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Guevarra out to form own DOJ strike force

The grip of President Rodrigo Duterte's fraternity brothers on the Department of Justice (DOJ) may be coming to an end. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday confirmed that he had directed all assistant secretaries and undersecretaries at the DOJ --- including four members of the Lex Talionis fraternity, which counts the President and former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II among its alumni --- to hand in "unqualified courtesy resignations." "All sitting DOJ undersecretaries and assistant secretaries have [already] tendered their courtesy resignations," Guevarra said in a text message to the Inquirer. Asked if he would reappoint some of them, he said: "I can onl...Keep on reading: Guevarra out to form own DOJ strike force.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerApr 30th, 2018

Palace to media: Report threats

“Since the task force was formed, it has investigated about 13 cases. Malacañang urged media workers yesterday to report any death threats in light of the recent brutal slaying of broadcaster Joey Llana. Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) executive director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco said on radio that any form of threats that […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated News5 hr. 52 min. ago

BanKo-Pocari duel nears

Banko-Perlas and Pocari Sweat-Air Force took advantage of furious starts on Sunday, besting their seeded rivals blunted by long rests to move a win each from a championship showdown. BanKo-Perlas defeated second seed PayMaya, while Pocari swept top ranked Creamline in the opener of the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference bst-of-three semifinal series at Filoil Flying V Centre. The Perlas Spikers doused the High Flyers' late-set rally to post a 25-19, 26-28, 25-23, 25-23 win. Earlier, the Pocari Lady Warriors displayed the brand of game worthy of the defending champions that they are, crushing the off-form Cool Smashers, 25-23, 25-12, 25-23. While Creamline and Pay...Keep on reading: BanKo-Pocari duel nears.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

European Union states to form rapid response cyber force – Lithuania

VILNIUS, Lithuania – Nine European Union states are to create rapid response teams to counter cyber attacks within the framework of a new EU defense pact, project leader Lithuania announced on Thursday, June 21. "Nine states have agreed to join. The goal is to create rotational EU cyber rapid response ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Villagers flee as military launches operation vs suspected Maute gunmen

ILIGAN CITY -- The military launched an air strike-backed operation against suspected Maute gunmen in Tubaran town in Lanao del Suron Sunday,but no casualty was immediately reported. Col. Romeo Brawner, the deputy commander of the Joint Task Force Ranao, told the Inquirer that the bomb run in Sitio Giarong started around11:45 a.m. The soldiers who conducted the ground operations reportedly clashed with the gunmen. He said at least 500 families had fled their homes and are now staying at the Tubaran Elementary School as the military also conducted artillery fires against the suspected Maute gunmen holed up in a portion of Sitio Giarong. He said the army was taking care of the eva...Keep on reading: Villagers flee as military launches operation vs suspected Maute gunmen.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Perlas Spikers stop Warriors, zero in on PVL semis

BanKo-Perlas came out in fierce form in the first two sets then turned fiercer in the third, battling back from five points down to complete a 25-19, 25-14, 25-22 victory over Pocari Sweet-Air Force and bolster its semifinal drive in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan last night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

PVL: HD Spikers back in winning form

BATANGAS CITY -- Defending champion Cignal reasserted its mastery over archrival Philippine Air Force in a rematch of last year’s finals in an emphatic fashion, 25-20, 25-16, 25-10, Sunday in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference men’s play at the Batangas City Sports Coliseum here. Coming off a sorry loss last week at the hands of PLDT Home Fibr, the HD Spikers came out smoking to easily submit the Jet Spikers and claim their second win in three outings. Five-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo hammered 15 attacks in his 17-point performance while adding eight excellent receptions and two digs to pace Cignal. Rex Intal finished with 10 points while Ysay Marasigan scored all of his seven markers on spikes for the HD Spikers, who blasted 37 attacks and posted 10 kill blocks to frustrate the hitters of Air Force. "I guess 'yung resiliency ng mga players coming from a loss last week played a big factor. Medyo hindi maganda 'yung pagkatalo namin last week. Good thing 'yung mga players nag-respond sa mga call ko to step up,” said Cignal coach Oliver Almadro. “Hindi pwedeng puro talent, they have to combine talent with effort. Kita naman, 'yung mga unexpected ko mag-deliver, nag-deliver. Everybody contributed well. Ngayon sabay-sabay nag-step up 'yung mga players.” “Siguro nagulat din 'yung Air Force. Pero, sabi ko nga, hindi dito natatapos eh. We have to level up every game, every practice," he added. The Jet Spikers crashed for the second straight match and dropped to 1-2 slate. Cignal’s net defense effectively silenced Air Force’s 1-2 punch of reigning MVP Ranran Abdilla and Fauzi Ismail, who were limited to eight and seven points, respectively.     ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2018

Le Tour de Filipinas: Oranza wins chaos-free Stage 2

Philippine Navy-Standard Insurance skipper Ronald Oranza and his in-form teammates took full advantage of their familiarity of the challenging Stage 2 route as they stamped their class in the 2018 Le Tour de Filipinas under a bright Monday sunshine. Oranza, 26, attacked like a hungry cheetah in the mountainous part of Santa Fe popularly known as Dalton Pass while his fellow Navymen sustained the pressure in the homestretch as they stood at the forefront of the local charge in the 157.9-kilometer journey that started in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, and finished just entering the town proper here. Oranza whopped it up as he crossed the finish line in three hours, 48 minutes and 34 seconds before he looked back at the 15-man chase group that included all of his four fellow Navymen with a big smile, savoring his breakthrough lap victory in the annual bikathon. The Villasis, Pangasinan native became just the fourth Filipino stage winner in the only International Cycling Union-calendared road race in the country after veteran riders Oscar Rendole, Arnel Quirimit and 7-Eleven Cliqq RoadBike star Mark Galedo, the 2014 champion. Oranza admitted that his familiarity of the tricky route, made tougher by Category 4 and 2 climbs in the dreaded Dalton Pass, proved decisive because he and his fellow Namen negotiated the same course with relative ease during their unstoppable run to a domestic tour crown last March. “Malaking tulong na pamilyar kami sa ruta kasi ma-survive lang namin ‘yung Dalton Pass, ‘yung daan papunta dito, rolling na,” said Oranza, who also topped the pair of KOM challenges to claim the red polka dot jersey given to the best climber. But he will still wear the coveted yellow jersey given to the general classification leader for today’s Stage 3, the longest at 185.20 kms from Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, to Lingayen, Pangasinan, in what could be another decisive lap. Not to be outdone was Oranza’s teammate Jan Paul Morales, 32, who seized the green jersey as the best sprinter after sweeping two intermediate sprints inside the first 60 kilometers. He also moved up from fourth spot to third in the individual GC for his six-second time bonus. Galedo’s 7-Eleven teammate, Daniel Ven Carino claimed the white jersey as the best young rider after he finished with the chase group, more than 11 minutes ahead of his Japan-based Interpro Stradalli counterparts Kouki Shinoda and Kouki Mitsuda. A pair of Navymen, climbing specialist Junrey Navarra and El Joshua Cariño, also finished inside the Top 10 at sixth and seventh spots, respectively, while grizzled Bike Xtreme Philippines rider Cris Joven checked in at eighth overall. Korean Jung Hajeon of Uijeongbu Cycling Team and Eritrean Metkel Eyob of Terengganu finished second and third overall respectively while Iranian Reza Hosseini of Pishgaman Cycling Team rounded up the top five finishers. Meanwhile, chief commissaire Louise Jones lauded the organizers and members of the local government units of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya who all did an excellent share in ensuring the smooth flow of the race column this time, unlike in Bulacan and Pampanga where the traffic gridlock proved hellish as it could be due to lack of coordination that led to the stoppage of the opening stage last Sunday. “Yesterday was very much a safety issue, I feared for the riders’ lives. Today, everything was 300-percent better,” said Welsh Jones, a two-time Olympian before she became an International Commissaire. “Everyone did their job properly. The organization looked after us pretty well and I’m pleased with the marshals and everyone who made the racing very safe,” added the first Chief Commissaire of the race also sanctioned by the PhilCycling. It was the Navymen, however, who put on a dominant show of force as they set the tone early behind Morales before Oranza made his big move at the mountainous part of Santa Fe where he formed a three-man breakaway that included 7-11 rider Nelson Martin. However, Martin struggled to sustain the pace under the scorching heat in the town of Bambang and was eventually swallowed by their persistent chasers. But Oranza persevered and dug deep in his tank for one final push in the last three kilometers to complete his impressive lap victory......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2018

Recovering Neymar confirmed in Brazil s World Cup squad

By Mauricio Saverese, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — A recovering Neymar was confirmed and injured leader Dani Alves was replaced by Danilo and Fagner in a Brazil World Cup squad of few surprises on Monday. The only surprises were among the likely reserves for the tournament in Russia, with the inclusion of Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred and winger Taison. Neymar has been recovering from right foot surgery in March, and Brazil Football Confederation doctors believe he will be fit to train next week in Teresopolis, where preparations will begin, and play on June 3 in a friendly against Croatia in Liverpool. Brazil doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro he examined Neymar on the weekend and the results were positive. "This is the final stage of his recovery, he will be able to go to training sessions soon, and will play the friendlies," Lasmar said. Coach Tite said Neymar was one of the top three players in the world, but insisted his team didn't depend on him alone. "We will be much stronger with Neymar doing well, but for him to do well the rest of the team has to be well, too," he said. All but one of Tite's starting lineup in World Cup qualifiers was confirmed in the squad: Alisson; Miranda, Marquinhos and Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Renato Augusto and Philippe Coutinho; Neymar and Gabriel Jesus. Defender Alves, a veteran of two World Cups, sprained his right ACL last week in the French Cup final and was replaced in the 23-man Brazil squad by Manchester City's Danilo and Corinthians' Fagner. Tite decided not to inform who are the players that could replace one of those until June 4 in case of injury. Tite also summoned goalkeepers Ederson (Manchester City) and Cassio (Corinthians); defenders Thiago Silva, (Paris Saint-Germain) Pedro Geromel (Gremio) and Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid); midfielders Fernandinho (Man City) and Willian (Chelsea); and strikers Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) and Douglas Costa (Juventus). The coach said several positions in his starting lineup were open, including up front. "At first, Gabriel Jesus is our starter. But Roberto Firmino will fight for that position in top form," Tite said. "The challenge is open on the right back, but Danilo has some advantage now because he has performed well recently." Tite also hinted in his hour-long news conference he could change one of his central defenders for Thiago Silva. The inclusion of Taison, the coach admitted, suggested Coutinho could be taking a role in central midfield and leaving his spot for Willian. Tite said he needs "a pacemaker" in the team, which he has not received from Beijing Guoan's Renato Augusto. "Coutinho can play in the middle and in the flanks, he is versatile," Tite said. "Sometimes preparation gives you elements that you didn't have, and force you to change your mind." Tite said Brazil was one of the favorites for the title, but refused to name other candidates. The coach's final list includes 15 out of the 23 players he called for his first game with Brazil, against Ecuador in World Cup qualifiers in September 2016. There are only four survivors from the 7-1 hammering by Gerrmany four years ago at the home World Cup: Marcelo, Fernandinho, Paulinho and Willian. Thiago Silva and Neymar did not play that semifinal, one due to suspension and the other because of injury. Marcelo, Casemiro and Firmino will join Brazil for preparations in London only after Real Madrid and Liverpool play the Champions League final on May 26. Brazil starts its World Cup campaign against Switzerland on June 17, followed by Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

NBI, QCPD task force to probe fiscal’s slay

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the killing of Quezon City Deputy Prosecutor Rogelio Velasco last Friday......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 12th, 2018

NBI, QCPD task force to probe fiscal’s slay

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the killing of Quezon City Deputy Prosecutor Rogelio Velasco last Friday......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 12th, 2018

PVL: Air Force, IEM snatch opening day victories

National team member Ranran Abdilla displayed his superb form as he led Philippine Air Force past an equally dangerous PLDT Home Fibr squad, 25-15, 22-25, 24-26, 25-16, 15-12, Wednesday in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference men’s division at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Abdilla hammered 23 attacks with four service aces and a kill block for 28 points in an all-around offensive outing for the Jet Spikers, who rained down 62 points on kills despite giving away 41 markers off errors. Helping Abdilla out was Fauzi Ismail, who scored 25 markers, while Edwin Tolentino and Jeffrey Malabanan combined for 17 pints for Air Force, which finished runner-up last year to Cignal in both the Open and Reinforced Conferences. John Vic De Guzman, the team captain of the national squad that saw action in the 29th Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games last year, was the only PLDT player in double figures with 18 points, all but one coming off attacks. Ronjay Galang and Henry Pecana scored nine and eight points, respectively, for PLDT. Meanwhile, Instituto Estetico Manila added more woes to Philippine Army with a 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 25-14, victory to open its campaign on a high note. The Phoenix Volley Masters joined early winners Air Force and Vice Co.       San Beda University standout Mark Enciso scored all of his 15 points on kills while Jeffrey Jimenez and skipper Greg Dolor posted 14 and 11 markers, respectively. The Troopers dropped their second straight game in as many outings. Benjaylo Labide had 13 points while John Depamaylo scored nine for Army.   ---      Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Since 2014 highs, a struggle for Colombia, James

By Jairo Anchique, Associated Press BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia has a lot to live up to in Russia after providing one of the standout moments of the last World Cup. James Rodriguez was catapulted to football stardom when he took the ball on his chest and swiveled before smashing a volley in off the underside of the bar in the Maracana against Uruguay. It helped to secure Colombia's spot in the quarterfinals in 2014 — and ultimately a move to Real Madrid. But James has struggled to live up to the highs of Brazil, where he scored a tournament-leading six goals. He struggled to make an impact in Spain and has been trying to regain form ahead of this World Cup at Bayern Munich. It was a struggle, too, for Colombia to even qualify for a second straight World Cup with a spot only sealed in the last match. It enables Radamel Falcao to finally appear at football's biggest event after missing the trip to Brazil with a left knee injury. Here's a closer look at the Colombia team: COACH Jose Pekerman has spent six years in charge of Colombia, following successes with his native Argentina. He guided Argentina to under-20 world titles in 1995, 1997 and 2001 and then guided the senior squad to the 2006 World Cup quarterfinals, where it lost to host Germany in a penalty shootout. Pekerman has long had close ties to Colombia: He played with Independiente Medellin in the 1970s and Vanessa, his eldest daughter, was born in the capital in 1975. GOALKEEPERS David Ospina is the undisputed choice to top the team sheet, despite being restricted to playing in cup competitions for Arsenal while Petr Cech starts English Premier League matches. Camilo Vargas, who plays for Deportivo Cali in Colombia, is Ospina's understudy, just like at the 2014 World Cup. Jose Fernando Cuadrado, who also plays at home for Once Caldas, is also set to make the cut. DEFENDERS Pekerman has been forced to reshape the defense due to the retirement of Mario Alberto Yepes and the trio of Pablo Armero, Camilo Zuniga and Carlos Valdes losing form and fitness. But quality center backs have broken through: Yerry Mina of Barcelona, Oscar Murillo of Mexican side Pachuca and Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham. Cristian Zapata is set for a second World Cup, along with right back Santiago Arias. Frank Fabra has taken the place of Armero on the left. MIDFIELD James, Juan Cuadrado of Juventus and Carlos Sanchez of Fiorentina are set for a second World Cup. Edwin Cardona, Mateus Uribe, Wilmar Barrios, Giovanni Moreno and Juan Fernando Quintero are other options. The goals of the flyers were vital when the attackers spent about a year without converting. FOWARDS Falcao is the only striker who looks certain of a starting spot while Duvan Zapata, Luis Fernando Muriel, Carlos Bacca, Miguel Angel Borja, Duvan Zapata and Yimmi Chara are competing for the remaining places. Pekerman tends to go for a lone strike either in 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 formations. GROUP GAMES Colombia opens Group H on June 19 against Japan, plays the second game near its Kazan base against Poland on June 24, and concludes against Senegal on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Sweden not defined by just Zlatan

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Sweden has shed its major distraction: Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn't coming back for the World Cup. The Los Angeles striker, who retired from international duty in 2016 after scoring a record 62 goals in 116 games, will be a spectator from California when Sweden heads to Russia. The Swedes have moved on from the 36-year-old Ibrahimovic. Playing more as a team, they are a tighter and more efficient unit — as shown when they kept two clean sheets against Italy to advance to the World Cup via the playoffs. They beat France in their qualifying group and were undefeated at home. From having a lineup defined by one player, Sweden is now a team without superstars. Here's a closer look at the Sweden team: COACH Janne Andersson took charge after the European Championship in 2016 as the replacement for Eric Hamren, following a coaching career based solely with Swedish clubs. The highlight was leading Norrkoping to the Swedish league title in 2015. The 55-year-old Andersson values organization above everything and has made the national team defensively strong and a force on the counterattack. GOALKEEPERS Robin Olsen has established himself as the starting goalkeeper heading into the World Cup, having opted to play for Sweden over Denmark — where his parents were born. He is tall and lean, standing at 6-feet-6 (1.98 meters). DEFENDERS Ibrahimovic's decade-long reign as Sweden's player of the year ended last year when national team captain Andreas Granqvist won the "Golden Ball" award for the first time. Those who voted for Granqvist might have been influenced by the center back's stoic display in the two-legged playoff victory over Italy, which earned him a last chance to play at a World Cup. At 33, he is the experienced organizer of the defense — alongside the more youthful Victor Lindelof of Manchester United — and plays for Russian club Krasnodar, where the Swedes will be based for the tournament. MIDFIELDERS Emil Forsberg, a quick attacking midfielder who usually starts on the left wing, is the team's standout player and has become a big name in the German league because of his form for Leipzig. He had the most assists in the Bundesliga last season. A relatively late developer, he only made his international debut at the age of 23 so has experience of just one major senior tournament. Sebastian Larsson is the other high-profile player in the midfield, having played for the national team for a decade and in the Premier League with Birmingham and Sunderland after starting his professional career at Arsenal. FORWARDS Marcus Berg leads the forward line in the absence of Ibrahimovic and scored eight goals in qualifying. He remains key to Sweden's plans despite being out of the limelight, at least to European audiences, following his decision to join Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates from Greek team Panathinaikos in the 2017 offseason. He is top scorer in the Arabian Gulf League, showing he is in prime form heading to Russia. Ola Toivonen plays just off Berg and scored Sweden's best goal in qualifying, an effort from near halfway to beat France 2-1. GROUP GAMES Sweden opens Group F against South Korea on June 18. The team will then face Germany on June 23 and finish the group stage against Mexico on June 27......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

Depay scores again as Lyon beats Nantes to go 2nd in Ligue 1

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Memphis Depay scored for a sixth straight game and created the other goal as Lyon beat Nantes 2-0 to move up to second place in the French league on Saturday. He netted a superb strike in the 40th minute and helped set up Bertrand Traore in the 68th. Depay has scored or created 14 of Lyon's 18 last goals. In the chase for an automatic place in next season's Champion League, Lyon is one point ahead of Monaco, which again dropped points after drawing at home to Amiens 0-0. Monaco will drop down to fourth if Marseille wins at Angers on Sunday. A Marseille victory will move it level with Lyon, which has a vastly better goal difference. The team finishing third has to go through the playoffs - unless Atletico Madrid wins the Europa League in Lyon - but Depay is doing his best to help Lyon take the direct route to Europe. He is finishing the season in the kind of form which saw the Netherlands forward once hailed as a future star . Receiving a pass from Nabil Fekir on the edge of the penalty area, he flicked the ball behind his standing leg with his right foot and then whipped a fierce strike with his left into the bottom corner for his 16th league goal. Midway through the second half, Depay cut inside from the left and beat two defenders. He was about to shoot but the ball ran to Traore, who slotted in from a better position. "Of course I'm important to the team and I try to continue to the end of the season. But it's not only me, it's a collective," Depay said. "We have to win the last three games." Depay, who joined from Manchester United midway through last season, would not say if he will stay if Lyon qualifies for the Champions League. "That's a question I cannot answer," he told Canal Plus television. "I don't look at the future." French champion Paris Saint-Germain hosts Guingamp on Sunday. PSG coach Unai Emery is leaving the club at the end of the season. MONACO'S SLUMP Having lost its French title, Monaco is doing its best to throw away second place. The draw with Amiens means Monaco has only five points from the last five games, opening the door for Lyon and Marseille in the race for second place. Monaco and Amiens each had a player sent off late. OTHER MATCHES Lille picked up a vital win by beating last-place Metz 3-1 in a relegation scrap. Lille remains in 19th place, however, because fellow struggler Troyes beat Caen 3-1 to stay in 18th — the relegation playoff place. Troyes is still counting on the aging legs of 41-year-old midfielder Benjamin Nivet, who was among the scorers. Nice is chasing a Europa League place but is one point behind fifth-place Saint-Etienne after drawing 1-1 at Strasbourg. Mario Balotelli scored from the penalty spot in the second half — his 15th goal of the season — to earn a point for Nice. Also, Bordeaux beat Dijon 3-1......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

Djokovic loses to 140th-ranked Klizan in 2nd round in Spain

BARCELONA, Spain --- Novak Djokovic lost again, this time falling to 140th-ranked Martin Klizan 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 on Wednesday in the second round of the Barcelona Open. Djokovic, trying to return to form after a lingering right elbow injury, hasn't made it past the last 16 in five tournaments this year. The 12th-ranked Serb got off to a slow start but rebounded to force a third set. He was then broken while trailing 4-3, allowing Klizan to serve out for the victory. Djokovic decided to play in Barcelona after losing to Dominic Thiem in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters. He also lost in the second round in Miami and in Indian Wells, and failed to advance past the last...Keep on reading: Djokovic loses to 140th-ranked Klizan in 2nd round in Spain.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 25th, 2018

Are the Sixers too young for playoff success?

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com The learning curve of the Philadelphia 76ers has taken on a new, more direct and simpler geometric shape. It’s now a straight line, pulled and yanked that way by an impatient team determined to take the expressway from now on. And so this is where The Process has led them, to the NBA playoffs, a place exclusively reserved for Big Boy Basketball, where we get to see if the Sixers will skip another floor in their rapid developmental rise or if youth is about to get served a lesson. Hey, if nothing else, it beats wiping away the stench of losing, which is what coach Brett Brown was doing this time the last few years before this club finally grew up and as we now see, blew up. "This year we exceeded 50 wins and when you do that, you get into NBA elite territory which is something different for us,” he said. “But what’s interesting is we want more. We have more room to grow and we want to do that now.” Yes, the Sixers, finally sprung free of the dark ages, have crashed the annual spring show and are doing so rather emphatically in addition to surprisingly. Surely you saw this coming this quickly, no? On Christmas Eve they were 14-18. Their sensational big man, Joel Embiid, was getting the kid glove treatment, rarely playing extended minutes or consecutive games because of his brittle injury history. Their top draft pick, Markelle Fultz, was out with a bad shoulder and a broken jumper. Obviously, they’d just emerged from their four years of Tankapalooza with the trepidation of a chick stumbling from the nest. And quite simply, four months ago they just weren’t good enough to be lumped with the lead pack. Yet. But since then, what the hell just happened? “This group has come together from a toughness standpoint, a spirit standpoint,” Brown said. To say the least. The Sixers are 50-game winners, with a strong Kia Rookie of the Year candidate in Ben Simmons and a top-10 talent in Embiid, whose orbital injury that cost him the final eight regular season games should be healed for the playoffs at some point. Everything has fallen into place to make Philly a basketball destination once again, and these Sixers find themselves in a unique situation heading into the weekend. That’s because the playoff landscape in the East is favorable for someone like Philly to pull a surprise or two. Can they last a round? Of course; they’ll be a favorite initially. How about reaching the Eastern Conference finals? That’s trickier, and it’ll come down to matchups, but stranger things have happened. And, the NBA Finals? Well. Consider that there’s no true beast taking up space in the East and sending shivers everywhere. All of the contenders are showing a scratch or two: Toronto brings a blah playoff history; some of LeBron James’ supporting cast in Cleveland is untested; the Celtics are without Kyrie Irving, not to mention Gordon Hayward. The Sixers are the wild card in the playoff picture. Their wart is their inexperience in these matters. And so: Are they too young to be taken seriously? “I understand why people might think that, but I think we’ll be fine,” said JJ Redick, the resident senior citizen at age 33. “I don’t expect any of us to play differently than we have lately. These young guys are all gamers.” The Sixers are uniquely built; their twin core of Simmons and Embiid has played a combined three NBA seasons. Redick is the only starter with playoff experience and is also the only player in the rotation who ever played a major role in the playoffs. The Sixers are cubs compared to most of the East, even those teams below them. Essentially, the veterans on the Sixers orbit around the youngsters, instead of vice versa. Brown regularly takes the temperature of his players and has yet to pause at the results he’s seeing. For the most part, this has worked out better than he and they expected. “At this stage you figure how you deliver a team to the playoffs, how do you arrive at the playoffs,” Brown said. “Well, you can check three boxes: Their health, their spirit and their form. And finally: Are they playing good basketball? They’re all very interconnected, they’re all closely intertwined. Those things rule my day when I watch film and see how hard and long we’re going to go in practice. These guys have embraced and improved in those areas. Our defense has been excellent and we’re regularly getting 30 assists as a team, another example of a team enjoying each other’s company.” This makes for an interesting postseason baptism. There’s hope in Philly that Simmons and Embiid and Robert Covington and Dario Saric won’t know the difference between March basketball and May basketball. “We’ll just come and play the same way we’ve been doing,” Simmons said. The other advantage for Philly is Simmons appears well beyond his years. His expression is stoic, no matter the game circumstances, and his poise has yet to shatter memorably and cost the Sixers when it counts. He’s giving 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists a night and had at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in 58 games, second only to Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. He is the first rookie in NBA history to average eight assists on a 50-win team. It remains to be seen how a 56-percent free throw shooter will respond if he’s put in that situation with the game on the line. Otherwise, his court direction and ability to reach the rim should not suffer from springtime stage fright. “Ben sits behind a glass wall and watches everyone else on the other side,” Redick said. “There’s nothing that affects him. He plays with the same demeanor and purpose no matter what’s going on around him. He brings a calm presence, and the maturity he plays with is beyond his years. Impressive.” Brown said: “He’s the stone cold Rookie of the Year and to me it’s not even close.” Philly’s best player is Embiid, though, and he’ll play with a mask once he does return, perhaps sometime in the first round. If he doesn’t suffer any lasting effects from the facial injury (vision, lack of balance), he’ll be the premier big man on the floor in the East. This allows the Sixers to exploit their low-post advantage over the Celtics, Raptors and Cavs should Philly meet any of those contenders along the way. The Sixers are also working with a pair of bonuses in Fultz and Ersan Ilyasova, two players they didn’t anticipate being in the playoff mix just a few months ago. Fultz is finally free of his shoulder woes and his shooting is starting to come around, to the point where Brown says he’ll find a role for Fultz in the rotation. Basically, the Sixers feel safe enough to put him on the floor, something that would’ve been a reach before he was activated, when he showed a nasty mechanical hitch in a jumper that somehow went south on him. “We don’t feel we’re going to be caught off guard with him,” Brown said. Ilyasova was gift-wrapped to Philly by the Hawks at midseason and has since been a solid source of scoring (17 points in a two-point win over Cleveland last week) and deepened the Sixers’ bench, allowing Brown to use a variety of different lineups and strategies. In all, the manner in which the season has come together is paying off at the right time for Philly. “We didn’t have this level of maturity in November and December,” Redick said. “If you look at some of our losses early in the season I felt they were immature losses. We’re more focused, more together, developed a mental toughness. Sometimes in life and in this league you have to go through things and experience things to grasp how to do them. There’s no better learning tool than the actual experience. So blowing a lead or coming back from a large halftime deficit, you have to do those things to understand that you can do it. Having those lessons early in the season has prepared us to have a great run since Christmas; we have the second best record in the league since then. This is better than what I expected or even hoped for. It’s been a long sustained growth period.” What does it all mean? Well, even though they’re entering the playoffs with the force of a hurricane, this isn’t the NCAA tournament. This is best-of-seven basketball, which means a team must prove itself worthy of moving on, instead of hoping to get lucky or hot. In the case of Philly and others in the East, that means beating LeBron four times in a series, and that hasn’t happened since 2010. You could also make the case the Sixers are playing with house money at this point, no matter what happens; after enduring The Process and painful progress, this is a blessing, a reward. The Sixers aren’t seeing it that way, though, not after growing up in a hurry. They want to seize the opportunity now, and any playoff success will largely depend on how they handle this as first-timers. Your guess is as good as Brown’s. “You really don’t know what to expect,” Brown said. “There’s no body of work. I will give our guys the benefit of the doubt. The poise they have shown in the regular season, the poise they’ve shown in big games and key moments, gives me tremendous confidence that we will handle this stage with a greater level of poise than what I might have guessed in October, or what I might have guessed not so long ago if you asked me questions about how will rookies and young guys handle this very different part of the season.” 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 11th, 2018

Madrid has depleted defense for 2nd leg against Juventus

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Scoring hasn't been a problem for Real Madrid recently, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo in top form. But the European champions could have issues in defense when they host Juventus in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday. Madrid will try to protect its three-goal advantage from the first leg with coach Zinedine Zidane unable to use his best players in central defense. Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is suspended and his immediate substitute, Nacho Fernandez, is out injured. Raphael Varane just returned from injury, and the other central defender in the squad, 21-year-old Jesus Vallejo, hasn't been fully fit and it remains unclear if he will be able to make it to the match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Madrid won the first leg 3-0 in Turin, with Ronaldo scoring with a spectacular bicycle kick for his second goal of the match. Madrid can reach the semifinals for the eighth straight year even if it loses Wednesday's game by two goals. Zidane probably would have liked not to force Varane's return in the Spanish league derby against Atletico Madrid this weekend, but he couldn't rest him because Vallejo was bothered by muscle discomfort in practice last week. Exams showed no major injury to Vallejo, but he trained separately from the squad on Monday before joining the rest of the team on Tuesday. "Jesus had a good practice session, he didn't feel anything," Zidane said. "Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will see who gets to play. We shouldn't have any problems. If we do, we will adapt." Vallejo is Zidane's last option to play in central defense, and the youngster didn't impress in the few times he got to play this season. He has made only eight appearances, mostly when Zidane chose to rest his regular starters. His last match was against Las Palmas following the international break last month. Vallejo's last Spanish league match before that was against Sevilla in December. "Jesus is a good player," Varane said. "He doesn't have experience in this competition (Champions League) but he has a lot of quality. From what we've seen in practice, he is fine. If he plays, all of us will be confident that he can get the job done." Madrid didn't concede against Las Palmas, but before that it conceded at least once in five straight matches, including three times against Girona in a league game at home. In the attack, Madrid has scored in seven straight matches, with Ronaldo continuing to impress. He has found the net 20 times in his last 10 games, including in the 1-1 derby against Atletico on Sunday. The match against Juventus will be Ronaldo's 150th in the Champions League. If Vallejo can't play, Zidane will have to improvise in central defense, likely using midfielder Casemiro to play alongside Varane. Mateo Kovacic would likely enter the lineup to replace Casemiro in the midfield, or Zidane could choose a more aggressive setup with an extra attacking midfielder such as Marco Asensio or Francisco "Isco" Alarcon. "Casemiro is used to playing in the midfield but he has practiced in the back many times," Varane said. "We know how he defends, how he plays." Madrid has won three Champions League titles in the last four seasons, including the last two in a row. The team defeated Juventus 4-1 in last year's final. No team has ever overturned a 3-0 home loss in the Champions League. "We'll need to play a complete game against a complete team if we are to get a positive result," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Nobody expected us to concede after two minutes in Turin, so why can't we do the same tomorrow (Wednesday)." If Juventus can't come back, it could be the final Champions League match for veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. "Trying to achieve the impossible will help us achieve the possible," the 40-year-old Buffon said. "This is what we need to do. We need to play with this kind of spirit against an amazing side.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

Because Bhutan

  It's never too late to live a more fulfilled and happy life. Finding the true essence of life is always a challenge. Taking time to clear unwanted clutter and embrace the positive life force may hold the secret to lifelong happiness. Because Bhutan. Surrounded by euphoric views of mountains, Bhutan may be the most ideal place to recharge and refocus on the meaning of life, or simply experience happiness in its purest form. It is the first and only country in the world to have a government edict that Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product. It is also the only carbon-negative country in the world. Bhutan has been on my bucket list for the...Keep on reading: Because Bhutan.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 8th, 2018

Duterte s final action on Boracay issue may be on April 4

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte may take his “final action” to restore Boracay Island when he met with Cabinet officials at Malacañan Palace on Wednesday, April 4, a Palace official said Tuesday, April 3. Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the inter-agency task force on Boracay already submitted its “more detailed” recommendation to close the famous… link: Duterte's 'final action' on Boracay issue may be on April 4.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsApr 4th, 2018

Israeli warplanes hit Hamas in Gaza

JERUSALEM: Israeli jets pounded Hamas positions in Gaza overnight after Palestinians staged a cross-border raid into southern Israel, the military said early Sunday. “Israel Air Force fighter jets targeted a terror target in a military compound belonging to the Hamas terror organization in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip,” it said in an English-language statement. The strike [...] The post Israeli warplanes hit Hamas in Gaza appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsMar 25th, 2018