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Marbury hopes to finish off career back in NBA

NEW YORK — Stephon Marbury hopes to finish off his basketball career back in the NBA......»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarSep 14th, 2017

Game 2 win puts Jazz in position for upset anew

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com HOUSTON — They’ve already sprung one upset this postseason. Do the Utah Jazz have another one in them? There’s no reason to doubt the fearless, short-handed Jazz after they toppled the Houston Rockets in Toyota Center Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) with a 116-108 win in Game 2 over the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed, evening up this second-round series at 1-1. The Jazz led by 19 before halftime, surrendered that advantage and trailed by five in the third quarter before re-taking control with a decisive 16-2 run late to shock the Jazz and snatch home court advantage with Games 3 and 4 this weekend in Salt Lake City. “That to me was maybe the most important thing in the game,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of his team’s resilience. “To get off to a good start and play well and then you know they’re going to come back. It’s just a question of how far and how quickly, and I thought they cut the gap and not only made it a game, but basically took control of the game. "I think we could feel that. At that point, for our guys to keep their focus on what we’re trying to do, and continue to run and continue to shoot and try to defend says a lot about the team and how they function together and that they didn’t break at that point.” Playing into May wasn’t supposed to be in the cards for this Jazz team that lost All-Star Gordon Hayward to Boston in free agency. Only six players returned from the fifth-seeded squad that knocked off the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round last season and got swept by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in the conference semifinals. There weren't necessarily any playoff expectations for this team at the start of training camp. But no one told rookie guard Donovan Mitchell, who has led the Jazz all season and in their upset of Oklahoma City in six games in their first-round series. Mitchell shot just 6-for-21 from the floor, filling in for injured starting point guard Ricky Rubio, but showed up every time the Jazz needed him. He registered five assists in the first six minutes as the Jazz took control, finishing with 17 points, a career-high 11 assists, five rebounds and a jaw-dropping dunk on his own missed floater in the fourth quarter that helped ignited his team’s game-closing run. “Just being poised and staying under control was the biggest thing,” Mitchell said. “Understand how they were going to guard me and when you have the big fella [Rudy Gobert] rolling as fas he did, making the right plays to kind of predict what the defense was going to do next.” Clearly no one mentioned it to Joe Ingles, one of those six veteran holdovers from last season. The veteran forward smoked the Rockets for a career-high 27 points, drained 10 of his 13 shots, including 7-of-9 from beyond the three-point line, two huge ones in the final five minute to help hold the Rockets off. “Just sticking together and just keep executing,” Ingles said about what carried the Jazz down the stretch. “We knew they were going to make runs. So just sticking together, I think we did a really good job of that and we were able to make our runs when it was our turn.” It was the sort of group effort that has been the trademark of this Jazz team all season. Mitchell and Ingles served as the catalysts for an inspired bunch that jumped on the Rockets early, took the home team’s best retaliatory shots, and then pounced at the finish. Their confidence in each other and the rest of their teammates was obvious after two full days to study and digest how they wanted to attack the Rockets after getting drilled in the series opener. The Jazz bench nearly doubled up their Rockets counterparts in scoring (41-22) and got a career night from Alec Burks (17 points, six assists), a double-double from Jae Crowder (15 points and 10 rebounds) and quality work on both ends of the floor from Dante Exum, whose drive-and-dunk with 55.3 seconds to play closed the door on any hopes the Rockets had of a last-minute comeback of their own. “I thought Dante’s dunk was better than mine,” Mitchell said. The Jazz hit a franchise playoff-high 15 three-pointers and finally beat a Rockets team that had owned them in the five games (wins all by 11 or more points) they played leading up to Wednesday's (Thursday, PHL time) dramatic momentum shifter. It was the game Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni had been dreading as his team eased its way into this postseason. They played three outstanding quarters in five games against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round. They led the Jazz by 27 points in Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) opener but watched that lead dwindle to just 11 points after halftime, as the Jazz found some cracks in the Rockets’ improved defense down the stretch. He warned his team about thinking they could flip the switch in the postseason just because they’d won a league-best 65 games during the regular season. The real wake-up call didn’t come until now. “Yeah, we flipped it,” D’Antoni said. “We came back from 19 down. We flipped it and then they flipped it back on us. You've got to give them credit, they played great down the stretch. They hit shots, they did what they were supposed to do.” The Jazz did exactly what they did to the Thunder in the first round. They studied the film from their Game 1 loss, made the necessary adjustments and finished that series in six games, never allowing the Thunder to enjoy the home-court advantage they earned for that series. Duplicating that feat against these Rockets should prove to be a much tougher task, especially without Rubio, who was one of the most animated individuals on the Jazz bench all night while rocking Mitchell’s signature rookie sweatshirt. His hamstring injury might force Mitchell to continue working at the point for the remainder of the series. It remains to be seen, though, if that’s an advantage for the Rockets. For all the work Kia MVP frontrunner James Harden (32 points, 11 assists and six rebounds) and Chris Paul (23 points, five rebounds and three assists) did in Game 2, neither one of them could will their team to the win the way the rookie did the Jazz. “They were just too comfortable,” Paul said. “They were getting layups, dunks, free throws, a little bit of everything. We fought back hard. But give them a lot of credit, they did what they were supposed to do. They came in here and got a win.” The pressure is on the Rockets now to do the same in Utah. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2018

UAAP Volleyball: Jho Maraguinot will not return next season

The time has come for Jho Maraguinot.  And the decision is final.  Following the four-set loss against the FEU Lady Tamaraws, which ended a season filled with so many questions, the Alitagtag, Batangas native has called it quits after playing four years with the Lady Eagles, and will forego her fifth year of eligibility. "Yeah, I'm graduating. I have one more, but I think I'm done," the veteran said in their final press conference for the season.  Maraguinot, who averaged 14.5 points and was instrumental in Ateneo's run to the Final Four, ended her UAAP career with 11 markers. She played from Ateneo's tail end of their championship seasons, in Season 77, and led the team alongside Alyssa Valdez in her swan song in Season 78. While talking about their 20-25, 21-25, 25-14, 19-25 loss, she reminisced and said on what she'll miss about the women's collegiate volleyball wars. "Siyempre, sobrang sayang kasi it was do-or-die for us and we died. But, kinulang lang kami, lumaban pa rin naman kami. 'Yung third set namin was grabe, 'yun 'yung mami-miss ko sa UAAP -- 'yung feeling na kita mo na lahat ng teammates mo lumalaban, nagtutulong-tulong. We fought 'til the end." When asked about her experience with the team, Maraguinot calls her stint "life changing", adding that her years with the squad made her a better person.  Maraguinot, who concludes her run with Ateneo alongside coach Tai Bundit, who also announced his exit from the team, says she hopes that the team she had just left can finish the job in the following seasons. She also thanked her Thai mentor, for the countless sacrifices he had made with the team, but understands his plight and only hopes only the best for the coach. "Sobrang laki nang ginawa sa akin ni coach. Kundi dahil sa kanya, di ako ganito maglaro. It's sad na he's gonna leave, pero he has his family back home," Maraguinot mentioned. "Marami na siyang na-sacrifice for us, I guess it's time for him to spend his time back home kasi lumalaki 'yung mga anak niya without him." Now that their season is through, the volleyball acknowledged that is was mission accomplished for the team -- as they only aimed for a spot in the Final Four, a step lower since they had made the Finals in six consecutive seasons, winning twice.  "At the start of the season, goal lang namin was to reach the Final Four. Alam namin 'yung kulang sa team, 'yung capabilities noong start. But then, as the days went, ang laking nang naging improvement. Sobrang laki nang in-improve in just a year. Next year, kaya na nila 'yan. For sure, magi-improve pa 'yan." In talking about her future plans, Maraguinot said that she has not yet decided on playing in the pro leagues, but is looking forward to the national team tryouts, since she was one of the 34 players given an invitation for a crack at making the prestigious roster for the Asian Games. --   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2018

Fowler, Spieth make Reed earn his 1st major championship

By Paul Newberry, Associated Press AUGUSTA, Georgia (AP) — After the final putt disappeared into the cup, Rickie Fowler waited outside the scoring room at Augusta National. Once again, he was congratulating someone else on winning their first major championship. For Fowler, the wait goes on. "I was ready to go win," he said. "Unfortunately, I was one shot short." This has become a familiar lament for Fowler, who lugs around the unwanted baggage as the best player without a title in one of golf's biggest events. He had his best chance yet on a stirring on Sunday at the Masters, making six birdies over the final 11 holes — including an 8-footer at the 72nd hole that finished off a 14-under 274. It's a score that would've been good enough to win most years. But Patrick Reed had one less stroke on his card, claiming the green jacket by sinking a short but testy par putt at No. 18 . "Glad I at least made the last one to make him earn it," Fowler said. Jordan Spieth did his part, too, to make Reed earn it. The Texan turned in one of the greatest closing rounds in Masters history, shooting an 8-under 64 that pushed him into the mix after he started the day with a daunting nine-shot deficit. Spieth thought it would be a nice, stress-free day out on the course. Instead, he horned his way into one of the greatest duels this place has ever seen, actually grabbing a share of the lead by sinking a 35-foot birdie putt at the 16th hole. "Are you kidding me?" Spieth mouthed to his caddie. Reed, playing in the final group, answered with a birdie at the 14th. Spieth's hopes ended at the 18th hole after his tee shot clipped a tree, falling to the ground just 177 yards away. He pulled off two dazzling shots to give himself a shot at saving par. But an 8-foot putt slid by the edge of the hole — his only bogey of the day. "I was pretty gutted at the finish," Spieth said. "I hit a tee shot that wasn't that bad. It just caught the last little branch of that tree. Obviously, I want to go back to that tee shot right now. But it was a phenomenal day." Spieth sure knows his way around Augusta National, where he won in 2015, finished second two other times, and now has a third-place showing on his resume. His worst performance in five appearances was a tie for 11th last year. Fowler couldn't resist a little jab at his good friend. "Solo second feels and sounds better than tied for second, so it was nice to edge out Jordan," Fowler said with a smile. But Spieth already has three major titles on his resume. Fowler is still chasing the first. He's certainly had plenty of opportunities, most notably finishing in the top five of all four majors in 2014. Fowler now has eight top-five finishes in 31 majors over his career. This one felt different than all the others. Fowler played like a champion on the final day. He went to the last hole with a real shot to win. "I am ready to go win a major, but this was kind of the first major week that I understood that and knew that and felt that," he said. "I'm ready to go. I'm really looking forward to this year and the three majors that are left. "It should be," he added confidently, "a very good major season." Fowler will need to get off to a better start than he did in Augusta, where he was just 2 under through the first two rounds. He really turned it on over the weekend, surging into contention with a 65 on Saturday before matching the best closing round of his Masters career. He showed his mettle by battling through a tough start on Sunday — his first seven holes resulted in six pars and a bogey — but got things going with back-to-back birdies before making the turn. Fowler added four more birdies on the back side, the best he's ever played with a major title hanging in the balance. It wasn't quite good enough, but it left no doubt that he's got the game to break through some day. "I gave it my all. I left everything out there on the golf course," Fowler said. "Patrick went out there and outplayed all of us this week, and he earned it. So, you've got to give it to him. He's your Masters champion." Someone asked Fowler about his goals going forward. "My next goal?" he said. "Win a major. We're close. That's the No. 1 priority.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2018

2018 MLB preview: AL Central

By The Associated Press Capsules of American League Central teams, listed in order of finish last year: ___ Cleveland Indians 2017: 102-60, first place, lost to Yankees in ALDS. Manager: Terry Francona (sixth season). He's Here: 1B-DH Yonder Alonso, LF Rajai Davis, RHP Alexi Ogando. He's Outta Here: 1B Carlos Santana, OF Jay Bruce, RHP Bryan Shaw, RHP Joe Smith, OF Austin Jackson, LHP Boone Logan. Projected Lineup: SS Francisco Lindor (.273, 33 HRs, 89 RBIs, 44 2Bs, 15 SBs, 10 errors), 2B Jason Kipnis (.232, 12 HRs, 35 RBIs in 90 games), 3B Jose Ramirez (.318, 29, 83, AL-leading 56 2Bs), DH Edwin Encarnacion (.258, 38, 107), 1B Yonder Alonso (.266, career-high 28 HRs, 67 RBIs with Athletics and Mariners), RF Lonnie Chisenhall (.288, 12, 53 in 82 games), C Roberto Perez (.207, 8, 38, club went 44-22 in his starts) or Yan Gomes (.232, 14, 56), CF Bradley Zimmer (.241, 8, 39, 18 SBs, 0 errors), LF Michael Brantley (.299, 9, 52 in 90 games) or Rajai Davis (.235, 5, 20, 29 SBs with Oakland and Boston). Rotation: RH Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25 ERA, 265 Ks, 2nd Cy Young Award), RH Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29, 226 Ks), RH Trevor Bauer (17-9, 4.19, 10-1 in final 13 starts), RH Mike Clevinger (12-6, 3.11, 137 Ks in 121 2/3 innings), RH Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.28, 12.67 Ks per 9 innings). Key Relievers: RH Cody Allen (3-7, 2.94, 30/34 saves, 96 saves past 3 seasons), LH Andrew Miller (4-3, 1.44, 2 saves), RH Dan Otero (3-0, 2.85, walked just 19 of 511 batters since 2016), LH Tyler Olson (1-0, 0.00 in 20 innings over 30 games), RH Zack McAllister (2-2, 2.61 in 50 games). Hot Spots: Kipnis and Brantley. The former All-Stars have been hindered by injuries in recent years, but both appear on track to bounce back in 2018. The Indians need them to produce. Cleveland is better defensively with Ramirez at second base, but he'll stay at third as long as the 31-year-old Kipnis hits. Kipnis has been mentioned in trade talk for two years. Brantley, once considered one of baseball's best all-around talents, has played in only 101 games since 2015. Outlook: No team has felt postseason pain lately quite like the Indians. They blew a 3-1 lead and lost the 2016 World Series to the Cubs, and squandered a 2-0 advantage in last year's best-of-five Division Series against the Yankees. With arguably baseball's strongest rotation led by Kluber, the Indians are poised to possibly end a championship drought approaching its 70th anniversary. Alonso must help the offense offset the losses of Santana and Bruce. Francona won't have Shaw in the bullpen anymore after the durable reliever pitched in at least 74 games each of the past four seasons. Winning the AL Central won't suffice for the Indians, who are determined to finish the job this year. ___ Minnesota Twins 2017: 85-77, second place, lost to Yankees in wild-card game. Manager: Paul Molitor (fourth season). He's Here: RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Jake Odorizzi, DH-1B Logan Morrison, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Addison Reed, LHP Zach Duke, SS-3B Erick Aybar, RHP Michael Pineda. He's Outta Here: RHP Matt Belisle, RHP Bartolo Colon, C Chris Gimenez, DH-1B Kennys Vargas, LHP Hector Santiago, LHP Glen Perkins, LHP Buddy Boshers, RHP Michael Tonkin. Projected Lineup: 2B Brian Dozier (.271, 34 HRs, 93 RBIs, 106 runs), 1B Joe Mauer (.305, 7, 71, .384 OBP), 3B Miguel Sano (.264, 28, 77, 173 Ks in 114 games), DH Logan Morrison (.246, 38, 85, .868 OPS with Rays), LF Eddie Rosario (.290, 27, 78), SS Eduardo Escobar (.254, 21, 73), CF Byron Buxton (.253, 16, 51, 29/30 SBs), RF Max Kepler (.243, 19, 69), C Jason Castro (.242, 10, 47). Rotation: RH Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.28 ERA, 5 CGs, 211 1/3 IP, expected to begin season on DL), RH Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.89), RH Lance Lynn (11-8, 3.43 with Cardinals), RH Jake Odorizzi (10-8, 4.14 with Rays), RH Kyle Gibson (12-10, 5.07). Key Relievers: RH Fernando Rodney (5-4, 4.23, 39/45 saves with Diamondbacks), RH Addison Reed (2-3, 2.84, 19 saves with Mets and Red Sox), LH Taylor Rogers (7-3, 3.07), LH Zach Duke (1-1, 3.93 in 18 1/3 IP with Cardinals), RH Ryan Pressly (2-3, 4.70), RH Trevor Hildenberger (3-3, 3.21, 1 save), RH Phil Hughes (4-3, 5.87 in 53 2/3 IP). Hot Spot: Left Side Of The Infield. Sano had surgery in November to have a rod inserted in his left shin after a stress reaction kept him out for the last six weeks of the 2017 regular season, and the burly slugger has struggled to keep his weight down. He's also been under investigation by Major League Baseball, facing potential discipline, for alleged harassment of a woman during an encounter in 2015. Jorge Polanco, who got so hot at the plate down the stretch of his first full season as a regular in the lineup that he wound up third in the batting order, was suspended for the first 80 games this season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Escobar can fill in capably at shortstop, but he's also the top backup for Sano if the All-Star has to sit for any reason. Outlook: After their massive 26-win turnaround last season, earning Molitor the AL Manager of the Year award and a new contract through the 2020 season, the Twins were already on the upswing with their 25-and-under core of Berrios, Buxton, Sano, Rosario and Kepler. Then, after spring training began, they traded for Odorizzi and signed Morrison and Lynn, all at market-bargain prices. They've already had some setbacks, with finger surgery for Santana expected to keep him out for most or all of April, and the gut-punch news of Polanco's suspension, plus the uncertainty that surrounds Sano. But this is a team, even with the bold offseason moves made by AL heavyweights Boston and New York, and the strength of reigning AL Central champion Cleveland, that has the talent and spunk to be right in the playoff mix. With Hughes and Tyler Duffey on track for long-relief roles and a spate of well-regarded prospects set to fill out the rotation at Triple-A Rochester, this is as much starting pitching depth as the Twins have had in years. After using 16 different starters in 2017, they needed that. Rodney, Reed and Duke were important additions to bolster the bullpen, too, after Minnesota relievers ranked 22nd in the majors with a collective 4.40 ERA. ___ Kansas City Royals 2017: 80-82, third place. Manager: Ned Yost (ninth season). He's Here: RHP Jesse Hahn, CF Jon Jay, 1B Lucas Duda, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Justin Grimm. He's Outta Here: 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, LHP Jason Vargas, RHP Joakim Soria, LHP Mike Minor, OF Melky Cabrera, LHP Scott Alexander, DH Brandon Moss, RHP Mike Morin, LHP Ryan Buchter, RHP Trevor Cahill. Projected Lineup: CF Jon Jay (.296, 2 HRs, 34 RBIs with Cubs), 2B Whit Merrifield (.288, 19, 78, AL-leading 34 SBs), 3B Mike Moustakas (.272, 38, 85), C Salvador Perez (.268, 27, 80), 1B Lucas Duda (.217, 30, 64 with Mets and Rays), DH Jorge Soler (.144, 2, 6), LF Alex Gordon (.208, 9, 45), RF Paulo Orlando (.198, 2, 6), SS Alcides Escobar (.250, 6, 54). Rotation: LH Danny Duffy (9-10, 3.81 ERA), RH Ian Kennedy (5-13, 5.38), RH Jason Hammel (8-13, 5.29), RH Jakob Junis (9-3, 4.30), RH Nate Karns (2-2, 4.17). Key Relievers: RH Kelvin Herrera (3-3, 4.25, 26/31 saves), RH Wily Peralta (5-4, 7.85 in 19 games, 8 starts with Brewers), RH Brandon Maurer (2-2, 8.10 in 26 games with Royals; 1-4, 5.72 in 42 games with Padres), RH Justin Grimm (1-2, 5.53 with Cubs), LH Brian Flynn (5-3, 5.40 at Triple-A Omaha), RH Kevin McCarthy (1-0, 3.20), RH Brad Keller (10-9, 4.68 ERA at Double-A Jackson). Hot Spots: Just About Everywhere. The Royals struggled to score last year, and losing Hosmer and Cain in free agency won't help. They'll turn to Moustakas, who set a club record for home runs in a season, and newcomers Jay and Duda to ignite the offense. The only starting pitcher with a track record of success is Duffy, while the bullpen features plenty of unproven talent that must show it can close down games if the Royals are to approach .500 this season. Outlook: This was supposed to be a rebuilding year in Kansas City, when most of the Royals' top players hit free agency en masse. With Moustakas and Escobar finding little market, both returned to Kansas City with prove-it contracts. That gives the Royals a fighting chance to stay competitive into July, and then all bets are off. But the reality is there are still far too many holes, both in the lineup and on the pitching staff, for the Royals to be considered contenders. They would do well to match the 80 wins they had last season, and could be a big seller at the July 31 trade deadline, which would allow them to replenish a shallow farm system and begin their rebuilding job in earnest. ___ Chicago White Sox 2017: 67-95, fourth place. Manager: Rick Renteria (second season). He's Here: RHP Miguel Gonzalez, C Welington Castillo. He's Outta Here: LHP Derek Holland, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Al Alburquerque, RHP Jake Petricka, C Geovany Soto, OF-2B Alen Hanson, RHP Zach Putnam. Projected Lineup: 2B Yoan Moncada (.231, 8 HRs, 22 RBIs), RF Avisail Garcia (.330, 18, 80), 1B Jose Abreu (.304, 33, 102), DH Matt Davidson (.220, 26, 68), C Welington Castillo (.282, 20, 53 with Orioles), SS Tim Anderson (.257, 17, 56), 3B Yolmer Sanchez (.267, 12, 59), LF Nicky Delmonico (.262, 9, 23), CF Adam Engel (.166, 6, 21). Rotation: RH James Shields (5-7, 5.23 ERA), RH Lucas Giolito (3-3, 2.38), RH Reynaldo Lopez (3-3, 4.72), RH Miguel Gonzalez (8-13, 4.62 with White Sox and Rangers), RH Carson Fulmer (3-1, 3.86) or LH Hector Santiago (4-8, 5.63 with Twins). Key Relievers: RH Nate Jones (1-0, 2.31, 11 appearances), LH Luis Avilan (2-3, 2.93 with Dodgers), RH Joakim Soria (4-3, 3.70, 1 save with Royals), RH Juan Minaya (3-2, 4.53, 9 saves), RH Gregory Infante (2-1, 3.13), RH Danny Farquhar (4-2, 4.20 with White Sox and Rays). Hot Spot: Bullpen. A particular strength for the first half of 2017 is now a major question mark after Chicago traded away Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and closer David Robertson last season. Soria has 204 career saves but his best days might be behind him, and there aren't many other proven late-inning options. Renteria and respected pitching coach Don Cooper might have their hands full mixing and matching while trying to figure out how to hold leads. Outlook: For a team with five straight losing seasons and a record that ranked among baseball's worst last year, the White Sox are generating plenty of buzz. That's because they're loaded with promising young players after going all-in on a rebuild prior to last season. The moves have sparked a belief that better days are ahead. Moncada and hard-throwing pitchers Giolito and Lopez showed promise in the majors last season. Right-hander Michael Kopech, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and outfielder Luis Robert are elite prospects on their way in the minors. Garcia, coming off a breakout season, is looking to prove he's not a one-hit wonder. Anderson hopes to bounce back from a trying season in which a close friend was shot to death. Abreu is back after the slugger was viewed as a potential trade candidate this winter. Left-hander Carlos Rodon is expected to be out until at least June following shoulder surgery last September. It's not clear when he'll be ready. Rodon also was sidelined at the start a year ago because of shoulder and biceps problems. The big question is whether he'll ever develop into the pitcher the White Sox envisioned when they drafted him with the No. 3 overall pick in 2014. ___ Detroit Tigers 2017: 64-98, fifth place. Manager: Ron Gardenhire (first season). He's Here: OF Leonys Martin, RHP Mike Fiers, LHP Francisco Liriano, OF Victor Reyes. He's Outta Here: Manager Brad Ausmus, 2B Ian Kinsler, RHP Anibal Sanchez, INF Andrew Romine, RHP Bruce Rondon. Projected Lineup: CF Leonys Martin (.172, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs with Mariners and Cubs), 3B Jeimer Candelario (.283, 3, 16 with Cubs and Tigers), 1B Miguel Cabrera (.249, 16, 60), RF Nicholas Castellanos (.272, 26, 101), DH Victor Martinez (.255, 10, 47), C James McCann (.253, 13, 49), LF Mikie Mahtook (.276, 12, 38), SS Jose Iglesias (.255, 6, 54), 2B Dixon Machado (.259, 1, 11). Rotation: RH Michael Fulmer (10-12, 3.83 ERA), RH Jordan Zimmermann (8-13, 6.08), LH Francisco Liriano (6-7, 5.66 with Blue Jays and Astros), RH Mike Fiers (8-10, 5.22 with Astros), LH Daniel Norris (5-8, 5.31) or LH Matthew Boyd (6-11, 5.27). Key Relievers: RH Shane Greene (4-3, 2.66, 9/13 saves), RH Joe Jimenez (0-2, 12.32), RH Alex Wilson (2-5, 4.50, 2 saves), LH Daniel Stumpf (0-1, 3.82). Hot Spot: The Farm System. After finishing tied for the worst record in baseball last year, the Tigers enter 2018 with no real expectations of success at the big league level, so the question is how quickly the franchise can make it through this rebuilding stage. Franklin Perez, a right-hander acquired last season when Detroit traded Justin Verlander, is expected to be out at least until June with a lat strain, and right-hander Matt Manning is also dealing with an injury. Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows are other pitching prospects to watch as they try to work their way toward the majors. Wins may be few and far between in Detroit, but Tigers fans will hope Cabrera — one star who avoided the roster purge of the last year — can rebound from a rough season. Outlook: The Tigers traded Verlander, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez last season, then dealt away Kinsler during the offseason. There could be more big moves on the horizon — Fulmer, Iglesias and Castellanos should all have some trade value, but each of them is young enough that he could be useful to the Tigers when they become competitive again. That's especially true of Fulmer, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year. Barring a huge surprise in terms of on-field results, the biggest suspense this season might revolve around how general manager Al Avila approaches the next few steps in the rebuild......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

Bottas has Hamilton in a spin at season-ending Abu Dhabi GP

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Performing celebratory spins around the track was about as emotional as it got for Valtteri Bottas, after he beat his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to win the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. Hamilton joined the straight-faced Finnish driver in performing spins — known in Formula One as donuts — having already sealed his fourth world title before the season's finale. The race offered little excitement, but there wasn't much to fight over as the serious stuff had already been pretty much decided. Sebastian Vettel joined them on the podium, finishing third — and second overall — in an anti-climax to a season that had promised so much for Ferrari as it hoped to win its first drivers' title since 2007. As the three drivers soaked each other with celebratory bottles on the podium, Hamilton used his to douse Vettel as the German driver tried to turn and protect himself. It seemed a triumphant and fitting image, victor over vanquished. Vettel was already thinking of drowning his sorrows, perhaps understandably considering how his title challenge collapsed spectacularly following the summer break. "Probably find something to drink tonight and sober up tomorrow," Vettel said. "Congratulations to Lewis on his season. He was the better man. I hate to say it but he deserved it." Starting from pole position for the second straight race Bottas secured the third win of his career — all since joining from Williams. His 22nd career podium was his 13th with Mercedes. "It is a really important win for me after having a pretty difficult start to the second half of the year," said Bottas, who had a mid-season slump that damaged his confidence. "We Finns don't show much emotion but it doesn't mean we don't have any. I am so happy." Bottas placed third overall, 12 points behind Vettel and 58 behind Hamilton. "Hopefully better next year," Bottas said. He has only been given a one-year extension to his Mercedes contract, having joined this year as an emergency replacement for 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg. Having sealed the title, Hamilton had no need to chase Bottas too hard. The 32-year-old British driver finished 4 seconds behind and did not get close enough to attack on a track he called among the worst for overtaking in F1. "Never going to overtake unless he makes a massive mistake," Hamilton said. The race started at 5 p.m. local time with the sun setting on the desert setting of the Yas Marina circuit and finished under floodlights. Vettel, who won the last race in Brazil, finished about 20 seconds behind Bottas. "After three or four laps, I just couldn't go any faster," Vettel said. Vettel's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen — the 2007 F1 champion — was fourth and also moved up to fourth in the standings. Hamilton clinched the title — his third with Mercedes — in Mexico two races ago when he ended Vettel's fading hopes. The German driver's challenge evaporated in the Asian heat between September and October. Perfectly poised to regain the championship lead, he crashed out of the Singapore GP from pole position. "It's a bit different if you finish the race rather than if you don't finish the first lap," Vettel said with evident sarcasm. Then, plagued by reliability issues unbefitting a team of Ferrari's stature, he started last and finished fourth at the Malaysian GP. Bad luck struck again when he qualified third before retiring from the Japanese GP. "Mercedes has been more consistent," Vettel said generously. "It's a straight fight and they just did better." Continuing the sportsmanlike mood, Hamilton added: "Looking forward to another battle next year." Red Bull driver Max Verstappen finished the race in fifth while teammate Daniel Ricciardo retired, dropping to fifth in the standings. The other wins for Bottas this season came in Russia and in Austria — also from pole. Hamilton won nine races this year — having won 10 during the past two seasons and a career-best 11 in 2014. The lower total is due to Ferrari's marked improvement this year. "I don't think it's a shame to come second in the way that we did," Vettel said. "But it's not what we want." Bottas made a clean start while Hamilton held off Vettel, who locked his left front tire angling into the first corner. Vettel was the first of the trio to pit for new tires. Bottas did one lap later, leaving Hamilton briefly in front. At much the same time, Ricciardo retired, leaving his stranded Red Bull on a patch of grass as he hitched a lift on the back of a scooter. It was the third time in four races — and sixth this year — that the Australian driver has failed to finish. He is weighing up his Red Bull future. Felipe Massa, the 2008 F1 runner-up to Hamilton, finished 10th in his last race......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 26th, 2017

Brady, Patriots dominate Raiders 33-8 in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tom Brady felt right at home in his first appearance in Mexico by throwing for 339 yards and three touchdowns, to the delight of an adoring crowd, in the New England Patriots' 33-8 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Brady completed his first 12 passes and picked apart Oakland's suspect defense to chants of "Brady! Brady!" from an amped-up crowd at Azteca Stadium. The large contingent of Patriots fans in the well-divided crowd for a Raiders "home" game had plenty to cheer about as New England (8-2) dominated from start to finish. After winning their debut trip to Mexico City last year against Houston, the Raiders (4-6) were completely overmatched in their return. The offense failed to score until Derek Carr threw a TD pass to Amari Cooper in the fourth quarter with Oakland trailing by 30 points. The defense got victimized by short passes by Brady and then beaten on a 64-yard TD to Brandin Cooks on the third play of the second half that gave New England a 24-0 lead. EAGLES 37, COWBOYS 9 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Carson Wentz threw for two touchdowns and three 2-point conversions after Philadelphia lost kicker Luke Elliott to a head injury, and the Eagles all but wrapped up the NFC East with the victory over Dallas. The Eagles (9-1) outscored the Cowboys 30-0 in the second half while extending their winning streak to eight games, their longest since 2003-04 and tied with New Orleans for the best current run in the NFL. Philadelphia leads the second-place and defending division champion Cowboys (5-5) by four games with six to play after handing Dallas its worst home loss at 8-year-old AT&T Stadium. Dallas' Dak Prescott threw a career-high three interceptions and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown in his second straight loss without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, serving a six-game suspension for alleged domestic violence. Luke Elliott left the game after missing a 34-yard field goal late in the first quarter. SAINTS 34, REDSKINS 31, OT NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans extended its winning streak to eight games with an unlikely comeback, erasing a 15-point deficit inside the final six minutes or regulation and kicking a short field goal in overtime to defeat Washington. Mark Ingram capped a 131-yard rushing performance with gains of 20 and 31 yards on back-to-back carries in overtime to set up Wil Lutz's winning 28-yard kick. Drew Brees passed for 385 yards and two touchdowns, going 11 of 11 for 164 yards and his only two touchdowns on New Orleans' final two possessions of regulation. His first TD went to tight end Josh Hill with 2:53 to go, and the last to Alvin Kamara with 1:05 left. The Saints (8-2) set up their final drive by stopping Samaje Perine on third-and-1 at the two-minute warning when a first down would have allowed Washington (4-6) to run out the clock. After Kamara corralled a bobble while running between two converging defenders to score from 18 yards, he took a pitch on a misdirection play to the left side and easily reached the end zone for a 2-point conversion as the Superdome crowd — at least those who hadn't left early — went wild. Washington managed to get into winning field-goal range in the final minute of regulation, only to be pushed back by a fluky grounding penalty that appeared to result from Kirk Cousins' miscommunication with a receiver, followed by a sack as time expired. The Redskins also received the ball first in overtime, but the Saints' hobbled defense, which gave up more yards than in any game during its winning streak, rallied to force a quick punt and Ingram did the rest. Cousins passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns. GIANTS 12, CHIEFS 9, OT EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Roger Lewis Jr. made a spectacular catch to set up the winning 23-yard yard goal by Aldrick Rosas in overtime and the Giants responded from weeks of adversity to beat the AFC West-leading Chiefs on a blustery, cold day. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants (2-8) and sent the Chiefs (6-4) to their fourth loss in five games. The winning kick came two plays after Lewis was yanked to the ground on a deep pass from Eli Manning, but still caught the ball while flat on his back for a 34-yard completion on a fourth-down heave. Had he not caught it, flags flew for pass interference. It was an unexpected was for a team that came into the game in turmoil, with questions about the future of coach Ben McAdoo and many wondering whether the Giants had quit in one-sided losses to the Rams and then the winless 49ers in the past two weeks. Few expected them to beat the Chiefs, especially with Andy Reid's record coming off a bye week. He was 16-2. The Giants not only won, they intercepted Alex Smith twice, setting up their first nine points. With one time out, Smith drove the Chiefs 69 yards in nine plays, the big shot a 32-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce. Harrison Butker tied the game with a 23-yard field goal — his third short one — with :01 left in regulation. VIKINGS 24, RAMS 7 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Latavius Murray rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns, Adam Thielen turned a short catch into a 65-yard score and the Vikings smothered the NFL's highest-scoring offense. Case Keenum completed 27 of 38 passes for 280 yards and no turnovers against the team that benched him last season for No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff. He also guided the Vikings (8-2) to their sixth straight victory in a matchup of division leaders. Minnesota's defense started the second half by forcing four punts in a row by the Rams (7-3), whose four-game winning streak in which they scored 144 points was finished in convincing fashion. The Rams led the league entering the weekend with a third-down conversion rate of 46.7 percent, but were just 3 for 11 against the Vikings. The Los Angeles defense was trampled in the second half for 288 yards, and Keenum went without a sack for the sixth game this season. Thielen handed him the longest touchdown pass of his career by turning a simple curl route early in the fourth quarter into a game-breaking score after spinning past Rams cornerback Dominique Hatfield. Injuries took two of their top three cornerbacks out of the game for the second half. Thielen finished with 123 yards on six receptions, giving him 916 yards this season. The only player in Vikings history to reach 900 yards receiving by the 10-game mark was Randy Moss, who did it in 2000 and 2003. RAVENS 23, PACKERS 0 GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Ravens forced five turnovers in their third shutout of the season. Baltimore last accomplished the feat when the Ray Lewis-led defense had four shutouts for the Super Bowl-winning team in 2000. Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle and Marlon Humphrey each picked off passes for Baltimore (5-5), which led the NFL in interceptions entering the weekend. But a problematic offense couldn't generate a touchdown drive until Joe Flacco's perfect deep ball to Mike Wallace over two defenders for a 13-point lead nearly two minutes into the third quarter. Flacco threw for 183 yards, going 22 of 28 with an interception. His lone touchdown pass was still enough of a cushion against a Packers team struggling without two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, out with a broken collarbone. The Packers (5-5) were last shut out on Nov. 19, 2006, when then-starter Brett Favre left with an elbow injury in the first half of a 35-0 loss to New England. Rodgers, then in his second year in the league, finished off that loss in relief. Rodgers' replacement this year, Brett Hundley, didn't fare any better. He was 21 of 36 for 239 yards. But he threw interceptions on the Packers' first two series. On the third drive, backup running back Devante Mays fumbled on his first carry of the season. CHARGERS 54, BILLS 24 CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Casey Hayward made two of the Chargers' five interceptions during a horrific first half by Buffalo rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman, and Los Angeles cruised over the slumping Bills. Korey Toomer returned Peterman's first interception 59 yards for a touchdown on Buffalo's opening drive, the rookie threw two more interceptions in the first quarter and two additional picks in the second. Peterman was pulled from his first NFL start with a 37-7 halftime deficit after just 14 pass attempts for the Bills (5-5), who lost their third straight. Buffalo benched Tyrod Taylor and promoted the fifth-round pick from Pitt earlier this week despite being in playoff position. Coach Sean McDermott replaced Peterman with Taylor in the second half, and the veteran went 15 of 25 for 158 yards, throwing one TD pass and rushing for another score. The Chargers (4-6) thoroughly capitalized on Peterman's mistakes, putting up a 27-point second quarter and their highest-scoring performance in Philip Rivers' 195 consecutive starts since 2006. Los Angeles set a franchise record for points in a first half during the Bills' worst defensive half since 1977, and the Chargers posted a resounding win for coach Anthony Lynn, who finished last season as Bills interim coach. BENGALS 20, BRONCOS 17 DENVER (AP) — Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes in Cincinnati's win over the Broncos, their first win in Denver since 1975 when franchise founder Paul Brown was their head coach. That snapped the Bengals' 10-game losing streak in Denver and sent the Broncos (3-7) to their sixth straight loss, their longest skid in 27 years. Trailing by a field goal with 1:52 left, the Broncos went three-and-out with Brock Osweiler taking a sack and then firing incomplete to Emmanuel Sanders on fourth-and-4 from his 26. The Bengals (4-6) took a 13-7 lead into the locker room with Dalton's TD throws of 1 yard to Tyler Kroft and 29 yards to Alex Erickson. The first was set up by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick's 101-yard interception return and fumble recovery just shy of the opposite end zone after fumbling at the Broncos 15-yard line. LIONS 27, BEARS 24 CHICAGO (AP) — Matthew Stafford threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns, Matt Prater kicked a 52-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining. Detroit (6-4) took the lead after Tarik Cohen had tied it for Chicago (3-7) with a 15-yard touchdown run. The Lions escaped with their third straight win when the Bears' Connor Barth was wide right on a 46-yarder in the closing seconds. Stafford completed 21 of 31 passes. Marvin Jones Jr. had four receptions for 85 yards and a TD. DJ Hayden ran back a fumbled snap for a touchdown to give Detroit seven return TDs this season, tying a team record. And the Lions beat the Bears for the eighth time in nine games. Chicago dropped its third straight even though Jordan Howard ran for 125 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell Trubisky faded after a strong start, throwing for 179 yards and a TD. JAGUARS 19, BROWNS 7 CLEVELAND (AP) — Blake Bortles threw a touchdown pass and Jacksonville linebacker Telvin Smith recovered a fumble for a TD with 1:14 remaining as the Jaguars won their fourth straight and moved into sole possession of first place in the AFC South. Jacksonville's top-ranked defense forced five turnovers, two in the final two minutes. The Jaguars (7-3) built a 10-0 lead and turned things over to their "Sacksonville" defense. The Jaguars intercepted rookie DeShone Kizer twice, had five sacks and blanked the Browns (0-10) in the second half. Cleveland's last hopes ended when Yannick Ngakoue sacked Kizer and knocked the ball into the end zone, where Smith recovered. Earlier, Ngakoue and Calais Campbell combined to sack Kizer, who fumbled as he fell and it was recovered near midfield by Dante Fowler with 1:48 left. With the win, Jacksonville is leading its division after 10 games for the first time since 1999, when the Jags were atop the AFC Central at 9-1. BUCCANEERS 30, DOLPHINS 20 MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns, Patrick Murray kicked a 35-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining and Tampa Bay snapped a six-game road slide by topping the penalty-prone Dolphins. O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson caught those scoring throws for the Buccaneers, who outscored Miami 17-0 in the second quarter. They also stuffed three straight 1-yard-to-go runs by the Dolphins at the Tampa Bay 34 in the fourth quarter, forcing a turnover on downs on a day when Miami had more mistakes than points. Miami (4-6) tied the game at 20 on a 61-yard pass from Matt Moore to Kenny Stills with 3 minutes left. Fitzpatrick coolly moved the Buccaneers 58 yards on the ensuing drive, and Murray delivered what essentially was the winner. Adarius Glanton got a bonus touchdown for Tampa Bay (4-6) on the final play, when the Dolphins' lateral-filled last-ditch attempt at a kickoff return turned into a Bucs score. Jay Cutler threw three first-half interceptions and didn't play in the second half because of what the Dolphins said was diagnosed as a concussion. TEXANS 31, CARDINALS 21 HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie D'Onta Foreman ran for 65 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns before being carted off the field with an ankle injury to help the Houston Texans snap a three-game skid. The Texans (4-6) went on top when Foreman scored his first career touchdown on a 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals were stopped for a loss on a fourth-and-1 later in the fourth. Foreman dashed 34 yards on the next play to push the lead to 31-21 with about six minutes left. Foreman was injured on the play, falling to the ground in the end zone. He was looked at on the field for a few minutes before he was helped to the cart and taken off the field as the crowd chanted: "Foreman, Foreman." Blaine Gabbert threw for 257 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in his first start of the season with Drew Stanton dealing with a sprained knee and Carson Palmer out for the season with a broken arm. But Gabbert threw interceptions on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter to seal Arizona's fate. The Texans won despite two turnovers by Tom Savage, who has lost six fumbles and thrown three interceptions in four starts this season. He finished 22 of 32 for 230 yards and two touchdowns in his third start since Deshaun Watson was injured. Rookie Ricky Seals-Jones, who didn't have a catch entering Sunday, finished with 54 yards receiving and two touchdowns for the Cardinals (4-6)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2017

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per NBA.com/Stats, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2017

Red Sox fail to clinch AL East after loss to Astros

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox once again failed to clinch the AL East, losing 3-2 to Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros on Friday night. The magic number for the Red Sox remained at one. Boston leads the New York Yankees by two games — both teams have two games left and they are each assured playoff spots. If Boston and New York wind up even, they will play a one-game tiebreaker Monday at Yankee Stadium for the division crown, with the loser going to the wild-card game. Bregman homered and drove in three runs for Houston, which reached 100 wins for the second time in team history. Charlie Morton (14-7) pitched into the sixth inning, and Ken Giles got three outs for his 34th save. strong>ROCKIES 9, DODGERS 1 /strong> DENVER (AP) — Nolan Arenado hit the first of Colorado's four homers, and Chad Bettis picked up his second win since his return from testicular cancer. The Rockies have two games remaining and hold a two-game lead over Milwaukee for the second NL wild card. Mark Reynolds, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story also connected for Colorado. Bettis (2-4) allowed one run over seven innings. Los Angeles' Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-9) allowed five runs over two innings. It was his shortest outing this season. strong>BREWERS 5, CARDINALS 3 /strong> ST. LOUIS (AP) — Stephen Vogt homered and drove in three runs, Chase Anderson pitched seven solid innings, and Milwaukee kept its playoff hopes alive. The Brewers entered two games behind the Rockies for the second NL wild card. Milwaukee has won four of its last six games. Anderson (12-4) allowed one run and three hits in his fourth win in his last five starts. Cardinals rookie shortstop Paul DeJong hit his 25th homer in the fourth. John Gant (0-1) allowed four runs in five innings in his second start of the season. strong>TWINS 6, TIGERS 3 /strong> MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Brian Dozier hit a three-run homer in the second inning, leading Minnesota to the victory. Eduardo Escobar also homered and drove in three runs, helping the Twins bail Kyle Gibson out of a 3-0 deficit after an RBI triple by Alex Presley and a two-run home run by Nicholas Castellanos. Gibson was removed after 4 2/3 innings, so Jose Berrios (14-8) was credited with the win after recording four outs in a tune-up relief outing. Matt Belisle notched his ninth save with a perfect ninth inning for the Twins, who will visit New York or Boston on Tuesday in the AL wild-card game. Detroit's Matt Boyd (6-11) allowed five runs in five innings. strong>YANKEES 4, BLUE JAYS 0 /strong> NEW YORK (AP) — Masahiro Tanaka struck out 15 over seven innings, his highest total since coming to the major leagues, and the playoff-bound Yankees won for the fourth time in five games. Tanaka (13-12) retired his first 14 batters before Ezequiel Carerra reached on an infield single up the middle. Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his 21st save in 25 chances. Greg Bird had two hits and two RBIs for New York, and Aaron Judge also drove in a run. Toronto right-hander Joe Biagini (3-13) allowed three runs and six hits in five innings. strong>MARLINS 6, BRAVES 5 /strong> MIAMI (AP) — Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton had two hits, but remained at 59 home runs. Marcell Ozuna drove in three runs for Miami, which trailed 5-0 heading into the sixth inning. Adam Conley (8-8) pitched a scoreless seventh for the win, and Brad Ziegler got two outs for his 10th save. The Marlins scored four times in the seventh. Justin Bour's two-run single gave Miami a 6-5 lead. The Marlins also got run-scoring singles from Ozuna and Stanton off Dan Winkler (0-1). Ozzie Albies and Lane Adams homered for Atlanta. strong>CUBS 5, REDS 4 /strong> CHICAGO (AP) — Ian Happ hit a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning, and the Cubs won for the 14th time in 17 games. With a second straight NL Central title in hand and their sights set on another World Series championship, the Cubs held sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant out of the lineup. Trailing 4-2 in the eighth, Tommy La Stella started the rally with a one-out single against Amir Garrett. Taylor Davis then singled to third off Michael Lorenzen (8-4). After Kyle Schwarber struck out, Happ drove his 24th homer to left. Brian Duensing (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth. Justin Grimm worked the ninth for his first save in three chances. strong>NATIONALS 6, PIRATES 1 /strong> WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Strasburg pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings for Washington, and Ryan Zimmerman homered twice. Strasburg (15-4) gave up two hits, struck out eight and walked two. He is 5-1 with a 0.84 ERA since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 19. Zimmerman hit a two-run homer in the sixth and a solo shot in the eighth for the NL East champions. It was his seventh multihomer game of the season. Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole (12-12) was charged with three runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. strong>INDIANS 10, WHITE SOX 1 /strong> CLEVELAND (AP) — Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run double for the AL Central champion Indians, and Jay Bruce and Jose Ramirez drove in two runs apiece. Cleveland maintained its one-game lead over Houston for the best record in the AL with two games remaining. The top seed will play the winner of the wild-card game between the Yankees and Twins in the Division Series. The Indians' 101 victories are the second-most in franchise history and set a record for wins by an AL Central team. Cleveland's Trevor Bauer (17-9) allowed one run over six innings. Cleveland built a 10-0 lead after three innings, aided by six walks from Mike Pelfrey (3-12) and an error by shortstop Tim Anderson. strong>ROYALS 2, DIAMONDBACKS 1 /strong> KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City's Ian Kennedy picked up his first home victory in more than a year. Kennedy (5-13) snapped a franchise record of 18 winless home starts, holding the postseason-bound Diamondbacks to one run in five innings. It was his first Kauffman Stadium victory since Aug. 20, 2016. Jake Lamb hit his 30th homer in the second for Arizona. Zack Greinke (17-7) allowed two runs in four-plus innings in his final tuneup before starting the wild-card game Wednesday in Phoenix against Colorado or Milwaukee. strong>RANGERS 5, ATHLETICS 3 /strong> ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Shin-Soo Choo tied a career high with his 22nd home run, helping Texas end a seven-game skid. Rangers left-hander Martin Perez (13-12) allowed three runs in six-plus innings. The 13 wins are a career high for Perez and the loss guaranteed Oakland would finish last in the AL West. A's catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee during the national anthem and was booed by a portion of the crowd before and after the song. It was the first time Maxwell has taken a knee on the field in an opposing ballpark. Oakland's Raul Alcantara (1-2) was charged with four runs in 4 1/3 innings. Alex Claudio worked a scoreless ninth for his 11th save. strong>RAYS 7, ORIOLES 0 /strong> ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered, and Tampa Bay clinched third place in the AL East. Longoria hit a leadoff drive in the fifth against Wade Miley (8-15), marking Longoria's fifth straight 20-homer season and the ninth of his 10-year career. Morrison hit his 38th homer off Chris Tillman in the seventh. Rays starter Jake Odorizzi left his final start of the season after four innings with a sore right knee. Brad Boxberger (4-4) got the win. strong>PHILLIES 6, METS 2 /strong> PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Maikel Franco, Jorge Alfaro and Cesar Hernandez homered, powering Philadelphia to the victory. Earlier in the day, the Phillies (65-95) announced manager Pete Mackanin would not return to the dugout in 2018. Mackanin was given a role as a senior adviser to general manager Matt Klentak. Jose Reyes and Dominic Smith connected for New York, which had won three in a row. Matt Harvey (5-7) allowed four runs and seven hits in four innings. Ben Lively (4-7) pitched six effective innings for Philadelphia. strong>GIANTS 8, PADRES 0 /strong> SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Buster Posey hit three RBI doubles, Brandon Crawford drove in three runs and had three hits, and San Francisco ensured it won't finish with a 100-loss season. Joe Panik added a run-scoring double among his four hits to back Chris Stratton (4-4). The Giants needed one victory in the final series of the season to avoid their first 100-loss year since 1985. Jordan Lyles (1-5) took the loss. strong>ANGELS 6, MARINERS 5 /strong> ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mike Trout hit two homers and Los Angeles rallied past Seattle. Luis Valbuena had a two-run, pinch-hit double to cap a four-run comeback in the eighth inning. Blake Wood (2-0) pitched the eighth to earn the win and Blake Parker got his eighth save. Marc Rzepczynski (2-2) was the losing pitcher. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2017

Yankees clinch postseason berth by beating Blue Jays 5-1

The Associated Press br /> TORONTO (AP) — The New York Yankees returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence, clinching no worse than a wild card as Greg Bird's three-run homer led them over the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 on Saturday. Sonny Gray (10-11) allowed one run and four hits in six innings as the Yankees won for the 11th time in 14 games. Led by young sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, New York celebrated its 53rd postseason berth in a low-key manner on the field after former-Yankee Rob Refsnyder grounded out against Aroldis Chapman, then sprayed bubbly in the visitors' clubhouse. Unless New York overcomes Boston's four-game lead the AL East, the Yankees would play in the AL wild-card game on Oct. 3, most likely at home against Minnesota. New York hasn't won a postseason game since 2012. Toronto was eliminated with the defeat after consecutive losses in the AL Championship Series. Bird, who spent much of the year sidelined and hampered by a right ankle injury, connected in the fifth off Joe Biagini (3-12) for his sixth home run of the season and third in seven games. RED SOX 5, REDS 0 CINCINNATI (AP) — Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning and Boston took another step toward a second straight AL East title. The Red Sox have won 13 of 16 and are trying to take back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. They remain four games ahead of the Yankees. Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts. Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth. Cincinnati reliever Luke Farrell, the son of Red Sox manager John Farrell, pitched the ninth and tipped his cap toward the Boston dugout as he left the mound following a scoreless inning. BREWERS 4, CUBS 3, 10 INNINGS MILWAUKEE (AP) — Travis Shaw hit a two-run homer with one out in the 10th inning off All-Star closer Wade Davis, lifting Milwaukee over Chicago. After losing straight days in the 10th to the Cubs, the Brewers moved back within 4 1/2 games of NL Central-leading Chicago. Milwaukee began the day two games behind Colorado for the second wild-card spot. Davis (4-2) had been successful in all 32 save chances this season until Orlando Arcia led off the ninth with a tying home run. The Cubs went ahead 3-2 in the 10th on Jon Jay's single off Jeremy Jeffress (4-0). ASTROS 6, ANGELS 2 HOUSTON (AP) — Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer to back a solid start by Charlie Morton and Houston further dampened the AL wild-card hopes of the Los Angeles Angels. Justin Upton hit two home runs for the Angels, who matched a season worst with their sixth straight loss. Los Angeles began the day 3 ½ games behind Minnesota for the second wild-card spot. Carlos Correa had three hits and three RBIs a day after his 23rd birthday as the AL West champion Astros won for the seventh time in eight games. Morton (13-7) yielded four hits and one run in seven innings for his second straight win. Bud Norris (2-6) allowed three hits and one run over 3 1/3 innings. INDIANS 11, MARINERS 4 SEATTLE (AP) — Francisco Lindor led off the game with his 33rd home run, the most by a Cleveland middle infielder, and the Indians routed Seattle for their 28th victory in 30 games. Carlos Carrasco (17-6) matched teammate Cory Kluber and Boston's Chris Sale for the most wins in the AL, allowing one run and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Yan Gomes homered twice and had four RBIs, and Jose Ramirez homered and drove in four runs. Cleveland, which set the AL record with a 22-game winning streak this month, matched the 1884 Providence Grays for the best big league record over a 30-game span at 28-2. The Indians (97-58) lead Houston (95-59) for AL home-field advantage in the playoffs. Seattle lost for the seventh time in eight games. The Mariners began the day five games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card. ATHLETICS 1, RANGERS 0 OAKLAND, California (AP) — Bruce Maxwell became the first major league baseball player to kneel during the national anthem, and Khris Davis hit his 40th home run to lift the Oakland Athletics over the Texas Rangers 1-0. Maxwell dropped to a knee and pressed his cap against his chest just outside Oakland's dugout during the anthem, adopting a protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in response to police treatment of blacks. Davis homered against Miguel Gonzalez (8-12) leading off the second as the A's won their season-high sixth straight. Raul Alcantara (1-1) allowed two hits in five innings, Blake Treinen finished for his 11th save. PADRES 5, ROCKIES 0 SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jhoulys Chacin (13-10) kept the Rockies hitless until DJ LeMahieu hit a sinking liner that diving center fielder Manuel Margot trapped with two outs in the sixth. Chacin and four relievers combined on a five-hitter. Colorado was shut out for the third time in four games and has lost five of six. Rockies starter Chad Bettis (1-4) was chased after allowing Yangervis Solarte's RBI single with two outs in the fifth. PIRATES 11, CARDINALS 6 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Lance Lynn (11-8) allowed eight runs and six hits while getting two outs for St. Louis (81-73), which remained 1½ games behind Colorado. The Cardinals stayed five games behind the Cubs in the NL Central. Tommy Pham gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead against Gerrit Cole (12-11) two batters in with a two-run homer. Pham was 2 for 4 with three RBIs. MARLINS 12, DIAMONDBACKS 6 PHOENIX (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton extended his club record with his 57th home run and set a team mark with his 125th RBI, preventing Arizona from clinching an NL wild card. Miami scored five runs in the third, taking advantage of a pair of errors by Taijuan Walker (9-9), who allowed seven runs, six hits, three walks and a hit batter in 3 2/3 innings. Brian Ellington (1-1) won in relief. TWINS 10, TIGERS 4 DETROIT (AP) — Zack Granite hit his first major league home run, a three-run drive that capped an eight-run eighth. Minnesota, which overcame a 3-1 seventh-inning deficit, won its third straight and leads Kansas City, the Los Angeles Angels and Texas by 4½ games for the second AL wild card. Ervin Santana (16-8) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings. Detroit pitcher Alex Wilson broke a leg in the eighth inning when hit by Joe Mauer's line drive. Daniel Stumpf (0-1) followed and allowed three runs and three hits without retiring a batter in his first big league decision. Detroit, which announced Friday that manager Brad Ausmus will not return next season, has lost six straight and at 62-93 will finish with its worst record since going 43-119 in 2003. ROYALS 8, WHITE SOX 2 CHICAGO (AP) — Alex Gordon homered, Whit Merrifield drove in three runs and Danny Duffy (9-9) allowed two runs and eight hits in six-plus innings for his first win since Aug. 22. Jose Abreu went 1 for 4 and drove in two runs to reach the 100-RBI mark for the fourth straight season. The Chicago slugger is just the third major leaguer to begin his career with four straight seasons of at least 25 homers and 100 RBIs after Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols. Dylan Covey (0-7) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. RAYS 9, ORIOLES 6 BALTIMORE (AP) — Lucas Duda hit a go-ahead, three-run homer, helping eliminate the Orioles from postseason contention. Baltimore (74-82), which closed with five runs in the ninth inning, is assured of finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2011. Duda's third-inning homer, his 30th overall and 13th since the Rays acquired him from the New York Mets, helped Tampa Bay take a 9-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Tampa Bay (76-79) remained five games behind Minnesota with seven games remaining. Jake Odorizzi (10-8) allowed an unearned run and three hits in six innings. Alex Colome retired Trey Mancini on a groundout for his major league-leading 46th save. Jeremy Hellickson (2-6 with the Orioles) gave up three runs and four hits over six innings. NATIONALS 4, METS 3 NEW YORK (AP) — Daniel Murphy homered in the 10th off Jacob Rhame (0-1) and is hitting .393 with 35 RBIs in 37 games versus his former team. Noah Syndergaard threw a five-pitch scoreless inning in his first major league appearance since partially tearing his right lat muscle on April 30. Matt Harvey took over for New York and allowed three runs in four innings. Stephen Strasburg gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings. Sammy Solis (1-0) got the win, and Sean Doolittle completed his 20th save in 20 chances since being acquired from Oakland. GIANTS 2, DODGERS 1 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Madison Bumgarner (4-9) allowed five hits in 7 2/3 innings, including Austin Barnes' homer, ending a four-start losing streak. Gorkys Hernandez had three hits and scored both runs. Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-8) in the third inning when Joe Panik hit a comebacker off his left forearm. The Dodgers said X-rays were negative and Ryu had a bruised forearm. Sam Dyson pitched a scoreless ninth for his 14th save. BRAVES 4, PHILLIES 2 ATLANTA (AP) — Pinch-hitter Johan Camargo hit a go-ahead, two-run double off Luis Garcia (2-5) in a three-run eighth inning and Rio Ruiz homered. Rex Brothers (4-3) pitched a one-hit eighth, and Arodys Vizcaino struck out three in the ninth for his 13th save. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 24th, 2017

PBA: Maliksi pressured to defend 3-point crown against loaded list of challengers

BATANGAS CITY, Batangas --- The three-point shootout might just steal the show once again in the main leg of the 2018 PBA All-Star Games. Blackwater's Allein Maliksi is set to defend his title against a loaded cast of challengers Friday. Last year in Lucena, Maliksi beat Ginebra's LA Tenorio with the final money ball. This year's joust has the potential to even top that exciting finish as the league's finest shooters go after the title. “Nakakakaba pa rin kasi siyempre gusto mong ma-defend yung crown,” Maliksi said in an earlier statement. “Ever since naman talaga yung dream ko makasali sa three-point shootout simula nung pumasok ako sa PBA. Kasi sa [slam] dunk hindi naman tayo makasali, lalo ngayon hindi na tayo masyadong makatalon, so sa three-point shootout na lang,” he added. Terrence Romeo hopes to regain the title he lost last season and if the TNT star manages to top everyone, it will be his third 3-point championship in four years. Former champion James Yap is also in the mix while Tenorio is back to try and finish last year's job. The rest of the participants are Marcio Lassiter, Paul Lee, Stanley Pringle, Matthew Wright, Larry Fonacier, Ronald Tubid, and Garvo Lanete. Loaded from top to bottom right? The Three-point shootout will be one of the side events at the Batangas City Sports Center here together with the Slam Dunk Contest and the Obstacle challenge. The 2018 PBA All-Star Games are presented by Phoenix Fuel with Phoenix Pulse Technology and backed by Peak Sports Apparel, Molten, PBA Rush-Cignal, Nature's Spring, TAGHeuer, Gatorade, and Rain or Shine.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News9 hr. 43 min. ago

Alyssa Valdez invites future champions to join Milo sports camps this summer

    Alyssa Valdez's volleyball journey all started with a risk, a leap of faith. As a scrawny kid from San Juan, Batangas, Valdez was initially prohibited by her father to try out sports, as an act of protecting his only daughter. But her mother, a teacher by profession, knew the kind of life lessons Alyssa can learn through sports.  It took some convincing, but Alyssa was eventually given the green light to pursue what she loved.  Now, she's one of the most iconic and beloved volleyball players in the country as a star from Ateneo de Manila and the Creamline Cool Smashers. With the help of her relentless drive, Alyssa Valdez became a testament to sports' power to transform lives. HUMBLE BEGINNINGS When she was younger, Alyssa says she was already active in different kinds of sports. But the young Phenom was held back by her shy nature.  "Isa sa mga nadevelop ko talaga, through playing volleyball is self-confidence," she bared. "I can imagine myself when I was a kid na, wala hindi talaga ako makakausap ng tao. I'm too shy to always interact with other people. So the challenge of pursuing her love for sports awakened something in Alyssa. "There was this turning point na, wala eh, it challenges me. If I don't push myself, paano pa 'yung ibang challenges?" Valdez reflected. Taking up volleyball gave her a sense of self-confidence and self-fulfillment that stemmed from the series of small victories she had garnered throughout her early playing days. By small victories, she meant gradually getting better, and slowly learning the value of hard work. But Alyssa wasn't always the superstar she is today. In her younger years, she says wasn't even part of her team's starting six.  "Noong bata ako, hindi ko talaga natutunan lahat in just a snap. You have to work hard, you have to sacrifice a lot of things," she said. "Per sa lahat ng sinasakripisyo natin, may babalik at babalik din diyan." True enough, with her dedication to help her team, and to continuously improve her play, she eventually got her break. ROUGH START It's hard to imagine Alyssa Valdez as anything short of a phenomenal volleyball player. But like anything great, it took some time for Alyssa to become an athlete of her stature.  As a bench player, she adapted a team-first identity, accepting a role that may not always call for her presence on the court, but was still important to the team's success. Alyssa had to learn to accept the small responsibilities she was entrusted with, like setting up the nets for practice, handing out water bottles for her teammates, as well as cheering from the bench to hype up her squad. Slowly, though, Alyssa was rewarded, not just with wins, but with different life lessons as well.   A LIFETIME'S WORTH OF LESSONS  Looking back now, Alyssa fondly remembers those memories as instrumental in helping her adjust to any situation, on and off the court. She gained confidence from accomplishing all those small tasks, and began trusting herself more.  Beyond accolades and fame, what keeps Alyssa's hunger in sports is its ability to teach lifelong wisdom. As she shares, "It's not about how you perform and be at your best, but, yung after na lessons na nabibigay sakin ng sport. The little things really matter." Alyssa has been carrying all those lessons, even after her success, like the friendships she has garnered through out her career. "In my experience, dahil sa sports, nakilala ko yung mga taong mag-s-stay kahit anong mangyari," Valdez shared. "Alam mo 'yung mga moments na patalo na kayo, 'yung mga moments na hindi mo na alam 'yung gagawin mo... Pero at the end of the day, iiyak at iiyak sila, tatawa at tatawa sila kasama mo."   INSPIRING THE CHAMPIONS OF TOMORROW Now a successful athlete, Alyssa hopes to inspire a new generation of youth to take up sports. Like the kid from San Juan, Batangas, Alyssa believes every child needs to take that risk, that leap of faith, for an opportunity to realize their potential to be someone great, as part of a nation of champions. That's why the Phenom has teamed up with Milo to invite kids of all ages to try any of the 18 different sports clinics the energy drink brand will offer summer, from April 2 to June 3, to get set for a lifetime's worth of lessons and values, on and off the court. "Parehas kami na really wanna pay it forward. Through camps, a lot of camps all over the Philippines," she said. "Ako, yun lang din yung gusto ko as an athlete, gusto ko ma-share 'yung knowledge ko." With Alyssa and her wealth of experience on board, indeed, this summer sounds like the perfect time for children to pursue sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News22 hr. 9 min. ago

Curry comes alive to score 35, Warriors rout Rockets by 41

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry got his groove back to score 35 points with five 3-pointers, shooting over James Harden and driving past the Houston star as the Golden State Warriors made a second-half statement to beat the Rockets 126-85 on Sunday night (Wednesday, PHL time) for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals. Kevin Durant added 25 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Draymond Green grabbed 17 rebounds to go with 10 points and six assists. The Warriors won an NBA-record 16th consecutive home postseason game, surpassing the Chicago Bulls' mark of 15 in a row from April 27, 1990-May 21, 1991. The defending champions got defensive — and maybe a little mad — after a 127-105 Game 2 defeat Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) at Houston, determined to make stops to ignite the transition game and open up three-point shooters. And they eventually got Curry going with 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting in the third quarter. Harden had 20 points and nine assists, while Chris Paul added 13 points and 10 rebounds as they combined to shoot just 12 for 32. Game 4 is Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) at Oracle Arena. Curry and Durant each scored five quick points as Golden State opened the third quarter with a 10-0 burst to go ahead 64-43. Under pressure from Paul, Curry swished a three from way back with 5:06 left in the third. He struggled with his long-range shot again early but drove through the paint at every chance. Curry hit a baseline three-pointer at the 9:02 mark of the first but missed his next five three's before going 4-for-5 in the second half. He is now 7-of-25 from long range — he made one in each of the first two games. The Warriors' five starters all scored in double figures, the first time they've done so this postseason. Trevor Ariza and Green received a double-technical with 6:49 to play when Ariza shoved Green as they traded words. Both potent offenses were slow getting rolling as the teams played strong defense. Harden and Paul began 3-for-14 with Paul missing six shots before getting his first basket on goaltending against Andre Iguodala 2:39 before halftime. Golden State began getting the looks it liked after halftime. The Warriors faced more stingy, in-the-face pressure from Houston, making it hard to get any early flow shooting. Durant hit his first 3 6:27 before halftime then missed from the deep the next time down. A moment of silence was held before the national anthem for victims of the Houston school shooting. TIP-INS Rockets: The Rockets surrendered 10 fast-break points in the first period while getting none of their own. ... They were out-rebounded 49-41 and shot 32-for-80 from the floor. Warriors: Kevon Looney had two key blocks off the bench in the first. ... Durant notched his 20th straight postseason game with 20 or more points. ... Golden State is 36-5 at home in the playoffs since the 2015 postseason. ... Thompson (1,786) moved past Rick Barry (1,776) for second place on the Warriors' career postseason scoring list. ... Curry (712) moved past Barry (699) into sole possession for most postseason baskets in franchise history. ... The "Run TMC" trio of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin were honored with a standing ovation during a first-quarter timeout. On Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), Richmond will introduce Hardaway as he goes into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame of which Richmond and Mullin are already members. PAUL'S HEALTH Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni made the point once again about Paul being healthy: "There's nothing wrong at all." "We're not going to win without him," D'Antoni said. "So if he's got to limp and drag his leg to the finish line, so be it. And he's ready to do that." ORACLE AURA That deafening, bright yellow sellout crowd was imposing once again. "Somebody asked me, 'Is Oracle tough to play?' Yeah, because the Warriors play here," D'Antoni said. "There's a certain energy that their fans will give them and moments they hit two or three 3s you can get a buzz going that helps the home team. You just have to try to keep that crowd out as much as you can.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 21st, 2018

Atletico finishes strong after poor start to season

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It all turned out just fine for Atletico Madrid. After enduring a poor start to the season, Atletico ended it on a very high note. Diego Simeone's team is celebrating the Europa League title and still has a chance to finish second in the Spanish league, a feat it hasn't achieved since 2014. "We're very happy. We've been doing well year after year," Simeone said. "We've always said the best way to start winning again was to always keep trying." It was the sixth title for Simeone since he arrived in 2012 to revamp Atletico and make it into perennial title contender. He is now tied with Luis Aragones for the most titles with the club. "It's about more than a trophy," Simeone said. "It represents the value of hard work, a steady hand and consistency, values to be successful in life." Life poured onto the streets of the Spanish capital late Wednesday to celebrate Atletico winning a third Europa League trophy after beating Marseille 3-0 in the final in Lyon. It was a good way to end a season which began with very high expectations for Atletico but mostly disappointed until the last few weeks. The main goal was to make it back to the Champions League final after coming very close to winning the title in recent seasons, But it couldn't even get past the group stage. Atletico easily made it to the knockout stages in the last four seasons, losing the final to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016, and being a semifinalist last season and a quarterfinalist in 2015. "We came very close in two Champions League finals, and in the semifinals last season," Simeone said. "We lost one (final) with two minutes left, and another on penalties. But we got ourselves back up." Atletico lost to Sevilla in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey to see another title opportunity slip by, and in the Spanish league it stayed near the top throughout the season but was never really able to mount a title challenge against Barcelona. Not helpful was a FIFA transfer ban which wasn't lifted until January, when Atletico could finally sign striker Diego Costa. Atletico needs a draw at home against Eibar on Sunday to hold on to second place ahead of Real Madrid and secure its best finish since it won the league in 2014. Atletico finished third behind either Barcelona or Madrid in all the other years since 2012-13, which was the team's first full season under Simeone. A draw or a loss by Real Madrid at Villarreal on Saturday will also be enough for Atletico, which is three points ahead of the city rival with one match to play. The teams are even in the head-to-head tiebreaker — they drew 0-0 and 1-1 — but Atletico trails on overall goal difference. Sunday's Liga game will also mark the end of Fernando Torres' career with Atletico. The former Spain striker earlier announced he will leave the club at the end of the season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

Game 4: Cavaliers, Celtics look to finish off East sweeps

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press The unthinkable has happened before. Conference semifinals, 2010, Boston vs. Philadelphia: Boston wins the first two games at home, then goes into Philadelphia to capture Game 3 and take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Undeterred, Philadelphia won in seven games to reach the Eastern Conference finals. One small detail to note: That was in hockey. If there’s one piece of solace for the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors right now, it’s likely this — comebacks from 3-0 deficits are not completely unheard of in major sports. There’s been four of them in the NHL. Another happened in baseball, the Boston Red Sox rallying to oust the New York Yankees in the 2004 AL Championship Series. And even Cleveland has blown a 3-0 lead, albeit again in hockey, and that was of the minor league variety in 1960. But in the NBA, never. NBA teams staring into the 0-3 abyss have never been saved: 129 have tried, 129 have failed. On Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), the 76ers and the Raptors — both down 3-0 after down-to-the-wire defeats in their respective Game 3s of their Eastern Conference semifinal series — get their chance to be the ones who rewrite that ignominious piece of basketball history. Philadelphia plays host to Boston and Toronto is at Cleveland, with the 76ers and Raptors both trying to find ways to extend their seasons. “There’s a breaking point we all have,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “And I believe that if we can maintain our spirit, why couldn’t we be the one? And I mean that. That’s my goal with us, is to fight. That’s all I know. I can’t see any other way to approach this that makes sense to me. So that’s what we’re going to do.” The odds are obviously overwhelmingly in favor of the Celtics and Cavaliers, who seem destined to meet in the Eastern Conference finals for the second consecutive year. That’s hard to believe, given where those clubs were a week or so ago. Both needed to survive Game 7s just to get out of the first round. The narrative around the Celtics, with no Kyrie Irving for the postseason, was that they would be the East high seed ripe for a playoff upset. Oops. They’ve been unflappable. “I’ve never been around a group of guys, and I’ve been around some really special ones, that can just turn the page and they just play the next play the right way,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “It’s a really unique group in that regard.” The narrative around the Cavaliers was that LeBron James was being asked to do too much and his supporting cast was capable of too little. Oops, again. And now James is five wins from an eighth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. “We’re getting better,” Cavs forward Jeff Green said. “We’re getting better each game. Our defense is getting better. We’re playing together. Things are turning a corner for us at the right time.” A look at Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) games: CELTICS AT 76ERS Celtics lead 3-0. Game 4, 6 p.m. EDT, (6am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: The Celtics are playing for a lot of rest. A win on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), and the Celtics wouldn’t play again until at least Sunday (next Monday, PHL time). And there’s nothing more valuable than days off to heal nagging things at this time of year. KEEP AN EYE ON: Jayson Tatum. Boston’s young standout was brilliant in Game 3 with 24 points, and the Celtics were plus-24 when he was on the floor. In the 11.5 minutes he was on the bench, Philadelphia outscored Boston 39-18. STAT QUIRK: Philadelphia set an NBA record with a 16-game winning streak to end the regular season. The 76ers topped the 15-game end-of-season run by the 1950 Rochester Royals — who exited the playoffs in a sweep. PRESSURE IS ON: Ben Simmons. The 76ers point guard made some atrocious decisions in the final moments of Game 3, like going back up with an offensive rebound late in regulation (instead of burning some clock with Philly leading) and the lazy-looking one-handed inbounds pass for a turnover in overtime that sealed Boston’s win. RAPTORS AT CAVALIERS Cavaliers lead 3-0. Game 4, 8:30 p.m. EDT (8:30am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: Pity the Raptors. After coming into these playoffs with title hopes, Toronto has again been unable to solve LeBron James. In the last 15 matchups where the Raptors have faced James, they’re 1-14 and are now on the brink of being ousted by the Cavs for the third straight season. KEEP ANY EYE ON: Kevin Love’s resurgence. Cleveland’s other All-Star has been revived in this series, a development that bodes well for the Cavs going forward. Love finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds in Game 3, responding to urging from Cavs coach Tyronn Lue to play faster. PRESSURE IS ON: Raptors coach Dwane Casey. His moves have been questioned throughout the first three games. Toronto ran a mind-boggling inbounds play in the final minute of Game 3 with guard Fred VanVleet hoisting and missing a 35-foot jumper before the shot clock expired. Casey also benched All-Star DeMar DeRozan for the entire fourth quarter, a bold decision given that he’s the club’s best offensive player. PRODUCT PLACEMENT: James’ choice to wear a Seagram’s 7 whiskey cap to his postgame news conference was interesting. Some suspected he might be trolling the Raptors since Seagram’s was originally a Canadian company. The logo also includes a small crown, so there’s the royal angle. Whatever the case, he may want to start getting Samuel Adams hats ready for the East finals — if he wants to tweak Boston fans a bit more. ___ AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 7th, 2018

He The North: LeBron s bank at buzzer downs Raptors

By Tom Withers, Associated PRess CLEVELAND (AP) -- LeBron James banked in a running one-hander at the buzzer, giving Cleveland a 105-103 win over Toronto on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) in Game 3 and shoving the Raptors to the edge of their most devastating playoff exit. After the Raptors tied it on rookie OG Anunoby's three-pointer with eight seconds left, James took the inbounds pass, dribbled the length of the floor and in one motion, dropped his 10-footer in front of Toronto's stunned bench. The Cavs ran and mobbed James and moments later he was back up on the scorer's table - just like after a game-winner against Indiana last round - to celebrate a win that was up for grabs. James finished with 38 points, Kevin Love added 21 and 16 rebounds and Kyle Korver 18 for the Cavs, who can sweep the Raptors for the second straight year. Kyle Lowry scored 27 for Toronto, which clawed back in the fourth quarter with All-Star DeMar DeRozan on the bench. After winning two games in Canada, the Cavs came home and won a brawl with the Raptors, who just can't beat James. He's 11-2 against Toronto in the past three postseasons. The three-time champion has ended the Raptors' past two seasons, and despite playing with a different supporting cast, James is one win from a Toronto trifecta. We The North? He The North. Game 4 is Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), and the odds are stacked against the rattled Raptors. Of the 129 teams in NBA history to fall behind 3-0, none has come back to win. This was supposed to be the Raptors' season, the one that ended in triumph over James. Toronto had the East's best record, the No. 1 seed, home-court advantage and a Cleveland team that appeared very beatable. But the Cavs stole Game 1 by a point in overtime, and James scored 43 in a magnificent Game 2 performance. He then delivered a series-and-season ending dagger with another moment that belongs with any in his remarkable career. The first half ended in frustration for the Raptors with DeRozan, coach Dwane Casey and his assistants screaming at the officials following a sequence that went against them. Serge Ibaka's basket was originally counted and then waved off by the referees, and the reversal was doubly painful as Love buried a three-pointer to put the Cavs ahead by 13. Jeff Green's layup just before the horn made it 55-40 and an incensed Casey, his suit coat flying open and his tie jumping off his chest, stormed off the floor. Desperate to find something, anything, to slow down the Cavs, Casey changed his starting lineup for Game 3. He inserted six-foot guard Fred VanVleet and benched forward Serge Ibaka, going with a smaller lineup to push the pace. However, Toronto started 2-of-11 from the field and the Raptors were quickly down 12 and seemingly in big trouble when DeRozan picked up his second foul and went to the bench. TIP-INS Raptors: Casey has been criticized for some moves - and ones he hasn't made - in the series. He's also aware of the narrative that his team has been mentally defeated by James. ''It's not in my head,'' he said. ''It's disappointing. It reminds me of back in the days of having to get over the hurdle of [Michael] Jordan. At some point you've got to get over that hurdle, you've got to knock it down, you've got to knock the wall down.'' ... Fell to 0-6 in playoff games in Cleveland, tying Atlanta for the worst postseason record by an opponent. Cavaliers: Several Cleveland players watched the dramatic finish of the 76ers-Celtics game from their locker-room chairs before tip-off. ... James moved past Tony Parker (226) for the fifth most games in postseason history. Derek Fisher (259) is the all-time leader followed by Tim Duncan (251), Robert Horry (244) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (237). UP NEXT Game 4 is Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Panama tweaks defense to limit damage

By Juan Zamorano, Associated Press PANAMA CITY (AP) — In a country better known for its baseball players and boxing champions, football will muscle into their territory when Panama makes its first trip to the World Cup. The Central Americans aren't complete unknowns. Twice runners-up at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, they qualified for the tournament in Russia by finishing ahead of the United States. That's despite the huge disparity between the countries: Panama has only 4 million people, while the U.S. has about 320 million. Tougher challenges loom for Panama in June when Belgium and England are among the team's opponents in Group G. Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez hopes his team is a "dignified rival," and he has been working on how to contain the speed and strength of two strikers in particular: Belgium's Romelu Lukaku and England's Harry Kane. To avoid embarrassing defeats, he has experimented with five defenders and they limited the damage in a friendly against Denmark in March to a 1-0 loss. "I hope people enjoy it instead of criticizing and destroying the dream that we've achieved," Gomez told The Associated Press. Roman Torres could be key to preventing Panama from leaking goals. The dreadlocked defender became a national hero after scoring the goal that clinched Panama's World Cup place, leading to a national holiday being declared. Here's a closer look at the Panama team: COACH Gomez is known for working his magic. After guiding his homeland of Colombia to the 1998 World Cup, he led Ecuador to the tournament for the first time in 2002. GOALKEEPERS Jaime Penedo, who started in goal in the last three qualifiers, helped the team finish second at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2005 and in 2013, where he was named the best goalkeeper. But he has not been a regular starter recently at Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. DEFENDERS The 32-year-old Torres of the Seattle Sounders club is trying to get back into full shape after a knee injury. He is set be joined in central defense by Fidel Escobar and Adolfo Machado. They will likely be flanked by Michael Murillo on the right and Eric Davis on the left. MIDFIELDERS Gabriel Gomez and Anibal Godoy are expected to assume the defensive midfield roles. Alberto Quintero is likely to play on the left and Edgar Joel Barcenas could play on the right or in the center behind the striker to create more scoring chances. FORWARDS Expect a sole striker for the Belgium and England games. Gomez will have to decide on 37-year-old Blas Perez or 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, who has had a successful season with Chilean club Huachipato. Luis Tejada, known as the "Matador" for his lethal finishing, is 36 and is another aging option. GROUP GAMES Panama opens Group G in Sochi on June 18 against Belgium, then plays England in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24 and finishes on June 28 against Tunisia in Saransk, where the team will be based for the tournament......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Sweden not defined by just Zlatan

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Sweden has shed its major distraction: Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn't coming back for the World Cup. The Los Angeles striker, who retired from international duty in 2016 after scoring a record 62 goals in 116 games, will be a spectator from California when Sweden heads to Russia. The Swedes have moved on from the 36-year-old Ibrahimovic. Playing more as a team, they are a tighter and more efficient unit — as shown when they kept two clean sheets against Italy to advance to the World Cup via the playoffs. They beat France in their qualifying group and were undefeated at home. From having a lineup defined by one player, Sweden is now a team without superstars. Here's a closer look at the Sweden team: COACH Janne Andersson took charge after the European Championship in 2016 as the replacement for Eric Hamren, following a coaching career based solely with Swedish clubs. The highlight was leading Norrkoping to the Swedish league title in 2015. The 55-year-old Andersson values organization above everything and has made the national team defensively strong and a force on the counterattack. GOALKEEPERS Robin Olsen has established himself as the starting goalkeeper heading into the World Cup, having opted to play for Sweden over Denmark — where his parents were born. He is tall and lean, standing at 6-feet-6 (1.98 meters). DEFENDERS Ibrahimovic's decade-long reign as Sweden's player of the year ended last year when national team captain Andreas Granqvist won the "Golden Ball" award for the first time. Those who voted for Granqvist might have been influenced by the center back's stoic display in the two-legged playoff victory over Italy, which earned him a last chance to play at a World Cup. At 33, he is the experienced organizer of the defense — alongside the more youthful Victor Lindelof of Manchester United — and plays for Russian club Krasnodar, where the Swedes will be based for the tournament. MIDFIELDERS Emil Forsberg, a quick attacking midfielder who usually starts on the left wing, is the team's standout player and has become a big name in the German league because of his form for Leipzig. He had the most assists in the Bundesliga last season. A relatively late developer, he only made his international debut at the age of 23 so has experience of just one major senior tournament. Sebastian Larsson is the other high-profile player in the midfield, having played for the national team for a decade and in the Premier League with Birmingham and Sunderland after starting his professional career at Arsenal. FORWARDS Marcus Berg leads the forward line in the absence of Ibrahimovic and scored eight goals in qualifying. He remains key to Sweden's plans despite being out of the limelight, at least to European audiences, following his decision to join Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates from Greek team Panathinaikos in the 2017 offseason. He is top scorer in the Arabian Gulf League, showing he is in prime form heading to Russia. Ola Toivonen plays just off Berg and scored Sweden's best goal in qualifying, an effort from near halfway to beat France 2-1. GROUP GAMES Sweden opens Group F against South Korea on June 18. The team will then face Germany on June 23 and finish the group stage against Mexico on June 27......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Germany gets reality check before defense

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — Germany coasted through World Cup qualifying with 10 wins out of 10 and a European record 43 goals before getting a reality check. The World Cup holders haven't won any matches since qualifying for Russia. After drawing friendlies against England, France and Spain, Joachim Loew's team lost 1-0 to Brazil to end a 22-game unbeaten run. Becoming the first team since Brazil in 1962 to defend their World Cup title now looks even trickier for the Germans. "We're not as good as we're made out to be, or as some think we are," midfielder Toni Kroos said. "There's huge room for improvement." The recent slump in friendly matches could be a blessing in disguise if it eradicates any complacency going into the World Cup. "I'm not worried. In 2014 and 2010 we also lost in March," Loew said. "You can be sure that we'll improve." The first task for Loew's side will be to top Group F to avoid a likely second-round clash against Brazil. Here's a closer look at the Germany team: COACH Loew was assistant coach to Juergen Klinsmann during Germany's "summer fairytale" hosting of the 2006 World Cup and was promoted to the top job after its third-place finish. Loew favors a fast-paced possession-based game, pressing opponents to recover the ball and switching quickly from defense to attack. He has overseen steady progress since taking over, reaching the final of the 2008 European Championship, claiming third place at the 2010 World Cup and reaching the semifinals at Euro 2012 before finally winning a title in convincing fashion at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. A disappointing semifinal exit to France at Euro 2016 followed, but Loew laid the groundwork for a successful World Cup title defense by winning the Confederations Cup with a young team of promising talent last year in Russia. Loew hasn't been afraid to test young talent, and Germany's strength in depth means one of his hardest tasks is leaving players out of the 23-man squad. Loew also has the unfortunate tendency to find himself in the headlines for other reasons. The 58-year-old has previously apologized after being caught on camera picking his nose or in other compromising positions during games. GOALKEEPERS The biggest concern is captain Manuel Neuer's fitness. The Bayern Munich goalkeeper sustained a repeat of the hairline metatarsal fracture in his left foot while training last September and hasn't played since. Marc-Andre ter Stegen could well establish himself as the No. 1 with doubts over Neuer's fitness. The Barcelona goalkeeper has overcome a shaky start to his international career and helped Germany win the Confederations Cup. Bernd Leno of Bayer Leverkusen and Kevin Trapp of Paris Saint-Germain are also options, while Sven Ulreich has been filling in impressively for Neuer at Bayern. DEFENDERS Bayern defender Jerome Boateng faces a race to be fit with a thigh injury sustained in the Champions League semifinals against Real Madrid in April. Bayern teammate Niklas Suele would be an able replacement to partner Mats Hummels in the center. Another Bayern player, Joshua Kimmich, has emerged to soften the blow of Philipp Lahm's retirement at right back. The modest Jonas Hector will likely keep his place on the left despite Cologne's relegation. MIDFIELDERS Toni Kroos will be among the first names on Loew's team sheet. The Real Madrid midfielder is the driving force behind the side. He will likely be partnered by Juventus' Sami Khedira, who provides more of a defensive presence, with Mesut Ozil in front, flanked on either side by Thomas Mueller and Marco Reus — if the latter proves his fitness. Reus has been unlucky with injuries and has only recently returned to shine again for Dortmund. But Germany has a wealth of options in midfield, with Ilkay Gundogan, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane, Julian Draxler, Julian Weigl and Julian Brandt all providing ample backup options. FORWARDS Timo Werner seems sure of his place after another good season for Leipzig, albeit with most of his goals in the first half of the campaign. The 22-year-old Werner has seven goals in 12 international appearances, but it's his runs into space and the problems he causes defenders that benefit the team. Loew will likely bring one of Mario Gomez or Sandro Wagner as a more experienced option for Werner, while Mario Goetze is another option to play up front if he gets recalled following a disappointing season for Dortmund. Goetze scored the winning goal for Germany to beat Argentina in the 2014 final. GROUP GAMES Germany kicks off its title defense near its tournament base in Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium against Mexico on June 17. The side then faces a long trip south to Sochi for its second game against Sweden on June 23, before wrapping up Group F against South Korea in Kazan four days later......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

The curse of the Western Conference '4 seed

Here's a reminder for the Western Conference teams next season when they start jockeying for playoff seeding: Avoid the fourth seed at all costs. Sure you'll get home court advantage against the fifth seed, but that hasn't meant anything since the 2012 Playoffs. For the past seven years, all fourth seeds have lost to the fifth seeds, with the latest victims being the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were ousted in six games by the Utah Jazz. Is it sheer coincidence? A hardwood hex? A sign of parity? We'll run through the aforementioned seven series and let you decide for yourself. 2012 Playoffs - #5 LA Clippers (40-26) defeat #4 Memphis Grizzlies (41-25) in seven games The setup: It feels appropriate that this "curse" began during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. The Clippers were in year one of Lob City, having acquired Chris Paul during the offseason, while the Grizzlies were looking to build on their epic #8 vs #1 upset of the San Antonio Spurs from the previous postseason. What happened: The Grizzlies began this series in the worst possible way. In game one, they led by as much as 27 points, and were up 95-71 with 9:13 left to play. But then Nick Young happened. Swaggy P came off the Clippers bench and buried three straight triples, helping LA win game one, and build a 3-1 series lead. The Grizzlies won the next two though, sending things back to Bluff City for a game seven. Ultimately though, home court didn't help, as the Clippers broke the game wide open in the fourth, outscoring the Grizzlies 27-16, for an 82-72 victory. "That guy was on the team?": Reggie Evan led the Clippers in rebounding with 8.7 a night, while Gilbert Arenas played in six out of the seven games, totaling 23 minutes and four points for the Grizzlies. What next?: The Spurs swept the Clippers in the semis. 2013 Playoffs - #5 Memphis Grizzlies (56-26) defeat #4 LA Clippers (56-26) in six games The setup: The Clippers won their division for the VERY FIRST TIME in franchise history, while the Grizzlies were in full Grit 'N Grind mode, with Marc Gasol winning Defensive Player of the Year that season. What happened: Things started off well, with the Clippers winning the first two games in LA. However, the Grizzlies stood firm at home, knotting the series at 2-all. Things turned dire for LAC when star forward Blake Griffin suffered an ankle sprain during practice, limiting him to just 19:34 minutes in game five, which they lost. With their season on the line in the City of Angels for game six, Griffin could only play 13:56, and not even a career postseason-best 30 points by Matt Barnes could save the Clips. To add insult to injury, Chris Paul was ejected with 2:29 left, before the game ended with a 118-105 score. "That guy was on the team?": Tayshaun Prince was Memphis' starting small forward, while Grant Hill and Lamar Odom, both with the Clips, played their last NBA seasons. What next?: The Grizzlies dispatched the OKC Thunder in five games in the conference finals, before losing to the Spurs via a sweep in the West Finals. 2014 Playoffs - #5 Portland Trail Blazers (54-28) defeat #4 Houston Rockets (54-28) in six games The setup: The Houston Rockets added Dwight Howard to a roster that already had James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons, making them one of the top teams in the West. The Portland Trail Blazers meanwhile built on Damian Lillard's 2013 Rookie of the Year campaign and snapped a two-year postseason drought. What happened: While things were tightly contested, three of the first four games went to overtime, the Blazers seemingly had the Rockets' number, winning two of those OT games, en route to a 3-1 series lead. The Rockets managed to stave off elimination at home in game five, but in game six, Lillard truly made a name for himself, by canning a series-winning shot, allowing Rip City to advance for the first time in 14 years. "That guy was on the team?": Mo Williams was Portland's sixth man (8.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.8 apg), while Omer Asik teamed up with Howard in the Houston frontcourt. What next?: The Blazers managed to take one game from the Spurs, before bowing out in the conference semifinals. 2015 Playoffs - #5 Memphis Grizzlies (55-27) defeat #4 Portland Trail Blazers (51-31) in five games The setup: The Blazers won the Northwest Division, but the next two teams in the standings, the Grizzlies and the Spurs, both had notched 55 wins, four more than them. Portland's main problem though was swingman Wesley Matthews tearing an achilles tendon early in March, a season-ending injury. What happened: Portland struggled to find someone who could take the starting SG spot on their roster with Matthews out, cycling through CJ McCollum, Allen Crabbe, and Arron Afflalo. That trio, as starters, combined to shoot 4-of-22 for 10 points over five games, allowing the Memphis D to concentrate on Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. The Grizzlies won the first three games, before picking up the clincher in game five, despite starting point guard Mike Conley suffering a facial fracture in game three and missing the rest of the series. "That guy was on the team?": Nick Calathes wound up assuming the point guard duties for the Grizzlies, in what turned out to be his final NBA stint (he went back to playing in Greece after the season). What next?: The Grizzlies lost in six games in the next round to the Golden State Warriors, after the Dubs made their famous adjustment to use Andrew Bogut to guard Tony Allen. 2016 Playoffs - #5 Portland Trail Blazers (44-38) defeat #4 LA Clippers (53-29) in six games The setup: The LA Clippers came really close to losing center DeAndre Jordan to the Dallas Mavericks in the offseason, but you all know what happened instead. As for the Portland Trail Blazers, the team rebuilt after losing LaMarcus Aldridge and Nic Batum, among others, pairing Lillard with Most Improved Player winner CJ McCollum in the backcourt. What happened: The Paul-Griffin-Jordan trio looked splendid early on, going up 2-0 after games in LA. The Blazers struck back and won game three, but then disaster waylaid LA in game four, with BOTH Paul (broken hand) and Griffin (quad) exiting the game and the series. That paved the way for the Blazers to complete their run and advance. "That guy was on the team?": It was Chris Kaman's final NBA season, and he spent it as a locker room guy for the Blazers. It was also Clippers guard Pablo Prigioni's last stint in the NBA (not counting several preseason games with the Rockets the next season, before he got cut and returned to Europe). What next?: The Blazers advanced to the West semis, where they lost in five games to the Warriors, despite Stephen Curry missing the first three matches. 2017 Playoffs - #5 Utah Jazz (51-31) defeat #4 LA Clippers (51-31) in seven games The setup: It was a battle between two teams looking to go far in the postseason in the hopes of enticing their future free agents to re-up. For the Jazz, Gordon Hayward was the player in question, while for the Clippers, both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin had the ability to depart in the offseason. What happened: Iso-Joe Johnson did Iso-Joe things, stealing game one for the Jazz on the Clippers' home court. Undeterred, the Clippers proceeded to win the next two, for a 2-1 advantage, but game three turned out to be costly. The team the next day announced that Blake Griffin was out for the rest of the season due to a toe injury. Still, things went to a game seven, in LA, but the Clippers did not have the firepower to win out, and the Jazz were able to get the victory and advance. What next?: The Jazz got swept by the Warriors in the West semis. And ironically, both Hayward and Paul wound up departing their respective teams. In addition, Griffin did sign an extension with the Clippers, but they wound up trading him mid-way through the 2017-18 campaign. 2018 Playoffs - #5 Utah Jazz (48-34) defeat #4 Oklahoma City Thunder (48-34) in six games The setup: The Jazz equaled their postseason rank from last season, thanks to the brilliance of rookie Donovan Mitchell, while the Thunder formed a "Big Three" comprising Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. What happened: Paul George sizzled for 36 points to help the Thunder win game one, but Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell teamed up to help the Jazz win the next three. On the brink of elimination, Russell Westbrook led a dominant third quarter effort in OKC to force a game six, but in Salt Lake City, the Jazz managed to hold on, and earn the series victory. What next?: The Jazz will now test themselves against the top-seeded Houston Rockets. Should be a good one. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

UAAP Finals: After sub-par Game 1, Pons and Basas vow to bounce back

FEU Lady Tamaraws veterans Bernadeth Pons and Toni Rose Basas both promise to bounce back in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 80 Women's Volleyball Finals Wednesday after displaying a sub-par performance in Game 1. The known double-digit scoring duo combined for only 15 points in the best-of-three affair, a big factor in FEU's 27-29, 21-25, 22-25 loss in their biggest game in nine years. Even though the first set showed promise in a 29-27 finish, FEU's inexperience came out, with the Lady Tamaraws committing 17 errors in the set. Both players admitted that jitters had come their way, and conceded that there is overwhelming experience from the two-time defending champions. "Siguro meron kasi first appearance namin sa Finals. Pero na-overcome naman namin iyon kasi alam naman namin yung magiging laban ngayon na sobrang dikdikan, mga long rallies. Ayun. Mas lumamang lang talaga mga errors noon," the Lady Tams team captain said. Basas also added that a new and raucous atmosphere to her like what Game 1 showed intimidated her, which added to the many things she was thinking of during the game. "Kasi sobrang daming tao. Tapos parang marami ang iniisip ko, 'Ganito ba talaga pag Finals?' Ang ingay. Parang di ko maano." The fourth-year player also confessed that her numerous errors in the error-plagued first set was a by-product of the pressure from the game. "Para sa akin. Kasi sa akin, parang puro service ko. Parang takot din ako magkamali sa service. Sa kaba na iyon." As for bouncing back for a do-or-die Game 2, both hitters guarantee that their performance next game will be much better, as the girls from Morayta hope to extend it to a winner-take-all Game 3. "Syempre, opo. Wala nang takot. Kahit block-blockin kami, basta di kami susuko," Basas assured. For the top scorer of FEU in the past five seasons, Pons hopes that her mental toughness will show in what could be her final game donning the green and gold. "Kailangan kong mag-charge ulit. Kailangan pang mas maging ma-utak ako sa Game 2 kasi malalaki sila eh. Bantay talaga ako kanina eh. Kailangan bumawi talaga ako sa Game 2. Kailangan ko ma-lead ang team ko."    --   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018