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In Focus: The ‘Rewards’ This Young Photog Finds Documenting The Nazareno Feast For 8 Years Now

“It’s a treasure trove of stories!” says photojournalist Martin San Diego.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource: abscbn abscbnApr 1st, 2018

DOC VOLLEYBALL: A Dilemma on Loop?

Flashback to March 2017, the whole volleyball community was abuzz about a newly formed national team set to compete in the Southeast Asian Games of that year as tryouts were held, but certain players, particularly from the Ateneo de Manila University, were allegedly not invited. An apology was then issued and special tryouts were held to accommodate the aforementioned athletes. Flashback to 2015, with a newly formed organization in Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) taking the reins from the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) as the volleyball authority in the country, the future looked bright as for the first time in recent history, both the men’s and women’s teams were being sent to the Singapore SEA Games as representation of the sport’s resurgence. As with any newly formed roster, the composition was mired in controversy especially with the men’s team, which was composed of predominantly of young players. Flashback to 2014, with the power struggle between the aforementioned LVPI and PVF, the latter formed the infamous Amihan and Bagwis squads as the women’s and men’s national teams, respectively. Backed by then sponsor PLDT, the rosters boasted of the some of the country’s best talents from both divisions with the likes of Alyssa Valdez, Mark Espejo, Ara Galang, Tatan Pantone, Ran Ran Abdilla and Mark Alfafara to name a few. Both teams never saw the light of day outside the country as the PVF eventually lost its accreditation leading to the teams’ eventual disbandment. And the theme went on as the previous years are revisited. Fast forward to present time, 2018, and once again the volley community is abuzz with the formation of yet again a new national team with a familiar scenario in which local favorites did not make the cut. With the volleyball scene at an all time high in local following, it is quite inevitable for varying opinions on who should have been included in the line-up given the wide pool of talents especially in the women’s division. Coupled with a sudden change in coaching staff, the new roster is once again under scrutiny given the process the team as a whole was structured from the beginning. Another New Beginning Without taking anything from the players and coaches of the new women’s national team, the composition is relatively deserving of the spots for the roster. While expected shoe-ins who have performed tremendously well in the local leagues like Myla Pablo, Maika Ortiz, and Tatan Pantone were not afforded a slot in the team, the new line-up is still pretty much capable of representing the country. Middles – Aby Marano is the best fit amongst the middles who made the final cut. With exceptional timing and good lateral movement, Marano is expected to perform in the position well offensively and defensively despite the lack of height for a middle blocker internationally. Her agility and aggressiveness with her net play more than justifies her inclusion and assignment as the team captain. Her DLSU successor Majoy Baron would add much needed support as the second middle as she has proven to have the power and timing of Aby though much work can still be done for her agility in the net. Baron’s aggressive floaters will also be of much benefit on the service line. Lastly, Mika Reyes would provide the height should the need arise especially against foreign teams with bigger size. Left Wing – Alyssa Valdez’ inclusion as left wing hitter is of no question as she continues to prove that she is one of the best open hitters in the local scene. Perhaps working more on her bulk and power is something the coaching staff must consider to ensure that she can carry over her local performance to the international scene. Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Ces Molina likewise have proven themselves much capable of being offensive threats from the left and their decent size will be of much benefit in blocking against slides and opposite attacks from foreign counterparts. It would be beneficial as well if Santiago-Manabat develops mastery of passing and if Molina becomes a significant threat with the pipe in order for both athletes to really excel in the position. Although Cha Cruz is not much of a power hitter as compared to the aforementioned left hitters, she would serve a special position as the service and defense specialist for the team. If in scenarios in which she will serve in for a middle, her floor defense is of much benefit in Zone 5 and with her background as a former setter, she is still capable of setting up a decent play should the setter get the first contact. Right Wing – Though much of her collegiate season has been utilized hitting from the middle, Jaja Santiago is undeniably more fit for the opposite position. Despite her height and power, which could be considered an automatic criteria for the middle, Santiago has much work to be done with lateral motion which is also a crucial component for middle hitters. With her vertical reach and power, she is better off racking up points from the right wing and right back row as the main offensive option for the team. Likewise, Kim Dy is also a shoo-in for the opposite position as evidenced by her consistency in scoring and blocking from the right. With Kim Fajardo calling the plays, Kim Dy would be beneficial in running faster or creative plays should the need arise. Setters – The selection of Fajardo and Jia Morado is not to be questioned as both have proven and continue to prove that they are top-notch setters in the country. Both setters are a shoo-in for the national team as both are equal in consistency with Fajardo showing mastery in working the middles and Morado displaying her skill in making the wings work for her. Not much can be argued really about the selection of the two athletes. A reserve setter in Rhea Dimaculangan would be also beneficial as she has the consistency and creativity as the aforementioned setters as well as the height, which would be important in blocking. Libero – Currently hailed as one of Southeast Asia’s finest, Dawn Macandili is undeniably a good choice for the main libero position. With her agility and speed to pop up digs and impossible saves, her presence on the floor is highly beneficial for the team on transition defense. On the other hand, her counterpart Denise Lazaro has proven to be highly consistent from the receiving end of services making her inclusion as part of the regular roster and not just a reserve undeniably essential. With Lazaro setting up the passing formation and Macandili guarding on transition, their combined specialized efforts will ensure the first step in letting the setters run the play for the team. A Shift in View Given the fact that the talent pool in the women’s division is deep, player selection will always be put on debate as not all favored athletes will be included. Perhaps a good way of viewing the matter is that given the yet again short preparation time for the next international tournament, the coaching staff would best select players who they have already established a good working relationship for a more seamless adaptation of a new system. Rather than put into scrutiny the individual players, handpicked or not, the focus should be put on the system as a whole and how it can be further developed for the improvement of the sport. Yet again, the 2018 roster is proving to be another promising one as it has been almost every year when a new line-up is formed. More than bringing back pride to the country internationally in the tournaments immediately at hand, the bigger challenge for the national team is to prove itself not as yet another band aid solution in the attempt to have a continuous program. How the 2018 Team will prove itself different from its predecessors in past Asian/SEA Games would be the more important matter that should be put under the lens. With the sport currently a major source of livelihood for many athletes, the players are no longer the ones getting the short end of the stick but rather volleyball and its development as a whole should the loop continues. The country has much individual talent deserving of a spot in the team, but for as long as vested interests continue to rear their head in the Philippine Volleyball System, the level of the sport will continue to fall short in justifying its current local popularity.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018
Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

LeBron s free agency decision could swing NBA s balance of power

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- These combo coronation-funerals can be tricky. Imagine the crowning of a new monarch where the royal subjects couldn’t stop chattering about the freshly deposed or deceased predecessor. Where the traditional cry of continuity and succession, “The king is dead! Long live the king!” got flipped, with what was overshadowing what is. That’s pretty much how it went Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena, with the Golden State Warriors’ latest NBA championship having to share the stage with speculation, instantly revved up, about LeBron James and the choice he’ll soon make about his next employer. The Warriors are the kings, claiming pro basketball’s throne yet again by completing a sweep of James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. But of course, James is the King, and as so many of us learned in sophomore English – thanks, CliffsNotes! – “Uneasy lies the head (of those who fret and obsess about the future whereabouts of the NBA superstar) that wears a crown.” Long live the kings! The King is ... gone? There was so much energy before, during and after Game 4 Friday (Saturday, PHL time) poured into the last game/next game conjecture about James, the Cavaliers and seismic shifts in the league’s 2018-19 landscape that even the player’s surprise reveal near the end of the night – a bruised and bandaged right hand – couldn’t derail it. Turns out, as James ‘fessed up, the sore shooting paw was an injury he had been playing with ever since Game 1 in Oakland eight days earlier. He had “self-inflicted” it in a fit of pique when he smacked a whiteboard in the visitors’ dressing room at Oracle Arena after Cleveland’s overtime loss in the series-setter, an outcome driven at least in part by some teammates’ mistakes and an arcane wrinkle in the NBA’s replay rules regarding block/charge fouls. Despite the hordes of media people chronicling every waking detail of the Finals, James had kept the injury on the down-low (along with the possibility that J.R. Smith’s nickname amongst his Cavs teammates might be “whiteboard”). The cameras zoomed in and clicked in a paparazzi frenzy of motor drives every time James raised the hand, wrapped in black tape, above the table during his postgame podium remarks. Whether a legit Page-2-the-rest-of-the-story factor in the championship series or a too-late alibi, the contused hand wound up as a sidebar to where James plans to be using it when training camps open in a few months. As of Friday (Saturday, PHL time), it had been 95 months since “The Decision,” the 2010 announcement that James made in a tone-deaf vanity TV production that he was taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. Nearly 47 months had passed since he broke the news of his return in a Sports Illustrated ghost-written essay, envisioning much of what actually has unfolded in the four years since. Now savvy insiders and casual observers alike presume James will be on the move again, pushed to leave the franchise he has defined in an urgent search for more and better talent with which he can compete. As in, y’know, some horses, some horses, his kingdom for some horses. James’ free-agency process next month (he can opt out of a $35.6 million deal in the final season of his current contract) is expected to dictate the market of player movement this summer like an oversized domino. It easily could swing the balance of power, if not quite at Golden State’s lofty level then immediately below it. The monster he helped create Dr. Frankenstein eventually was done in by his macabre creation, and it can similarly be argued that James has no one but himself to blame for the predicament in which he again finds himself. He set in motion the machinery of the super team, after all, when he chose to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami eight years ago. Oh sure, the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 got there first by luring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce, but that was about knitting together three stars, all age 30 or older, for what would be their last best chance to win in an extremely limited run. That group won one title, went to two Finals in three seasons and was done, Allen leaving to join James & Co. with the Heat while Garnett and Pierce morphed into trade chips for Boston POBO Danny Ainge. When James, Wade and Bosh teamed up, they were in their basketball primes and their initial giddy boasts of “not four, not five, not six” championships turned off fans league-wide as much for its portent as its pretension. That crew went 4-for-4 in Finals, winning two rings before James, nudged by staleness and chafing as well as his grand plan for northeast Ohio, went home. From there, a line can be drawn through the ill-conceived 2012-13 L.A. Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all the way to this season’s Houston Rockets of James Harden and Chris Paul and the talent-gorged Golden State roster. James was the centerpiece as Cleveland replicated the Big Three concept around him with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, two younger, playoff-stymied All-Stars. The new-look Cavaliers went to the Finals in their first season together and clambered atop the basketball world to win the franchise’s first NBA title by the end of the second, becoming the first team in league history to do so after digging a 1-3 hole in the best-of-seven series. In that moment, regardless of the two Finals trips that followed, James’ bill was stamped: Paid In Full. Misguided fans might burn his jersey if he leaves again, but James burned the mortgage after that Game 7 in Oakland in 2016 as far as any remaining obligation to fulfill. “I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” he said after elimination Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember. Honestly, I think we'll all remember that. It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we'll all remember that in sports history.” James added: “When you have a goal and you're able to accomplish that goal, it actually – for me personally – made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships. And I still want to be in championship mode. I think I've shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.” In other words, James intends to sustain his high level of performance. He expects to win. And he presumably will do whatever – and go wherever – is necessary to achieve that. There’s no perfect fit So what does that mean for the NBA’s best player (never mind what the annual MVP balloting says in any given season)? It means this: compromise. There is no ideal situation, certainly no easy answer to the guesswork surrounding James’ looming free agency. He could transform any of the 30 teams, but not without some trade-offs for him, for them or for both. Most of them won’t be in play. Teams in markets such as Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Sacramento, the Twin Cities and so on can’t scratch James’ itches for either championship-worthy depth chart or spotlight. New York and Chicago, among the biggies, are out of synch with his timeline. Toronto? No way James is resettling his brand north of the border, and given his stated desire for teammates who have not just sufficient basketball skills but also mental toughness, well, the Raptors teams he and the Cavs have dominated do not qualify. The Boston club that stretched Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals is built for the long haul and would have to surrender much of that to adjust to James’ career calendar. There’s a little Kyrie problem lurking there and, truth be told, the Celtics look to be on their way and are doing just fine without the 33-year-old heading, one of these years, toward decline. At some point in each of the 2018 Finals’ final three days, James spoke admiringly of the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs title teams that blocked his path whether in Miami or Cleveland. He was at it again even as the Warriors were dousing the opponent’s locker room at The Q with Moet champagne. “I made the move in 2010 to be able to play with talented players, cerebral players that you could see things that happen before they happened on the floor,” James said. “When you feel like you're really good at your craft, I think it's always great to be able to be around other great minds as well and other great ballplayers. “That's never changed. Even when I came here in '14, I wanted to try to surround myself and surround this franchise with great minds and guys that actually think outside the box of the game and not just go out and play it.” Where might James find that now or recruit that swiftly? Hard to say. There are asterisks and “buts” everywhere: * If he were to sign with the Houston Rockets, James would be hitching his star to Chris Paul, a buddy with an injury history that’s about the mirror opposite of his own. He would be teaming up with an elite coach in Mike D’Antoni, something he’s never had (though Miami’s Erik Spoelstra was just young and unproven, on his way to big things). But it also would require another big ask of James Harden, who had to adapt last summer to Paul’s arrival and need for the ball. * If James chooses the Lakers, he has the chance to hit reset with the league’s glitziest franchise, in a market that can meet his every off-court wish and where he and his family already own one or more ultra-comfortable homes. The Lakers have young talent to help James transition into a lower-usage veteran’s role, favored status as a destination team for other top free agents and the salary-cap space to get it done this summer with the likes of Paul George or his pal Paul. But that roster might not be capable of insta-contending, which could burn a season or two when James’ clock most definitely is clicking. * If it’s San Antonio, James could link up with the elite coach in Gregg Popovich, where the winning culture is in the DNA rather than some acquired taste. The Spurs have talent, particularly if Kawhi Leonard finds happiness again there. But they might not have enough to rattle the Warriors’ cage. And for all their professed admiration, James and Popovich might both fare better by keeping their relationship long-distance vs. the 82-game grind. * If it’s Golden State? Perish the thought. The NBA might have to board up itself if competitive balance were capsized to that extent. And as Draymond Green shrewdly noted on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), if James climbed aboard, it likely would require him and several other Golden State teammates to be dispatched to parts unknown. * If James prefers to stay East, where the winning comes easier, he could pick Philadelphia. The Sixers have two foundational young stars at positions that matter most, center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. But Simmons is a non-shooter at the moment, the antithesis of what makes a great complementary LeBron teammate. As for Embiid, James never has had to play off of and service a top center. And Philly might feel like a basketball-only move, with the hungriest and most demanding of any new fan base he would embrace. * If it’s Miami – wait, could it be Miami? Could he go second-home again? The Heat always strive to be competitive and offer a talent base deep enough for the East and lots of familiarity. But they also have players such as Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters whose mental approaches don’t seem to fit the model James was cooing about in Golden State and with the Tim Duncan-era Spurs. * That brings us to Cleveland, where it’s possible James might choose to remain. Staying with the Cavaliers, after leading them to four Finals and that heady 2016 title, would be the easiest choice as far as pressure to win. He owes these fans nothing anymore – in fact, had the bargain been offered to them in 2010 (“LeBron will leave and win elsewhere for four years, but will come back and deliver a championship and four Finals trips”), most would have grabbed it. Here, James and the fans who have watched him even through the interruption develop from ridiculously touted high schooler to one of the world’s most famous athletes could grow older together. Then he could partner up and buy the team from owner Dan Gilbert for a long-term future. Certainly, staying has a certain place in his and the rest of the James clan’s hearts. “The one thing that I've always done is considered, obviously, my family,” he said at series end Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I've got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.” It’s worth noting that as James contemplates his options as a modern pursuer of championship excellence, the prospect of him moving again qualifies at some level as a failure. Not just by the support system in Cleveland, where he and Gilbert have their friction and James gets snidely mentioned as the team’s unofficial GM and head coach, but by him too. He’s the one who went off to seek his “college education” in south Florida in what it takes to win, whether on the court, in the front office or in and around the seams 365 days a year, straight out of the Pat Riley handbook. The teams about which James talks so glowingly in Oakland now and in San Antonio then have cultures he covets, stability up and down the flowchart he craves. In Cleveland, for a variety of reasons, his team has been incapable of establishing and maintaining that to a lasting degree. He is part of that missed opportunity and he has to own it, no matter if he goes or stays. James is inseparable from the dynamic of the Cavaliers’ ever-changing and often melodramatic roster maneuvers. Spending big, swapping out draft picks to import current stars and supporting players, and overvaluing secondary guys like Smith and Tristan Thompson are risks the Warriors and the Spurs largely avoided thanks to shrew drafting and laudable continuity. The Cavs’ scrap heap, by contrast, is high with traded picks, scuttled plans, panic deals, short-term patches and folks such as former coach David Blatt and former GM David Griffin. And maybe James could have nurtured a little better relationship with All-Star point guard and 2016 title sidekick Kyrie Irving, enough to have kept Irving from bailing on them all with his trade demand last summer. Now he’s on the verge of casting about again, prioritizing what matters most for however long he continues to play. James is more at peace with it than he was before, particularly in 2010, and surely can enjoy the leverage he wields and the riches it delivers. But there is a burden there as well, one that could be seen as completing a circle. So many of the NBA’s greatest stars have been stuck playing and living in the Age of LeBron, right? Their paths to the Finals blocked, on one whole side of the league, by him and his? Well, LeBron James is stuck now in the Era of the Warriors, freshly swept and anxious to close the gap. What goes around comes around, though the key more pressing of the big W’s now is, where? 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 NewsJun 11th, 2018

Rockets return home for Game 5 against Warriors

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Rockets have a chance to take their first lead in the Western Conference finals with a victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). To do that they’ll need their superstars to step up again, with the pressure on James Harden and Chris Paul to deliver after their big performances in Game 3 spurred Houston to the road victory that tied the best-of-seven series at 2-2. “We’re back to even,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We know what we have to do and see if we can do it against a great team.” After two blowout losses in this series, including an embarrassing 41-point rout in Game 3, the Rockets know they don’t have any time to celebrate Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) win. It was a victory that snapped Golden State’s NBA-record 16-game home playoff winning streak. “We have to get down to normal sea level real quick, because we’ve got a lot of work left,” D’Antoni said. “We know it’s not going to be easy, but also they know now it’s not going to be easy. We’re looking forward to it ... with the right type of fear and the right type of excitement.” It’s a huge opportunity for Harden and Paul, who’ve both had their fair share of playoff disappointments in the past, but combined to score 57 points Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) 95-92 win that put the top-seeded Rockets back in the driver’s seat in this series. The 33-year-old Paul is a conference finals rookie after failing to get out of the second round in his previous nine playoff trips. Though he’s never reached this level in the postseason before, his 13 years of NBA experience have proven invaluable as the Rockets try to knock off the defending champions and advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning consecutive titles in 1994-95. Though the Rockets are heading to Houston for Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) game, they know that playing at home doesn’t give them an excuse to let up. “Both teams have the ability to win on the road,” Paul said. “We had to prove that to ourselves. Weathering the storm, the runs that they made, and knowing that now we get a chance to go back home, we knew we had to get at least one win here. We got it, so now it’s a three-game series.” Though the pressure to perform is heightened for Harden and Paul, Rockets players and D’Antoni agree that they can’t get it done without plenty of help from Houston’s supporting cast. P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela combined for 29 rebounds on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time), and in Houston’s Game 2 victory the Rockets had five players score 16 or more points. “It’s a close series so without any of them you don’t get there,” D’Antoni said. “So everybody has their role and some play a bigger role — bigger meaning they shoot the ball more so we as a society give them a bigger role — but everybody is just as important.” While the Rockets are thrilled to see the momentum of the series swing their way for perhaps the first time in the series, the Warriors are upset that they let what they feel like was a winnable Game 4 get away. Draymond Green is OK with his team having its back against the wall and believes the Warriors play well when faced with adversity. “I know what we’re capable of and I know the level of focus and intensity that this team brings when that is the case,” he said. “We blew a golden opportunity but it’s not one that we can’t get back. We can get it back. So there’s no panic.” Stephen Curry said he spent much of Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) going over each possession of Golden State’s 12-point fourth quarter in his mind and thinking of ways he and the team could have done things better to close the game out after leading by double digits early in the period. “It’s a frustrating feeling obviously ... but we’re great at turning the page and being resilient and finding a way to bounce back,” he said. This series has already had so many ups and downs that it could give a young person gray hair. For the already silver-locked D’Antoni, who at 67 would be the oldest coach to win an NBA title if Houston gets it done, the exhilaration of this journey has been well worth any stress it has caused. “It makes me feel alive, I know that much,” he said. “It feels good. You coach all year for this or even your whole career to get here or get as close as you can. It’s great competition, against one of the best teams ever.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2018

Uncertainty shrouds Chelsea despite FA Cup win over United

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Chelsea's players saved their season but maybe not their manager. Collecting the FA Cup, after beating Manchester United 1-0 on Saturday, is looking like Antonio Conte's final act with Chelsea. "After two years, the club knows me very well," Conte said. "And if they continue to want to work with me they know I can't change. My way is always the same." Having won three Serie A titles at Juventus before capturing the English Premier League trophy for Chelsea, Conte reminded the Chelsea hierarchy: "I'm a serial winner." It was a bullish sign-off to a lackluster season that saw the Italian's relationship with Chelsea's leadership become increasingly strained as the team went from champions to fifth in the Premier League. "Our job is not simple," Conte said. "I understand that the club can make a decision." Wembley match-winner Eden Hazard also has a decision to make: Whether to pursue a transfer. After raising doubts about his Chelsea future ahead of the final — demanding "good players" are signed in the offseason — Hazard produced the only goal from the penalty spot in the 22nd minute. On the pitch, amid the celebrations, Hazard said nothing to demonstrate his commitment to the club. "I'm just happy," Hazard said. "You see the fans celebrating with the trophy. We didn't play a great season but at least we finished well." Although not in the style craved by Hazard. "If we want to win a lot of games we have to play better," Hazard said, "because today we played defensively." Such was the focus on the gloomy Premier League campaign and looming offseason of uncertainty in the post-match interviews, it was easy to forget Chelsea had just picked up a trophy. "This was to save our season," Chelsea captain Gary Cahill said. "I'm not saying we've had a magnificent season by any stretch. But we are used to winning, not in an arrogant way, but we have to try to win things." Conte's first cup final victory in coaching meant former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho finished his second season at United empty-handed, paying the price for an insipid first-half display and coming to life only after the break. United took until the 56th minute to register a shot on target when Marcus Rashford struck at goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who later rushed off his line to block the forward. United's deficiencies were encapsulated by another patchy performance from midfielder Paul Pogba, who squandered a late chance to equalize by heading wide. Mourinho, though, couldn't find any faults. "I don't think (Chelsea) deserved to win," said Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League last year. "I am quite curious because if my team played like Chelsea did I can imagine what everyone would be saying." KNOW THE LAW Conte seemed unfamiliar with the 2016 change to the "triple punishment" law, reducing the type of incidents that result in a penalty kick, a red card and suspension. Conte remonstrated to the officials after Phil Jones was only booked, not sent off for bringing down Hazard for the penalty. Referee Michael Oliver was right because a "genuine attempt has been made to play the ball," as football laws state. MAN UNITED: WHAT NEXT? This was only Mourinho's third loss in 15 career cup finals and the first defeat in regulation time. Despite Mourinho being able to spend around 300 million pounds ($404 million) on players, the only progress he can point to is finishing second in the league for the club's highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired as a champion in 2013. More investment is required in the offseason, particularly to acquire fullbacks. Wingers Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have been deployed there. CHELSEA: WHAT NEXT? The rapid turnover of managers hasn't prevented Chelsea from collecting trophies. It's now 15 in 15 years under Roman Abramovich's ownership. The Russian billionaire could well be searching for his 11th permanent manager if he decides to fire Conte with a year remaining on his contract. Chelsea's priority is finding a new striker, particularly if Hazard leaves, despite lacking the appeal of appearing in the Champions League. Chelsea failed to adequately replace Diego Costa last year, scoring 62 goals in the league compared to 85 in the previous title-winning campaign. MISSING The president of the Football Association wasn't available to present the FA Cup. Prince William had a more pressing engagement, serving as best man for brother Prince Harry in the lunchtime wedding to Meghan Markle at Windsor. Instead, the trophy was presented by Jackie Wilkins, the widow of former Chelsea and United midfielder Ray Wilkins, who died last month at the age of 61......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 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

Budding Sixers take control of series in Miami

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com MIAMI — Back in 2014, when the Miami Heat were wrapping up their championship-fueled era, the Philadelphia 76ers began plotting their own. And they did it unconventionally, laughably and by any measure, dreadfully. It was Year One of the most ambitious rebuilding plan before or since, when the Sixers willingly laid down and became a doormat and allowed other teams to wipe their sneakers on them. That season, while LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh cruised to a fourth straight appearance, and their last together, in the NBA Finals, the Sixers lost 63 games. And then they got better at this tanking technique and lost 64 and 72 the next two years. But fast-forward to now, to Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) at American Airlines Arena, and the roles with the Heat and Sixers are threatening to flip. Maybe not so drastically, but it’s clear through four games of this first-round playoff series that the Sixers are going one way and the Heat another. The Sixers have Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, a pair of young bedrocks slowly building something with the potential to be big. The Heat? They have banners in the rafters commemorating what they used to be, not so long ago. Philly also has something else on Miami, namely a 3-1 series lead after Simmons became the first rookie since Magic Johnson to drop a triple-double in a playoff game and Embiid fought through a poor shooting game and an irritating protective mask to spook any Heat player that challenged him at the rim. It was the Sixers who made all the right plays in the final crucial moments in the 106-102 win, getting key stops and buckets and pulling away, a team with a young core turning mature, and doing it rapidly, despite their lack of post-season experience. And having a front-row seat to this new Process was none other than Wade, a proud if aging member of the extinct Big Three who realizes something unique is happening with the Sixers. “This is a very good team,” said Wade. “They’ve got talent at almost every position. This is definitely one of the best first-round opponents I’ve played in my career.” Are the Sixers all that, already? “They’re good,” said Wade. “They’re special. They put the right team together.” Yes, they have. Maybe it wasn’t properly done in the spirit of competition, and perhaps they embarrassed themselves if not the league while doing so, but that’s all behind the Sixers right now. What’s ahead of them is a potential series-clinching Game 5 in Philly and from there, who knows? Yes, the core of the Sixers is Simmons, Embiid and Dario Saric, all under 25, and in the playing rotation only JJ Redick and Marco Belinelli earned any significant playoff money. But if a young team is ever going to reach the NBA Finals, this is the right time, and this is the right team. Just look at the wide-open landscape in the East: LeBron and the Cavaliers, winners of the last three East titles, are down 2-1 to the Pacers and haven’t appeared this fragile since LeBron returned to Cleveland. The Celtics are missing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Toronto is the No. 1 seed in the East but inspires few outside Canada. Why not the Sixers? Why not now? Simmons is lacking a jump shot and little else, and still manages to score anyway. His direction of the club in the fourth quarter of Game 4 was near-masterful; Simmons stayed poised, found the open man and popped the Heat’s comeback hopes with an uncontested dunk when Miami pulled within a point. Embiid couldn’t hit a shot and yet didn’t fall into a funk; rather he terrorized Miami by being a defensive force, punctuated by his spike of a Goran Dragic late-fourth quarter breakaway layup attempt (followed by an Embiid stare down). “They make you pay every time you make a mistake,” said Wade. Speaking of which, the Sixers had 27 turnovers, certainly the recipe for disaster, and still found a way. In the words of coach Brett Brown: “I’m surprised we won this game. We really didn’t have any right to win this game.” But maybe it’s just additional proof that this is Philly’s time. It’s quite a contrast to the ex-bully on the block. Four years after LeBron made the second biggest decision of his life, the Heat are still searching for the identity they had when the champagne flowed, and the party rolled on South Beach. The only reminder is Wade, and at age 36 he’s only capable of having flashes now, like his 28 points in Game 2 and an impressive 25-point follow up Saturday that was marred only by a missed free throw in the final seconds. Besides that, there’s nothing special. Pat Riley’s latest attempt to recreate a winner is looking dubious right now. Riley decided two summers ago to build the Heat around a seven-foot center with low post-skills, which means Riley gave a $100 million to a dinosaur. And one with a decaying relationship with coach Erik Spoelstra. Hassan Whiteside can’t get on the floor in today’s NBA, where small-ball makes him a liability in certain situations. With no shooting range, and perhaps no incentive to develop one, Whiteside finds himself on the bench in fourth quarters and on the nerves of Spoelstra. “He’s a prisoner of the style of play,” said Brown. Plus: Riley also paid Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson and Kelly Olynyk. Which means the Heat are almost guaranteed to be a 43-win team fighting for the final playoff spot for the next few years. When the Heat searched for someone to bail them out Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), who did they turn to? An aging All-Star who’s on the downside, which says something about Wade … and the Heat’s roster. “He ended up being our best option,” said Spoelstra. There’s another path the Heat can take, of course. They could follow the current Hawks, Nets, Lakers and Magic, who all took their cues from the 2014 Sixers, and take a few steps back before moving forward. But that’s not a fool-proof plan — have you seen the Magic the last few years? — and besides, losing by any means isn’t in Riley’s DNA. So, mediocrity it is, then. Meanwhile, the Sixers have Embiid and Simmons and if you ask fans in Philly, they’d say it was well worth the steep price, in terms of the misery of tanking, paid for them. “They’re two players that have the chance to be great,” said Brown. “Joel has no right to be doing some of the things he does. Ben’s composure down the stretch is amazing. Those two are exceptional.” What the Sixers just did was win a pair in Miami, under the banners that hung over them, was fly in the face of basketball convention which says youth doesn’t get served in the post-season. They can close out at home and then get the survivor of Celtics-Bucks, and Philly can expect to be the favorite in that conference semifinal. “I can see how much we’ve grown and how much more room we have to grow,” said Brown. “To come here and get a win, in this building, against an organization of winning and culture and history, it’s special.” There’s another story here: If the Sixers eliminate the Heat, then it could be curtains for Wade, who doesn’t have a contract for next season, who hasn’t committed to playing beyond this season, and who paused suspiciously for about three seconds when asked if Saturday was his final game in Miami. “I don’t want to answer that right now,” he said. Whether he sticks around or takes the sunset cruise, Wade must realize that a transformation is taking place in the East. After years of deliberately bad basketball the Sixers are finally bearing fruit, and oh, speaking of food, Wade and the Heat can chew on this for a minute: The Sixers have room under the salary cap to give Embiid and Simmons some help next season. LeBron James, free agent-to-be, might reach the conclusion that the Sixers are his best championship option. 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 NewsApr 22nd, 2018

DE JESUS: Genius, disciplinarian, champion coach

This story was originally published on May 7, 2017 De La Salle University head coach Ramil De Jesus came inside the press room of the Big Dome for a post-game interview wearing the same smile he had in the past nine times the Lady Spikers closed the UAAP season as champions. The only difference in those championship interviews were the players that accompanied him to answer questions from reporters. From Iris Ortega-Patrona, Desiree Hernandez, Maureen Penetrante, the legendary Manilla Santos, the Big Three of Cha Cruz, Paneng Mercado and Jacq Alarca, to Michel Gumabao and beast-mode-don’t-care Aby Marano to Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Kim Dy and gem of a setter in Kim Fajaro – all of them stood beside a genius and architect of DLSU’s successful volleyball program. Victory after victory, De Jesus built his reputation as a one of the best women’s volleyball mentors in the country. Last Saturday, De Jesus added another feather to his cap when he steered the Taft-based squad to back-to-back titles in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the expense of archrival Ateneo de Manila. Two decades since his arrival to the school of a different shade of green after playing for Far Eastern University, delivered 10 titles and brought the Lady Spikers to the Finals 17 times.   De Jesus shared the secret of his success. “Siguro, sistema siguro then hard work. And then, well-disciplined ‘yung mga bata. Siguro, ‘yun ‘yung key,” he said. His success earned him the respect of his peers including three-time UAAP men’s volleyball champion Oliver Almadro of Ateneo, who was once one of his lieutenants, and players alike. DLSU embraced him as one of its own. “Natutuwa ako kasi kahit hindi ako alumnus doon niyakap nila ako bilang parang doon na din nag-graduate,” said De Jesus. “Hindi ko naman napapansin ang mga nanyayari sa akin sila lang ang nakakapansin, binigyan nga ako ng award. Happy, very happy (ako).” De Jesus is known to be a no nonsense coach. Strict, straightforward and a disciplinarian – traits he inherited from FEU men’s coach Kid Santos.                He doesn’t like fanfare and as much as possible keeps attention away from him. De Jesus carefully chooses his words but when he gives one, everybody listens. He means business all the time.   Brilliance of De Jesus 246-65. De Jesus knows how to win and his career win-loss record says it all. The main reason why DLSU trusted De Jesus to handle the team for that many years – a rare feat considering that a UAAP coach’s tenure is very volatile.   It was summer 20 years ago when former basketball Olympian and influential DLSU sport personality Ramoncito Campos brought in a young mentor in De Jesus to save the school’s volleyball program, which then had yet to win a title since joining the league in 1986.           He entered the UAAP volleyball scene during the time when powerhouse teams Far Eastern University and University of Sto. Tomas, then mentored by legendary coach August Sta. Maria, were the ones lording over here the competition. Of course the road to glory didn’t come easy but his first tour of duty gave DLSU a chance to feel what it was to be in the Final Four when the Lady Spikers finished fourth a year when after strings of forgettable seasons. Quenching the thirst to salvage some pride in the sport that will eventually be DLSU’s second most valued contest next to basketball, the Lady Spikers began to hunger for the crown – something the school never felt before since winning it all back in 1976 as a member of the NCAA.   De Jesus submitted his team to Spartan-like training and hammering discipline and slowly molded the Lady Spikers to a championship-caliber squad. In Season 61, DLSU challenged FEU for the crown but the Lady Tamaraws’ championship experience prevailed. The loss only fueled De Jesus’ desire to bring the Lady Spikers to the throne even more. With the core of ace hitter Ortega-Patrona, setter Valerie Bautista, Sally Macasaet, Sheryl Magallanes, Demelle Chua, Hollie Reyes and then sophomore Ivy Remulla, De Jesus steered DLSU on the right track for another shot at the crown. Midway in the season Bautista got pregnant. De Jesus, calm and composed, knew what to do. He converted open spiker Reyes into a setter and the gambit worked as DLSU once again punched a ticket to the Finals, this time against UST – a very hungry team looking to reclaim the title. A year removed from the throne, UST was ready for the kill. But the Espana-based squad went against a famished team – DLSU will not leave the sweltering University of the Philippines Human Kinetics Gym without the championship trophy. In front of a crowd - dwarf-sized compared to the multitude of fans that troop bigger venues of today – the Lady Spikers wrote history. DLSU slew a giant in a thrilling five-set game behind the stellar performance of Ortega-Patrona, who won that Season’s Most Valuable Player award – the first of many incredible volleybelles that will bag the highest individual honor under De Jesus’ tutelage.     It was an incredible feat but it won’t see a repeat in the next three years.              Grand Slam After their breakthrough title, the Lady Spikers had three straight bride’s maid finishes behind FEU. Heartbreaks brought by Ortega-Patrona’s falling out with De Jesus over a disciplinary issue in Season 63 and the unstoppable power of FEU's Monica Aleta, who won three straight MVP awards while towing the Lady Tams to a three-peat. Like a chess master, De Jesus learned from his mistakes before pulling off a feat that will cement his name as one of the greatest. With Hernandez, Penetrante and a young Santos as his main pieces, he steered the Lady Spikers to a rare three-peat. DLSU brought into heel FEU, UST and Adamson to complete a grand slam. A four-peat loomed for the celebrated Lady Spikers but fate played a cruel trick on them after UAAP suspended DLSU in Season 69 because the Green Archers' basketball squad fielded two ineligible players the previous year.       When the ban was lifted in Season 70, De Jesus and the Lady Spikers were again under the radar as title contenders together with the defending champion UST, FEU and Adamson. But team was forced to file a leave of absence from the school while the tournament was ongoing because Alarca saw action despite incomplete academic credentials to be eligible to play. All of the team’s won games where Alarca played where forfeited and the Lady Spikers ended up at seventh place. It was a painful setback but it also served as a rallying point for DLSU. With Santos playing her final year and the emergence of enigmatic but then rookie libero Mel Gohing in Season 71, the Lady Spikers denied the then graduating Rachel Anne Daquis and FEU back-to-back crowns. DLSU relinquished the throne to the Angeli Tabaquero and Aiza Maizo-led Tigresses the following year. The Lady Spikers avenged their loss the next season in a rematch with UST behind Alarca, Mercado, Cruz, Gumabao and Gohing in the start of De Jesus’ second three-peat.   DLSU-Ateneo rivalry Nobody really knows when UAAP volleyball picked up the tremendous following it has today. Maybe it needed something for people to get hooked into. A continuous rivalry, perhaps? For six straight years DLSU and Ateneo did just that. The storied rivalry between La Salle and Ateneo spilled from the basketball court to the taraflex mat of volleyball. De Jesus had in his bench the core of veterans Cruz, Gumabao and Marano back and freshmen Galang, Reyes and Demecillo when they met in the Season 74 Finals a young and promising Lady Eagles side – much like the Lady Spikers De Jesus inherited 14 seasons back. Led by Fille Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio and a fresh recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school Alyssa Valdez, Ateneo gave DLSU a tough challenge for two seasons but the Lady Spikers repelled them both times. Then came Lady Eagles Thai mentor Tai Bundit. For three years in a row, De Jesus’ system bested the rest of the field including that of then Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb. However, a coach who barely spoke English or Filipino provided him a challenge in Season 76. DLSU with an intact core led by Marano, swept its way straight to the Finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage. Ateneo crawled its way to the championship round through a series of do-or-die games. De Jesus is an old-school type of coach. His system is hinged on well-planned strategies and tactics. He was pitted against Bundit’s Thai-style of play anchored on a heartstrong mantra and a ‘happy, happy’ approach of the game. Bundit dances on the sideline, an animated fellow during the matches. De Jesus is stoic as always. When the two collided for the title for the first time, Bundit shocked De Jesus and DLSU when Ateneo beat them thrice in a four-game series that went the full distance. Bundit and the Valdez-led Lady Eagles did it again the following year, completing a season sweep at the expense of the Lady Spikers, who struggled to pose any form resistance in the Finals after Galang went down with a season-ending ACL tear in the semis. It was a devastating loss to say the least. But De Jesus, a general who fought many battles for the green and white, stuck with the weapon that brought him success – his ability to adjust. Outdueled by Bundit in their last six matches, De Jesus found a way to stop the rampaging Lady Eagles in their first meeting in Season 78. Ateneo equalized in the second round and even took the top spot after the elimination. The Lady Spikers and the Lady Eagles would eventually meet in the Finals for the fifth year in a row. De Jesus was ready for Ateneo. He knew the strengths and weaknesses of the Lady Eagles and used it to his advantage to win the series opener. The then graduating Valdez brought Ateneo back in Game 2 to tie the series, but DLSU completed its long-awaited revenge in the decider and gave Reyes, Demecillo and Galang a fitting sendoff gift.                  Road to back-to-back Losing five veterans including three of their key players heading into Season 79 gave De Jesus one of the toughest challenges he ever faced as a DLSU mentor.  Setter Kim Fajardo returned for her swan song together with fourth year playes Kim Dy, Dawn Macandili and Majoy Baron. Desiree Cheng also came back after a year of absence due to a knee injury, but De Jesus was still left to navigate with a relatively young crew.  “Sa laht nang nai-form kong team, ito yung medyo (up and down) yung performance,” he said. “Sobrang babaw ng bench, wala ka halos (mahugot) pagtingin mo, wala ka makuha.” DLSU struggled early and was on the losing end of two elims matches against Ateneo. “Ateneo nu’ng buong elimination NU lang ang halos tumalo. Sabi ko ano bang meron ang team na ito?” he said. “Pinilit lang naming habulin.” “Kasi alam ko nag-start kami medyo hilaw ang team namin. Early part ng first round natalo kami sa UP sabi ko pukpok pa tayo, habol pa,” De Jesus added. “Ang nakakatuwa sa mga bata, ang determinasyon na humabol nandoon.” When the De Jesus found himself leading the Lady Spikers to a sixth straight title series against Bundit and the Lady Eagles, he knew his squad was ready to defend their crown. And protect it they did in a series sweep capped by a dramatic five-set victory.    “Siguro buong eliminations, nire-review namin ang mga games, nakikita mo yung difference, ‘yung advantage at disadvantage ng team, so siguro doon kami nag-focus, kung saan kami medyo dehado. Concentrate kami sa training,” he said. “Ine-explain ko rin sa players kung ano yung dapat naming gawin, although mahirap. So, tanggapin na lang nila.” In a rare moment, when Ateneo’s Jho Maraguinot sent her attack long that signaled DLSU’s back-to-back championships, De Jesus let his hair down a little. He was jumping, dancing, celebrating the victory and even held his hands up, both his palms wide open as confetti dropped and the deafening roar of the crowd and banging of the drums echoed inside the arena. De Jesus won his tenth title. When the celebration subsided, De Jesus fashioned the same smile he wore in his past nine championships as he was led inside the pressroom of the Big Dome. Only this time around, Fajardo, Cheng and Dy were the ones who followed him from behind.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

UAAP Volleyball: Bernadeth Pons: Probinsyana with a Superstar Soul

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2018

Bad sleeping habits can start in childhood, finds new study

Children as young as eight may already show unhealthy sleeping habits normally associated with adolescence, according to new research, which could be affecting their school performance and health. Carried out by researchers at McGill University, Canada, the new study looked at the sleep patterns of 144 children aged six to 11 years old during the academic year. Participants were divided into three age groups: 6 to 7 years; 8 to 9 years; and 10 to 11 years, with each participant's sleep pattern assessed over seven nights using a miniature actigraph, a wristwatch-like device that measures movement to evaluate sleep. The recordings showed that the older the children w...Keep on reading: Bad sleeping habits can start in childhood, finds new study.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMar 25th, 2018

I LOVE YOU, THIS GAME: Death threats and 5-peso coins, the MBA was crazy

There was confidence in the Metropolitan Basketball Association's regional format to succeed. After all, people love it when their home gets the spotlight. At the very least, the MBA was going to be a strong league for the actual cities and provinces that were represented in it. However, even those who believed in the MBA the most probably didn't expect just how big the reception was going to be. It was crazy and someone like this writer, who was too young to experience the bliss that is the MBA, can't do it justice. Fortunately, those who actually lived through the craziness of the MBA can tell those stories now, 20 long years later. Chito Victolero, former guard of the San Juan Knights and current head coach of Magnolia in the PBA: Sometimes merong mga unruly crowd na talagang very supportive sila at merong fanatics so sometimes nakakagawa sila ng mga ‘di tama, but you know kasama ‘yun eh. Kasama ‘yung sa dapat mong paghandaan, kasi you have to include it in your scouting report, ‘yung how to be mentally tough during the game. Kasama ‘yung crowd dun. ‘Yun nga ‘yung MBA. That’s why kakaiba siya kasi kung regular crowd lang siya, parehas lang ng ibang liga ‘yan. That’s why kakaiba ‘yung MBA. The crowd was very different then. ‘Yun ‘yung maganda dun. Kasama siguro sa marketing strategy ng MBA ‘yun, how to deal sa ganung crowd. Kasi iba ‘yung crowd, iba ‘yung atmosphere, iba ‘yung spirit ng game, lahat nandun eh. Nakaka-miss nga eh. When you go to Bacolod, to Cebu, nae-excite ka agad because you know there’s a big crowd. We wonder if coach Chito has a scouting report for Ginebra fans during Manila Clasico?   Dondon Hontiveros, former guard for the Cebu Gems who went on to become a PBA legend. Current guard for Alab Pilipinas: There was a time talaga na masasabi ko na ‘yung outrageous na ginagawa ng mga fans pa… may mga batuhan. Nakita nga natin dito may nagbato ng bottled water sa referee pero it was worse then. It even came to a point na kapag nalaman ng fans kung ano ‘yung hotel ng kalaban parang inaabangan na ba. And ganun din kami if we go travel to Bacolod, ganun din ‘yung nae-experience namin. Fortunately for me, pagkakaalam ng mga taga-Bacolod, taga-doon ako because the year before, in 1997, I played there sa Negros Basketball Association for Central and maganda pinakita ko. So naalala nila na dun ako naglaro, so ‘di naman masama para sa’kin. Cebu vs. Negros was one of the premier rivalries in the MBA and Hontiveros was the star of the Gems. "Fortunately for me," might be an understatement for Dondon.   Rafi Reavis, former center for the San Juan Knights. Still plays for Magnolia in the PBA and is the winningest active player, with 10 championships: It was always one of the teams at the South, because it was always the North versus the South. Negros, we had a tough time down there. Cebu’s also a tough place to play – not only did you have do play in a hostile environment, and when I say hostile I mean coins being thrown at you, hamburgers, apples, anything you can think of, it can be coming your way. You really had to watch out if things get heated in those places. That was just how passionate the fans were. I mean, they’re the nicest people but hey, don’t come in here and try to take what we’re trying to achieve here. It was pretty cool.  I never heard any racist things but I’ve been cursed out by old ladies before. I remembered an old lady, about 80-plus year-old, she just walked by me before the game cursing me out so I was like ‘Wow!’. But I also understood these fans are just passionate, this was their home team, so I understood. I get it. And as a player, you cannot let stuff like that affect you, and that’s just the will power you had to have. You have to put yourself inside of a bubble and focus on the task at hand which is the game, win the game and get out of there, hopefully safely, and leaving everything else to the fans and the things you can’t control, you leave it alone. Rafi must have been quite the charm back in the MBA.   Reynel Hugnatan, former forward for the Negros Slashers and current forward for the Meralco Bolts with at least 5,000 career points in the PBA: Naalala ko nun naglaro kami sa Cebu, may dala na kamig mga payong sa ilalim ng upuan namin. Kasi alam namin, pag konting ano lang, magbabatuhan na naman. Pag nagbatuhan, ready na kami, may payong na kami. Always bring an umbrella folks.   Nash Racela, former head coach for the Batangas Blades and current head coach for TNT KaTropa: If you watch the MBA ang daming hecklers di ba, talagang sinisigawan ka the whole game. I'm thinking one game in Davao, and there was another game in Negros na parang the whole game, may isang tao nasa likod ko na sigaw lang ng sigaw sa akin. Ganun talaga eh, it just shows the passion of the Filipino basketball fans. That's understandable, it really made the game more interesting nung mga panahon na yun. We think coach Nash would prefer this set up than having to bring his own umbrella to the bench.   Alex Compton, former guard for the Manila Metrostars and current head coach for the Alaska Aces: It hurts if a five-peso coin comes flying from the upper deck and hits you in the head. That leaves a bump and that happened a few times in a few different places. In the MBA that was almost expected because everybody was so intense. You should have brought an umbrella coach.   Peter Musngi, the one and only "Voice of ABS-CBN," he was one of the key people for ABS-CBN in the MBA from the league's inception to its untimely demise: One of the things that I remember, and kapag inaalala ko nga lang kinakabahan pa ko eh, I think I was seated beyond Commissioner Ogie Narvasa then sa official’s table and noong nagbatuhan… we were warned already kasi it was Negros vs. Cebu, sabi baka magkagulo. Noong may questionable call daw ng referee, biglang nagliparan ‘yung mga coins. Nakita ko talaga tumatama kay Commissioner Ogie Narvasa, but he looked at the back and stayed. Ako naman, tatakbo na sana ako (laughs) kasi nagkakagulo na pero ‘nung nakita ko si Ogie, ‘Ay nakakahiya, sige na nga bahala na matamaan sa ulo’ (laughs). So that’s one. The others are from the coverage standpoint, dahil we were always moving around, and it came to a point paggising mo ‘di mo alam kung nasaan ka. It takes a few minutes to think ‘Oh, saan kami nanggaling? Saan na kami ngayon?’ Or the fact that we were eating Jollibee for breakfast, lunch and dinner (laughs) because ‘yun ang sponsor eh. That wasn’t bad, but we had to be creative and say, I mean kasi umuulan, umaaraw, ‘di mo alam tapos, sabi naming ‘At least man lang arroz caldo, mainit.’ Jollibee all day, everyday? Now that's crazy.   Ramon Fernandez, the "El President" and four-time PBA Most Valuable Player served as the MBA's very first Commissioner: The biggest problem of the Commissioner's Office at the time were the fans, the rowdy fans. Masyadong fanatic sa mga teams nila. I remember distinctly one game in Negros, it was the Cebu Gems and the Negros Slashers, nagkagulo yung players. The fans just started throwing things and I had to stop the game. Mabuti na lang nandoon yung bishop, sitting beside me. So pinakiusapan ko siya na, 'Bishop baka pwede mo naman kausapinyung crowd na let's just enjoy and have fun' pumayag naman siya. Natuloy yung game, laro ulit. Eh nagkaroon na naman ng gulo, ganun na naman nangyaro so I said, 'Bishop baka one more time,' sabi niya, 'Mon leave it all to God.' Sometimes all you can do is just pray and ask for Divine Intervention.   Ramon Tuason, CEO of MetroBall, Inc., the mother company of the Metropolitan Basketball Association: It was a Cebu-Davao game and Ramon Fernandez was able to gather 14 large garbage cans of debris [from the game]. From rocks, to plastic bottles, to bottles with green liquid inside, anything. Marbles, socks with marbles inside, they were throwing everything inside. As a matter of fact, we had to ban plastic drinking water from entering the stadium after like the fourth or fifth game. We had to go through the Army, the PNP, and everybody to have support in the stadiums because of the fans' passion. We call it the passion of the nation but sometimes, they become too passionate, too emotional. Very difficult to control the crowds. In Bacolod, there was a situation where a bomb exploded inside a garbage can. Players, coaches, and including us got death threats especially during the inauguration game, because as you remember, the PBA, who was I guess threatened, decided to move their opening day to our same opening day and made it a Robert Jaworski birthday bash. I guess Jaworski fans were a bit pissed off that we were in the same day but actually, they moved their opening day to ours, as a matter of fact, ABS-CBN had a countdown. The PBA was threatened? Interesting... (to be continued)   *I Love You, This Game is a series celebrating the Metropolitan Basketball Association's 20th anniversary. Stay tuned for more! READ PART 1: I LOVE YOU, THIS GAME: The logo that started a basketball revolution READ PART 2: I LOVE YOU, THIS GAME: The Passion of the Nation READ PART 3: I LOVE YOU, THIS GAME: Trouble from Lakerland --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 12th, 2018

Morning Tip Q& A: DeMar DeRozan

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst The tweet was posted at 6:06 a.m. on Feb. 17 (7:06pm, PHL time), and while there have occasionally been positive tweets sent out at that hour, this one got people’s attention for the wrong reasons. This depression get the best of me... — DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) February 17, 2018 That it came from the Twitter account of a four-time NBA All-Star, whose team was en route to the best season in franchise history, only added to the confusion. But there it was. “This depression get the best of me...” DeMar DeRozan tweeted, and it surprised just about everyone, because the 28-year-old is pretty quiet most of the time. But DeRozan has been carrying a lot on his plate. Not only is trying to lead Toronto somewhere it’s never been before, but has never has as a good a chance before, either -- The Finals -- but he’s been doing it while going back and forth between Toronto and Los Angeles, where his father, Frank DeRozan, has been hospitalized for weeks. Frank DeRozan has been DeMar’s biggest coach, biggest critic and biggest champion his whole life, never being satisfied as his son rose through the ranks of basketball, from Compton High to USC to the NBA. But Frank DeRozan has suffered health setbacks in recent years -- a stroke and significant kidney problems, per the Toronto Sun -- and DeMar has gone bicoastal multiple times to be with his dad, never missing a game in the process. (Frank DeRozan was able, though, to temporarily leave the hospital last month in L.A. to go to Staples Center to see DeMar play for Team Stephen in the All-Star Game.) In his ninth season in Toronto -- he’s never asked for a trade and agreed almost immediately to a $139 million extension with the Raptors in 2016, never even looking at free agency -- DeRozan has scored less than he did last season, but is averaging a career-high 5.2 assists and gone all in on Toronto’s “culture reset,” as GM Masai Ujiri put it after the Raptors went out again in the playoffs last year. After years of resisting, arguing not without merit that he was a master of the mid-range game, DeRozan has embraced the three-pointer this season, obliterating his previous highs for attempts and makes behind the arc, and keeping the ball moving both to fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry and to the team’s emerging cast of young, talented players, who’ve helped carry the load all season. After winning Sunday (Monday, PHL time), the Raptors are an Eastern Conference best 45-17, and are closing in on home court throughout the playoffs in the East. All would seem to be great. But, as DeRozan’s social media statement made clear (and, to his credit, he acknowledged it was him and that he wasn’t hacked, and he hasn’t taken the Tweet down), life sometimes gets in the way of all our dreams. David Aldridge: So, your dad was able to come to Staples Center to see you at the All-Star Game. How was that for him? DeMar DeRozan: It was good. It was real good. He had a good time. It was cool for him to be able to come out and experience it and enjoy it. It made me feel good. He was happy about it. DA: And how is he doing? DD: Every day is one of them things where you just don’t know until he’s home. Until he gets home, that’s when I think I’ll be more comfortable, knowing, cool, you’re out of there. He’s been in there since Dec. 23. It’s March 2nd. I know just that is bothering him, being in there and wanting to get out. Just on top of that, my mom, when I was home the other day, my mom was telling me ‘this is the longest I’ve been without my husband in 30-plus years.’ Stuff like that, that’s the rough part of it. DA: So is that where your head’s at right now? DD: Without a doubt. For sure. One thing I always try to do whenever I go out there and play is try to do whatever I can, knowing I’m so far, doing something I know will make them proud, make them feel good, give them a kind of energy. That’s kind of where I’ll be with it. DA: Is it hard to compartmentalize? So many people say the court is their refuge? DD: For me, it’s easy to do, from the moment of playing to kind of lock in and focus and kind of indulge in that moment. It’s crazy you say that, because Kyle, he’s one of my closest friends, he knows me so well. A lot of times after the game, the first thing he’ll say to me is ‘back to reality.’ He knows now our night is over. Now I have to go back and get into the reality of DeMar. It’s crazy. DA: What have you heard from folks since you sent that tweet out? DD: Man, where haven’t I heard from? Honestly, the response, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have even thought how the response, how it came out, I wouldn’t have thought I’d ever gotten anything like that. Especially me. I’ve never been one who wanted any type of attention, good nor bad. The response I got from people was so uplifting, positive, refreshing. It’s crazy. It’s crazy. But it made me feel good. You just look at certain things. People say ‘you helped me. Because if you’re going through something like this, I can get through it.’ It’s incredible. By far one of the most incredible things in my career that I’ve witnessed outside of basketball. DA: So you could be a role model in a whole different way. DD: For sure. I never looked at myself and said ‘man, I want to be a role model.’ But something like that is extremely important. It’s all walks of life. I done had high school players, college players, older people. I had one older coach that I’ve known text me and tell me, ‘if there was a player when I was young that I’d seen or witnessed who was going through something (like this), it would have helped me -- then -- not be an alcoholic.’ It was incredible to hear words like that. It’s been one of them things where I’m like, ‘damn, I’m just speaking the truth.’ It’s crazy. DA: Is there anything you’re doing formally or officially now to deal with it? DD: Nah. I think I’m going to definitely, once we’re all said and done, probably the summertime for sure, I’ll be open arms about it without a doubt. At the end of the day, it’s like it’s one of them things where you can’t play basketball forever, but if there’s something I can do that will outlast it and be helpful, be bigger than basketball, I’m all for it. It’s life. DA: So y’all are in this new position on top of the East. You’ve been good for a minute over the years, but this is the top of the top. Is the vibe different in the locker room? DD: Definitely. It’s more, we have fun with one another, but we understand it’s bigger than us all. We, all of us -- young guys, all of me. Me and Kyle always tell the young guys, ‘this opportunity doesn’t always come around that often. Take advantage of this and be all for it. Before you know it, you’re going to be 10 years in, and the opportunity may not come again. Take full advantage of it.’ And everybody understands that. We see it now, especially when we have games where we lose a game. We think we’re on a 10-game losing streak. That’s how we approach coming in the next day at practice, or the next game. It’s great to have that kind of feeling and vibe. DA: How do you know when you’re all locked in? DD: You just know. I always look at my guy Kyle, and you know he’s gonna ride or die with you. But it’s crazy when you’re able to look over at a guy like Pascal (Siakam), or Freddie (Van Vleet), or Delon (Wright), these young guys who only have a couple of years in the league, they’ve got the same look that Kyle’s got. That says a lot about the team. Because you know when those young guys go in, they’re some dogs, too. That’s the beauty of it, and it shows. DA: So, about those young guys. You know what you’re gonna do in the playoffs, and you know what Kyle’s gonna do, and Jo. But if you’re going to beat an elite team in the playoffs, the young guys are gonna have to perform. DD: Yeah. And they have. I lost count of how many games our starters haven’t even played in the fourth quarter. Against good teams, not just lower teams. There have been times where we’re playing some great teams, and the coaches come in and look at us, and we’re like, ‘nah, let them finish out the game. They’ve got this.’ It’s great to have that type of confidence in the young guys. It’s amazing. I know we get a lot of credit, but they deserve just as much credit. DA: So is this the most optimistic you’ve been going into the postseason? DD: Yeah. Because we’ve done felt the fails. We’ve been at the top, and we fell all the way to the bottom. We know what that feels like. We know what it feels like getting closer and closer. We understand the moments. That’s the beauty of failing sometimes. Nobody wants to fail, but you have to to understand what it takes to succeed. And I think that’s where we’re at mentally, and we understand what we have to do. 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 NewsMar 6th, 2018

Cuban s tanking talk raises key issue for NBA

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst The NBA fined Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $600,000 for being honest. Cuban told Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Julius Erving on Erving’s podcast a couple of weeks ago that he told his players during a recent dinner that “losing is our best option. Adam (Silver) would hate hearing that…(but) we want the players to understand. As a player, you know that even though you may not agree, but at least if you respect the fact that someone took the time to talk to you, and you understood their perspective, you’re going to give me your feedback, but you’re part of the process.” But the league fined Cuban for what it called “public statements detrimental to the NBA” three days later. And Silver sent a memo to all 30 teams last week detailing the league’s position. “Throughout this period,” Silver wrote, “we have been careful to distinguish between efforts teams may make to rebuild their rosters, including through personnel changes over the course of several seasons, and circumstances in which players or coaches on the floor take steps to lose games. “The former can be a legitimate strategy to construct a successful team within the confines of league rules; the latter -- which we have not found and hope never to see in the NBA -- has no place in our game.” Yet Cuban did not in any way, nor has any evidence to the contrary emerged, state the Mavericks were losing games on purpose; that is, players were intentionally missing shots, or not putting forth effort on defense to let the other team score, or anything like that. (Even Silver acknowledged in the memo that the league has “no basis at this time to conclude that the Mavericks team is giving anything less than its best effort on the court, and Mark has assured us that this is not the case.”) So, why the fine? Was what Cuban said so incendiary? ‘’Mark knew his comments were public, so it surprised me that he was so candid, but that's who Mark is,” said one very high-ranking official from another team over the weekend. “To me his comment wasn't indicating tanking as their strategy but more about setting the expectation that playoffs were not a possibility. The only consolation of not making the playoffs is being in the lottery. You can't blame a team from trying to turn the lemon (losing) into lemonade (top 4 pick). The league needs to find a way not to reward losing.” Exactly. What Cuban said was spot on -- losing to improve the Mavericks’ Draft position was, and is, the best and quickest way for Dallas to get better and start winning games again. That doesn’t mean everyone agreed with Cuban being so blunt. “I think it was a totally inappropriate to say that to players,” said another extremely high-ranking team official for another team. “Whatever the team’s strategy may be, I firmly believe that the players should always play to win. The fine is meaningless to Mark; in fact, sometimes I think he enjoys the publicity he gets from the fines.” But. We ask people to be truthful and not lie about their intentions. We tell our kids that no lie is worth telling, and that telling the truth, no matter how painful, is always the best choice. So Cuban is honest and tells the truth, that short-term losing makes more sense for his franchise’s long-term interests, and he’s relieved of 600 large by the league. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers are lauded -- and revel in their slogan, “Trust the Process,” celebrated by the team’s most ardent supporters -- whose central tenet was to lose, and keep losing, until you could draft a player good enough to build around and win down the road. Which is, exactly, what Dallas is doing now. Indeed, increased tanking is the logical extension of an analytics-dominant league. If three is greater than two -- the reasoning behind the primacy of the 3-pointer in today’s NBA -- then doing anything you can to get more ping-pong balls in the hopper is the correct thing to do. You can’t just embrace the parts of doing it by the numbers that are pleasant. This is the flip side. Burying one’s head in the sand and pretending teams don’t do this doesn’t make sense. Everyone does it in every sport, or don’t you recall “Suck for Luck,” the chant of Indianapolis Colts’ fans before the 2012 NFL Draft? What of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros losing 324 games from 2011-13? Were they trying to win games, or did we all imagine them going from $102 million in payroll in 2009 to $26 million by 2013? “I resist the word ‘tanking,’ but I’m very pro ‘rebuilding,’ when it’s necessary,” said Los Angeles Dodgers President Stan Kasten, who in a former life ran the Hawks as general manager in the ‘80s and ‘90s, by telephone Sunday. “And, it’s painful,” Kasten said. “You’ve got to explain it to your team, your fans, to your front office, to your coaches, to your wife, to your kids, to the country club. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s nobody’s first choice. But if it’s necessary, it’s often the quickest way to get the team back to winning. And don’t lose sight of that.” Kasten’s Dodgers lost the World Series to the Astros, who methodically built their team the last four years around young drafted players like Series MVP George Springer, last fall in seven games. But not only is he not angry with Houston for the way management took the franchise’s foundation to the studs -- compared with his high-spending Dodgers -- he admires the speed with which they went from worst to first. “I have real feelings about what they did,” Kasten said. “Because Mark Walter (the CEO of Guggenheim Partners, the global firm that bought the Dodgers in 2012) and I, before we bought the Dodgers, we were looking at Houston. Because they were available. And truthfully, when we looked at where they were, we were going to do the same thing. It had to be done. Because they were not on a track to win. And frankly, I don’t think I could have done it as fast, or as well, as (Astros owner) Jim Crane, or (GM) Jeff Luhnow. Because doing that, to the extreme, takes real intestinal fortitude.” Kasten makes a strong distinction between a team cutting payroll and going young and that winds up losing, and one that’s actively seeking ways to lose more games. “All of these owners are hyper-competitive, and they want to win,” Kasten said. “And truthfully, the quickest way to win, at least if you look at the last three world champions, is to rebuild and get young and get prospects and do it that way. And if you don’t think that’s the better way to go, ask the fans in Houston and Chicago and Kansas City how they feel. You won’t get one fan who disagrees with what is done. It is the quickest way to win.” Please do not misunderstand. I hate tanking. I hate the idea of introducing losing into your shop, even indirectly. It’s like a virus, extremely difficult to get rid of once it gets in a franchise’s bloodstream. A ticket is, in essence, a contract between parties: I pay top dollar, you give me top-dollar product in exchange. When a team tanks, it violates that compact; I don’t recall any team that’s given fans a tanking discount. It is also very difficult to tank effectively in the NBA. The last three teams with the best odds of getting the No. 1 in the Draft going into the Lottery -- Boston (2017), Philadelphia (2016) and Minnesota (2015) -- have indeed won. But prior to that, the team with the best odds didn’t get the first pick for 10 consecutive years, and 22 times out of the last 25 years. And even the teams that did buck the odds and get the first pick often picked wrong, or did I miss Anthony Bennett Night in Cleveland, or the Andrea Bargnani statue outside of Air Canada Centre? “The Draft is often a crap shoot anyway,” the official from the second team said. “So why not give your fans the best product that you can and then draft Donovan Mitchell,” as Utah did this season. The Jazz traded for the rights to the Kia Rookie of the Year candidate, who was taken near the bottom of the Lottery (13th overall by the Denver Nuggets). This came a season after the Jazz went 51-31 and won its first-round playoff series. I agree. Tanking does not reward excellence in team building -- good drafting, good free-agent signings, good player development -- it rewards the exact opposite of that. It’s a Golden Ticket that doesn’t even require you to buy an Everlasting Gobstopper. But, tanking is reality. You can’t pretend it isn’t. And the only way to completely get tanking out of pro sports is to eliminate the Draft in all sports, including the NBA. We don’t want to have that conversation, do we? Personally, I’d love it. Can you imagine the fight that would set up between interested teams -- and who wouldn’t be interested? -- in a certain 7-foot-1 freshman center almost certain to leave school early who currently plays for a school that’s been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately? Would he help the Lakers? The Knicks? The Bulls? The NBA team in the state in which the college player currently plays, which rather desperately needs another star to pair with its one really great player (whose name, if you must know, rhymes with “Nevin Cooker”)? Would he help any team in the league that doesn’t currently employ Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid or Karl-Anthony Towns in the middle? Most assuredly. And if he could control where he wanted to go, and for how much, the process would be must-see TV. Yet, while the real-world implications would be fascinating, I’m not sure how you could eliminate the Draft without loosening the underpinnings of the entire pro basketball enterprise (and, yes, one could make a moral case for doing just that, as it does go against the whole Manifest Destiny thing to artificially bind someone to a company rather than letting them market their services to the highest bidder). If there was no Draft, why would any player with Lottery-level talent go to college? Yes, there would be the occasional Grant Hill/unicorn who wants to go to college to better themselves intellectually and/or embrace the person growth that often comes from being on your own for four years. But, while sad to say, most kids with NBA dreams go to college because that’s the path through which they can ultimately get to the pros the fastest. With no Draft, and few of the top college-age players thus needing/wanting to go to college, you’d have a very different March Madness than you have now. And as that is a multi-billion enterprise, both for the broadcast networks that air it (including Turner Sports, which runs NBA.com) and the colleges that reap the financial deluge it produces, the likelihood of across the board support for a new player acquisition model is slight. Not to mention, you’d have a much different salary structure in the NBA, as there would be no rookie slotting for drafted players. And if you think the game’s superstars would stand idly by and watch more of that cheddar that they helped produce go out the door to guys who haven’t yet done anything … you’d be wrong. So, the Draft isn’t going anywhere. Which means the NBA must decide whether it wants to continue to be shocked, shocked that tanking is going on in its league, or accept the reality that there is not much patience for being in the middle ground in a league where every team is now worth more than $1 billion. There is only, as Pat Riley said a long time ago, winning and misery. 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 NewsMar 6th, 2018

At 37, Fil-Am boxer Brian Viloria eyeing fifth world title

In 2005, Filipino-American boxer Brian ‘The Hawaiian Punch’ Viloria captured his first world championship, knocking out Eric Ortiz in the first round to become the new WBC Light Flyweight world champion. Now, thirteen years later, Viloria is hunting for his fifth world championship, and at 37 years old, Viloria is still as explosive as ever. “I've had a kid so I thought it’d be opposite.” Viloria told ABS-CBN’s Steve Angeles. “It’s all about taking care of yourself, whether you’re fighting or not fighting. I always tell people boxing is a lifestyle, just staying in shape.” Following his 2015 loss to then-pound for pound king Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzales for the WBC Flyweight world title, Viloria revealed that he thought long and hard about his future. After sitting out 2016, Viloria made his return to action in 2017, stringing together a couple of victories that has earned him a shot at the vacant VBA Flyweight world title. Viloria has relatively flown under the radar in the past few years, but a look at this record will show that the Waipahu native has won six of his last seven fights. “I feel like this is my first world title fight. There’s a lot to prove, a lot of people tell me ‘You’re getting old blah blah blah, do you still have what it takes?’” said Viloria. “A lot of those questions come up to me, but for me I have to prove it in February 24th, and for me that’s what’s motivating me. I think I’m still capable of competing at the top level.” On February 24th, Viloria goes toe to toe with Ukraine’s Artem Dalakian, an unbeaten opponent who’s seven years Viloria’s junior. And while Dalakian may have the edge on youth, experience will definitely be on the side of Viloria. This will be Dalakian’s first chance at a world championship and his first fight outside of Ukraine. Still, Viloria believes that Dalakian will be coming in hungry and ready. “I know how he feels. I still know the feeling of fighting for my first world title and you get up for that and knowing your against a guy that’s proven himself in the division.” “Kids get up for that. They come up with their A-game for that.” Viloria added. Nearly seventeen years after his professional debut, Viloria finds himself still fighting at the highest level of the sport with a fifth world title in his sights. It isn’t lost on him however, that he could be on the tail-end of his career. “I wish I could do it forever but I can see the bridge coming up and right now, I’ll take it from fight to fight.” But for now, the focus is on the WBA Flyweight crown. “Right now I feel great but we have to see. We’ll wait when that time comes and we’ll make a decision.” Viloria says.   Viloria and Dalakian battle for the vacant WBA Flyweight world championship at the Superfly 2 card at The Forum in Los Angeles, California on February 24th. Also fighting on the same card is reigning and defending IBF Flyweight world champion Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes.   H/T: Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 6th, 2018

With no World Cup for US this year, Altidore shifts focus

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press For Jozy Altidore, this was supposed to be the time when the United States was preparing for this summer's World Cup. That changed early in October when the Americans got bounced from the tournament. The stunning failure shifted Altidore's focus. He spent the beginning of 2018 in Grand Cayman, where his foundation is bringing soccer to kids in a region hit by hurricanes last fall. Soon, he'll start the new season with defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC. As for this summer? Altidore will watch a few of the matches in Russia on television. The 28-year-old forward isn't stewing in the loss, he's looking with hope to the future. "Of course I'll obviously be disappointed not to be there, but at the end of the day, man, we're blessed to do what we do," he said. Apart from the national team loss, Altidore is coming off one of the better years of his career. He scored 18 goals with the Reds and another four with the U.S. national team. Toronto FC won the Supporters' Shield for the best regular-season record before sweeping through the playoffs and defeating Seattle 2-0 for the league title. Altidore scored in the final and earned MLS Cup MVP honors. The victory was a bit of revenge for a loss to the Sounders for the MLS Cup the previous season, but Altidore said Toronto's motivation was part of a season-long journey he took with his teammates and coach Greg Vanney. "I think more than anything we understood how close we were and how it hurt that we had come up short that season," he said. "The focus for us was to do what we did that last year and if we got to the last game, obviously make sure we got the W and make the most of our chances." Toronto teammate and fellow national team player, Michael Bradley, echoed the sentiment after the title match. "When push comes to shove, you want to step into the biggest moments with people that you would do anything for, that you love, that you believe in, that you trust, that you know have your back," Bradley said. But it wasn't all smooth. Altidore got into a confrontation with New York Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan in a tunnel at BMO Field during the conference semifinals. Altidore and Kljestan were handed red cards in the aftermath. Altidore sat out Toronto's next game, while Kljestan was suspended an additional game and won't be able to play the first two games of the upcoming season. Kljestan, who was also fined, was traded in the offseason from the Red Bulls to Orlando. Altidore and Bradley were also jeered — sometimes with profane and personal attacks — by opposing fans over the U.S. team's qualifying performance. "Look, all that stuff I think would have been magnified had we not achieved our objective," Altidore said. "But we did, and we did it in such a convincing manner." Following the 2-1 U.S. loss in Couva, Trinidad, that cost the national team a spot in the World Cup, coach Bruce Arena stepped down and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said he would not run for another term. Interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan called 30 players into January training camp in advance of an exhibition game against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 in Carson, California. Altidore and many of the team's veterans were not invited. The camp roster includes 15 players who have never played in a match for the senior national team. The most experienced was LA Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes, who is 26. Twenty-one of the players are 24 and younger. Altidore, who has 41 goals in 110 appearances with the national team, understands that developing young talent is important heading into the next World Cup quadrennial. "We have to do a better job of identifying new talent, for sure," he said, suggesting that missing out on the past two Olympics — where under-23 teams compete — has hurt development efforts. For now, Altidore is pouring his energy into charitable endeavors. Altidore, whose parents are from Haiti, launched his foundation in 2011 following the devastating earthquake that hit the country the year before. The foundation built a well to provide water to a town of more than 400 in Haiti, along with other rebuilding efforts. In 2016, he paid to bring the Copa America matches to television in the country. The latest effort in the Cayman Islands focuses on getting youth involved in soccer. "I think the whole region, the Caribbean has a lot of talent and has a lot of kids who want to become players. And I think it helps to see and identify with players who have played in different leagues from around the world," he said. "If I'm able to be one of those guys that can start that whole thing, it's a great opportunity and honor for me."      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Screen time can ‘chip away’ at young children’s sleep, finds new study

  Young children who spend too much time in front of a screen are not getting enough sleep, and especially if they are being sneaky about using it, according to the results of a new United States study. Carried out by researchers from the University of Michigan, the study looked at levels of screen time among 278 preschoolers with an average age of 4 years old, including DVD/VCR, video games and computer/internet usage. The researchers asked the children's parents and guardians to complete a questionnaire about their child's bedtime behavior, reporting the hours of nightly sleep, daily naps, and quantity and times of media usage. Parents were also asked to answer que...Keep on reading: Screen time can ‘chip away’ at young children’s sleep, finds new study.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 13th, 2018

Kobe Paras upbeat about the Gilas Pilipinas 2023 squad he ll eventually lead

If you ask Filipino forward Kobe Paras to describe what all the early developments for the Gilas Pilipinas squad for the 2023 FIBA World Cup make him feel, you'll get one word: Happy. Paras, who was one of the more prominent names among 23 young players listed by the Philippine national basketball team head coach Chot Reyes to be part of the early training pool, expressed his approval of the group of guys, even if some are visibly left off of the list because of their commitment to other squads. "I’m happy with the group of guys. I know there are a lot of guys that aren’t on the list," Paras said in an interview with Steve Angeles of ABS-CBN News North America during the Los Angeles Clippers' Filipino Heritage Night. "It makes sense if they’re not on the list because of their teams or whatever rules but I’m happy with it."  One player who fit that bill was De La Salle University's flashy forward Ricci Rivero, who was left off the list after his school urged its players to focus on their rebuild next UAAP season. Even then, the 6'6" Paras, who's more or less baptized by Coach Chot to be destined to be the face of the nationa team sounded both honored and excited about his inclusion to the squad, who'll represent the Filipino tricolor five years from now, as the Philippines co-hosts the international basketball meet with Indonesia and Japan. "I’m happy that coach picked me as well. I love representing my country so I’m just really happy that he chose me for that," said the U.S.-based Paras. "I saw the other day they practiced." Aside from local, homegrown talents included in the "#23for23" pool like Thirdy Ravena, CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, and Isaac Go, a couple of Filipino-Americans also made the list. Remy Martin, a rookie point guard for the Arizona State Sun Devils, and Dwight Ramos from the California State-Fullerton Titans, were names present in the preliminary pool. As a fellow Pinoy cager in a foreign land, Kobe is nothing but eager to meet, and eventually play his contemporaries. "I haven’t talked to Remy [Martin] or what’s his name from Fullerton...Dwight [Ramos]," Kobe said. "I think I’m going to play him too. I gotta talk to Dwight but I’ve seen Remy play. I need to talk to them though. Because we’re representing L.A. and the Philippines so it’s going to be cool."  Here's the full video interview of Kobe Paras:  .@_kokoparas enjoyed being at .@LAClippers Filipino Heritage Night and he also expressed his happiness about being on SBP #23for23 He hopes to also speak to .@3wight and .@1Remy_Martin1 soon 🇵🇭🏀🌊 .@abscbnsports .@ABSCBNNewsSport .@ABSCBNNews pic.twitter.com/e8GcUq1Luf — Steve Angeles (@StevieAngeles) January 9, 2018.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2018

Popovich s odd alliance with red state fans

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SAN ANTONIO -- About 400 people gathered at the Oak Hills Country Club in June 2016 and paid $500 to $250,000 to sip iced tea and nibble hors d’oeuvres next to a golf course designed by noted architect AW Tillinghast, who built many. One is owned by the man who was feted at this political fundraiser, Donald J. Trump. The presidential campaign was in full blast and saltier than the crackers on the cheese plate being passed around. Fresh off the plane, Trump thanked the Republicans for the big ‘ole Texas welcome, witnesses say, before launching a blistering attack on the usual targets: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, illegal immigration. Then, near the end of his 30-minute lunchtime appearance, in an effort to connect with the locals, he pivoted and mentioned perhaps the most famous man in town: Gregg Popovich. Witnesses say Trump called Popovich “a great coach” and said “he does a good job” and then there was some fidgeting in the room when the soon-to-be polarizing leader of the free world said this: “I don’t know if the coach is on my side.” Confirmation came emphatically, right after Trump won a divisive election that November. The coach of the Spurs lit into the President over the next several months with a handful of rants that had the stealth of Kawhi Leonard ambushing a timid ball-handler. In no particular order, here were Pop’s Greatest Hits, all issued through the media and without prompting or provocation: “The disgusting tenure and tone and all the comments … have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in a country where half the people ignored that to elect someone.” And: “He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.” And: “The man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks he can only become large by belittling others.” And: “We have a pathological liar in the White House ... You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.” Popovich didn’t stop there with a President whose sensitivity and intelligence he questioned and accused of being guilty of “gratuitous fear-mongering.” When he took Trump to task for criticizing NFL players who knelt during the National Anthem and defended their rights to do so, Popovich also suspected a measure of the public outrage was racially motivated. “Our country is an embarrassment to the world,” he said. A 68-year-old wealthy white man, therefore, became a sports voice with weight in the political and social justice arena, where the NBA league office has greenlighted players and coaches to speak up. Popovich has done so with clarity and insight to gain national applause in certain corners. He wasn’t the first or the last in sports to verbally spank the president or tackle right-leaning sensitivities, yet he’s certainly the most unique in one respect. As a graduate of the Air Force Academy who works in a military town, and a five-time NBA champion coach who might symbolize the city more than The Alamo, Popovich has long been elevated to icon status, perhaps permanently so, in San Antonio, where folks are mad about the Spurs. Still, this is mostly conservative Texas, one of the most Republican of states based on the state legislature and the congressional delegation, a state that voted Republican in 10 straight presidential elections and saw 52.6 percent of voters punch for Trump. While voters in San Antonio-proper lean liberal, the surrounding areas swing solidly the opposite. Julianna Holt, the Spurs CEO and Popovich’s boss since March after assuming the position held for 20 years by her husband Peter, supported various Republican presidential candidates before eventually donating $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, according to Federal Election Commission records. Popovich is therefore a blue blood in a red state and the contrast makes for strange if not uncomfortable alliance between a beloved coach and a group of conflicted Spurs worshippers. His views have in fact shattered the sacrilege by generating hostility from a segment of the basketball flock, something no coach with his credentials would ever feel. The constant winning and acts of charity do not insulate him from those who would prefer Popovich stuff a sweat sock in his bullhorn. Party lines not Popovich's focus “While we all believe Gregg Popovich has the right to his opinions, where was Popovich when Hillary called half of us a 'basket of deplorables?’Many were Spurs fans who are now tired of being insulted ... many of us will never pay to see a Spurs game again.” -- Donna Howington  “The money I will save this year not attending Spurs games should buy me a nice set of golf clubs. Thanks Pop!” -- Jake Ingorgia  “I will never watch them again until Popovich is gone. He is just like all the other leftist celebrities.” -- Lee Harbach, Bulverde They arrive on cue, most from the dusty towns that orbit around San Antonio, some from the city itself. Popovich has unloaded three times this year on Trump, once after the election, once at the start of training camp and most recently by cold-calling Dave Zirin, a friend and liberal writer from The Nation, a progressive magazine. And each time, the letters land in the office of Ricardo Pimentel, the editor who coordinates the comments section of the Express-News, San Antonio’s newspaper of record. “It’s a cycle,” says Pimental, with a sigh. “He speaks out. People who disagree with him send us letters to the editor, then people who object to their disagreement write us letters to the editor defending Pop. Then they respond to one another.” The initial reaction, he said, is always stacked against Popovich and many identify themselves as Spurs fans ripping up their tickets or promising to never attend or watch games again. Even if those who made threats actually carried them out, the change in the Spurs’ home attendance is a blip, from 99.2 percent capacity last season to 98.6 so far this season. Popovich, of course, has been big for business since his first full season as coach in 1997-98. Besides the titles, the Spurs have reached the playoffs every season and won 50 games every season (except for the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 campaign, when they won 37). In short, Popovich's Spurs have a track record beyond reproach in the NBA. If the 2017-18 Spurs stay on pace, it’ll be 20 straight winning seasons for Popovich, one more than Phil Jackson for the all-time NBA record. He hasn’t been this politically vocal until lately, due to Trump, yet was always politically aware, say those who know him. Well-versed through his readings and observations, Popovich welcomes discussion with acquaintences about classism, leadership, government and preferably over a bottle of wine. His two-decades exposure to young black men from humble beginnings raised his awareness and sensitivities about race and bias. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr once played for the Spurs and lately has echoed many of the same thoughts as Popovich. But Kerr coaches in the Bay Area, where folks nod their heads in agreement. Kerr said he can only imagine the flak Popovich catches in Texas. “Here’s this iconic coach who stands for everything that’s right and for honor and integrity, he served in the military, you see him stand at attention for the American flag — man, Pop loves his country,” Kerr said. “And in the middle of Texas for him to be questioning the Republican President, some of the people down there are probably confused. Like, 'I don’t get it, we love this guy but he’s on the other side from us.' “What I love about Pop is that it’s not about party, not about politics. It’s about integrity and character and that’s what people need to pay attention to. It’s not about some policy, not about how much we pay in taxes. If we can just get back to the point where character matters, then we’ll be in better shape. The problem is, it’s clear character has gone down the tubes in many leadership positions in our country. That’s what Pop is calling out.” True enough, Popovich never publicly attached himself to a political party; to suggest he is against Republicans might be as misleading as believing Colin Kaepernick is against the military. When he played for Popovich, Kerr couldn’t recall a time when the coach was this annoyed by the country’s leadership. “The country was in a better place in terms of a relatively peaceful time back then,” Kerr said. “Yes, 9-11 happened and the whole world changed. But we didn’t have quite the same partisan nature, not only in politics but the national conversation. And so people could just admire Pop for who he was and people might not have been aware of his political leanings because they didn’t ask. When we won and went to the White House, Pop and the team went when Bush was in office. We went in ’99 when President Clinton was there. Republican, Democrat, didn’t matter. The times are so different now.” Kerr laughed quickly when asked about the semi-serious groundswell of social media support for a Kerr-Popovich ticket in 2020. Kerr said he hopes to be on his fifth NBA title as a coach then, but turned semi-serious about Popovich. “Our country needs somebody like Pop who can actually lead and unite from a position of authority and credibility,” Kerr said. “This guy served in the military, grew up in a melting pot, understands leadership. More than anything, he’ll cut through all the [expletive].” Since going nuclear on Trump, Popovich declined invites from the national political shows (and wouldn’t comment for this story). That proves what friends have maintained all along: Popovich doesn’t want to be anyone’s political hero or pundit. He’d rather speak when the moment calls for it, then be left alone. That last part is tricky, though. Empathy often marks Popovich's way “Can you imagine being Republican on the Spurs? Would you feel welcome? He’s like Berkeley -- for free speech unless you disagree with him. Shut up and coach, Gregg.” -- Shannon Deason  “When it comes to coaching basketball or drinking wine, Popovich has experience. When it comes to our country, his opinion is no better than anyone else’s." -- Harold Siemens, Seguin  “Open letter to the NBA referee who ejected Pop from the Warriors-Spurs game: Don’t feel bad about what Gregg Popovich called you. He called the POTUS worse and got away with it.” -- Larry Peabody Once the wheels touched down, the pilot jokingly announced over the loudspeaker: “Welcome to Gregg Popovich International Airport,” and one particular passenger noticed that nobody on the plane thought it was strange. Sean Elliott always knew how deeply rooted Popovich is with San Antonio. Aside from the famous Spanish missions and the River Walk, the city is known for the only professional sports team in town. And while George Gervin, David Robinson and Tim Duncan have come and gone, the one lingering reminder is a sometimes gruff and scruffy coach, maybe the NBA’s best ever. “He’s one of the pillars of the community,” said Elliott, twice an All-Star with the Spurs. “He’s looked at with great admiration. He is as respected as anyone who has ever lived in or been part of the city. It’s not just because he’s a basketball coach. Pop has been a big part of the community, huge contributor to charitable functions, good leader.” Elliott was a Spurs rookie in 1989 when their relationship began and he saw the start of Popovich’s reach in the region. Popovich then was an assistant coach under Larry Brown and just planting his feet in the NBA. That summer, Elliott and Popovich piled into a van with the team's "Coyote" mascot and conducted basketball clinics in San Marcos, Corpus Christi, Laredo and similar places. They were signing autographs in malls and running kids through drills in 100 degree heat, never hearing a complaint from the coach. Elliott said folks in those small conservative towns loved him. “If you sit and hear him talk about something, you tend to agree with him,” Elliott said. “He’ll put it in a logical way and he’s very thoughtful, well read and super intelligent, maybe the most intelligent person I’ve ever known.” The owner of the Spurs then was Red McCombs, a homespun Texan who made his fortune in car dealerships and media companies. McCombs didn’t give Popovich the coaching job after firing Brown, telling Popovich “you’ve got a chance to be a great coach” if he got more experience, which he did, going to the Warriors to work for Don Nelson. Popovich returned to San Antonio two years later as general manager, then became coach and the rest is history. Now 90, McCombs said: “Popovich has become the distinguished part of the franchise. He wears it well. Can’t say enough about what kind of man he is and what he’s meant to San Antonio. God has blessed us with Gregg Popovich.” McCombs loves to tell how Popovich, by chance, learned that a local family needed a car. The coach wrote a check, gave it to the father and walked away. McCombs said it was “typical Popovich” who has empathy for those with less. McCombs, curiously, has traditionally been one of the biggest Republican bankrollers in the state, who gave to the Trump campaign and is fully aware of what Popovich thinks of his choice for President. And so one of the most powerful men in Central Texas, who leans politically to the color of his nickname, had a strong reaction to that. “He’s earned the right to give his comments about citizenship or Trump or anything else,” said McCombs, voice rising. “Yes, he made some statements that others might disagree with. But I’ll tell you this: Popovich would be elected to anything he wants to in San Antonio.” Remaining silent never an option “Our country is not an embarrassment to the world. I will tell you what an embarrassment is. It is an American citizen who got a free education from the great Air Force Academy ... and then has the audacity to say that the greatest nation in the world is an embarrassment because the President rightly demands that Americans stand for the anthem. Popovich should be ashamed of himself.” -- Nick DeLouis, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Nowhere on God’s green Earth do they have the right to disrespect our flag and the men and women who died to keep us free. I’m appalled that you stooped so low to join in that disrespect. Shame on you!” -- Fred Martin, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Coach Pop has squashed my love and enthusiasm for the team. A national treasure, he is not. Coach Pop has a voice, but not my voice." -- Jo Ivan A few years ago Popovich was in New York with his daughter to catch a Broadway play when the coach had a last minute change in strategy. He learned that John Carlos was giving a lecture at New York University that night. So Popovich told his daughter to take one of her friends instead; said he was going to see “Dr. Carlos” speak. “When he came in I was surprised and delighted,” Carlos said recently. “Quite naturally, everyone knew who he was but he just wanted to sit and listen.” A year later, in 2015, Popovich flew Carlos to San Antonio to address the team and Carlos admitted to being star struck around Tim Duncan and others. Yet Carlos was most curious about Popovich and why the coach took a strong interest in an Olympic sprinter who raised a fist on the victory stand in 1968, which is frozen as an iconic civil rights moment. “Being with the Spurs gave me an opportunity to check his character out,” Carlos said. “I knew he was a whiz at putting players together to bring out their best ability. But through my conversations with him it became apparent that he was a social activist himself at one point in his life. He was teaching his players about activism and to be concerned about their fellow man and what was going on around their lives, not just basketball. “I was impressed. He just wanted them to know they had a larger role than just playing basketball in the society in which they live.” Carlos, therefore, was not surprised to see Popovich defend the rights of kneeling black football players who came under attack from Trump. On the first day of training camp in September, Popovich said: “Obviously race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly it is not going to get better.” What followed was another swirl of exchanges between Popovich critics and supporters in San Antonio, and Popovich acknowledged receiving mail from both sides. The anti-Pop mail, though, was jarring to Carlos, given the coach’s work in town. “When people write and lambast him for taking leaders to task for what they’re doing to society, that’s like water rolling off a duck’s back, man,” Carlos said. “When they write negative things about him, it encourages him to keep doing what he’s doing. Those people are the problem. Go ahead and throw stones and it just motivates him to do his job. “Look, I’m a black man who spoke out. Imagine what they think of him as a white man who speaks just as strong, to try and get people to see things in a better light? They throw stones at him even more, like, 'Hey you’re white, you have a great life. Keep your mouth shut.’ Well, God points people in certain directions. We know who we are. We do what we do.” And what Popovich does is enlist the help of giants in the social justice world and bring them into his world. He did that with Cornel West, the Harvard professor and civil rights activist, last fall. Popovich invited West to San Antonio to speak at an East Side community center with a few hundred mostly black and Latino students and their parents. Done without TV cameras or media invitation, the discussion was about the importance of education, the imperfect world, self respect and how to help communities. This was an audience that, presumably and unanimously, connected with a white man who didn’t live among them, but was with them. They were the people Popovich had in mind when he attacked present leadership. This was not the audience that writes to the Spurs and the Express-News asking him to take a vow of silence, though he is aware of them, too. “Some responses make you wonder what country you live in,” Popovich said, “and other responses make you very hopeful … overall, it renews my feeling that something must be done because there is enough people willing to listen.” 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 5th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 10th, 2017

Defending champion Warriors get on roll with strong defense

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Defense has been the theme from Day 1 for the Golden State Warriors, determined to do all the little things even better on both ends of the floor on the heels of their second NBA championship in three years. They’re blocking shots. Jumping into the passing lanes for timely steals. Getting hands in the faces of shooters. It wasn’t this way out of the gates this season, and coach Steve Kerr had some moments of frustration. Lately, he’s pleased with the progress and consistency. “Defensively we’ve just had longer stretches of high intensity and high level of focus,” Stephen Curry said. “That’s allowed us to control the momentum of games and the flow of games.” The Warriors outscored Minnesota 44-26 in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s (Thursday, PHL time) 125-101 win — and dominated without NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, who sat with a bruised left thigh but was expected to be fine by Saturday’s (Sunday, PHL time) home game against the 76ers. “I know if we focus on taking care of the basketball and playing solid defense, and focusing on that, and really, hopefully, regardless of how our offense is, we’ll be in a good position to win games,” Curry said. Golden State limited the Timberwolves to 41.3 percent from the floor and a dismal 5-of-24 on three-pointers on the way to winning its fifth straight. “You saw how beautiful that was in the second half with 37 assists overall. It’s all about taking care of the ball and defending,” Kerr said. “The defense part I’m really pleased with. I think this is about our fifth straight really good defensive effort we have had so that’s a great sign.” He gave his team a day off Thursday (Friday, PHL time) before getting back to work Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in preparation for Philadelphia. Other teams and opposing players notice the Warriors’ attention to detail on the defensive end, even if their high-flying offensive show is typically the focus of scouting reports and film sessions. “You can’t win without that,” Memphis center Marc Gasol said. “Even if you look at teams like Golden State, you see a team that obviously has a lot of firepower, their defense is really outstanding, how they all move together at the same time, how they all shift as a unit from one side to the other ... Then they give you 125 points, too. But they really do play a lot of great defense.” Against the T-Wolves, Golden State blocked nine shots — its 11th time in 12 games with at least seven swats — three by reserve Omri Casspi and another two from Draymond Green, and didn’t allow a 20-point performance by Minnesota. Nick Young came off the bench to make a career-high four steals in 20-plus minutes. “It’s finally coming along. We’re starting to put it together,” Green said. “We’re taking more ownership in one-on-one defense. We’ve just locked in more on one-on-one defense and taking on the challenge.” Part of that, according to player development coach Chris DeMarco, is “being the aggressors, being active defensively and trusting that the guys around us will help if we get beat.” While a handful of turnovers led to easy baskets by Minnesota, for the most part the Warriors were disciplined in their defensive assignments. It has been that way for a stretch of games now. It didn’t hurt Golden State shot 65.9 percent after halftime in pulling away from the overmatched Timberwolves, who were on a roll with five straight wins before the stop in Oakland. “I think you learn a lot from playing against them because that’s what a championship team looks like. They play hard. They play together. You look at their willingness to sacrifice for each other and make plays,” T-Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They had 37 assists on 48 baskets. Their defense over the last five games has been back to what their defense is. That’s why they’ve been able to win the way they’ve won. I think their willingness to sacrifice and play for each other is what makes them great. They take good shots. They make the game easy for each other. When you do that, the results will be good.” ___ AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 10th, 2017