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GlobalPort back to cruising, hands NLEX 4th loss

MANILA, Philippines – GlobalPort vented its ire on NLEX and whipped the Road Warriors by 22 points, 116-94, in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, May 16. The Batang Pier – who rebounded from a sorry loss that snapped a two-game winning run  – proved too ........»»

Category: newsSource: rappler rapplerMay 16th, 2018

PBA 43 Review: What’s Blackwater’s ceiling?

The PBA's 43rd season was a loooooong one. Seriously, it started December of 2017 and it ended December of 2018. That's 12 months of almost non-stop basketball. But with the current PBA season finally drawing to a close, it's time we look back at how each team fared in 2018. Today, we take on the Blackwater Elite.   SUPER ELITE Blackwater’s first two conferences were frustrating and forgettable. The Elite’s Philippine Cup as frustrating as Blackwater just couldn’t catch a break. Towards the end, the team had to rely on others in order to advance to the playoffs. Usually, those kind of scenarios don’t end well. It didn’t end well for Blackwater. The Elite missed the playoffs due to inferior quotient. The team didn’t even have the chance to play for a knockout, that’s how bad their quotient was. The Commisisoner’s Cup was worse. Blackwater finished with a 1-10 record and the only win came during a last-second dunk by import Herny Walker. The Elite needed a change of scenery, they needed a spark. Enter Asia League. Blackwater competed in the Super 8 tournament in Macau along with NLEX. And while the Elite were plagued witn inferior quotient once again and missed the semifinals, the team played well and forged some strong chemistry. It was evident when the Elite returned for the Governors’ Cup and Blackwater had its best conference to date. There was still some growing pains for the team, they missed a twice-to-beat edge by one game, but the Elite have made themselves into a true playoff contender. Blackwater has since made changes to its team, but for the upcoming season, it appears that the Elite have a higher ceiling to reach. That’s super.   Blackwater ELITE in the 2017-2018 PBA Season Philippine Cup: 5-6 (10th place) Commissioner’s Cup: 1-10 (12th place) Governors’ Cup: 7-4 (5th place) Overall: 13 wins and 30 losses. One playoff appearance.   POST DRAFT NOTE: Blackwater had quite a haul in the 2018 PBA Draft. Following an approved trade, the Elite got their hands on Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter for JP Erram. The loss of Erram hurts for sure but Abu joins a versatile frontline that also has Raymar Jose and Mac Belo. That’s a young core but it helps build Blackwater’s future. Desiderio is a strange case as the Elite have more proven players ahead of the rotation. Still, the former UP captain should take over the spot of Paul Zamar in the team. Blackwater technically still has the rights to no. 2 pick Bobby Ray Parks Jr. Pending any deals, the Alab Pilipinas MVP is still headed to the Elite once he jumps to the PBA for real.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

PBA: Blackwater s next assignment is to bounce back after first loss, says Ramos

With that first loss out of the way, head coach Bong Ramos and the Blackwater Elite now have their next assignment, and that's to bounce back.  The Elite went on a surprising 4-0 tear to begin the 2018 PBA Governor's Cup, but unfortunately for the team that were in last place during the prior conference, that fairy tale run came to an end at the hands of the NLEX Road Warriors with a 124-106 loss, Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.  Ramos, who was quick to take responsibility for what he called an all-around off night for the Elite, made sure to tell his players not to dwell too much on the loss and focus on the next task at hand.  Next up on their schedule is a showdown the the Meralco Bolts, who currently have a 1-3 record.  "Diyan namin ngayon susubukan, do we know how to bounce back?" Ramos said after their loss, Wednesday night.  The veteran coach is confident that his boys have what it takes to get the job done, but was sure to remind them that wins don't come easy, especially in the PBA.  "Character, I’m sure we developed character na maganda dahil naka-4-0 kami eh, and hindi naman ordinary yung tinalo namin na teams." Ramos said, "Sabi ko nga sa mga players, we cannot get our fifth win in on a silver spoon. Tandaan niyo, wala pa tayong na-pprove, kasi nga kulelat tayo last conference eh, so lahat ng kalaban natin malakas,"  In their first four wins, Blackwater took care of business against Talk N' Text, San Miguel, Northport, and defending champions Barangay Ginebra. Quite the impressive resume so far.  Ramos believes that against Meralco and the rest of the challenges that lay in front of them, they'll be able to take care of business as well.  "I believe that we have to re-group. Mag-reregroup kami.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 26th, 2018

PBA: White helps Globalport dominate despite nursing injury

Globalport import Malcolm White has been dealing with back spasms for almost a week now and yet the Batang Pier could have easily gone 2-0 despite their reinforcement being limited. Instead, Global is 1-1 since Saturday with the only loss being a five-point decision to Magnolia last May 12 in Angeles City. White hurt his back the day before. "The bus ride was three hours I fell asleep and I was in a weird position," White recalled Wednesday when asked about his injury. "We got to practice the night before the game and I pulled something in my back. I was not myself in that game [vs. Magnolia]," he added. After scoring only 17 points against the Hotshots, White vowed to bounce back for the Batang Pier. Against NLEX Wednesday, he came through, finishing with 20 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks. More importantly, Globalport got the win this time, a dominant 116-94 decision over the Road Warriors. "I told myself I had to bounce back and try to recover for this game [vs. NLEX]," he said. "[I wanted to] give my good performance for this game," he added. White mentioned that his back is still a problem but he's working his way towards peak health again. "It's still a little tight but it's a whole lot better than it was the first time I've done it and I had to go right into the next game the next day with a pulled back. That was tough, really tough," White said. "But today I felt a whole lot better, I was probably 90 percent," he added.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 16th, 2018

PBA: Meralco’s Onuaku getting back to health after tough start to conference

Meralco Bolts reinforcement Arinze Onuaku is slowly getting back into shape following a rough start to the 2018 PBA Commissioners Cup. Tough in the sense that the former Best Import wasn’t at a hundred percent to start the conference. Onuaku battled a stomach virus before the start of the Commissioners Cup, going in and out of the hospital, but has managed to keep producing for the Bolts, putting up 30 points and 19 boards in his debut - a win over Columbian Dyip - and then going for 21 points and 14 boards in their close loss to Globalport. Friday night at the Araneta Coliseum against the NLEX Road Warriors, Onuaku was again effective for the Bolts as he put up 15 points, pulled down a game-high 23 rebounds to help get the dominant 106-90 victory. After the game, the 30-year old Maryland native said that he was indeed in better shape than the weeks prior. “I feel better, last week was tough, but we had a little time off so I was able to get my body recovered a little bit.” With Meralco improving to 2-1 after Friday’s contest, Onuaku is confident that he and the Bolts are in a good spot to contend for a championship, especially with the right game plan. “We’re gonna be alright, we just gotta continue to put the work in in practice and do what we practiced in the game.” “Today I think we were able to take some things from practice to the game that helped us.” Onuaku added. For the second game in a row, Onuaku wasn’t Meralco’s main offensive threat, as guard Chris Newsome paced the Bolts’ offense with 30 points, but that wasn’t an issue for the six-foot-nine forward. Plus, being tightly guarded all game long likely played a factor as well. “That’s what happens when you got three people on you, you pass the ball, so that’s what I’mma do.” Arinze finished with five assists, just one shy of playmaker Baser Amer’s team-high six. Up next for Arinze and the Bolts will be a showdown with defending champions San Miguel Wednesday, May 9th at the Mall of Asia Arena.       .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2018

Murray, Jokic lead Nuggets to 135-105 rout of Bulls

By Pat Graham, Associated PRess DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored 22 of his 25 points in the third quarter, Nikola Jokic finished two rebounds shy of another triple-double and the Denver Nuggets cruised past Chicago 135-105 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) for their 12th straight home win over the Bulls. Chicago hasn't knocked off the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center since Feb. 8, 2006. The Bulls also remain winless in 2019, with their losing streak stretching to nine in a row. Jokic had 18 points and 11 assists as the Nuggets bounced back from a 142-111 drubbing Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) at the hands of Golden State in a matchup of the top two teams in the Western Conference. Lauri Markkanen scored 27 for a Chicago team that finished up a fruitless five-game trip. The Nuggets showed no residual effects from the lopsided loss to the Warriors, in which they allowed an NBA-record, 51-point first quarter. Denver picked up the defensive intensity from the start and limited the Bulls to 47 points at halftime. Denver led by as many as 40. Jokic did a little bit of everything, including a move where he went around the waist with the ball to avoid a defender and drew a foul while making the shot. That kicked up chants of "M-V-P!" The seven-footer from Serbia didn't have his best shooting night, though, missing several easy baskets in finishing 6-of-18 from the field. Bulls coach Jim Boylen took a "charge" late in the first quarter, when Torrey Craig fell on top of him after tumbling out of bounds. The ball was awarded to Chicago. TIP-INS Bulls: Rookie F Wendell Carter Jr. was ruled out with a sprained left thumb. He's day-to-day. ... G Zach LaVine was held to eight points, well below his average of 23.2. Nuggets: G Will Barton missed the game for personal reasons. ... G Gary Harris returned after missing five games with hamstring tightness and scored 14 points in 19 minutes as the Nuggets had seven players in double figures. ... Denver hit a season-high 20 three-pointers. KEEPING THEM FRESH Nuggets coach Michael Malone has been curtailing practices to keep his team fresh, especially in light of all their recent injuries. "I don't want to leave our fight in the gym and have nothing left in games," he said. STEPPING UP Boylen appreciated Kris Dunn taking accountability for his less-than-stellar play in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the week. Dunn had six points and five turnovers against the Lakers. "He took it on the chest that he's got to play better for us to be successful. I'm just proud of him," Boylen said. "What we're striving for is to play better basketball and to own the 'Bulls' across our chest." UP NEXT Bulls: Host Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Nuggets: Finish a four-game homestand Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) against Cleveland......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2019

Arsenal facing make-or-break 6 days

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press It's a six-day stretch that could make or break Arsenal's season and prompt renewed scrutiny into the machinations of a club that appears to have issues at every level. A home game against Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, soon followed by the visit of Manchester United in the FA Cup. Lose both matches and Arsenal's bid for domestic silverware will be over for another season. Finishing in the top four of the league, and thereby qualifying for the Champions League, would also be highly unrealistic. And it won't even be February. It wasn't so long ago that Unai Emery was making a mockery of any fears he would struggle to oversee a smooth transition from Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign. The team was on a 22-match unbeaten run in all competitions. Emery's high-energy pressing game was working and the goals were flowing, even if there were some slight concerns about the defense. Tottenham, Arsenal's big rival, was trounced 4-2 in the North London derby. "We've got out Arsenal back," chanted gleeful Arsenal fans. Then came the slide. The first worrying signs came in a 3-2 loss at lowly Southampton on Dec. 16 that ended Arsenal's four-month unbeaten run. Then there was the elimination at the hands of Tottenham in the English League Cup quarterfinals, before a 5-1 mauling by Liverpool in the league at Anfield on Dec. 29 which revived memories of the defensive horror shows from the darkest days in the final years of the Wenger era. More recently, there was the timid 1-0 loss at West Ham on Saturday when Arsenal had two shots on target. If Arsenal loses to Chelsea, it will drop nine points adrift of the top four and probably into sixth place — the position it finished in Wenger's last year. Arsenal will be left relying on winning a cup competition — the FA Cup or, perhaps more likely, the Europa League — to salvage anything from its season. The problems won't end there. Mesut Ozil is the club's marquee and highest-earning player — reportedly getting 350,000 pounds a week ($450,000) — yet is regularly left out by Emery, just as he was against West Ham on Saturday. Ozil, a mercurial player with a languid approach, doesn't fit Emery's preferred style and so is proving to be a very expensive commodity. Another midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, has also been in and out of the team this season and is reportedly close to signing for Juventus. "At certain times, you have to provoke friction with footballers," Emery said this week, perhaps with a nod to his relationship with Ozil. "From that friction, you can get something more out of them, something from inside." Without its two most creative attacking midfielders, and with Henrikh Mkhitaryan currently injured, Arsenal lacks any playmaking ability or balance behind the two strikers, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Meanwhile, Emery's team has kept only three clean sheets in 22 league games. "There are times," Emery said, "when defensively we have not been very solid but we have still won because offensively we have created a lot of chances. So, at the moment, I am still leaning toward making sure the team doesn't lose what it has." Emery doesn't have the option of buying his way out of trouble. He said last week that there is no money available for permanent signings, only loans, with Arsenal having spent 70 million pounds on four players in the offseason and a club-record 56 million pounds on Aubameyang last January. In an attempt to formalize a structure to the technical staff above the manager, Arsenal created the positions of head of football relations (Raul Sanllehi joined from Barcelona) and head of recruitment (Sven Mislintat joined from Borussia Dortmund) in 2017. No way was Emery going to have the same power as Wenger. Yet sections of the British media are reporting this week that Mislintat is on his way out as part of a power struggle in the wake of the departure of chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who left for AC Milan in October. So, potential upheaval behind the scenes. No money to spend. Apparent rifts with key players. And a defensively suspect team that has lost four of its last eight games. It's a huge week coming up for Arsenal and Emery, for whom the enormity of the task in replacing Wenger might finally be sinking in......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

On bad hip, Andy Murray out in 1st round of Australian Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — If this was it for Andy Murray, if this truly was it, he gave himself — and an appreciative, raucous crowd that included his mother and brother — quite a gutsy goodbye. What Murray could not quite do Monday at the Australian Open was finish off a stirring comeback and prolong what might just be the final tournament of his career. Playing on a surgically repaired right hip so painful that pulling on socks is a chore, he summoned the strength and strokes to erase a big deficit and force a fifth set before eventually succumbing to 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2, Murray's first opening-round loss at a Grand Slam tournament in 11 years. "If this was my last match ... I gave literally everything I had," Murray told a full house at Melbourne Arena, his voice shaking. "It wasn't enough tonight." Murray, just 31, is a year removed from the operation and he announced in the days leading up to the Australian Open that he will retire in 2019. The biggest looming question is whether he'd be able to make it to July for Wimbledon, where he won two of his three major titles, including the first for a British man in 77 years. He had raised the prospect that he might not be able to continue past this week, although he did leave a bit of room open, saying after Monday's match: "Maybe I'll see you again. I'll do everything possible to try. If I want to go again, I'll need to have a big operation (and) there's no guarantees I'll be able to come back, anyway." Even with a hitch in his gait, even as he leaned forward to rest his hands on knees between points, Murray summoned the strength and the strokes to push the match beyond the 4-hour mark. And the fans tried to will him past Bautista Agut, who had lost in straight sets all three previous matches the two men had played. They roared when Murray managed to break back to 2-all on the way to taking the third set, with his mom, Judy, smiling widely as she stood alongside other spectators. They chanted his name when he grabbed the fourth set. They stood when the compelling contest ended. "Andy deserves this atmosphere. Andy deserves (that) all the people came to watch him," Bautista Agut said. "He's a tough, tough fighter. A tough opponent. He gives everything until the last point. I want to congratulate him for all he did for tennis." Afterward, a video was shown in the stadium with tributes to Murray from various players, including rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, along with Nick Kyrgios, Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova and Sloane Stephens. "Amazing career. Congratulations, buddy," Federer said. "I'm your biggest fan.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

NCAA Season 94 volleyball: San Beda secures at least a semis seat playoff

San Beda University got back on the winning track after crushing skidding Letran, 25-18, 25-14, 25-13, Friday to secure at least a playoff for a semifinals spot in the NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball competition  at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The Lady Red Spikers recovered from a four-set defeat at the hands of College of St. Benilde before the long holiday break to keep its hold of the solo second spot with 6-1 win-loss record behind league-leading and unbeaten defending champion Arellano University (6-0). Nieza Viray led the way for last year’s runner-up San Beda with 17 points coming off 14 kills, two aces and a kill block while twin sister Jeziela Viray got 11 markers. Skipper Cesca Racraquin finished with nine points, 11 digs and seven excellent receptions in the Lady Red Spikers’ 72-minute victory. “At least ito naman confidence-booster matapos namin matalo di ba? At least naka-recover na ang teammates ko saka ako. Work hard lang and saka dapat mas mag-aim ng higher. Hindi yung kuntento lang kami sa kung ano ang narating namin last year kailangan mas mataas ang goal namin this year,” said Racraquin.       The Lady Red Spikers’ will try to formally secure a Final Four seat on Tuesday against San Sebastian College before their Finals rematch against the Lady Chiefs on January 15. Miracle Mhae Mendoza scored eight points while Chamnerlaine Cunada had six for the Lady Knights, who fell to their sixth straight defeat for a 1-6 slate.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2019

VOLLEYBALL IS LIFE: A look back at Philippine volleyball in 2018

Glorious victories, dynasties, historic feats, controversies and memorable moments once again highlighted another fruitful year for Philippine volleyball.   Now, let us take a look back in the year that was in volleyball:   DYNASTY Powerhouse teams continued to thrive in the country’s most popular collegiate leagues. Arellano University muscled its way back into the NCAA Season 93 Finals and met a newcomer in San Beda University. The Lady Chiefs did find the Lady Red Spikers as feisty opponents in their first championship meeting, needing five sets to survive San Beda in Game One. But it didn’t take long for Arellano U to stomp its class over the newbies to capture its second straight title and fourth overall crown in five years. De La Salle University painted UAAP Season 80 green after annexing its third straight title handing legendary head coach Ramil De Jesus his third grand slam in the country’s most popular and competitive collegiate league. Second year setter Michelle Cobb stepped up to the challenge of filling the big shoes left by Kim Fajardo and complemented the depth and firepower of DLSU. Far Eastern University, which advanced into the Finals for the first time after a decade, stood no chance against the onslaught of the Lady Spikers, which swept their way onto throne. University of Perpetual Help completed a four-peat in the NCAA juniors after sweeping Letran. Philippine Air Force snatched the Premier Volleyball League men’s Reinforced Conference crown and the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference title. Sisi Rondina cemented her legacy as the UAAP’s queen of the sands after completing a three-peat in women’s beach volleyball. Rondina wrapped her tour of duty with four titles in five years. The Tigers ruled the men’s division.       YEAR OF THE UNDERDOGS San Beda University made great strides in NCAA Season 93 after earning its first-ever Finals appearance behind the efforts of Cesca Racraquin and twins Nieza and Jiezela Viray. The Lady Red Spikers closed the elims with an 8-1 win-loss record and took down Perpetual in the semis. Languishing at the bottom half of the standings since the return of its women’s volleyball program in 2008, Jose Rizal University made history by advancing into the Final Four. Shola Alvarez capped the Lady Bombers’ remarkable season by pocketing the Most Valuable Player award.   Far Eastern University made it to the UAAP women’s volleyball Finals by booting out crowd-favorite Ateneo de Manila University in the semis.  For the first time in five years, the Blue Eagles found themselves in a very difficult position in the Final Four. With a twice-to-win disadvantage, the Marck Espejo-led Ateneo shocked FEU – a team that beat them twice in the elims – to march to its fifth straight championship appearance.      But the real underdog story belonged to NU. After three years of finishing runner-up to the Blue Eagles, the Bulldogs led by Bryan Bagunas finally got their long-awaited revenge as they swept Ateneo off its three-year reign at the throne.     OFF COURT STORIES, CONTROVERSIES University of the East parted ways with head coach Francis Vicente midway in Season 80 after three and a half seasons with the Lady Warriors. Vicente left for ‘personal reasons’ with a UE coaching record of 2-45 (win-loss). Red Warriors head coach Sammy Acaylar also resigned from his post midway in the season. University of Sto. Tomas hitter EJ Laure after months of speculations to the real reason of her sitting out UAAP Season 80 broke her silence by saying that needed time to recover from her right shoulder injury to end all the rumors circulating including an alleged pregnancy.    Sound bites, videos and clips that show collegiate players’ ‘human side’ made its rounds around social media that drew mixed reactions from fans.  Just like in the previous years, controversy filled the formation of the national women’s volleyball team. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. initially named Ramil De Jesus as the national team coach but just two months after his designation, the multi-titled DLSU mentor resigned from his post citing ‘conflict of schedule’. Shaq Delos Santos took over De Jesus’ spot. Netizens went abuzz when the composition of the national team that participated in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games was released as fans give their different views on who should and should not be included in the roster.             LVPI named a new president in Peter Cayco of Arellano U to replace Joey Romasanta during the association’s election.   WRITING HISTORY Smart’s Cuban import Gigi Silva carved a world scoring record in the Philippine Superliga after scoring 56 points in a lost cause against Cocolife in the 2018 Grand Prix. Silva pounded 53 kills and had three aces to land her name in the fourth spot in the women’s world scoring record behind Polina Rahimova of Azerbaijan’s 58 points in 2015 while playing in Japan, American Madison Kingdon’s 57 (2017 Korea Volleyball League) and Bulgarian Elitsa Vasileva’s 57 (2013 Korea Volleyball League). Silva also surpassed the 55 points of Americans Nicole Fawcett (2013 KVL) and Alaina Bergsma, who led Petron to the 2014 PSL Grand Prix crown, (2016 KVL).     Not to be outdone, local volleyball star Marck Espejo had a 55-point explosion of his own in the Blue Eagles’ five-set Game 1 UAAP Final Four win over FEU. The five-time MVP pounded 47 attacks, had six kill blocks and two service aces for the Katipunan-based squad. Espejo scored 11 points in the deciding frame including Ateneo’s last four to seal the win in the match that lasted for two hours and 21 minutes. Espejo’s feat fueled Ateneo’s eventual semis series win over the twice-to-beat Tamaraws.  Espejo and DLSU libero Dawn Macandili were named as the Philippine Sportswriters Association’s 2017 Mr. and Miss Volleyball.     The Philippines saw three players make their mark in the international scene this year as Espejo and sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat were tapped as imports in Japan’s V. Premier League. Espejo is now playing for Oita Miyoshi Weiss Adler while Jaja and Dindin suit up for Saitama Ageo Medics and Toray Arrows, respectively.     After 36 long years, the Philippines sent a women’s volleyball team to participate in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The squad won against Hong Kong in straight sets in pool play in the country’s first Asian Games victory since defeating India in the 1982 New Delhi Games. The PHI advanced in the quarterfinals but went home empty-handed. The Filipinas ended up at ninth place in the AVC Asian Cup. Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio made waves in the country’s hosting of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open after the duo barged in the quarterfinals. The tandem eventually bowed down to eventual champion Japan. The NU Bulldogs brought its bark into the international scene and howled its way to giving honor to country by winning the ASEAN University Games gold medal at the expense of Thailand. Volleyball proved to be the most talked about sport in the country as #UAAPSeason80Volleyball became the most tweeted sports hashtag in 2018.   SMASHING WIN, BLAZING VICTORY Creamline became the most successful club in the Premier Volleyball League this year after winning its breakthrough Reinforced Conference crown before following it up with a title romp in the Open Conference. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought after leading the Cool Smashers to the Reinforced Conference throne.   Creamline’s Michele Gumabao joined Binibining Pilipinas and represented the country im the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania, landing at the top 15.     Petron lorded it over in the PSL after winning the Grand Prix and All-Filipino Conference titles at the expense of archrival F2 Logistics, which ruled the Invitational Conference. University of the Philippines ended a 36-year title drought by claiming the PVL Collegiate Conference championship and followed it up by reigning supreme in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam The SiPons tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons of Petron annexed their second straight PSL Challenge Cup beach volleyball title. University of Perpetual Help reclaimed the NCAA men’s title after taking down Arellano University as the Altas bagged it 11th title overall.           National University took back the title it lost last year in the UAAP boys’ tournament while De La Salle-Zobel bagged the girls’ mint. The Beach Volleyball Republic continued its advocacy of propagating the sport throughout the country.   END OF THE ROAD After winning three straight UAAP titles, the Lady Spikers bid goodbye to its Big Three in Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili. Season 80 saw the end of the six-year Ateneo-DLSU Finals rivalry as the Lady Eagles bowed down to FEU in the semis. The Blue Eagles three-year reign ended at the hands of NU as Ateneo gave its farewell to its greatest men’s volleyball star Marck Espejo and prized setter Ish Povorosa.    NU’s four-year domination in the girls’ division was snapped by DLS-Zobel. After a dry 2018 PVL season, Pocari Sweat parted ways with its franchise player Myla Pablo as newcomer Motolite agreed to buyout the hitter’s last three contract years.      Thai coach Tai Bundit after five years and bringing two titles including a rare tournament sweep to the Lady Eagles finally called it quits after Ateneo’s campaign in UAAP Season 80. Creamline gave Bundit a farewell championship trophy in the PVL.      A NEW BEGINNING It was a colorful 2018, indeed, for volleyball but 2019 is another promising year for the sport. Can the Lady Chiefs complete a three-peat in the NCAA? Newcomers are sure to bring more excitement and interest in the UAAP. DLSU will try to extend its reign for another season while NU is looking for a repeat crown in the men’s side. Another season for the PSL and the PVL will open while the national men’s and women’s team will highlight the country’s Southeast Asian Games hosting.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

PBA Finals: Alex Compton sick to the stomach as he sinks to 0-5 in Finals

ANTIPOLO CITY, RIZAL -- After another loss in the PBA Finals, his fifth out of five appearances, coach Alex Compton admitted that the feeling of frustration gets to him every time the Alaska Aces bow out of the championship series. Compton, who is 0-5 in the Finals, set a new record for most Finals appearances without a victory, extending his torment against San Miguel Corporation-backed teams. The Aces lost to the San Miguel Beermen in three heartbreaking series, with them bowing their heads down every time. Alaska lost to San Miguel for the first time under Compton's watch in the 2015 PBA Philippine Cup Finals, an epic seven-game showdown which was not decided up until the final buzzer.  San Miguel and Alaska then faced each other once more in the Governors' Cup Finals that same season, where the Aces and import Romeo Travis were swept 4-0 by the same squad. His squad then faced the Paul Lee-led Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the Commissioner's Cup Finals the very next season, where they lost in six games. It also featured a Paul Lee dagger, with the guard drilling the game-winner from the baseline, a similar shot Lee drilled in Game 5 of this series over two years later.  Despite all this, they held their head up high and faced dreaded San Miguel the very next conference, and they looked like they had the series in the bag, up 3-0. However, the Beermen established history and won the next four games to become the first PBA team ever to climb back in a run now immortalized as the 'Beeracle'. Fast forward to Wednesday evening. Magnolia used its choking defense to get easy baskets and it became the difference in the 102-86 clincher at the Ynares Center here.  "Right now I feel sick to my stomach, but you know, the bottom line is, if you don't win the championship in the PBA, you lost. So it's all of us, we lost in the Finals. 11 teams lost to Magnolia, we lost in the Finals. That's how it works," the mentor said after the season-ending loss. "I think what's particularly painful about the Finals loss is that you're there. It's that you're there. It's always frustrating." Even though he has not won a Finals series just yet, Compton knows that it is a better feeling to have fought hard but fell short than a disastrous season like the previous one. The former pro also lamented if the ball did not sail to Paul Lee's hands in Game 5, which led to the Best Player of the Conference drilling the game-winner with 1.3 seconds left to take the 79-78 win at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.  "But when you're there, when you're a blocked shot, loose ball away from winning Game 5, when you're there, everything just feels... it's more painful in a sense." With the PBA season set to start January 2019 and end January 2020, there will be no real offseason, since the three-conference tournaments will have long breaks due to the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, and the South East Asian Games set to be held in the country November.  In a team with no real superstars, they rely on Compton's system and Alaska's culture to get wins, but of course, it would be difficult to be good if the players are nicked and banged up due to injuries.  How will Alaska deal with the long and winding road that is the PBA season? "So, the question is how do you handle a pre-season going into another 14-month season, that's due to end late January of 2020. There might be a little bit of triage early on."   __     Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 20th, 2018

NCAA Season 94 volleyball: Lady Bombers even slate, bury Lady Generals deeper south

Jose Rizal University bounced back mightily from a sorry setback with an emphatic, 25-21, 25-8, 25-20, sweep of listless Emilio Aguinaldo College in the NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball competition at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Tuesday. The Lady Bombers erased the bitter memory of a five-set defeat at the hands of San Beda University last week and vented their ire on the Lady Generals with a dominating win that evened their win-loss record to 3-3 as the league enters a two-week holiday break. JRU moved up half a game behind fifth-running University of Perpetual Help (3-2). The Lady Bombers will return to action on January 3 against San Sebastian College, which is tied with College of St. Benilde at third to fourth with 4-1 slates. The Lady Generals suffered its sixth straight setback in as many games to remain at the cellar.   (To be updated) ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 18th, 2018

ONE Championship: Jomary Torres is eager to pick herself up after bowing to Mei Yamaguchi

Experiencing two defeats in a row is not the ideal way that a mixed martial artist would want to end a year, but that is exactly how Jomary "The Zamboanginian Fighter" Torres is wrapping up her 2018.   Torres started the year with a bang, scoring a 40-second knockout victory over Team Lakay's April Osenio at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES in Manila, Philippines last January.   She then made a trip back to the cage eight months later against Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES in Jakarta, Indonesia.   Expectations were high for Torres, but the Filipina was outplayed at every turn by Lumban Gaol, yielding to the Indonesian hometown hero by unanimous decision.   With the goal to redeem herself and conclude the year on a triumphant note after suffering her first career loss in the sport, she took the challenge of facing former ONE World Title challenger Mei "V.V" Yamaguchi of Japan at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last Friday, 7 December.   Yamaguchi showcased her edge in experience and skills as she outworked Torres in both the striking and ground game departments over the course of three rounds, cruising to a clear-cut unanimous decision.   Although Torres did not get what she wished for, the 22-year-old native of Zamboanga City finds comfort with the thought of going the distance against a battle-tested martial artist such as Yamaguchi.   "To share the stage with a world-class athlete like Yamaguchi is a great learning experience. I see this as something that would benefit my career in the future," she stated.   "This is definitely a great learning experience for me. I gave everything I have, but it didn't quite work out. I knew I was a big underdog, but I stepped up and went all-out against her.”   She concedes that her Japanese opponent was simply the better woman, suggesting that her cage meeting with Yamaguchi will be supplemental to her journey as an athlete in mixed martial arts.   "It's a huge help to have been able to compete against someone of Mei Yamaguchi's caliber. She's a former ONE World Title contender,” she said. "She was the better lady that night, but that's part of being an athlete. I will learn and improve.”   Her first three impressive bouts in the world's largest martial arts organization convinced observers that Torres is a special competitor in the women’s atomweight division of ONE Championship.   Despite the string of setbacks, Torres plans on living up to her potential, believing that better days are definitely ahead in her young career.   "I have a great career ahead of me. The loss will only make me a better competitor moving forward," she vowed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 10th, 2018

Defiant Guiao keeps fate in Gilas World Cup bid: 'Alam ko kaya pa natin'

MANILA, Philippines --- When Yeng Guiao took over Gilas Pilipinas, his "contract" was to run until the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. However, there's a very good chance that the Philippines might not even make it there. If that's the case, coach Yeng will step down from his post on his own. "When I took on this job, I stated very clearly that my objective and our goal is to bring this team to the World Cup," Guiao said. "I also stated that if I cannot bring this team to the World Cup, I'll walk away," he added. After Monday's crushing loss to Iran, Gilas falls out of Group F's top-3 for the first time. The Philippines has an even 5-5 record following back-to-back defeats and the country trails Australia (9-1), Iran (7-3), and Japan (6-4) in the standings. Only the top-3 move on to the World Cup and the Boomers have already secured their slot. The best fourth placed team also moves on but the fate of the two teams that happen to place in the top-4 in both groups will rely on China's final placing. As hosts, the Chinese have a sure slot in the 2019 World Cup. If China makes it to the top-3 of Group E, both fourth placed teams move on. China is currently no. 3 in Group E with a 6-4 mark. Still, while a chance to mak it to the World Cup is ever present, it doesn't take away from the disaster that was Gilas Pilipinas' final two home games in these Asian Qualifiers. "Well, of course we're disappointed, not just about the match but for the whole window," Guiao said after the Iran loss, which came days after the shock upset at the hands of Kazakhstan. "I still feel this is a strong team. I still feel if the chances are slimmer going to the World Cup but I still feel we can do it. Alam kong kaya pa rin natin," Guiao added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 3rd, 2018

FIBA WORLD CUP: Fajardo, Gilas learn tough lesson in loss to Kazakhstan

MANILA, Philippines --- Gilas Pilipinas is ready to turn a shock loss into a valuable lesson. The Philippines suffered a monumental upset Friday against Kazakhstan in the Asian Qualifiers and the national team's quest to the 2019 FIBA World Cup took a major hit. Still, Gilas is still in the running and is actually tied with Japan for third place with identical 5-4 records. Gilas can basically nullify this loss to Kazakhstan Monday provided they beat Iran in another big game. The Iranians didn't get any additional ground after losing to Australia and their 6-3 record is only one full game better than that of the Filipinos. Despite a disappointing result now, the Philippines has another chance and Gilas is ready to not waste this second opportunity. "Maski matalo lalo na nasa homecourt tayo pero lesson learned yun," June Mar Fajardo said. "Hindi kailangan i-down mga sarili natin dahil sa talong to, di natin pwedeng dalhin yung sama ng loob sa game sa Monday kasi mas lalong maa-apektuhan tayo. Kailangan lang matuto," he added. Gilas is ready to move on from this defeat to Kazakhstan and despite the Philippines actually taking a beating at the hands of Iran in the previous window, the national team is confident they can bounce back. "Buong tiwala ko sa team so kailangan pa nating gawin lahat para manalo," Fajardo said. "Move on na pero di dapat kalimutan yung lesson [vs. Kazakhstan]," he added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2018

NCAA Season 94 volleyball: Lady Pirates defuse Lady Bombers

Lyceum of the Philippines University protected its turf as the Lady Pirates turned back the visiting Jose Rizal University, 25-19, 25-22, 20-25, 26-24, Thursday to notch their first win in the NCAA Season 94 women’s volleyball competition. Alexandra Rafael led the LPU’s home stand to barge in the win column after a heartbreaking five-set loss to San Sebastian College in their debut. Rafael tallied 19 points anchored on 15 attacks, two aces and two kill blocks while Cherilyn Sindayen displayed an all-around effort with 13 markers, 13 digs and eight excellent receptions for the Lady Pirates. Rocelyn Hongria added 11 points for LPU, which pounded 44 attacks and exploited the Lady Bombers sketchy reception with 11 aces. JRU dropped to its second straight defeat after suffering a straight sets beating at the hands of defending champion Arellano University last Friday. Dolly Versoza was the only Lady Bomber in double figures with 14 while Karen Montojo and Mary Grace Rivera combined for 17 markers.   ---      Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2018

McDermott, Turner lead Pacers to 121-88 rout of Jazz

By Matthew Coles, Associated Press SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Doug McDermott scored a season-high 21 points and the Indiana Pacers rolled to an easy victory without their leading scorer, beating the Utah Jazz 121-88 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Victor Oladipo, averaging 21.4 points, missed his fourth game with a sore right knee, so his teammates turned up their defensive intensity and spread the ball. Myles Turner set the tone with 16 points, all in the first three quarters, and seven Pacers reached double figures. Tyreke Evans scored 14 points and Cory Joseph and Domantas Sabonis each had 13. The Pacers shot a season-best 58.3 percent and made half of their 18 three-point attempts. Donovan Mitchell, who scores 20.6 per game, sat out his second game with bruised ribs and Utah was playing a back-to-back, but it was 19 turnovers and poor shooting that buried the Jazz and dropped their usually stellar home record to 2-6. The Jazz repeatedly tried to dribble through the Pacers' tenacious defense or pass over their outstretched hands. Even Utah's traditionally supportive crowd booed at times as Utah's turnovers led to 25 Indiana points. Turner drew Rudy Gobert outside and made his first five shots, mostly on mid-range jumpers off pick-and-pop actions. Turner signed a four-year, $72 million extension in the offseason and the big man from Texas went to work earning it, dropping fat, gaining muscle and improving his shot during the summer. After a four-game stretch where he didn't score more than nine points, Turner has reached double figures in five consecutive games. He missed Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) loss to San Antonio with an ankle injury but was active from the start against Utah. Led by his 11 points in the first half, the Pacers were ahead by as many as 14 before settling for a 58-47 advantage at the break. The Jazz have lost six of eight. TIP-INS Pacers: The Pacers beat the Jazz 121-94 last Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). ... Indiana is 8-0 when making at least half its three-pointers. ... The Pacers had their largest margin of victory this season and their first 30-point-plus win on the road in 22 years. Jazz: Rubio had 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) against Sacramento but just three points on 1-of-6 shooting against the Pacers, typical of his up-and-down season. ... Thabo Sefolosha and Joe Ingles both got technical fouls. ... Utah went 8-for-31 on three's. UP NEXT Pacers: Continue their road trip at Phoenix on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Jazz: Visit the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 27th, 2018

PSG aims to avoid early elimination in Champions League

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain's hopes of breaking through in European soccer could end earlier than usual this season. A loss against Liverpool on Wednesday in Paris, coupled with a home win by Napoli over Red Star, would keep PSG from making it out of the group stage in the Champions League. And that would be a significant setback for the big-spending French team desperately trying to assert itself as a world-class club. It would be the first time PSG failed to reach the tournament's knockout round since 2011-12, after Qatar Sports Investments took over the club with the goal of turning it into a top contender. PSG was eliminated in the round of 16 last season, after reaching the quarterfinals four straight years before that. Failure this time would hurt PSG in its second season since signing Brazil star Neymar for 222 million euros from Barcelona in an attempt to increase its chances of succeeding in Europe. PSG enters the crucial match at Parc des Princes with five points in Group C, one behind leaders Liverpool and Napoli. A victory would put the French club back in position to advance depending on its own results. "It's a decisive match in a very, very complicated group," PSG coach Thomas Tuchel told French broadcaster TF1. The good news for Tuchel is that Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who had been sidelined because of injuries, are expected to be available for the home match against Liverpool. A look at the four Champions League groups on Wednesday: GROUP A Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund lead the group and have a chance to secure places in the knockout round in advance. Dortmund needs a draw at Club Brugge, while Atletico needs a home win against Monaco. Atletico can also advance if Club Brugge loses points against Dortmund, which is coming off a blistering start to the season under new coach Lucien Favre. The only setback for Favre so far was the 2-0 loss at Atletico in the team's previous Champions League appearance. Paco Alcacer, signed on a permanent basis from Barcelona on Friday, scored again on Saturday in a win over Mainz, taking his league tally to nine goals in seven appearances. GROUP B Harry Kane kept Tottenham's Champions League hopes alive with a late double to sink PSV Eindhoven in the last round of games. Now the striker has some back-up as his team tries to complete an unlikely recovery to qualify from Group B. Tottenham has struggled for attacking fluency this season, mainly because attacking midfielders Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have been missing at times because of injury. They appear to be fully fit now and were superb in Tottenham's win over Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, a 3-1 win that might have been its best display of the season. Spurs need to beat Inter Milan at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday to keep alive ambitions of a top-two finish. That would leave the teams tied on seven points. Tottenham would still likely require a win at already-qualified Barcelona to advance, given that Inter closes group play at home to last-place PSV. Barcelona, without Rafinha, Luis Suarez and Arthur because of injuries, has a three-point advantage at the top and will clinch first place in the group with a win over PSV, or a draw if Inter does not beat Tottenham. GROUP C Victories by Liverpool and Napoli would lock up the group which has proven to be the tightest of the Champions League. Napoli, the group's only unbeaten team with three draws and one win, hosts a Red Star team which still has chances of advancing in its return to the tournament's group stage after 26 years. The Serbian club has four points, one fewer than Paris Saint-Germain and two fewer than Napoli and Liverpool. Red Star held Napoli to a 0-0 draw at home in the first round, but then conceded 10 goals in losses against PSG (6-1) and Liverpool (4-0). Liverpool, which beat PSG at home, lost 2-0 to Red Star in its previous Champions League match, but it is coming off two straight wins in the Premier League. PSG, cruising in the French league, beat Liverpool 3-0 the only other time the teams met in Paris, nearly two decades ago. GROUP D Group leader Porto hosts second-place Schalke in a match in which a draw could be enough for both clubs to advance. They would clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a draw if Galatasaray fails to win its match at already eliminated Lokomotiv Moscow. A victory would secure first place for Porto, which has won eight straight entering the match at its Estadio do Dragao. Porto is trying to make it to the round of 16 for the third straight season. The Portuguese champion has 10 points, two more than Schalke and six more than Galatasaray. Porto and Schalke are the only unbeaten teams in the group. Schalke hasn't made it to the knockout stage since 2014-15. ___ Associated Press writers John Leicester, Ciaran Fahey and Steve Douglas contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 27th, 2018

PVL: Perlas Spikers eye bounce back win, semis seat

After a shocking loss the last time out, BanKo marches back into action hoping to get back on the winning track and secure a spot in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference Final Four. The Perlas Spikers take on a desperate Pocari Sweat-Air Force side on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Opening serve is at 4:00 p.m. and will air live on LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183 and via livestream. BanKo saw its three-game winning streak snapped by PetroGazz in a disappointing 11-25, 23-25, 18-25 defeat just a day after the Perlas Spikers scored a dominating sweep of semis-bound Ateneo-Motolite. BanKo holds an 8-3 win-loss record in third place behind the Lady Eagles (10-3) and Creamline (8-2) and are already secured of at least a playoff for a semis spot. But the Perlas Spikers remain wary of the dangerous Lady Warriors, who nipped them in five sets in their first meeting in Baliwag, Bulacan. Pocari Sweat is in desperate need of wins in their remaining three games to keep its semis hopes alive. The Lady Warriors are outside of the top four, holding a 5-6 mark, a game and a half away from fourth running PetroGazz. Pocari Sweat despite the gallant effort put up by Myla Pablo, Jeanette Panaga, Del Palomata and Iari Yongco fell short in their last outing at the hands of the Alyssa Valdez-led Cool Smashers, 25-23, 21-25, 20-25, 25-22, 9-15, in Legazpi City last Saturday.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 13th, 2018

PBA: Marqus Blakely disappointed as he misses playoffs for the first time

It was not to be for the Marqus Blakely and the TNT KaTropa pairing.  The 2017-18 PBA season of the KaTropa had prematurely ended at the hands of the two-time defending conference champions Ginebra San Miguel with a deflating 112-93 loss Sunday evening at the Big Dome.  For the first time in his PBA career, the veteran import failed to make a postseason, a far cry from his glory days as the reinforcement of the Grand Slam San Mig Coffee team coached by none other than Tim Cone. Per PBA head statistician Fidel Mangonon III, it is also the first time since the 2015 PBA Governors' Cup that the flagship franchise of the MVP group failed to qualify to the playoffs. As the third import for the embattled conference which also saw a coaching change in the person of Bong Ravena and consultant Mark Dickel, Blakely knew that it was going to be a gigantic task to help tow the team to a top-eight finish. "We came together as a team. Got a couple of wins, but unfortunately, we didn't finish strong. That's one thing that veteran teams and teams with chemistry can do," Blakely said. "There's a lot of things going on in this conference. I think for what we had, the time that we had, we did all right. We did pretty well. I figured it takes a little bit more time and practice to get where we wanted to be." The Metuchen, New Jersey native however did not point fingers at anybody else but himself, for he believed that the team could get over the hump, but unfortunately for them, they could not. He also shared that he had a light moment with Cone, whom he has not seen since their Grand Slam finish back in 2014. "[I]t's just good to see him, talk to him. Unfortunately, he was on the other side. We just talked for a little moment." The decision on whether to return to the country or not as a player will not rely entirely on himself, but Blakely assures he'll be ready if any team calls him for another tour of duty. Meanwhile for Cone, Blakely will always have a special place in his heart since he was his second import since Sean Chambers back in 1996 to have completed the rare three-peat. "I have so many many fond memories of Marqus and how he turned around our program at that time. He came in and played with such heart and intensity. He’s defensive-minded and he turned everybody that way and how we played. He’s a great influencer," the winningest coach in PBA history said. "I have just tremendous feelings for Marqus. He’s a great guy. He’s a great competitor." Blakely meanwhile returned the love the seasoned coach gave to him. "I miss him, too," before ending it with a laugh.  __ Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Hot start pushes Curry to forefront

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com When Kevin Durant raised the Finals MVP trophy in the air in June -- his second straight, mind you -- it was supposed to be over for Stephen Curry. The prevailing wisdom said there was no way the former two-time Kia MVP winner Curry would be able to contend for a third Maurice Podoloff Trophy playing alongside Durant (a former Kia MVP himself). Their individual brilliance would be muted by the collective strength of their partnership as the two best players on the best team in the league. This notion they would continue to split Kia MVP votes made sense given their super team required all of its stars to sacrifice personal glory for the greater team good. That was the thinking before the first nine games of this season ... and then Curry decided to attack things as he did in 2015-16. That season, he went nuclear -- averaging 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 50.4 percent overall and 45.4 percent on three-pointers -- becoming the NBA's first unanimous MVP winner as the Warriors won an NBA-record 73 games. Durant was still toiling for the rival Oklahoma City Thunder then, sharing the spotlight with another eventual Kia MVP in Russell Westbrook. Curry’s opening salvo this season, though, has been nothing short of staggering. His pace right now -- leading the league in scoring while shooting nearly 55 percent overall and 53 percent on three-pointers  -- could top that 2015-16 season. Doing all this with teammates who could make their own compelling cases for Kia MVP honors makes Curry’s start even more mind-boggling. Both Durant (check out his 25-point fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden) and Klay Thompson (who topped Curry’s three-pointers made record in Chicago) are taking turns showing out, all of which speaks to the Warriors' mastery of a situation that easily could have overloaded these three stars. Curry’s consistent brilliance sticks out in a sea of transcendent scoring performances in the early stages of this season. He was the one who dropped 51 points in 32 minutes in a win over Washington, making 11 of his 16 three-pointers. He went 6-for-11 on three-pointers en route to 29 points when Durant worked the Knicks for 41 points at MSG. When Thompson was in the zone against the Bulls, Curry scored 23 points (on 7-for-9 shooting) in just 25 minutes. And when the New Orleans Pelicans showed up to Oracle Arena Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), Curry lit them up for 37 on 12-for-20 shooting and a 7-for-11 night on three-pointers. That's all why Curry sits atop the first Kia Race to the MVP Ladder this season. And if he keeps this up, there’s no reason Curry won't be in the thick of this season's MVP conversation when the dust settles. The top five in the Week 1 edition of the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Season stats: 33 points, 5.9 assists, 5.0 rebounds Here's the kind of damage Curry is doing so far: he’s not only leading the league in scoring, but doing so while shooting a preposterous 54.9 percent overall and an equally bonkers 52.9 percent on three-pointers. Scoring around the league is on the rise this season, and perhaps no one is taking more advantage of the freedom of movement rule the way Curry has. He’s scoring from everywhere, against any and everyone whenever he wants in a system built around his skills. He’s got one of the league’s early 50-point games (51 points, vs. Washington), and, given the way he’s shooting now, could go for another 50-spot at any time. That’s a warning for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who will see Curry today. 2. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Season stats: 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists Leonard is off to a monstrous start with Toronto, shattering that pesky myth that he was a product of a system in San Antonio. Anyone who forgot just how devastating a two-way player he could be after his nine-game run with the Spurs last season should have a clearer understanding of what he can do when healthy. Just ask Philadelphia 76ers stud Ben Simmons, who couldn't praise Leonard enough after matching wits with the two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year. “He’s a freak,” Simmons said after turning the ball over 11 times while being guarded by Leonard on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “His hands are huge. He’s got long arms. He’s a great defender.” The scary part for the rest of the league? Leonard is shooting as good or better than ever on three-pointers (44.4 percent) while logging a career-high 34.7 minutes. And, technically, he is still undefeated in a Raptors uniform (he got a rest day for Bucks-Raptors). 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Season stats: 26.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists It took a franchise-record 24 made three-pointers for the Boston Celtics to hold off Antetokounmpo and the Bucks Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at TD Garden. It was the Bucks’ first loss this season, but it wasn’t because the "Greek Freak" didn’t show up. He roasted the Celtics for 33 points (on just 22 shots), 11 rebounds, three steals and two assists. The increased floor spacing that comes with the arrival of coach Mike Budenholzer has allowed Antetokounmpo to put opposing defenders in compromising positions. His three-point shot is still in the development stage, but if Budenholzer can help transform that part of his game (as he did for Al Horford and Paul Millsap in Atlanta), the rest of the league will be on notice. As for Antetokounmpo's groove elsewhere on the court, it has made him virtually unstoppable when he’s in attack mode. 4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Season stats: 25.2 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.2 blocks Had there been a top five after the first four games of this season, Davis would have been a runaway pick for the No. 1 spot. He was that good in powering New Orleans' 4-0 start. But the Pelicans have lost four straight and three to the four games since as Davis deals with nagging right elbow pain. Davis missed back-to-back games against Utah and Denver, then played Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) against the Warriors. It was clear he wasn’t at his best, as he had 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. (Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry held him out in a road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.) Davis hasn’t been shy about proclaiming that he’s chasing both Kia MVP and Kia Defensive Player of the Year honors, a double-dip that only half a handful of players could realistically set as a goal. The talent and high ceiling have never been in question. His availability to chase such lofty goals, however, remains a question at times. 5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Season stats: 29.1 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds Lillard entered this season as determined to prove his team’s early 2018 playoff exit wasn't a true measure of Portland's status. Still, getting swept by the Pelicans sent the Blazers into the offseason with tons of questions and skeptics. Since the first whistle of training camp, Lillard has gone about the business of answering those questions. He’s averaging career-highs in points (29.1), field goal percentage (49.7 percent), three-point percentage (40 percent) and free throw percentage (94 percent). The Blazers finished their recent four-game road trip at 3-1, which included wins against Orlando, Indiana and the struggling Houston Rockets. Thursday night’s (Friday, PHL time) win over the Anthony David-less Pelicans was fueled by Lillard’s team-high 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Saturday night’s home game against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers could be another opportunity for Lillard and Co. to show they aren’t stepping aside for anyone. * * * The next five 6.  Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets 7.  Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 8.  Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz 9.  LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers 10.  Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves; DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs; Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers 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 NewsNov 3rd, 2018