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Guardiola sees red, falls short in Champions League again

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

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnApr 11th, 2018

DOC VOLLEYBALL: Halfway to Greatness

UAAP Season 80 women's volleyball continues to prove itself as the most unpredictable season in recent history. With a good mix of key losses as well as additions across the board for all competitors, the league is at an all out rock-paper-scissors slugfest. Though the current standings clearly represent a quintessential Bell Curve, Season 80 maintains its unpredictability as evidenced by teams upsetting each other. In addition, the sheer number of five-set matches so far is an indication how tight the competition is this season. UE Lady Warriors: 1 - 6 Despite initial concerns about the leave of head coach Francis Vicente, the UE Lady Warriors surprised the league with their maiden win at the expense of the season’s Dark Horse, the Adamson Lady Falcons. Under the mentorship of multi-awarded UE High School coach Rod Roque, the Lady Warriors were able to play their best game so far this season. For that particular win against the Lady Falcons, Coach Roque’s game plan was just to encourage the team to play carefree and enjoy as he is just taking over a team he has never handled. It is a given that UE is a team brimming with potential. They have decent size as well as a good number of seasoned veterans in Shaya Adorador and Kat Arado, who have not been maximized unfortunately. The handover to Coach Roque might just be the much-needed break for UE as they have found new confidence moving on to the second round making them more threatening to upset more teams. UST Golden Tigresses: 2 - 5 Considered to be one of the main contenders based on their pre-season performance, the UST Golden Tigresses have fallen short of expectations as a series of early key injuries has prevented the team from playing to full capability. Ending the first round with two successive disheartening losses against the UP Lady Maroons and old time rivals FEU Lady Tamaraws, UST is pressed to turn around their performance to keep their Final Four dreams alive. UST’s offensive threat from the wings cannot be underestimated as they have league top scorer Cherry Rondina from the left and power player Dim Pacres from the right. However, what the team still lacks is the offensive and defensive threats from the middle reminiscent of the days of Mary Jean Balse and Maika Ortiz. As long as the middles are not generating enough points off the quick or slide attack, the team is expected to continue struggling against better blocking teams through the second round as Rondina continues to be in the spotlight. UP Lady Maroons: 2 - 5 All hopes were high for the UP Lady Maroons to finally break in once again to the Final Four this season under new foreign coach Godfrey Okumu. The squad however kicked off season 80 disappointingly far from their stellar 4-0 run last season. Despite setter Ayel Estranero showing more mastery over shoot sets to the wings and Tots Carlos sporting more power in her attacks, the team has struggled with their floor passing to severely limit their offense set up. Much like UST, UP has yet to show breakout performances from the middles as they continue to struggle getting the first pass consistently to the setter. Much to their credit though, Coach Okumu has adjusted to their struggles by utilizing different patterns for their passing system as well as even going for a 6-2 set-up just to tap into Estranero’s floor play. The gamble proved successful with their win over UST and this system might be their solution to bounce back this second round. Adamson Lady Falcons: 3 - 4 The return of veterans Mylene Paat and Fhem Emnas as well as the addition of transferee Eli Soyud were clear indications that the Lady Falcons this season won't be their former pushover status. True enough, the team started the season strong with massive victories against top seeded teams such as FEU and DLSU as well as trouncing UP in straight sets. Given that head coach Air Padda has much more utility with addition of new seasoned players, the team still lacks consistency as evidenced by their poor passing performance in their game against UST and the error-laden upset by UE to end the first round. Technically, Padda’s passing and transition defense patterns are the most efficient but a lack of more aggressive serving (i.e. fast, flat, well-placed floaters) as well as their tendency to commit individual unforced errors limit the team from winning more games they are undeniably capable of. Ateneo Lady Eagles: 4 - 3 After a concerning opening for the second-seeded team, the Ateneo Lady Eagles managed to go on a four-game win streak midway to still maintain a spot in the top four so far. The team’s three losses were notably against the three tough-serving teams: FEU, DLSU, and NU. The glaring inefficiency in the passing department has been the Lady Eagles’ exploited weakness as evidenced by the barrage of aces DLSU let out in their recent match. Relative to other teams, Ateneo’s offense is not composed of power hitters. As such, the team runs fast and well-placed attacks that heavily rely on efficient first ball to circumvent the opposing block and floor defense. Unless the team manages to remedy their passing and defense patterns, setter Deanna Wong would continue to be forced to do bump sets that are not ideal for non-power hitters making it harder for the team to run the offense. FEU Lady Tamaraws: 5 - 2 The FEU Lady Tamaraws continue to live up to pre-season expectations as one of the top contenders this season. Despite early expectations that Queen Tamaraw Bernadette Pons will have the spotlight in the scoring department, the squad has proven that it's not a one- woman show through commendable ball distribution by setter Kyle Negrito. The team has also proven to be dominant in the serving department as evidenced by their dismantling of weaker passing teams NU, Ateneo, and UST. The combination X-play continues to be the team’s bread and butter offense but its reliance on consistent excellent passing might be a concern against better serving teams like La Salle moving forward to the second round. De La Salle Lady Spikers: 5 - 2 The Lady Spikers continue to prove their defending champion status despite the loss to current top seed NU and the upset by league dark horse Adamson. Despite not being considered as crafty as her predecessor Kim Fajardo, setter Michelle Cobb does her job well in running the offensive set-up for basic plays. Perhaps where the setting falls short is the lack of maximization of Queen Spiker Majoy Baron as she has yet to produce outputs comparable to last season. In line with that, the defending champions have yet to be seen utilizing more back row attacks as added offensive options on transition defense since the left wing is almost always their option on a sub-optimal first ball. NU Lady Bulldogs: 6 - 1 The long developmental process of the Lady Bulldogs is coming into fruition under the new mentorship of coach Babes Castillo. With a roster of seasoned veterans and decent size, the Lady Bulldogs have all the artillery to finally claim the crown. Their lone loss under the hands of the Lady Tamaraws could be well attributed to the fact that Queen Bulldog Jaja Santiago could be mitigated in the middle with well placed aggressive serves. The challenge then for NU moving on to the second round is how to be able to still maximize Santiago in the frontline in the onset that she is relegated to mere decoy status due to a sub-optimal first ball.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 6th, 2018

Sterling blossoming into Man City s man for the big occasion

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — A video did the rounds on social media last week showing Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola giving Raheem Sterling a clinic during a training session about what his body position should be when receiving the ball, about what his next movement should be after giving a pass. Getting right into Sterling's face, Guardiola was seen dragging the winger around and pointing exactly how and where he should be addressing the ball. Sterling followed his coach, listening intently, occasionally nodding his head. Guardiola sees something special and different in Sterling, and the instructions seem to be getting through. City has no shortage of potential game-changers in its team but, at the moment, Guardiola wouldn't want the ball to drop to anyone else but Sterling in the last minutes of a match. In the past week, the England international has scored winning goals in three straight games, in the 88th, 84th and the sixth minute of injury time. In what is already his career-best haul for a single season of 13 goals — remember, it is not even December — Sterling has eight goals in the last 10 minutes of matches. Four of the goals have been directly responsible for earning City seven points in the league. Without them, the team's lead would only be a point over Manchester United. "Before, he was a little bit more shy or he did not believe," Guardiola said this week after Sterling's winning goal in injury time in City's 2-1 victory over Southampton. "But now he can do that. "His teammates give him the confidence and say, 'We trust in you, you can do that,' but then you have to have the personality, in the last minute, to make the action." Sterling's goal against Southampton felt huge, and not just in the context of the title race in re-establishing City's eight-point lead. It caused pandemonium inside Etihad Stadium, with Guardiola, his coaching staff and the substitutes spilling out on to the playing surface as Sterling raced the length of the field in celebration, screaming with joy. Sterling did something similar at Bournemouth in August, scoring even later — in the seventh minute of injury time — to clinch a 2-1 win. He then raced into City's away fans to celebrate. The day after Guardiola's clinic in that training session, Sterling — with his back to goal — performed a give-and-go move with Ilkay Gundogan before chipping the goalkeeper to seal City's 1-0 win over Feyenoord in the Champions League. "Now he's full of confidence," Guardiola said. "We spoke last season many times, that he has to discover the pleasure for himself to win games, to score goals. He has to feel that." Sterling's confidence levels cannot have been high when Guardiola joined City in the offseason of 2016. The winger, who joined City for 49 million pounds (then $76 million) the year before, was the target of lots of online criticism during the 2016 European Championship. At that tournament, Sterling dubbed himself "The Hated One" on Instagram and he would later stop checking his social media accounts because of the abuse. Guardiola phoned Sterling during Euro 2016 in a show of support. And this year, when Sterling was linked with a swap deal with Arsenal winger Alexis Sanchez, Guardiola insisted his player would not be leaving. Sterling is repaying Guardiola's faith, and is adding an end-product to the chaos he can cause opposing defenses with his pace, directness, and movement. He can thank his coach for that. He is also benefiting from playing in a slightly different position, more of an inside forward now that City has an attacking fullback in Kyle Walker down the right. It means Sterling is in the penalty box more often and getting on the end of more chances. Next in Sterling's firing line is West Ham on Sunday, when City will be bidding for a 13th straight win in the Premier League. Its current total of 40 points after 14 games has never been bettered in the history of England's top division. City was also boosted on Thursday by David Silva signing a one-year extension to his contract, tying the playmaker to the club until 2020. Here are some other things to watch out for this weekend: ___ PLAYING CATCH-UP The best Man United can do is simply keep City in sight, but that won't be easy over the next two weekends. On Saturday, United plays at Arsenal, which has won its last three games to climb to fourth place, before the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Dec. 10. United is set to be without holding midfielder Nemanja Matic, who went off with a muscle injury in the 4-2 win over Watford on Tuesday. ___ PAST AND PRESENT Alan Pardew will begin his tenure as West Bromwich Albion manager with a home match against the club that fired him in December, Crystal Palace. West Brom hasn't won in any competition since August — a run of 13 games — and is one place above the relegation zone......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 1st, 2017

Rampant Manchester City looking more like a Guardiola team

em>By Sam Johnston, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — Although it's taken a year longer than many expected, Manchester City is finally beginning to resemble a Pep Guardiola-coached team. City remained in rampant form as it ended Watford's unbeaten start to the English Premier League with a resounding 6-0 victory at Vicarage Road on Saturday. Guardiola's side has scored 15 goals in three matches since the international break, following 5-0 and 4-0 wins over Liverpool and Feyernood respectively. City stuttered to a third-place finish in Guardiola's debut season while failing to produce the stylish play of its manager's former sides, but a second straight offseason of significant personnel changes appears to be paying dividends. 'It was so good, especially after an away game in the Champions League,' Guardiola said. 'I was lucky to manage Barcelona with many outstanding performances but this week has been a lot of goals. We have found our game, we can make short passes, and we have a lot of energy from our full backs.' Sergio Aguero scored a predatory hat trick and laid on an assist for Gabriel Jesus, while Nicolas Otamendi headed in, and Raheem Sterling added a late penalty. The victory took City to the top of the table, but Manchester United can join it on Sunday with a win over Everton. Elsewhere, Liverpool failed to shake off the effects of last week's thrashing by City, letting Burnley leave Anfield with a 1-1 draw. Crystal Palace became the first club in league history to lose its opening five games without scoring. Swansea brought Tottenham back to earth in a scoreless draw at Wembley, three days after Spurs tore apart Borussia Dortmund. Newcastle made it three league wins a row by beating Stoke 3-1, Leicester and Huddersfield drew 1-1, and West Brom and West Ham played out a goalless draw. strong>AGUERO CLOSING IN /strong> Having struggled at times last season, Aguero appears to have been revitalized by his partnership with Jesus and was at his predatory best as he completed the sixth Premier League hat trick of his career. The Argentine forward is just three goals away from breaking Eric Brook's 177-goal record at Man City. 'I am very happy,' Aguero said. 'I am focused on scoring the next goal but what matters is that we won.' strong>NO MANE, MORE PROBLEMS /strong> Philippe Coutinho made his first start of the season for Liverpool after failing to force a summer move to Barcelona, but his return wasn't enough to fill the void left by the suspended Sadio Mane. Liverpool struggled at times last season without Mane and it appears little has changed. Summer recruit Mohamed Salah's tying goal secured a point for the Reds but even he can't match the brilliance of Mane, who is serving a three-match suspension after being sent off against Manchester City last weekend. Burnley has picked up away points at three of last season's top-six teams, beating Chelsea on opening day and drawing against Tottenham at Wembley. strong>ROY'S RETURN /strong> Roy Hodgson's first match in charge of Crystal Palace looked like the team's previous four matches. In a 1-0 loss to Southampton, Steven Davis' early goal proved decisive. Hodgson has been out of management since Euro 2016, where his England side was eliminated by minnows Iceland. Having become the first Premier League manager to be appointed in his 70s, Hodgson went for a return to a traditional four-man defense, but it took Southampton just six minutes to breach it. strong>WEMBLEY CURSE REMAINS /strong> Tottenham is still looking for a first domestic victory of the season at its temporary Wembley Stadium home. Harry Kane struck the crossbar in the second half but Swansea displayed great resilience to hold on for 0-0. Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs have failed to win all three league games at Wembley, where it's playing while White Hart Lane is redeveloped this season. strong>DEFENDER SCORES AGAIN /strong> Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles was an unlikely star for a second straight game as the defender headed home the winner against Stoke after Xherdan Shaqiri cancelled out Christian Atsu's opener. Newcastle beat Stoke 3-1 at St. James' Park. Also, West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry equaled Ryan Giggs' Premier League appearance record in his 632nd game.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2017

Chelsea fires manager Antonio Conte after 2 years in charge

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Antonio Conte's protracted divorce from Chelsea was finalized on Friday when he was fired after a two-year tenure in which he won the English Premier League and FA Cup but failed to gain the power he craved at the London club. Chelsea began a terse, four-sentence statement on its website, "Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company." Leaving Stamford Bridge was always the likely outcome for Conte following a season in which Chelsea missed out on Champions League qualification after a fifth-place league finish, 30 points behind champion Manchester City. The Italian coach regularly grumbled about his failure to exert control, particularly over transfers. Contrast that to the end of his first season at the club, where Conte was feted for leading Chelsea to the league title by seven points after a record-breaking run of 13 straight wins in the middle of the season, sparked by an inspired and bold change of formation. Conte took preseason training this week at Chelsea's practice base in Cobham with players who hadn't featured at the World Cup, but reports emerged in the Italian media on Thursday saying Conte had been fired. That speculation only intensified when Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas and former Chelsea captain John Terry paid tribute to Conte on social media. "Thank you boss," Terry wrote on Twitter. "Great man, Great manager. I wish you every success in the future." The club's 64-word announcement was eventually made on Friday, ending with: "We wish Antonio every success in his future career." Conte still had a year left on a revised deal he signed last summer after delivering the fifth Premier League title since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003. Only the pay was improved, though, with Conte's contract still running for just another two seasons — hardly a show of commitment by either the club or its manager. The Italian's main gripe for the past year was Chelsea's failure to land the signings he really wanted for its Premier League title defense. Chelsea was beaten to the signing of Romelu Lukaku by Manchester United and then Fernando Llorente by Tottenham, for example. "The club decides every player," he moaned last season. Winning the FA Cup by beating Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in May — and getting one over his great managerial rival, Jose Mourinho — proved to be Conte's last hurrah and maintained his record of winning a trophy every season he has been in charge of Juventus — where he won the Serie A for four straight years — and Chelsea. Chelsea seeks a 13th permanent manager under Abramovich's ownership, and at possibly the most turbulent period of the Russian billionaire's trophy-filled reign. It emerged in May that Abramovich had yet to have his British visa renewed amid a crackdown by authorities on associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Chelsea also halted plans to redevelop Stamford Bridge, citing an unfavorable climate to invest in the 500 million pound ($665 million) project. Conte leaves amid reports in the British and Italian media that former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri will take over at Chelsea for next season. Sarri's future has been up in the air since Napoli hired Carlo Ancelotti as its new coach in May. Sarri spent three years at the club and led it to two runner-up finishes and a third place, playing an entertaining and high-energy brand of football like that seen at Man City under Pep Guardiola, Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino, and Liverpool under Juergen Klopp. Sarri didn't win a major title at Napoli, however, and that would not be tolerated at Chelsea. As Conte and many of his predecessors have learned, even winning trophies is no guarantee of job security at Chelsea under Abramovich......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

LeBron James nearing deadline on contract option with Cavs

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James is approaching a deadline that may be little more than a starting line. Not just for him, but for free agency around the league. The NBA’s most impactful player has until 11:59 p.m. Friday (Saturday, PHL time) to decide what to do with a $35.6 million contract option for next season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. If he declines the option, which is what’s expected to happen, James will become an unrestricted free agent and another Summer of LeBron will heat up instantly with the Los Angeles Lakers becoming a possible destination. Cleveland, too, would still be in the mix as James could sign a short-term deal with the Cavs. He has done that each season since returning in 2014. If James exercises or picks up his option, the three-time champion would be under contract next season with the Cavs, but that would not preclude the Eastern Conference champions from trading him to acquire assets to build for the future. As of late Thursday afternoon (Friday, PHL time), James had not informed the Cavs of his plans while reports about his future filled Twitter timelines and talk radio programs. The real games haven’t begun. James, who has kept a low profile on social media for months, has been on vacation with his wife and three children, giving him a chance to recover from perhaps the most exhausting season of his career and plot the next chapter. The 33-year-old has long been linked to the Lakers, partly because he has two homes in the Los Angeles area along with a film production company. There’s also the fact that the Lakers have enough salary-cap space to sign James and another maximum-contract player like Kawhi Leonard or Paul George and form a “Super Team” capable of competing with the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. The first major free-agent domino fell Thursday (Thursday night, PHL time) as George decided not to exercise his $20.7 million option for next season with Oklahoma City, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. ESPN first reported George’s decision. For now, George is set to hit the market when free agency officially begins at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, (Monday, PHL time) but he may not go anywhere. The Thunder can offer him more money and George could get a five-year, $176 million and stay in Oklahoma. It’s unclear what affect, if any, George’s decision has had on James and his plans. The two are good friends and there’s little doubt they would relish the opportunity to play together after competing against each other for years. As for Leonard, there’s little clarity on his troubled relationship with San Antonio. It remains unclear if the Spurs are willing to trade him and if they are willing to part ways with him, where he would land. For James, the dilemma is whether to leave his home again. Upon his return to Cleveland four years ago from Miami, James said it took time away to realize what he was missing. “My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” he said. “I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.” James also said he always felt like he would come back to Cleveland to finish his career where it began. But that was before the Akron native led the Cavs to four straight Finals and won Cleveland’s first professional sports title since 1964. If Decision 3.0 is to go, James feels content. “I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” he said following Game 4 of the NBA Finals. “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. ... It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we’ll all remember that in sports history.” ___ AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2018

Salah, Neymar, Messi, messy, messy: World Cup stars stifled

By Mauricio Saverese, Associated Press SARANSK, Russia (AP) — With nagging injuries, heavy marking from opponents and some simply uninspired play, the top stars of the 2018 World Cup have struggled to deliver on the impossible expectations they carried into the tournament, with one prominent Portuguese exception. Aside from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has all four of Portugal's goals in its two games, many of the biggest names are off to a shaky start. No one has had rougher treatment from the opposition than the world's priciest player, Neymar. During Brazil's opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland, the 26-year-old was fouled 10 times, the highest number on a single player in a single match since the 1998 World Cup, when England's Alan Shearer took 11 challenges against Tunisia. Overall, Switzerland fouled Brazil 19 times , with little intervention from the referee, and it worked — especially on Neymar. Brazilians suggested their opponents were too violent; Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes thinks Neymar has another problem. "He just falls too much," Fernandes said after the game in Rostov-on-Don. "Out of these 10, only seven or eight were fouls. We have to stop their star, and he is the star." Neymar felt the effects of the Swiss strategy long after Sunday's match ended, limping out of training Tuesday as he continues to recover from a foot injury he picked up before the tournament. He trained Wednesday and was confirmed as a starter for the match against Costa Rica on Friday. Superstar Lionel Messi did face heavy marking too, but he also had two uninspired performances for Argentina, which is now on the verge of early elimination after a 3-0 defeat against Croatia. Throughout the matches against Iceland and Croatia, disciplined defenders and midfielders stopped Messi from making his famous runs and getting one-on-one chances. Against Iceland, Messi saw his penalty spot kick saved by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, and the game ended 1-1. Against Croatia, he crumbled with the rest of the team, which now desperately needs to beat Nigeria in the last round of group stage to have a chance of advancing to the next phase. "Messi is human," Aguero said after the Iceland match. "Sometimes things happen for a reason. We need to be with him. This was a bad day, but he can decide a match at any given moment. Hope he is better against Croatia." Croatia was taking note. "You can't stop him with one player, you have to defend like a team. You saw that with Iceland," defender Dejan Lovren said ahead of the Argentina clash late Thursday. Egypt striker Mohamed Salah set a Premier League scoring record for Liverpool and held all the hopes for a deep run by the Pharaohs in their return to the World Cup, until he injured his shoulder playing for Liverpool in the Champions League final in a clash with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, of Spain. Salah sat out the opening 1-0 loss to Uruguay in Yekaterinburg, with coach Hector Cuper hoping to have him fit for Egypt's second match, against Russia. He made his World Cup debut in St. Petersburg and scored from the penalty spot, but only after the hosts led by three goals, and his mobility was clearly affected. He barely touched the ball in the first half and avoided physical contact with Russian defenders during the entire game, and Egypt was eliminated with one match left to play. Ronaldo isn't entirely alone in starting strong. Diego Costa has three of Spain's four goals, Harry Kane has both of England's, and Luka Modric scored one goal and set up the other in Croatia's 2-0 win over Nigeria. And there's plenty of time for others to turn things around. Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year-old striker at the center of the second-most expensive transfer in history, managed just one chance in France's 2-1 win over Australia in Kazan, but scored Thursday against Peru in front of an empty net. His famous runs and dribbles, however, were blocked by Australia's physical game. It's early, and the tournament has seen plenty of stellar play from lesser-known players, but many of the star scorers have work to do......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Two Blue Eagles in Collegiate Basketball Awards Mythical Team

The very best individual performers of collegiate basketball are set to be feted as the UAAP-NCAA Press Corps name the Mythical Team of the 2017 season in the Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Basketball Awards on Thursday at The Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros. Robert Bolick and Thirdy Ravena, the key cogs behind San Beda and Ateneo’s championship runs, lead the selection as MVPs CJ Perez of Lyceum and Ben Mbala of La Salle join the pair. Floor general Matt Nieto, also of Ateneo, complete the cast selected by sports scribes covering the collegiate beat that will be feted in the awards night sponsored by Chooks-to-Go. After steering the Red Lions to their 21st title in the NCAA, Bolick is a shoo-in to the Mythical Team particularly with how he performed in the Finals against the Pirates. The 6-foot-1 guard out of Leyte missed out on individual accolades in the NCAA after being suspended for a game, but his year-long effort for the Red Lions isn’t about to go unnoticed. Ateneo’s homegrown pair of Ravena and Nieto also made the cut in the awards ceremony also backed by The Bayleaf Intramuros and Cherrylume after steering the Blue Eagles to their first title in five years. The duo showed great improvement from seasons before, not only in the individual aspect of the game, but in being the for the young Ateneo side coached by Tab Baldwin. Wrapping up the selection are the best individual performers of the collegiate season in Perez and Mbala. Perez was the force behind Lyceum’s amazing turnaround from cellar-dwellers to championship contenders, especially following a historic elimination round sweep. Though they fell short in the NCAA, Perez and the Pirates rebounded in winning the Philippine Collegiate Champions League. Mbala, on the other hand, is the least surprising selection following another dominant season for the Green Archers. Though they fell short of winning back to back titles, the 2016 Player of the Year was a man among boys in the UAAP leading to his second straight MVP citation......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 20th, 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

Pep Guardiola commits to Man City, England team hopes to benefit

By committing to Manchester City until 2021, Pep Guardiola is laying the groundwork for a period of sustained Premier League dominance with the newly-crowned, record-breaking champions......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

Atletico s Simeone: Stopping Payet key to EL final win

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press LYON, France (AP) — Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone knows his team must find a way to stop Marseille playmaker Dimitri Payet in Wednesday's Europa League final. Payet is the French league's best passer and helped lead Marseille to its first European final for 14 years, with three goals and seven assists in the competition. So while Simeone highlighted multiple attacking threats in this Marseille team, he clearly views Payet as the most dangerous. "Payet will set the pace according to how he sees the game. He will be dictating the pace of his team with his play-making," Simeone said Tuesday at a news conference. "Of course their free kicks and corners are dangerous, but they have many more weapons. Their full backs are also very dangerous." While Madrid boasts big-name forwards in Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa, not to mention Fernando Torres and Kevin Gameiro on the bench, Marseille does not have a recognized top-class striker. Instead, a large chunk of the goals come from winger Florian Thauvin — 26 in all competitions — while the rest are shared around. Marseille coach Rudi Garcia hailed Atletico as having the best defense in Spain, and is counting on Payet to breach it. Payet thinks he knows how to. "As is the case with any defense which plays so close together, we're going to have to move the ball around very quickly in tight spaces. But I think we have the attacking quality to do so," the France international said. "We're going to have to be very efficient because a team likes this does not give you many chances. We're going to have to take them." Atletico are viewed as the favorites in this game, in part because of their recent big-game experience. Atletico won the Europa League in 2010 and 2012 but lost Champions League finals to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016. Marseille is the only French side to have won the Champions League in 1993, but since then has lost twice in the UEFA Cup final, as the Europa League was formerly known. But Marseille may have an advantage in playing just a three-hour drive away in Lyon, with up to 15,000 of its fans expected to make the trip. "I want my players be calm. As we approach the game, the emotions rise and rise," Simeone said. "The winning and losing experiences we had in the past will help. ... We have to try and impose our style of play and take the game in the direction we want. We are similar teams so I think it will be a tense and high-pressured game. Both teams are very pragmatic and play a similar style. We're also strong on free kicks." Simeone is known for being very close to his players, but he'll have to keep his distance on Wednesday. He was banned from the touchline by UEFA earlier this month after being sent to the stands at Arsenal in the first leg of their semifinal in London. Simeone was charged with insulting a match official and improper conduct. But he has full faith in assistant coach German Burgos, and considers his Argentine countryman almost like a kindred spirit. Simeone went as far as to say their understanding is close to telepathic. "I'm very close to German. We've known each other all our lives and we have a similar vision of football," Simeone said. "What's going through his mind is doubtlessly going through mine. I have complete confidence in him." Even though their coach will not be encouraging them from the sidelines, the players are ready. "We'll give everything to win," center half Diego Godin said. "Our legs, our heads, our hearts.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 16th, 2018

Liverpool into Champions League, Man City reaches 100 points

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool qualified for the Champions League at the expense of Chelsea, Swansea was relegated, and champion Manchester City made it to 100 points as the loose ends were tied up on a typically high-scoring final day of the Premier League season on Sunday. It was also the end of an era in England's top flight, with Arsene Wenger taking charge of his final game as Arsenal manager after 22 seasons. He went out with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield. Liverpool only needed to draw with Brighton to secure another season in the Champions League, but manager Juergen Klopp fielded an attacking team and was rewarded with a 4-0 victory at Anfield. Mohamed Salah scored one of the goals, taking the Egyptian to a league-high 32 goals for the campaign — the most in a 38-game Premier League season. That meant Chelsea will not be playing in Europe's elite competition for the second season in three years. The London club finished fifth after a 3-0 loss at Newcastle, in what could prove to be Antonio Conte's last league game as manager. The final-day "miracle" that Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal required didn't happen, with the Welsh club losing 2-1 to Stoke to end its seven-year stay in the league and ensure Southampton stayed up. Swansea had needed to win and Southampton to lose to Man City, with a 10-goal swing in goal difference. So it didn't matter that Southampton conceded late to lose 1-0 to City, although that did mean Pep Guardiola's side became the first team to post 100 points in a Premier League season. It is the latest milestone reached by City, which has also claimed the most total wins (32), goals (106), victories in a row (18) and away wins (16) in this record-breaking season. The 19-point margin to second place Manchester United is also a record, as is the goal difference of plus 79. Tottenham beat Leicester 5-4 in the highest-scoring game of the day to secure third place above Liverpool. United was already assured of second place before its 1-0 win over Watford, in Michael Carrick's final game for the club. ANOTHER TROPHY FOR SALAH Fittingly, it was Salah who guided Liverpool back into the Champions League and he ended a sun-kissed afternoon at Anfield lifting the Golden Boot for being the Premier League's top scorer this season. His 32-goal haul was two more than Harry Kane, the winner for the past two seasons. There were wonderful scenes soon after as Liverpool's fans cheered Salah's daughter, Makka, as she kicked about a ball on the field. Dejan Lovren added a second before Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson scored their first goals for Liverpool to complete a routine victory in its last match before playing the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26. Liverpool ended up in fourth place for the second straight season. Chelsea ended the season without even a whimper, and in the Europa League. Four days after drawing 1-1 at home, the deposed champions looked bedraggled in losing to Newcastle thanks to goals by Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez, who scored twice in the second half. SWANSEA DOWN Swansea fans channeled their anger toward chairman Huw Jenkins and the club's American majority shareholders, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, after the team's relegation was confirmed with a loss to a team that started the day in last place. Jenkins was conspicuous by his absence from his customary seat in the directors' box but that did not prevent Swansea supporters urging Jenkins to "get out of our club" from the first minute. Andy King's goal gave Swansea hope of an unlikely final-day comeback, but Badou Ndiaye and Peter Crouch scored to ensure already relegated Stoke would not end the season bottom. That position went to West Bromwich Albion, which lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace. WENGER'S FAREWELL In the 22nd minute, Huddersfield fans joined Arsenal supporters in rising to their feet inside the John Smith's Stadium to applaud Wenger in his 1,235th game in charge of the Gunners. A plane flew over the stadium, carrying the message "Merci Arsene, we will miss you too" in response to Wenger's goodbye speech last week at the Emirates Stadium. "I should have announced every week my goodbye," Wenger said, "because people have been so nice with me." Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the final scorer of the Wenger era, sliding in to convert Aaron Ramsey's cross in the 38th minute for the only goal. Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League — the lowest under Wenger, who will stay working. "Whether that is managing or not... I am addicted and I don't think that can be cured," Wenger said. CITY'S CENTURY City left it to virtually the last kick of its last match to reach the magical 100-point barrier. Gabriel Jesus, on as a substitute, found space to lift the ball over goalkeeper Alex McCarthy in the fourth minute of additional time, prompting wild celebrations among City's players. Pep Guardiola reacted to the team's 106th league goal of the season by leaping out of his seat in the dugout and punching the air. Jesus removed his shirt and twirled it in celebration in front of City's supporters. The players were still on the field 20 minutes after the final whistle. City will celebrate on the streets of Manchester on Monday with an open-top bus parade......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2018

How Ponggay Gaston, Maddie Madayag reawakened Ateneo s happy-heartstrong mentality

Lost in the thrilling UAAP season 80 women's volleyball Finals series between eventual champions De La Salle University and worthy challenger Far Eastern U was one of the most underappreciated feats of the tournament. The Lady Eagles lost to the Lady Tamaraws in disappointing fashion in the Final Four, and FEU didn't have to use its twice-to-beat advantage to do so.  But even with the exit, discounting Ateneo's path to the Final Four would deny all the heart-stopping comeback wins, and hardwork they've shown, considering that they weren’t even expected to compete all that much, given the problems they faced during the offseason. After an alarming 0-2 start to the season, things somehow clicked for the Katipunan-based ladies. Having adjusted to the loss of veteran setter Jia Morado, among other key players, communication started getting better, and they became the league's best defensive team at the net.  That surprising turnaround changed Ateneo from an afterthought, into a legitimate title contender. And the Lady Eagles, along with its legion of fans, can specifically thank two players for their reawaking, namely Maddie Madayag and Ponggay Gaston. After being thrusted into a leadership role, Madayag was not afraid to call out the team whenever its members fall short of expectation. More than words, though, Madayag also motivated the team through her improved net defense, helping Ateneo make up for its other shortcomings, eventually led an upstart Ateneo squad many experts had already written off before the start of the season to fight until the Final Four. On the other side, Ponggay offered a somewhat intangible trait, but it helped Ateneo immensely. Mid-slump, Ateneo was looking for a ray of light to follow so it can finally rise. That proverbial light came in the form of Ponggay Gaston, a hitter that has captured the hearts of many fans for her antics on the court. Ponggay's happy-happy ways may have irked a few people, accusing her of not taking the game seriously, but it proved to be her way of towing the Lady Eagles past their troubles. She brought the carefree disposition back to the Lady Eagles' camp, while also giving a huge boost to their floor defense when she accepted the role of a libero at the middle of the season. The move was the ultimate test of Ponggay's versatility, and she delivered, proving to be the dependable player who's ready to adjust for the good of the team. Ponggay brought the happy-happy, while Maddie had the heartstrong as they reclaimed the Lady Eagles' identity and winning culture before it disappeared for good. Off the court, however, Maddie and Ponggay can also pull off stunning feats of style with the help of H&M Philippines. Their busy sched may have prevented them from exploring different looks. But now, their jerseys are going to take a rest because they’re up for their much-deserved full makeover. See Maddie Madayag sporting tonal dressing trends and Ponggay Gaston pulling off an all-denim look in their style transformation videos below. They may have lost in the #UAAPSeason80Volleyball championship, but these two are winners in the beauty and fashion arena—without doubt. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2018

Bayern keeper can t explain costly mistake against Madrid

MUNICH (AP) — Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich "can't explain" how he made a crucial mistake that allowed Real Madrid score a second goal in the Champions League semifinals. The teams were level at 1-1 at the start of the second half when Corentin Tolisso, under pressure from Toni Kroos, played a short back-pass to Ulreich. The Bayern goalkeeper would have reached the ball ahead of Karim Benzema but he appeared to realize late that he wasn't allowed to pick it up. Instead, he attempted to clear it with his foot but let the ball slip through for Benzema to score.   Worte können nicht beschreiben wie enttäuscht ich über das Ausscheiden in der CL bin. Wir wollten unbedingt ins Finale und wir haben unser Bestes gegeben und dann passiert mir dieser unnötige Fehler. Ich kann es mir nicht erklären. Es tut mir leid... für mein Team und für euch Fans. #weiterimmerweiter A post shared by Sven Ulreich (@svenulreichoffiziell) on May 2, 2018 at 1:40am PDT "Words cannot describe how disappointed I am over the Champions League exit. We really wanted to reach the final and we gave our best and then this unnecessary mistake happened to me," Ulreich wrote on Instagram. "I can't explain it. I'm sorry. for my team and for you fans." Bayern ended up with a 2-2 draw, but Madrid progressed to its third consecutive final with a 4-3 aggregate win following a 2-1 victory in Munich last week. Ulreich, who had been playing well while filling in for the injured Manuel Neuer this season, sat alone on the field long after the final whistle. Bayern fans responded positively to his message on Instagram......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2018

Warriors dominate Game 1, with more star power on the way

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, CALIF. — Basketball was suspenseful at Oracle Arena on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) for only about 10 minutes, when all eyes in the building were fixated on the floor, absorbed every shot and all the action before folks finally exhaled, thrilled with the outcome. But enough about Steph Curry’s closely-inspected pre-game warmup drills. The second-round playoff opener against the Pelicans held everyone's attention for roughly the same length of time. The once-bored Warriors, who are woke now, ran Anthony Davis and friends off the floor comfortably before halftime. As they await the return of Curry, and Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) for Game 2 looks likely for that, the Warriors straight-up clowned New Orleans almost from the start, dropping threes, making stops, zipping downcourt on fast breaks and essentially throwing themselves an Oaktown version of Mardi Gras. In a late second-quarter frolic that especially caused the sellout crowd to sway, Draymond Green tossed a lob to Kevin Durant for a dunk and Klay Thompson drilled a three-point bomb from the corner, where he was immediately groped by the frolicking Warriors’ bench. The Warriors broke for 41 points in that quarter; in the second and third quarters combined, New Orleans scored just 40. Party on. “It was probably the loudest I’ve heard Oracle all year,” said Kerr. “It was kind of a weird regular season but the playoffs are here and our guys feel that, our fans feel that and the second quarter reflected what’s at stake and what we’re trying to accomplish.” It was Warriors 123, shell-shocked Pelicans 101, and yes, there’s no guarantee the rest of the series will be a Big Easy for the defending champions. This is the playoffs; stuff happens, scripts flip. That said, they will get a two-time MVP, and a restless one at that, back in the lineup sooner rather than later. So this is looking rather promising for the Warriors and gloomy for the Pelicans, much less the rest of the remaining NBA playoff field. Even before Curry went through his customary dribble and shoot routine, where he looked sharp, Kerr had already decided to keep the point guard on ice for at least another 72 hours. Kerr explained that Curry has had limited scrimmaging time since healing from an MCL knee sprain on March 23 (Mar. 24, PHL time), and wanted to play it safe. In Kerr’s words, the coach was “protecting Steph from himself.” Kerr said Curry didn’t take the news well, but this was no negotiation. “When you have been out five weeks and you want to play in the playoffs, I don’t think one scrimmage is enough, even though he wanted to play and pleaded his case,” Kerr explained. “I just think going through the next few days and making sure he is feeling good and holding up well is the right approach.” The stakes, obviously, are steep, too much to roll the dice in the second round, no disrespect to the Pelicans. Curry’s body has proven fragile this season, with ankle and knee injuries over the last four months sending a jolt through the organization. None of his ailments were serious or needed surgery; still, the Warriors rightly were leaving nothing to chance, especially since nothing major was at stake. That changes now. Davis and the Pelicans, having swept through the first round, have Golden State’s attention. Also, assuming a Rockets-Warriors conference final in a few weeks, Curry will need to shake the rust for what would be an epic series on paper. “He looks great in practice, looks great in workouts,” said Durant. “It’s exciting for him to get back in a place he enjoys the most, which is playing ball. He loves the game just as much as anybody I’ve ever been around.” What’s most important, and impressive, is how the Warriors decided to ramp it up before Curry’s return. The energy, intensity and sense of urgency was evident against the Pelicans and it turned Game 1 into a rout, and that combination wasn’t always evident in a season where the Warriors pressed the snooze button following the All-Star break. Their defense against the Pelicans was worry-free from the second quarter onward. Green held Davis to just two points in the second quarter when the game changed; Green finished with a triple double: 16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists which was perhaps his best game of the season, all things considered. “Once our defense took a stand that’s when the game turned in our favor,” said Green. “If we can push the tempo and get stuff in transition, that’s big for us and obviously that starts with stops.” The Warriors had only one turnover and held the Pelicans to 30 percent shooting in the second quarter, which fueled Golden State’s transition game. Durant and Thompson were straight fire with the jumper and they combined for 53 points in what amounted to three quarters worth of sweat. And that was a wrap. “That quarter was unacceptable,” Rajon Rondo said. In some ways this result was understandable; the Pelicans are new to this; Davis is playing in the second round for the first time in his great career, and only Rondo brings championship chops. About the Warriors, Gentry said: “They’ve done it before, and that’s why I say you’ve got to be very disciplined in what you do with these guys. If you make a mistake against them, they make you pay. They are very smart.” Kerr used a smallish starting lineup without a natural center, sticking Green in the post, keeping JaVale McGee on the bench and going with a combination of Nick Young and Shaun Livingston in the swing spots. This allowed the Warriors to pace with the Pelicans, who ran the Blazers out of the first round. Yet in the superstar competition, the Pelicans are at a disadvantage, a margin that will only swell the next game. Therefore, did New Orleans miss out on its best opportunity to grab a game, while the Warriors were short a star? Jrue Holiday realizes the problems and challenges that a Curry-fortified team will pose for the Pelicans. He did the math. “You have to key on him as well as KD and Klay,” said the Pelicans guard. “He’s obviously another element of their team.” At the same time, Thompson believes the Warriors need to chill on any urge to assume all will be well once the team is whole again. “We played well without Steph,” he said. “It hasn’t been as easy as it looks but we adjusted without him. Even if he does come back, it’s a natural human emotion to be relaxed because we have so much coming back. That will be a test to not depend on Steph to save the day. We have playmakers all around. Just do this together. He’s going to give us a huge boost but we can’t relax.” With the help of trusty Warriors assistant coach Bruce Fraser, who has the enviable duty of being the official and exclusive workout partner for one of the greatest shooters in league history, Curry hit jumper after jumper as the doors opened at Oracle. As usual, the routine drew a sizable group of onlookers from the stands, but this one seemed more important than others. Folks wanted and needed to know: Is Curry, after a month off, still splash-ready? Warm-ups can only tell so much. Yet the concentration, the rapid-fire dribble, the quick catch-and-shoot and the aim appeared pure. Seemingly everyone is awaiting the return of Curry except those who stand to suffer because of it. “I’m more excited as his brother that he’s out there,” said Durant. “He gets to play basketball, something that he loves to do. We’ll see what happens next game.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

Iniesta leaving Barcelona after 16 trophy-filled seasons

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Andres Iniesta took two deep breaths, and then said the words that announced his story-book career at Barcelona was coming to an end. In an emotional news conference Friday attended by most of his teammates, his family and club executives, the midfielder who has embodied Barcelona's creative attacking style said that he was leaving after 16 trophy-packed seasons. "I have spent all my life here at this club and it is not easy to leave," Iniesta said after fighting back tears and regaining his composure. "My time here ends this season. I understand that the club that took me in at 12 deserves the best of me in return, and I have given it that until now, but in the near future I won't be able to both physically and mentally. "The club has placed its confidence," he said. "And I have always said that if I am not able to give my all to my club that has given me everything then I wouldn't be happy." Iniesta, who turns 34 on May 11, said that he intends to continue playing but did not reveal what his next club will be. "I have always said that I would never compete against my club, so all the options outside Europe are open," Iniesta said. "When the season is over we will know my choice." Local media reported that the Spain midfielder will be signing a lucrative contract with a club in the Chinese league. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were his only teammates not present to receive Iniesta's thanks. The club said that they had personal commitments they could not break. Iniesta left his village in southern Spain to join Barcelona's youth academy when he was 12. He went on to become one of the best players in its history, helping the team win 31 titles — a club record he shares with Messi. Iniesta has helped Barcelona win four Champions League titles, eight Spanish leagues, six Copa del Reys, three Club World Cups, seven Spanish Super Cups and three European Super Cups. And Iniesta is expected to get one more trophy for the club with Barcelona on the cusp of clinching the league title. The team leads Atletico Madrid by 11 points with five games left. Iniesta has been a fan favorite at Camp Nou since he helped it start its current winning era by claiming the Spanish league title in 2005 under Frank Rijkaard. He went on to form a dominant midfield pairing with Xavi Hernandez under the orders of Pep Guardiola, and has become team captain. "It would not have been possible without him so I just say 'thank you' because he helped me," Guardiola said. "People believe the managers help the players, but in a few cases, and I think Andres is one of them, he helped me to understand the game better." Last year, Iniesta signed the first lifelong contract ever given by Barcelona. And even though he is opting out of that deal, club president Josep Bartomeu said that there were no hard feelings. Bartomeu said Messi was the best player in Barcelona history for his goals and unmatched talent, but he has plenty of praise for Iniesta, too. "Iniesta is the most important player of this winning era that started in 2004," Bartomeu told Cadena SER radio on Thursday. "He has been a key part of all the teams under all our coaches, from Rijkaard, Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, (Gerardo) "Tata" Martino, Luis Enrique and now Ernesto (Valverde). He deserves our respect." Iniesta has shown this season that he is still able to perform at a top level. He has been a first-choice player for Valverde and was still its most decisive attacking midfielder. The loss of Iniesta is a blow to the entire Spanish league. He is widely admired and loved by fans across the country for his winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup and his role in Spain winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships. He is often applauded by opposing fans when substituted on the road. "He is charming, very reserved, and I like people who do their talking on the pitch," Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "I only have good things to say about him, admiration for his football and I wish him the best." This year, Iniesta will play for Spain at the World Cup in Russia. That will likely be his last chance to add to his glorious career with the national side. But first, Iniesta has five more matches with Barcelona, starting on Sunday at Deportivo La Coruna. He will bid his final farewell at home on May 20 against Real Sociedad. "To Barcelona's fans, who have seen me grow up and followed every step I have taken, and been with me through the good times and the bad," Iniesta said, "I will take your love with me in my heart.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

Record seekers Man City thrash Swansea to celebrate title

MANCHESTER, UK: Pep Guardiola’s hope that his team’s hunger to rewrite the English football record books would see them maintain their championship-winning form proved well-founded as Manchester City swept aside Swansea City 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday (Monday in Manila). The only negative aspect of the occasion for the newly-crowned Premier League champions [...] The post Record seekers Man City thrash Swansea to celebrate title appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2018

Record seekers Man City thrash Swansea to celebrate title

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Pep Guardiola’s hope that his team’s hunger to rewrite the English football record books would see them maintain their championship-winning form proved well-founded as Manchester City swept aside Swansea City 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. The only negative aspect of the occasion for the newly crowned Premier League champions was [...] The post Record seekers Man City thrash Swansea to celebrate title appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2018

MVP Ladder: No topping Harden in award chase

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 14th, 2018

Madrid-Bayern, Liverpool-Roma in Champions League semifinals

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Two-time defending champion Real Madrid will play Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals in a clash off clubs with a combined 17 European titles. The two European powers have never met in the final but this will be their seventh semifinal meeting in the 63-year-old competition. The first leg is in Madrid. In the other semifinal, Liverpool was drawn to face Roma in a repeat of the 1984 final. The English team won that match in the Italian club's home stadium. Liverpool will play at home first. The first legs will be played on April 24-25, with the return games on May 1-2. The final is scheduled for May 26 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine. Madrid, seeking a record-extending 13th European title, is in the semifinals for the eighth straight year. That run has included three titles and four losses at the semifinal stage, including to Bayern in 2012 on penalties in Madrid. Bayern, a five-time champion, also eliminated Madrid in the semifinals of 1976, 1987 and 2001. Madrid beat a Bayern team coached by Pep Guardiola home and away in the 2014 semifinals, and also won their 2000 semifinal matchup. A Champions League final for Bayern would be a fitting end to coach Jupp Heynckes' career with the German champions, who announced Friday it had hired Niko Kovac to take over next season. Heynckes came out of retirement in October after Bayern's faltering start to the season led to Carlo Ancelotti leaving as coach. Bayern have not been to a Champions League final since 2013, when it won in what was also a last game for Heynckes before his first retirement. Heynckes also coached Madrid to the title in 1998 — another trophy-winning farewell before he was fired. Liverpool won the fourth of its five European titles in 1984 in Rome in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw. That was the only time Roma ever reached the semifinals. Liverpool is in its first Champions League semifinal match since 2008, when it lost to Chelsea. This season, Liverpool is the only unbeaten team despite playing the most games, 12, after coming through the playoff round in August......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 13th, 2018

UEFA charges Pep Guardiola with improper conduct

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Pep Guardiola has been charged by UEFA after he was sent from the dugout for verbally abusing the referee during Manchester City's Champions League elimination by Liverpool. UEFA says Guardiola has been charged with "improper conduct" and "dismissal from the bench" during Man City's 2-1 loss on Tuesday. Liverpool advanced 5-1 on aggregate. Details of the "improper conduct" were not specified, though television pictures showed Guardiola appearing to send communications to his coaching staff from his second-half seat high in the main stand. Guardiola was formally sent off after the halftime whistle for protesting an incorrect offside decision minutes earlier which ruled out a goal that would have put Man City ahead 2-0. UEFA says its disciplinary panel will judge the case on May 31......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2018