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In Focus: Signs That Fans Spot When Their Idols Are Making A Comeback

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Category: lifestyleSource: abscbn abscbnAug 20th, 2018

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 News14 hr. 32 min. ago

LeBron feels love in return to Cleveland, beats Cavaliers

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James felt only love at home. Making his first trip back to Cleveland since leaving for the second time as a free agent, James was welcomed like a hero on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) and rallied the Los Angeles Lakers to a 109-105 win over the Cavaliers, who played an inspired game against their former teammate but couldn't stop him when it mattered most. James finished with 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. He also scored or assisted on 11 straight points as the Lakers overcame a 99-91 deficit in the fourth quarter. The Cavs had a chance to tie late, but Kyle Korver missed a wide-open three-pointer with 17 seconds left and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made four free throws in the final 15 to seal it for Los Angeles. From the moment he stepped back onto Quicken Loans Arena floor, his home court for 11 seasons, James was treated like a returning champion. On the night before Thanksgiving, Cleveland said thanks to the Northeast Ohio son, the one who ended the city's 52-year championship drought. "We recognize the fact that certainly this is a big night for the city of Cleveland," Cavs coach Larry Drew said before tipoff, "because a hero has come back." The Cavs, who came in an NBA-worst 2-13, didn't roll over against James and played one of their best games this season. They seemed in control up 99-91 before James, as he did some many times for Cleveland, took over and scored or assisted on 11 straight points to give the Lakers the lead. Jordan Clarkson had 20 points and Tristan Thompson 14 and 15 rebounds for Cleveland. James was the last Lakers player introduced before the game, presented with a line familiar to all Cavs fans: "A 6'8" forward from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School," said arena announcer Sean Peebles. "Welcome home! LeBron James." The crowd roared and stood as James walked out and huddled with his new teammates, who must have wondered what was in store for them. But unlike that ugly night of Dec. 2, 2010, when James returned with the Miami Heat and was subjected to non-stop booing, profane chants and a toxic, charged atmosphere of hatred unlike anything seen before or since, this was a night for celebration — and maybe more closure. James has moved on. Cleveland, too. With 8:09 left in the first quarter, James was saluted by the Cavs with a moving video tribute during a timeout. Images of James' playing days with Cleveland — highlighted by the Cavs' historic comeback to win the 2016 title — were shown along with video clips of his impact on the community, including his opening of the I Promise School in his hometown of Akron. As the crowd stood and showed its affection toward James, "Thank You LeBron" was displayed in large letters on the arena's giant scoreboard. James appeared to be touched by the presentation. He bit his lower lip while walking back onto court and pointed to all corners of the building in appreciation, his chance to reconnect with a fan base he'll always share a special, if not complicated, relationship. Wearing a flat cap, long jacket and boots, James arrived at 5:46 p.m., entering the Q through a security entrance he's passed through many times. He greeted two guards near the door with fist bumps before quickly walking past a large group of photographers to the visitors' locker room. Earlier in the day, James visited his I Promise School, a refurbished elementary for at-risk kids he founded and plans to expand. James came back to Cleveland to face a team in disarray without him. The Cavs have endured a season's worth of issues in just over a month with the firing of coach Tyronn Lue, All-Star forward Kevin Love undergoing foot surgery and the latest drama — disillusioned forward J.R. Smith being excused so Cleveland can try to trade him. TIP-INS Lakers: Coach Luke Walton is impressed with James' knack for blocking out external distractions. "The great ones have that ability," he said. "When they're on the basketball court nothing else matters, other than what they're trying to do. Their focus level seems to somehow get higher with the louder the noise gets. I don't know how. I don't know why." Cavaliers: Did not commit a turnover in the first half. ... Starting G George Hill missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right shoulder sustained on Nov. 4 (Nov. 5, PHL time). Hill has ramped up his on-court workouts in recent days and could be back soon. ... Drew said he was unaware of Smith's comments accusing the Cavs of "tanking." Drew believes his team is playing hard, and promised to nothing but coach his team to win. "To coach to lose, I don't understand that, I don't know how to do that," he said. "I don't know how anybody can do that. That's something I would never, ever do." UP NEXT Lakers: Host Utah on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Cavaliers: At Philadelphia on Friday (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Middle 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Middle 10 * * * 11. TORONTO RAPTORS 2017-18 RECORD: 59-23; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals ADDED: Coach Nick Nurse; G Danny Green (acquired from Spurs); F Kawhi Leonard (acquired from Spurs) LOST: Former coach Dwane Casey; G DeMar DeRozan (traded to Spurs); F Alfonzo McKinnie (waived); C Jakob Poeltl (traded to Spurs) RETAINED: G Fred VanVleet (two years, $18.1 million) THE KEY MAN: Nurse. The former Raps assistant has extensive G League head coaching experience. But the NBA isn’t just about a coach’s Xs and Os acumen. We know Nurse can do that. But an NBA coach has to have command presence in a locker room not only full of millionaires, but full of Alpha males who have their own very strong opinions on how they should be used and how their teammates should help them. Nurse will have to show he can put his own stamp on a team that will have some new faces while still having extremely high expectations. THE SKINNY: You may well think Toronto should be higher, based on Leonard’s standing as a top-five player in the league when fully healthy. No matter what you think of DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, no one can realistically say he’s better than “The Klaw” when both are 100 percent. But, of course, we don’t know if Leonard’s 100 percent. And, trading DeRozan, who’d been the franchise’s biggest advocate during his nine seasons there -- and who had led the team to its greatest extended run of success ever -- is not a transaction without consequence for the Raptors. He helped get the best out of Kyle Lowry. He could help recruit free agents. And, the circumstances of his departure have not helped the franchise’s reputation. Still, this is a talent-based league, and Leonard has it. His and Green’s presence on the perimeter gives Toronto the chance to be a switching defensive monster -- and will help the Raptors be able to match up better with the likes of the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers in a late-May playoff matchup, as long as the Raptors’ young core in which it believes so strongly continues to play as well in reserve as it did last season. 12. MILWAUKEE BUCKS 2017-18 RECORD: 44-38; lost in first round ADDED: Coach Mike Budenholzer; G Donte DiVincenzo (No. 17 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trevon Duval; F Ersan Ilyasova (three years, $21 million); C Brook Lopez (one year, $3.32 million); F Pat Connaughton (two years, $3.2 million); LOST: Former interim coach Joe Prunty; G Brandon Jennings (waived); F Jabari Parker (signed with Bulls) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: G Eric Bledsoe. His departure from Phoenix early last season was messy. But once he got to Brewtown, Bledsoe solidified the Bucks at the point, averaging 17.8 points and 5.1 assists per game in 71 starts. At 28, Bledsoe faces the last year of his contract and will have to show a new coach he’s capable of running things long-term and playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo through the meat of his prime. THE SKINNY: Budenholzer’s arrival should coincide with an improvement in the Bucks’ defense, something that former coach Jason Kidd could never quite accomplish. Ilaysova’s return for a second tour in Milwaukee should help, with his celebrated charge-taking skill and Lopez’s still-substantial size a double-boon to Milwaukee’s interior D as the Bucks were bottom 10 last season in points allowed in the paint (47.4 per game). If the paint becomes a little tougher to traverse, the Bucks should finally able to use their substantial length on the wing to get back to create deflections and turnovers, and get out in transition, where Antetokounmpo and Friends do their best work and their most damage to the opposition. They’ll do so 41 nights a year for the next couple of decades in the 17,500-seat Fiserv Forum, the Bucks’ new arena that will open in early September with a concert and should pump new revenues into the Bucks’ bloodstream, giving them more financial wherewithal to keep “The Greek Freak” surrounded with high-quality talent. 13. UTAH JAZZ 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in Western Conference semifinals ADDED: G Grayson Allen (No. 21 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jarius Lyles; G Naz Mitrou-Long LOST: F Jonas Jerebko (waived) RETAINED: G Dante Exum (three years, $33 million); F/C Derrick Favors (two years, $37.6 million), G Raul Neto (two years, $4.4 million); F Georges Niang (three years, $4.9 million) THE KEY MAN: C Rudy Gobert. He’s a monster presence, the hub of the Jazz’s defensive wheel and the reigning Kia Defensive Player of the Year. And he has to take a step back in Utah next season for the Jazz to take the next step forward. He has to understand what Utah has in Donovan Mitchell and let that kid eat. Nobody in the league can do what Gobert does defensively. So embrace that and concentrate on that -- take the Draymond Green attitude about being the “defensive guy” on a great team (not that Jazz fans want you to do anything that Green does). Gobert’s handsomely paid and the DPOY award found him in Salt Lake City; there’s no small-market bias at work here. So let Mitchell and Joe Ingles carry the shooting/scoring load, let Ricky Rubio orchestrate, and snuff out opponent dreams at the other end, night after night. It’s what you were born to do. THE SKINNY: My God, Mitchell had a great rookie season. And Utah brought most of the band back from last season to provide advice and consent for him again, re-signing Favors, Exum and Neto each on very reasonable contracts. Doing so leaves Utah over the cap, still comfortably under the tax, and with nothing on the books that should raise an eyebrow financially. (Utah’s front office should handle my checking account for a while.) Anyway, no reason to expect any backsliding next season with the crew returning, though coach Quin Snyder will surely miss the counsel of his longtime friend Igor Kokoskov, off to run the Suns. 14. ATLANTA HAWKS 2017-18 RECORD: 24-58; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Lloyd Pierce; F Justin Anderson (acquired from 76ers); G Kevin Huerter (No. 19 pick, 2018 Draft); C Alex Len (two years, $8.5 million); G Jeremy Lin (acquired from Nets); F Omari Spellman (No. 30 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trae Young (No. 5 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former coach Mike Budenholzer; G Antonius Cleveland (waived); G Damion Lee (signed with Warriors); F/C Mike Muscala (traded to 76ers); G Dennis Schröder (traded to Thunder); G Isaiah Taylor (waived) RETAINED: C Dewayne Dedmon (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: GM Travis Schlenk. The second-year executive will be judged on how well Atlanta uses its trove of Draft picks -- three firsts this year, three firsts next year, two firsts in 2022 -- the next few years. And, ultimately, the Hawks will live or die by whether Young or Luka Doncic becomes the bigger NBA producer. Schlenk’s chances of completing the rebuild may well ride on that. THE SKINNY: The Hawks’ roster teardown is nearing completion, but the renovated Philips Arena will come online faster than the team, which now needs Young to live up to all the hype after his one season at Oklahoma. He has incredible range and great potential, but he’ll be challenged every night to stay in front of the legion of great points in this league. Pierce, the former Sixers’ assistant, is going to have a very tough time melding all the newcomers with the small core of players who survived, including John Collins, Kent Bazemore, DeAndre' Bembry and Taurean Prince. 15. LA CLIPPERS 2017-18 RECORD: 42-40; missed playoffs ADDED: C Marcin Gortat (acquired from Wizards); G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 11 pick, 2018 Draft); F Johnathan Motley (acquired from Mavericks); F Mike Scott (one year, $4.3 million); F Luc Mbah a Moute (one year, $4.3 million), G Jerome Robinson (No. 13 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Austin Rivers (traded to Wizards); C DeAndre Jordan (signed with Mavs); G C.J. Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Avery Bradley (two years, $24.9  million); C Montrezl Harrell (two years, $12 million); G Wesley Johnson (picked up player option); G Milos Teodosic (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Tobias Harris. He was the key tangible piece of the Blake Griffin trade last season (the intangible being the unprotected first from Detroit in the deal that eventually became Gilgeous-Alexander after a Draft night trade with Charlotte). And Harris played quite well in his 32 games with the Clips, averaging 19.3 points and six rebounds per game. Those numbers could each well go up in a contract year and with few others outside of Lou Williams on the roster that can go get their own buckets. THE SKINNY: Amazing, but true: the Clipper player with the longest current tenure is … Wesley Johnson, who came aboard in 2015. “Lob City” is in the history books and change will be the norm here for a while, including next summer, when the Clippers expect to be a free-agent destination. The Clips did what they could with that not-insignificant restriction, but the best stuff was in the Draft, winding up with a potential long-term point in Gilgeous-Alexander and a two in Robinson that rocketed up the pre-Draft charts. Bradley’s on a very team-friendly and controllable contract, as is Patrick Beverley, whose modest 2018-19 salary isn’t guaranteed until January. Those two and Mbah a Moute can give coach Doc Rivers hope that he can get some stops on the perimeter, because while Gortat is still willing defensively and still takes a bunch of charges, he is not Jordan when it comes to rim protection. 16. BROOKLYN NETS 2017-18 RECORD: 28-54; missed playoffs ADDED: F/C Ed Davis (one year, $4.4 million); F Jared Dudley (acquired from Suns); F Kenneth Faried (acquired from Nuggets); G/F Treveon Graham (two years); F Rodions Kurucs (No. 40, 2018 Draft); F Dzanan Musa (No. 29 pick, 2018 Draft); G Shabazz Napier (two years, $3.7 million) LOST: F Darrell Arthur (traded to Suns); F Dante Cunningham (signed with Spurs); C Dwight Howard (waived); G Jeremy Lin (traded to Hawks); C Timofey Mozgov (traded to Hornets); G Nik Stauskas (signed with Blazers); G Isaiah Whitehead (traded to Nuggets) RETAINED: G Joe Harris (two years, $16 million) THE KEY MAN: Co-owner Joseph Tsai. The Alibaba executive and billionaire has 49 percent of the team, and can buy majority control from Mikhail Prokhorov by 2021. Until then, they’ll run the team jointly, so no matter Prokhorov’s ups and downs, Brooklyn’s financial spigot should never run dry. Tsai reportedly has designs on expanding the Nets’ brand further in China, just as Prokhorov believed the Nets had global reach. They didn’t, at least not the post-KG and Pierce squads. THE SKINNY: If you love Ed Davis like smart people who know basketball do, Brooklyn makes the top half by bringing the ex-Blazer in on a short deal. If he plays great, he’ll cost the Nets a pretty penny in 2019, but Brooklyn has to take chances on guys who can outperform their contracts. The only thing the Nets couldn’t do was take on more ’19 salary when they’ll be in line to potentially add two max players. Won’t be easy to lure the elites, but Brooklyn also has accumulated enough assets to be able to make uneven trades for salaries if need be. In the interim comes next season, with coach Kenny Atkinson needing to continue to develop diamonds in the rough like Graham, who Cleveland wanted and who will help the Nets at multiple positions. 17. CHICAGO BULLS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: G Antonius Cleveland; C Wendell Carter Jr. (No. 7 pick, 2018 Draft); F Chandler Hutchison (No. 22 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jabari Parker (two years, $40 million) LOST: F Jerian Grant (traded to Magic); G Sean Kilpatrick (waived); G Julyan Stone (waived); F Noah Vonleh (signed with Knicks); G Paul Zipser (waived) RETAINED: G Antonio Blakeney; G Zach LaVine (matched four year, $78 million offers sheet from Kings) THE KEY MAN: G Kris Dunn. As the 24-year-old will be every season he’s in Chicago. The Jimmy Butler trade in 2017 yielded the pick that became Lauri Markannen, and he’s also a key piece to the Bulls’ future. But Chicago won’t ever get elevation again if Dunn doesn’t become an elite point guard in a league full of them. He showed signs last season that he could be just that, most notably a December in which Dunn averaged 14.9 points and eight assists, and the Bulls went 10-6. But a concussion in January derailed Dunn’s progress and his production fell sharply the rest of the season. THE SKINNY: Can Parker play the three, as the Bulls insist he can? There isn’t a ton of evidence suggesting so, and Parker’s hypothesis that he isn’t getting paid to play defense does not provide much comfort. But the Bulls will try him there alongside Markannen and rookie Carter Jr. in what would be a huge frontcourt. Almost $20 million annually for LaVine going forward is also a stretch, but less of one if LaVine comes all the way back from his 2017 ACL tear with a full training camp and season. Carter may be more important to the Bulls’ hoped-for resurgence than Parker and LaVine; the Duke big man has that much potential. 18. WASHINGTON WIZARDS 2017-18 RECORD: 43-39; lost in first round ADDED: C Thomas Bryant; G Troy Brown (No. 15 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jeff Green (one year, $2.5 million); C Dwight Howard (two years, $11 million); G Austin Rivers (acquired from Clippers); G Issuf Sanon (No. 44 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Marcin Gortat (traded to Clippers); F Mike Scott (signed with Clippers) RETAINED: G Jodie Meeks (picked up player option); C Jason Smith (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Coach Scott Brooks. Entering his third season in Washington, Brooks keeps saying he wants the Wizards to defend and play fast. But he has to follow that up with action, especially when and if John Wall doesn’t provide the on-ball defense Washington needs to have any chance to unleash a still-potent fast break. Wall is 27 and, if healthy, in his prime. The team takes almost all of its cues from him; when he’s locked in, the Wizards can compete with anyone. But when he’s indifferent, so are they -- as evidenced by their horrible record against bad teams. Brooks has to demand Wall’s best, or be ready to limit his minutes. THE SKINNY: NBA protocol almost demands you hate the pickup of Howard, such is his current perceived valued among many after multiple stops the last few seasons. The guess here is that Howard won’t hijack the Wizards’ locker room, as he had been accused of while in with the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets, especially. Howard’s skill set can help Washington, which fell off defensively last season. But there’s also not much sense he’ll be a significant pick-me-up in D.C., either. He can’t stretch the floor and he’s not especially potent finishing in pick and roll, either. But the Wizards should at least be deeper off the bench with Green, who played well for the Cavs last season, and Rivers, who gives Washington legit guard depth along with Tomas Satoransky. 19. SACRAMENTO KINGS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: F Nemanja Bjelica (three years, $20.4 million); C Marvin Bagley III (No. 2 pick, 2018 Draft); G Yogi Ferrell (two years, $4.1 million); G Ben McLemore (acquired from Kings); F Deyonta Davis (acquired from Grizzlies) LOST: G Garrett Temple (traded to Grizzlies) RETAINED: G Iman Shumpert (picked up player option); C Kosta Koufos (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Harry Giles. The Kings traded for the one-and-done forward on Draft night 2017 and redshirted him, feeling he needed a year to fully recover from the multiple knee surgeries he’d undergone the last three years. Those surgeries stopped his top-five Draft potential in its tracks, before and after a year at Duke. But Giles is back on the floor, having flashed his skills during NBA Summer League, as Sacramento gushed about his progress. If the 20-year-old is ready to roll come October, he could be an enormous boost. He’ll have to at least become a contributor, lest folks remind the Kings they passed on the likes of Kyle Kuzma and O.G Anunoby to trade for his rights. THE SKINNY: Bagley III has superstar potential, and he better become one, or the Doncic Stans among the Kings’ fan base will have aneurysms. The Kings were all over everyone, seemingly, this summer, dropping sheets on Zach LaVine, almost doing the same with Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker, and going after unrestricted free agent Mario Hezonja. All well and good, and getting Bjelica out from under Philly and prying Ferrell from Dallas were decent late July pickups. But it will be Bagley III who’ll be under the microscope. His skill sets are prodigious and he’s been working out feverishly all summer. And he wants to make a mark in restoring the Kings to where they were on the floor during the Webber Years. He worked out for them. He’s enthusiastic about them. That counts for something. 20. HOUSTON ROCKETS 2017-18 RECORD: 65-17; lost in Western Conference finals ADDED: G Michael Carter-Williams (one year, $1.5 million); G De'Anthony Melton (No. 46 pick, 2018 Draft); F Vincent Edwards (No. 52 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Trevor Ariza (signed with Suns); Luc Mbah a Moute (signed with LA Clippers); C Chinanu Onuaku (traded to Mavs) RETAINED: C Clint Capela (five years, $90 million); G/F Gerald Green (one year, $2.3 million); G Aaron Jackson (picked up team option); G Chris Paul (four years, $159 million) THE KEY MAN: Jason Biles, Joe Rogowski, Keith Jones and Javair Gillett -- the Rockets’ athletic trainers, sports performance and rehab staff. Their only mission next season, should they decide to accept it, is to get Paul through an 82-game regular season and a two-month playoff slog without breaking or pulling anything of importance that keeps him out of key games. Of course, should any of the staff be unsuccessful, the Morey will disavow any knowledge of their employment. Good luck, men. THE SKINNY: We have not yet included Carmelo Anthony, who will be signing in Houston any minute now. When he’s officially on the roster, he’ll certainly help, and we all saw that even Houston can go through extended scoring droughts in the playoffs. Having Anthony around should alleviate that. The Rockets may have had the best signing of the summer, keeping the 24-year-old Capela locked up long-term for $18 million per -- incredible value these days, given the way salaries are skyrocketing. But that was mitigated by the losses of Ariza and Mbah a Moute, who were crucial to the switching defense Houston employed and perfected by the playoffs, which threw sand in the gears of the Warriors’ impenetrable offense and would likely have propelled the Rockets to The Finals if Paul hadn’t gotten hurt in Game 5. Ennis and Carter-Williams will help some in that regard, but they don’t have the resume of Mbah a Moute and Ariza -- which means they sometimes won’t get the benefit of the doubt from refs that the old heads do. Houston’s still the clear number two to Golden State in the West, but the gap between the Rockets and the best of the rest has closed. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: SKorea wants to avoid 2nd candy attack

By John Duerden, Associated Press SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Progress for South Korea's players will be avoiding being pelted with candy again on their return from the World Cup. After enduring three poor performances by the team in Brazil four years ago, fans were waiting at Incheon International Airport to make their anger felt. If collecting a solitary point in a group containing Russia, Algeria and Belgium was tough, the challenge looks even more daunting this time with World Cup holder Germany, Mexico and Sweden in Group F. The road to Russia offered few signs of progress. In the third round of Asian qualifying, South Korea picked up only two points from five away games to leave a place at a ninth successive World Cup looking uncertain. Coach Uli Stielike was fired and Shin Tae-yong was drafted in as a replacement to get the team over the line with two tense goalless draws. As the players celebrated in Uzbekistan, there was criticism at home that the party was undeserved given the unconvincing performances. The country has become accustomed to World Cup qualification since the 1982 failure and there is a desire to see more appearances in the knockout stage. Only twice have the Taeguk Warriors advanced from their group, in 2002 when they made the semifinals on home soil and in 2010 when they reached the round of 16. Performances have improved in warm-up games recently with a change to a 4-4-2 formation partly in an attempt to get the best out of attacker Son Heung-min. Son is the team's shining star and is coming off a fine season with Tottenham in the English Premier League. There are some lesser-known players who can show their worth including Kwon Chang-hoon and Lee Jae-sung, two of the highest-rated midfielders in Asia. South Korea is likely to be more defensive than usual in the hope of keeping out the opposition while hoping the attacking stars may be able to pinch a goal. Here's a closer look at the South Korea team: COACH Shin Tae-yong took the job in July 2017 and did just enough to ensure qualification. Shin's coaching reputation was forged during the 2010 Asian Champions League title triumph with K-League team Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, which led to him comparing himself to Jose Mourinho. A coach who likes to surprise tactically, Shin has experience in tournaments — with the Under-23 team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and 2017 Under-20 World Cup. On both occasions, South Korea breezed through the group stage before being eliminated in the first game of the knockout round. Shin might have to restrain his attacking instincts to focus on ensuring the senior side is hard to beat in Russia. GOALKEEPERS While there are more options than in the past, the country still lacks a top-class goalkeeper. Kim Seung-gyu is the established No. 1 but the arrival of Cho Hyun-woo on the scene has increased competition. DEFENDERS Shin is not averse to a three-man defense but usually opts to use four. South Korea is traditionally strong in the fullback position with Lee Yong strong on the right, and Kim Min-woo and Kim Jin-su, if fit, competing for the spot on the left. All have the ability to get forward and support the attack. Central defense has been more of an issue over the years but Jang Hyun-soo is a likely starter with another spot up for grabs. Regardless of the personnel, the defense is often undermined by concentration problems and is vulnerability from set pieces. MIDFIELDERS A major question hangs over picking a central midfield partner for Ki Sung-yeung, the captain who is the fulcrum of the team. Han Kook-young has often been an unassuming partner for the Swansea player but sometime fullback Park Joo-ho has been effective there too. The energetic Lee Chang-min has also been staking a claim. FORWARDS Coaches have been trying for years to come up with a formation that gets the best out of Son Heung-min on international duty. At times, the 25-year old Tottenham player has featured on the left, as a second striker and as a lone striker. It looks as if Son will start as part of a two-pronged attack with the other three forwards in the squad vying to partner him GROUP GAMES The first game is against Sweden on June 18, followed by a meeting with Mexico on June 23. South Korea is likely to be relying on collecting points from those games before closing out Group F against Germany on June 27. None of South Korea's group games are in St. Petersburg where the team is based......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 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

Oladipo, Sabonis helping Pacers move forward

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2017

Focus more on how long Tiger Woods lasts more than his score

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — One year later, the scene hadn't changed. Jordan Spieth paused on the 17th green and looked across the water to the adjacent fairway at Albany Golf Club as Tiger Woods hit his shot to the ninth green, just like he did last year at the Hero World Challenge. Curiosity is just as high over another return from injury for Woods and how he will fare after a long layoff. What's different about the expectations for this comeback — his fifth since he first had back surgery in the spring of 2014 — is they are more about how long Woods will last than what kind of scores he posts. "He seems more confident this year the way he's walking and talking," Spieth said Wednesday in a whisper, having lost his voice to illness. "He seemed more excited at the Presidents Cup before he was even swinging, more anxious. And it seemed to really bother him that he was following doctor's orders, like he really wanted to get going. So once he was given the go, I think it was exciting for him. "So we're all very interested, as we should be, in how it goes for him this week — and obviously, hoping that's the start." The start of his latest comeback is Thursday against an 18-man field that features eight of the top nine players in the world. It's the first time every shot counts for Woods since a 77 in the Dubai Desert Classic on Feb. 3. That was his seventh round in his return. He withdrew the next day, citing back spasms, and had a fourth back surgery in April to fuse two disks in his lower back. Woods reports some stiffness and not as much range in motion. But he says he has no pain. The hype about this return has been fueled by friendly rounds over the last few weeks. Justin Thomas, the PGA Tour player of the year who will be paired with Woods on Thursday, said fans will be "shocked at how good his game looks." Rickie Fowler made a casual reference to how far Woods was driving it past him. Brad Faxon, who played with Woods and Dustin Johnson last Friday in a round with President Donald Trump, said Woods looked at ease and held nothing back in his swing, especially with the driver. Woods had to keep score in his pro-am round Wednesday, and that included a 2 on the 350-yard seventh hole when he drove the green with a breeze at his back and holed a 20-foot putt for eagle. The tournament is unofficial, though it offers world ranking points. Woods is at No. 1,199 in the world, and even if he finishes last, he'll move up more than 200 spots into the top 1,000. That still seems odd for a guy who spent 683 weeks at No. 1 in the world. What enthuses Woods is playing again. "It's been a very long time, and I'm really looking forward to getting out there and playing with Justin and having a good time," Woods said. After that, it will be time to reassess. "I just really want to be able to complete this week, play all four days and give myself a chance on that back nine on Sunday to win this thing," said Woods, whose last victory was more than four years ago at Firestone in the Bridgestone Invitational. He lasted only three starts when he came back from his first back surgery in the summer of 2014. He lasted two starts after he returned at the end of 2014, and then after playing all four majors in 2015, he had a pair of back surgeries. And when he returned from those last year in the Bahamas, he lasted only three events. "My physio was certainly working overtime last year after every day and even in the morning, trying to get me ready to go," Woods said. Woods said the reason his comeback last year was over so quickly was due primarily to the rough at Torrey Pines and not realizing his disk was in bad shape. He said the deceleration in his swing when he hit out of the rough made the injury worse. That's why there's so much emphasis on his health. He looks built to last, or at least last a little longer. And this is the ideal spot for Woods to return. There is no cut. Woods is guaranteed four rounds. Interest is high. Pressure is not. "I think it's an easy week for Tiger as it is for anybody else versus other weeks — not as many people, the golf course doesn't beat you up," Spieth said. "But you can start to see it's actually, I think, pretty important, these end-of-the-year tournaments to kind of set a precedent for next year." That especially holds true for Woods......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2017

Falcons hold on to beat Lions 30-26 thanks to NFL rule

DETROIT (AP) — Matthew Stafford's pass to Golden Tate was ruled to be just short of the goal line in the final seconds, overturning the call on the field and allowing the Atlanta Falcons to hold on for a 30-26 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Stafford threw a slant to Tate and a video review determined he was down just inside the 1 with 8 seconds left. By rule, 10 seconds had to run off the clock, and that ended the game because the Lions didn't have any timeouts. Former NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino, now a Fox analyst, explained the call in a tweet: 'To recap in DET: ruling on the field was a TD which stops the clock. After review, Tate was short which would have kept the clock running ... This carries a 10-sec runoff. Had the call on the field been correct initially, the clock would have run out. That's the spirit of the rule.' The defending NFC champion Falcons (3-0) overcame Matt Ryan's three interceptions and many other mistakes, including on Detroit's last drive. Detroit (2-1) never led in the game and failed to pull off another comeback in the fourth quarter. strong>EAGLES 27, GIANTS 24 /strong> PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jake Elliott kicked a 61-yard field goal as the clock expired. Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, including a 77-yard score to Sterling Shepard, but Philadelphia (2-1) rallied twice. Carson Wentz tossed a 19-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery to set up Elliott's kick. The rookie was a fifth-round pick by the Bengals and joined the Eagles after Caleb Sturgis was injured in Week 1. He was carried off the field by two teammates. Elliott hit a 46-yard field goal to tie it with 51 seconds left after Aldrick Rosas kicked a 41-yarder to put the Giants ahead. The Giants (0-3) hadn't scored 20 points in eight straight games before Manning led them to 21 in a span of 5:21. He tossed TD passes of 10 yards and 4 yards to Odell Beckham Jr. to tie it at 14. Manning then connected over the middle to Shepard, who broke a couple tackles and sprinted all the way for a 21-14 lead. But Philadelphia (2-1) answered quickly. A 36-yard penalty for pass interference on Eli Apple put the ball at the 15 and rookie Corey Clement ran in on the next play for his first career TD to make it 21-21. strong>PATRIOTS 36, TEXANS 33 /strong> FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady connected with Brandin Cooks for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left, his fifth TD throw of the game. Brady finished 25 of 35 for 378 yards as New England (2-1) won its fifth straight regular-season meeting with Houston (1-2) and seventh of eight overall. Cooks caught five passes for 131 yards and pair of scores. It was the fifth multi-touchdown game and eighth 100-yard game of his career. Texans rookie Deshaun Watson was strong in his second career start. The Patriots were thin on the edge without linebacker Dont'a Hightower for the second straight week, and Watson took advantage, completing 22 of 33 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. But he did have two interceptions, including one that set up a New England first-half touchdown. The Patriots extended their halftime lead to 28-20 in the third quarter before Houston used a 12-yard TD pass from Watson to Ryan Griffin, and a 31-yard Ka'imi Fairbairn field goal to edge back in front 30-28 early in the fourth quarter. The Texans forced New England to punt with just over seven minutes to play, but had to settle for a 36-yard Fairbairn field goal with 2:24 left. Houston failed on a third-and-1 at the Patriots 18. That left Brady room. strong>BEARS 23, STEELERS 17, OT /strong> CHICAGO (AP) — Jordan Howard scored on a 19-yard run in overtime to lead the Bears. Howard's winning score came two plays after rookie Tarik Cohen broke off an electric run for what appeared to be a 73-yard winning touchdown. But he was ruled out at the Pittsburgh 37. Howard took over from there, and the Bears (1-2) came away with a surprising victory. Howard had 138 of Chicago's 220 yards rushing, making up for a lackluster performance by quarterback Mike Glennon. The Steelers (2-1) stayed off the sideline for the national anthem in the wake of President Donald Trump's comments that players who kneel in protest should be fired. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, an Army veteran, stood near the tunnel with his hand over his heart. Once the game ended, they found themselves in a familiar spot — losing to a lesser team and losing in Chicago, where they are 1-13. Marcus Cooper committed an inexplicable fumble after the Bears blocked a field goal in the closing seconds of the half. With a clear path to the end zone, he slowed down and had the ball poked away at the 1. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Brown had 110 yards receiving and a touchdown. strong>BILLS 26, BRONCOS 16 /strong> ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Tyrod Taylor threw two touchdowns and the Bills intercepted Trevor Siemian twice in the final 19 minutes. Taylor went 20 of 26 for 213 yards with a 2-yard touchdown to Andre Holmes and a 6-yarder to Charles Clay. Taylor got lucky on the touchdown pass to Holmes , as the ball deflected off the hands of Zay Jones just inside the goal line and bounced directly to Holmes in the back of the end zone. The Bills (2-1) overcame their struggling running attack courtesy of Taylor's arm and a stout defense in a game LeSean McCoy was limited to 21 yards on 14 carries. Though he had seven catches for 48 yards, McCoy's latest poor outing came after he was limited to 9 yards rushing in a 9-3 loss at Carolina. The Bills allowed just one touchdown, while Brandon McManus rounded out Denver's scoring with three field goals. In falling to 2-1, the Broncos turned over the ball on each of their final four possessions, with Siemian being intercepted by E.J. Gaines and Tre'Davious White. The Broncos also turned the ball over twice on downs. strong>JETS 20, DOLPHINS 6 /strong> EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Josh McCown threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, Bilal Powell ran for a score, and the Jets' defense dominated Jay Cutler and the Dolphins. While a lot of the focus heading into the season was on whether the revamped Jets roster would be good enough to win any games, New York made Miami look like the team in the middle of a rebuild. McCown finished 18 of 23 for 249 yards, Chandler Catanzaro kicked two field goals, and the Jets (1-2) forced Cutler and the Dolphins (1-1) into mistakes all game. The Jets also avoided their first 0-3 start since 2003. New York just missed having its first shutout since blanking Cincinnati 37-0 on Jan. 13, 2010 — in the Jets' last game at the old Giants Stadium. Cutler threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker on the final play. Cody Parkey missed the extra point, capping a miserable day for Miami in 88-degree heat at MetLife Stadium. strong>JAGUARS 44, RAVENS 7 /strong> LONDON (AP) — Marcedes Lewis caught three of Blake Bortles' four touchdown passes as the Jaguars won in their fifth game in Britain's capital. Allen Hurns and Leonard Fournette also scored touchdowns for the Jaguars (2-1), who have won each of their last three games played at the venue. This one, by far, was the easiest. The Ravens (2-1) managed just 186 yards of total offense, including minus-1 yard in the first quarter. They managed 15 yards in the first half, and picked up only 12 first downs. A 6-yard pass from Ryan Mallett, who entered in relief of Joe Flacco in the fourth quarter, to Benjamin Watson with 3:24 remaining prevented the shutout. It was their worst defeat since Nov. 9, 1997, when they lost 37-0 at Pittsburgh. Baltimore crossed midfield three times — and not until the third quarter, when Terrance West gained 7 yards to reach the Jaguars 45. On the next play, West failed to secure a handoff and fumbled, leading to linebacker Telvin Smith returning it 52 yards to set up Lewis' third touchdown. Jacksonville punctuated the victory with a fake punt minutes later, with Corey Grant taking a direct snap 58 yards before Fournette punched the ball in from the 3. strong>VIKINGS 34, BUCCANEERS 17 /strong> MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Case Keenum gave Minnesota a brilliant performance in relief of Sam Bradford, passing for three touchdowns and a career-high 369 yards without a turnover. Stefon Diggs had 173 yards receiving and caught two of Keenum's throws for scores, one short and one long . Dalvin Cook produced 169 total yards plus his first NFL touchdown , which capped a 75-yard drive by the Vikings (2-1) to start the game. They never slowed down, building a 28-3 lead by early in the third quarter on their way to compiling 494 yards. Trae Waynes and Harrison Smith each picked off Jameis Winston in the end zone , and Andrew Sendejo returned an interception 36 yards in the fourth quarter to set up one of two field goals by Kai Forbath. Winston completed 28 of 40 passes for 328 yards, but the Buccaneers (1-1) simply couldn't overcome having to play from behind all afternoon. They converted only one of six third downs. strong>COLTS 31, BROWNS 28 /strong> INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jacoby Brissett ran for two touchdowns, threw for another and the Colts held off Cleveland's late charge. Brissett, acquired in a trade with New England earlier this month, looked much more comfortable in his second start, going 17 of 24 with 259 yards and running five times for 14 yards. Indy (1-2) avoided its first 0-3 start in six years. Cleveland (0-3) lost its 15th consecutive road game despite being favored for the first time since 2015 and a road favorite for the first time since 2012. Brissett was the primary reason for the Browns' latest loss. He started the scoring with a 5-yard TD run, broke a 7-7 tie by spinning away from pressure and scooting 7 yards for his second score, then hooked up with T.Y. Hilton on a 61-yard TD pass to make it 21-7 — all in the first half. Frank Gore's 4-yard scoring run made it 28-7. Cleveland spent the rest of the game playing catch-up, but had two second-half scoring chances snuffed out by Rashaan Melvin's interceptions. strong>SAINTS 34, PANTHERS 13 /strong> CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Drew Brees shredded the league's top-ranked defense, throwing for three touchdowns and 220 yards. Brees led six scoring drives and threw TD passes to Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman and ex-Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. as the Saints avoided an 0-3 start. Rookie Alvin Kamara put the game away with a 25-yard TD run with 4:42 left. Carolina (2-1) had allowed six points in its previous two games. The Saints' defense, which came in ranked 32nd in the league, intercepted Cam Newton three times and sacked him four times before he was replaced late in the fourth quarter. Many of Newton's throws were either too hard or high as the seventh-year quarterback continued to struggle with his rhythm following offseason shoulder surgery. The Panthers, who were already without injured Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen, lost wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the first quarter to a knee injury; his leg got bent back awkwardly after being dragged down from behind. Carolina's only real offense came from rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, who had 101 yards receiving on nine catches. strong>PACKERS 27, BENGALS 24 /strong> GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (AP) — Mason Crosby kicked a 27-yard field goal with 6:26 left in overtime set up by Aaron Rodgers' 72-yard pass to Geronimo Allison. Crosby's kick completed the Packers' comeback from a 21-7 halftime deficit. On third-and-10 from his 21, Rodgers took advantage of yet another free play after defensive end Michael Johnson was whistled for offside. Officials let the play continue and the two-time NFL MVP found Allison on about a 40-yard pass before the receiver beat a couple defenders for more yards. Crosby took care of the rest for the Packers (2-1). The winless Bengals (0-3) won the toss in overtime but went three-and-out on their opening drive. It was so loud at Lambeau Field that they had to call timeout before their first overtime snap. Rodgers thrived under the pressure. Rodgers finished 28 of 42 for 313 yards with three touchdowns and one score. Allison had six catches for 122 yards. strong>CHIEFS 24, CHARGERS 10 /strong> CARSON, California (AP) — Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes in the first 9 ½ minutes against what used to be his hometown team, Terrance Mitchell had two interceptions and rookie Kareem Hunt scored on a 69-yard run. The Chiefs (3-0) beat the Chargers for the seventh straight time and have won 12 straight AFC West games. Los Angeles' Philip Rivers threw three interceptions and the Chargers fell to 0-3 in their first season playing in the 27,000-seat StubHub Center after moving from San Diego. After a quick start, the Chiefs held on through a defensive struggle in the second half. They got two huge plays in the closing minutes: Justin Houston's sack of Rivers and then Hunt's sensational run when he cut back against the flow and raced 69 yards down the left sideline with 1:49 left. The rookie finished with 172 yards on 17 carries. The game couldn't have started more differently for Smith, who grew up in the San Diego area, and Rivers. Rivers was intercepted by Mitchell on the game's third play from scrimmage. Four plays later, Smith hit Tyreek Hill on a 30-yard touchdown pass. strong>TITANS 33, SEAHAWKS 27 /strong> NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Marcus Mariota threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns as the Titans scored 21 straight points in rallying to beat the Seahawks. Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray rushed for 115 yards, including a 75-yard TD run. Ryan Succop also kicked four field goals as Tennessee (2-1) scored at least 30 points for a second straight week. The Seahawks (1-2) finally scored a bunch of touchdowns with Russell Wilson throwing for 373 yards and four TDs. His second TD, a 10-yarder to Chris Carson , put Seattle up 14-9 in the third quarter. Then the Titans took control with Mariota answering with TDs on the next two drives for Tennessee. Wilson pulled Seattle within 33-27 with his fourth TD, an 8-yarder to Paul Richardson with 1:50 left. But Titans tight end Delanie Walker recovered Seattle's onside kick. The Seahawks had one last chance with the Titans lined up to punt on fourth-and-3 with 11 seconds left. Then officials flagged the Seahawks for 12 men in the formation, giving Tennessee the clinching first down. strong>REDSKINS 27, RAIDERS 10 /strong> LANDOVER, Maryland (AP) — Kirk Cousins threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns and Chris Thompson had 188 all-purpose yards and a score as Washington sacked Derek Carr four times and held Oakland to 128 yards in a dominating victory. Cousins was a spectacular 25 of 30, including TD passes to Thompson, Vernon Davis and a 52-yarder to Josh Doctson. Thompson had 150 yards receiving and 38 yards rushing, joining Jamaal Charles as the only running backs to put up 150 yards receiving against the Raiders (2-1) since they moved to Oakland in 1995. Thompson was again a difference maker and has four of Washington's seven offensive touchdowns this season. The Redskins (2-1), who piled up 472 yards, improved to 4-6 in prime-time games under coach Jay Gruden and tied the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East. Under pressure all night, Carr was 19 of 31 for 118 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Carr had thrown 112 consecutive passes before being picked off by Montae Nicholson on the second play of the game.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2017

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

2019 NBA Trade Deadline roundup

NBA.com staff report Here's a recap of all the deals done immediately before the 2019 NBA Trade Deadline. Sixers add Ennis for pick swap Sixers receive: F James Ennis Rockets receive: Rights to 2021 second-round pick swap Official Release: Sixers Instant Analysis: After trading several rotation pieces while bulking their starting lineup, the Sixers began to add depth behind the star-laden openers. The well-traveled Ennis has proven able to contribute effectively as a starter or off the bench through four-plus NBA seasons in Houston, Memphis, Detroit, Miami and New Orleans. * * * Three-team deal ends with Mirotic to Bucks Pistons receive: F Thon Maker Bucks receive: F Nikola Mirotic Pelicans receive: F/C Jason Smith F Stanley Johnson Four future second-round picks (via Detroit) Official Release: Bucks | Pistons | Pelicans Instant Analysis: The Bucks completed a two-stage, three-team deal heading into the deadline. First, discontented big man Maker went to Detroit for Johnson ... who was then redirected with veteran Smith and four second-round picks to the Pelicans for Mirotic. Adding yet another sharpshooting big around Giannis Antetokounmpo should only heighten the matchup nightmares Milwaukee presents. * * * Third move for backcourt duo Pacers receive: G Nik Stauskas G Wade Baldwin IV Rights to Maarty Leunen 2021 second-round pick Rockets receive: Cash considerations Official Release: Pacers Instant Analysis: This marks the fourth team in as many days for the backcourt duo, who began the week playing for Portland and have made stops in Cleveland (for Rodney Hood) and Houston (in a three-teamer with Sacramento) on the way to Indiana. Neither have earned much in the way of playing time, though Stauskas still carries the weight of a 3-point threat in the making. * * * Grizzlies trade Memphis stalwart Gasol to Toronto Raptors receive: C Marc Gasol Grizzlies receive: C Jonas Valanciunas G Delon Wright F/G CJ Miles 2024 second-round pick Official Release: Raptors Instant Analysis: With their fellow Eastern Conference contenders making moves, Toronto didn't sit still, adding a talented veteran center to their formidable mix. The transition should be eased since Gasol played with Kyle Lowry (2008-09, in Memphis), albeit before the point guard elevated above his current All-Star plateau. The Grizzlies gain a solid pivot in Valanciunas, a prospective wing piece in Wright and the satisfaction of sending Gasol on to a winning situation. * * * Bradley headed to Memphis Grizzlies receive: G Avery Bradley Clippers receive: G/F Garrett Temple F JaMychal Green Official Release: Clippers | Grizzlies Instant Analysis: Once the Clippers unloaded Tobias Harris to Philly, the focus became clearing further cap space, with flyers on Temple and Green, both expiring contracts. Bradley, a hard-nosed defender in the Memphis mold, should fit in nicely wherever deployed by the Grizzlies. * * * Zubac locker room reshuffled in LA Lakers receive: C Mike Muscala Clippers receive: F Michael Beasley C Ivica Zubac Official Release: Clippers | Lakers Instant Analysis: The deal clears a cap hold off the Lakers' offseason books, as Zubac was set to enter restricted free agency. With no major moves prior to the deadline, the Lakers have apparently lasered in on the summer options. * * * Fultz finally redirected, to Orlando Magic receive: G Markelle Fultz Sixers receive: F Jonathon Simmons Protected 2019 first-round pick 2019 second-round pick Official Release: Magic | Sixers Instant Analysis: After an injury-marred season-plus with the Sixers, 2017 No. 1 overall pick Fultz will attempt to find his footing in Orlando, where he's headed in exchange for Simmons and a pair of 2019 draft picks. Simmons helps flesh out the rotation depth in Philly, while the picks begin the asset rebuild after this week's trade for Tobias Harris. * * * Blazers acquire Labissiere Trail Blazers receive: F Skal Labissiere Kings receive: F Caleb Swanigan Official release: Kings | Blazers Instant Analysis: Two West coast teams swap young forwards in the hopes that a change of scenery will more fully unearth their respective talent. * * * Guard swap in the South Hawks receive: G Shelvin Mack Grizzlies receive: G Tyler Dorsey Official Release: Hawks | Grizzlies Instant Analysis: It's a return trip to Atlanta for Mack, who played 172 games for the Hawks from 2012-16. He will help soak up minutes behind and mentor rookie guard Trae Young. The Grizzlies get younger with Dorsey, who is reunited with former Oregon teammate Dillon Brooks. * * * Greg Monroe to Nets, then waived Nets receive: C Greg Monroe 2021 second-round pick Raptors receive: Cash considerations Official Release: Nets Instant Analysis: The Nets gain a second-round pick in order to help the Raptors save dollars against the cap and luxury tax. Monroe, however, was waived after being acquired. * * * Hawks acquire Jabari Bird Hawks receive: G Jabari Bird Cash considerations Celtics receive: Conditional 2020 second-round pick Official Release: Hawks Instant Analysis: Bird hasn't played in a game this season, and was expected to be waived by Atlanta. * * * Shumpert to Rockets in three-team trade Rockets receive: G Iman Shumpert G Nik Stauskas G Wade Baldwin IV 2021 second-round pick Kings receive: G Alec Burks 2020 second-round pick Cavaliers receive: G Brandon Knight F Marquese Chriss 2019 first-round pick 2022 second-round pick Official release: Cavaliers Instant Analysis: The Rockets reshuffled their bench depth with this three-team trade. Shumpert help bolster the Rockets' guard rotation as they battle for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Shortly after this deal was announced, the Rockets dealt Stauskas and Baldwin IV to the Indiana Pacers (see above). For the Kings, Shumpert was less necessary to their team after acquiring Harrison Barnes from the Mavericks in a separate deal on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2019

Chiefs QB Mahomes takes MVP and top offensive player awards

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Patrick Mahomes' breathtaking breakthrough season earned him the NFL's Most Valuable Player award. The Chiefs quarterback landed a pair of honors at NFL Honors on Saturday night, taking The Associated Press 2018 MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards. In his second pro season, Mahomes led Kansas City to its first AFC title game since 1993 with some of the most creative and clutch plays the league has seen in years. "I'm so humbled," he said. "This is just the beginning. We've got a long ways to go." Mahomes received 41 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees got the other nine. With only one previous start, Mahomes entered the season as something of a curiosity in Kansas City after the Chiefs traded veteran Alex Smith to open up the job. It didn't take long to erase any doubts as Mahomes led the Chiefs to their first AFC title game since the 1993 season, throwing for 50 touchdowns, 5,097 yards and had a 113.8 QB rating, trailing only Brees. Mahomes' ingenuity — the guy can throw from all angles and make plays inside and outside the pocket — energized the Chiefs' fan base and excited fans across the league. "The play is never dead. He can find new ways to get you the ball," Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce said. "It may look like a screwball, a slider here or there, but it'll get to you eventually." Mahomes is the sixth straight quarterback and 11th of the past 12 years to win MVP. No Kansas City player had won the award since the Chiefs joined the NFL in 1970. Earlier, he was selected as the top offensive player, beating Brees 30 votes to 16. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who will play in Sunday's Super Bowl against New England, took his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award. Donald, the only unanimous All-Pro this season and the first Rams player selected for top defensive honor, joins Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt as players to win the award in back-to-back seasons. Donald led the NFL with 20½ sacks. "Any time you put a body of work into it and then it pays off," Donald said, "and you're rewarded for it, it means a lot. It's a blessing." Chicago's Matt Nagy, in his first season with the Bears, was voted Coach of the Year. Nagy has overseen the development of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who blossomed in his second pro season, and saw a defense befitting the "Monsters of the Midway" dominate opponents at times. He is the fifth Bears coach to win the award, joining team founder George Halas (1963, 1965), Mike Ditka (1985, 1988), Dick Jauron (2001) and Lovie Smith (2005). "It's crazy to think this is one person, so for me, it's being a part of this organization and for our players," Nagy said. "Just being able to believe in what we wanted to do with our culture and then follow through with it." Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was chosen the Comeback Player of the Year, following a lost 2017 season to a shoulder injury with a sensational 2018 campaign. "I truly believe there are players on every team, every roster that could be Comeback Player of the Year in their own ways," he said. "Honestly, the best part was playing football again — having fun playing football and being pain free." Giants running back Saquon Barkley was the top offensive rookie, while the defensive rookie award went to Indianapolis linebacker Darius Leonard. Described by some as a "generational running back," Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns behind a weak New York offensive line. He drew 26½ votes and edged Baker Mayfield. The Cleveland quarterback who was selected first overall in the draft, one spot in front of Barkley, earned 21½ votes. Barkley also made a team-high 91 receptions for 721 yards, and his 2,028 yards from scrimmage led the NFL. For his work as defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, Vic Fangio got the head coaching gig in Denver. He also won The Associated Press 2018 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year Award on Saturday. Philadelphia Eagles DE Chris Long won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for community service......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 3rd, 2019

Arsenal facing make-or-break 6 days

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press It's a six-day stretch that could make or break Arsenal's season and prompt renewed scrutiny into the machinations of a club that appears to have issues at every level. A home game against Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, soon followed by the visit of Manchester United in the FA Cup. Lose both matches and Arsenal's bid for domestic silverware will be over for another season. Finishing in the top four of the league, and thereby qualifying for the Champions League, would also be highly unrealistic. And it won't even be February. It wasn't so long ago that Unai Emery was making a mockery of any fears he would struggle to oversee a smooth transition from Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign. The team was on a 22-match unbeaten run in all competitions. Emery's high-energy pressing game was working and the goals were flowing, even if there were some slight concerns about the defense. Tottenham, Arsenal's big rival, was trounced 4-2 in the North London derby. "We've got out Arsenal back," chanted gleeful Arsenal fans. Then came the slide. The first worrying signs came in a 3-2 loss at lowly Southampton on Dec. 16 that ended Arsenal's four-month unbeaten run. Then there was the elimination at the hands of Tottenham in the English League Cup quarterfinals, before a 5-1 mauling by Liverpool in the league at Anfield on Dec. 29 which revived memories of the defensive horror shows from the darkest days in the final years of the Wenger era. More recently, there was the timid 1-0 loss at West Ham on Saturday when Arsenal had two shots on target. If Arsenal loses to Chelsea, it will drop nine points adrift of the top four and probably into sixth place — the position it finished in Wenger's last year. Arsenal will be left relying on winning a cup competition — the FA Cup or, perhaps more likely, the Europa League — to salvage anything from its season. The problems won't end there. Mesut Ozil is the club's marquee and highest-earning player — reportedly getting 350,000 pounds a week ($450,000) — yet is regularly left out by Emery, just as he was against West Ham on Saturday. Ozil, a mercurial player with a languid approach, doesn't fit Emery's preferred style and so is proving to be a very expensive commodity. Another midfielder, Aaron Ramsey, has also been in and out of the team this season and is reportedly close to signing for Juventus. "At certain times, you have to provoke friction with footballers," Emery said this week, perhaps with a nod to his relationship with Ozil. "From that friction, you can get something more out of them, something from inside." Without its two most creative attacking midfielders, and with Henrikh Mkhitaryan currently injured, Arsenal lacks any playmaking ability or balance behind the two strikers, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Meanwhile, Emery's team has kept only three clean sheets in 22 league games. "There are times," Emery said, "when defensively we have not been very solid but we have still won because offensively we have created a lot of chances. So, at the moment, I am still leaning toward making sure the team doesn't lose what it has." Emery doesn't have the option of buying his way out of trouble. He said last week that there is no money available for permanent signings, only loans, with Arsenal having spent 70 million pounds on four players in the offseason and a club-record 56 million pounds on Aubameyang last January. In an attempt to formalize a structure to the technical staff above the manager, Arsenal created the positions of head of football relations (Raul Sanllehi joined from Barcelona) and head of recruitment (Sven Mislintat joined from Borussia Dortmund) in 2017. No way was Emery going to have the same power as Wenger. Yet sections of the British media are reporting this week that Mislintat is on his way out as part of a power struggle in the wake of the departure of chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who left for AC Milan in October. So, potential upheaval behind the scenes. No money to spend. Apparent rifts with key players. And a defensively suspect team that has lost four of its last eight games. It's a huge week coming up for Arsenal and Emery, for whom the enormity of the task in replacing Wenger might finally be sinking in......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

Monaco signs experienced midfielder Fabregas from Chelsea

MONACO (AP) — Struggling Monaco has boosted its relegation fight by signing experienced midfielder Cesc Fabregas from Chelsea until June 2022. The deal reunites Fabregas with Thierry Henry, who played with Fabregas at Arsenal and is now Monaco's coach. Fabregas has been used to being near the top of the league during spells with Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea. But with Monaco it will be totally different as he goes straight into a relegation scrap, with Henry's side mired in 19th place ahead of Sunday's trip to face sixth-place Marseille. Given Monaco's precarious position, and his ability and experience, Fabregas could go straight into the side. "It's a great pleasure to join Monaco, a new project for me," Fabregas said. "I'm here to help the team and I'm impatient to start. We have a big game against Marseille on Sunday, I'm very excited." After starting out with Arsenal as a roaming attacking midfielder with a clinical eye for goal and a deft pass, Fabregas moved into a deeper-lying position over the years where his vision of the game and outstanding passing range helped him to remain influential in games with Chelsea. But he was not a regular this season for the Premier League side under its new Italian coach Maurizio Sarri. Last Saturday, an emotional Fabregas applauded Chelsea's home fans at Stamford Bridge after making his last appearance for the club in an FA Cup match against Nottingham Forest. The 31-year-old Fabregas is young enough to be considered a big signing for Monaco and he could have a major bearing on the club's chances of staying up. Avoiding serious injury helped him to play around 650 club games and to score 121 goals — winning league titles with Barcelona and Chelsea and domestic Cup competitions with all three sides. He also played over 100 times for Spain, winning two European Championships and one World Cup. Henry has signed two defenders so far during the transfer window: 22-year-old Fode Ballo-Toure from Lille and 36-year-old Brazilian Naldo from Schalke. But a move for midfielder William Vainqueur from Turkish club Antalyaspor fell through, after he failed a medical due Thursday to a calf problem......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2019

Patrick Beverley s trademark defense getting new test

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com There was a foul, followed by a stoppage in play, a scene replayed dozens of times in NBA arenas. Except in this case, the victim was former two-time Kia MVP Stephen Curry and the punisher was the notorious Patrick Beverley. And so the situation (of course) turned snippy. Beverley has fought against better players his entire basketball life and carries an underdog gene that tends to flare in these situations. That explains why he tried to slap the ball from the Warriors guard after the whistle. Curry wasn’t having it, and so there was a gentle shove. And then a shove was returned. Then a staredown with noses just inches from each other. Then a separation of bodies. This was Beverley doing what he does by reputation: namely, irritate and push his defensive aggression and agenda to the very limit … and then some. His “crime” was restricting Curry’s movement with a forearm. Sometimes Beverley gets away with it, but in today’s NBA, no longer with any regularity. Such is the new normal. He’s a defensive-minded player with the LA Clippers and works in a league that suddenly favors scoring and shooters. He’s quite possibly, in his estimation and that of others, someone who’s forced to evolve or perish. For him, there’s no other option. “It would be very hard,” Beverley said, “to come into the league today and try to play defense like we did years ago.” Before this season, the NBA's Points of Emphasis centered in part on freedom of movement. The goal is to help players move without barriers, which creates high-scoring games, which makes games more entertaining for fans. Halfway through the season, the evidence is convincing: Scores are up, stops are down. To date, 11 teams have an offensive rating greater than 110 and 18 teams are scoring more than 110 points per game. Last season, those numbers were six and six, respectively. For players born with height, wingspan and leaping ability, these defensive rules don’t handcuff them much. But Beverley buys his clothes off the rack, so to speak. He’s a shade over six feet and is therefore a normal man trying to make a living in a big man’s world. At 30, Beverley deals with players who are often taller and even quicker. It’s his job to make their life tougher -- but here in the new age of barely-contested shots and 120-point games, the opposite is ringing true. He’s averaging a career-high 3.6 fouls per game and can’t get away with much. As Draymond Green, a defensive demon himself and teammate of Curry’s said recently: “Defense is not allowed. You can’t really play defense in this league. I guess that’s not what they want.” ‘We’re forced to adjust’ Green's words are perhaps an extreme assessment and a touch of exaggeration. Fifteen teams averaged at least 106 ppg last season; now it’s 26. Calls are less forgiving, as only 13 teams are averaging 24 free throw attempts per game (it was five last season). The ball moves and there’s less restriction, which was the intention. And there appears to be little blowback in the basketball universe from those who observe and play. It’s just … accepted. For the most part. Even Beverley offers a shoulder shrug. “Guys who make a living off defense, we’re forced to adjust,” he said. This evolution of shifting away from certain defensive tactics is decades in the making. The NBA once allowed defenders to shove a forearm into the back of a post-up player, and subtle jersey grabs were often excused. And there was the hand-check, too. All have been outlawed. The game is far less physical, which means the “Bad Boys”-era Detroit Pistons would have little chance of winning one championship today (let alone two). The NBA has sought to distance itself from that brand of ball, from Pat Riley’s New York Knicks (and their “no free layups” mentality) and from the 85-80 scores that often stifled the creativity of the game. The result is a game that sees open lanes and quicker whistles, and less of what helped players like Beverley overcome tremendous odds to reach the NBA. “There is where we’re at,” he said. “They want to see more scoring, more up-and-down, more points and all that, which is understandable. Of course, it makes it hard for me.” Relishing his ‘instigator’ role This is Beverley’s sixth year in the NBA, but his 10th in professional basketball. His journey curved through various stops overseas before he became rooted with the Houston Rockets, his first true NBA home. It speaks to Beverley’s doggedness and his value, at least initially, as a defensive specialist assigned to the grunt work. With the rise in scoring point guards across the NBA landscape, Beverley’s role became more important, and difficult as well. In a typical week, Beverley could guard Curry, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard and opposing shooting guards, too. He brings an edge to the job that he learned from growing up on the West Side of Chicago to a single mother as well as a grandmother who adopted a dozen kids. Daily life was a chore. He was one of the main characters in the documentary “Hoop Reality,” the sequel to the acclaimed “Hoop Dreams.” Beverley was friendly rivals with former Kia MVP winner Derrick Rose since grade school and was actually a scorer in high school, averaging a state-best 37 points as a senior. After getting kicked out of Arkansas in 2008 after two years for academic issues -- a tutor wrote a paper for him -- he played three years in Russia and Greece before filling the point guard void on the 2012-13 Rockets caused by Kyle Lowry’s trade to Toronto the summer before. “I wouldn’t change one thing about how I got here,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t get in through the front door. Sometimes you don’t get in through the back. Sometimes you got to climb through the window. That doesn’t mean the opportunity wasn’t there. There’s a way; you’ve just got to find it.” He immediately became singled out for eyeball-to-eyeball defense that teetered on the edge. The moment that earned him a name was in the first round of the 2013 playoffs against Oklahoma City. He went for a steal on Westbrook in Game 2 while Westbrook signaled for a timeout, causing his knee injury five years ago. He still answers for that, even to this day; not that the play on the ball was reckless, but was it necessary? “I don’t go out there to hurt people, I don’t even know how to attempt to hurt somebody,” Beverley said. “I play hard, bring the edge. I’m an instigator. That gets me going. I like to bump people, to feel me getting into somebody’s jersey. I’m just different. I like contact, like physical play, like pushing and holding. But I’m not dirty.” Beverley hasn’t spoken with Westbrook -- their on-court relationship is clearly frosty -- and with the exception of Rose, he doesn’t encourage any friendships beyond his teammates. “I don’t talk to anybody,” he said. “I don’t want personal battles that take away from the team. I’m trying to win games. When I come to San Francisco or Oklahoma City or Portland, I know I’m going straight to my room because there’s people I got to be ready to play the next day. And I know they do the same. There’s respect that’s not being said. When it comes to Steph, Dame, Westbrook, I make sure I get my rest. But they get their rest, too. They know what I bring to the table.” A game that won’t change Beverley was an All-Defensive first teamer two seasons ago, both a career highlight and confirmation of his devotion to studying film and learning opponents’ tendencies. He has also overcome microfracture knee injury in 2017-18 that limited him to 11 games in his debut season with the Clippers. “I worked my ass off and I’m still working,” he said. “If it’s not one thing it’s another. Me getting hurt, coming back faster and stronger. Got kicked out of school, had to go overseas, knew I was going to the NBA anyway. I didn’t know how. But I knew. “This is bigger than me. It’s for my mom, grandmom, seeing how hard the women in my life worked to raise me. It’s not easy being a single mother raising a kid in the inner city but she made it happen. She taught me to stand on my own two feet and get the best out of hard work, which becomes part of your mindset, especially when you see two women doing it every day.” And now comes another challenge for Beverley and those like him. How do you thrive in a league that’s suddenly married to offense? “Maybe after the All-Star break they’ll stop calling ticky-tack fouls,” he said. “The better defender you are, the more you’re singled out. But I’m going to go out there and be Pat. Don’t care. Won’t change.” Beverley estimates that “70 percent” of the players he guards are rattled by him, to different degrees. He said “only a few don’t,” which he refused to name (for strategic reasons). The game may not be designed to help the underdog, average-sized player who brings intensity and defense. But there’s no sense waiting for Beverley to make excuses. He’s come too far for that. “When you’re done with this game, you don’t want to go around saying, ‘Man I wish I could’ve done this, put more time into that.’” Beverley said. “Every year I go out like a person fighting for my spot, fighting for my contract. That’s the way I train. That’s how I prepare. That’s why I’m still in the league.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2019

Nadal withdraws, Murray loses to Medvedev in Brisbane

By John Pye, Associated Press BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray lost his second-round match less than an hour after Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Brisbane International on Wednesday. Both players arrived in Australia after long injury breaks, and neither had played a competitive match since September. At least Murray completed two matches, playing on a protected ranking after an injury-interrupted 18 months, beating James Duckworth before losing to fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2. There were signs in both matches that he is still bothered by the hip problem which has derailed his last two seasons. The second-ranked Nadal had a first-round bye but withdrew on the eve of his scheduled second-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after having an MRI on a muscle strain in his left thigh. Nadal said he would keep practicing in Brisbane until the weekend, then head to Melbourne after a brief stopover in Sydney to prepare for the Australian Open. The 32-year-old Spaniard is confident he will be fit enough to compete at the season's first major, which starts on Jan. 14 at Melbourne Park. "After analyzing everything, (doctors) say that it's a very small thing, but can become a big thing, because a strain in the muscle is dangerous," Nadal said during a news conference staged while Murray was playing Medvedev on Pat Rafter Arena. "When you increase the intensity on the muscle competing, then there is a big risk to make something bigger." Also exiting the men's draw on Wednesday where defending champion Nick Kyrgios, who lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3, and third-seeded Kyle Edmund, who lost to Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6 (6), 6-4. Second-seeded Kei Nishikori and 2017 champion Grigor Dimitrov had straight-set wins earlier to set up a quarterfinal showdown — a rematch of their final in 2017 — and fifth-seeded Milos Raonic advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) win over Miomir Kecmanovic. Anett Kontaveit beat fourth-seeded Petra Kvitova 7-5, 7-6 (1) to advance to the women's quarterfinals, and Anastasija Sevastova set up a match against U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka when she beat Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-0. Fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova had a 7-5, 6-2 win over Marie Bouzkova, Ajla Tomljanovic beat Johanna Konta 6-2, 7-6 (2), and Donna Vekic ousted No. 6 Kiki Bertens 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-5. Nadal withdrew after one match at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi before arriving this week in Australia, where he forecast another withdrawal when he said he wanted to focus on quality of his play over quantity of matches in his schedule this year. He played nine tournaments in 2018, winning five titles, including the French Open, in a season curtailed by knee and ankle injuries. "Probably I'm 100 percent in five days. And then I have plenty of time to prepare Melbourne," he said. "It's a waste to damage my body for one month if I keep playing here. After all the things that happened to me, probably I am not ready to assume that waste." Taro Daniel, a lucky loser from qualifying, will take Nadal's place in the Brisbane draw and will play Tsonga on Thursday. The absence of Nadal and Murray casts more focus on the Nishikori-Dimitrov quarterfinal match. Nishikori broke at love in the 11th game to seize momentum in a 7-5, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla in the second round. The sixth-seeded Dimitrov, who beat Nishikori in the 2017 final, had to withstand a late comeback from local favorite John Millman before winning 6-3, 6-4. He's using the quarterfinal match against Nishikori as a barometer for where his preparations stand for the Australian Open. "It's great. I mean it's right off the blocks," Dimitrov said. "It's perfect to play a match like that to kind of see where your game is at.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019

Top sports headliners in the year that was

From the FIFA World Cup to the NBA, the PBA to the UAAP and NCAA, the Asian Games to Manny Pacquiao, volleyball to MMA, the past 12 months truly was a great year for Filipino sports fans.   Here are some of the most memorable sports headliners that bannered the year that was.    San Miguel Corporation dominates PBA San Miguel Corporation owned 2018. For the first time in the history of the Asia’s first professional basketball league one company dominated all three conferences of the PBA. The San Miguel Beermen annexed their fourth straight Philippine Cup title against sister team Magnolia last May, while Ginebra rode on undersized do-it-all forward Justin Brownlee to the Commissioner's Cup title at the expense of San Miguel last August. Then it was Magnolia's time to shine in December. The Hotshots dismantled Alaska in six games to complete SMC’s domination of PBA 2018. Outside of basketball, SMC also made its presence felt in volleyball as Petron bagged the Grand Prix, Challenge Cup (beach volleyball) and the All-Filipino Conference in the Philippine Superliga.   Kai Sotto stands tall as Ateneo takes title vs NU Kai Sotto became a household name in 2018 as the 7'1" wunderkind showed off in the UAAP Season 80 juniors' basketball tournament. The eventual Finals MVP was a beast in Game 1 of the Finals against the NU Bullpups, tallying a triple-double of 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks in the 86-70 win, the first of its kind since 2003. Ateneo finished the season almost unscathed at 16-1, with their lone loss in Game 2 of the series, a very chippy one to say the least. In Game 3, Sotto came up clutch, scoring the go-ahead basket, 60-58, with about 30 seconds left as Ateneo came away with the 63-58 win to take the title.  SJ Belangel, Joaqui Manuel, Dave Ildefonso and Jason Credo, and coach Joe Silva all appeared in their last games for the Blue Eaglets.   DLSU completes three-peat; NU dethrones Ateneo  The UAAP Season 80 volleyball tournament was filled with lasting memories that will surely be remembered for a long time. Numerous upsets in the eliminations, great games, and much more were the name of the game for the women's tournament. However, a long-time rivalry was rekindled when two-time defending champs De La Salle Lady Spikers met 29-time title holders FEU Lady Tamaraws for all the marbles last May. Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, and Dawn Macandili all ended their careers on a high note as they swept graduating Bernadeth Pons and the Lady Tamaraws in two straight games to win their third straight title. Graduating libero Macandili was named Finals MVP for the first and final time in her collegiate career.  Behind their magnificent floor defense and some stellar play from Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas, the NU Bulldogs also swept three-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles to reclaim a title they last enjoyed in Season 76. Espejo, a five-time UAAP MVP, had an awesome performance for the world's record books, scoring a record-55 points to force the FEU Tamaraws to a do-or-die Final Four. The Blue Eagle legend had played his last, and has since suited up for a semi-pro team in Japan's topflight volleyball league.   Alab fends off Mono Vampire to claim ABL title San Miguel-backed Alab Pilipinas were such a glorious sight to see in the eighth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last March. Coached by perennial fan favorite Jimmy Alapag in his very first season, the trio of Renaldo Balkman, Justin Brownlee, and Local and Finals MVP Bobby Ray Parks to their first title in home soil. Alab faced Thailand-based Mono Vampire, who were led by Mike Singletary, towering Sam Deguara, Fil-Am Jason Brickman and Pinoy Paul Zamar. In the very same day as the coronation of the UAAP volleyball championships, Alab took home the crown in a rousing 102-92 victory in Sta. Rosa, much to the delight of the home crowd. Balkman, the league's Defensive Player of the Year led Alab in scoring with 32, while Brownlee added 24 of his own. Parks added 13 markers. The two imports played in the PBA for the Commissioner's Cup, where Balkman (San Miguel) and Brownlee (Ginebra) would face each other in the Finals.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Warriors send LeBron packing to Los Angeles The Golden St. Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers locked horns in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season after the two teams were pushed to the brink in the Conference Finals. Both teams were down 3-2 and won Game 7 on the road to win their respective conferences, with both teams banking on experience to forge another bout in the championship series. Game 1 was undoubtedly the most exciting game in the series as LeBron James had an epic performance of 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  However, JR Smith's blunder at the end of regulation became the lasting image of that game, as he dribbled out the clock with the score tied at 107-all. The defending champions rode the surge and took the opening game, 124-114. Stephen Curry's brillant performance throughout the series was overshadowed by Kevin Durant's dagger in Game 3, a few feet away from the spot where he launched the go-ahead three in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Durant was named as the Bill Russell Finals MVP after norming 28.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the four-game sweep, demolishing the Cavs 108-85 in the series finale last June. It would also be the last game LeBron James had in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform, as he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers almost a month later.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) France rules 2018 FIFA World Cup The most-coveted title of the beautiful game returned to France after two decades. The youthful French squad celebrated their conquest soaked in a downpour in Moscow after a 4-2 victory over first-time finalist Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup last July. Teenager Kylian Mbappe stood out in the French team composed of a bunch of 25 and under players. Speed, strength and youth became France’s biggest asset during the quadrennial football spectacle watched by almost 3.5 billion viewers around the world.  The 19-year-old migrant scored one of the four goals in the championship match to become the second teen to score a goal in the Finals after the legendary Pele back in 1958. France defeated Belgium in the semifinal, 1-0, while Croatia outlasted the favored Russians in penalty shootout, 4-3 (2-2). The French team also displayed diversity, with players born of migrant parents including Alphonse Areola, whose parents are both Filipinos working in France.   Pac on top, The Filipino Flash returns The most-celebrated Filipino athlete continued make the headlines this year. Manny Pacquaio stripped Lucas Matthysse of his WBA welterweight world championship belt with a seventh round technical knockout win in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July. Pacquiao split with long-time trainer Freddie Roach during his build up for the Matthysse bout back in April but confirmed their partnership once again for the 40-year old boxer’s title defense against Adrien Broner next year. Nonito Donaire Jr. announced that he would be going back down to super bantamweight after a loss to Carl Frampton in April for the interim WBO Featherweight belt and would be taking part in the World Boxing Super Series' super bantamweight tournament.  Matched up in the quarterfinal round against Ryan Burnett back in November, Donaire scored what many consider an upset, winning via TKO after the Irishman suffered a back injury to snatch the WBA (Super) Bantamweight World Championship.  Up next for Donaire will be WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in the semifinals.           Pinay power in the Asian Games   The Philippines participated in the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia that ran from August 18 to September 2. A total of 272 athletes that participated in 31 sports represented the country in the quadrennial meet with Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and medalist Margielyn Didal marching as flagbearers in the opening and closing ceremonies, respectively. Rio Olympian Hidilyn Diaz gave the PHI its first gold medal in women’s -53 kg. weightlifting. Five days after Diaz’s victory, the trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go accounted for the women’s golf team mint. Saso also bagged the individual gold. In Palembang, Didal rolled her way into winning the women’s street skateboard gold. The celebrated men’s basketball team started out strong after routing Kazakhstan but lost by two-points to China in the group stage. The Gilas Pilipinas squad advanced in the quarterfinals but bowed down to South Korea by nine points eventually settling for a fifth spot in the classification phase after wins over Japan and Syria. The PHI finished with a 4-2-15 gold-silver-bronze haul and landed at 19th spot, three places higher that its 2014 finish in Incheon, South Korea.      Red Lions roar, Blue Eagles soar San Beda University continued its mastery over the NCAA as it annexed its third straight title and 22nd overall. The Red Lions grabbed its 11th crown in 13 years at the expense of Lyceum of the Philippines University. It was one-sided championship series – just like in their Finals meeting last year – with the San Beda ripping the Pirates apart in Game One with LPU playing sans its best player in CJ Perez, who was banned for one game after failing to notify the league of his intention to join the PBA Draft. Perez returned in Game 2 but even his presence didn’t stop the Red Lions from painting the NCAA red once again. In probably one of the most memorable UAAP season in recent years, Ateneo de Manila University won its second straight crown. Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year 6-foot-11 Ange Kouame made an immediate impact for the Blue Eagles complementing the already stacked Ateneo squad led by Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena. But the glory of Ateneo was overshadowed by the Cinderalla story of the team it vanquished in the Finals. Climbing up from the cellar in the past years, University of the Philippines made history by making it in the Finals for the first time since winning it all in 1986. But before their championship stint, the Fighting Maroons ended a two-decade Final Four drought. UP then shocked twice-to-beat Adamson University with both games decided by game-winners. Ateneo came in the series as the title favorites but overwhelming support from a very hungry UP community and underdogs fans backed the Fighting Maroons. But in the end, it was the Blue Eagles championship experience that prevailed.       Pinoys make wave in MMA Fighters under Team Lakay flexed their muscles in One Championship. Flyweight star Geje Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Eustaquio then defeated two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau last July to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  Joshua Pacio earned the ONE Strawweight World Championship last September after a unanimous decision win over two-time champion Japanese Yoshitaka Naito. Kevin Belingon dropped former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April. He followed it up with a dominating win over then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to capture the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion. Belingon ended the five-year reign and seven-year winning streak of of long-time bantamweight king Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes in November via split decision.  Eduard Folayang outclassed Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to bag the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.  Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera needed only 64 seconds to knockout hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila early December to remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    Petron, Creamline rule respective club leagues Creamline claimed its breakthrough championship in the Premier Volleyball League by sweeping PayMaya in the Reinforced Conference Finals series last July. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought with the Cool Smashers' victory. Creamline opposite hitter Michele Gumabao was named Miss Globe-Philippines during the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 last March. Gumabao represented the country in the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania last October and won the Miss Social Media and Dream Girl awards while landing a spot in the Top 15.     The Cool Smashers completed a sweep of the PVL’s Season 2 after claiming the Open Conference crown at the expense of Ateneo-Motolite via an emphatic series sweep this month. In the Philippine Superliga, Petron reigned supreme in the Grand Prix after taking down archrival F2 Logistics last May. Petron extended its supremacy in the sands after the tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadethn Pons defeated Dhannylaine Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia of Sta. Lucia in the Challenge Cup final last May. The Cargo Movers got its revenge in the Invitational Cup, toppling the Blaze Spikers in a series sweep last July. Petron wrapped the year with the All-Filipino Conference in its pocket. The Blaze Spikers won its first 14 games before dropping Game 2 of the Finals. Petron swept F2 Logistics in Game 3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Irving enters chase with work on, off the floor

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com The best of Kyrie Irving, both on and off the floor, has been on display the past few weeks. With the Boston Celtics’ season at an early crossroad, of sorts, it was Irving who stepped into the leadership void to steer things in the right direction. With injuries to key players complicating matters and chemistry issues still being sorted out, Irving was the veteran willing to step up and speak out in an effort to make sure the Celtics dealt with their issues head on. The Celtics had an inconsistent start to the season (10-10) before going on a eight-game win streak that was more like what was expected of them, only to hit the skids again briefly and lose three straight games before Irving piped up. "I think everyone can see that we've obviously had some inconsistencies regarding our play,” he said, “so I think it was just time to address it." A 36-minute players meeting in the locker room after a Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) home thumping from Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks was enough for Irving, who didn’t spare anyone (himself included) from the harsh spotlight. It was a cathartic moment for the Celtics, who saw Al Horford return from a seven-game absence just in time for Sunday’s win in Charlotte. Kyrie was at his superstar best with the bright lights shining on Christmas. He torched the Philadelphia 76ers for 40 points, unleashing his full offensive arsenal (shooting 17-for-33 from the floor, 5-for-10 from deep), while also grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out three assists. He was in showtime mode again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) against James Harden and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center, finishing his night with 23 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and just one turnover. The Celtics simply had no answer for Harden, who like Irving moves up the ranks on this week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder. But it’s clear Irving is ready to shoulder the burden of leading these Celtics, in whatever way necessary. * * * The top five this week in the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 26.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.3 steals Antetokounmpo turned Madison Square Garden into his very own Christmas playground when he smoked the Knicks for 30 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks to kick off the league’s showcase day. And just so the Knicks know it wasn’t a fluke, he hurried them again Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum with 31 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks in another rout. The Greek Freak is making it tough for anyone to nudge him from the top spot on this list; he’s averaging 24.8 points (on 60.9 shooting), 12.6 rebounds  5.6 assists and 1.7 blocks in his last 10 games. The Bucks are cruising during this stretch as well, solidifying their position as one of  the top teams in the Eastern Conference and the entire league at the close of the calendar year 2018. If this is just the warm up for 2019, Antetokounmpo can really crank up his MVP campaign between now and the All-Star break. 2. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 26.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals Leonard and the Raptors didn’t get an opportunity to showcase themselves for the world to see on Christmas but made up for that scheduling snafu with an instant classic in a win over Miami on the day after the holiday. Leonard scored 30 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had two assists and two steals in the winning effort. December has been good to the Raptors’ prized summer acquisition — he’s averaging 30.1 points (on .520 shooting) to go along with his 8.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals. For all of the chatter about how good the Raptors have been with Leonard out of the lineup and how good their quality depth is and has been all season, the fate of this team rests on Leonard’s broad shoulders come playoff time. He’s the one element they’ve lacked in previous runs, as a true crunch-time, go-to player in the postseason. All that noise about him not being an ideal vocal leader looks like just that at this stage of his tenure in Toronto. 3. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.3 steals Lakers Nation held its collective breath earlier this week, awaiting the word on LeBron’s MRI after he heard a “pop” when he went down in the third with a groin injury in the third quarter of the Lakers’ Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) blowout over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The news was better than expected but the catalyst for the Lakers’ revival this season is still expected to miss “several games.” This could actually prove to be a critical stretch for the Lakers. If they can manage to maintain their position in the Western Conference standings without LeBron in uniform, it’ll speak volumes about the growth and development of their youngsters. It will also instill some confidence in the entire group if they can piece together a few wins without the new king of Los Angeles. All that said, it would be shortsighted of anyone to dismiss the work LeBron has put in during the early-season turnaround this team has undergone. He was playing as well as anyone in the league this month (25.8 points on .516 shooting, 9.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.3 steals). 4. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 28.6 points, 5.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals Curry bounced back from yet another uncharacteristic Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) performance (just 15 points on an ugly 5-for-17 shooting) with a big night against his brother Seth and the Portland Trail Blazers. But his 29 points and a triple-double from Kevin Durant wasn’t enough to lift the Warriors past Damian Lillard’s late-game heroics against his hometown team. If there was ever a time to be concerned about Curry and these Warriors, it’s now. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson cannot find their marks. The bench production is non-existent at times. And the edge the Warriors have used to their advantage for years seems to have vanished. The boost they need is more than just adding a superstar talent like Boogie Cousins (whose recovery from his Achilles injury seems to be in hyperdrive). The Warriors might need both Curry and Durant to go off script a bit and shake things up by going nuclear offensively to strike fear in teams the way this team once did. They’ve become far too predictable a target without the proper support from their other stars. 5. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 7 Season stats: 32.3 points, 8.4 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals The reigning Kia MVP will not be denied any longer. Harden has been on an absolute tear of late and is bringing the Rockets back into focus in the Western Conference playoff chase while doing so. He’s posted back-to-back 40 point games (45 in their Friday, PHL time showdown win over the Boston Celtics and 41 in their Dec. 26, PHL time win over the Oklahoma City Thunder). He’s currently on a career-best eight-game run scoring 30 or more points, the first player to do so since Russell Westbrook did it in November of 2016. Harden’s the first to score 35 or more in six straight games since former teammate Carmelo Anthony accomplished the feat in April of 2013. Harden’s eight games of 40 or more points this season leads the league (Anthony Davis is second with five). The Celtics tried every player in uniform to stop him but to no avail. But Harden’s best work has been pulling the Rockets out of their sub-.500 hole at Thanksgiving to a season-best four games over .500 as they close out the 2018 portion of their schedule. * * * The next five 6. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets T-8. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors T-8. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers 10. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics And five more: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans; De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings; Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers; Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers; Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

Kings of the World: Team Lakay s dominance highlights 2018 in Mixed Martial Arts

As always, 2018 offered up another year's worth of memorable moments from the world of mixed martial arts.  From the East to the West, the world's fastest growing sport found a way into sports headlines, and here are some of the biggest stories inside and out of the cage from the past twelve months.    "CHAMPIONS ARE NOT BORN, THEY ARE MADE" 2018 definitely belonged to famed Filipino mixed martial arts stable Team Lakay.  The humble La Trinidad, Benguet-based gym has established themselves as the top team in the Philippines for the past few years, but in 2018, they cemented their status as one of the best in the world.  Building off their elite-level striking skills and continuously-improving grappling accumen, the boys from Baguio City dominated Singapore-based MMA promotion ONE Championship, capturing four world championships in just a span of a single year.  Flyweight star Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Six months later, Eustaquio dropped the "interim" tag by defeating two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  After putting together a tremendous winning streak, young strawweight star Joshua "The Passion" Pacio earned a well-deserved rematch for the ONE Strawweight World Championship against two-time champion Yoshitaka "Nobita" Naito. Back in September, Pacio erased the bitter memory of his previous defeat against Naito two years prior by stifling the Japanese submission specialist with impeccable grappling defense to earn a unanimous decision win and capture the strawweight crown in Jakarta. Much like his stablemate Eustaquio, Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon had to go through two world champions to take his place at the top of the bantamweight division. After blasting former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April, Belingon dominated then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to become the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion and finally earn a long-awaited rematch with long-time bantamweight king Bibiano Fernandes. In November, Belingon did what no other man in ONE has done and defeated Bibiano Fernandes via split decision to become the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion, ending Fernandes' seven-year winning streak and five-year reign as ONE world champion.  Capping off Team Lakay's spectacular 2018 campaign was the return to glory of arguably the biggest homegrown MMA star in the country, Eduard "Landslide" Folayang. After losing his title twelve months prior, Folayang put on a masterclass against dangerous Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to once again capture the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  Outside the ONE Championship banner, another world champion from Team Lakay continues to reign, as BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen "The Sniper" Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.    THE TRUTH RETURNS Speaking of Filipino world champions, the biggest one of them all finally made his return in 2018.  After a two-year absence due to outside commitments, reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera made his way back to the cage, and his comeback was nothing short of explosive.  Taking on the hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila last December 7th, Vera needed only 64 seconds to dispatch Cerilli via knockout and remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    NOTORIOUS Conor "The Notorious" McGregor was arguably the biggest combat sports star of 2017, after crossing over to boxing and facing off against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the year's biggest combat sports event.  In 2018, the Notorious one was all over the headlines once again.  In April of 2018, McGregor was stripped of the UFC Lightweight World Championship due to inactivity.  Earlier that month, the Irish star was at the forefront of a backstage melee during the UFC 223 media day in Brooklyn, New York that saw McGregor hurl a dolly at a bus full of fighters, leading to a number of minor injuries. McGregor would later be slapped with charges due to the attack.  In August, it was announced that McGregor would be making his return to the Octagon to challenge reigning lightweight king Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov, who was the initial target of McGregor's backstage bus attack earlier that year.     "I COME FOR SMASH THIS GUY" The drama-filled leadup to the UFC Lightwieght World Championship bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor made it no doubt one of the most anticipated matches of the year, and when the two were finally locked inside the Octagon, it didn't disappoint.  Nurmagomedov ultimately imposed his will, grounding McGregor for three rounds, before finishing the Irishman off in the fourth round with a rear-naked choke to remain unbeaten and retain the UFC's 155-pound strap.  What happened after, however, overshadowed everything that came before it.  After forcing McGregor to tap out, Nurmagomedove scaled the Octagon fence and jumped out to the crowd to confront Dillon Danis, McGregor's grappling coach.  It didn't take long for mayhem to ensue, as chaos broke out inside and out of the cage.  Both Nurmagomedov and McGregor have been suspended indefinitely, with the final hearing, which will decide the fate of the two fighters, expected to take place this month.    THE HOME OF MARTIAL ARTS Since ONE Championship's inception in 2011, it has primarily operated as a mixed martial arts promotion. In the past years, ONE has put on grappling superfights and special martial arts bouts.  In 2018 however, ONE took it to a whole new level by introducing the ONE Super Series back in April, which features Muay Thai and kickboxing bouts.  The new wrinkle has attracted some of the world's best strikers, including Giorgio Petrosyan, Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, Andy Souwer, Cosmo Alexandre, and many more.  ONE also dipped their foot in boxing, bringing in reigning WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai as the headliner for ONE's October card in Bangkok, where he successfully defended his title against Mexican challenger Iran Diaz in front of a raucous hometown crowd at the Impact Arena.    "DC" ALSO STANDS FOR "DOUBLE CHAMP"  No other fighter has had a better 2018 than Daniel "DC" Cormier.  After being named the UFC Light Heavyweight World Champion after Jon Jones tested positive for banned substances during their 2017 title bout, Cormier successfully defended the 205-pound belt against Volkan Oezdemir.  Six months later, Cormier jumped up to heavyweight and shocked the world by knocking out the once-dominant champion Stipe Miocic to become just the fifth two-division world champion and the second simultaneous two-division world champion in UFC history.  In November, DC made even more history by becoming just the first fighter in UFC history to successfully defend world titles in two weight divisions after submitting Derrick Lewis in the second round.    BIG STARS HEAD EAST Asian mixed martial arts giant ONE Championship made worldwide MMA news in 2018 after snagging a handful of big name talents in former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion Eddie "The Underground King" Alvarez, former long-time UFC Flyweight World Champion and pound-for-pound great Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, and former UFC lightweight and welterweight standout  "Super" Sage Northcutt.  Alvarez and Northcutt signed with ONE after their UFC contracts had expired, while Johnson made his way to ONE via the first-ever trade in MMA history, which sent former ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben "Funky" Askren to the UFC.  All three stars are set to make their debuts in 2019.  Aside from bringing in top-tier athletes, ONE also brought in another big name to fill an executive spot, with former UFC and Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight World Champion Miesha Tate coming in as a Vice President. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2018

Shock loss to Taipei in 2013 gives Gilas Pilipinas hope for recovery

MANILA, Philippines --- Gilas Pilipinas suffering a shocking upset at the MOA Arena actually has a precedent. Five years ago in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships, the Philippines missed out on a Group A sweep after taking a five-point loss to Chinese-Taipei in an emotionally-charged game. The Filipinos had a history of winning against Taipei but on that fateful night in August of 2013, Gilas Pilipinas took a rather disappointing loss. Still, the Philippines would recover and actually win five straight games to qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Cup. On Friday, the Philippines took another shocking upset at the MOA Arena, this time against Kazakhstan. Gilas' four-point loss has put a damper on the country's road to the FIBA World Cup in China next year. And much like the Taipei loss five years ago, key figures in the national team hope that Kazakhstan loss becomes a turning point. "Katulad ng sinabi ni Gabe [Norwood] kanina, last time na may painful loss national team natin dito [MOA Arena] was against Taipei [in FIBA-Asia 2013]," guard LA Tenorio said. "After that what happened? It became our wake-up call, mas naging focused kami and we made it to the World Cup. It might be the same situation [now]," he added. Tenorio was part of the 2013 Gilas team that won silver in the Asian Championships. He was also part of the 2014 team that competed in the World Cup. LA is actually only making his return to the national team now four years later and he's hoping that Gilas realizes that one painful loss doesn't define the race to the World Cup. The Philippines didn't exactly lose ground in these Asian Qualifiers but the team's margin for error just got slimmer. Gilas can make a play for a top two spot in a couple of days actually, all they have to do to beat Iran in its final home game. "Yun lang, we cannot afford [to lose]. Yung margin of error namin is lumiliit. But we still have a chance," Tenorio said. "We can win at least 2 of 3 [of our last games] para World Cup ulit. We focus first on Monday then we'll see what's gonna happen sa next window," he added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 1st, 2018

UAAP: Adamson s future is still secure with rising point guard Jerom Lastimosa

Adamson University's Jerom Lastimosa closed his first playing year in the UAAP with tons of emotion. The Soaring Falcons found themselves getting booted out in the semifinals for the third straight year. Lastimosa could have been the Falcons' hero after making the game-tying triple with 2.6 left in regulation. It was Lastimosa's shot that forced an extra five minutes to decide who will advance to the Finals to take on defending champions Ateneo. "Pagkashoot ko ng three points sa gilid po, yung mindset ko is sa amin talaga ibibigay ni Lord," he said. Come the overtime, Lastimosa gifted Adamson a six-point cushion after sinking another triple with 2:39 left in the additional period. He displayed poise and control during the crucial moments of the match. But in the end, the Maroons gobbled up the lead as Adamson failed to find a reply. "Pero hindi pala [ito] sa amin. So sad," he said. Lastimosa was heartbroken after failing to overcome Adamson's Final Four curse. For three straight years in the Franz Pumaren era, they have always made it to the Final Four only to settle for third place. Lastimosa was seen bawling beside graduating senior Sean Manganti during the singing of the Adamson University Hymn.  "Yung pinakita lang namin na laban kanina, actually, magandang laban pero talaga eh talo pa rin, nagkulang kami sa -- hindi abot sa five minutes po," said the recruit from Dumaguete while holding back tears. To focus on the silver lining of the heartbreak, Adamson will still have the services of the 5-foot-10 point guard for at least two more years. "Pagbutihan ko lang sa loob ng [playing years ko]. Mamatured ko pa rin yung mga laro namin pa. Iaangat ko pa para mas maganda yung laro," he said. In just his first year as Adamson's point guard, he posted averages of 7.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. His rise is a manifestation of the program that Adamson head coach Franz Pumaren has always been proud of. From a little known point guard from Asian College in Dumaguete, Lastimosa is now building his name as a reliable point guard in the UAAP. "Whoever heard of Jerom Lastimosa? I don’t think even a single dot in the radar, he was noticed," said the Adamson mentor. "I think he’s gonna be valuable, his name is gonna be mentioned and will always be in the conversation. He had some mental mistakes but that’s part of being a [20]-year old kid out of the province. I don’t think he even imagined himself playing in this situation and earning some big minutes," Pumaren added referring to Lastimosa's 20.7 minutes per game. As manifestation of the trust bestowed upon the young player, he was tasked to make the last shot of the season with 6.6 left but it clanked off to the side of the rim. No worries for the Adamson faithful however, as Lastimosa has still more years to perfect the shot. For him, he is just very thankful for the UAAP experience he has been having so far. From getting his minutes to playing in front of an Araneta Coliseum brimming with nearly 21,000 fans, "Actually, yung paglipat ko dito is hindi ko talaga ine-expect na maco-contain ko yung laro ko galing sa Dumaguete [papuntang UAAP]," said the Adamsonian. "Syempre rookie ako, first time ko dito sa UAAP tapos ganun yung crowd kadami saka sobrang blessed ko rin kasi first time ko yun maglaro sa UAAP na sobrang daming tao tsaka nagpapasalamat kami sa crowd namin," Lastimosa said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @the9cruz.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 28th, 2018