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Higuain helps Juventus to record 26th straight home win

ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer   ROME (AP) — It's no coincidence that Juventus has won Serie A every season since the Juventus Stadium opened in September 2011. The Bianconeri have been virtually unbeatable in the Italian league's only major club-owned stadium and improved on their own Serie A record with a 26th consecutive home win Sunday. Gonzalo Higuain scored his fourth brace of the season as Juventus beat Bologna 3-0. Juventus held the previous record of 25 straight home wins, established at the stadium between 2013 and 2015. The current streak began against Bologna on Oct. 24, 2015, and Bologna never really had a chance to prevent the latest record. Higuain opened the scoring with a volley from a lobbed pass from Miralem Pjanic seven minutes in, Paulo Dybala added a penalty before the break and then Higuain headed in another early in the second half. Juventus, which still has a game in hand, restored its four-point lead over Roma, which beat Genoa 1-0 earlier. ___ ROMAN VICTORIES Roma finally found a way to win away from home — with an own goal. Armando Izzo redirected a cross from Bruno Peres into his own net in the first half as Roma won 1-0 at Genoa for its first victory away from the Stadio Olimpico since October. Roma has won all nine of its home matches, while its away record now reads four wins, two draws and four losses. 'It's a big win. This is a tough league and we've faced some difficult opponents,' Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi said. 'If we had won all of our away matches, too, we would be champions of Italy by now.' Roma's last win outside the capital had been a 3-1 victory over Sassuolo on Oct. 26 in Reggio Emilia. The Giallorossi also beat Lazio 2-0 in the Rome derby early last month when they were technically the visitors. Roma forward Edin Dzeko hit the post near the hour mark, the fourth time the Bosnia and Herzegovina striker has found the woodwork this season — more than any other player in the league. Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny preserved the win with a difficult save on a shot from beyond the area by Lucas Ocampos in stoppage time. 'For Genoa, I think in 38 matches they won't play one that's not physical. Because that's the type of football they play — very aggressive, man against man,' De Rossi said. 'We needed to put our work boots on and we did.' Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin tore his ACL early on and will miss the rest of the season. Lazio also won 1-0, over struggling Crotone with a last-minute goal from Ciro Immobile after Lucas Biglia hit the crossbar with a penalty in the first half. Lazio is fourth, one point behind third-placed Napoli, which beat Sampdoria 2-1 on Saturday. ___ MILAN CLUBS WIN Fresh off its Italian Super Cup win over Juventus, fifth-placed AC Milan needed a late goal to beat visiting Cagliari 1-0. Carlos Bacca scored from close range two minutes from the end after being set up by Gianluca Lapadula. Cagliari ended with 10 men when Bruno Alves was sent off for pulling down Bacca just outside the area to prevent a clear scoring opportunity in added time. Earlier, Ivan Perisic scored twice and seventh-placed Inter Milan came from a goal down to beat Udinese 2-1 and win its fourth straight game. Perisic equalized in first-half added time, slotting a shot inside the near post after receiving a pass from Mauro Icardi, then headed in from a free kick three minutes from the end. It was the first brace in Serie A for Perisic, a Croatia international who joined Inter from Wolfsburg in 2015. Jakub Jankto, a 20-year-old Czech midfielder, had put Udinese ahead early in the first half after being set up by French talent Seko Fofana. ___ OTHER MATCHES: Atalanta revived its chances of finishing in the Europa League spots with a convincing 4-1 win at Chievo Verona. Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez scored twice for Atalanta, with Andrea Conti and Remo Freuler also finding the target for the Bergamo club. Sergio Pellissier's goal for Chievo temporarily made it 3-1. Domenico Berardi returned from a long injury layoff for Sassuolo in a 0-0 draw with Torino. The Pescara-Fiorentina match was postponed due to too much snow and ice inside and around the Stadio Adriatico. ___ Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Patriots clinch home-field advantage

The Associated Press br /> MIAMI GARDENS, Florida (AP) — Tom Brady threw for 276 yards and three scores Sunday as the Patriots clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by beating the Dolphins 35-14. New England took a 20-0 lead in the first half, and turned away Miami's comeback bid with the help of a 77-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Julian Edelman and a 69-yard fumble return by linebacker Shea McClellin. The Patriots (14-2), already assured of a first-round bye, became the ninth team since 1972 to go undefeated on the road during the regular season. The Dolphins (10-6), beaten for only the second time in the past 11 games, had already earned an AFC wild-card berth. They play their first postseason game since 2008 next weekend at Pittsburgh. STEELERS 27, BROWNS 24 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Steelers backups assured the Browns of the top pick in the 2017 draft. Landry Jones hit Cobi Hamilton with a 26-yard touchdown with 2:57 left in overtime. The Browns took a lead on Cody Parkey's 34-yard field goal with 7:17 remaining in the extra session. Jones, who started while the playoff-bound Steelers rested Ben Roethlisberger, took the Steelers 75 yards in nine plays. The last was a pretty lob to the end zone that Hamilton hauled in to give Pittsburgh (11-5) its seventh straight victory. Jones finished with 277 yards passing and three touchdowns and one interception. Isaiah Crowell ran for a career-high 152 yards for the Browns (1-15), who finished with the worst record in franchise history. JETS 30, BILLS 10 EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes in what was likely his final game for the Jets. Despite a 5-11 record, the Jets are making no changes in leadership, meaning both coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan will remain with the team next season. Bowles is 15-17 in his two-year tenure with New York, which hired him in January 2015 after firing Rex Ryan. Maccagnan is also in his second season with the Jets, and had also been criticized for the team's roster, which likely faces an overhaul this offseason. The Bills (7-9) also face some uncertainty this offseason after firing Ryan earlier in the week and elevating offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to the interim role. Two other people with direct knowledge of the situation told the AP before the game that Lynn is the clear favorite to take over the job permanently. TITANS 24, TEXANS 17 NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — A concussion that sidelined quarterback Tom Savage could have the biggest impact coming out of the Texans' loss. Savage started for the AFC South champions, left in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and was cleared. He took a snap to kneel down on the final play of the first half and was diagnosed with a concussion after being re-evaluated at halftime. That left Brock Osweiler, benched for Savage last month, running the offense. He threw for 253 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a 1-yard TD on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter. Houston (9-7) will host Oakland next weekend, possibly with uncertainty at quarterback. DaQuan Jones recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter and the Titans never trailed to finish with their first winning season since 2011. EAGLES 27, COWBOYS 13 PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tony Romo threw his first touchdown pass in nearly 14 months as the playoff-bound Cowboys played it safe. The Cowboys (13-3) had already locked up the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs so Dak Prescott played only two series and Ezekiel Elliott watched from the sideline. Carson Wentz tossed two TD passes to Zach Ertz to help Philadelphia finish with a two-game winning streak. Prescott was 4 for 8 for 37 yards before giving way to Romo, who hadn't played in a regular-season game since Thanksgiving 2015 when he broke his left collarbone for the second time in less than three months. Romo broke a bone in his back in the third preseason game against Seattle this season, paving the way for Prescott to have one of the best years by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. BUCCANEERS 17, PANTHERS 16 TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 202 yards and one touchdown as the Buccaneers broke up Cam Newton's 2-point conversion throw in the closing seconds for their first winning season in six years. Winston threw a 10-yard pass to Mike Evans to snap a fourth-quarter tie and became the first player in NFL history to start his career with consecutive 4,000-yard seasons. But the Bucs (9-7) were eliminated from playoff contention, not getting the help they needed in other games for their first berth since 2007. Winston's franchise record-setting 28th TD pass put the Bucs ahead 17-10 with 3:10 remaining. Newton, however, moved the Panthers (6-10) right down the field, with help of a 47-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin and two fourth-down completions to set up a 5-yard scoring pass to trim Carolina's deficit to one with 17 seconds left. VIKINGS 38, BEARS 10 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Sam Bradford concluded his first season with Minnesota with three first-half touchdown passes. Bradford went 25 for 33 for 250 yards and one interception, finishing with a 71.6 percent completion rate to set an NFL single-season record. Kyle Rudolph caught 11 passes for 117 yards and a score for the Vikings (8-8), who started 5-0 before stumbling out of their bye week and never recovering. The Bears (3-13) wound up with their fewest wins in a non-strike year since 1973 after turning the ball over five times. Everson Griffen returned one of their three lost fumbles for a touchdown. Jordan Howard, the lone bright spot, rushed for 135 yards on 23 carries to break Matt Forte's franchise rookie record and finish with 1,313 yards for the season for Chicago. COLTS 24, JAGUARS 20 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jack Doyle with 9 seconds left. Indy (8-8) went 75 yards in 84 seconds with no timeouts to avoid its first losing season since 2011, sending retiring linebacker Robert Mathis out with a win in his final NFL game. Jacksonville (3-13) matched the second-worst record in franchise history after blocking a punt with 1:54 to go and breaking a 17-17 tie with 1:33 left. Instead, Luck took the Colts right downfield for the score. Mathis extended his league record of strip-sacks to 41 in the fourth quarter, two days after announcing he would retire. BENGALS 27, RAVENS 10 CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton completed his first 10 passes, one for a touchdown, and Rex Burkhead ran for a pair of scores in the Bengals' fifth straight win at home over the Ravens. The Bengals (6-9-1) missed the playoffs for the first time in six years. Coach Marvin Lewis says he'll return in 2017. Baltimore (8-8) failed to reach the playoffs for the third time in four years. The Ravens played their final game as if they were emotionally hung over from a last-minute loss at Pittsburgh last Sunday that eliminated them. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2017

Trail Blazers cohesiveness helped them to conference finals

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers faced a number of challenges on the journey to their first Western Conference finals in 19 years. But there was one they couldn’t overcome: The Golden State Warriors. Portland’s run in the playoffs, which captured fans’ imaginations after Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to clinch the opening-round series over the Thunder, ended with a sweep by the defending champions. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “We put together a great season and we put ourselves in position to go to the Finals,” Lillard said. “I think every other team in the league would wish they could be in our shoes; not only making the playoffs but playing for an opportunity to get a chance to go to the Finals. We just ran up on a team who has been there the last four years.” Portland was coming off two straight seasons that ended with first-round playoff sweeps. The team, which had surprisingly little turnover over those years, came into the season unified and determined to take the next step. But before the first game was played, the Blazers were hit by the death of owner Paul Allen after a battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The co-founder of Microsoft was a hands-on owner and a familiar face at the Moda Center, and Portland dedicated its season to him. Injuries would challenge the Blazers down the stretch. Lillard’s backcourt partner CJ McCollum missed 10 games with a knee injury. But it was center Jusuf Nurkic’s injury that caused the most concern going into the playoffs. Portland’s seven-foot big man broke his left leg after crashing awkwardly in an overtime victory at home over the Brooklyn Nets on March 25 (Mar. 26, PHL time). Nurkic was averaging 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds a game and many considered Portland’s playoff prospects dim without him. Fortunately, the Blazers were able to turn to Enes Kanter, who was waived by the New York Knicks following the trade deadline and signed by Portland for the rest of the season. Kanter averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 23 regular-season games with the Blazers, including eight starts. Portland finished 53-29 and clinched the third seed in the Western Conference, earning home court for the first round — and a series with the Thunder. The Blazers wrapped that series up in five games — capped by Lillard’s walkoff three-pointer. But even in the playoffs the Blazers couldn’t escape misfortune. Kanter separated his left shoulder in the final game against Oklahoma City. He was questionable for the conference semifinals against Denver but played, although he often winced in pain. Jonathan Yim, Portland’s video coordinator and player development coach, was in a serious car accident before the series with the Nuggets. The Blazers coaching staff wore bow ties in his honor in Game 2. That series went to seven games, with the Blazers sealing their date with Golden State on Denver’s home court. The Warriors were simply too much for the Blazers, climbing back from double-digit deficits in each of the final three games. Lillard played with separated ribs in the final two. The team’s on-court leader, Lillard averaged 25.8 points and 6.9 assists and earned his fourth All-Star nod during the regular season. He averaged 33 points in the opening round against the Thunder, but his production fell against Denver and Golden State when he was double-teamed. Lillard said the past few seasons of relative stability — after four of Portland’s five starters moved on to other teams in 2015 — have bonded the team. “Each year we’ve come back with the right attitude,” Lillard said Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “We’ve been able to stick together through a lot of adversity and I think just what we’ve hung our hats on, what we’ve believed in, our culture, the togetherness, we’ve been able to truly build on that. And I think we should be encouraged.” Lillard could be in line for a hefty raise in the offseason. If he is named to one of the postseason’s All-NBA teams, he’ll qualify for a supermax contract extension worth $191 million. Lillard has two years remaining on his current contract. Asked about the prospects of a big extension, Lillard laughed and said: “I don’t understand why that’s even a question.” Coach Terry Stotts already benefited from the team’s run in the playoffs, signing a multi-year contract with the team that was announced at exit interviews. Terms of the deal were not released. “The guys in the locker room are special, it’s been a special season,” Stotts said. “Always tough to lose the last game of the year, but I couldn’t be more proud of the group that we’ve had.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

Messi hits 50 goals for Barca, Madrid ends season to forget

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Lionel Messi scored twice to hit the 50-goal mark for the sixth time in his career on Sunday while Real Madrid put a fittingly poor ending to its worst season in recent memory after losing in the final round of the Spanish league. Messi scored his 49th and 50th goals in all competitions this season to give Barcelona a 2-2 draw at Eibar and finished as the league's top scorer with 36 goals for the Spanish champions. This is the sixth season Messi has finished as the top La Liga scorer, equaling a record held by Athletic Bilbao striker Telmo Zarra from the 1950s. Barcelona, which had clinched the league title with three rounds to play, will now look to also retain the Copa del Rey title next weekend when it faces Valencia. Its chance of a rare treble of major titles was ended by Liverpool in the Champions League semifinals. Barcelona won the league with 11 points more than second-place Atletico Madrid. It also finished 19 points ahead of Madrid, the biggest-ever points advantage by Barcelona over its fiercest rival. "We were very consistent all season long and that's what allowed us to win the league by such a comfortable margin," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. JEERS FOR MADRID Madrid endured the jeers of its own frustrated fans after a 2-0 loss to Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu. Most of Madrid's supporters have long placed their hopes on what changes the club will make to an underperforming squad in the summer. Not even coach Zinedine Zidane could find a saving grace to the campaign. "It isn't that we don't want to (play better), we aren't able to," Zidane said. "The best thing is for this to be over. We are already thinking about the future and next season." Madrid entered the match with nothing to play for, locked into a third-place finish for the second consecutive season for the first time since 1974. Since the return of Zidane to take charge of the club after its shock loss to Ajax in the round of 16 in the Champions League, Madrid has finished the campaign with a record of five wins, two draws and four losses. "The fault is ours," Madrid defender Marcelo said. "We didn't start well and we didn't finish it well either. In no way was this the season we wanted to have." MESSI'S DOUBLE Messi moved four goals ahead of Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappé — who has 32 in the French league with a round left — as the top scorer in Europe's major domestic leagues. Marc Cucurella, a Barcelona youth player on loan to Eibar, opened the scoring before Messi got his first goal from a pass by Arturo Vidal in the 31st. Messi added a second just a minute later when he broke behind Eibar's high defensive line, received the ball from Ivan Rakitic and chipped it over goalkeeper Marco Dmitrovic. Eibar defender Pablo de Blasis leveled just before halftime when he scored from distance into an open net after Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen made a poor clearance with his head outside the area. Barcelona right back Nelson Semedo was taken to the hospital for tests after he received a knock on the head and had to be substituted. Youth player Carles Pérez debuted for Barcelona in the second half. TEAM WINS, SETIÉN LOSES The victory at Madrid didn't save Quique Setién's job. Betis announced shortly after that Setién and the Seville-based club had agreed to part ways after two seasons together, confirming weeks of speculation that he was on his way out. At least Setién's last match in charge was one to remember for the coach. Betis outplayed the hosts from the start and got second-half goals from Loren Morón and former Madrid forward Jesé Rodríguez. A long ball by Giovani Lo Celso set Andrés Guardado free down the left as he sprinted clear of Raphael Varane before crossing for Morón to score. Lo Celso then slipped a ball through to Junior Firpo, who found Jesé unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box. Betis, which beat both Madrid and Barcelona at their stadiums, ended the season in 10th place. "This allows us to finish a season that has been a bit disappointing with a victory against a team and at a stadium that will always be a nice memory," Setién said before the club announced his departure. HOW IT ENDED Champion Barcelona, Atletico, Madrid and fourth-place Valencia qualify for the Champions League. Getafe, Sevilla and Espanyol took the Europa League spots. Girona, Huesca and Rayo Vallecano were relegated......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

Financial case a cloud over unprecedented City titles feat

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — After the FA Cup was raised aloft by Manchester City's players, the Wembley Stadium pyrotechnics didn't cast a cloud over the team's unprecedented sweep of English soccer's men's trophies. The only shadow came from the investigations by soccer authorities into leaked documents that allegedly show the game's costliest squad was assembled thanks to mechanisms employed to try to circumvent spending regulations. A 6-0 rout of Watford on Saturday, delivered by players who cost more than $200 million in transfer fees, ensured the FA Cup joined the Premier League trophy, League Cup and Community Shield already in City's possession. The only piece of silverware missing is from the competition City could be banned from next season: the Champions League. City arrived at Wembley reeling from UEFA investigators last week sending the governing body's judges a file into how the Abu Dhabi-owned club sought to allegedly dupe the governing body to comply with Financial Fair Play. And the team left the national stadium with manager Pep Guardiola seething to face questions about the cloud over City's feat. "We are not guilty (until) proven," Guardiola said. "Would I say this club makes a step forward from the big investment from Sheikh Mansour? Definitely. Can you do that without top players? No way. That money helps to buy the incredible players we have? Yes. "After that we wait. If we are punished, we will accept it. But I listen to my chairman and my CEO, they give me the arguments for why they are under investigation and I trust them. When they tell me we were fair, we did it absolutely following the rules, I'm sorry, I believe them. If the opponents and contenders believe that's it's just the money ... it is OK they will be a problem." Guardiola is the only City figure publicly responding to questions about the FFP investigation, despite not being a director. Leaving Wembley, City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak only gave a thumb's up when asked about the club's potential Champions League ban. Leaks of internal correspondence published by German outlet Der Spiegel last year showed how City used companies linked to the Abu Dhabi ownership to boost revenue in an attempt to curb losses and comply with UEFA regulations. City hasn't disputed the authenticity of the documents. The Football Leaks group also published details showing how Roberto Mancini, who managed City from 2009 to 2013, received more pay from a team Sheikh Mansour owns in Abu Dhabi to work as a consultant than from the Manchester club. Mancini was the last City manager to win the FA Cup in 2012. City hasn't responded to questions sent by The Associated Press in November asking if Guardiola had any similar arrangements to Mancini, and the manager was infuriated to be asked Saturday if he received any payments from Abu Dhabi. "Do you know the question you are asking me — if I receive money from another situation today?" Guardiola said. "Do you think I deserve to make this kind of question ... the day I won the treble, if I received money from another situations?" Guardiola is yet to provide an answer. City did not respond to a follow-up text message on the issue......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

Bucks making case as favorites to win title

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com MILWAUKEE -- In the wake of a wire-to-wire, 125-103 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, a question for the group: Shouldn't the Milwaukee Bucks be the favorites to win this thing? No, not the conference finals. At this point, they're obviously the heavy favorite to win the East. Prior to this year, 72 teams had a 2-0 lead in the conference finals, and 67 of them went on to win. But why aren't the Bucks the favorites to win the NBA championship? Is there a case to be made against 1) what was the best team in the regular season and 2) what has been an even better team in the playoffs? [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Maybe this is a we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it league. How can you pick a team to win a championship when its best player had never won a playoff series prior to this year? Until they lost in five, it was easier to imagine the Celtics, with their talent and with their recent history of playoff success (back-to-back trips to the conference finals), being the team to represent the East in The Finals in the first year A.L. (after LeBron). And then the Bucks outscored the Celtics by a total of 65 points over the last four games of the conference semis. It's similarly difficult to pick against the Golden State Warriors until they actually lose. The two-time defending champs have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Presumably, they'll have Kevin Durant back for The Finals should they finish off the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals. And even without Durant, the Warriors boast the same 2-0 conference finals lead the Bucks currently possess. But the Warriors haven't been as sharp as they were in each of the previous two postseasons. Five of their 10 playoff wins have been within five points in the last five minutes. Last year, only four of their 16 wins were within five in the last five. In 2017, it was four of 16 as well. With the postseason's 10th-ranked defense, Golden State has outscored its opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions over its 14 games. The Bucks have outscored their opponents by more than double that: 15.1 per 100. That feels like the mark of an eventual champion. Through 10 playoff wins last year, the Warriors had outscored their opponents by 9.6 points per 100 possessions. Through 10 playoff wins in 2015, they had outscored their opponents by just 7.7 points per 100. It was only in 2017, when they won their first 15 playoff games in Durant's first season in Golden State, that the Warriors were as dominant as the Bucks have been thus far. At 10-0 two years ago, Golden State had outscored its playoff opponents by 16.5 points per 100 possessions. At that point, the Warriors had the No. 2 offense and the No. 1 defense in the postseason. That's exactly where the Bucks stand after Game 2 on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Milwaukee is a complete team in more ways than one. The defense has been there almost every night. The Bucks have held their opponents under a point per possession (the measure of elite defense) in six of their 11 games and only once (their Game 1 loss to Boston) have they allowed them to score more than what was the league average (109.7 points scored per 100 possessions) in the regular season. Even with the rise in three-point shooting over the last few years, the most important shots on the floor remain those at the basket, and no team has been better at both preventing and defending those shots than the Bucks. After allowing a league-low 29.6 points per game in the restricted area in the regular season, the Bucks have allowed just 22.0 per game in the playoffs. In this series, Raptors drives have been met with a swarm of Milwaukee defenders, making it difficult to either score in the paint or get off a clean pass to an open shooter. After shooting 57 percent in the paint through the first two rounds (in which they faced two very good defenses), the Raptors have shot just 49 percent (36-for-73) in the paint through the first two games of the conference finals. On Toronto's first possession of Game 2, Marc Gasol posted up Khris Middleton after a switch and spun around Middleton for a layup, only to be rejected by Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Raptors went scoreless on their first five possessions, had just 39 points on 49 possessions at halftime, and were too far behind for a 39-point third quarter to matter much. "I think the way we played on both ends of the court in the first half," Budenholzer said afterward, "is what we're trying to get to." After a bit of an offensive struggle in Game 1, the Bucks broke out on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). The elite defense led to 28 fast-break points, a size advantage inside led to 17 second-chance points, and six of their nine rotation players scored in double-figures. Three of those six came off the bench. While Toronto coach Nick Nurse has had to both shorten and alter his rotation in these playoffs, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has seemingly found contributors wherever he has turned. George Hill and Pat Connaughton were huge in the Boston series, Malcolm Brogdon didn't need long to find his rhythm after missing the first eight postseason games, and on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), Ersan Ilyasova had what Budenholzer called "clearly his best game of the year," scoring 17 points, drawing three charges, and registering a plus-22 in just over 21 minutes off the bench. The Bucks have the presumed Kia MVP, but their biggest strength in these playoffs has been their depth. Through 11 games, they've outscored their opponents by 12.0 points per 100 possessions with Antetokounmpo off the floor. Unlike his fellow Eastern Conference coaches, Budenholzer has never had to rush his best player back onto the floor. And this team is now 10-1 with Antetokounmpo ranking 40th in postseason minutes per game at 32.3. While the Raptors' offense has struggled to take advantage of the attention paid to Kawhi Leonard, every Bucks rotation player has played with confidence and freedom. "They're not going to let me play one-on-one," Antetokounmpo said after registering 30 points, 17 rebounds and five assists in Game 2. "So this series is not going to be about me; it's going to be about my teammates being ready to shoot, being ready to make the right play." "We try and empower them," Budenholzer said of his team's role players. "We try to play a way where they all feel like they can contribute and do things. Hopefully that's paying off for us." There's no argument to the contrary. But is there an argument against this team being the favorite to win the championship? While it remains difficult to pick against the team that won last year and remains intact, new champions come along all the time, and it's easier to see them in hindsight than in the moment. Of course, as good as they've been playing and as special as this run has felt, Bucks players refuse to get ahead of themselves. "You can't," Eric Bledsoe said. "That's how you lose focus. The biggest thing with this group is just taking a game at a time, and not looking forward to The Finals. Anything can happen. So we're focused on Game 3." "It's a great opportunity that we have," George Hill added, "but it means nothing until we get there." The players have to keep their minds on Toronto. But the rest of us can feel free to envision the future, one that includes an NBA championship. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

Nadal reaches Rome semis; Federer and Osaka withdraw injured

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal put away Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-0 at the Italian Open on Friday and ought to be a little nervous. He's conceded only six games in six sets at the Foro Italico but he's reached the semifinals. Nadal has fallen in the semifinals of his last three tournaments — all on his favored clay. And next up is Stefanos Tsitsipas, whom Nadal lost to in Madrid last week. "I know what happened last week, and I (am) going to try to do it better tomorrow," Nadal said. "I have to hold the level or increase a little bit more. If that happens, I (am) going to have my chances. The good thing is during the last month my feeling is every week was better than the previous one." Tsitsipas, 20, is up to No. 7 in the rankings. "Every year, we make (a) prediction with the team which player is going to be at the top 10 at the end of the season," Nadal said. "I put Tsitsipas there. ... He started even better than what I (expected). He deserves to be where he is now." Meanwhile, Roger Federer and top-ranked Naomi Osaka withdrew before their quarterfinals because of injuries. Federer reported a right leg injury ahead of his match against Tsitsipas, and Osaka said her right hand was hurting before she was to play Kiki Bertens. Also reaching the last four was Diego Schwartzman, who beat Kei Nishikori for the first time in four tries, 6-4, 6-2, to reach his first Masters Series semifinal. Schwartzman, ranked 24th, will face top-ranked Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin del Potro. On the women's side, Karolina Pliskova rallied past former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-2 and will face qualifier Maria Sakkari, who rallied past Kristina Mladenovic 5-7, 6-3, 6-0. Bertens, who won the Madrid Open last week, will face Johanna Konta, who beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Although Osaka won both of her matches on Thursday in straight sets, Federer, 37, had to labor for more than 2 ½ hours to overcome Borna Coric in his second time on court. Federer said after beating Coric that he slid on a wet line and his leg "was hurting a little bit." "I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today. I am not 100 percent physically and, after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play," Federer said. "Rome has always been one of my favorite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year." Later, Federer wrote on Instagram: "The fan reaction and crowd energy during my matches yesterday remind exactly why I am still competing on the ATP Tour." View this post on Instagram I had to take the tough decision this morning to pull out of the Italian Open as I am not feeling 100% physically. The fan reaction and crowd energy during my matches yesterday remind me exactly why I am still competing on the ATP Tour. Thank you Roma for an incredible week. Mazie Grille! ???? A presto!???????????????????? A post shared by Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) on May 17, 2019 at 7:14am PDT It's only the fourth time in Federer's career he has had a walkover loss, the ATP Tour said, adding the 20-time Grand Slam champion has never retired in 1,465 matches. Osaka couldn't immediately say how serious her injury is or if it will affect her status for Roland Garros, which starts in nine days. She had yet to see a doctor, but when she held her hand up for reporters, it was clearly swollen. "I woke up this morning and couldn't really move my thumb," Osaka said. "I tried to practice and grip my racket but I couldn't, and I kept feeling this pain when I tried to move my hand in different directions." Osaka's win on Thursday guaranteed she will remain No. 1 going into the French Open. "I didn't feel anything yesterday. That's why I'm kind of confused right now because I literally woke up in the morning and couldn't move my thumb," Osaka said. "So I was like, 'Maybe I slept on it and maybe it will go away.' But it didn't." Osaka also withdrew before a semifinal in Stuttgart, Germany, last month due to an abdominal injury, and she retired from her previous meeting with Bertens at last year's WTA Finals with a leg injury. "I feel like the ab thing could have been helped, but this one I don't think I could have helped it because I don't know what caused it," Osaka said. "I don't know why I have it.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

Proud Parent Problems: For Currys, a fraught conference final

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — They are lock-step and lock-arm and also lock-jersey as they enter Oracle Arena in what is their crowning achievement as a basketball mom and dad. Dell and Sonya Curry are in the running for First Couple of the NBA, and in the Western Conference finals, this honor comes with an equal amount of pride and anxiety. “There’s so much emotion involved because you want both to do well, and here they are, on opposite benches,” says the mom. The father agreed, adding: “It’s hard for both of us.” [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Their sons are, of course, Stephen and Seth Curry, and their dilemma is being played out in front of millions on TV, who see Dell and Sonya sitting in the stands wearing custom-made split jerseys honoring both players. For Game 1, Dell had Steph’s No. 30 Warriors jersey on the front and Seth’s No. 31 Blazers on the back, and vice versa for Sonya. They’ll switch up as the series goes along because the parents never want to show favoritism for any of their children. “Somebody’s going to lose and we’re going to the Finals with one of them and it will be bittersweet,” Dell Curry said. “But whomever doesn’t go to the Finals for his team will be there for his brother.” Aside from this being a sweet story involving a close-knit and stable family, what’s amazing about this is that it's happening at all. Yes, the NBA has had a fair share of siblings before -- do you know how many Plumlees are cashing basketball checks? -- but never in the same conference finals. And what’s more, neither of the Curry boys dropped strong hints, even as far as high school, that they’d be on anybody’s NBA bench. But religion and faith run through all the Currys and the parents, who’ve been married 31 years, must’ve struck the proper chord because they’ve been blessed with a playoff series neither will soon forget, no matter how it turns out. By now, their made-for-reality TV story is a familiar one. Dell was a smooth-shooting guard at Virginia Tech where he met Sonya, who played for the women’s volleyball team. They soon became a couple and delivered Steph while Dell played for the Cavaliers, who drafted him. Seth came a few years later in Charlotte, where Dell by then was one of the game’s best sixth men, dropping shots from distance for the Hornets. Their basketball education started at home and specifically the driveway basketball court where the boys wore Hornets jerseys and pretended to be in the NBA. “They battled each other,” Dell Curry said. “You know, trying to get the game-winning point and arguing whether you got fouled or not. You’re standing there watching them settle it and it never got settled. My wife and I took turns being the referee deciding who won the game.” Understandably, it never got heated, as anger or jealousy doesn’t seem to be in the Curry family DNA. “Steph did a good job with that,” said Dell. “Being the oldest boy, he could’ve beaten up on [Seth] a lot.” The boys became familiar faces around the Hornets’ practice facility and games. They attended small private high schools instead of basketball academies because of academics; their parents didn’t specifically groom them for the NBA. Even if the father’s shooting genetics and mother’s competitive instincts were soon apparent with both boys, they were size challenged. They played like solid basketball players but looked like future accountants. That all changed for Steph not long after he went to Davidson College and for Seth after he transferred from Liberty University to Duke. Steph was an NCAA tournament sensation, and later, Seth became a solid starter who replaced an injured Kyrie Irving at one of the country’s most prestigious programs. And thus began the crazy travel schedule for their parents, each splitting the duties between their sons as best they could; it hasn’t calmed down since. Steph has had the gold-plated path, winning a pair of Kia MVPs and three championships, changing the game from a shooting standpoint and punching an automatic ticket to the Hall of Fame someday. Seth’s career has been nomadic. He wasn’t drafted because teams wondered about his ball-handling skills. The Warriors initially tossed him a lifeline, but Seth didn’t survive training camp and was sent to their G-League team. He’s with his sixth team in five years and seemingly turned the corner last season with the Mavericks, where he started 42 games before injuries intervened. Steph is vested in his younger brother’s career and quietly simmers about how Seth, who’s now 28, lacks a long-term deal and security with one team. Although the younger Curry finished third in three-point shooting percentage this season -- one spot ahead of Stephen -- Seth becomes a free agent this summer. Yet the good news is he should have interest after a breakout season for the Blazers. “They want each other to do well,” said Dell. “They cheer for each other. They watch each other’s games all the time. Steph’s a quiet guy but he roots for his brother and vice-versa.” For the last several years, Seth has been in the stands watching his brother during the postseason, sitting with his parents, marveling at Steph’s talent and fortunes like anyone else. Until now. And here they are, trying to deny each other a championship. There are times when the Curry boys will guard each other and that always puts their parents in a tough spot. When it happened in Game 1, Dell and Sonya just watched, frozen in place. No clapping, no cheering, no nothing. “Coming in here, we didn’t know what to expect or how to react,” Dell said. “This hasn’t happened before. Usually we can go all-in on one team. We don’t know how to cheer or how to respond when one team goes on a run. We can’t totally go on one side.” Sonya said: “It’s hard on my nerves.” These are proud parent problems. There is a solution to the relentless travel, the back-and-forth between two teams and this emotional wringer and the constant wondering about games and victories and losses: Maybe one day, even next season, the boys will be … teammates? Dell Curry’s face suddenly brightens and the stress disappears. “Now that would be great,” he said “Being brothers and teammates, and in this situation where they both win? Let’s see what happens. Both have a lot of years left in the league. Seth’s a free agent. You never know.” Until then, if that ever happens, the parents will keep their travel agent on speed-dial and keep a tailor on stand-by in case they need another set of jerseys stitched together. “It’s been hectic,” Dell Curry said. “But don’t get me wrong, we’re not taking this for granted. We’re just taking it all in. We’re not complaining at all. We know how special this is.” Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsMay 16th, 2019

Leonard, Raptors to face Bucks, Antetokounmpo in East final

By Ian Harrison, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — For the second time in four seasons, the Toronto Raptors are headed to the Eastern Conference final. While the Raptors won’t have to deal with playoff nemesis LeBron James this time, they will face a tough task in controlling Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rest of the NBA’s highest-scoring offense. Of course, Toronto will counter with Kawhi Leonard. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] He hit the game-winning buzzer-beater Sunday (Monday, PHL time) to help Toronto edge Philadelphia 92-90 in Game 7 of its Eastern Conference semifinal series, setting up a showdown between the East’s top teams during the regular season. Leonard’s shot bounced around the rim four times before dropping through the basket. “It was great,” Leonard said. “That’s something I never experienced before, Game 7, a game-winning shot. It was a blessing to be able to get to that point and make that shot and feel that moment.” Leonard and the Raptors will have a few hours to enjoy it; the conference final begin Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) in Milwaukee. In its only other conference final appearance, Toronto lost to LeBron James and Cleveland in six games in 2016. The Raptors are well aware of the challenge ahead. Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said the Bucks have been “pretty dominant” in winning eight of nine postseason games — including the past four straight. “They’ve got a lot of weapons and they’re pretty deep,” Lowry said. “They shoot the ball as well as anybody in the NBA and then they’ve got the one-man fast break in Giannis.” The Bucks beat the Raptors three times in four regular-season meetings. Lowry was injured when Toronto won 123-116 at Milwaukee on Jan. 5 (Jan. 6, PHL time). “We know we’ve got a tough task at hand,” Lowry said. “We have to prepare for it and get ready to go.” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said the Bucks present challenges his team hasn’t faced in eliminating Orlando and Philadelphia in the first two rounds. “It’s a little different style that we’re going to see,” Nurse said. “We’re going to have to adjust to that really quickly, obviously, and forget about how happy we are pretty quickly because it’s a hungry team. It’s a very deep team, a very good team. We’re going to have to continue to grow and we’re going to have to play better.” Leonard scored 41 points on 16-of-39 shooting in Game 7 against Philadelphia. He topped 30 points five times in the series and averaged 34.7 points overall. Nurse said Leonard has been playing at an “elite level” in the postseason. Toronto center Marc Gasol agrees with his coach. Leonard “can create a shot out of pretty much nothing,” Gasol said. “He’s a mismatch all around.” In Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have a similar matchup nightmare for Toronto. The Raptors will need contributions for everyone, including Lowry — who briefly left Game 7 because of a sprained left thumb but returned and played the entire second half. “I couldn’t really pass the ball and grip the ball, but that doesn’t matter,” Lowry said. “I’m fine.” Milwaukee has been resting since eliminating Boston in Game 5 on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Toronto, which used only seven players on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), will not practice Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), giving players some extra rest. They may need it to derail the surging Bucks......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2019

Ceferin stresses big clubs with closed Champions League idea

By Rob Harris, Associated Press UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin told leaders from European leagues not to forget the importance of big clubs in generating cash during a private meeting in which plans were detailed for a closed-off Champions League favoring the elite. A recording and images obtained by The Associated Press from the meeting at the UEFA headquarters on Wednesday highlights the schism between clubs and leagues over the ability to influence UEFA as it considers revamping its club competitions starting with the 2024-25 season. The dramatic proposal, shown during the meeting in Nyon, would lock in 24 of the 32 slots in the Champions League without the need to qualify annually through domestic leagues and would introduce promotion from and relegation to the Europa League. The plan has infuriated domestic leagues, particularly La Liga President Javier Tebas, who views UEFA as too closely aligned to the vision of European Club Association head Andrea Agnelli of Juventus. In a letter obtained by the AP last month, European Leagues President Lars-Christer Olsson floated the possibility of an investigation to determine whether the ECA was abusing a dominant position as UEFA was lobbied for more games between leading clubs. "Speaking about big clubs, this is a typical populist tool that is used in Europe not only in football," Ceferin told European Leagues representatives in the closed-doors meeting. "More and more the rich are taking everything from you and we the rich will help. Is that logical? I don't think so. And it's true big clubs are taking a lot of money, the most the biggest amount of money because of their results. And it's true that we have to think about that. But they're also bringing a lot of money on the table which is very easily forgotten." Hitting out at claims he is "killing football," Ceferin rebuked members of the European Leagues organization over public criticism and warned his executive committee could have pushed ahead with a revamp of competitions without discussing it with them. "We will not insult, but the more shouting there will be, the less consultation process there will be," Ceferin said. "Shouting in the media tells us much more about those people than about UEFA," Ceferin added. "We were listening about what will happen here, about how we are killing football, destroying football — despite the fact that UEFA is the only organization in European football that shares money as solidarity to every single country in Europe." The early UEFA vision, if approved, would see the Champions League group stage start a month earlier in August and double the size of each group to eight teams. But 24 of the 32 clubs in the 2024-25 group stage could retain their places the following season regardless of their domestic league finish. That would give certainty to leading clubs that attract the biggest television audiences but reduced opportunities for outsiders. Four Champions League teams will be relegated each season into the next season's second-tier Europa League. They would be replaced by the Europa League semifinalists, who would be promoted. Only four qualifying places would be left for national champions competing in preliminary rounds. It would leave the Dutch league runner-up — as Ajax was before reaching the Champions League semifinals this season — with no ability to qualify. Promotion and relegation is also envisaged between the Europa League and a third-tier competition that has yet to launch. The third competition, first revealed by the AP in 2015, would kick off in the 2021-22 season with a 32-team format in eight groups of four. But it could be enlarged to 64 teams from 2024, with four groups of 16 teams, possibly arranged by region, according to the UEFA documents. "You have to know that the ones who are shouting generate huge revenues and don't share anything with the others in Europe," Ceferin said. "The ones who really have problems respectfully and humbly wait for our explanation. And that's why we want to discuss we want to discuss because of the ones who deserve. That we discuss the ones who need our help and not the ones who are scared about their personal interest." In 2016, Ceferin decried a secret deal over Champions League changes agreed just before he was elected to succeed Michel Platini as UEFA president. Ceferin was frustrated UEFA caved into demands of Spain, Germany, England and Italy to guarantee them 16 of the 32 Champions League group-stage places. Now Ceferin is giving the impression he is consulting more by bringing leagues and clubs to meetings in Nyon. But his unhappiness with officials from leagues was clear in the tone. "We can go to the ExCo and decide and not ask anyone and your representative in the ExCo go can vote against," Ceferin said, referring to Olsson, who sits on the executive committee. "But we don't want to do it. That's why we are discussing. Legal action threats, I will not comment that much. As a lawyer with 25 year experience, this is quite the joke." Ceferin called on European Leagues officials to approach the talks "with some class without hostility and without false solidarity" and challenged them to come forward with proposals. "I hope we will exchange many important ideas and arguments," Ceferin said. "And if we do that we will come at the end to a solution that will be good for all the European football and — trust me or don't trust me — but the fact is that for UEFA that's our goal. We cannot do what clubs say and we cannot do what league say. We will do what is right for European football. And we will protect it together.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2019

GALLERY: Images from Mandaue City’s Game 2 victory in the Governor’s Cup Finals

Mandaue City, Cebu—The Mandaue City Ballers pulled off an amazing comeback in the second half to defeat the reigning champions Talisay City Aquastars, 94-76, in Game 2 of the 2019 Governor’s Cup basketball tournament on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at the Mandaue City Sports and Cultural Complex. Read more: Mandaue City pulls off amazing comeback […] The post GALLERY: Images from Mandaue City’s Game 2 victory in the Governor’s Cup Finals appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 10th, 2019

Family Feud: Ateneo s Gayoso faces uncle, DLSU s Ocampo in UAAP 81 Football Finals

More than just a Finals matchup between collegiate rivals, the upcoming Ateneo versus De La Salle pairing in the UAAP Season 81 Men's Football Finals will be a family event for Ateneo star striker Jarvey Gayoso and DLSU head coach Alvin Ocampo.  As we've featured before, Gayoso and Ocampo are nephew and uncle.  Now, for the first time in their UAAP careers, the two will meet each other in the season's biggest match. It's also going to be the first time in 13 years that Ateneo and La Salle meet in the Finals.  "I’ve always dreamed of it, we’ve never had it before, we’ve never had an Ateneo-La Salle Finals," shared Gayoso, who was the hero in Ateneo's Finals-clinching win over Far Eastern University in the Final Four. "It being the Finals, I expect a crazy crowd, and the game, of course, we all know, especially us athletes, when it comes to Ateneo-La Salle, nobody is going to give less than a hundred percent, everyone’s going to keep fighting, it’s all about pride eh." As for getting to face his Tito Alvin in the Finals, Gayoso admitted that it was something he and the rest of the family hoped for.  "We all wanted the Ateneo-La Salle game. We were cheering for each other," Gayoso said. "I really wanted to go against La Salle in the Finals, and I’m pretty sure Tito Alvin wanted me to flourish here in this game, so it was a nice setting, it’s a nice game to expect."  Ocampo, who said that he has always made it a point to comment on Jarvey's performances, says that for this instance, he will be keeping his comments to himself for at least after the Finals. "Hindi muna kami mag-papansinan for the whole week," Ocampo said, jokingly. "After na. Hindi muna ako magco-comment sa laro niya ngayon."  Ocampo and his Green Archers upset and dethroned defending champions University of the Philippines in their Final Four matchup.  Ateneo and De La Salle battle for the UAAP Season 81 Men's Football Championship on Thursday, May 16th at 4:30 PM. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2019

Nuggets put Blazers on the ropes with series-shifting Game 5 rout

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com DENVER — Two points separated the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers after the first four, grueling games of these Western Conference semifinals. They piled up the same number of three-pointers and free throws as well. The games were that good, that tight, and the difference between the two teams was negligible at best. Then Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) happened. Paul Millsap happened. Nikola Jokic happened. Jamal Murray happened. The manifestation of a Nuggets team that’s been dancing with a destiny that leads to the Western Conference finals, finally happened. Their 124-98 rout of the Trail Blazers in Game 5 at Pepsi Center was the sort of declaration Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been predicting for his team since they were locked into a back-and-forth struggle with the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] They evened the series Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in Portland, showing mettle beyond their years by snapping the Trail Blazers’ 12-game home winning streak that dated back to the regular season, with an inspired effort to stave off the certain doom of a 3-1 deficit. Tuesday night’s (Wednesday, PHL time) salvo was a seismic shift in the opposite direction. The Nuggets’ biggest lead was 31 points and their intentions were plain for everyone to see. Millsap roasted the Blazers for 24 points and eight rebounds, dominating while being featured more and executing his considerable advantage in small-ball situations. “The best thing about Paul Millsap is he’s true to himself, he never tries to be something he’s not,” Malone said. “He’s not a rah-rah guy, he’s not a guy that’s going to be screaming and yelling. But I think his calm demeanor has an effect on our group. Young team going through all of this for the first time and when you can look to a four-time All-Star with 90 playoff games under his belt, that’s reassuring. He’s kind of the calm for our team and I think that has a tremendous impact on all of our young players.” Two in particular during this postseason and this series, to be sure. Jokic led the way with 25 points, 19 rebounds and six assists before fouling out late, leaving little doubt as to who deserves to wear the crown as the best big man in the league right now. Murray was splendid again, with 18 points and nine assists, while his backcourt mate Gary Harris chipped in with 16 points and six rebounds. Will Barton and Malik Beasley scored 10 points each off the bench, leading a 33-point bench scoring effort that will need to travel back to Portland for Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) Game 6 if the Nuggets have any chance of winning three straight and ending this series in six games. “We know going to Portland for Game 6 is going to be really tough,” Malone said, referencing his team’s Game 6 struggles in the first round. “Game 6 in San Antonio, we did not come ready to play, mentally or physically. I hope that we have a much different mindset going in to Portland for Game 6.” The Blazers have some serious tweaking to do, in a short amount of time, as well. Their starters didn’t even play in the fourth quarter, Terry Stotts acknowledging that the 30-point hole his team was fighting out of might have been too large, given the circumstances. And the need to preserve the energy of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the crew for what sets up as their biggest game of the season was obvious. “At this point, it’s one game at a time facing elimination,” Lillard said. “We know that we’re more than capable of getting it done in the next game. We don’t feel like we’ve played our best basketball yet, and with our back against the wall, we don’t really have a choice. Our mindset is to just get to the next one, take care of home and make it back here.” Stotts has adjustments to make before Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) as well, after the Nuggets bludgeoned his team in the paint for a 66-44 scoring advantage, while also outrebounding them 62-44. The decision to switch Enes Kanter’s primary defensive assignment from Jokic to Millsap Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), with Al-Farouq Aminu being tasked to try and contain the much bigger Jokic, backfired as Millsap went to work immediately on Kanter. “They just played harder than us,” Kanter said. “I think that was probably … even the coach said, probably this was our worst basketball the last six weeks. Shots didn’t fall in, on defense we weren’t really communicating with each other, we didn’t really trust each other. We’ve just got to learn from this and just go home and take care of home, because right now, that’s the most important game of the year.” The atmosphere Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Moda Center promises to be electric. The Blazers have long enjoyed one of the best home atmospheres in the league. But will it serve as the advantage it has in the past when the Nuggets are fresh off two straight huge wins in this series, the first on that floor? “We have two must-wins,” Stotts said. “Somebody was going to have a must-win after tonight and it’s us. So we have two must-wins ahead of us.” That four-overtime loss in Game 3 Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) could have been the emotional breaking point for the Nuggets. It wasn’t. A school shooting Tuesday morning (late Tuesday, PHL time) in a Denver suburb where Malone lives with his wife and daughters rattled the coach and an entire community. That sort of life-altering event could easily have sidetracked Malone and his team. They persevered. The Nuggets were locked in from the start. When it became clear that the Blazers weren’t going to be able to keep up the pace, they kept pushing until the final buzzer. They understand the opportunity staring them in the face; a conference finals date with the two-time reigning champion Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets, who are tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) at Oracle Arena. It’s a wild shift for a team that failed to play its way into the playoffs last year on the final night of the regular season, only to rebound and earn the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase this season. If the atmosphere for Game 4 or even Game 5 seemed overwhelming, Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) promises to be otherworldly for both of these teams that were previously separated by so little. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2019

Joshua at home in Garden despite never fighting there

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — On his way to his debut at Madison Square Garden, heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has hit a detour. His planned opponent failed several drug tests. Unfazed by the switch from Jarrrell Miller to Andy Ruiz Jr., Joshua strode into an empty Garden on Monday and was right at home. The holder of four heavyweight belts will face Ruiz on June 1 in Joshua's first U.S. appearance. The fight is more about his making a mark in this country than his opponent. Miller had a penchant for mouthing off, his 23-0-1 record built against boxers with little to no chance of entering the ring for a title bout. Replacement Ruiz (32-1, 21 KOs) has a slightly better resume and even a championship bout on it: Ruiz's only loss was to then-WBO champ Joseph Parker in 2016. "I wanted to beat down Miller, beat him down badly," Joshua said, recalling some seriously off-color trash talking from the New Yorker who failed three drug tests. "Ruiz I want to beat down, but I have respect for him." Even more so, Joshua noted, is his respect for the arena that some call America's boxing mecca. "I know the history that has been here and the sports that have been here," he said. "When I come in here to fight June 1, it will be very special." Joshua then joked with a colleague about making a name for himself in the United States. He laughed when told that New Yorkers on the street, even sports fans, rarely know of Joshua when asked. So what will it take for Americans to become as accustomed to the undefeated Brit as they were to, say, Mike Tyson in his day? "America is so vast," Joshua said. "It's beyond me in my wildest dreams. Maybe to get on YouTube and to go viral? "Back in the day, the heavyweight champion was a global icon. Everybody knew who it was and where (he was from). Now, there are so many 'superstars,' and it's harder to penetrate that." Knocking out Ruiz couldn't hurt. Joshua has won all 22 bouts, 21 by knockout. He's held at least one title since 2016, and the only belt not in his collection belongs to Alabaman Deontay Wilder — who also isn't celebrated nearly the way a Tyson was during his reign. Joshua-Wilder could be on the radar, even though Joshua has a contract with DAZN, the streaming service that will broadcast the Ruiz fight, while Wilder has steered clear of DAZN so far. Wilder puts his WBC crown on the line on May 18 against Dominic Breazeale in Brooklyn. "I am ready for Wilder, I've been ready for Wilder," Joshua said. "I've done a good job maintaining my place and he is the guy I want. He has a lot to live up to. I've got confidence flowing now. I am confident I will beat Ruiz and he is confident he will beat Breazeale. We can be confident in planning ahead." Joshua would want that fight to be late this year and back home, where he can sell out football stadiums. Ruiz might be the next step — and the first in the States — but Wilder would be the next leap. "We have a five-to-10-year plan," he said. "It's not about being famous today but how I am regarded in the next five to 10 years. We'll work hard with the platform we have to do positive things.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 7th, 2019

No need for Malone to sell Nuggets: Their time is now

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — Give Michael Malone credit, the Denver Nuggets coach is as relentless a salesman as there is in basketball. Whether it’s moving speeches delivered to his own team or pleading with television audiences to stand up and take notice of the splendid compilation of talent the franchise has stockpiled in recent years, he refuses to let up. From building the legend of Jamal Murray or waxing poetic about the virtues of Nikola Jokic, the nimble giant prone to triple-doubles on the regular, Malone is prepared to use the bully pulpit to make sure no one overlooks the Nuggets. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] A seven-game series win over San Antonio in the first round produced some of Malone’s best stuff to date, including him trumpeting Jokic as not only a legitimate Kia MVP candidate (true, this season) but also a surefire future Hall of Famer (could be, the way he’s playing). So you had to know Malone was going to be on his Nuggets informercial grind after they refused to lose Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in Portland, bouncing back after losing a grueling four-overtime thriller to the Trail Blazers here Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) with a gritty 116-112 triumph to tie this series at 2-2 headed back to Denver for Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) critical Game 5. “I’m so proud of our group,” Malone said, after his talented crew showed off the chops needed to regain the homecourt advantage they surrendered in their Game 2 loss at Pepsi Center. “And in the closing moments, I really was confident because in close games this year we were 13-3 [in games] decided by three points or less, best record in the NBA. We’re 12-1 in the second nights of back-to-backs, best record in the NBA. Our guys are tough; to come in here and win this game some 36 hours after losing a four-overtime game speaks to just how tough we are. So I wasn’t worried, we had our starting group out there. “Jamal, who I thought was phenomenal tonight, goes 11-for-11 from the foul line in a hostile environment and really kind of with the series hanging in the balance. You go down 1-3, and we all know how that story ends. I think the confidence of doing the same thing in the first round against San Antonio helped us, but our guys stepped up. We never frayed. We stayed together. And I can’t speak enough about the resiliency and toughness of our team.” And he shouldn’t. The Blazers had won 12 straight games at home dating back to the regular season and were 22-2 on their home floor since January 5. When the Nuggets saw their 10-point lead shrink to just a point with 3:02 to play as Portland closers Damian Lillard (28 points) and C.J. McCollum (29) led the charge, Denver could have easily folded up under the emotional weight of Game 3 and their current predicament. But they proved to be as resilient and tough as Malone said they were. Jokic was brilliant again, collecting his fourth triple-double (21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists) in his first postseason, second only to the five Magic Johnson piled up during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers. And Murray was even better, finishing with a game-high 34 points and draining six straight free throws in the frantic closing seconds to seal the win for a Nuggets team that didn’t allow fatigue, a raucous and sellout Moda Center crowd or the pressure to avoid that 3-1 hole rattle them. “It wasn’t the first time,” Murray said of his embrace of the pressure with the game on the line at the line. “I think free throws are my thing. My dad and I do a lot of training [on] free throws. Blindfolded, he’ll talk to me just like how the crowd is, put pressure on me. I take 1,000 free throws in practice to make or or two … and tonight, it ended up being six.” The number Malone focused on afterwards was 11, as in the number of playoff games Murray and Jokic have played in as they continue to establish themselves as postseason stars. “You think about how young we are and and what we are doing, going on the road and winning a tough game in a hostile environment,” Malone said, “and for Jamal to be the centerpiece of that has been phenomenal. If you’re a Denver Nuggets fan, how excited are you about this team now. More importantly, how excited are you for our future? We have a chance to be a really good team for many, many years and Jamal is going to be a big part of that.” The same goes for Jokic, obviously. He’s already an All-Star and is going to end up on the All-NBA first or second team as well as the top five of the voting for Kia MVP after the regular season he put together. That might explains why the entire Nuggets bench froze as they watched him limp to the sideline in the final moments after being kneed in the leg in the final seconds. “Your heart skips a beat,” Malone said. “Nikola is the face of our franchise, but he just got kneed, it was nothing serious and and we were able to hold on for the win.” For all of Malone’s bluster about his group, it’s not even necessary at this stage of the season. The Nuggets earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase on the strength of a talented and deep roster that might not resonate with casual NBA fans, but is celebrated by those in the know. Touting their accomplishments in real time makes sense for a coach trying to empower his team to believe in themselves in what could and perhaps should be a nice stretch of playoff runs in the future. But anyone paying attention can tell that the future could be now for these Nuggets. A trip to the conference finals one year after they failed to make the postseason field on the final night of the season in what amounted to a play-in game in Minneapolis last April, is a hell of a start. Malone knows it. His team knows it. And so do the Trail Blazers, who are well aware of the opportunity they squandered in a series where wavering confidence by the Nuggets might have been the only advantage they could exploit. “The good thing for us is that we won a game on their court,” Lillard said. “So it’s not like we lose both games there. We’re in a good space, 2-2, we know we’re capable of winning on their floor and that’t what we’ve got to get done. Obviously, it’s disappointing … we didn’t want to let an opportunity like this slip, but it happens. It’s playoff basketball and we’ve got to move forward.” So do the Nuggets, which is where Malone the master motivator comes into play. And just so we’re clear about something, his sell job is genuine. He knows of what he speaks in assessing a young team on the rise, having spent time coaching in Cleveland and Golden State during the formative stages with what would turn out to be teams that made it to The Finals (2007 in Cleveland). He was on Mark Jackson’s Warriors staff when they turned the corner from a lottery team to  playoff outfit (2012-13 season), helping nurture the core group of a team that has won three of the past four NBA titles and become a potential dynasty that no one saw coming at the time. So if Malone sees special things in his current team, it’s his responsibility to shout about it every now and then, both to the basketball public and especially internally. Youngsters like Jokic and Murray, Gary Harris and Malik Beasley, Torrey Craig and Monte Morris and even veterans like Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee and Game 4 hero Will Barton, who knocked down huge shots to help seal the deal, need to hear the positive reinforcement from their coach. And that’s not even taking into account what absorbing these moments means for Michael Porter Jr., who is spending his rookie season recovering from back surgery, and is certainly going to be a part of that bright future Malone is so passionate about. If anything, this Nuggets team is ahead of schedule, two wins shy of a trip to the Western Conference finals with three games to play. Two of those are coming on their home floor, where Denver compiled the best record (34-7) in the league during the regular season. Maybe Malone is right to speak the Nuggets’ success into existence rather than wishing and hoping for it to come to fruition without a word otherwise. But he won’t have to go all car salesmen on the final day of month much longer. A couple more performances like the one the Nuggets put on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) and this whole thing, the refurbished franchise with all the boxes checked on the roster -- now and for the foreseeable future -- sells itself. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Madrid sends Stay strong message to former keeper Casillas

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Real Madrid's players and fans took a moment before Sunday's 3-2 Spanish league win over Villarreal to send messages of support to former star goalkeeper Iker Casillas as he recovers from a heart attack. Players posed for a team photo wearing T-shirts that said in Spanish "Iker, we are all with you," while spectators at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium chanted his name and unfurled a huge banner saying "Madrid fans are with you. Stay strong, eternal captain." The 37-year-old Casillas fell ill while training for his club, FC Porto, on Wednesday and remains hospitalized after undergoing a catheterization. Porto's doctors said the former Spain goalkeeper is expected to fully recover, but it is too early to know if he can keep playing professionally. Casillas was a fan favorite during his 16 seasons with Madrid, where he won three Champions League and five Spanish league trophies. Casillas also helped Spain to win the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships. He joined Portuguese club Porto in 2015. Against Villarreal, Madrid bounced back from a 0-0 draw at Getafe and a 1-0 loss at Rayo Vallecano as it struggles to compete consistently despite the return of coach Zinedine Zidane. Barcelona clinched the league title last week. With Madrid in a distant third place, all the talk in the Spanish capital is what the club will do in the offseason to shake up its squad. Zidane left stars Gareth Bale and Luka Modric off his squad for the match. "You can interpret it anyway you want, but I have to pick a squad (for the game), nothing more," Zidane said afterward. "I am not going to talk about the next season of anyone." Little used striker Mariano Díaz and defender Jesús Vallejo responded to their rare starts Sunday by scoring. Díaz struck twice, while Vallejo got his first goal for the club. Gerard Moreno and Juame Costa scored for Villarreal. Madrid's Vinicius Junior returned as a late substitute after two months sidelined with a leg injury. GETAFE FOUTH Getafe is trying to join Madrid, second-place Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions League next season. The modest club moved back ahead of Sevilla into fourth place and the final spot for Europe's top club competition after beating relegation-threatened Girona 2-0 at home. Jorge Molina continued his excellent season at age 37 by scoring his 14th league goal before Ángel Rodríguez put the result beyond doubt. TWO TEAMS RELEGATED Rayo and Huesca became the first teams to be relegated from the top tier. Rayo was left seven points from safety with two matches remaining — after Valladolid beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0. Huesca is also down after it was routed 6-2 by Valencia, leaving it eight points from safety......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Cavani misses late penalty as French champion PSG draws

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Edinson Cavani missed a late penalty given after a video review as French champion Paris Saint-Germain's stuttering form continued in a 1-1 draw with Nice on Saturday. Referee Frank Schneider awarded it for a crude foul by Brazilian defender Dante on Neymar in the 88th minute, although Neymar had already shot over the bar when Dante caught his right foot, and also appeared to handle the ball when he initially controlled it. Neymar converted a penalty in the second half to draw PSG level. It was his 14th league goal. But this time he let Cavani take it, and goalkeeper Walter Benitez guessed right to palm the shot away. The draw means PSG has won only one if its past seven games, including a French Cup final defeat against Rennes last weekend. "We've been struggling a bit recently, but we have to grit our teeth and move forward," PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola said. "We have to finish on a high note with some good performances." PSG is 17 points ahead of second-placed Lille, which is at third-place Lyon on Sunday. OTHER MATCHES Last-placed Guingamp looks certain to be relegated after drawing at home to fellow struggler Caen 0-0. Guingamp is five points behind Caen in 18th position — the relegation-promotion playoff spot — with three games remaining. Nimes was promoted last season and is thoroughly enjoying being in the top flight. The southern side is eighth after winning at Reims 3-0, and pushing Reims down to ninth in the process. Also, striker Stephane Bahoken grabbed the winner as Angers won at Bordeaux 1-0. SUNDAY'S GAMES A win for second-placed Lille will move it nine points clear of Lyon and all but seal an automatic place in next season's Champions League. If Lyon loses, then bitter local rival Saint-Etienne can move into third — which earns a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds — with a win at 16th-place Monaco......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2019

BVR on Tour: San Beda s Viray twins shine in Lingayen Open

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Playing with a lot of pride in front of their provincemates, San Beda University's Nieza and Ella Viray overwhelmed Pangasinan 3's Dada Martin and Jasmin Ocado, 21-7, 21-12, for a winning start in the BVR On Tour: Lingayen Open Tuesday at the Capitol Beachfront here. The Viray twins showcased the stuff that gave their school two NCAA titles to emerge victorious in their Pool A debut. The Virays later secured a spot in the quarterfinals together with Bea Tan and Dij Rodriguez after Perlas, seeking to rebound from last weekend's second place finish in Dumaguete, downed Pangasinan 3, 21-12, 21-3. Pangasinan 2nd District Rep. Leopoldo N. Bataoil took the effort to invite BVR in Lingayen to bring in players from the national level and try playing next to the beautiful beach of Lingayen Gulf. He hopes to hone local talents to be part of this national league while promoting sports tourism in the province. Bataoil and Marlon Domalanta of the province's Sports Development Center, representing Gov. Amado Espino, attended the opening ceremony and delivered the ceremonial serve along with the Viray twins to formally open the two-day spikefest. In the men's division, Air Force 1's Jade Becaldo and Mike Abria found Army 2's Jason Uy and Randy Fallorina a tough nut to crack to nut before carving out a 21-23, 21-19, 15-7 victory. Becaldo and Abria, former two-time Boracay beach volleyball champions who were reunited and placed second in Dumaguete over the weekend, are installed as heavy favorites. Bingle Landicho had a successful return in the sand court for NU Boysen 2 with Kath Epa as the duo turned back Rizal Techonological University's Myla Lim and Hannah Patrocenio, 21-13, 21-11, and so is Kly Orillaneda, who joined forces with Roma Joy Doromal in NU Boysen 1's 21-10, 21-8 conquest of Air Force 2's Mikaela Andres and Angel Antipuesto. Despite the loss, Andres and Antipuesto, who bested Pangasinan 2's Tricia Abalos and Abigail Guzman, 21-12, 21-12, in their opening Pool B match, remain in quarterfinals contention. University of the Philippines' alums Pam Legaspi and Aliyah Ong made quick work of Pangasinan 1's Lyka Aquino and Princess Cabalteja, 21-9, 21-15, in the other women's morning match. Other men's games saw Army 2's Jason Uy and Randy Fallorina defeating FEU's Kevin Hadlocon and Ralph Justin Dablo, 22-20, 21-13, Mapua's Jeremy Santos and Benneth Abellada beating Baguio's Jason Salonga and Paul Pangidian, 21-8, 21-9, and Fury's Greg Utupo and Pemie Bagalay prevailing over RTU's Peter Galvan and Cesar Sebastian, 21-10, 21-13. Action resumes Wednesday with the quarterfinals starting at 7 a.m., with the semis and finals to be played in the afternoon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2019

Sleepwalking Warriors snap to behind ultimate weapon Durant

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES -- The only sound in a basketball game that mimics an alarm clock blaring is the final buzzer, but by then the score is official and it’s too late to wake up. And maybe the Warriors needed seven months and 88 games to recognize this, because when you’ve won three championships in four years and bring four All-Stars in their prime and play nightly against the rank-and-file, there’s a tendency to doze off just to, you know, make things interesting. Well, nap’s over. After Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) 129-110 victory over the Clippers, the buzzer has shifted to the opening tip, and suddenly the Warriors are aware of where they are and who they’re up against and what time it is. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] At least, those are the signals they’re giving off now, on the eve of the second round of the playoffs, when there is no better moment -- to paraphrase the noted prophet Kevin Durant -- to let folks know who you are. They’ll be led into their next basketball battle by Durant, fresh off a fiddy, which of course is basketball slang for 5-0 points, which finally silenced the Clippers and made the basketball world revisit the belief that the Warriors are not to be denied. This of course will be put to the test by the Rockets, arguably the biggest threat facing the Warriors between now and a June champagne sip. But really, now: If Durant plays like he has the last few games, does it really matter what James Harden and Chris Paul bring in this upcoming best-of-seven? “He’s in a groove right now,” said Steph Curry. “Special to see.” With the exception of last year’s Western Conference finals, when Houston took Golden State to the limit, the Durant Warriors have been one level above all others in the playoffs. The Clippers just took two from them -- despite Durant -- and nobody else claimed more than one victory in a best-of-seven. Overall, excluding that Rockets’ series, the Durants are 32-5 in the postseason, a clean 9-0 in series play. Everything that the Warriors were projected to do once Durant signed up for duty two summers ago has come true. They’re three superstars ahead of good teams and two superstars ahead of very good teams. Right now, they’re alone on the island, the only true great team in the league, even on nights when they don’t play the part. With all due respect to Damian Lillard, no one has has drawn more awe lately than Durant, who’s on pace to cause major problems for whomever crouches in a defensive stance before him. In the last four games, he averaged 42 points on 55 percent shooting, and at times was a singular force against the stubborn Clippers. Remember, Steph Curry is trying to climb out of a fog, stifled and troubled by missed jumpers in the last week and momentarily sidelined Friday (Saturday, PHL time) by a tweaked right ankle, which always causes the Warriors to hold their breath. Klay Thompson, as is his pattern, went ballistic for one game, then was rather tame by comparison in the others. “I just play my game through it all,” Durant said. “I definitely don’t want to go away from my teammates if they’re struggling to shoot the ball. But at the same time, I have to be aggressive and try to win the game as well.” Given how leaky the Warriors’ defense looked and how carelessly they handled the ball, the one constant in the first round was Durant drilling shots from all angles and distances, especially once he confined his chatter to making shots instead of taking them at Pat Beverley, the Clippers’ All-Star instigator. Warriors coach Steve Kerr called it “one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen” and this is someone who rode with Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan. Whether Kerr was simply caught up in the moment, it doesn’t minimize what Durant did to close out the Clippers and what he’s capable of doing against the Rockets. “He's the ultimate weapon because there's no defense for Kevin,” Kerr said. “No matter what anybody does, he can get a good shot. And he knew we needed him badly. And he just took over the game in the first half and set a great tone.” Durant appears to be locked in and on a mission, and if this is his last run with the Warriors, it’s morphing into a gallop. His 50 points Friday (Saturday, PHL time) were a personal playoff high and his 38 in the first half tied Charles Barkley for second on the all-time list. And this came on the heels of the 45 points he delivered in a losing Game 5 effort. “Sometimes you come across special people and it doesn’t matter what defense you send to them,” said Clippers guard Lou Williams. “There is no scheme. There’s nothing you can do with special people. He’s one of them and he showed it. He put them guys on his shoulders. He proved exactly who people think he is, who he thinks of himself, and he did it.” The Warriors finished with the best record in the West this season, almost on reputation or cruise control. Once again, there were lapses that seemed suspiciously like a team bored with the schedule and awaiting a summer coronation. This breezy attitude seeped into the opening round, when the Warriors choked away a 31-point lead and then lost another home game to an eighth-seeded team devoid of All-Stars. This doesn’t happen unless the heavily-favored one-seed is taking their championship rings for granted. “I think I made a joke like this first round felt like it was two months,” said Curry. “It was just the emotional part of it, I mean, losing (DeMarcus Cousins) and a 31-point lead and trying to come back on the road and the mental investment you put into it. We’ve got to be able to flip the switch from one team to the next and that will be the biggest test.” Well, and this might be a stretch, but expect the Warriors to show the Rockets a lot more respect. Deep down, Kerr knows losing a pair to the Clippers was perhaps the face-slap his team needed, and at the right time. The Warriors know any lapse in this series will likely be their last, and a fatal one as well. “We know what Houston's about,” said Kerr. “We know how good they are. We've got to be ready.” There are positive signs beyond Durant. Thompson will be the first line of defense against Harden, the league’s leading scorer this season, and Thompson is coming off a lockdown of Williams, who finally cooled and went 3-for-21 Friday (Saturday, PHL time). This will be of major importance, of course, given Harden’s usage rate and relentlessness. “If you’re not focused,” Durant said, “he can drive past you, he shoots floaters now, he’s a strong finish with either hand and obviously the step-back three-pointers is one of his staples. He can score in a variety of ways so you have to be locked in from the beginning. You’ve got to be ready to play tough all game.” Draymond Green is coming off a triple-double, while the aging Andre Iguodala seems springy and active, usually his profile this time of year. Yes, there’s finally perhaps a sense of urgency or at least an understanding of what’s at stake and more of an emphasis on staying woke for the Warriors. “Obviously we would love to win every series 4-0,” said Durant. “That would be ideal. But we know it’s not really going to happen that way.” Perhaps not. But the Durant Warriors, based on their track record, are convincing enough. 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 27th, 2019

Federer joins Murray in 4th round at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer showed against 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych that his first two wins against qualifiers at the Australian Open really were warmups. The 17-time Grand Slam champion, seeded a lowly-by-his-standards 17th after spending six months on the sidelines last season, only needed 90 minutes to beat Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round on Friday night. This was against a rival who played the Wimbledon final in 2010 and reached the quarterfinals or better in Australia the previous six years. And he'd beaten Federer in six of their previous 22 matches. Federer hit some vintage backhand winners, one that earned a hearty applause from the great Rod Laver — sitting in the crowd at the stadium named in his honor — in the second set. He had 40 winners and won 95 percent of points when he got his first serve into play. He didn't face a breakpoint. 'Crazy how quick I got out of the blocks — I did surprise myself,' Federer said of his almost flawless performance against Berdych. 'I did feel like I struggled a bit in the first two rounds.' He next plays fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori, who beat Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round for a sixth straight year at Melbourne Park. Federer leads that matchup 4-2, winning the last three. The winner of that has a potential quarterfinal against top-ranked Andy Murray, who showed no signs of trouble with his sore ankle as he advanced to the Round of 16 for the ninth straight year with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 31 Sam Querrey. It was Querrey who ended then No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic's impressive Grand Slam run in the third round at Wimbledon last year. At that time, Djokovic had won four straight major titles — Wimbledon and U.S. Open in 2015 and Australian Open and French Open in 2016. Murray, who replaced Djokovic at No. 1 last November, said he was surprised at the six-time Australian Open champion's second-round loss to Denis Istomin the previous night. But the five-time Australian Open runner-up didn't think it changed anything for him, unless he reached the final. 'I wasn't scheduled to play Novak today, so my job's to concentrate on Sam and to go into that match with a clear head and a good game plan and try to play well,' said Murray, who lost to Djokovic in four of the five finals he has contested in Melbourne. 'I did that. 'Obviously, if you're to get to the final, then it has an effect.' Murray injured his right ankle in the second round, and said he was hesitant at first but warmed into the match against Querrey. 'I felt better and better as the match went on in terms of my movement,' Murray said. 'I was moving well at the end — it was very positive.' Murray next plays Mischa Zverev. Seven-time major winner Venus Williams routed Duan Yingying 6-1, 6-0 in less than an hour to progress to the fourth round for the 10th time since her Australian Open debut in 1998. 'It's good (but) it's never enough,' she said, looking ahead to her fourth-round match against Mona Barthel. 'I've tasted it before and it's always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarterfinals. That's what I'm going to go for.' The last two Americans in the men's draw lost within an hour of each other. After Querrey's exit, No. 23-seeded Jack Sock lost 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-7 (8), 6-3 to No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. There are no more Australians in the men's draw, either, after Daniel Evans beat Bernard Tomic 7-5, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka had 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7) win over Viktor Troicki to move into a fourth-round match against Andreas Seppi. In the last match of day five, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza closed out with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Anastasia Sevastova. Top-ranked Angelique Kerber had a straight-sets win for the first time in her first Australian Open title defense, 6-0, 6-4 against Kristyna Pliskova. She next play 35th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe, who reached the fourth round in Australia for the first time with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win over 2014 semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard. Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova held off former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 5-7, 9-7 in 3 ½ hours. Australian Open organizers were briefed by Victoria state police over an incident in downtown Melbourne where a man deliberately drove into a street crowded with pedestrians, killing three people and injuring 20. Police said the incident, about three kilometers (two miles) from Melbourne Park, had no links to terrorism. 'Be assured there is no threat to the precinct,' Australian Open organizers said in a statement. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017