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Grand Slams to continue seeding 32 players

LONDON --- Grand Slam tournaments will continue to seed 32 players. The Grand Slam Board announced on Thursday that it has given up its earlier-stated intention to revert to 16 seeds in 2019. The board representing the four Grand Slam tournaments --- the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open --- says that "following a full year of Grand Slam match analysis and feedback from all other constituencies, especially players and broadcast partners, the Grand Slam tournaments have decided there is no compelling reason to revert to 16 seeds." The board doubled the number of seeded players to 32 in June 2001. That decision was made partly in response to complaints from ...Keep on reading: Grand Slams to continue seeding 32 players.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerSep 14th, 2018

Grand Slams to continue seeding 32 players

LONDON --- Grand Slam tournaments will continue to seed 32 players. The Grand Slam Board announced on Thursday that it has given up its earlier-stated intention to revert to 16 seeds in 2019. The board representing the four Grand Slam tournaments --- the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open --- says that "following a full year of Grand Slam match analysis and feedback from all other constituencies, especially players and broadcast partners, the Grand Slam tournaments have decided there is no compelling reason to revert to 16 seeds." The board doubled the number of seeded players to 32 in June 2001. That decision was made partly in response to complaints from ...Keep on reading: Grand Slams to continue seeding 32 players.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 14th, 2018

Game-changing imports who raised the bar in the PBA

Imports are considered not only crowd drawers that invite national attention to the PBA. They are also game changers who raised the bar of play in the pioneering Asian pro cage league, with their incredible skills, breathtaking court wizardry, huge scoring might, and of course fantastic flights of fancy. Through the years, we’ve anticipated only the best from them, and definitely there are a few of them who really made their mark with their names etched in the annals of the league. One of them is Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, who bagged the PBA Best Import Award recently. Not flashy or flamboyant, Brownlee just gets the job done, leading Ginebra to the 2016 and 2017 Governors Cup, and just recently the 2018 Commissioners Cup. Aside from Brownlee, who were the other imports in PBA history that made a huge impact in the league and in the consciousness of this basketball-crazy nation? Here are some of the greatest imports ever to play in the country. 1. Cyrus Mann Cyrus Mann is remembered as one of the first prolific imports that played in the PBA, donning the Crispa Redmanizers jersey during its Grand Slam year in 1976 up to 1979. He provided that imposing presence in the paint with his 6’10” frame and was a monster off the boards, including those killer moves in the paint scoring at will against opponents. 2. Byron “Snake” Jones Memorable for his versatility and workhorse attitude, Byron “Snake” Jones was a journeyman, playing for three different teams in the PBA and leading two of them to championships. He played for the Toyota Comets in the PBA’s maiden season and won the First and Second Conference crowns and then went on to play for the U-Tex Wranglers and help them in bagging their first-ever title in the PBA Open Conference in 1978. He would then end his PBA journey with the Crispa Redmanizers in 1981. 3. Andy Fields Considered the first “resident import” in the league, Andy Fields has been called back frequently to play for his lone PBA team Toyota in his entire stint in the PBA. A feared shotblocker, midrange shooter, and rebounder, Fields led Toyota to three PBA championships, including the 1979 Invitationals, 1981 and 1982 Open Conference titles. 4. Norman Black Norman Black is simply called the import that gives his all in each game, one who was frequently labeled as “Mr. 100%.” He started his PBA career with the Teflin Polyesters in 1981, then began his connection with the San Miguel franchise in 1982 as its main workhorse and scorer, who would guide the Beermen to its second franchise title in the Invitationals the same year. He would then serve as import for Great Taste the next year, played again for the SMC franchise in 1985 under Magnolia Quench Plus, then suited briefly for Alaska in 1986. After returning to San Miguel in 1987, Black would then become a playing coach and eventually a coach who engineered its first Grand Slam in 1989. 5. Billy Ray Bates Billy Ray Bates is considered by many as the “best ever” who would fascinate everyone with monster dunks from the charity stripe years before Michael Jordan. Not only would he run rings around defenders, Bates would soar up, up away to score, and score without letup, hence the title “The Black Superman.” His debut stint with Crispa in its second Grand Slam year in 1983 was astounding and remarkable, as his unstoppable incursions, aerial shows, and powerful slams made him unforgettable to this day. Three years later, he would bring his greatness to Ginebra San Miguel and bag the 1986 Open Conference crown, which was the then-Palanca franchise’s first title. 6. Michael Hackett Loyal and dedicated, Michael Hackett is the gentle giant opponents feared. He is considered one of the most dominant forces in PBA history, who would just power his way through defenders at the paint and score at will. Playing for Ginebra San Miguel, Hackett is best remembered for being the first PBA player to score over a hundred points, 103 points to be exact, in a match against Great Taste in the 1985 Open Conference, wherein he won Best Import honors. In the next year, Hackett and fellow import great Billy Ray Bates collaborated to lead Ginebra to the 1986 Open Conference title.   7. Bobby Parks For most coaches, the late Bobby Parks was seen as the greatest not only due to the fact that he is the most decorated with seven Best Import awards, but also being the most hard working and coachable import ever. A gallant scoring machine yet a silent operator, Parks showed a wide variety of moves in his lane incursions in his prime that would leave defenders helpless, ending in mind-boggling baskets. Apart from his individual skills, Parks really completes his mission, giving championships to San Miguel Beer in the 1987 Reinforced Conference, and then Shell as its resident import with two titles, the 1990 and 1992 First Conference plums.      8. Tony Harris He might not be that much of an obedient trooper, but Tony Harris and his brand of play was simply breathtaking. As Coach Yeng Guiao decided during his time as coach of the Swift Mighty Meaties that they must let him be and ordered his court lieutenants to just pass the ball to him and make him simply wield his magic. And he did leave everyone in awe with his speed, agility, and power to score over all defenders thrown at him, hence the monicker “The Hurricane.” Proof of his incredible abilities is scoring 105 points, the single game scoring record that holds to this day, against Ginebra in the 1992 Reinforced Conference, wherein he would single-handedly cop the title for Swift. 9. Sean Chambers You could be charmed by his beaming smile when you meet him off the court, but when you meet him on-court, prepare for the worst beating. Though he’s not the heavy scorer type of an import PBA fans are accustomed to, Alaska’s “resident import” shows his class and might as a team player. He worked for the Milkmen in 13 seasons, giving them titles 6 times, yet only won the Best Import plum once—in the Reinforced Conference of Alaska’s Grand Slam year in 1996. The memory of what these imports brought to the league continues to delight true PBA fans through the years. And we see their legacy in such players as Justin Brownlee, who continue to show the example, the standard for other foreign players setting foot in the country to follow.     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 13th, 2018

US OPEN 18: From Sloane & Serena to new roof, what to know

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — A little more than a year ago, Sloane Stephens was ranked outside of the top 950 as she tried to work her way back toward the top of tennis after foot surgery. By the time the U.S. Open was over, she was a Grand Slam champion for the first time and soaring up the rankings. On Monday, the No. 3-seeded Stephens will begin the defense of a major title for the first time, facing 80th-ranked Evgeniya Rodina of Russia at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. "Going back again and knowing that you held the trophy there once before is super-cool. I think that it'll be fun. There will be a lot of different pressure and a lot of excitement and a lot of stress," Stephens said. "Whether I lose first round or win the tournament again, I know I'm going to do my absolute best and that's all I can ask myself." Her success at Flushing Meadows in 2017 is emblematic of the wide-open nature of women's tennis ever since 23-time major champion Serena Williams left the tour for a hiatus while she was pregnant. At four of the past six majors, the titlist was a first-time Grand Slam champ: Jelena Ostapenko at the French Open and Stephens in New York in 2017; Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open and Simona Halep in Paris in 2018. Consistency at the majors hasn't exactly been that quartet's hallmark. Current No. 1 Halep lost in the first round at last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open. Ostapenko did the same at Roland Garros this year. Wozniacki exited in the second round at two of the past four Slams. Stephens has been boom or bust lately, too, collecting a pair of runs to finals and a trio of opening-round defeats at the five major tournaments she's entered since the foot operation. "You can't let the lows get you too low," the 25-year-old American said, "and you can't let the highs get you too high." Here is what else to know before play starts on the blue hard courts of the year's last Grand Slam tournament: DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK Six-time champion Williams returns to the U.S. Open on Monday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium against 68th-ranked Magda Linette of Poland. Williams missed the tournament a year ago because she gave birth on Sept. 1. "I feel like everything is just different, in terms of: I'm living a different life. I'm playing the U.S. Open as a mom," Williams said. "It's just new and it's fresh." She is coming off a runner-up finish at Wimbledon but has lost three of her past four matches. Williams could face her older sister, Venus, in the third round. BIG 4 REUNION For the first time since Wimbledon in June 2017, a tournament will have the entire Big Four in the field: five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer , defending champ Rafael Nadal , two-time winner Novak Djokovic and 2012 champion Andy Murray. They have won 49 of the past 54 Slam titles and the last three Olympic singles golds and have been ranked No. 1 every week for the last 14½ years. Djokovic — who could face Federer in the quarterfinals — and Murray sat out the U.S. Open last year because of injuries. Also back is 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, who couldn't defend his title because of a bad knee. WHOSE TURN IS IT? It's been a question asked for years, yet it still remains without an answer: Which youngster will assert himself and break up the dominance at the top of men's tennis? Alexander Zverev, a 21-year-old German who recently began working with Ivan Lendl, hopes he'll be the one, but there is a crop of up-and-comers worth watching. A SECOND ROOF For so many years, and through so much rain, the U.S. Open operated without any possibility of playing despite bad weather, resulting in a series of Monday men's finals pushed back from Sunday. Now there are two retractable roofs: the one added to Arthur Ashe Stadium that's been in use for the past two years, and the one at the rebuilt 14,069-seat Armstrong arena, which will host night sessions, too. It's the culmination of a five-year, $600 million project that remade the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. SERVE CLOCKS Serve clocks make their debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, allowing everyone to see the countdown on courtside digital readouts as players get 25 seconds to start a point. Clocks also will time the 7-minute pre-match period, from the players' walk-on through the coin toss and the warmup. Also new at the 2018 U.S. Open: electronic line-calling on every court......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018

LeBron s free agency decision could swing NBA s balance of power

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- These combo coronation-funerals can be tricky. Imagine the crowning of a new monarch where the royal subjects couldn’t stop chattering about the freshly deposed or deceased predecessor. Where the traditional cry of continuity and succession, “The king is dead! Long live the king!” got flipped, with what was overshadowing what is. That’s pretty much how it went Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena, with the Golden State Warriors’ latest NBA championship having to share the stage with speculation, instantly revved up, about LeBron James and the choice he’ll soon make about his next employer. The Warriors are the kings, claiming pro basketball’s throne yet again by completing a sweep of James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. But of course, James is the King, and as so many of us learned in sophomore English – thanks, CliffsNotes! – “Uneasy lies the head (of those who fret and obsess about the future whereabouts of the NBA superstar) that wears a crown.” Long live the kings! The King is ... gone? There was so much energy before, during and after Game 4 Friday (Saturday, PHL time) poured into the last game/next game conjecture about James, the Cavaliers and seismic shifts in the league’s 2018-19 landscape that even the player’s surprise reveal near the end of the night – a bruised and bandaged right hand – couldn’t derail it. Turns out, as James ‘fessed up, the sore shooting paw was an injury he had been playing with ever since Game 1 in Oakland eight days earlier. He had “self-inflicted” it in a fit of pique when he smacked a whiteboard in the visitors’ dressing room at Oracle Arena after Cleveland’s overtime loss in the series-setter, an outcome driven at least in part by some teammates’ mistakes and an arcane wrinkle in the NBA’s replay rules regarding block/charge fouls. Despite the hordes of media people chronicling every waking detail of the Finals, James had kept the injury on the down-low (along with the possibility that J.R. Smith’s nickname amongst his Cavs teammates might be “whiteboard”). The cameras zoomed in and clicked in a paparazzi frenzy of motor drives every time James raised the hand, wrapped in black tape, above the table during his postgame podium remarks. Whether a legit Page-2-the-rest-of-the-story factor in the championship series or a too-late alibi, the contused hand wound up as a sidebar to where James plans to be using it when training camps open in a few months. As of Friday (Saturday, PHL time), it had been 95 months since “The Decision,” the 2010 announcement that James made in a tone-deaf vanity TV production that he was taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. Nearly 47 months had passed since he broke the news of his return in a Sports Illustrated ghost-written essay, envisioning much of what actually has unfolded in the four years since. Now savvy insiders and casual observers alike presume James will be on the move again, pushed to leave the franchise he has defined in an urgent search for more and better talent with which he can compete. As in, y’know, some horses, some horses, his kingdom for some horses. James’ free-agency process next month (he can opt out of a $35.6 million deal in the final season of his current contract) is expected to dictate the market of player movement this summer like an oversized domino. It easily could swing the balance of power, if not quite at Golden State’s lofty level then immediately below it. The monster he helped create Dr. Frankenstein eventually was done in by his macabre creation, and it can similarly be argued that James has no one but himself to blame for the predicament in which he again finds himself. He set in motion the machinery of the super team, after all, when he chose to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami eight years ago. Oh sure, the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 got there first by luring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce, but that was about knitting together three stars, all age 30 or older, for what would be their last best chance to win in an extremely limited run. That group won one title, went to two Finals in three seasons and was done, Allen leaving to join James & Co. with the Heat while Garnett and Pierce morphed into trade chips for Boston POBO Danny Ainge. When James, Wade and Bosh teamed up, they were in their basketball primes and their initial giddy boasts of “not four, not five, not six” championships turned off fans league-wide as much for its portent as its pretension. That crew went 4-for-4 in Finals, winning two rings before James, nudged by staleness and chafing as well as his grand plan for northeast Ohio, went home. From there, a line can be drawn through the ill-conceived 2012-13 L.A. Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all the way to this season’s Houston Rockets of James Harden and Chris Paul and the talent-gorged Golden State roster. James was the centerpiece as Cleveland replicated the Big Three concept around him with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, two younger, playoff-stymied All-Stars. The new-look Cavaliers went to the Finals in their first season together and clambered atop the basketball world to win the franchise’s first NBA title by the end of the second, becoming the first team in league history to do so after digging a 1-3 hole in the best-of-seven series. In that moment, regardless of the two Finals trips that followed, James’ bill was stamped: Paid In Full. Misguided fans might burn his jersey if he leaves again, but James burned the mortgage after that Game 7 in Oakland in 2016 as far as any remaining obligation to fulfill. “I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” he said after elimination Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember. Honestly, I think we'll all remember that. It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we'll all remember that in sports history.” James added: “When you have a goal and you're able to accomplish that goal, it actually – for me personally – made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships. And I still want to be in championship mode. I think I've shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.” In other words, James intends to sustain his high level of performance. He expects to win. And he presumably will do whatever – and go wherever – is necessary to achieve that. There’s no perfect fit So what does that mean for the NBA’s best player (never mind what the annual MVP balloting says in any given season)? It means this: compromise. There is no ideal situation, certainly no easy answer to the guesswork surrounding James’ looming free agency. He could transform any of the 30 teams, but not without some trade-offs for him, for them or for both. Most of them won’t be in play. Teams in markets such as Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Sacramento, the Twin Cities and so on can’t scratch James’ itches for either championship-worthy depth chart or spotlight. New York and Chicago, among the biggies, are out of synch with his timeline. Toronto? No way James is resettling his brand north of the border, and given his stated desire for teammates who have not just sufficient basketball skills but also mental toughness, well, the Raptors teams he and the Cavs have dominated do not qualify. The Boston club that stretched Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals is built for the long haul and would have to surrender much of that to adjust to James’ career calendar. There’s a little Kyrie problem lurking there and, truth be told, the Celtics look to be on their way and are doing just fine without the 33-year-old heading, one of these years, toward decline. At some point in each of the 2018 Finals’ final three days, James spoke admiringly of the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs title teams that blocked his path whether in Miami or Cleveland. He was at it again even as the Warriors were dousing the opponent’s locker room at The Q with Moet champagne. “I made the move in 2010 to be able to play with talented players, cerebral players that you could see things that happen before they happened on the floor,” James said. “When you feel like you're really good at your craft, I think it's always great to be able to be around other great minds as well and other great ballplayers. “That's never changed. Even when I came here in '14, I wanted to try to surround myself and surround this franchise with great minds and guys that actually think outside the box of the game and not just go out and play it.” Where might James find that now or recruit that swiftly? Hard to say. There are asterisks and “buts” everywhere: * If he were to sign with the Houston Rockets, James would be hitching his star to Chris Paul, a buddy with an injury history that’s about the mirror opposite of his own. He would be teaming up with an elite coach in Mike D’Antoni, something he’s never had (though Miami’s Erik Spoelstra was just young and unproven, on his way to big things). But it also would require another big ask of James Harden, who had to adapt last summer to Paul’s arrival and need for the ball. * If James chooses the Lakers, he has the chance to hit reset with the league’s glitziest franchise, in a market that can meet his every off-court wish and where he and his family already own one or more ultra-comfortable homes. The Lakers have young talent to help James transition into a lower-usage veteran’s role, favored status as a destination team for other top free agents and the salary-cap space to get it done this summer with the likes of Paul George or his pal Paul. But that roster might not be capable of insta-contending, which could burn a season or two when James’ clock most definitely is clicking. * If it’s San Antonio, James could link up with the elite coach in Gregg Popovich, where the winning culture is in the DNA rather than some acquired taste. The Spurs have talent, particularly if Kawhi Leonard finds happiness again there. But they might not have enough to rattle the Warriors’ cage. And for all their professed admiration, James and Popovich might both fare better by keeping their relationship long-distance vs. the 82-game grind. * If it’s Golden State? Perish the thought. The NBA might have to board up itself if competitive balance were capsized to that extent. And as Draymond Green shrewdly noted on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), if James climbed aboard, it likely would require him and several other Golden State teammates to be dispatched to parts unknown. * If James prefers to stay East, where the winning comes easier, he could pick Philadelphia. The Sixers have two foundational young stars at positions that matter most, center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. But Simmons is a non-shooter at the moment, the antithesis of what makes a great complementary LeBron teammate. As for Embiid, James never has had to play off of and service a top center. And Philly might feel like a basketball-only move, with the hungriest and most demanding of any new fan base he would embrace. * If it’s Miami – wait, could it be Miami? Could he go second-home again? The Heat always strive to be competitive and offer a talent base deep enough for the East and lots of familiarity. But they also have players such as Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters whose mental approaches don’t seem to fit the model James was cooing about in Golden State and with the Tim Duncan-era Spurs. * That brings us to Cleveland, where it’s possible James might choose to remain. Staying with the Cavaliers, after leading them to four Finals and that heady 2016 title, would be the easiest choice as far as pressure to win. He owes these fans nothing anymore – in fact, had the bargain been offered to them in 2010 (“LeBron will leave and win elsewhere for four years, but will come back and deliver a championship and four Finals trips”), most would have grabbed it. Here, James and the fans who have watched him even through the interruption develop from ridiculously touted high schooler to one of the world’s most famous athletes could grow older together. Then he could partner up and buy the team from owner Dan Gilbert for a long-term future. Certainly, staying has a certain place in his and the rest of the James clan’s hearts. “The one thing that I've always done is considered, obviously, my family,” he said at series end Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I've got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.” It’s worth noting that as James contemplates his options as a modern pursuer of championship excellence, the prospect of him moving again qualifies at some level as a failure. Not just by the support system in Cleveland, where he and Gilbert have their friction and James gets snidely mentioned as the team’s unofficial GM and head coach, but by him too. He’s the one who went off to seek his “college education” in south Florida in what it takes to win, whether on the court, in the front office or in and around the seams 365 days a year, straight out of the Pat Riley handbook. The teams about which James talks so glowingly in Oakland now and in San Antonio then have cultures he covets, stability up and down the flowchart he craves. In Cleveland, for a variety of reasons, his team has been incapable of establishing and maintaining that to a lasting degree. He is part of that missed opportunity and he has to own it, no matter if he goes or stays. James is inseparable from the dynamic of the Cavaliers’ ever-changing and often melodramatic roster maneuvers. Spending big, swapping out draft picks to import current stars and supporting players, and overvaluing secondary guys like Smith and Tristan Thompson are risks the Warriors and the Spurs largely avoided thanks to shrew drafting and laudable continuity. The Cavs’ scrap heap, by contrast, is high with traded picks, scuttled plans, panic deals, short-term patches and folks such as former coach David Blatt and former GM David Griffin. And maybe James could have nurtured a little better relationship with All-Star point guard and 2016 title sidekick Kyrie Irving, enough to have kept Irving from bailing on them all with his trade demand last summer. Now he’s on the verge of casting about again, prioritizing what matters most for however long he continues to play. James is more at peace with it than he was before, particularly in 2010, and surely can enjoy the leverage he wields and the riches it delivers. But there is a burden there as well, one that could be seen as completing a circle. So many of the NBA’s greatest stars have been stuck playing and living in the Age of LeBron, right? Their paths to the Finals blocked, on one whole side of the league, by him and his? Well, LeBron James is stuck now in the Era of the Warriors, freshly swept and anxious to close the gap. What goes around comes around, though the key more pressing of the big W’s now is, where? 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 NewsJun 11th, 2018

Tigers draft Auburn right-hander Casey Mize with No. 1 pick

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Casey Mize went from undrafted three years ago all the way to No. 1. The Detroit Tigers selected the Auburn right-hander with the top pick in the Major League Baseball draft Monday night. The announcement at MLB Network studios marked the second time the Tigers led off the draft, and first since they took Rice pitcher Matt Anderson in 1997. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Mize had long been linked to the Tigers, and he pitched his way this season to the top spot on Detroit's list. Mize went undrafted out of high school three years ago, but developed into a potential big league ace while in college. "It means a ton," Mize said in an interview on MLB Network's broadcast. "I'm very thankful that the Tigers thought of me enough to take me with their first selection. I can't describe this feeling right now." Mize is 10-5 with a 2.95 ERA and 151 strikeouts with just 12 walks in 109 2/3 innings while helping the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament super regionals. Mize has solid command of four pitches, including a fastball that hovers in the mid-90s (mph). His outstanding command and wicked split changeup whip up lots of swings and misses. Mize became only the seventh player in draft history to go from undrafted in high school to the No. 1 pick since Stephen Strasburg went to the Washington Nationals in 2009. "All of us in the Tigers organization are thrilled to select Casey with this pick, and are confident that he will become a pillar in our player development system that's going to bring winning baseball to Detroit for seasons to come," Detroit general manager Al Avila said. "Being a college pitcher — especially coming from the Southeastern Conference — we know Casey has seen elite competition before." With the second selection, San Francisco took slugging Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year. Perhaps Buster Posey's replacement someday, Bart follows in the footsteps of big league backstops Matt Wieters and Jason Varitek, who also came out of Georgia Tech. Bart led the conference in hitting with a .359 average and topped the Yellow Jackets with a .632 slugging percentage, 79 hits, 16 home runs, 55 runs and a .471 on-base percentage. He's also one of the country's best defensive catchers, with a .992 fielding percentage on the season while throwing out 12 of 33 would-be base stealers. Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm was the first of six players attending the draft to be selected, going third overall to Philadelphia. He had some trouble buttoning his white Phillies jersey before heading to the podium to shake hands with Commissioner Rob Manfred. "The holes are pretty tight. It was pretty tough," said the 6-foot-5 Bohm, later adding that his biggest strength is probably his maturity at the plate. "I'm just ready to go play ball." Bohm is one of the top offensive players in the draft, hitting .339 with 16 homers — the most by a Wichita State player since 2004 — and 55 RBIs with 14 doubles and 39 walks. He also showed a knack for hitting in the clutch by setting a school record with three grand slams this year, and led the team with 10 go-ahead RBIs. "Alec Bohm is a tremendous offensive player," Phillies director of amateur scouting Johnny Almaraz said in a statement. "He is a middle of the order bat, a big power-hitting third baseman who could be a .300 hitter and drive in 100-plus runs." Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal went fourth to the Chicago White Sox. Despite his short stature — 5-foot-7, 160 pounds — Madrigal is considered by many to be the best overall hitter in the draft. He rebounded nicely for the Beavers after missing half the season with a broken left wrist. He was hitting .406 with three homers, 32 RBIs and just five strikeouts in 133 at-bats while helping lead Oregon State to the NCAA Tournament super regionals. Rounding out the top five was Cincinnati, which took Florida third baseman Jonathan India. The Southeastern Conference player of the year has been an offensive force for the defending College World Series champions. He's the 12th player in school history to post 20 or more homers, 100 or more RBIs and 30 or more stolen bases in his career......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

UAAP VOLLEYBALL: DLSU makes 10th straight Finals appearance

De La Salle University’s journey for a third grand slam is now just a couple of wins away. The defending champion Lady Spikers swept their way into their 10th straight Finals appearance after a quick work of National University, 27-25, 25-22, 25-11, Sunday in the 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Final Four at the MOA Arena. Graduating hitter Kim Kianna Dy, Tin Tiamzon and Des Cheng waxed-hot all game long to lead DLSU to a best-of-three showdown against Far Eastern University - the first matchup between the two proud schools since Season 71 when the Lady Spikers dethroned the Lady Tamaraws. DLSU showed its composure, rallying from five points down in the first set before dismantling NU in the next two.  “Well kasi sabi ko nga sa mga players, ‘wag nating bigyan ng chance na makakuha ng kumpyansa ng NU kasi pag nakuha nila ang first set, mahirap ang pagdadaanan natin,” said head coach Ramil de Jesus. “Medyo malayo nga yung first set, ginapang lang ng team hanggang sa abutan nila ng end game. After noon, bumitaw-bitaw na yung NU.” Game 1 of the Finals is on April 28 at the Big Dome. Dy finished with 17 points including 15 from attacks, Tiamzon had 11 while skipper Majoy Baron and Cheng had nine and eight markers, respectively, for the Lady Spikers, who could add another three-peat after their couple of grand slams in Seasons 66 to 68 and in Seasons 73 to 75.    Outgoing libero Dawn Macandili had 23 digs and 10 excellent receptions while setter Michelle Cobb dished out 25 excellent sets and seven digs.   The Taft-based squad started out flat as the Lady Bulldogs held a 12-7 lead. DLSU rallied to tie it at 18 but another scoring spurt by NU led by graduating ace 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago pushed the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to 23-21. Santiago broke a 23-23 deadlock with a hit to move at set point but a cross by Arriane Layug sparked the closing barrage of DLSU capped by an ace by Cheng. The Lady Spikers controlled the next two sets and even held a 19-9 advantage in the third frame to highlight their domination of the Lady Bulldogs, who started the season with a 6-1 first round elimination win-loss card before falling to a 1-6 struggle in the next round.     Santiago was the only Lady Bulldog in double figures with 17 points while setter Jasmine Nabor tallied 17 excellent sets and eight markers.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 22nd, 2018

Nicklaus cautions from experience against a Masters letdown

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press Tiger Woods built his comeback around the Masters, as was the case even in healthier years. He took a step back at Augusta National, not breaking par until the final round and finishing 16 shots behind Patrick Reed, the most he has trailed the Masters winner. Woods wasn't alone in his disappointment. Jordan Spieth geared his early part of the year toward being ready for the Masters, the major he says he most wants to win. He had a two-shot lead after the first round, and rounds of 74-71 meant even that closing 64 wasn't enough. Phil Mickelson took himself out of the hunt with a 79 in the second round. Jack Nicklaus can understand how they feel, and his message for anyone who puts so much emphasis on a green jacket is that the show goes on. "I had to learn that there were other tournaments in the country after Augusta," Nicklaus said at the Masters after hitting the ceremonial first tee shot. "I played Augusta a lot of times and lost. I won in '63, '65 and '66, and I just expected to win every year. I thought I would just continue to do that." Nicklaus missed the cut in 1967. He says that started a three-year trend in which it took him longer than it should have to get over not winning the Masters. "That was a humbling experience to miss the cut after you've won it twice in a row," he said. "But then the next couple of years, I think that it probably destroyed the rest of my year. Because I was so disappointed at not winning at Augusta that I had a downer most of the year." There's some truth to that. He didn't go more than two tournaments before winning again after the 1963, 1964 and 1965 Masters. After he repeated at Augusta in 1966, he ran off five consecutive top fives before winning the British Open at Muirfield to complete the career Grand Slam. But after missing the cut in 1967, he went five tournaments without winning and had one stretch of 10 straight rounds in which he failed to break 70. The following year when he tied for fifth at the Masters, Nicklaus didn't win again until the Western Open the first weekend in August. And after a tie for 23rd in the 1969 Masters, he didn't win again until the Sahara Invitational in October. "I put such a buildup to this tournament and the importance of winning that first major that it was to my detriment more times than a positive," he said. Nicklaus figured it out. Over the next four years, he never went more than three events after the Masters before winning again. Twice, in 1971 and 1973, he won in his next start after failing to win the Masters. CURTIS CUP Four years after Lucy Li qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at age 11, the Californian is headed to her first Curtis Cup. Li was among eight women selected for the June 8-10 matches against amateurs from Britain and Ireland at Quaker Ridge in New York. Li is the first 15-year-old to make the American team since Lexi Thompson in 2010. The other Americans selected for the team are UCLA star Lilia Vu, Andrea Lee, Jennifer Kupcho, Kristen Gillman, U.S. Women's Amateur champion Sophia Schubert, Lauren Stephenson and Mariel Galdiano. Lee and Galdiano played in the most recent Curtis Cup, which Britain & Ireland won in Ireland. AS THE WORLD TURNS For the second time since the World Golf Championships began in 1999, the PGA Tour is converting one of its regular tournaments into one of the four WGCs with a big purse ($10 million this year) and a limited field with no cut. Doral had been longest-running PGA Tour event on the Florida Swing until it morphed into the WGC-CA Championship in 2007. Now it's happening in Memphis, Tennessee. Bridgestone chose not to renew its increasingly expensive title sponsorship of the WGC at Firestone, which had hosted an elite event since 1976. Starting next year, the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational will move to the TPC Southwind in Memphis. That will assure the strongest field for Memphis, which dates to 1958. But much like Doral in 2007, it becomes off-limits to PGA Tour regulars. Based on this week's world ranking, only 16 players in the field for the St. Jude Classic last year would be eligible at a World Golf Championship. BALANCE AT THE TOP Each generation believes it had stronger and deeper competition, though there at least appears to be more balance. Perhaps one way to measure that is through Tiger Woods. When he won the 2008 U.S. Open for his 14th major, only seven other players in the top 20 in the world ranking had combined for 13 majors. Phil Mickelson (No. 2), Ernie Els (No. 5) and Vijay Singh (No. 9), each had three majors. Geoff Ogilvy (No. 4), Jim Furyk (No. 10), Padraig Harrington (No. 13) and Trevor Immelman (No. 15) each had one. Just like then, four of the top five in the world have won majors (all but 23-year-old Jon Rahm). However, 12 of the top 20 in the world from this week's rankings have won majors. The top 20 includes Mickelson (now with five majors), Rory McIlroy (four majors), Jordan Spieth (three majors) and Bubba Watson (two majors). Eight other players have won at least one major. It's certainly younger at the top. Woods was 32 when he won his last major, and only three players from the top 10 were in their 20s — Scott, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose. This week, seven of the top 10 in the world are in their 20s. MANAGEMENT MOVES Jordan Spieth's manager has come full circle and is returning to IMG, and Jay Danzi is bringing his top client with him. Danzi has become a partner with California-based William Morris Endeavor, which owns IMG. Included in the move is Jordan Lewites, who was handling much of Spieth's day-to-day operations, and Laura Moses, who heads up Spieth's foundation. Spieth will be represented by WME and IMG. "Jordan is a world-class talent, and we're excited to welcome him to the family," said Patrick Whitesell, executive chairman of Endeavor. "When you look at what he and Jay have already accomplished and consider WME and IMG's ability to amplify Jordan's reach across entertainment and sports, the possibilities are endless." Danzi previously worked for IMG as global head of recruiting for its golf business. He left the Cleveland-based agency for Wasserman, and then started his own company (Forefront Sports Group) when he signed Spieth. The centerpiece of getting Spieth was a bold endorsement with Under Armour. Lagardere bought Forefront in 2013. Along with managing the three-time major champion, Danzi was in charge of Lagardere's brand consulting, sales and golf consulting groups. He left Lagardere last month. DIVOTS Ted Potter Jr. tied for 16th in the RBC Heritage, notable because he had missed his last five cuts dating to his victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. ... Satoshi Kodaira was the first player without PGA Tour status to win a regular PGA Tour event since Arjun Atwal at the Wyndham Championship in 2010. ... Cameron Smith, a 24-year-old from Australia, tied for 32nd at Hilton Head last week and moved past Jack Nicklaus on the PGA Tour career money list. ... Bryson DeChambeau moved into the top 50 in the world ranking for the first time, at No. 48. ... With his tie for fifth in the Masters, Bubba Watson became the 16th player to surpass $40 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour. STAT OF THE WEEK Rickie Fowler has been in the top 10 on the leaderboard in 20 out of the 32 rounds he has played this season. FINAL WORD "I will probably not wear it every day. But it is special." — Satoshi Kodaira on the tartan jacket he received for winning at Harbour Town......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 18th, 2018

Nadal a straight-sets winner to begin Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Top-seeded Rafael Nadal didn't show any side effects from a right knee injury that sidelined him at the end of last season, beating Victor Estrella Burgos 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in a first-round match. Nadal, who won the French Open and U.S. Open last year, lost in last year's final here to Roger Federer. The Spanish lefthander has only lost in the first round at two Grand Slam singles tournaments — to Steve Darcis at Wimbledon in 2013, and to Fernando Verdasco in Melbourne in 2016. Nadal will play Leonardo Mayer in the second round on Wednesday. Mayer beat Nicolas Jarry 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-3 earlier Monday. In other matches: Caroline Wozniacki was an easy 6-2, 6-3 winner over Michaela Buzarnescu in a first-round match at Melbourne Park. At No. 2, Wozniacki is playing here at her highest seeding since appearing as the top-seeded player at the 2012 Australian Open when she lost in the quarterfinals. Wozniacki, seeded 19th in Melbourne last year, is still looking to win her first Grand Slam singles title. Add Jack Sock's name to the list of Americans departing Monday from the Australian Open. On the same day the U.S. lost eight women's players, including 2017 finalist Venus Williams and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, Sock was defeated by Japan's Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-1, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3 in the first round. Sock, who's never advanced beyond the third round at the Australian Open, was the highest-ranked American man at No. 8 and had his highest seeding at a major. The American, who retired from a match against Sugita at the Hopman Cup to start the season, had 52 unforced errors compared to just 30 winners in the match. Sock is coming off a career-best season in which he won his first Masters title in Paris and qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time. He lost his first match of the new season last week in New Zealand, however, and was criticized afterward in the local media for appearing not to give his full effort in the match. Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov advanced to the second round at the Australian Open for the seventh time with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win over qualifier Dennis Novak. Last year at Melbourne Park, Dimitrov equaled his best Grand Slam result, reaching the semifinals before losing to Rafael Nadal in five sets. He also lost a Wimbledon semifinal in 2014 to Novak Djokovic. Dimitrov has never lost to a qualifier in seven matches at a Grand Slam tournament, and has dropped only one set. American actor and comedian Will Ferrell watched the Rod Laver Arena match......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

New Australian Open rules to prevent first-round retirement farces

MELBOURNE, Australia - Players could forfeit their prize money if they retire from first-round singles matches at the Australian Open, under new rules aimed at limiting the early injury withdrawals which have long caused controversy at Grand Slams. Players will also be able ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 11th, 2018

BEST OF 5 Part 4: LPU can thank cellphones for all of this

Read Part 1 of ABS-CBN Sports’ Best of 5 series on the LPU Pirates here. Read Part 2 of ABS-CBN Sports’ Best of 5 series on the LPU Pirates here. Read Part 3 of ABS-CBN Sports’ Best of 5 series on the LPU Pirates here. --- Topex Robinson has laid the groundwork, and it was finally time to build something in Lyceum of the Philippines University. Just like he had off-court, the always amiable mentor also had grand plans on-court for the Pirates. Having a plan is different from getting it done, however. “It was hard. I already had a vision of what I wanted my team to be and I made sure I articulated my vision,” he shared. “Obviously, getting people wasn’t easy, but if they know that you’re going to a direction, you would attract those people who shared my vision.” And so, slowly but surely, Robinson’s staff was being filled by the likes of Rommel Adducul, a former big-time professional player, and Jeff Perlas, a highly-esteemed assistant in coaching circles. In terms of players, however, still nothing much was going for the Intramuros-based squad. GAME-CHANGER Until one phone call. Robinson personally fetched CJ Perez from Ateneo de Manila University after the latter learned that his academic deficiencies would force him to sit out the season. Earlier that day, Perez called Robinson and told him all that was happening. Right then and there, the former had an offer for the latter. “When CJ left Ateneo, I gave him an opportunity with us, pero ang sabi ko, ‘You can go to any team.’ He said he wanted to play for me,” the head coach said. “I said, ‘Are you sure? Because all of the collegiate teams are gonna get you and gonna offer you anything you want.’ But he committed to us and I appreciate the trust he gave me.” PRODIGAL SON Indeed, LPU had one advantage all others didn’t – Robinson had long been a father figure to Perez as the two were formerly the faces of San Sebastian College-Recoletos for two years. “Isang beses, pinaisip (ni coach Topex) sa amin yung heroes namin tapos napapatingin ako sa kanya. Siya yung iniisip kong hero kasi yung trust na binibigay niya sa akin, sobra-sobrang trust,” the now 23-year-old tantalizing talent shared. “Tinutulungan niya ako, pinu-push niya ako kahit anong magyari. Siya talaga ang nagmo-motivate sa akin.” And so, Perez became a Pirate – without a doubt, the biggest get in the history of their basketball program. However great he is, however, he is just one man. “Obviously, who would love to have a CJ Perez on the team, but again, CJ is just a part of the puzzle. He’s not the whole equation,” Robinson said. “Yes, CJ could win us games, but he could also lose games. People are tagging us as CJ’s team, but it’s very important to get everybody on the same page.” THE STANDARD Indeed, Perez becoming a Pirate is not the rule, but an exception to the rule. As history has proven, Intramuros was not a dream destination for youngsters – be it LPU, be it Colegio de San Juan de Letran, be it Mapua University. And so, the LPU head coach tried to work with whatever he had. “You accept the fact that you will not get the blue-chip players. What you’re really looking for are players who are driven,” he shared. He then continued, “The skill, we could work on that. The character, yung may chip on the shoulder, yun yung kailangan namin.” In other words, he looked for a player like Topex Robinson. “That’s basically how I was as a basketball player. My PBA career, I knew I was not gifted and I knew I had to survive. Pretty much, I was looking for players I could see myself in,” he said. JOIN THE CLUB Fortunately, there were many places to find treasure. And even better, sometimes, treasure comes to find you. Another phone call came – and getting shipped to the Pirates were two talents who would prove to be the perfect pieces for what they wanted to do. “Bago kami sa LPU, galing kaming Adamson. Nung nagbago na yung coach, tumawag na kami kay coach Topex kung pwede niya kaming matulungan,” Jaycee Marcelino narrated. He was referring to the regime change for the Soaring Falcons in 2016 which saw Franz Pumaren take over for Mike Fermin. And for them, it was only their kababayan in Robinson whom they trusted to continue harnessing their potential. “Magkakilala po kami ni coach kasi magkababayan kami. Humingi kami ng tulong para makapaglaro pa rin kami sa pangarap naming liga,” Jayvee, the twin, shared. Robinson and the Marcelinos all hail from Olongapo in Zambalaes. And so, the twins became Pirates – without a doubt, one of the biggest steals in college basketball in recent history. X MARKS THE SPOT And now, Topex Robinson has a crew full of Topex Robinsons. From Perez to the Marcelinos, from glue guy MJ Ayaay to National University outcasts Kim Cinco and Ralph Tansingco, and from forgotten foreign student-athlete Mike Nzeusseu to underrated Reymar Caduyac, all of LPU has something to prove. Whether or not that would be enough to win a championship is not yet certain. What is certain now is that Robinson has a Pirate crew completed in his vision – both on and off the court. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 8th, 2017

Halep secures top ranking, Nadal vs Kyrgios in Beijing final

em>By Sandra Harwitt, Associated Press /em> Simona Halep will take over the top ranking after reaching the China Open final on Saturday, and Rafael Nadal will play Nick Kyrgios for the men's title. Halep beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4, ensuring that when the WTA rankings are updated on Monday she will be the first women's No. 1 from Romania. Halep could have reached No. 1 earlier but was upset in the French Open final by Ostapenko in their first career meeting. 'Of course it's the best moment in my life, and I want just to keep it,' Halep said in Beijing. 'And I have a few more dreams in my career. I tell you one, only one. To win a Grand Slam.' Halep only had to reach the final this week — and not lose to Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the final — to knock Garbine Muguruza from the top spot. Muguruza retired during her opening match on Monday because of a cold. Top-seeded Nadal defeated third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 in the semifinals, his tour-leading 60th match win. Dimitrov's only victory against the Spaniard in 10 matches came last year in the China Open quarterfinals. On Saturday, his backhand cross-court winner secured the second set, on a second set point, on Nadal's serve in the 10th game. But Nadal took immediate control of the third set, racing to 4-0. Kyrgios didn't drop his serve in ousting second-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-3, 7-5 in the other semi. The Australian had an impressive 70 percent first-serve percentage and posted 11 aces to none for Zverev, who is normally known for his serving prowess. Nadal and Kyrgios are tied at two matches apiece in their head-to-head, but the Australian won their latest outing in August in straight sets in the Cincinnati quarterfinals. Nadal is one of three players, along with Roger Federer and Zverev, to win five titles this year. He won the China Open 12 years ago. 'It's very important for me to continue with the positive feelings after winning the U.S. Open,' Nadal said. 'To be back here and be in the final with that very tough draw I had since the beginning is a great effort.' Looking for her second title of the year after winning in Madrid, Halep will play Caroline Garcia of France in the Beijing final. Garcia beat Petra Kvitova 6-3, 7-5 in the second semifinal. Ostapenko entered the semis without dropping a set. But Halep dominated the first set, breaking Ostapenko's serve in the first game at love. She cemented her lead with another break in the seventh game for 5-2 to serve out the set. In the second, Halep surrendered a 3-2 lead with a service break in the sixth game, but went on to break serve again in the ninth. At 40-0 in the final game, Halep won with a clean forehand winner down the line. Garcia, who saved a match point against Svitolina, is on a 10-match winning streak. Garcia lost in straight sets to Halep in the Montreal quarterfinals in their last meeting. 'That's the kind of match I want to play, against the top players,' Garcia said of Sunday's final against Halep. 'She's a very tricky player.'   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 8th, 2017

Raonic wins first match back from injury; calls for a review

em>By David Hulmes, Associated Press /em> TOKYO (AP) — After returning to the ATP Tour in style by beating Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-4 at the Japan Open on Tuesday, Milos Raonic called for a review of the tennis circuit. It was Raonic's first match following a seven-week absence after left-wrist surgery. The big-serving Canadian has withdrawn from five events this year, and conceded walkovers at two others. 'It's been very frustrating,' said Raonic, who started the year at No. 3 and has slipped to No. 12 in the rankings. 'I've had more than a dozen different injuries and reasons that have kept me away from tournaments. That hasn't been fun because I haven't been able to focus on tennis, I've been focusing on 'Can I play today or can't I?' rather than, 'What do I need to do with my tennis game?'' Raonic knows tennis isn't a sport that's easy on the body, and the travel and length of the season are demanding, too. 'I believe out of those of us that finished top five last year, I'm the only guy still trying to play this year, and none of the top five played the U.S. Open,' Raonic said. 'Maybe it's testament to some kind of reform being needed for the sake of players' careers, and being able to provide a certain caliber of tennis for spectators. 'Scheduling, the length of the year and how spread out — geographically and throughout the year — the tournaments are, especially the top tournaments for the top players, is something that deserves a second look. It's hard to peak four times of the year for Grand Slams, let alone for other tournaments.' The 11-month season has long been an issue for players, something the men's and women's tours have taken some steps to address. Even the biggest stars on the men's tour, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, had injury layoffs before returning to win two major titles each this season. Raonic thinks a more compact season would help the competition across the board. 'Give the players that really stand out mandatory events, give them a chance to play everything within a seven-month period so they can really focus on themselves health-wise, but also on improving, because you need that time,' Raonic said. 'We're the only sport, outside of golf maybe, that plays as spread out as we do without any time for rest.' Raonic next plays Yuichi Sugita, who took the first set 6-4 from Benoit Paire when the Frenchman retired with fatigue. Home-crowd favorite Taro Daniel was thumped by Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan 6-1, 6-3 and gave his backing to Raonic's review call. 'It's ridiculous the way the tour's scheduled,' Daniel said. 'You see how many people are injured right now. Half the top 10's out, 80 percent of players have some sort of pain right now. There needs to be a bit more space between the tournaments; there are players doing crazy stuff like playing in the U.S. one week, China the next week, and after Roland Garros playing 15 weeks in a row. 'It's a great opportunity for us to play different places around the world, and it's really exciting, but it's a little too hard. It's easy for us to say it's too much but then how are we going to change it? I don't know what the solution is, but I feel something needs to change.' Daniel said he was splitting from his coach and moving from Spain back to Tokyo. 'I was playing really well until Roland Garros, then I had a bit of a physical letdown, fatigue — a lot of matches and heat during those weeks,' he said. 'My confidence isn't great right now. I had great practices this week, felt like I could do something good here, but I got killed out there today.' Lu next faces Richard Gasquet, who beat sixth-seeded Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-6 (2) The Frenchman missed the opening five Masters events this year, following appendicitis surgery and subsequent back problems. Those back problems also forced him out of two other events. 'Now I'm feeling fit,' Gasquet said. 'I had appendicitis then everything went wrong with my body after that. The back problems came after that surgery, my recovery was very bad, and I started practicing a little bit too quickly, after five weeks — I wasn't ready. I didn't think it would be so tough to recover — of course I'm not 20 anymore, I'm 31.' Gasquet said the players outside the so-called Big Four need to play a lot of tournaments because they lose more often. 'We go to Australia, then we go on clay courts, we go on hard courts, need to change the type of balls, and you're jet-lagged,' he said. 'Tennis is very demanding — when I came on tour 15 years ago the 100-ranked player was not so difficult to beat, now they are very good so it's a big difference. 'Tennis is a tough sport. Of course there's a connection between the length of the tour and injuries, but it's a bit tough to say whether we should play more or less.'   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 4th, 2017

Federer, Nadal happy to play doubles, Borg to decide

em>By Karel Janicek, Associated Press /em> PRAGUE (AP) — With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup team tennis tournament, expectations are running high about the chance of seeing the two as doubles partners. The three-day competition at the O2 Arena in Prague starts Friday, pitting a team of the best six European players against the top six from the rest of the world. No ATP rankings points will be awarded. Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Tomas Berdych are also on the European team to face Sam Querrey, John Isner, Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe. The tournament is to honor Rod Laver, an 11-time major champion who won two calendar-year Grand Slams. It will include three singles and one doubles match every day. Bjorn Bjorg captains Europe while John McEnroe does the same for the opponents. Federer and Nadal were clear about their choice of a possible partner. 'I've played a lot against Rafa on so many occasions, in big matches,' Federer said at Prague's picturesque Old Town Square. 'I think in nine Grand Slam finals. Finally, to have him on my side it's a joy. We talked about playing doubles a long, long time ago. It never happened. Of course, I would love to share the side of the net this time around. We have to see how practice goes and then at the end Bjorn will take the ultimate decision.' Nadal concurred. 'Of course, I would love (to play with Federer),' Nadal said. 'It will be amazing if that happens. We've talked about that years ago to play in some tournament together. It didn't happen yet. We're looking forward to playing here, hopefully. Let's see if the captain allows us to play.' Borg has yet to decide how to form pairs for doubles, but suggested 'there's a very good chance' for Federer and Nadal. 'He's the captain, he's the boss here now,' Nadal said. 'I am just here to try my best, every time the captain wants me on court, I am just here to try to help the team to win the Laver Cup.' Federer warned a victory was not a given even though the two are currently ranked No. 1 (Nadal) and No. 2 (Federer). 'There's a lot of expectations and everybody thinks we're going to win and play together then we bomb out,' Federer said. 'So, we better make sure we focus on just playing good doubles and if it works together at the same time, that'd be great. 'I'm sure that the crowd would go absolutely crazy.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 21st, 2017

NBA 2K League to launch Asia-Pacific Tournament

The first season of the NBA 2K League saw players primarily from the United States fill up the rosters of the clubs. That could change in year two. Brendan Donohue, Managing Director of the NBA 2K League, revealed on the maiden episode of NBA 2K League: The Post Up, the league would have a special Asia-Pacific Tournament, with the winners becoming eligible for the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft. A Global Game 🎮🏀🌏 The #NBA2KLeague will introduce an Asia-Pacific tournament as we look to continue to grow the league around the world! pic.twitter.com/6JGJy81H58 — NBA2KLeague (@NBA2KLeague) November 15, 2018 "If you live in Asia, it's tougher for you to make the [2K] league because of technical issues or to be able to matchmake and find players to play with," Donohue said. "We're going to look to find 20 to 30 players from the Asia-Pacific region that will be invited to take part in this, based on their performance in combine, and also prior tournaments." The in-person tournament will have their winners become draft eligible in addition to the other players identified through the Qualifier and Combine, the 2K League added in a release. Details of the tournament, such as the date, have not yet been hammered out as of writing. If that's not enough to convince you that the 2K League has its eyes set on global competition, Donohue also hinted at league expansion beyond the 30 teams currently in the Association. "While we're focused on having all 30 NBA teams in the league at some point, and we know we will at some point, we think this is a global league," Donohue added. "And so we see there being franchises all over the world.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 16th, 2018

UAAP: Don t stop Bo-lieving, hold on to that feeling, UP!

When head coach Bo Perasol exited the dugout of the University of the Philippines inside the MOA Arena last Wednesday, he was serenaded with cheers, applause, and “UP Fight!” A fitting welcome for Coach Bo Perasol from the UP community outside the arena. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/3AjE56nGxS — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) Nobyembre 14, 2018 For the mentor who guided the Fighting Maroons to their first Final Four since 1997, it was nothing but well-deserved. After all, as early as the first round of UAAP Season 81, there were those who were questioning if Coach Bo was the right fit for a State U side with grand plans of breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling. “Yung journey, definitely wasn’t easy,” he told reporters as he looked back at what they went through to get here. This season was always supposed to be when UP ends its 21-year playoff drought. At one point, however, they stood at 3-5, tied for the sixth and seventh spots in the eight-team tournament. Of course, Coach Bo could only admit that then, he himself had doubts. “Pag naririnig niyo akong sinisigawan sila, I wanted to leave them kasi parang iniisip ko, is this worth it? If I keep pushing you then you are not responding, I have an obligation to the community na if I’m not effective as your leader, then I might as well step down,” he shared. He then continued, “This is not about me. This is about winning for the community.” Indeed, the 45-year-old mentor reiterated that ever since he took this post back in 2016, giving the UP community just what they deserved was always his first and foremost goal. As he put it, “Yung burden ko kasi is to win it for the community. There isn’t a push from them na you need to win eh – it’s the other way around.” He then continued, “You see them, you’ve been in UP for a long time, and makikita mong they’re hungry for it. You want it to deliver it to them. Yun yung stress ko, pero alam ko naman na kaya eh.” Now, the Fighting Maroons have proven their coach correct all along – poised to play in their first Final Four game in 21 years. And all of it began because Coach Bo believed – and kept on believing no matter what his doubters said. “Sometimes, you doubt yourself, tao lang tayo eh, but I have to be an example of confidence at what we’ve put it. Mararamdaman natin ang pressure, but you need to go through that para ma-achieve mo yung gusto mo,” he said. With that, the entire Diliman community is, for the first time in a long time, believing – or more pointedly, “Bo-lieving.” For all of those who did not and still do not? “Wala akong masasabi kasi hindi ko naman sila masasagot din eh. Wala akong social media,” the architect of UP’s rebuild said through chuckles. He then continued, “Bahala na lang ang mga players kong sumagot.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2018

Young Pinoy booters cherish FC Barcelona experience

Ten lucky kid footballers took part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience of training in Barcelona, Spain under the tutelage of esteemed FC Barcelona Youth Academy coaches. The kids returned to Manila recently after their global training camp that ran from November 4 to 12 and happily shared their memorable experiences, meeting other young athletes from around the world and ultimately watching their football heroes play live. “We’ve made a lot of friends there and learned a lot of things from our coaches. It was a memorable experience for us,” said Jelena Loren Soon of Singapore School Cebu and a member of the USPC Panthers and Cebu Elite Girls Team, who was the only girl in the batch that flew to Spain through the joint initiative of FC Barcelona and Milo. Soon was joined by Lien Dale Manuel, Alexander David Villarosa, Breindel Medina, Heaven Andrei Teodosio, Tristan Ybanez, Juan Pablo Unlay, Dylan Wong, Carlo Bongocan and Daniel Cagaanan  in the press conference held for the kids on Wednesday.   The Pinoy booters were carefully chosen by an expert panel from Milo, Cebu Football Association and FCB Academy in Cebu from almost 240 participants in Cebu last September.   The junior booters were immersed in a series of training sessions both on the pitch of Ciutat Esportivo, the home of La Maisa, FCB’s youth academy, and in the classroom at Camp Nou. The Filipinos joined other young delegates from Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Maldives, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. There, coaches instilled to the young booters the Barca methodology of creative passing and attacking while underscoring the importance of positive values. The Filipinos also played a friendly match against young players of Fundacion Marcet Football Academy. The game was played in four quarters with the Pinoy representatives winning the final frame, 4-0.      But the ultimate experience for these young athletes was their exclusive training with former Brazil and Barca player and legend, Juliano Belleti, capped by watching Lionel Messi and Barca play live against Betis in their La Liga duel.       As an added treat, the kids were given a chance to visit the FC Barcelona locker room – a unique and unforgettable experience. “Milo hopes that these young delegates will continue to work hard and aspire to be the best version of themselves,” said Milo Philippines Consumer Marketing Manager. “We also hope that these kids can share their experience and learnings to help uplift Philippine football and build ambition for others to reach their dreams.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 14th, 2018

Naomi Osaka headed for big money with Japan, global appeal

By Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press TOKYO (AP) — Naomi Osaka used a powerful forehand and a matching serve to win the U.S. Open against Serena Williams two months ago, soaring as high as No. 4 this season in the WTA tennis rankings. Off the court — on the marketing front — she has the same potential. Maybe more. "It's very, very rare to find a Japanese-born female athlete who appeals to an international audience," said Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert and creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco, California. Serena Williams topped the Forbes list of the highest-earning female athletes this year at $18 million, almost all endorsements. Osaka appears to be the right woman in the right sport at the right time with the draw to overtake Williams. "What's more, tennis, especially women's tennis, is a sport that lends itself to a broad variety of sponsors: sporting goods, health and beauty, fashion, lifestyle, travel, personal care, you name it," Dorfman said. "And the sport's international following brings with it a large, loyal and affluent fan base. All the more reason why so many companies are lining up to sign her up." The big question is: Can she keep this up? Much has happened very quickly for her, notes former tennis star Chris Evert. "You know, it's going to be life-changing for her and very, very important," Evert said. "From what I see, she is very humble and from what I see, her parents are very humble people. Hopefully they won't go Hollywood on us. We don't want that to happen." Osaka's multicultural background — Japan-born but raised in the U.S. by a Haitian-American father and a Japanese mother — adds to her wide appeal, endearing her to fans in Japan and elsewhere. Her disarming charm, off and on the court, including how she handled the turmoil surrounding her win over Williams, is also winning people over. "She appeals to the young and old, men and women, everyone," said Shigeru Tanaka, advertising manager at Citizen, her sponsor since August. Tokyo-based Citizen Watch Co.'s 80,000 yen ($700) Naomi Osaka watch is selling out at stores in Japan, thanks to the exposure it got on her wrist at the U.S. Open. Citizen was quick to take advantage of her Grand Slam win, taking out a one-third page ad in the Yomiuri newspaper's extra edition report of her win. Companies won't say how much her contracts are worth, but they tend to be written so that if she keeps winning, her earnings will keep going up. If one company won't pay, another will just snatch her up, marketing experts say. Although Japanese baseball players like Ichiro and Shohei Ohtani are superstars, that sport doesn't have the global appeal of tennis. There are Olympians, but their appeal tends to come and go every four years. Japan is "just starving for a star," Evert said. Osaka has been wearing various Citizen watches in matches and in photo ops and has told reporters the first watch she got from her mom was a Citizen. She has also said her father drove a Nissan while she was growing up — another in a growing line of sponsors. Besides Citizen, Osaka has deals with instant noodle-maker Nissin Foods Group, Japanese badminton and tennis racket maker Yonex Co., and athletic-wear and sneaker giant Adidas. Nissan Motor Co. signed Osaka as its three-year "brand ambassador" in September. The deal was in the works for a while, but the timing couldn't have been better, coming right after the U.S. Open. The Yokohama-based automaker is mulling a "Naomi Osaka model" car. She is also getting keys to a silver GT-R sports car. Investing in Osaka enhances brand image for the long-term, said Masao Tsutsumi, general manager in charge of Osaka-related marketing at Nissan. He said her transformation from "every girl" to superstar parallels the automaker's commitment to technological innovation. "She also is such a nice person while being utterly professional," he added. Yonex has been supplying rackets to Osaka since she was 10, after receiving a letter from her mother. The Osaka effect is evident in the growing popularity of Yonex rackets among younger Americans, the company says. Appearing before Yonex employees in Tokyo, Osaka drew affectionate laughter by insisting on addressing the crowd in Japanese, though she managed only a few words, including "onaji," or "the same," says Nori Shimojo, the company's official in charge of tennis player service. At just 21, Osaka's got plenty of time to learn the language of her birthplace if she wants to. As for her sponsorship windfall, she is shrugging it all off. "I wouldn't really know because I have never been in this territory," she said during a recent tournament in Singapore. "For me, I just focus on my matches, and, I mean, like I'm a tennis player, so I just play tennis." ___ Sandra Harwitt in Singapore contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 9th, 2018

MPBL: Lao ready to step up for Manila

Guard Kyles Lao is proving his worth for the Manila Stars. After coming up big in the Stars’ 60-59 win over the Zamboanga Valientes, the former University of the Philippines stalwart is ready to step up once again for Manila in the Datu Cup of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).  Lao, 23, said his mindset is to go all out when Stars coach Philip Cezar calls his name – just like he did when he stepped up in the team’s last win where he scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field. “That has been my approach ever since, to be ready to play and contribute every time coach gives me the playing time,” said the 5-foot-10 Lao, a rookie in the MPBL. “I just play my game and give it my best.”  “I’m very thankful to coach Philip for his trust and confidence, as well as my teammates. I’ll just continue to play my game and keep aggressive in our next games as we aim for a playoff berth,” added Lao, who averages nearly seven points, two rebounds and two assists in the MPBL. The former UAAP Rookie of the Year was clutch for Manila in its win against Zamboanga as buried back-to-back jump shots, including a tough step back jumper that gave the Stars a 56-55 lead with 3:16 left. Lao helped a Manila squad to a victory that played sans PBA veteran Roger Yap, coming off the bench behind amateur stalwart Chris Bitoon and former PBA player Marcy Arellano.  Manila’s win improved its record to 10-2 in the Northern Division of the tournament, and Cezar said Lao will surely get more playing time knowing that he is capable of delivering on both ends.  “Kyles has what it takes to compete at a high level,” said Cezar of Lao. “He’s talented and he’s really helping the team. He just needs to be more confident and play consistent basketball,” added Cezar, a former PBA MVP and member of the 40 Greatest Players......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2018

Harden scores 25 in return, Rockets defeat Bulls 96-88

By MATT CARLSON,  Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — James Harden scored 25 points, including 11 in a decisive run in the third quarter, in his return to the Houston lineup, and the Rockets defeated the Chicago Bulls 96-88 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Harden, who had missed three games with a strained left hamstring, scored 11 straight points in a 1:59 span of the third as the Rockets went on a 15-0 run. Carmelo Anthony had 17 points and James Ennis added 15 as the Rockets won their second game in two nights after starting the season 1-5. Chicago led 59-58 midway through the third quarter before the Rockets and Harden went ahead for good, outscoring the Bulls 21-7 in the period. Zach LaVine led Chicago with 21 points, and Wendell Carter Jr. had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Jabari Parker added 15 points as the Bulls lost their fourth straight game — going 0-4 in the homestand — and dropped their fifth straight to the Rockets. Houston opened a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter. Chicago narrowed it to five points with 4:01 left using a 12-2 run and capitalizing on stretch of cold shooting by Houston. Harden, the NBA's reigning MVP, started slowly in his return to the starting lineup. He didn't score until completing a driving layup with 3:55 left in the second quarter. Then he hit back-to-back 3s and had 10 points at the half. Harden had seven assists in the second quarter. He also had eight turnovers. Harden suffered the hamstring injury near the end of the loss to Utah on Oct. 24, and Houston was routed in the next two games. The Rockets beat the Nets in Brooklyn 119-111 on Friday as Harden got an extra day of rest. Guard Eric Gordon was held out of Saturday's game with abductor strain, suffered at Brooklyn. The Bulls held their own with the Rockets in a see-saw, open first half and led 56-54. Neither team had more than a five-point lead in the first half. Ennis, in his second game back after missing three with a strained right hamstring, led all scorers with 13 points at the half. Jabari Parker had 11 for Chicago. TIP-INS Rockets: Before the game, coach Mike D'Antoni didn't have details of Gordon's injury, but thought the guard, who has averaged 15 points through seven games, would be out day-to-day. "Now we get James back, but we lose Eric," D'Antoni said, while noting injuries to top players have taxed other Rockets who aren't used to as much playing time. . D'Antoni's voice was rapsy and barely audible before Saturday's game. He attributed it to his team pulling out its second win of the season at Brooklyn on Friday. "I celebrated last night and lost my voice," D'Antoni said "We won a game." Bulls: Coach Fred Hoiberg expects his injury-depleted team will soon get a boost from the return of F Lauri Markkanen (right elbow sprain) and G Denzel Washington (left ankle sprain), but still doesn't have an exact timetable. "Denzel will continue to ramp up his activity in the next couple days, and Lauri is doing a little bit more still," Hoiberg said, adding that Markkanen might be ready to "get on floor" in about a week. . Hoiberg said Bobby Portis (right knee sprain) and Kris Dunn (left knee sprain) "are still a ways away." UP NEXT Rockets: At Indiana on Monday in third game of a five-game trip. Bulls: At the New York Knicks on Monday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Hot start pushes Curry to forefront

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2018