, 2016 Roland Garros champion Garbiñe Muguruza, is looking more and more dangerous every match. Stephens, last year's runner-up in Paris and the 2017 U.S. Open champion, quickly stormed to a 4-0 lead in the third against Hercog then held herself together when it got close at the end "After the second set I just tried to regroup. I got off to a good start and just tried to hang with it," the American said. "When you have match points like that, you have to put it out of your mind, otherwise it just stays with you, lingers, brings you down. It's no fun." With both players hitting the ball tentatively in the final games, Stephens finally whipped an inside-out forehand winner on her sixth match point, then celebrated with a scream and fist pumps. Earlier this week, Stephens credited her engagement last month to U.S. national soccer player Jozy Altidore with helping her tennis. "When your home life is good and your family is good and you're happy, I think that definitely does affect how you play on court," she said. The other fourth-round matchups set Friday: No. 23 Donna Vekic vs. No. 26 Johanna Konta; Marketa Vondrousova vs. No. 12 Anastasija Sevastova; and Kaia Kanepi vs. Martic. Muguruza dispatched ninth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3. "She's playing well; I'm playing well. I think it's a good matchup," Stephens said. "You're playing for a spot in the quarters of a Slam. Just got to leave everything out there and see what happens." And if match points — or any important point for that matter — go wasted, quickly move on......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 1st, 2019

All s well that ends well for No. 1 Osaka at French Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Naomi Osaka screamed "Oh, my God!" after one shanked shot. Mouthed something and clasped her hands together, as if praying, after another. There were plenty of deep sighs and exaggerated eyerolls, too. The No. 1-seeded Osaka got off to a terrible start at the French Open again, never masking her frustration. After some slip-ups near the end, Osaka also prevailed again, displaying the grit and groundstrokes that just won't let her lose during what's become a 16-match Grand Slam winning streak. Osaka trailed by a set and a break Thursday against former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the second round at Roland Garros, before coming all the way back to win an entertaining matchup 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 and prolong her bid for a third consecutive major championship. "I have this mindset that I feel like I can win if it gets down to the wire. Like, if I have to break a person, I feel like I have the ability to do that," Osaka said. "So I probably shouldn't wait until the last minute." Probably. In the first round, Osaka not only dropped the opening set, but did so by a 6-0 score. This time, Osaka ceded the first four games against Azarenka and was responsible for their match's initial seven unforced errors. "Technically, like, she kind of killed me in the first set," Osaka said, "and I just kept trying to find a way to stay positive." Defending champion Simona Halep required that same sort of resolve to get through her own test, blowing a big lead in the second set and a trio of match points before holding on to beat 87th-ranked Magda Linette 6-4, 5-7, 6-3. Halep, who said afterward she felt a "little bit sick" and plans to "sleep all day tomorrow," was up a set and 5-3 in the second before dropping four games in a row and getting broken twice while serving for the match. Neither Osaka nor Halep managed to put on the sort of solid performance seen from Serena Williams — barely bothered during a 6-3, 6-2 victory over qualifier Kurumi Nara — or top-seeded man Novak Djokovic, also a straight-set winners. Azarenka sought to control points with deep, attacking strokes and by going after Osaka's backhand side. "I played very smart. I really played the right spots," Azarenka said. "I was doing everything that I was supposed to do. And, especially, moving well and pushing her back." Azarenka knows a thing or two about how to perform on the sport's biggest stages: She won two titles at the Australian Open, reached two finals at the U.S. Open and was a semifinalist at both Wimbledon and, back in 2013, the French Open. She is currently ranked 43rd, though, on account of missing time over the past few seasons while pregnant and then dealing with a custody issue involving her son. So what, in terms of talent and tenacity, could have passed for a late-in-the-proceedings showdown at a major was held, instead, in Week 1, with the temperature barely above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius) and the occasional raindrop. When Azarenka sprinted for a cross-court forehand winner that closed a 15-stroke exchange, she led 4-2 in the second set after 77 minutes. They would play for more than 1½ additional hours, and Azarenka certainly had opportunities to edge even farther ahead, such as when she had a break point to go up 5-2 and serve for the victory but netted a forehand. Or the three times she was one point from leading 5-3 but got broken there with her second double-fault of the game. It was Azarenka's serve that faltered down the stretch. It also was Osaka's top-notch returning that contributed to a key stretch in which she grabbed 9 of 11 games. "She has, obviously, a lot of confidence," Azarenka said. Which Osaka should, of course, given that she won the U.S. Open in September and the Australian Open in January and is trying to become the first woman in tennis history to collect her first three Slam trophies in a row. "She's very powerful. She's very explosive," Azarenka said. "Her shots are pretty heavy. She can hit both sides, pretty even. She has a big serve, and she's consistent. ... And proving that she deserves to be where she's at right now." All of which is true. And all of which made it fascinating, then, to hear Osaka describe her attitude going into the match. "Today I kind of felt like a challenger," she said. "Like, I know she went to the semis here before, so obviously she has a lot more experience here," said the 21-year-old Osaka, who has never been past the third round in Paris but is 9-1 on clay in 2019 after entering the season with a 9-11 mark on the slow surface. "She won Grand Slams and she was No. 1 way before I was. I'm still kind of new at this." New at it, maybe. Good at it, definitely......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 31st, 2019

Super old Federer to face ex-contemporary s son at French

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Roger Federer, 37, joked to a stadium filled with screaming kids that he's "so super old." Stan Wawrinka, 34, pulled a crying boy out of a crush of autograph-seekers in the stands. Rafael Nadal, about to turn 33, offered this advice to youngsters at his match who might be pondering a tennis career: "The main thing is, don't think about winning Roland Garros." Schools in France are closed on Wednesdays, bringing out a, um, louder brand of fan to the French Open, and that trio of past champions of the clay-court major seemed to appreciate the adulation from the little ones who attended their straight-set victories. Fitting, too, perhaps, that Federer advanced to a third-round meeting against 20-year-old Casper Ruud, someone so much his junior that the guy's father was in the field when Federer made his debut in Paris in 1999. "I know probably more about his dad," Federer said, "than about him." Federer, the tournament's 2009 champion who hadn't been in the field in four years, will be playing his third opponent in a row who is 25 or younger, after beating 144th-ranked Oscar Otte 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round. Now the 20-time major champion takes on Ruud, a Norwegian ranked 63rd. He is coached by his father, Christian, who told Casper he once practiced with Federer, although they never played. "Ever since I can remember, I've been watching Roger on TV," said Ruud, who knocked off 29th-seeded Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. Then came this admission from Ruud: "To be honest, I've been a little bit more of a Rafa fan and Rafa guy." Better hope no one tells Roger. Still, even if he always has preferred Nadal, Ruud described what comes next this way: "I'm playing one of the greatest champions ever of this sport on Friday, so I'm just super excited for it. I can play loose and free." Wawrinka, the winner in 2015 and the runner-up two years later, also had no trouble against a much younger foe Wednesday, eliminating 22-year-old Cristian Garin 6-1, 6-4, 6-0. Afterward, Wawrinka came to the rescue of one of his tiniest fans, lifting him away from danger and offering a towel as a keepsake. "I took him out of that mess a little bit," Wawrinka said. "He was in pain and sad." Owner of three Grand Slam titles in all, Wawrinka will bring his signature backhand into what shapes up as a more competitive matchup against two-time major semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, who eliminated 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 6-7 (3), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 over nearly 4½ hours. Nadal's form hadn't been up to his usual standards during much of the clay season: This was the first time since 2004 that he entered May without a title for the year. But he looked good while taking the title at the Italian Open this month, including a victory over Novak Djokovic in the final, and he's been close to untouchable so far as he seeks a record-extending 12th trophy in Paris. His latest tour de force was a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over 114th-ranked Yannick Maden, a qualifier from Germany. OK, so Nadal hasn't really faced much of a test yet. Still, he is displaying the court-covering, ball-walloping style he has perfected, which could come in handy when he plays 2016 French Open quarterfinalist David Goffin in the third round. "I don't like the word 'easy,' because when you win, it always looks easier," Nadal said. "I can say (I had) a comfortable victory. I have been in control most all the time. And that's the only thing that really matters." While plenty of the sport's big names still dot the men's bracket, the women's field keeps seeing top players depart. On Wednesday, No. 4 seed Kiki Bertens, a 2016 semifinalist and considered a contender for her first major title, quit during the first set of her match against Viktoria Kuzmova because she was sick. Tears filled Bertens' eyes as she described waking up at 3 a.m., feeling ill. "Vomiting. Diarrhea. All night long, all day long. I felt a little bit better before the match. I had some sleep, and I just wanted to give it a try," she said. "But then as soon as I start warming up right before the match, it started again. There was not any energy left." Bianca Andreescu, an 18-year-old Canadian who was seeded 22nd, pulled out before her match against 20-year-old American Sonia Kenin, citing an injured right shoulder that sidelined her from March until this week. Kenin will face the winner of Thursday's match between Serena Williams and Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara. Bertens and Andreescu join two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who withdrew before her first match because of an arm injury, and former No. 1s Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki, who both lost in the first round......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2019

PBA: 3-0 start big for Blackwater says hulking Stepheson

Blackwater has been a different team in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. After finishing a dismal 2-9 in the All-Filipino, the Elite are 3-0 to start the mid-season joust, with no. 2 pick Ray Parks and import Alex Stepheson leading the show. Both players have scored 20 each in all three games and in the case of Stepheson, he’s been dominating on offense and on the boards as well. Stepheson had another 20-20 game, powering through for 26 points and 21 rebounds in Sunday’s win against Columbian. He also had seven blocks for good measure. “It was a tough game, coming off a back-to-back. But we showed a lot of character and played strong at the end,” Stepheson said. “This is a competitive league, so every win and every basket will make a difference. Being 3-0 right now is really big,” he added. Stepheson and Parks are not the only ones getting the job done for Blackwater. In the Elite’s first two games, a third player other than Parks and Stepheson also scored at least 20. Against the Dyip, Allein Maliksi and Mac Belo scored 19 apiece to back up Alex (26 points) and Ray (23 points). “A lot of people stepped up, I think we had like five or six in double figures so it was good team win. I thinl we’re playing well as team, everybody’s contributing,” Stepheson said. “We just try to make a point to share the ball and I tell everybody if they’re open, shoot it. Coach tells everybody the same, don’t hesitate. Everyone’s a good player so we’re just looking for the best shot. If we find it, that person takes it and we’re happy,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 26th, 2019

Nadal opens bid for 12th French Open title against qualifier

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal will start his campaign for a record-extending 12th title at the French Open against a qualifier. And if he makes it to the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam, another qualifier will be waiting. The defending champion was handed what looked like quite an easy draw Thursday at Roland Garros stadium, where the Spanish player attended the ceremony and said he was happy with his form. Nadal won his first title of the season last week at the Italian Open, where he looked close to his best after some uncharacteristic struggles on clay. "It was an important title for me," Nadal said. "I played very well throughout the tournament, I'm very happy to find myself in this situation." In the women's draw, Simona Halep will open the defense of her title against Ajla Tomljanovic. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka, who seeks a third consecutive major championship, will be up against Anna Karolína Schmiedlová. Coming to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was drawn into the top half of the draw with Osaka and Halep. She will take on Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round. Osaka will be up against a tough opponent if she gets past Schmiedlova, facing the winner of a first-round match pitting 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko and former top-ranked player Victoria Azarenka. Nadal, who last year became the first male player to win 11 titles at the same Grand Slam tournament, could meet his old foe Roger Federer in the semifinals. Federer, in his first French Open match since 2015, will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and could face Stefanos Tsitsipas in a potential quarterfinal matchup. Federer is back on clay after skipping that part o the season for the past two years. He reached the quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome, where he withdrew because of a right leg injury. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will begin his run against Hubert Hurkacz. The Serb has been enjoying a good run of form during the clay season, winning the title in Madrid before losing to Nadal in Rome. Organizers announced before the draw that Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic had withdrawn from the tournament, which starts on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Whirl’d Cup 2019 draws 27 teams, 550 players

MANILA, Philippines —While summer calls to mind a long, relaxing vacation, most Filipinos see the season as a great time to make plans with their friends or even a good time to get active and enjoy the outdoors. For Jamba Juice, summer is not just a good time to start enjoying a healthful and active routine, but to also blend this passion with finding and bonding with a community. To encourage more Filipinos to embrace and enjoy a healthful lifestyle, Jamba Juice hosted the second edition of Whirl’d Cup, a two-day mixed (read: co-ed) Ultimate Frisbee tournament organized with JMJ Sports Training Services, in partnership with the Philippine Flying Disc Association. Whirl’d Cup 2019 happened last May 11-12, 2019, at the Ayala Alabang Country Club. Over 550 players and 27 teams participated in the tournament, which was open to first-timers, regulars, and veteran players, with no age limits or other requirements. Aside from the matches, Ultimate regulars and newer players alike also tested their athletic prowess and worked up a sweat at the Whirl’d Cup Skills Challenge Games. “At Jamba, we believe in blending goodness into every moment. In our stores, we use real whole fruits blended with our juices to create our smoothies, juices, and bowls—whether the combination is unusual or expected—the experience and taste is still great,” shared Jamba Juice Marketing Manager Steph Elumba. “When we looked at Ultimate Frisbee, we saw how the community blended each individual player into one big family. From ages 15 to 50, men and women blended together for a weekend of Ultimate fun and Jamba Juice smoothies.” The Whirl’d Cup also served as a great introduction to Ultimate, a fast-paced, no-contact sport requiring only a disc and a well-lit space to play. The sport has rapidly grown since it was first introduced in the Philippines in the early 2000s, making the local Ultimate community one of the fastest-growing in Asia.   “For us, Ultimate is the sport that best encapsulates our values and our vision for how anyone can live a Better Blended life,” added Elumba. “Ultimate is a great way to blend people of different ages, sexes, professions, and backgrounds in one space, as the sport’s inclusive nature makes it easier for people who share a passion for sports, fitness, and good food and drink to come together.” Beyond introducing more Filipinos to Ultimate, Jamba Juice also provided players with an opportunity to support the sport’s growing community. A portion of the sales from the Jamba Juice food truck, the Fender Blender, will support Pilipinas Ultimate, the national Ultimate team, as they take part in tournaments in Japan and China. “Just as it’s important to nourish our bodies with delicious and nutritious food, we believe that it is important for more Filipinos to enjoy a more inclusive experience of sports. A better you starts with better food (in this case, our smoothies), and when you can tap into the better you, you can help create a better world,” said Elumba. “We hope that more people will be inspired by the Whirl’d Cup, start creating their vision of a healthful life, and get blended into Ultimate’s exciting and fun scene.” To catch up on the highlights of the Whirl’d Cup, check out facebook.com/jambajuiceph/.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019