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France favorite to reach Davis Cup final despite poor form

PARIS — With Novak Djokovic out of the Davis Cup semifinals, even a French lineup struggling for form is heavily favored to reach the team event final for th.....»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarSep 13th, 2017

Q& A: Hall of Fame Bob Lanier

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Bob Lanier turned 70 Monday, a big number for a big man. In fact, that number can be linked to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer in several ways. It was in 1970 that Lanier was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, selected out of St. Bonaventure by the Detroit Pistons. And it was the 70s as the decade in which Lanier excelled, earning seven of his eight All-Star appearances while averaging 22.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Pistons. Dinosaurs ruled the NBA landscape back then, with Lanier achieving his success against the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Dave Cowens, Willis Reed, Nate Thurmond, Elvin Hayes, Artis Gilmore and other legendary big men. Yet it was Lanier who was the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game, who won the one-off, 32-contestant 1-on-1 championship tournament run by ABC in 1973 as part of its national broadcast schedule and who (with Walton) got name-dropped by Abdul-Jabbar in the 1980 Hollywood comedy “Airplane!” [“I'm out there busting my buns every night!” he tells a kid as “co-pilot Roger Murdock.” “Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!”] Lanier’s Detroit teams never got beyond the conference semifinals, though, so in 1979-80 he asked to be traded. In February 1980, the Pistons dealt him to Milwaukee for Kent Benson and a future draft pick. With the Bucks, who averaged 59 victories in Lanier’s four full seasons there, Lanier flirted with his greatest team success, yet never reached The Finals. He was 36 when bad knees and other injuries forced him to retire. Those knees still are trouble, preventing Lanier from attending this year’s Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony -- he was elected in 1992 -- and limiting his ability to travel from his home in Arizona to catch his daughter Khalia’s volleyball games at USC. But the man nicknamed “The Dobber” was as chatty and opinionated as ever in a phone conversation last week with NBA.com: NBA.com: The league still keeps you busy, doesn’t it? Bob Lanier: Well, it did. But about 15 months ago, I had knee replacement surgery on my right leg and that is not going very well. It still aches and it gets me unbalanced. That’s what I was trying to get away from. The surgeon said mine was the most difficult one he’d ever done. I was supposed to get the left one done but I couldn’t, because the right one was bothering me so much. I can’t even stand to hit a golf ball. NBA.com: You were part of the original Stay In School initiative, if I recall correctly. BL: I was involved with a little bit of everything from the time David [Stern, longtime NBA commissioner] first called me in 1988. It started off with wanting me to do something for kids who stayed in school. We did “P-R-I-D-E,” with P for positive mental attitude, R for respect, I for intelligent choice-making, D for dreaming and setting goals, and E for effort and education. It was really amazing. The first year, we were talking about giving out 25,000 Starter jackets for kids who came to the rally. Shoot, we needed double that amount, the numbers we got. Everything is kind of under the same umbrella now with NBA Cares. Kathy Behrens [president, social responsibility and player programs] has done a wonderful job of taking this to a whole ‘nother level, her and Adam [Silver, NBA commissioner]. NBA.com: Have you ever had one of those kids whose lives you touched reach out to you years later? BL: [Laughs]. You know what, I’m laughing because you don’t expect to hear from anybody. The only time that somebody really validated something we were doing was when I wrote those books. (The “Hey, Li’l D!” series of kids books, loosely based on Lanier’s childhood adventures. Co-authored with Heather Goodyear in 2003, the Scholastic Paperbacks books still are available.) I was on a plane and one of the passengers asked me to sign the book for her, for her child. I was so taken aback by that, I was shaking while I was signing the autograph. That was really good -- I thought, maybe I did something right. NBA.com: But none of the Stay In School kids? BL: Look, in our business, in community relations and social responsibility areas, you don’t really … when you’re building houses for people, the folks who work with you side by side give you a thumbs up and say thank you before it’s over. When we do the playgrounds, we use kids in the neighborhood who are going to enjoy playing in it and having dreams -- they’re thankful. But there’s so much need out here. When you’re traveling around to different cities and different countries, you see there are so many people in dire straits that the NBA can only do so much. We make a vast, vast difference, but there’s always so much more to do. NBA.com: I know you’re not in it for the thank yous. BL: No. The only thing that stands out to me is from when I was still playing in Milwaukee and I was getting gas at a station on, I think it was Center St. A guy came up to me and said, “My dad is sick. And you’re his favorite player. Could you come up to the house and say hello to him? The house is right next door.” So I went over, I went upstairs. The guy was laying there in his bed. His son said, “This is Bob,” and he was like, “I know.” And he just had a little smile, a twinkle in his eye. And he grabbed my hand and squeezed it. And we said a little prayer. About two weeks later, his dad had died. And he left a card at the Bucks office, just saying “Thank you for making one of my dad’s final days into a good day.” NBA.com: It probably wasn’t, and isn’t, uncommon for you to be spotted out in public like that. At your size (6-foot-11, 250 pounds as a player). BL: As time passes on, people know you at first because you’re a player. Then you stop playing. And 10 years after, when a player like Shaquille O’Neal comes along, they know him and figure you must be Shaq’s dad. “You’re wearing them big shoes.” I just go along with it. “Yeah, I’m Shaq’s dad!” NBA.com: That has to sting, seeing as how Shaq took your title for the NBA’s biggest sneakers. You were famous for your size-22s. BL: Yeah, he sent me a pair one time and I think they were 23s. For some reason, I recall he would wear 23s and three pairs of socks or something instead of the 22s. NBA.com: Isn’t it sobering how quickly sports fans forget even distinctive-looking players such as yourself? BL: Absolutely correct. But that’s why we in the NBA and at the players association have to do a better job of passing down the history of our game. In a way that they’ll absorb it. Not necessarily that they’ll have to read it – it could be in a video game form, because that seems to hold interest a lot. NBA.com: You have been as busy in your post-playing career for the NBA as you ever were while playing, right? BL: I’ve really been blessed. You know this story: I started serving people with my mother [Nattie Mae] at church. Getting food to people who were sick or needy, taking it to the hospital, taking it to people’s houses or feeding them right after church. My mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and she was in the church all the time. She had me and my sister and a bunch of kids, we would all be there every Saturday. You start off doing it not only because your mother tells you to, but the food was good. Then David asked me to come help with the Stay In School, which was the start of it all. If I hadn’t graduated from college, I probably would never have gotten an opportunity to do that with the NBA. Plus, the amazing number of young people I’ve met around the country, around the world, that I think I’ve touched … some lives. I can’t say I touched everybody, but some. I always had a knack of selecting -- when I’d call up kids to help me with the presentation -- a girl or a boy who needed it. It’s amazing how many times a teacher has said to me, “You picked Joe” or “You picked Dorothy, and that’s a really difficult kid. You made them feel good.” You never let a kid fail. NBA.com: You never were a shy and retiring type. What do you think of the NBA these days? BL: I’ll tell you what, I wish that I were playing now. It’s not as physical a sport. You can do stuff anywhere in the world. You can make tons of money off the court -- I can’t imagine how much I’d make with a speaker deal and those big-ass sneakers of mine. The only thing I would not like about this era is that you’ve got to be so conscious of social media. And people taking photos of you when you don’t know they’re taking them. And having those things that zoom over your home and take pictures of your house. That part I wouldn’t like at all. NBA.com: It’s hard enough to avoid the public eye at your size. By the way, are you as tall as you used to be? BL: No, no. I remember standing next to Magic [Johnson] last year at some function we had, and I was looking at him eye-to-eye. I said, “Damn, I thought I was 6-11 and you were 6-9. You look like you’re taller than me now.” NBA.com: You might have fared well today, with the range you had on your jump shot. A big man like you or Bob McAdoo would fit right in. BL: But Mac was a true forward and I was a true center. With the game the way it is now, I think guys like he or I -- Dave Cowens, too -- could shoot from outside, inside, open up the lanes, make good passes. I say that gingerly with Mac, because every time it touched his hands it was going up. He’s my boy but that’s the truth. NBA.com: Wayne Embry, the NBA lifer as a player and executive, recently said to me about the current style of play, “C’mon, the big man likes to play too.” The game has gotten so much smaller. BL: I kind of like this game a little bit. If you’re a big who has skills, it helps to stretch the floor. You can always post up, if you’ve got a big can post up. But now you’ve got these bigs who are elongated forwards. Boogie Cousins is probably our last post-up big that I’m aware of. I think I just saw him on TV somewhere making about 10 3-pointers in a row. NBA.com: Any team or individuals to whom you pay particular attention? BL: I like watching ‘Bron [LeBron James], obviously. I like this Golden State team, too, because they play so well together. I like the kid [Anthony] Davis. With Boogie, my concern is whether he’ll be healthy this season. NBA.com: What’s your take on the “super team” approach of the past few years? BL: I think both of ‘em have their sides. Back in the day, we would never do that. There wasn’t a lot of huggin’ and kissin’, all that stuff, when you were competing. You were out there to kick each other’s butt. But with AAU ball, it’s become guys playing together on these premier teams at all these tournaments around the country. So they get to know each before they ever go to college. NBA.com: Do you think today’s players appreciate the work you and other alumni did to build the league? BL: I think everything evolves. The best thing I could say as a player is, you want to leave the game in better shape than when you came into it. You want to leave a legacy, a better brand. You want players to be making more money. You want the league to be stronger. And since we’re partner in this, it’s important that those kinds of things happen. NBA.com: The 1970s seems to be pretty neglected, as far as NBA memories and highlights. At times it’s as if the league went from Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics dynasty to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird carrying the NBA into the 80s. The league had some popularity and PR issues back then, but eight different franchises won championships that decade. BL: Back in the 70s, a lot of people were feeling that the NBA was drug-infested. Too black. That’s one of the reasons the league came up with its substance abuse program, one of the first in sports to do that. The point was not to punish guys but to help guys who needed it to get clean. As that passed, then Larry and Magic came in. The media money started going up, and then Michael [Jordan] came in in ’84 and everything took off from there. So I can see how you could kind of forget about the 70s. NBA.com: And yet now folks complain that each season starts with only three or four teams seen as capable of winning the title. Why was it different then? BL: I think everybody competed a lot. And guys didn’t change teams as much, so when you were facing the Bulls or the Bucks or New York, you had all these rivalries. Lanier against Jabbar! Jabbar against Willis Reed! And then [Wilt] Chamberlain, and Artis Gilmore, and Bill Walton! You had all these great big men and the game was played from inside out. It was a rougher game, a much more physical game that we played in the 70s. You could steer people with elbows. They started cutting down on the number of fights by fining people more. Oh, it was a rough ‘n’ tumble game. NBA.com: There were, of course, fewer teams. Seventeen when you arrived, for instance. BL: There was so much talent on every team. Every night you were playing against somebody really damn good, and if you didn’t come to play, they’d whip your behind. NBA.com: You know, I’m surprised I never heard about you being the target of a bidding war with the old ABA? Did they ever come after you? BL: Got approached at the end of my junior year at St. Bonaventure. They offered me a nice contract. But I wanted to stay in school because I thought we had a real chance at winning the NCAA title. NBA.com: Gee, that almost sounds quaint by today’s get-the-money standards. BL: Yeah. Well, I trusted them as a league -- it was the New York Nets, a guy named Roy Boe -- but I knew we had a really good team. And we did. We got to the Final Four. Then I got hurt. NBA.com: You went down against Villanova, your tournament ended by a torn ligament. I’m surprised, looking back, you were considered healthy enough to get drafted No. 1 and have a pretty strong rookie season. BL: I wasn’t healthy when I got to the league. I shouldn’t have played my first year. But there was so much pressure from them to play, I would have been much better off -- and our team would have been much better served -- if I had just sat out that year and worked on my knee. NBA.com: From the Final Four to the start of the NBA season isn’t much time to rehab a knee injury. Then you played 82 games, averaging 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes. BL: That was stupid. My knee was so sore every single day that it was ludicrous to be doing what I was doing. I wanted to play, but I was smart and the team was smart, everybody would have benefited. NBA.com: Did you ever fully recover? I know your later years were hampered by knee pain. BL: Oh, I fully recovered. Going into my third year, I think I had my legs underneath me a lot. NBA.com: Your coach as a rookie was Butch van Breda Kolff, who had butted heads with Wilt Chamberlain in Los Angeles. Did you have any issues with him? BL: He was a pretty tough coach, but he was a good-hearted person. As a matter of fact, he had a place down on the Jersey shore where he invited me to come and run on the beach to help strengthen my leg. I went there for about 2 1/2 weeks. I liked Butch a lot. NBA.com: Your Detroit teams had you as an All-Star nearly every season and of course Hall of Fame guard Dave Bing. Did you think you’d achieve more? BL: I think ’73-74 was our best team [52-30]. We had Dave, Stu Lantz, John Mengelt, Chris Ford, Don Adams, Curtis Rowe, George Trapp. But then for some reason, they traded six guys off that team before the following year. I just didn’t feel we ever had the leadership. I think we had [seven] head coaches in my 10 years there. That was a rough time, because at the end of every year, you’d be so despondent. NBA.com: So by the time you were traded to Milwaukee, you were ready to go? BL: I wanted the trade. But until you start getting on that plane and leaving your family and start crying, you don’t realize it’s a part of your life you’re leaving. I got to Milwaukee and it was freezing outside. But the people gave me a standing ovation and really made me feel welcome. It was the start of a positive change. I just wish I had played with that kind of talent around me when I was young. The only time I thought I had it was that ’73-74 team they messed up. But if I had had Marques [Johnson] and Sidney [Moncrief] and all of them around me? Damn. NBA.com: I got my start around those Bucks teams, and feel I often have to remind people how good they were deep into the ‘80s. You just couldn’t get past the Celtics and the Sixers in the same year, in a loaded Eastern Conference. BL: They were always a man better than us. We had to play our best to beat them and they didn’t have to play their best to beat us. It haunts me to this day. NBA.com: How did you like playing for Bucks coach Don Nelson? BL: Loved him. It was just like playing for your big brother. He was a player’s coach, for sure. He’d been through it, won championships. Knew what it was like to be a role player, knew what it took to be a prime-time player. Didn’t get upset over pressure. He was just a stand-up guy. NBA.com: As we talk, I’m looking at my office wall and I have that famous All-Star poster from 1977, painted by Leroy Neiman. That game was notable, too, because it was the first one after the NBA/ABA merger. So you had Julius Erving, George Gervin, Dan Issel and those other ABA stars flooding their talent into the league. BL: You know what? I think you could put 10 players from the 70s into the league today and be as competitive as anybody. Think of the guys who could really play and were athletic. And with the rule changes, that would make us even more effective. “Ice’ [Gervin]. Julius. David Thompson, a huge athlete. I don’t know who could mess with Kareem at all. NBA.com: What about Nate Archibald? BL: You took the words right out of my mouth. Tiny! He could scoot up and down and do what he needed to do. These guys knew the game, they played the basics of it so well. NBA.com: No one disputes the advances in training, nutrition, travel and rest. But in raw ability, you think it was close to today? BL: One thing I will say about this group of young men, they seem to be more athletic than we were. They seem to be able to cover so much more ground. Whatever that new step is, the Eurostep? And another thing they do differently know is, they brush-pick. They brush and then they pop. You rarely see a guy do a solid pick and then roll with the guy on his back to cause a mismatch. Everybody’s looking to open the floor to shoot 3’s. This has become the weapon of choice now. NBA.com: No rings for that Milwaukee team from which you retired has meant, so far, no Hall of Fame for Marques Johnson or Sidney Moncrief, the two stars.   BL: That’s what rings hollow in your ears. You hear people saying, “Where’s the ring? The ring!” And we don’t have any rings. That’s what we play for. NBA.com: Didn’t stop your enshrinement though. BL: They must have been blind, crippled and crazy, huh? It’s a short crop of brotherhood that gets in there. I just wish there was more time on those weekends where we could spend time just talking with one another. You rarely see each other, and it would be nice to have a quiet room where you could just re-hash old times and plays, and maybe have your family so your grandkids could listen to Earl the Pearl tell about this or [Bill] Walton tell about that. Just rehashing stuff that brought people a lot of joy. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 11th, 2018

Chelsea looks for another good showing at Camp Nou

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Few teams have caused as much trouble for Barcelona as Chelsea since Lionel Messi started playing with the Spanish club almost 15 years ago. Barcelona has been dominant with Messi against nearly every opponent it has faced in Europe. But not against Chelsea. The English club is even used to doing well against Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium, where the teams will meet Wednesday in the second leg of their last-16 series in the Champions League. Chelsea is unbeaten against Barcelona in eight matches, with four straight draws at Camp Nou. Barcelona earned a 1-1 draw in the first match in England thanks to a late away goal by Messi, who had never scored against the Premier League club. "It will be a hard match just like in the away leg," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "They have a strong team that defends well in a block and has a great counterattack. We will struggle." Barcelona has been thriving again this season. Its only loss came against Real Madrid in its first match of the season in the Spanish Super Cup final. It has won 18 of its last 20 home matches since then, with two draws — 2-2 against Celta Vigo and 0-0 against Getafe in the Spanish league. "We have to show great resilience," Chelsea coach Antonio Conte said. "We are playing against one of the best teams in the world. We must pay great attention and have the same focus and concentration of the first leg." This is the first time Chelsea and Barcelona are facing each other in the Champions League since the semifinals in 2012, when the English club advanced 3-2 on aggregate after securing an astonishing 2-2 draw in the second leg at Camp Nou, after trailing 2-0 with 10 men for most of the match. Chelsea also drew at Camp Nou in the Champions League semifinals in 2009, as well as in the group stage of the 2006-07 season and the round of 16 a year earlier. Chelsea is trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014, when eliminated by Atletico Madrid in the semis. Barcelona is looking to reach the last eight for a record 11th straight time. The Spanish league leaders are coming off a 2-0 win at last-place Malaga on Saturday, when Messi didn't play because of the birth of his third son, Ciro. It remains unclear if Valverde will be able to count on midfielder Andres Iniesta on Wednesday because of a hamstring injury. Here's a look at the other matches this week: ___ MAN UNITED-SEVILLA Jose Mourinho may be faced with a dilemma when Manchester United hosts Sevilla on Tuesday. With Paul Pogba ruled out of United's Premier League victory over Liverpool on Saturday, Mourinho's side finally managed to find the balance it has been lacking in recent weeks. If the France midfielder is available, Mourinho would have to drop Juan Mata or 21-year-old Scott McTominay to make room for him. United, which drew the first leg 0-0 in Seville, is trying to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2013-14. "The next game is very important for us, maybe the most important game of the season," United midfielder Nemanja Matic said. Sevilla is trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time. ___ ROMA-SHAKHTAR Roma will be hoping it has turned its poor home form around when it hosts Shakhtar Donetsk needing to overturn a 2-1 defeat. Roma beat Torino 3-0 on Friday for what was only its second win at Stadio Olimpico since mid-December. "Mentally, the lads felt a bit of pressure because we hadn't won at the Olimpico for a while — and I could see that," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. "Today's win shows that we've cleared the hurdle now." ___ BESIKTAS-BAYERN Besiktas is dreaming of becoming the first team to overturn a five-goal deficit in the UEFA competition when it hosts Bayern Munich on Wednesday, although restoring its pride will likely be enough after a chastening 5-0 first-leg defeat in Munich. The Turkish champion, playing in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time, is hoping to extend its 12-game unbeaten run at home in European competitions. Bayern has made it to the Champions League quarterfinals six years in a row, but hasn't won the title since coach Jupp Heynckes' previous stint in 2013, when he led the side to a treble. It warmed up for its trip to Istanbul with a 6-0 rout of Hamburger SV on Saturday. "You can never hide in football, you can never take it easy," said Heynckes, who has 25 wins and just one defeat in 27 games across all competitions since returning to Bayern. ___ Associated Press writers Ciaran Fahey, Daniella Matar and Sam Johnston contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 12th, 2018

Falcons hold on to beat Lions 30-26 thanks to NFL rule

DETROIT (AP) — Matthew Stafford's pass to Golden Tate was ruled to be just short of the goal line in the final seconds, overturning the call on the field and allowing the Atlanta Falcons to hold on for a 30-26 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Stafford threw a slant to Tate and a video review determined he was down just inside the 1 with 8 seconds left. By rule, 10 seconds had to run off the clock, and that ended the game because the Lions didn't have any timeouts. Former NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino, now a Fox analyst, explained the call in a tweet: 'To recap in DET: ruling on the field was a TD which stops the clock. After review, Tate was short which would have kept the clock running ... This carries a 10-sec runoff. Had the call on the field been correct initially, the clock would have run out. That's the spirit of the rule.' The defending NFC champion Falcons (3-0) overcame Matt Ryan's three interceptions and many other mistakes, including on Detroit's last drive. Detroit (2-1) never led in the game and failed to pull off another comeback in the fourth quarter. strong>EAGLES 27, GIANTS 24 /strong> PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jake Elliott kicked a 61-yard field goal as the clock expired. Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, including a 77-yard score to Sterling Shepard, but Philadelphia (2-1) rallied twice. Carson Wentz tossed a 19-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery to set up Elliott's kick. The rookie was a fifth-round pick by the Bengals and joined the Eagles after Caleb Sturgis was injured in Week 1. He was carried off the field by two teammates. Elliott hit a 46-yard field goal to tie it with 51 seconds left after Aldrick Rosas kicked a 41-yarder to put the Giants ahead. The Giants (0-3) hadn't scored 20 points in eight straight games before Manning led them to 21 in a span of 5:21. He tossed TD passes of 10 yards and 4 yards to Odell Beckham Jr. to tie it at 14. Manning then connected over the middle to Shepard, who broke a couple tackles and sprinted all the way for a 21-14 lead. But Philadelphia (2-1) answered quickly. A 36-yard penalty for pass interference on Eli Apple put the ball at the 15 and rookie Corey Clement ran in on the next play for his first career TD to make it 21-21. strong>PATRIOTS 36, TEXANS 33 /strong> FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady connected with Brandin Cooks for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left, his fifth TD throw of the game. Brady finished 25 of 35 for 378 yards as New England (2-1) won its fifth straight regular-season meeting with Houston (1-2) and seventh of eight overall. Cooks caught five passes for 131 yards and pair of scores. It was the fifth multi-touchdown game and eighth 100-yard game of his career. Texans rookie Deshaun Watson was strong in his second career start. The Patriots were thin on the edge without linebacker Dont'a Hightower for the second straight week, and Watson took advantage, completing 22 of 33 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. But he did have two interceptions, including one that set up a New England first-half touchdown. The Patriots extended their halftime lead to 28-20 in the third quarter before Houston used a 12-yard TD pass from Watson to Ryan Griffin, and a 31-yard Ka'imi Fairbairn field goal to edge back in front 30-28 early in the fourth quarter. The Texans forced New England to punt with just over seven minutes to play, but had to settle for a 36-yard Fairbairn field goal with 2:24 left. Houston failed on a third-and-1 at the Patriots 18. That left Brady room. strong>BEARS 23, STEELERS 17, OT /strong> CHICAGO (AP) — Jordan Howard scored on a 19-yard run in overtime to lead the Bears. Howard's winning score came two plays after rookie Tarik Cohen broke off an electric run for what appeared to be a 73-yard winning touchdown. But he was ruled out at the Pittsburgh 37. Howard took over from there, and the Bears (1-2) came away with a surprising victory. Howard had 138 of Chicago's 220 yards rushing, making up for a lackluster performance by quarterback Mike Glennon. The Steelers (2-1) stayed off the sideline for the national anthem in the wake of President Donald Trump's comments that players who kneel in protest should be fired. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, an Army veteran, stood near the tunnel with his hand over his heart. Once the game ended, they found themselves in a familiar spot — losing to a lesser team and losing in Chicago, where they are 1-13. Marcus Cooper committed an inexplicable fumble after the Bears blocked a field goal in the closing seconds of the half. With a clear path to the end zone, he slowed down and had the ball poked away at the 1. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Brown had 110 yards receiving and a touchdown. strong>BILLS 26, BRONCOS 16 /strong> ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Tyrod Taylor threw two touchdowns and the Bills intercepted Trevor Siemian twice in the final 19 minutes. Taylor went 20 of 26 for 213 yards with a 2-yard touchdown to Andre Holmes and a 6-yarder to Charles Clay. Taylor got lucky on the touchdown pass to Holmes , as the ball deflected off the hands of Zay Jones just inside the goal line and bounced directly to Holmes in the back of the end zone. The Bills (2-1) overcame their struggling running attack courtesy of Taylor's arm and a stout defense in a game LeSean McCoy was limited to 21 yards on 14 carries. Though he had seven catches for 48 yards, McCoy's latest poor outing came after he was limited to 9 yards rushing in a 9-3 loss at Carolina. The Bills allowed just one touchdown, while Brandon McManus rounded out Denver's scoring with three field goals. In falling to 2-1, the Broncos turned over the ball on each of their final four possessions, with Siemian being intercepted by E.J. Gaines and Tre'Davious White. The Broncos also turned the ball over twice on downs. strong>JETS 20, DOLPHINS 6 /strong> EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Josh McCown threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, Bilal Powell ran for a score, and the Jets' defense dominated Jay Cutler and the Dolphins. While a lot of the focus heading into the season was on whether the revamped Jets roster would be good enough to win any games, New York made Miami look like the team in the middle of a rebuild. McCown finished 18 of 23 for 249 yards, Chandler Catanzaro kicked two field goals, and the Jets (1-2) forced Cutler and the Dolphins (1-1) into mistakes all game. The Jets also avoided their first 0-3 start since 2003. New York just missed having its first shutout since blanking Cincinnati 37-0 on Jan. 13, 2010 — in the Jets' last game at the old Giants Stadium. Cutler threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker on the final play. Cody Parkey missed the extra point, capping a miserable day for Miami in 88-degree heat at MetLife Stadium. strong>JAGUARS 44, RAVENS 7 /strong> LONDON (AP) — Marcedes Lewis caught three of Blake Bortles' four touchdown passes as the Jaguars won in their fifth game in Britain's capital. Allen Hurns and Leonard Fournette also scored touchdowns for the Jaguars (2-1), who have won each of their last three games played at the venue. This one, by far, was the easiest. The Ravens (2-1) managed just 186 yards of total offense, including minus-1 yard in the first quarter. They managed 15 yards in the first half, and picked up only 12 first downs. A 6-yard pass from Ryan Mallett, who entered in relief of Joe Flacco in the fourth quarter, to Benjamin Watson with 3:24 remaining prevented the shutout. It was their worst defeat since Nov. 9, 1997, when they lost 37-0 at Pittsburgh. Baltimore crossed midfield three times — and not until the third quarter, when Terrance West gained 7 yards to reach the Jaguars 45. On the next play, West failed to secure a handoff and fumbled, leading to linebacker Telvin Smith returning it 52 yards to set up Lewis' third touchdown. Jacksonville punctuated the victory with a fake punt minutes later, with Corey Grant taking a direct snap 58 yards before Fournette punched the ball in from the 3. strong>VIKINGS 34, BUCCANEERS 17 /strong> MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Case Keenum gave Minnesota a brilliant performance in relief of Sam Bradford, passing for three touchdowns and a career-high 369 yards without a turnover. Stefon Diggs had 173 yards receiving and caught two of Keenum's throws for scores, one short and one long . Dalvin Cook produced 169 total yards plus his first NFL touchdown , which capped a 75-yard drive by the Vikings (2-1) to start the game. They never slowed down, building a 28-3 lead by early in the third quarter on their way to compiling 494 yards. Trae Waynes and Harrison Smith each picked off Jameis Winston in the end zone , and Andrew Sendejo returned an interception 36 yards in the fourth quarter to set up one of two field goals by Kai Forbath. Winston completed 28 of 40 passes for 328 yards, but the Buccaneers (1-1) simply couldn't overcome having to play from behind all afternoon. They converted only one of six third downs. strong>COLTS 31, BROWNS 28 /strong> INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jacoby Brissett ran for two touchdowns, threw for another and the Colts held off Cleveland's late charge. Brissett, acquired in a trade with New England earlier this month, looked much more comfortable in his second start, going 17 of 24 with 259 yards and running five times for 14 yards. Indy (1-2) avoided its first 0-3 start in six years. Cleveland (0-3) lost its 15th consecutive road game despite being favored for the first time since 2015 and a road favorite for the first time since 2012. Brissett was the primary reason for the Browns' latest loss. He started the scoring with a 5-yard TD run, broke a 7-7 tie by spinning away from pressure and scooting 7 yards for his second score, then hooked up with T.Y. Hilton on a 61-yard TD pass to make it 21-7 — all in the first half. Frank Gore's 4-yard scoring run made it 28-7. Cleveland spent the rest of the game playing catch-up, but had two second-half scoring chances snuffed out by Rashaan Melvin's interceptions. strong>SAINTS 34, PANTHERS 13 /strong> CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Drew Brees shredded the league's top-ranked defense, throwing for three touchdowns and 220 yards. Brees led six scoring drives and threw TD passes to Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman and ex-Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. as the Saints avoided an 0-3 start. Rookie Alvin Kamara put the game away with a 25-yard TD run with 4:42 left. Carolina (2-1) had allowed six points in its previous two games. The Saints' defense, which came in ranked 32nd in the league, intercepted Cam Newton three times and sacked him four times before he was replaced late in the fourth quarter. Many of Newton's throws were either too hard or high as the seventh-year quarterback continued to struggle with his rhythm following offseason shoulder surgery. The Panthers, who were already without injured Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen, lost wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the first quarter to a knee injury; his leg got bent back awkwardly after being dragged down from behind. Carolina's only real offense came from rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, who had 101 yards receiving on nine catches. strong>PACKERS 27, BENGALS 24 /strong> GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (AP) — Mason Crosby kicked a 27-yard field goal with 6:26 left in overtime set up by Aaron Rodgers' 72-yard pass to Geronimo Allison. Crosby's kick completed the Packers' comeback from a 21-7 halftime deficit. On third-and-10 from his 21, Rodgers took advantage of yet another free play after defensive end Michael Johnson was whistled for offside. Officials let the play continue and the two-time NFL MVP found Allison on about a 40-yard pass before the receiver beat a couple defenders for more yards. Crosby took care of the rest for the Packers (2-1). The winless Bengals (0-3) won the toss in overtime but went three-and-out on their opening drive. It was so loud at Lambeau Field that they had to call timeout before their first overtime snap. Rodgers thrived under the pressure. Rodgers finished 28 of 42 for 313 yards with three touchdowns and one score. Allison had six catches for 122 yards. strong>CHIEFS 24, CHARGERS 10 /strong> CARSON, California (AP) — Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes in the first 9 ½ minutes against what used to be his hometown team, Terrance Mitchell had two interceptions and rookie Kareem Hunt scored on a 69-yard run. The Chiefs (3-0) beat the Chargers for the seventh straight time and have won 12 straight AFC West games. Los Angeles' Philip Rivers threw three interceptions and the Chargers fell to 0-3 in their first season playing in the 27,000-seat StubHub Center after moving from San Diego. After a quick start, the Chiefs held on through a defensive struggle in the second half. They got two huge plays in the closing minutes: Justin Houston's sack of Rivers and then Hunt's sensational run when he cut back against the flow and raced 69 yards down the left sideline with 1:49 left. The rookie finished with 172 yards on 17 carries. The game couldn't have started more differently for Smith, who grew up in the San Diego area, and Rivers. Rivers was intercepted by Mitchell on the game's third play from scrimmage. Four plays later, Smith hit Tyreek Hill on a 30-yard touchdown pass. strong>TITANS 33, SEAHAWKS 27 /strong> NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Marcus Mariota threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns as the Titans scored 21 straight points in rallying to beat the Seahawks. Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray rushed for 115 yards, including a 75-yard TD run. Ryan Succop also kicked four field goals as Tennessee (2-1) scored at least 30 points for a second straight week. The Seahawks (1-2) finally scored a bunch of touchdowns with Russell Wilson throwing for 373 yards and four TDs. His second TD, a 10-yarder to Chris Carson , put Seattle up 14-9 in the third quarter. Then the Titans took control with Mariota answering with TDs on the next two drives for Tennessee. Wilson pulled Seattle within 33-27 with his fourth TD, an 8-yarder to Paul Richardson with 1:50 left. But Titans tight end Delanie Walker recovered Seattle's onside kick. The Seahawks had one last chance with the Titans lined up to punt on fourth-and-3 with 11 seconds left. Then officials flagged the Seahawks for 12 men in the formation, giving Tennessee the clinching first down. strong>REDSKINS 27, RAIDERS 10 /strong> LANDOVER, Maryland (AP) — Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns and Chris Thompson had 188 all-purpose yards and a score as Washington sacked Derek Carr four times and held Oakland to 128 yards in a dominating victory. Cousins was a spectacular 25 of 30, including TD passes to Thompson, Vernon Davis and a 52-yarder to Josh Doctson. Thompson had 150 yards receiving and 38 yards rushing, joining Jamaal Charles as the only running backs to put up 150 yards receiving against the Raiders (2-1) since they moved to Oakland in 1995. Thompson was again a difference maker and has four of Washington's seven offensive touchdowns this season. The Redskins (2-1), who piled up 472 yards, improved to 4-6 in prime-time games under coach Jay Gruden and tied the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East. Under pressure all night, Carr was 19 of 31 for 118 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Carr had thrown 112 consecutive passes before being picked off by Montae Nicholson on the second play of the game.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2017

Nantes fans chant non-stop in emotional tribute to Sala

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press Nantes fans showed their devotion to missing Argentine striker Emiliano Sala, chanting his name non-stop during an emotional home game against Saint-Etienne on Wednesday. In the first match for Nantes since Sala's disappearance on Jan. 21, the referee also halted play after nine minutes so the crowd could applaud him and chant his name over and over again. "It was a very special night, we played more for him than for us," Nantes defender Diego Carlos said after the 1-1 draw. "We gave everything for him." Fans broke out into long and sustained chants of "Emiliano Sala, Emiliano Sala, Emiliano, Emiliano, Emiliano Sala" around the stadium when the referee paused the match for more than one minute. The former Nantes striker, who wore the No. 9 shirt, has been missing since a plane transporting him to the Welsh city of Cardiff went off the radar. Sala had just been signed by Premier League club Cardiff for a club-record fee. The fans repeated his name, loud and unrelenting, after the break. This time it was a slower, more poignant refrain of "La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la, Em-il-ia-no Sa-la" as Nantes fans showed they will never forget him. Nor will the players. Moments after he equalized for Nantes in the 70th minute, Nantes striker Majeed Waris dropped to his knees in front of the home fans and raised his shirt over his head to show Sala's name on the t-shirt underneath. Remy Cabella put Saint-Etienne ahead in the 58th, but modestly celebrated his goal by raising his arm before lowering it quickly. "It would have been disrespectful to celebrate," Cabella said. "No one would have." Both sides had a player sent off at the end of the first half. Emotions ran high beforehand, with players warming up wearing t-shirts with "On T'aime Emi" (We Love You Emi) written on the back and the player's photo on the front. A giant picture of Sala was projected onto the center circle and a huge Argentine flag was unfurled in the crowd. The whole Nantes squad formed a circle moments before the match started as coach Vahid Halilhodzic spoke to the players. Nantes players wore Sala's name on the back of their shirts when the game kicked off at Stade de la Beaujoire. Saint-Etienne also paid their tributes. Sala's former Nantes teammate Yacine Bammou, who now plays for Caen and was close to Sala, was present in the stadium and television images showed him in tears before the game started. Earlier Wednesday, accident investigators said two seat cushions have been found which are likely to have come from the plane carrying him and the pilot. They are the first traces of the plane to be found since it disappeared over the English Channel. Sala and had gone back to France to say goodbye to his former Nantes teammates and then took a flight back in the evening. Sala had been in the best form of his career , netting 12 league goals in 19 games for Nantes this season. He had a strong working relationship with Halilhodzic, one of the best strikers in Nantes history. The search for Sala and the pilot was called off after a three-day air-and-sea operation near the Channel Islands failed to locate the aircraft, leading to criticism — including from Halilhodzic — and prompting Sala's family to raise money for a private search. Now, British authorities say French counterparts found parts of two seat cushions on a beach near Surtainville in northwest France and a vessel has been commissioned to conduct a search of the seabed starting this weekend. In Wednesday's other match, South Africa striker Lebo Mothiba scored twice as Strasbourg beat Bordeaux 3-2 at home to reach the League Cup final. Strasbourg will play Guingamp on March 30......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 31st, 2019

Novak, Naomi, other things we learned at Australian Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The way things went at the Australian Open didn't exactly teach the world that Novak Djokovic is the best there is in men's tennis right now. Certainly confirmed it, though. And while those within the game knew all about Naomi Osaka, she made sure her talent is more obvious to more people. Djokovic, a 31-year-old already ranked No. 1, now has won the past three men's Grand Slam titles. Osaka, who earned her debut at No. 1 at age 21, has won the last two women's trophies at majors. When it's time for the next Grand Slam tournament — the French Open, four months from now — all eyes should be on them. "Obviously, it's just the beginning of the season. I know there's a lot of tournaments to play before Roland Garros, so I have plenty of time to build my form slowly," Djokovic said. "I have to work on my game, my clay-court game, a bit more." After his impressive 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the final at Melbourne Park on Sunday, Djokovic can pursue a fourth consecutive major championship, something he already accomplished from 2015-16. But the possibility also exists for him to aim for a calendar-year Grand Slam, something last done 50 years ago by Rod Laver. It's the kind of thing that could get everyone talking about tennis. As for Osaka — a 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 winner over Petra Kvitova in Saturday's final — what makes her sudden surge to the top particularly noteworthy is that it comes right after a period of apparent depth but no dominance. Until this Australian Open, eight women had divided the previous eight major titles. Not since Serena Williams took four in a row from 2014-15 had one woman won consecutive Slam tournaments. And you have to go all the way back to Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to find a woman who won her first major championship and followed it up at the very next Slam with a second title. "I always hear stories that the best players win matches even when they're not playing their best. And I've always wondered how they did that," Osaka said. "So I feel like this tournament, for me, was that." Djokovic is at the height of his powers. Osaka is only getting better. Who will challenge them? Here is what else we learned at the 2019 Australian Open: SERENA AND ROGER Serena Williams and Roger Federer are both 37. No one has won more Grand Slam singles titles in the professional era than Williams' 23. No man in history has won more than Federer's 20. Williams owns seven Australian Open trophies, Federer six. But she lost in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park this time, and he exited in the fourth round. Maybe age is catching up to them. Maybe not. The idea that either is done contending for big titles seems far-fetched, though. One key thing moving forward: Federer is planning to play the European clay-court circuit and at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015. HEALTHY NADAL Nadal was not up to slowing down Djokovic, but he otherwise sure looked terrific — and, most importantly, healthy. There's little doubt who the favorite will be on the clay courts in France. "The positive things that happened these couple of weeks make us very optimistic regarding his future and his level," said Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya. "We know there is room to keep improving and we are going to be working on that a lot." UP-AND-COMING If there are those who fret about what will happen when the players who ruled tennis for the past 15 years or so move on, there were several new faces who made statements in Australia. Stefanos Tsitstipas, a 20-year-old from Greece, upset Federer on the way to the semifinals. Lucas Pouille, a 24-year-old from France, arrived with a 0-5 record at Melbourne but was guided to his first major semifinal by coach Amelie Mauresmo. American Frances Tiafoe, a son of immigrants from Sierra Leone who turned 21 during the tournament, pulled off a couple of upsets on the way to the quarterfinals. Danielle Collins, a 25-year-old from Florida, beat three-time major champion Angelique Kerber and made her semifinal debut. Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, showed she has a bright future......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2019

Australian Open: History beckons as Serena Williams shoots for Slam history

Serena Williams is back in Melbourne as hot favorite to repeat her 2017 Australian Open win and claim a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam with rivals, including defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, battling health issues and poor form. Williams won her 23rd title and seventh at Melbourne Park while eight weeks pregnant two years ago, and now attempts to match Margaret Court's mark of 24 singles majors on the Australian's home soil. The 37-year-old enters the tournament ranked 16 in the world but has proved in the past that such numbers mean little to her, despite fresh memories of her meltdown in losing the US Open final to Naomi Osaka in September. Her 2017 triumph Down Un...Keep on reading: Australian Open: History beckons as Serena Williams shoots for Slam history.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 8th, 2019

Federer advances to record-extending 15th ATP Finals semi

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Roger Federer advanced to the last four of the ATP Finals for a record-extending 15th time with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Kevin Anderson on Thursday. Six-time champion Federer needed only a set to advance and produced his best performance at the season-ending tournament to end the round-robin stages with a 2-1 win-loss record. Dominic Thiem's 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kei Nishikori earlier had left Federer with a modest task and ensured that Anderson became the first South African ever to reach the semifinals. Federer looked as if he was about to give up a break advantage for the second time in as many service games when he dropped to 0-40 attempting to close out the opening set at 5-4, but the 20-time Grand Slam champion found his first serve when it mattered most to hold. Anderson hadn't faced a break point in winning his first two matches. Federer, though, broke him twice more in the second set to claim top spot in the group and likely avoid a semifinal meeting with top-ranked Novak Djokovic. Having struggled in an opening loss to Nishikori and relied mainly on his serve when defeating Thiem, Federer finally found some timing with his ground-strokes to apply consistent pressure on Anderson's serve. The previously impenetrable Anderson serve wilted, with two double faults gifting Federer a 4-3 lead. Much to the surprise — and disappointment — of the partisan crowd at the O2 Arena, the Swiss great handed the break straight back with a series of errors. However, Federer steadied himself and made a delicate drop volley to break once more in the following game, before eventually closing out the set to maintain his record of having only missed the semifinals once in 16 appearances at the tournament. Federer lost just four points on serve in the second set. He used a backhand slice to break for 4-3 and the same shot brought up two match points at 3-5, 15-40. Having saved a match point on his way to securing a five-set quarterfinal victory over Federer at Wimbledon, Anderson threatened another comeback as he won a 21-shot rally to get back to deuce, but there was to be no repeat this time. Two more Anderson forehand errors ended the match and Federer won the group by virtue of their head-to-head record. With Djokovic clear favorite to top his group, which concludes Friday, Federer has boosted his chances of avoiding the in-form Serb until the final......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2018

Germany s struggles continue with loss to France

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press GENEVA (AP) — Germany is out of contention for another international trophy after France handed Joachim Loew's struggling team its latest loss on Tuesday. The balance of power in European soccer is swinging even further away from the 2014 World Cup champion since its poor title defense in Russia. World Cup winner France rallied for a 2-1 win in the UEFA Nations League against Germany, which fell to a fourth loss in its last six competitive games. The result means Germany, eliminated in the World Cup group stage in Russia, cannot advance to the Final Four tournament in June for the Nations League top-tier group winners. Germany wasted its first-half dominance at Stade de France, having led via a 14th-minute penalty from Toni Kroos. Antoine Griezmann struck twice in the second half — a precisely guided header in the 62nd and a penalty in the 80th — to take France's unbeaten streak to 15 games and extend its lead in Group 1 of League A. Germany also risks an embarrassing relegation to the second-tier League B when it finishes the group program against the Netherlands on Nov. 19. Elsewhere in the Nations League, Ukraine won promotion to League A by beating the Czech Republic 1-0 in Group 1 of the second tier. Ukraine, coached by former star forward Andriy Shevchenko, also improved its chances of qualifying for the 2020 European Championship. Nations League group winners are assured of a place in the playoffs for the Euros, if they don't qualify directly. UEFA created the Nations League to replace most international friendly games, though Belgium's schedule was free Tuesday to host the neighboring Netherlands in a 1-1 draw in Brussels. France was overrun for a period in the first half after Germany converted a penalty that followed midfielder Paul Pogba being dispossessed too easily in his own half. German winger Leroy Sane was sent clear and his low cross hit the arm of defender Presnel Kimpembe. France drew level when left-back Lucas Hernandez crossed for his Atletico Madrid teammate Griezmann to guide a rising header beyond goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's dive. Griezmann later wrong-footed Neuer from the penalty spot after a foul was called on defender Mats Hummels against midfielder Blaise Matuidi. Television replays showed Matuidi appeared to stand on Hummels' ankle sliding into the challenge, but UEFA is not using video review in its competitions this season. UKRAINE UP A third straight win for Ukraine ensured it became the first League B team promoted into the top tier for the next edition of the Nations League. Ruslan Malinovskyi's long-distance shot in the first half was enough to beat the Czechs in Kharkiv. Wales now leads Group 4 in League B after beating Ireland 1-0 in Dublin through Harry Wilson's second-half free kick. Wales hosts Denmark on Nov. 16. In League C, Norway now leads Bulgaria in the four-team Group 4 after beating the Bulgarians 1-0 in Oslo. Slovenia staved off relegation by drawing 1-1 with Cyprus in a game featuring three red cards. GEORGIA PROMOTED Georgia ensured promotion from League De with its fourth straight win, 3-0 at Latvia, ensuring it will win Group 1. The No. 93-ranked Georgians will also have a chance to advance to Euro 2020. One of the fourth-tier League D teams is sure to reach the Euro through the playoff route for Nations League group winners. Gibraltar earned just its second ever competitive victory, beating visiting Liechtenstein 2-1. Gibraltar also closed to within three points of Group 4 leader Macedonia which lost its perfect record in a 4-0 loss at Armenia. The final rounds of Nations League games are played Nov. 15-20. The Euro 2020 qualifying draw, seeded by Nations League standings, will be held Dec. 2 in Dublin......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2018

Budding Sixers take control of series in Miami

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2018

Are the Sixers too young for playoff success?

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

Still alive: Teams chasing World Cup spots through playoffs

A look at the lineup of teams in the intercontinental and European playoffs for the 2018 World Cup in Russia: ___ em> strong>EUROPEAN PLAYOFFS (matches to be confirmed) /strong> /em> strong>ITALY /strong> Four-time world champion Italy will be favored to qualify no matter which opponent it faces, yet the Azzurri aren't in top form after four discouraging results — a 3-0 loss to Spain, slim 1-0 wins over Israel and Albania, and a 1-1 draw with Macedonia. However, the expected returns from injury of center forward Andrea Belotti and veteran midfielder Daniele De Rossi could provide a boost. The playoff outcome will likely determine the future of Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura. Milan's San Siro or Palermo's Renzo Barbera stadium are being considered to host the home leg of the playoff. strong>CROATIA /strong> Croatia finds itself in familiar territory. Led by playmaker Luka Modric and other high-profile players in Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, the Croatians faced the same hurdle before the 2014 tournament in Brazil, eliminating Iceland 2-0 on aggregate. In this campaign, Croatia was on course to qualify automatically from the first place before two poor results — a 1-0 loss in Turkey and a 1-1 draw at home to Finland. Those results cost coach Ante Cacic his job. Under new coach Zlatko Dalic, Croatia won a needed 2-0 victory at Ukraine to seal a playoff spot behind Iceland. strong>SWITZERLAND /strong> Switzerland was perfect in World Cup qualifying for more than one year: Nine games, nine wins. Now coach Vladimir Petkovic must lift his players after a 2-0 loss in Portugal on Tuesday sent them to the playoffs, where the best runner-up record counts for little except being seeded. The Swiss have a reputation for being an efficient team in group-stage games that falls just short against good opponents in elimination games. They lost to Argentina at the 2014 World Cup, and Poland at Euro 2016. Their opponents next month are likely to be below that class, and Petkovic can expect that forward Breel Embolo — a substitute in Lisbon — will be fully fit after a one-year injury absence. strong>DENMARK /strong> There's a chance Denmark could face neighbor Sweden, which denied the Danes a spot in the 2016 European Championship by winning their playoff. Christian Eriksen is the undoubted star of the Denmark team, the playmaker having been one of the best players in the English Premier League over the last two years and scoring eight times from midfield in qualifying. Denmark was second to Poland in its group, only missing out on automatic qualification in the final round. strong>GREECE /strong> Reaching the playoffs came as a relief for Greece's players and coach Michael Skibbe following an embarrassing qualification campaign for Euro 2016, when the team was twice beaten by the Faeroe Islands and finished last in the group. An obdurate defense was again the key to earning a runner-up spot, nine points behind Belgium, with Skibbe struggling to find stability in midfield and a strike partner for Kostas Mitroglou. The German coach may look forward to the development of 21-year-old Tassos Donis, who provided some badly needed pace in midfield, as well as the talents of the Portuguese-born Carlos Zeca. strong>SWEDEN /strong> Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist says he'd prefer to not play Italy or Scandinavian archrival Denmark and would rather face Croatia or Switzerland. Sweden, for example, has never beaten Italy in the last 17 years. Sweden finished behind France in its group, but ahead of the Netherlands, in its first qualifying campaign without retired striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Marcus Berg has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's leading striker and scored eight times in the qualifying. strong>IRELAND /strong> This will be Ireland's ninth time in the playoffs for a major tournament. The Irish have progressed on three occasions, with their most high-profile failure coming against France in the playoffs for the 2010 World Cup when Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball in the build-up to the crucial goal. In the final round of group play, Ireland beat Wales in Cardiff in a virtual playoff for the playoffs. Coach Martin O'Neill's counterattacking tactics worked perfectly in that 1-0 win and it would be no surprise if he does the same in the playoffs. strong>NORTHERN IRELAND /strong> After reaching the knockout stage at Euro 2016, the Northern Irish continued their rise in international soccer by finishing runner-up behind Germany in their group. They have never been to back-to-back major tournaments. There's no chance of a potentially spicy match against neighbor Ireland, as both are set to be among the non-seeded teams after the seedings are confirmed on Monday. ___ em> strong>INTERCONTINENTAL PLAYOFFS /strong> /em> strong>HONDURAS vs. AUSTRALIA /strong> Both countries have been regulars in recent World Cups, with Honduras looking to make it for a third straight tournament and Australia seeking a fourth in a row. Los Catrachos — as the Honduras national team is nicknamed — were squeezed out of an automatic place in Russia by Panama, which scored a late winner in a dramatic denouement to qualifying in the CONCACAF region. Asian Cup champion Australia had its chances to qualify directly, but failed to capitalize on a glut of scoring chances in the last group game against Thailand and ended up finishing in third spot behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. The Socceroos then beat Syria 2-1 after extra time to clinch the two-legged Asian playoff, but only after Syria hit the post with a free kick in the last moments of the second leg. The Australians were most recently in an inter-confederation playoff in 2006, when they ousted Uruguay over two legs. strong>PERU vs. NEW ZEALAND /strong> On New Zealand's side is a more recent appearance at the World Cup — going through the group stage in 2010 unbeaten but still being eliminated — and a first taste of Russia by qualifying for the Confederations Cup in June. But more than a 100 places separate New Zealand and Peru in the FIFA rankings. While New Zealand is at No. 113, Peru has surged to 12th as it chases a first visit to the World Cup since 1982. Peru claimed fifth place in the tough South American qualifying group to set up the intercontinental play-off that will be played over two legs on Nov. 6 and 14. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Senate opens ‘Obamacare’ debate at last but outcome in doubt – ABC News

Prodded by President Donald Trump, a bitterly divided Senate voted, at last, Tuesday to move forward with the Republicans' long-promised legislation to repeal and replace &'8220;Obamacare.&'8221; There was high drama as Sen. John McCain returned to the Capitol for the first time after being diagnosed with brain cancer to cast a decisive &'8220;yes&'8221; vote. The final tally was 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence, exercising his constitutional prerogative, breaking the tie after two Republicans joined all 48 Democrats in voting &'8220;no.&'8221; When the Senate voted Tuesday evening on the bill's initial amendment, it underscored how hard it will be for the chamber's divided Republicans to pass a sweeping replacement of Obama's law. By 57-43 — including nine GOP defectors — it blocked a wide-ranging proposal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to erase and replace much of the statute. It included language by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, letting insurers sell cut-rate policies with skimpy coverage, plus an additional $100 billion to help states ease out-of-pocket costs for people losing Medicaid — a provision sought by Midwestern moderates including Rob Portman, R-Ohio. On the day's opening vote to begin debate, and with all senators in their seats and protesters agitating outside and briefly inside the chamber, the vote was held open at length before McCain, 80, entered the chamber. Greeted by cheers, he smiled and dispensed hugs — but with the scars from recent surgery starkly visible on the left side of his face. Despite voting &'8220;yes,&'8221; he took a lecturing tone afterward and hardly saw success assured for the legislation after weeks of misfires, even after Tuesday's victory for Trump and Republican leader Mitch McConnell. &'8220;If this process ends in failure, which seems likely, then let's return to regular order,&'8221; McCain said as he chided Republican leaders for devising the legislation in secret along with the administration and &'8220;springing it on skeptical members.&'8221; &'8220;Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio, TV and internet. To hell with them!&'8221; McCain said, raising his voice as he urged senators to reach for the comity of earlier times. At the White House earlier, after senators voted to consider the bill, Trump wasted no time in declaring a win and slamming the Democrats anew. &'8220;I'm very happy to announce that, with zero of the Democrats' votes, the motion to proceed on health care has just passed. And now we move forward toward truly great health care for the American people,&'8221; Trump said. &'8220;This was a big step. I want to thank Senator John McCain — very brave man.&'8221; Trump continued to celebrate the vote at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio that doubled as a victory lap. &'8220;We're now one step closer to liberating our citizens from this &'8220;Obamacare&'8221; nightmare and delivering great health care for the American people&'8221; he said. At its most basic, the Republican legislation is aimed at undoing &'8220;Obamacare&'8221;'s unpopular mandates for most people to carry insurance and businesses to offer it. The GOP would repeal &'8220;Obamacare&'8221; taxes and unwind an expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor, the disabled and nursing home residents The result would be 20 million to 30 million people losing insurance over a decade, depending on the version of the bill. The GOP legislation has polled abysmally, while &'8220;Obamacare&'8221; itself has grown steadily more popular. Yet most Republicans argue that failing to deliver on their promises to pass repeal-and-replace legislation would be worse than passing an unpopular bill, because it would expose the GOP as unable to govern despite controlling majorities in the House, Senate and White House. Tuesday's vote amounted to a procedural hurdle for legislation whose final form is impossible to predict under the Senate's byzantine amendment process, which will unfold over the next several days. Indeed senators had no clear idea of what they would ultimately be voting on, and in an indication of the uncertainty ahead, McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate will &'8220;let the voting take us where it will.&'8221; The expectation is that he will bring up a series of amendments. Yet after seven years of empty promises, and weeks of hand-wringing and false starts on Capitol Hill, it was the Senate's first concrete step toward delivering on innumerable pledges to undo former President Barack Obama's law. It came after several near-death experiences for earlier versions of the legislation, and only after Trump summoned senators to the White House last week to order them to try again after McConnell had essentially conceded defeat. &'8220;The people who sent us here expect us to begin this debate, to have the courage to tackle the tough issues,&'8221; McConnell said ahead of the vote. Democrats stood implacably opposed, and in an unusual maneuver they sat in their seats refusing to vote until it was clear Republicans would be able to reach the 50-vote margin needed to get them over the top with Pence's help. &'8220;Turn back,&'8221; Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York implored his GOP colleagues before the vote. &'8220;Turn back now, before it's too late and millions and millions and millions of Americans are hurt so badly.&'8221; Schumer's pleas fell on deaf ears, as several GOP senators who'd announced they would oppose moving forward with the legislation reversed themselves to vote &'8220;yes.&'8221; Among them were Dean Heller of Nevada, the most vulnerable Republican senator in next year's midterm elections, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Johnson has recently accused McConnell of [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJul 26th, 2017

Curry breaks out of slump, helps Warriors beat Suns

By BOB BAUM,  AP Sports Writer PHOENIX (AP) — Stephen Curry shook off a poor shooting performance by scoring 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and the Golden State Warriors finally broke open a tight game to beat the Phoenix Suns 117-107 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Klay Thompson scored 25 points for the Warriors, who beat the Suns for the 18th consecutive time. Kevin Durant added 21 points and DeMarcus Cousins 18. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 25 points and Deandre Ayton 23 for Phoenix, which was without scoring leader Devin Booker due to a tight right hamstring. Mikal Bridges and Josh Jackson added 19 apiece for the Suns, who led 85-82 entering the final quarter. Golden State's Draymond Green was ejected after drawing his second technical between the third and fourth quarters. The matchup of the teams at the top and bottom of the Western Conference standings was a lot closer than anticipated — and in large part because it took Curry a while to find his stroke. Through three quarters, Curry was 2-of-12 shooting, including 1 of 8 on 3-pointers. But in the fourth quarter, he was 4 of 5, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. Down 94-88, Golden State took control with a 13-0 run — capped by Curry's 3-pointer that put the Warriors up 101-94 with 5:46 remaining. Richaun Holmes' tip-in cut the lead to 101-98 with 4:58 left. But Curry responded with another 3 and Golden State pulled away from there. Phoenix shot out to a 26-9 lead but the Warriors cut it to 31-26 after one quarter. Green's driving layup capped a 13-3 Golden State run that put the Warriors up 60-51 before Oubre's tip-in sliced the Warriors' lead to 60-53 at the break. Phoenix opened the second half with an 11-4 spurt to tie it at 64-64 and it stayed tight the rest of the third quarter. Oubre made one free throw with 4.9 seconds left, missed the second and grabbed the rebound for a dunk that put the Suns up 85-82 entering the final quarter. TIP-INS Warriors: Their 18-game win streak against Phoenix is the second-longest active streak against a single opponent behind only Oklahoma City's 21-game run against Philadelphia. ... Golden State drew three first-half technical: on Green, Cousins and Shaun Livingston. Suns: Booker missed his 15th game of the season. ... Phoenix also was without T.J. Warren (right ankle soreness) and De'Anthony Melton (right ankle sprain). ... Ayton's 818 points through 50 games are third-most in team history, behind Walter Davis (1,169) and Alvan Adams (935). UP NEXT Warriors: host Miami on Sunday night. Suns: at Sacramento on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 9th, 2019

Rickie Fowler shoots 64 for 4-shot lead at Phoenix Open

By John Marshall, Associated Press SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Rickie Fowler had the lead heading into the final round last year at the Phoenix Open, only to see the title slip through his grip for a second time. He will have a big cushion in his third bid to win the championship following a stellar display of golf. Fowler had eight birdies in a 7-under 64 on Saturday at TPC Scottsdale to take a four-shot lead over Matt Kuchar into the final round. Fowler opened with four birdies in six holes and navigated a difficult two-putt on the par-4 18th hole to reach 20-under 193. Now it's time to finish it off. "This one is definitely high on the list, another being Torrey Pines," Fowler said. "I would say between here and there, those would be the two highest on the list other than a major." Kuchar shot a bogey-free 65 to put himself in position for his third victory of the wraparound PGA season. He has been par or better in all 19 rounds this season, winning the Mayakoba Classic and Sony Open. Justin Thomas, who started one behind Fowler, shot 65 and was five back of his friend and desert roommate. Branden Grace and Byeong Hun An were at 13 under on a day golf said goodbye to one of its most distinctive voices. Saturday's third round was the broadcasting finale of NBC lead golf analyst Johnny Miller's career. Miller followed a Hall of Fame playing career with three decades of calling it the way he saw it, regardless of what the players thought of him. Wanting to spend more time with his family, the 71-year-old Miller decided to call it quits after the Phoenix Open, where he won twice to help earn the nickname "Desert Fox." NBC played multiple tributes to Miller during Saturday's coverage and on-course announcer Roger Maltbie's voice cracked as he talked about his friend. "I appreciate the people out there. I do my commentating for you," Miller said. "I'm glad you accepted my form of commentating, which was not normal. It was a little rough at first, but it's just been a pleasure, the friendships I've made." Fowler had the 54-hole lead at last year and fell flat in the final round, shooting 73 to finish six shots behind champion Gary Woodland. He also lost in a playoff in 2016. Fowler put himself in position for a third run at the title with a superb round of golf. He had a one-shot lead over Thomas after closing with four birdies for a 6-under 65 in Friday's second round. Fowler made an eight-foot birdie putt on 18 to reach 13 under and quickly added to it on Saturday, dropping in an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first hole. Fowler, who shot 64 in the opening round, added birdies on Nos. 3, 5 and 6 to reach 17 under, but had a par putt lip out after he hit into the greenside bunker at the par-3 seventh. He hit his approach to two feet for birdie at No. 9, turning in 4-under 31, and followed a birdie at the difficult 11th with a two-putt birdie on No. 13. Fowler reached 20 under with a birdie on the short par-4 17th for a nice cushion heading into what's expected to be a rainy final round. "I've done a good job of kind of everything this week," he said. "Nothing's standing out as super special, just playing solid golf and when I've gotten into trouble, being able to get up and down most of the time." Playing in the group ahead of Fowler, Thomas and Grace, Kuchar had three birdies for a 3-under 32 on the front nine and rolled in a nine-foot birdie putt on the 167-yard 12th hole. He two-putted for birdie on the par-5 13th and made a five-foot birdie on 15 to reach 16 under. Kuchar missed a good opportunity on No. 17, sliding a six-foot birdie putt past the hole, but finished with a nice save from the greenside bunker on No. 18. "It would be amazing to get three wins this early," Kuchar said. "It had been a number of years since I found the winner's circle, so to have gotten two in this year has been amazing." It may take an amazing round of golf to catch Fowler......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 3rd, 2019

Top sports headliners in the year that was

From the FIFA World Cup to the NBA, the PBA to the UAAP and NCAA, the Asian Games to Manny Pacquiao, volleyball to MMA, the past 12 months truly was a great year for Filipino sports fans.   Here are some of the most memorable sports headliners that bannered the year that was.    San Miguel Corporation dominates PBA San Miguel Corporation owned 2018. For the first time in the history of the Asia’s first professional basketball league one company dominated all three conferences of the PBA. The San Miguel Beermen annexed their fourth straight Philippine Cup title against sister team Magnolia last May, while Ginebra rode on undersized do-it-all forward Justin Brownlee to the Commissioner's Cup title at the expense of San Miguel last August. Then it was Magnolia's time to shine in December. The Hotshots dismantled Alaska in six games to complete SMC’s domination of PBA 2018. Outside of basketball, SMC also made its presence felt in volleyball as Petron bagged the Grand Prix, Challenge Cup (beach volleyball) and the All-Filipino Conference in the Philippine Superliga.   Kai Sotto stands tall as Ateneo takes title vs NU Kai Sotto became a household name in 2018 as the 7'1" wunderkind showed off in the UAAP Season 80 juniors' basketball tournament. The eventual Finals MVP was a beast in Game 1 of the Finals against the NU Bullpups, tallying a triple-double of 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks in the 86-70 win, the first of its kind since 2003. Ateneo finished the season almost unscathed at 16-1, with their lone loss in Game 2 of the series, a very chippy one to say the least. In Game 3, Sotto came up clutch, scoring the go-ahead basket, 60-58, with about 30 seconds left as Ateneo came away with the 63-58 win to take the title.  SJ Belangel, Joaqui Manuel, Dave Ildefonso and Jason Credo, and coach Joe Silva all appeared in their last games for the Blue Eaglets.   DLSU completes three-peat; NU dethrones Ateneo  The UAAP Season 80 volleyball tournament was filled with lasting memories that will surely be remembered for a long time. Numerous upsets in the eliminations, great games, and much more were the name of the game for the women's tournament. However, a long-time rivalry was rekindled when two-time defending champs De La Salle Lady Spikers met 29-time title holders FEU Lady Tamaraws for all the marbles last May. Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, and Dawn Macandili all ended their careers on a high note as they swept graduating Bernadeth Pons and the Lady Tamaraws in two straight games to win their third straight title. Graduating libero Macandili was named Finals MVP for the first and final time in her collegiate career.  Behind their magnificent floor defense and some stellar play from Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas, the NU Bulldogs also swept three-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles to reclaim a title they last enjoyed in Season 76. Espejo, a five-time UAAP MVP, had an awesome performance for the world's record books, scoring a record-55 points to force the FEU Tamaraws to a do-or-die Final Four. The Blue Eagle legend had played his last, and has since suited up for a semi-pro team in Japan's topflight volleyball league.   Alab fends off Mono Vampire to claim ABL title San Miguel-backed Alab Pilipinas were such a glorious sight to see in the eighth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last March. Coached by perennial fan favorite Jimmy Alapag in his very first season, the trio of Renaldo Balkman, Justin Brownlee, and Local and Finals MVP Bobby Ray Parks to their first title in home soil. Alab faced Thailand-based Mono Vampire, who were led by Mike Singletary, towering Sam Deguara, Fil-Am Jason Brickman and Pinoy Paul Zamar. In the very same day as the coronation of the UAAP volleyball championships, Alab took home the crown in a rousing 102-92 victory in Sta. Rosa, much to the delight of the home crowd. Balkman, the league's Defensive Player of the Year led Alab in scoring with 32, while Brownlee added 24 of his own. Parks added 13 markers. The two imports played in the PBA for the Commissioner's Cup, where Balkman (San Miguel) and Brownlee (Ginebra) would face each other in the Finals.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Warriors send LeBron packing to Los Angeles The Golden St. Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers locked horns in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season after the two teams were pushed to the brink in the Conference Finals. Both teams were down 3-2 and won Game 7 on the road to win their respective conferences, with both teams banking on experience to forge another bout in the championship series. Game 1 was undoubtedly the most exciting game in the series as LeBron James had an epic performance of 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  However, JR Smith's blunder at the end of regulation became the lasting image of that game, as he dribbled out the clock with the score tied at 107-all. The defending champions rode the surge and took the opening game, 124-114. Stephen Curry's brillant performance throughout the series was overshadowed by Kevin Durant's dagger in Game 3, a few feet away from the spot where he launched the go-ahead three in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Durant was named as the Bill Russell Finals MVP after norming 28.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the four-game sweep, demolishing the Cavs 108-85 in the series finale last June. It would also be the last game LeBron James had in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform, as he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers almost a month later.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) France rules 2018 FIFA World Cup The most-coveted title of the beautiful game returned to France after two decades. The youthful French squad celebrated their conquest soaked in a downpour in Moscow after a 4-2 victory over first-time finalist Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup last July. Teenager Kylian Mbappe stood out in the French team composed of a bunch of 25 and under players. Speed, strength and youth became France’s biggest asset during the quadrennial football spectacle watched by almost 3.5 billion viewers around the world.  The 19-year-old migrant scored one of the four goals in the championship match to become the second teen to score a goal in the Finals after the legendary Pele back in 1958. France defeated Belgium in the semifinal, 1-0, while Croatia outlasted the favored Russians in penalty shootout, 4-3 (2-2). The French team also displayed diversity, with players born of migrant parents including Alphonse Areola, whose parents are both Filipinos working in France.   Pac on top, The Filipino Flash returns The most-celebrated Filipino athlete continued make the headlines this year. Manny Pacquaio stripped Lucas Matthysse of his WBA welterweight world championship belt with a seventh round technical knockout win in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July. Pacquiao split with long-time trainer Freddie Roach during his build up for the Matthysse bout back in April but confirmed their partnership once again for the 40-year old boxer’s title defense against Adrien Broner next year. Nonito Donaire Jr. announced that he would be going back down to super bantamweight after a loss to Carl Frampton in April for the interim WBO Featherweight belt and would be taking part in the World Boxing Super Series' super bantamweight tournament.  Matched up in the quarterfinal round against Ryan Burnett back in November, Donaire scored what many consider an upset, winning via TKO after the Irishman suffered a back injury to snatch the WBA (Super) Bantamweight World Championship.  Up next for Donaire will be WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in the semifinals.           Pinay power in the Asian Games   The Philippines participated in the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia that ran from August 18 to September 2. A total of 272 athletes that participated in 31 sports represented the country in the quadrennial meet with Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and medalist Margielyn Didal marching as flagbearers in the opening and closing ceremonies, respectively. Rio Olympian Hidilyn Diaz gave the PHI its first gold medal in women’s -53 kg. weightlifting. Five days after Diaz’s victory, the trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go accounted for the women’s golf team mint. Saso also bagged the individual gold. In Palembang, Didal rolled her way into winning the women’s street skateboard gold. The celebrated men’s basketball team started out strong after routing Kazakhstan but lost by two-points to China in the group stage. The Gilas Pilipinas squad advanced in the quarterfinals but bowed down to South Korea by nine points eventually settling for a fifth spot in the classification phase after wins over Japan and Syria. The PHI finished with a 4-2-15 gold-silver-bronze haul and landed at 19th spot, three places higher that its 2014 finish in Incheon, South Korea.      Red Lions roar, Blue Eagles soar San Beda University continued its mastery over the NCAA as it annexed its third straight title and 22nd overall. The Red Lions grabbed its 11th crown in 13 years at the expense of Lyceum of the Philippines University. It was one-sided championship series – just like in their Finals meeting last year – with the San Beda ripping the Pirates apart in Game One with LPU playing sans its best player in CJ Perez, who was banned for one game after failing to notify the league of his intention to join the PBA Draft. Perez returned in Game 2 but even his presence didn’t stop the Red Lions from painting the NCAA red once again. In probably one of the most memorable UAAP season in recent years, Ateneo de Manila University won its second straight crown. Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year 6-foot-11 Ange Kouame made an immediate impact for the Blue Eagles complementing the already stacked Ateneo squad led by Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena. But the glory of Ateneo was overshadowed by the Cinderalla story of the team it vanquished in the Finals. Climbing up from the cellar in the past years, University of the Philippines made history by making it in the Finals for the first time since winning it all in 1986. But before their championship stint, the Fighting Maroons ended a two-decade Final Four drought. UP then shocked twice-to-beat Adamson University with both games decided by game-winners. Ateneo came in the series as the title favorites but overwhelming support from a very hungry UP community and underdogs fans backed the Fighting Maroons. But in the end, it was the Blue Eagles championship experience that prevailed.       Pinoys make wave in MMA Fighters under Team Lakay flexed their muscles in One Championship. Flyweight star Geje Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Eustaquio then defeated two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau last July to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  Joshua Pacio earned the ONE Strawweight World Championship last September after a unanimous decision win over two-time champion Japanese Yoshitaka Naito. Kevin Belingon dropped former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April. He followed it up with a dominating win over then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to capture the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion. Belingon ended the five-year reign and seven-year winning streak of of long-time bantamweight king Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes in November via split decision.  Eduard Folayang outclassed Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to bag the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.  Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera needed only 64 seconds to knockout hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila early December to remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    Petron, Creamline rule respective club leagues Creamline claimed its breakthrough championship in the Premier Volleyball League by sweeping PayMaya in the Reinforced Conference Finals series last July. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought with the Cool Smashers' victory. Creamline opposite hitter Michele Gumabao was named Miss Globe-Philippines during the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 last March. Gumabao represented the country in the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania last October and won the Miss Social Media and Dream Girl awards while landing a spot in the Top 15.     The Cool Smashers completed a sweep of the PVL’s Season 2 after claiming the Open Conference crown at the expense of Ateneo-Motolite via an emphatic series sweep this month. In the Philippine Superliga, Petron reigned supreme in the Grand Prix after taking down archrival F2 Logistics last May. Petron extended its supremacy in the sands after the tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadethn Pons defeated Dhannylaine Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia of Sta. Lucia in the Challenge Cup final last May. The Cargo Movers got its revenge in the Invitational Cup, toppling the Blaze Spikers in a series sweep last July. Petron wrapped the year with the All-Filipino Conference in its pocket. The Blaze Spikers won its first 14 games before dropping Game 2 of the Finals. Petron swept F2 Logistics in Game 3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

Curry becomes 5th Warrior with 15,000 regular-season points

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry had 20 points and seven rebounds while adding another accomplishment to his long list, leading the Golden State Warriors past the Memphis Grizzlies 110-93 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Curry became just the fifth player in Warriors history to score 15,000 points during the regular season — joining the company of Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Paul Arizin and Chris Mullin. Kevin Durant scored 23 points to go with five assists and passed Larry Bird (21,791) for 33rd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Klay Thompson contributed 16 points with five rebounds. Golden State led by as many as 25 points in the second quarter in quickly turning the game into a rout. That allowed coach Steve Kerr to rest many of his regulars as the Warriors began a busy stretch with eight games before the end of the year, including Christmas night (Dec. 26, PHL time) at home against LeBron James and the Lakers. Marc Gasol had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Grizzlies, who lost their third straight and fifth in six. This marked Memphis' final visit to Oracle Arena before the Warriors move to new Chase Center in San Francisco next season. Omri Casspi added a season-high 20 points against his former team. Jonas Jerebko made Golden State's only two three's in the opening quarter and finished 16 points off the bench. The Warriors were 17-of-18 from the free-throw line in the first half to 8-for-10 by Memphis, which trailed 61-38 at the break. CURRY'S SCORING Curry's three-pointer at the 7:37 mark of the second quarter gave him the 10 points he needed to reach the 15,000 club. Kerr knows the number is hardly important to his star point guard, saying: "He'll probably be at 16,000 before too long, and won't be aware of that either. He's obviously a brilliant player and sets a great tone every night and every day at practice. For the Warriors, he just changed everything from where the team had been over the previously couple of decades. Guys like Steph don't come around very often. He was the foundational piece to what we were seeing right now, the first piece. I think he was a major force in creating what we have today." Chamberlain leads the way with 17,783, followed by Barry (16,447), Arizin (16,266) and Mullin (16,235). "It's a lot of points and the thing to me what's most impressive is how he creates them. They're not just wide-open, catch-and-shoot three's, his creativity with the ball in his hands," Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "The shot-making from all three levels, the left hand, the floaters, the three off the bounce, the walk across that half court line and shoot a three. He has a variety of ways he puts the ball in the basket. You can probably count on one hand how many guys that we've seen with the shot-making creatively and the ability that he has." TIP-INS Grizzlies: G Mike Conley missed the game with left hamstring soreness. F Kyle Anderson returned after missing one game with a sprained left ankle. ... Memphis shot 2-for-11 on three's in the first half and 7-of-25 in all. ... The Grizzlies have been limited to fewer than 100 points in eight of nine December games. ... Memphis has dropped five straight at Oracle Arena, also losing on Golden State's home floor 117-101 on Nov. 5 (Nov. 6, PHL time). ... A top priority for Bickerstaff was improving rebounding, and the Grizzlies were edged 42-41 on the boards. Warriors: F Andre Iguodala returned from a three-game absence with a sore right hip to score 10 points. G Shaun Livingston was back after bruising his pelvis and sitting out Friday (Saturday, PHL time) at Sacramento. ... Curry did a 19-minute Skype call this weekend with astronaut Scott Kelly and made sure Kelly and others knew he meant no harm with joke about not believing in the moon landing, according to the Warriors. ... Baron Davis drew big cheers when shown on the scoreboard in the first quarter. UP NEXT Grizzlies: Play the second game of their four-game West Coast trip at Portland on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). The Grizzlies beat the Trail Blazers 92-83 at home last Wednesday (last Thursday, PHL time). Warriors: After concluding a four-game stretch playing in California, the Warriors play at Utah on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 18th, 2018

Atletico, Barcelona, Sevilla power through in Copa

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid was so poor in the first half against fourth-division visitor Sant Andreu that a shock Copa del Rey elimination wasn't a far-fetched possibility on Wednesday. But three goals in the opening 10 minutes of the second period guided Atletico's second-string team to a 4-0 victory at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Barcelona and Sevilla also beat lower division clubs, while Villarreal recorded an 8-0 rout of second tier Almeria with four goals by Cameroon striker Karl Toko-Ekambi. Thomas Lemar scored for Atletico in the 48th minute, Nikola Kalinic in the 53rd, Angel Correa in the 55th and Victor "Vitolo" Machin in the 81st to secure Diego Simeone's team a place in the last 16 following a 5-0 aggregate victory. "We struggled in the first half. We weren't able to play with quick transitions," said Simeone after his 400th Atletico match. "Everything changed in the second half. After the first goal the team played more freely." Atletico was without Diego Costa because of injury, while Antoine Griezmann and several other regular starters were rested by Simeone, who was banned from the bench as he served the second of a three-game suspension following a rant in a Copa match against Sevilla last season. Substitute Lemar went on at halftime and was key for Atletico, opening the scoring with a right-footed shot from outside the area. Kalinic added a header and Correa produced a fine finish with the outside of his right foot. Vitolo's goal from close range came after a pass by Saul Niguez. BARCELONA BOOST Barcelona advanced 5-1 on aggregate after its reserves cruised past third division Cultural Leonesa 4-1 at Camp Nou Stadium. Denis Suarez scored a goal in each half while Munir El Haddadi and Malcom were on target before halftime. Josep Sene netted in the second period for Cultural, the club owned by the Qatari state. Barcelona midfielder Ricard "Riqui" Puig, 19, set up one of Suarez's goals on his debut. "It was a dream come true," Puig said. "I used to come to this stadium when I was three." Malcom went off in the final minutes with an apparent knee injury. TOKO-EKAMBI'S NIGHT Toko-Ekambi became the first Villarreal player to score four goals in a match this century, leading the club to an 11-3 aggregate win. He netted three times in the first half and once in the second. Carlos Bacca scored twice, while Gerard Moreno and Dani Raba added a goal each. TOP-TIER CLASHES In all first-division ties, Girona came from behind to defeat Alaves 2-1 and advance 4-3 on aggregate, while Real Sociedad beat Celta Vigo 2-0 to go through 3-1 overall. Alaves struck first at Montilivi Stadium in Catalonia with an own-goal by Pedro Alcala in the 62nd minute, but the hosts rallied through Alex Granell in the 74th and Cristian "Portu" Portugues in the 79th to reach the last 16 for the first time. Sociedad sunk Celta with two superb goals by Mikel Oyarzabal and Adnan Januzaj. Oyarzabal netted in the 10th with a booming long-range shot into the top corner, and Januzaj scored in the 27th with a curling strike. OTHER RESULTS Sevilla edged third division Villanovense 1-0 to advance following a 0-0 first-leg draw. Andre Silva scored the winner early in the second half, converting the rebound after missing a penalty. Valladolid came from behind to defeat second tier Mallorca 2-1 and progress 4-2 on aggregate......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 6th, 2018

Cilic stays in control as Croatia wins Davis Cup | Inquirer Sports

LILLE, France After an agonizing defeat in Croatias previous Davis Cup final, there was no letdown for Marin Cilic this time. Cilic was two sets up against Juan Martin del Potro two years ago in Zagr.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsNov 26th, 2018

‘Clay’s best choice’

LILLE, France — France’s Davis Cup captain Lucas Pouille admitted on Monday that he had initially questioned the wisdom of choosing to stage this year’s final on clay. France is looking to retain the trophy when it takes on Croatia at the end of the week on clay courts at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2018

Rejuvenated Dutch strike late, into Nations League s Final 4

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press The Netherlands' recovery from one of the lowest ebbs in its history continued with a last-gasp qualification for the Final Four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League on Monday. Virgil van Dijk volleyed home a 90th-minute equalizer to seal a dramatic Dutch comeback in a 2-2 draw in Germany, allowing Ronald Koeman's rejuvenated side to top its qualifying group on goal difference ahead of France, and join fellow group winners Portugal, England and Switzerland in a five-day finals competition in June. So instead of seeing Kylian Mbappe, France's new wonderkid and star of the team's World Cup triumph in Russia in July, vying for another piece of international silverware, soccer fans will get to see if the Netherlands truly has turned the corner. The slump of the Dutch has been profound since they finished third at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. They failed to qualify for an enlarged European Championship in 2016 and also didn't make it to the World Cup this year. Three coaches — Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind, and Dick Advocaat — came and went. And with Dutch soccer at club level also in strife, debate swirled as to how one of the long-time heavyweights of the world game could recover. Under Koeman, though, the future of the Oranje looks bright. Youngsters like center midfielder Frenkie de Jong and center back Matthijs de Ligt are regarded as two of the most promising players in the world; Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum have returned to their best form over the last 18 months; and, in Van Dijk, the Netherlands has one of the best defenders around. A rock for Liverpool this season and last, Van Dijk — soccer's most expensive defender following his $99 million move from Southampton in January — sidefooted in a cross from the left to follow up an 84th-minute goal from Quincy Promes that gave the Dutch a glimmer of hope in Gelsenkirchen. The Germans had gone 2-0 up after 19 minutes thanks to Timo Werner's dipping shot from 25 meters and Leroy Sane's deflected effort from just inside the area. They couldn't hold on, though, and finished group play with no wins, just two points, and in something of a crisis. They didn't get out of their group in Russia in a dismal defense of their World Cup title, while relegation to League B of the Nations League — featuring Europe's second-tier teams — had already been confirmed after failing to win any of their first three group games. Germany coach Joachim Loew opted to stay in the job after the World Cup, but is now under mounting pressure. The Nations League, a new competition devised by UEFA to replace unpopular international friendlies with competitive matches between teams of a similar level, appears to have won over the skeptics, and the lineup for the Final Four is intriguing if hardly a marketer's dream. Portugal, which will be playing on home soil, has a superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo who should be back in the team after an extended absence from international soccer since the World Cup. England has Harry Kane, the top scorer at the World Cup, and a talented, dynamic group of young players under forward-thinking coach Gareth Southgate. Switzerland, which hasn't reached a quarterfinal of an international tournament since 1954, will be the outsider. The Netherlands, at No. 15, will be the lowest-ranked team in the competition but should not be discounted. This victory came three days after the team produced one of its best performances in years to beat France 2-0, while it beat Portugal 3-0 in March and Germany by the same score at home in the Nations League. The draw for the Final Four, which comprises of two semifinals and then a third-place playoff and final, will take place in Dublin on Dec. 3. Some other loose ends were tied up in the Nations League, which offers teams a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the Nations League playoffs and compete for the last four qualifying places for Euro 2020. NORWAY, MACEDONIA PROMOTED Norway was promoted to the second-tier League B after finishing top of Group C3 with a 2-0 win at Cyprus. The Norwegians started the final round of group play tied for points with Bulgaria, which could only draw at home to Slovenia 1-1. Macedonia went up to League C after beating Gibraltar 4-0 to top Group D4. Armenia, the only team that could have finished above Macedonia, ended up second after drawing at Liechtenstein 2-2. SLOVAKIA RELEGATED Slovakia was relegated to League C after losing at neighbor Czech Republic 1-0, with Patrik Schick scoring the winner in the first half with a deft lob over the goalkeeper on a counterattack. Denmark was already guaranteed promotion to the top tier and Ireland was sure of being relegated before they drew 0-0 in Aarhus......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2018