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Lillard, Blazers clinging to pride at playoffs edge

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — He’s top-10 in the NBA in talent, perhaps top-five in likability and there’s no question where Damian Lillard ranks in the only place he has ever called home in the NBA. Taken as a bundle, the Trail Blazers guard presents an impressive case for himself as a player worthy of your respect, something he craves and certainly deserves to a large degree. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Lillard had his Playoff Moment when he sank the buzzer-and-series-winning shot from nearly half-court to erase Oklahoma City and his nemesis, Russell Westbrook, from the first round. It was the kind of play that separates the truly great players from the very good. It was as if the casual basketball fan discovered Lillard overnight, or rather, the next morning on social media and TV highlight replays, since that game ended well past bedtime for much of the country. But as Kenny Smith, the former player and popular commentator on TNT once said: “The regular season is when you make your fame. The playoffs is when you make your name.” And so, with that in mind: Since Lillard has since been unable to duplicate those heroics of three weeks ago and is struggling mightily here in his first taste of the Western Conference finals, what do we call him in this, his seventh season? Great? Or very good? Right now he gives the appearance of a marathon runner who wheezes toward the finish line only to see someone cruelly push it forward another mile. His ribcage might not be totally intact (to what extent only he knows) after Warriors forward Kevon Looney fell on Lillard while they chased a loose ball in Game 2. The Warriors are causing additional problems for Lillard by trapping him constantly with elite defenders Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, making him work for shots and space. "I'm seeing Draymond Green, and he's behind that kind of like tracking my movements," Lillard explained. "So it's like a next layer of defense that I'm paying attention to... I'm not, I guess, wanting to explode and get around that guy because I see what's waiting for me, and then just the crowd, and I put myself in a tough position." Clearly, he’s not right physically. The Warriors are singling him out defensively, and the Blazers are one loss from elimination partly, if not mainly, because Lillard’s impact has been minimized. His pain goes beyond his ribs and frustration. To know Lillard is to know his pride is certainly aching as well. This is his chance to get his due, to shine deep into May for once, and do that against the two-time defending champions, and yet it’s all going wrong for him. Even if healthy, Lillard lacks a high level of championship savvy talent around him, and elimination from the conference finals was probably destined to happen regardless of Golden State riding without Kevin Durant. The Warriors are that good and the Blazers are that raw. But with Lillard shooting 33 percent in the series, they might get swept, and that’s too bitter of a pill for any player with Lillard’s credentials. He’s one of the most complete shooters in the game, someone who mixes three-pointers, mid-range jumpers and rim attacks to rank annually among the top scorers in the NBA. He’s also smart with the dribble and deadly in isolation. This season was one of his best, when he averaged nearly 26 points and helped the Blazers to a No. 3 seed. This will surely place Lillard on one of the All-NBA teams, perhaps even First Team, which is difficult to do in a league rich with standout combo guards. Even more admirable is Lillard doing this on a team largely of role players, with the exception of CJ McCollum. Even including the other half of their backcourt, the Blazers have only one player with All-Star honors: Lillard. He’s the rare player under 6'4" who carries a team. On that note, Lillard always bristled when he felt he wasn’t getting his proper respect, be it All-Star mentions or MVP discussions. And most of the time, he had a point. Lillard suffers from two issues: his regular season games tip at 10:30 ET and, until now, he never took the Blazers beyond the second round. His playoff record is 19-31. Last spring was especially agonizing: Lillard was outplayed by Jrue Holiday and the Blazers were swept by the Pelicans in the first round. He made redemption a goal and this year’s first round was a smashing success made sweeter by the series-winning shot. And yet, did the grueling seven-game second round against Denver drain the energy from Lillard? Including the last game of that series, he’s shooting just above 30 percent in his last four games. Against the Warriors, he has one more basket than turnovers (15 to 14). The rib injury certainly hasn’t helped (although Lillard downplayed it). "It's there, but it's not something that's affecting anything that I'm doing,” he insisted. “Obviously you feel it, but that's it." Although he’s averaging more career points against the Warriors than any other team, those were mainly regular-season numbers. It’s an entirely different level in the postseason and particularly this deep into it. The Warriors are forcing the ball from his hands, daring other Blazers to take shots, and when Lillard does keep the ball, his looks aren’t always clean. "It's tough,” he admitted. “They're doing a good job in their coverages.” So what’s left of the Blazers? Unless there’s a premium performance coming from Lillard and McCollum in Game 4, their season is likely done after Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). With Green and Stephen Curry looking nostalgic, the Warriors have that 2015 feeling when they won a title without Durant. The Warriors also know they’ll get nine days’ rest with a sweep, as if they need any further motivation. At this point, all the Blazers have is their pride, with none bigger than Lillard’s. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

No need for Malone to sell Nuggets: Their time is now

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — Give Michael Malone credit, the Denver Nuggets coach is as relentless a salesman as there is in basketball. Whether it’s moving speeches delivered to his own team or pleading with television audiences to stand up and take notice of the splendid compilation of talent the franchise has stockpiled in recent years, he refuses to let up. From building the legend of Jamal Murray or waxing poetic about the virtues of Nikola Jokic, the nimble giant prone to triple-doubles on the regular, Malone is prepared to use the bully pulpit to make sure no one overlooks the Nuggets. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] A seven-game series win over San Antonio in the first round produced some of Malone’s best stuff to date, including him trumpeting Jokic as not only a legitimate Kia MVP candidate (true, this season) but also a surefire future Hall of Famer (could be, the way he’s playing). So you had to know Malone was going to be on his Nuggets informercial grind after they refused to lose Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in Portland, bouncing back after losing a grueling four-overtime thriller to the Trail Blazers here Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) with a gritty 116-112 triumph to tie this series at 2-2 headed back to Denver for Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) critical Game 5. “I’m so proud of our group,” Malone said, after his talented crew showed off the chops needed to regain the homecourt advantage they surrendered in their Game 2 loss at Pepsi Center. “And in the closing moments, I really was confident because in close games this year we were 13-3 [in games] decided by three points or less, best record in the NBA. We’re 12-1 in the second nights of back-to-backs, best record in the NBA. Our guys are tough; to come in here and win this game some 36 hours after losing a four-overtime game speaks to just how tough we are. So I wasn’t worried, we had our starting group out there. “Jamal, who I thought was phenomenal tonight, goes 11-for-11 from the foul line in a hostile environment and really kind of with the series hanging in the balance. You go down 1-3, and we all know how that story ends. I think the confidence of doing the same thing in the first round against San Antonio helped us, but our guys stepped up. We never frayed. We stayed together. And I can’t speak enough about the resiliency and toughness of our team.” And he shouldn’t. The Blazers had won 12 straight games at home dating back to the regular season and were 22-2 on their home floor since January 5. When the Nuggets saw their 10-point lead shrink to just a point with 3:02 to play as Portland closers Damian Lillard (28 points) and C.J. McCollum (29) led the charge, Denver could have easily folded up under the emotional weight of Game 3 and their current predicament. But they proved to be as resilient and tough as Malone said they were. Jokic was brilliant again, collecting his fourth triple-double (21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists) in his first postseason, second only to the five Magic Johnson piled up during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers. And Murray was even better, finishing with a game-high 34 points and draining six straight free throws in the frantic closing seconds to seal the win for a Nuggets team that didn’t allow fatigue, a raucous and sellout Moda Center crowd or the pressure to avoid that 3-1 hole rattle them. “It wasn’t the first time,” Murray said of his embrace of the pressure with the game on the line at the line. “I think free throws are my thing. My dad and I do a lot of training [on] free throws. Blindfolded, he’ll talk to me just like how the crowd is, put pressure on me. I take 1,000 free throws in practice to make or or two … and tonight, it ended up being six.” The number Malone focused on afterwards was 11, as in the number of playoff games Murray and Jokic have played in as they continue to establish themselves as postseason stars. “You think about how young we are and and what we are doing, going on the road and winning a tough game in a hostile environment,” Malone said, “and for Jamal to be the centerpiece of that has been phenomenal. If you’re a Denver Nuggets fan, how excited are you about this team now. More importantly, how excited are you for our future? We have a chance to be a really good team for many, many years and Jamal is going to be a big part of that.” The same goes for Jokic, obviously. He’s already an All-Star and is going to end up on the All-NBA first or second team as well as the top five of the voting for Kia MVP after the regular season he put together. That might explains why the entire Nuggets bench froze as they watched him limp to the sideline in the final moments after being kneed in the leg in the final seconds. “Your heart skips a beat,” Malone said. “Nikola is the face of our franchise, but he just got kneed, it was nothing serious and and we were able to hold on for the win.” For all of Malone’s bluster about his group, it’s not even necessary at this stage of the season. The Nuggets earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase on the strength of a talented and deep roster that might not resonate with casual NBA fans, but is celebrated by those in the know. Touting their accomplishments in real time makes sense for a coach trying to empower his team to believe in themselves in what could and perhaps should be a nice stretch of playoff runs in the future. But anyone paying attention can tell that the future could be now for these Nuggets. A trip to the conference finals one year after they failed to make the postseason field on the final night of the season in what amounted to a play-in game in Minneapolis last April, is a hell of a start. Malone knows it. His team knows it. And so do the Trail Blazers, who are well aware of the opportunity they squandered in a series where wavering confidence by the Nuggets might have been the only advantage they could exploit. “The good thing for us is that we won a game on their court,” Lillard said. “So it’s not like we lose both games there. We’re in a good space, 2-2, we know we’re capable of winning on their floor and that’t what we’ve got to get done. Obviously, it’s disappointing … we didn’t want to let an opportunity like this slip, but it happens. It’s playoff basketball and we’ve got to move forward.” So do the Nuggets, which is where Malone the master motivator comes into play. And just so we’re clear about something, his sell job is genuine. He knows of what he speaks in assessing a young team on the rise, having spent time coaching in Cleveland and Golden State during the formative stages with what would turn out to be teams that made it to The Finals (2007 in Cleveland). He was on Mark Jackson’s Warriors staff when they turned the corner from a lottery team to  playoff outfit (2012-13 season), helping nurture the core group of a team that has won three of the past four NBA titles and become a potential dynasty that no one saw coming at the time. So if Malone sees special things in his current team, it’s his responsibility to shout about it every now and then, both to the basketball public and especially internally. Youngsters like Jokic and Murray, Gary Harris and Malik Beasley, Torrey Craig and Monte Morris and even veterans like Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee and Game 4 hero Will Barton, who knocked down huge shots to help seal the deal, need to hear the positive reinforcement from their coach. And that’s not even taking into account what absorbing these moments means for Michael Porter Jr., who is spending his rookie season recovering from back surgery, and is certainly going to be a part of that bright future Malone is so passionate about. If anything, this Nuggets team is ahead of schedule, two wins shy of a trip to the Western Conference finals with three games to play. Two of those are coming on their home floor, where Denver compiled the best record (34-7) in the league during the regular season. Maybe Malone is right to speak the Nuggets’ success into existence rather than wishing and hoping for it to come to fruition without a word otherwise. But he won’t have to go all car salesmen on the final day of month much longer. A couple more performances like the one the Nuggets put on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) and this whole thing, the refurbished franchise with all the boxes checked on the roster -- now and for the foreseeable future -- sells itself. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Gov’t denies paying ransom for freedom of Norwegian

The government did not pay any ransom to the Abu Sayyaf Group in exchange for the supposed freedom of a foreign hostage, Malacañang clarified yesterday......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsAug 26th, 2016

Huge crowd at Polish shrine hears pope hail their faith

CZESTOCHOWA, Poland — Pope Francis blessed hundreds of thousands of faithful Thursday at a shrine in Poland, paying tribute to a beloved native son, St......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 29th, 2016

France goes 3-0 at World Cup with 1-0 win over Nigeria

By The Associated Press France completed World Cup group play with a 3-0 record for the first time, beating Nigeria 1-0 Monday night at Rennes when Wendie Renard converted a penalty kick in the 79th minute after missing her first attempt but getting a second chance. France will play a third-place team on Sunday at Le Havre in the round of 16, and the winner will advance to a quarterfinal against the United States, Sweden or Spain. Referee Melissa Borjas of Honduras awarded the penalty kick when Viviane Asseyi was knocked over by Ngozi Ebere, a call upheld in a video review and one that drew vehement protests from the Super Falcons. Eberle was given her second yellow card of the match for the foul, causing Nigeria to finish a player short. Renard's initial attempt was wide to the right of goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, but Borjas ordered the kick retaken because Nnadozie came off the line before the ball was kicked. Renard's second try went in to Nnadozie's right for her third goal of the tournament. A crowd of 28,267 watched host nation Les Bleues outshoot Nigeria 22-2 and hold 69 percent possession. France advance to the knockout stage for the third straight World Cup. Nigeria finished third in Group A with three points and a minus-two goal difference, and the Super Falcons will have to wait to find out whether they can advance as one of the four top third-place teams. Nigeria has played in every Women's World Cup but advanced past the group stage just once, reaching the quarterfinals in 1999......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News7 hr. 47 min. ago

Uruguay cruises past 10-man Ecuador in Copa America opener

By Debora Rey, Associated Press BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Uruguay started the Copa America in style, showing why it's considered a top favorite for the South American title. With Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez in top form, Uruguay earned a comfortable 4-0 win over 10-man Ecuador in its opening match on Sunday. Cavani, Suarez and Nicolas Lodeiro scored in the first half, and an own-goal by Ecuadorean defender Arturo Mina after halftime sealed the victory for a dominant Uruguayan squad in the Group C match at the Mineirao Stadium. "It was an important first step for us," Cavani said. "We have to try to keep this momentum during the rest of the tournament." Uruguay played with an extra man from the 24th minute after Ecuador's Jose Quintero was red-carded for elbowing Lodeiro during a ball dispute. Quintero was initially given a yellow card, but video review determined he deserved a red. Uruguay was already in control when Quintero was sent off at the Mineirao, which held a small crowd of about 13,000 people. Lodeiro opened the scoring in the sixth minute, controlling a pass from Suarez inside the area and lobbying the ball over a defender before finding the net. "After the red card the game opened up and we dominated," Lodeiro said. "It was an important opening victory. We have to keep going game by game, always trying to improve." Cavani had two close-range attempts saved by Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez before finally scoring with a volley in the 33rd, then Suarez added to the lead after a corner kick in the 44th. The fourth goal came when Mina as he tried to clear a ball crossed into the area in the 78th. The goal also had to be confirmed by video review. Uruguay had two goals disallowed for offside, one in each half. Ecuador finished with only on shot on goal, coming in the first minute of the match. "They were better than us in every aspect," Ecuador coach Hernan Dario Gomez said. "Uruguay is a great team, very experienced." Guest Japan and two-time defending champion Chile will play the other Group C match on Monday in Sao Paulo. Uruguay is the Copa America's most successful team with 15 titles, one more than Argentina. Its last Copa America title was in 2011. Ecuador made it to the quarterfinals of the 2016 Copa America. Uruguay next faces Japan on Thursday in Porto Alegre, while Ecuador takes on Chile in Salvador......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News20 hr. 0 min. ago

Woodland wins US Open title, denies Koepka of history

PEBBLE BEACH, USA – Gary Woodland won the 119th US Open, capturing his first major title with a 13-under par total to deny reigning titlist Brooks Koepka of history on Sunday, June 16 (Monday, June 17, Philippine time).  Woodland punctuated the victory with a birdie bomb at 18, a final flourish ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Police officer stabbed ahead of G20 summit in Japan

TOKYO, Japan – Japanese police Monday arrested a man suspected of stabbing a police officer in the chest and stealing his gun near Osaka, just days before world leaders fly into the city for a G20 summit. The 33-year-old suspect, who denies the charges, was in possession of an ID document ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Lloyd s tiny golf clap delivers big message from US women

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Carli Lloyd had just scored on an 18-yard volley to put the United States ahead 11 minutes in against Chile. After leaping, pumping a fist and hugging teammate Lindsey Horan, she raised both hands chin high and made four tiny pitter-patter claps, the type seen more frequently at Pebble Beach than Parc des Princes. A message? You bet. I made a gif of @CarliLloyd’s celebration golf clap after her first goal in #USACHI because I needed this to exist for every time someone tone polices a #USWNT celebration. #USWNT #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/Sw7rUA3ID2 — Phil (@ALazyJellyfish) June 16, 2019 Easy wins and lots of goals are par for the course when it comes to the U.S. women's soccer team. "I can't take credit for it. I'm not sure if Lindsey is taking credit for it," Lloyd said after a 3-0 victory Sunday night advanced the U.S. to the round of 16. "She had told me if we score, that's what we're going to do so I just went along with it after I did my little celebration But it was fun. I think it made a statement on the sideline there. It was cool." A record-setting 13-0 rout of Thailand that opened the tournament for the Americans sparked a debate back home. Celebration had not been discussed this much since Kool & the Gang. Some cried poor sportsmanship. Others argued players shouldn't be asked to let up on soccer's biggest stage. All the harrumphing was heard across the Atlantic. "I guess we could have just passed it around the back for a million times, but that's boring. That's disrespectful to everyone: fans, ourselves" said 33-year-old Megan Rapinoe, the pink-haired veteran famous for running to a corner flag and screaming "Born in the USA" into a television microphone after goal against Colombia in the 2011 World Cup. "The only thing you ask of an athlete really is to put it all out there and do the best you can. It's not in our DNA ever." Coach Jill Ellis speculated Lloyd's inspiration was her spouse, professional golfer Brian Hollins. "I'm guessing it was a shout-out to her husband," Ellis said. Horan said Emily Sonnett, a 25-year-old defender at her first World Cup, suggested responses. Trolling critics was the goal. "We decided to do something different today," Horan said with an impish smile. "Handshakes were part of it. Golf clap was part of it." Only the standout play of goalkeeper Christiane Endler lowered the Americans' offensive output from Wonder Woman levels to the mere mundane. The U.S. peppered Chile with 26 shots to one for the South Americans, raising the U.S. margin to 65-3 over two matches that seemed more training than tests. Alyssa Naeher, the Americans' new World Cup goalkeeper, was noticeable only when an unmarked Carla Guerrero redirected Claudia Soto's free kick past her midway through the first half. Guerrero was called offside. More Americans were in the tournament-high crowd of 45,594 that filled Parc des Princes than walked around Sunday in Paris, Kentucky, or Texas. Quite different from the stands 21 years and one day earlier, when Germany beat the U.S. men 2-0 on the very same field in the Americans' 1998 World Cup opener on goals by Andreas Möller and Jürgen Klinsmann. Fans clad in red, white and blue jammed the Metro hours before kickoff, streaming on the No. 9 line at Trocadero, Republique and Richelieu-Drouot and emerging on at Porte de Saint-Cloud on the sunny afternoon. "We're in France, and yet we felt like we had a home game," said Lloyd, at 36-year-old the oldest woman with a multi-goal World Cup match. Despite their second easy win, the Americans maintained there was no reason to chill: Thailand is ranked 34th in the world and Chile is 39th. The Americans need a win or draw against No. 9 Sweden on Thursday in order to win the group. A victory likely means a second-round matchup against No. 13 Spain or No. 16 China, which would put the U.S. on track for a quarterfinal matchup against fourth-ranked France in Paris. Ellis would not speculate whether her team would be better off finishing second and winding up in the other half of the bracket. "There's a lot of grass to navigate between now and potential matchups," she said. "This game is a crazy game, and you have to bring it every single match." No team has won consecutive Women's World Cups since the event began in 1991, a reason for sangfroid. "We're climbing up a mountain now," Lloyd said, "and it's only going to get harder.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Strong finish not enough for Woods at US Open

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The crowd was roaring, the birdies were dropping and Tiger Woods looked like his vintage self for the final 12 holes of the U.S. Open. The problem for Woods was what happened on the first 60 holes. Woods salvaged an otherwise disappointing weekend at Pebble Beach by birdieing six of his final 12 holes Sunday to finish the tournament at 2-under par, far behind the top contenders on a weekend made for low scores. Woods finally got in on the action after bogeys on four of the first six holes with an impressive turnaround that even he couldn't explain. "I wish I would have known because I would have turned it around a little earlier than that, he said. "Again, got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off. Turned back around and got it to under par for the week which is — normally it's a good thing, but this week the guys are definitely taking to it." The problem for Woods all weekend was his inability to take advantage of the scoring opportunities on the first seven holes at Pebble Beach. He played that stretch at 2-over par for the tournament and 4 over in the final two rounds. Woods left his approach shots short on three of the early bogeys on Sunday and hit a tee shot into the rough at the par-3 fifth hole on the other. As he walked off the sixth green after his fourth bogey, Woods trudged toward the seventh tee, head down, seemingly defeated. But then he made a 15-footer for birdie at 7, hit an approach to 5 feet on 8 for another birdie and drained a 40-foot putt on 13, prompting a fan to yell, "The comeback has started!" While that might have been a bit of hyperbole, Woods hit another great approach shot on 16 to get back under par for the tournament and closed it out with another on 18 to the delight of the fans. "Just because I got off to a bad start doesn't mean it's over," he said. "Keep grinding, keep playing. And I was able to turn my round around today as well as yesterday. So rounds that could have easily slipped away and kind of gone the other way pretty easily I was able it to turnaround." The final round of 69 tied for Woods' second-best closing round ever at a U.S. Open, behind only the 67 at Pebble Beach in 2000 when he had a record-setting 15-stroke win. Now after starting the year by winning his first major since 2008 at the Masters, Woods has missed the cut at the PGA Championship last month and finished far out of the lead at the U.S. Open. He plans to take a few weeks off from competition before gearing up for a run at his 16th career major next month at the British Open, played on an unfamiliar course to him at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. "I'm looking forward to getting up there and taking a look at the golf course and trying to figure out," Woods said. "I hope that my practice rounds are such that we get different winds, especially on a golf course that I've never played, and to get a different feel how it could play for the week. And definitely have to do my homework once I get there.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

The ten most intriguing NBA free agents for 2019

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com We knew that the postseason would affect free agency. But the idea was that the success or failure of certain teams would affect what their free agents' thoughts about staying or leaving. Unfortunately, the last two games of The Finals brought devastating injuries to two of the three most coveted free agents on the market. Kevin Durant, arguably the best player in the world, tore his Achilles in Game 5, just 12 minutes into his return from a calf injury. And Klay Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6. The two injuries will certainly have repercussions beyond the two players and the Golden State Warriors. Maybe they already have. With the Western Conference seemingly wide open next season, the Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly made a deal for Anthony Davis, sending a bevy of young players and future picks to New Orleans so they can team the 26-year-old star with 34-year-old LeBron James ... and maybe another star added in free agency. As always, the free agent market and the trade market are tied together. The pending Davis trade could affect the decisions of players and teams come July 1. And if teams miss out on the free agents they're seeking, they could always fill their cap space by making a trade. With all that in mind, the players listed below aren't necessarily the 10 best free agents (or potential free agents). They're the 10 (actually 12) most interesting in regard to where they're going and what kind of contract they get. For players to be on this list, there needs to be some intrigue regarding their (and/or their team's) decision this summer. That's why Thompson isn't included. 1. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto (Player option) Whether he leaves or not, trading for Leonard last summer was well worth it for the Raptors, who won their first championship, with Leonard averaging 30.5 points per game in the postseason. The Raptors' "load management" program (which limited Leonard to just 60 games in the regular season) clearly worked, and director of sports science Alex McKechnie should be seen as a major asset in the quest to keep Leonard in Toronto. There should be a "run-it-back" sentiment for the new champs, with Danny Green also a free agent and Marc Gasol holding a player option this summer. A short-term deal would make sense, unless Leonard is looking for long-term security, having missed almost all of the 2017-18 season with a leg injury. It's all up to Leonard, maybe the toughest player in the league to read. If he takes his two-way talent elsewhere, the Raptors may have to go in a new direction. Number to know: In the postseason, Leonard had a true shooting percentage of 69.1 percent, the highest mark for a player that averaged at least 30 points per game in the playoffs and won the championship. 2. Kevin Durant, Golden State (Player option) Durant's torn Achilles probably won't scare any team, including the Warriors, from paying him as much as possible. As deep and talented as this free agent class is, the top two guys on this list are in a class by themselves. Rumors have long had Durant ready to leave Golden State and even with his injury, he seems more likely than Thompson to find a new home. But an ESPN report had Thompson's father talking about "unfinished business" after overhearing a conversation between the two injured Warriors. Durant could always put free agency off for a year by exercising his player option and remaining on the Warriors' payroll through his rehab. Number to know: Durant was the first player in NBA history to average 30 points per game in at least 10 playoff games while shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line. 3. Kyrie Irving, Boston The disappointment of the Celtics' season, along with Irving's questionable leadership with a group that underachieved, has taken some of the shine off his star. Irving's injury history also must be taken into consideration. But talent is the most important thing in this league and Irving is one of its most talented players. He's still just 27-years-old and he can still get buckets when buckets are needed. A return to Boston appears far less likely than it did six months ago (especially with Davis being traded elsewhere) and there have been a lot of signals that Irving is bound for Brooklyn. Number to know: In the regular season, Irving had an effective field goal percentage of 56.1 percent with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, the second-best mark among player with at least 50 clutch field goal attempts. 4. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, Philadelphia The Sixers lost to the eventual NBA champions on a Game 7 buzzer-beater that bounced on the rim four times before falling through. They're right there. But their starting lineup, which outscored its opponents by more than 21 points per 100 possessions in 334 total minutes (regular season and playoffs), includes three free agents. In regard to future assets, the Sixers didn't give up as much for Butler as they did for Harris. And of course, Butler has more baggage in regard to accepting his role. But, with his defense and his ability to get his own shot, he's is the most important of the three. Harris struggled a bit in the conference semifinals against Toronto and is the least important of the Sixers' three free-agent starters; J.J. Redick's shooting was clearly more critical in the postseason. But Harris isn't easily replaceable and he appears to be the most likely to leave, with a lot of teams looking for versatile forwards. Number to know: In the regular season, Harris shot 41.3 percent on pull-up three-pointers, the second-best mark among 69 players who attempted at least 100. 5. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Walker has expressed some level of loyalty to the Hornets. But immediately after the Davis trade was agreed to, there was a report that Walker would be a "top target" of the Lakers with their cap space. Walker would be an ideal offensive complement to James and Davis, in that he can play off the ball (though he shot less than 35 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers last season) and take some of the playmaking burden off of James' shoulders. The Hornets, meanwhile, would likely have a tough time upgrading their roster around Walker, with Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller all under contract next season for a total of $85 million. Number to know: Walker led the league with 126 field goal attempts with the score within five points in the last five minutes. That was 43 percent of the Hornets' total (295). His effective field goal percentage on those shots (49.6 percent) ranked 15th among 45 players with at least 50 clutch field goal attempts. 6. D'Angelo Russell, Brooklyn (Restricted) A finalist for the Most Improved award, Russell took a big step forward this season, both in regard to his production and his maturity. He earned himself an All-Star appearance and helped the Nets reach the playoffs with a 14-win increase from last season. He's only 23-years-old and is one of the league's most flammable shooters. But because he doesn't get to the basket or the free throw line very often, Russell is neither all that efficient (his true shooting percentage of 53.3 percent ranked 66th among 94 guards with at least 500 field goal attempts) nor consistent, and he struggled (shooting 36 percent) in Brooklyn's first-round loss to Philadelphia. If the Nets are targeting another ball-handler in free agency (with Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie already under contract), they'll probably let Russell head elsewhere. Number to know: In the regular season, Russell ranked second with 11.4 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions per game. He scored 0.89 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, the 26th best mark among 44 players that averaged at least five ball-handler possessions. 7. DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney, Golden State Cousins hadn't made it back to 100 percent from his Achilles tear before he suffered a torn quad in his second career playoff game. He made it back for The Finals from that injury and showed flashes of his old self with 14 important points in the Warriors' Game 5 win and a big bucket in the final minute of Game 6. But he also struggled on both ends of the floor at times, and the Warriors were outscored with him on the floor in seven of his eight playoff games. Now he goes back on the free agent market with teams still not sure of what they're getting. Looney is an unrestricted free agent at 23-years-old, and he was the Warriors' most important center this season. The Western Conference champs have Looney's Bird rights, but they could also be spending a lot of money to retain Durant and Thompson (and possibly extend Draymond Green). Another team might have a larger role and more money for an improving young big. Number to know: In the regular season, the Warriors' lineup of Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Looney scored 121.5 points per 100 possessions and outscored opponents by 18.7 per 100. Those were the best marks for points scored and point differential per 100 possessions among 40 league-wide lineups that played at least 200 minutes together. 8. Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee (Restricted) The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the league through the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals. But, with four of their top eight players being free agents (or potential free agents) this summer, they have a lot of work to do if they want to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo surrounded by players who can get it done on both ends of the floor. Brogdon, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez are the three key pieces. They're all due a pay raise and they all belong on this list. Brogdon is the restricted free agent, but he's also the youngest of the three (he'll be 27 in December) and the one that could be projected into a larger role on another team. Number to know: Brogdon shot 47.5 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, the third-best mark among 223 players who attempted at least 100. 9. Julius Randle, New Orleans (Player option) After five years in the league, Randle is still just 24-years-old. So he's not necessarily a bad fit for David Griffin's plans for the future in New Orleans. But the Pelicans might not be ready to commit the money Randle is seeking (should he opt out of the final year of his contract) after averaging a career-high 21.4 points per game. Defense remains an issue, but Randle has expanded his offensive skill set; he was a respectable 34.4 percent from three-point range this season, taking 18 percent of his shots from beyond the arc (up from six percent over his three previous full seasons). Number to know: Randle averaged 13.2 points in the paint per game, seventh most in the league, and he made more three-pointers (67) than all but one of the six players in front of him. 10. Ricky Rubio, Utah According to Rubio himself, he's not Utah's top priority in free agency. He remains a good defender and one of the league's best passers, but the Jazz need to get more potent offensively if they're going to take the next step. At 31.1 percent, Rubio ranked 153rd in three-point percentage among 163 players with at least 200 attempts. There could be as many as 10 teams (not including the Jazz) in need of a starting point guard this summer, and Rubio could have more value on a team more in need of a distributor. Number to know: The Jazz were 5.8 points per 100 possessions better offensively with both Rubio and Donovan Mitchell on the floor (scoring 110.4 per 100) than they were with Mitchell on the floor without Rubio (104.6). John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Shopee Philippines denies scam in BLACKPINK meet and greet event

Shopee Philippines denies 'scam' in BLACKPINK meet and greet event Rappler 'The revocation of some BLACKPINK fans' tickets was the result of a system error, and not due to a change in.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsJun 16th, 2019

DTI needs private sector help to improve EODB

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is urging the business community to take part in the government’s efforts to improve ease of doing business by filing complaints and reporting corrupt and unfair practices encountered in transactions with government agencies......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsJun 16th, 2019

China denies hit and run as pressure builds on Duterte to speak up

China denies hit and run as pressure builds on Duterte to speak up Gulf News MANILA: China has rejected Philippine allegations that a Chinese fishing vessel abandoned 22 Filipinos after it sank their.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsJun 16th, 2019

Costly tickets, empty seats and quiet crowd for Brazil game

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — The Copa America opener on Friday yielded a box-office record for Brazil with gate receipts of more than $5.7 million. It was the atmosphere in the stands, though, that captured most attention, with some players complaining about a lack of support from the crowd in the home team's 3-0 win over Bolivia. More than 46,000 fans paid an average of $125 per ticket, but at least 22,000 seats were empty at the Morumbi Stadium for a match that organizers initially said was a sellout. The volume only went up in the stands when there was jeering after Brazil's lackluster first half, during homophobic chants when the Bolivian keeper took goal kicks, and after the three second-half goals. "It's normal to be like that in Sao Paulo, many fans are more concerned about their clubs, so it is always tough for Brazil to play here," veteran right back Dani Alves said. For Brazilian league matches, ticket prices for the most popular seats cost as little as $15. The country, enduring an economic crisis since 2015, has established its minimum wage at $256 for this year. The mix of high prices, empty seats and lack of noise surprised some players, who said they could easily hear instructions from their coaches during the match. Winger David Neres said the atmosphere was "a bit different." "We are usually very focused, we don't hear much anyway. But it was a little quiet tonight," he said. "Except for the break, when they booed us. I still don't understand why that happened." Defender Thiago Silva said the jeers were understandable after a goalless first half. He also linked the behavior of the fans to the high ticket prices. "It took us a while to open the score, the ticket prices were expensive, so it is normal that they boo," Silva said. "But we were not that bad in the first half." Alves said there would be a different atmosphere when Brazil plays Venezuela on Tuesday in Salvador, in the warm northeast state of Bahia. "In Bahia the 'axe' is different," he said, using an African-Brazilian word that means energy. "People miss the national team there, they miss this energy that we take where we go. I am sure it will be more cheerful than here." Historically, Brazil's impoverished northeast is more supportive of the team. After playing Venezuela, Brazil ends its group stage campaign against Peru, again in Sao Paulo, but at the Arena Corinthians instead of the Morumbi......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2019

Peru held by 10-man Venezuela in Copa America

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Peru was held by 10-man Venezuela to a 0-0 draw in the teams' Copa America opener on Saturday. Venezuela defender Luis del Pino received his second yellow card for a bad tackle in the 75th minute. Peru had most of the scoring chances but couldn't capitalize on them before a small crowd at the Arena Gremio, although Jefferson Farfan had a second-half goal disallowed for offside. "We are disappointed with the result because we deserved the victory," veteran Peru striker Paolo Guerrero said. "We had our chances but made too many mistakes in front of goal." The result left the teams tied in second place in Group A, two points behind host Brazil, which opened with a 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday in Sao Paulo. On Tuesday, Peru faces Bolivia, while Venezuela plays Brazil......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2019

Korean pop titans BTS conquers the West

PARIS, France – Paris's Stade de France stadium is packed. The crowd is a sea of screaming teenagers in sporty hoodies, colourful rabbit ears and – as it starts to rain – plastic ponchos. In a puff of smoke, BTS bursts onto the stage from ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 15th, 2019

China denies its vessel intentionally sank Filipino boat

China denies its vessel intentionally sank Filipino boat The Hindu China has rejected Philippine allegations that a Chinese fishing vessel abandoned 22 Filipinos after it sank their boat in the South.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsJun 15th, 2019

Shopee Philippines denies scam in BLACKPINK meet and greet event

MANILA, Philippines – Shopee Philippines on Friday, June 14, denied allegations that they had duped fans of K-pop group BLACKPINK over a meet-and-greet event hosted by the e-commerce platform. "The revocation of the tickets of some BLACKPINK fans was the result of a system error and not due to ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 14th, 2019

Aquino denies PDEA spent P74m for local travels

Aquino denies PDEA spent P74m for local travels.....»»

Category: newsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJun 14th, 2019