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Holidaying frog game finds fans among China’s harried youth

      BEIJING --- Wang Zhuyin studies 10 hours a day preparing for a series of tests to obtain a U.S. physician's license. But like millions of young Chinese adults, the 26-year-old has found a new way to cope with the pressure: an online game about a frog. A frog that's perpetually on vacation. Wang's diversion, the Japanese mobile game "Travel Frog," has attracted a massive following in China by speaking to a desire for a more passive existence among harried young people that some have termed "Buddhist style" for its desired goal of Zen-like serenity. The game has only two scenes, a loft home and a courtyard where users can collect clover leaves to ...Keep on reading: Holidaying frog game finds fans among China’s harried youth.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerFeb 13th, 2018

Meet the 2018 batch of Jr. NBA PH All-Stars

Jr. NBA PH press release PASAY CITY, METRO MANILA – Eight boys and eight girls were named as Jr. NBA Philippines All-Stars from a total of 74 participants during the Jr. NBA Philippines 2018 presented by Alaska National Training Camp to become the eleventh batch of Jr. NBA All-Stars. Headlined by Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein and WNBA Hall of Famer Sheryl Swoopes, the National Training Camp was held at the Gatorade Hoops Center on May 18, at Don Bosco Technical Institute on May 19 and SM Mall of Asia Music Hall on May 20. The National Training Camp players were the top performers in Regional Selection Camps in Bacolod, Baguio, Butuan, Metro Manila and Alaska Power Camp, which were led by Jr. NBA Coaches Carlos Barroca and Rob Newson, together with Alaska coaches led by PBA Legend Jeffrey Cariaso. Jr. NBA alumni were in attendance throughout the camp with Thirdy Ravena and Ricci Rivero visiting the Gatorade Hoops Center and Kai Sotto and Rhayyan Amsali highlighting the participants of the Jr. NBA Alumni All-Star Game in SM Mall of Asia. The Jr. NBA All-Stars showcased skills on the court and exemplified the Jr. NBA core S.T.A.R. Values of Sportsmanship, Teamwork, a positive Attitude, and Respect. Prince Ray Alao, 14, of San Beda University; Ethan Rod Alian, 14, of La Salle Greenhills; John Lester Amagan, 14, of St. Robert’s International Academy of Iloilo; Seven Gagate, 14, of Chiang Kai Shek College; Nathan Jan Jundana, 14, of Bacolod Tay Tung; Christian Joi Mesias, 14, of Jose Maria College of Davao; Kim Aaron Tamayo, 13, of National University; and Rhon Khaniel Telles, 13, of St. Anthony de Carmelli Academy of Cavite topped the boys division, while Madelyn Flores, 14, of Bukidnon National High School; Gin Kayla Huelar, 13, of St. La Salle University, Bacolod; Aishe Solis, 13, of Corpus Christi School in Cagayan De Oro; Pauline Angelique Valle, 13, of Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School; Christine Nichole Venterez, 12, Baguio City National High School; Marielle Vingno, 14, of Escuela de Sophia of Caloocan Inc.; Amber Esquivel, 14, and Kyla Marie Mataga, 13, of De La Salle Zobel were the outstanding performers in the girls’ division. Pauline Angelique Valle and Prince Ray Alao were named this year’s Jr. NBA Most Valuable Players while Marielle Vingno and Ethan Rod Alian were selected as Alaska Ambassadors. Hazel Yambot of Baguio and Mark “Tata” Belangel of Bacolod were chosen as the Coaches of the Year. In addition, special awards were handed out to Kayla Marie Mataga and Javier Louis Jugo as Gatorade Hustle awardees, Merylle Cuasay and Czarlo Salvador as Panasonic Rising Stars, and Aishe Solis and Kim Aaron Tamayo, Cloudfone Awesome Players of the Game. “The Jr. NBA program gives us the opportunity to contribute to our goal of getting more kids to play the game of basketball and help them understand how working hard on their craft can open doors and unlock greater opportunities in life,” said Hall of Famer Sheryl Swoopes.  “I came here to inspire you but your passion and eagerness to learn inspire me and I’m so grateful for that,” shared Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein to the campers. An NBA experience trip in Shanghai, China awaits the All-Stars in October where they will be joined by other Jr. NBA All-Stars from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in training and friendly competitions as they catch the NBA China Games 2018 featuring the Philadelphia 76ers and the Dallas Mavericks. Jr. NBA Philippines presented by Alaska, the league’s global youth basketball participation program for boys and girls, continues to promote proper nutrition and an active lifestyle, serving as an effective platform in implementing Alaska Milk’s NUTRITION.ACTION.CHAMPION. program that helps address the issue of overweight and undernourished children in the country. AXA, Cloudfone, Gatorade, Globe Telecom and Panasonic serve as Official Partners of the Jr. NBA in the Philippines, while Spalding is a Supporting Partner. ABS-CBN Sports + Action, Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV are the Official NBA Broadcasters of the Jr. NBA in the Philippines. Fans can also follow Jr. NBA at www.jrnba.asia/philippines and on Facebook. For all the latest news and updates on the NBA, visit www.nba.com and follow the league on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about the Alaska Milk Corporation, visit www.alaskamilk.com and follow PlayPH at www.playph.com and on Facebook and Twitter......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2018

Budding Sixers take control of series in Miami

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com MIAMI — Back in 2014, when the Miami Heat were wrapping up their championship-fueled era, the Philadelphia 76ers began plotting their own. And they did it unconventionally, laughably and by any measure, dreadfully. It was Year One of the most ambitious rebuilding plan before or since, when the Sixers willingly laid down and became a doormat and allowed other teams to wipe their sneakers on them. That season, while LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh cruised to a fourth straight appearance, and their last together, in the NBA Finals, the Sixers lost 63 games. And then they got better at this tanking technique and lost 64 and 72 the next two years. But fast-forward to now, to Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) at American Airlines Arena, and the roles with the Heat and Sixers are threatening to flip. Maybe not so drastically, but it’s clear through four games of this first-round playoff series that the Sixers are going one way and the Heat another. The Sixers have Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, a pair of young bedrocks slowly building something with the potential to be big. The Heat? They have banners in the rafters commemorating what they used to be, not so long ago. Philly also has something else on Miami, namely a 3-1 series lead after Simmons became the first rookie since Magic Johnson to drop a triple-double in a playoff game and Embiid fought through a poor shooting game and an irritating protective mask to spook any Heat player that challenged him at the rim. It was the Sixers who made all the right plays in the final crucial moments in the 106-102 win, getting key stops and buckets and pulling away, a team with a young core turning mature, and doing it rapidly, despite their lack of post-season experience. And having a front-row seat to this new Process was none other than Wade, a proud if aging member of the extinct Big Three who realizes something unique is happening with the Sixers. “This is a very good team,” said Wade. “They’ve got talent at almost every position. This is definitely one of the best first-round opponents I’ve played in my career.” Are the Sixers all that, already? “They’re good,” said Wade. “They’re special. They put the right team together.” Yes, they have. Maybe it wasn’t properly done in the spirit of competition, and perhaps they embarrassed themselves if not the league while doing so, but that’s all behind the Sixers right now. What’s ahead of them is a potential series-clinching Game 5 in Philly and from there, who knows? Yes, the core of the Sixers is Simmons, Embiid and Dario Saric, all under 25, and in the playing rotation only JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli earned any significant playoff money. But if a young team is ever going to reach the NBA Finals, this is the right time, and this is the right team. Just look at the wide-open landscape in the East: LeBron and the Cavaliers, winners of the last three East titles, are down 2-1 to the Pacers and haven’t appeared this fragile since LeBron returned to Cleveland. The Celtics are missing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Toronto is the No. 1 seed in the East but inspires few outside Canada. Why not the Sixers? Why not now? Simmons is lacking a jump shot and little else, and still manages to score anyway. His direction of the club in the fourth quarter of Game 4 was near-masterful; Simmons stayed poised, found the open man and popped the Heat’s comeback hopes with an uncontested dunk when Miami pulled within a point. Embiid couldn’t hit a shot and yet didn’t fall into a funk; rather he terrorized Miami by being a defensive force, punctuated by his spike of a Goran Dragic late-fourth quarter breakaway layup attempt (followed by an Embiid stare down). “They make you pay every time you make a mistake,” said Wade. Speaking of which, the Sixers had 27 turnovers, certainly the recipe for disaster, and still found a way. In the words of coach Brett Brown: “I’m surprised we won this game. We really didn’t have any right to win this game.” But maybe it’s just additional proof that this is Philly’s time. It’s quite a contrast to the ex-bully on the block. Four years after LeBron made the second biggest decision of his life, the Heat are still searching for the identity they had when the champagne flowed, and the party rolled on South Beach. The only reminder is Wade, and at age 36 he’s only capable of having flashes now, like his 28 points in Game 2 and an impressive 25-point follow up Saturday that was marred only by a missed free throw in the final seconds. Besides that, there’s nothing special. Pat Riley’s latest attempt to recreate a winner is looking dubious right now. Riley decided two summers ago to build the Heat around a seven-foot center with low post-skills, which means Riley gave a $100 million to a dinosaur. And one with a decaying relationship with coach Erik Spoelstra. Hassan Whiteside can’t get on the floor in today’s NBA, where small-ball makes him a liability in certain situations. With no shooting range, and perhaps no incentive to develop one, Whiteside finds himself on the bench in fourth quarters and on the nerves of Spoelstra. “He’s a prisoner of the style of play,” said Brown. Plus: Riley also paid Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson and Kelly Olynyk. Which means the Heat are almost guaranteed to be a 43-win team fighting for the final playoff spot for the next few years. When the Heat searched for someone to bail them out Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), who did they turn to? An aging All-Star who’s on the downside, which says something about Wade … and the Heat’s roster. “He ended up being our best option,” said Spoelstra. There’s another path the Heat can take, of course. They could follow the current Hawks, Nets, Lakers and Magic, who all took their cues from the 2014 Sixers, and take a few steps back before moving forward. But that’s not a fool-proof plan — have you seen the Magic the last few years? — and besides, losing by any means isn’t in Riley’s DNA. So, mediocrity it is, then. Meanwhile, the Sixers have Embiid and Simmons and if you ask fans in Philly, they’d say it was well worth the steep price, in terms of the misery of tanking, paid for them. “They’re two players that have the chance to be great,” said Brown. “Joel has no right to be doing some of the things he does. Ben’s composure down the stretch is amazing. Those two are exceptional.” What the Sixers just did was win a pair in Miami, under the banners that hung over them, was fly in the face of basketball convention which says youth doesn’t get served in the post-season. They can close out at home and then get the survivor of Celtics-Bucks, and Philly can expect to be the favorite in that conference semifinal. “I can see how much we’ve grown and how much more room we have to grow,” said Brown. “To come here and get a win, in this building, against an organization of winning and culture and history, it’s special.” There’s another story here: If the Sixers eliminate the Heat, then it could be curtains for Wade, who doesn’t have a contract for next season, who hasn’t committed to playing beyond this season, and who paused suspiciously for about three seconds when asked if Saturday was his final game in Miami. “I don’t want to answer that right now,” he said. Whether he sticks around or takes the sunset cruise, Wade must realize that a transformation is taking place in the East. After years of deliberately bad basketball the Sixers are finally bearing fruit, and oh, speaking of food, Wade and the Heat can chew on this for a minute: The Sixers have room under the salary cap to give Embiid and Simmons some help next season. LeBron James, free agent-to-be, might reach the conclusion that the Sixers are his best championship option. 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 22nd, 2018

Paulinho has silenced his critics at Barcelona

em>By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press /em> MADRID (AP) — Brazil midfielder Paulinho wasn't greeted with the warmest of welcomes when he arrived in Barcelona. Fans made it clear they were not too thrilled to see the club spend 40 million euros ($48 million) on a defensive midfielder who was playing in the Chinese league. They were expecting a blockbuster signing after Neymar's departure and ended up getting a player they knew very little about. Paulinho didn't have any links to the club's youth academy and his style apparently didn't suit the team's traditional ball-possession game. A video of Paulinho struggling to juggle the ball during his presentation at Camp Nou Stadium didn't help, going viral and igniting even more criticism against the player and the club. But things have changed quickly in favor of the low-key, hard-working Brazilian. After five Spanish league games, Paulinho has done enough to mollify the critics. He has two goals, including a late winner against Getafe last weekend, and showed some of the prowess that led him to success in Brazil and made him an indisputable starter for his national team. He thrived after coming off the bench in his first four matches, and eventually earned a start on Tuesday against Eibar. 'I'm happy with how things have gone for me,' Paulinho said. 'I'm glad that I'm playing well, it helps me get adapted to the club. I'm playing alongside some great players and they have all been supporting me a lot.' The 29-year-old Paulinho has added versatility to the midfield. He is solid as a defensive midfielder but also excels with attacking runs that often surprise defenders. That's how he scored the decisive goal in the 2-1 win against Getafe, making a run between defenders and entering the area to fire a firm shot into the far corner. His second goal was a header in a 6-1 rout of Eibar. 'He will end up being a cheap signing,' Brazil teammate and former Barcelona player Dani Alves said. Paulinho has a lot more presence in the area than some of the team's other midfielders, including Ivan Rakitic and even Andres Iniesta. It was this that made Paulinho a key player in the Corinthians team that won Club World Cup in 2012. His success with the Brazilian club prompted a move in 2013 to Tottenham, where he disappointed in his two seasons before moving to Guangzhou Evergrande. Paulinho, who signed a four-year contract with Barcelona, said he had regained his confidence while playing in China. And his good performances with Brazil also helped. 'He gives us a lot of versatility. He can help us in many different ways,' Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. Barcelona's next game is on Saturday at Girona. The Catalan club has won its first five Spanish league games and has a two-point lead over second-place Sevilla. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 21st, 2017

Batang Gilas stars Padrigao, Cortez to join BWB Asia Camp in India

NBA press release NEW YORK, MIES, MUMBAI – The National Basketball Association (NBA), the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) today announced the top 66 boys and girls from 16 countries and territories who will participate in the 10th edition of Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Asia. BWB Asia 2018 will be held May 30 – June 2 at The NBA Academy India in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), marking the second time that the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program will be held in India. Nike will serve as the official partner. Corey Brewer (Oklahoma City Thunder; U.S.), Caris LeVert (Brooklyn Nets; U.S.), Kelly Olynyk (Miami Heat; Canada; BWB Americas 2009), Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks; Canada), two-time WNBA Champion Ruth Riley, and former WNBA player Ebony Hoffman will coach the top high school age campers from throughout the Asia-Pacific region. BWB Asia 2018 will feature two current prospects from NBA Academies, the league’s signature elite player development initiative that consists of a network of elite basketball training centers around the world for top male and female prospects from outside the U.S. Since October 2016, NBA Academies have been launched in Canberra, Australia; Jinan, Urumqi and Zhuji, China; Delhi NCR, India; Mexico City, Mexico; and Thies, Senegal. Players and coaches will lead the campers through a variety of activities on and off the court, including movement efficiency, positional skill development, shooting and skills competitions, 5-on-5 games, and daily life skills seminars focusing on health, leadership and communication. One boy and one girl will be named BWB Asia 2018 MVPs at the conclusion of the four-day camp. BWB Asia 2018 will be preceded by a basketball development camp May 27 – 29 for the 18 female prospects from throughout India as part of The NBA Academies Women’s Program. 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame member Jennifer Azzi, Riley and former college coach Blair Hardiek – the global technical directors for women’s programming across the league’s seven academies – will oversee the camp. BWB Asia 2018 and The NBA Academies Women’s Program camp will also include a variety of NBA Cares and Jr. NBA community outreach efforts with youth in New Delhi in partnership with local community organizations, including basketball clinics for more than 150 youth from the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program and the NBA Basketball Schools in New Delhi. These programs will highlight the power of sport to promote cultural understanding while teaching the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle and the values of the game, including teamwork, respect, determination and community. Current NBA assistant coaches Bret Brielmaier (Nets), Darvin Ham (Atlanta Hawks), Ryan Saunders (Minnesota Timberwolves), and Mike Wells (Utah Jazz) will also serve as BWB Asia 2018 coaches. Patrick Hunt (President of the World Association of Basketball Coaches; Australia) will be the camp director. Casey Smith (Mavericks) will serve as the camp’s athletic trainer. Nike, a BWB global partner since 2002, will outfit the campers and coaches with Nike apparel and footwear. BWB has reached more than 3,190 participants from 127 countries and territories since 2001, with more than 50 former campers drafted into the NBA or signed as free agents. A record 24 former BWB campers were on opening-night rosters for the 2017-18 season. The NBA and FIBA have staged 53 BWB camps in 33 cities across 27 countries on six continents. More than 250 current and former NBA, WNBA and FIBA players have joined more than 200 NBA team personnel from all 30 NBA teams to support BWB across the world. BWB Asia was previously held in India in 2008. The NBA Academy India, an elite basketball training center in Delhi NCR for the top male and female prospects from throughout India and the first of its kind in the country, officially opened in May 2017 and builds on the NBA’s existing basketball and youth development initiatives in India. The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program has reached more than 6 million youth and trained more than 5,000 physical education instructors nationwide since its launch in 2013. In April 2017, the NBA launched The NBA Basketball School, a network of tuition-based basketball development programs open to male and female players from outside the U.S. ages 6-18. NBA Basketball Schools have been launched in Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune and Punjab as part of a multiyear agreement with India On Track (IOT), one of India’s leading sports management, marketing and development companies. NBA Champion Kevin Durant became the first active NBA player to visit The NBA Academy India in July 2017. Follow BWB using the hashtag #BWBAsia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Follow The NBA Academies Women’s Program using the hashtag #NBAAcademy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find out more about NBA Academies at nbaacademy.nba.com and on Instagram (nbaacademy). Additional 2018 BWB camps in Serbia and South Africa will be announced at a later date. The following is a complete list of players participating in the 10th BWB Asia camp (rosters are subject to change): Girls Boys *Current NBA Academies Prospect **NBA Academies Women’s Program Participant.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2018

Celtics hope return home can slow LeBron, Cavs in Game 5

BOSTON --- The Celtics expected to see a different LeBron James in Cleveland after the Cavaliers fell into a 2-0 hole to open the Eastern Conference finals. Two games and back-to-back wins later , James has reminded everyone exactly why he's been to seven straight NBA Finals. Boston will be back in the embrace of its raucous fans at TD Garden for Game 5 on Wednesday. But a team that has thrived on youth this postseason suddenly looks disoriented without a go-to player and opposite a more veteran squad that has found a new attitude thanks to the fuel being provided by its biggest star. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said all you can do against James is "make it as hard as you can...Keep on reading: Celtics hope return home can slow LeBron, Cavs in Game 5.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2018

Business of Football - Philippines highlights football s growth in the country

MANILA -  The recent success of The Azkals, with their Asian Cup qualification, and their FIFA ranking at its highest at 111, has given football a renewed confidence, and a positive outlook in terms of the growth of the sport in the Philippines.   Football is now tipped to become the fastest growing sport in the country, with the largest potential for success commercially, and in terms of on-pitch success.  The sport which is currently number 3 in the Philippines in terms of popularity and participation, after basketball and boxing, is said to be still further behind compared to other sports, such as volleyball, billiards, etc., in terms of TV coverage. These were among the insights and trends gathered from top-notch executives of organizations such as AFC, PFF, PFL, LaLiga, Dentsu X, SMG Insight, Globe Telecom, RSportz, Toby Sports and Manila Times, at the ‘Business of Football - Philippines’, organized by MMC Sportz.  The sold-out event was attended by more than 185 local and foreign delegates on 18 May 2018 at the New World Makati Hotel.   MMC Sports CEO Eric Gottschalk says, “Research in this market, shows that TV is still the number one platform here in the Philippines, and is the number one medium that advertisers are looking for, to spend their budgets on.  We also learned that live TV coverage actually stimulates stadium attendance, and not vice versa.  If there’s more football on TV, we will see more fans in the stadium.  Currently football is not ranked among the top 100 TV programmers in the Philippines and is only number 3 sport in terms of participation and popularity after basketball and boxing.  Football needs media in order to drive commercial revenues for the clubs.”   “Now is also the perfect time to get involved in football since sponsorship and advertising opportunities are currently very affordable compared for example to basketball, but this is predicted to change within the next 6-12 months, as values are expected to increase sharply.  Football also needs to create more idols and heroes to attract more media coverage overall, other than just covering game scores. Each team has a unique story which just needs to be told,” says Gottschalk. Following the presentation about the Philippines Football League (PFL) it was agreed that the PFL now fills the lack of regular created football content as the leagues matches (87 in 2018/19 season) contribute year-round stories to keep football in the news. In the past, the main talking points were around the Azkals which only play very few home matches each year.      Public education about the game of football is also needed on all levels as many people in the Philippines are still not aware about the rules or aware of programs available like coaching academies, amateur competitions, or how and where to follow the professional league.  Ten thousand (10,000) qualified grassroots coaches are also needed to satisfy the local demand and to trigger strong football development and growths. Investors on the other hand are looking for consistency and credibility of the football product but with the PFL in the second season and foreign sponsors expected to invest in the Philippines, local brands should consider to follow suit.  On the sports retail side, only 1.5% of current retail sales are attributed to football, while basketball enjoys a healthy 46% market share. As a result, only limited line items and stocks are available in stores and entry level boots and replica jerseys are too high priced to be affordable for the average consumer. The national player registration program, MY PFF, has been launched with the objective to collect vital statistics and data about the football community which is urgently needed to support the youth football development strategy of the PFF and to develop a players pathway.  As FIFA has mandated to register the estimated 1.5 million players in the Philippines, the PFF has urged organizers and players to already register online as by next month only registered players will be allowed to participate in sanctioned events. The “Business of Football – Philippines” conference also announced 36 career opportunities related to sports and football, including positions in marketing, legal, competition management and coaching, with all these listing being available online with MMC Sportz or for direct inquiries with the PFF. In his closing remarks, MMC Sportz CEO Eric M. Gottschalk stated that “More importantly, Don’t Break the 12th Man! It is important that all stakeholders don’t forget to engage with the fans. The fans are the most important aspect of the development of football in the Philippines – if there are no fans of football then there is no media, no spectators, no players, no games, no business. Everyone is required to ensure we keep the fans (football consumers) engaged year-long and the first step would be to get the media behind the game. There is a strong football - community out there already and hopefully, we the TV broadcasters will take another look at football and give them at least some consideration on the program schedule.  I believe today’s conference was a great success.  We brought the football community together, stimulated thinking, exchanged ideas and transferred a lot of knowledge. Now it is up to the football stakeholders to continue the progress.  From our end (and with the approval of the PFF) we will stage the 2nd edition of BOF early 2019 and hopefully we will be able to report on some of the changes initiated today.”    Speakers who shared their insights include LaLiga Managing Director for South East Asia, Japan, Korean and Australia Ivan Codina, AFC Head of MA Services Domeka Garamendi, SMG Insight Managing Director Frank Saez, Azkals Team Manager Dan Palami, Globe Director for OIC, Citizenship and Advocacy Marketing Miguel Bermundo, PFL CEO Lazarus Xavier, PFF General Secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes, Ignite Sports Group Managing Director Michael Reyes,  Asian Replica Designs Founder & Owner Jonathan Mallinson, Quorum Group President & COO Jose Claudio, Jr., Mediapro Asia Director of Sales and Sponsorship Salauddin Sinnakandu, and MMC Sportz Marketing CEO Eric Gottschalk.  Organized by MMC Sportz Asia, the event was sanctioned by the Asia Football Confederation (AFC) and the Philippines Football Federation (PFF), and sponsored by La Liga, Dentsu X, SMG Insight, RSportz, Globe Telecom, Toby’s Sports, Manila Times and Platinumlist. - RELEASE  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Celtics stare down adversity, look forward to 76ers

By Kyle Hightower, Associated Press BOSTON (AP) — So much of the chatter before Boston’s first-round matchup with Milwaukee focused on who wouldn’t be on the court for the Celtics. Injuries forced Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart to join Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis as spectators by the end of the regular season. It seemingly left the East’s second seed vulnerable against a Bucks team boasting one of the league’s most versatile scorers in All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo. It took seven games, but the Celtics got just enough from the healthy players left on their roster to hold off Milwaukee with a 112-96 victory on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Now they’ll turn their attention to Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and another youth-led team in the Eastern Conference semifinals against Philadelphia. “It’s something we’ve had to go through all season,” said rookie Jayson Tatum, who had 20 points on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), becoming just the second rookie in Celtics’ history to score 20 in a Game 7. “Some way, somehow, we figure it out. And I think that’s what’s unique about our team.” Tatum is just one of the young faces that remain on Boston’s bench that have grown up fast over the past three weeks. Because of it, the Celtics that have squeezed out their best basketball despite the multiple subtractions to their roster. Terry Rozier put up career numbers after stepping into a starting role. Smart injected new life into the team over the last three games following his return to action from thumb surgery. Then there was rookie Semi Ojeleye, who made things difficult late in the series for Antetokounmpo. And they still had at least a veteran to lean on. Al Horford provided not only his voice, but probably his best stretch of games in a Celtics uniform over the last seven games. He matched his playoff career high with 26 points on 13-of-17 shooting in Game 7 and averaged a team-high 18.1 points and 8.7 rebounds for the series. “It’s what I think I’ve been doing all year,” Horford said. “It’s what we’ve been doing as a group. We didn’t treat this any differently. ... I felt like our guys, their poise was great. Milwaukee fought hard. They kept giving us shots, our guys stayed with it and eventually we wore them [out].” But Boston will enter the series with the 76ers facing yet another challenge. Jaylen Brown, who had two 30-point games in the series, left near the end of the second quarter on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and sat out the entire second half with a right hamstring injury. He said afterward that trainers believe he has a Grade 1 sprain. He was put on anti-inflammatory medication and will get an MRI on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). With rest and treatment he’s optimistic that he’ll be ready to go for Game 1 against the 76ers on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). “Whatever it takes, I wouldn’t miss this series for the world,” Brown said. FAMILIAR CHANT Late in the fourth quarter with the Celtics leading the Bucks by 19 points, “We want Philly!” chants began to echo throughout TD Garden. It wasn’t quite “Beat L.A.!” But it certainly had echoes of the 1982 rendition that Boston fans bellowed in the closing minutes of Boston’s Game 7 loss to Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Finals that year. Now it’s the 76ers that stand in the way of Boston getting back to the conference finals for the second straight year. “We’ve played them quite a bit. It’s been awhile since we played them,” Tatum said. “But they’re a big, physical team.” GAME 7 DOMINANCE Boston improved to 20-4 all-time in Game 7's at home. The Celtics are 23-8 in Game 7 overall. BACK IN THE SEMIS With the win, the Celtics have advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 2011-2012 postseasons......»»

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

Kai Sotto finds his match as Australia overpowers Batang Gilas

Kai Sotto has been used to towering above teammates and opponents alike, but he has never faced a team as collectively tall as Australia is in the 2018 FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship. The Australians frustrated the 7-foot-1, 15-year-old and the rest of the Filipino frontline in a 30-point outclassing, 82-52, on Wednesday at the Foshan Lingnan Mingzhu Gym in China. Jay Rentell topped the scoring column with 15 points, but it was 6-7 Kobe Williamson, 6-4 Luke Travers, and 6-6 Luke Jackson who did the heavy lifting in dominating the paint. The three merged for 31 points and 22 rebounds all while stymying Philippine twin towers Sotto and Raven Cortez were both coming off strong showings against Malaysia last Monday. In this one, Sotto was held to nine points in 1-of-10 shooting and four rebounds while Cortez was limited to two points and two rebounds. The Australians also had their way inside and clearly claimed the departments of rebounding, 51-33, and points in the paint, 30-12. Australia is the second tallest team in the tournament with an average height of 6-foot 4-inches. They have no player smaller than 6-feet. With their bigs struggling, the Batang Gilas backcourt took charge as Mac Guadana and RC Calimag scored 11 and 10 points, respectively. It wasn’t enough, however, and they will now have to go through a knockout bout with Hong Kong for a place in the quarterfinals. That game tips off at 1:00 PM (Manila time) on Thursday. On the other hand, on the heels of routs of Malaysia and the Philippines, Australia has now secured a spot in the next round. BOX SCORES AUSTRALIA 82 — Rantall 15, Williamson 14, Travers 11, Capetola 9, Herbert 8, Wigness 8, Swaka 7, Jackson 6, Madden 2, Meakes 2, Tsapatolis 0. PHILIPPINES 52 — Guadaña 11, Calimag 10, Sotto 9, Andrada 8, Padrigao 5, Fortea 4, Cortez 2, Lazaro 2, Chiu 1, Balaga 0, Bautista 0, Go 0. QUARTER SCORES: 18-13, 38-25, 62-40, 82-52. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 4th, 2018

UE: Rod Roque – The Accidental Coach

“Nakakatawa nga eh. I’ve never played volleyball in my life! Never!” A fact University of East head coach Rod Roque admitted when he talked to sports scribes after his first stint with the Lady Warriors in just the sixth game of the squad in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament. Just two days before, Francis Vicente parted ways with UE after three and a half seasons with a futile 2-45 win-loss record. The Lady Warriors absorbed their 12th straight defeat since Season 79 a day before he resigned. Then they found Roque, the school’s representative to the UAAP Board, a perfect fit. But with a losing record and a team lacking confidence, why would UE hire an interim coach that had no volleyball background? The answer is simple. The school’s management wanted someone that they can trust, a person who has been loyal to the Recto-based university and a tactician that can hold the fort until they can find a proper replacement. Plus, it’s an added bonus that the man they chose for the interim spot made miracles in their boy’s volleyball program. Heck, the man gave UE high school more titles than the other teams’ number of boy’s crowns combined. But Roque is also quick to temper UE management’s expectations. “Siympre mahirap because people might expect a miracle. Sabi ko naman sa management when they told me, sabi ko, ‘Don’t expect a miracle because a miracle doesn’t happen overnight.”   A Twist of Fate Roque may not have the volleyball background like the other UAAP coaches but he excelled in a different kind of sport.      “High school, college, noong estudyante pa ako gymnast ako,” said Roque, a true-blooded Red Warrior with a BS Physical Education degree. He was a member of the national men’s all-around gymnastics team and even represented the country in different international tournaments. “Nakapunta kami sa Asian Youth, sa National games. Di ko lang nalaro yung SEA (Southeast Asian) Games,” he said. After finishing his Masters degree in UE in 1992, Roque grew tired of gymnastics and decided to pursue his love of teaching, working as a PE instructor in the same university. Then fate brought him into coaching high school boy’s volleyball.         “Una ko na-discover sa intramural volleyball. Kumuha kami ng player noong intrams. Nagtayo kami ng team, nananalo naman kami. So yun na yung umpisa,” he said. With the UE boy’s team success, the late athletic director Brenn Perez saw a lot of potential with the Junior Warriors and he decided to field the squad in the UAAP.   “Nakita ng director namin, si Mr. Perez na nagtsa-champion kami sa mga invitational. So nag-propose siya sa UAAP na isama na ‘yung UAAP jrs volleyball. Ayun. Since 1996 nagstart yung UAAP Jrs. volleyball sa (UE),” said Roque. But UE wasn’t as successful as it was in the other tournaments the Junior Warriors joined. De La Salle-Zobel was lording it over since the boy’s tournament started in 1995. The Junior Spikers built a dynasty from Season 57 to 62. Then Roque’s crew got its payback. UE completed a grand slam from 2001 to 2003. DLSU-Zobel snatched a crown in Season 66 but Roque was set to make history. The Junior Warriors reigned supreme for the next 11 years. Under Roque’s tutelage, UE was invincible for more than a decade, dating from 2005 to 2015 - the longest title streak of any team in any UAAP volleyball division. From 1995 to 2016 the Junior Warriors landed 22 straight Final Four appearances. Roque handled the National Capital Region’s boy’s volleyball team for 10 years, earning five Palarong Pambansa gold medals. Out of UE’s 14 titles, Roque had 10 for the Junior Warriors before taking a bigger role as UE’s athletic director after Perez passed away from a heart attack in 2009. “Nag-retire (ako as coach) kasi na-promote ako. Naging assistant director na ako. After that, two years, ginawa na akong director,” he said. “Busy na ‘yung schedule. Hindi ako makapag-ensayo.”   Back as Coach UE has been lumbering at the cellar for years both in the men’s and women’s divisions. While the Junior Warriors were copping titles, the school’s college teams were getting beaten black and blue season after season. Under Vicente’s watch, the Lady Warriors sported a 2-45 win-loss record. The Red Warriors, who named a new coach before Season 80 in national men’s volleyball team coach Sammy Acaylar, didn’t fare any better. Five games into the season, UE decided to part ways with their coaches. Acaylar resigned citing conflict of schedule a he was appointed as Perpetual Help athletic director while Vicente left because of ‘personal reasons’. But sources said that Vicente was sacked a day before Acaylar tended his resignation. While Roque struggled to turn around the campaign of the Red Warriors, his stint with the Lady Warriors was sort of ‘miraculous’. He dropped a four-setter against Far Eastern University in his debut but again became an architect of UE’s historic feat – this time in the women’s division. The Lady Warriors closed the first round with a surprise 25-22, 22-25, 14-25, 25-20, 15-13 shocker over Adamson University that ended their 12-game slide since Season 79. Just three days later, UE stunned University of Sto. Tomas, 25-23, 18-25, 28-26, 26-24, in a historic first win against the traditional powerhouse Tigresses at least since the start of the Final Four format in 1994. It marked the first time since Season 74 that the Lady Warriors won back-to-back games. It opened the eyes of volleyball fans that the Lady Warriors have talented players like Shaya Adorador, Mary Anne Mendrez and libero Kath Arado. “Na-notice kasi namin na takot silang magkamali. Takot silang magkamali kaya lalo silang nagkakamali. Pero para sa akin OK lang magkamali but make sure babawi ka,” said Roque. “Natutuwa naman ako kasi nagkakamali sila pero bumabawi.” The Lady Warriors eventually dropped their next three games after that back-to-back wins but gave Adamson, Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University quite a scare before succumbing. But with the change of culture brought by Roque, teams are now wary of the Lady Warriors, which will return to action on April 8 against slumping National University. UE will wrap up its campaign against FEU and University of the Philippines – the last remaining games of Roque before he leaves his post to make way to a new head coach. “This season lang talaga ako,” said Roque. With him on board, the Lady Warriors are playing like a team looking to prove that they are better than just being a win fodder for other squads. Roque made the players respect themselves. He gave UE volleyball the respect it deserves.   ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 31st, 2018

Jr. NBA PH sends 11 from Agusan selection camp to Manila

Jr. NBA PH press release A record-breaking 1,505 young basketball players across Mindanao welcomed the Jr. NBA Philippines 2018 presented by Alaska at Fr. Saturnino Urios University in Butuan City on Feb. 24-25. Boys and girls from Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Davao, Sarangani and other cities and provinces in Mindanao, including young Higa-onon, Manobo and Banwaon players, participated in the first-ever Jr. NBA Regional Selection Camp in Butuan City, Agusan Del Norte. 11 aspirants got the nod from Jr. NBA Coaches Rob Newson and Jeffrey Cariaso as they excelled in two days’ worth of intense basketball training and scrimmages. They also exemplified the Jr. NBA core S.T.A.R. values of Sportsmanship, Teamwork, a positive Attitude and Respect throughout the camp. Traveling to Manila for the National Training Camp on May 18-20 are Richard Carvero III, 13, and Paolo Matthew Kho, 13, of Corpus Christi School; Christian Joi Mesias, 14, of Jose Maria College; Zhan Paolo Moreno, 13, of Xavier University; Michael John Sarmiento, 13, of Father Saturnino Urios University; Klein Tyrone Tagotongan, 13, of St. Mary’s School; and Vince Uchi, 14, of Alabel National Science Highschool for the boys division and Madelyn Flores, 14, of Bukidnon National Highschool; Aishe Solis, 13, of Corpus Christi School; Mikylla Taborada, 13, of Kauswagan National Highschool; and Pauline Angelique Valle, 13, of Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive Highschool for the girls division. “There’s a lot of talent here. We were really impressed with at least three of the kids who were selected that we really feel have the natural ability to make it until the end. The kids love the game. They worked really hard and I’m excited to see them in Manila,” said Coach Newson. Boys and girls aged 10-14 who want to join the NBA’s free youth basketball program can still participate in the two remaining Regional Selection Camps in Baguio on March 17-18 and Manila on April 21-22. Interested participants can still register online at www.jrnba.asia, where the program terms and conditions can be found. For more information, fans can follow Jr. NBA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jrnbaphilippines and Twitter at www.twitter.com/nba_philippnes. For all things NBA, fans can visit www.nba.com, like the NBA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/philsnba and follow www.twitter.com/nba_philippines on Twitter. To learn more about the Alaska Milk Corporation, visit www.alaskamilk.com and www.playph.com......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 26th, 2018

Wizards hold off LeBron, new-look Cavaliers 110-103

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — Bradley Beal scored 18 points, Kelly Oubre Jr. added 17 and tried to untie the sneakers of one of Cleveland's new players, and the Washington Wizards withstood a late assault by LeBron James to beat the new-look Cavaliers 110-103 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). The Wizards nearly blew a late 11-point lead as James scored 14 straight points to pull the Cavs within 106-103. But Beal hit a driving layup and James missed a free throw and committed a lane violation while intentionally missing the second one and the Wizards held on. Washington is 8-2 since star guard John Wall went down with a knee injury. Tomas Satoransky, who has been starting in Wall's spot, added 17 points and eight assists. James, back from winning MVP honors at the All-Star Game, scored 32 — 14 in the fourth — for the Cavs, who dropped to 2-1 since acquiring four new players before the trade deadline. J.R. Smith added 15 for Cleveland. The Wizards spoiled the home debuts for Larry Nance Jr., George Hill, Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson, four new faces the Cavs are hoping can get them back to the NBA Finals. But there are more obstacles in the Eastern Conference than ever and the Wizards could be a much tougher out in the postseason — with or without Wall. Washington overcame an early 12-point deficit and matched Cleveland's intensity. Oubre tried to give the Wizards an extra advantage when he reached over during a dead-ball situation and tried to untie one of Hood's shoes. The four newest Cavs received warm ovations when introduced, with Nance getting the biggest roar from fans who remember his shot-blocking, dunking dad. Larry Nance Sr. was a two-time All-Star during eight seasons with Cleveland. Before the game, Nance Jr. announced that the NBA will allow him to wear his dad's retired No. 22 jersey, which will remain hanging from the rafters in Quicken Loans Arena. "I'm ecstatic about it," said the younger Nance, who will switch from 24 to 22 next week. After making just one three-pointer in the first quarter, the Wizards dropped four deep shots in a span of 2:24 of the second quarter. Oubre and Markieff Morris each made two triples during Washington's barrage, which enabled the Wizards to take a 57-54 lead at halftime. TIP-INS Wizards: Coach Scott Brooks would not confirm reports Washington will sign veteran G Ramon Sessions to a 10-day contract. He was released by New York last month. Washington has been playing without Wall, who had surgery on his left knee in late January and could be out until the playoffs. The 31-year-old Sessions served as Wall's backup from 2014-16. ... Brooks said the All-Star break helped several players rest injuries. G Tim Frazier returned after missing the final game before the All-Star break after sustaining a nasal fracture on Feb. 10 (Feb. 11, PHL time). Cavaliers: Smith's recent fast starts have been a key to Cleveland's success. Smith is shooting 18-of-21 — 14-of-15 from the three-point range — in the first quarter of the past six games. "When he's making shots," said coach Tyronn Lue, "we're a different team." ... James became the seventh player with 11,000 career field goals. ... The trades brought an infusion of youth to what was the league's oldest roster. "It's not an old team anymore," Lue said. "We've definitely gotten younger." ... Signed G Marcus Thornton to a 10-day contract. UP NEXT Wizards: Host Charlotte on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Cavaliers: At Memphis on Friday (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 23rd, 2018

From Brooklyn to Beijing: Stephon Marbury bids teary adieu to basketball

BEIJING — Former NBA player Stephon Marbury ended a trailblazing 22-year basketball career with rhyming couplets and tears after winning his last-ever game Sunday in Beijing, bidding an emotional farewell to his adoring Chinese fans. The six-time Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) all-star reinvented himself in China after a rocky end to his 13 years with […] The post From Brooklyn to Beijing: Stephon Marbury bids teary adieu to basketball appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2018

At 37, Fil-Am boxer Brian Viloria eyeing fifth world title

In 2005, Filipino-American boxer Brian ‘The Hawaiian Punch’ Viloria captured his first world championship, knocking out Eric Ortiz in the first round to become the new WBC Light Flyweight world champion. Now, thirteen years later, Viloria is hunting for his fifth world championship, and at 37 years old, Viloria is still as explosive as ever. “I've had a kid so I thought it’d be opposite.” Viloria told ABS-CBN’s Steve Angeles. “It’s all about taking care of yourself, whether you’re fighting or not fighting. I always tell people boxing is a lifestyle, just staying in shape.” Following his 2015 loss to then-pound for pound king Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzales for the WBC Flyweight world title, Viloria revealed that he thought long and hard about his future. After sitting out 2016, Viloria made his return to action in 2017, stringing together a couple of victories that has earned him a shot at the vacant VBA Flyweight world title. Viloria has relatively flown under the radar in the past few years, but a look at this record will show that the Waipahu native has won six of his last seven fights. “I feel like this is my first world title fight. There’s a lot to prove, a lot of people tell me ‘You’re getting old blah blah blah, do you still have what it takes?’” said Viloria. “A lot of those questions come up to me, but for me I have to prove it in February 24th, and for me that’s what’s motivating me. I think I’m still capable of competing at the top level.” On February 24th, Viloria goes toe to toe with Ukraine’s Artem Dalakian, an unbeaten opponent who’s seven years Viloria’s junior. And while Dalakian may have the edge on youth, experience will definitely be on the side of Viloria. This will be Dalakian’s first chance at a world championship and his first fight outside of Ukraine. Still, Viloria believes that Dalakian will be coming in hungry and ready. “I know how he feels. I still know the feeling of fighting for my first world title and you get up for that and knowing your against a guy that’s proven himself in the division.” “Kids get up for that. They come up with their A-game for that.” Viloria added. Nearly seventeen years after his professional debut, Viloria finds himself still fighting at the highest level of the sport with a fifth world title in his sights. It isn’t lost on him however, that he could be on the tail-end of his career. “I wish I could do it forever but I can see the bridge coming up and right now, I’ll take it from fight to fight.” But for now, the focus is on the WBA Flyweight crown. “Right now I feel great but we have to see. We’ll wait when that time comes and we’ll make a decision.” Viloria says.   Viloria and Dalakian battle for the vacant WBA Flyweight world championship at the Superfly 2 card at The Forum in Los Angeles, California on February 24th. Also fighting on the same card is reigning and defending IBF Flyweight world champion Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes.   H/T: Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 6th, 2018

With no World Cup for US this year, Altidore shifts focus

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press For Jozy Altidore, this was supposed to be the time when the United States was preparing for this summer's World Cup. That changed early in October when the Americans got bounced from the tournament. The stunning failure shifted Altidore's focus. He spent the beginning of 2018 in Grand Cayman, where his foundation is bringing soccer to kids in a region hit by hurricanes last fall. Soon, he'll start the new season with defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC. As for this summer? Altidore will watch a few of the matches in Russia on television. The 28-year-old forward isn't stewing in the loss, he's looking with hope to the future. "Of course I'll obviously be disappointed not to be there, but at the end of the day, man, we're blessed to do what we do," he said. Apart from the national team loss, Altidore is coming off one of the better years of his career. He scored 18 goals with the Reds and another four with the U.S. national team. Toronto FC won the Supporters' Shield for the best regular-season record before sweeping through the playoffs and defeating Seattle 2-0 for the league title. Altidore scored in the final and earned MLS Cup MVP honors. The victory was a bit of revenge for a loss to the Sounders for the MLS Cup the previous season, but Altidore said Toronto's motivation was part of a season-long journey he took with his teammates and coach Greg Vanney. "I think more than anything we understood how close we were and how it hurt that we had come up short that season," he said. "The focus for us was to do what we did that last year and if we got to the last game, obviously make sure we got the W and make the most of our chances." Toronto teammate and fellow national team player, Michael Bradley, echoed the sentiment after the title match. "When push comes to shove, you want to step into the biggest moments with people that you would do anything for, that you love, that you believe in, that you trust, that you know have your back," Bradley said. But it wasn't all smooth. Altidore got into a confrontation with New York Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan in a tunnel at BMO Field during the conference semifinals. Altidore and Kljestan were handed red cards in the aftermath. Altidore sat out Toronto's next game, while Kljestan was suspended an additional game and won't be able to play the first two games of the upcoming season. Kljestan, who was also fined, was traded in the offseason from the Red Bulls to Orlando. Altidore and Bradley were also jeered — sometimes with profane and personal attacks — by opposing fans over the U.S. team's qualifying performance. "Look, all that stuff I think would have been magnified had we not achieved our objective," Altidore said. "But we did, and we did it in such a convincing manner." Following the 2-1 U.S. loss in Couva, Trinidad, that cost the national team a spot in the World Cup, coach Bruce Arena stepped down and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said he would not run for another term. Interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan called 30 players into January training camp in advance of an exhibition game against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 in Carson, California. Altidore and many of the team's veterans were not invited. The camp roster includes 15 players who have never played in a match for the senior national team. The most experienced was LA Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes, who is 26. Twenty-one of the players are 24 and younger. Altidore, who has 41 goals in 110 appearances with the national team, understands that developing young talent is important heading into the next World Cup quadrennial. "We have to do a better job of identifying new talent, for sure," he said, suggesting that missing out on the past two Olympics — where under-23 teams compete — has hurt development efforts. For now, Altidore is pouring his energy into charitable endeavors. Altidore, whose parents are from Haiti, launched his foundation in 2011 following the devastating earthquake that hit the country the year before. The foundation built a well to provide water to a town of more than 400 in Haiti, along with other rebuilding efforts. In 2016, he paid to bring the Copa America matches to television in the country. The latest effort in the Cayman Islands focuses on getting youth involved in soccer. "I think the whole region, the Caribbean has a lot of talent and has a lot of kids who want to become players. And I think it helps to see and identify with players who have played in different leagues from around the world," he said. "If I'm able to be one of those guys that can start that whole thing, it's a great opportunity and honor for me."      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Jr. NBA goes digital as it enters new decade

Jr. NBA is back in business and for 2018, it's about to be bigger than ever. Kicking off a new decade of the youth basketball program, Jr. NBA Philippines has once again teamed up with Alaska to launch the 2018 edition Saturday at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati. The Jr. NBA Philippines 2018 will run through May and is expected to hit more than 250,000 participants all over the country. "This year is our 11th year and we wanna make it bigger and better," NBA Philippines Managing Director Carlo Singson told ABS-CBN Sports. "Last year we had about 30,000 players and coaches participating and obviously we want to grow that number but we also want to create new digital, mobile, and social content so that more people can benefit from Jr. NBA," he added. Speaking of the planned move to digital by Jr. NBA, Singson says that their website has been re-launched to accomodate free content. It should allow basketball enthusiasts, even those who cannot directly participate to Jr. NBA events, to access useful tips and drills. "A lot more content geared towards players, coaches, and just fans of the game," Singson said. "So if you're a young basketball coach that has a team and wants new ideas, that will be on our site they can just watch or stream it, potentially even download it. Basically, it's gonna be on 365 days a year. That's the vision for the website, a lot of content is gonna be up. That is one of our key initiatives, to build our presence on the digital side," he added. Following this weekend's tip off, several coaching clinics will run until March while regional selection camps will go until April. Finally, a national training camp will take place in May with the main event slated for May 20 at the SM Mall of Asia. Online registration for Jr. NBA Philippines is now live at www.jrnba.asia/philippines   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2018

Jr. NBA Philippines 2018 to engange Pinoy youth and coaches nationwide

Jr. NBA PH press release MANILA, PHILIPPINES, Dec. 23, 2017 – Jr. NBA Philippines 2018 presented by Alaska will tip off Jan. 13 at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati and runs through May 2018 as part of the league’s effort to encourage youth basketball participation. This year’s program is set to reach more than 250,000 participants and 900 coaches across the country.  Online registration is open now at www.jrnba.asia/philippines. Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball participation program for boys and girls, teaches the fundamental skills and core values of the game at the grassroots level in an effort to enhance the youth basketball experience for players, parents and coaches.  During the 2017-18 season, the NBA will reach more than 26 million youth in 71 countries through a variety of camps, clinics, skills challenges, league play and outreach events.   The program remains free and open to boys and girls ages 10-14 throughout its four stages: skills clinics in schools and communities, Regional Selection Camps, a National Training Camp and an NBA experience trip.  Since its launch in 2007, Jr. NBA clinics have been implemented in 110 cities and municipalities across the country and the 2018 program will return to key provinces including Agusan Del Norte, Batangas, Benguet, Cavite, Misamis Oriental, and Negros Occidental.  Regional Selection Camps will be held in Bacolod (Feb. 10-11), Butuan (Feb. 24-25), Baguio (March 17-18) and Metro Manila (April 7-8), with the top 37 boys and 37 girls advancing for the National Training Camp in Manila in May 2018, which will feature an NBA and WNBA player or legend.  The program will culminate with the selection of 16 Jr. NBA All-Stars, comprised of eight boys and eight girls, who will embark on an overseas NBA experience trip with fellow Jr. NBA All-Stars from Southeast Asia.  Prior editions of the Jr. NBA Philippines program have featured notable alumni including Aljon Mariano, Kobe Paras, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Ricci Rivero, and Kai Sotto.  “For the past 10 years, Jr.  NBA Philippines has established itself as a platform to improve the youth basketball experience and promote an active and healthy lifestyle among the Filipino youth,” said NBA Philippines Managing Director Carlo Singson.  “Together with Alaska, we are committed to providing proper guidelines to how the game should be played and taught to more youth, coaches and parents in the country.” “As part of our long-standing partnership with the NBA, Alaska Milk Corporation is proud to play an active role in shaping the basketball players of tomorrow through good nutrition and proper life values,” said Alaska Milk Corporation Marketing Director Blen Fernando.  “We look forward to making a lasting impact on the lives of aspiring athletes on and off the court through the Jr. NBA program.” The 2018 edition of Jr. NBA Philippines will also include the Jr. NBA Coach of the Year program, led by Jr. NBA Head Coaches Carlos Barroca and Alaska Power Camp Coach Jeff Cariaso, to provide training for 14 Jr. NBA coaches during the National Training Camp, with two Jr. NBA Coaches of the Year awarded with an NBA experience trip.   Jr. NBA Philippines furthers the mission of Alaska Milk’s NUTRITION.ACTION.CHAMPION. program that highlights the nutritional benefits of milk, encourages physical activity through play, and instills values that are essential to becoming a champion.   AXA, CloudFone, Gatorade and Panasonic serve as Official Partners of the Jr. NBA in the Philippines, while Spalding is a Supporting Partner.  ABS-CBN Sports + Action, Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV are the Official NBA Broadcasters of the Jr. NBA in the Philippines.  Coaches and participants can now register the Jr. NBA program online at www.jrnba.asia/philippines, where the program terms and conditions can be found.  Fans can also follow Jr. NBA on Facebook and the NBA at www.nba.com and on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about the Alaska Milk Corporation, visit www.alaskamilk.com and follow PlayPH at www.playph.com and on Facebook and Twitter. About the NBA The NBA is a global sports and media business built around four professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Women’s National Basketball Association, the NBA G League and the NBA 2K League, set to launch in May 2018.  The NBA has established a major international presence with games and programming in 215 countries and territories in 50 languages, and merchandise for sale in more than 125,000 stores in 100 countries on six continents.  NBA rosters at the start of the 2017-18 season featured 108 international players from a record 42 countries and territories.  NBA Digital’s assets include NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA App and NBA League Pass.  The NBA has created one of the largest social media communities in the world, with 1.4 billion likes and followers globally across all league, team, and player platforms.  Through NBA Cares, the league addresses important social issues by working with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes. About Alaska Milk According to the 8th National Survey of FNRI and DOH (as of 2013), obesity is one of the most prevalent nutritional problems of Filipino children and adults, with about 5 out of 100 Filipino children being classified as overweight. Obesity can lead to different health problems like heart diseases and even diabetes at a young age, which could lead to serious health, economic and social implications later on in life. In line with Alaska Milk’s mission to bring affordable nutrition and a love of active play to every Filipino household, powering the Jr. NBA is a major part of Alaska’s “NUTRITION. ACTION. CHAMPION.” initiative. By highlighting milk’s nutritional benefits and encouraging children to go out and play, Alaska consistently works to instill the values Determination, Hard Work, Teamwork, Discipline and Sportsmanship in tomorrow’s champions......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 23rd, 2017

Knicks overhaul: Mills, Perry changing franchise’s identity

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Magic Johnson noticed. Carmelo Anthony, too. The once misguided New York Knicks seem to have a plan. The franchise that’s been good at producing chaos but not much else has the look of a professional NBA organization under president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry — and that’s not just on the court. Like everyone else in the league, the two men want to win. But even before that, they want the Knicks to develop the traits of a model franchise, not the model of dysfunction that they had come to be their identity. “I knew there were a lot of things that needed to change here and we’re in the process of doing that,” Mills said. So far, so good. The Knicks are 16-14 heading into their game against Boston on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) — not bad for a team that parted ways with its team president on the eve of free agency and then traded its leading scorer on the eve of training camp. Hats off to my good friend Steve Mills. He is doing an excellent job. The future is promising for his young Knicks. — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) December 13, 2017 “Hats off to my good friend Steve Mills. He is doing an excellent job,” Johnson wrote in a tweet after the Knicks beat the Hall of Famer’s Lakers on Dec. 12 (Dec. 13, PHL time). “The future is promising for his young Knicks.” And, it appears, much different from the past. Mills and Perry want the Knicks to be known as a team that competes hard, works hard, defends hard. They insist on players that will be accountable to the team and a team that will be accountable to its fans. The only identity the Knicks had in recent years was of a laughingstock. “People say, ‘Can you win first and then have a culture?’ Well, what is the foundation you’re building to fall back on when you talk about being sustainable?” Perry said. “So what we want to be is a sustainable team that’s good year in and year out.” Mills returned to the team president role he briefly held after Phil Jackson was ousted in late June and then hired Perry as his general manager shortly after. They went to work on fixing the Knicks’ roster and reputation, trading Anthony but earning praise by showing him respect Jackson didn’t during a tumultuous final season together. They surprised Anthony with a video tribute before his first game back at Madison Square Garden last Saturday (last Sunday, PHL time), then the Knicks showed their former star how much things have changed by routing Oklahoma City. “I like the potential that they have,” Anthony said. “For me, just to see those guys having fun again, knowing that it wasn’t fun. The fun was lost over the past couple of seasons.” Mills had a firsthand view of it while serving as Jackson’s general manager. Another 50-loss season ended with the Knicks getting a clear signal of how fed up people were when Kristaps Porzingis, the young star who was being groomed to replace Anthony as the face of the franchise, skipped his exit meeting after the season. “Everyone was frustrated. One of our players was obviously frustrated. Our fans were frustrated, we were frustrated, and so it led us to think we have to do something different and I felt strongly about it,” Mills said. “I addressed it with Phil and our coaching staff and our entire staff, that in my view we weren’t a team that really stood for anything in particular and that needed to change. “If it meant changing the triangle, it if meant changing our day-to-day stuff, we had to become more definable by something. When someone sees the Knicks, when someone’s going to play against the Knicks, what are you going to experience when you play that team?” For Perry, the hope is a team like the Pistons of the early 2000s, who won an NBA title and went to the Eastern Conference finals every season he was their director of player of personnel. One thing he’s insistent the Knicks won’t become are losers on purpose, as he and Mills rule out tanking for a high draft pick even though both have said they want to build with youth. “Ultimately our goal is to become a championship-type organization and I have just yet to see in my time in the NBA teams that embrace tanking that ultimately will be champions,” Perry said. Mills, who played at Princeton and worked for 16 years at the NBA, and Perry, who worked previously for four NBA franchises, have plenty of friends throughout the league on both the player and team side. Both can usually be found courtside on game nights talking to people, a far cry from recent seasons when Knicks management was often unseen and unheard. And in another change, Knicks management is also talking to fans, either directly or through the media. “I think sometimes we put the players in a tough situation. We clearly put Jeff in a very difficult situation last year,” Mills said, referring to coach Jeff Hornacek. “It’s not fair to him that every question about what’s going on within the organization he has to deal with.” Mills said at some point the fans need to hear from management. “We have a vision for where we want to take this team,” Mills said. “We want them to believe in it and feel good about it and see what we’re trying to get accomplished.” On and off the court......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

Meet 2017 s ten most powerful people in sports in Asia

In Asia, sports equals passion, and these ten big names in the sporting world today have led their respective organizations to amazing heights this year. Let’s take a look at 2017’s Top 10 People Behind the Biggest Sports Media Properties in Asia.   #1 Gianni Infantino, President of the FIFA World Cup Gianni Infantino is a football administrator and the current President of the FIFA World Cup. The FIFA World Cup is an international football association and tournament held every four years. Men’s football is arguably the most popular sport in the entire world and the same is true for Asia. The sport retains large numbers in viewership and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Countries like Singapore, Korea and Australia all follow football religiously.   #2 Aleksander Ceferin, President of UEFA Champions League Aleksander Ceferin heads the UEFA Champions League, an annual football competition, unlike FIFA which is only held every four years. The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of the most prestigious football tournaments in the world and is participated by top-division European football clubs. Although it does not consist of Asian teams, UEFA remains popular among the Asian people due to the popularity of football as a sport.   #3 Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship When billionaire Chatri Sityodtong conjured up the idea for ONE Championship, he envisioned the entire Asia united under a single sport. ONE Championship has achieved tremendous success since its establishment in 2011. Martial arts is considered a Pan-Asian sport and for the first time in Asian history, it is a sport that has transcended regional and cultural boundaries. Currently the largest global sports media property in Asian history. Today, ONE Championship is broadcast to over one billion viewers in over 128 countries across the globe.   #4 Horacio Muratore, President of FIBA Having been president of FIBA since 2014, Horacio Muratore has continued to develop the sport of basketball, not just in Asia, but in the entire world. The FIBA Basketball World Cup was established in 1950 and is an international basketball competition held every four years since its inaugural year. It also has popular variations in the FIBA Asia Championships and FIBA EuroBasket. The next tournament is scheduled for Beijing, China in 2019. Basketball’s popularity in Asia remains concentrated in the Philippines, Taiwan and China where the sport enjoys a very strong and faithful following.   #5 John Malone, Owner of Formula One Although Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s colorful chief executive remains at the helm of business operations, new owner American billionaire John Malone purchased the company in early 2017 and has since continued to deliver fans heart-pumping auto-racing action. Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or simply as F1, is the highest class of single-seater international auto-racing tournament in the world. Held in different variations depending on the region, the races are held regularly on an annual basis on purpose-built F1 circuits or public roads. The most popular variation in Asia is the Singapore Grand Prix which normally takes place on the Marina Bay Street Circuit. The Singapore Grand Prix was first held in 1966. It is the first of its kind in Asia.   #6 Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Major League Baseball Rob Manfred was named the 10th Commissioner in the history of Major League Baseball a wildly popular sport not just in the United States, but also in Japan, Taiwan, and China. Major League Baseball or the MLB is the most recognizable professional baseball organization in the world. It is immensely popular especially in Japan where baseball is almost considered a national sport. Since 1986, an all-star team from the MLB is sent to a biennial end-of-season tour of Japan. It is called MLB Japan All-Star Series wherein exhibition games are held in a best-of format against all-stars from the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league. Aside from MLB Japan Serie, there also exists an MLB China Series and an MLB Taiwan Series.   #7 Hemang Amin, Chief Operating Officer of Vivo Indian Premier League Heman Amin has been a part of the BCCI, which governs the Vivo Indian Premier League, for the past seven years. The IPL is a professional Twenty20 cricket league established in India which is held every April and May of every year. Cricket is by far the most popular sport in India. Although a relatively new organization, having been established as recently as 2008, the IPL is one of the fastest growing sports media properties in Asia. It is currently valued at US$1.6 billion which is a monumental achievement for such a young property.   #8 Chito Narvasa, Former Commissioner of the Philippine Basketball Association Former basketball player and coach, Chito Narvasa is the ninth Commissioner of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). Basketball is a wildly popular sport in the Philippines, and perhaps the most widely played in the entire country. The premiere proving ground of men’s professional basketball in the Philippines is the PBA, which owns the distinction of being the first professional basketball league in Asia, and the second-oldest continuously existing league in the world apart from the National Basketball Association (NBA). The PBA played its first game in 1975, and today fuels a hoop-crazy nation that loves its basketball.   #9 Cai Zhenhua, President of the Chinese Football Association China has a burgeoning football obsession, with support from Chinese President Xi Jinping himself who is helping to develop the sport. Cai Zhenhua is the current President of the Chinese Football Association, which governs the sport in China.China’s passion for football is manifest in the Chinese Super League (CSL), which is the highest tier of professional football in the country. With a season that starts in March and ends mid-November, the CSL features 16 football clubs in its current season. The league, the largest in China, now operates under the management of the Chinese Football Association. The current champions are the Guangzhou Evergrande.   #10 Mitsuri Murai, Chairman of Japan Professional Football League Inaugurated in 2014, Mitsuri Murai is the Chairman of the Japan Professional Football League, or more popularly known as the J.League. Japanese professional football league, J.League is one of the most successful football leagues in all of Asia. It is the top level of Japan’s professional football scene, which is one of the most popular sports in all the region. With an annual revenue of over $560-million, the J.League features three football levels: J1, J2, and J3. The league is also governed by FIFA on the global level......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 19th, 2017

Oladipo, Sabonis helping Pacers move forward

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com INDIANAPOLIS – Victor Oladipo has a fever and the only prescription is ... no, not more cowbell. Cowbell might make sense, if you factor in Oladipo’s love of and commitment to music (his debut R&B album has been available since Oct. 6). But the fever currently afflicting Oladipo, shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers, has nothing to do with extracurriculars and everything to do with the odes and anthems he’s been performing within the confines of 94 feet by 50 feet. If the fifth-year guard out of Indiana University, by way of the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder, looks comfortable in his new star turn for the Pacers, well, just remember that’s your word. Not his. “You could say I’m comfortable with the people here,” says Oladipo, who spent three seasons with the Hoosiers before becoming the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. “I played in front of these fans, they mean a lot to me and I gave a lot to them just like they gave a lot to me while I was in college. “But I’m never comfortable in any situation I’m in. I will never be comfortable. That’s what kind of makes me get up and work every day. It’s like, never be satisfied. Because for some reason, ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted more.” Oladipo’s eyes just about glow after a weekend practice as he delves into his unflagging intensity. He doesn’t undercut it with a smile or a token laugh. This is real heat. “Maximize my talent and exhaust my potential,” he says. “In order to do that, I’ve got to come to work every day. That’s my thought process. Wake up each day and be great that day.” Each day would include tonight, when Oladipo will share center stage at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with the more decorated and once-beloved star who preceded him in the Pacers lineup. Paul George, a four-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist during his seven seasons in Indiana, was due to face his old team for the first time since being traded to Oklahoma City in July. It was a parting necessitated by George, who had made clear his desire to sign a maximum-salary contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018. But the trade was orchestrated by Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, and Chad Buchanan, their general manager, who surprised the NBA by swapping George to OKC for Oladipo and big man Domantas Sabonis. You want intense? The initial reaction to that deal was intensely negative, quickly reaching hysterical proportions. The Pacers immediately were mocked for having traded George for nickels on the dollar. Reports out of Boston characterized Indiana’s POBO as more of a bobo for allegedly spurning a Celtics’ offer of multiple players and draft picks. *Takes a well deserved nap for 3 hours ** Opens Twitter: pic.twitter.com/xWNYaVfKTy — Myl3s Turn3r (@Original_Turner) July 1, 2017 The west is sick!!!! Best conference in the world!!!! — Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) July 1, 2017 Vic to the Pacers?! He might as well run for governor while he's at it! — Cody Zeller (@CodyZeller) July 1, 2017 Former Thunder star Kevin Durant called the move “shocking” and of George said “Indiana just gave him away.” Among much of the media that covers the league, there was a general feeling of “rubes” afoot -- that the Pacers had been snookered in taking back an overpaid ($21 million annually through 2020-21) second-tier talent and an overbilled guy who had disappeared in OKC’s postseason. And now? Not so much on any of those fronts. ‘He knows how good he is’ George’s stats are down in the “OK3” core he’s formed with reigning Kia MVP Russell Westbrook and aging Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder (12-13) are the NBA’s consensus disappointment, team category, with nearly a third of their season in the books. Sabonis has boosted the Pacers off the bench in a half dozen ways. And Oladipo has all but earned himself a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team while speeding his new team’s fans past their heartbreak over George’s jilting. Generally, the best trades in sports are win-win, but for Indiana right now, a bit of win-lose has made the start of 2017-18 downright sublime. “We happened to really like Sabonis in the draft,” former Pacers president and ongoing consultant Donnie Walsh said last week. “We wanted more of everything in the trade too. But when it came down to it, we had this offer with Oladipo, who we also liked. They’ve come in here and the more they’ve been here, the more we like ‘em. We’re happy.” The Pacers also are 16-11, two weeks ahead in the victory column over their 42-40 finish last season that was good for a playoff berth. Oladipo is the biggest reason why, averaging more points per game (24.5) than George ever has. The 6'4" guard who attended famous DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Md., spent much of last season being beaten up for his contract and negligible impact in Oklahoma City. He had taken grief earlier for his status as the second pick in 2013, a lofty status not of his doing. And here he was again in the summer, hearing it all over again for a transaction he didn’t design. “He came in with a chip [on his shoulder],” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought he should come in with a chip.” Some would have flinched from the pressure. A few might have curled up, full blown fetal. Oladipo has gone entirely the other way. “His confidence is at an all-time high,” backup point guard Cory Joseph said. “He knows how good he is.” As Joseph spoke after the Pacers’ upset of Cleveland Friday, a game in which Oladipo scored 20 of his game-high 33 points in the third quarter, a lilting voice drifted from behind the scenes in the home dressing room. “Look at it right now, he’s singing in the shower,” Joseph said, tilting his head and laughing. “He’s confident. You guys are all in here, he’s just singing. He’s a confident guy. Everybody in this locker room, everybody in this organization definitely welcomes that.” Trade not driving Oladipo’s breakout season Don’t misunderstand. The critics still are out for Oladipo. “My mom told me yesterday I need to work on my free throws,” he said with an eye roll after practice Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). She had noticed, during her son’s run of big games in December -- 36 points at Toronto, 27 vs. Chicago, 33 against the Cavs the night before her chiding text -- that he had missed 18-of-31 foul shots. This, by a career 80 percent shooter from the line. “I’m over that,” Oladipo said. “I’m not going to miss no more. I’ll make ‘em next time. And if I miss ‘em, I’ll make ‘em the next. If that’s my problem right now, I think I can fix it.” Twenty-four hours later, Oladipo took 13 free throws against Denver and made 11. He scored 47 points in all, hitting 15-of-28 shots and half of his 12 three-pointers. The comeback victory in OT got the Pacers to 4-for-4 on their six-game homestand and continued to shrink whatever chip it was that the 25-year-old was shouldering. “In the beginning of the year, I said, ‘I don’t have a chip. I have a brick house on my back,’” Oladipo said. But not anymore, right, now that some folks are referring to it as “the Victor Oladipo trade” rather than “the Paul George trade?” “That’s what I feel like every morning, no matter what’s going on,” he said. “I don’t even think about the trade, honestly. It’s in the past for me. People’s opinions are going to be there whether you like it or not. From the outside looking in, I guess you could say [then] that was a great trade for OKC. That’s what they believed. But it wasn’t going to change the way I worked. It wasn’t going to change my approach.” This step up in status is considered perhaps the most difficult an NBA player can make. Suddenly, opposing coaches are X&O-ing him to death. The player dogging him up and down the court is the other guys’ best defender. Often, they’ll send double-teams to get the ball into one of his teammates’ hands. “He hadn’t had that,” McMillan said. “When he was in OKC, the game plan was focused on Westbrook. When he was in Orlando, he was just a young player. Now he is seeing the defenders like a LeBron [James], like a [DeMar] DeRozan, what these stars are seeing. He’s seeing the best defenders and he’s seeing teams game-plan to take him out. “Learning how to play and be consistent every night with that challenge is something he’s going through.” Oladipo’s quick success with the Pacers has kept any crowd critics at bay. They were pre-disposed to like him just as their rebound date after George, but had he underperformed, Oladipo’s service time in Bloomington wouldn’t have protected him for long from criticism. But now, it’s George who likely will get the harsh reception. Oladipo, overtly after each of the recent victories, has made it clear to the home fans via some emphatic pointing and body language that the Fieldhouse happens to be his house. “I don’t say it, they say it,” he said. “I just do the gesture and they do the rest of the work for me. I let them do all the talking. We feed off them -- when they’re into it, we play better. I don’t know why, that’s just how basketball’s always been. They’re our sixth man and we need ‘em every night.” Oladipo’s breakout season has been bolstered, too, by the Pacers’ second-through-15th men. Those who already were in Indy knew how valuable George was at both ends. Those who, like Oladipo and Sabonis, were new this season were within their rights to be as skeptical as the national headlines of the guys coming in trade. Go-to guy emerges for Pacers OKC was a specific challenge, Oladipo having to learn on the fly how to fit his own darting, ball-heavy style to only the second man in NBA history to average a triple-double. Westbrook’s usage was off the charts, rendering the other Thunder players to supporting cast whether suited to that role or not. Just like that, Oladipo had to catch and shoot as someone to get Westbrook into double digits in assists. It wasn’t his nature and it made for an individually forgettable season. “I had a role. I tried to play that role to the best of my ability. And I improved certain areas of my game in that role,” was all he’d say Saturday, stiffly, about the OKC experience. Said Walsh: “I felt like he was going to get a different opportunity here. ... When he got to Oklahoma City, he was playing wih a guy who was averaging a triple-double. And he liked Russell Westbrook. But he comes here, he’s got an opportunity to be ‘our guy.’ “I think he might have been looking for that. I never asked him. He’s a really cool guy. He knows what he wants to be, I think.” Oladipo needed this and the Pacers needed him to need it. With George gone, they were like a smile missing a front tooth. The other teeth weren’t just going to move up in the pecking order -- no matter how good young big man Myles Turner is -- and replace the one they’d lost. If they were going to have any success this season, if McMillan was going to be able to coach and adjust in his second year taking over for Frank Vogel, the players needed to fill their roles and welcome this new addition. That’s why this tale of Oladipo’s growing success is about what the Pacers have done for him, as much as it is what he’s done for them. “We didn’t really present it like that,” McMillan said, “because we were still trying to develop who our ‘go-to guy’ was. He has been slowly taking on that role through the things he’s done. I haven’t had to say anything. He’s making good decisions with the ball. And the guys are getting a feel for what we’re doing down the stretch because we’ve had some success, and we’ve had it with Victor having the ball.” Chemistry change for Pacers There might be NBA teams with chemistry as solid as the Pacers’ right now, but it’s hard to imagine there are any with better. It’s more than mere relief that someone has stepped up, easing their own loads a bit. It is a genuine eagerness for Oladipo to max out, for each of the rest of them to do the same in whatever lane they’re riding. “Vic’s been everything at this point,” Turner said. “He’s done a great job of stepping up and being that guy, being that dude. It’s amazing to have that when you’re going through a situation where it’s a brand-new team. We’re still learning each other and he’s showing that he’s ready.” Did Turner know this would happen and, if so, when? “First couple days he started texting me in the summertime,” the big man said. “I saw what his mindset was, and I loved it from the jump. He carried that right in when we started playing pickup this summer. “Vic’s been traded, what, [two] times? He finally comes back home and he has a team that’s telling him to go, telling him to be him. I don’t think he had that with his former teams. Now that he’s here and he’s doing that, I’m pretty sure he’s [enjoying it].” Said Joseph: “He’s been a beast for us and he’s going to continue to be a beast for us. ... He’s been running with that opportunity and opening eyes around the world.” Even strong-willed, uber-confident Lance Stephenson, has backed up for Oladipo. “There’s no hate, know what I mean?” he said over the weekend. “Some guys get mad about somebody doing good. This team wants its teammates to do good. That’s what’s going to make us even better.” Oladipo keeps referring to the other Pacers in a legit lubricating of the “no I in Indy” process. “Honestly I think it’s the personalities and the men that we have in this locker room,” he said. “My teammates are phenomenal people -- not just basketball players, phenomenal people. When you surround yourself with great people, people who sincerely care about you and your team, the chemistry just comes naturally.” Sabonis shows glimpses of success, too The other guy in the trade, Sabonis, has developed more organically, his maturation seemingly inevitable regardless of locale when you tote up his youth, his work ethic and his bloodlines (son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis). He has gone from that rookie who logged just six minutes in the Thunder’s five 2017 playoff games against Houston to an essential piece in McMillan’s rotation. “Once I got traded, I knew this was a great opportunity for me to show people what I can really do,” said Sabonis, the No. 11 pick in 2016. “I was a rookie last year. Everything was new. Here, I’m being used more at the 5. That’s more the position I’ve been used to playing my whole life.” Sabonis’ minutes are up from 20.1 in OKC to 24.6 off Indiana’s bench. His scoring has doubled from 5.9 ppg to 12.1. And his PIE rating has soared from 4.9 last season to 12.6, a sign of the versatility the skilled big man possesses. “I love Sabonis,” Walsh said. “His father was one of the greatest players in the world, so I don’t like that comparison -- it kills him. He [Domantas] is just more of everything you think he is. He’s stronger than you think. He can shoot the ball better. He’s got good hands, he can catch the ball. I’ve seen him make moves in game that I’ve never seen him make in practice.” Said Turner: “I played against Domas in college -- I knew what kind of player he was. I was excited when we got him. He’s gotten bigger and stronger since then, obviously, and he just didn’t have a chance to show himself last year. But he’s been big for us now, especially when I was out with the concussion. He stepped up huge in that role and we’ve played well since then.” The Pacers are playing faster this season, up from 18th in pace last season to 10th now, part of their improvement from 15th in offensive rating (106.2) to 6th (108.3). They’re doing better, too, in contesting shots and throttling opponents’ field-goal accuracy. The biggest reason why has been Oladipo’s blossoming. Whether due to the sunshine of new, happier surroundings or from that darker, more intense place, to prove cynics wrong. No one can now talk of the Pacers’ bungling of what, after all, was a deal to rent George, not to have him long-term. Fans at Bankers Life figure to boo George on his first visit back, with an inventory they haven’t needed or used on Oladipo. Some might see that as ingratitude, others as respect. It’s a little bit of love lost, too. “Look, they loved Paul when he was here,” Walsh said. “They guy is a great player. One thing I’ve always felt: These guys that play here, they always know more about what they want for their lives than we do. How you gonna argue with that? He treated us good, we treated him good. No bad blood here. I don’t know about fans.” Folks in Indy have a new crush now, one they hope lasts for a while. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2017