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Irving says team meeting helped Celtics clear air, find rhythm

NBA.com staff report The Boston Celtics are perhaps starting to show the kind of teamwork they've been looking for all season. Star guard Kyrie Irving said Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) that a team meeting held after a Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks helped players to clear the air about several topics. "We could pinpoint a lot of turning points," Irving told reporters after yesterday's win vs. Indiana, per ESPN's Tim Bontemps. "We just want to build that chemistry first. Just getting with one another, really put everything out there and then move on from that point. "At that point, playing against Milwaukee, we weren't at rock bottom, but we needed to address some [expletive] in this locker room. It's just good to get stuff out in the air. As grown men and guys that have expectations for themselves, it was good to hear guys talk about what they wanted for themselves and what they wanted for this team." The Celtics dismantled the Indiana Pacers 135-108 to notch their fourth straight win, with the victory coming largely because of Boston's willingness to share the ball. The victory marked their fifth straight game with at least 30 assists (after failing to reach that mark in nine of their previous 10 games). Since Dec. 23 (Dec. 24, PHL time), the Celtics rank No. 2 in assist percentage (70.2) and are among the league leaders in offensive rating, net rating, true shooting percentage and more during that span. The Celtics had 32 assists last night and put together their highest scoring game this season. Boston (25-15) also ended a three-game skid against the Pacers, who entered the night third in the Eastern Conference having won seven of eight. Additionally, Boston led 68-53 at halftime after shooting 56.5 percent (26-for-46) in the first half. That Dec. 23 (Dec. 24, PHL time) date is an important one, since it was Boston's next game after the Bucks loss that capped off a three-game losing streak. After that loss to the Bucks, the Celtics were mired in the lower-half of the Eastern Conference standings and had their team meeting. The Celtics have seen a slight uptick in pace (they rank 18th in that category overall) since Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time), and are getting more comfortable in terms of team chemistry. Overall, Boston has won seven of its last nine games to stay within striking distance of the upper crust in the East. ''We're all understanding that we're trying to play faster and the ball movement has been working for us,'' said Al Horford, who led Boston last night with eight assists. ''It keeps the defense on their toes, really makes the other team work. It's kind of contagious.'' “Well, you see the type of connection that we have out there in terms of our pick-and-roll and what we do and how we talk is pretty seamless,” Irving said, per Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. “We came in the same time and have this understanding of where our journeys have started and where it is now and an appreciation of where we are. So we just want to take full advantage of it for this year.” Since Thanksgiving, the Celtics are No. 1 in offensive rating, have a net rating of 11.2 (tops in the NBA) and are 16-6 (the best record in the league). In short, Boston is finding its way -- at least over the last few weeks -- and developing chemistry with a roster filled with talent. “It was hard to find good clips at the start of the year,” coach Brad Stevens said, per the Boston Herald. “And I think some of that was because we were pressing; some of that was because we missed shots when the ball was moving.  All looks a little bit better when it finishes with a make, but that’s who we have to be." Information from The Associated Press was used in this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2019

Berrios pitches Twins past White Sox 2-1 in 1st game

By DAVE CAMPBELL,  AP Sports Writer MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins' pitching staff has finally caught up in the strikeout era, with Jose Berrios leading the way. Berrios became the first Minnesota pitcher in eight years to reach 200 strikeouts, throwing seven smooth innings for the Twins in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. "It means a lot, obviously. That was one of my goals before the season started," Berrios said. "That's when I wrote it down, and I accomplished it and I'm thankful to God for that." Berrios finished his All-Star season with a career-best 3.84 ERA and 202 strikeouts. The last time a Twins pitcher topped that milestone was Francisco Liriano (201) in 2010, with Johan Santana (235) in 2007 the most recent prior to that. The Twins are 16th in the major leagues in strikeouts, after finishing next-to-last in 2017. From 2011 through 2015, they were last. Berrios (12-11) struck out nine batters, allowing just three hits and one run on Leury Garcia's RBI single in the third. Berrios walked four, including Avisail Garcia to lead off the sixth, but he followed that by fanning Daniel Palka, Matt Davidson and Omar Narvarez in a 10-pitch span to finish the inning with his fastball buzzing. "Pretty special kid," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Nice mix of pitches. Breaking ball was diving, sinking. He's got a quick arm. Just kept us off balance." Though Berrios had a 4.15 ERA and just a 3-4 record in 12 starts after the All-Star break, the right-hander took another step toward being the ace at the top of the rotation the Twins have been lacking since Santana was traded 11 years ago. "I want to be one of the best pitchers in the league," Berrios said. "I think I have the material to do that and to be the best pitcher on this team, so that Minnesota can construct around me and build a winning team." Reynaldo Lopez (7-10) turned in another strong start for the White Sox, with the exception of matching his season high with five walks. The righty struck out five in six innings with four hits and two runs allowed. Tyler Austin's RBI groundout in the first and Willians Astudillo's sacrifice fly in the sixth were all the Twins needed. After four outs by Taylor Rogers, Trevor May struck out the last to batters to notch his second save and end the game that was a makeup from the mid-April weekend when the White Sox and Twins had three straight games postponed by a snowstorm. Paid attendance was still announced at 20,245, with a first-pitch temperature of 51 degrees. Joe Mauer, playing possibly the final games of his career with an expiring contract and a pending decision about whether or not to retire at age 35, had two singles and is hitting .352 (19 for 54) over his last 14 starts while reaching base at least once in each. Astudillo has 16 RBIs in his last 15 games for the Twins, who improved to 46-32 at home. They're 27-12 since June 24, the fifth-best record in MLB in that span. WHIFFING WHITIES The White Sox struck out 12 times, raising their season total to an MLB-most 1,563. That's also only eight less than the all-time record of 1,571, set last year by the Milwaukee Brewers. Yoan Moncada has the team lead with 214, followed by Davidson with 161. FINISHING STRONG Lopez logged 40 innings over his last six starts, with a sparkling 1.13 ERA and 41 strikeouts. The 24-year-old finished with a 3.91 ERA in 188 2/3 innings. "I'm leaving this season in a much better way than how I entered the season," Lopez said through a team interpreter. "I learned a lot." GIVING BACK The last time the White Sox played in Minnesota, on Aug. 20 , manager Rick Renteria experienced light-headedness in the afternoon and was hospitalized overnight as a precaution. He wound up missing four games. As a thank-you to the staff at Hennepin County Medical Center for his care, Renteria sent popcorn and donated 200 tickets to children being treated at the facility. UP NEXT White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito (10-12, 5.81 ERA) takes the mound in the nightcap. Twins: RHP Chase DeJong (0-1, 3.86 ERA) starts the second game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2018

Q& A: Hall of Fame Bob Lanier

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Bob Lanier turned 70 Monday, a big number for a big man. In fact, that number can be linked to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer in several ways. It was in 1970 that Lanier was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, selected out of St. Bonaventure by the Detroit Pistons. And it was the 70s as the decade in which Lanier excelled, earning seven of his eight All-Star appearances while averaging 22.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Pistons. Dinosaurs ruled the NBA landscape back then, with Lanier achieving his success against the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Dave Cowens, Willis Reed, Nate Thurmond, Elvin Hayes, Artis Gilmore and other legendary big men. Yet it was Lanier who was the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game, who won the one-off, 32-contestant 1-on-1 championship tournament run by ABC in 1973 as part of its national broadcast schedule and who (with Walton) got name-dropped by Abdul-Jabbar in the 1980 Hollywood comedy “Airplane!” [“I'm out there busting my buns every night!” he tells a kid as “co-pilot Roger Murdock.” “Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!”] Lanier’s Detroit teams never got beyond the conference semifinals, though, so in 1979-80 he asked to be traded. In February 1980, the Pistons dealt him to Milwaukee for Kent Benson and a future draft pick. With the Bucks, who averaged 59 victories in Lanier’s four full seasons there, Lanier flirted with his greatest team success, yet never reached The Finals. He was 36 when bad knees and other injuries forced him to retire. Those knees still are trouble, preventing Lanier from attending this year’s Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony -- he was elected in 1992 -- and limiting his ability to travel from his home in Arizona to catch his daughter Khalia’s volleyball games at USC. But the man nicknamed “The Dobber” was as chatty and opinionated as ever in a phone conversation last week with NBA.com: NBA.com: The league still keeps you busy, doesn’t it? Bob Lanier: Well, it did. But about 15 months ago, I had knee replacement surgery on my right leg and that is not going very well. It still aches and it gets me unbalanced. That’s what I was trying to get away from. The surgeon said mine was the most difficult one he’d ever done. I was supposed to get the left one done but I couldn’t, because the right one was bothering me so much. I can’t even stand to hit a golf ball. NBA.com: You were part of the original Stay In School initiative, if I recall correctly. BL: I was involved with a little bit of everything from the time David [Stern, longtime NBA commissioner] first called me in 1988. It started off with wanting me to do something for kids who stayed in school. We did “P-R-I-D-E,” with P for positive mental attitude, R for respect, I for intelligent choice-making, D for dreaming and setting goals, and E for effort and education. It was really amazing. The first year, we were talking about giving out 25,000 Starter jackets for kids who came to the rally. Shoot, we needed double that amount, the numbers we got. Everything is kind of under the same umbrella now with NBA Cares. Kathy Behrens [president, social responsibility and player programs] has done a wonderful job of taking this to a whole ‘nother level, her and Adam [Silver, NBA commissioner]. NBA.com: Have you ever had one of those kids whose lives you touched reach out to you years later? BL: [Laughs]. You know what, I’m laughing because you don’t expect to hear from anybody. The only time that somebody really validated something we were doing was when I wrote those books. (The “Hey, Li’l D!” series of kids books, loosely based on Lanier’s childhood adventures. Co-authored with Heather Goodyear in 2003, the Scholastic Paperbacks books still are available.) I was on a plane and one of the passengers asked me to sign the book for her, for her child. I was so taken aback by that, I was shaking while I was signing the autograph. That was really good -- I thought, maybe I did something right. NBA.com: But none of the Stay In School kids? BL: Look, in our business, in community relations and social responsibility areas, you don’t really … when you’re building houses for people, the folks who work with you side by side give you a thumbs up and say thank you before it’s over. When we do the playgrounds, we use kids in the neighborhood who are going to enjoy playing in it and having dreams -- they’re thankful. But there’s so much need out here. When you’re traveling around to different cities and different countries, you see there are so many people in dire straits that the NBA can only do so much. We make a vast, vast difference, but there’s always so much more to do. NBA.com: I know you’re not in it for the thank yous. BL: No. The only thing that stands out to me is from when I was still playing in Milwaukee and I was getting gas at a station on, I think it was Center St. A guy came up to me and said, “My dad is sick. And you’re his favorite player. Could you come up to the house and say hello to him? The house is right next door.” So I went over, I went upstairs. The guy was laying there in his bed. His son said, “This is Bob,” and he was like, “I know.” And he just had a little smile, a twinkle in his eye. And he grabbed my hand and squeezed it. And we said a little prayer. About two weeks later, his dad had died. And he left a card at the Bucks office, just saying “Thank you for making one of my dad’s final days into a good day.” NBA.com: It probably wasn’t, and isn’t, uncommon for you to be spotted out in public like that. At your size (6-foot-11, 250 pounds as a player). BL: As time passes on, people know you at first because you’re a player. Then you stop playing. And 10 years after, when a player like Shaquille O’Neal comes along, they know him and figure you must be Shaq’s dad. “You’re wearing them big shoes.” I just go along with it. “Yeah, I’m Shaq’s dad!” NBA.com: That has to sting, seeing as how Shaq took your title for the NBA’s biggest sneakers. You were famous for your size-22s. BL: Yeah, he sent me a pair one time and I think they were 23s. For some reason, I recall he would wear 23s and three pairs of socks or something instead of the 22s. NBA.com: Isn’t it sobering how quickly sports fans forget even distinctive-looking players such as yourself? BL: Absolutely correct. But that’s why we in the NBA and at the players association have to do a better job of passing down the history of our game. In a way that they’ll absorb it. Not necessarily that they’ll have to read it – it could be in a video game form, because that seems to hold interest a lot. NBA.com: You have been as busy in your post-playing career for the NBA as you ever were while playing, right? BL: I’ve really been blessed. You know this story: I started serving people with my mother [Nattie Mae] at church. Getting food to people who were sick or needy, taking it to the hospital, taking it to people’s houses or feeding them right after church. My mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and she was in the church all the time. She had me and my sister and a bunch of kids, we would all be there every Saturday. You start off doing it not only because your mother tells you to, but the food was good. Then David asked me to come help with the Stay In School, which was the start of it all. If I hadn’t graduated from college, I probably would never have gotten an opportunity to do that with the NBA. Plus, the amazing number of young people I’ve met around the country, around the world, that I think I’ve touched … some lives. I can’t say I touched everybody, but some. I always had a knack of selecting -- when I’d call up kids to help me with the presentation -- a girl or a boy who needed it. It’s amazing how many times a teacher has said to me, “You picked Joe” or “You picked Dorothy, and that’s a really difficult kid. You made them feel good.” You never let a kid fail. NBA.com: You never were a shy and retiring type. What do you think of the NBA these days? BL: I’ll tell you what, I wish that I were playing now. It’s not as physical a sport. You can do stuff anywhere in the world. You can make tons of money off the court -- I can’t imagine how much I’d make with a speaker deal and those big-ass sneakers of mine. The only thing I would not like about this era is that you’ve got to be so conscious of social media. And people taking photos of you when you don’t know they’re taking them. And having those things that zoom over your home and take pictures of your house. That part I wouldn’t like at all. NBA.com: It’s hard enough to avoid the public eye at your size. By the way, are you as tall as you used to be? BL: No, no. I remember standing next to Magic [Johnson] last year at some function we had, and I was looking at him eye-to-eye. I said, “Damn, I thought I was 6-11 and you were 6-9. You look like you’re taller than me now.” NBA.com: You might have fared well today, with the range you had on your jump shot. A big man like you or Bob McAdoo would fit right in. BL: But Mac was a true forward and I was a true center. With the game the way it is now, I think guys like he or I -- Dave Cowens, too -- could shoot from outside, inside, open up the lanes, make good passes. I say that gingerly with Mac, because every time it touched his hands it was going up. He’s my boy but that’s the truth. NBA.com: Wayne Embry, the NBA lifer as a player and executive, recently said to me about the current style of play, “C’mon, the big man likes to play too.” The game has gotten so much smaller. BL: I kind of like this game a little bit. If you’re a big who has skills, it helps to stretch the floor. You can always post up, if you’ve got a big can post up. But now you’ve got these bigs who are elongated forwards. Boogie Cousins is probably our last post-up big that I’m aware of. I think I just saw him on TV somewhere making about 10 3-pointers in a row. NBA.com: Any team or individuals to whom you pay particular attention? BL: I like watching ‘Bron [LeBron James], obviously. I like this Golden State team, too, because they play so well together. I like the kid [Anthony] Davis. With Boogie, my concern is whether he’ll be healthy this season. NBA.com: What’s your take on the “super team” approach of the past few years? BL: I think both of ‘em have their sides. Back in the day, we would never do that. There wasn’t a lot of huggin’ and kissin’, all that stuff, when you were competing. You were out there to kick each other’s butt. But with AAU ball, it’s become guys playing together on these premier teams at all these tournaments around the country. So they get to know each before they ever go to college. NBA.com: Do you think today’s players appreciate the work you and other alumni did to build the league? BL: I think everything evolves. The best thing I could say as a player is, you want to leave the game in better shape than when you came into it. You want to leave a legacy, a better brand. You want players to be making more money. You want the league to be stronger. And since we’re partner in this, it’s important that those kinds of things happen. NBA.com: The 1970s seems to be pretty neglected, as far as NBA memories and highlights. At times it’s as if the league went from Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics dynasty to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird carrying the NBA into the 80s. The league had some popularity and PR issues back then, but eight different franchises won championships that decade. BL: Back in the 70s, a lot of people were feeling that the NBA was drug-infested. Too black. That’s one of the reasons the league came up with its substance abuse program, one of the first in sports to do that. The point was not to punish guys but to help guys who needed it to get clean. As that passed, then Larry and Magic came in. The media money started going up, and then Michael [Jordan] came in in ’84 and everything took off from there. So I can see how you could kind of forget about the 70s. NBA.com: And yet now folks complain that each season starts with only three or four teams seen as capable of winning the title. Why was it different then? BL: I think everybody competed a lot. And guys didn’t change teams as much, so when you were facing the Bulls or the Bucks or New York, you had all these rivalries. Lanier against Jabbar! Jabbar against Willis Reed! And then [Wilt] Chamberlain, and Artis Gilmore, and Bill Walton! You had all these great big men and the game was played from inside out. It was a rougher game, a much more physical game that we played in the 70s. You could steer people with elbows. They started cutting down on the number of fights by fining people more. Oh, it was a rough ‘n’ tumble game. NBA.com: There were, of course, fewer teams. Seventeen when you arrived, for instance. BL: There was so much talent on every team. Every night you were playing against somebody really damn good, and if you didn’t come to play, they’d whip your behind. NBA.com: You know, I’m surprised I never heard about you being the target of a bidding war with the old ABA? Did they ever come after you? BL: Got approached at the end of my junior year at St. Bonaventure. They offered me a nice contract. But I wanted to stay in school because I thought we had a real chance at winning the NCAA title. NBA.com: Gee, that almost sounds quaint by today’s get-the-money standards. BL: Yeah. Well, I trusted them as a league -- it was the New York Nets, a guy named Roy Boe -- but I knew we had a really good team. And we did. We got to the Final Four. Then I got hurt. NBA.com: You went down against Villanova, your tournament ended by a torn ligament. I’m surprised, looking back, you were considered healthy enough to get drafted No. 1 and have a pretty strong rookie season. BL: I wasn’t healthy when I got to the league. I shouldn’t have played my first year. But there was so much pressure from them to play, I would have been much better off -- and our team would have been much better served -- if I had just sat out that year and worked on my knee. NBA.com: From the Final Four to the start of the NBA season isn’t much time to rehab a knee injury. Then you played 82 games, averaging 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes. BL: That was stupid. My knee was so sore every single day that it was ludicrous to be doing what I was doing. I wanted to play, but I was smart and the team was smart, everybody would have benefited. NBA.com: Did you ever fully recover? I know your later years were hampered by knee pain. BL: Oh, I fully recovered. Going into my third year, I think I had my legs underneath me a lot. NBA.com: Your coach as a rookie was Butch van Breda Kolff, who had butted heads with Wilt Chamberlain in Los Angeles. Did you have any issues with him? BL: He was a pretty tough coach, but he was a good-hearted person. As a matter of fact, he had a place down on the Jersey shore where he invited me to come and run on the beach to help strengthen my leg. I went there for about 2 1/2 weeks. I liked Butch a lot. NBA.com: Your Detroit teams had you as an All-Star nearly every season and of course Hall of Fame guard Dave Bing. Did you think you’d achieve more? BL: I think ’73-74 was our best team [52-30]. We had Dave, Stu Lantz, John Mengelt, Chris Ford, Don Adams, Curtis Rowe, George Trapp. But then for some reason, they traded six guys off that team before the following year. I just didn’t feel we ever had the leadership. I think we had [seven] head coaches in my 10 years there. That was a rough time, because at the end of every year, you’d be so despondent. NBA.com: So by the time you were traded to Milwaukee, you were ready to go? BL: I wanted the trade. But until you start getting on that plane and leaving your family and start crying, you don’t realize it’s a part of your life you’re leaving. I got to Milwaukee and it was freezing outside. But the people gave me a standing ovation and really made me feel welcome. It was the start of a positive change. I just wish I had played with that kind of talent around me when I was young. The only time I thought I had it was that ’73-74 team they messed up. But if I had had Marques [Johnson] and Sidney [Moncrief] and all of them around me? Damn. NBA.com: I got my start around those Bucks teams, and feel I often have to remind people how good they were deep into the ‘80s. You just couldn’t get past the Celtics and the Sixers in the same year, in a loaded Eastern Conference. BL: They were always a man better than us. We had to play our best to beat them and they didn’t have to play their best to beat us. It haunts me to this day. NBA.com: How did you like playing for Bucks coach Don Nelson? BL: Loved him. It was just like playing for your big brother. He was a player’s coach, for sure. He’d been through it, won championships. Knew what it was like to be a role player, knew what it took to be a prime-time player. Didn’t get upset over pressure. He was just a stand-up guy. NBA.com: As we talk, I’m looking at my office wall and I have that famous All-Star poster from 1977, painted by Leroy Neiman. That game was notable, too, because it was the first one after the NBA/ABA merger. So you had Julius Erving, George Gervin, Dan Issel and those other ABA stars flooding their talent into the league. BL: You know what? I think you could put 10 players from the 70s into the league today and be as competitive as anybody. Think of the guys who could really play and were athletic. And with the rule changes, that would make us even more effective. “Ice’ [Gervin]. Julius. David Thompson, a huge athlete. I don’t know who could mess with Kareem at all. NBA.com: What about Nate Archibald? BL: You took the words right out of my mouth. Tiny! He could scoot up and down and do what he needed to do. These guys knew the game, they played the basics of it so well. NBA.com: No one disputes the advances in training, nutrition, travel and rest. But in raw ability, you think it was close to today? BL: One thing I will say about this group of young men, they seem to be more athletic than we were. They seem to be able to cover so much more ground. Whatever that new step is, the Eurostep? And another thing they do differently know is, they brush-pick. They brush and then they pop. You rarely see a guy do a solid pick and then roll with the guy on his back to cause a mismatch. Everybody’s looking to open the floor to shoot 3’s. This has become the weapon of choice now. NBA.com: No rings for that Milwaukee team from which you retired has meant, so far, no Hall of Fame for Marques Johnson or Sidney Moncrief, the two stars.   BL: That’s what rings hollow in your ears. You hear people saying, “Where’s the ring? The ring!” And we don’t have any rings. That’s what we play for. NBA.com: Didn’t stop your enshrinement though. BL: They must have been blind, crippled and crazy, huh? It’s a short crop of brotherhood that gets in there. I just wish there was more time on those weekends where we could spend time just talking with one another. You rarely see each other, and it would be nice to have a quiet room where you could just re-hash old times and plays, and maybe have your family so your grandkids could listen to Earl the Pearl tell about this or [Bill] Walton tell about that. Just rehashing stuff that brought people a lot of joy. 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 NewsSep 11th, 2018

REINFORCEMENTS HAVE ARRIVED

Miss the PBA yet? Don't worry as there's more action coming your way starting Friday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City. The 2018 PBA Governors' Cup will tip off this weekend and we have prolific imports in town, 12 of them to be exact. Get to know who they are before we start the third and final conference for this season.   Justin Brownlee --- Ginebra By now, Justin Brownlee needs no introduction but here goes anyway for the benefit of those who don't know him for some reason. Brownlee is a three-time PBA champion for the Gin Kings and a one-time Best Import. His first two titles came in the Governors' Cup. The first one was in 2016 when he hit "The Shot" in Game 6. The second one was last year when he led the barangay to a Game 7 win in front of more than 50,000 fans at the Philippine Arena. He's a Ginebra legend.   Allen Durham --- Meralco The reigning two-time Best Import is back for the Bolts and he's looking to complete some unfinished business. Durham has led Meralco to two Governors' Cup Finals in his previous two stints in the PBA but each time, the Bolts lost to Ginebra for the title. Is third time the charm for Allen Durham and Meralco?   AZ Reid --- San Miguel Arizona Reid won two Best Imports back when he was still with Rain or Shine and he won his first Governors' Cup title when he switched over to San Miguel. Now, the high-scoring import is back for the Beermen after a one-year hiatus. He has some business to finish here and at the top of the list is regaining his lost PBA championship.   Eugene Phelps --- Phoenix El Destructor first made a name for himself in the Governors' Cup. The Commissioner's Cup might not be his best cup of tea but when it comes to the season-ending conference, Eugene Phelps has proven before that he's a force to be reckoned with. With an upgraded local lineup and perhaps better durability this time around, El Destructor might just become extra destructive to the oppposition.   Henry Walker --- Blackwater The Elite made their second playoff appearance last year in the Governors' Cup with Henry Walker. As the no. 8 seed, they were a few minutes away from stunning no. 1 Meralco to go to the semis. Mr. Inspiration has provided nothing but positive stuff for Blackwater and with a longer build up, the Elite might be ready to take the next step in the Governors' Cup in order to salvage what has been a lost season.   Mike Harris --- Alaska The Aces are bringing in Mike Harris as reinforcement in the Governors' Cup. Harris has NBA experience with the Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz. He has tremendous international experience and the PBA is only the latest in his long list of stops. He has a career average of 3.4 points in the NBA, playing a total of 54 games spread across five seasons.   Akeem Wright --- Columbian The Dyip will have 33-year-old Akeem Wright for the Governors' Cup. Wright was undrafted in the 2007 NBA Draft and since then, he's built an international career with stops in the Middle East and Europe.   Romeo Travis --- Magnolia A close buddy of LeBron James, Romeo Travis is back in the PBA. The first time, he played for Alaska and won Best Import but lost in the Finals to San Miguel Beer  back in 2015. Now, Travis will suit up for the Magnolia Hotshots. Travis of course is part of the LeBron's high school team at St. Vincent-St. Mary.   Olu Ashaolu --- NLEX We've seen Olu in the Commissioner's Cup as he played NLEX's last game of the conference as part of the team's prep for the Governors' Cup. Ashaolu played for Lousiana Tech and Oregon and college and went undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft.   Rashad Woods --- Northport The Batang Pier will go with Rashad Woods for the Governors' Cup. Woods has had memorable stints in Mexico and in the Middle East, where he's known as the "Arab Ace."   J'Nathan Bullock --- Rain or Shine Bullock is back for a second stint with ROS. Last season, Bullock and the Elasto Painters were eliminated in the quarterfinals but not after erasing TNT's twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs. Bullock will join a ROS team that will be coming off an Asian Games campaign in Indonesia.   Mike Glover --- TNT Glover was Globalport's replacement import for Globalport two years ago but now, he'll start for the KaTropa in the 2018 Governors' Cup. The hulking forward went for 25.6 points and 14.0 rebounds in his first PBA tour.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 16th, 2018

Reed topples Spieth as top seeds fall in Match Play

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — In a showdown that turned sloppy, Patrick Reed nearly holed a wedge to seize control and finished off Jordan Spieth with a 40-foot birdie putt from behind the 17th green to advance to the weekend of the Dell Technologies Match Play. The 2-and-1 victory sent Spieth home in search of his game with the Masters just two weeks away. Spieth hit his opening tee shot onto the range and out-of-bounds. He hit into a hazard on each of the next two holes. And when he finally caught Reed with consecutive shots to tap-in range, he missed two key putts inside 6 feet. "I don't think it would have been that tough to beat me today," Spieth said. Reed was tough enough, twirling a wedge in his hands as it cut into the wind and grazed the front edge of the cup on the 13th hole for a 2-up lead to take command of the match. Spieth, who three-putted for the third time on No. 15 to fall 3 down, stayed alive with an 8-foot birdie putt on the 16th and looked as though he might have a chance to go the distance when Reed's putt was racing toward the cup at the 17th. The cup got in the way, and all Spieth could do was smile. "Just happened to be the perfect line," Reed said. "Thank God, because that thing was moving." And now Reed is moving along into the single-elimination phase of the weekend, four matches away from another World Golf Championship. Spieth is headed to the Houston Open without a top 10 in his last seven tournaments. "I'm human and I'm realistic that based on the way the year's gone ... it's been kind of a trying time for me, especially on and round the greens," Spieth said. "Stuff I took for granted in setup and pace control and all that kind of stuff ... has been a little bit more difficult. And I've been trying to figure out how to get back to that level, and I've been trying different things." Spieth, the No. 4 seed, wasn't the only player leaving early. Justin Thomas (No. 2) and Sergio Garcia (No. 7) were the only top-10 seeds to advance to the fourth round. Thomas had the easiest time, a 7-and-5 victory over Francesco Molinari. And with defending champion Dustin Johnson already eliminated, Thomas can go to No. 1 in the world if he wins this week. But there's a long way to go. Asked how he felt going into the weekend, Thomas replied, "The same as the other 16 guys. We all start at the same place." Paul Casey might have had the toughest day: He lost twice. Casey only had to halve his match to advance for the third time in four years. He lost to Matt Fitzpatrick, and even then had a chance to win his group if the other match was halved. Instead, Kyle Stanley made an 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to win, and then he beat Casey on the second hole of a playoff. Tyrrell Hatton also was forced into a playoff, and he beat Brendan Steele on the first extra hole. Rory McIlroy still had a chance until he lost to Brian Harman. Phil Mickelson was eliminated when Charles Howell III, who beat Lefty on Wednesday, completed a 3-0 mark in group play by beating Satoshi Kodaira. Howell and Ian Poulter, who swept his matches when Kevin Chappell conceded at the turn with a back injury, still have a chance to earn a spot in the Masters by getting into the top 50 at the end of the week. They both need to win at least one more match. The tightest match was Alex Noren and Tony Finau, one of four matches between players who had not lost all week. Finau won three straight holes on the back nine to take a 1-up lead, only to lose the 14th with a bogey. With the match all square, Noren made a 10-foot birdie at the 17th to go 1 up, and then holed a 15-foot par putt on the final hole to avoid going to a playoff with Finau. Noren now has won seven of his last eight matches in his event, his only loss coming to Johnson in the quarterfinals last year. In other groups: — Garcia won on the 17th hole against Xander Schauffele and won his group for the first time since it switched to pool play in 2014. He also becomes the home favorite from living part-time in Austin, where his wife gave birth to their first child last week. — Si Woo Kim outlasted Webb Simpson on the 18th hole to advance. — Matt Kuchar made a hole-in-one in a 6-and-4 victory over Ross Fisher to advance to the weekend for the second time in three years. — Bubba Watson birdied his last two holes to earn a halve against Julian Suri and avoid a playoff. Watson next faces Harman, a match of Georgia lefties. — Louis Oosthuizen beat Jason Day with two clutch putts, and then won the group with a 12-foot par putt in a playoff to beat Jason Dufner. This is the third time in four years that Oosthuizen has reached the weekend......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 2018

Jags ‘threw a tantrum’ when Marrone started making changes

By Mark Long, Associated Press JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville’s locker room was abuzz late last season. Four guys played table tennis while others crowded around a small table for dominoes. Two 80-inch televisions were tuned to a sports highlight show, and music blared from one corner of the room. Doug Marrone, the team’s offensive line coach at the time, walked through and shook his head. “Can you believe this?” Marrone whispered. The Jaguars were in the middle of a nine-game losing streak that would ultimately cost coach Gus Bradley his job. Marrone had watched from afar for two years, witnessing an atmosphere he felt was too loose, too laid-back and too lenient amid losing. So when Marrone was hired to replace Bradley last January, high on his to-do list was to change the culture in Jacksonville. His success is one reason the Jaguars (12-6) are in the AFC championship game against New England (14-3). The ping pong table was the first to go. Dominoes followed. The locker room stalls were overhauled, too, with Marrone mixing and matching position groups and putting certain players next to veteran leaders and/or NFL role models. “We definitely threw a tantrum,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “Went in there and talked to him about it. Definitely wasn’t happy. I learned just to be quiet, you know, and go with the flow. He’s been at it longer than I have, and I’m just the football player. He says do this and I go do it. Just learn to follow him, and I’m glad I did.” Marrone saved the most significant changes for the practice fields. Marrone, top executive Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell wanted a much tougher and more physical team. They drafted bruising running back Leonard Fournette and fiery left tackle Cam Robinson to complement a defense that was significantly beefed up in free agency with the addition of All-Pro pass-rusher Calais Campbell, Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye and veteran safety Barry Church. They also designed an offseason program that was more grueling than most players had experienced. Marrone’s message was clear: Go hard or go home. “You remember guys in camp talking about this took a few years off their lives,” Jackson said. “It’s pretty funny just to see us now. I guess he does know what he’s doing.” The Jaguars were in full pads nearly every day during training camp, a tortuous stretch in draining heat and humidity that left rookies and veterans questioning the process and wondering if it would pay off. It was the NFL’s version of boot camp. Break them down, then build them up. It ultimately brought players closer, making them accountable to each other and causing them to care more for each other. Winning was the final piece, and thumping Houston 29-7 in the season opener was all the proof players needed. “It was the toughest training camp I’ve ever been a part of,” said linebacker Paul Posluszny, in his 11th season. “Coach Marrone would talk to us and say, ‘Listen, I have a plan and you have to trust me.’ With that, guys were able to say, ‘OK, we haven’t gotten what we wanted in years past doing things a certain way, so we have to buy in, trust the head man and know that that’ll bring us success when it’s time.’ “It was difficult just because of so many changes from what we were used to. I think the most important thing is we always said, ‘Well, if it helps us win, then it’s all good.’” Jacksonville had lost 63 of 80 games over the previous five seasons — the worst record in the NFL during that span — and had been through two coaching changes. Coughlin’s return was a key part of the team’s revival, and although the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach with the New York Giants gets much of the outside credit for the team’s turnaround, the reality is Marrone was the one pushing all the right buttons. Marrone has been other places where players resisted, prompting personnel moves that would slow progress. That wasn’t the case in Jacksonville, and he credited his players for being open to change. “They gave our staff the opportunity to say, ‘This is what we want to do. This is what we believe in as coaches or as an organization. This is how we want to handle ourselves,’” Marrone said. “We are still working toward that. It is not perfect by any means.” It’s clearly working, though. The Jaguars are in the title game for the third time in franchise history, one victory away from their first Super Bowl appearance. “They say (stuff) rolls downhill,” Jackson said. “Well, the good stuff rolls downhill, too. ... It’s all worth it when you win.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Superteams and superpowers: Basketball in 2017

The common theme in basketball as of late is rather simple: build yourself a superteam and see where it goes. 2017 saw a bunch of superteams take the court in all levels. Some panned out and some did not. Nevertheless, we live in a world of superteams. Either your favorite basketball team is one or it's not.   Warriors World For the 2016-2017 NBA Season, the 73-win Golden State Warriors, a superteam in their own right, added former Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant. Oh my goodness. The Dubs then proceeded to decimate the NBA, winning 67 games in the regular season. Golden State was even better in the playoffs, making a serious play for a postseason sweep before finishing with a 16-1 record and a second title in three seasons.   Seriously, it's a Warriors World that we live in Golden State's success has prompted other teams to try and create their own superteam. Houston snatched Chris Paul away from the Los Angeles Clippers and now the Rockets have a potent backcourt combo that also feature MVP contender James Harden. Oklahoma City completed two incredible trades that made Paul George and Carmelo Anthony members of the Thunder. Oh, OKC also has MVP winner Russell Westbrook running point. The Timberwolves also have something going on in Minnesota as Jimmy Butler joined Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins for a young and intriguing Big 3. The Eastern Conference landscape changed when Cleveland traded Kyrie Irving to Boston. The Celtics previously signed Gordon Hayward and all of a sudden, the winningest NBA franchise is in position to take over the East now and the forseeable future. Speaking of Cleveland, LeBron James is still with the Cavs and they've added Dwyane Wade of all people to join an aging but still scary superteam. The King started this whole superteam craze. Golden State just happened to perfect. We all live in a Warriors World.   Feer the Beer Over in the PBA, the Philippines' premier superteam is still pretty effective despite its stars each playing almost 40 minutes per game. A year removed from the "Beeracle Run," San Miguel made history by being only the second team to capture the Perpetual Trophy following three straight Philippine Cup titles. Then the Beermen, with the top-3 MVP candidates in June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, and Chris Ross, plus Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter, ended the franchise's 16-year championship drought in the Commissioner's Cup. With the help of import Charles Rhodes of course. San Miguel had legitimate chances to win the Grand Slam of course, but the team ultimately fell short in the Governors' Cup. However, the Beermen did add 6'8" Fil-German Christian Standhardinger to the fold. Superteam.   Return of the Kings It was the perfect set up. Meralco earned the number 1 seed and was rolling all the way to the Finals. Meanwhile, the Gink Kings had to go through yet another emotional and heated series against rival TNT in the semifinals in order to have a chance to properly defend their title. The series before that? The Gin Kings had to end San Miguel's Grand Slam dreams. In the 2017 Governors' Cup Finals, Meralco was in perfect position to take The Rematch and allow the birth of a new PBA rivalry. After seven games, none of that happened and Ginebra won back-to-back titles by virtue of their quote unquote superteam. Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Joe Devance, Justin Brownlee, LA Tenorio, Sol Mercado, and Scottie Thompson. How is that not a superteam? The Kangkong jokes sure died a slow death.   Systematic Mayhem Even in college hoops, superteams are the way to go. However, in the amatuers, you just have to recruit your way into building one. La Salle has perfected this method and the Green Archers are certainly the biggest --- and loudest and most aggressive ---- recruiters. The Taft superteam featuring Ben Mbala and co. got the Green Archers to two UAAP Finals and one championship. Only one championship because another superteam, quietly built in Katipunan with surgical, perhaps even robotic, precision, beat them this year. That's right, Big Bad Blue is once again on top of the UAAP as the Ateneo Blue Eagles scored a sensational, near-sweep of UAAP Season 80. Coach Tab Baldwin has a collection of incredible players that may not look like it on first glance but they do certainly qualify for superteam status. Dom't believe it? Maybe you will after they complete a five-peat. It could happen.   Sweep In the other collegiate league, two superteams dominated the NCAA for two separate periods in one season. First, Lyceum, the surprise superteam, made history by completing an 18-game sweep of the elimination round. However, the Pirates ran into the league's decade-old superteam in San Beda and the Red Lions ended up sweeping the Finals for yet another title. Most of the major characters from both squads will return for a new season and if a San Beda-Lyceum rematch does not happen, well, that's just disappointing isn't it?   OVERTIME 2017 also saw the rise and fall and rise of the Gilas Pilipinas program. Well sort of. The Philippines got off to a great star this year by absolutely dominating the SEABA Championships. Then, disaster struck in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup when Gilas was embarassed by an old foe in South Korea. To end the year, the Philippine national team recovered, albeit in an ugly fashion, to take an early lead in the 2019 World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Gilas is more than capable of forming a Pinoy superteam that could compete, and even beat, the best of Asia. Let's hope we get that in 2018. Finally, 2017 also saw the Civil War PBA edition. It wasn't funny and it wasn't good. Fortunately, it seems that bright and peacuful days are ahead of our beloved league. Let's hope that's the case and let's just leave the bad memories behind this year. Time to move on and forget about that stuff. There are basketball games to be played.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 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

Hot Stuff: Get Those Peepers Party-Ready This Season With Revlon!

Here's how to elevate your eye makeup game!.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 19th, 2017

Hot Stuff: New Drops From BYS To Add To Your Daily Makeup Kit

Up your beauty game with these makeup must-haves!.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 1st, 2017

Draymond Green’s intensity, leadership pushes Durant, others

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Draymond Green and Kevin Durant bet on just about anything. “Life,” Green explained, “who drives home faster from the practice facility, who gets to the game earlier. You want us to tell you our whole life?” KD and Dray have formed quite a bond since way back, when Green was part of the strategic recruiting process to bring Durant to the Bay Area from Oklahoma City before last season. They’ve had a few heated moments, too, and both say they are better for it. And there’s no official count — that has been shared, anyway — on who owes who what for losing those friendly wagers. “Yeah, I’m not in those bets,” teammate Shaun Livingston said. “It could be a shot to start the practice, in the corner, anything. It doesn’t matter. Wherever. They just walk up to each other all the time, ‘Bet, bet it, bet it.’” Green, part of the Warriors contingent in the Hamptons to meet with Durant before the big July 4 decision announcement last year, lit into Durant during a loss to Memphis back in January. Then they got into it again in a three-point defeat at Sacramento on Feb. 4 (Feb. 5, PHL time). “Hollered at me? Ha! We’re grown men, ain’t nobody hollering at me,” Durant said good-naturedly after a recent practice when asked about the animated back-and-forth, as surrounding media members erupted into laughter at his response. He then chose far more colorful language — and expletives — to describe their heated exchange during a timeout. Green acknowledges being mad that night. He and Durant are thriving now. “It just shows the trust that we have in each other, the relationship we have that we can go at each other,” Green said. “No one takes it personal. You say what you got to say, I say what I got to say. We figure it out and then we move on. That’s kind of what that was. You want to grow from moments like that if you’re a strong team, if your chemistry’s strong, you grow from moments like that. Chemistry’s not so strong, you’re not much of a together team, you can crumble from situations like that. But our chemistry is one of the things that makes us special.” Golden State seemed to build from those moments, and the defending NBA champs withstood Durant’s absence for 19 games shortly thereafter because of a knee injury. Livingston is the guy who stood between them that night in the Golden 1 Center, and notes, “They’re cut from the same cloth in a sense.” “It’s good to have that type of relationship, honestly, because when adversity strikes and things hit, they’re not afraid to say anything to each other,” Livingston said, “and you need that.” The Warriors’ emotional leader has been doing a bit of everything. After a recent outing, Green stole a look at his stat line and grinned. He certainly appreciated that performance: 10 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, a season-best five blocked shots, two steals and just one turnover in 31 impressive minutes. “I like a line like that,” he said. “It kind of shows that you did everything on the floor and not just one thing. I definitely enjoy having a stat line like that if it means anything.” It means plenty to the Warriors, who are still working to find a consistent flow this season. They have struggled at times to take care of the ball and handle the basic fundamentals. That’s also typical Green, who lately is also having games in which he catches defenses off guard by knocking down three-pointers. His teammates love it all. “I knew he would make my job way easier and I knew I could help him,” Durant said. “I knew that his intensity was going to up the level of everybody on the floor, the way he approaches the game, his passion and love for the game. That stuff stood out more than anything. Obviously he’s quick for his position, he’s got long arms, he can shoot the 3, he can pass, he can rebound, but just his passion and love for the game that kind of shines bright, and it’s contagious.” Green raised his right arm in the air on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter of a Nov. 13 (Nov. 14, PHL time) win against the Magic, knocking down a three-pointer from the top of the arc before a layup moments later. “He’s unique from the standpoint of Steph, Klay and KD are guys that can go for 60. But Draymond just impacts the game in so many ways that you’ve just got to compete against him. You’ve got to understand that he can do it all,” Orlando coach Frank Vogel said. Green and Durant spent time together as 2016 Olympians in Rio. KD couldn’t wait to play with Green regularly — even if they went at it back on Feb. 4 (Feb. 5, PHL time) in Sacramento. “It’s just two teammates in the heat of the moment, both needed, at that point, that game, we were all bad,” Durant said. “We needed energy somehow. We kind of both sensed that. We came back to the huddle and got after it.” Still, that fire is what Durant loves about his intense teammate. Not to mention the work he puts in shooting from every spot on the floor. “It means a lot,” Green said. “You have to have those guys’ trust. If somebody sees you working, they have more trust in that. Obviously as one of the leaders of this team, you should be one of the hardest workers.” In the past three seasons, Green has notched five games with at least five points, five rebounds, five assists and five blocks. “You understand how impactful he can be without really scoring a lot of points or having any ooh or aah moments on the offensive end,” Stephen Curry said. “He has a lot of ooh and aah moments with the hustle plays and defensively. It seems like he’s always kind of in the play somehow. We appreciate every little bit of that effort and the results he prides himself in every single time he’s out there on the floor. His stat lines sometimes look like this where he’s so well-rounded across the board — points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots and whatnot — and he’ll bang down three, four triples every once in a while. You appreciate what he brings to the squad every single night and his energy and his passion.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 24th, 2017

PBA D-League: Bulanadi, Valencia-Baste sink Marinero in OT

Valencia City Bukidnon-San Sebastian College Recoletos scored its breakthrough win in the 2019 PBA D-League, repulsing Marinerong Pilipino, 110-104 in overtime Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig. Allyn Bulanadi starred for the Golden Harvest, dropping a game-high 32 points, 12 coming in the big 28-point third quarter assault for his side before scoring four more to put the game away in extra time. He also had nine rebounds, three blocks, and two assists as he emerged as the new go-to-guy for San Sebastian. Coach Egay Macaraya, though, felt that the credit shouldn't be given solely to Bulanadi given how good the team recovered after squandering a 14-point fourth quarter lead. "Isang factor si Allyn, but everybody, noong extension, hindi nag-give up ang mga bata. I guess yun ang bini-build namin ngayon, building character ng Baste," he said. "Nakita ko na 'di kami nag-give up and that's the very thing na I'm very happy." Valencia-Baste looked poised to run away with the win after taking an 84-70 lead, but Mike Ayonayon and Art Aquino conspired to bring Marinerong Pilipino back in the game and tied it at 100 just as the regulation clock expired. But Bulanadi had other plans as he commanded the finishing kick the Golden Harvest needed to score the breakthrough and gain the first victory in the Foundation Group. RK Ilagan also added 28 points on a 5-of-9 shooting from threes, while also collecting seven rebounds, six assists, and three steals, while JM Calma scattered nine points, 10 boards, and two dimes for Valencia-Baste. The loss spoiled Ayonayon's 23-point night, as well as the 19 points and five rebounds from Aquino as the Skippers fell on their season opener. BOX SCORES VALENCIA-BASTE 110 -- Bulanadi 32, Ilagan 28, Calma 9, Villapando 8, Capobres 7, Dela Cruz 6, Are 5, Altamirano 5, Sumoda 4, Desoyo 3, Bonleon 3, Calahat 0, Tero 0, Loristo 0. MARINERONG PILIPINO 104 -- Ayonayon 23, Aquino 19, Wamar 15, Rodriguez 15, Santillan 12, Asistio 9, Mendoza 6, Reyes 3, Serrano 2, Victoria 0, Bonifacio 0, Bunag 0. QUARTER SCORES: 30-26, 50-53, 78-68, 100-100, 110-104......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 14th, 2019

PBA: Lee on Magnolia s 0-3 start: 'Alam ng lahat sitwasyon namin ngayon'

Magnolia's rough start to the season continues. After capturing the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup, the Hotshots haven't won since, starting the 2019 Philippine Cup with three straight losses, the latest being a dramatic one-point loss to Rain or Shine Wednesday. Entering the Gilas break, Magnolia remains as the only winless team in the All-Filipino. Still, despite the 0-3 record, the Hotshots are not dwelling on their poor card. "Siguro ano, di na lang namin titingnan na parang negative," guard Paul Lee said. "Kailangan kung ano yung nasa harap namin, doon kami mag-focus kasi baka lalo lang mapasama kapag inisip namin yung 0-3 kami," he added. While that's a great mindset to have, it doesn't change the fact that the Hotshots are 0-3. And if Magnolia is to build on its latest championship and have another strong playoff run, the team will have to turn things around and start winning games. The break to give way for Gilas is the perfect way for the Hotshots to recalibrate. "Laging nire-remind ni Coach Chito na yung sense of urgency, kailangan and yan na talaga. Kasi yun nga, mahirap malubog talaga. Kailangan next game, talagang next game pilitin namin na makuha yung panalo, kasi parang do-or-die na sa amin yun," Lee said. "Siguro alam naman ng lahat kung ano yung sitwasyon namin ngayon, so there's no point na magre-relax pa kami or what," he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 14th, 2019

PBA: Allein Maliksi learning the ropes as Blackwater s leader

For 31-year old Allein Maliksi, taking the daunting task of being the Blackwater Elite's locker room leader will be no walk in the park, but he is willing to take charge. His team showed promise against the hobbled Alaska Aces Wednesday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena, going down by as much as 13, 63-50, midway through the third quarter before closing in on the lead and eventually taking the lead in the fourth. Although Blackwater exhibited grit, the inexperience of a young team became speed bumps down the stretch as the veteran Aces escaped with a 103-101 win. Maliksi led the Blackwater offense with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and several clutch jumpers, as he became a much-needed driving force for a team that features five rookies and a handful role players. "Wala yung teamwork. So kailangan talaga namin mag-build ulit ng magkakasama kami ng matagal, so kumbaga medyo parang naging rookie team ulit yung team ko so para sa akin as a leader nila na nilo-look forward," said the former Growling Tiger.  "I'm always trying to take charge na ma-encourage sila, fix their mindset na this game, we need to be smart." Maliksi previously thought that being a leader was to sacrifice one's indivudual game for the overall well-being of the squad, but as coach Bong Ramos made him realize, that was far from being a leader. "Sabi ko sa kaniya, 'ba’t ayaw mong tumira?' 'Kasi, coach, diba ako ang leader,' sabi niya, 'eh gusto ko sakin magsimula yung nagfi-feed, yung nagpapasa.' “No,' sabi ko, 'not because you’re trying to be a leader or you’re the leader of the team, hindi ka na titira," Ramos said. "That is not your game. Your game is to score, maging agresibo ka umopensa. Hindi pupwede yung ganiyan. Eh yung mga kasama mo inaasahan shu-shoot ka eh. Biro mo four attempts ka lang sa Ginebra,'" he added. By being the team's designated scorer, Maliksi noted that aside from the points, he had also set an example for the team in other aspects of the game, such as precise passing and defending. That could serve as a great start for their talented rookies in Paul Desiderio, Abu Tratter, and Diego Dario, along with newcomers Joseph Eriobu and Gelo Alolino. "[Medyo proud ako sa mga teammates ko and sa team ko. Kasi, kahit nalalamangan kami ng double-digit, nakakabalik kami. And yung sa dulo, medyo breaks of the game, di kami naka-depensa. Naka-shoot si Banchero at si Sonny Thoss sa huli. So, yun nga, sabi ko sa kanila, after the game, proud ako sa kanilang lahat kasi hindi tayo nag-give up." Staring at a record which is unlikely enough for a playoff run, all Maliksi wants the team to do is to hang their head high for the season isn't over in the first conference. "Iniisip lang namin every game magimprove kami. Every game lumalaban hindi yung lopsided na tambak talaga kami -- yun yung talagang iniiwasan namin eh. Though hindi kami ganun kabeteranong team kasi mga rookies and mga ngayon lang halos nabigyan ng playing time yung iba,"  "We need to be patient about it. Hindi pwede mawalan ng pasensya -- ako hinahabaan ko rin kasi minsan gusto ko na mainis pero hindi pwede kasi hindi ka pwede bumigay as a leader." __ Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2019

UAAP Season 81: Dawn of a new era for the Lady Eagles

For five years, Ateneo de Manila University embraced the ‘happy, happy’ and heartstrong mantra preached by former mentor Tai Bundit. This coming UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament will be the dawn of a new era for the Lady Eagles under new head coach Oliver Almadro. Known as a great motivator who engineered three straight title conquests in the men’s division, Almadro brings to the Lady Eagles a new system and injects and a different approach to the game. “My players trust naman kung ano ang sistema namin, yun ang maganda,” said Almadro, who replaced Bundit after Season 80. “My players naman are slowly getting the system kasi seven months pa lang ako sa Ateneo.” “Sad part lang talaga na ang nga seniors ko, sina Bea (De Leon) and Maddie (Madyag), is [sic] on their last playing years. Kung mayroon pa sanang isang taon medyo may buwelo pero wala na,” he added. “We really have to give our best, we really have to give all-out this year. We have to mature right away.” Almadro also wants his wards to adopt a simple mindset: ‘be better than their best’. "The mindset of my players is to just aim at what is above, play right and be better than their best. Kung ano ang ibinigay nila sa mga previous tournaments they just have to be better than that. Yan ang mindset namin," Almadro said. Bundit handled the Lady Eagles for five years and gave Ateneo its breakthrough crown in Season 76 and a rare tournament sweep in Season 77. For his first order of business, Almadro will try to bring the Lady Eagles back into the Final Four and eventually a return stint to the championship after missing the Finals last year. Ateneo missed the Finals last year after six straight championship appearances and settled for a third place finish.      “Well, realistic goal, of course, first, to be in the Final Four. Because if we reach the Final Four, we have a chance and opportunity to be in the Finals,” said Almadro, who steered the Marck Espejo-led Blue Eagles to three straight titles from Season 77 to 79. “Now, kapag nasa Final Four na, saka natin pag-isipan kung anong mangyayari doon. But of course, all teams are aiming on what is above always, which is the championship.” Almadro will have in his hands a squad with a good mix of veterans and promising rookies. Seasoned players and co-team captains Bea De Leon, Maddie Madayag and Kim Gequillana will return for their swan songs for the blue and white as well as other veterans Kat Tolentino, Ponggay Gaston and last year’s Best Setter Deanna Wong. Rookies Vanessa Gandler and Jaja Maraguinot, sister of former Ateneo hitter Jho Maraguinot who graduated last year, also showed a glimpse of their game during the pre-season, making the Lady Eagles one of the top title contenders.    “I have 60 percent veterans and 40 percent rookies. Hindi siya 50-50 pero vital role kasi 'yung rookies ko kasi in my system kasi, I really rotate players eh,” said Almadro. “So 'yung mga rookies talaga, magagamit at magagamit sila. So, vital role 'yun.” “Importante talaga 'yung mga rookies ko kahit 40% lang sila nu’ng team. And 'yung mga veterans ko naman, new position. So, basically it's a new system talaga,” he added. As part of their build up for the season, the Lady Eagles joined the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference and finished runner-up to star-studded club Creamline led by former Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez. Ateneo also ruled the Viking Cup and set up a training camp in Japan.   With a report from Danine Cruz. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2019

Jokic, Beasley lead Nuggets past Heat 103-87

By Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets snapped a three-game skid with a 103-87 win over the Miami Heat on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) behind 23 points and 12 rebounds from Nikola Jokic and 20 points from Malik Beasley. The Nuggets swept the season series from the Heat for the first time since 2008-09 and improved to 18-1 when holding opponents under 100 points. This marked the first time they did that since a 105-99 win at New Orleans on Jan. 30 (Feb. 1, PHL time). Denver pulled away in the third quarter to avoid matching a season-worst four-game skid it had in November before recovering in a big way to soar into the upper echelon on the Western Conference. The Nuggets struggled with three-point defense in their losses at Detroit, Brooklyn and Philadelphia last week, yielding a combined 48 percent success rate from long range in their East Coast swing. And the Heat were coming off a heartbreaking two-point loss at Golden State on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in which they sank 18 three-pointers. "I hope they got all their makes last night and left that in San Francisco," Nuggets coach Michael Malone cracked before tip-off. The Heat did go cold from long range, finishing 9-of-23 for a 27-percent clip. The Nuggets regained their shooting touch, sinking 16 three-pointers including four in a 16-0 run they used to build a 75-57 lead with Will Barton and Jamal Murray each hitting two from behind the arc. Jokic had a pair of three-pointers as he scored Denver's final eight points before the break, helping the Nuggets take a 54-49 halftime lead. Justise Winslow led Miami with 15 points. VINDICATION Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn't want to harp on the Heat's 120-118 loss at Golden State a night earlier after the NBA said the Warriors' Kevin Durant should have been called for a discontinued dribble in his team's final possession. Golden State made a pair of free throws on that possession, the final points of the game. The league, in its Last Two Minute Report that is released after close games, said it reviewed multiple video angles to determine that Durant's dribble was not interrupted by the ball making inadvertent contact with the foot or shin of Winslow and "a discontinued dribble should have been called on Durant." The NBA also opted not to fine Spoelstra for his postgame comments about the officiating and he emphasized that he wasn't blaming officials for Miami's loss. "It's a double-dribble. Everybody can see it," Spoelstra said after the game. "Those are tough calls to make, but everybody saw it. It's right there in front of everybody. That should be a violation and you can't miss those calls. But we had our chances. Like I said, it was back and forth. The officials — so let's be clear about it, so I do not get fined — that's not why we lost." TIP-INS Heat: Miami, the league's only team with more wins on the road than at home, fell to 14-14 on the road. ... Spoelstra looked at the silver lining of facing the Western Conference's top two teams on back-to-back nights, saying before the game: "What do you want as a competitor? You want to be challenged, you want to be pushed. You want to find out what you're about collectively as a team. Can we bounce back? We've had two tough losses on the road. I prefer these times where you have a tough loss and can bounce back 24 hours later, rather than wait and stew and brew." Nuggets: The Nuggets honored the late Irv Brown during a first-quarter timeout with a video tribute to the former University of Colorado baseball coach, NCAA referee and longtime Denver sports broadcaster who died Feb. 3. ... In the first quarter, Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig both missed breakaway dunks. ... The Nuggets improved to 24-4 at home. UP NEXT Heat: Visit Dallas on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Nuggets: Host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2019

UAAP SEASON 81: I don’t want them to focus on the end goal -- Air Padda

Entering her third season as coach of the Adamson University Lady Falcons, Air Padda shifts to a different approach for her team in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament. Padda in her first two years tried to inject a winning culture to a struggling squad but now with five rookies coming in and with the Lady Falcons on a rebuilding stage, the mentor wants to ease the pressure on her wards by just setting up a modest goal taking it one game at a time. “You know, this season, I don't want them to focus on the end goal so much,” said Padda, who lost some key players from last season after Mylene Paat, starting setter Fhen Emnas and top hitter Jema Galanza exhausted all their playing years. “I don't want them to get ahead of themselves. It's really taking one game at a time. Baby steps,” she added. “And controlling the things we have control over. There's never a way that we control what the other team is gonna do, but we control our effort.” “We can focus on how tough we play, how hard we play, masipag, and family. Staying, sticking together as a family no matter what,” said Padda. “So those have been the three things that I've been kinda feeding into their heads.” Expectations were high for Adamson last year with the return of Paat and Emnas after sitting out Season 79 but the weight of that pressure to return to the Final Four took its toll on the team. The Lady Falcons ended up at fifth to sixth place tied with University of the Philippines, winning six games while dropping eight and missing the semis for the fourth straight year. “Oh man. Last season was really difficult for us. It felt like we really had a really strong team, and I think, it's safe to say that everyone knew we had a strong team,” Padda recalled. “But it was disappointing not to make it to the Final Four.” Taking the lessons she learned from last UAAP season and the pre-season, Padda knows that setting up an end goal too early might be counterproductive considering the lineup she has at hand. Though veterans from last year’s core in graduating Eli Soyud, Joy Dacoron, libero Thang Ponce, Chiara Permentilla and Bernadette Flora are making their return, the Lady Falcons also have rookies in its lineup with a couple filling up the starting positions. The new faces in Adamson’s roster are Trisha Genesis, Krich Macaslang, Nikka Yandoc, Chen Ave, Nina Balang and Hannah Infante.      “You know, some players can't handle that. That's a lot of pressure,” said Padda. “And with my lineup, there's five rookies in my lineup. And two of those might be starting spots. That's a lot of pressure for an 18-year old girl to come into and think she has to do something magical.” “You don't have to do anything magical to get to the Final Four but what we do need to do is focus on coming in here every day and taking one game at a time. You know what I mean? And then, hopefully, we'll be in a position to be in the Final Four.” As part of their build up for the season, Adamson joined the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference, finishing third, and competed in the PVL Open Conference despite losing Genesis and Soyud for most of the tournament due to injuries.   Adamson’s pre-season stints also bore fruit with players Soyud, Flora, setter MJ Igao, Ponce and Dacoron, as part of BanKo, getting individual recognitions in the PVL. Using these as motivations, Adamson could be on the right track of making it into the Final Four… one small step at a time.               --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 10th, 2019

Bagley s career-high 24 points lead Kings past Spurs 127-112

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Rookie forward Marvin Bagley III had a career-high 24 points and 12 rebounds for his third straight double-double, leading the Sacramento Kings past the San Antonio Spurs 127-112 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) for their seventh straight home win. De'Aaron Fox added 20 points and Buddy Hield scored 18 to extend Sacramento's longest home winning streak since a 14-gamer in 2005-06. That was the last time the Kings made the playoffs, but Sacramento (28-25) is positioned to make a run at a postseason spot this season. The Kings trail the Los Angeles Clippers by a half-game for eighth place in the Western Conference. DeMar DeRozan had 24 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 for the Spurs, who lost the opener of their annual eight-game rodeo road trip. Sacramento coach Dave Joerger was fearful his team could have a "hangover" after an emotional win at home Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) against Philadelphia. But the young Kings responded with another victory, helping them seal their first season-series win over the Spurs since 2001-02. Sacramento had lost 14 straight to San Antonio before winning at home in November and followed it up with another. The teams meet for the final time in the regular season March 31 (April 1, PHL time) in San Antonio. The Kings started to pull ahead midway through the third quarter. Hield made a driving layup followed by a three-pointer in transition to build the lead to 91-80, and Sacramento led by 12 heading into the fourth. The Spurs cut the deficit in half early in the fourth but Bagley energized the crowd with an alley-oop dunk when he rotated nearly 360 degrees after catching the lob from Yogi Ferrell to help stave off a comeback attempt. The Kings made seven three-pointers in the first quarter to take a 14-point lead before the Spurs fought back in the second to briefly go back ahead. Fox's buzzer-beating layup put Sacramento up 63-59 at halftime. TIP-INS Spurs: G Derrick White didn't join the team for the start of the road trip because of a heel injury. "He'll be out for a while," coach Gregg Popovich said. "The MRI wasn't great. So we'll see." Davis Bertans started in place of White. Kings: Sacramento made 10 three-pointers in the first half to extend the franchise record for most games in a season with double-digit three's. The Kings have done it 41 times this season, seven more than the previous mark set two years ago. ... Ferrell scored 19 points on 7-for-7 shooting and Harry Giles had 11 as Sacramento outscored the Spurs 60-32 from the bench. BUZZER BEATERS There was a frantic end to the third quarter. Patty Mills missed a shot for San Antonio that Nemanja Bjelica rebounded with 4.1 seconds left. He got the ball to Fox, who went coast-to-coast for a layup with 1.4 seconds to go. But Bertans then threw an outlet pass to Mills, who responded with a layup of his own with 0.2 seconds left in the quarter. UP NEXT Spurs: Visit the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). Kings: Host the Houston Rockets on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2019

Lockdown: Sarri keeps team in locker room after Chelsea loss

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Unable to fathom his team's second-half capitulation, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri kept his players in the locker room for around an hour after a humiliating 4-0 loss at Bournemouth on Wednesday. His assistants weren't allowed in the room. The media was kept waiting. Sarri simply wanted answers. "I needed to understand," Sarri said. "It's impossible to play in such a different way between the first and second half. I don't understand why." Sarri even started to question himself. "Maybe it's my fault," he added, "maybe I'm not able to motivate them." From 0-0 at halftime, Chelsea conceded four goals to slump to its heaviest loss so far in Sarri's turbulent reign. It's back-to-back league defeats for Chelsea, which was outplayed in a 2-0 loss at Arsenal 11 days earlier. That led to a coruscating attack from Sarri on his players' attitude and mentality. It hasn't had the desired effect, with Chelsea now out of the top four — on goals scored below Arsenal — in the race to secure one of the four Champions League qualification positions. Without one of them, Sarri surely won't survive more than a season at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea has long since exited the title race, which was thought to be down to two teams — Liverpool and Manchester City. However, Liverpool failed to fully capitalize on City's 2-1 loss to Newcastle on Tuesday by only drawing 1-1 at home to Leicester a day later, giving Juergen Klopp's team a five-point lead when it could have been seven. Now there might be a third team in contention, with Tottenham rallying to a 2-1 win over Watford to close to within seven points of Liverpool. ___ HIGUAIN INEFFECTIVE Gonzalo Higuain was handed a first Premier League start by Chelsea after his loan move from Juventus. It was a sobering night for the Argentine striker. He was substituted after 65 minutes, having failed to record a shot on target or look a significant upgrade on Olivier Giroud — the target man already at the London club. "You don't know what you are doing," sang Chelsea's fans when Sarri sent on Giroud as a replacement for Higuain, supposedly the answers to Chelsea's scoring problems. Josh King scored either side of a superb solo strike from David Brooks, before Charlie Daniels added a fourth for Bournemouth in second-half stoppage time. NERVOUS LIVERPOOL With Liverpool in position to win a first league title since 1990, the ground staff seems to be doing everything it can to help the team out. At halftime, workers cleared snow out of the penalty area that Liverpool was attacking but didn't do the same to the one the team was defending. Not that it mattered. This was an unconvincing, sometimes nervous display by the leaders, who couldn't build on the lead Sadio Mane gave them after 121 seconds — Liverpool's quickest league goal in nearly three years. Harry Maguire equalized in first-half stoppage time for Leicester, which has beaten Chelsea and Man City in the past five weeks. It was the first time since April that Liverpool has dropped points against anyone outside the so-called "Big Six" in the league. TOTTENHAM RECOVERS So much for Tottenham being in a crisis. After exiting two cup competitions in the space of four days last week, Tottenham ensured it can still have a say in the title race in the league by coming from behind against Watford. Craig Cathcart headed home a corner in the 38th to put Watford ahead but Son Heung-min marked his return from the Asian Cup duty with South Korea with an equalizer in the 80th. Fernando Llorente then made up for a glaring miss earlier in the game by heading home a cross to secure a second straight late comeback win for Spurs, who netted in injury time to earn a 2-1 win at Fulham in their previous league match. In Wednesday's other game, Wilfried Zaha scored and was later sent off for Crystal Palace in a 1-1 draw at Southampton, which moved four points clear of the relegation zone......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 31st, 2019

Novak, Naomi, other things we learned at Australian Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The way things went at the Australian Open didn't exactly teach the world that Novak Djokovic is the best there is in men's tennis right now. Certainly confirmed it, though. And while those within the game knew all about Naomi Osaka, she made sure her talent is more obvious to more people. Djokovic, a 31-year-old already ranked No. 1, now has won the past three men's Grand Slam titles. Osaka, who earned her debut at No. 1 at age 21, has won the last two women's trophies at majors. When it's time for the next Grand Slam tournament — the French Open, four months from now — all eyes should be on them. "Obviously, it's just the beginning of the season. I know there's a lot of tournaments to play before Roland Garros, so I have plenty of time to build my form slowly," Djokovic said. "I have to work on my game, my clay-court game, a bit more." After his impressive 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the final at Melbourne Park on Sunday, Djokovic can pursue a fourth consecutive major championship, something he already accomplished from 2015-16. But the possibility also exists for him to aim for a calendar-year Grand Slam, something last done 50 years ago by Rod Laver. It's the kind of thing that could get everyone talking about tennis. As for Osaka — a 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 winner over Petra Kvitova in Saturday's final — what makes her sudden surge to the top particularly noteworthy is that it comes right after a period of apparent depth but no dominance. Until this Australian Open, eight women had divided the previous eight major titles. Not since Serena Williams took four in a row from 2014-15 had one woman won consecutive Slam tournaments. And you have to go all the way back to Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to find a woman who won her first major championship and followed it up at the very next Slam with a second title. "I always hear stories that the best players win matches even when they're not playing their best. And I've always wondered how they did that," Osaka said. "So I feel like this tournament, for me, was that." Djokovic is at the height of his powers. Osaka is only getting better. Who will challenge them? Here is what else we learned at the 2019 Australian Open: SERENA AND ROGER Serena Williams and Roger Federer are both 37. No one has won more Grand Slam singles titles in the professional era than Williams' 23. No man in history has won more than Federer's 20. Williams owns seven Australian Open trophies, Federer six. But she lost in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park this time, and he exited in the fourth round. Maybe age is catching up to them. Maybe not. The idea that either is done contending for big titles seems far-fetched, though. One key thing moving forward: Federer is planning to play the European clay-court circuit and at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015. HEALTHY NADAL Nadal was not up to slowing down Djokovic, but he otherwise sure looked terrific — and, most importantly, healthy. There's little doubt who the favorite will be on the clay courts in France. "The positive things that happened these couple of weeks make us very optimistic regarding his future and his level," said Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya. "We know there is room to keep improving and we are going to be working on that a lot." UP-AND-COMING If there are those who fret about what will happen when the players who ruled tennis for the past 15 years or so move on, there were several new faces who made statements in Australia. Stefanos Tsitstipas, a 20-year-old from Greece, upset Federer on the way to the semifinals. Lucas Pouille, a 24-year-old from France, arrived with a 0-5 record at Melbourne but was guided to his first major semifinal by coach Amelie Mauresmo. American Frances Tiafoe, a son of immigrants from Sierra Leone who turned 21 during the tournament, pulled off a couple of upsets on the way to the quarterfinals. Danielle Collins, a 25-year-old from Florida, beat three-time major champion Angelique Kerber and made her semifinal debut. Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, showed she has a bright future......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2019