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Kai Sotto commits to play for Atlanta-based basketball team

Sotto and the rest of the TSF basketball squad will be competing across different tournaments in the United States......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarNov 9th, 2019

Kai Sotto joins Jr NBA-affiliated international basketball club

MANILA, Philippines – Kai Sotto announced that he committed to The Skill Factory (TSF), an Atlanta-based international basketball team with a program that focuses on player development.  "Hey what’s up, guys! I’m here to announce that this upcoming season, I’ll be joining The Skill Factory international team," said Kai Sotto ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsNov 9th, 2019

Clippers, Bucks lead NBA.com 2019-20 GM Survey

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com Included in all the player movement of this past summer was the last two Finals MVPs leaving the two teams that met in the 2019 Finals. And with more balance in the distribution of superstars, the race for the 2020 NBA championship appears to be wide open. There are favorites, of course. But with so many good players in new uniforms, we don't know how all the pieces are going to fit. We still asked the league's decision-makers to take their best guesses. And in the 18th annual NBA.com GM Survey, 46 percent of general managers have picked Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to lead the LA Clippers to their first NBA title. Leonard was not only named the offseason acquisition that would make the biggest impact, but is also the first player not named LeBron James to be named the league's best small forward since 2005. In the Eastern Conference, the league's GMs like Giannis Antetokounmpo (the player that 86 percent of them would start a franchise with) and the Milwaukee Bucks, who were named the top team in the East by 76 percent of the respondents. Zion Williamson isn't only the pick to win Kia Rookie of the Year and be the best of his class in five years, but he was also named the league's most athletic player … before suiting up for an official NBA game. The GMs responded to 50 different questions about the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves. General managers were not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel. Percentages are based on the pool of respondents to that particular question, rather than all 30 GMs. * * * PREDICTIONS Which team will win the 2020 NBA Finals? 1. LA Clippers -- 46% 2. Milwaukee Bucks -- 36% 3. Los Angeles Lakers -- 11% Also receiving votes: Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers Last year: Golden State – 87% Rank the top four teams in the Eastern Conference 2019-20 GM Survey, Eastern Conference rankings Last year: Ninety percent picked Boston to win the East. Order after the Celtics was Toronto, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Indiana, Washington and Miami. Rank the top four teams in the Western Conference Last year: Ninety percent picked Golden State to win the West. Order after the Warriors was Houston, Oklahoma City, Utah, L.A. Lakers, Portland/San Antonio, and Denver. PLAYERS Who will win the 2019-20 Kia MVP? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 52% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 10%     Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers -- 10%     Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 10% 5. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers; Damian Lillard, Portland Last year: LeBron James – 30% If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 86% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 7%     Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 7% Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo -- 30% Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments? 1. James Harden, Houston -- 48% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 17%     LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 17% 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 14% 5. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 3% Last year: LeBron James -- 60% Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2019-20? 1. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento -- 19% 2. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis -- 11%     Jayson Tatum, Boston -- 11% 4. Brandon Ingram, New Orleans -- 7%     Jamal Murray, Denver -- 7% Also receiving votes: Bam Adebayo, Miami; Lonzo Ball, New Orleans; Devin Booker, Phoenix; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago; Zach Collins, Portland; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers; Dejounte Murray, San Antonio; Julius Randle, New York; Tomas Satoransky, Chicago; Pascal Siakam, Toronto; Zion Williamson, New Orleans Last year: Jamal Murray -- 20% Who is the best point guard in the NBA? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 90% 2. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 7% 3. LeBron James, LA Lakers -- 3% Last year: Stephen Curry -- 57% Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA? 1. James Harden, Houston – 86% 2. Paul George, LA Clippers – 7% Also receiving votes: Jimmy Butler, Miami; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: James Harden -- 73% Who is the best small forward in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 62% 2. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 24% 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 14% Last year: LeBron James -- 57% Who is the best power forward in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 59% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 28% 3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 10% 4. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio -- 3% Last year: Anthony Davis --  37% Who is the best center in the NBA? 1. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 48% 2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia -- 28% 3. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 17% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Last year: Anthony Davis -- 40% OFFSEASON MOVES Which team made the best overall moves this offseason? 1. LA Clippers -- 82% 2. New Orleans Pelicans -- 11% Also receiving votes: Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz Last year: L.A. Lakers – 70% Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 67% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 21% 3. Paul George, LA Clippers -- 12% Last year: LeBron James -- 97% What was the most underrated player acquisition? 1. Mike Conley, Utah -- 36% 2. Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah -- 14% 3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana -- 11%     Jerami Grant, Denver -- 11% 5. Tomas Satoransky, Chicago -- 7% Also receiving votes: Lonzo Ball, New Orleans; Derrick Favors, New Orleans; Danny Green, L.A. Lakers; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City; J.J. Redick, New Orleans; Josh Richardson, Philadelphia Last year: Tyreke Evans -- 13% Which team will be most improved in 2019-20? 1. Los Angeles Lakers -- 38% 2. Dallas Mavericks -- 21% 3. LA Clippers -- 10% 4. Atlanta Hawks -- 7%     Brooklyn Nets -- 7%     Chicago Bulls -- 7%     New Orleans Pelicans -- 7% 8. New York Knicks -- 4% Last year: L.A. Lakers -- 80% What was the most surprising move of the offseason? 1. Paul George trade to LA Clippers -- 52% 2. Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade -- 28% 3. Nikola Mirotic to FC Barcelona -- 7% Also receiving votes: Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana; Al Horford to Philadelphia; Kawhi Leonard to Clippers, Marcus Morris decommitting from San Antonio Last year: DeMarcus Cousins to Golden State -- 35% ROOKIES & INTERNATIONAL Who will win the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 68% 2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 29% 3. Darius Garland, Cleveland -- 4% Last year: Luka Doncic -- 43% Which rookie will be the best player in five years? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 68% 2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 18% 3. Cameron Reddish, Atlanta -- 7% Also receiving votes: Jarrett Culver, Minnesota; Darius Garland, Cleveland Last year: DeAndre Ayton & Jaren Jackson Jr. -- 27% Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft? 1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17), New Orleans -- 32% 2. Brandon Clarke (21), Memphis -- 21% 3. Goga Bitadze (18), Indiana -- 11% 4. Bol Bol (44), Denver -- 7%     Tyler Herro (13), Miami -- 7% Also receiving votes: Darius Bazley (23), Oklahoma City; Nicolas Claxton (31), Brooklyn; Daniel Gafford (38), Chicago; Darius Garland (5), Cleveland; Nasir Little (25), Portland; Cameron Reddish (10), Atlanta Last year: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander -- 27% Who is the best international player in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 79% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 14% 3. Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 7% Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo -- 73% Who is the best international player NOT in the NBA? 1. Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona -- 55% 2. Nando de Colo, Fenerbahce -- 21% 3. Sergio Llull, Real Madrid -- 17% Also receiving votes: Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv; Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Last year: Sergio Llull -- 39% DEFENSE Who is the best defensive player in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 45% 2. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 28% 3. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 10% 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 7%     Paul George, LA Clippers -- 7% 6. Anthony Davis, LA Lakers -- 3% Last year: Rudy Gobert & Kawhi Leonard -- 37% Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 59% 2. Paul George, LA Clippers -- 21% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; OG Anunoby, Toronto; Jimmy Butler, Miami; Jrue Holiday, New Orleans; LeBron James, LA Lakers; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: Kawhi Leonard -- 60% Who is the best interior defender in the NBA? 1. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 93% Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia Last year: Rudy Gobert -- 80% Who is the most versatile defender in the NBA? 1. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 38% 2. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 31% 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 21% Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Paul George, LA Clippers; Pascal Siakam, Toronto Last year: Draymond Green -- 53% Which is the best defensive team in the NBA? 1. LA Clippers -- 52% 2. Utah Jazz -- 24% 3. Milwaukee Bucks -- 17% 4. Philadelphia 76ers -- 7% Last year: Utah -- 45% COACHES Who is the best head coach in the NBA? 1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 55% 2. Erik Spoelstra, Miami -- 17% 3. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 10% 4. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 7% Also receiving votes: Steve Clifford, Orlando; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Quin Snyder, Utah Last year: Brad Stevens -- 47% Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people? 1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 41% 2. Doc Rivers, LA Clippers -- 31% 3. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 17% Also receiving votes: Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn; Mike D'Antoni, Houston; Terry Stotts, Portland Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 47% Which head coach makes the best in-game adjustments? 1. Rick Carlisle, Dallas -- 28% 2. Brad Stevens, Boston -- 17% 3. Quin Snyder, Utah -- 14% 4. Steve Clifford, Orlando -- 10%     Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 10% 6. Nick Nurse, Toronto -- 7% Also receiving votes: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee; Michael Malone, Denver; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Erik Spoelstra, Miami Last year: Brad Stevens -- 53% Which head coach runs the best offense? 1. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 38% 2. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 14%     Mike D'Antoni, Houston -- 14%     Terry Stotts, Portland -- 14% 5. Michael Malone, Denver -- 7%     Nick Nurse, Toronto -- 7%     Quin Snyder, Utah -- 7% Last year: Steve Kerr -- 40% Which head coach has the best defensive schemes? 1. Quin Snyder, Utah -- 28% 2. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 24% 3. Nate McMillan, Indiana -- 7%     Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 7%     Doc Rivers, LA Clippers -- 7%     Erik Spoelstra, Miami -- 7%     Brad Stevens, Boston -- 7% Also receiving votes: Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn; Dwane Casey, Detroit; Steve Clifford, Orlando; Nick Nurse, Toronto Last year: Quin Snyder -- 33% Which new or relocated head coach will make the biggest impact on his new team? 1. Monty Williams, Phoenix -- 43% 2. Frank Vogel, L.A. Lakers -- 21% 3. Luke Walton, Sacramento -- 18% 4. John Beilein, Cleveland -- 11% 5. Taylor Jenkins, Memphis -- 7% Last year: N/A Who is the best assistant coach in the NBA? 1. Dan Burke, Indiana -- 11%     Chris Finch, New Orleans -- 11%     David Vanterpool, Minnesota -- 11% 4. Darvin Ham, Milwaukee -- 7%     Alex Jensen, Utah -- 7%     Igor Kokoskov, Sacramento -- 7%     Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers -- 7%     Nate Tibbets, Portland -- 7% Also receiving votes: Ron Adams, Golden State; Chip Engelland, San Antonio; Chris Fleming, Chicago; Adrian Griffin, Toronto; Phil Handy, L.A. Lakers; Jason Kidd, L.A. Lakers; Keith Smart, New York; Ime Udoka, Philadelphia Last year: Ron Adams -- 17% Which active player will make the best head coach someday? 1. Mike Conley, Utah -- 26% 2. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 19% 3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana -- 15% 4. Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers -- 11% Also receiving votes: Jalen Brunson, Dallas; Jared Dudley, L.A. Lakers; Andre Iguodala, Memphis; Kyle Korver, Milwaukee; C.J. McCollum, Portland; Doug McDermott, Indiana; Garrett Temple, Brooklyn; Lance Thomas, Brooklyn Last year: Chris Paul -- 25% MISCELLANEOUS Which team is the most fun to watch? 1. Denver Nuggets -- 31% 2. New Orleans Pelicans -- 21% 3. Golden State Warriors -- 17% 4. Milwaukee Bucks -- 10% 5. Portland Trail Blazers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings Last year: Golden State -- 60% Which team has the best home-court advantage? 1. Denver Nuggets -- 38% 2. Utah Jazz -- 24%     Golden State Warriors -- 24% 4. Portland Trail Blazers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors Last year: Golden State -- 50% Which team has the most promising young core? 1. New Orleans Pelicans -- 28% 2. Denver Nuggets -- 24% 3. Atlanta Hawks -- 17% 4. Sacramento Kings -- 10% 5. Philadelphia 76ers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies Last year: Philadelphia -- 47% Which player is the most athletic? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 41% 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 28% 3. Aaron Gordon, Orlando -- 7%     Derrick Jones Jr., Miami -- 7%     Mitchell Robinson, New York -- 7%     Russell Westbrook, Houston -- 7% 7. Zach LaVine, Chicago -- 3% Last year: Russell Westbrook -- 48% Which player is the best pure shooter? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 86% 2. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 11% 3. J.J. Redick, New Orleans -- 4% Last year: Stephen Curry -- 73% Which player is the fastest with the ball? 1. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento -- 64% 2. Russell Westbrook, Houston -- 25% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Last year: Russell Westbrook -- 50% Which player is best at moving without the ball? 1. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 43% 2. J.J. Redick, New Orleans -- 25% 3. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 21% 4. Kyle Korver, Milwaukee -- 7% 5. C.J. McCollum, Portland -- 4% Last year: Klay Thompson -- 53% Which player is the best passer? 1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 57% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 32% 3. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 7% 4. James Harden, Houston -- 4% Last year: LeBron James -- 50% What bench player makes the biggest impact when he enters the game? 1. Lou Williams, LA Clippers -- 79% 2. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers -- 7%     Fred VanVleet, Toronto -- 7% Also receiving votes: Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn; Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Last year: Lou Williams -- 41% Who is the toughest player in the NBA? 1. Steven Adams, Oklahoma City -- 32% 2. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 18% 3. P.J. Tucker, Houston -- 14% 4. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Aron Baynes, Phoenix; Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers; Udonis Haslem, Miami; Joe Ingles, Utah; Damian Lillard, Portland; Kyle Lowry, Toronto; Marcus Smart, Boston; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: Steven Adams -- 33% Which player is the best leader? 1. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 41% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 37% 3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 15% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Last year: LeBron James -- 30% Who is the most versatile player in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 46% 2. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 39% 3. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Paul George, LA Clippers; Nikola Jokic, Denver Last year: LeBron James -- 63% Which player has the best basketball IQ? 1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 64% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 11% 3. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 7%     Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; Al Horford, Philadelphia; Andre Iguodala, Memphis Last year: LeBron James -- 70% Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 44% 2. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 11%     Damian Lillard, Portland -- 11%     Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 11% 5. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn -- 7%     Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers Last year: Kevin Durant -- 40% What rule (regarding play, Draft/Lottery, playoff format, etc.) most needs to change? 1. Playoff seeding (1-16) -- 18% 2. Draft (Better combine or more medical info) -- 11%     Draft Lottery -- 11%     Free agency (Before Draft or no moratorium) -- 11%     Schedule (Fewer games, no back-to-backs) -- 11% Also receiving votes: Conference realignment, Draft one-and-done rule, Eliminate tanking, Extra foul in overtime, FIBA goaltending, Increased control of G League players, Instant replay, Midseason tournament, No FGA for half-court heaves, Roster size, Tampering Last year: Playoff seeding – 18%.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2019

Zion Williamson brings rare potential to New Orleans

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Eventually, as with every NBA Draft, there will be a “re-draft” of the Class of 2019. That’s the irresistible exercise in hindsight from media outlets that rank a particular year’s prospects not on their projected value but on actual demonstrated value five, 10 or more seasons into their professional careers. Some players will rise. Others will fall. “Bust” and “sleeper” tags will be dispersed accordingly. This team or GM will be lauded for an especially savvy selection, that one will be razzed for the quality player or players on whom it whiffed. But the through line of the dreams-come-true event Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Barclays Center, the lone selection that will not or at least should not change, is Zion Williamson. Williamson is the sure thing, the “can’t miss,” consensus No. 1 pick bound for the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s a 6'7", 285-pound freshman from Duke whose comps aren’t merely established players currently in the NBA but some of the game’s legends. So think Blake Griffin, sure. But also think LeBron James. And Charles Barkley. And, for that matter, every other wide-body who’s ever played with muscles on muscles, above-the-rim explosiveness, balletic body control and an instantly recognizable game that’s as charismatic as it is freakish. Yeah, awfully small subset. “I’m looking forward to playing against everybody,” Williamson said soon after his selection. “I want to be the best. I feel I have to earn everybody’s respect.” It’s not just a matter of Williamson’s game tickling NBA fans’ fancy, either. He managed, in almost his first official pro moment, to capture a lot of their hearts too. No sooner had Williamson – the first No. 1 pick to be born in this millennium (July 6, 2000) – strode to the stage in his cream-white suit, tugged on a Pelicans draft cap and embraced NBA commissioner Adam Silver, he dropped his guard to let the world share his emotions in the moment. His status as college basketball’s best and his draft position had been established months ago. There was no new mystery as to when his name would be called by Silver at the podium. And yet, when the first ESPN microphone was poked in front of him, with his mother Sharonda Sampson at his side, the big guy lost it. He choked up and blinked back tears, not quite winning that battle. “My mom sacrificed a lot for me,” Williamson said. “I wouldn’t be here without my mom. She did everything for me. I just want to thank her.” Several interviews and maybe 20 minutes later, Williamson explained how the horribly kept secret of his No. 1 selection could trigger his response. “Because I love the game of basketball,” he said. “You can hear people say things like, ‘Oh, it was likely I was going to go No. 1.’ But I guess you don’t know until you actually go through it.” What mattered most to Williamson about his mother’s role in his life? “Tough love,” he said. “She was always be the first one to keep it real with me. … She put aside her dreams just so me and my brothers could have a chance at ours.” The love already heading Williamson’s way in New Orleans was less tough and more unconditional at this stage, for the teenager represents a re-birth for a Pelicans franchise rocked by the loss of All-Star forward Anthony Davis. Davis, coincidentally, was the No. 1 pick in 2012 and generally considered the top prospect to hit the Draft before Williamson. But after six-and-a-half seasons and only two trips to the playoffs, Davis asked in December to be traded, despite having more than two-plus seasons left on his contract. David Griffin, the Pelicans' new vice president of basketball operations, had hoped that Williamson’s arrival might convince Davis to stay. When that didn’t happen, Griffin swiftly shifted to Plan B, arranging to trade the discontented big man to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal that won’t be official until July. Now New Orleans, which has won just two playoff series in its 17 seasons and failed to qualify 10 times, has a new cornerstone. Williamson figures to be under team control contractually for as long or longer than Davis stuck around, with teammates relocated from L.A. such as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart to run with him and Pelicans holdovers. “What excites me the most is the fact that they’re young and they’re close to my age,” said Duke’s third No. 1 overall pick (Elton Brand in 1999, Kyrie Irving in 2011). “So they can help me a lot more, like how to deal with this transition. I think we can build something over there.” The essential block is Williamson, who swept college basketball’s major awards with a game that strains credulity. At 285 pounds, his listed weight is greater than almost every big man in the NBA, but he has quick-twitch speed and thrives in the open court. He can stare down into the rim before slamming home dunks with unnerving ferocity, and he is a deft and willing passer. Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 30 minutes for the Blue Devils, while making 68 percent of his shots. He and fellow Top 10 picks R.J. Barrett (New York, No. 3) and Cam Reddish (Atlanta, No. 10) helped Duke reach the Elite Eight, with Williamson earning ACC Tournament MVP along the way. He’s not a perfect player – his jump shot and range need work – but he already is working to complement his transition and low-post repertoire. Defensively, Williamson has the motor and mobility to switch assignments and quick hands to dislodge the ball without fouling. As a rebounder, his verticality is matched by, well, his horizontality in controlling the air space above and around him. “His size, his athleticism, his power is visible,” former St. John’s coach and Naismith Hall of Famer Chris Mullin said. “But to me his speed is really incredible from end to end. “I would morph Charles Barkley and Shawn Kemp and put them together [as a comparison]. When he gets to the NBA and he plays with that extra space they have in the wide key, he’s going to be a monster.” Williamson arrives with hype – no, make that expectations, because of all he’s shown already on courts around America – that rival what James shouldered when he arrived from high school in 2003. His plan for lugging that responsibility: “Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m willing to do it, because I feel people remember winners.” The selections immediately after Williamson were nearly as predictable, based on intelligence and mock drafts that solidified in the days before the Draft. Murry State guard Ja Morant was chosen by Memphis at No. 2, and Barrett’s ensuing selection by the Knicks delighted their always boisterous fans in the stands at Barclay. The order of the next four choices was jumbled from some predictions. Yet by the time the smoke cleared, sure enough, the seven players projected to come off the board soonest had slotted into the night’s top seven spots. That included Virginia forward De’andre Hunter to Atlanta at No. 4 (via the Lakers, in the aforementioned Davis trade that has yet to be completed), Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland to Cleveland at No. 5, Texas Tech wing Jarrett Culver to Minnesota at No. 6 and North Carolina guard Coby White to Chicago at No. 7. Just because there wasn’t a lot of suspense at Barclays didn’t mean there was no intrigue. Much of that came from unusually heavy trade action – all technically unofficial – that had teams moving up, down and all around to snag picks, dump picks or clean up their salary-cap positions in anticipation of free agency that starts June 30. The timing of the Draft, relative to when the NBA’s new business year begins, had players donning caps of teams they’ll never play for, while speaking guardedly about those for whom they really were picked. A reported nine trades impacted draft decisions made in the first round alone. There even was a moment when Morant, in his post-Draft media session, gave a shout-out to veteran Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, whose spot he’ll presumably be taking once Conley’s trade to Utah officially goes through. But there’s no such uncertainty about Williamson, the through line of this year’s class, the true line in his heartfelt reactions Thursday (Friday, PHL time) and broad-shouldered hope of a Big Easy franchise in need. Williamson showed his grasp of the NBA’s and sports’ need for fresh icons, in effect accepting his status as a legend in waiting. “You know, times change,” he said. “That’s why there are so many debates about who people think the greatest players of all time are. If you were in the time of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, you’d probably say one of those two. If you were in the time of Jordan, you’d say Jordan. In our generation, a lot of them say LeBron. “So times changes and I think younger fans like younger players.” You don’t have to be young, though, to have your eye on Zion. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2019

NCAA 95 Finals: They never gave up -- Fernandez on San Beda

Defending champion San Beda University saw its 15-0 start evaporate then had to come back from seven points down and display composure under tremendous pressure in the waning seconds of the game to stay alive in the NCAA Season 95 Seniors basketball Finals series against a gritty Letran side. The Red Lions took Game 2 after a frantic race to the finish, 79-76, on Friday to force a rubber match at the MOA Arena. It may not be a pretty one but head coach Boyet Fernandez will take it anytime.   “A win is a win, we’ll take this one. I’m just relieved we got over this Game 2 and we won this one,” said Fernandez, whose wards dodged an upset attempt by the Knights. The mentor, who is looking to steer the Red Lions to a four-peat and their 23rd title overall, lauded his wards for showing great character. “I salute my players also. They really want to prove something today. That’s what character is. We had a loss. Everybody’s all against us but the players really don’t want to lose eh so credit to them,” he said. Season Most Valuable Player Calvin Oftana played the hero’s role late in the game, completing an and-one play to put San Beda up, 77-76, with 19.1 seconds left before the Red Lions made crucial stops to deny Letran of an early celebration.    Coming off a shocking Game 1 loss – the Mendiola-based squad’s first of the tournament – Fernandez knew they had to start right. His squad did it in the first 10 minutes, opening up a 15-0 gap and held it until halftime. But Letran fought back in the second half behind sniper Fran Yu, who turned a 25-37 deficit at the half to a 56-53 lead in the third. Yu continued his hot shooting streak in the fourth as the Knights opened a 66-59 lead with 7:42 left. Oftana rallied San Beda back, hitting a triple that ignited a 13-0 run for a 72-66 lead. The Red Lions got the breaks of the game after Yu suffered cramps. “Unang-una Letran did a good job tonight. They’ve been so ready for us, they know what we’re doing, credit to their coaches. Fran Yu, wow. We’re just lucky he got cramps,” said Fernandez. Clinching a morale-boosting win, Fernandez hopes his squad will use this to fuel the Red Lions in Game 3 on Tuesday. “I hope we sustain this one. Playing a tough team like Letran that will be hard for us but again I do thank my players, thank the Lord for this,” he said. “For giving us a chance, another game to fight for and hopefully we can show them again what is San Beda basketball on Tuesday. Sana may magandang pangitain sa Tuesday.”     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2019

Kai Sotto dominates anew in game with Atlanta-based TSF

Improving on his debut double-double performance with TSF National, Sotto posted a near triple-double in their game against the American Basketball Institute (ABI) on Wednesday (Thursday Manila time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 15th, 2019

Balanza on NCAA 95 Finals: Ang Letran, sanay na underdog

Four years since its Cinderella championship, Colegio de San Juan de Letran is back in the Finals in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament. And very much like 2015, the Knights have to overcome the odds if they are to upend three-time defending champion and archrival San Beda University. Still, that predicament is just what the Intramuros-based squad has, time and again, proven to be capable and confident of overcoming. "Ang Letran, sanay na underdog yan. Wala kaming foreign player so talagang puso lang ang labanan - patapangan, pangil sa pangil," team captain Jerrick Balanza said. He then continued, "Sa tagal ko sa Letran, yun ang natutunan ko - na lumaban ng tama." When it last hoisted the trophy, an upstart outfit led by Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, and Kevin Racal and guided by Aldin Ayo toppled a Red Lion side fronted by Baser Amer, Art Dela Cruz, and Ola Adeogun. Now, while Letran has gotten bigger and badder all while being led by Balanza, Larry Muyang, and Fran Yu, San Beda still remains favored as it completed a clean sweep of the elimination round. For Balanza, however, that doesn't mean anything at all - especially as he, personally, has already jumped over bigger hurdles. As he put it, "Ako, confident ako at positive lang lagi. I-momotivate ko lang yung team kong maging positive." He then continued, "'Di man kami nanalo sa kanila ng dalawang beses sa eliminations, makakabawi kami sa championship ng dalawang beses kung sakali." After all, the graduating guard is living proof that mountains can be moved after having overcome a brain injury and then brain surgery to play the game he loves once more. "Lagi ko lang binabalikan lahat ng nangyari sa akin at si God lang ang nilalapitan ko. Nagdadasal ako bago lumabas kasi alam kong ito yung plano niya," he shared. He then continued, "Kaya niya ako binigyan ng sakit at kaya ako nakabalik para rito sa championship." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 12th, 2019

ABL: Andrei Caracut bolsters backcourt of rejiggered Alab Pilipinas

Andrei Caracut is all set to re-ignite with San Miguel Alab Pilipinas for the next step in his young career. The De La Salle University product will be making his debut in the 2019-2020 Asean Basketball League as the Philippine team sets out to reclaim the crown it had worn two years ago. "It's an honor to play for your country with Alab Pilipinas," he said on Saturday, just three days after he had played his last game in green and white. In Caracut, Alab will be getting a heady guard who knows a thing or two about scoring. The former UAAP Rookie of the Year put up per game counts of 9.6 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.0 rebounds in his fifth and final season as a Green Archer. Caracut fortifies a fresh lineup that no longer has Ray Parks Jr., Caelan Tiongson, and PJ Ramos, but still has Lo Domingo, Brandon Rosser, and Renaldo Balkman. Alongside the captain of the Taft-based team, though, the Filipino representatives in the regional league has also welcomed with open arms court general Jason Brickman, high-flyer Jeremiah Gray, veterans Aaron Aban and Louie Vigil, and new reinforcements Adrian Forbes and Khalif Wyatt. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2019

Rookie Ladder: With Zion out, surprises take top spots

By Drew Packham, NBA.com With one injury, everything changed. When news came down that No. 1 pick Zion Williamson would miss 6-8 weeks with a torn meniscus in his right knee, the Kia Rookie of the Year race was officially up for grabs. Williamson, the No. 1 pick who was dominating the preseason and was a clear favorite to win Kia ROY, will miss anywhere from 20-30 games based off the initial timetable. The Pelicans are being cautious with their prized big man, meaning the door is wide open for other rookies to take advantage. So that begs the question: Can Williamson miss 25-30% of the season and still return to claim the top prize? If what we’ve seen so far from the rest of this rookie class is any indication, Zion will have his work cut out for him when he gets back on the court. Here’s how the race looks after the first week. * * * 1. Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat The biggest surprise of the first week has been Kendrick Melvin Nunn, who spent last season in the G League after going undrafted in 2018. The Heat clearly saw something in Nunn, signing the guard to a deal in April, although he wouldn’t see action until Opening Night this season. Nunn burst onto the scene, scoring 24 (one shy of the Heat rookie debut record) in Miami’s 120-101 win over the Grizzlies and hasn’t slowed down since, despite Jimmy Butler’s return to the lineup. "I've never seen him look like he's under stress or pressure," Spoelstra said of Nunn, who leads all rookies in scoring (21.0 ppg) while shooting 48.6% from the floor. "He's an experienced older young player." For now, the starting job seems to be Nunn’s. Whether he keeps up this hot start will be something to watch, but he’s already winning over fans and his underdog story will only help his case. The Flying Nunn! pic.twitter.com/oRQEVth17z — Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 28, 2019 2. P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets The No. 12 pick didn’t take long to make his case for playing time in Charlotte. While GM Mitch Kupchak previously suggested the Kentucky product would spend time in the G League, Washington wasn’t having it. Washington scored 27 points and hit 7 3s in the opener, setting an NBA record for a debut. And he hasn’t showed many signs of slowing. Through five games as a starter, he’s averaging 15.8 points and 7.0 rebounds (tied for 1st among rookies) while shooting 54.7% from the field and 52.0% on 3s. Another ???? night for @PJWashington! ? 23 PTS ? 8 REB ? 76% (10-for-13)#AllFly pic.twitter.com/HwLNyoW6Jg — Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) October 31, 2019 3. RJ Barrett, New York Knicks The No. 3 pick has looked like a star, starting all five games and proving he’s one of the best shooters in this rookie class. Through five games, Barrett is averaging 18.2 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 47.4% from the field and 42.1% from beyond the arc. Barrett’s only issue so far is one that plagued him at Duke: He’s just 11-for-27 (40.7%) from the free-throw line. Coach David Fizdale is experimenting with Barrett at the point, with mixed results so far. First career double-double ?@rjbarrett6 went to work. pic.twitter.com/hXxyibWIO0 — NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 29, 2019 4. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies Morant has had his ups and downs, but he certainly had a signature moment in one of his first big tests. Squaring off against Kyrie Irving, Morant scored 30 points (17 in the 4th) and sealed the win with a block on Irving before setting up the game-winning 3 as the Grizzlies beat the Nets 134-133 in OT. Morant is averaging 17.5 points and 5.0 assists through four games, but he’ll have to cut down on his 5.0 turnovers per game. Still, Morant’s flashes of brilliance in a big matchup earn him a top 5 spot on the first Ladder. ?? ????? in the ?? ?17 points in clutch time ?Block to send the game into OT ?Became 1 of 3 players in NBA history to have a 30+ point 9+ ast night within his first 3 games. (shouts @GrizzliesPR) @JaMorant | #GrzNxtGen pic.twitter.com/wa5LynMl7h — Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) October 28, 2019 5. Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards Hachimura is winning over fans and teammates alike with his early play. The No. 9 pick has started all four games for the 1-3 Wizards, averaging 18.0 points and 7.0 rebounds (tied for 1st among rookies) on 46.9% shooting. Coach Scott Brooks is giving the former Gonzaga forward free rein, so he should be a regular on the Ladder. “He's going to be special in this league. I think he has the potential to be a star," Isaiah Thomas said of his teammate. "I always tell him he reminds me of Kawhi Leonard when he first came into the league; big body, big hands, midrange game, he knows the game really well." Just missed the cut: Coby White, Chicago Bulls White started the season hot, scoring 17 and 25 in the first two games, but hasn’t reached double-digits since, shooting 8-for-31 in the Bulls’ next three games. Still, White has proven to be a capable change-of-pace off the bench and could climb with more playing time. Tyler Herro, Miami Heat Herro has been a key piece to the Heat’s 3-1 start to the season, averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 45.8% from the field (36.8 on 3s). The No. 13 pick, who was tabbed “best shooter” by his fellow rookies, scored 29 points (exploding for 19 in the 2nd quarter) in Miami’s 112-97 win over the Hawks. DeAndre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks Hunter has started all four games for the Hawks, averaging 9.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game. This team is clearly built around Trae Young and John Collins at this point, but Hunter is sliding right into his role and his numbers should only rise as he gains experience. Matisse Thybulle, Philadelphia 76ers Thybulle’s numbers on offense won’t wow you, but the No. 20 pick out of Washington makes his money on the defensive end. Through four games, Thybulle has 12 steals (leading all NBA players) and 6 blocks, both tops among rookies. He’s had multiple steals in all four games (setting a Sixers rookie record) and two or more blocks in three of the four, even more impressive considering he’s only seeing about 20 minutes per game. * * * (All stats through Thursday, Oct. 31, PHL time) Send any questions or comments to my email or find me on Twitter @drewpackham. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 1st, 2019

Beware of early overreactions after the NBA s opening week

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Beware the overreaction. It’s an easy trap to fall into at this time of year: Look at the early numbers in the NBA, extrapolate those over 82 games and envision the statistically improbable somehow becoming real. Don’t do it. Atlanta’s Trae Young is averaging 38.5 points per game right now which won’t hold up over an entire season. Same goes for Houston’s James Harden, who isn’t going to stay at his current shooting rate of 24% from the field and 12% from 3-point range. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t going to foul out of every game, either. And Golden State isn’t going to go 0-82. The Warriors may be the biggest disappointment of the first week of this NBA season, blown out by 19 at home to the Los Angeles Clippers and then by 28 — a game where the deficit was as much as 42 — on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) at Oklahoma City. “We’re just not that good right now,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “I don’t know a better way to frame that for you. I could try in Spanish, but I’m not really that good in Spanish.” They haven’t just lost. They haven’t even led yet — not for a single second. They got down 14-0 in the opener to the Clippers, then 8-0 to the Thunder. But to write off the Warriors — the five-time defending Western Conference champions — after two games would be beyond short-sighted. “We’re trying to develop an identity as a team and it doesn’t happen overnight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And when you play in the NBA every single night, you’re going against amazing basketball players.” Golden State still has Green and Stephen Curry. The Warriors added D’Angelo Russell. They won’t have Klay Thompson until late this season, if at all in 2019-20. The NBA Finals MVPs from 2015, 2017 and 2018 — Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant — aren’t there anymore. It’s not starting over. It’s definitely a restart, though. The Warriors’ halftime deficit of 33 points on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) was their largest since 1997. “This is not where we finish,” said Omari Spellman, one of the Warriors’ new faces. “It’s Game 2. But there are only so many times we can keep saying that. ... We’ve got to compete.” The Warriors used 11 players on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), and seven of them were playing elsewhere last season — whether in the NBA or still in college. That’s why Kerr says the Warriors “don’t have a sense of who we are as a team yet.” “I realize I’m making plenty of excuses,” Kerr said. “But they’re real.” JENKINS’ PATH Champions of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas don’t get rings. They get T-shirts. Memphis won the title this past summer, and Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins — who decided to coach the team in Las Vegas as well — keeps his championship shirt in his wardrobe rotation as a reminder of what happened over those two weeks. “I bust it out every now and then,” Jenkins said. The next championship will be a little bit tougher. Jenkins is one of two first-time NBA coaches this season, with Cleveland’s John Beilein being the other. Beilein is 66 and went to the Final Four twice with Michigan. Jenkins is 35 and his most notable experience as a head coach before now was in the G League. No one asks Beilein if he’s ready for the NBA. Jenkins — who has studied under Gregg Popovich and Mike Budenholzer — has heard that question a lot. “I’ve been preparing,” Jenkins said. He knows he still has a ton to learn, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel prepared for where he is. WHAT TO WATCH A game to watch each day this week (days in PHL time): — Tuesday, Oklahoma City at Houston: Russell Westbrook faces the Thunder for the first time. — Wednesday, Atlanta at Miami: Jimmy Butler is expected to finally make his debut for the Heat. — Thursday, Indiana at Brooklyn: Malcolm Brogdon guarding Kyrie Irving will be must-watch TV. (Also, if the World Series goes seven games, Houston’s basketball team will be in Washington while Washington’s baseball team is in Houston.) — Friday, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers: The Clippers have won their last five Halloween games. — Saturday, L.A. Lakers at Dallas: First matchup between LeBron James and Kristaps Porzingis since Nov. 13, 2017. — Sunday, Toronto at Milwaukee: A rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals. — Next Monday, Sacramento at New York: Kings have missed 13 straight postseasons, Knicks six......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 28th, 2019

UAAP 82: Adamson rookie Sabandal feeling bittersweet his career-high came in a loss

ANTIPOLO - Adamson University has lost seven of its last eight games in the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament. The latest of which was a close one as the Soaring Falcons bowed to University of Sto. Tomas, Saturday at Ynares Center here. Still, they had a silver lining in the form of rookie Joem Sabandal who scored a career-best 18 points to go along with ix rebounds in just 17 minutes of play. For the prized prospect, though, there was nothing to celebrate about his career game. "50-50 e kasi yun nga, best game ko, pero talo," he told reporters post-game. Without a doubt, though, the fact that Sabandal is getting into his groove is nothing but a welcome development for the San Marcelino-based squad. This, after frustrations personally piled up for him. "Sobra rin akong na-frustrate before this kasi nga nung preseason, ang ganda ng pinakita ko tapos after ng first game this season, injury na naman," he said, talking about the left hand fracture he sustained early in the tournament that kept him out for the rest of the first round of eliminations. He then continued, "Naniwala na lang ako kay Lord na okay lang yun at may plano siya sa akin. Magtratrabaho lang talaga ako." The 5-foot-11 guard did just that once he was cleared to return. "Paggaling sa injury, nagtrabaho talaga ako. As in, nagpapraktis kami ng umaga tapos nage-extra shots ako ng gabi para yung kundisyon ko, bumalik talaga," he shared. He then continued, "Yung pagiging aggressive ko sa loob, yun yung hinahanap ni coach Franz [Pumaren] sa akin. Nag-pay off naman." Indeed, together with Jerom Lastimosa, Sabandal showed just how fearsome the Adamson backcourt would be in the foreseeable future as they went toe-to-toe with the Growling Tigers' own awesome twosome of Mark Nonoy and Renzo Subido. Nonetheless, he is also well aware that he has a long way to go before being back to the player who made the Mythical Team in last year's UAAP Jrs. and led the Baby Falcons' return to relevance. As he put it, "Process pa rin 'to. Trabaho pa rin dapat." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 26th, 2019

Morant among the NBA rookies who made noise in their debuts

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — The first three baskets of the season for the Memphis Grizzlies were all reminders of why the team wanted Ja Morant. Getting free inside for a layup. An acrobatic reverse layup off a lob. A swooping score over two defenders in transition. Those were his first three NBA shots, his first three NBA makes and with that the career of the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft is off and running. It wasn’t storybook — Memphis flopped in the fourth and wound up losing 120-101 to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) — but Morant’s debut was impressive nonetheless, one of many eye-catching performances by rookies getting a chance to have their openers this week. “I’m real close with Ja,” Heat rookie Tyler Herro said. “He’s a great player. He was drafted No. 2 for a reason and I thought he showed that tonight, just the way he controls the pace on the floor and gets his guys in the right spots. He’s a great point guard.” Morant had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists in his debut. Those numbers might sound modest — but no one in Grizzlies history has ever finished with such a stat line when playing their first NBA game. “When you sit down with the guy and you talk about basketball, you talk about what he’s seeing on the floor, he’s a step ahead,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “He’s already seeing plays before they develop. I think our entire team is going to benefit from his unselfish style of play.” No. 1 pick Zion Williamson is likely to miss the first couple months of the season while dealing with the aftereffects of meniscus surgery, so Morant is the highest 2019 pick to take the floor so far this season. No. 3 pick R.J. Barrett scored 21 points in his debut for New York on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), coming in a loss at San Antonio. No. 4 pick De’Andre Hunter is expected to make his debut Thursday (Friday, PHL time) when Atlanta opens against Detroit. No. 5 pick Darius Garland had eight points in Cleveland’s season-opening loss in Orlando. Other notable rookie openers so far include No. 12 selection P.J. Washington hitting seven three-pointers and scoring 27 points for Charlotte on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) in its win over Chicago, No. 7 pick Coby White’s 17-point debut for the Bulls in that game, No. 9 pick Rui Hachimura’s 14-point, 10-rebound effort for Washington in a loss at Dallas — and undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn scoring 24 points for Miami in the win over Memphis. Nunn is 24, making him one of the older rookies who have gotten their NBA debuts this week. He had a 40-point preseason finale last week and turned more heads Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). “Man, it’s been a long journey,” Nunn said. “I was in the G League last year, all season and got a last-day callup with the Heat. That worked out and it’s been just an unbelievable ride.” Morant shot 6-for-12 and had six turnovers in 25 minutes. He had a dunk attempt swatted away by rookie Chris Silva in the fourth quarter, that play coming during a run where Miami outscored Memphis 24-1 to pull away. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow, practice,” Morant said. “That’s where we can get better, study film and go out there and fix our mistakes.” He was asked his goal for the season and didn’t hesitate. “To be the best Ja I can be,” he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 24th, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Days: Rockets see Harden, Westbrook team up

Like most summers in the NBA, the 2019 edition was chock full of trades, free agent news and player movement. From the defending-champion Toronto Raptors to just about every other team in the league, change was the most applicable word when it came to describing team rosters for the 2019-20 season. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- in order of regular-season finish from 2018-19 -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's team: Houston Rockets 2018-19 Record: 53-29, lost to the Warriors in the conference semifinals Key additions: Russell Westbrook (trade), Tyson Chandler (free agency), Ben McLemore (free agency) Key departures: Chris Paul The lowdown: Juiced by yet another epic, and on some levels, historic season by James Harden, the Rockets amassed 50 wins, reached the playoffs and were denied (again) by the Golden State Warriors. As in 2018, this ouster was met with a high degree of frustration. The year before, Houston lost Paul to a hamstring injury late in the series and fell in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. This time, the Rockets were unable to beat a Golden State team that clinched the series in Game 6 without Kevin Durant (who got injured in Game 5 of the series), a cold slap of an ending to Houston's realistic Finals hopes. In one of the NBA's all-time best offensive seasons, Harden averaged 36.1 points per game and revived Houston's season while Paul was on the mend from yet another injury. Harden scored 30 or more in 32 straight games, scored 50 or more nine times and had two 61-point games. He was a singular force with the ball and didn’t show any wear in the postseason. Unlike Paul, Harden was a symbol of sturdiness and strength, averaging 36.8 minutes per game in 78 games played. Paul played only 58 games, although when healthy he was respectable (8.2 apg) and at times looked like an All-Star. However, his customarily high level of play dropped a few floors. Eric Gordon played solid enough to earn a max extension, and Clint Capela gave the Rockets a front-line weapon at both ends. The Carmelo Anthony experience folded after 10 games, but Houston got supporting help from Austin Rivers and PJ Tucker (who was noticeably effective in the playoffs). Another effective-yet-disappointing year was unacceptable to ownership and, quite honestly, the locker room as well. Summer summary: When he purchased the Rockets for $2.2 billion a few years ago, owner Tilman Fertitta was a reasonable and patient man. He pledged his faith in GM Daryl Morey, sung the gospel of Harden and thought the world of Paul. But everyone has their limits and Fertitta was clearly discouraged by the manner and speed in which the Rockets were bounced last season. Something had to be done and a big opportunity presented itself. When Kawhi Leonard signed with the LA Clippers and convinced Paul George to request a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, it led to Westbrook being available. While this was happening, Harden and Paul were having relationship issues, or at least that was the word in Rockets’ circles. Just two years earlier they were thrilled to be teammates and even made commercials together. Now, they were on the outs. Therefore, the solution was simple: Trade Paul and his hefty contract for Westbrook and his hefty contract, and reunite a pair of Kia MVP winners. Advantage, Rockets? It bears repeating that Harden and Westbrook are tight and respectful of each other’s accomplishments, because this will be worth revisiting if this attempt to help Harden win a ring fails like the others. That relationship is the selling point, because based purely on styles of play, this appears to be major clash. Both players need the ball, perhaps more than any two players in the NBA right now, if not in history. They’re high-usage talents, meaning, they work best when creating opportunities for themselves or teammates and neither can happen if they’re playing off the ball. Westbrook has never done that in his NBA life and Harden only did so briefly as a youngster with OKC. Harden gave the trade his blessing, and once the deal was done, both players said all the right things -- if anything, they scolded any observers who dared to raise the obvious. Can it work? Well, sure, but it’ll take some concessions by both players, and coach Mike D’Antoni must change (if not overhaul) his system in order to accommodate this duo. Meanwhile, the Rockets are somewhat on the clock. It is not to say that Harden and Westbrook are approaching their sunset years, but the chances of playing for a title are increased if the two players click sooner than later. There’s also a question of what Westbrook has left. His efficiency and 3-point shooting faded last season. Will defenses respect him when he’s left open in Houston? He at least appears to have more in the tank than Paul, which was another reason the Rockets were anxious to make this swap. For all of his explosiveness, Westbrook is rather durable and dependable; the same can’t be said of Paul as he approaches his mid-30s. Westbrook was sad to leave OKC, the only team he’d ever known, a city that embraced him and a franchise that gave him a supermax contract. Now he’s going to a new team where the demand for June basketball will only increase. The last time he and Harden were teammates, they did play in June, where they lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012. Can they make a triumphant return together? Given all they’ve accomplished -- MVPs, scoring titles, triple-doubles, All-Star appearances -- they’re certainly due. A championship is all they’re missing. 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 NewsSep 26th, 2019

Popovich faces tough numbers game for FIBA World Cup

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — When Gregg Popovich was cut from the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball roster, those making the decision took the easiest way out. They posted a note. “Clueless people,” Popovich said, 47 years later, grinning to at least try to suggest it doesn’t still bother him too much. It’ll soon be time for Popovich to walk in those same decision-making shoes, when he has to pare USA Basketball’s roster from 13 players to 12 in time for the FIBA World Cup this month. All 13 remaining hopefuls were on the team plane Saturday to Australia. So when the last cut gets made — expect it about Aug. 27, unless injuries happen — a guy will see his gold-medal hopes come to a quick end. And no, Popovich is not looking forward to this. “When you cut people from your regular NBA team, it’s difficult,” said Popovich, USA Basketball’s men’s national coach. “We’re going to have to do that. And it’s going to be even more so. I’m dreading having to do that. But it’s got to get done.” There have been more than 50 NBA players linked to this World Cup team at some point in the last year or so, most of them dropping out of consideration on their own, citing schedule demands or concerns. A few others were eliminated after injuries. Only two to this point — Miami’s Bam Adebayo and Chicago’s Thaddeus Young — were actually cut, those moves coming after the first week of training camp in Las Vegas. It would have been 14 players going to Australia, but Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox decided Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) to leave the team. So there’s one cut left. It will be downright brutal. “It just means that guys are doing their jobs,” Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton said. “We’re making it as tough as it can be on them. I think guys have been great all camp, just being positive, bringing energy and playing as hard as they can, giving their body up for everybody else. So that’s a huge thing for everybody.” It would seem like there are a handful of locks to make the team: Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Harrison Barnes, Mason Plumlee, Myles Turner and Middleton. They were starters Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) against Spain — Plumlee started the first half, Turner the second, with the U.S. still mixing and matching. Jayson Tatum played more minutes than nearly everyone Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Joe Harris — the NBA’s best three-point shooter last season — should be on this team based on the importance of shooting from deep in the international game. Brook Lopez should make the team for the same reason since his seven-foot frame and three-point game seem made for the FIBA stage. That’s nine, or four guys left for three spots. Marcus Smart is a bit of a wild card — unable to play in either the Spain game or the intrasquad scrimmage Aug. 9 (Aug. 10, PHL time) because of a calf issue, though the fact that he’s still on the roster strongly suggests the U.S. has him in its plans. Assuming he’s healthy now, pencil him into a spot. (If he’s not healthy, that makes the decision obvious and simple.) Jaylen Brown brings toughness, and he’s played well enough to merit a uniform as well. That, if the U.S. is keeping Smart, makes it 11 players. That would mean two guys remain for one spot. Arguments for both can be made. Kyle Kuzma played very well against Spain on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) and teammates have raved about his effort in camp. Derrick White was a select-teamer before getting called up, and plays for Popovich in San Antonio. It certainly would make sense to have someone in the team room fluent in Popovich’s hows and whys. There is no obvious solution, no easy way out of this conundrum for Popovich, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and the rest of the U.S. coaches. “From top to bottom, everybody is hungry and wants to prove something — that we can get this job done,” Middleton said. If nothing else, Popovich won’t be sending the unlucky-to-be-cut guy a note. The easiest thing he could have done after the Spain game is tap those who didn’t make it on the shoulder, deliver a fond adieu and offer well-wishes for NBA training camp next month. Instead, he’ll bring 13 guys to the other side of the world, spend another 10 days or so squeezing every bit of effort out of them, teach them some more about basketball and wine, and then decide which one to send home. Sounds like how he wishes he was treated in 1972. Asked why he didn’t pick the final roster before Australia, Popovich was succinct. “It seemed like the right thing to do,” he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2019

NCAA 95: Coach Aldin: Hindi mawawala yung pagiging Letranista

Colegio de San Juan de Letran last won against archrival San Beda University in Game 3 of the NCAA 91 Men's Basketball Tournament Finals - when the former got the championship at the expense of the latter. Fast forward almost five years and that title-winning team made its presence felt for the blue and red anew. Letran's core from 2015 pulled off almost perfect attendance on Saturday with head coach Aldin Ayo, JP Calvo, Mark Cruz, Mcjour Luib, Rey Nambatac, Bong Quinto, and Kevin Racal all present inside the Cuneta Astrodome. From then to now, coach Aldin sees nothing but the same sort of charge by the Knights. "Iba na ang mga players except for Jerrick [Balanza], pero if there's one thing that's constant, yung community. Nandoon pa rin yung suporta, nandoon pa rin yung 'Arriba,'" he said, referring to Jerrick Balanza who was then a rookie in their championship run and is now playing out his fifth and final year. He then continued, "In terms of how they play, it's different, pero sa ugali ng players, I think it didn't change. Magpalit man ng sistema at ng coaches, yung tradition, nandun na yun. Hindi mawawala yung magiging Letranista." And that fight, even though it ended up in a loss, will be all the Intramuros-based team needs for another breakthrough. After all, that was all that Coach Aldin's agents of "Mayhem" counted on in their Cinderella story four years ago. "Of course, masarap sa pakiramdam na babalik sa ganito. Before ka umalis, you were successful and the players, they take pride in what they were able to accomplish," the fiery mentor said. He then continued, "Siyempre, we are hoping na maulit and that's why we're here to support them." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2019

All-Decade Team: Some names to watch in 2020s

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Picking the best players of the past decade can be a delightful process, a walk down memory lane that highlights the best of the NBA’s best from the most recently completed era. We took care of that for you earlier this week with NBA.com's All-Decade Team for the 2010s. Data and established success provide the context needed to make a strong case when you're looking back. But you can't rely on those conventions when trying to decide what, and perhaps more appropriately, who, comes next. Questions linger for the big stars of the 2010s who would normally transition into the next decade with similar status. How will Kevin Durant look when he comes back from a season lost to an Achilles injury? What will Klay Thompson’s game look like post-ACL injury? There’s no saying how the summer’s superstar free agent and trade shuffle will impact career trajectories for older stars like Durant (going from Golden State to Brooklyn) and Russell Westbrook (going from Oklahoma City to Houston). Young stars just entering the league (or still finding their way) are bound to emerge in the coming years. On the other hand, established veterans will see the inevitable fading of their star status. That uncertain future for so many is part of what makes today’s exercise so much fun. We are peering into our crystal ball and projecting the future, identifying the stars who, a decade from now, might find their names on the best-of-the best list for the 2020s. * * * * = players who made a 2010s All-Decade Team Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks * "The Greek Freak" finished off the 2010s with his first Kia MVP and should be poised to compete for more this decade. He’s only scratched the surface of his immense potential and should be in the thick of the race for best player of the decade. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors * One half of the sweetest shooting backcourts in NBA history, Curry and his fellow Splash Brother, Thompson, could make the next All-Decade Team, too. That would require them to prove they’re still playing championship-level basketball in the Bay Area post-Durant. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers * Davis is finally positioned to chase championships and will do so as he enters the physical prime of his career. With Davis and LeBron James leading the way, the Lakers begin the next decade poised for a return to legitimate contender status. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks The reigning Kia Rookie of the Year gave us all a preview of what’s to come. Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are the foundational players expected to fuel the Mavericks the way Dirk Nowitzki did the past two decades. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers If Embiid stays healthy, he’s good enough to challenge for the unofficial title of best player of the 2020s. His availability is the most critical component for a Sixers organization that believes it is on the cusp of championship contention. Paul George, LA Clippers * George has fully bounced back from his devastating leg injury in 2014, earning a place among the NBA’s elite by finishing third in the Kia MVP voting to close out the 2010s. The only thing left on his to-do-list is to make the championship dreams of Clippers fans a reality. James Harden, Houston Rockets * Finding a new groove alongside Westbrook will determine the Rockets’ championship fate and perhaps Harden’s legacy. Harden’s Hall of Fame status is secured. He just needs a title to complete his trophy case.   LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers * Could he win a Kia MVP in three different decades? LeBron has broken the mold in just about every way imaginable to this point of his career, so it would be foolish to doubt him. He’s also got a chance to add to his title haul in the next decade as well. As for Father Time … what does that matter? Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets After winning a title as the supporting star in LeBron’s homecoming story in Cleveland, Irving hopes to revisit that magic in Brooklyn once Durant is healthy again. While Irving has some repair to do to his reputation after his final season in Boston, his talent remains undeniable. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets Some would argue that Jokic (and not Embiid) finished the decade as the NBA’s best big man. The Nuggets are banking on it, as they’ve built their operation around the triple-double versatility of the 24-year-old All-Star known as “The Joker.” Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers * Leonard load managed his way to a title in Toronto but has already declared himself ready to play without limitations as he attempts to bring a championship parade to his hometown. He’s at the height of his powers right now and, with good health, will be for the foreseeable future. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Lillard was noticeably absent from the 2010s All-Decade Team, but he shouldn’t have to worry about that happening in the 2020s. The face and soul of the franchise in Portland, Lillard knows that the next step for he and CJ McCollum is a Finals berth. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz If the addition of veteran Mike Conley has the impact Utah’s braintrust expects, Mitchell is primed to rise any ranking of the West’s (and NBA’s) top players. Don’t be surprised if he snags a scoring title (or two) in the next decade. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics With Kyrie Irving gone, Tatum and the Celtics can get back to the performances he provided during the 2018 playoffs as a rookie. The Celtics have refused to trade Tatum for a reason. He’s got the array of skills that a team values in a wing scorer. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks Any pre-Draft trepidation about Young was overturned after his strong finish to his rookie season. A splendid passer with Splash Bros.-type range, Young will grow and mature physically into the leader of a franchise revival in Atlanta. 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 NewsAug 8th, 2019

NCAA 95: CSB blazes to best start since 2005

College of St. Benilde remains unscathed in the NCAA 95 Men’s Basketball Tournament after gutting out a hardfought win against home team Mapua University, 71-67, Thursday in the latter’s school gym in Intramuros, Manila. The Blazers had to overcome a testy last two minutes as well as an injury to Justin Gutang to notch their third win in as many games. The 3-0 start to the season is the Taft-based team’s best since 2005 when they were fronted by Jeff Morial, Paolo Orbeta, and Jay Sagad. Without a doubt, they had to work for this one as the home team was actually in control for majority of the matchup and was up by three entering the final frame. "I like the way we play in terms of our grit and grind throughout the game," head coach TY Tang said post-game. Battling all the way back, CSB owned a six-point edge, 66-60, with under a minute remaining. It was at that point that the two teams got too close with each other as Gutang had a nasty fall following a foul by Noah Lugo. Gutang still made the layup as well as the bonus free throw, but not after the foul almost led to a scuffle between him, Lugo, and Laurenz Victoria. The Cardinals kept coming as Lugo pulled them within two, 67-69, with 3.2 ticks to go only to see Edward Dixon keep them at bay once and for all with a couple of charities. In the end, Gutang top-scored with 12 points on top of five rebounds and three assists while Jimboy Pasturan had 11 markers, six boards, and three dimes of his own. Cameroonian reinforcement Clement Leutcheu then contributed 11 points and five rebounds as Dixon chipped in eight markers and 11 boards. With that, the undefeated Blazers find themselves on level ground with defending champion San Beda University atop the standings. "The experience, the maturity, and the playing their roles and responsibilities, they've come to understand deeper," coach TY said. On the other hand, Mapua remains stuck at the bottom of the leaderboard, now winless in four games. As such, Arvin Gamboa's breakout game with 14 points went to waste. BOX SCORES CSB 71 - Gutang 12, Pasturan 11, Leutcheu 11, Young 9, Dixon 8, Belgica 8, Naboa 4, Flores 4, Carlos 2, Lepalam 2, Velasco 0, Sangco 0 MAPUA 67 - Gamboa 14, Lugo 11, Victoria 9, Nocum 7, Bonifacio 6, Bunag 6, Salenga 4, Gonzales 4, Nieles 3, Hernandez 3, Serrano 0, Garcia 0, Aguirre 0, Jabel 0 QUARTER SCORES: 13-17, 27-32, 46-49, 71-67 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 25th, 2019

NCAA 95: Letran s Santiago wants to make a name for himself in basketball

National University almost had a brand new Santiago donning the blue and gold. Only, it wasn't in volleyball, but in basketball. And only, it wasn't meant to be. Lenard Santiago, the younger brother of volleyball towers Dindin and Jaja, is now playing for Colegio de San Juan de Letran - playing basketball, that is. "Galing akong Nueva Ecija then nung namatay yung father namin, kinuha ako ng mga ate ko and napunta ako sa Manila," he shared after the Squires season-opener last Monday. "Una akong nag-try sa NU, pero 'di ako nakuha kaya dinala nila ako sa Letran." Santiago worked on his game with the Intramuros-based squad's Team B for one year before making his big league debut last year in the NCAA. Now, he is playing out his last year in the Juniors. Of course, the 18-year-old shared that often, he gets asked why he's playing on the hardwood instead of the taraflex. "Kung tinatanong ako ng mga ate ko or ng ibang tao ba't ako nag-basketball, dun kasi ako lumaki sa probinsya at basketball ang naging laro ko," he said. That doesn't mean, however, that he does not play the sport his sisters made a name for themselves in. "Naglalaro rin po ako ng volleyball. Actually, kinuha nga rin po ako ng coach ng Letran so dual events po ako (sa NCAA 95)," he said. He then continued, "Second choice ko pa rin naman yung volleyball. Kung 'di po ako mag-succeed sa basketball, e 'di mag-volleyball po ako." Without a doubt, getting to play two sports does nothing but make Santiago a more complete athlete. "Sa basketball, nakakatulong yung volleyball kasi napapalakas yung legs ko at nagiging matalas ang utak ko sa pagbabasa ng tao," he shared. He then continued, "Sa volleyball naman, nakakatulong ang basketball sa bilis at kung paano magbasa ng blockings." At the same time, though, the 6-foot forward in basketball and open spiker in volleyball feels the heavier weight of the last name he carries on his back. "Minsan, may pressure po talaga dahil yung mga ate ko, may malaking pangalan sa volleyball," he said. Fortunately for him, his sisters are nothing but supportive of him. "Lagi nilang sinasabi sa akin, dapat daw mas nagfo-focus nga ako sa basketball kung yun ang gusto ko," he said. He then continued, "Pero okay lang din naman kasi may naitutulong sa akin ang volleyball at kaya ko namang i-balance." In Lenard, the Santiagos have a new tower rising in a different sport and a different school. And in the same way that Dindin and Jaja remain fixtures in the higher levels of volleyball, their younger brother hopes to do the same in basketball. "Basketball po ang unang choice ko laruin and gusto ko makapunta sa PBA in the future. Sana po," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2019

It s a new day in the NBA, and a welcomed change

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press LAS VEGAS (AP) — There is no favorite. This is what the NBA wanted. And needed. The biggest piece of valid criticism about the league in recent years has been its predictable. Golden State got to the last five NBA Finals. LeBron James had made it there eight years in a row, four with Miami and then four more with Cleveland. Brooklyn used to be the 'other' team in New York, and the Clippers used to be the 'other' team in Los Angeles. No more. Welcome to a new NBA. If you think the Clippers can win it all next season, or the Lakers, or Utah, or Philadelphia, or Milwaukee, or Houston, or Denver, or even Golden State and maybe a few others, you're right. Get your first look at the NBA’s top Rookies during NBA Summer League LIVE on NBA League Pass! Technically, there is a favorite: The sports books in Las Vegas, after hearing the news that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are heading to the Clippers, listed them as the best bet Saturday to win the 2020 NBA championship. Yes, the Clippers. A team that has won exactly four playoff series since moving to Los Angeles in 1984. A team that had 12 consecutive losing seasons a generation ago. There wasn't much NBA intrigue at this time last year. The Warriors were adding DeMarcus Cousins to a team that won the last two championships and were seemingly locks to win a third consecutive title. Everyone knows it didn't work out that way. Toronto took care of that. It was just more proof that what seems obvious at this time of year doesn't always come to fruition. This year, though, the newfound balance of power — dare we say "parity" — seems like a done deal. The East still has a 60-win team in Milwaukee returning the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and shooting guard Khris Middleton, so the Bucks may be the favorite right now on that side of the league. Philadelphia lost JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler, adding Josh Richardson and Al Horford to a team that looks be dominant defensively. No one will count out Boston, because of Brad Stevens and now Kemba Walker. Miami got better even after losing Dwyane Wade with the addition of Butler — and the Heat might throw their hat in the ring if Russell Westbrook is indeed available following the George trade to the Clippers. Brooklyn gets Kyrie Irving this season and now knows it'll be adding Kevin Durant next season, once he returns from his Achilles rehab. Atlanta's young core may be the most promising in the NBA. And let's not forget the East also has the reigning NBA champion Raptors, albeit without Leonard and Danny Green.) But the West ... wow. The Clippers kept Patrick Beverley, have an amazingly talented bench led by Lou Williams, a coach everybody wants to play for in Doc Rivers and now gets two of the very best players in the game with Leonard and George. The Lakers still have James, added Anthony Davis, kept JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, signed DeMarcus Cousins and Green — and might be in the market for another shooter. Portland went to the West final last season and have an elite backcourt in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Utah had a brilliant summer, giving Donovan Mitchell more good players like Mike Conley to surround himself with. Houston still has James Harden and Chris Paul. Dallas figures to be better if Kristaps Porzingis is healthy to run alongside Luka Doncic. The Lakers are almost certainly coming for someone's playoff spot out West. Same goes for the Heat in the East. And before long, New Orleans with Zion Williamson and David Griffin at the controls, Atlanta with that core led by Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, potentially Memphis with the Ja Morant era set to begin, it'll be their turn at the playoff table. It's been a top-heavy league for a long time. Only five different franchises have represented the West in the NBA Finals over the last 20 years. In the East, it's five over the last 15 years. Right now, the odds-makers in Vegas are predicting next June it'll be Clippers vs. Bucks. A couple days ago the Lakers were the betting favorites. A new day is here in the NBA. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019

2019 FIBA U19 World Cup Preview: Philippines vs New Zealand

The Philippines finally had a breakthrough in the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Heraklion Greece, beating Asian rivals China, 86-72, to be assured of at least 14th place in the biennial competition.  Their final game today will be against another team from the FIBA Asia zone -- New Zealand, which placed 2nd place overall in last year's 2018 FIBA U18 Asia Cup in Thailand and defeated Senegal last night, 87-71.  It will be a tough final assignment for coach Sandy Arespcochaga's wards, who are coming in riding high with confidence after their convincing triumph over the Chinese. The Filipinos bucked the limited minutes of Kai Sotto in that encounter as the 7'2” prized center was saddled with foul trouble and could only register 5 points, 2 rebounds, a 1 block in 13 minutes of play. Answering the call were Dave Ildefonso, Carl Tamayo, James Spencer, and Rhayyan Amsali, all of whom scored in double-digits for the Philippines.  Needless to say, it'll take another supreme team effort today if the Filipinos are to stave off what should be a very strong challenge from the Kiwis, who likewise put up a convincing win yesterday against the Senegalese.  In that match, versatile guard Flynn Cameron stood out. The DePaul University Blue Demon has been inconsistent in Heraklion, but he had his best game yet against Senegal, scoring 19 points on top of 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 steals, and 2 blocks.  Another Junior Tall Black to worry about is Euro-based Max Darling, who plies his trade for Croatia's KK Vrijednosnice Osijek. The 6'6” inside operator is one of the most athletic players in the entire field, and he has been on a tear in New Zealand's last two games, averaging 19.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per outing. Don't be surprised if he tries his hand at slowing Kai down in the paint.  Speaking of Kai, he has stumbled out of the top 10 most efficient players in the tournament after last night's below par showing, and it would be great to see him bounce back in a big way here.  The former Ateneo Blue Eaglet is among the youngest studs in Heraklion and will still be eligible for the next U19 World Cup should the Philippines qualify anew. He is currently averaging 12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game, but he will likely need even better numbers against New Zealand if Gilas Youth is to end its campaign on a bright note.  He'll expect much help from the aforementioned Ildefonso and Tamayo, who really played with aplomb against China. Ildefonso was nearly unstoppable, shooting 7 out of 12 from the floor, including 4 triples en route to an impressive 21-point, 7-assist, 6-rebound stat-line. Tamayo, for his part, was splendid with 20 points and 6 rebounds while hitting 3 triples. If those two guys can puncture the hoops again and complement Kai's inside game, the Philippines has a fair chance of finishing 13th place overall......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019

MPBL: Helterbrand never says die as career continues now in Imus Bandera

Jayjay Helterbrand was nearly two years into his retirement from professional basketball. The keyword being, was. That's because the Ginebra franchise icon has decided to play ball once more, this time in the MPBL with the Imus Bandera. And those about to enjoy watching "The Fast" back in the basketball court can thank the UNTV Legends Cup for this development. "I was playing with the legends group and I think that got my juices flowing," he told reporters in the MPBL Lakan Cup's opener last Wednesday. "That made me think I can play again." Indeed, judging from what he has been doing with the Ginebra Legends, Helterbrand still got game. In fact, he even put up a triple-double in their rivalry game opposite the Purefoods Legends last February. The now 42-year-old made it clear, however, that he has never lost his love for basketball. "Actually, I still got the passion for the game. Just to make it simple and sweet, I just miss playing," he said, talking about his decision to suit up yet again. Helterbrand also made it clear, though, that of course, he is far from 100 percent just yet. "As of now, I've only had one practice under my belt. This ain't no joke because you're going to be running up and down the court so there's no way I can be able to keep up after two years," he shared. He then continued, "But it's a long season so hopefully, I can get in shape slowly and surely." Yes, make no mistake about it, the Gin Kings' legend is in Imus to stay. "I'm here for the long haul," he expressed. And he is nothing but grateful for the Cavite-based team for this brand new opportunity. "They were all very supportive. They welcomed me with arms wide open so I'm really excited to play and be part of Imus," he said. For that, Helterbrand promises to do nothing but repay the Bandera's trust. "I told the other guys that I'm just here to help the younger guys. I just want to be a good example to them and guide them," he said. He then continued, "Whatever I can add on the court itself is just a bonus." Jayjay Helterbrands makes his MPBL debut later at 9:00 p.m. against the Caloocan Supremos. Kapamilyas all over the world will be able to witness it on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2019