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Jrs. MVP leader Cansino already in touch with new UST coach Ayo

Aldin Ayo’s first-ever recruit in for De La Salle University was its high school star. Now with University of Sto Tomas, Ayo is looking to do the same. The new head coach of the Growling Tigers was present at the Filoil Flying V Centre on Saturday for the Tiger Cubs’ matchup with league-leader Ateneo de Manila High School. Of course, Ayo was there to scout the Juniors program of his new school – which just so happens to have the frontrunner in the MVP race in CJ Cansino. While the two-time collegiate champion coach declined interviews from media, he was seen chatting with Cansino’s mother after the game. Asked about it, the King Tiger Cub himself answered, “Opo, nagkausap na sila kanina.” He then continued, “Sabi raw po ni coach na gusto nila akong kunin sa UST. Sobrang saya po naming ganun na nga po ang nangyayari.” In earlier interviews, Cansino has already stated that he wants to stay in Espana for college. “Sana nga po, tumuloy rin ako sa Seniors para bigyan din ako ng pagkakataon na iangat yung Growling Tigers. Gusto ko ring i-prove sa Seniors na may magagawa ako for UST,” he said then. Now, it looks like his wish may just be granted as a source said UST is on the lookout for talent at the wings. Last year, the Growling Tigers trotted out the likes of Jordan Sta. Ana, Reggie Boy Basibas, and Christian Garcia at the wings. Said to be coming back to bolster that weakness is Embons Bonleon. Still, getting the six-foot-two swingman will be a coup for the rebuilding squad as they will be getting a blue-chip recruit who fills a need. Also, Ayo has some sort of success with his first-ever recruit being his program’s high school star. Two years ago, he got the commitment of DLS Zobel star and Juniors MVP Aljun Melecio. That partnership proved to be a big part of the Green Archers’ championship. —- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 13th, 2018

EYES ON YOU, KID: UAAP 80 Jrs. players to watch

The first round of the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with. And we can’t wait for the second round to get started just so we could get even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players: CJ CANSINO – University of Sto. Tomas (yellow jersey with ball) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 27.6 points, 43.5 percent shooting, 14.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals (yellow jersey number 27) CJ Cansino has single-handedly made University of Sto. Tomas matter again – and that’s not an exaggeration. Through his sheer will, the Tiger Cubs find themselves well inside the playoff picture at the end of the first round. The long-limbed forward is an all-around weapon who can get his shots inside the paint, from the perimeter, and even from the charity stripe where he has already scored a mind-boggling 60 points – that’s out of 76 attempts, giving him a 78.9 percent shooting clip from there. It’s not just scoring where he makes an impact, though, as he also can also make plays for teammates like scoring guard Kobe Palencia as well as disrupt plays for opponents. And oh, the six-foot-two graduating player is also tops in the league in rebounding – yes, he has more rebounds than the next kid on our list. The even better news for UST? Cansino wants to stay for college. KAI SOTTO – Ateneo de Manila High School (blue jersey number 11) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.9 points, 52.5 percent shooting, 12.7 rebounds, 4.9 blocks (blue jersey number 11) All eyes have been on Kai Sotto ever since he was discovered in the Jr. NBA. Now in his second season for currently league-leading Ateneo de Manila University, he has given all of us more than enough reason to never take our eyes off of him and all of his now 7-foot 1-inch stature. A legitimate inside presence the likes of which the high school ranks have never seen before, Sotto is unstoppable in getting points near the basket and collaring rebounds from anywhere inside the paint. And yeah, the kid atop our list has more rebounds than him, but nobody in the Juniors can touch the 15-year-old’s rim protecting ability. 34 blocks through seven games? That’s unheard of! The even better news for Ateneo? He’s just in Grade 9, that’s three more seasons of eligibility after this one. SJ BELANGEL – Ateneo de Manila High School (white jersey number 0) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 50.6 percent shooting, 5.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals (blue jersey number 0) Sotto has been getting all the attention, but just like a year ago, Ateneo has been SJ Belangel’s show to run. The kid who famously scored 99 points back in his hometown of Bacolod is now a complete player. The scoring has always been there for Belangel, but it’s his now pinpoint passing that is the more welcome development for the still undefeated Blue Eaglets. It doesn’t hurt either that the 18-year-old is doing nothing but living up to being a floor leader. L-JAY GONZALES – Far Eastern University-Diliman (yellow jersey number 0) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.6 steals (yellow jersey number 0) No doubt, the shots have yet to fall for L-Jay Gonzales as he is only shooting 32.4 percent from the field. Just like what he showed in his starmaking stint in last season’s Finals, however, it has again become clear that he doesn’t have to score to make an impact. In all of the league, Far Eastern University-Diliman’s main man is first in steals, second in assists, and fifth in rebounds. And there’s one thing we all learned last season, it’s never to count out the Baby Tamaraws and their do-it-all guard. DAVE ILDEFONSO – Ateneo de Manila High School (white jersey number 10) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.9 points, 42.7 percent shooting, 8.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals (white jersey number 10) Dave Ildefonso is not top five in the league in anything – he is well inside the top 10 in many things, though. With Sotto, Belangel, and the rest of Ateneo’s stacked lineup, it’s easy to forget that they have a versatile player who can score from all over the floor while also defending the opposing team’s forwards and guards. And among all of high school, the son of Philippine basketball legend Danny Ildefonso has one of the most college-ready bodies – he can bump with the best of them and he can move with the best of them. That is exactly why make no mistake about it, Dave Ildefonso has been a key cog in the Blue Eaglets’ ascent to the top of the leaderboard. RHAYYAN AMSALI – Nazareth School of National University (blue jersey number 13) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 13.0 points, 43.2 percent shooting, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.1 steals As expected, there has been an adjustment period for Nazareth School of National University and new head coach Goldwyn Monteverde. That hasn’t stopped Rhayyan Amsali from producing as expected, though. Already having proven himself as an all-around offensive weapon, the third-year forward is now displaying the development of his defense to the tune of a third-best steals total. RJ ABARRIENTOS – Far Eastern University-Diliman (green jersey number 17) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steals FEU-Diliman is already fortunate to have somebody like L-Jay Gonzales and yet, they actually have two of that kind of player on their roster. RJ Abarrientos can do the very same things his Finals MVP teammate can, but when focused, has proven himself to be an impactful 3-and-D swingman. The nephew of “Flying A” Johnny Abarrientos will never have the ball in his hands all that much, but when he does, good things happen more often than not. JOEM SABANDAL – Adamson High School (blue jersey number 21) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 45.9 percent shooting, 6.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.2 steals A new day has dawned upon Adamson High School and serving as the brightest ray of light is Joem Sabandal. The heady guard is best in the league in assists, second in steals, and third in points – doing anything and everything in his power to keep his team afloat. The journey back to the heights they once reached is far and long, but the Baby Falcons are nothing but glad that they already have the person to steer them there. AGEM MIRANDA – University of the East (white jersey number 4) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.9 points, 41.1 percent shooting, 8.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.1 steals University of the East remains winless Round 1, but unlike a year ago, there is reason to watch and there is reason to hope. Agem Miranda has made the most out of his opportunities on a talent-lacking squad and has opened eyes on how his all-around game will translate if given more help. The one-and-done guard will have to find that out on some other team, but at the very least, he has energized the Junior Warriors back on track. RAVEN CORTEZ – De La Salle Zobel (green jersey number 6) ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.6 points, 64.2 percent shooting, 10.9 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, 1.1 assists It looks like Boris Aldeguer, the mentor who molded Joshua Webb and Arnold Van Opstal into promising big men, has finally gotten his hands on his next project. There is no doubt that Raven Cortez is raw, even rawer than Ateneo’s Sotto, but his size and skill give him all the potential in the world, much like Ateneo’s Sotto. The Batang Gilas member may not have an outside shot just yet, but he has already put his 6-foot 7-inch frame to good use as the second-best blocker and fourth-best rebounder in the league......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2018

Thompson, Warriors force inevitable Game 7

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. -- The final game of the Western Conference season will tip on the last Monday in May (Tuesday, PHL time) at the Toyota Center in Houston, as it should. This is the route the GPS mapped out back in October and never had any reason to recalculate from since. Warriors at Rockets in a winner-take-all. Never in doubt, no? A pair of championship-quality teams will go 48 minutes and the previous six games in this series tells us to expect a tense jump ball-to-buzzer affair. With or without Chris Paul. Paul’s inflamed right hamstring is a significant flaw, no question, yet the Rockets do have home-court advantage and will hear a crazed crowd trying to fill the void with noise if as expected Paul misses a second straight game. The Rockets didn’t have their point guard and spiritual leader Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and still sent an early chill through the defending champions on enemy soil, going up 17 after the first quarter and 10 at halftime. Oracle Arena and the Warriors were confused. Then Game 6 flipped suddenly and drastically in the second half, as the Warriors rolled to a 115-86 victory. and here we are. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni: “We got what we want, a seventh game on our home court, now it’s up to us to go get it.” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said: “I feel like we’re the best team in the world.” The Rockets constructed this team specifically to challenge and beat the Warriors. Meanwhile, the Warriors paced themselves through the regular season partly to conserve their attention and energy for Houston, which has Golden State’s attention like no team before in the West playoffs. Both are causing each other irritating problems. The Rockets’ defense with its switching and hand-in-the-face pressure is forcing Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry to work hard for their shots. The Warriors’ ability to thrive even if not all four of their All-Stars are clicking is testing Houston’s limits; such was the case in Game 6 when Thompson, the No. 3 Guy, broke loose for 35 points with nine threes. That’s what makes the Warriors tough to erase: They don’t need to be perfect, and good for them, because they haven’t been in this series, with the exception of their 41-point victory in Game 3. About Thompson: He was locked in, emotionally and physically, popping off screens, catching and shooting, creating space to get good looks and punching the air after big three's. The energy and the shots saved the Warriors from a lackluster and potentially deadly start. Thompson stayed in rhythm most of the night while Curry (29 points) and Durant (23) went through off-and-on cold stretches and afterward joked how he was “born” for this. “Man, that felt good, to be honest,” Thompson said. “I just wanted to play with as much passion as I could. I probably sounded more vocal than I am.” There was a natural link to the last time Thompson was this splashy in a Game 6 elimination game, two summers ago when he dropped 41 on Oklahoma City to trigger a comeback from 3-1 down. Durant was on the wrong side of that performance. “Please don’t go there,” begged Durant, bowing his head. “Next question.” Mindful of what happened right after that series -- the Warriors would blow a 3-1 lead of their own to Cleveland -- Curry said: “I think we both blocked that whole year out of our memory.” Actually, that volcanic performance by Thompson helped convince Durant to leave Oklahoma City, which led to last year’s championship and helped build a solid case for the Warriors to repeat next month. Thompson’s latest piece of work helped awaken the Warriors from being trapped in an extended state of stun, courtesy of how fierce the Rockets came at them right from the start. The Houston lead grew to double digits within minutes and stayed that way through the break. This was further evidence that the Rockets, in this game and actually for the series so far, refuse to concede anything and believe this West title is realistic even with Paul’s status uncertain. “I saw a lot of things that I liked,” said D’Antoni, “and I think we’re in a good position.” Eric Gordon, a strong candidate to win the Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, started in place of Paul and was a concern for the Warriors, drilling deep shots and scoring 19 points. Also, Harden rediscovered his own touch from that distance; he’d missed 22 straight threes in this series but made four and scored 32 points. Houston missed Paul’s composure and steady point guard hand, which could be expected. The Rockets had 22 turnovers, with the Harden-Gordon backcourt combining for 14. The other issue for the Rockets was depth. With Gordon in the starting lineup, D’Antoni was forced to give minutes to Luc Mbah a Moute, still struggling after hurting his shoulder just prior to the playoffs. He wasn’t a factor and neither was the bench. Assuming Paul sits another game, the Rockets will undoubtedly need major scoring and playmaking from Harden, solid shotgun work from Gordon and at least two members of the support group -- Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela -- to break loose in order to make Game 7 interesting. Remember, the Rockets have now gone four straight games without breaking 100 points, and Harden appeared beaten in the fourth quarter Saturday where he went scoreless. The Warriors are also dealing with a missing part, with Andre Iguodala’s inactive streak now at three. They’re crossing fingers whenever Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and/or Nick Young are pressed to play more than 15 minutes. None of them have distinguished themselves since Iguodala suffered a bone bruise on his left knee in Game 3. So that’s the tale of the tape. Between now and tipoff, the Rockets’ therapy staff will work on Paul’s hamstring, hoping for some intervention from the Medical Gods. In the perfect basketball world, Paul and Iguodala would be fit to play; why should the finish of this series be deprived of them, of less than what it should be? Last fall, before training camp, Paul, Harden and Tucker vacationed in the Bahamas for one last moment of chill before preparations for a season of big expectations. Obviously, they talked shop. They set goals and their sights on the Warriors. Tucker asked Paul and Harden: Imagine if we get them on our court for a Game 7. They all nodded and agreed it would be a logical scenario to launch themselves into the NBA Finals. “Obviously we hope to have our starting point guard back,” Tucker said. “If not, we need to be ready.” The Warriors held no such pre-camp huddle -- champions have what others want -- yet knew that once the Rockets added Paul, Houston would be their toughest test since Durant signed up. Warriors vs. Rockets in a single-game elimination is the proper stage, then, to determine who reps the West in the NBA Finals. D’Antoni said: “It should be a great game.” Curry: “It should be fun. This is what you play for, to be in a situation where you’re one win away from going to The Finals. You’ve got to want it.” Truthfully, neither team would rather be in a winner-take-all. Sweeping would be vastly preferred. But the other part about what Curry said is definitely true: Who wants it? 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 NewsMay 27th, 2018

LeBron James helps spark new All-Star Game era

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES -- Before tipoff at the 2018 All-Star Game, LeBron James took the courtside mic and thanked the fans and the city for showing out. Two hours later, when he accepted the Kia All-Star MVP trophy, he was barely audible, his throat too scratchy to explain what just happened. Well: To quote an ex-All-Star and noted philosopher Rasheed Wallace, both teams played hard. Those words were never used to describe recent All-Star Games, especially the last two, when defense (196 and 192 points for the winning teams) and the competitive spirit took an extended break, embarrassingly so. The league’s midseason showcase absorbed a rather well-deserved thrashing from fans and even players themselves. Nobody was fooled. Something had to change and someone had to volunteer to be the game-changer. And so, on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), the NBA season took on an 83rd game, as in a real game, thanks to commissioner Adam Silver’s willingness to fix what was broken and LeBron’s desire to set the tone for the most meaningful All-Star Game in years. The players gave the Staples Center crowd the usual acrobatic thrills associated with the game, naturally, but also some spills. As in, bodies on the floor. Every player who checked in did so with a strut and a mission to make a February game feel like June, or close enough, and not just during the close finish, either. Virtually from the start, when LeBron soared and swatted a cross-course pass just minutes into the game, this atmosphere had an edge. As Kevin Durant said: “We just wanted to change the narrative of the All-Star Game being a joke.” It was Team LeBron 148, Team Stephen 145 in the new format where sides were chosen regardless of conference and captains were assigned by fan vote. This created a new and fresh mix of players, intriguing tandems and raised overall interest for the game. It also helped that prize money, $100,000 to each winning player, was increased and lent a financial incentive. Yet it wouldn’t have mattered if layups went unchecked and jumpers were uncontested. Everything had to fall in line, and everyone had to cooperate. And that’s what led to this, a game decided by defense when it truly mattered, with LeBron and Durant swamping Stephen Curry beyond the three-point line on the final possession, keeping Curry and his team from getting a potential game-tying shot off as time expired. This is what the NBA needed, a more representative effort and result from the collection of the game’s finest players. It was a much cleaner look and it’s not a stretch to say the format and intensity rescued the All-Star Game from itself. “The hope is that, as we go forward, it gets even better than this,” said Kyrie Irving. “The game started to get away and we took it personally.” It’s hardly a surprise that LeBron was the force of change. His 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the win earned him his third Kia All-Star MVP trophy, yet those numbers didn’t accurately reflect how involved he was for four quarters. He lost his voice because of constant yelling and instructing and prodding his teammates to finish the job. He actually influenced both teams; his own by motivating them to play harder, and Team Stephen’s by issuing a challenge. Here’s the final sequence, dictated by LeBron: - His step-back three-pointer tied the score at 144; - He switched onto James Harden and forced the league’s scoring leader to badly miss a 3-pointer; - He put his team up for good on a driving layup on a give-and-go, thanks to a pair of timely passes from Irving and Russell Westbrook; - His double-team with Durant on Curry deep in the corner was the finishing touch. LeBron encouraged his team to apply a full-court press to end the first half -- has that ever been used in an NBA Game, let alone an All-Star Game? -- and simply took charge throughout. It was a personal mission to keep folks intrigued and interested. This was his game, his tempo, his personality taking over. “I believe I can make an impact and make a difference,” he said. At 33, and winning his first All-Star MVP in a decade, LeBron helped launch a standard that the game badly needed and, if this spirit holds true in the coming years, he’ll serve as the torch-bearer for a new age All-Star Game. Just one more productive layer to his lengthy legacy. “We all know how great a player he is,” said Team LeBron coach Dwane Casey. “I’m jealous of [Cavs coach Ty Lue] that he has someone like that. But tonight, he was on our team. He’s a joy to coach. He reiterates exactly what should be said, the right things. No BS. In the huddle, defensively, he got the guys jacked up and juiced as far as wanting to get a stop.” There was help; Durant was LeBron’s teammate for the first time in an NBA-sanctioned game and scored 19 points (the two were Olympic teammates in 2012). Irving rejoined LeBron after bolting from the Cavs last summer and they connected on the game-winning shot. Paul George was terrific defensively and chipped in 16 points. If not for Team LeBron winning, the MVP could have gone to DeMar DeRozan, who returned to his hometown and dropped 21 points (but threw an errant pass in the final seconds). Or maybe Damian Lillard, who matched DeRozan’s 21. Or Joel Embiid, a first-timer who supplied a big blocked shot right before LeBron’s layup. Therefore, an exhibition game that had grown stale and suffered from lapses and a lack of energy suddenly has a new beginning. East vs. West doesn’t exist anymore, and players purposely feeding a specific player so he can win MVP, and maybe no more matador defense, either, at least not for 48 minutes. It’s a small sample size, and the game must prove itself each year, but this is a push from LeBron and Silver into the right direction. The only possible tweak, perhaps next year, will be with televising the team selection. But that’s a nit-pick. This worked out well. “The format was great,” James said. “I think the fans did a great job of reacting to it in a positive way. It definitely worked out for everyone., not only for the players, not only for the league, but for the fans, everybody. It was a great weekend and we capped it off the right way.” 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 NewsFeb 20th, 2018

Barcelona s Pique scores late to silence Espanyol crowd

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Jeered from his first touch of the ball, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique found a way to silence Espanyol fans in Sunday's Catalan derby. Pique scored a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw as the Spanish league leader narrowly avoided losing to its crosstown rival for the second time in less than three weeks. The outspoken Pique celebrated by putting a finger in front of his mouth as if to tell the crowd to be quite. "We have a responsibility as players, but we are also humans and we react to what happens," Pique said. "Part of the crowd was insulting my family. There is a limit to everything." Pique had previously made comments criticizing Espanyol, and the crowd showed their disapproval by jeering him nearly every time he touched the ball. His 82nd-minute goal helped Barcelona extend its unbeaten streak in the league to 22 matches, surpassing the record set under coach Pep Guardiola in 2009-10. It also left Barcelona nine points in front of Atletico Madrid, which defeated third-placed Valencia 1-0 later Sunday. Gerard Moreno put Espanyol ahead midway through the second half and Pique equalized with a header in a heated match at RCDE Stadium. "These types of situations motivate Pique," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "His gesture comes as part of the rivalry that is natural in a derby." There were shoves and heated discussions throughout the match, which was played under steady rain and on a heavy pitch. Messi, who provided the cross for Pique's goal, came off the bench near the hour-mark after getting some rare rest time from Valverde. Espanyol had ended Barcelona's 29-match unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals on Jan. 17, when Messi missed a penalty kick. Barcelona eventually eliminated Espanyol by winning the second leg 2-0. After that match, Pique's tone when talking about Espanyol infuriated rival fans and prompted an official complaint by the club. Pique did not back down on Sunday, questioning Espanyol's links to Barcelona because it moved its base to nearby Cornella and has a foreign owner. The Espanyol crowd was furious after Pique's celebration on Sunday. Right after the goal, Moreno fouled the defender, prompting a heated altercation between players from both teams. Moreno had to be contained as he tried to go after Pique. There were also discussions in the tunnel to the changing rooms. "One player won't silence our crowd," Espanyol coach Quique Sanchez Flores said. "His gesture was what it was. Our fans are above that." Pique's only other goal this season was also against Espanyol. ___ CORREA WINNER Atletico Madrid moved nine points clear of third-placed Valencia with Angel Correa's second-half winner at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Correa scored with a superb shot into the top corner from outside the area, giving Atletico its second consecutive victory. "We played against one of the best teams in La Liga and we were superior," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. Uruguay defender Diego Godin had to be substituted early in the second half after a hard collision with Valencia goalkeeper Neto, injuring his mouth and apparently losing some teeth. Defender Stefan Savic was replaced in the first half, also because of an injury. ___ ATHLETIC'S RUN ENDS Athletic Bilbao's nine-game unbeaten streak ended with a 2-0 loss at Girona. Cristhian Stuani scored a goal in each half for the hosts, which moved to ninth in the standings. Athletic was debuting defender Inigo Martinez, who was acquired from Basque Country rival Real Sociedad as the club's most expensive signing at nearly 30 million euros ($37 million). Athletic defender Yeray Alvarez returned to action more than eight months after being sidelined for testicular cancer treatment. ___ DRAW IN DERBY Leganes and Getafe could not manage more than a 0-0 draw in the derby between rivals based just south of Madrid. Host Getafe had the best chances, twice hitting the woodwork in a match played under light snow during parts of the second half. It was the fifth straight game without a loss for Leganes, which rested several regular starters ahead of its game at Sevilla in the Copa del Rey semifinals on Wednesday. The teams drew 1-1 in the first leg in Leganes last week......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2018

NCAA Jrs. champion Randy Alcantara being eyed to take over Tiger Cubs next season

Aldin Ayo has his first recruit for University of Sto. Tomas – and it is a big one. The new head coach for the Growling Tigers will add to his staff a fellow young mentor who has made his name making the most out of whatever he has in his lineup. According to sources, Ayo is all-set to welcome Randy Alcantara to join him in the bench alongside Rene Baena, Kristoffer Co, Bonnie Garcia, and Mcjour Luib. The development was first reported by Reuben Terrado of spin.ph. Alcantara is an esteemed coach who built Mapua High School’s program from the ground up. That has led to one championship and one runner-up finish in the last two years. Along the way, he has guided the development of promising prospects such as NCAA MVPs Mike Enriquez and Will Gozum as well as Warren Bonifacio, Sherwin Concepcion, and Clint Escamis. Now, along with serving as Ayo’s most decorated lieutenant, Alcantara is also being looked at to lead the continued rise of UST’s high school program. Sources said the one-time NCAA Juniors champion coach will be taking over from Chris Cantonjos who is currently overseeing a campaign that has the Tiger Cubs right in the thick of things in the UAAP Juniors. Once Alcantara formally takes over, he will have some recruitment to do as UST High is set to lose MVP leader CJ Cansino to graduation after the ongoing season. Mapua will not be losing the young mentor, however, as according to sources, he will be staying on with the Red Robins. ABS-CBN Sports has been contacting Alcantara, but he has not returned any messages as of press time. ABS-CBN Sports has also been trying to get a comment from Ayo, but he is yet to respond. According to a source, he has been barred from media interviews by UST’s Institute of Physical Education and Athletics. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 23rd, 2018

Ateneo still spotless after shutting down MVP leader Cansino

STANDINGS Ateneo 8-0 NU 6-2 UST 5-3 FEU-Diliman 4-4 Adamson 3-4 DLSZ 2-5 UPIS 1-6 UE 1-6 On Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre, Ateneo de Manila High School showed that second, third, and fourth combined is better than first all by himself. Kai Sotto, SJ Belangel, and Dave Ildefonso all together to power Ateneo de Manila High School right through MVP frontrunner CJ Cansino and University of Sto. Tomas, 78-54. Sotto is second, Belangel is third, and Ildefonso is fourth to first-place Cansino in the MVP leaderboard of the UAAP 80 Juniors Basketball Tournament. Together, however, they again proved to be too much for one of the other contenders in the tournament. “Kahit ganito, marami pa rin kaming kailangang ayusin. We still have lots to improve,” head coach Joe Silva said. Ildefonso had 20 points, seven assists, and three assists; Belangel had 13 points, six assists, and six rebounds; and Sotto had 11 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks to make sure Ateneo remained undefeated through eight games. The Tiger Cubs actually got off to a strong start and owned an eight-point lead in the early going before the league-leaders settled down. Just trailing by one late in the second quarter, Belangel then orchestrated a 9-0 run that put the Blue Eaglets on top, 35-27, at the half. They would only keep their foot on the gas pedal from there and in all, crushed their opponents, 65-36, in the last three quarters. The offense took some time to get going, but the defense was on-point from the get-go as the kids from Katipunan frustrated Cansino to only 16 points, seven coming when the game was already over, in 6-of-20 shooting along with three turnovers. “Actually, we were expecing a shaky start sa offense kaya second quarter, we locked it down,” Silva said. He then continued, “The boys were proud enough to lock Cansino down.” With another convincing victory, they have now defeated UST twice, Far Eastern University-Diliman once, and Nazareth School of National University once all by double-digits. On the other hand, the Tiger Cubs dropped to third in the standings now at 5-3. With the MVP frontrunner struggling, nobody else stepped up as Vince Dolendo was the only other one in double-digits with 10 points BOX SCORES ATENEO 78 – Ildefonso 20, Belangel 13, Credo 12, Manuel 11, Sotto 11, Jaymalin 3, Chiu 2, Escalona 2, Tandeo 2, Diaz 2, David 0, Lopa 0, Gusi 0, Ong 0 UST 54 – Canaino 16, Dolendo 10, Benzonan 9, Villapando 8, Lina 6, Narvasa 3, Baquial 2, Anunciacion 0, Dea Cruz 0, Palencia 0, Esplana 0, Manabat 0 QUARTER SCORES: 13-18, 35-27, 58-41, 78-54 —- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2018

Spain replaces fired Lopetegui with Hierro

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press With only two days to go before Spain's opening match at the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was fired as national team coach because he accepted a job to lead Real Madrid next season. Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales, who made the announcement on Wednesday in Krasnodar, later said Fernando Hierro would replace Lopetegui as coach for Spain's match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday. The 50-year-old Hierro, a former national team player and Real Madrid captain, had been acting as the federation's sports director and was already in Russia with the national team. Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn't the best solution but it was needed after the federation was caught by surprise by Real Madrid's announcement. "The federation cannot be left out of a negotiation by one of its workers and be informed five minutes before the press release," Rubiales said. "We have been compelled to act." Rubiales, who took over as president last month, said Lopetegui betrayed the federation's values and it was the only decision he could make. "It's a difficult situation, but we are not the ones who determined the action that had to be taken. The federation has its values and it has to maintain them," Rubiales said. "It may look like a weakness now, but with time this will make us stronger." Lopetegui did not attend the news conference but was expected to talk to the media later. "We have to work on a series of decisions that come just two days before the opener," Rubiales said. "There's a lot to do." Hierro spent most of his career as a defender for Real Madrid and finished his playing days with English club Bolton in 2005. He played in four World Cups with Spain, from 1990 to 2002, and in two European Championships, 1996 and 2000. Hierro was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant at Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane left the post in 2014. He coached second-division club Real Oviedo two seasons ago and was Malaga's general manager after leaving his sports director position with the Spanish federation in 2011. After Madrid's announcement that it hired Lopetegui, critics immediately began questioning some of the coach's decisions with the national team, including his choice to leave some Barcelona players such as Sergi Roberto out of the World Cup squad. There were also questions about how Lopetegui would be able to fully focus on the national team while also having to discuss off-season signings for his new club. There are six Madrid players in Spain's team for the World Cup. Lopetegui's name had not been mentioned by Spanish media among the probable candidates for the Madrid job, which opened up after Zidane unexpectedly quit. Last month, Lopetegui agreed to extend his contract with the national team through 2020. "I admire and respect Lopetegui a lot. He is a top coach, and that made it harder to make this decision," Rubiales said. "Winning is important, but above that, we need to know how things have to be handled." The 51-year-old Lopetegui took over from Vicente del Bosque after the 2016 European Championship. He was credited with reviving a team that was on the decline after winning Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. By successfully blending talented youngsters and veterans from its golden generation, Lopetegui kept Spain unbeaten through 20 matches in charge, comfortably leading the team to the World Cup from a qualifying group that included Italy. He won European championships with Spain's under-19 and under-21 teams in the early 2010s, but had a lackluster stint with Portuguese team Porto in his only job with a major club. He was fired after failing to win a title during almost two years in Portugal. Rubiales took over a federation which was in the hands of embattled official Angel Maria Villar for nearly three decades. He was elected president over Juan Luis Larrea, the federation's former treasurer and its interim leader since Villar was suspended following his arrest last year on suspicion of corruption. In one of his first actions, Rubiales canceled a previously arranged "vacation" trip by officials to the World Cup that would cost nearly 2 million euros ($2.3 million). He got the money reimbursed and spent only about 500,000 euros ($590,000) with new travel arrangements for sponsors and federation officials. "We are all affected," Rubiales said about Lopetegui's departure. "We have to think about what is best for the entity, for the federation and the team, and from this afternoon we will all be together to go forward.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

At least a split for TNT

Nash Racela will have all hands on deck as TNT KaTropa makes a determined push for a twice-to-beat advantage in the first round of the PBA Commissioner's Cup playoffs. The Texters slug it out with Magnolia on Wednesday, seeking the first of at least two wins their coach feels would be enough to give them a shot at a top two berth and one of the playoff bonuses. "At least two," Racela said over the phone when asked of the number of wins TNT still needs to contend for a 1-2 finish after the elimination round. "Especially if one of those wins comes against Rain or Shine (the tournament leader which the Texters will play last)." Tip off is at 7 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena in P...Keep on reading: At least a split for TNT.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 12th, 2018

BJ Armstrong: Everything new is old, everything LeBron is MJ

Note: While many NBA fans have said if LeBron James’ supporting cast did more, the Cavs would be more competitive. BJ Armstrong, a former member of Jordan’s supporting cast, shares his perspective. Armstrong says everything new is old, everything LeBron is Jordan. His take on James and the Cavaliers: ___ The NBA Finals are giving me a feeling of deja vu. Everyone keeps saying all LeBron James needs is help. Maybe true but, with the greatest respect, he also needs to help himself. In 1989-90 I became one of the group known as the Jordanaires, a/k/a the Bulls. From the day I arrived in Chicago, I knew what everyone else on the team did: Michael Jordan was a phenomenal talent. Yet, as the team deferred to MJ’s talent, we could not get past the hurdle of defeating the “Bad Boys” Pistons in the conference finals. Seeing the Cavs in these Finals, I’m seeing the way we were playing then. It’s textbook isolation basketball. Back in the last century, MJ would get the ball and the rest of us on the team would all stand around while he scored. It was a sight to see, but it wasn’t team basketball. What it was was all of us enabling MJ to showcase his best individual talent. At some point, MJ realized that, as great as he was, he alone could not beat the Pistons. That’s what the Jordan Rules were all about — employing a defensive scheme with the sole purpose of limiting hero basketball. Similarly, LeBron has to commit to the team’s system of play. So far, he’s been incredible, but he’s not been a willing participant in the team. This is where trust comes in. He has to trust the system. It reminds me of when everyone was telling Jordan he didn’t have enough to win. His teammates just weren’t good enough — me being one of them. What was really missing was the trust to win. Once MJ found that trust, we beat the Pistons and went on to win the NBA championship many times over. In doing so, MJ discovered that his teammates WERE good enough, because he was part of the team. Greatness is empowered in a system where you pass the ball, not pound it. Everyone has to be committed to this system. The best player on the team has to realize that he needs the team in order to win — and I don’t mean passing the ball when he gets double-teamed. He, and everyone else, has to buy into the system. MJ passed me the ball not because he was being double-teamed, but because he trusted we were playing together as a group. Michael’s greatness was, in part, knowing how to move the pieces on the board in the triangle offense system of play. Isolation basketball will always be part of the game. But the system has to be predicated on ball movement and, more importantly, player movement. LeBron James has proven he can lead by example. My wish for LeBron is to understand the following: He’s an exceptional leader because he leads by example. The next step on the road to Legend, which he’s already on, is to trust he’s the best player in the best system anywhere in basketball. Then his coach, the system and his teammates — the TEAM — will be good enough to win......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2018

Sargent & Weah, both 18, score as US beats Bolivia 3-0

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Josh Sargent became the fourth-youngest American to score, making an audacious interception of a goalkeeper's pass over his head to put the ball into the net in his international debut at just 18 years, 102 days. Tim Weah, two days younger than Sargent, got his first goal seven minutes later. With no World Cup to play for, the United States gave youth a chance and they came through in a 3-0 exhibition win over an equally inexperienced Bolivia team on Monday night. "It's great feeling both of us getting to do this together," Sargent said. Walker Zimmerman, a relative geezer at 25 but making just his third international appearance, put the Americans ahead in the 37th minute with his first international goal , on a header from Joe Corona's corner kick. Sargent doubled the lead in the 52nd. "We've come such a long way," said Weah, a son of former FIFA Player of the Year and current Liberia President George Weah. "We just want to impress our fans. We just want to play with our hearts." Christian Pulisic, playing exactly two years after become the youngest American to score — also against Bolivia — struggled to make sharp touches in the 19-year-old's first national team match since the loss at Trinidad and Tobago last October that ended the U.S. streak of seven consecutive World Cup appearances. Interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan gave six players their debuts, raising the total to 15 in four matches since he took over after the loss in Trinidad. Defenders Erik Palmer-Brown and Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Alex Bono joined Sargent as debutants in the starting lineup, and defender Matt Olosunde and midfielder Keaton Parks entered in the second half. The U.S. starting lineup averaged 22 years, 160 days, and 6.7 international appearances. Fans always have sky-high hopes prospects will become stars, and Sargent and Weah raised the anticipation even higher. "They're reading a lot about themselves and so on," Sarachan said. "They're still steps. If you want to get to A, you still start at D and then to C, then to B. We're very quick to jump them up into the A category. I think that's a process that we have to manage, with expectations, with a lot of noise on the outside." Only three Americans have scored at a younger age than Weah and Sargent: Pulisic (17 years, 253 days), Juan Agudelo at South Africa in 2010 (17-359) and Jozy Altidore against Mexico in 2008 (18-96). Agudelo is the only younger player to score in his debut. Weah has played just three first-team matches for Paris Saint-Germain, one of his father's former clubs, entering twice as a second-half sub in March and getting his first start on the final day of the season this month. Sargent hasn't played any. Sargent scored four goals at last year's Under-20 World Cup and three at the Under-17 World Cup, where Weah was a teammate. He signed a pro contract with Werder Bremen on his 18th birthday, Feb. 20. That was after the international transfer window closed, making him ineligible until next season. "I was very nervous to be honest coming out," Sargent said. "It was my first professional game ever." He made up for lack of experience with daring. Goalkeeper Carlos Lampe rolled the ball to Luis Haquin on the right flank, and the defender returned it. Lampe lofted the ball back toward Haquin. Sargent turned toward the touchline to follow the flight of the ball, stuck out his right leg near the edge of the penalty area to redirect it back toward the center of the field, and then ran onto the ball for an 11-yard right-footed shot that deflected in off the keeper's leg. "I saw him start to chip the ball over, so I started backing up a little bit, and had a good touch to turn it around and good shot," Sargent said. Weah scored after Antonee Robinson beat a defender down the left flank and made a one-hop cross into the penalty area. Weah made a perfect cut and volleyed the ball with his right foot. "Once I saw the service come in, I was like, I got to get there. I got to get this. This is my opportunity to get the goal," Weah said exuberantly. He had felt pain in his right knee after a challenge about 15 minutes in and signaled he needed to come off. "He was all over the shop," Sarachan said. "He looked like a kid that has never played at a higher level, to a guy that was looking to come out a game where he wasn't sure if he was even hurt to flying and beating guys. And so he was the prototypical young, nervous guy." NOTES: Nico Romeijn, the U.S. Soccer Federation's chief sport development officer, said the USSF intends to hire the GM before the World Cup, a position expected to go to former American forward Earnie Stewart, currently sporting director of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union. The new GM will head the search for a new coach, whom the USSF hopes to have in place ahead of September exhibitions. "But maybe it takes more time. You never know," Romeijn said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 29th, 2018

Legacies at stake for Rockets, Warriors in Game 7

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com HOUSTON — So much riding on one game, which goes beyond which team reaches The Finals and which one reaches for the golf clubs. Reputations and images and legacies also can and will be determined in this winner-take-all battle between the Warriors and Rockets. Such is the way of professional sports and instant analysis and fortunes, both teams and players and coaches. That said, here’s what’s on the line for the main figures in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals: * James Harden. He can make a solid case for being the second-best player in the NBA over the past three seasons, having finished top three in Kia MVP voting twice and will perhaps take home the award this season. But LeBron James went to The Finals three times in that span and won once. Harden, on the other hand, doesn’t know what June basketball feels like since he joined the Rockets. He’ll have his best chance Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). He’ll be on his court, playing before his crowd, 48 minutes away from facing LeBron and the Cavaliers for a championship. If he loses against the Warriors, then Harden will keep the crown as Best Active Player Without A Championship, which isn’t an honor he embraces. With the possibility of playing this game without Chris Paul, Harden might need to explode for 40 points or more. And that still might not be enough. He’s still in his prime, but reaching The Finals, much less winning, isn’t guaranteed to happen. Remember how Oklahoma City was “destined” to return to The Finals when Harden played there? * Kevin Durant. His championship demons were destroyed last summer when he joined a loaded team and did exactly what everyone expected. Yet Durant didn’t sign up for a one-and-done. The only way to justify leaving OKC is by winning multiple titles. His performance in this series has gone hot and cold. This isn’t the same Durant who tore through everyone last spring and summer; he seems bewildered at times by the Houston defense. If he comes up flat and the Warriors lose, the sensitive Durant might want to stay off social media. * Chris Paul. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said what everyone feels about Paul and his hamstring injury: It stinks. Paul deserves so much more, especially after such a solid run through the playoffs in every round, including outplaying Steph Curry until the injury. Paul never reached the conference finals until now and at 33 is running out of chances to play for the championship. He’ll become an instant hero in Houston if he pulls a Willis Reed and inspires the Rockets in Game 7, then again if he beats his pal LeBron in The Finals. If not? Then he’ll wonder why the Basketball Gods are against him. * Steph Curry. A fourth straight trip to The Finals would make Curry the LeBron of the West. He shook himself free from a shooting slump to recover nicely in this series and save the Warriors from elimination in six games. * Mike D’Antoni. Validation would come finally for D’Antoni should he mastermind a victory over the four All-Star Warriors, especially so should he do it without Paul in Game 7. D’Antoni heard too often about how his offenses weren’t built to last in the postseason but nobody’s saying that now. Anyway, the Rockets employ a far different system than the one he used in Phoenix. Translated: Give him credit for adjusting and cooking up an offense to suit the talents of his players and not vice versa. Also, with the help of lead assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik, the Rockets’ defense is causing plenty of issues for the Warriors this series. Overall, D’Antoni has pushed all the right buttons. * Steve Kerr. Has he already done enough for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach just off two championships alone? If not, then a fourth straight trip to The Finals might be the trick. But Kerr hasn’t always convinced his players to remain calm in fourth quarters. Why did the Warriors’ offense suffer costly breakdowns in Games 4 and 5? Yes, Houston’s defense rose up, but adjustments by Golden State were slow to come, if at all. * Andre Iguodala. He isn’t expected to play Game 7 and if the Warriors advance, you wonder if he’ll be ready for another shot at LeBron. The Warriors gave him a nice contract extension here in his twilight because of what he means to them in spring and summer. They could use his on-court leadership. * Draymond Green. The Warriors are still looking for a breakout game in this series from their emotional leader. It’s not that Green has been a ghost; rather, he just hasn’t stood out in the small lineup or made his presence known in a big way, other than with the referees (as usual). It would help if Green began hitting those open three-pointers the Rockets are generously giving him. * Daryl Morey. Often celebrated as one of the top general managers in the game, Morey built this Rockets team with beating the Warriors in mind. He traded for Paul and signed P.J. Tucker last summer, and those two have repaid that faith with solid playoff performances. How many more times must Morey tweak the Rockets here in the Harden era before Houston finally strikes gold. For his sake, hopefully, this was the final time. But again, much depends on Paul’s hamstring. Sometimes, the fate of your team is beyond your control. Sometimes, you need luck. * Houston. This city endured a deadly flood, then lifted itself with the help of ordinary citizens and a handful of local athletes and celebrities, then celebrated its first World Series triumph courtesy of the Astros. For the last several months, therefore, Houston has been in the headlines, and would like to add another late Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). 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 NewsMay 28th, 2018

LeBron James reigns supreme over Eastern Conference yet again

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BOSTON – For nearly a decade, the general managers of the NBA’s Eastern Conference have had, essentially, one job: Arm, equip and overhaul their teams specifically to get past LeBron James and whatever squad with which he happened to be rolling. They have failed. Miserably and spectacularly. And that’s even spotting them the first couple of summers to get their bearings after the whole “Super Team” genesis in Miami back in 2010-11. James’ domination of the conference continued Sunday (Monday, PHL time) when he and the Cleveland Cavaliers persevered in Game 7 against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Clawing back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in the series, and playing the final seven quarters without their second All-Star, forward Kevin Love (concussion protocol), the Cavaliers hung around in an ugly game. They took advantage of a Boston team on training wheels – 7-of-39 on three-pointers, oh my! – and snagged a ticket to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals. For James, it’s eight in a row and nine overall, these Cleveland four added to the four he reached with the Heat from 2011-14. It’s a run unprecedented since Bill Russell’s Celtics were winning 11 championships in 13 years, a stranglehold on half of all Finals opportunities this decade. He has a 6-2 record in Game 7 situations, with nothing but triumphs after dropping his first two. “I mean, the bigger the stage, the bigger the player, and he's been doing it for us since we've been here,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “The great quote from the great [Clippers coach] Doc Rivers is, ‘You always want to go into the Game 7 with the best player,’ and we have the best player on our team going into a Game 7. I like our chances. And he delivered again.” Next year at this point, maybe by league proxy, James will have one hand tied behind his back. That’s the next logical step in handicapping him against the field. He has made it to The Finals without his most talented sidekicks. He has taken or dragged along an ever-changing cast of teammates. This time, he did with arguably the Cavaliers’ barest cupboard since first dipping their collective toes in The Finals water back in 2007. Two All-Star point guards, Kyrie Irving (with whom James won a ring in 2016) and Isaiah Thomas (from whom James won his freedom after five awkward weeks), already were long gone when Love went down. And now he was facing elimination with a shaky crew and a huge, inflated question mark hovering over his and Cleveland’s offseason, whenever it comes. Then again, the Celtics were facing him. Like the Raptors, the Pacers, the Bulls, the Hawks and several others before them, Boston well understood the player through whom its playoff ambitions had to go. “I think we’ve played now until May 25th and May 27th the last two years and we started on September 25th. That’s every day,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said about his team’s 2017 and 2018 tangles with Cleveland in the East finals. “Every day you’re totally focused on this, and he’s gone past that eight straight times. “It’s ridiculous. And he does it at this level and with the pressure, with the scrutiny – doesn’t matter.” Plenty of the foes chasing James when his Finals streak began have headed into retirement ringless and unfulfilled. Others were in high school or grade school. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, for instance, was 13 years old when James began his streak against Dallas in 2011. There are so many others like Horford, with tire tracks on their backs, no mercy coming their way from James and very little hope on the horizon. At age 33, James played all 82 games in the regular season for the first time in his 15-year career. He made it an even 100 with Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) appearance and he did it with aplomb, staying on the floor for all 48 minutes. “Our goal going into the series was to make him exert as much energy as humanly possible, and try to be as good as we can on everybody else,” Stevens said. “For the most part, I thought we were pretty good at that. Multiple games now in TD Garden, held them under 100, three games in the 80s – but he still scored 35. It’s a joke.” James’ stats line – 35 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists – was enough this time because he got a reasonable amount of help. Three other Cavaliers scored in double figures, including Jeff Green, the journeyman forward who started in Love’s spot. Being one of James’ teammates requires a thick skin for when things don’t go well. It also carries a sense of obligation, to occasionally come through the way Green did in Game 7 (19 points, eight rebounds) given the debt they all owe their resident superstar. “You want to be there for him,” Green said. “You want to be in the trenches, in the battle, helping him achieve the ultimate goal. For me, it’s a no-brainer to go out there and give it all I have.” Green was a part of James’ most tumultuous campaign yet, with so many twists and turns – the shotgun Irving trade, Thomas’ bad fit, a rash of injuries, a desperate reset at the trade deadline and a bumpy learning curve once the new guys arrived – that James and Lue casually referred to it as “five seasons” crammed into one. “It's now six seasons in one,” James said after midnight. “I guess this is the last chapter for our team in this season. It's been a whirlwind. I mean, it's been [a rollercoaster]. It's been good, it's been bad, it's been roses. There have been thorns in the roses. There's been everything that you can ask for.” For eight years, a conference full of rivals has targeted one player, who happens to be the league’s best, the first among alleged equals with the Heat and clearly the leader when he headed back home to Ohio. In that time, the players have worked, the coaches have schemed and the GMs have plotted. No one has found the answer. None have stopped him. Fact is, nobody’s really laid a glove on him. It’s his conference, seemingly for as long as he wants it. “It's been a satisfaction in the fact that I like to be successful,” James said. “But more importantly, just the work that I put into it. I mean, it's an every-single-day work ethic that I have while I'm playing this game, while I have the ability to play this game at this level. I love the competition. “I think about the teams that I've played over this run and the players that I've played over this run, slightly. But more importantly, me just being healthy. I've been healthy throughout this run. I put a lot of work into my body, into my craft. Being available to my teammates and being available to my franchise, the two franchises I've been with, and throughout this run is what's been more important to me than anything. Always being available.” It was late. James was weary. Another Game 7 in less than 24 hours would determine his and the Cavaliers’ next playoff challenge. “I'll be available for at least four more games,” he said. “And we'll see what happens.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2018

Thompson s hot hand carries Warriors into Game 7 with Rockets

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson flashed back to a night he left the arena still in uniform, furious about his forgettable performance against Denver. It used to be he struggled to shake off a bad night, or even a bad start to a game. Now, he just keeps shooting. Whenever he feels like it, from wherever. No conscience. A hand or two in his face, no matter. “I was not always like this. I used to be so hard on myself, especially early in my career,” Thompson said. “... I learned, as I get older, if you play with passion, you play hard, and you leave the game saying I gave everything I have tonight in those 48 minutes, you can live with the result.” The Warriors’ season lives on largely thanks to Thompson’s shooting touch. Golden State is one win from a fourth straight NBA Finals, headed back to Houston for Monday night’s (Tuesday, PHL time) Game 7. He came through with the defending champions’ season on the line in another do-or-die Game 6, just as he did two years ago at Oklahoma City. This time he scored 35 points with nine three-pointers as the Warriors rallied with a huge second half to beat the Rockets 115-86 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) to force a deciding game in the Western Conference finals. His defense shined, too. Oh, and the typically subdued Thompson let his emotions flow for all to see: He flexed his biceps Draymond Green style, pumped his arms like Kevin Durant and yelled out the way Stephen Curry often does at Oracle Arena. Thompson has long been content to be the understated All-Star among the four in Golden State’s starting lineup. “I just wanted to play with as much passion as I could tonight. Probably sounded more vocal than I usually am,” Thompson acknowledged. “When your back’s against the wall, if your shot’s not falling, you can always control your passion and how hard you play. Usually when I do that, it trickles over to other aspects of my game.” Curry’s Splash Brother did it in 2016 when he scored 41 points against Durant’s former Thunder team with the Warriors facing elimination. They went on to win Game 7 before falling to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in a seven-game NBA Finals. Durant had no interest in recollecting, smiling and laughing with Curry as he said, “next question.” As for Curry? “I think we both blocked that whole year out of our memory,” the two-time MVP quipped. No arguing they both appreciate Thompson’s no-fear shooting approach and ability to almost single-handedly turn the tide of a game with a timely three-pointer or two — or nine. Once Golden State got going in transition, following clutch defensive stops, Thompson found the looks he so prefers from long range. “I feel like we’re the best team in the world and most fun team in the world to watch when we’re pushing that ball, getting defensive stops and making plays,” he said. “We’ve got too much talent not just to hit singles like Coach always says. Trust the next man ahead of us. It will end up working in our favor most of the time.” Thompson shot 13-for-23 and 9-of-14 from deep as the Warriors responded from an early 17-point deficit to dominate James Harden and Houston the final three quarters, outscoring the Rockets 93-47 after trailing 39-22 at the end of the first. Thompson went a combined 20-of-32 from three-point range in those two impressive Game 6 shows, Saturday and in 2016. “I think Klay doesn’t worry too much about repercussions. He doesn’t worry about judgment and results. I think he just loves to play,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s so comfortable in his own skin. I just think he wants to go out there and hoop, and he doesn’t worry about much else. So the pressure doesn’t seem to bother him much. He just competes and plays. As I said, the two-way ability of this guy hounding the MVP of the league, most likely, all game, and continuing to rain down three-pointers, he’s amazing.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2018

Miscues push Warriors to brink of elimination

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com HOUSTON — The hefty equipment bag sitting next to the visitor’s locker room entrance after Game 5 of the Western Conference finals never had a chance. Whack! went Draymond Green’s fist against it as he walked by. Well, at least the Warriors hit something as the night grew late. Once again, the defending champions, the team with four All-Stars, the franchise with a pair of former MVPs still in their prime and two of the most efficient machines of this generation went flatter than Texas when it counted. Missed shots, failed stops and poor decisions all piled on their heads. That fourth quarter was mostly a 12-minute mess. It doomed them at the finish, for the second straight game, and now has them on the brink — really! — in the conference finals. The Warriors awaken today with a pair of potential saving graces: Game 6 is in Oakland and Chris Paul is gimpy, and might be done for good. That could be enough to push this series to seven games. Yet nothing is for certain anymore in the Warriors’ world, if only because of the weird and uncharacteristic — for them — developments in the clutch. Simply put, their lack of composure and smarts is the reason they’re in a bind. Imagine: The Rockets don’t score 100 and James Harden missed all 11 of his three-pointers and the Warriors still lose. It was a strange, empty night for the Warriors where nothing made sense for them. Yes, Paul went nuts in the fourth quarter and Houston’s defensive rotations and traps are catching the Warriors — and especially Kevin Durant — by surprise, and yet the Warriors are also doing a good job of stabbing themselves. Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) 98-94 loss was another blown opportunity, another one that got away, and for the first time since The Finals two summers ago the Warriors are staring at elimination. The face of the Warriors in these back-to-back losses belongs to Durant, and it wears the look of a man confused and dumbfounded. He is 1-for-9 shooting over the last two fourth quarters, reduced to a supporting actor, a backup singer, instead of a beast. He’s not the total reason for this, but a strong symptom nonetheless. Could they fall short of The Finals, a place where they were all but destined to go? It’s a reality, obviously, and their margin for error is toothpick-like. But that’s not what coach Steve Kerr’s gut tells him. “I feel great about where we are right now,” he said. “That may sound crazy, but I feel it. I know exactly what I’m seeing out there … we got everything we needed. Just too many turnovers, too many reaches. If we settle down a little bit we’re going to be in really good shape.” Maybe some of Kerr’s mood has something to do with Paul grabbing a hamstring in the final moments, perhaps stripping the Rockets of their best player in this series. Maybe it’s just hard to fathom the Warriors losing four times in a best-of-seven. All that talent and past success can make a man stubborn, almost refusing to ponder the possibility of defeat. Fine, but Kerr and crew must find a way to clean up the bad choices they’ve made with the game on the line, before it becomes habit-forming. Eighteen turnovers isn’t a recipe for winning. “We can learn from it,” said Durant, “and we’ve got another opportunity at home. We’ll be ready to play.” Trailing by a point with 49 seconds left, here’s what the Warriors coughed up: * Quinn Cook missed a three-pointer. The big surprise is that the ball found Cook and he actually took a shot at that stage of the game. * Curry missed a driving layup, and rather than grab the rebound, Green slapped it out toward the perimeter, hoping a teammate would grab it. Trevor Ariza scooped the lose ball instead. * Then: Down three points and seconds left, the play was designed for Curry to spring loose for a three, but Green fumbled a pass that hit him in both hands. Game over. “We were supposed to score,” said Green. “I lost the ball. Nothing more, nothing less.” Before these self-inflicted misadventures, the Warriors were repeatedly punished by Paul, who recovered from an 0-for-7 first half with 18 points in the second half — complete with a payback shimmy aimed at Curry — before pulling up lame with 22 seconds left. Also, Eric Gordon dropped 24 points and went to the line 10 times, thanks to reach-in fouls by beaten Warriors defenders. “What we can’t live with is reaching and jumping on Eric Gordon’s pump fakes,” said Kerr. “We reached on James and he shot nine free throws. We’ve got to be a little more disciplined.” Overall, the Warriors withstood a manic Toyota Center and were locked in a tight finish against a 65-win team, but never led after the eight-minute mark and weren't nearly sharp enough to capture the lead. They were without Andre Iguodala again, but he’s a defensive specialist and for much of the night defense wasn’t a big issue for the Warriors; the Rockets shot 37 percent and Harden didn’t hurt them. Their problems were mistakes and missed shots. Anyway, Golden State has four All-Stars to Houston’s two, and now with Paul’s status questionable, maybe just one. That means, although the Warriors trail 3-2, they’re in a reasonably good position to keep the series alive. They’re not worried. There’s another emotion running through their bodies. “I think they’re angry,” said Kerr. “As they should be. They’re competitors.” This is new territory in the Durant Era. Remember, the Warriors lost only once last season and until the West Finals didn’t perspire much. As expected, the Rockets are indeed the biggest threat they’ve faced. It’s the series that’s meeting the high expectations for drama and suspense and a chance to see the mighty Warriors ousted. Does Paul’s injury linger and ultimately bail out the Warriors? Can Durant rediscover his touch in the clutch? Will the Warriors wise up or once again wig out? There’s nothing at stake, really, except a dynasty that a loaded team was created to become. Curry plans to remain cool and confident, and the Warriors really don’t have any other choice but to adopt that mentality. “We’ve played the last two games good enough to win but just haven’t gotten the job done," he said. "The way we played tonight, if we can repeat that, take care of turnovers, just stay mentally locked on the details for 48 minutes, we know we can get a win. “Just the talent we have on this team and the resiliency, you know we can get the job done. We know we haven’t been in this position before, so it’s a chapter we need to figure out and finish the story.” 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 NewsMay 25th, 2018

PVL: Can Vice Ganda’s magic touch turn men’s volleyball into a blockbuster?

A volleyball fan at heart and a low-key supporter of Far Eastern University’s stable of athletes, Vice Ganda needed no further convincing when approached to form his own team for the second edition of the Premier Volleyball League.  The ABS-CBN’s prized talent said yes no sooner than Berlin Paglinawan, a former PVL best opposite spiker, had made the request.   Paglinawan began his collegiate career playing for FEU, Vice Ganda’s alma mater, before transferring to National University. And that’s their connection.  This explains why the core of the Vice Company Blockbusters is made up of mainstays of the FEU Tamaraws who finished second in the UAAP last season.     Men’s volleyball fans until now are cheering the entry of Vice Ganda in the PVL, a two-year-old groundbreaking project of Sports Vision, the sports outfit that through its successful series of V Leagues has largely helped steer women’s volleyball to unprecedented popularity.    Everyone seems privy to how Vice Ganda has risen to the top of the local entertainment world, how he almost singlehandedly pushed the Kapamilya noontime show, It’s Showtime, to the pinnacle of the ratings game, and how his movies kept breaking box office records. With his official involvement in volleyball as a club owner and player – he is listed as a player wearing jersey no. 1 -- can his golden touch pull in the crowds for men’s volleyball? That’s the question foremost in every volleyball aficionado’s mind.   Shared passion  Another connection between Vice Ganda and Paglinawan, his team captain, is their common passion for volleyball.     The TV host-actor-standup comedian would be seen time and again rushing from his afternoon television program to wherever the volleyball action may be.     After helping win the NU Bulldogs’ back-to-back championships and eventually graduating from the UAAP, Paglinawan never stops from playing -- for different clubs in the defunct Spikers’ Turf, another event organized by Sports Vision, and now the PVL.  For his present ballclub, Paglinawan said he shed 10 kilos in one month to keep fit and sharp. He insisted that he did it for volleyball, not for health reasons. If that’s not passion for volleyball, then what is?    To the FEU Tamaraws’ juggernaut, Paglinawan, who did the recruiting for Vice Co., has added the tested might of middle blocker Kim Malabunga of reigning UAAP titlist NU and high-flying Paolo Publico of Adamson U, a discovery from Vigan City. The full lineup: Vice Ganda, Richard Solis, Cian Silang, Owen Suarez, Rikko Marmeto, Jude Garcia, JP Bugaoan, Redijohn Paler, Paolo Pablico, Jayson Ramos, Jack Kaligking, Berlin Paglinawan, Peter Quiel and Kim Malabunga. Sammy Gaddi, team manager; Rei Diaz Jr., head coach; Manolo Refugia and Brendon Santos, assistant coaches; and EJ Ramos, therapist/trainer......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2018

Only six players return after UST’s worst finish in F4 era

Without a doubt, University of Sto. Tomas will be different under new head coach Aldin Ayo. Not only has the multi-league champion coach installed his patented “Mayhem,” he has also completely changed the makeup of the Growling Tigers. In fact, only six players will be back in action from last year’s team – reinforcement Steve Akomo, Henric Caunan, Zachy Huang, Leon Lorenzana, Vaughn Soriano, and team captain Marvin Lee. Last year’s squad slogged through a 1-13 season – the school’s worst showing in the Final Four era. That means that no longer in Espana – or on the roster, at the very least – are Justin Arana, Reggie Boy Basibas, Oliver de Guzman, Carlo Escalambre, Christian Garcia, Ben Kwawukumey, Joco Macasaet, MR Romero, and Jordan Sta. Ana. According to Ayo, those players have left on their own volition and have decided to try their luck elsewhere. In their places, the NCAA and UAAP champion coach has recruited blue-chip high school prospects CJ Cansino and Mike Enriquez who were both MVPs as well as solid pieces in Toby Agustin, Sherwin Concepcion, Makoy Marcos, and Kenneth Zamora. More importantly, all set to come back and make use of their last playing year are spitfire guard Renzo Subido and scoring forward Embons Bonleon. —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Kai debuts for Gilas cadets, delivers much-needed win

Nothing much was going right for the Gilas cadets in their matchup against University of the East on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre. That was until Kai Sotto entered the court. Sotto was a difference-maker on both ends in the last nine minutes while Ricci Rivero and Juan Gomez de Liano came through in the endgame as the national team rallied from 11 points down for a 63-61 triumph over the Red Warriors. The UAAP Juniors Finals MVP just had five points, three rebounds, and two blocks to his name, but it was during his time on the floor when the Gilas cadets went on a 13-0 run that erased an 11-point deficit and eventually ended as a much-needed two-point win in the 2018 Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup. “It’s good to be a seven-footer, no,” head coach Jong Uichico joshed with reporters post-game, referring to their towering teen. UE was up, 61-50, early in the final frame until Uichico sent Sotto and Vince Tolentino back into the game. The two did nothing but stifle the Red Warriors as Sotto protected the paint while Tolentino clamped down on Pasaol. In all, the Gilas cadets only allowed four points in the pivotal period. That, coupled with their scoring burst capped off by short stabs from Rivero and GDL, was more than enough to hike their standing to 2-5. While he was scoreless in the fourth, Pasaol still topped the scoring column for now 1-2 UE with 22 points to go along with seven rebounds. In a heavyweight bout between UAAP powerhouses, Far Eastern University topped Adamson University, 75-64. Prince Orizu showed the way for the Tamaraws with 12 points and he was backstopped by Arvin Tolentino and Barkley Ebona who scored eight points each..  FEU improved to 4-1 with the win while also dealing the first defeat in three games to the Soaring Falcons. Sean Manganti paced Adamson with 20 points. Papi Sarr also had 13 markers to his name. Meanwhile, College of St. Benilde kept its slate spotless after powering through University of Sto. Tomas, 99-87. Clement Leutcheu had 22 points and 15 rebounds while Edward Dixon contributed his own 16 markers in the Blazers’ fifth win in a row to begin the tournament. UST dropped to 1-5 with the loss. Kenenth Zamora and Zachy Huang topped the scoring column for them with 22 and 21 points, respectively. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME CSB 99 – Leutcheu 22, Dixon 16, Domingo 14, Naboa 11, Young 9, Pasturan 7, Haruna 6, Belgica 5, Carlos 3, Velasco 3, Pagulayan 3, Nayve 0 UST 87 – Zamora 22, Huang 21, Lee 19, Agustin 13, Cansino 8, Cosejo 4, Caunan 0, Bataller 0, Marcos 0, Asuncion 0 QUARTER SCORES: 19-14, 33-31, 63-55, 99-87 SECOND GAME FEU 75 – Orizu 12, Parker 9, Tolentino 8, Ebona 8, Tuffin 7, Comboy 6, Inigo 6, Escoto 6, Ramirez 5, Cani 3, Stockton 3, Bayquin 2, Bienes 0, Gonzales 0, Tempra 0 ADAMSON 64 – Manganti 20, Sarr 13, Lastimosa 8, Colonia 4, Camacho 4, Espeleta 4, Magbuhos 4, Ahanmisi 3, Orquez 2, Zaldivar 2, Macion 0, Bernardo 0, Maata 0, Magbuhos 0 QUARTER SCORES: 13-12, 34-23, 53-44, 75-64 THIRD GAME GILAS CADETS 63 – Tratter 13, Paras 11, Tolentino V. 8, Rivero 8, Tamayo 8, Gomez de Liano 5, Sotto 5, Alejandro 3, Tolentino A. 2, Gozum 0. UE 61 – Pasaol 22, Starit 8, Manalang 7, Bartolome 6, Varilla 5, Gagate 4, Antiporda 3, Cullar 3, Conner 2, Acuno 1, Gallardo 0, Sobrevega 0, Lacap 0, Maloles 0, Beltran 0. QUARTER SCORES: 21-18, 34-40, 50-57, 63-61. —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

PBA: Backup is on its way for TNT

Backup is on its way for TNT. The KaTropa are set to be reunited with import Joshua Smith, the very same reinforcement that had the team in the Commissioner's Cup Finals last season. After letting go of Jeremy Tyler, who was unimpressive in four games with TNT, team manager Virgil Villavicencio confirmed Friday that Smith will play in the KaTropa's next game on June 1. The hulking import is expected to touch down in Manila on May 25. Against the Blackwater Elite, TNT went All-Filipino but it hardly mattered as the KaTropa rolled to a 120-101 win. Head coach Nash Racela also confirmed that Smith's team in Japan has been eliminated from contention. That means unless out of the blue happens, Smith's scheduled should be right on track and he will be available when TNT takes on Columbian two weeks from now. "To tell you honestly, si Joshua Smith had a stint in Japan. Based on his schedule, we’re really looking at end of May, so during the All Star break," Racela said. "Yeah, they’re already out doon sa Japan. Right now, he’s available," he added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

$500M settlement in Nassar case won t be shared equally

By Ed White and David Eggert, Associated Press DETROIT (AP) — The $500 million settlement between Michigan State University and hundreds of Larry Nassar's victims will be divided up after weighing many factors, including the date and victim's age when the sexual assaults occurred and the impact it had on their lives, lawyers say. The school, where the sports doctor worked for nearly 20 years, announced Wednesday that it would set aside $425 million for 332 women and girls who say Nassar abused them and another $75 million to cover future claims. But it won't have a role in determining how much each victim will receive. That will likely fall to one or two former judges or experienced mediators who will be selected by lawyers to oversee the process, said John Manly, who represents roughly 200 victims in the worst sexual abuse case in sports history. "This can be wrapped up in four or five months," he predicted. Simple math says $425 million divided by 332 people would be $1.28 million each. But it's not "share and share alike," said attorney David Mittleman, whose Lansing-area firm represents 111 victims. Indeed, claims must be evaluated in many ways. Manly said some people could receive "substantially" more than $1.28 million while others get much less. Attorneys will also get a share of any award under agreements they have with clients. "The age of the abuse, the duration of the abuse," Manly said, listing the likely factors. "Treatment in the future and the past. Have you lost earnings? Are there things about a particular case that are aggravating or mitigating." Mittleman said the dates of the assaults will be important. Older abuse probably will be worth less because without the settlement, Michigan State could have been shielded by a statute of limitations. New York attorney Michael Barasch is not involved in the Nassar case but has represented hundreds of victims sexually abused by New York priests. He said a pool of money is "definitely the way to go." "You've got to have a sensible, systematic and transparent solution," Barasch said. "Who better than a fair mediator accepted by everybody? ... Some of these people are going to be disappointed — guaranteed. But I can tell you from my church abuse cases, the vast majority are so appreciative of having finality." Michigan State was accused of ignoring or dismissing complaints about Nassar, some as far back as the 1990s. The school had insisted that no one covered up assaults, although Nassar's boss was later charged with failing to properly supervise him and committing his own sexual misconduct. In a statement Thursday, his first since the settlement, Michigan State President John Engler apologized, calling Nassar an "evil doctor" whose assaults "shocked our campus and the nation." The former Michigan governor was hired as interim leader after Lou Anna Simon's sudden resignation in January. Michigan State hasn't disclosed how it will pay for the settlement besides leaning on insurance companies. Engler told reporters in Lansing on Thursday that he doesn't plan to ask state lawmakers for money. Dianne Byrum, a member of the school's governing board, said Michigan State likely would borrow money, tap savings, delay big projects and consider budget cuts. She said a tuition increase tied specifically to the Nassar case is unlikely. Nassar, 54, will be locked up for the rest of his life under three decades-long sentences for molesting athletes with his hands and possessing child pornography. He's at a federal prison in Arizona. In addition to working at Michigan State, Nassar worked with Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains U.S. Olympians. His assaults were mostly committed in Michigan at his Lansing-area home, campus clinic and area gyms, but his accusers also said he molested them at a gymnastics-training ranch in Texas and at national and international competitions. The settlement applies only to Michigan State. Lawsuits are still pending against USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and an elite gymnastics club in the Lansing-area. The deal surpasses the $100 million-plus paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, though the Nassar agreement covers far more victims. ___ Eggert reported from Lansing......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

Recovering Neymar confirmed in Brazil s World Cup squad

By Mauricio Saverese, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — A recovering Neymar was confirmed and injured leader Dani Alves was replaced by Danilo and Fagner in a Brazil World Cup squad of few surprises on Monday. The only surprises were among the likely reserves for the tournament in Russia, with the inclusion of Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred and winger Taison. Neymar has been recovering from right foot surgery in March, and Brazil Football Confederation doctors believe he will be fit to train next week in Teresopolis, where preparations will begin, and play on June 3 in a friendly against Croatia in Liverpool. Brazil doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro he examined Neymar on the weekend and the results were positive. "This is the final stage of his recovery, he will be able to go to training sessions soon, and will play the friendlies," Lasmar said. Coach Tite said Neymar was one of the top three players in the world, but insisted his team didn't depend on him alone. "We will be much stronger with Neymar doing well, but for him to do well the rest of the team has to be well, too," he said. All but one of Tite's starting lineup in World Cup qualifiers was confirmed in the squad: Alisson; Miranda, Marquinhos and Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Renato Augusto and Philippe Coutinho; Neymar and Gabriel Jesus. Defender Alves, a veteran of two World Cups, sprained his right ACL last week in the French Cup final and was replaced in the 23-man Brazil squad by Manchester City's Danilo and Corinthians' Fagner. Tite decided not to inform who are the players that could replace one of those until June 4 in case of injury. Tite also summoned goalkeepers Ederson (Manchester City) and Cassio (Corinthians); defenders Thiago Silva, (Paris Saint-Germain) Pedro Geromel (Gremio) and Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid); midfielders Fernandinho (Man City) and Willian (Chelsea); and strikers Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) and Douglas Costa (Juventus). The coach said several positions in his starting lineup were open, including up front. "At first, Gabriel Jesus is our starter. But Roberto Firmino will fight for that position in top form," Tite said. "The challenge is open on the right back, but Danilo has some advantage now because he has performed well recently." Tite also hinted in his hour-long news conference he could change one of his central defenders for Thiago Silva. The inclusion of Taison, the coach admitted, suggested Coutinho could be taking a role in central midfield and leaving his spot for Willian. Tite said he needs "a pacemaker" in the team, which he has not received from Beijing Guoan's Renato Augusto. "Coutinho can play in the middle and in the flanks, he is versatile," Tite said. "Sometimes preparation gives you elements that you didn't have, and force you to change your mind." Tite said Brazil was one of the favorites for the title, but refused to name other candidates. The coach's final list includes 15 out of the 23 players he called for his first game with Brazil, against Ecuador in World Cup qualifiers in September 2016. There are only four survivors from the 7-1 hammering by Gerrmany four years ago at the home World Cup: Marcelo, Fernandinho, Paulinho and Willian. Thiago Silva and Neymar did not play that semifinal, one due to suspension and the other because of injury. Marcelo, Casemiro and Firmino will join Brazil for preparations in London only after Real Madrid and Liverpool play the Champions League final on May 26. Brazil starts its World Cup campaign against Switzerland on June 17, followed by Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018