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UAAP 81: Ateneo celebrates Volleyball, Football titles in Back on Top Bonfire

Ateneo de Manila University closed out the 81st season of the UAAP with two more championships, after the Men's Football and Women's Volleyball teams both brought UAAP gold back to Katipunan.  The men's football team, led by season MVP Jarvey Gayoso, defeated collegiate rivals De La Salle University, 2-1, last May 16th in a match that needed a 30-minute extension to decide.  The Lady Eagles volleyball team meanwhile, came back from a one-game deficit to defeat the Sisi Rondina-led University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses in a best-of-three finals series to reclaim their spot at the top of the UAAP women's volleyball landscape.  Both achievements were celebrated in Ateneo's Back on Top Bonfire, Friday evening at the Ateneo de Manila Grade School Parking grounds in Katipunan.  This was Ateneo's second bonfire celebration for Season 81, with the first taking place back in December of 2018 to celebrate their first-semester triumphs, highlighted by the Blue Eagles men's basketball team's second-straight championship. Ateneo President Fr. Jose Ramon "Jet" Villarin opened the festivities by thanking all the athletes who proudly represented Ateneo's colors thoughout the season as well as speaking about the UAAP as being not only a competition, but a community as well.  "The uaap is community first before its a competition," Villarin stated. "Maybe we're competitors, but we're a community first. We need our rivals for our better selves. We need our competitors to go beyond ourselves. We need passion and transendence, going beyond ourselves, that's a gift."  Blue Eagle Bonfire happening now inside the Ateneo De Manila campus. The bonfire celebrates Ateneo's triumphs during this past #UAAPSeason81 pic.twitter.com/3RZVJVNdMh — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) May 24, 2019 The first championship team to grace the stage were the Blue Eagle booters, who after a rough start to the season, managed to turn things around and ultimately finish the elimination round with the top seed. In the semifinals, Gayoso powered the Blue Eagles past Far Eastern University. In the finals, it was Gayoso again, who came up big as his last-minute equalizer forced extra time against DLSU. In the extension, it was graduating team captain Julian Roxas who provided the heroics, scoring the go-ahead header to secure the win and hand Ateneo their second men's football crown in the last two seasons.  #UAAPSeason81 Men's Football Champs now on stage | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/mflr5Agbuo — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) May 24, 2019 When asked about his game-tying conversion in the first minute of injury time, Gayoso had a pretty simple response. "I think we can all say that it feels good that it was against La Salle," said the fourth-year striker, drawing cheers from the crowd.  Afterwards, it was the Lady Eagles volleyball team's turn to be recognized, as the masses of fans stormed towards the stage to get a closer look at their champion idols.  The Lady Eagles were dominant throughout the women's volleyball season, also finishing at the top of the standings and earning a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals. Ateneo faced a lot of adversity in the post-season, as they were pushed to two matches in the semfinals by Far Eastern University, and then again in the finals, losing Game 1 to UST before bouncing back and winning two straight to capture their first women's volleyball title since UAAP Season 77.  Fans storm the stage as the #UAAPSeason81 Women's Volleyball Champion Lady Eagles are introduced | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/kBXsFn61Bk — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) May 24, 2019 The highlight of the night was the lighting of the celebratory bonfire, which was done by men's football MVP Gayoso and Women's Volleyball Finals MVP Bea De Leon.  #UAAPSeason81 Women's Volleyball Finals MVP @_beadel and Men's Football MVP @JarveyGayoso light the bonfire to close the festivities | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/0QANEYebtQ — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) May 24, 2019 Also recognized during the bonfire were the Ateneo Juniors Basketball Team and the Ateneo Men's Lawn Tennis Team, both finishing as first runners-up in their respective tournaments.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Leonard scores 35, Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 for 3-2 lead

By Andrew Seligman, Associated Press MILWAUKEE (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 35 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 105-99 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Leonard showed no obvious signs of the leg soreness that bothered him in Toronto's victories in the previous two games, hitting the 30-point mark for the fourth time in the series. He made five three-pointers and had seven rebounds and nine assists. Fred VanVleet scored 21 points, hitting seven three's. Kyle Lowry added 17 as the Raptors put themselves in position to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time. A victory at home Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) would set up a matchup with two-time defending champion Golden State. The Raptors battled out of an early 14-point hole, then got 15 points from Leonard in the fourth quarter to send the top-seeded Bucks to their first three-game losing streak of the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points for Milwaukee hours after being announced as a unanimous first-team, All-NBA selection. Eric Bledsoe scored 20 and Malcolm Brogdon added 18 points and 11 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup. The Raptors were clinging to a two-point lead in the closing minute after Khris Middleton drove around Leonard on the baseline for a layup. Toronto was initially called for a shot-clock violation when Leonard missed a fadeaway jumper with 35 seconds left. That got overturned by a replay review, and Brook Lopez was called for a foul, instead, for bumping Marc Gasol after he retrieved the loose ball. Gasol hit both free throws to make it 100-97. Another replay review went in Toronto's favor when officials determined a ball went out of bounds off Brogdon with 26.8 seconds left. Brogdon pulled his hand away, thinking his dribble had gone off Pascal Siakam's foot. Siakam then drove for a dunk, making it 102-97, and the Raptors hung on from there. Milwaukee was leading 81-79 with about 8.5 minutes left when Leonard nailed back-to-back three-pointers. He hit two free throws before Siakam threw down a put-back dunk to make it 89-81. The Bucks tied it at 93-all with 2:44 left on a three-pointer by Lopez. VanVleet answered with one of his own before Antetokounmpo threw down an alley-oop dunk to cut it to 96-95 with just over two minutes remaining. The Bucks set a fast pace early on and led by 10 after the first quarter, delighting the towel-waving fans chanting "Fear The Deer! Fear the Deer!" They withstood a 16-2 run by Toronto to start the second, with Antetokounmpo nailing a triple to stop it. The Bucks also went on a 14-2 run early in the third, with the Greek Freak throwing down a hard dunk off a feed by Middleton for a 63-51 lead. But the Raptors got right back into it. TIP-INS Raptors: Lowry now has 1,126 points in 66 playoff games for Toronto, surpassing DeMar DeRozan (1,117) as the franchise's postseason scoring leader. Bucks: Brogdon started all 64 games he played in during the regular season, before missing basically all of the first two rounds because of a heel injury. With Brogdon back in the lineup, Nikola Mirotic came off the bench. UP NEXT Game 6 is at Toronto on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Antetokounmpo learning how to deal with playoff disappointment

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO – Whenever LeBron James struggled through the sort of playoff performance Giannis Antetokounmpo had Sunday (Monday, PHL time), he seemed to want to put it behind him as swiftly as he could. His routine – assuming it wasn’t The Finals, where he got summoned to the podium, win or lose – typically went like this: the door to the Cleveland or Miami dressing room would swing open and there James would be, ready to face the questions, antsy to move on ASAP. Once he ‘fessed up to the shots he’d missed or the plays he’d botched, that was it. Oh, you knew he’d be looking plenty at video of that game in the hours before he played again, as a way to find and fix the flaws. But for public consumption at least, he shed it fast, like an ill-fitting suit. Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks’ young star, is still learning this face-of-the-franchise and cutthroat competitor stuff. He took his time afterward in the spartan visitors’ room at Scotiabank Arena. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] There he sat, with his knees wrapped and his feet plunged into an ice bath. The Kia MVP candidate stared at the score sheet that had been handed to him, the one bearing all sorts of dreary news from the double-overtime setback that cut Milwaukee’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1. Antetokounmpo barely looked up as the semicircle of cameras, microphones and reporters around him grew with media people tip-toeing that fine line between giving him some space and blocking out for position whenever he’d finally take their questions. (“Talk,” as we say in the trade). Heck, Antetokounmpo barely looked up when Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer strode through the dressing room and tapped him on his left knee, a little atta-boy bonding near the end of a long, disappointing night. While teammates poked habitually at their phones in the aftermath of Milwaukee’s 118-112 loss, Antetokounmpo mostly let his lie there on the seat next to him. By the standards he set this year as an MVP favorite, he knew he’d had a lousy night. The reporters standing there, like fans everywhere, knew he’d struggled, of course, in ways rarely seen since his first taste of the postseason four years ago. And he knew that they knew, so… “Obviously it wasn’t my best game,” Antetokounmpo said eventually. “I’ve got to be more aggressive… I’ve got to make the right play.” Defensively, Antetokounmpo was pretty much his usual self, grabbing 23 rebounds for the Bucks, challenging Toronto’s players out on the floor and close to the rim, and blocking four shots. Offensively, though, Antetokounmpo was a mess. He scored only 12 points, his fewest in a playoff game since he was first dipping his toe into postseason waters as a 20-year-old back in 2015. Through three quarters, Antetokounmpo had only six points on 3-for-8 shooting. Seven Milwaukee players and five Raptors had outscored him to that point, and he hadn’t earned his way to the foul line even once. What made it all worse was that the game was sitting there, aching to be taken by someone, anyone. Antetokounmpo got himself going a bit in the fourth quarter, making a couple of shots and earning five free throws. But he missed three. Then he went scoreless while playing the entire first overtime. And then he fouled out just 36 seconds into the second OT. He didn’t object, either, when that sixth foul for stepping in front of Toronto’s Pascal Siakam sent him to the side. Antetokounmpo just took it and exited, sealing it as one of those “not your night, kid” hard lessons. Asked about the frustration that Antetokounmpo might have shown to teammates, if not the public, Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe said: “If you don’t feel bad when you play bad, you don’t need to be playing this game. That’s the feeling that drives you to success. I’m happy he’s feeling like that.” Antetokounmpo’s game didn’t just spin sideways on its own. Raptors coach Nick Nurse switched some defensive duties around and assigned Kawhi Leonard – a two-time Defensive Player of the Year with the wingspan, instincts and reflexes to confound any open-court player – as the tip of Toronto’s spear against the Greek Freak. Then, as expected, Toronto sent second defenders at him, the surest way to get the ball out of Antetokounmpo’s hands or force him into difficult shots. So he tried to make the right basketball plays, as they say, and sometimes he did – he dished a team-high seven assists. Sometimes, though, he did not, turning over the ball eight times. For the record, Antetokounmpo has played 31 postseason games in his young career. In the games in which he has scored fewer than 19 points, his team’s record is 3-6. When he scores 19 or more, the Bucks are 14-8. Not to lay it all at Antetokounmpo’s feet. Fellow All-Star Khris Middleton was way off his usual offensive form, missing 13 of his 16 shots. And Bledsoe matched that. Together, those three starters were a combined 11-of-48. The rest of the team shot 50 percent (27 of 54). “We have the utmost respect and belief that the next game is not going to be as bad as [this] was,” said guard George Hill, who scored 24 points off the bench. “But I know it's sitting in their head that they go for a combined 11-of-48 or something like that. We're not worried about it.” Right. Who’s even counting? Budenholzer and his staff are going to have to figure out ways to get scoring opportunities without being stymied by all the defensive traffic. Teammates are going to have to shoot better, to keep those diggers honest in their matchups. And Antetokounmpo is going to need to play more aggressively and take what happened in Game 3 very personally. He wasn’t quite there yet, Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). “Obviously I want to stay aggressive. But we stick to our game plan,” Antetokounmpo said. “Some days I’m going to have a bad night. But my team has to focus on doing their job and I’ll do mine.” Said Brook Lopez, after watching the throng swallow Antetokounmpo on the opposite side of the room: “We know he’s not going to quit or stop playing. He’s going to continue to be him.” As he talked, Lopez’s phone began vibrating next to him. He said it was Bucks GM Jon Horst calling and, in a bit of gallows humor after a stinging loss, joked that maybe he shouldn’t answer. “I don’t know if I should pick up or not,” the Milwaukee center said, “’cause I want to be here tomorrow.” Antetokounmpo has a call to answer now, too. In Game 4, Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

Koepka keeps 7-shot lead at PGA Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Brooks Koepka is on the cusp of some elite company at the PGA Championship — in the record book, not on the leaderboard. He is all alone on Bethpage Black, the public course he has turned into his private playground. Koepka wasn't at his best, particularly with his putter on the toughest scoring day of the championship, and he still kept everyone far enough behind to make the final round feel more like a victory lap. With an even-par 70 that featured a pair of three-putt bogeys, he kept a seven-shot lead and earned another entry in the record book with the largest lead since the PGA Championship switched to stroke play in 1958. No one has ever lost a seven-shot lead in the final round at any major, or even a PGA Tour event. That leaves Koepka 18 holes away from joining Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA in stroke play. He is one round away from becoming the first player to hold back-to-back major title at the same time. Not since Hal Sutton in 1983 has anyone led from start to finish in the PGA Championship. And a third straight year winning a major? Woods and Phil Mickelson are the only players to have done that over the last 30 years. Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only others to win majors in three straight years dating to 1960. Asked if there was any doubt he would win, Koepka said flatly, "No." He is unflappable in speech and on the golf course. Koepka has never bothered to check his heart rate at rest, but he figures it wouldn't be much different from standing on the first tee of a major championship with a big lead and thousands of rowdy New York fans witnessing a master performance. "Every time I set up to a golf shot, I feel like I know what the ball is going to do," Koepka said. "And if I don't, then I guess I'd be nervous. ... I'm trying my butt off, and from there, sometimes you need a little bit of luck. But I'd say I'm pretty flat-lined most of the time, as you can tell." He has all but flattened the strongest field in golf. Koepka was at 12-under 198, the first time this week he did not set or tie a scoring record. "I think we're all playing for second," said Luke List, one of four players tied for second. Dustin Johnson tried to make a run with six birdies, only to stall with five bogeys in his round of 69. No bogey was more damaging than the 18th. A drive into the fairway would have given the world's No. 1 player a reasonable shot at birdie. Instead, he sent it right into bunker, came up well short into the native grass, left the next one in the bunker and had to scramble to limit the damage. That kept Johnson from joining his close friend in the final group. Koepka will play the final round with Harold Varner III, whose week began with plans to play a practice round with Woods on the eve of the PGA Championship until Woods called in sick. Varner birdied the 18th to cap off a bogey-free 67 and lead the group at 5-under 205 that includes Jazz Janewattananond (67) and List, who holed two shots from off the green for a 69. Jordan Spieth did not put any pressure on Koepka at all. Playing in the final group on the weekend for the first time since the British Open last summer, Spieth didn't have a realistic birdie chance until the sixth hole, and he missed that one from 8 feet. He shot 72 and was nine shots behind. Spieth would not speak to a reporter after the round. There was simply no stopping Koepka, who is one round away from a fourth major in his last eight tries and a return to No. 1 in the world. The plan for Sunday was no different from the previous three rounds. "It doesn't really matter. I'm just trying to play good golf," Koepka said. "If I can get off to a good start tomorrow, these first six holes are very scorable. I feel like if you can get 1 or 2 under after six, you're in a good spot." That's what worked on Saturday. Koepka had birdie chances on the opening six holes and converted two of them, from 5 feet on a blind shot up the hill at No. 2, and a gap wedge that landed next to the pin and settled just over 2 feet away on No. 5. His only struggle was missing a 2-foot par putt on the ninth hole for a three-putt bogey, and then missing the 10th fairway to the right to set up another bogey. The most important putt for Koepka was just under 5 feet for par on the 11th, which kept him from three straight bogeys. And then he was back in his groove. List ran off three straight birdies, chipping in from 70 feet on No. 12, holing a 30-foot putt on the par-5 13th and making a 15-foot putt on the 14th. That pulled him within five, but it wasn't long before Koepka birdied the 13th and List began missing enough shots that it finally cost him. Johnson has the most experience and skill among those chasing Koepka, if he even allows there to be a chase. "It's going to take something special to catch Brooks, but it's doable," Johnson said. He then tried to work out the math, and then he stuck to a more practical outlook. "I'm going to need some help from him," Johnson said. "And then I'm going to have to play very, very well.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

Raptors running out of options as series shifts to Toronto

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MILWAUKEE – The Toronto Raptors are two bounces on the rim into their Eastern Conference championship series against Milwaukee. Two more and – unless things change radically for the Raptors in every phase of the game from what we’ve seen – the basketball metaphor of their 2019 postseason is going to fall harmlessly to the side. No points, no buzzer-beater, no victory, no nothing. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Two games into this best-of-seven series, it’s already hard to see a way out for the Raptors that doesn’t include Hefty bags, cleaned-out lockers and a wide-open month of June. Toronto played well enough to win in Game 1, yet managed to lose it anyway thanks to an open elevator shaft of a fourth quarter that qualified instantly as something that would haunt them. Then they played miserably in Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) Game 2, save for a stretch in the third quarter when slippage in Milwaukee’s focus appeared as culpable as anything Raptors-related. Kyle Lowry, Toronto’s veteran point guard, is wandering around these days with a modified blue oven mitt on his left hand. It’s there to protect the thumb he sprained in Game 7 against Philadelphia. That’s the game that got the Raptors here, the one decided by Kawhi Leonard’s eternal-highlight shot at the end that bounced four times on the rim before dropping through the net. It’s been kind of downhill for their crew since then. Anyway, Lowry was asked a series of questions after Milwaukee's 125-103 triumph at Fiserv Forum about the defense, about the rebounding, about the shift from the Bucks’ floor to the Raptors’ for Games 3 and 4 beginning Sunday (Monday, PHL time). And Lowry earnestly answered by saying, yes, they have to defend better, they have to rebound better and they definitely have to assert themselves more to defend their Scotiabank Arena home court. Lowry said the right things. Problem is, that’s a lot of things. The Raptors don’t appear to have the wherewithal – or even the duct tape, if you prefer – to fix so many flaws at once. They have been outrebounded 113-86, a major factor in the Bucks’ 41-20 advantage in second-chance points. They have been outscored by 30 points in the two games and most of the difference has come from the bench (76-51), adding to the sense that Milwaukee isn’t just beating Toronto, it’s ganging up on them. Defensively, the Raptors haven’t been nearly good enough and their coach, Nick Nurse, put the blame squarely on them. He went into detail – both before and after Game 2 – to explain the difference between a good contest of a jump shot and a great, playoffs-worthy contest. After talking at length before tipoff about needing and hoping to see effort from his players as a sign they grasped the urgency involved, it had to be embarrassing for Nurse to acknowledge afterward that, no, that effort in fact was not there. “We were just a step too slow on just about everything,” he observed. To illustrate how casually his players closed on Bucks’ shooters, Nurse did a deep dive on a play in which center Marc Gasol needed to get out to Nikola Mirotic. “It was a good contest, but it wasn't a full-out contest,” the Toronto coach said. “We know the level of contest is going to affect these shots or not, and if you don't go with everything you've got and jump high and really try to let them know you're right pressed up against them, then the chances of [the shots] going in are pretty good.” Poor Gasol. This supremely skilled big man who was so valuable to the Memphis Grizzlies in numerous playoff wars is an early nominee for series scapegoat here. He at least had 12 rebounds and five assists in the opener, but his contributions and minutes fizzled in Game 2. By the time he got to 1-for-9 (3-for-20 in the series), the 34-year-old Gasol was looking creakier than his brother Pau, 38, who was wheeling himself through the halls on a scooter Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) after undergoing foot surgery this week. Then there’s Danny Green, a helpful 3-and-D guy with tons of postseason experience from his San Antonio days. Green’s challenge has been touching the ball enough to make a difference; he’s 3-for-11, getting about two thirds as many shots as he’d expect. But as he noted, Toronto’s ball movement has been spotty, the Bucks’ top-ranked defense stingy and little has been done to alter either from one game to the next. “Our offense was out of whack a little bit tonight, and we didn’t tighten it up,” Green said. A little more Norman Powell, a little less Gasol going forward? Doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough. Now take Pascal Siakam and Lowry from the margin for error that Toronto really doesn’t have. They were good for 45 points in the opener but scored a total of 23 Friday (Saturday, PHL time), each burdened with foul trouble from daring to mess with Milwaukee’s gears. Siakam, a favorite to be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player, wound up as the night’s most removed player, his minutes dropping from more than 42 on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) to 26 on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). There’s no reason to let Leonard off the hook, either. The Raptors’ best player has scored 31 points in each game, but they’ve been about as quiet as 62 points can be, coming almost from a bubble that has nothing in common with the rest of Toronto’s attack. Sometimes Leonard is bailing them out, sure, but many times the ball and the possession stop with him. The Bucks are OK with that, defending him with Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and helpers. Leonard has taken 20 of his team’s 45 free throws, but dished only four assists in the two games. That’s one area in which Leonard is so different from – and so far in this series, lacking when compared to – Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks’ star, with his gravitational pull on defenders, creates a bounty of opportunities for others. Leonard isn’t making any of his teammates better at this stage. And let’s not forget the intangibles. Antetokounmpo is the catalyst for Milwaukee’s superior team chemistry, a top-five talent who is all in on the Bucks’ ambitions and the players corralled around him. Leonard? For all anyone knows, he still has one foot out the door to free agency. His laconic nature doesn’t lend itself to firing up others, and it’s difficult to see how he leads by anything other than example. The cloud of Leonard’s future has been squatting over Toronto’s whole season. Every game is a referendum on whether he feels he has enough help or not. Does Nurse or another Raptors coach dare to challenge him, for fear he’ll start packing his bags immediately? Did anyone object to his “load management” nights off this season? It has been a tough way to grind through a long year, held hostage by your star’s inscrutability. But it’s what they signed up for when GM Masai Ujiri traded for him with just one season to woo and recruit. Compare that to what Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was sharing about Antetokounmpo, as far as pushing him to greater heights. “We're coaching him and we're on him,” Budenholzer said. “We think he can be doing more, and he just soaks it up.” As the series shifts to Canada, the Raptors will look to Friday’s (Saturday, PHL time) third quarter as quickly as the Bucks will dismiss it. Toronto outscored Milwaukee 39-31 over those 12 minutes, the only portion of the game in which they managed to send a ripple of nervousness through the building. OK, well, maybe not quite that, but a few fans surely noticed that what had been a 28-point lead soon after halftime got chiseled down to 13. Not once, but twice. But Malcolm Brogdon and George Hill went to work off the Bucks’ bench, Giannis came back mean-muggin’ to start the fourth and that most definitely was that. Playoff protocol says we must give the Raptors their home games to demonstrate a difference. But they need to know that 0-2 is a gaping hole, from which only 20 teams in NBA history have come back in a seven-game series. Two more bounces on the rim, and we’ll see which way the Raptors fall. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

92 minutes on court, lifetime of experience for Destanee

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Destanee Aiava's Australian Open lasted just 92 minutes Monday while making history as the first person born in the 2000s to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. She took away enough experience from her 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to Mona Barthel to last a lifetime, she said, and received some advice from the biggest name in the women's game several days before she even stepped on court. And she fully expects to be back. 'This isn't the first and the last time I'm going to be here,' said Aiava, a 16-year-old Melbourne high school student who received a wild card to enter the season's first major. 'There's plenty more to come.' Last week, she had a short practice session with Serena Williams, the 22-time Grand Slam champion and the inspiration for Aiava's career. Aiava was 5 when she watched one of the Williams' matches on TV, and told her parents that tennis was going to be her career. Describing it then as 'one of the best days of my life,' Aiava explained Monday that Williams had imparted some good advice. 'She told me to dream big and you'll achieve big,' Aiava said. 'She's quite a nice person. It was a really good experience to get to hit with her.' Aiava played her match Monday before hundreds of vocal fans on Show Court 2 at Melbourne Park. 'It was pretty fun playing out there with all the crowd supporting me,' she said. 'Nothing really surprised me. I think I learned how to be more composed out there, and I didn't rush as much. Obviously it wasn't my day, but I'm looking forward to the rest of the year and what's out there for me.' What was out there for her shortly after her match ended was prize money of $37,500 as a first-round loser. 'I don't like to focus on that, or gloat,' said Aiava, who didn't plan to celebrate a loss. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Jordan Clarkson and this Basketball Crazy Nation

The Philippines was not always a basketball nation. After World War II, all Filipino boys would get out in the fields and play baseball. In fact, we hosted the World Baseball Championships once. It was only in the 70’s when PBA came along and when the country became the basketball crazy country that it is. Now, the Philippines is at the epicenter of the basketball diaspora. It hosted the FIBA World Basketball Championships. Almost every boy grew up playing pickup basketball and anyone and everyone had their own signature ‘bali’ move. There was a time that fathers and sons (and of course, daughters) watched games together, either cheering for the same teams or making jabs at each other because they rooted for rivals. It has the oldest basketball league in the Asia and now, it has a player of Filipino descent playing for one of the greatest basketball franchises in the world – Jordan Clarkson, playing a vital role as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Clarkson was raised aware of his Filipino heritage. Annette, Clarkson’s mother, hails from Pampanga but moved to America with her mother Marcelina Tullao at a very young age. Annette then met Jordan’s father, Mike Clarkson, while serving as a reservist in the Air Force. Jordan, like many young Filipino-Americans, professes a love for lumpia and chicken adobo. As a high school student at Metzger Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, he wore an ornate Barong Tagalog, the Philippines' national costume, while posing in front of the Philippine exhibit. He has been to the Philippines multiple times, even playing some pickup basketball in one of the courts that dot the landscape of the Philippines.   And as of this writing, a little more than a day and a half a way, Filipinos are trying to get Jordan into the biggest event of the basketball world – the NBA All-Stars. It all started from a call on the internet to start voting and using the hashtag 'NBAVOTE Jordan Clarkson on posts and tweets and the Filipinos heard that call. 'NBAVOTE Jordan Clarkson began circulating around the internet, snowballing into a call not just for Jordan Clarkson, but a call for unity in a country that is also known as a social media powerhouse – and the world is starting to take notice. Jordan Clarkson has also taken notice of the efforts, posting on his Facebook account a short video saying, “Hey Facebook fans just want to say thank so much for all your votes. I am so humbled. Please keep posting 'NBAVOTE Jordan Clarkson. Salamat salamat po. Mahal ko kayo.” As of the latest NBA All-Star Voting Returns, Jordan still has not cracked the top 10 of Western Conference guards. Last year’s unanimous MVP, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, leads with 990,390 votes. Close behind are Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma’s Russell Westbrook with 961,185 and 899,024, respectively. Rounding out the top 10 are Golden State’s Klay Thompson with 555,430, Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul with 379,076, Portland’s Damian Lillard with 208,171, Houston’s Eric Gordon with 191,407, Golden State’s Andre Igoudala with 130,224, San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili with 122,333 and Minnesota’s Zach Levine with 94,867. However, signs are looking good for Jordan as Scott notes the strong push coming from social media. “There is a significant increase from Jan. 9 when fans launched the campaign and Jordan’s mentions are much higher than the bottom three players,” she said. “On Jan. 12, Jordan had 53,020 posts while Ginobili had 10,078, Lavine 781 and Igoudala 731. Jordan’s volume shows a spiked upward trend.” The call right now is for every Filipino with access to the internet to vote at least once in the next two days (Monday all day and Tuesday early morning before lunch) and to make every vote count for Clarkson. Fans can vote through the NBA.com and the NBA App wherein fans can submit a ballot of two guards and three frontcourt players, once per day. On social media, using the hashtag 'NBAVOTE Jordan Clarkson also counts as votes, whether as personal posts or comments on another post on Facebook (just as long as the post is public) or tweeting and retweeting the same on Twitter. On Google, fans may also use the search team “NBA Vote All-Star” or “NBA Vote Los Angeles Lakers” to select Jordan Clarkson. The Philippines, a basketball crazy nation, is at the cusp of history. The challenge is now being sent to every Filipino all over the world to make a difference. Every vote counts to bring Clarkson into the NBA All-Stars. And maybe, just maybe, basketball will unite Filipinos again. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Juventus' lead cut to 1 point after 2-1 loss at Fiorentina

br /> DANIELLA MATAR, Associated Press   MILAN (AP) — Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa got his tactics spot on as he steered his side to a 2-1 win over Juventus, which saw the Serie A leader's advantage slashed to only one point on Sunday. Juventus had been seven points clear of second-placed Roma after beating the Giallorossi 1-0 on Dec. 17 and was seemingly on an unstoppable march to a record sixth straight Serie A title. 'Every match should be the big match for Fiorentina — with that attitude almost every team would struggle to beat us,' Sousa said. 'I don't think there is any doubt about the fact Fiorentina deserved this win. 'Beating the best gives you an extraordinary sensation and that should encourage us to continue to believe in our project.' Juventus has played a match less than most other teams due to the Italian Super Cup, which it lost on penalties to AC Milan. 'When you lose, you never feel good,' Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. 'We had an awful first half, while we did better in the second and also had chances to equalize. 'They were very aggressive, but we made it easier for them with our mistakes ... Against Juventus every team plays the game of its life. We have to remain calm.' Fiorentina dominated from the start and Juventus was given an early warning when Matias Vecino, who had already seen an effort saved by Gianluigi Buffon, hit the left post in the 10th minute. Fiorentina took a deserved lead in the 37th as Nikola Kalinic latched onto Federico Bernardeschi's through ball and slotted into the far bottom corner from a tight angle. The hosts doubled their advantage 10 minutes into the second half as a throw-in found Milan Badelj 30 yards (meters) out and he launched the ball toward Chiesa who attempted to meet it with an acrobatic effort as it bounced in. It was unclear whether Chiesa got a touch or not but his movement was enough to confuse Buffon. The league's official website, which had initially awarded the goal to Chiesa, later credited it to Badelj. Juventus reduced the gap three minutes later when Sami Khedira floated in a cross from the left and it came off opponents Stefano Sturaro and Maximiliano Olivera. Gonzalo Higuain was on hand to slot it home. Juventus almost leveled in the 80th but Higuain's header was stopped by the legs of Fiorentina goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu and Giorgi Chiellini's attempt from the rebound was blocked before the ball was finally cleared. Paulo Dybala also blazed over the bar from a good position. It was only Fiorentina's second home win over Juventus since 1998. ___ NAPOLI 3, PESCARA 1 With Diego Maradona in Naples to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his side's first title win, Marek Hamsik closed in on the Napoli great's goal scoring record. Maradona is still revered in Naples after leading the team to its only two league titles in 1987 and 1990 and that was evident when he was greeted by more than 100 fans upon his arrival in the city on Saturday night. Napoli struggled to get past a well-organized Pescara side in the first half but broke the deadlock immediately after halftime as Lorenzo Tonelli headed in a free kick. It was the defender's second goal in as many matches after sitting on the bench for the first half of the season. Napoli doubled its lead less than two minutes later as Hamsik volleyed in a brilliant chipped pass from Piotr Zielinski. The Slovakia international needs just nine more to equal Maradona's record of 115 goals for Napoli. The home side was in full control and had chances to extend its advantage before Dries Mertens scored five minutes from time following a one-two with Allan. Pescara netted a late consolation as Gianluca Caprari converted a penalty in stoppage time after Elseid Hysaj fouled Alexandru Mitrita. Third-placed Napoli moved four points behind Juventus. ___ UDINESE 0, ROMA 1 Roma recorded another slender win to move to within a point of Juventus. It was Roma's third 1-0 win in its past four victories. Radja Nainggolan scored the only goal, in the 12th minute, volleying Kevin Strootman's ball over the top into the bottom left corner. Edin Dzeko should have extended Roma's lead six minutes later but he blazed his spot kick over the bar after Marco Davide Faraoni had been penalized for handball. Francesco Totti came off the bench shortly after the hour, making it a 25th consecutive year that he has played in Serie A. The 40-year-old almost set up Roma's second with his first touch as he spooned the ball toward Nainggolan, who just failed to meet it six yards from goal. ___ OTHER MATCHES Lazio fought back to beat Atalanta 2-1 to remain a point behind Napoli and extend its advantage over both Milan sides to four points. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic headed in the equalizer in first-half stoppage time after Andrea Petagna had opened the scoring in the 21st. Ciro Immobile converted the winning penalty in the 68th after being tripped by former Lazio goalkeeper Etrit Berisha. Sassuolo and Cagliari both won 4-1, beating Palermo and Genoa respectively. Empoli missed a penalty in a 0-0 draw at Sampdoria. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Romeo in the middle of Globalport's maturation process

Terrence Romeo is in the middle of the ongoing maturity of Globalport as a team in 2017. Since they suffered a 26-point fourth quarter collapse to Phoenix late last year, the Batang Pier have won back-to-back games, playing well enough in crunch time to hold on for victories even if they still have a tendency to let go of big leads. It's a lesson they would probably take for the rest of their careers. 'Tumatak yun, kasi parang isa yata yun sa biggest comeback eh,' said Terrence Romeo and he's absolutely right as the Phoenix rally was the biggest fourth-quarter miracle in a decade. 'Dapat di na mangyari yun,' he added. In order to not let that sort of thing happen again, Romeo is leading by example for Globalport as the dynamic guard out of FEU has slowly learned to pick his spots in games. Sure, he's still scoring an insane amount of points (27.6 points per game after Friday's 32-point effort), but the Bro is timing his scoring explosions effectively. Romeo scored a season-high 22 points in the first half against the Road Warriors, setting the tone early for Globalport. He then took a backseat in the third perid and allowed runningmate Stanley Pringle do his thing. But when NLEX cut a once 21-point lead to eight in the fourth and final quarter, it was Romeo that put the finishing touches for the Batang Pier, scoring another seven points for good measure. 'Natutunan ko yun nung mga last games ko,' Romeo admits. 'Pagka first half okay laro ko, pagdating ng third and fourth pag pinilit ko pa rin na ako pa rin, masyadong nakatutok sakin yung depensa. Ginawa ko nag spot up lang ako, hinayaan ko sila maglaro.' 'Pero pag tingin ko naman na kailangan nila ako, kukunin ko din ang bola at didiskarte din ako,' he added. Aside from managing his scoring opportunities, part of Romeo and Globalport's maturation process is not to get excited over one big win. With a chance to go for the top-2 spots in the All-Filipino and a matchup against the mighty San Miguel Beer on the horizon, the Batang Pier remain all business. 'Kailangan wag namin isipin yung panalo namin dito, hindi naman sa minamaliit namin yung NLEX pero kailangan yung goal namin is mapunta dun sa number one or number two so hindi kami pwede matuwa dahil natalo namin NLEX. Kumbaga after one day celebration, next day back to focus na kami,' Romeo said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Patriots clinch home-field advantage

The Associated Press br /> MIAMI GARDENS, Florida (AP) — Tom Brady threw for 276 yards and three scores Sunday as the Patriots clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by beating the Dolphins 35-14. New England took a 20-0 lead in the first half, and turned away Miami's comeback bid with the help of a 77-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Julian Edelman and a 69-yard fumble return by linebacker Shea McClellin. The Patriots (14-2), already assured of a first-round bye, became the ninth team since 1972 to go undefeated on the road during the regular season. The Dolphins (10-6), beaten for only the second time in the past 11 games, had already earned an AFC wild-card berth. They play their first postseason game since 2008 next weekend at Pittsburgh. STEELERS 27, BROWNS 24 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Steelers backups assured the Browns of the top pick in the 2017 draft. Landry Jones hit Cobi Hamilton with a 26-yard touchdown with 2:57 left in overtime. The Browns took a lead on Cody Parkey's 34-yard field goal with 7:17 remaining in the extra session. Jones, who started while the playoff-bound Steelers rested Ben Roethlisberger, took the Steelers 75 yards in nine plays. The last was a pretty lob to the end zone that Hamilton hauled in to give Pittsburgh (11-5) its seventh straight victory. Jones finished with 277 yards passing and three touchdowns and one interception. Isaiah Crowell ran for a career-high 152 yards for the Browns (1-15), who finished with the worst record in franchise history. JETS 30, BILLS 10 EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes in what was likely his final game for the Jets. Despite a 5-11 record, the Jets are making no changes in leadership, meaning both coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan will remain with the team next season. Bowles is 15-17 in his two-year tenure with New York, which hired him in January 2015 after firing Rex Ryan. Maccagnan is also in his second season with the Jets, and had also been criticized for the team's roster, which likely faces an overhaul this offseason. The Bills (7-9) also face some uncertainty this offseason after firing Ryan earlier in the week and elevating offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to the interim role. Two other people with direct knowledge of the situation told the AP before the game that Lynn is the clear favorite to take over the job permanently. TITANS 24, TEXANS 17 NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — A concussion that sidelined quarterback Tom Savage could have the biggest impact coming out of the Texans' loss. Savage started for the AFC South champions, left in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and was cleared. He took a snap to kneel down on the final play of the first half and was diagnosed with a concussion after being re-evaluated at halftime. That left Brock Osweiler, benched for Savage last month, running the offense. He threw for 253 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a 1-yard TD on fourth-and-goal in the fourth quarter. Houston (9-7) will host Oakland next weekend, possibly with uncertainty at quarterback. DaQuan Jones recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter and the Titans never trailed to finish with their first winning season since 2011. EAGLES 27, COWBOYS 13 PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tony Romo threw his first touchdown pass in nearly 14 months as the playoff-bound Cowboys played it safe. The Cowboys (13-3) had already locked up the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs so Dak Prescott played only two series and Ezekiel Elliott watched from the sideline. Carson Wentz tossed two TD passes to Zach Ertz to help Philadelphia finish with a two-game winning streak. Prescott was 4 for 8 for 37 yards before giving way to Romo, who hadn't played in a regular-season game since Thanksgiving 2015 when he broke his left collarbone for the second time in less than three months. Romo broke a bone in his back in the third preseason game against Seattle this season, paving the way for Prescott to have one of the best years by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. BUCCANEERS 17, PANTHERS 16 TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 202 yards and one touchdown as the Buccaneers broke up Cam Newton's 2-point conversion throw in the closing seconds for their first winning season in six years. Winston threw a 10-yard pass to Mike Evans to snap a fourth-quarter tie and became the first player in NFL history to start his career with consecutive 4,000-yard seasons. But the Bucs (9-7) were eliminated from playoff contention, not getting the help they needed in other games for their first berth since 2007. Winston's franchise record-setting 28th TD pass put the Bucs ahead 17-10 with 3:10 remaining. Newton, however, moved the Panthers (6-10) right down the field, with help of a 47-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin and two fourth-down completions to set up a 5-yard scoring pass to trim Carolina's deficit to one with 17 seconds left. VIKINGS 38, BEARS 10 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Sam Bradford concluded his first season with Minnesota with three first-half touchdown passes. Bradford went 25 for 33 for 250 yards and one interception, finishing with a 71.6 percent completion rate to set an NFL single-season record. Kyle Rudolph caught 11 passes for 117 yards and a score for the Vikings (8-8), who started 5-0 before stumbling out of their bye week and never recovering. The Bears (3-13) wound up with their fewest wins in a non-strike year since 1973 after turning the ball over five times. Everson Griffen returned one of their three lost fumbles for a touchdown. Jordan Howard, the lone bright spot, rushed for 135 yards on 23 carries to break Matt Forte's franchise rookie record and finish with 1,313 yards for the season for Chicago. COLTS 24, JAGUARS 20 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jack Doyle with 9 seconds left. Indy (8-8) went 75 yards in 84 seconds with no timeouts to avoid its first losing season since 2011, sending retiring linebacker Robert Mathis out with a win in his final NFL game. Jacksonville (3-13) matched the second-worst record in franchise history after blocking a punt with 1:54 to go and breaking a 17-17 tie with 1:33 left. Instead, Luck took the Colts right downfield for the score. Mathis extended his league record of strip-sacks to 41 in the fourth quarter, two days after announcing he would retire. BENGALS 27, RAVENS 10 CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton completed his first 10 passes, one for a touchdown, and Rex Burkhead ran for a pair of scores in the Bengals' fifth straight win at home over the Ravens. The Bengals (6-9-1) missed the playoffs for the first time in six years. Coach Marvin Lewis says he'll return in 2017. Baltimore (8-8) failed to reach the playoffs for the third time in four years. The Ravens played their final game as if they were emotionally hung over from a last-minute loss at Pittsburgh last Sunday that eliminated them. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2017

V-LEAGUE: Successful 13th season

Huge crowds, high TV ratings from the country's largest network, a two-title romp by Pocari Sweat and a National University repeat highlighted another banner year for the V-League, which continued to pack wallops, deliver top-notch matches and stay on top of the heap. With all matches shown live over ABS-CBN S+A and via livestrean through sports.abs-cbn.com/livestrean/vleague, the league had a very successful 13th season and reached broader audience nationwide and even abroad.    It was also a season of firsts and comebacks with Iriga City Mayor Madeleine Alfelor-Gazmen playing an actual game in the Open Conference and the Summer Spikers making their return after a one-year absence, shuttling from Baguio and Manila and back during games. Veering away from its regular opening conference fare, the league, where it all started, actually marked its 13th season with a fans’ day where they played with their favorite stars in a variety of game-related skills challenge and ended up mingling with their idols for photo-ops and autograph signing sessions during the All-Star. The league, in partnership with ABS-CBN, held its All-Star Game, along with that of the Spikers’ Turf, as part of its social commitment with proceeds, amounting to P200,000 going to the typhoon Lawin victims through ABS CBN Foundation. The All-Star was also staged to give something back to the league’s ever-loyal fans through the backing of Shakey’s, Mikasa, Accel, Pocari Sweat, BaliPure, the Philippine Sports Commission and ABS-CBN Sports + Action. Bannered by veterans Michele Gumabao, Melissa Gohing, Myla Pablo and Desiree Dadang, Pocari Sweat made sure to mark its maiden stint in the country’s premier volley league with a victory – grounding the Air Force Lady Jet Spikers in sudden death to snare the Open Conference crown before a huge crowd. Pocari Sweat also came into the season-ending Reinforced Conference armed to the teeth, tapping a pair of talented imports in Andrea Kacsits and Breanna Mackie and sweeping another Alyssa Valdez-led team, this time, the Bureau of Customs Transformers in the finals to complete the Lady Warriors’ remarkable two-title sweep before another banner crowd. Most marquee matches were beamed live over ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 with the championships aired on primetime, further adding to the popularity and following of the league which turned a once-dormant sport in 2004 into what it is today. Customs also toughened up in a bid to claim a V-League championship on its very first try, luring not only the high-flying, power-hitting Valdez but also tapping Thai imports Nic Jaisaen and Kanjana Kuthaisong, while BaliPure, raring to atone for its failed bid in the Open, also came in with reinforcements Kaylee Manns and Kate Morell. But both fell short against the Lady Warriors, so did the five other teams which showed up with an all-local crew with UST and UP dishing out solid games while underscoring their readiness for the UAAP wars. The Lady Bulldogs also proved they’re more than ready for the UAAP battle, beating the Ateneo Lady Eagles in a pair of five-setters to repeat as champions of the mid-season Collegiate Conference. MVP Jaja Santiago and former utility spiker-turned-setter Jasmine Nabor took charge for the Bustillos-based school, which actually notched its third V-League title, including its breakthrough in Season 10, also against Ateneo. Over in the men’s side, the second season of Spikers’ Turf also proved to be a big success with the Air Force Jet Spikers dispatching the Cignal HD Spikers in both the Open and Reinforced Conference finals. Air Force’s season-ending conference victory also served as a revenge of sorts as Cignal edged it in three matches to clinch last year’s Reinforced crown. Ateneo, on the other hand, got back at NU as the Eagles kept the Collegiate Championship for the second straight season. Both squads have figured in the last three UAAP finals as well as the first two V-League Collegiate Conference championships with the Katipunan-based squad lording it over NU, 4-1, in their head-to-head duel. With Sports Vision lining up a number of innovations to make the league more interesting and at the same time compete for media attention in mainstream sports, there’s no other way for Season 14 to go but up.     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2016

Kawhi Leonard s improved playmaking has Raptors on cusp of Finals

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com MILWAUKEE -- At some point in the regular season, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse had a feeling that his team's best player would be even better in the playoffs. "He seemed to cruise to 30 points a lot of nights," Nurse said of Kawhi Leonard. "Thirty is a lot in this league, and that's why I kept saying, 'Geez, it just feels like there's another gear here with this guy that we're going to see.'" [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Leonard acknowledged as much in early March. "There's 82 games and for me, these are just practices," he said, "and playoffs is when it's time to lace them up." Nurse's reaction when he heard that? "Now we're talking." Indeed, Leonard has taken things to another level in this postseason, playing big minutes, making huge shots, and defending at an elite level. But Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals brought something new. Leonard scored 35 points in the biggest win in Toronto Raptors franchise history, a 105-99 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks that gave the two-seed a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 in Toronto on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Fifteen of those 35 points, including two huge step-back three-pointers over the seven-foot-tall Brook Lopez, came in the fourth quarter. That wasn't the new part. This was Leonard's seventh game of 35 or more points in this postseason. And you might recall a couple of big fourth-quarter shots over a seven-footer in the last series. Leonard also played smothering defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo. That wasn't new either. Since Game 3, Leonard, with plenty of help from his teammates, has made the presumed MVP look somewhat mortal. The new part was the number "9" in the assists column. In 570 career games (regular season and playoffs combined) prior to Thursday, Leonard had never recorded as many as nine assists. That he did it in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on the road and against the league's No. 1 defense says a lot about Leonard as a big-game star. That, given his star status, he had never had nine assists before just as much about his history as a playmaker. Leonard may be the most complete player in the game right now, but his passing can still get better. It doesn't come naturally to him. In regard to making his teammates better, Leonard is certainly not LeBron James. And you can even say that Antetokounmpo, still emerging as a superstar himself, has been better at reading the defense and finding open shooters. In the regular season, Leonard recorded assists on just 12.2 percent of his possessions, the fifth lowest rate among 35 players with a usage rate of 25 percent or higher. And his assist rate has actually been lower (11.7 percent) in the playoffs. But over the last two series, Leonard has been the focus of the Philadelphia and Milwaukee defenses. At times, he has tried to score through multiple defenders. And often, because his teammates weren't willing or able to do much offensively themselves and because he was scoring so efficiently, he was probably right to force things. Leonard forced little on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). He drove into the teeth of the Bucks' defense, saw where the help was coming from, and made the right play. "We keep stressing that in this series and in the last series, too," Nurse said. "When you've drawn two, you've done your job. You've got to find the guy who's open." And on the 22 possessions in which he drove, the Raptors scored 29 points, 10 from Leonard himself and 19 from his teammates. "Pretty much try to stay with a consistent mindset throughout the whole game," Leonard said of his performance. "Just trying to read the defense throughout the entire game, see what's working." It was all working, whether it was Leonard calling his own number or making plays for others. And it certainly helps that the others have seemingly found their mojo. Fred VanVleet, who shot 6-for-42 over a nine-game stretch from Game 2 of the conference semis through Game 3 of this series, is a 63 percent shooter (10-for-12 from three-point range) when he has more than one child. All of Leonard's nine assists in Game 5 were on three-pointers - so he accounted for 62 (59 percent) of the Raptors' 105 points via his own points and assists - and four of them were to the dad who hasn't slept much since Fred Jr. was born on Monday. "Any time he chooses to get the rest of us involved," VanVleet said of Leonard, "it's going to bode well for our offense. The rest of us just got to be ready to step up and knock them down." VanVleet had both the biggest shot of the night - a three from the right wing off a Leonard kick-out that broke a 93-93 tie with 2:19 to go - and the quote of the night when asked about his formula for success: "Zero sleep, have a lot of babies, and go out there and let loose." The Raptors' offense has been the biggest key to this series, because Toronto's defense, when it has been set, has been tremendous. They've kept Antetokounmpo from getting all the way to the basket, and they've been able to recover out to and contest the Bucks' shooters. While the Raptors scored 1.32 points per possession when Leonard drove in Game 5, the Bucks scored at a rate less than half of that (0.57, 12 points on 21 possessions) when Antetokounmpo drove. "We've got to play good offense," Nurse said, "not turn it over and score the basketball, because if you don't, they're getting what they want, which is downhill basketball in a hurry. If we can score it, if we can take care of it, we can get our defense set up, for the most part we get down and guard them and make the shots a lot tougher." Just six days ago, the Raptors were a possession away from falling into an 0-3 hole, one that no team in NBA history has ever come back from. Now, they've won three straight games against the team that hadn't lost three straight all season. After scoring less than a point per possession over the first two games of this series, the Raptors have scored 110.3 per 100 over the last three. The defense feeds off of the offense. And the offense feeds off of the star that keeps taking things to a new level. "I'm not afraid of the moment," Leonard said. "I enjoy it." The Kawhi Leonard that we saw in Games 1-4 against Philadelphia (when he averaged 38.0 points on 62 percent shooting) was a preposterously efficient scorer, good enough to keep his team even in the second round. The Kawhi Leonard that we saw on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) has his team playing even better ... and just one win from the NBA Finals. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

UST s Sisi Rondina, AU s Regine Arocha are first-ever Volleyball Players of the Year

Volleyball has made its mark as one the biggest collegiate spectator sports in the country next to basketball. With the sport’s impact and huge following especially in the women’s division, it is just fitting that the best and brightest volleyball student-athletes share the spotlight with the collegiate basketball’s finest.   For the first time, a pair of volleyball stars will be feted in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps Awards presented by SportsVision to be held at the Amelie Hotel in Malate, Manila on Monday. University of Sto. Tomas’ Sisi Rondina and Regine Arocha of Arellano University will be the recipients of the Volleyball Player of the Year awards in the annual event organized by the Collegiate Press Corps, composed of scribes from print and online outfits covering the NCAA and UAAP. The graduating hitter Rondina wrapped her fifth and last playing year as a Tigress by completing an amazing three-peat in beach volleyball, giving UST its first gold medal in UAAP Season 81. Rondina delivered the Espana-based squad’s fourth sand court crown in five years while bagging for herself four Most Valuable Player awards. The 5-foot-6 Cebuana then turned her focus on indoor volleyball as she led the rookie-laden Tigresses back to the Finals for the first time in eight years in a showdown with a well-experienced Ateneo de Manila University side. UST came a win away from ending a nine-year title drought but eventually bowed down to the Lady Eagles in three exciting games. Nevertheless, Rondina’s heroics all season long earned her the MVP award, UST’s first in 12 years, to become the second person to capture the highest individual recognition in beach and indoor volleyball on the same season since Far Eastern University’s Wendy Semana did the feat 11 years ago.               Meanwhile, Arocha delivered the goods when needed the most for the Lady Chiefs in NCAA Season 94. Arocha played clutch in the Finals, leading Arellano to a thrilling series comeback win over Perpetual Help to complete the Lady Chiefs’ three-peat and winning her second straight Finals MVP award. Rondina and Arocha will be joined by the National University women’s basketball team (Award of Excellence), Ateneo's Angelo Kouame and San Beda's Javee Mocon (Pivotal Players), Lyceum's CJ Perez and Adamson's Sean Manganti (Impact Players) in the awards night supported by Amelie Hotel, Rain or Shine, NorthPort, World Balance, Arellano, and AXA Team EDS. The 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps Awards presented by SportsVision will be aired live over Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas and Tiebreaker Times on Facebook......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2019

Duterte signs bill making 4Ps a permanent function of DSWD

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed a law institutionalizing the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

DTI notes export bright spot in gifts, decor, houseware

GIFTS, dĂ©cor and houseware (GDH) exports in 2018 grew 23.9% amid an overall decline across many exports, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said, adding that it hopes to focus on the sector to generate more growth......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

Duterte signs law making 4Ps permanent

In a bid to improve the health, nutrition, and education of poor families, President Duterte has signed a law institutionalizing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or the government’s cash subsidy program. Under Republic Act No. 11310, the Department of Social Welfare and Development will implement the 4Ps, a national poverty reduction strategy that provides conditional […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

Trail Blazers cohesiveness helped them to conference finals

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers faced a number of challenges on the journey to their first Western Conference finals in 19 years. But there was one they couldn’t overcome: The Golden State Warriors. Portland’s run in the playoffs, which captured fans’ imaginations after Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to clinch the opening-round series over the Thunder, ended with a sweep by the defending champions. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “We put together a great season and we put ourselves in position to go to the Finals,” Lillard said. “I think every other team in the league would wish they could be in our shoes; not only making the playoffs but playing for an opportunity to get a chance to go to the Finals. We just ran up on a team who has been there the last four years.” Portland was coming off two straight seasons that ended with first-round playoff sweeps. The team, which had surprisingly little turnover over those years, came into the season unified and determined to take the next step. But before the first game was played, the Blazers were hit by the death of owner Paul Allen after a battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The co-founder of Microsoft was a hands-on owner and a familiar face at the Moda Center, and Portland dedicated its season to him. Injuries would challenge the Blazers down the stretch. Lillard’s backcourt partner CJ McCollum missed 10 games with a knee injury. But it was center Jusuf Nurkic’s injury that caused the most concern going into the playoffs. Portland’s seven-foot big man broke his left leg after crashing awkwardly in an overtime victory at home over the Brooklyn Nets on March 25 (Mar. 26, PHL time). Nurkic was averaging 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds a game and many considered Portland’s playoff prospects dim without him. Fortunately, the Blazers were able to turn to Enes Kanter, who was waived by the New York Knicks following the trade deadline and signed by Portland for the rest of the season. Kanter averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 23 regular-season games with the Blazers, including eight starts. Portland finished 53-29 and clinched the third seed in the Western Conference, earning home court for the first round — and a series with the Thunder. The Blazers wrapped that series up in five games — capped by Lillard’s walkoff three-pointer. But even in the playoffs the Blazers couldn’t escape misfortune. Kanter separated his left shoulder in the final game against Oklahoma City. He was questionable for the conference semifinals against Denver but played, although he often winced in pain. Jonathan Yim, Portland’s video coordinator and player development coach, was in a serious car accident before the series with the Nuggets. The Blazers coaching staff wore bow ties in his honor in Game 2. That series went to seven games, with the Blazers sealing their date with Golden State on Denver’s home court. The Warriors were simply too much for the Blazers, climbing back from double-digit deficits in each of the final three games. Lillard played with separated ribs in the final two. The team’s on-court leader, Lillard averaged 25.8 points and 6.9 assists and earned his fourth All-Star nod during the regular season. He averaged 33 points in the opening round against the Thunder, but his production fell against Denver and Golden State when he was double-teamed. Lillard said the past few seasons of relative stability — after four of Portland’s five starters moved on to other teams in 2015 — have bonded the team. “Each year we’ve come back with the right attitude,” Lillard said Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “We’ve been able to stick together through a lot of adversity and I think just what we’ve hung our hats on, what we’ve believed in, our culture, the togetherness, we’ve been able to truly build on that. And I think we should be encouraged.” Lillard could be in line for a hefty raise in the offseason. If he is named to one of the postseason’s All-NBA teams, he’ll qualify for a supermax contract extension worth $191 million. Lillard has two years remaining on his current contract. Asked about the prospects of a big extension, Lillard laughed and said: “I don’t understand why that’s even a question.” Coach Terry Stotts already benefited from the team’s run in the playoffs, signing a multi-year contract with the team that was announced at exit interviews. Terms of the deal were not released. “The guys in the locker room are special, it’s been a special season,” Stotts said. “Always tough to lose the last game of the year, but I couldn’t be more proud of the group that we’ve had.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2019

Kyle Kaiser knocks Alonso, McLaren out of Indy 500

By Jenna Fryer, Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Fernando Alonso and McLaren missed the Indianapolis 500 after a 23-year-old American in a rebuilt race car for an underfunded team snagged the final spot in the field. Kyle Kaiser bumped Alonso out of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" by .02 mph in the "Last Row Shootout" to set the 33-driver field. All the attention was on McLaren, which leaned on Andretti Autosport, Team Penske, Chevrolet and anyone who would help in an effort to get the two-time Formula One champion into the race. Alonso made his final qualifying attempt Sunday on a cold track for an undermatched McLaren group and only had to beat three other drivers to make the race. It seemed he had enough until Sage Karam jumped to the top of the running order and Alonso fell to the bubble. Max Chilton and Patricio O'Ward were both eliminated, and that left only Kaiser to keep the Spaniard out of the race. Nothing to worry about, right? Hardly. Kaiser turned four nearly flawless laps to claim that final spot. Alonso, swarmed by fans and media as he tried to watch Kaiser's qualifying lap, saw the final speed, hopped on a waiting golf cart and was driven away. "I don't think I can wrap my mind around what we just did," Kaiser said. Karam and James Hinchcliffe, who crashed in Saturday qualifying and needed a backup, took the other two qualifying spots. Juncos Racing had everything stacked against it this week. The team lost both its primary sponsors right before Tuesday's opening day but Kasier still managed to find decent speed. Then he crashed in Friday practice and destroyed the Juncos car. The team worked overnight to have a backup prepared in time for the start of Saturday qualifying, but Kaiser found himself in the bottom six and had to shoot it out Sunday for his spot. The Juncos plight was compelling, but dwarfed by the McLaren odyssey. McLaren last raced in the Indy 500 in the 1970s but is back this season to both help Alonso complete his quest to win motorsports' version of the Triple Crown and as a feeler for a potential full-time IndyCar team. But the entire process has been a disaster from opening day because of electrical issues, an Alonso accident, a lengthy delay in rebuilding him a car, a tire puncture on his first qualifying attempt, and, finally, a car too difficult to handle for Alonso to qualify in the top 30 on Saturday. McLaren head Zak Brown acknowledged the stress after the team tried a completely different setup in Sunday morning practice. But McLaren was about 10 minutes late getting on track, the rear of the car dragged and sparked and had to return to the pits after one lap. The team got a total of six laps in before rain shortened practice, and McLaren spent a lengthy delay negotiating for parts from Andretti and advice from Penske and Chevrolet. Alonso was presented with a setup he had never felt when it was his turn to make his qualifying attempt, and it was his smoothest run of the week. It just wasn't fast enough. "I think the car felt better but obviously it had no practice," Alonso said. "It is not enough. It is just the way it is. We tried our best.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

He makes us go : Green elevates Warriors to 3-0 series lead

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — There is nothing Draymond Green failed to do Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) when he helped push the Blazers to the edge and the Warriors to the verge. Here is the checklist of his duties: Dribbler, pace-setter, rescuer, shooter, director, shot blocker, shot-caller and the one that probably escaped most witnesses, psychiatrist. Yes, Dr. Dray suddenly offered his services and sofa when poor Jordan Bell blew a breakaway dunk during a critical moment, just as the Warriors were in the process of flipping an 18-point deficit during their 110-99 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Bell immediately hung his head as he returned downcourt, and seconds later at the next timeout, he slowly headed toward the Warriors bench with slumped shoulders. But who intercepted him before he could take another step? That’s right, it was Green, famously known for his cool and soothing words in times of crisis. (OK, put the laugh track here.) But seriously … The type of leader every team needs ????pic.twitter.com/Tr3JblKAyX — Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019 “I knew he wasn’t going to lecture me or anything like that,” said Bell. “He just told me that everybody misses dunks, that I shouldn’t worry about it, that mine happened to be an open one, and to keep my head into the game because I’d get another chance.” Bell paused. “I was down here,” he said, lowering his hand, “and he lifted me up here.” And wouldn’t you know, Bell got that next chance minutes later. This time, the dunk was thrown down ferociously and completed with a chin-up that belonged at LA Fitness. We can give Green credit for the 20-point, 13-rebound, career playoff-high 12-assist triple double, and we can give Green partial credit for that second-chance slam, too. That’s more like it JB ???? pic.twitter.com/JUvMfKQDsl — Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019 The man was that multi-layered. “I don’t even know what to say about Draymond,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Once again, Green demonstrated his value to the Warriors in these playoffs with a magnificent all-around game. He left fingerprints all over the Moda Center court and various Blazers' efforts. He was there for the Warriors when nothing else worked, and he was there for the Warriors when everything finally began to click and they needed a finishing touch. His desire and will do not show up directly on the stat sheet, yet those elements made the victory possible. The Warriors won for the fourth straight game without Kevin Durant and are one more away from reaching the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year. It makes you wonder: As great as Durant is, would the Warriors be more vulnerable if it was Green who were out with a calf strain instead? That question stands valid because the Warriors lack anyone who does what he does. The energy, intensity, floor direction, ability to defend three and sometimes four different positions, as well as the rebounding were all apparent Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and in heavy doses. They came alongside leadership, evidenced by Green giving Bell a pat on the back during that down moment. Green played Game 3 as a blur, grabbing rebounds, pushing the ball up the floor, creating scoring chances for himself or his teammates and providing help defense that triggered the pace. Green was forceful because Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were 9-for-24 shooting in the first half, at times overwhelmed by the trapping Blazers defense. So Green took it upon himself to make things happen and provide the foundation for a second-half comeback. The Golden State defense held Portland to 13 points in the third quarter, Curry had 11 points in the fourth quarter, and this series simply continued along the same path. “He was the difference-maker,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “His energy, the way he was pushing the ball, he kept them going. He makes his teammates better and defensively he’s all over the place. He impacted the game.” In the third quarter, Green poked the ball loose from Damian Lillard for one of his four steals. At the time, the Warriors were down 12 and in dire need of a jolt. But here’s what was remarkable about the play. Not only did the 6'7" Green stoop and strip one of the NBA's most composed ballhandling point guards (although perhaps not in this series), but he also managed to search for and grab it while it bounced between him and Lillard, then dribbled downcourt without missing a beat. The dexterity, quickness, daring and smarts sets Green apart from others who play his role, or at least try to emulate it. “More than reacting, he acts,” said Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams, who oversees the team’s defensive schemes. “There’s reacting and then there's acting. He’s an actor. He sees things. He’s decisive.” Green is averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds and almost 10 assists across the last two games and those numbers barely tell the real story. It’s just heightened because of Durant’s absence. In those two games, the Warriors trailed Portland by 17 and 18 points and Green was the point man on the rally. He says his main purpose is to give Thompson and Curry a breather from the load and responsibility. With the Blazers throwing traps at those two guards to limit their scoring, Green is forcing Portland to pay him respect. He is, in essence, breaking down Portland’s defense by pushing the ball and directing the attack. “I know I have to be more aggressive,” he said. “I think it’s easy to get (Curry and Thompson) to take more shots, but we can’t put that much pressure on them, so I just take it upon myself to get the tempo where I want it and make plays for other guys as well.” It was no coincidence that six Warriors off the bench managed to get at least one basket with Green directing traffic. And Green managed to play such a high-energy game without making constant mistakes; he had only two turnovers in 38 minutes. “He’s playing with force and he’s playing with discipline,” said Kerr. “He’s playing under control. He’s not letting anything bother him, like officiating, bad shots, he’s just moving on to the next play. From that standpoint, he’s as good as he’s ever been.” This is the Draymond Green that makes the Warriors more than willing to put up with the occasional nonsense, mostly stemming from his short temper and low tolerance with the officiating yet also with teammates and coaches at times. The constant technical fouls, the early-season clash with Durant, the high maintenance that often comes with coaching him, those are all part of the package. Taken as whole, that package is more positive than negative. And when there’s no negative, as it’s been through much of this postseason, the package is irresistible. “It’s nothing new; I’ve seen him do this for seven years,” said Thompson. “I’m just so proud of Dray. He makes us go.” There was no more positive reinforcement from Green than when he comforted Bell and told the young player to shake off a missed dunk seen by millions and laughed at by thousands inside Moda Center. Green gave Bell the encouragement needed to forget the embarrassment and maintain composure, which was important because Kerr kept Bell in the game. That set Bell up to gain redemption. And the Warriors, after struggling through a sloppy start, to gain complete control of a series that could end Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in a sweep. “I’m one of the leaders of this team and in those situations you either go one of two ways. You’re either going to do your job and lift everybody up or you’re going to go the opposite way,” said Green. And so Green, with passing, defense and pace-setting, is stamping his signature on this series. His floor direction is flawless. He hasn’t shown the ability to direct the Blazers right out of the playoffs, but that’s perhaps just a matter of time. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

Bucks making case as favorites to win title

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com MILWAUKEE -- In the wake of a wire-to-wire, 125-103 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, a question for the group: Shouldn't the Milwaukee Bucks be the favorites to win this thing? No, not the conference finals. At this point, they're obviously the heavy favorite to win the East. Prior to this year, 72 teams had a 2-0 lead in the conference finals, and 67 of them went on to win. But why aren't the Bucks the favorites to win the NBA championship? Is there a case to be made against 1) what was the best team in the regular season and 2) what has been an even better team in the playoffs? [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Maybe this is a we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it league. How can you pick a team to win a championship when its best player had never won a playoff series prior to this year? Until they lost in five, it was easier to imagine the Celtics, with their talent and with their recent history of playoff success (back-to-back trips to the conference finals), being the team to represent the East in The Finals in the first year A.L. (after LeBron). And then the Bucks outscored the Celtics by a total of 65 points over the last four games of the conference semis. It's similarly difficult to pick against the Golden State Warriors until they actually lose. The two-time defending champs have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Presumably, they'll have Kevin Durant back for The Finals should they finish off the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals. And even without Durant, the Warriors boast the same 2-0 conference finals lead the Bucks currently possess. But the Warriors haven't been as sharp as they were in each of the previous two postseasons. Five of their 10 playoff wins have been within five points in the last five minutes. Last year, only four of their 16 wins were within five in the last five. In 2017, it was four of 16 as well. With the postseason's 10th-ranked defense, Golden State has outscored its opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions over its 14 games. The Bucks have outscored their opponents by more than double that: 15.1 per 100. That feels like the mark of an eventual champion. Through 10 playoff wins last year, the Warriors had outscored their opponents by 9.6 points per 100 possessions. Through 10 playoff wins in 2015, they had outscored their opponents by just 7.7 points per 100. It was only in 2017, when they won their first 15 playoff games in Durant's first season in Golden State, that the Warriors were as dominant as the Bucks have been thus far. At 10-0 two years ago, Golden State had outscored its playoff opponents by 16.5 points per 100 possessions. At that point, the Warriors had the No. 2 offense and the No. 1 defense in the postseason. That's exactly where the Bucks stand after Game 2 on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Milwaukee is a complete team in more ways than one. The defense has been there almost every night. The Bucks have held their opponents under a point per possession (the measure of elite defense) in six of their 11 games and only once (their Game 1 loss to Boston) have they allowed them to score more than what was the league average (109.7 points scored per 100 possessions) in the regular season. Even with the rise in three-point shooting over the last few years, the most important shots on the floor remain those at the basket, and no team has been better at both preventing and defending those shots than the Bucks. After allowing a league-low 29.6 points per game in the restricted area in the regular season, the Bucks have allowed just 22.0 per game in the playoffs. In this series, Raptors drives have been met with a swarm of Milwaukee defenders, making it difficult to either score in the paint or get off a clean pass to an open shooter. After shooting 57 percent in the paint through the first two rounds (in which they faced two very good defenses), the Raptors have shot just 49 percent (36-for-73) in the paint through the first two games of the conference finals. On Toronto's first possession of Game 2, Marc Gasol posted up Khris Middleton after a switch and spun around Middleton for a layup, only to be rejected by Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Raptors went scoreless on their first five possessions, had just 39 points on 49 possessions at halftime, and were too far behind for a 39-point third quarter to matter much. "I think the way we played on both ends of the court in the first half," Budenholzer said afterward, "is what we're trying to get to." After a bit of an offensive struggle in Game 1, the Bucks broke out on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). The elite defense led to 28 fast-break points, a size advantage inside led to 17 second-chance points, and six of their nine rotation players scored in double-figures. Three of those six came off the bench. While Toronto coach Nick Nurse has had to both shorten and alter his rotation in these playoffs, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has seemingly found contributors wherever he has turned. George Hill and Pat Connaughton were huge in the Boston series, Malcolm Brogdon didn't need long to find his rhythm after missing the first eight postseason games, and on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), Ersan Ilyasova had what Budenholzer called "clearly his best game of the year," scoring 17 points, drawing three charges, and registering a plus-22 in just over 21 minutes off the bench. The Bucks have the presumed Kia MVP, but their biggest strength in these playoffs has been their depth. Through 11 games, they've outscored their opponents by 12.0 points per 100 possessions with Antetokounmpo off the floor. Unlike his fellow Eastern Conference coaches, Budenholzer has never had to rush his best player back onto the floor. And this team is now 10-1 with Antetokounmpo ranking 40th in postseason minutes per game at 32.3. While the Raptors' offense has struggled to take advantage of the attention paid to Kawhi Leonard, every Bucks rotation player has played with confidence and freedom. "They're not going to let me play one-on-one," Antetokounmpo said after registering 30 points, 17 rebounds and five assists in Game 2. "So this series is not going to be about me; it's going to be about my teammates being ready to shoot, being ready to make the right play." "We try and empower them," Budenholzer said of his team's role players. "We try to play a way where they all feel like they can contribute and do things. Hopefully that's paying off for us." There's no argument to the contrary. But is there an argument against this team being the favorite to win the championship? While it remains difficult to pick against the team that won last year and remains intact, new champions come along all the time, and it's easier to see them in hindsight than in the moment. Of course, as good as they've been playing and as special as this run has felt, Bucks players refuse to get ahead of themselves. "You can't," Eric Bledsoe said. "That's how you lose focus. The biggest thing with this group is just taking a game at a time, and not looking forward to The Finals. Anything can happen. So we're focused on Game 3." "It's a great opportunity that we have," George Hill added, "but it means nothing until we get there." The players have to keep their minds on Toronto. But the rest of us can feel free to envision the future, one that includes an NBA championship. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019