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Greece to limit Sharia law after European Court challenge

ATHENS — Lawmakers in Greece are set to limit the powers of Islamic courts operating in a border region that is home to a 100,000-strong Muslim minority......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarJan 10th, 2018

Warriors need just one game to establish superiority

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com HOUSTON — Months of building up the hard shell required to wade this deep into the NBA’s merciless playoff waters can evaporate in a snap. One bad rotation, followed by a missed layup on the back of yet another dagger from the other team and even a mighty, 65-win juggernaut can see it all unravel. The Houston Rockets know the feeling now, after living through it on what could turn out to be the biggest night of the best [regular] season in the history of the franchise. They invited the Golden State Warriors in, dared to beat the reigning NBA champions at their own game in these Western Conference finals with an emphatic win and came up woefully short of that goal in the opener. The home court advantage they worked for all throughout a brilliant season is gone. The comfort provided by a 2-1 record against the Warriors during the regular season series the Rockets held tight since January was blown away after just four quarters. Whatever aura they thought they owned heading into the Toyota Center Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) for Game 1, they shed long before the final seconds of their decisive 119-106 loss to the Warriors. It looked good early, when James Harden had the Rockets rolling to a nine-point lead in the frenzied opening minutes. But Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and the rest of a Warriors team making its fourth straight appearance in the conference finals, they don’t fold at the first sign of danger. “You’re not going to just come in and knock them out,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I mean, there’s just too many times we had mental lapses. We either didn’t switch properly or we didn’t switch hard enough. We turned the ball over  little too much. Every time we missed a layup, which we missed a lot of layups, they ran out. “They’re really devastating. We’ve got to make layups, don’t turn it over and do a little bit better job of mentally just staying up on people.” The fact that they were starting this series away from the friendly confines of Oracle Arena for the first time during their recent run did nothing to shake their belief in themselves. And if there is anything that is clear after just four wild quarters of this most anticipated series, it’s that the Warriors’ collective confidence is far superior to the artificial skin the Rockets wrapped themselves in leading up to the opening round of this heavyweight fight. Harden played inspired, for most of his 35 minutes, finishing with a game-high 41 points and seven assists. Chris Paul’s 23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists look good on paper. But it wasn’t enough. It was nowhere near enough to offset the Rockets’ self-inflicted mistakes or the fury the Warriors can rain down on their opponents this time of year. “They’re obviously champions for a reason,” D’Antoni said. “If we want to beat them, we have to be mentally sharper. KD, he’s tough. Obviously, he was on tonight. Hey, you can live with that. But you can’t live with that and then make mental mistakes, and that's what we do. The combination of the two was devastating.” Durant was hell bent on devastation, torching an assortment of Rockets defenders for his 37 points. Thompson drilled the Rockets for 28 points of his own, his 15 attempts from beyond the three-point line serving as a more demoralizing dagger for a Rockets defense designed to limit those attempts. With so much attention on them, the Rockets seemed to lose their defensive focus on basically everyone else. “Defensively, we’ve got to be better,” Paul said. “You know it’s funny, I got caught helping a couple times in the first half and I think Nick Young hit three [three-pointers] off those plays. Some games, some series, you may make those mistakes and guys don’t make the shots. But tonight, every time we did it, they made the shot. They make you pay when you make mistakes.” Just to be clear about what kind of armor the Warriors travel with these days, they’ve won a game on the road in 18 consecutive playoff series, well before the Durant era. So as much as this is about the back and forth between Durant and Harden, the former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates who once got this point in a season together and elbowed their way into The Finals in 2012, it’s about Curry, Thompson, Green and Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP. Those are the other four members of the Warriors’ “Hamptons Five” lineup that started the game, the group that withstood everything the Rockets threw at them Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) and then beat them up over the final 15 minutes of a must-have game on their home floor. “They’re a good team,” Eric Gordon said, stating the obvious. "They’ve been playing together, they know who they are. They’ve been to four straight Western Conference finals. We just got to be a little better.” The Rockets’ must-win game is now Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). The pressure shifts to a Game 2 effort that has to be much better offensively if they want to keep pace with the Warriors. They’ll also need a much cleaner effort that doesn’t include sloppiness (the Warriors converted 16 turnovers into 17 points) and deficient defense (the Warriors shot .525 from the floor and .394 from the three-point line) that was on display in Game 1. These are all things D’Antoni believes to be correctable. And they could be. Indeed, they better be if the Rockets plan on stretching this series to the limit. Because there is still no way to account for the experience factor, the muscle memory edge the Warriors have when it comes to recognizing the time and place to apply the ultimate pressure on an opponent that’s ready to break. They sniffed it late in the third quarter, when the Rockets were reeling under a relentless barrage of Durant buckets. The only thing that saved them then were crucial baskets of their own from Eric Gordon and Gerald Green, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr subbing Durant out for a breather the Warriors closer did not want. “Yeah, he wasn’t really thrilled and I probably should have left him in,” Kerr said. “Late third he was going pretty well. I knew I had to get him some rest at some point. As soon as I took him out, they went on a quick run, so he was not thrilled. But he came back in and got us back on track.” You can toy with a team like the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round, dropping Game 3 on the road only to come back and close out the series with back-to-back wins, especially when you are clearly the superior team and own that coveted home-court advantage. You might be able to get away with it in next round against a team like the Utah Jazz, when you lose home-court advantage in Game 2, but are are once again clearly the superior team and win three straight games to squash that challenge. Slip up a third time, as the Rockets did Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), against a team that has won two of the last three Larry O’Brien trophies, a team with their sights set on a third, and … and there might not be another chance. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

Turkey bans Dutch ambassador as diplomatic crisis escalates – The Guardian

Turkey has suspended high-level political contacts with the Netherlands and threatened to re-evaluate a key deal to halt the flow of migrants to Europe in a dramatic escalation of its diplomatic row with EU member states. Numan Kurtulmuş, a deputy prime minister and chief government spokesman, said on Monday that the Dutch ambassador, who is on leave, would not be allowed to return in response to a ban on Turkish ministers speaking at rallies in the Netherlands. Turkey would also close its airspace to Dutch diplomats, Kursulmuş said, adding: “There is a crisis and a very deep one. We didn’t create this crisis or bring to this stage … Those creating this crisis are responsible for fixing it.” The spokesman’s remarks came hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğandefied pleas from Brussels to tone down his rhetoric, repeating accusations of European “nazism” and warning that his ministers would take their treatment by the Dutch to the European court of human rights. Erdoğan also accused Germany’s Angela Merkel of “supporting terrorists” and criticised her for backing the Dutch in the row over Turkish campaigning abroad before an April referendum on controversial plans to expand his powers. “Mrs Merkel, why are you hiding terrorists in your country? … Why are you not doing anything?” Erdoğan said in an interview with Turkish television. He added that the position adopted by the Dutch and a number of other EU states amounted to nazism. “We can call this neo-nazism. A new nazism tendency.” Merkel had earlier pledged her “full support and solidarity” to the Dutch, saying allegations made twice by Erdoğan this weekend that the Dutch government was acting like Nazis were “completely unacceptable”. The Turkish remarks followed a request on Monday by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, for Ankara to “refrain from excessive statements and actions”. It was “essential to avoid further escalation and find ways to calm down the situation”, the two said in a joint statement. Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, urged all concerned to “show mutual respect and be calm”. Turkey’s minister for EU affairs, Ömer Çelik, said sanctions against the Netherlands were now likely. “We will surely have sanctions against the latest actions by the Netherlands. We will answer them with these,” he said. The Turkish justice minister, Bekir Bozdağ, said the country would “not allow anyone to play with the honour of the Turkish nation and Turkish state”, while Nurettin Canikli, a deputy prime minister, described Europe as a “very sick man”. The threat made by Kurtulmuş to re-evaluate the deal the EU signed with Ankara in March 2016 that has successfully curbed migration from Turkey to Greece, then onward into the rest of the bloc, will be seen as particularly alarming. Dutch police used dogs and water cannon on Sunday to disperse demonstrators after Turkey’s family minister, Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya, was escorted out of the country and the foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, denied permission to land. The ministers were due to address a rally for some of the 400,000 Turks living in the Netherlands, many of whom are able to vote in the 16 April referendum. Daan Feddo Huisinga, the Dutch chargé d’affaires in Ankara, was summoned to the foreign ministryon Monday to receive formal protests over the “disproportionate, inhumane and humiliating” treatment of the protesters and the improper reception given to the ministers. The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland – all of which have large Turkish immigrant communities – have cited security and other concerns as reasons not to allow Turkish officials to campaign in their countries. But with as many as 1.4 million Turkish voters in Germany alone, Erdoğan cannot afford to ignore the foreign electorate. The standoff has further strained relations already frayed over human rights, while repeated indications from Erdoğan that he could personally try to address rallies in EU countries risk further inflaming the situation. The row also looks likely to dim further Turkey’s prospects of joining the EU, a process that has been under way for more than 50 years. “The formal end of accession negotiations with Turkey now looks inevitable,” the German commentator Daniel Brössler wrote in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Austria’s chancellor, Christian Kern, called on Monday for an EU-wide ban on Turkish rallies, saying it would take pressure off individual countries. But Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Altmaier, said that while accession talks could be halted, he had doubts as to whether the bloc should collectively decide on a rally ban. Analysts said the Turkish president was using the crisis to show voters that his strong leadership was needed against a Europe he routinely presents as hostile. Erdoğan is “looking for ‘imagined’ foreign enemies to boost his nationalist base in the run-up to the referendum,” said Soner Cagaptay, the director of the Turkish Research Programme at the Washington Institute. Marc Pierini, the EU’s former envoy to Turkey, said he saw no immediate solution to the crisis because “the referendum outcome in Turkey is very tight and the leadership will do everything to ramp up the nationalist narrative to garner more votes”. In the medium term, Pierini said: “One can hope the fever will subside. Yet bridges have been burned at a personal level: using a ‘nazi’ narrative is extreme … and will probably prevent any summit meeting between the EU and Turkey for a while.” Erdoğan last week accused Germany of “Nazi [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsMar 14th, 2017

It s final: SC says Sereno no longer chief justice

In a full court session, the high tribunal voted to throw out Sereno’s motion for reconsideration to overturn its ruling on the legal challenge to her appointment as chief justice......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 19th, 2018

ONE: Danny Kingad happy to play gatekeeper if Geje Eustaquio wins ONE title

Macau, China - ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau, China on June 23 is one of the deepest cards from top to bottom offered by ONE Championship for its 24-event calendar this 2018. From the preliminary portion to the main card of ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, there are plenty of bouts with championship and ranking implications, including the three-round flyweight encounter between former title contender Danny Kingad and Chinese prospect Ma Hao Bin. The winner of the aforementioned 61.2-kilogram tussle could earn a shot at the ONE Flyweight World Championship, which will be on the line in the main event of ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER as Adriano Moraes is slated to duke it out with Geje Eustaquio in a much-awaited rematch and title unification contest. Kingad is now trying to build some momentum towards a second crack at the ONE Flyweight World Championship, while Ma has aced six of his assignments since joining the promotion in 2016. However, the 22-year-old Baguio City native finds himself in a peculiar position if he and his teammate Eustaquio will walk out of the Studio City Event Center with respective victories. Kingad knows that he has to be relegated to a gatekeeping role if Eustaquio will be successful in unifying both titles against Moraes at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER. “I will be super happy for coach Geje if he wins the match in Macau. It’s an honor to be competing alongside him on June 23. I’ve learned a lot of things from him. For this training camp, I’ve spent more time with him. I want him to win the title,” he said. Although he could be knocking on the door for a world title shot again with a decisive win over Ma, Kingad stressed that he will gladly play gatekeeper to Eustaquio. “I don’t mind filling that role if ever he wins against Adriano Moraes. He is my senior, and we are teammates. He is like a brother to me,” he stated. “I am still young. I believe that my time will come.” Kingad is not fond of the idea of squaring off with Eustaquio for the flyweight crown, pointing out that he would not trade his treasured friendship with his Team Lakay comrade for a shot at the world title. “That's not going to happen. We always go at it in practice anyway. I'm happy that I get to spar with him all the time because he pushes me to the limit. We push each other, and we push each other to the next level,” he shared. “I will support coach Geje all the way. For now, I'll just keep getting better as a competitor. I'll wait for my time,” Kingad added. Following an unsuccessful challenge for the ONE Flyweight World Championship this past November against Moraes, which ended in his first professional defeat, Kingad rebounded with an impressive triumph over a battle-tested veteran in Sotir Kichukov four months later. Kingad seeks to sustain his winning groove in ONE Championship as he is set to take on Ma, a Chinese national freestyle wrestling champion with a mixed martial arts record of 11-2. Diligently preparing under the tutelage of head coach Mark Sangiao at Team Lakay in Baguio City, Kingad is fully aware of his opponent’s capabilities. “Training is, as usual, very tough. We are drilling very hard each and every day. I am still working on all areas, be it my striking or my grappling,” he mentioned. “Knowing my opponent is a good wrestler, however, I am particularly working on my takedown defense for this match. I want to keep this fight standing, so I have worked very hard on my takedown defense,” Kingad explained further. Despite the threat that Ma poses in the grappling department, Kingad assured that he is comfortable wherever the bout goes on June 23. “I want to test his stand-up game. I believe I am stronger, faster, and more explosive than he is,” he disclosed. “I am definitely going for a knockout in this match. However, if he does take me to the ground, I will be ready for anything.” Kingad believes that his in-ring meeting with Ma at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER is a must-win clash as he embarks on a hazy road towards the organization’s flyweight championship. “I must win this bout because honestly, I don’t know what the future holds. What if we don’t get the result that we want for coach Geje? I am ready to step up. I cannot wait to get right back in there and make another run at the title. I know things will be very different next time,” he ended......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

For UAAP buildup; Blue Eagles get dose of European play

The Ateneo Blue Eagles step up their buildup for their UAAP title defense by flying to Greece today to get themselves exposed to Euro-style basketball and pick up valuable lessons there......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Philippines withdrawal from ICC faces new challenge at SC

The executive department’s withdrawal of the Philippines’ membership in the International Criminal Court is facing another challenge at the Supreme Court......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

Nadal wins 11th French Open title by beating Thiem in 3 sets

By HOWARD FENDRICH,  AP Tennis Writer PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal needed less than a set to take command of the French Open final and overcame a late problem with his racket-holding hand to earn a record-extending 11th championship at Roland Garros by beating Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday. At 2-1 in the fourth set, Nadal stopped serving during a game because he couldn't straighten his left middle finger. At the following changeover, Nadal was given a salt pill by a doctor and had his left forearm massaged by a trainer. But Nadal's form never wavered, and soon enough he was celebrating his 17th Grand Slam title overall, second among men only to Roger Federer's 20. The victory also allowed the 32-year-old Spaniard to hold onto the No. 1 ranking. The No. 7-seeded Thiem, a 24-year-old from Austria, was appearing in a major final for the first time. Not much more of a daunting task than doing so against Nadal at the French Open, where he is now 11-0 in finals and 86-2 overall. If there were any reason for a bit of intrigue entering Sunday's match, it was this: Thiem is the only person to beat Nadal on red clay over the past two seasons, doing so at Rome in May 2017 and at Madrid last month. Taking on Nadal at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament is a whole other challenge. Thiem stayed with Nadal in the early going on a steamy afternoon. But from 4-all in the opening set, Nadal grabbed five games in a row and was in charge.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 10th, 2018

Strife remains despite joint plea on recount

By Charlie V. Manalo and Pat C. Santos A day after a joint manifestation was signed by the camp of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, it has become evident that Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo is not willing to withdraw her pending motions before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), Marcos’ spokesman lawyer Vic Rodriguez said.Marcos personally signed the document “withdrawing all and any pending motions relative to his election protest” but it was Robredo’s counsel, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal who signed for the Vice President.Rodriguez stressed Robredo has no intention of withdrawing her pending motions because she did not sign the joint motion that her lawyer presented to media. Macalintal, however, said the Vice President is heeding the challenge “in withdrawing all motions before PET to pave the way for a ballot recount.” “We accept the challenge of Mr. Marcos and his lawyer to sign a joint motion to withdraw any and all pending motions and incidents at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal which may cause the delay of the recount of ballots from the pilot provinces of Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental,” Romulo Macalintal, Robredo lead counsel said in a statement.Rodriguez in his joint motion, however, said only the name of Robredo’s counsel, lawyer Romulo Macalintal, appeared on the document.“A joint manifestation is a major pleading and it cannot be done through counsel alone. It should also be signed by the client because it needs his or her conformity. Since Mrs. Robredo did not sign the pleading together with her lawyer, it is obvious that she has no intention to withdraw her motions,” Rodriguez said.According to Rodriguez, the absence of Robredo’s signature puts into question her sincerity to hasten the pace of the electoral ‘Robredo can disown motion’ It likewise casts doubt on the authority of Macalintal who signed the motion. Robredo could later on even disown the motion because it was made without her conformity.“Without Mrs. Robredo’s signature, the motion is a mere scrap of paper and may be later disowned by her as having been signed without her authority. It seems that she merely wants to think fraudulently,” Rodriguez said.Rodriguez also questioned the joint motion prepared by Macalintal saying the same only covered pending motions and not future motions that may delay the proceedings. He said Marcos’ joint manifestation was more sincere because it covered both present and future motions in the election proceedings.“Atty. Macalintal is saying they are withdrawing but if you will read their joint motion, it only pertains to pending motions and not to future motions. In our case, it is all encompassing, from pending to future motions. Why are they backing out?” Rodriguez remarked.Rodriguez also took exception to the assertion made by Macalintal in his joint motion that Marcos has a pending “Partial Motion for Reconsideration” dated December 4, 2017 asking the PET to reconsider its earlier ruling allowing them to secure soft copies of the ballot images.Rodriguez pointed out that the said Partial Motion for Reconsideration had already been resolved by the Tribunal in its Resolution dated January 10, 2018.“It seems Atty. Macalintal has not studied the case of his client because that was resolved a long time ago. And he should know there are pending motions before the PET,” Rodriguez stated.Rodriguez also emphasized that if Macalintal was indeed serious about withdrawing all motions, he should have done it through the official route and not meet in a fast food restaurant for the signing.“Signing a major pleading in a pizza restaurant shows an utter lack of respect for the judicial process. There is a proper way to do things and this involves going to the law office of your opposing counsel and handing over the proper documents to them,” Rodriguez said.This is the reason, he pointed out, the Marcos camp went to the law office of Macalintal and his co-counsel Ma. Bernadette Sardillo located at Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City. According to Rodriguez, they went there first thing in the morning yesterday to give them the complete set of copies of the joint manifestation signed by Marcos and his counsel, George Garcia, together with the corresponding cover letter.“The challenge to meet at a fast food restaurant is unbecoming of an officer of the Court. It is unlawyerly and at most more of a publicity stunt. We hope the other camp has the decency to act accordingly,” Rodriguez said.“It appears that Atty. Macalintal wants to pull fast one on the public with his publicity stunt. As far as we are concerned, the joint motion he signed has no binding effect because it was not signed by his client. For all Macalintal’s protestations, our joint manifestation is ready for him and Mrs. Robredo to sign,” said Rodriguez. “We are still waiting.” Rodriguez said. Macalintal issues own challenge“I am inviting Mr. Marcos and his lawyer today at 9 a.m. to sign a joint motion. This is to confirm that we are not causing the delay in the recount of ballots,” Macalintal added.“It is Mr. Marcos’ raising of baseless allegations and irrelevant issues that is causing the delay in the recount,” he noted.“To remove all of these accusations flying back and forth I reiterate my challenge withdraw all your motions that could serve to delay the recount, I will withdraw all my motions that has been pending so that there will be no outstanding issues, no instances that needs to be studied by the Tribunal so that we can proceed to the opening and counting of the ballots,” Marcos said in a press conference last January 29 in Manila.“That has been my contention since May 10 of 2016 until now. It has been the same, I have been consistent, I reissue the challenge to Mrs. Robredo, withdraw all your motions, I will withdraw all of mine and let us proceed with the recount,” Marcos added.Marcos issued the challenged to stop the “delaying” issues being thrown by both camps to each other.At the same time, the vice presidential candidate in the May 2016 polls bared “solid and incontrovertible” evidence of massive fraud that transpired during the national and local elections held nearly two years ago.Marcos questioned the presence of square shapes in the ballot images instead of the oval shapes which voters shaded for their choice of candidates.“When we voted, we had the oval shapes. How come in the ballot images, the ovals are gone and instead we have the squares. What does this mean?” he said.He added, “(w)e could see based on the election results summary that the squares indicated the candidates that were voted upon. But this is a new feature that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic added in the system and I had been told they did not inform the candidates of the presence of this feature in the images.”But Robredo slammed Marcos’ claims that there were “massive frauds” that transpired in the May 2016 elections.“His remarks are laughing matters as far as I am concerned. If laughter is the best medicine, then we can consider it the best medicine for us for the day,” Macalintal said in a press conference.“The excited and hysterical claim of (Marcos) and his spokesperson Atty. Vic Rodriguez that they allegedly uncovered solid and inconvertible evidence of massive fraud that transpired in the 2016 elections’ based on their own copies of alleged ballot images used in the said election, is highly ridiculous if not outright frivolous,” the lawyer added.Macalintal said Marcos’ claims of discrepancies in the hundreds of decrypted ballot images from Camarines Sur and Negros Oriental only showed that the latter’s protest “is facing its dismissal.”“He has no evidence at all. That is why he is now using evidence outside the election protest that he filed sa Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET),” he said.Marcos filed the protest on June 29, 2016, claiming that the camp of Robredo cheated in the automated polls in May that year.He sought the annulment of about a million votes cast in three provinces - Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Maguindanao.In his protest, Marcos contested the results in a total of 132,446 precincts in 39,221 clustered precincts covering 27 provinces and cities.In his preliminary conference briefing, Marcos also sought for a recount in Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.Robredo filed her answer in August last year and filed a counter-protest, questioning the results in more than 30,000 polling precincts in several provinces where Marcos won.She also sought the dismissal of the protest for lack of merit and jurisdiction of PET.The high tribunal, in a ruling earlier last year, junked Robredo’s plea and proceeded with the case after finding the protest sufficient in form and substance.Robredo supposedly won the vice presidential race with 14,418,817 votes or 263,473 more than Marcos’ 14,155,344 votes......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

ONE Championship: Kevin Belingon vs. Martin Nguyen for interim bantamweight title set for Manila in July

ONE Championship’s July card in Manila will be getting a big-time main event, as Team Lakay knockout artist and top bantamweight contender Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon will be taking on reigning ONE Championship Featherweight and Flyweight World Champion Martin ‘The Situ-Asian’ Nguyen for the Interim ONE Championship Bantamweight World Champion. ONE Championship CEO and Chairman Chatri Sityodtong made the announcement on his Facebook page, Thursday afternoon.  Currently riding a five-fight winning streak, Baguio City’s Belingon (18-5) is considered by many as the number one contender to the ONE Championship Bantamweight World Title, currently held by Brazilian submission specialist Bibiano Fernandes. After losing to Fernandes back in 2016, Belingon clawed his way back into the title picture by going on an impressive winning run including dominant stoppage wins over Toni Tauru and former title contenders Reece McLaren and Andrew Leone. A win over Nguyen will finally give Belingon the ONE title that he’s longed for, as well as securing his spot once again as the next to challenge Fernandes, ONE Championship’s longest-reigning world champion. (READ ALSO: With title shot in mind, Kevin Belingon says Martin Nguyen can wait.) Following a successful defense of his featherweight crown against Christian Lee, the 11-2 Nguyen drops back down to bantamweight and will try to get another chance at becoming a three-division world champion. After capturing the featherweight and lightweight belts back in 2017, Nguyen kicked off 2018 with a title shot against Fernandes in Bangkok, Thailand. While Nguyen pushed the champion to the limit, at the end of five rounds, Fernandes once again reigned supreme as he defended his bantamweight title for a record seventh straight time. Roughly two months removed from his last bout, Nguyen jumps back straight into the title picture to challenge Belingon for the number one contender spot. The Belingon-Nguyen blockbuster bantamweight title bout will serve as the headliner for ONE Championship’s third of four trips to Manila in 2018. As announced by Sityodtong, the card will also feature MMA legends Renzo Gracie and Yuki Kondo in a retirement match, as well as former champion Shinya Aoki taking on Thai star Shannon Wiratchai.  Former ONE Championship Lightweight world champion and Filipino MMA star Eduard Folayang has also been announced for the card.  ONE Championship: Reign of Kings will Friday, July 27th at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

Spain held by Switzerland ahead of World Cup

VILLARREAL, Spain (AP) — Spain couldn't manage more than a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in its final match before traveling to Russia for the World Cup. Spain was in control from the start but failed to capitalize on its chances and paid the prize after a second-half blunder by goalkeeper David de Gea. Alvaro Odriozola opened the scoring for the hosts with a neat volley from just outside the area in the 29th minute. Ricardo Rodriguez equalized for the Swiss in the 62nd after De Gea dropped the ball in front of goal while trying to hold on to a weak shot from inside the area. Spain coach Julen Lopetegui was satisfied with his team's performance despite the draw. "I liked that we were able to create many scoring opportunities against a difficult team like Switzerland," Lopetegui said. "We played at a high level. There were a lot of positives." The result kept Spain unbeaten in 19 matches since Lopetegui took over after the 2016 European Championship. "We played well," said Odriozola, who was making only his third appearance with the national team. "It was a good tune-up for the challenge that awaits us. We leave in good spirits." Spain, which will travel to Russia on Thursday, wasn't at full strength as defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets was dropped from the starting lineup after falling ill with gastroenteritis. Real Madrid players also weren't fully available after reporting late to the squad because of the Champions League final. Sergio Ramos, Francisco "Isco" Alarcon and Dani Carvajal didn't even travel for the match in Villarreal, although Nacho Fernandez, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez were second-half substitutes. Fernandez nearly scored Spain's winner with a shot that hit the post in second-half injury time. Lopetegui played with Diego Costa and Iago Aspas up front, while Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion, Thiago Alcantara, Andres Iniesta and David Silva were in midfield. Cesar Azpilicueta and Gerard Pique started in central defense. Spain will head to Russia looking to rebound from early eliminations at the 2016 European Championship and the 2014 World Cup. La Roja won Euro 2012, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008. Spain's final warmup match will be against Tunisia on Saturday in Krasnodar, the team's base in Russia. Its first game at the World Cup is against European champion Portugal on June 15. Spain's next Group B matches will be against Iran on June 20 and Morocco on June 25. Switzerland will host Japan on Friday in its final warmup match before its World Cup opener against Brazil on June 17 in Group E. It then faces Serbia on June 22 and Costa Rica on June 27......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

Get ready for Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova in Paris

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — If the upcoming French Open showdown between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova provides any of the sort of animus and back-and-forth they manage to stir up away from the court, look out. During a news conference after both won Saturday to set up the longtime rivals' fourth-round matchup at Roland Garros, Williams criticized Sharapova's autobiography as "hearsay" and twice brought up the Russian's 15-month doping ban. Producing by far the best performance in her return to Grand Slam tennis — 16 months after her last major tournament and nine months after having a baby — Williams played cleanly and powerfully in a 6-3, 6-4 tour de force against 11th-seeded Julia Goerges that lasted a mere 75 minutes and lacked much in the way of theatrics. "There is still a ways to go, but it's moving in the right direction," said Williams, who made only three unforced errors in the first set, 12 in all. "And I think that as long as it's moving in the right direction, I know I will get there." Sharapova advanced with a similarly lopsided win, 6-2, 6-1 against 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova. Now comes the drama: Williams vs. Sharapova on Monday with a quarterfinal spot at stake. They have verbally clashed in the past, such as a 2013 public spat about their private lives. Williams, 36, owns 23 major singles titles. Sharapova, 31, has won five. Williams has won the French Open three times, Sharapova twice. They are the only active women with a career Grand Slam; they are two of six in history to accomplish that. Both have been ranked No. 1. But the head-to-head history is overwhelmingly in Williams' favor: She has won 19 of 21 meetings, including 18 in a row. "Quite frankly, she's probably a favorite in this match, for sure," Williams said with a chuckle. "She's been playing ... for over a year now. I just started. So I'm just really trying to get my bearings and trying to feel out where I am and see where I can go." The last time Sharapova beat Williams was in 2004. The last time they played was in the 2016 Australian Open quarterfinals, Sharapova's final appearance before her 15-month drug suspension. "Well, it's been a while," Sharapova said, "and I think a lot has happened in our lives for the both of us, in very different ways." Williams was asked about Sharapova's book, which was published last year. It contains quite a bit of material about the American, including a reference to Williams crying in the locker room after losing to Sharapova in the Wimbledon final 14 years ago. "As a fan, I wanted to read the book and I was really excited for it to come out and I was really happy for her. And then the book was a lot about me. I was surprised about that, to be honest," Williams said. "I was, like, 'Oh, OK, I didn't expect to be reading a book about me — that wasn't necessarily true.'" Insisting she doesn't "have any negative feelings" toward Sharapova, Williams said "the success of one female should be the inspiration to another." Seconds later, Williams made reference to Sharapova's "incident of drugs." There were plenty of other results involving top names at the French Open on Saturday. Other women moving into the fourth round included 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza, two-time runner-up Simona Halep, two-time major title winner Angelique Kerber and reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. Men's winners included 10-time champion Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Marin Cilic, No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 6 Kevin Anderson and No. 9 John Isner. The story of Day 7, though, was what everyone can look forward to on Day 9: Williams vs. Sharapova. This is Williams' first Grand Slam tournament since January 2017, when she won the Australian Open while pregnant. The American made a brief foray on the tour earlier this season, but she played only four matches. She had some problems in her initial two outings in Paris, including in the second round, when she dropped the first set against 17th-seeded Ashleigh Barty before — as Williams herself put it — "Serena came out." Against Goerges, the careless errors were largely absent. The missing energy was back. In front of a crowd that included former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, it took 15 minutes for Williams to gain the upper hand, sprinting to reach a drop shot and whip a cross-court forehand passing winner for a 3-1 lead. Williams yelled loudly and raised her fist. It was almost as if she'd never left the scene. "Any time you play against Serena, you know what you're up against. You know the challenge that is upon you," Sharapova said. "Despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best players.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

Kompany exits early as Portugal holds Belgium to 0-0 draw

BRUSSELS (AP) — European champion Portugal held Belgium to a tame 0-0 draw Saturday, a result overshadowed by fears that defender Vincent Kompany may have sustained an injury early in the second half. Without waiting to be substituted, the injury-prone Kompany walked off shortly after the break after appearing to overstretch while making a defensive challenge. It was not immediately clear if he was injured or left the field as a precaution. The Manchester City defender's career has been blighted by injuries, but he appeared fit ahead of the pre-World Cup friendly at the King Baudouin stadium. Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne said it was too early to say whether 32-year-old Kompany was seriously hurt. "Maybe he only has something small to deal with," De Bruyne said. Kompany's departure was the major talking point in a disappointing goalless draw which underscored that Belgium's star-studded squad still has work to do if it is to live up to its billing as one of the favorites to win the World Cup in Russia. Belgium fans jeered their team off the pitch at full time. Portugal was without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested after winning the Champions League a week ago with Real Madrid. Without him, Portugal missed the handful of chances it managed to carve out. Portugal faces neighbor Spain, Iran and Morocco in Group B at the World Cup, while Belgium is in Group G alongside England, Panama and Tunisia. Belgium opened strongly, outplaying Portugal in the midfield, but could not turn its pressure into a goal. Portugal weathered the early storm and gradually took control. In the closing minutes of the first half, Bernardo Silva saw his powerful shot deflected just wide by City teammate Kompany and Gelson Martins shot across the face of the goal as Portugal came close to breaking the deadlock. Belgium's only serious effort of the opening half came when Yannick Carrasco shot just wide in the 31st minute. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez made four changes in the break, but the substitutes could not change the team's fortunes. Despite the Red Devils' wealth of midfield and attacking quality, it was left back Jan Vertonghen who came closest after the break. The Tottenham defender nearly marked his 100th appearance for Belgium with a goal, but saw Portugal goalkeeper Beto tip his effort over the bar just before the hour mark. "It wasn't bad, but we could do better," De Bruyne said. "We still have two or three weeks to get ready.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

AC Milan faces Europa League ban, says NYT report

  MILAN, Italy – European football's top financial investigators have recommended excluding Chinese-owned AC Milan from the Europa League next season for violating rules that limit spending, the New York Times reported on Friday, June 1. According to the US daily newspaper, "two people involved in the process" have ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 1st, 2018

Firmino arrives early for Brazil training in London

LONDON --- Striker Roberto Firmino has decided to join Brazil's squad earlier in London for pre-World Cup training, in a sign he is keen to challenge Gabriel Jesus for a place in the team's starting lineup. The Liverpool player arrived at Tottenham's training center late on Monday and took fitness tests on Tuesday. "I had two more days to stay home, but I decided to come early and start now," Firmino told the Brazilian football confederation's website. Firmino was excused from training until Wednesday after losing the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday. European champions Casemiro and Marcelo plan to arrive in London on Wednesday as scheduled. Firm...Keep on reading: Firmino arrives early for Brazil training in London.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 29th, 2018

Marcos asks PET: Stand by 50% shade limit

Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. yesterday asked the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to stand firm in its 50-percent threshold for the ongoing recount in his electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 29th, 2018

Rondina, Pons power Petron

SISI Rondina sizzled on the sand court in the scorching hot month of May. Paired with equally talented Bernadeth Pons, Rondina powered Petron XCS to a second straight PSL Challenge Cup beach volleyball championship. Earlier this month, Pons shone against taller rivals on international stage, helping the Philippines to a….....»»

Category: newsSource:  journalRelated NewsMay 28th, 2018

Thompson, Warriors force inevitable Game 7

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. -- The final game of the Western Conference season will tip on the last Monday in May (Tuesday, PHL time) at the Toyota Center in Houston, as it should. This is the route the GPS mapped out back in October and never had any reason to recalculate from since. Warriors at Rockets in a winner-take-all. Never in doubt, no? A pair of championship-quality teams will go 48 minutes and the previous six games in this series tells us to expect a tense jump ball-to-buzzer affair. With or without Chris Paul. Paul’s inflamed right hamstring is a significant flaw, no question, yet the Rockets do have home-court advantage and will hear a crazed crowd trying to fill the void with noise if as expected Paul misses a second straight game. The Rockets didn’t have their point guard and spiritual leader Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and still sent an early chill through the defending champions on enemy soil, going up 17 after the first quarter and 10 at halftime. Oracle Arena and the Warriors were confused. Then Game 6 flipped suddenly and drastically in the second half, as the Warriors rolled to a 115-86 victory. and here we are. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni: “We got what we want, a seventh game on our home court, now it’s up to us to go get it.” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said: “I feel like we’re the best team in the world.” The Rockets constructed this team specifically to challenge and beat the Warriors. Meanwhile, the Warriors paced themselves through the regular season partly to conserve their attention and energy for Houston, which has Golden State’s attention like no team before in the West playoffs. Both are causing each other irritating problems. The Rockets’ defense with its switching and hand-in-the-face pressure is forcing Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry to work hard for their shots. The Warriors’ ability to thrive even if not all four of their All-Stars are clicking is testing Houston’s limits; such was the case in Game 6 when Thompson, the No. 3 Guy, broke loose for 35 points with nine threes. That’s what makes the Warriors tough to erase: They don’t need to be perfect, and good for them, because they haven’t been in this series, with the exception of their 41-point victory in Game 3. About Thompson: He was locked in, emotionally and physically, popping off screens, catching and shooting, creating space to get good looks and punching the air after big three's. The energy and the shots saved the Warriors from a lackluster and potentially deadly start. Thompson stayed in rhythm most of the night while Curry (29 points) and Durant (23) went through off-and-on cold stretches and afterward joked how he was “born” for this. “Man, that felt good, to be honest,” Thompson said. “I just wanted to play with as much passion as I could. I probably sounded more vocal than I am.” There was a natural link to the last time Thompson was this splashy in a Game 6 elimination game, two summers ago when he dropped 41 on Oklahoma City to trigger a comeback from 3-1 down. Durant was on the wrong side of that performance. “Please don’t go there,” begged Durant, bowing his head. “Next question.” Mindful of what happened right after that series -- the Warriors would blow a 3-1 lead of their own to Cleveland -- Curry said: “I think we both blocked that whole year out of our memory.” Actually, that volcanic performance by Thompson helped convince Durant to leave Oklahoma City, which led to last year’s championship and helped build a solid case for the Warriors to repeat next month. Thompson’s latest piece of work helped awaken the Warriors from being trapped in an extended state of stun, courtesy of how fierce the Rockets came at them right from the start. The Houston lead grew to double digits within minutes and stayed that way through the break. This was further evidence that the Rockets, in this game and actually for the series so far, refuse to concede anything and believe this West title is realistic even with Paul’s status uncertain. “I saw a lot of things that I liked,” said D’Antoni, “and I think we’re in a good position.” Eric Gordon, a strong candidate to win the Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, started in place of Paul and was a concern for the Warriors, drilling deep shots and scoring 19 points. Also, Harden rediscovered his own touch from that distance; he’d missed 22 straight threes in this series but made four and scored 32 points. Houston missed Paul’s composure and steady point guard hand, which could be expected. The Rockets had 22 turnovers, with the Harden-Gordon backcourt combining for 14. The other issue for the Rockets was depth. With Gordon in the starting lineup, D’Antoni was forced to give minutes to Luc Mbah a Moute, still struggling after hurting his shoulder just prior to the playoffs. He wasn’t a factor and neither was the bench. Assuming Paul sits another game, the Rockets will undoubtedly need major scoring and playmaking from Harden, solid shotgun work from Gordon and at least two members of the support group -- Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela -- to break loose in order to make Game 7 interesting. Remember, the Rockets have now gone four straight games without breaking 100 points, and Harden appeared beaten in the fourth quarter Saturday where he went scoreless. The Warriors are also dealing with a missing part, with Andre Iguodala’s inactive streak now at three. They’re crossing fingers whenever Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and/or Nick Young are pressed to play more than 15 minutes. None of them have distinguished themselves since Iguodala suffered a bone bruise on his left knee in Game 3. So that’s the tale of the tape. Between now and tipoff, the Rockets’ therapy staff will work on Paul’s hamstring, hoping for some intervention from the Medical Gods. In the perfect basketball world, Paul and Iguodala would be fit to play; why should the finish of this series be deprived of them, of less than what it should be? Last fall, before training camp, Paul, Harden and Tucker vacationed in the Bahamas for one last moment of chill before preparations for a season of big expectations. Obviously, they talked shop. They set goals and their sights on the Warriors. Tucker asked Paul and Harden: Imagine if we get them on our court for a Game 7. They all nodded and agreed it would be a logical scenario to launch themselves into the NBA Finals. “Obviously we hope to have our starting point guard back,” Tucker said. “If not, we need to be ready.” The Warriors held no such pre-camp huddle -- champions have what others want -- yet knew that once the Rockets added Paul, Houston would be their toughest test since Durant signed up. Warriors vs. Rockets in a single-game elimination is the proper stage, then, to determine who reps the West in the NBA Finals. D’Antoni said: “It should be a great game.” Curry: “It should be fun. This is what you play for, to be in a situation where you’re one win away from going to The Finals. You’ve got to want it.” Truthfully, neither team would rather be in a winner-take-all. Sweeping would be vastly preferred. But the other part about what Curry said is definitely true: Who wants it? 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 NewsMay 27th, 2018

Boston bound: LeBron pushes Cavs to Game 7 vs. Celtics

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James chose Boston as the place he'll play next. Game 7 is on. And any talk about James' future is on hold. Delivering another performance for the ages, James scored 46 points and preserved his reign atop the Eastern Conference for at least one more game as the Cleveland Cavaliers shook off losing All-Star Kevin Love with a head injury and beat the Celtics 109-99 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) to force a decisive climax to this back-and-forth series. James, playing in perhaps his final game for the Cavs in Cleveland, added 11 rebounds and nine assists while playing all but two minutes — to avoid elimination and delay any decisions about where he'll continue his remarkable career next season. "Greatness," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "Championship pedigree. Giving it his all. We needed that, especially when Kevin went down. We had to play 'Bron as many minutes as he had to. He delivered. He was up for the challenge. He carried us home as usual." The king is not dead, and he still has a chance to make his eighth straight NBA Finals. This series, in which home court has meant everything, will have a fitting conclusion Sunday (Monday, PHL time) at TD Garden, where the Celtics are 10-0 this postseason. "It's a Game 7," James said. "It's something that you wish you had when you're done playing, but more than that, it's just basketball for me. I know what I'm capable of doing, and I'm going to trust everything I put into it." George Hill added 20 points, and Jeff Green 14 for the Cavs, who lost Love in the first quarter after he banged heads with Boston rookie Jayson Tatum. Terry Rozier paced the Celtics — now 1-6 on the road — with 28 points, and Jaylen Brown had 27. The Celtics were still within seven in the final three minutes before James made consecutive three-pointers, punctuating the second by pounding his chest with both fists and screaming along with 20,562 others. "The love of the game," James said, explaining his reaction. "It's a feeling you can't explain." Just for good measure, he added a three-point play and then was taken out of the game to a rousing ovation and chants of "Cavs in 7!" Boston's improbable run through the postseason without injured stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward will now take the Celtics back home, where they play with more intensity, togetherness and before fans hungry to see an 18th title banner raised to their arena's rafters. "It's not going to be pretty," Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. "We've got to come out ready to get our nose bloody and our mouth bloody. We've got to come out ready to fight. You've got to find a way, whatever it takes." Love went out with a head injury in the first quarter, forcing Lue to juggle his rotations and keep James on the floor longer than he wanted to. The three-time champion played the first 35 minutes without a break and then endured the final eight while nursing a right leg. James didn't know until after the game that teammate Larry Nance Jr. had banged into him. "I felt some pain throughout my entire right side of my ankle into my leg," he said. "I was just hoping for the best, obviously, because I've seen so many different injuries, and watching basketball with that type of injury, someone fall into one's leg standing straight up. Luckily, I was able to finish the game." Hill, who came over in a deadline trade, has been awed by what James has done in this postseason. "I've been in the league for some years and ran across him on the other side and really hated his guts," said Hill, who was on Indiana teams eliminated by James. "But to have him on our side, it kind of lets me take a deep breath of fresh air. It's just something that you really can't explain what he's doing night in, night out. It's just something special." "I thought the best was when he always put us out. But to actually see it when he's on your team, I can't even put it into words." The real possibility that James was playing his last game in Cleveland hung over the game — and this city — in the hours leading to tip-off. Everyone had an opinion on what James will do next and that discussion filled the sports talk radio airwaves, bars and barber shops. The 33-year-old has said several times since coming home in 2014 that he wants to retire with the Cavaliers, but fans are uneasy because he can opt out of his $35.6 million contract this summer and test free agency. And, of course, he left in 2010. James has said he'll sit down after the season ends to decide next move, and he's already being courted in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York where fans can only dream of him joining their rosters. For now, he's only going to Boston. NO LOVE The game began ominously for the Cavs as Love was forced to leave following his violent collision with Tatum. Love and Tatum were away from the ball and didn't see each other until it was too late. They banged heads and both immediately dropped to the floor with Love raising his left arm as if to signal he needed help. As Love stayed down, the Cavs huddled around him. He was helped off and walked to the bench unsteadily before heading to the locker room for further treatment and evaluation. His status for Game 7 is uncertain. THE OTHER SIDE Tatum stayed in following his nasty collision with Love. The rookie passed the concussion testing that he was given on the bench. "I didn't see him coming, it was bad," Tatum said. "I have a knot on the back of my head and he didn't return. I wish the best for Kevin Love because he's a great player and it's been a long season." PREGAME MEAL Hill said he's played well after eating tacos with barbacoa and guacamole before games. "I'm for sure going to find a Chipotle in Boston, I'll tell you that," he said. TIP-INS Celtics: Own a 37-0 record when leading a series 2-0. ... Dropped to 1-4 in Game 6s over the last four postseasons. ... Coach Brad Stevens praised James for his consistency, and ability to exceed expectations. "Nobody else has what he has on his shoulders playing the game," he said. "I think that the way in which he's done that and all of the years now that he's made The Finals and gone deep into the playoffs, it's unbelievable." Cavaliers: Improved to 6-2 in elimination game since 2015. James has scored at least 40 in five of those wins. ... James' teams are 5-2 in Game 7s. ... This was the seventh 40-point game for James this postseason. Michael Jordan also had seven, one off Jerry West's record set in 1965. ... James passed Karl Malone (2,062) for sixth place on the career postseason rebounds list......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 26th, 2018

GM says overwhelming likelihood Suns will keep No. 1 pick

By Bob Baum, Associated Press PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said the “overwhelming likelihood” is that the team will keep its No. 1 overall pick and not trade it away. McDonough made the comment Friday (Saturday, PHL time) after the first of what will be many pre-draft workouts of players on the Suns’ practice court. The leading candidates for that No. 1 almost certainly will be worked out privately, with the exception of Luka Doncic, the European sensation who still is playing in Spain. “Obviously the agents have a lot of say,” McDonough said. “They have a strong voice in the process. They’re worried about injuries, which we understand is part of it. So we’d love them to come in and compete against the other top guys at their position. I think for the guys in the mix at No. 1 that’s going to be tough for us to put together.” The Suns won the lottery for the first No. 1 pick in the franchise’s 50-year history. In the days that followed, McDonough said the team would be open to trading that pick. But that seemed less likely when he described the criteria such a deal would have to entail. “It would have to be a young, proven star player with multiple years on his contract, multiple years of team control,” McDonough said. “Once you start whittling down the list, that list probably shrinks to a handful of players if not fewer players than that. So I think the overwhelming likelihood is that we keep the pick. However, we’re open, if those teams call us or we call them. But as of now obviously we’re planning on keeping it.” McDonough insists there are a few players in the mix, but the names at the top according to most observers are Doncic and Arizona’s Deandre Ayton. Born and raised in the Bahamas, the 7'1" Ayton played his one college season just down Interstate 10 at the University of Arizona, where he averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. McDonough said he believes questions about Ayton’s defense stem from the fact he had to play alongside another seven-footer, Dusan Ristic, in college. “So he was guarding away from the basket on the perimeter,” McDonough said. “In the NBA, obviously, he’s a center. He’s a five. He slides well. He moves his feet well. He’s a tremendous athlete in terms of strength, fluidity, coordination, all of that.” McDonough said Ayton “has a high-level feel for the game, especially on the offensive end of the court. And from my experience guys who have that at the offensive end of the floor usually, in time, are able to translate that to the defensive end of the court as well.” McDonough said he plans to try to get to Europe one more time to see Doncic. “We’ve seen him play a lot,” McDonough said. “I’ve personally seen him four or five times in the last seven or eight months, [assistant general manager] Pat Connelly’s seen him. Igor’s seen him more than anybody.” New Suns coach Igor Kokoskov coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team that won the European championship last year. McDonough was asked about the observation that Doncic lacks high-level athleticism. But the Suns GM noted that the young European guard is “really, really big” — 6'6" and weighs 218 pounds. “Because he’s so skilled at that size and has such a good feel, I think you don’t realize on tape how big he is,” McDonough said. “He’s able to jab and create his own shot. He’s able to lower his shoulder and create space to overpower defenders. He’s adept at getting to the free throw line. I don’t have any concerns with him physically.” On Friday (Saturday, PHL time), the Suns worked out a group of guards, most of them four-year college players. They included Tra Holder from Arizona State. The Suns also have the No. 16 pick overall in the draft and, in the second round, Nos. 30 and 59. But that No. 1 pick is the big one, something neither the Suns nor McDonough have dealt with before. “I think there are some drafts that you prefer not to have the No. 1 pick just because there isn’t a player worthy of that,” he said. “I think in some ways you’re set up to fail in that scenario. This year we feel the opposite. We feel there are four or five players who in normal drafts would be in the mix for No. 1 if not be the No. 1 pick. “We view that as a good problem to have. It’s a really talented draft. I think this will be one that you look back on historically and say that was one of the better drafts in the last decade. And it’s great to kick it off No. 1.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 26th, 2018

Paul paves way for Rockets, but will he be there in the end?

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com HOUSTON — If he doesn’t take another step on that tender right hamstring in these Western Conference finals, Chris Paul did what he came here to do. That won’t be enough for him, of course. No Hall of Fame-level competitor is ever satisfied with just reaching the precipice of a dream. They want it all. And you know Chris Paul’s every intention is to get to the summit. You don’t wait as long as he has, fight through as many barriers as he has throughout his career and get to the final seconds of a defining game like Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, and not feel the burn when you have to watch the outcome from the bench. Paul’s right hamstring didn’t allow him to take in the final, frantic 22.4 seconds of the Houston Rockets’ 98-94 win over the Golden State Warriors Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Toyota Center. He tweaked it trying to drive to the basket on Quinn Cook with the Rockets clinging to a 95-94 lead. Another injury for the man who has seen so many of his playoff dreams vanish in a haze of different injuries over the course of his career. It has to sting. He went from shimmying at Stephen Curry after knocking down a wild three-pointer to being forced to watch the end unfold without him on the court to finish what he’d started. But the Rockets are here, up 3-2 in this series and four quarters away from dethroning the defending three-time Western Conference champion Warriors. Paul's availability for Saturday’s (Sunday, PHL time) Game 6 remained a mystery late into the night; he received treatment after the game and did not speak to the media. “He’ll be evaluated tomorrow,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who for the second straight game in this series relied on just a seven-man rotation. “But obviously you saw him limp off, and he’s a tough guy. So they’ll do whatever they can do. If he’s there, great, good for him. If he isn’t, we have enough guys, it’s time for somebody else to step up. We’ve got plenty of guys over there that will have some fresh legs, that’s for sure. So we’ll be alright. We’ve just got to continue doing what we’re doing and we’ll find our way.” The Rockets found their way with Paul lighting the path of another heavyweight fight. Rockets fans left the building on an emotional high thanks to Paul, who scored 18 of his 20 points after halftime, after a brutal 1-for-7 shooting performance in the first half that made you wonder if he came into this game injured already. Once again he willed these Rockets past adversity, the same way he did in the close-out game of the conference semifinal against Utah when he piled up 20 of his playoff career-high 41 points down the stretch of a Game 5 masterpiece. “Well his spirits aren’t great,” D’Antoni said. “He wanted to be out there, and for sure he’s worried and all that. That’s normal. And like I said, we’ll see [Friday] how it goes. But what he did was remarkable. When we were kind of teetering, he made two or three three's. That’s just his heart. He made something out of nothing. His heart, his will to win, I don’t know how many times everybody’s got to see it in this league. He’s one of the best players that have played the game. Just his will alone and what it means to basketball, I don’t know. If you can’t root for him, I think you’ve got some problems.” The Warriors are loaded with problems then. Because they’ve surely seen enough of Paul in the deciding moments of the last two games in this series. Paul led the charge in Game 4 at Oracle Arena and did it again in the third quarter of Game 5, keeping the Rockets right with the Warriors during the period they’ve owned by draining three of his four attempts from beyond the three-point line during an unconscious third-quarter stretch. “It was well-deserved,” Curry said, a showman tipping his cap to a fellow showman. “It was a tough shot. If you can shimmy on somebody else, you’ve got to be alright getting shimmied on. So I’ll keep shimmying and maybe he will too, so we’ll see what happens.” It was more than just the shimmying, though. Time after time Paul got the switch he wanted, backed up and went at bigger Warriors defenders and got whatever he wanted. “Well, Chris is a Hall of Fame player, this is what they do,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “They put James [Harden] and Chris in pick-and-roll every single time. So they’re going to challenge you. We did a great job. They combined to shoot 11-for-40. He hit two 35-foot three's that were just unbelievable. You’ve got to live with that.” The Rockets have lived off of it all season. They knew it would the moment Paul was acquired in that blockbuster trade with the LA Clippers that set this Rockets’ Western Conference takeover attempt in motion. The aesthetics be damned. Keep your analytics. Sometimes the biggest moments require the unthinkable, unbelievable shots Kerr spoke of. “That’s the most difficult shots you can imagine,” Harden said of Paul’s three-point heroics and his entire arsenal of shot-clock beating artistry. “He’s been doing it all year, and he just manages to get those shots off and make big plays. He was built for it.” If only his body was built for the pounding that comes with the work he has to do, often as the smallest man on the floor. Paul’s body always seems to betray him at the very worst times. Dragging up the long list of bumps, bruises and season-derailing instances won't do any good now. It won’t do the Rockets any good, with or without him in Game 6, or even a Game 7, back here Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) if needed. Paul’s right leg will be on the minds of each and every one of his teammates as they prepare for the next step on this wild ride that began with a humbling Game 1 defeat that temporarily cost them home court advantage they’ve since snatched back. Can they win three straight and finish this? Is it even a realistic possibility without Paul available? “There is concern, obviously,” Rockets veteran Trevor Ariza said. “I hope he’s healthy. I hope he gets better and if not, somebody else has to step up and do what we’ve been doing all year, step in and try and help this team win.” Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2018