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In Focus: 5 Reasons Why SNSD s SONEs Are The Most Loyal Fans

They've been there for their idols for more than a decade already!.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource: abscbn abscbnSep 19th, 2018

Federer marks 100th match on Rod Laver Arena with 3-set win

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer has played on Rod Laver Arena a hundred times and has six Australian Open crowns in his collection of 20 Grand Slam titles. The 37-year-old tennis statesman has developed a loyal following over 20 consecutive visits to the Australian Open for the season-opening major. After beating 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 on Friday on the center court at Melbourne Park, and reaching the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the 63rd time, he raised his racket to the crowd. It was not unlike what a batter scoring a century would do to acknowledge 100 at the nearby Melbourne Cricket Ground. He'll next play 20-year-oldStefanos Tsitsipas, who draws a big, vocal crowd to Melbourne Park. "I think I wanted to get out of the blocks quickly. I knew of the threat of Taylor," Federer said. "I think I had extra focus today." Tsitsipas had a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili earlier on Margaret Court Arena to become the first Greek man to reach the fourth round at multiple majors. He reached the same round at Wimbledon last year. Big sections of Greeks sang songs and waved the blue and white flag and scarves in the crowd. Melbourne has the highest concentration of Greek people of any city outside of Greece, and is getting a lot of attention. "I'm delighted," he said. "I feel so comfortable. I feel like playing at home. "It's exciting to have such an atmosphere. I never get to play with so many Greek people supporting me ... and, and, and, Australians!" While rain prevented early play on outside courts at Melbourne Park for the first 2 ½ hours of Day 5, matches went ahead on the show courts. At one stage, Greek fans had to split their time between the adjoining Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas. There was no split loyalties on Rod Laver, where local favorite Ash Barty became the first player through to the fourth round a 7-5, 6-1 win over Maria Sakkari. It was first time a Greek man and woman have advanced to the third round at the same Grand Slam tournament since 1936. Barty continued the so-called "Barty Party" by ending Sakkari's run, and will play either former champion Maria Sharapova or defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in the next round. In the only other completed match by early afternoon, 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych beat No. 18-seeded Diego Schwartzman 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Berdych, who has reached the quarterfinals or better in seven of his previous eight trips to Melbourne Park, will meet either 2009 champion Rafael Nadal or local favorite Alex de Minaur in the next round......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2019

Naomi Osaka headed for big money with Japan, global appeal

By Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press TOKYO (AP) — Naomi Osaka used a powerful forehand and a matching serve to win the U.S. Open against Serena Williams two months ago, soaring as high as No. 4 this season in the WTA tennis rankings. Off the court — on the marketing front — she has the same potential. Maybe more. "It's very, very rare to find a Japanese-born female athlete who appeals to an international audience," said Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert and creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco, California. Serena Williams topped the Forbes list of the highest-earning female athletes this year at $18 million, almost all endorsements. Osaka appears to be the right woman in the right sport at the right time with the draw to overtake Williams. "What's more, tennis, especially women's tennis, is a sport that lends itself to a broad variety of sponsors: sporting goods, health and beauty, fashion, lifestyle, travel, personal care, you name it," Dorfman said. "And the sport's international following brings with it a large, loyal and affluent fan base. All the more reason why so many companies are lining up to sign her up." The big question is: Can she keep this up? Much has happened very quickly for her, notes former tennis star Chris Evert. "You know, it's going to be life-changing for her and very, very important," Evert said. "From what I see, she is very humble and from what I see, her parents are very humble people. Hopefully they won't go Hollywood on us. We don't want that to happen." Osaka's multicultural background — Japan-born but raised in the U.S. by a Haitian-American father and a Japanese mother — adds to her wide appeal, endearing her to fans in Japan and elsewhere. Her disarming charm, off and on the court, including how she handled the turmoil surrounding her win over Williams, is also winning people over. "She appeals to the young and old, men and women, everyone," said Shigeru Tanaka, advertising manager at Citizen, her sponsor since August. Tokyo-based Citizen Watch Co.'s 80,000 yen ($700) Naomi Osaka watch is selling out at stores in Japan, thanks to the exposure it got on her wrist at the U.S. Open. Citizen was quick to take advantage of her Grand Slam win, taking out a one-third page ad in the Yomiuri newspaper's extra edition report of her win. Companies won't say how much her contracts are worth, but they tend to be written so that if she keeps winning, her earnings will keep going up. If one company won't pay, another will just snatch her up, marketing experts say. Although Japanese baseball players like Ichiro and Shohei Ohtani are superstars, that sport doesn't have the global appeal of tennis. There are Olympians, but their appeal tends to come and go every four years. Japan is "just starving for a star," Evert said. Osaka has been wearing various Citizen watches in matches and in photo ops and has told reporters the first watch she got from her mom was a Citizen. She has also said her father drove a Nissan while she was growing up — another in a growing line of sponsors. Besides Citizen, Osaka has deals with instant noodle-maker Nissin Foods Group, Japanese badminton and tennis racket maker Yonex Co., and athletic-wear and sneaker giant Adidas. Nissan Motor Co. signed Osaka as its three-year "brand ambassador" in September. The deal was in the works for a while, but the timing couldn't have been better, coming right after the U.S. Open. The Yokohama-based automaker is mulling a "Naomi Osaka model" car. She is also getting keys to a silver GT-R sports car. Investing in Osaka enhances brand image for the long-term, said Masao Tsutsumi, general manager in charge of Osaka-related marketing at Nissan. He said her transformation from "every girl" to superstar parallels the automaker's commitment to technological innovation. "She also is such a nice person while being utterly professional," he added. Yonex has been supplying rackets to Osaka since she was 10, after receiving a letter from her mother. The Osaka effect is evident in the growing popularity of Yonex rackets among younger Americans, the company says. Appearing before Yonex employees in Tokyo, Osaka drew affectionate laughter by insisting on addressing the crowd in Japanese, though she managed only a few words, including "onaji," or "the same," says Nori Shimojo, the company's official in charge of tennis player service. At just 21, Osaka's got plenty of time to learn the language of her birthplace if she wants to. As for her sponsorship windfall, she is shrugging it all off. "I wouldn't really know because I have never been in this territory," she said during a recent tournament in Singapore. "For me, I just focus on my matches, and, I mean, like I'm a tennis player, so I just play tennis." ___ Sandra Harwitt in Singapore contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 9th, 2018

BanKo Perlas Set to Keep the Ball Rolling in Vietnam, PVL Open Conference

Following their successful stint in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference, the BanKo Perlas Spikers ride on the momentum as they prepare for the back-to-back competitions in PVL Season 2 Open Conference on September 22 and the upcoming Vin Lonh tournament in Vietnam on September 28 to October 3, 2018. The BanKo Perlas Spikers will face three Vietnamese teams and a squad from Thailand in the prestigious Vietnam tournament. The team’s participation in the conference is a strategic move to train them for the different leagues, particularly the PVL Open Conference. “Banko Perlas Spikers is a fairly new team, as the girls have been playing together for just two years. Their exposure to Vin Lonh Volleyball tournament is a great opportunity for the ladies to further hone their skills, individually and as a squad,” shared Charo Soriano, Team Manager of BanKo Perlas. “While this is an overseas competition and the teams that we will be up against are considered giants, at the end of the day, we will focus on the learning and experiences. More than winning, the team is concentrated on giving a good fight every game,” Soriano added. The ladies of BanKo Perlas Spikers gave a breakthrough performance in the PVL Reinforced Conference earlier this year; with an unbeaten streak in the quarterfinals round that earned them a spot in the Final Four. This incredible feat has fortified the trust and support of their fans. Before flying off to Vietnam, the team will face Iriga-Navy and PetroGazz at the Flying V Centre, San Juan City on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The team will return on October 6 to continue playing against the PVL teams. When asked how their supporters come into play in the team’s performance, Soriano highlighted that without their fans rallying behind the team, it will not be possible to get where they are. She also shared that their supporters are the source of their strength and in return, the squad is committed to continuously inspire and reach out to them. The team’s mindset to put their supporters first was emphasized further through their partnership with BPI Direct BanKo (BanKo), the microfinance subsidiary of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). Sponsoring a sports team is almost unheard of from the banking industry. BanKo, however, found the perfect marriage with the PVL third placer, who constantly get in touch with the grassroots to promote the sport. “We are a happy partner of the Banko Perlas Spikers. Their skills are undeniable, but what sets them apart is their heart to reach out to fans nationwide, even to those who barely have access to their matches. This is well aligned with BanKo’s vision to make financial services more accessible to everyone,” stated BanKo president Jerome Minglana. “As they compete on Vietnamese courts representing our country, regardless of the outcome, it will only ignite and empower the team's loyal supporters and boost the local Volleyball further.  BanKo is equally excited to witness this exciting journey unfold,” Minglana concluded.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 19th, 2018

Chipper Jones shines in Hall of Fame induction speech

By John Kekis, Associated Press COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Chipper Jones didn't bow to the pressure of the moment, and it was considerable. Jones was inducted Sunday into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he stood there delivering his speech with wife Taylor staring up at him, hours away from giving birth to a son to be named Cooper in honor of the special day. Faced with that daunting task, Jones delivered flawlessly, just as he did during a 19-year career with the Atlanta Braves. "She changed my life forever," Jones said as his wife brushed away tears. "It took me 40 years and some major imperfections in me along the way to find my true profession. Now we've taken our two families and blended them together. It has given me what I've been searching for my entire life —true happiness." A crowd estimated at about 50,000 gathered on a sun-splashed day to honor six former players. Also enshrined were Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman and former Detroit Tigers teammates Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. Jones controlled his emotions in a speech that took the crowd through his entire career, starting with his rookie season when he helped lead the Braves to the 1995 World Series title. He was one of the greatest switch-hitters in baseball history, in the mold of his dad's favorite player, Mickey Mantle, and finished with a .303 career batting average, 468 home runs, and 1,623 RBIs, credentials that earned him election on the first try. Jones also heaped praise on his mom and dad — "You're the reason I'm on this stage," he said — and ended his speech by thanking the loyal Atlanta fans. "You stuck by me," he said. "You're the reason I never want to play anywhere else. I love you guys. Thank you." Emotional during a Hall of Fame visit in February to tour the museum in preparation for this day, Thome held it together despite having to wipe away tears after his daughter Lila sang the national anthem. Like Jones, he heaped praise on his wife, Andrea. "Obviously, induction into the Hall of Fame is one of the greatest honors of my life," Thome said. "The best thing, though, that's ever happened to me is the day you agreed to marry me. You are without a doubt the best teammate I could ever have and, with the world as my witness, I love you more today than ever." The lefty-swinging Thome hit 612 home runs, eighth all-time, and had an MLB record 13 walk-off homers, mostly for the Cleveland Indians. Thome marveled that the genesis of this moment was hitting rocks on a gravel driveway with an aluminum bat as a kid. "It's been my great privilege to have played the game for as long as I did," he said. "And I can say this with certainty, the possibilities are just as important as the outcome. Living the dream that is major league baseball, the best part is not the result but taking the journey with the people whose contributions make it all possible. "I'm so honored to be part of something so special. Baseball is beautiful, and I am forever in its service." Greeted by hundreds of fans waving Dominican Republic flags, Guerrero spoke in his native Spanish in a speech that was translated from Spanish and lasted just five minutes. He thanked his father and mother, who cooked dinners for him and does the same now for his son, and the fans and the people in his hometown of Don Gregorio. His son Vladimir Jr., the top prospect in the minor leagues with the Blue Jays, was in attendance. The nine-time All-Star outfielder batted .318 with 449 homers and 1,496 RBIs and is the first player inducted wearing the cap of the Angels, the team where he enjoyed his greatest success. Just as he did in his unflappable role in the bullpen during his career as an ace reliever, Hoffman was flawless in delivering his speech, also closing it by thanking his wife, Tracy. "You shared with me this amazing journey of ups and downs from the beginning, always never letting me get too high or get too low," Hoffman said. "I love you." Hoffman played the bulk of his career with the San Diego Padres before finishing with the Milwaukee Brewers. After failing to impress the front office in three years as a shortstop, he switched to the bullpen and became a star. Using a stultifying change-up, Hoffman recorded 601 saves over 18 seasons, second all-time to former Yankees star Mariano Rivera's 652. He also credited his parents for his success. "Mom, dad, you're the biggest reason I'm on this stage," Hoffman said. "In fact, you're all of my reasons. Not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for all both of you have done. I love you both beyond words." Morris, now 63, spent 15 years on the ballot before getting the call from the Hall of Fame last December. Known for his toughness on the mound, he pitched 18 seasons for the Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays and Indians, and played on four World Series champions. The crowning achievement of his career was his 1-0, 10-inning complete-game victory in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series while pitching for his hometown Twins against the Braves. Among those he thanked were his dad and his late mother and the late Sparky Anderson, who managed the Tigers to the 1984 World Series championship. "Thank you mom and dad for everything you taught me and have done for me," Morris said, his voice cracking with emotion as he looked at his dad. "Mom, I know you're smiling down on us today. Dad, thank you for instilling in me the work ethic that was so vital to my success, but more than that you showed equal love for all your children. "I know Sparky Anderson is with us here today," Morris added. "He taught me so many things, especially to respect this great game. He taught me a valuable lesson by allowing me to fail and fight through adversity." Trammell, who played shortstop for 20 seasons — all for the Tigers — and Morris were selected together by a veterans committee, which made the day extra special for the Motor City. "We signed together in 1976, spent 13 years together in Detroit, and now 42 years later, Cooperstown. Wow!" Morris said. Trammell earned six All-Star Game selections, four Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards. His .977 fielding percentage ranks sixth among shortstops with at least 2,000 games played. During his tenure, the Tigers had one of the great double play combinations in MLB history in Trammell and second baseman Lou Whitaker, who was in the audience on a special day for the Motor City. "For 19 years Lou Whitaker and I formed the longest running double play combination in the history of baseball," Trammell said, recalling the two were called up to the Tigers on the same day. "Lou, it was an honor and a pleasure to have played alongside you all those years. I hope someday you'll be up here, too.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 30th, 2018

Wenger to leave Arsenal after more than 21 years in charge

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Arsene Wenger is leaving Arsenal after more than 21 years, ending a revolutionary reign that saw him introduce new methods to the Premier League and become the club's most successful manager. While the 68-year-old Frenchman was able to announce his own departure plans on Friday, the tenure of English soccer's longest-serving manager will finish at the end of the season against a backdrop of mounting dissent as the London club's competitiveness in the Premier League has waned. Arsenal has failed to win the Premier League since 2004, but that feat represented the highpoint of Wenger's career as he became only the second manager to go through an English league season unbeaten. The "Invincibles" season, his third Premier League title, helped shield Wenger against the critics. But Wenger's power appeared to drain over the last year as executives trying to shape the future direction of the team were brought in. The new two-year contract that Wenger signed after winning the FA Cup for a record seventh time last May will now not be completed. "After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season," Wenger said. "I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years. I managed the club with full commitment and integrity. "I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high. To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever." Even though Arsenal is sixth in the Premier League, there can still be a successful conclusion to the season with the team in contention for the Europa League. Arsenal's appearance in the competition, though, is a sign of the recent demise under Wenger. Arsenal became accustomed to qualifying for the Champions League before missing out for the first time in two decades after finishing fifth last season. Winning the Europa League is now Arsenal's only realistic way of Wenger bequeathing his successor a place next season in the more illustrious Champions League. With Wenger's footprints all over the Emirates Stadium, finding a coach to step into the dugout after a dynastic reign is a challenge. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke only has to look at the problems that have afflicted Manchester United since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 after more than 26 years in charge. United is on its third manger since Ferguson left after winning a record-extending 20th English title and has not finished higher than fourth. Among the early contenders to succeed Wenger are two Germans: Thomas Tuchel, who left Borussia Dortmund last year, and Germany coach Joachim Loew. A popular appointment among Arsenal fans could be Patrick Vieira, who has been gaining coaching experience in Major League Soccer at New York City FC. The midfielder was one of Wenger's first signings in 1996 and featured in all three Premier League title-winning sides. Wenger took over in October 1996 as Arsenal's first foreign manager on the back of successes at Monaco and a stint in charge of Japanese club Grampus Eight. He was a relative unknown but quickly gained respect for helping to modernize English soccer in the early years of the Premier League, eradicating Arsenal's drinking culture and introducing new sports science methods. Adding Vieira and French players Nicolas Anelka, Emmanuel Petit and Thierry Henry helped to establish Arsenal as an English soccer power until Wenger was shackled by the financial constraints of the move from Highbury into the new Emirates Stadium in 2006. It coincided with the rise of foreign investment in rival clubs, with Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich transforming Chelsea and Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour raising the stakes by lavishing even more cash on players at Manchester City. While Arsenal was taken over by Kroenke in 2011, the American sports tycoon operated in a parsimonious financial environment that irritated many supporters. Now Kroenke, who told The Associated Press in 2016 that he was "very high on Arsene," has the tough task of replacing Wenger. "This is one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport," Kroenke said. "One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsene has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched. "Arsene has unparalleled class and we will always be grateful to him. Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude." Arsenal said it will make an appointment "as soon as possible." "We have high ambitions to build on Arsene's remarkable tenure and to honor his vision by ensuring that Arsenal competes for and wins the biggest and most important prizes in the game," Kroenke said. "We must now focus on making a strong finish to the season and ask our millions of fans around the world to join us in paying appropriate tribute to one of the greats of Arsenal's history and one of the greats of the game."  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

UAAP Volleyball: Bernadeth Pons: Probinsyana with a Superstar Soul

In a time where gadgets have pretty much taken over the lives of majority of the world’s population, Bernadeth Pons prefers to keep things simple. Instead of swiping her phone for the latest news on Twitter or organizing her feed on Instagram, FEU’s Team Captain and graduate of Financial Management would rather spend time inside the athlete’s dormitory to sleep. While that sounds boring, the 21-year old Pons reasons that she needs all the energy she can get to complete her Master’s degree in Business Administration and perform at the highest level in her final season in the UAAP. The 5’7” open spiker is currently the fourth best scorer in the league averaging 15.2 points per match. She is also ranked third in both digging and receiving. Because of her all-around brilliance, there is a fairly good amount of fans on social media who have been campaigning for Pons to be named MVP of Season 80. But, of course, Pons is oblivious to that. In fact, she didn’t even know that she was included in the 34-player wish list of new National Team Head Coach Ramil de Jesus. It took a text message from her younger sister, Melody, who lives in their hometown of Talisay, Negros Occidental for Pons to learn about the development. “Ha? Saan galing yan?” was her honest reply. To Pons, playing for the national team goes beyond her wildest dreams. And while she feels very much honored to have her name considered for a spot, Pons says her current focus is with FEU. After all, it was the school that provided her with a means to fulfill her goals and make her parents proud. From Softball to Volleyball Pons was born in Malolos, Bulacan where her father, Roberto and mother, Maryjen met. A year after her birth, the family moved to Talisay where Roberto started playing baseball recreationally. When his eldest daughter grew big enough to play, she also took a liking to the sport. Pons would even join the boys play catch during her elementary days at Efigenio-Enrica Lizares Memorial School. Unfortunately, there was no softball team for Pons to try-out for. That’s when her classmate, Allen Joy Esponilia invited her to try-out for the volleyball team. “Nung una, sobrang hirap kasi wala talaga akong alam eh. Kahit dig, dig lang, kung saan-saan pumupunta. Nahihiya ako sa ka-partner ko kasi syempre, alam na niya yung basics ng volleyball. Naiiyak na nga ako kasi palagi nalang tumatalsik,” recalled Pons, who was 10 years old at the time. But, the challenge of excelling at a sport where she had no background in challenged the young Pons. Eventually, she learned how to dig up powerful spikes and became a libero. In the fifth grade, she experienced her first major competition by participating in the Palarong Pambansa held in Palawan and representing Region 6 – Western Visayas where she teamed up with Kim Gequillana and Ayel Estraňero. It was the first of five Palarong Pambansa events she would participate in. In those competitions, Pons played against numerous future UAAP stars like Jia Morado, Desiree Cheng, Majoy Baron, Jhoana Maraguinot and a powerhouse Region 7 – Central Visayas squad that featured Sisi Rondina, Dimdim Pacres, Rica Rivera and CJ Saga. Leap of Faith As she got older, Pons began developing her spiking prowess and caught the eye of the legendary Roger Gorayeb, who wanted to bring her to San Sebastian College-Recoletos. But, she was reluctant to leave home. “Wala akong idea about life dito sa Manila. So, hindi ko alam kung tutuloy ba ako or hindi. Dumating sa point na nag-decide kami ng Papa ko na doon nalang sa amin ako mag college,” explained Pons. During her final year in high school in 2013, then FEU Head Coach Shaq delos Santos went to the Regional Meet in Roxas City, Capiz to recruit the reluctant Pons. Delos Santos was persistent in convincing her to come and be a part of his plan to revive the volleyball program of the university. The free education, food and accessibility to the training facilities finally convinced Pons to take a leap of faith.   “Naisip ko, pag doon ako sa probinsya, mamamasahe ako every day, mabigat din sa parents ko. So, yun talaga yung sabi ko, ‘O-oo na ako’. Nag-decide ako na mag go-go na ako sa Maynila,” recalled Pons. For someone who never imagined leaving her hometown, Pons didn’t have any trouble making her mark in the UAAP as she immediately led the Lady Tamaraws in scoring (11.8 points per match) as a rookie. She would become FEU’s leading scorer in each of her UAAP stints which includes Final Four appearances in the past three seasons. Last Stretch Now that Pons is approaching the last stretch of her collegiate career and with FEU in a good position to attain a twice-to-beat advantage in the post-season for the first time since 2009, she is more focused than ever on the task at hand. Should the Lady Tamaraws beat NU in their last elimination round game on Sunday and if Ateneo loses to La Salle, FEU will enter the Final Four as the number two ranked team. But, Pons knows it won’t be easy as the Lady Bulldogs will be out for redemption. “Kami kasi yung unang tumalo sa kanila sa first round. So, palagi namin rine-remind yung bawat isa na yung NU, pipilitin nilang bumawi sa atin. Tapos sila, nothing to lose kasi kahit ano mangyari, number four na sila. Eh tayo, may hinahabol tayo na number two. Hindi puwedeng magpabaya tayo kasi NU pa rin yan. Lalaban at lalaban yan,” shared Pons. It’s been a decade since FEU last won the UAAP Women’s Volleyball title. While Pons has already achieved her initial goal of earning a college degree, she still has that burning desire to give back to the school that gave her the opportunity to help her family and leave a lasting legacy in the process. “Gusto ko maalala nila ako bilang isa sa mga nakapagbalik ng crown sa FEU. Sobrang tagal nang nawala ang FEU sa championship. Yun yung gusto namin ibalik ulit,” declared Pons. All Pons ever wanted was to ease the burden on her parents by graduating from school. The game of volleyball has given her a means to accomplish that and so much more. She’s become one of the UAAP’s brightest stars and may wear the colors of the Philippine flag one day. But, no matter what happens, she will always be that same humble girl from Talisay, inspiring countless others like her to be brave and go for great. Catch Bernadeth Pons and the FEU Tamaraws take on the NU Bulldogs on April 15, Sunday, 12 noon LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, Liga, Liga HD and via livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2018

UE: Rod Roque – The Accidental Coach

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 31st, 2018

Panthers sale sparks buzz in political, business circles

By Steve Reed, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The stunning news of the rare opportunity to purchase an NFL team has quickly garnered the attention of sports figures, business investors and politicians alike. Amid reports of sexual and racial remarks made by Carolina Panthers owner and founder Jerry Richardson in the workplace, he has unexpectedly announced that he is selling the NFL franchise after this season ends. It was a bombshell that rocked the Carolinas, and generated shockwaves inside and out of the organization. The team Monday promoted Tina Becker as COO and gave her full control of the day-to-day operations. Becker said in a release that “these have been some of the most difficult days of my 19 years with the Panthers.” She added that her immediate focus will be on corporate side of the organization, “while addressing the real concerns that have been raised in recent days.” Richardson, meanwhile, stepped away from daily responsibilities to focus on the sale of the team — which will come with a multi-billion dollar price tag. That’s what is known, but Richardson’s decision to walk away after nearly 25 years as owner has left more questions than answers about the franchise’s future — most notably, who will buy it and will they keep the team in Charlotte. Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said she is committed to working to keep the team in Charlotte. “The City of Charlotte values its long-running relationship with the Panthers after more than 22 seasons of NFL football,” Lyles said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The Panthers are part of Charlotte’s fabric. We’ve celebrated victories and anguished over defeats. We understand transitions are inevitable, and we look forward to working with current and future ownership.” The Panthers are tethered to Charlotte through the 2018 season because of an agreement on an $87.5 stadium renovation between the city and the team in 2013. That renovation is nearly complete. But a buyer could potentially purchase the team and move it in 2019. Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who was mayor of Charlotte when the Panthers settled into their new stadium, has seen both sides. He also was the mayor when the Hornets left town. He said another question might be about Bank of America stadium. “Will (the new owners) ask for government subsidy to continue to improve the stadium, or, in fact, even build a new stadium, like what’s happened in Atlanta and Dallas?” McCrory said. “That would be a tall order.” He said it will be a business decision— and the highest bidder will get the team, to possibly do with it as they chose. “Unless the NFL steps in and says, ’No, you need to have a local ownership group,’” he said, “which I’d encourage them to do.” Panthers coach Ron Rivera was “a little taken aback” when Richardson informed him Sunday night of his decision to sell the team. But he too believes the Panthers should remain in Charlotte. “This organization has been a source of pride and goodwill and I would like to it continue,” Rivera said Monday. “This is a great community with a very supportive fan base that has been out there for us. They have been here for me and this football team and I hope that somehow it is able to stay here.” The chance to purchase an NFL team has potential suitors coming out of the woodwork. Rapper and actor Diddy indicated his interest in purchasing the Panthers on Twitter moments after Richardson’s announcement. Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, a Charlotte native, chimed in with “I want in!” NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has also expressed interest. Other businessmen with Charlotte connections could show interest as well. Speedway Motorsports chairman Bruton Smith and his son, CEO Marcus Smith, have previously expressed interest in purchasing the Panthers should the opportunity arise. And the Panthers are loaded with minority owners including real estate magnate “Smoky” Bissell, Family Dollar founder Leon Levine and members of the Belk family. Developer Johnny Harris, who was instrumental in luring the Wells Fargo Championship — and later the PGA Championship — to Charlotte, could also decide to increase his ownership stake in the team. Let’s not forget Michael Jordan. The six-time NBA champion owns the Hornets. However, Jordan’s interest level is unknown and his representative Estee Portnoy said she had no comment on the Panthers sale. More names will surely emerge over the next several weeks, but they need to be ready to write a big check. Forbes Magazine recently estimated the Panthers worth at $2.3 billion. And those numbers could be low. Forbes estimated the Buffalo Bills at a net worth of $935 million in 2013, but the team wound up selling in 2014 for $1.4 billion — nearly 50 percent higher than the estimate — according to magazine’s website. Before any sale can be finalized, it will need the approval of 24 of 32 NFL owners. The Panthers have a lot to offer potential suitors: — They are on the cusp of reaching the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. — They have sold out 225 of their 227 home games in team history, including 157 straight. — They feature several recognizable stars including 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton and 2013 Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly. Panthers tight end Ed Dickson said fans don’t deserve to have a team ripped out from underneath them. “It’s growing, it’s definitely been growing,” Dickson said of the fan base. “We are striving to build something that Dallas has, and Pittsburgh has. We don’t have that much history here. But one of the reasons I came here was to be a part of something special. When we do get to the top of the mountain and win a Super Bowl — then we have something to celebrate here” in the Carolinas. At least in 2017 and 2018, after that, it’s unclear where the party would be. ___ AP Writer Skip Foreman contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 19th, 2017

Angels welcome Ohtani, plot course for 2-way Japanese star

GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — General manager Billy Eppler rose from his seat in rapturous joy when he got the phone call telling him Shohei Ohtani wanted to join the Los Angeles Angels. When Eppler attempted to sit back down, he missed his chair completely, sprawling onto the floor. Ohtani has inspired strong reactions ever since the world became aware of the Japanese star's formidable talent as both a pitcher and a hitter. Now that the Angels have landed such a coveted prize, they can't wait to see who else he can knock over. The Angels formally introduced Ohtani on Saturday, one day after the franchise won the baseball-wide competition for his services. A lively crowd gathered in front of Angel Stadium cheered when Ohtani donned a red No. 17 jersey and hat on stage with team owner Arte Moreno, manager Mike Scioscia and Eppler. Ohtani doesn't speak much English yet, but he stepped to the podium and addressed the fans confidently: "Hi. My name is Shohei Ohtani." Ohtani already knows how to work a crowd, too: He had the perfect answer when asked whether he was more excited to get his first pitching victory or his first homer in the big leagues. "Hopefully, if I can pull it off, maybe both in one game," he said through a translator. Ohtani's grand experiment with the Angels is off to an entertaining start. The league-wide courtship ended Friday with his decision to join Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in Orange County. The 23-year-old former Japanese MVP is attempting to become the majors' most significant two-way player in several decades, and he will have every opportunity to fill two prominent roles with the Angels. Ohtani is expected to join the Angels' starting rotation next season, and he will be their designated hitter on many days when he isn't pitching, Scioscia said. Ohtani won't play in the outfield "at the outset" of his career, which likely includes at least his first season in Anaheim, Eppler said. Ohtani's decision was the culmination of years of hard work for the scouts and personnel executives led by Eppler, who has been traveling to Japan since 2013 to see Ohtani. "There was a wow factor to him," Eppler said. "He was a little bit of a show-stopper. Big fastball. The ability to throw three off-speed pitches for strikes. And have the presence in the batter's box that we gravitated to. He fits a lot of our offensive philosophy." Although Eppler felt Ohtani would be an ideal fit with the Angels, he had no idea whether Ohtani would agree. Moreno led the Angels' presentation to Ohtani on Monday after he selected them as one of seven finalists, and they waited nervously for four days before getting the news. Ohtani didn't reveal all of his reasons for choosing the Angels over the Mariners, Rangers, Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox and every other club. "I just felt a strong connection with the Angels," Ohtani said through a translator. That's enough for the Angels, who believe they can provide every opportunity for Ohtani to cultivate the two-way skills that have inspired comparisons to a young Babe Ruth. The Angels believe Ohtani has the intensity and focus to do something unprecedented in recent baseball history. "This guy consumes all things baseball," Eppler said. "There is not a lot else going on in his world but baseball (and) training. He does like to read a lot." Eppler also described Ohtani as "very humble," and compared his mental makeup to that of Trout, whose video phone call to recruit Ohtani apparently went quite well. Trout, on the East Coast for his wedding this weekend, called Eppler late Monday night after the meeting to ask: "What's he like? What's he like?" "He's like you," Eppler replied. "He's simple, humble, and he wants to be great." Ohtani took a moment during his news conference to send good wishes to the two-time MVP for his wedding. And when asked why he had chosen No. 17 after wearing No. 11 in Japan, Ohtani quipped: "I actually wanted No. 27, but somebody else (Trout) was wearing that number." About 200 media members were on hand for Ohtani's arrival, including dozens from Japanese news outlets. Ohtani and the Angels realize his every move will be chronicled on a daily basis with likely the same fervor around Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui in their heyday, but judging by his confident performance in his first major appearance, it's nothing Ohtani can't handle. Ohtani's performance on the field is more important, and the Angels expect him to be an immediate hit there as well. Angel Stadium's team shop already was doing a brisk business selling large piles of Ohtani jerseys and T-shirts on his first full day with the club. "I think it's going to be something very, very special for our fans," Scioscia said. "Every player, to a man, is so excited about this acquisition. Our job is to see exactly how you get a multidimensional, two-way athlete like Shohei to bring his talent on the field often enough where he leads us to that championship." ___ More AP MLB: www.apnews.com/tags/MLBbaseball.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 10th, 2017

Giants manager Bruce Bochy to retire after this season

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Bruce Bochy has always managed with his gut. Those same instincts told him it's nearly time to retire. Bochy announced Monday this will be his last season managing the San Francisco Giants, his 25th in all as a big league manager. He told the team before Monday's spring training workout at Scottsdale Stadium. "In my mind it's time," he said. Bochy, who turns 64 on April 16, had offseason hip replacement surgery that has him moving more swiftly and he insists "the health's great" and didn't factor into the choice. He begins his 13th season with the Giants. He led the club to World Series championships in 2010, '12 and '14. "I've managed with my gut. I came up here in 2007 on my gut. So it's a gut feeling it's time," Bochy said. "It's been an unbelievable ride. There's so much in there to be grateful for, with the players, the city, the fans, my ride here. It's time. I'll stay in baseball and do something. ... I'm not going too far, trust me. I love this game. It's been in my blood, so sure I'll be doing something in another capacity and I look forward to it." Bochy came to San Francisco from the San Diego Padres before the 2007 season, in time to watch Barry Bonds break Hank Aaron's career home run record that August. He managed Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012 and a pair of no-hitters by Tim Lincecum against the Padres in July 2013 and June '14. "This will give me time to go back and reflect and even watch some games and think about some of these great achievements and milestones these players have reached," Bochy said. "I've always had a deep appreciation for the gifts and talents of these players. I consider myself fortunate to have managed players like a Bonds and Lincecum." Every other manager with three or more titles has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. "I haven't even thought about that," Bochy said. Giants CEO Larry Baer already envisions a place in Cooperstown for Bochy, "Words cannot adequately express the amount of admiration, gratitude and respect the Giants family has for Bruce Bochy," Baer said in a statement. "His honesty, integrity, passion and brilliance led to the most successful period of Giants baseball in the history of our franchise. He will always be a Giant and we look forward to honoring him and all of his achievements throughout his final season in San Francisco and inevitably in Cooperstown." Giants Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford considers himself fortunate to have played for the same manager his entire career. "That's definitely special. I don't think many guys have one manager throughout their entire career," Crawford said. "Obviously we have this year to take care of first. Hopefully we make it a memorable one for him. A part of what's made him such a good manager over the years is just being able to work with the players he has, whether that's the bullpen or the bench, he always seemed to plug the right pieces at the right times." Bochy has faced daily questions about his future, and he wanted to address his plans now and avoid distractions later in the season when he hopes to have a contender again following two years out of the playoffs. He intends to stay in baseball. "It's something I put a lot of thought in it," Bochy said. "There's a lot of things that I look forward to doing, but right now my head's at this moment, hey, I'm going to focus on getting this team ready. I look forward to one more shot, trust me, and us having a big year. I'm all in." He spent his first 12 seasons as a manager with the Padres from 1995-2006, guiding San Diego to the NL pennant in 1998. Bochy came to the decision over the winter, but had all but realized this would be his last year at the end of the 2018 season. He discussed it with family and the front office. Executive Brian Sabean was hardly surprised by his dear friend's decision, saying "that's a pretty elite and, as we all know, fast treadmill to now do this for 25 years." "Two different organizations, four trips to the World Series, you win three, that's pretty elite company," Sabean said. Once he's through, Bochy will stick to his simple life of fishing excursions and family. "I'm not going anywhere. I don't have any cruises planned, trust me, I don't plan on going up Mount Everest. Baseball, that's my life. I'll be around," Bochy said. "I don't have a bucket list. There's no hidden agenda in all this, trust me.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News6 hr. 0 min. ago

UAAP Season 81: DLSU players impose social media ban

De La Salle University’s signature swagger is definitely back. Haters and bashers can say whatever they want on social media against the Lady Spikers, for all they care. They won’t even see them anyway. DLSU players made a self-imposed rule among themselves to have a social media ban for at least the duration of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament to avoid distractions and keep their focus on the goal of putting their names on history books with a four-peat championship.   “Wala na, deleted na Twitter namin before mag-start ng season,” said new Queen Spiker Des Cheng, who is in her final year for the green and white. The Lady Spikers opened their title-retention bid with a masterful, 25-14, 25-17, 16-25, 25-19, dismantling of archrival Ateneo de Manila University Sunday at the MOA Arena. “Sa amin lang (nag-impose). Kahit sa mga rookies sinabihan namin kasi ‘yung hype sa Twitter sobrang iba. Sobrang iba talaga,” said Cheng, who scored 13 points. “Ayun shutdown muna ang Twitter namin. Sabi namin. ‘Kahit hindi nyo i-delete ang Twitter basta ‘wag na kayong magsi-search ng whatever na gusto n’yong i-search.’” “’Pabayaan n’yo na lang. Kung gusto n’yong mag-tweet OK lang pero ‘yung magbabasa kayo na maapektuhan kayo ‘wag na kasi makakasira ng talaga ng laro ‘yun’. So um-OK naman sila,” Cheng added. The graduating hitter became the spark plug and energizer of DLSU during the early clash of powerhouse teams with her on-court antics that Lady Spikers’ fans love to watch and their opposing team’s supporters love to hate. Her contagious energy rubbed in to her teammates and even got head coach Ramil De Jesus, who’s known to be a dead-serious mentor during games, animated by exchanging high fives and flaunting his dimpled smile in DLSU’s earned points. It may be too much for others’ taste but Cheng cleared that it was just a way of pumping up the team.         “Siyempre kailangan nga may magsisimula ng spark para sumunod sila. Parang doon nga na lahat kami nabuhayan,” she said.       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News18 hr. 13 min. ago

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 16th, 2019

2019 NBA All-Star Diary: Day 1

5:20 A.M. – For some reason, I woke up 10 minutes before the alarm on my cellphone was scheduled to ring. Maybe it was jetlag. Maybe it was excitement. It didn’t matter, I had to get up from bed to prepare for the 2 hour and 30 minute drive from Durham to Charlotte. Me and my colleague, TJ Manotoc had taken a detour from our planned schedule to visit Duke University. Now, that we were done with that, it was time to revert back to our primary task of covering the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. During our drive back to Charlotte, I looked out the window to the sight of clear skies telling me that it was going to be a good day. 8:50 A.M. – The first task for journalists covering the NBA’s mid-season event is to secure a media pass. This is basically an ID that gives one clearance to all events that are happening throughout All-Star Weekend. After parking our rented car and walking to the designated hotel for the media credentials pick-up, we were ready to head to our first activity of the day. 9:35 A.M. – Hosting the best young players in the league was the Bojangles Coliseum where the first media availability session was about to take place. The Mountain Dew Rising Stars is first major event of All-Star weekend and we were given the opportunity to see the players from Team U.S. and Team World up-close to field in questions. Rookie sensation Luka Dončić drew the biggest crowd of reporters from all over the world. Because it would be tough for me to ask the Slovenian a question, I decided to go to another podium where this year’s number on overall pick, Deandre Ayton was sitting. “Deandre! Who’s the toughest center you’ve played against so far in your rookie season?” I asked. “Uuuhhh… nobody. Not yet. All the centers I’ve played against so far haven’t really went at me yet. I think they were just playing though the rhythm and not really going at me,” replied Deandre. I saw another player drawing a huge crowd and realized it was Ben Simmons, who is currently my second favorite NBA player behind Blake Griffin. After waiting for a little while, I pounced on the opportunity to field in a question. “Ben, with the current Sixers lineup, what do you think are the weaknesses that you guys need to improve on so that you can win the championship this year?” The 6’10” point guard from Australia looked right at me and said, “Offense. Defense.” Honestly, I was a little bit disappointed because I was expecting a more thorough answer but I guess that’s how it is sometimes. These athletes are asked a million questions and it might be a struggle for them to stay consistent with regards to being accommodating to people. Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young and LA Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma were two other players I visited. With so many players on both rosters, it would be extremely difficult to get to converse with all. But, seeing them right in front of you and having an opportunity to talk to them was an amazing experience. 11:00 A.M. – All media had been requested by the organizers to clear the court so we could witness Team World practice for the night’s event. Even though I got a very short answer from Simmons, I still observed him. Watching him dribble the ball up the floor and make long strides to the basket for dunks was a sight to behold. He could even knock down three-pointers. 11:45 A.M. – It was now the turn of Team U.S. to take the floor for practice. Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum looked like they could be the best players on the squad but I was particularly looking at Young and his ability to shoot the ball and handle it exceptionally well. Kuzma was also taking every drill seriously. Just like he would the Rising Stars. 1:06 P.M. – After gathering content, TJ and I decided to have a late lunch at Denny’s. We looked at the schedule and realized that our next activity would not be happening until nine in the evening. More time to sleep, I thought. 2:23 P.M. – TJ dropped me and our luggage off at Springhill Suites, our hotel for the next three days. He left me there to check-in while he returned the rental car to the airport. But, as I went to the counter, I was told by the front desk that our room would not be available until 3:00 P.M.. That’s when I decided to look around. 2:45 P.M. – I went to the Hornets Fan Shop to look at the NBA All-Star merchandise and saw an interesting selection of hats, jerseys and all kinds of memorabilia. And then, I noticed a man carrying a box which contained a pair of Nike Adapt BBs, the shoes I tested last month in New York. I asked him where he got them and told me to check out the “Jordan pop-up shop” across the Spectrum Center. 2:55 P.M. – While walking on the street, I saw a long line outside a building. It turns out, this was where that man got his Nike Adapt BBs. It was a Foot Locker – House of Hoops pop-up shop which sold various sneakers that were scheduled to be released specifically during the NBA All-Star weekend. Because of my unforgettable experience in Manhattan, I decided to join the line for a chance to get my own pair of the most futuristic basketball shoes Nike has ever made. Thankfully, I was given a wristband with a number, allowing me to leave the line to check into the hotel. 3:15 P.M. – I checked into our hotel room and felt thankful that it had such a great location. Springhill Suites was right across the Spectrum Center, the venue of NBA All-Star weekend and of course, just down the block from the pop-up shop. As soon as TJ arrived, I left to resume my quest to buy the shoes. 4:46 P.M. – Finally, I was a proud owner of my very own Nike Adapt BB. I felt like my trip to the New York was given more meaning now. Also, I felt like this was one of the reasons my journey has taken me to Charlotte. But, there was still more work to be done. 8:30 P.M. – Less than an hour before tip-off of the Rising Stars game, TJ and I did a Facebook Live discussion right outside the Spectrum Center to update fans back at home about what has happened so far at the All-Star event and what we should look forward to. 8:55 P.M. – We couldn’t believe it. Our assigned seats were located high up in the bleachers. On the very last row. I was breathing heavily after making the climb up the arena. All of a sudden, the players looked more like ants compared to the giants that they were during our morning sessions with them. 10:54 P.M. – Team U.S. defeated Team World behind the 35 points and 6 rebounds of Kuzma, who was named MVP of the Rising Stars. Kuzma was also one of the easiest players to talk to among his peers. 11:05 P.M. – Just when I thought we were given a lot of access to the players, we were given more. There was another media session which commenced right after the game! 12:11 A.M. – Another thing the NBA is very generous with is food. TJ and I ended our long day at a restaurant and bar that the league booked for us international journalists. As we chomped down our food, we talked about how the NBA All-Star weekend would take a lot of our time from us, including our sleeping hours. TJ has been covering this annual event since 2011. He’s used to the grueling schedule. Me, I’m just soaking it all in. I have a few hours left before I have to get up and work again. As always, I’m going to try to have as much fun as possible. After all, it’s the NBA All-Star. It’s supposed to be fun......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 16th, 2019

Los Angeles tops list of best US cities for singles on Valentine’s Day

Los Angeles tops a new list of the best United States cities for singletons ahead of Valentine's Day, but not for the reasons you may think. While other lists may focus on the number of singletons, and potential mates, available in a city, Wanderu's list celebrates the single status and represents cities that provide the best and most affordable activities for singletons to enjoy on V-Day, without a romantic partner. "Our criteria had nothing to do with a place's potential for meeting a future partner or setting you up for some hokey Hollywood meet cute," reads the report. "Rather, this list represents the top 25 cities across the country for you to treat [yourself] this Februa...Keep on reading: Los Angeles tops list of best US cities for singles on Valentine’s Day.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 14th, 2019

PlayStation counts ‘bigger, fewer games’ among E3 skip reasoning

"Bigger, fewer games," the ability to reach fans, retailers and press at other times, and a lack of big announcements this June are among reasons for Shawn Layden, chairman of Worldwide Studios at Sony Interactive Entertainment, to have PlayStation skip E3 2019. At the 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Sony's console brand PlayStation focused on an unusually narrow band of four games: "Marvel's Spider-Man", "God of War", "The Last of Us Part II" and "Ghost of Tsushima". Two of those were launched toward the end of the year, leaving "The Last of Us Part II" and "Ghost of Tsushima" in the hopper, though with release dates still unannounced. Nintendo had already reconfigured ...Keep on reading: PlayStation counts ‘bigger, fewer games’ among E3 skip reasoning.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2019

I believe we would be in the Final Four -- Okumu

The University of the Philippines showed what it could do during the pre-season after collecting titles in the Premier Volleyball League and the Philippine Superliga. It is but natural for Lady Maroons fans to expect more from the Godfrey Okumu-mentored squad come UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament. Their pre-season romp, according to Okumu, is a morale boost, but at the same time it created pressure for his wards to live up to expectations. “The excitement is there but also the stress, the pressure. We cannot count that out,” said Okumu, who has done wonders to the squad in just his second year as mentor. “The fans are excited, we are excited, the players are excited as well because most of them believe that it's a time for them to show themselves to the UAAP community.” Okumu’s first year with the squad was a period of adjustment and the Lady Maroons struggled to adapt to the new system and ended up at fifth to sixth spot tied with Adamson University, tallying six wins in 14 games. For the second straight year UP missed the Final Four.     “The last season was quite challenging, Season 80. I barely had enough time to prepare the team the way I wanted,” he said. During the offseason, the Lady Maroons were able to fully grasp Okumu’s system and it paid dividends.       UP made history by capturing the PVL Collegiate Conference award, the Diliman-based team’s first major women’s volleyball crown since winning it all in UAAP Season 45 back in 1982, despite playing without injured spiker Tots Carlos. The Lady Maroons followed it up with another championship run in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam without Isa Molde, who was rested following her stint in the UAAP beach volleyball tournament. UP’s PSL win also earned them an all-expense paid training camp in Thailand, where they got a chance to play against club team Supreme Chonburi led by Thai national team stars Pleumjit Thinkaow and Wilavan Apinyapong.   “They never had a pre-season like this. Playing together as a team. This was a good opportunity for them to test themselves. They were tested well and they've land their position but this were just preseason tournament,” said Okumu. But for Okumu, the real battle will start come February 16 in the UAAP wars. “I expect them to give their best, I expect them to play like this is their last tournament of their lives,” said the mentor, who will parade a battle-tested core led by Molde, Carlos and graduating setter Ayel Estranero. “That's what I say every time they play, ‘Make it look like it's your last. Don't play thinking that oh we still have another game. Don't serve that ball thinking that oh I still have another serve to six rotations. Always make it look like it's your last so give it your best everything you do and also have disciplining, know your court, respect your opponents and respect the game that you're playing and you'll get your returns.’” Also back in the fold are veterans Marist Layug, Justine Dorog, Jessma Ramos and Marian Buitre, giving UP a mature and experienced core.     “What I expect is for them to go hard, they came from far, some of them four years ago, some of them five, like Ayel, she's coming, five years, playing and training to win. I think some of them in their first years that was when they were in the Final Four,” said Okumu. “Last season they thought they were gonna be in the Final Four but it was bad luck that that we didn't make it. I think this time we should start strong, and finish strong.” With the Lady Maroons pre-season showing, Okumu is confident that his team will make it to the Final Four this time and even beyond if they stick to their game plan, focus and work hard to achieve their goals. “This season, 81, I think I believe we would be in the Final Four based on how we played. That is my strong belief,” he said. “Like every other team, we have a chance of winning like all the strong teams. We have a chance and we wanna go out there and take that chance because as I said before, it's not gonna be easy.” “We have to go there hard, nobody is gonna give it to us. We have to go out and take it so that's what we are trying to do. Go out there and take it because everybody else is trying to take the same so we tread carefully, very politely, and with a lot of discipline towards our goal,” Okumu added. “As I said before, it's not gonna be easy because everybody wants the same thing.”   ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 11th, 2019

UAAP Season 81: Hindi ako ang magdadala. Kami. -- Arado

Much has been said and written about University of the East libero Kath Arado’s skills and abilities inside the volleyball court. It’s no wonder that coming into the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament, fans and pundits alike are quick to conclude that Arado will be the one to carry the long struggling Lady Warriors on her shoulders in her swan song. But the graduating star from Iligan would beg to disagree.    “Kasi siyempre sasabihin ng ibang tao na last year ko na, ako ang magdadala, which is wrong,” she said. “Kasi siyempre nakikita ko kung paano na-develop ang personality ng bawat isa sa amin. Hindi lang ako ang nagdadala, kaming lahat.” Arado last year won the Best Receiver and Best Digger awards and averaged 6.72 digs per set with an impressive 53.07% reception efficiency.   During the pre-season Arado won the Best Libero honors both in the Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam and in the PSL All-Filipino Conference while playing for Generika Ayala. UE also captured a third place finish in the PSL CGS, an achievement that the Lady Warriors consider as fuel in their desire to prove their doubters wrong come UAAP. Arado said that the team’s vast improvement in communication and maturity could be the key in achieving their goal this season – a modest target of winning as many games as they can and erase the stigma of being bottom dwellers.    “Ang masasabi ko na most improved sa amin ay ‘yung communication talaga lalo na ang maturity sa loob ng court. Kasi based sa pre-season namin lalo na this year, masasabi ko na hindi man ganoon ang expectations ng tao sa amin or expectations ng management pero nakikita ko kasi lagi kaming magkakasama, nakikita ko kung paano nag-develop ang maturity ng bawat isa,” said Arado. “Hindi lang ako, hindi lang ng mga senior pati ‘yung mga nakasunod sa amin. Sina Me-Anne (Mendrez), sina Seth (Roriguez), ‘yung mga bata, kasi siyempre given na kaming mga seniors kasi kailangan naming maging matured na eh.” “Pero 'yung mga bata nakikita ko sila kung paano mag-isip, paano sosolusytunan ang preblema sa team,” she added. “Hindi lang ang mga seniors ang gumagalaw eh pati na rin sila so nakakatuwa na ang maturity nandoon na talaga.” UE finished Season 80 at the cellar with a 2-12 win-loss record and were plagued by internal problems including the departure of head coach Francis Vicente five games into the season. The Lady Warriors now have a new mentor in former University of Sto. Tomas setter Karl Dimaculangan, who replaced interim coach Rod Roque, and his approach in his first stint as head coach is to utilize every available player in his rotation.     “Ngayong papasok ang season unti-unting binabago ng mga coaches yung ganoon (na umasa lang sa ilan). Kasi siyempre ayaw ng coach na naka-depend ka sa isang tao, dalawang tao, tatlo, gusto niya lahat work as a team kasi team sport ito hindi naman individual. Hindi naman ito pang pair, hindi naman ito tatluhan, so lahat,” Arado said. “Lagi nga niyang sinasabi na kahit yung nasa second stringers magagamit at magagamit yan kasi may mga time naman na hindi kaming first six na perfect. May mga times talaga na kahit anong piga sa amin wala talaga kaming game eh. So nandoon ang second stringers na gampanan ang role ng isa na wala sa focus, wala sa ayos ang pag-iisip.” “So hindi pwedeng sabihin lalo na sa volleyball, hindi pwedeng sabihin na isang tao lang ang gumagawa,” she added. “Kasi hindi ko naman magagampanan ang role ko as libero kung wala ang tulong ng blockers, ng setter, ng mga spikers. Lalo na ang guidance ng mga coaches, hindi ko magagawa 'yung responsibility ko as a libero kung wala sila.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2019
Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 2nd, 2019

PBA: Defiant Arwind says he’ll still do Spider-Man dunk if given the chance

Arwind Santos’ signature Spider-Man dunk could be no more. The PBA released a memo to all 12 PBA teams last Jan. 15 regarding players hanging on to rims after made dunks. A particular note in the memo read that players who hang on to rims after a dunk and “places either or both of his feet onto the backboard,” will be given a technical foul. [Related: PBA: Arwind's signature Spider-Man dunk now merits a technical foul] Literally only one PBA player does that and the league could have named the whole thing as the “Arwind Santos rule.” The new ruling was met with interesting responses to say the least with some saying it’s about time while others say that the PBA has singled out Santos, robbing him of his individuality. Well Arwind had this to say on the new rule. “Ako, hindi ako sang-ayon,” he said. “Kasi sabi ko nga, sabi nila Alex [Cabagnot], suporta rin. Magi-isponsor nga sila na kahit may fine daw, babayaran nila. Nakaka-tuwa naman. Na-touch ako. Pero ang akin kasi, trademark lang ba. Wala namang masama sa ginagawa ko,” Arwind added. Santos argued that the PBA could focus on better things, fixing issues that really needs fixing. Arwind feels that his trademark move is pretty much harmless, maybe except for opposing teams on the receiving end of his slam dunk. “Maraming mas pwede nating pagtuunan ng pansin na ipagbawal. Wag na yung Spider-Man dunk,” he said. “Mayroon rin kasing mga batang gustong-gusto makita yung Spider-Man dunk, [media], lalo na yung mga fans ko,” Santos added. Given the chance, Arwind says he’ll still do the Spider-Man dunk. As for the supposed danger the trademark dunk poses, Santos said accidents happen and things could still end up wrong regardless. “Kapag may chance, gagawin ko pa rin. Maliban sa alam kong may fine, hindi ko naman sinusuway pero para sa mga fans ko, kapag may pagkakataon, gagawin ko pa rin dahil kung sinasabi nila na may madidisgrasya, naniniwala ako, kapag madidisgrasya ka, madidisgrasya ka. Di ba?” Arwind said. “Kahit  anong ingat mo, sabi ko nga, meron nga dyan natutulog lang sa loob ng bahay, nabagsakan ng eroplano. Nag-iingat o hindi? Ano tawag doon? Aksidente diba? Aksidente. Pag maa-aksidente ka, maa-aksidente ka. Di ka makaka-iwas. Kung sakaling babagsak ako sa Spider-Man dunk, wala akong sisisihin. Baka nakangiti pa akong bumagsak eh. Sa totoo lang, pag nangyari yun,” Santos added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2019

Young wins point guard battle, Hawks top Thunder 142-126

By Charles Odum, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young had 24 points and 11 assists to win the showdown of past and former Atlanta point guards, leading the Hawks over the Oklahoma City Thunder 142-126 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Former Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder scored 21 points in his return to Atlanta. Schroder struggled early but had 14 points in the third period when the Thunder outscored the Hawks 41-27 to reclaim the lead. Atlanta was similarly dominant in the second period, outscoring Oklahoma City 45-30 to match its high mark for any quarter this season. After holding a big lead of 15 points, the last time at 70-55, the Hawks led 70-59 at halftime. Led by Schroder and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City answered strong in the third period. A jumper by Westbrook tied the game at 87-all. Schroder scored the Thunder's final 11 points of the third period, the last six on free throws, for a 100-97 lead. John Collins made 12-of-14 shots from the field and led Atlanta with 26 points. Alex Len had 24 points and 11 rebounds. The Hawks were 18-of-37 on three-pointers. Westbrook led the Thunder with 31 points and 11 assists. Paul George had 24 points and Jerami Grant added 21. Young, Atlanta's rookie starter, opened the final period with a tying three-pointer. Young added a three-point play and another basket as the Hawks regained momentum. A jam by Omari Spellman pushed Atlanta's lead to 117-107, and another dunk by Spellman pushed the advantage to 121-109. George sank a three-pointer with about 90 seconds remaining to cut Atlanta's lead to 132-123, but the Hawks quickly pushed the advantage back to double figures. A steal and reverse jam by DeAndre Bembry iced the win. The Hawks had a "welcome back" video tribute for Schroder during a first-quarter timeout. Schroder raised his arm to acknowledge the fans. The Hawks wore new powder blue uniforms with red trim and numbers for the first time. The uniforms were introduced as part of the Hawks' 50-year celebration in Atlanta. TIP-INS Thunder: F Nerlens Noel (concussion protocol) "is doing a little more each day," coach Billy Donovan said before the game. ... G Alex Abrines (personal reasons) missed his eighth straight game. Hawks: G Jeremy Lin (flu-like symptoms) was not with the team. F Taurean Prince was limited in his second game back while recovering from similar symptoms. ... G Kent Bazemore (right ankle sprain) and F Dewayne Dedmon (left ankle sprain) did not play. Dedmon may return Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) against Boston. UP NEXT Thunder: Host Lakers on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). Hawks: Host Celtics on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2019