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Ilagan forced to watch from bench as Stags come up short vs Pirates

San Sebastian didn't openthe NCAA Season 94 men's basketball tournament the way it wanted to after bowing to Lyceum, 67-65, in a heartbreaker Saturday. And if there was one player who deemed the setback too bitter to swallow it had to be Regille Ilagan. The diminutive gunner was punishing the Pirates for 18 points before he got called for his fifth and final foul at the 8:02 mark of the fourth quarter. "I got carried away with my emotions, because I'm not used to this type of atmosphere and this is all my fault," said Ilagan in Filipino. "I got into it, I got a technical. I couldn't do anything about it so I just cheered my teammates on." With Ilagan on the bench, the Sta...Keep on reading: Ilagan forced to watch from bench as Stags come up short vs Pirates.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerJul 7th, 2018

NCAA Season 93: women s volleyball preview

Exciting volleyball action starts early this year as NCAA opens its 93rd season on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Arellano University will try to retain its women’s crown against a field filled with squad’s raring to sit on the throne. Let’s take a quick peek at the competing teams.   MAPUA UNIVERSITY LADY CARDINALS   Winless last year, can Mapua University finally put a stop on their skid?  Season 92 record: 0-9 Titles: none  Key players: Danielle Ramilo, Shaira Hermano, Katrina Racelis, Dianne Latayan This team has nowhere to go but up after a forgettable season last year. The Lady Cardinals lost four of their games in straight sets, three in four frames and a couple of matches in five. Mapua’s last victory was against Letran in five sets back in Season 91 (January 7, 2016).   EMILIO AGUINALDO COLLEGE LADY GENERALS   Emilio Aguinaldo College needs to be consistent to add more Ws in their record this season.  Season 92 record: 1-8 Titles: none Players to watch: Iona Yongco and Yvette Tongco EAC’s lone win last season came at the expense of Mapua in straight sets before closing their campaign with a five-set loss against Letran.   LETRAN LADY KNIGHTS   Can Letran contend for a spot in the Final Four this year? Season 92 record: 2-7 Titles: 8 (last title: 1999) Players to watch: Glayssa Faith Torres and Jaymeleene Parin Letran finished at eighth spot last year. They won only two games, against Mapua and EAC, but gave Lyceum, College of St. Benilde and San Sebastian College a scare before bowing down to these powerhouse teams in five sets.   JOSE RIZAL U LADY BOMBERS   Shola Alvarez is expected to carry Jose Rizal University on her shoulders but will need to get support from her teammates. Season 92 record: 3-6 Titles: none Players to watch: Shola Alvarez, Dolly Versoza, Karen Montojo (Season 92 Best Opposite Spiker) JRU is a young and vertically challenged team, mostly banking on Shola Alvarez for point production. The Lady Bombers joined the PVL’s Collegiate Conference during the offseason but lost all of their five matches.    LYCEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES U LADY PIRATES   Lyeum of the Philippines University is considered as a darkhorse this season.  Season 92 record: 5-4 Titles: none Players to watch: Cherilyn Sindayen, Christine Miralles, Bien Juanillo An intact and veteran-laden team. But will the Lady Pirates’ exposure in the PVL Collegiate Conference be enough for them to contend for a spot in the Final Four?     UNIVERSITY OF PERPETUAL HELP LADY ALTAS   Veteran Lourdes Clemente will be one of Perpetual Help's vital cogs in their campaign to reclaim the throne.   Season 92 record: 5-4 Titles: 3 (last title: 2014) Players to watch: Lourdes Clemente, Necelle Gual, Marijo Medalla Former CSB coach Macky Carino replaced long-time mentor Sammy Acaylar but the Lady Altas lost a solid middle in Coleen Bravo and hitter Jamela Suyat. After its three-peat (2012-14), Perpetual has yet to return to the Finals.     SAN BEDA COLLEGE LADY RED SPIKERS   All eyes will be on Cesca Racraquin when San Beda College makes a run for the crown. Season 92 record: 6-3 Titles: none Players to watch: Cesca Racraquin, Satrianni Espiritu, Nieza and Jiezela Viray Season 92 Rookie of the Year Cesca Racraquin will be the go-to guy of the Lady Red Spikers, who made it into the stepladder semis last year. SBC participated in the PVL Collegiate Conference while Racraquin had good stints in the PVL Reinforced and Open conferences for Creamline.      COLLEGE OF ST. BENILDE LADY BLAZERS   Ranya Musa (left) and Rachel Austero are the players to watch for a beefed up College of St. Benilde. Season 92 record: 6-3 Titles: 1 (2016) Players to watch: Ranya Musa, Rachel Austero, Maritess Pablo, Felicia Cui Expectations are high for this team with the arrival of transferees Maritess Pablo (NU) and Felicia Cui (Ateneo) to help Rachel Austero and graduating player Ranya Musa.     Leadership will be a tough challenge for this team after the departure of ace scorer Jeanette Panaga as well as adapting to a new system under interim head coach Arnold Laniog, who replaced Macky Carino.     SAN SEBASTIAN COLLEGE LADY STAGS   San Sebastian College is looking at a rough and bumpy road ahead this season. Season 92 record: 9-0 elims, defeated thrice in the Finals Titles: 23 (last title: 2011) Players to watch: Joyce Sta. Rita, Alyssa Eroa, Nikka Dalisay The most-decorated volleyball program in the NCAA will be facing its toughest season yet. If losing scorers three-time Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones and Kat Villegas weren’t enough, head coach Roger Goreyab will have at his disposal a very short rotation on nine players. But his available players could even go down entering the season after Julie Anne Tiangco suffered a knee injury recently. Scarcity of players even forced SSC-R to field a swimmer to fill in the required minimun of nine players to be able to participate in the tournament.       ARELLANO UNIVERSITY LADY CHIEFS   Who will stop Arellano University from its back-to-back bid? Season 92 record: 8-1, won thrice in a row in the Finals Titles: 2 (last title: 2017) Players to watch: Jovielyn Prado, Regine Arocha, Andrea Marzan The Lady Chiefs lost Rialen Sante and veteran libero Eunice Galang, who both graduated, after last season but will still parade a grizzled core. Fueled by their stints in the PVL including a third place finish in the Collegiate League at the expense of UAAP team Adamson University, Arellano U is expected to make a return trip into the Finals. With SSC-R, the only team to defeat the Obet Javier-mentored squad last year, weakened after the departure of Soltones, the only question now is who will stop the Lady Chiefs’ impending rampage?       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2018

Nothing can stop Baste from charging back to contention

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 11-10 overall, fourth-seed after eliminations, lost in stepladder playoffs to San Beda YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Allyn Bulanadi, Michael Calisaan, RK Ilagan WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Alex Desoyo, Neil Villapando GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Alvin Baetiong, Ryan Costelo, Jayson David, Renzo Navarro WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM SAN SEBASTIAN? San Sebastian will look different in NCAA Season 94 with almost half of its roster set to make its debut in the Seniors. Out are Alvin Baetiong, Ryan Costelo, Jayson David, Alfren Gayosa, Jerwyn Guinto, Justin Mercado, and Renzo Navarro and in are former Baste High School standouts guard Alex Desoyo, forward Neil Villapando, and big man Jesse Sumoda. At the same time, the Golden Stags will look the same with Michael Calisaan, RK Ilagan, and Allyn Bulanadi still spearheading the charge. The only question is, will those three be enough to keep Baste in the top four of the standings – with the rest of their competition having stepped up. “Sa totoo lang, I just don’t focus sa tatlo. I want everybody to feel the pressure also, na i-accept nila yung challenge and motivation.” – head coach Egay Macaraya We got some sort of answer to that in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup where San Sebastian-backed Che’lu made it all the way to the Finals. Moreover, head coach Egay Macaraya, from CaféFrance to Centro Escolar University and from Baste to Che’lu, has proven that he gets the most out of his players. Now, it’s up to the former Staglets and their three-headed monster at the lead to prove that what happened in Recto was not a player exodus, but just new opportunities opening up for those who have stayed. “Number one is we accept it as a challenge. Hindi talaga magiging madali sa amin dahil masyadong maraming nawala, but the boys are motivated because of that.” – head coach Egay Macaraya WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM SAN SEBASTIAN? This is Michael Calisaan’s last go-round in the NCAA and, of course, he wants to go out with a bang. However, this year looks like will be the breakout season for Allyn Bulanadi, the fourth-year forward who emerged as a big-time scorer for San Sebastian in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup. In the end, more than the players, it would be fun to watch coach Egay work his “Macaraya magic” on a fresh batch of players. “Ang advantage namin right now is nakikita ko na yung rookies, they want to prove themselves. Nakikita ko rin na yung nangyari na nawala, everybody wants to take their place.” – head coach Egay Macaraya WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR SAN SEBASTIAN? San Sebastian has proven to be a tough out, whether or not it’s in contention, and even with almost half of its team brand new, that’s not changing. These Golden Stags do not have a star, but when all is clicking, the entire team could shine bright. WHERE WOULD SAN SEBASTIAN BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 94? Despite the major upheaval in its roster, San Sebastian is a contender and the Golden Stags will be fighting for a place in the playoffs. They are not a shoo-in there, but one of the two spots – because San Beda and LPU are locks – is also theirs to lose. WHEN IS SAN SEBASTIAN’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 94? San Sebastian battles emerging rival LPU on July 7 at the MOA Arena. You already know the story – Pirates mentor Topex Robinson is an alumnus and was a former head coach of the Golden Stags. As always, all of the #GalingNCAA will be on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and livestream. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2018

LPU is still here to contend and, more importantly, to inspire

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 18-2 overall, top-seed after eliminations, runner-up YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: MJ Ayaay, Jaycee Marcelino, Jayvee Marcelino, Mike Nzeusseu, CJ Perez WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Germy Mahinay, Casper Pericas, Ranzhelle Yong GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Wilson Baltazar, Pipoy Marata WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM LPU? LPU, the first-ever team in the history of the country’s first and oldest league, to go 18-0 in the elimination round, did not lose a player of note as it tries again to capture its first-ever championship. Only veteran sniper Wilson Baltazar and heady guard Pipoy Marata have used up their eligibility and replacing them will be two among Team B standouts Casper Pericas and Ranzhelle Yong or former San Beda High big Germy Mahinay. That means that the core, the truly terrifying fivesome of Season MVP CJ Perez, Cameroonian powerhouse Mike Nzeusseu, team leader MJ Ayaay, and two-way twins Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino, is very well intact. Not only that, that truly terrifying fivesome is a year older, a year wiser and they have championship winning experience in both the Philippine Collegiate Champions League and the PBA D-League. Moreover, Pericas, a scoring guard who has been lighting up preseason leagues, and Yong, a do-it-all forward who had transferred from San Sebastian and Letran, wouldn’t be bad additions – so, as they say, the rich could only get richer. “There’s so much potential in this team. I think the lessons that we’ve learned just made us a better group. After that season, we won championships also and it’s just a testament to the fact that you have to stick to what works for you.” – head coach Topex Robinson WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM LPU? CJ Perez has been NCAA Season MVP and PBA D-League Conference MVP. While he is not one to say he wants another individual award, the mere fact that he could only improve will put him back in front of the pack in the MVP race. Alongside Perez, MJ Ayaay will also be showcased as head coach Topex Robinson has not shied away from saying that he and his staff would do all they could to help their graduating players get to the next level. “As much as possible, we want to build that tradition that we in LPU, we’re not just using you for our benefit. Our vision is to help you even after your college years. Again, it’s about giving back.” – head coach Topex Robinson But eyes, however, should be fixed on Jaycee Marcelino who, at times in the PBA D-League, looked like the team’s primary offensive threat. With that, he could very well ascend to the top of the list of the league’s best point guards. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR LPU? LPU was THE feel-good story in all of college a season ago. “Our mindset is to make sure that we’re doing the right things. It’s not gonna be a guarantee na it’s gonna be a historic season for us and it’s not even a guarantee na we’re gonna be in the Finals, but what’s important for us is we continue what we started – building a program that will help these players in the future.” – head coach Topex Robinson The Pirates are now, no doubt, a powerhouse, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are yet to win the big one in their mother league. That makes them, at the end of the day, the underdog to defending champion and dynastic San Beda. “We don’t just want to follow Ateneo or La Salle which have successful basketball programs, but we want Ateneo and La Salle to also look at what we do.” – head coach Topex Robinson WHERE WOULD LPU BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 94? It will be a rematch of San Beda-LPU in the Finals. The top two teams from last season are both intact and they will meet again for all the marbles in the championship round of this season. WHEN IS LPU’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 94? LPU battles emerging rival San Sebastian on July 7 at the MOA Arena. You already know the story – Pirates mentor Topex Robinson is an alumnus and was a former head coach of the Golden Stags. As always, all of the #GalingNCAA will be on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and livestream. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2018

Dub Dynasty: Warriors sweep Cavs for second straight title

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — Golden State. Golden still. Stephen Curry scored 37 points, NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant added 20 and a triple-double and the Warriors stamped themselves a dynasty after winning their second straight title and third in four years Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), 108-85 over the Cleveland Cavaliers to complete a sweep and perhaps drive LeBron James from his home again to chase championships. Overcoming obstacles all season long, the Warriors were not going to be denied and won the fourth straight finals matchup against Cleveland with ease. "This is so hard to do and doing it three out of four years is incredible," guard Klay Thompson said. It was the first sweep in the NBA Finals since 2007, when James was dismissed by a powerful San Antonio team in his first one. His eighth straight appearance didn't go well either, and now there's uncertainty where the superstar will play next. James finished with 23 points and spent the final minutes on the bench, contemplating what went wrong and maybe his next move. Act IV between the Warriors and Cavs featured a drama-filled and controversial Game 1. But from there on, Durant, Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of this California crew showed why they're the game's gold standard. And they may stay that way. "Can't get enough of this feeling so we're going to celebrate it together," Curry said. Not wanting to give the Cavs or their fans any hope despite the fact that no team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs, the Warriors built a nine-point halftime lead when Curry ignored a closeout by James and dropped a three-pointer. Then the league's best team tightened the screws on Cleveland in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs 25-13 and prompting Golden State fans to begin those drawn-out "War-eee-orrss" chants that provide a perfect musical accompaniment to their three-point barrages. By the start of the fourth quarter, the only question was whether Curry would win his first NBA Finals MVP or if it would go to Durant for the second year in a row. And again, it was Durant, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists — more satisfaction and validation for a player who couldn't beat the Warriors so he joined them. After surviving a rougher-than-usual regular season and beating top-seeded Houston in Game 7 on the road in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors withstood an overtime scare in Game 1 and joined an elite group of teams to win multiple championships in a four-year span. Only Bill Russell's Boston Celtics, the "Showtime" Lakers and the Los Angeles squad led by Kobe and Shaq, and Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls have been as dominant in such a short period of time. The Dub Dynasty. The path to this title was more precarious than the first two for coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors, who overcame injuries, expectations, a built-to-dethrone-them Rockets team and the brilliance of James, who scored 51 points in the series opener and carried a Cavs team from the beginning of their rollercoaster season until the end. It may have been the final game in Cleveland for the 33-year-old, who is expected to opt out of his $35.6 million contract for 2019 next month and become a free agent. James was pulled from the game with 4:03 left, and he slapped hands with the Warriors before heading to the bench. He plopped down in a chair and draped a towel over his broad shoulders, looking like a boxer on a corner stool. James averaged 34 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10 assists in the series, but as has been the case in the past, he didn't have enough help. Another Summer of LeBron is officially underway and there are already teams stretching from Philadelphia to Los Angeles hoping to land the three-time champion, who may have to go elsewhere to put together a cast strong enough — and as James made clear this week, smart enough — to bring down the Warriors. Right now, the Warriors are on another tier and with Durant expected to re-sign with them in weeks and Curry, Thompson, Green and the rest still young and hungry, their reign could last much longer. Heading into the playoffs, the Warriors appeared vulnerable. There were lingering questions about Curry's sprained left knee that sidelined him for almost six weeks and kept him out of Golden State's first-round series against San Antonio. Kerr was forced to mix and match lineups, and it became obvious the Warriors weren't going to go 16-1 and storm their way to a title like they did in 2017, when their only postseason loss came in Game 4 after the Cavs made 24 three-pointers. Kerr used 27 different starting lineups during the regular season, which ended with a head-scratching 40-point loss to Utah. The Warriors began defense of their title as a No. 2 seed and their season was in serious jeopardy when they fell behind 3-2 to presumptive MVP James Harden and the Rockets. But Golden State, catching a break when Houston star guard Chris Paul was forced to sit with a hamstring injury, showed a champion's poise by winning two straight. That set up another reunion with James and the Cavs. Maybe the last. TIP-INS Warriors: Curry made a three-pointer in his record 90th consecutive postseason game and extended his mark for three's in road playoff games to 44. ... Green is the only visiting player to post a triple-double in the playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena, doing so in Game 6 of the 2015 finals. ... Became the ninth team to sweep a finals and first to win consecutive titles since James did it with Miami in 2012 and 2013. ... Golden State has won a road game in 19 straight playoff series, tying the Heat's NBA record. ... With his 43-point performance in Game 3, Durant joined Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal as the only players to score at least 25 points in their first 13 finals games. Cavaliers: Appeared in its 26th NBA Finals game, moving past Atlanta/St. Louis into 10th place all-time. ... James averaged 34 points in his 13th postseason, his second-highest total. BROWN OUT Longtime network broadcaster Hubie Brown injured his knee while sitting courtside preparing before the game. He was treated by a medical staff on site and taken to the hospital. The 84-year-old Brown was replaced on the radio broadcast by Jon Barry. Brown was working his 17th NBA Finals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2018

Former Stags Jayson David, Renzo Navarro join LPU

Lyceum of the Philippines is continuing to make sure it will remain a contender from now until the foreseeable future. Versatile forward Jayson David and floor leader Renzo Navarro have both decamped from San Sebastian College-Recoletos and are now going to be full-fledged Pirates. Both players were key cogs in the Golden Stags’ return to relevance and the playoffs in Season 93. With their transfer, however, they will only be eligible to play again in Season 95. Navarro has been taking part in LPU team activities for almost a month now. He bolsters a backcourt that already includes Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee as well as Raymar Caduyac. The 5-foot-9 guard averaged 6.3 points and 3.1 assists last season. On the other hand, David is yet to practice in Intramuros, but is well on his way there, according to several sources. He will be the perfect replacement for MJ Ayaay after the latter uses up his final playing year in Season 94. The 6-foot-3 forward boasted of per game counts of 8.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.5 steals last season. As per sources, the two are not the only ones who have left Recto. At least three other players who wore red and gold a season ago will no longer do so. Still, playoff hopeful San Sebastian is holding onto a solid core that includes Michael Calisaan, Ryan Costelo, and RK Ilagan. ABS-CBN Sports reached out to Stags’ mentor Egay Macaraya for comment, but he is yet to respond. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 14th, 2018

FEU bests UP for top-seed; Pirates boot out Blazers in City Hoops

In a battle between two of the top teams in the 2018 SMART City Hoops 25-under Summer Classic, it was the Far Eastern University Tamaraws who were able to outlast the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in overtime, taking a 56-52 triumph last Thursday in Ortigas.  With the win, the Tamaraws finished the eliminations with an unblemished 5-0 record and secured an outright Finals berth in the tournament.  More than that, however, the squad showed tremendous character in the contest, according to head coach Olsen Racela.  "I liked the way we grinded it out right from the start. It was a very low-scoring game," shared the second-year Tamaraws tactician. "Everyone chipped in, kahit yung mga hinugot ko sa bench really helped. Their focus and awareness was there all throughout the game."  With the game knotted at 52-all with 39 seconds remaining, Axel Inigo, who had eight points in the contest, blew by his defender to score the go-ahead floater.   On the other end, Kenneth Tuffin was able to force David Murell into a tough layup that then led to a split from the stripe for JR Parker.  Leading the way for FEU in regulation was Tuffin, finishing the game with 14 points and eight rebounds. Ino Comboy chipped in 10 markers as well.  The Fighting Maroons, who ended the round with a 4-1 slate and will face the Lyceum Pirates in the knockout quarterfinals, were paced by Bright Akhuetie. The Nigerian student-athlete had a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds but shot just 3-for-13 from the field.  UP ace Paul Desiderio was limited to just 10 points on a 3-of-11 shooting clip.  Meanwhile, even with the odds stacked against them, Renzo Navarro and short-handed Lyceum dug deep, surviving a grueling overtime tilt against the College of St. Benilde Blazers, 73-66.  Lyceum was able to pick up monster games from incoming rookie Lian Barbero and Yancy Remulla. Barbero had 16 points and 11 rebounds while Remulla added 14 markers and 19 boards.  But it was Renzo Navarro who steered the wheel, tallying 25 points, 11 assists, and four steals.  The Blazers, who ended their campaign with a 0-5 record, were led by Prince Carlos who had 16 markers.   WEDNESDAY GAME  LPU 73 - Navarro 25, Barbero 16, Remulla 14, Salo 7, Japson 6, Mahinay 5, Valencia 0.  CSB 66 - Carlos 16, Pagulayan 10, Flores 8, Pangalanan 7, Pili 7, Nayve 5, Miranda 4, Wilson 3, Velasco 2, Barnes 2, Belgica 2, San Juan 0.  THURSDAY GAME  FEU 56 - Tuffin 14, Comboy 10, Inigo 8, Ebona 6, Parker 6, Cani 5, Orizu 3, Bienes 2, Jopia 2, Ramirez 0, Casino 0, Bayquin 0, Nunag 0.  UP 52 - Akhuetie 10, Desiderio 10, Manzo 9, Murrell 6, Gozum 4, Dario 2, Tungcab 2, Lim 0, Vito 0, Santiago 0, Longa 0, Espanola 0. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2018

ABL: Alab has no answer for 7-5 Deguara as Mono evens Finals series

STA. ROSA, LAGUNA - Sam Deguara has been, literally, the biggest difference in the 2017-2018 Asean Basketball Finals. Fouling out in the endgame the last time around, the 7-foot-5 made sure to wreak havoc all game long in this one to tow Thailand’s Mono Vampire to a gritty 103-100 victory versus Alab Pilipinas on Wednesday at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex. Deguara towered above all of Renaldo Balkman, Lo Domingo, and JR Alabanza to pound in 30 points, 20 rebounds, and five blocks and ultimately lifted the Thais into evening the best-of-five series at 1-1. It was also the reinforcement from Malta who made good on the basket and bonus that broke off a tied tally of 98-all and built up a 101-98 advantage in his team’s favor with 1:10 remaining. Balkman came right back with a short stab in the next possession, but that would be the last bucket the Filipinos would hit as Ray Parks Jr. and Justin Brownlee botched their attempts in the dying moments. Deguara had backup as American import Mike Singletary and Filipino import Paul Zamar scored 26 and 12 points, respectively. Filipino-American Jason Brickman also masterfully quarterbacked their offense and totaled 15 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, and two steals. Now, both momentum and homecourt advantage are with Mono as the series swings to Bangkok. Nonetheless, the Philippines will go all out to overcome the odds. Freshly-crowned Defensive Player of the Year Balkman showed the way for Alab with 37 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and two steals while newly-minted Local MVP Parks Jr. contributed 21 markers, eight boards, four dimes, three pilfers, and two rejections. Brownlee got off to a strong start with 11 points in the first quarter, but only wound up with 14. He also battled an apparent leg injury that forced him to the bench near the end of the third quarter. He missed majority of the final frame and was clearly not 100 percent when he launched his triple tries in the last 15 seconds that would have forced overtime. —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 25th, 2018

Harden, Rockets pass first postseason test

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com HOUSTON — If the long road to June basketball is to come to fruition for the best regular-season team in basketball, it had to start like this for the Houston Rockets. That first step, that first foray into the great postseason abyss, required this sort of confirmation from the No. 1 overall seed in the entire tournament, so to speak. There’s no room for Cinderellas around here, no slaying of Goliath, not on Clint Capela’s watch. Not with James Harden on the case when the Rockets needed it most, and especially at crunch time. And not with Chris Paul, chip planted firmly on his shoulder as always, eyeballing bigger and better things than being the best from late October to mid-April. So it won’t be easy. Nobody said it would be. And let’s be clear, the Minnesota Timberwolves are not a normal eight seed. Not really. A healthy Jimmy Butler and the infusion of veteran talent that helped end the second longest playoff drought in NBA history this season makes that big a difference. They certainly did Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) at Toyota Center, when the Rockets were forced to battle until the very end for a 104-101 win despite a 44-point masterpiece from Harden. But like everyone else who dealt with these juggernaut Rockets all season long, Harden and his crew proved to be too much with the game on the line. With Harden on the bench and the game tied at 85 with 6:49 to play, the script was already written. He came in for Paul with 6:07 to play and the Rockets up a point, and promptly scored on a driving layup. He stole the ball and then scored on a driving floater. After a Capela block, he scored on a driving layup. By the time he knocked down a three-pointer with 4:27 left, the Rockets’ lead was back up to eight points, 94-86, and it was clear that Harden was going to do whatever it took — scoring, playmaking and even defending — to keep Game 1 from going awry. It was vintage work from the maestro who has owned the floor most every night since the season opener, when Harden and the Rockets went into Oracle Arena as the reigning champion Golden State Warriors hung another banner and collected those diamond-laced title rings and walked off the floor winners. “Another day for James,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said after Harden finished one point shy of his playoff career-high. “He’s done it all year and he really stepped up. We were struggling to make shots, struggling to really have any kind of rhythm of play and James put us on his back and he’s been doing it for a while now.” D’Antoni will have to forgive the rest of us, including the frontrunner for the Kia MVP this season, for not digesting his theory about the playoffs being something other than a referendum on his team’s magical regular season. Harden operated like someone keenly aware of what was at stake with the Timberwolves, each and every one of them, trying in vain to slow him down. “Honestly, I just try to be aggressive and make the right play,” Harden said. “Things got slowed up a little bit, just try to be aggressive with my shot and fortunately it went in.” Jimmy Butler is an All-Star and one of the league’s best two-way players. Derrick Rose is a former Kia MVP himself, and still has enough juice left to make things difficult for someone when he locks in the way he did on this night. And neither one of them had any luck slowing Harden down during his second-half blitz. He scored 25 of his points in the final 18 minutes, making play after play when the Timberwolves appeared to be on the verge of potentially pulling off a shocker. “There were several plays in which I thought we defended well and he made shots,” Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “James is that type of player and we’ve seen it all year, [he’s] very difficult to guard. Basically, you have to guard him with your whole team. And it’s not just his scoring, but his playmaking and all the things that he does.” The Rockets won on a night when they shot a brutal 27 percent (10-for-37) from beyond the three-point line, where they’ve feasted on the opposition all season. They roasted the Timberwolves from distance during their regular season match ups to the tune of 43.4 percent and more than doubled them up in three-point makes during those games, but made just two more Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Harden was 7-for-12 from deep, a playoff career-high for makes, while the rest of the Rockets shot a combined 3-for-25. And he was draining his shots with hands in his face routinely. “He’s an MVP candidate and you know why,” said Timberwolves big man Taj Gibson. “Every time the game was ‘mono e mono’ and they were in a tight spot, he just took over the game. He made some tough shots, he played phenomenal tonight. We were trying to throw everything at him, he’s a talented player.” He’s clearly much more than that. “I mean yeah, he’s a hell of a player,” Butler said. “Everyone knows that. But you don’t just guard him with one guy. It’s everybody out there, everybody has to be in the correct position. Challenge shots; contest them at the rim, but more than anything, if there is a miss we’ve got to get the rebound and take off the other way. But we didn’t do any of that tonight, we’ve got to be better [in Game 2] on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time).” Thibodeau had to turn to his bench to stay in the game before halftime and they delivered, scoring 19 points and playing with an energy level that matched what the Rockets did regardless of who was on the floor. Rose (nine points), Jamal Crawford (seven) and Gorgui Dieng (three) did all that bench scoring, which was the only way to offset the furious 49 points Capela and Harden combined for before the break. Jeff Teague’s three fouls and Butler’s defensive task, trying to keep Harden under wraps, required so much of his attention that the scoring load had to be picked up by someone else. He went scoreless in the first quarter and just never seemed to get untracked early on, finishing with just 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting. It’s an issue the Timberwolves won’t be able to scheme their way out of in this series, not as long as Capela is the most energetic and effective young big man on either team. He outscored the All-Star Towns 20-3 before the break and out rebounded him 10-5, adding two blocks and a steal to drive home the point that he’s up for this challenge all series long. “Man, Clint was all over the place, both ends of the court offensively and defensively,” Paul said. “You see him defending KAT, who’s a tough cover in the post. You know I’m low, and I weak side and I’m watching him go up for the hook, and then I’m watching Clint block it, and then he’s running. he was unbelievable tonight and we’re going to need that all season.” Capela finished his night with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks while Towns didn’t crack double digits in the scoring column (eight points on 3-for-9 shooting, 12 rebounds in a team-high 40 minutes of action). Chalk it up as a lesson learned for the playoff rookie. That must-win game the Timberwolves won at home over Denver Wednesday night had all the hype and intensity of a playoff game, only it wasn’t. Thibodeau credited the Rockets’ defense, the swarming and double-teaming of Towns, for slowing the big man down. “He has to be more active,” Thibodeau said, before praising the Rockets for perhaps their most underrated trait this season: The ability to lock down defensively. “They’re good, they’re very good. They’re tied together, they do a lot of switching and after the switch they read the ball extremely well. They react, they swarm, and so you have ti make good decisions, you have to make good plays. You have to have the ability to read and react.” Funny, that’s what the Rockets’ best player does perhaps as well as any other player in the league right now. Harden reads and reacts accordingly, always seemingly coming up with the right play at the right time. That’s how you know he’s in the moment right now, as are the rest of the Rockets. No matter how many times and how many different ways anyone tries to deflect attention from the obvious, they comprehend every bit of what lies ahead for a team riding into the postseason on the strength of a 65-win regular season that saw them run away from the competition. They wouldn’t have souls if they didn’t. They wouldn’t be human if they hadn’t already calculated the weight of the best regular season in franchise history times a wide-open postseason equaling something that’s never been done here, which says a lot for a franchise that has two Larry O’Brien trophies to show off. They know how important each and every step on this current journey is, starting with Sunday night’s very first choppy ones. Any suggestion to the contrary is, shall we say, a distant cousin of the truth. But we’ll play along for now, at the beginning. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 16th, 2018

Bullpups’ tears can only turn into a title next season

Terrence Fortea was fighting back tears after seeing Nazareth School of National University’s six-point lead in the last five minutes morph into a four-point deficit. Tears in their eyes, but really, really nothing to be ashamed of for these Bullpups. They pushed this dominant Ateneo team to its very limit. Watch out, UAAP.. NU will be very, very hungry next season. pic.twitter.com/J0zBHAiRbe — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) Marso 2, 2018 The Bullpups would battle back and still tie the tally, but ultimately, would fall to Ateneo de Manila High School in the winner-take all Game 3 of the Finals. Asked about his moment on the bench, he answered, “Maganda na kumpyansa namin nun, pero iniisip ko lang na ‘di pa tapos talaga. Sinasabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘di muna magse-celebrate.” It was the feisty guard who had an amazing sequence that included a floater, a triple, and an assist that put the Bullpups on top, 54-48. However, it was also him who had a missed three and a turnover that allowed the Blue Eaglets to snatch away the lead and the momentum they would never relinquish. And so, after the game, after NU surrendered the title to Ateneo, Fortea let his emotions out, at long last. Terrence Fortea turns emotional as NU loses it’s six-point lead in the last five minutes of Game 3. pic.twitter.com/ycgFtrw56E — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) Marso 3, 2018 The tears, as it turns out, were not necessarily because they just lost the championship. It was all because this season, a season in which the new-look Bullpups had just come together, has met its end. “Months lang kaming nagkabuo tas ganun narrating namin. Yung Ateneo pa, natalo namin,” he said. He then continued, “Kala nga namin, mananalo talaga kami, na-short talaga e.” Fortea and NU had a new head coach in Goldwin Monteverde. This, after six seasons under the tutelage of multi-titled mentor Jeff Napa. Clearly, though, they didn’t take long to get together and found themselves taking the dominant Blue Eaglets to the limit. With the tears, also comes a fierier desire to bounce back next season. “Gutom na gutom kami dahil sa nangyari,” Fortea expressed. How hungry, you ask? “Bukas pa lang, magre-ready na kami for next season,” he said. Watch out UAAP, Terrence Fortea can only get better – and he is bound take the Bullpups along for the ride. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 3rd, 2018

Pirates re-assert mastery over Stags to make PCCL Finals

In the first 20 minutes of the semifinals of the 2018 Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL), Lyceum of the Philippines University scored 35 points. In the next 12 minutes, they scored 33. Jaycee Marcelino starred with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and one steal, and the Pirates imposed their will on San Sebastian College-Recoletos in the second half to come away with an 82-69 decision on Monday at the Filoil Flying V Centre. The Golden Stags were keeping close and only down by five at the half until Marcelino and LPU’s usual suspects went on a 33-17 onslaught to mount a 68-47 edge early in the final frame. Their lead would only rise to as high as 22 from then on. Alongside Marcelino, usual suspects Mike Nzeusseu contributed a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double while MJ Ayaay and CJ Perez chipped in 12 and 11 markers, respectively. With that, the Pirates remain undefeated in four games as they head into a Finals showdown with either NCAA rival san Beda College and UAAP champion Ateneo de Manila University. Ryan Costelo paced Baste with 15 points. BOX SCORES LPU 82 – Marcelino JC 24, Nzeusseu 13, Ayaay 12, Perez 11, Ibanez 10, Tansingco 7, Caduyac 2, Marcelino JV 2, Liwag 1, Cinco 0, Santos 0, Serrano 0 SAN SEBASTIAN 69 – Costelo 15, Capobres 12, Bulanadi 9, David 8, Navarro 6, Ilagan 5, Calisaan 5, Cosari 4, Baytan 3, Baetiong 2, Valdez 0, Mercado 0, Calma 0, Dela Cruz 0 QUARTER SCORES: 19-20, 35-30, 61-47, 82-69 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2018

Bazemore hits winning shot, Hawks beat Pelicans 94-93

By Paul Newberry, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Kent Bazemore hit a jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining and the Hawks rallied from 19 points down to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 94-93 Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) before a sparse crowd on an icy night in Atlanta. With the score tied at 92, DeMarcus Cousins drew a blocking foul on John Collins with 13.7 seconds remaining, earning a trip to the foul line. Cousins made only one, giving the Hawks a chance to pull out the victory. .@24Bazemore comes up BIG for the @ATLHawks in #CrunchTime! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/a57TuUTgb9 — NBA TV (@NBATV) January 18, 2018 Bazemore knocked down the winning shot with Anthony Davis in his face. New Orleans had one last chance, inbounding the ball to Cousins near the hoop. He came up short on a quick shot, pleading with the officials for a foul call while the Hawks celebrated. Bazemore led the Hawks with 20 points, while rookie John Collins added 18. Jrue Holiday paced the Pelicans with 22 points, while Cousins had 19 points and 14 rebounds. But Davis was held to just eight points on 2-of-8 shooting. Coming off a victory over San Antonio, the Hawks won back-to-back games for only the second time this season and snapped the Pelicans’ three-game winning streak. The Hawks started quickly, knocking down four of their first six shots — including a couple of three-pointers — but it was all Pelicans the rest of the first half. The Hawks missed seven straight shots during two different stretches in the first quarter and endured another long drought at the beginning of the second period, going nearly five minutes without a field goal. New Orleans ripped off 12 straight points to erase Atlanta’s early edge and pushed ahead twice by as many as 19 before settling for a 60-45 lead at the break. The Hawks wiped out that big deficit by the end of the third quarter. The Pelicans made only 3-of-18 shots in a 10-point period, allowing Atlanta to grab a 71-70 lead heading to the fourth. The game was played after a winter storm moved through Atlanta, leading most schools and businesses to shut down for the day because of treacherous roads. The upper deck wasn’t even used, allowing everyone in the estimated turnout of around 5,000 to watch the contest from the lower level. The announced attendance was 10,894, the smallest crowd of the season at Philips Arena. TIP-INS Pelicans: Davis, coming off a 45-point effort in a win at Boston, and was held to single figures for only the second time this season. ... New Orleans had a season-low 33 points in the second half, missing their first eight shots after the break. Hawks: C Dewayne Dedmon fouled out with 4:48 remaining after playing 20 minutes off the bench. He had 10 rebounds. ... F Luke Babbitt, who was on the inactive list, hasn’t played in five straight games. In fact, he’s gotten in only two of the last 13 games — scoring five points in just over 13 minutes of playing time — after making nine starts early in the season. ... The Hawks came into the night ranked last in the league with an average attendance 14,239 — more than 1,300 less per game than the next-lowest team, the Indiana Pacers. UP NEXT Pelicans: Return home Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) to face the Memphis Grizzlies. Hawks: Continue a six-game homestand by hosting the Chicago Bulls on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2018

C.J. Williams hits 3 to lift Clippers over Hawks 108-107

By Tim Liotta, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — C.J. Williams hit a three-pointer from the left wing with nine seconds left to lift the Los Angeles Clippers over the Atlanta Hawks 108-107 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Lou Williams led Los Angeles with 34 points but missed a late three that was rebounded by Wesley Johnson. He passed the ball out to C.J. Williams for a shot that snapped the Clippers’ two-game skid. Taurean Prince missed a 15-foot jumper with three seconds remaining on Atlanta’s last possession. DeAndre Jordan added 25 points and 18 rebounds as Los Angeles won despite blowing a 13-point lead in the third quarter. The Clippers played without leading scorer Blake Griffin, who suffered a concussion Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) against Golden State. Prince scored 20 points, Dennis Schroder added 18 and Kent Bazemore and Ersan Ilyasova had 13 apiece for Atlanta, which lost its fourth straight. With the score tied at 105, Lou Williams missed a short shot and Bazemore made two free throws after being fouled in the lane with 23 seconds to play, putting Atlanta up 107-105. After C.J. Williams hit a floater from the left baseline with 3:35 left, tying the score at 99, Bazemore followed up a layup with a three-pointer to give Atlanta a 104-100 lead with 2:11 to play. After Lou Williams committed a turnover, Bazemore was fouled by Jordan and hit one of two free throws for a 105-99 advantage. The Hawks then decided to foul Jordan on three consecutive possessions. He made 5-of-6 free throws to pull Los Angeles to 105-104 with 1:08 left. The Clippers forced an Atlanta turnover on the ensuing inbounds play, and Juwan Evans made the first of two free throws. Johnson was called for basket interference as the second shot hung on the rim, giving Atlanta the ball with the score tied at 105. GRIFFIN UPDATE Griffin was inactive against the Hawks, but did ride an exercise bike during the Clippers’ workout earlier in the day and continues to progress toward a return that coach Doc Rivers expects to be at least three or four days away. “He’s passed a couple of tests already,” Rivers said. “The whole (concussion) protocol thing now, you have to go through the entire protocol. I think he has another couple of tests to pass, and we’ll just have to wait.” TIP-INS Hawks: Prince was a game-time decision, as the Hawks wanted to see how he felt about his dislocated right ring finger after pregame warmups. Prince was injured in the first quarter against the Lakers the night before. ... Fifth-year center Dewayne Dedmon was under a minutes restriction in his first game after missing 19 with a left tibia stress reaction, coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He’s fit us well,” Budenholzer said. “His leadership and personality have been a welcomed addition this year. I think getting those things back on the court, we’re all looking forward to it.” Clippers: Los Angeles played without four of its five opening-night starters (Griffin, Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic), and the first man off the bench that night, Austin Rivers. Jordan was the only opening-night starter to play against the Hawks. ... Jordan, a career 43 percent free throw shooter, made 21 of his 25 free throws over the previous four games. UP NEXT Hawks: At the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Clippers: At the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2018

Six standout local volleybelles of 2017

We’ve seen them shine this year whether in the collegiate stage, in the club leagues or even in the international scene. These six Pinay volleyball players took the sport’s limelight in the year that’s about to end.     DESIREE CHENG Desiree Cheng came into De La Salle University during the time bitter rival Ateneo de Manila University got the Lady Spikers’ number. From Seasons 76 to 77, Cheng saw her team fall prey to the might of the Lady Eagles in the UAAP Finals. Then redemption came in Season 78. Unfortunately, the 5-foot-8 spiker was forced to watch from the sidelines with an ACL tear as her crew reclaimed the crown. A year after, Cheng got her biggest break. DLSU lost most of its veteran core after Season 78 and needed another scoring option. Cheng heeded the call. Though Cheng struggled at the start of the eliminations, the hitter slowly got her groove back and delivered when DLSU needed offense in their sixth straight championship showdown against Ateneo. Cheng was the X-factor for the Ramil De Jesus-mentored squad during the series. Her contributions both on offense and floor defense played a huge part in the Lady Spikers’ series sweep of the Lady Eagles for the school’s 10th title. Cheng also helped F2 Logistics claim the Cargo Movers’ breakthrough Philippine Superliga Grand Prix title and a runner-up finish in the All-Filipino Conference.   ALYSSA VALDEZ Although Alyssa Valdez failed to claim a crown in the Premier Volleyball League this year and a continued title drought since 2016, the Phenom’s magic remains. She can still fill up game venues whenever she takes the court and 2017 proved as the former Queen Eagles’ biggest year in terms of her flourishing volleyball career. Valdez brought her talents abroad, landing a stint with 3BB Nakornnont in the Thai League and in the Thai-Denmark Superleague where her team finished third in both tournaments. After her appearance in Thailand, Valdez donned the Creamline jersey and led the Rebisco franchise to a bronze medal finish both in the PVL Reinforced and Open conferences. Valdez also had another tour of duty, playing for the national team in the AVC Asian Women’s Senior Volleyball Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The 24-year old hitter got another international gig when she was tapped by Attack Line to play in the Chinese-Taipei Volleyball League.          Outside volleyball, Valdez has a blooming relationship with basketball star Kiefer Ravena. If she’s not busy with her volleyball and other commitments, Valdez also drew attention as one of the newest member of the so-called PBA players’ WAGS (wives and girlfriends) cheering for Ravena and the NLEX Road Warriors.      DAWN MACANDILI She may be only 5-foot tall but Dawn Macandili stood alongside Asia’s volleyball giants this year. The De La Salle University libero was the catalyst in the Lady Spikers’ back-to-back UAAP championship run. Her pesky floor defense frustrated DLSU’s rivals while giving her teammates a good first ball to operate their lethal offense.  But her biggest showing was when she landed a spot in the national team that competed in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship and in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games. A first-timer donning the national colors, Macandili did not disappoint as she earned the respect and admiration of Japanese coaches and trainers during the Nationals’ training camp in Japan. She performed even better when the PHI hosted the AVC Asian Seniors. Ms. Everywhere gave teams like Asian powerhouse Vietnam, Kazakhstan, South Korea and Thailand a hard time with her floor defense. All her efforts caught the eyes of the AVC tournament officials and she was rewarded with the historic 2nd Best Libero award. She made the final list of in the national team that participated in the SEA Games. Back in the local scene, Macandili helped F2 Logistics to runner-up finish in the PSL All-Filipino Conference and a breakthrough crown in the Grand Prix.    JAJA SANTIAGO Tall, powerful and versatile, Jaja Santiago is a force to reckon with.  At 6-foot-5, Santiago dominated the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference as she led the National University Lady Bulldogs to a perfect championship run. She also bagged the conference’s Most Valuable Player award. Though NU failed to make it in the Final Four of UAAP for the second straight year, Santiago’s effort for the Lady Bulldogs was rewarded with a third straight Best Attacker award to go with the Best Scorer and Best Blocker recognitions. In the PSL, Santiago was a consistent scorer for the Foton Tornadoes in the All-Filipino Conference and the Grand Prix. Under the tutelage of Serbian import Moro Branislav, Santiago became an even more dangerous and versatile player. Aside from her natural position as a middle blocker, she can now wreak havoc on both wings the puts her height advantage to good use. She made it into the national team that competed in the AVC Asian Seniors and SEA Games and was the Nationals’ scoring ace. Santiago received an offer from Thai powerhouse Bangkok Glass but declined the offer to play in her last year with the Lady Bulldogs.             KIM FAJARDO Setter Kim Fajardo left winning legacy when she played her swan song for DLSU. It took her a few months to decide to play her fifth year with the Lady Spikers. Leading a young crew after the departure of the core of the Season 78 championship squad, Fajardo faced a tough challenge in the Taft-based squad’s title-retention bid. But the Batanguena proved her worth as a leader and the skipper rallied the Lady Spikers back into the Finals in a sixth straight collision against bitter rival Ateneo. Fajardo’s composure carried DLSU in a tough Game 1 match and again in the five-set title-clincher to complete the Lady Spikers’ series sweep of the Lady Eagles. She earned a spot in the national team as a starting setter. Fajardo steered F2 Logistics to its first PSL Grand Prix crown bagged the conference’s Best Setter award. She helped the Cargo Movers to a runner-up finish in the All-Filipino Conference.     JOVIELYN PRADO Silent but deadly. Jovielyn Prado may not be the typical vocal leader but her presence inside the court is enough to rally the Arellano University Lady Chiefs to meet their goals. The outside hitter proved her worth to the Lady Chiefs when she led the Legarda-based squad back on the NCAA women’s volleyball throne. A year removed from the title, Arellano U turned to Prado to provide the spark the Lady Chiefs needed to make another shot at the crown. Consistent, efficient and effective, Prado delivered for the Obet Javier-mentored squad. Arellano U advanced in the stepladder semifinals and dethroned College of St. Benilde to set up a date with thrice-to-beat, three-time Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones-led San Sebastian College. Undaunted even with a great series disadvantage, Prado played her best three games of the season to power the Lady Chiefs to an impressive sweep of the Lady Stags. Prado continued her great performance in the PVL Reinforced and Open Conference playing for the Power Smashers. She then bannered the Lady Chiefs to a bronze medal finish in the Collegiate Conference at the expense of UAAP team Adamson University.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2017

Ex-Alaska import Chambers helps Pinoy educators in the US

Sean Chambers saw the bulk of his basketball career as an import for Alaska from 1989 to 2001, distinguishing himself as one of the most successful reinforcements in the PBA. Filipinos love him and he even called the Philippines his second home. Even with his jersey long been retired, Chambers is still giving something back to the Filipinos.   Now a middle school administrator back in the States in the Sacramento City Unified School District in California, the 52-year-old former cager is instrumental in helping Filipino educators land teaching jobs. “It’s pretty neat because right now within my district we have brought over 24 Filipino teachers to come work in our schools because we were short of teachers,” Chambers told ABS-CBN Sports on Sunday when he watched the 80th UAAP men’s basketball Final Four match between Far Eastern University and Ateneo de Manila University at the Big Dome. With 81 schools under SCUSD, Chambers said that Filipino teachers are very in demand and in his little way helped pave the way for Pinoys to land jobs as educators. “I was very instrumental to come out and recruit Filipino teachers to come over,” added Chambers, who works as dean of students in Fern Bacon Middle School. The six-time PBA champion, including four straight Governors’ Cup titles from 1994 to 1997, is on a 10-day trip in the country. He is currently working with the Aces as Alaska prepares for the 43rd PBA Philippine Cup on December 17. “I’m gonna be working with some of their bigs, some of the guards, some offensive schematics for a week and a half,” he said. Early Sunday, Chambers paid a surprise visit to the Gilas Pilipinas’ practice at the Meralco gym. “I was able, today, to go workout in the Gilas practice so that was an honor itself to be able to work out with the Gilas and an absolute honor to me,” said Chambers. “I believe the coaching staff led by coach Chot Reyes are doing an amazing thing,” he added. “They pay attention to the details, high level of concentration. The players are playing on a high level of expectations for playing for their country.” Chambers, obviously, rooted for FEU in the UAAP match and was even seated behind the Tamaraws’ bench where his former teammates Jojo Lastimosa and Johnny Abarrientos serve as assistant coaches. His visit was a good one as the Tams forced a do-or-die match in the semis with an 80-67 rout of the Blue Eagles.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2017

BEST OF 5 Part 5: No one-and-done for forward-looking LPU

Read Part 1 of ABS-CBN Sports’ Best of 5 series on the LPU Pirates here. Read Part 2 of ABS-CBN Sports’ Best of 5 series on the LPU Pirates here. Read Part 3 of ABS-CBN Sports’ Best of 5 series on the LPU Pirates here. Read Part 4 of ABS-CBN Sports’ Best of 5 series on the LPU Pirates here. --- Lyceum of the Philippines University is so close to the greatest season in the 93-year history of the NCAA that they can taste it. After going undefeated through 18 games in the elimination round, the Pirates need just two more wins to complete the greatest-ever perfect season. Yes, a 20-0 record will put them in a league of their own. The last team to have accomplished a perfect season was San Beda College in 2010, but only had an 18-0 record as there were just nine teams in the league then. While that would be the fitting end to what has been a magical season, the Intramuros-based squad doesn’t want an ending just yet. IT’S THE CLIMB For them, a championship – or a runner-up finish – is just another step they are taking in their journey. As head coach Topex Robinson put it, “Building a culture is not a one-time thing; it’s gonna take a while. I always remind myself na not just because we’re in the Finals, we forget ano ba yung vision namin.” He then continued, “There has to be a constant reminder to myself that setting a culture is a combination of all the seasons that’s about to come.” Robinson has not gotten tired of reminding his boys that all of this, from the underwhelming first two seasons to this magical season, is just a part of their overarching desire to inspire others. And so, for LPU, the championship round up against the defending champion Red Lions is only yet another chance to showcase skills and have a positive effect on all who are watching them. “I always tell them that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Sabi ko nga, the longer we play this season, the longer we could really spread the word,” the always amiable mentor said. He then continued, “At the same time, I always tell them that now they’re in this position, mas malaki yung responsibility. People know who they are so mas marami dapat silang matutulungan." MAKE A MARK Without a doubt, it’s nothing but amazing to watch, or read about, or hear about the Pirates who just joined the first and oldest collegiate league in the country in 2011 and are now knocking on the door of history. All of that, they have done by standing as David to the Goliaths of the land such as San Beda. “The masses could relate to us because we’re not a well-funded program. We don’t have the money like the other big programs have,” Robinson shared. He then continued, “What we have are people who are committed to winning. What we have are players na napulot ko sa tabi-tabi and are just happy to be given a second life.” CHIP ON THE SHOULDER CJ Perez, the MVP frontrunner, went from Pangasinan to San Sebastian College-Recoletos and then transferred to Ateneo de Manila University only to find his home inside the walls of Intramuros. MJ Ayaay, the glue guy, went from the end of the bench to a key reserve and now, team captain. Mike Nzeusseu, the inside presence, is a forgotten name among all foreign student-athletes. Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee found no place in Adamson University. Reymar Caduyac just may be the steadiest player in the league, but gets no props for it. Robinson himself failed to find success in his first coaching gig with alma mater San Sebastian. The list goes on and on and on for all of LPU. Always remembering how they had to claw for every inch just to get to where they are keeps each and every one of them going. “We always go back to saan ba tayo dati? Sila, tinapon sila ng teams nila and now, they have an opportunity to redeem themselves,” their mentor said. He then continued, “Once you touch that part of their lives, they really become more aligned to where I wanna go. That’s where I keep them grounded.” THE BLUEPRINT All season long, the Pirates have said they want nothing more than to inspire others. Now their story is coming to its climax, they hope they have already done just that. “I hope that we could also inspire programs that are not well-funded to really look deep inside their hearts to find a way. Instead of complaining, you can find a way to win,” Robinson said. And so, win or lose in their first-ever Finals, the crew from Intramuros is already on the right track. “Whatever happens in the Finals, our vision is not gonna stop there. We’re not a goal-oriented team; we’re vision-oriented. Goal is you hit a number, it’s done while vision is, it’s way beyond what’s happening now,” the head coach said. He then continued, “We can be contented now – nobody thought we were gonna be 18-0. But again, that’s not what we want. What we want is to be persons who make an impact, who become an inspiration.” THINK BIGGER And watch out, LPU is not just limiting itself to the NCAA, to the sport of basketball, and even to the Philippines. “You know, being part of something bigger than yourself is really important. We’re here to change the world, how good is that,” Robinson mused. He then continued, “We’re talking about the world – not just the LPU community, not just the NCAA, but whoever we could touch. That’s not a guarantee of winning a championship, but it’s always about giving, sharing, and inspiring.” Indeed, you and LPU made us believe, coach. Now, believe us when we say. Win or lose, these LPU Pirates made an impact. Win or lose, these LPU Pirates are here to stay. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 9th, 2017

Stags make sure they still have a fighting chance for fourth-seed

With Arellano University and Colegio de San Juan taking care of their business to remain in contention in the NCAA 93 Men’s Basketball Tournament, San Sebastian College-Recoletos wasn’t going to get left behind. Behind a season-best performance from RK Ilagan and the usual effort of Michael Calisaan, the Golden Stags routed University of Perpetual Help, 80-60, on Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre. Ilagan fired 23 points by scattering five triples while Calisaan pounded in a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double. Baste never trailed and was never threatened as it forged a three-way tie for the fourth-seed with the also 9-9 Chiefs and Knights. “Ito na yung bunga ng pinaghirapan ng mga bata. At least, nakarating na kami rito,” a more than satisfied head coach Egay Macaraya said. Having the superior quotient among the three teams, Baste will get a short break as Arellano and Letran duke it out for dear life on Friday still at the same venue. The winner there will then face San Sebastian next week. Whoever triumphs in that matchup will finally complete the playoff picture. Whatever happens, Macaraya said what is important is that they have learned a lot. “This has been a good learning experience sa mga players,” he said. For the Altas, graduating guard GJ Ylagan topped the scoring column with 16 points. Suffering their eighth loss in a row and 14th overall in 18 games, however, Ylagan and fellow seniors Gab Dagangon, Kervin Lucente, and Flash Sadiwa do not get a fitting sendoff. BOX SCORES SAN SEBASTIAN 80 – Ilagan 23, Calisaan 21, Bulanadi 9, Calma 6, Costelo 6, Capobres 5, David 4, Navarro 2, Mercado 2, Gayosa 2, Baetiong 0, Valdez 0 PERPETUAL 60 – Ylagan 16, Eze 12, Sadiwa 11, Coronel 10, Pido 8, Dagangon 3, Tamayo 0, Yuhico 0, Mangalino 0, Clemente 0, Casas 0 QUARTER SCORES: 22-14, 40-28, 58-42, 80-60 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2017

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per NBA.com/Stats, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. 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 NewsOct 17th, 2017

Thunder add reinforcements for MVP Westbrook

em>By Cliff Brunt, Associated Press /em> OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook did it all last season and it wasn’t enough. Westbrook averaged a triple-double and topped Oscar Robertson’s single-season record for triple-doubles on his way to winning the league MVP award and the scoring title. He led the Thunder to the playoffs after Kevin Durant left for Golden State in the offseason. A five-game playoff exit at the hands of the Houston Rockets was typical of Oklahoma City’s season — great play from Westbrook but the team falling short. Reinforcements have arrived. The Thunder have acquired All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in trades, and now, Oklahoma City is poised to return to elite status. “To be able to play with those two guys and the rest of the guys we have is amazing,” Westbrook said. “I’m excited. I’m looking forward to making a great run, and I’m happy they’re here.” Anthony, now 33, appears to have plenty in the tank. He averaged 15.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in the preseason. He said he expects to score, but he will do what is needed to fit in with coach Billy Donovan’s system. George led the Indiana Pacers to the Eastern Conference finals in 2013 and 2014. He missed most of the 2014-2015 season after breaking his leg, then the Pacers lost in the first round of the playoffs the next two seasons. His early adjustment appears to be going smoothly — he averaged 20.3 points in the preseason. He believes that being paired with superstar talent gives the Thunder a chance to be special. “You need guys of that stature and that level to be able to help and create something special,” George said. “It’s just that era where you’ve got to face teams that are going to have two or three guys that can take over games and be iconic to this league.” Here are some things to watch from the Thunder this season: strong>BACKUP POINT GUARD /strong>: The Thunder sometimes ran into trouble last season when Westbrook would go to the bench to rest, and it was a particularly big issue during the playoffs. New pickup Raymond Felton should be an upgrade. The veteran has 657 NBA starts and averaged 9.5 points per game just two seasons ago for Dallas. strong>ADAMS’ DEVELOPMENT /strong>: Center Steven Adams had his best season last year, and he will be in position to be even better this year. He ranked seventh in the league in field-goal percentage last season, and with George and Anthony drawing attention, he should be open a lot more this season. He shot 62 percent from the field during the preseason. strong>HIGH-FLYER: /strong> Rookie guard Terrance Ferguson played professionally in Australia last season. He showed off his springs on several highlight-reel plays while averaging 6.3 points in the preseason. There’s substance to go with the flash. “He’s a guy that comes in and works hard, does the things we ask him to do on both ends,” Anthony said. “Wants to get better. You can’t ask for a better rookie than that. A guy who wants to be out on the court and working his way to have an opportunity to gain some minutes. So he is a guy that you guys will be hearing more of in the future.” strong>THREE-POINT SHOOTING: /strong>Oklahoma City was the worst three-point shooting team in the league last season at 32.7 percent. The addition of George, Patrick Patterson and Anthony should help that. All are good shooters, and they should get plenty of open looks playing off of the other talent on the roster. strong>REPLACING ENES: /strong>The Thunder had to give up Enes Kanter to get Anthony. Kanter was one of the best reserves in the league — just two years ago, he finished third in the race for Sixth Man of the Year. He’s an elite offensive rebounder and one of the league’s most efficient shooters. “Enes was a great guy, he was a great teammate,” Donovan said. “He in my opinion is maybe the best offensive rebounder in the game. You know, I think he’ll be missed.” .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Butker's field goals send Chiefs to 29-20 win over Redskins

em>By Dave Skretta, Associated Press /em> KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) — Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker drilled a 43-yard field goal with 8 seconds left in his first game, atoning for an earlier miss and helping Kansas City to a 29-20 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night. Signed off the Carolina practice squad earlier in the week, Butker missed a 46-yarder in the first half before hitting three attempts in the second. The first tied the score 17-all, the next gave the Chiefs the lead and the last made Kansas City (4-0) the league's only undefeated team. The Chiefs put an exclamation point on the win when linebacker Justin Houston picked up a fumble as the Redskins (3-2) were trying to keep the game alive and returned it for a game-ending touchdown. The last time there was only one unbeaten team through the first four weeks of the season was 2010, when the Chiefs were the final team standing. They went on to win the AFC West. Alex Smith threw for 293 yards with touchdowns on the ground and through the air, and it was his 37-yard strike to Albert Wilson on a broken play that set up Butker's go-ahead kick. Travis Kelce hauled in seven catches for 111 yards and a touchdown, while Chiefs rookie Kareem Hunt pounded away 21 times for 101 yards against the Redskins' stout defensive front. Kirk Cousins had 220 yards passing and two touchdowns for Washington, but his throw to the end zone with 50 seconds left was dropped by Josh Doctson and forced the Redskins to kick a field goal. That missed opportunity came back to haunt them less than a minute later. The Redskins stunned the Chiefs early when Cousins found Terrelle Pryor over star cornerback Marcus Peters for a 44-yard touchdown pass, then drove to the goal line before settling for a field goal. But the plucky Chiefs slowly fought their way back into the game. Smith started to find his athletic tight end down the seam, then hit Kelce with a 17-yard TD strike late in the first half. The two connected again on third down shortly after the break, and Smith scored a few plays later when he fooled the defense with a quarterback-keeper. The Redskins needed fewer than 2 minutes to answer: Cousins' 69-yard pass to Vernon Davis set up a short throw to Ryan Grant, who also beat Peters, for a touchdown and a 17-14 lead. It was 17-all after Butker, signed to replace the injured Cairo Santos off Carolina's practice squad, made his first career field goal. Then, the Chiefs picked apart a Redskins defense down to four healthy defensive backs to set up his 32-yard kick. After the Redskins tied the game once more, Butker delivered the biggest kick of his life. strong>PREGAME TRIBUTE /strong> Flags flew at half-staff and there was a moment of silence before the game for victims of the Las Vegas shooting. The Redskins then locked arms for the national anthem, while everyone on the Chiefs side stood with the exception of cornerback Peters and linebacker Ukeme Eligwe. strong>INJURY WATCH /strong> Redskins cornerback Josh Norman departed in the second quarter with a rib injury , and his backup Quinton Dunbar left early in the fourth. Running back Rob Kelley and safety Deshazor Everett also left with injuries for Washington, while Chiefs right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was sidelined by a left knee injury on their second offensive play. strong>UP NEXT /strong> Washington gets a bye week before hosting San Francisco on Oct. 13. Kansas City returns to the road to face Houston on Sunday night. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2017