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Go for Gold-Benilde sees rough sailing in D-League title defense

Go for Gold-College of Saint Benilde braces for a tough road ahead as it kicks off its bid for a second straight title in the PBA D-League beginning Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarFeb 12th, 2019

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 16th, 2019

Ateneo plotting to play Isaac Go more as a power forward

Isaac Go’s shots just continue dropping at the Ynares Arena in Pasig. On Thursday, Go fired 21 points, 12 coming from behind the arc, to shoot Cignal-Ateneo de Manila University to a 28-point rout, 103-75, of Go for Gold-College of St. Benilde. This, just weeks after he averaged 10.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in their semifinals series up against San Beda University and then dropped 15 markers and three boards in their Finals triumph over University of the Visayas in the 2019 Philippine Collegiate Champions League. Still, Blue Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin wants to see more from his talented big man – especially as he heads to his last playing year in the UAAP. “He’s gonna shoot the ball better this year, but he’s gonna do other things as well. We’re working on his inside game and we’re working on his ability to put it on the floor,” he said. He then continued, “We want him to be an international 4-man.” Yes, coach Tab sees the 6-foot-8 Go, a center in the Philippines, more as a power forward in international play. And the gentle giant only welcomes the idea proposed by his mentor who has spent much of his career around the world. “It’s a challenge because, as you see, a 6-foot-8 center isn’t really gonna perform well unless you’re really athletic, really strong. We have a lot of 5s in Poy [Erram], June Mar [Fajardo], Japeth [Aguilar], Andray Blatche, Christian Standhardinger,” he shared. He then continued, “So the goal would be to try to get taller in the 4, or maybe the 3. The goal is to play, of course, for the Philippines and if that’s my way to do it, I’ll have to get better.” Indeed, both in the D-League and the PCCL, Go has been busting out more dribbles and drives than usual to go along with his long-range missiles. Of course, this is only the beginning of his transition – and coach Tab reminded everybody of exactly that. As he put it, “He’s got a long way to go. He’s got a lot of mobility and agility to work on, he’s gotta get better defending the perimeter, he’s gotta get better putting the ball down.” He then continued, “There’s a lot of work in progress. He can shoot the ball and that’s a good asset, but there’s more to his game that we have to work on and develop.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 14th, 2019

MVP Ladder: Giannis bolsters case with key win in Houston

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t think he’s quite “there yet” when it comes to the Kia MVP chase. With all due respect, Mr. “Greek Freak,” the basketball world begs to differ. You are definitely there, sir, based on your performance through the midpoint of this NBA season. In fact, if there were hardware to hand out from Kia Race to the MVP Ladder HQ at this point, Antetokounmpo would be the recipient (edging out a crowded field that includes the reigning MVP, James Harden). By the grace of the scheduling gods, the two leading candidates just happened to hook up on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), the official halfway point of 2018-19. And they put on a show worthy of MVP mention, with Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks knocking off Harden’s Houson Rockets at Toyota Center. Harden continued his torrid scoring streak, collecting his league-leading 14th 40-point game of the season. In doing so, he tied Tracy McGrady for the second-longest 30-point streak since the ABA/NBA merger at 14. (Kobe Bryant has the record at 16 straight.) But Harden didn’t have his most efficient outing (shooting 13-for-30 overall with nine turnovers) as the Bucks took control late. All Antentokounmpo did was shred the Rockets for 27 points on 8-for-16 shooting to go along with a career-high 21 rebounds, five assists and yet another showcase performance for his MVP resume. (The Bucks pounded the Rockets to the tune of a 70-24 advantage in points in the paint and outscored them 19-2 in fast break points.) The Bucks have won seven of their past eight games heading into today’s game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. They’ve stormed the top of the Eastern Conference standings and own a 10-5 record over Western Conference opponents with Antetokounmpo as their undisputed leader and, yes, MVP. Not there yet, huh? Yeah, right. * * * The top five this week in the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 26.6 points, 12.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.3 steals Antetokounmpo seems to be the only person on the planet who isn’t moved by his consistent brilliance this season. If he doesn’t think he’s "there yet," then the rest of the league should brace themselves for whatever comes next. He’s been an unstoppable force on both ends of the floor, but particularly as an offensive catalyst on one of the most improved teams in the league. Doing it without the aid of a reliable long-distance shot is what has made watching Antetokounmpo crush the competition so intriguing. If there was any skepticism about the Bucks being both a legitimate threat in the East and a title contender, that should be vanishing as the second half of the season begins. As long as Antetokounmpo stays focused and healthy (he’s probable Saturday, PHL time, with right quadriceps soreness and a left hip bruise), the possibilities are endless. 2. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 33.9 points, 8.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals Harden has moved into hallowed ground with his current scoring barrage, as his 14 straight games of 30-plus points ties Hall of Famer (and fellow Rockets legend) Tracy McGrady for the second-longest streak since the ABA/NBA merger. Those debates about whether or not Harden is the best offensive player ever aren’t out of line, not when you consider the way he generates offense for himself and his teammates. Harden has a chance to obliterate the record with the Rockets’ friendly upcoming schedule (they play seven of their next 10 games at Toyota Center). The only glitch for Harden as he's hit this nuclear level is the one key flaw in his game is rising, too. He’s averaging 5.7 turnovers this season, which ties his career-high from 2016-17. He's up to 7.3 tpg in his last five games, which he, of course, would point out is world-class nit-picking of a guy playing as well as he is. 3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 28.9 points, 5.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals Curry shot a rather un-Splash Brother-ish 5-for-19 in Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) home win against the New York Knicks, which includes an ugly 3-for-12 showing from three-point range. That was a huge come down from his 42-point outburst (including 10 made three-pointers) Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) in a road win against the Sacramento Kings. But as often happens with a rare rough shooting night for the two-time former MVP, Curry displayed a brilliant floor game against the Knicks. He finished with 14 assists (and just one turnover) while grabbing seven rebounds as Klay Thompson went off for 43 points and Kevin Durant dropped 24. Curry’s had just three hiccups since returning from his 11-game, groin-injury induced absence on Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time). Over his last 18 games, Curry has failed to score at least 20 points only once. What should worry the Chicago Bulls, who visit Oracle today, is what Curry has done in those other two games after he struggled (averaged 32.0 points). 4. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.9 steals MVP voters must decide if the work Leonard did while he was playing outweighs how good the Raptors were all season whether he was in or out of the lineup. As convenient as it might be to try to diminish what Leonard has done by knocking him for the games he missed, you’d be wise to pay attention to just how good he's been when he plays. The Milwaukee Bucks can certainly attest to his impact after what Leonard did to them Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). He logged 30 points and a season-high five steals, playing his trademark lockdown defense, as the Raptors won the battle between the NBA’s top two teams (in the standings). Leonard has such tight control over his own game that he continues to play as efficiently as anyone on this list. He has notched eight games this season where he’s scored 30 or more points while shooting better than 50 percent, including his last two games (30 on 50 percent shooting in the win against the Bucks and 31 points on 61.1 percent shooting in their recent win against the Hawks). 5. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets Last week: No. 7 Season stats: 19.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.5 steals Jokic continues to deliver for the Nuggets in every category, doing his crafty best to help keep coach Michael Malone’s team at the top of the Western Conference. He notched his 21st career triple-double (18 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and two blocks) in Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) win over the LA Clippers. It was his second straight triple-double, coming two days after lighting up the Heat in Miami for 29 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. In doing so, he tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the second-most career triple-doubles by a center and can now chase Wilt Chamberlain’s big man record of 78. Jokic will probably dig into that deficit considerably the season if he keeps playing the way he has to kick off 2019 (27.2 points on .523 shooting, 12.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.4 steals in his last five games). Jokic and the rest of the Nuggets are focused on team goals first, of course. After missing out on the playoffs on the season's final night in 2017-18, they’re making sure to avoid any such drama this time. * * * The next five 6. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers 8. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers 9. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 10. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans And five more: DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers;Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers; Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers 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 NewsJan 12th, 2019

EYES ON YOU, KID: UAAP 81 Jrs. players to watch

The first round of the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with. And we can’t wait for the second round to get started just so we could get even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players: KAI SOTTO – Ateneo de Manila High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 25.3 points, 62.1 shooting, 12.7 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, 2.7 assists For the first time in his three years in Ateneo, Kai Sotto is, bar none, the most dominant force in the UAAP. In his first year, he took a backseat to Juan Gomez de Liano and SJ Belangel then as a sophomore, he was overtaken by CJ Cansino. Now, however, there is no doubt that the 7-foot-1, 16-year-old is the best player in the league – tops in scoring, rebounding, and blocking. And for good measure, just as he is a sure shot inside the paint, he also has the soft touch to make jumpers. Don’t send him to the line either as he makes good on 70.8 percent of his shots from there. Yes, Sotto is an end-to-end force that nobody could match not only in the UAAP, but in all of high school. RJ ABARRIENTOS – Far Eastern University-Diliman ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.4 points, 5.0 assists, 4.1 rebounds RJ Abarrientos had already committed to FEU’s Seniors squad, but later backtracked to use up his last year of eligibility in the UAAP Juniors. Safe to say, FEU-Diliman only welcomed him back with open arms and then proceeded to provide him the stage to shine the brightest he has ever been. A complementary player to the likes of Kenji Roman and L-Jay Gonzales before him, the nephew of Philippine basketball legend Johnny now runs the show for the Baby Tamaraws to the tune of a scoring clip and an assist total both third-best in the league. And even as he is now the primary playmaker for the green and gold, Abarrientos remains a dead shot as the league’s top marksman from three. All in all, the 5-foot-11 stocky guard is the most college-ready player in high school (of course, we’re not counting Kai Sotto who’s not only looks like he's college-ready, but pro-ready as well). CARL TAMAYO – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.5 points, 54.3 percent shooting, 9.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks Due to various injuries, Carl Tamayo has only seen action in four out of seven games NU has played thus far in the tournament. Each and every time he’s on the court, however, the 6-foot-7 only delivers the goods on offense as a paint presence as well as a threat from the perimeter. At the other end, Tamayo also stands strong inside and outside and is actually third-best in terms of blocks. The Cebuano has all the tools to go toe-to-toe with Kai Sotto, but will need to work on his strength and conditioning so that he may leave the injury bug that has been biting him far behind. MARK NONOY – University of Sto. Tomas ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 18.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.7 steals UST looked like it had hit the jackpot in unearthing CJ Cansino and then unveiling him as a dominant force in Season 80. Only, the Tiger Cubs look like they have hit the jackpot again in discovering Mark Nonoy out of Negros Occidental and then developing him into their new all-around shining star in Season 81. In just his first game in the UAAP Juniors, Nonoy dropped 31 points. Just two games later, he tallied a triple-double of 17 points, 16 rebounds, and 12 assists. Now, he is second-best in points and assists and third-best in steals in all of the league. More importantly, with their 5-foot-8 playmaker fronting the effort, UST has stayed in the conversation of playoff hopefuls in the ongoing season. GERRY ABADIANO – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 13.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists Nothing about Gerry Abadiano’s game will jump out at anybody. In fact, nobody will be able to find him in the top five of any statistical category. In the same light, however, he also does not have any weaknesses that will jump out at anybody. The 5-foot-9 lead guard just does whatever his team needs from him and he does it well. That is exactly why he has become to be heart and soul of a Bullpup side with championship aspirations. More than that, Abadiano’s biggest contribution will not be seen in any stat sheet as he has turned out to be the leader that the blue and gold deserves. JOEM SABANDAL – Adamson High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals Joem Sabandal can make difficult shots with the best of them – whether that be willing a layup through defenders or willing a jumper in the face of a contest. That ability has thrust him into the role of being the main man for upstart Adamson and into the recognition as the fifth-best scorer in the UAAP Juniors. Make no mistake, however, the 5-foot-11 guard is not a score-first, second, and third player as he also contributes in the rebounds, assists, and steals departments for the Baby Falcons. Just like any young player, shot selection is a point for improvement for Sabandal, but the fact of the matter is, he’s already well on his way into being a dynamic scorer. TERRENCE FORTEA – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists Looks like all Terrences have a scorer’s mentality as NU’s Fortea wants to get buckets just as much as San Miguel’s Romeo. The good news for the Bullpups is that Terrence Romeo is just one of the hopeful trajectories 18-year-old Terrence Fortea’s career can take. Like Romeo, Fortea is a sniper from deep (second-most triple total with 20) and an even better shot from the line (best free throw clip at 82.6 percent). He also has that handy floater that can frustrate defenses that close out on him. Best of all, though, the 5-foot-10 Batang Gilas stalwart is still learning the ropes on being more of a facilitator. And when he masters that, he may very well exceed his namesake. AP MANLAPAZ – Adamson High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 10.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.0 blocks, 1.3 steals While Joem Sabandal is Adamson’s go-to-guy, it’s actually little-known teammate AP Manlapaz who is in the top five of the MVP race. And with a closer look, there’s every reason for him to be there as he, put simply, stuffs the stat sheet for the Baby Falcons – averaging a points-rebounds double-double to go along with marks from assists, blocks, and steals. Safe to say, long-limbed forward Manlapaz has been anonymous before the season, but without a doubt, will only keep making noise on both ends. BISMARCK LINA – University of Sto. Tomas ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.0 assist Bismarck Lina is one of only three players to be averaging a double-double in the UAAP Juniors. As their man in the middle, the cousin of school legend Kevin Ferrer sees to it that UST does not get bullied in the interior as whether it be offense or defense, he is a threat at the rim. Most of all, the 6-foot-6 Lina, the second-best rebounder in the league, is always at the right place, at the right time to complete defensive stops or to clean up a teammates’ miss with a rebound. JORDI GOMEZ DE LIAÑO – University of the Philippines Integrated School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 assist Jordi is the best-shooting Gomez de Liano – or so he says. Of course, numbers do back him up as at just 15-years-old, he already has the third-best triple total in all of the UAAP Juniors. At the same time, however, the younger brother of Javi and Juan has a long ways to go as while he already stands at 6-foot-5, he is also reed thin and can get muscled through by anybody and everybody. More than that, his team is winless in the season. Nonetheless, it’s good to know that both the shooting and the confidence, both GDL trademarks, are already there – and it’s just a matter of time before Jordi grows into his body. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2019

Top sports headliners in the year that was

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

Athletes to Watch Out for in 2019

Remember these names because for sure, they will be making the headlines this 2019. Kai Sotto The 7-foot-2 wunderkind of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets will be making major decisions in 2019. With opportunities opening up for him in Europe and USA, the current Grade 10 student of Ateneo High School has the option to leave the UAAP Juniors early to explore bigger stages. Billed as the nation's best bet to be the first Filipino homegrown NBA talent, there will definitely be a lot of eyes following this young man's every move.   Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras Former De La Salle Green Archer Rivero and former Creighton Blue Jay Paras are both set to make University of the Philippines' #AtinSeason82 bid more promising, as they finish their residency and finally play for the Maroons in the UAAP in 2019. Both players are expected to make immediate impacts in the history-seeking squad given Rivero's championship experience, Paras' athleticism, and both player's Gilas cadets background.   Kiefer Ravena 2018 was a tough year for national team player and NLEX Road Warrior Ravena after he was slapped with an 18-month suspension in FIBA and the PBA for testing positive for banned substances. Due to the suspension, Ravena has diverted his attention to other interests such as golf and volleyball but his days away from the hard court will be over come August 2019. By then, he will be taking the keys again for NLEX either in the PBA Commissioner's or Governor's Cup.   CJ Perez, Bobby Ray Parks Jr., and Robert Bolick The 2018 PBA Rookie Draft was full of quality guards, and these top three draftees are expected to make immediate impacts in their professional teams. Former NCAA superstars Perez and Bolick both already signed lucrative contracts with Columbian Dyip and Northport. On the other hand, after being drafted in the second pick by Blackwater Elite, the former UAAP MVP and ASEAN Basketball League champion and MVP Bobby Ray Parks Jr. is still in the middle of trade talks and negotiations.   Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, and Joshua Pacio Team Lakay had a magical 2018 after producing four world champions in the Lightweight, Bantamweight, Flyweight, Strawweight divisions. However, as people say, defending a title is always tougher.  By 2019, all fighters will most likely have the tough assignment to keep their belts in Baguio City.   Manny Pacquiao Philippine sports fans will be treated to world-class boxing by as early as the second week of January, when Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao gets back in the ring to defend his WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Championship against American Adrien Broner. Pacquiao's long-time mentor Freddie Roach will also be back in his corner, serving as a consultant. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)   Eya Laure University of Santo Tomas' much needed reinforcement is finally here, with incoming rookie Eya Laure. The former star of the UST girls volleyball team will be making her debut in the senior's division in UAAP Season 81 this February 2019. In the preseason activities for the PVL and the PSL, Laure already proved that she will be a reliable scoring option for the Golden Tigresses - a perfect aid for graduating Sisi Rondina.   Michelle Morente Volleyball fans, it's time to get used to the sight of Morente playing in La Salle green. Last September 2018, the former Ateneo Lady Eagle already played for La Salle during the beach volleyball tournament. If she makes Ramil de Jesus' cut, the feisty scorer will bolster the Lady Spikers' title defense in the UAAP Season 81 womne's volleyball tournament.    Kath Arado La Salle's Dawn Macandili set the gold standard of libero greatness in UAAP. However, in 2019, libero extraordinaire Arado of the University of the East has every chance to prove that she might be the next to take the mantle of Philippine collegiate volleyball's best libero. For her UAAP Season 81 preparations, Arado played in two conferences of the Philippine Superliga at the same time - for UE in the Collegiate Grand Slam and for Generika Ayala Lifesaves for the All-Filipino conference. As a proof of her caliber, she swept all libero awards in both conferences.   Kat Tolentino With Jho Maraguinot's decision to not come back for the Ateneo Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 81, Kat Tolentino is expected to make the leap and be the number one scoring option for the blue-and-white. During their preseason preparations in the Premier Volleyball League under Ateneo-Motolite, rookie coach Oliver Almadro praised Tolentino for embracing her new role as the go-to girl. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @the9cruz.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

CHAMPIONS AT LONG LAST: Reliving UP’s successful 1986 UAAP revolt

It was the year of People Power, a revolution like no other. And, who would think that such an “uprising” has spilled onto collegiate basketball the same year as the stronghold of the UE Red Warriors was overran? What other ball club can best depict this EDSA Spirit than the 1986 UP Fighting Maroons? Its putsch in the UAAP was carefully plotted since legendary coach Joe Lipa took over the coaching reigns in 1981. This began fierce onslaught only a year later when the Maroons made a rare march into the UAAP Finals against the UE, which boasted a fearsome shooter named Allan Caidic. Title contender Led by the high leaper, Vincent Albino, the Maroons made that shocking feat, yet succumbed to the Warriors’ fiery offensive and lost. But, UP showed nevertheless they had what it takes to be a title contender. And the rebuilding continued in 1983 when UP successfully recruited two big names in the NCAA--Ronnie Magsanoc and Eric Altamirano, stalwarts of the 1982 juniors champs San Beda Red Cubs. With Magsanoc directing plays and Altamirano scorching hot from all angles, UP further advanced in its ferocious plan of taking over the UAAP. But Glenn Capacio and Harmon Codinera of FEU frustrated the upstarts and dealt UP a painful loss in the Finals after being so close to winning the championship. Missing link Their frustration became deeply rooted as the Maroons stumbled the next couple of years finding that “missing link” to glory. And months after a dictatorship was toppled, UP’s powerful missing piece to its years of rebuilding came walking into the Maroon bench—the sensational 6’4” center Benjie Paras, also a hotshot alumnus of San Beda. Paras became the answered prayer since the Maroons had players with an average height of 6’1” at the time, surely a no-match against the burly inside operators of other UAAP teams. Now with a dominating center manning the paint, UP was set to finally chase that dream. And also they had an answer to the best big man of that era, Jerry Codinera, who had puzzled opponents with his shiftiness, defensive prowess (called the Defense Minister in the PBA), exceptional perimeter shooting, and versatility. Best starting five Also, UP has the best starting five in the league, all of them from that sensational Red Cubs basketball program concocted by coach Ato Badolato—Paras, Magsanoc, Altamirano, Joey Mendoza and Duane Salvatierra—with the sweet-shooting sixth man Joey Guanio, a rookie from La Salle Greenhills, providing added artillery and standout Ramil Cruz bringing in his outstanding all-around play. Despite this, however, their title shot wasn’t smooth sailing. Codinera and the Warriors defeated them twice in the eliminations and UE came close to a sweep that would automatically serve them the trophy. But a loss to rival FEU in the last game in the eliminations paved the way for UP, who landed second place after winning a knockout match against the Tamaraws, for that hard-earned slot in the finals. They were however saddled with a twice-to-win disadvantage. Title hungry This didn’t matter to the Maroons, as their hunger for the title brought out the best in them. With thousands of UP supporters trooping to the ULTRA in October 1986, the Maroons were unstoppable. Using a merciless zone, the Maroons were able to stifle Codinera from doing his thing in the paint. This led to UP’s emphatic decisive win in Game 1, 86-75, that arranged a winner take-all championship match three days later. And, in that rubber match, with the whole venue filled with UP students and alumni, from students, faculty, administrators to virtually the entire political spectrum to even former Diliman Commune leaders in the 1970s all coming in droves to cheer them on, how can the Maroons fail them? Altamirano’s true worth From the first time the buzzer sounded, the Maroons never allowed the Warriors to even move an inch, with its prolific scorer Altamirano showing his true worth. After subbing for a fouled out Magsanoc with a good four minutes left to play in the match, Altamirano shone with his playmaking skills and blazing marksmanship with his 27 points leaving the Warriors with no room to breathe. He ended up the tournament MVP that year. Paras likewise prevailed in his giant duel with Codinera with 19 points and 10 rebounds. With an insurmountable lead going into the final seconds, and coach Lipa reaching to the sky in triumph, the buzzer sounded with UP winning by nine points, 98-89. More than a dream come true And their first UAAP title in 47 years is now in their hands, more than a dream come true for the national cage mentor and the UP community he served. It brought a startling “revolution” into fruition, with UP taking over the reigns of the UAAP. Unfortunately, however, the celebration was short-lived, with the Ateneo, La Salle, and UST dynastic runs succeeding their memorable feat. Now 32 seasons later, UP has a chance to finally taste that sweet, scintillating victory again......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 29th, 2018

30 Teams in 30 Days: Jazz on upswing after postseason run

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com What offseason? That's a question many fans ask as the flurry of trades, free agent news and player movement seems to never stop during the summer. Since the Golden State Warriors claimed their third title in four years back on June 8 (June 9, PHL time), NBA teams have undergone a massive number of changes as they prepare for the season ahead. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- from the team with the worst regular-season record in 2017-18 to the team with the best regular-season record -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's Team: Utah Jazz 2017-18 Record: 48-34, lost in Western Conference semifinals to Houston Rockets Who's new: Grayson Allen (Draft) Who's gone: Jonas Jerebko, David Stockton The lowdown: Left woozy by the summer departure of free agent and franchise star Gordon Hayward, the Jazz gave the ball to a rookie and pulled a surprise by nearly winning 50 games and bouncing Oklahoma City Thunder from the playoffs. Their season was made more remarkable considering center Rudy Gobert played only 56 games because of knee issues. But Donovan Mitchell (20.5 points per game) was an unexpected savior and far better than anyone imagined. He won over his teammates and coach Quin Snyder quickly, then earned respect around the league for taking charge and also bailing out Utah in a number of close games, both rare for a rookie. Mitchell finished as the Kia Rookie of the Year runner-up. Snyder made good use of the rotation and found functional roles for most and the Jazz used Mitchell and defense to flourish. By the playoffs, Mitchell was arguably the best player on a floor that featured former Kia MVP Russell Westbrook and Paul George, and the Jazz entered the offseason feeling confident about the future. In 2016, the young Portland Trail Blazers made the playoffs, stunning the LA Clippers in the first round before giving the Golden State Warriors a feisty series in the semis. Encouraged by the bounce and swagger showed by an emerging club, the Blazers handed out contract extensions and … they haven’t done anything special since. In hindsight, every one of those extensions looks like a mistake. The lesson: Fool’s gold can sometimes, um, fool you. Are the Jazz headed down that path? The situations aren’t exactly the same, yet similar to a degree. Instead of going outside to make a few cosmetic changes to the rotation, Utah was mostly content to keep free agents Dante Exum and Derrick Favors, giving each contracts that were somewhat generous in a soft market that worked against most players. Exum signed for three years and a reported $33 million, or roughly the going rate for a backup point guard. But Exum’s run in Utah has been interrupted by injury and, even when healthy, his play was inconsistent. He perhaps earned the benefit of the doubt in the playoffs when he stepped in for an injured Ricky Rubio and had moments of solid play. Evidently, the Jazz feel Exum’s better days are just ahead. He’s only 23 and after investing so much time in him, Utah wasn’t ready to cut him loose. He brings great size (6-foot-6), is energetic, and point guard isn’t a Jazz strength. If nothing else, Exum gives Utah a sense of security. Favors is richer after signing a reported two-year, $36 million extension as no other team was willing to beat that price for him. The last two seasons weren’t exactly robust for Favors, who battled through injuries, sporadic play and found himself benched because of mismatches in today’s stretch-happy NBA. Favors has worked to develop more of a 3-point shot, but his lack of perimeter shooting was exploited by Houston in the playoffs. But as the case with Exum, the Jazz have years of player-development invested in Favors. As Utah’s longest-tenured player, Favors is a solid defender next to Gobert and the Jazz outscored their opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions with the two bigs on the floor together. And even though he’s seemingly been around Utah forever, Favors is just 27 years old. The decisions by the Jazz to maintain the status quo isn’t unusual with this franchise, which has long prided itself on stability and player development. Strangely enough, Mitchell claims to love life in the Wasatch Mountains -- something to remember when and if he ever reaches free agency (unlikely, since the Jazz will surely break the bank for him). Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey moved up to take Mitchell in the 2017 Draft and has a knack for finding talent in places where few others search. He has had a solid track record in the Draft and with the 21st pick took Allen. A year ago, the Duke shooter considered entering the draft, but got mild feedback from NBA types. Allen brings 3-point range to a team that ranked 13th in 3-pointers made and attempted last season. Unless he makes an impact right away, Allen will be in the back end of a rotation that showcases Joe Ingles for distance shooting. The trick for Utah is to match or surpass last season’s effort while catching no one by surprise this time. And the Jazz must do that with virtually the same cast as before. 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 NewsSep 23rd, 2018

PVL: FEU to bank on Finals experience against newbie UP

If there will be one specific advantage in the Finals that Far Eastern University will look to capitalize on when the Lady Tamaraws face University of the Philippines for the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference crown, it’s definitely their championship experience. Head coach George Pascua sees it as a weapon that they could use against the first-time finalists Lady Maroons when their best-of-three title showdown begins Sunday. FEU finished runner-up in last year’s edition and took home silver in UAAP Season 80. The Lady Tamaraws also enjoy the luxury of having a seasoned and battle-tested core.    UP’s best finish in a high level tournament was a Final Four stint in the UAAP three years ago.        “Ah oo, malaking advantage ‘yun kasi ‘yun na nga experienced na ‘yung players namin. ‘Yung UP first time nila so kahit papano (lamang kami doon),” said Pascua, whose squad booted out University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four in a come-from-behind series win for a return stint in the Finals. Pascua will pin his hopes on veterans Jerrili Malabanan, Celine Domingo, Heather Guino-o, setter Kyle Negrito and top rookie Lycha Ebon. Still, the mentor knows that UP isn’t a pushover team especially after the fourth seed Lady Maroons scored a huge upset over Adamson University, which swept the elimination.         “Pero syempre mahirap din magkumpyansa kasi ang labanan ngayon character na lang eh kasi lahat ng teams unpredictable eh,” he said. “Hindi mo alam kung sino ‘yung mananalo that day so depende na lang sa player kung ano ang magiging desire nila.” FEU defeated UP in the elims but the Lady Tams will face a different Lady Maroons side. UP started out shaky but slowly jelled and found their rhythm as the conference progressed. The Lady Maroons’ veterans also stepped up their game with the likes of Marian Buitre, Marist Layug, Aie Gannaban and sophomore Roselyn Rosier helping out prized hitter Isa Molde on offense and in floor defense.  UP head coach Godfrey Okumu also has at his disposal veteran setter Ayel Estranero and a young but steady playmaker Marianne Sotomil. With the Lady Maroons' seemingly diverse rotation despite the absence of injured Tots Carlos and Nicole Magasarile, Pascua and his coaching staff are devicing a good game plan to defeat the Diliman-based squad.   “‘Yung UP very unpredictable din ang laro nila kumbaga hindi mo alam kung sino ang magle-level up sa kanila,” Pascua said. “Every game kasi iba ‘yung ano nila so meron din kaming specific person na binabantayan sina Molde, Buitre.” “Siyempre paplanuhin namin ‘yang game plan for UP,” he closed.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 3rd, 2018

Son feels ashamed after South Korea s upset loss to Malaysia

By John Pye, Associated Press BANDUNG, Indonesia (AP) — In his last start a week ago Son Heung-min helped Tottenham to a win in the Premier League. In his last start in a South Korea jersey Son scored late in a World Cup upset group stage win over 2014 champion Germany in late June. He was a long way from there on Friday, when his belated start to the Asian Games ended in a 2-1 loss to Malaysia that left him feeling ashamed in front of 4,125 fans on the outskirts of Bandung, the capital of Indonesia's West Java province. After getting permission from Tottenham to pursue a gold medal that would earn him an exemption from national military service, Son finally got on the field in the 57th minute of South Korea's second group game. By then, the defending champions were down 2-0 after a pair of first-half goals from Safawi Rasid and all the warnings Son had given his young teammates about the potential threats of every opponent appeared to have gone unheeded. "I feel ashamed about this shocking loss," Son said in Korean. "The players sort of took it easy. After the Malaysians scored two goals, the players were perplexed." He was unable to spark a comeback win at SI Jalak Harupat Stadium, the art deco-inspired 27,000-seat stadium that is set amid volcanic hills and tea plantations about a four-hour drive southeast of Jakarta. Son had some good touches but, after Hwang Ui-jo scored for South Korea in the 87th, he pushed a long-range free kick wide in the last minute. South Korea had more than two-thirds of the possession and took 14 shots to Malaysia's five but lacked finish in the front third and were exposed early in defense. Defense is the key for this South Korean team. A gold medal will exempt them from 21 months of military service, an obligation Son is otherwise expected to start within the next two years. That's the kind of commitment that could hurt his playing career. He's at the Asian Games in Indonesia as one of the three wildcard — or overage players — in the under-23 South Korean squad. And he's one of four members of South Korea's World Cup squad selected for the roster, along with Hwang Hee-chan, Lee Seung-woo and goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo. Only one of them — Hwang — started against Malaysia. South Korea coach Kim Hak-bum admitted he made a tactical blunder by rotating his players too early in the tournament. "That was my mistake ... I regret that," Kim said through a translator. "Because of today's result we've got a difficult pathway to the finals. First place and second place in this group is quite different in the round of 16 ... but we'll get through." Kim responded to question about Son's limited playing time by saying the star player had only been with the squad a couple of days and his fitness and condition had to be properly managed. The 25-team tournament is not officially recognized by FIFA, but Tottenham allowed the 26-year-old Son to leave England after the 2-1 win at Newcastle. Son missed South Korea's run to the Asian Games title in 2014 because he was not released by former club Bayer Leverkusen, adding to the pressure on him to win gold this time. "I should have controlled the game better and helped the (young) players in their mind controls — I feel a big responsibility for that," Son said. "I and our coach told players that we could face a big trouble if we lowered our guard. Of course, this thing should not happen, but I feel very relieved that this happened during the group preliminaries. I hope our players have learned that." South Korea will round out the group stage against Kyrgyzstan on Monday and will need a big win to restore confidence ahead of the knockout stage. Malaysia leads Group E with two wins and is three points clear of South Korea, which had opened its campaign by thrashing Bahrain 6-0 on Wednesday. Bahrain and Kyrgyzstan had a 2-2 draw Friday to pick up their first points of the tournament and remain in contention. The top two teams from each group and four best-performing third-placed teams advance to the round of 16......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2018

She reminds me of EJ Laure -- Padda on rookie Genesis

Adamson University rookie Trisha Genesis drew praises from head coach Air Padda after a good debut on Sunday in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference. “I think she did OK,” said Padda after Adamson’s 25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21, win over College of St. Benilde at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Genesis, a recruit from Holy Rosary College, scored seven points in just three sets of action.   The 5-foot-7 open spiker was came in as a substitute in the second frame. Genesis skipped the Lady Falcons’ first game against University of Perpetual Help as she was suffering from shingles. Padda gave Genesis the playing time with second year Chiara Permentilla struggling. “It was her first match. I don’t think she thought she was gonna play coz she just got back into training,” said Padda. “Chiara was struggling at the serve line and her defense was off.” Genesis was thankful for the chance to showcase what she can contribute to the team. “Sobrang saya po na may kaunting pressure kasi kakagaling ko lang sa sakit. So bale kakabalik ko pa lang two days pa lang ako nakakapag-training,” said the Physical Education student. “Sobrang saya kasi kahit nawala po ako ng matagal nagawa pa rin po magtiwala sa akin ni coach na maipasok kanina sa game.” The hitter may still be a raw talent in UAAP standards but Padda sees a lot of potential from the Laguna native and the mentor even compared Genesis to University of Sto. Tomas hitter EJ Laure, who was named UAAP Season 77 rookie of the year.   “Honestly when I see her she kinda reminds me of EJ Laure when she's playing,” said Padda. “That’s who she reminds me off.” “But I’m telling you that kid has so much potential. She hasn’t develop her jump yet but once she develops her jump and she gets a little bit… we’re working on her speed,” the mentor added. “She has what we call it in the States like the roundhouse arm. It could work to your benefit but it can also be a disadvantage because she doesn’t have like a whip. But she has a long arm so as soon as she’s at the right timing it’ll be hard to stop. I’m excited for her, I’m excited for all our babies.” “Ang saya po galing po kasi sa coach namin, si coach Air. Tapos yun nga po EJ Laure kilala po yan. Kilalang magaling sa volleyball,” said Genesis.   Looking at her potential, Padda has high hopes on her rookie. “Trisha, she’s a good player. She’s definitely gonna get an opportunity to get in the starting six,” said Padda. “As you can see she’s got a lot of firepower but she’s still so young. There’s a lot of aspect in the game that she hasn’t learned just yet. But I love her energy she brings a youthful vibe to the court and I’m excited for her. I’m excited to see what she’s gonna do this conference.”     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 29th, 2018

Nowhere To Go But UP

Akhuetie secures the defensive rebound! In one motion, turns and makes the outlet pass to Juan Gomez De Liaño streaking from the wing… before he even puts the ball on the floor he makes another forward pass to Paras who then takes a power dribble from the 3-point line, takes two steps and then soars for the tomahawk slam… Two possessions later, it’s a ball screen set by Akhuetie for Juan at the left wing. The defender – who fights over the screen – is left behind; as Bright’s man tries to hedge, Akhuetie sucks the help defense in with a strong roll to the hoop. Juan whips a pass to the right corner to an open Ricci Rivero, who shot fakes, gets his man in the air, drives baseline and eludes the last defender with his trademark euro-step to the middle, before kissing the layup softly off the glass… Deep in the fourth period, UP enters the ball into Akhuetie in the post. He backs his man down, and after a couple dribbles, sees the double team from the middle and makes a kickout pass to a wide open Javi GDL at the top of the key. The weakside defender rushes to close out against an open 3, but Javi passes it off to his brother Juan at the wing, who knocks down the booming triple!   These are just some of the plays that UP fans will bask in the glory of come UAAP Season 82, when their highly-touted all-UAAP 5 are finally all eligible to suit up for the Fighting Maroons. Before we get ahead of ourselves however, let’s dial it back and take a look at each of these players at this point of their college careers and what they bring to the Diliman stable. Javi Gomez De Liaño A product of the UPIS system, Javi is the first of the De Liaño brothers to play in the Seniors division after a successful stint in the high school ranks. Although not as highly-touted as his younger sibling, Javi is a stretch 4, standing 6’5” with lots of length and athleticism, and a reliable outside touch. Definitely one of Coach Bo’s blue-collar glue guys, who has stepped up his game (8.3ppg, 5.9rpg, 30% 3P% 21.2mpg in S80) as his minutes have increased. He will play both ends of the floor, can defend an opponent’s best scoring big or forward, and will be Mr. Intangibles on the court. Juan Gomez De Liaño Season 80’s Rookie of the Year, Juan GDL is already one of the UAAP’s most exciting and explosive players to watch. Arguably the most athletic and shifty guard in the league today, he’s a natural born scorer who can finish at the rim but has also shown the ability to run a team and make great decisions. While he needs to raise his 3pt shooting percentage to the high 30’s to be a real threat from the outside, he has that same winner’s mentality as his fellow fighting Maroon, Mr. “Atin to!” Paul Desiderio. Bright Akhuetie The two-time NCAA Mythical Five member and former Perpetual Help double-double machine could easily be the most dominant big man in the UAAP after Ben Mbala. Not only will he bring the much needed inside scoring UP has sorely lacked for the past several years, but he will immediately be a dominant inside presence on both ends of the floor – commanding double and even triple teams on offense, and altering shot after shot as the last line of UP’s defense. After serving a year of residency after transferring from UPHSD, Akhuetie is surely raring to stamp his mark in the UAAP, much like he did in the NCAA during his two seasons with the Altas. Ricci Rivero The biggest surprise and recruiting coup this summer belonged to UP Diliman, if only for the transfer of Ricci Rivero from DLSU. The prized former LSGH swingman was already making waves as the possible next King Archer when his career at Taft was cut short due to out-of-court issues. But on the court, Rivero has dazzled UAAP fans the past two years with a combination of athleticism and finesse not seen in decades. His natural scoring ability (12.9ppg, 35% 3P%, 5.9rpg, 1.6apg in Season 80) and trademark euro-step have left many defenders bewildered, and have unleashed a social media fandom unlike any we’ve seen so far. Kobe Paras As if the UP Community didn’t already have enough to watch out for in season 82, they pulled off another big catch when Kobe Paras, son of former UP legend Benjie Paras, committed to Diliman just early this month. Another LSGH product, Kobe played for the Creighton Bluejays in the US NCAA and has represented the country in multiple FIBA tournaments, including a gold medal finish in the 2017 SEA Games. Another prolific and high-flying scorer, Paras stands 6’6” but plays the wing position; and while he has a respectable outside touch, he is more known for his thunderous finishes, as a 2-time FIBA 3x3 dunk champion. With Paras and Rivero, UP would have the most athletic wing combination the UAAP has seen in years.   BUT, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s remember that basketball is still won by an entire team, and not just the five on the floor, star-studded as they may be. And more importantly, not only will UP be able to seriously contend for the final four and even a championship in Season 82, they could in fact contend for one as early as this Season 81. Paul Desiderio, their undisputed leader, will be playing out his final year, coinciding with Akhuetie’s first year with the team. Together with the GDL brothers, Jun Manzo, Noah Webb, Gelo Vito, Diego Dario, Jan Jaboneta,  Jerson Prado, Jarrell Lim, and even Will Gozum, among others, UP will have its deepest roster in more than a decade; and will definitely be a favorite to finally barge into the Final Four. Thus, while Season 82 is ripe with championship promise; as early as now, there is nowhere to go but UP for the Fighting Maroons.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 27th, 2018

PVL: Lady Bulldogs brace for tough title defense

A young National University squad will march into battle hoping to defend its crown when the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference opens shop on July 21. The Lady Bulldogs ruled the inaugural edition of the tournament last year via a clean sweep of the conference behind Most Valuable Player Jaja Santiago. But this time, NU will parade a different lineup following the departure of Santiago and Aiko Urdas, while key players Jorelle Singh and Jasmine Nabor are doubtful to see action.        Head coach Babes Castillo will parade the core of his BaliPure squad composed of a mix of veterans, incoming Lady Bulldogs and Nazareth School-NU high school standouts.     Bannering the squad will be incoming rookie setter Joyme Cagande, Ivy Lacsina, libero Jennifer Nierva, Princes Robles and high school star Faith Nisperos. Eight teams will try to dethrone the Lady Bulldogs led by the returning 2017 runnerup Far Eastern University. Also joining the fray are UAAP teams University of Sto. Tomas, Adamson University and University of the Philippines and NCAA squads College of St. Benilde, University of Perpetual Help, San Sebastian College and San Beda University. Taking a leave of absence are Ateneo de Manila University and NCAA champion Arellano University. Playing in the men’s division are FEU, NU, Adamson, San Beda, Perpetual, De La Salle University, UST, UP and CSB. Defending champion Ateneo will skip the tournament.   ---      Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

Dub Dynasty: Warriors sweep Cavs for second straight title

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — Golden State. Golden still. Stephen Curry scored 37 points, NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant added 20 and a triple-double and the Warriors stamped themselves a dynasty after winning their second straight title and third in four years Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), 108-85 over the Cleveland Cavaliers to complete a sweep and perhaps drive LeBron James from his home again to chase championships. Overcoming obstacles all season long, the Warriors were not going to be denied and won the fourth straight finals matchup against Cleveland with ease. "This is so hard to do and doing it three out of four years is incredible," guard Klay Thompson said. It was the first sweep in the NBA Finals since 2007, when James was dismissed by a powerful San Antonio team in his first one. His eighth straight appearance didn't go well either, and now there's uncertainty where the superstar will play next. James finished with 23 points and spent the final minutes on the bench, contemplating what went wrong and maybe his next move. Act IV between the Warriors and Cavs featured a drama-filled and controversial Game 1. But from there on, Durant, Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of this California crew showed why they're the game's gold standard. And they may stay that way. "Can't get enough of this feeling so we're going to celebrate it together," Curry said. Not wanting to give the Cavs or their fans any hope despite the fact that no team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs, the Warriors built a nine-point halftime lead when Curry ignored a closeout by James and dropped a three-pointer. Then the league's best team tightened the screws on Cleveland in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs 25-13 and prompting Golden State fans to begin those drawn-out "War-eee-orrss" chants that provide a perfect musical accompaniment to their three-point barrages. By the start of the fourth quarter, the only question was whether Curry would win his first NBA Finals MVP or if it would go to Durant for the second year in a row. And again, it was Durant, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists — more satisfaction and validation for a player who couldn't beat the Warriors so he joined them. After surviving a rougher-than-usual regular season and beating top-seeded Houston in Game 7 on the road in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors withstood an overtime scare in Game 1 and joined an elite group of teams to win multiple championships in a four-year span. Only Bill Russell's Boston Celtics, the "Showtime" Lakers and the Los Angeles squad led by Kobe and Shaq, and Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls have been as dominant in such a short period of time. The Dub Dynasty. The path to this title was more precarious than the first two for coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors, who overcame injuries, expectations, a built-to-dethrone-them Rockets team and the brilliance of James, who scored 51 points in the series opener and carried a Cavs team from the beginning of their rollercoaster season until the end. It may have been the final game in Cleveland for the 33-year-old, who is expected to opt out of his $35.6 million contract for 2019 next month and become a free agent. James was pulled from the game with 4:03 left, and he slapped hands with the Warriors before heading to the bench. He plopped down in a chair and draped a towel over his broad shoulders, looking like a boxer on a corner stool. James averaged 34 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10 assists in the series, but as has been the case in the past, he didn't have enough help. Another Summer of LeBron is officially underway and there are already teams stretching from Philadelphia to Los Angeles hoping to land the three-time champion, who may have to go elsewhere to put together a cast strong enough — and as James made clear this week, smart enough — to bring down the Warriors. Right now, the Warriors are on another tier and with Durant expected to re-sign with them in weeks and Curry, Thompson, Green and the rest still young and hungry, their reign could last much longer. Heading into the playoffs, the Warriors appeared vulnerable. There were lingering questions about Curry's sprained left knee that sidelined him for almost six weeks and kept him out of Golden State's first-round series against San Antonio. Kerr was forced to mix and match lineups, and it became obvious the Warriors weren't going to go 16-1 and storm their way to a title like they did in 2017, when their only postseason loss came in Game 4 after the Cavs made 24 three-pointers. Kerr used 27 different starting lineups during the regular season, which ended with a head-scratching 40-point loss to Utah. The Warriors began defense of their title as a No. 2 seed and their season was in serious jeopardy when they fell behind 3-2 to presumptive MVP James Harden and the Rockets. But Golden State, catching a break when Houston star guard Chris Paul was forced to sit with a hamstring injury, showed a champion's poise by winning two straight. That set up another reunion with James and the Cavs. Maybe the last. TIP-INS Warriors: Curry made a three-pointer in his record 90th consecutive postseason game and extended his mark for three's in road playoff games to 44. ... Green is the only visiting player to post a triple-double in the playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena, doing so in Game 6 of the 2015 finals. ... Became the ninth team to sweep a finals and first to win consecutive titles since James did it with Miami in 2012 and 2013. ... Golden State has won a road game in 19 straight playoff series, tying the Heat's NBA record. ... With his 43-point performance in Game 3, Durant joined Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal as the only players to score at least 25 points in their first 13 finals games. Cavaliers: Appeared in its 26th NBA Finals game, moving past Atlanta/St. Louis into 10th place all-time. ... James averaged 34 points in his 13th postseason, his second-highest total. BROWN OUT Longtime network broadcaster Hubie Brown injured his knee while sitting courtside preparing before the game. He was treated by a medical staff on site and taken to the hospital. The 84-year-old Brown was replaced on the radio broadcast by Jon Barry. Brown was working his 17th NBA Finals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2018

Despite long odds, Toronto Raptors will continue to fight

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND – Losing the first game is a relative wake-up call, no big deal, a call to tweak and adjust. Losing the first two is urgent, something more troubling, a sense of one’s playoff life flashing before one’s eyes. Losing four? It’s oh-vah. Oh-four is 1, 2, 3, Cancun, “gone fishin’” and next season rolled into one. That leaves an 0-3 deficit, which mostly is sad. At 0-3, the story essentially has been written, a struggling team’s fate decided. In the NBA, there is no wiggle room whatsoever – 129 teams in league playoff history have fallen behind 0-3 in a best-of-seven, 129 teams have lost those series. Only three such teams even rallied enough to force a Game 7: the 1951 Rochester Royals against New York, the 1994 Denver Nuggets against Utah and the 2003 Portland Trailblazers against Dallas. And yet, nothing is official. The plug hasn’t been pulled, flatline or not. That was evident Sunday (Monday, PHL time) when someone asked Toronto’s Kyle Lowry one of those big-picture, assess-this-season questions. “Our season ain’t over yet,” the Raptors point guard said, instinctively pushing back. “Ask me that question when it’s over.” Narrator: It’s over. Most who stayed up late Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) consider Toronto’s series against the Cleveland Cavaliers to be over not only because they trail 0-3 but because of the way they got there. Specifically, LeBron James’ unlikely, drive-left, shoot-right, one-footed bank shot at the buzzer that won it, 105-103. It enthralled the sellout crowd at Quicken Loans Arena, but appalled the Raptors’ traveling party of three dozen or so. Folks who care probably have watched the final play multiple times. The Raptors officially haven’t watched it other than in real time. Coach Dwane Casey intentionally did not subject his players to a film session Sunday (Monday, PHL time). “We know what the issues are, what they were,” Casey said after the team’s light workout at the practice gym inside the Cavaliers’ arena. “From a team standpoint, 17 turnovers broke our back. Some of our schematic things we didn’t cover properly broke our back. The things that led up to the end of the game are what we need to clean up.” More precisely, it was the things that led up to the fourth quarter that cost Toronto. From that point, the Raptors were pretty good, outscoring the Cavaliers 38-26 while sinking seven of their 11 three-point shots. They got all the way back from a 14-point deficit in the quarter, tying at 103 only to have their hearts stomped on by James’ spectacular finish. Before that final quarter, though, Toronto was too reckless with the ball. It had missed 16 of its 22 from the arc. And one of its two All-Stars, wing DeMar DeRozan, had played his way to Casey’s bench, with 3-of-12 shooting, unimpressive defense, a mere eight points and a minus-23 rating. Casey’ explanation for not putting DeRozan back in the game was simple: The guys he was using were rolling. It was a snapshot of the bottom-line approach he and his staff will need again in Game 4 Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). DeRozan, naturally, doesn’t want anything like it to happen again. This LeBron/Cleveland stuff has been heavy enough: nine consecutive playoff defeats, three straight postseasons being put out by the Cavaliers and, personally, the onus in this man’s NBA of 2018 to be 0-for-16 from three-point range in the 13 playoff games since 2016. DeRozan didn’t run from the lousy stew of frustration, anger, resignation and embarrassment he felt while his brothers kept plugging. As Saturday turned into Sunday – an “extremely long night,” DeRozan said – the Raptors’ leading scorer in 2017-18 (23.0 ppg) ruminated pretty good. “It was rough. As a competitor, definitely rough,” he said. “But I think it’s something you carry over to today. Let it fuel you. ... I’ve had lots of [times] where I got down on myself. It’s all about how you respond. “There’s really nothing much you can do, honestly, but watch the time go by. Wait for when the time comes to be able to get this feeling off you. And in order to get that feeling off you is to go back out there, help your teammates and get a win.” Lowry, asked how they would manage that, reduced his formula to one word. “Rumble,” he said. “No matter what, you rumble. Rumble, young man, rumble.” Toronto did play with overdue physical force in Game 3 and will make that a priority again. Rookie OG Anunoby’s individual defense on James has been solid, generally without overt double-teaming. Through the three games, though, the Raptors have committed 18 more fouls and 20 more turnovers, too many mistakes when losing Game 1 in overtime and Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) by that single bucket. Whenever it gets here for the Raptors, the summer is going to be longer than they’d hoped. So, going out strong does matter. “You choose to continue to fight,” Casey said of his players. The Toronto coach recalled his days as an assistant in Seattle, when the SuperSonics fell behind 0-3 against Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the 1996 Finals. Rather than fold, they won the next two games at home in the 2-3-2 format to force the series back to Chicago. Said Casey: “Guys just made up their minds, ‘We’re not giving in. We’re not quitting. We’ve got too much sweat equity.’ We won the regular season conference title. Guys put in the work to get where they are. We’ve got a group of young players who committed to getting better and did. “The easy thing to do is just to write us off and write ourselves off. But you choose to be a warrior. You choose to continue to fight.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 7th, 2018

MVP Ladder: No topping Harden in award chase

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Stump speeches aren’t necessary. Not when your campaign drives itself on performance alone, when you elevate the conversation with each and every outing, the way James Harden did from the opening tip of this regular season until the final buzzer. So if it seems like Harden has skillfully avoided getting caught up in this reporter-crafted Kia MVP pickles that often drive the rest of our NBA dialogue on a daily basis, it’s by design. Besides, who needs to dive in on the debate when you have unsolicited celebrity endorsements from the likes of Kobe Bryant, who made clear to USA Today Sports that Harden’s time is now. “It’s got to be James,” Bryant said. “I really don’t understand the debate about picking somebody else. I don’t get it. Like, what the hell does this guy have to do? I mean for the last three years, the guy has been absolutely lights out, and now you still want to sit here and debate who should be MVP when he leads the league in scoring (30.4 points per game), his assists numbers (8.8 apg) are off the charts, they have the best record in the league (65-16). “If he doesn’t win MVP this year, what the hell is he supposed to do to win MVP, average 40 [points], 15 [assists] and 15 [rebounds]? I mean, come on now. Enough is enough.” After coming up short twice in the past three seasons, Harden is poised to capture the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. It is something he felt he earned last season, when his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, Russell Westbrook, used a triple-double season to claim the hardware. Stephen Curry won the award in 2015 and 2016, his star rising in concert with the Golden State Warriors' surge from lottery team, to contender to championship-winner in two of the last three seasons. While Curry claimed those awards, Harden won MVP honors in a vote of his peers at the NBPA’s first Players Awards in July 2015. There will be no dispute this time around. There is no other narrative that trumps Harden’s.   No other player's performance rises above what he’s done for the Rockets this season, the first with he and fellow superstar point guard  Chris Paul sharing the leadership load of the league’s best team. Not even four-time Kia MVP LeBron James, who turned in one of the finest seasons of his 15 year career in Cleveland, could catch Harden on the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder or in the minds of most voters. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni coached Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and two-time Kia MVP Steve Nash. Yet it was Harden who received D'Anton's greatest compliment after a win in Portland last month when called Harden the “best offensive player I’ve ever seen.” “He’s a hell of a player, first off,” D’Antoni told USA Today Sports when asked to explain his declaration. “It’s a combination of everything. There are other players who might be better at this, or a little bit better at that. But when you put everything together, and the way he passes, the way he sees teammates, the way he can lob, the way he can fight through a foul. I mean even on an off night, he’s probably getting 30, 40 points, and I mean efficiently. And he doesn’t even have anything going. But he’s so efficient, and he gets other guys involved.” If the strength of Harden’s MVP case this season was just his own individual offensive brilliance, he’d still have a rock-solid case. He did record the first 60-point triple-double in NBA history this season and won the scoring title a season after leading the league in assists. But, as D’Antoni noted, Harden's ability to raise the level of play from teammates like Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and others is what stands out. “I don't think there's a player that's had to create as much as I've had to in these last three years," Harden said in a GQ profile that came out this week. "I don't know if there's a guy in NBA history.” That comment can be interpreted in a number of ways, and it’s sure to spark yet another debate as the conversation continues deep into this postseason about who is most deserving of Kia MVP honors. But we’re done here. “It’s James Harden, no doubt about it,” a Western Conference executive told me when asked if there was any dispute about this season’s most valuable player. “Harden in a landslide.” * * * The top five in the Final Edition of the 2017-18 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: 1. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 2017-18 season stats: 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds Harden declared early on that this was the Rockets’ season. He felt they finally had the pieces to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference standings, and, therefore, the entire league. He served notice on opening night, when he and the Rockets spoiled the Warriors' championship banner and rings celebration at Oracle Arena by claiming a win. Harden’s 27 points, 11 assists and six rebounds was the opening salvo in what turned into the best season in Rockets history. Harden’s ability to blend his point guard responsibilities with his role as the most lethal scorer in the league fueled one brilliant performance after another. As well, Harden also silenced the critics who suggested he and Paul would not be able to play well off of each other. The Rockets enter the postseason with the No. 1 overall seed and with all the confidence needed for a championship run. 2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Last week: No. 2 2017-18 season stats: 27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds LeBron put the final touches on his outstanding 15th NBA regular season by capturing Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for March/April, the fourth time this season he took those honors (October/November, December and February). In addition to the parade of milestones LeBron reached this season, he also piled up a career-high 18 triple-doubles, led the Cavaliers through a tumultuous year that ended with 50 or more wins for the fourth straight season. He shot better than 54 percent from the floor (.542) and also had his best shooting from beyond the 3-point line (.367) since returning to Cleveland from Miami before the 2014-15 season. The true test of his super powers, though, will be on display in this postseason. The Cavaliers finished as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference but go into the playoffs as the favorite, in the eyes of most, to survive the gauntlet due in large part to LeBron’s work the past seven seasons guiding his teams to The Finals. 3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last week: No. 3 2017-18 season stats: 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks Davis turned it on when the Pelicans needed it most, after DeMarcus Cousins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. He powered the Pelicans with 50 double-doubles, one triple-double and, when the Pelicans needed grind their way into the postseason as 2017-18 waned, he picked his game up even more. He averaged 29 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks during the Pelicans’ season-ending five-game win streak that helped them secure the No. 6 seed. That sealed up Davis' second career playoff run and he’s still looking for his first playoff win. His ability to carry the load for the Pelicans the way he did, though, is easily the most impressive part of his season. There was no guarantee the Pelicans would make the playoffs in a rugged Western Conference even with Cousins healthy. To do it without him speaks volumes about the impact Davis had on his team. 4. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Last week: No. 4 2017-18 season stats: 26.9 points, 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds Lillard has done what few thought possible after the Portland team he joined as a rookie was taken apart and rebuilt around him. The catalyst for a Blazers team that finished third in the West, Lillard forced his way onto that short list of names in the best-point-guard-in-the-game discussion. He lacks the championship and/or Kia MVP hardware guys like Curry, Kyrie Irving and Westbrook all have. But his body of work as the face of Portland's franchise makes it difficult to leave him out of the discussion. The Blazers wouldn't have come anywhere close to that No. 3 seed without Lillard going nuclear in February (31.4 points, six assists and nearly five rebounds in 10 games). This has been a transformative year on and off the court for Lillard, who is not only had a career-best season, but also celebrated the birth of his son late last month. 5. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 5 2017-18 season stats: 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists Durant followed up his 2017 Finals MVP honors with a steady season, by his lofty standard, but not one that pushed him closer to the top of this list. His understanding of the way the regular season connects to the postseason no doubt played a role in the way he paced himself. That’s not to say that Durant didn't have an outstanding regular season, because he did. But just like James and to an extent his All-Star teammate, Curry, Durant’s seasons are now measured against the high standard he’s set in past ones. He actually averaged more points and assists this season compared to his first with the Warriors. And he set a career-high with 1.8 blocks per game, showing off his improved awareness and effectiveness on defense. With Curry out for the first round of the playoffs due to injury, Durant will get a chance to remind the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the league just how dangerous he can be with everything on the line. The next five 6. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors 8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 9. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks 10. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves 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 NewsApr 14th, 2018

Guardiola sees red, falls short in Champions League again

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Perched high in the stands, Pep Guardiola buried his head and covered his eyes. At times, the Manchester City manager couldn't bear to watch as his Champions League hopes were extinguished. On a night when his players needed him most on the touchline, Guardiola was largely helpless to intervene. The elevated view was not out of choice but for allowing his emotions to boil over as the players departed for the halftime break. The target of Guardiola's wrath was Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, who had wrongfully ruled out Leory Sane's goal minutes earlier for offside after failing to spot that the ball had come off Liverpool's James Milner. "I didn't insult the referee," Guardiola said. "I just said, 'It's a goal. It came off Milner.'" The remonstrations achieved nothing apart from Liverpool Juergen Klopp having no company on the sideline for the second half of this quarterfinal second leg that City lost 2-1 to go out 5-2 on aggregate. Had Sane's goal not been disallowed, City would have jumped 2-0 in front of the night. Trailing 3-0 from the first leg at Anfield last week, a comeback would have seemed not just possible but highly conceivable from the team Klopp hails as "the best in the world." City had already made a storming start to this quarterfinal second leg when a goal was produced inside two minutes from Gabriel Jesus. But, with Sane's goal scrubbed, a single goal was a meager return for City's relentless and energetic attacks in the first half. And when the second half began, Liverpool had a renewed vigor to take on the runway Premier League leaders. When Mohamed Salah scored 11 minutes into the second half, Liverpool was 4-1 in front on aggregate and City had to score four goals to advance. That became five once Roberto Firmino netted in the 77th minute. "We created chances," Guardiola said, "but of course it's not easy because they had 10 players behind." For the first time in his City career, Guardiola slumped to a third successive loss. "We were beaten by an exceptional team," Guardiola said. For the third time this season. Liverpool also inflicted City's first loss of the Premier League season. The second came on Saturday at home to Manchester United — a derby setback that denied City the chance to seal the title. Just a blip was expected, Guardiola argued, when City has set such high standards until now with exhilarating performances. "I have to analyze what we've done in 10 months and I think it's quite good," Guardiola said. "I saw the body language of my players. You won't find a team who can keep the same momentum, the same rhythm, the same pace with this amount of games. It's almost impossible." The Premier League trophy will still be won — within weeks given City's 13-point lead — to go with the League Cup that is already in the Etihad Stadium trophy cabinet. But is two trophies an adequate return for a manager who has been able to spend more than $600 million in his four transfer windows at the helm? And when the world's costliest defense concedes eight goals in three of the most significant games of the season in the space of seven days? Guardiola was hired to bring the European Cup to City for the first time. Twice a Champions League winner with Barcelona, he isn't sure he can reach the final next season. "Last season it was the round of 16, this season it's the quarterfinals," Guardiola said. "Hopefully next season we can go to the semifinals.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

Falcons show playoff poise in 26-13 win over upstart LA Rams

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons jumped to an early 13-point lead before the Rams mounted two swift scoring drives. Los Angeles went to the Coliseum locker room at halftime with just a three-point deficit amid raucous cheers from a home crowd thirsty for playoff success. And then Matt Ryan and the tough, tested Falcons showed the upstart Rams what postseason poise is all about. Ryan passed for 218 yards and hit Julio Jones for an 8-yard touchdown with 5:48 to play, and the defending NFC champion Falcons advanced from the wild-card round with a 26-13 victory over the Rams on Saturday night. Devonta Freeman rushed for an early score and Matt Bryant kicked four field goals for the Falcons (11-6), who spoiled the Rams' first playoff game in 13 years with a methodical performance derived from hard-earned experience. Atlanta's journey to the Super Bowl last season ended infamously with that blown 28-3 lead against New England. In their first playoff game since, the Falcons allowed no surprises from the NFC West champion Rams (11-6). "We knew it was a situation we've been through before," Atlanta defensive tackle Dontari Poe said. "We just had to keep playing and use what we've learned." Jones caught nine passes for 94 yards for Atlanta, which never trailed while winning playoff games in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. Against an opponent that had just six players on its roster with prior postseason appearances, the Falcons' experience showed through. "I think having gone through these situations, understanding what it's like, the atmosphere, those kinds of things, knowing that it's going to be tough, all those things kind of carry forward," Ryan said. "But at the end of the day, experience or no experience, you've got to execute." The Falcons advanced to face the top-seeded Eagles on Jan. 13 in Philadelphia. "Doesn't matter where we're going, we're going," Ryan said. "And that's the most exciting part." A raucous crowd of 74,300 packed the Coliseum on a crisp evening for the first NFL playoff game in the nation's second-largest city since early 1994. Los Angeles went 21 years without pro football before the Rams returned last season, and the franchise emphatically ended a 13-year streak of non-winning seasons this fall with an inspiring run to the Rams' first division title since 2003. But the Falcons have been here before, and they showed it. The Falcons jumped to their early lead by capitalizing on two mistakes by Pharoh Cooper, the Rams' Pro Bowl kick returner. Atlanta's offense then chewed up the clock and field position, with the first drive after halftime consuming 8:15. "To end with a time of possession over 37 minutes, that's hard to do in our league," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. "There was a nine-minute drive to start the second half, and I thought that really set the tone." The Falcons' defense did more than enough to slow down the NFL's highest-scoring offense, harassing Jared Goff into a 24-for-45 performance in his playoff debut. "They did a real nice job there moving the ball up the field and keeping us on the sideline," Goff said. "That can sure get you out of your rhythm." Robert Woods caught nine passes for 142 yards for the Rams, but rookie Cooper Kupp scored their only touchdown late in the first half. Atlanta held MVP candidate Todd Gurley to 101 yards rushing — just 43 in the first three quarters — and four receptions for a mere 10 yards. The Falcons ruined a celebratory night for the Rams, who rebounded from a rough homecoming season in 2016 with an outstanding debut year under 31-year-old Sean McVay, the youngest head coach to reach the playoffs in NFL history. "You see why the Falcons are the defending NFC champs," McVay said. "Certainly this is a humbling game. ... This is an experience that we can learn from. But I don't think this game was too big for our guys." The Rams' offense finally figured it out late in the first half: Goff made several sharp throws on a 79-yard drive ending in Kupp's TD catch, and Sam Ficken's first field goal trimmed the halftime deficit to 13-10. But the Rams' defense simply couldn't get off the field in the third quarter, whether due to missed tackles or clever play-calling by the Falcons. Los Angeles trimmed the lead to 19-13 with 10:49 to play, but the Falcons made another drive highlighted by a beautiful 52-yard screen pass from a blitz-avoiding Bryant to Mohamed Sanu. Jones then caught the sixth playoff TD pass of his career. Goff drove the Rams deep into Falcons territory, but LA turned it over on down at the Atlanta 5 with 2:05 to play. The Falcons stopped the Rams again on downs at midfield with 1:08 left. SARK'S RETURN Although the Falcons' offense took a step back in production this season, Atlanta chipped away at the Rams' defense throughout the Coliseum return of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who coached USC here until 2015. Ryan was methodical under relentless pressure from All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald, repeatedly avoiding trouble and making big throws. Freeman rushed for 66 yards, and Sanu had that key 52-yard gain on a screen pass. "Great call by Sark," Ryan said. COOPER'S MISTAKES Cooper is headed to the Pro Bowl after his outstanding regular season as a kick returner, but the second-year pro's misadventures in his playoff debut cost the Rams dearly. He muffed a punt that bounced off teammate Blake Countess in the first quarter, and Bryant subsequently hit the Falcons' first field goal. After Bryant's second field goal later in the quarter, Cooper got stripped by Damontae Kazee during a kickoff return at the Rams 32, and the Falcons drove for Freeman's short TD run. UP NEXT After the Falcons' defensive performance against Goff, they look like a potential problem for the powerful Eagles without quarterback Carson Wentz in the early Saturday divisional playoff game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

NCAA Season 93: women s volleyball preview

Exciting volleyball action starts early this year as NCAA opens its 93rd season on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Arellano University will try to retain its women’s crown against a field filled with squad’s raring to sit on the throne. Let’s take a quick peek at the competing teams.   MAPUA UNIVERSITY LADY CARDINALS   Winless last year, can Mapua University finally put a stop on their skid?  Season 92 record: 0-9 Titles: none  Key players: Danielle Ramilo, Shaira Hermano, Katrina Racelis, Dianne Latayan This team has nowhere to go but up after a forgettable season last year. The Lady Cardinals lost four of their games in straight sets, three in four frames and a couple of matches in five. Mapua’s last victory was against Letran in five sets back in Season 91 (January 7, 2016).   EMILIO AGUINALDO COLLEGE LADY GENERALS   Emilio Aguinaldo College needs to be consistent to add more Ws in their record this season.  Season 92 record: 1-8 Titles: none Players to watch: Iona Yongco and Yvette Tongco EAC’s lone win last season came at the expense of Mapua in straight sets before closing their campaign with a five-set loss against Letran.   LETRAN LADY KNIGHTS   Can Letran contend for a spot in the Final Four this year? Season 92 record: 2-7 Titles: 8 (last title: 1999) Players to watch: Glayssa Faith Torres and Jaymeleene Parin Letran finished at eighth spot last year. They won only two games, against Mapua and EAC, but gave Lyceum, College of St. Benilde and San Sebastian College a scare before bowing down to these powerhouse teams in five sets.   JOSE RIZAL U LADY BOMBERS   Shola Alvarez is expected to carry Jose Rizal University on her shoulders but will need to get support from her teammates. Season 92 record: 3-6 Titles: none Players to watch: Shola Alvarez, Dolly Versoza, Karen Montojo (Season 92 Best Opposite Spiker) JRU is a young and vertically challenged team, mostly banking on Shola Alvarez for point production. The Lady Bombers joined the PVL’s Collegiate Conference during the offseason but lost all of their five matches.    LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES U LADY PIRATES   Lyeum of the Philippines University is considered as a darkhorse this season.  Season 92 record: 5-4 Titles: none Players to watch: Cherilyn Sindayen, Christine Miralles, Bien Juanillo An intact and veteran-laden team. But will the Lady Pirates’ exposure in the PVL Collegiate Conference be enough for them to contend for a spot in the Final Four?     UNIVERSITY OF PERPETUAL HELP LADY ALTAS   Veteran Lourdes Clemente will be one of Perpetual Help's vital cogs in their campaign to reclaim the throne.   Season 92 record: 5-4 Titles: 3 (last title: 2014) Players to watch: Lourdes Clemente, Necelle Gual, Marijo Medalla Former CSB coach Macky Carino replaced long-time mentor Sammy Acaylar but the Lady Altas lost a solid middle in Coleen Bravo and hitter Jamela Suyat. After its three-peat (2012-14), Perpetual has yet to return to the Finals.     SAN BEDA COLLEGE LADY RED SPIKERS   All eyes will be on Cesca Racraquin when San Beda College makes a run for the crown. Season 92 record: 6-3 Titles: none Players to watch: Cesca Racraquin, Satrianni Espiritu, Nieza and Jiezela Viray Season 92 Rookie of the Year Cesca Racraquin will be the go-to guy of the Lady Red Spikers, who made it into the stepladder semis last year. SBC participated in the PVL Collegiate Conference while Racraquin had good stints in the PVL Reinforced and Open conferences for Creamline.      COLLEGE OF ST. BENILDE LADY BLAZERS   Ranya Musa (left) and Rachel Austero are the players to watch for a beefed up College of St. Benilde. Season 92 record: 6-3 Titles: 1 (2016) Players to watch: Ranya Musa, Rachel Austero, Maritess Pablo, Felicia Cui Expectations are high for this team with the arrival of transferees Maritess Pablo (NU) and Felicia Cui (Ateneo) to help Rachel Austero and graduating player Ranya Musa.     Leadership will be a tough challenge for this team after the departure of ace scorer Jeanette Panaga as well as adapting to a new system under interim head coach Arnold Laniog, who replaced Macky Carino.     SAN SEBASTIAN COLLEGE LADY STAGS   San Sebastian College is looking at a rough and bumpy road ahead this season. Season 92 record: 9-0 elims, defeated thrice in the Finals Titles: 23 (last title: 2011) Players to watch: Joyce Sta. Rita, Alyssa Eroa, Nikka Dalisay The most-decorated volleyball program in the NCAA will be facing its toughest season yet. If losing scorers three-time Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones and Kat Villegas weren’t enough, head coach Roger Goreyab will have at his disposal a very short rotation on nine players. But his available players could even go down entering the season after Julie Anne Tiangco suffered a knee injury recently. Scarcity of players even forced SSC-R to field a swimmer to fill in the required minimun of nine players to be able to participate in the tournament.       ARELLANO UNIVERSITY LADY CHIEFS   Who will stop Arellano University from its back-to-back bid? Season 92 record: 8-1, won thrice in a row in the Finals Titles: 2 (last title: 2017) Players to watch: Jovielyn Prado, Regine Arocha, Andrea Marzan The Lady Chiefs lost Rialen Sante and veteran libero Eunice Galang, who both graduated, after last season but will still parade a grizzled core. Fueled by their stints in the PVL including a third place finish in the Collegiate League at the expense of UAAP team Adamson University, Arellano U is expected to make a return trip into the Finals. With SSC-R, the only team to defeat the Obet Javier-mentored squad last year, weakened after the departure of Soltones, the only question now is who will stop the Lady Chiefs’ impending rampage?       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2018

HEADS UP: 10 sporting events to watch out for in 2018

2017 has come and gone, and it delivered some exciting sporting moments that has every sports fan clamoring for more. Worry not, though, as 2018 looks primed to satisfy even the most die-hard Pinoy sports aficionado with its bevy of local and international sporting events. Let's welcome the upcoming year with 10 of the most exciting sporting events to watch out for this 2018.   NCAA 93 & UAAP 80 VOLLEYBALL The cagers are out, and the spikers are in. Volleyball season begins this January 4 with NCAA season 93, followed by the 81st season of the UAAP this February. NCAA volleybelles are once again ready to take center court, and the defending women's champion Arellano University Lady Chiefs, led by heavy hitters Jovie Prado and Regine Arocha are banking on their undisputed team play to propel them to another title. Playing inspired volleyball throughout the season, the Lady Chiefs stunned the thrice-to-beat San Sebastian Lady Stags in the Finals last year, ultimately ending Grethcel Soltones' collegiate career with a dud. Rising stars like San Beda's Ces Racraquin, JRU's Karen Montojo also make the upcoming NCAA volleyball season worth waiting for. UAAP volleyball begins a month later the NCAA tournament, but expect the field to be even more tumultuous. With no clear-cut number 2 team to challenge the two-time defending champions DLSU Lady Spikers, it will be a toss-up against basically the other seven schools to step up. Dangerous squads include the much-improved Adamson Lady Falcons, last year's pleasant surprise UST, the dynastic Ateneo Lady Eagles, and the intact NU Lady Bulldogs and FEU Lady Tamaraws. NBA ALL-STAR GAME & 2018 NBA FINALS The annual showcase of the NBA's brightest stars just got a major revamp. That's right, the league has done away with the traditional East-West teams, and will now have a playground-type pool selection of players between its two captains when the exhibition tips off in Los Angeles. This raises a lot of interesting questions: Will the captains pick their teammates or will they go with a more controversial pick and select a rival? Will we able to know the order of the draft? Will this actually work in making the game better? While answers to those questions might not be answered until a few months, one thing's for sure, the NBA Finals, the spectacle that actually counts, will be epic. Will we be treated to Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Pt. 4? Or will another squad swoop in to spoil the party? The league has indeed improved, with surprising teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Pistons out in the East already staking claim to playoff spots, and the Wild, Wild, West staying true to its monicker. The Houston Rockets and the perennial powerhouse San Antonio Spurs are still the favorites to pull the rug under the Warriors, while the Oklahoma City Thunder is right behind. Either way, with months of hoops already invested in it, the NBA Finals will surely be another explosive one, as it always is.   HOMECOMING QUEEN Alyssa Valdez spent the majority of 2017 overseas, spreading her wings in Taiwan with volleyball club Attack Line. This 2018 though, The Phenom plans on staying in the Philippines, armed with two year’s worth of international experience to focus on her home club team in the Creamline Cool Smashers.  "Next year, I'm planning to focus sa Creamline. Just this year, I travelled a lot talaga. They supported me throughout, esepcially doon sa National Team stint ko. They sacrificed a lot for me talaga. I think I have to focus sa team ko talaga,” she said last week.Alyssa Valdez just got scarier.   PINOY HOOP DREAMS: REMY MARTIN, KOBE PARAS  Two proudly Pinoy ballers based in the U.S. set out this 2018 to continue shooting for our island nation’s humble hoop dreams. Kobe Paras is still serving residency this 2017-2018 season with the California State University-Northridge Matadors, but his development is sure to be a joy to watch. The 6’6” Pinoy swingman accomplished a tour of duty with Gilas Pilipinas earlier in the year, and many Pinoys saw why we should all be excited about high-flying forward. Remy Martin, a 5’11” point guard dazzled in his first few games with the Arizona State Sun Devils, with his athleticism, explosiveness and feisty defense. The Filipino-American cager is proud of his roots and hopes to represent flag and country with Gilas Pilipinas in the future.   WHO (OR WHAT) IS NEXT FOR MANNY PACQUIAO? The never-ending saga of what’s next for Manny Pacquiao looks like it'll seep into 2018.  Following a rather controversial loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, Pacquiao has been “courting” the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a rematch, even taking to Instagram to ”greet” MMA superstar Conor McGregor before finally admitting that he’s been in talks with the Irish fighter’s camp. Whether he actually retires from boxing for good, or takes on another foe in the squared circle, one thing’s for sure: we’ll all have our eyes on Manny Pacquiao’s next move.   2018 WORLD CUP RUSSIA™ After four years, the best of world football will once again converge, this time in Russia to crown the Kings of the beautiful sport. The stage is set, the groups are finalized, and the 32 squads are promising the best 30-day football extravaganza in the hopes of dethroning defending champions Germany this June. Some group stage clashes to look out for are Germany vs Mexico, England vs Belgium, Portugal vs Spain, to name a few. June couldn’t come soon enough.   CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER'S PBA DEBUT No PBA rookie has probably come into the league as pro-ready as the Filipino-German standout Christian Standhardinger. The 6’9” big man was the consensus top overall pick of the 2017 PBA draft, and was also at the center of the controversial trade that sent Kia Picanto’s rights to the number 1 selection to the already-dominant San Miguel. While the trade did go down, so did former commissioner Chito Narvasa. Standhardinger’s entry to the PBA has come at a cost, but San Miguel is more than ready to wait one more conference to bulk up their already stacked squad. Seeing Standharinger play alongside 6’11” center and reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, versatile forward Arwind Santos, and the Beermen’s bevy of guards in Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross, is definitely a sight to see, just look at how he's tearing it up in the ASEAN Basketball League.    2018 ASIAN GAMES INDONESIA The Philippines’ less than stellar performance at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games was met with widespread flak. Not directed at our athletes however, but aimed at our sports development and governing body for its subpar work in getting our sports representatives ready. While the 2018 Asian Games isn’t so far away, a handful of Pinoy medalists from the SEA Games are going into the continental meet with high hopes. After dominating the SEA Games’ triathlon event, our Filipino endurance athletes, led by gold medalists Kim Mangrobang, and Nikko Huelgas, are once again primed to take home hardware. Marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, and boxers John Marvin, and Eumir Marcial, all gold medalists at Malaysia, are all bright spots that could soon unravel into full-fledged stars come 2018.   GILAS PILIPINAS IN THE FIBA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS It’s official, basketball is coming home to the Philippines this 2023 by way of the FIBA World Cup, but Gilas Pilipinas will first have to try its luck in the 2019 meet. After dealing with Chinese Taipei and Japan this 2017 for a perfect 2-0 slate in the qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas still has to face the Japanese anew, and the powerhouse Australian team early in 2018. A good showing against these squads will help Gilas strengthen its bid to international basketball’s biggest stage before we actually host the event in six years’ time.   UAAP 81 BASKETBALL UAAP season 80 just came to an end, but the next season just got way more interesting. Aside from the title defense of the intact Ateneo Blue Eagles and their ongoing rivalry with La Salle, a certain move by a coach has shaken up the league. With Aldin Ayo reportedly accepting the job as the new head coach of the struggling University of Sto. Tomas, we might just be witnesses to the rebirth of the once proud basketball program under the fiery mentor. That, and the way the DLSU Green Archers can adjust from the departure of Ayo and former two-time MVP Ben Mbala, key cogs to their season 79 championship run. The tight race for the MVP award will also be one to watch, with Mbala gone, it’s up to the local stars to step up to the challenge......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017