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Willett struggling to rediscover game before Masters defense

STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Danny Willett has 2½ months to rediscover his game before making a pressure-filled return to Augusta National as the defending Masters champion. br /> Odds are that won't be long enough. Willett finished 2016 in a rut after dealing with fresh levels of attention for being a major winner as well as a mid-season swing change. Following a short off-season when he sacrificed practice to enjoy a break from golf and his first Christmas as a father, his start to 2017 is hardly encouraging. br /> Rounds of 74 and 76 saw Willett become the biggest name to miss the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Friday. He was 121st in a 126-man field, with his second round marred by a quadruple bogey 9 at the 10th when everything that could go wrong did go wrong. br /> Next comes the defense of his Dubai Desert Classic title in two weeks. Then all roads lead to Augusta for the Masters starting April 6. br /> 'I think if I'm playing bad, the attention will die down quite nicely, to be honest,' Willett said, when asked if the build-up to the Masters will be a hindrance. br /> Initially, the green jacket weighed heavily on the shoulders of Willett. Everyone wanted a piece of him after he capitalized on Jordan Spieth's back-nine collapse to be a surprise winner of the Masters. He popped up inside Wimbledon's Royal Box, and was a guest at the World Snooker Championship in his home city of Sheffield. br /> The attention died down, allowing him to return his focus to golf. But he is without a win since Augusta and has only three top-10 finishes in that eight-month period. br /> 'At the end of last year, I was working hard and doing the right things, but it was like I was knocking my head against a brick wall,' Willett said. 'I wasn't analyzing it properly. It was all just bad. It wasn't, but that's how I analyzed it.' br /> Willett is trying not to get too down about his play in Abu Dhabi. Finishing with two birdies — and two more decent birdie chances — in his final four holes helped, but couldn't disguise his problems in the previous 32. br /> His main issue was pulling lots of shots as he tried to hit a cut. That led to a triple-bogey 7 on Thursday and a quadruple-bogey 9 at the 10th hole on Friday, when he drove left into the desert, went out of bounds with his third shot, found a bunker with his fifth, and then three-putted. br /> Willett said he was 'slightly shocked' at the contrast between his form on the range and his form on the course. br /> 'Christmas golf-course rust,' Willett said. 'All joking aside, I know there were a few horrendous scores in there, but there was some better stuff in there, too.' br /> ___ br /> Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80 br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Tallo leaves lasting first impression, leads Bacolod to winning MPBL debut

Mac Tallo wasted no time showcasing his skills in shooting Bacolod to its first win in just its first try in the MPBL Lakan Cup, an 87-83 decision against fellow rookie team Mindoro, Monday inside Manila's San Andres Gym. Tallo dropped 31 points in efficient 13-for-21 shooting, 14 of which came in the Masters' 34-point second quarter that broke the game wide open. Not only that, the former NLEX and TNT guard also made his presence felt everywhere else, nabbing six assists, six steals, and four rebounds as well. Jopher Custodio and Louie Medalla also chimed in 12 and 11 points, respectively, while team captain Pao Javelona chipped in seven markers, five assists, three rebounds, two steals, and his usual energy and intensity in Bacolod's breakthrough win. Mac Baracael, another former Road Warrior, paced the Tamaraws with 23 points on top of 11 rebounds and five assists. Joseph Brutas backstopped him with 21 markers. Meanwhile, home team Manila stayed spotless thus far after warding off Nueva Ecija, 96-86. Carlo Lastimosa led three other teammates in double-digits with 20 points as the Stars scored back-to-back wins to start the season. Right behind him were Chris Bitoon who had 18 points, Jollo Go who had 14 markers, and Aris Dionisio who had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double to his name. On the other hand, newcomer Nueva Ecija remained winless in two games. Jerwin Gaco topped the scoring column for them with 19 points......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2019

About face: US routs Trinidad 6-0 in Gold Cup

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — The only embarrassment and shame was felt on the other side. Two years later, the U.S. soccer team turned the tables on Trinidad and Tobago. Gyasi Zardes scored two goals in a three-minute span, Christian Pulisic added one during a five-goal barrage in the second half and the Americans unloaded on their nemesis in a 6-0 blowout in the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Saturday night, earning a small dose of revenge over the team that handed them a nightmarish loss in 2017. Aaron Long scored his first two international goals — one with his head, the other off his chest — and Paul Arriola scored as the U.S. tallied five times in 25 minutes while cruising to its second shutout this week and advancing to the quarterfinals in Philadelphia on June 30. It was the first matchup between the U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago since Oct. 10, 2017, when the Americans, needing only a tie to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, lost 2-1 to the Soca Warriors. The embarrassing defeat snapped a streak of seven straight World Cup appearances by the Americans and triggered a top-to-bottom overhaul of the men's program, which has operated in the imposing shadow of the powerful U.S. women, seeking their fourth world title in France. There would be no repeat performance by this revamped U.S. team, which is determined to win back global respect. "Every time we step on the field we want to make a statement," said Zardes, who just missed getting a third goal. "We're trying to change the way the world views American soccer." The Americans posted their most lopsided win since beating Honduras 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier on March 24, 2017, when Pulisic, who took over this game in the second half, also scored and had a pair of assists. But while much of the pre-game talk centered on the U.S. getting payback, the Americans insist they've put the past behind them. "For us, we advance to the next round," coach Gregg Berhalter said. "That's important. Our focus was to prepare for this game knowing that if we'd be able to go to the next round. That was the focus of the group. Trinidad was in our way." Not anymore. With the U.S. leading 1-0 on Long's goal in the 41st minute, Zardes scored from right in front shortly after U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen made a diving save to stop Trinidad from tying a match the Americans dominated. Michael Bradley chipped the ball from the left side to a charging Nick Lima, who headed the ball to Zardes in front. The American striker only had to guide it by Trinidad keeper Marvin Phillip in the 65th minute. Two minutes later, Zardes buried a hard shot from the left side for his 10th international goal and second two-goal game for the Americans. Zardes nearly completed a hat trick, but his low shot from up top in the 70th minute hit the left upright. Next up for the Americans is a matchup with Panama on Wednesday in Kansas City, Kansas. The Panamanians improved to 2-0 in Group D of the 16-team tournament with a 4-2 win over Guyana, also clinching a quarterfinal berth. On a picture-perfect night along the shores of Lake Erie, the American team controlled possession and tempo while thoroughly outplaying T&T, which was blanked 2-0 by Panama in its opening match and was eliminated. The Soca Warriors were content to sit back and let the U.S. attack, hoping to spring counters. They nearly connected in the 61st minute as Cordell Cato eluded three defenders on the right side and hit teammate Levi Garcia in stride. But Garcia's shot was high and wide, a close call that prompted a collective gasp from the U.S. faithful. "Big moment," Trinidad coach Dennis Lawrence said. "When you get in that position, you have to put that away." Lawrence was upset with how his team collapsed following the U.S. team's second goal. "How can you play so good for 65 minutes and then so awful for the last 25?" he said, repeating his postgame message to his players. "We have to learn to stand up and fight. We lost focus and we paid the price." Berhalter stuck with the same starting lineup he used in the opener over Guyana but gave the captain's arm band to Steffen for the first time. Bradley captained the Americans in the opening 4-0 win over Guyana. Long, who plays in the MLS for the New York Red Bulls, put the U.S. ahead off a beautiful feed from the left side by Pulisic. Shortly after the U.S. was awarded a free kick, the Americans kept pressing and maintained possession in Trinidad's half before Pulisic spotted Long inside the 6-yard-box and delivered an arching pass to the forward, who left his feet, connected and drove the ball past a sprawling Phillip. The score touched off a flag-waving celebration behind the goal by red-white-and blue clad U.S. fans, who have been anxiously awaiting their team's chance at some redemption. After a 20-month wait, they got a little......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

World Cup s top teams enter knockout stage on a roll

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press While it may be tempting to look ahead to the quarterfinals and a possible clash with France, the defending champion U.S. has thrived at the Women's World Cup by keeping its focus on the present. The Americans will face Spain in the round of 16 on Monday in Reims as the tournament enters the win-or-go-home phase. Games begin Saturday with Germany facing Nigeria in Grenoble followed by Norway's match against Australia. The U.S. had emphatic wins in the group stage, routing Thailand 13-0 in the opener before more clinical victories over Chile and Sweden. The team had three shutouts while also collecting a World Cup group-stage record 18 goals. Coach Jill Ellis said the three-time World Cup champions accomplished their early-round goals. "When you come out of the group stage, a lot of what we talk about is mentality and being healthy," she said. "I think they're in a really good place." The United States has performed largely as expected in France, though the team faced criticism after the game against Thailand for celebrating every goal. The Americans set World Cup records for most goals and margin of victory in the game. The team toned it down against Chile. Ellis made seven lineup changes to keep her team fresh and Carli Lloyd — the hat trick hero of the World Cup final four years ago in Canada — scored a pair of goals. Facing their toughest challenge of the group in ninth-ranked Sweden, the United States pounced early with Lindsey Horan's goal within the first three minutes and emerged with a 2-0 victory on Thursday night. Spain, ranked No. 13, finished second in its group to reach the knockout stage for the first time. If the top-ranked Americans can defeat La Roja, they could possibly face No. 4 France in Paris next Friday. They could potentially face No. 3 England in the semifinals before getting a shot at defending their title. The United States, France, England, Germany and the Netherlands all won their first three games in France. Like the Americans, Germany did not concede a goal. MAKING A STAND: France, vying to become the first country to simultaneously hold the men's and women's World Cup titles, faces Brazil in Le Havre on Sunday. They'll face determined Brazilian star Marta, who comes into the game with a World Cup record 17 goals but no title in a major tournament. She surpassed Germany's Miroslav Klose for the record on a penalty kick during the team's 1-0 victory over Italy on Tuesday. She celebrated by kissing her cleats, which in France have sported a blue and pink symbol for equality. She is currently without a shoe sponsor because she claims the men's contracts are unequal to the women's. "This record doesn't belong to me, it belongs to all of us," she said after the game. "I share it with anyone fighting for more equality." The World Cup in France comes at a time when female players worldwide are fighting for better playing conditions, treatment and pay. Ada Hegerberg, the first female Ballon d'Or winner, is not playing for Norway. She stepped away from the team over what she has characterized as the federation's lack of respect for the women's team. The U.S. women's team filed a lawsuit back home earlier this year that accuses its federation of gender discrimination and seeks equitable pay to the men's team. GOLDEN BOOT: American Alex Morgan and Australian Sam Kerr both have five goals to lead the tournament field. Morgan matched a U.S. record by scoring five goals in the team's big win over Thailand. Kerr got four in Australia's final group match, a 4-1 victory over Jamaica. It was the most goals for an Australian — male or female — in a World Cup game, and the final goal ensured the Matildas finished second in their group to avoid France in the round of 16. "At the time I didn't know how important it is, but we knew every goal would count," she said, adding with a smile: "I actually wanted more after that, being my selfish self." EDGING CLOSER: Christine Sinclair scored her 182nd career goal for Canada in a 2-1 loss to the Netherlands on Thursday. She also became the second player to score in five straight World Cups, joining Marta. Sinclair is now just two goals away from matching the international record set by former U.S. forward Abby Wambach. Canada plays Sweden on Monday in Paris. The Swedes rested many players in their match against the United States, with an eye toward the next round. THE REST: Looking ahead, England faces Cameroon in Valenciennes on Sunday. Italy and China meet in Montpellier on Tuesday, followed by the Netherlands and Japan in Rennes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

Brazil opens Copa America with spotlight still on Neymar

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil will get the Copa America underway with the Neymar saga still far from over. As the hosts closed their preparations for Friday's opener against Bolivia, Neymar was still attracting most of the attention in the country even though he is not playing in the South American championship. The player, who was ruled out of the tournament last week because of an ankle injury, appeared at a police station amid a media frenzy on Thursday to answer questions related to the allegations of a Brazilian woman who says he raped her when she visited him in Paris. Neymar has denied wrongdoing. The team practiced a few hours later at the Morumbi Stadium, where it will begin its quest for the South American title against Bolivia in Group A. Brazil is trying to quickly get past the Neymar controversy and focus solely on soccer. "There's more talk about Neymar (in the media) than there is talk about him within the squad," Brazil coach Tite said on Thursday. "Within the squad we are focused on our preparations. I would never want to be in this situation of playing without Neymar, a top-three player in the world, but we have to be prepared." Neymar hurt his ankle in Brazil's win over Qatar in a Copa America warm-up last week. He was on crutches on Thursday when he arrived to speak with investigators at the police station, where a crowd of fans cheered him. This will be Brazil's first tournament since the team's loss to Belgium in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Tite kept his job despite that elimination, but only the title will be good enough at the Copa America at home. "We know it's important to win titles, we can't run away from that," Tite said. "But winning that has to be done step by step, it's part of a process." Tite said injured Barcelona midfielder Arthur is back in training but won't start on Friday. Goalkeeper Ederson is also out after hurting a muscle in practice on Wednesday. He is expected to be sidelined for about a week. Brazil has won the Copa America all four previous times it hosted the tournament, though its last South American title was in 2007. Bolivia didn't get past the group stage in the 2016 Copa America, but it made it to the quarterfinals in the 2015 tournament. "Brazil is a favorite in any competition it plays and always has the responsibility to win," Brazil defensive midfielder Casemiro said. "We are without Neymar, our biggest star, but we remain very strong. There's no doubt we are prepared. The work done so far has been very good.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2019

2 retired teachers found dead inside home in Cam Sur

2 retired teachers found dead inside home in Cam Sur.....»»

Category: newsSource:  bicolstandardRelated NewsJun 13th, 2019

MORE passenger safety and the LTFRB

Passengers and commuters want convenient, safe, and faster mobility to reach their destinations. There is great inconvenience for people who take multiple rides (tricycle, jeep or bus, MRT/LRT, jeep again to destination, reverse the process going back home). Taking a taxi is good but there are many complaints like choosy drivers, robbery, or sex molestation inside the cab, etc......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJun 13th, 2019

MPBL: Beefed Up Bacoor City Strikers looking to go further than Divisional Semis

Considering that they were the final expansion team to be formed for the 2018-2019 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, the Bacoor City Strikers did pretty good for themselves, finishing fifth in the Southern Division to clinch a spot in the playoffs, and even going as far as the Divisional Semifinals.  There, the Strikers would fall to eventuall National Finalists Davao Occidental. It may have not been the end to the season that they wanted, but Strikers main man Gab Banal was pretty pleased with what he saw from the team.  "It was an incredible season for me and for Bacoor City, knowing that we were the last team to be formed, and still we were able to reach the semifinals of the Southern Division," Banal told ABS-CBN Sports.  Aside from a playoff berth, Banal also earned MVP honors, finishing with 18.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 6.4 assists during the stellar season.  Now, however, Banal and the Strikers are targeting a deeper run in the post-season, and are expecting to do so, now that they've gotten more time to prepare, and they've gotten more talented.  "I guess this upcoming season, we’ve had more time to prepare. We got some new players and we have a new coach also, and the team management, the players, and the coaching staff are more determined to do better than what we did last year," Banal explained. "We had the coaching changes, the decision was made by the management, and we have some new players so that we could beef up and supplement me in terms of our system, offensively and defensively." "I know that all the other teams beefed up also, and there are additional teams in the Southern Division also. It’s going to be tough, but we will just focus on ourselves and we will just go with the flow and mind our own thing, and see how far we can go this time around," he added.  Joining Banal on the Strikers will be ABL veteran Oping Sumalinog as well as Michael Mabulac, Ian Melecio, Paolo Castro, and Matthew Aquino, among others.  "[We've got] Oping Sumalinog, who played for the ABL, is coming back, and we have Michael Mabulac, Paolo Castro, Ian Melencio, and we have other players that we can rely on off the bench, because last year we were the worst in points off the bench," Banal detailed. "This time, because it’s a long season, I think it’s going to last 10 to 12 months, and it’s gonna be tiring so we need some players who can help us give us that relief off the bench." Obviously, the goal for the Strikers, as with all the other teams in the MPBL, is to be able to bring home the championship at the end of the season. Banal however says that they will take the season a game at a time and the immediate goal is to improve on a daily basis.  "Of course, we’re aiming for the championship, but we’re focusing on one game at a time, and let the season flow and just take care of ourselves, we’re being specific rather than focusing right away on a task far ahead, we’re focusing on one game at a time, one quarter at a time, one possession at a time, and eventually that will build up to a win. We just have to be better every day and focus on our immediate goals and we’ll see how far it takes us."   The Bacoor Strikers open the 2019 MPBL Lakan Cup against reigning Datu Cup Champions San Juan Knights at home in Bacoor on Friday, June 14 at 9:00 PM. Catch it LIVE on S+A channel 23 and on iWant Sports    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2019

MPBL: Bacoor s Gab Banal eyeing a different MVP trophy in Lakan Cup

Talk about an impressive maiden season.  Bacoor City Strikers main gunner Gab Banal not only led the expansion team to the Southern Division semifinals, but he was also able to claim Most Valuable Player honors with an impressive 18.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 6.4 assists.  Heading into the 2019 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup, Banal isn't resting on his laurels and is planning on getting even better.  p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #454545} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #454545; min-height: 14.0px} "It’s hard to get at the top, and it’s even harder to stay at the top. Everyone’s coming after you," said Banal. "Personally, I made the decision to work harder and work smarter than the previous season. It’s going to be tough, the pressure is on me since I’m the reigning MVP, but I’m just going to focus on the task at hand and enjoy playing the game of basketball and not let other factors affect my game." Banal knows fully well that he will be the primary target for the other teams this coming conference, but with a number of key additions, the reigning MVP is expecting other players to step up.  "It’s going to be there, the pressure, Im going to be on the hit list of the other teams, the number one scouting report is going to be me, but I just have to involve my teammates better and sometimes I just have to be a decoy, because now we have deeper players and even more talented than the last time, so I just have to involve my teammates more, so when you say Bacoor, it’s not just me, but the whole team." For the upcoming season, Banal maintains that the focus is on making it past the Southern Division semifinals and hopefully making the National Finals, and even possibly taking home the title.  "Of course, for me that’s to win a championship. An individual award is a nice feeling, but at the end of the day, when you join a tournament, your focus is to win a championship, not to win the MVP. For me, it’s just a bonus. Right now, our team is really aiming for the championship, so I’ll just do my best to help the team win and if I win another MVP, it’s just a bonus." While being hailed as the league's best player is definitely an amazing achievement, Banal has his sights set on an even more prestigious sort of MVP honor. "I’m aiming for the Finals MVP because that means we’re in the championship. That means that we won, so I’m aiming for that," he concluded. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2019

Championship in sight, Raptors control Oracle Arena endgame

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — What once began as a fantasy, then progressed as hope and then grew to a reasonable wish has now evolved and crystalized once again. And this time, everyone south of Saskatoon can begin to see it and maybe even buy in. The Toronto Raptors have the scent of a champion. This may come as a surprise to the nostrils of anyone who saw them crumble in past postseasons or figured their chances of getting out of the East this season were dicey … but Toronto just took a pair of NBA Finals games at Oracle Arena — and maybe closed it down in the process. The Raptors are headed home with one game to win and history on their side. Thirty-four times in The Finals have teams taken 3-1 leads, and they sipped champagne all but once. (Let’s not discuss that lone team to lose; the Warriors are suffering enough.) This latest Raptors victory was impressively convincing, especially considering the circumstances. They stared at a desperate home team, one that welcomed back Klay Thompson after a one-game injury absence … a two-time defending champion known for rising to the occasion … and the Raptors dusted them anyway. You understand exactly what the Raptors did Friday (Saturday, PHL time) and how it was done? They emerged from the halftime locker room with fire and outclassed a team known for championship pedigree and owning third quarters in the postseason. Kawhi Leonard, who’s uplifting a team and a country, began the onslaught with a pair of three-point jumpers. The Toronto defense, relentless most of the night and throughout the series as well, squeezed the Warriors and especially Steph Curry. Time after time, Serge Ibaka delivered a counter punch with a key jumper off the pick and roll or a defensive stop. Ibaka had 20 points in 21 minutes in what was his first strong outing from jump to buzzer. Fred VanVleet, felled by a stray Shaun Livingston elbow to the chops in the third quarter, was left bloodied and missing a tooth in a scene that embodied Toronto's grit. The Raptors simply wore down the more experienced Warriors and Golden State never came up with an answer. Toronto stole the atmosphere — a smattering of red-garbed Raptors fans suddenly cheered louder and stomped harder and stayed buzzed long after the buzzer — and sent the Warriors off the court with heads bowed and egos deflated. Oh, something else: Nick Nurse, the first-year Toronto coach, kept pressing the right buttons with his various defensive schemes and substitutions as Golden State failed to break 100 for the first time this postseason. And the Raptors seized control of the series, ensuring that Scotiabank Arena will be a mixture of tense and hysterical Monday for Game 5 (Tuesday, PHL time). And that’s just from Drake. The crowd will be hyped, too. This is the moment that the basketball population in Toronto has long awaited, to get a sense something special is about to happen, or at least could. And this was made possible by a former Finals MVP who, this time last summer, was in exile with his reputation, at least in San Antonio, in tatters. By November, in Toronto, none of that mattered. “Once we saw him early in the year, your team’s vision of who they can become changes,” said Nurse. Leonard is a victory away from another Finals MVP and trophy, and mostly a sense of redemption. His passion and championship drive was evident Friday in two stages, both influential to his team. He set an example early by showing pep from the opening tip, carrying the Raptors with 14 of their 17 points over the first 12 minutes. And then, coming out of halftime, Leonard went scorched Earth once again. He posted 17 points and five rebounds in the third, and this time the Raptors lent support. Toronto outscored the Warriors, 37-21, and spent the rest of the game keeping a sneaker pressed on the Warriors’ throat. Kawhi tore through the Warriors constantly, totaling 36 points and 12 rebounds. Yet it was his tone that influenced the game just as much, if not more. “He imposed his will on the game and his team followed him,” said Draymond Green. “He gets the job done.” This is why Kawhi’s value to the Raptors is priceless. Until now, Toronto lacked a player with his presence, someone who forced other teams to gameplan differently, someone who seems to thrive when the stakes are highest and is driven in these situations. They didn’t have that with DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry, the leaders and best players of those teams that flourished in the regular season and failed in the postseason. Leonard clearly has the Warriors rattled and their defense stressed whenever he’s in isolation or bracing to attack. “He hit every big shot, every big momentum shot,” said Curry. Just the same, the Kawhi-inspired defense weighed heavily not only in this game but for much of the series. With the exception of Curry’s monstrous 47-point outburst in Game 3, Toronto hasn’t yielded much from the Warriors — surely, Kevin Durant’s absence and Thompson’s missed game contributed. Yet the Raptors are floating Leonard around the floor, sneaking in doubles on Thompson and Curry, leaving Green open and encouraging him to shoot, and essentially making it tough for the Warriors to go on a big scoring spree. Toronto has outscored the Warriors in 13 of the 16 quarters of this series. Hounded by the Raptors’ perimeter defense, and maybe gassed from two nights earlier, Curry made only a pair of three-pointers Friday (Saturday, PHL time) and never developed a rhythm. And while Thompson returned from his injury with 28 points, he was harmless in the fourth quarter and his team quiet. “They’ve been aggressive all series in trying to take space away from me and Klay,” Curry said. As the Warriors and the crowd disappeared from the arena, there was a sense of finality in the air inside Oracle. If the Warriors don’t win Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), then the last memory of their home of nearly six decades will be a deflating one. Instead of dreamy visions of Curry and Thompson and Durant spraying jumpers, it will be Leonard punishing the Warriors and the home team powerless to stop him or from being pushed to the brink. And speaking of Durant: Coach Steve Kerr has now gone radio silent about his superstar’s availability for Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) or beyond. The subject has become tiresome because there’s no resolution regarding someone who hasn’t played in a month. And so the Warriors have twin motivations for Monday (Tuesday, PHL time): Win to stay alive and also to play once more at Oracle for a Game 6. Yet at this point, with the dynasty showing cracks, that might be a lost cause. “I know we’re capable,” said Kerr. “We’ve got a lot of talent and got a lot of pride and these guys have been to The Finals five straight years for a reason. They’re going to fight the whole way.” Green added: “I’ve been on the wrong side of 3-1 before, so why not make our own history?” Well, that now-or-never talk is fine. Yet it’s all about the Raptors making history now, and stopping the Warriors’ streak in the process. It’s all there for the taking for Toronto: One win, a chance to celebrate on the home floor, and a marvelous and striking professional rebound for Kawhi Leonard, who surely will be named Finals MVP should all of the above happen. Dare we say, it’s the Raptors title to lose now. A title anointed to the Warriors even before the season began. Well, plenty has happened in the last seven months. And especially the last seven days. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsJun 8th, 2019

In big trouble: Warriors trail Raptors 3-1 in NBA Finals

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The biggest challenge of this five-year run for the Golden State Warriors has arrived. Win three in a row, two of them on the road — or else. It is quite the predicament, and one that they’ve never faced in the NBA Finals. Golden State is on the brink of being dethroned as champions, after a 105-92 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) put the Warriors in a 3-1 hole in this title series. Game 5 is Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in Toronto, which will spend the next three days in delirious anticipation of seeing the Larry O’Brien Trophy getting hoisted on Canadian soil. “It’s not over,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “It’s not a good feeling right now, obviously, but we have been on both sides of it. And for us it’s an opportunity for us to just flip this whole series on its head, and you got to do it one game at a time. It sounds cliché — and for us that is literally the only way we’re going to get back in this series — is give everything we got for 48 minutes, everybody that sets foot on that floor in Game 5.” They’ve been down 3-1 before, back in 2016 in the Western Conference finals against Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City. But they needed to win only once on the road to pull off that comeback. “You just try to win one game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “That’s what we did a few years ago against OKC. Win one game, and then you move forward. So that’s our focus now. We’ll fly to Toronto (on Sunday, PHL time) and take a look at the film, see what we can do better and try to win a game. We have won a lot of games over the years, so we’ll try to win another one.” Kerr is fond of saying that the Warriors have seen everything in these five seasons. They have now, anyway. They’ve blown a 3-1 lead — the 2016 NBA Finals against Cleveland, falling twice at home in that collapse. But the Warriors’ collapse that year was due in part to Andrew Bogut getting hurt in Game 5 and Draymond Green losing his cool and earning a one-game suspension. The Raptors have no such injury concerns, no such behavioral matters to deal with right now. “They’re a great team,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. They’ve rallied from 3-1 down. But they’re 1-5 against the Raptors this season, and now need to win three in a row against a team that has had all the answers against them. “We haven’t done anything yet,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. The Raptors are as poised as can be. They were in trouble in each of the first three rounds of these playoffs — down 1-0 to Orlando, down 2-1 to Philadelphia, down 2-0 to Milwaukee. It steeled them. Toronto got better every step of the way. Golden State looked the exact opposite on Friday night. The Warriors are still without Kevin Durant, endured a night where Curry struggled, and where their biggest boosts came from Thompson returning from a balky hamstring and Kevon Looney playing through the pain of a cartilage injury in his upper body. The Warriors made a run. Curry’s three-pointer with three minutes left pulled Golden State within eight and gave the Warriors a chance. They scored three points the rest of the way. “You got to win three games in a row,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “We have won three games in a row before. However you got to get that done, you just got to get it done.” They may have walked off the court at Oracle Arena for the last time, with the team moving across the bay to San Francisco and the brand-new Chase Center next season. They know the stakes, they know that the roster may change in some big ways this summer and nobody knows if Durant will be ready for Game 5. Kerr said he doesn’t think of this as daunting. “We go to Toronto, and this is what we do for a living, we play basketball,” Kerr said. “So we look forward to playing another basketball game in an exciting atmosphere, and the ultimate test.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2019

Warriors injuries create opening with Finals in balance

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — From now until further notice, each game of the 2019 NBA Finals will be largely influenced not by a go-ahead basket or a big stop or a rally-induced comeback, but a hot-off-the-press medical update prior to tipoff. Is Klay Thompson's tweaky hamstring a go? Will this be the day Kevin Durant finally shakes that lingering calf strain and suits up? The hints and subtle signs seem to point toward the positive for Golden State. Thompson was a late scratch Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) because the Warriors -- with a mixture of confidence and arrogance and concern -- felt the guard missing Game 3 was perhaps best for his recovery without proving deadly in the long run. And as for Durant, he’s still “ramping up” his workouts, in the description of coach Steve Kerr, and so his status has been upgraded to "stay tuned." It has become must-watch after a 123-109 loss. Yet if the answer is negative to all of the above, the next entry on the medical report might be the grim health of the dynasty built by these two-time defending champions. Their still-under-construction monument now teeters, prone to a nudge from Toronto. The Warriors find themselves down 2-1 to the Raptors, lacking any guarantee they’ll see two of their three leading scorers back in the lineup Friday (Saturday, PHL time) for Game 4 ... or for however long this series lasts. Thompson joined Durant on the sideline, and the Raptors (as could be anticipated) pounced on the gift to seize control of the series. It was a game the Raptors had to win, and they did. The production came from multiple players, with Kyle Lowry finally making an imprint on this series and Danny Green rediscovering his long-lost three-point touch. Meanwhile, the Warriors consisted of Steph Curry and not much else. The two-time Kia MVP dazzled and fought through traps and triple-teams all night to drop a career-high 47 points, some of it on shot-making wizardry. But the short-handed Warriors were doomed when Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins in particular were underwhelming on a night they needed to be stellar for Golden State to have a chance. As a result, the atmosphere inside Oracle Arena was flatter than most of the shots taken by Curry's teammates, and this was partly due to the introduction of the starting lineups, when Thompson’s name wasn’t announced. The fans knew then, officially, that their eyes and the home team were in for a long night. While the Warriors fought, scrappy doesn’t win games at this point in the postseason, not when the other team is good and opportunistic. Playing in a hostile building for the first time in the Finals, the Raptors made a collective decision to greet fire with fire. Or, as they wrote on the blackboard inside the visitor’s locker room: Let It Rip. “I think we all kind of followed that advice,” said Danny Green. “We hadn’t really had a good team shooting night and I knew we were due.” For Toronto, it wasn’t just that they won, but that they did so with their most impressive outing in the series. And now, the question for the Raptors is this: Will their inconsistent players use this outing to turn the corner and push the Warriors, even if Thompson and/or Durant return? This is aimed, first and foremost, at Lowry. He took the “let it rip” plea personally. Entering this game, he had six baskets total in this series and at times suffered defensively. Challenged by a pregame talk from coach Nick Nurse, Lowry embraced his inner pit bull and was relentless all night. The All-Star point guard took 16 shots, making eight, for 23 points and nine assists while making his presence felt for the first time this Finals. “For me, it was just not being so passive and trying to get everyone else involved and get myself going and let everyone else feed off that,” Lowry said. He and Green re-introduced the three-pointer to the Raptors’ offense. The two shot 11-for-19 and repeatedly stole whatever momentum Golden State could generate by responding with long-distance daggers that forced fans to slump back into their seats. This from the same player who had five total three's in his previous five playoff games, ruining more than a handful of runs with momentum-deflating misses. There’s no other way to describe the last three weeks of Green’s postseason shooting but dreadful. He has only one job: Stand in the corner and shoot open 3s. He’s made a career of that. So what do the Raptors make of Green shooting 6-of-10 from deep Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)? In the short term, it helped win Game 3. In the big picture, will this confidence carry over from one night to another, or does it depend on whether Green hits his first few? Nurse said: “Danny’s buckets boosted our whole team’s confidence because we were used to relying on those most of the year.” With better production from players who had been mostly missing, the Raptors had the balance needed to deliver their highest-scoring and most efficient (52 percent shooting) contest of the series. Green and Lowry joined Kawhi Leonard (30 points) and Pascal Siakam (18) and Marc Gasol (17) to take turns pummeling the Warriors from all different directions and manners. One reason for this was Thompson’s absence. Not only is he a proven outside shooter, but his defense is top-notch as well. You could even argue that Thompson’s missing defense was just as costly as his jumper. Yet the 109 points Golden State did manage were mainly because of Curry providing nearly half the offense. Given the circumstances of being without Thompson and Durant, and the constant pressing by Toronto whenever he had the ball, this was Curry’s finest post-season effort. His shooting was superb all across the floor, making three's (six) and free throws (13-14) and in general (14-31). “It’s the Finals,” Curry said. “You give everything you’ve got, sacrifice your body when you have the opportunity. Just competitiveness and trying to play until the buzzer.” “He does things that honestly I don’t think anyone has done before," Kerr added. "The way he plays the game, the way he shoots and the combination of his ball-handling, it’s incredible to watch.” If only he had someone riding shotgun. Cousins was sloppy on both ends, with three turnovers and one basket, and a step slow on defense against Gasol. This came one game after he seemingly regained his legs and confidence to gave Golden State a much-needed lift. Green’s continued recklessness was mystifying; he often made questionable decisions as a playmaker, suffered four turnovers and once again struggled to contain Siakam. The Warriors needed Green’s best, given their missing parts, and received something less. “We’ve got to be more solid with the ball and it starts with me,” he said. “I’ve had a bunch of turnovers in every game of this series. I think if I played better with the night (Curry) had, we would have won.” And so the Warriors, while talking bravely about their next-man-up mentality and embracing their “Strength in Numbers” slogan, must realize, deep down, that preventing the Raptors from winning two more games with a handicapped team might be difficult, if not impossible. Keep in mind that Golden State hasn’t sparkled for four quarters since the first game of the Western Conference finals. The last three games of that series, and the first three of the NBA Finals, the Warriors trailed by double digits. Thompson has an off day and Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) pregame period for therapy on his hamstring, although such strains are unpredictable and tricky. Will he be able to cut and fight through screens and be bouncy for 35-plus minutes through the intensity of an NBA Finals game, or will the injury restrict him and cause Kerr to seek a healthier, yet less productive replacement? “The whole point was to not risk a bigger injury that would keep him out the rest of the series,” said Kerr, explaining a decision made in consultation with the team doctors. “I feel very comfortable with it. I never would have forgiven myself if I played him and he had gotten hurt. So you live with the decision you made. The good thing is Klay has done well the last two days; hopefully he’ll be out there Friday.” Then there’s Durant, who last played May 8 (May 9, PHL time). After doing nothing but individual drills the last few days, he’ll go through a more normal practice session that will be simulated with the help of some assistant coaches and bench players. They'll see how Durant holds up. But that won’t match the stress level of a real game. And even if Durant gets clearance for Game 4, he hasn’t played in roughly a month. What about his timing? His wind? His touch? His ability to bring the same energy on defense? All legit questions and concerns for the Warriors -- until they’re not, whenever that is. “No one cares if guys are hurt,” Green said. “Everyone wants to see us lose anyway. So I’m sure people are happy they’re hurt.” Chances are that basketball fans, even if they’re against the Warriors, want to see stars on the floor this time of year. That’s what the NBA Finals is always about: Premium players doing premium things, or failing to do so, and letting the championship odds rise or fall on their performances. This year’s Finals have been denied one star for every game, and an additional star for one game. The battle with star attrition finally cost the Warriors a postseason loss, and at the worst possible time. The flow of the remainder of the NBA Finals, then, could rest with aching tendons and muscles and the recovery powers of those who own them. “We’re missing 50 points with KD and Klay, but we’ll adjust,” said a confident Curry. “It’s a long series, you know. It’s going to be fun for us.” The next Warriors medical update will arrive Thursday afternoon (Friday, PHL time). And another one Friday (Saturday, PHL time) just prior to tipoff. All along, the Warriors have led everyone to believe that it’s only a matter of time before they’re fully healthy. But will it be in time? And even then, will it be enough against a Toronto team suddenly thinking big? Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsJun 6th, 2019

National volleyball teams get PSC support

The national women's and men's volleyball teams will receive the full support of the Philippine Sports Commission. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. got a shot in the arm from the PSC as the full line-up of their seniors pools are set to receive their monthly allowance and use of facilities inside the Rizal Memorial Complex. "Siyempre happy kami kasi recognized na kami ng PSC. Siyempre mas magiging smooth na rin ang takbo ng team, then yung relationship sa PSC," said women's head coach Shaq Delos Santos on Tuesday. The Nationals, who are preparing for the 30th Southeast Asian Games on November, are currently processing their medical examinations and other requirements for their PSC ID.  "Hopefully magtuloy-tuloy pa, kaya nga gusto rin namin mga coaches and sina (LVPI secretariat) Ma'am Marissa (Andres) at sina sir (LVPI president) Peter (Cayco) na matapos muna rin namin sa medical nila at 'yung mga kailangan para at least wala na kami po-problemahin para more on focus na lang kami sa training," said Delos Santos. The National women's team was supposed to start its scheduled Tuesday and Thursday training sessions this week but some members of the pool are yet to finish their respective PSC requirements.  Delos Santos said that they will start their training next week, plot a suitable schedule for their training camps in China and Japan as well as their planned stint in the Philippine Superliga Invitational in October.  The Nationals didn't receive monthly stipends from the PSC during the women's team's preparation and participation in the 18th Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games and the AVC Asian Cup in Thailand last year. Alyssa Valdez banners na women's pool with team captain Aby Maraño, veterans Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mika Reyes, sisters Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jaja Santiago, Majoy Baron, Denden Lazaro, Dawn Macandili, Jia Morado, Ces Molina, Mylene Paat, and MJ Phillips. Also in the pool are first-timers Kath Arado, Tots Carlos, Angel Cayuna, Ced Domingo, Jema Galanza, Eya Laure, Jerrili Malabanan, Kalei Mau, and Alohi Robins-Hardy.   The Dante Alinsunurin-mentored men's pool is composed captain Johnvic de Guzman, Marck Espejo, Ranran Adbilla, Mark Alfafara, Bryan Bagunas, Kim Dayandante, Joven dela Vega, and Rex Intal. Also joining the team are Fauzi Ismail, Jack Kalingking, Jessie Lopez, Jeffrey Malabanan, Kim Malabunga, Rikko Marmeto, Ricky Marcos, Ish Polvorosa, Francis Saura, Jayvee Sumagaysay, Peter Torres, and Joshua Umandal. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2019

The Finals Stat, Game 2: Matchup adjustment stifles Toronto

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com TORONTO -- They ain't all gonna be pretty. The Golden State Warriors survived two new injuries and a 5 1/2-minute stretch of scoreless basketball to escape with a 109-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Game 2 of The Finals, punctuated by Andre Iguodala's dagger three-pointer with 5.9 seconds left. The Warriors' backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 48 points and Draymond Green came one assist shy of recording his fourth straight triple-double. The Warriors assisted on 34 of their 38 field goals and evened the series at one game apiece. One stat stood out from the rest as the Warriors grabbed home-court advantage as we head to Oakland for Games 3 and 4, with the champs now dealing with injuries to Kevin Durant (strained right calf), Thompson (left hamstring tightness) and Kevon Looney (left chest contusion). The stat 12 -- Scoreless possessions for the Raptors to start the third quarter. The context The Warriors trailed by as many as 12 points in the second quarter, and it was an 11-point Toronto lead late in the half. But Golden State closed the period on a 9-3 run to make it a five-point game at the break. What followed was one of those game-changing third quarters that has become a hallmark of these Warriors. This wasn't about their explosive offense, but rather a stifling defense that shut down Toronto for the first 5:38 of the second half. It started with a matchup adjustment. Iguodala had been the primary defender on Kawhi Leonard through the first three halves of this series. But to open the third quarter on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), it was Thompson defending Leonard, Iguodala checking Pascal Siakam, and Green on Kyle Lowry. It's hard to argue with the results. On the Raptors' first possession of the third, they weren't able to get the ball to Leonard until there were just five seconds left on the shot clock, and he missed a contested three from the right wing. On the next possession, Green helped off his man to deflect a Danny Green pass, one of five Toronto turnovers on their first nine possessions of the period. On Toronto's third time with the ball in the third, DeMarcus Cousins cut off a Leonard pick-and-roll drive and Thompson came back to contest a stepback jumper. After the Raptors outscored the Warriors 28-12 in the paint in the first half, five of Toronto's first six shots of the third came from outside the paint. They missed some open jumpers, but the Warriors made it a point to give the Raptors nothing easy on the inside. Both Iguodala and Cousins blocked Siakam in the post, and Thompson stripped Leonard on his way to the bucket. In total, over those first 12 possessions of the third quarter, the Raptors shot 0-for-8 (with none of the eight shots coming in the restricted area) and committed five turnovers. By the time Fred VanVleet ended the drought on a corner three with 6:22 on the clock, the Warriors had turned a five-point deficit into a 13-point lead. Going back to the end of the second quarter, it was a 27-3 run. The Raptors made things interesting with a late 10-0 run -- the Warriors' scoreless drought in the fourth was just a little shorter (5:33) than that of the Raptors in the third (5:38) -- but never had a shot to tie or take the lead after the game turned early in the second half. Like they did last year, the Warriors ranked 11th defensively in the regular season. But they also had the No. 1 defense in the playoffs, allowing just 101.8 points per 100 possessions as they won their second straight championship. After Game 1 on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), the Warriors ranked 10th defensively in this postseason, having allowed 110.8 points per 100 possessions. They suffered some slippage and just weren't the same defensive team as they had been during their championship runs. Maybe it was a sign that this is the year that their dynasty comes to an end. Or maybe they just needed some adversity before they flipped the switch. And maybe the idea of a 2-0 deficit in The Finals was just enough to do it. The first 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) were game-changing, and perhaps series-changing. It started with a matchup adjustment (preliminary matchup data from Second Spectrum has the Raptors scoring just 15 points on the 25 possessions that Thompson defended Leonard) and it continued with a little more effort. In these playoffs, the Warriors are now 5-4 after trailing by double-digits and 13-0 when they've allowed fewer than 115.5 points per 100 possessions. When they've defended to some degree of success, they've won. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. 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 NewsJun 3rd, 2019

Sloane Stephens strategy on wasted match points: Forget em

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Mulling over what might have been is never a great tactic in tennis. Just ask Sloane Stephens, who managed to regroup from four wasted match points in the second set of a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win over 71st-ranked Polona Hercog on Friday to reach the fourth round of the French Open. "Honestly, I don't even remember what happened. It seems like so long ago. But I know that I didn't win them. That was the main point of that," Stephens said after the draining victory on the hottest day of the tournament so far — with temperatures soaring to nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26 Celsius) after the much cooler and rainy opening days. With second-seeded Karolina Pliskova losing to Petra Martic, No. 7 Stephens is the highest-ranked player remaining in the bottom half of the draw. But her next opponent, 2016 Roland Garros champion Garbiñe Muguruza, is looking more and more dangerous every match. Stephens, last year's runner-up in Paris and the 2017 U.S. Open champion, quickly stormed to a 4-0 lead in the third against Hercog then held herself together when it got close at the end "After the second set I just tried to regroup. I got off to a good start and just tried to hang with it," the American said. "When you have match points like that, you have to put it out of your mind, otherwise it just stays with you, lingers, brings you down. It's no fun." With both players hitting the ball tentatively in the final games, Stephens finally whipped an inside-out forehand winner on her sixth match point, then celebrated with a scream and fist pumps. Earlier this week, Stephens credited her engagement last month to U.S. national soccer player Jozy Altidore with helping her tennis. "When your home life is good and your family is good and you're happy, I think that definitely does affect how you play on court," she said. The other fourth-round matchups set Friday: No. 23 Donna Vekic vs. No. 26 Johanna Konta; Marketa Vondrousova vs. No. 12 Anastasija Sevastova; and Kaia Kanepi vs. Martic. Muguruza dispatched ninth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3. "She's playing well; I'm playing well. I think it's a good matchup," Stephens said. "You're playing for a spot in the quarters of a Slam. Just got to leave everything out there and see what happens." And if match points — or any important point for that matter — go wasted, quickly move on......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 1st, 2019

PBA: Parks cries foul after Abueva apparently disrespects his GF

Phoenix-Blackwater in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Friday was a good close game, with the Fuel Masters escaping with a 103-98 win. However, it turns out that things almost got heated inside the dugout as Blackwater rookie Ray Parks Jr. got word that Phoenix’s Calvin Abueva apparently disrespected his girlfriend who was watching in the stands. According to Parks, Abueva apparently called his girlfriend Maika Rivera “b****” and made a lewd gesture late in the game. All of this happened after Calvin fouled out during the dying seconds of Phoenix’s eventual victory in the mid-season joust. “Towards the end, noong lamang na sila. When he got fouled out, he even flicked her off. Called her, 'what now, b****?' and then doing this on the bench [masturbating gesture]. He even walked up to her and tried to do it again. He did it twice,” Parks said. “I didn't see it happen. I was told after the game. If I saw it happen, I'll be honest with you, I would have got thrown out the game. For real. He's lucky I didn't see it,” Parks added. The Blackwater rookie is well aware that Abueva is prone to doing antics on the court however, Parks says what Calvin did this time was way out of the line. It’s messed up he says. “You don't do that to any fan, let alone somebody that I care about. They stopped me from going into their locker room. You don't do that, kababaeng tao noon. I understand he plays with antics and plays with people's minds but why can't he do that to me,” Parks said. “That ain't right. Beyond the game, that's disrespectful. I wouldn't call his wife a 'B' word. That's messed up,” he said. Parks made sure to bring up the subject to PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial. He wants Calvin to be fined and issue an apology. “He has to straight up get fined and has to do apology at least. If you have enough dignity in you to do that,” he said. “That isn't right. How would you feel if you were in my shoes? How do you feel if that was your mother, your wife? The mother of your kids? That's not right. Some things have to be done. I'm not going to let this just pass. This needs to get settled,” Parks added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 31st, 2019

Spaniards with little to cheer for in Champions League final

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It will be an unusual Champions League final for Spain. Madrid will be hosting the final again after nearly a decade, but the country's streak of having at least one team playing for the European title ended this year after five straight seasons, giving home fans little to cheer for when Liverpool faces Tottenham at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday. The all-English matchup will be the first Champions League final without a Spanish club since 2013, when Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund in a match between German teams. Since then, Real Madrid made it to the final four times, Atletico Madrid twice and Barcelona once. "We were used to seeing Real Madrid in the final all these years," said Francisco Javier Diaz de Castro, a 55-year-old Real Madrid supporter. "It's a weird feeling to think that this time we won't see it fighting for the Champions League trophy. When we finally get to watch the final in Madrid, the team struggles and can't make it. I guess that's how it goes in soccer." Real Madrid won four titles in its recent streak, beating Atletico in 2014 and 2016, Juventus in 2017 and Liverpool in 2018. Barcelona lifted the trophy in 2015, and it had also won it in 2006, 2009 and 2011. There was at least one Spanish club in seven of the last 10 Champions League finals. This time, tough, as the Spanish capital prepares to host its first final since Inter Milan defeated Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in 2010, Spanish clubs are already starting to plan their offseason. On Saturday, there are only two Spanish players with a chance of playing in the final — Tottenham forward Fernando Llorente and Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno. Here's a look at some of the reasons why there won't be any Spanish clubs in this year's final in Madrid: BARCELONA After dominating in the domestic competitions in recent years, Barcelona turned its focus on trying to win the Champions League again. It last won the competition in 2015, when it defeated Juventus in the final in Berlin. Barcelona cruised through a group that included finalist Tottenham, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven, winning four matches and drawing two to end six points ahead in first place. It also didn't face major difficulties as it got past Lyon in the round of 16 and Manchester United in the quarterfinals, being able to make it to the semifinals after three straight eliminations in the last eight. The team's dominance continued in the first leg of the semifinals against Liverpool, when it won 3-0 at the Camp Nou and looked set to finally return to the final. But the team collapsed in England, losing 4-0 to see its title hopes vanish. "We are still recovering from what happened in Liverpool. At least I am," Lionel Messi said last week. "Our performance was lamentable. It was a very tough loss for us." REAL MADRID The three-time defending champions never really got close to making it to the final. In a frustrating season that included two coaching changes, Real Madrid couldn't advance past the round of 16 in the European competition, being eliminated after a demoralizing 4-1 loss to Ajax at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. It had won its group against Roma, Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow, but its campaign included consecutive losses to CSKA — 1-0 in Russia and 3-0 at the Bernabeu. The early Champions League elimination led to the return of coach Zinedine Zidane, who was at the helm when the club won its last three European titles. ATLETICO MADRID After four straight seasons reaching at least the quarterfinals, Atletico was coming off a disappointing group-stage elimination and was hopeful of playing in the final again at its own stadium. It qualified from a group that included Borussia Dortmund, Club Brugge and Monaco, but the draw for the round of 16 set up an encounter against Juventus and old foe Cristiano Ronaldo. Things went well in the first leg, with the Spanish team winning 2-0 at home, but Ronaldo thrived in the return match, scoring a hat trick in a 3-0 win that ended Atletico's hopes. VALENCIA Valencia was the only other Spanish club in the Champions League this season, and it couldn't get past a group that included Juventus, Manchester United and Young Boys. It finished third, ahead only of the Swiss club......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2019

Raptors on brink of first Finals berth in franchise history

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO -- Twenty-one would be a very cool number for the Toronto Raptors. Before they get it, though, they’ll need to get one. And one would be beyond cool. Off the charts, historic, potentially transformative and largely indescribable. Twenty-one: That’s how many teams in NBA playoff history will have overcome an 0-2 start to win a best-of-seven series, if the Raptors manage to close out the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals. Whether it happens in Game 6 Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) at Scotiabank Arena or in Game 7 back in Milwaukee Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), Toronto would buck outlandish odds -- this is the 289th series to begin with the same team winning the first two games, so we’re talking a seven percent likelihood (20-of-288). [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] One: That’s all that stands between the Raptors and the first NBA Final appearance in Toronto franchise history. One more victory in the next three days would validate the risks and twists of this 2018-19 season for the Raptors, while exorcising nearly a quarter century’s worth of demons. One little win and Toronto finally will break through, capping a stellar six-year run of promising regular seasons and heartbreaking postseasons. They will have earned, in the face of so much uncertainty, their best shot yet at a championship, even if it means going through the mighty Golden State Warriors. When Raptors president Masai Ujiri traded for star forward Kawhi Leonard, he was gambling not just that Leonard could recover from the right quadriceps injury that scuttled his 2017-18. He was guessing that swapping in Leonard for former All-Star wing DeMar DeRozan could push Toronto to, well, right where they’re at. And he was hoping Leonard, a rent-a-player able to leave this summer in free agency, would enjoy the whole experience enough to let Ujiri pay him $220 million over the next five seasons. It’s impossible to know where things stand on that last front, owing to Leonard’s inscrutability and a decision that’s still six weeks away. But the Raptors never have gotten this far, so there is an opportunity here to be savored, with more potentially to come. “It would be a very, very long summer thinking about what could have been or what you could have done,” guard Fred VanVleet said, framing things a bit negatively after raining 7-of-9 three-pointers on Milwaukee in the 105-99 Game 5 victory. “So we've just got to go out there and have no regrets. … One win away from the Finals sounds pretty good to me.” Sounds a little easier, maybe, than it actually will be. The Raptors are at home for Game 6 and the crowd at Scotiabank crowd, already dialed high, will be able to let it rip without any fear -- immediate fear, anyway -- of failure. But Milwaukee will be desperate. Giannis Antetokounmpo has pledged that his team will not “fold.” And the Bucks have zero interest in a knock-knock year, believing all season that they were good enough to reach and win the championship. They wouldn’t be human if they weren’t shaken by the three consecutive defeats Toronto has dealt them. The Raptors have managed to surround and partially stifle Antetokounmpo, while still firing out enough to bother Milwaukee’s three-point shooters into repeated misfires. The Bucks’ defense has been probed and poked like a cut-rate steak. They resorted again to some uncharacteristic switching in Game 5 but had most of their success inside the arc. Late in the pivotal loss, they got beat for five offensive rebounds, when grabbing two or three might have swung the outcome. “It's win or lose,” coach Mike Budenholzer said Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in a conference call with reporters. “When you win, there are things that [still] are concerning and unsettling that you need to work on and improve. I think there's just enough possessions where there's a couple of rebounds that stand out. “Can we do a little bit better job in some of our activity in certain situations. Offensively, I think at times can our spacing be better and our ball movement be better? But I would say it's like a lot of games. We didn't get it done.” One area in which Budenholzer refuses to budge, dire circumstances be darned, is in his use vs. overuse of Antetokounmpo. The load the Greek Freak carries when he’s on the floor, the activity he generates, leads to fatigue and wear-and-tear that requires regular breathers. Extending his star’s minutes, Budenholzer believes, would lead to less “peak Giannis” rather than more, an inevitable tradeoff of quality over quantity. And the Bucks need every bit of Antetokounmpo’s best, or what’s left of it in their 97th game of the season. “Giannis, it's so impressive what he does and how important he is,” Budenholzer said. “I maintain that him getting appropriate rest, appropriate kind of just a chance to catch his breath, refuel… At the end of the day, you need to be able to produce and perform, including in the fourth quarter.” At the possible end of your season, though, you’ll have plenty of time to refuel if the opponent pounces while your star sits. Said Raptors coach Nick Nurse, in his own teleconference: “It's a ‘whatever it takes’ game. It's an unlimited-minutes night. This is just like any other critical must-win game.” 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 NewsMay 25th, 2019

2019 National Youth Futsal Invitational Mindanao Regional Finals: Matchday 1 Results

The first day of the regional finals has been an intense one as a lot of goals have went in and from 23 combined teams for the boys and girls across two age groups, seven has been trimmed heading into the semifinals of the tournament. We now look into the highlights of matchday one.   Corpus Christi FC def. Lianga FC 6-1 (U-16 Boys) In their first game of the day, the Northern Mindanao winners Corpus Christi FC showed how dominant they can be against Lianga FC. They started the game with taking things slow and passing the ball around. However, when they got their first goal into the back of the net, there’s no turning back for Corpus Christi as they went on to win six goals to nil against Lianga FC. Despite not keeping a clean sheet, it was still a convincing victory for the boys in blue and yellow. With that victory, they had a momentum on their side as they went on as well to win their second match of the day against Crocs FC to seal their spot in the semifinals.   Watashi FC 1-1 Pantukan NHS FC (U-16 Girls) Despite not having a lot of goals in this match, it was still an entertaining match as Watashi FC and Pantukan NHS FC refused to be beaten by one another that’s why they both settled for a draw. In the first half of the match, Pantukan NHS FC looked to be the dominant side as they were able to pass the ball around and looked for openings of Watashi’s defence. With their patience they went into the halftime break with a one-nil lead. Watashi, on the other hand, turned the tables around in the second half as they spent most of the time with the ball. In the end they got a late equalizer as the time run down to share the points. Both teams went on to progress into the semifinals at the end of matchday one.   Tuloy Sa Davao def.  Dipolog FC 2-1 (U-14 Boys) In the final elimination game in the U-14 Boys division, it seemed like Tuloy sa Davao and Dipolog FC saved all their energy to bring their A-game and entertain the crowd at the Davao City National High School Futsal Court. Both teams kicked off with the desire to win and Dipolog FC their front foot ahead of the competitions as they scored a goal in the first half. It was then equalled by a stunning equalizer before the end of the first period. The second half saw a bit of tit-for-tat action between these sides but in the end, Tuloy sa Davao went home victorious as they slotted in a late goal towards the end of the game. Despite the win, Tuloy sa Davao failed to progress to the semifinals as they lost their first game against Lianga FC who joined Dipolog FC and Crocs FC into the next stage of the competition.   Calinan FC def. Sakya FC 2-1 (U-14 Girls) With what proved to be a vital win for Calinan FC, they were able to survive the threat from Sakya FC in their opening match. It was an intense match between these two sides who left everything inside the playing court. In the first half, Sakya FC found the opening goal as Calinan FC failed to organize their defense. Sakya FC thought they were able to hold down the opposition but Calinan FC refused to be defeated. As the second half commenced, Calinan FC went on with a barrage of attack against their opponent’s defense and their tenacity paid off. With almost four minutes into the half, Calinan FC got their equalizer before they’ve slotted the victory deep into the final minutes of the second half. Calinan FC made it out of the eliminations unscathed as they also won their second game against Stonefield FC.   Here are the complete results of Matchday 1 of the 2019 Allianz National Youth Futsal Invitational Regional Finals, Mindanao Leg   U-14 Boys Cafe Kat 1-1 RedCorals Culianan FC Lianga FC 2-0 Tuloy sa Davao Crocs FC 2-0 Cafe Kat Dipolog FC 2-0 Lianga FC RedCorals Culianan FC 0-1 Crocs FC Tuloy sa Davao 2-1 Dipolog FC   U-14 Girls Bulua Strikers 0-2 Cafe Kat Cafe Kat 0-3 Pantukan NHS FC Stonefield 1-4 Calinan FC Pantukan NHS FC 2-0 Bulua Strikers   U-16 Boys Tagum City Parents Utd 0-2 PCT Alligators Corpus Christi 6-1 Lianga FC PCT Alligators 2-1 Holy Cross FC Lianga FC 1-3 Crocs FC Holy Cross FC 0-0 Tagum City Parents Utd Crocs FC 0-2 Corpus Christi FC      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

Bucks lead East finals 2-0, and now series shifts to Toronto

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry have more than held their own against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton so far in these Eastern Conference finals. Other than some pretty boxscores, the Toronto Raptors have nothing to show for those efforts. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The supporting cast hasn’t supported much for Toronto, and with what is almost certainly a must-win Game 3 of the East title series looming on Sunday night at home, Raptors coach Nick Nurse is weighing lineup tweaks. Nurse suggested Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) that Serge Ibaka may start at center over struggling Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell may get minutes that would figure to come at Danny Green’s expense. “We’ve got to be better, man,” Nurse said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). “We’ve got to be more physical, we’ve got to hustle more and we’ve got to work harder.” He may as well have punctuated that by adding “or else.” In this playoff format that was put into play in 1984, teams that win the first two games at home of a best-of-seven series have ultimately prevailed 94% of the time. And that’s the luxury Milwaukee has right now, leading the series 2-0 after rallying to win the opener and then controlling Game 2 start to finish. “We can’t rest,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We can’t relax. We can’t assume anything.” So the odds are stacked against the Raptors. Nurse was told the lack of success teams have when down 0-2 in a series, and insisted he doesn’t care. “I don’t really give a crap about that,” he said. “I just want our team to come play their (butt) off tomorrow night and get one game and it changes the series.” Leonard and Lowry are outscoring Antetokounmpo and Middleton 107-77 — which would figure to have been a boon to Toronto’s chances. It hasn’t worked that way. Add up everyone else’s scoring in the series, and it’s Bucks 156, Raptors 96. Rebounding has been one-sided in both games, with Milwaukee controlling things on the backboards. Bench scoring has tilted heavily toward Milwaukee as well. “We’re just trying to be us,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said. “We’re not playing any differently, regular season or postseason. We’re just trying to go out there and play Bucks basketball. It starts with our defense. Getting stops. Getting out. Playing in transition. Playing with pace. Sharing the ball and being aggressive and attacking the basket.” The Raptors don’t have to look at the history books to know this series isn’t over. All they need to do is recall the 2012 Western Conference finals. Leonard and Green were with top-seeded San Antonio, and Ibaka was with second-seeded Oklahoma City. The Spurs won Games 1 and 2 at home — then lost the next four, and the Thunder went to the NBA Finals. “We have another chance to bounce back on Sunday,” Gasol said. “That’s all that matters right now. That’s all that matters.” Here’s some of what to know before Game 3: QUICK WIT: Leonard, who isn’t the most talkative guy in the league to put it mildly, had a simple answer when asked where the Raptors go from here after the Game 2 loss. “I’m going to Toronto for Game 3,” Leonard said. WE (BARELY) THE NORTH: The series now shifts to Toronto, where the Raptors’ motto is “We The North.” It is, but barely in this case. Toronto is about 430 miles east of Milwaukee by air, and is only slightly north. And it should be noted that Toronto isn’t even the northernmost city that will be playing host to conference final games this weekend — Portland holds that distinction. GREEK FREAKS: Census figures show that at least a quarter-million Greeks live in Canada, and roughly half of those live in Ontario. Antetokounmpo isn’t expecting an overly warm welcome, but has seen a few Greek flags in the crowd on his past trips to Toronto. Antetokounmpo said he’d be touched if they were there Sunday, but isn’t thinking about it too much. “I’m going to try not to focus as much in the people and the Greeks and the population in Toronto,” Antetokounmpo said. “Just focusing on Game 3 and what we’ve got to do.” OFF, WISCONSIN: Including Games 1 and 2 of this series, matchups in Wisconsin are rarely kind to Nurse. He played at Northern Iowa, a conference rival of Green Bay — and his teams went 1-8 in those games, 0-4 at Green Bay’s former home court, the being-demolished Brown County Arena. Nurse said it was a nice place, but wasn’t upset to hear it’s coming down. “There weren’t very many good memories for me,” he said. BREAK FROM DRAKE: At least one Milwaukee radio station is taking this series extremely seriously. WXSS-FM is not allowing any songs by Raptors superfan Drake to be played on its station until the East finals are over. “We’re taking a break from you,” the station wrote in an open letter of sorts to the Toronto native and courtside ticketholder......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019