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Mental battle key to Djokovic comeback, says former coach

Former world number one Novak Djokovic's toughest hurdle when he returns to the ATP Tour after a long injury absence will be a mental one, believes former coach Boris Becker. The 30-year-old Serbian's return to competitive action is yet to be confirmed although he published photos of himself on the practice courts earlier this week for the first time since he underwent a minor "medical intervention" following a fourth round exit at the Australian Open. The 12-time Grand Slam winner struggled through his defeat by Chung Hyeon of South Korea, troubled still by a persistent elbow injury, that had seen him off the circuit since Wimbledon last year, and a hip problem. Becker, w...Keep on reading: Mental battle key to Djokovic comeback, says former coach.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerMar 3rd, 2018

F2 Logistics forces series decider

Game Saturday: (Smart Araneta Coliseum)   6:00 p.m. -- F2 Logistics vs Petron   Reigning champion F2 Logistics refused to relinquish its throne as it crushed Petron, 25-17, 25-22, 25-19, in Game 2 and forged a winner-take-all battle in their Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix best-of-three titular showdown Thursday night at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Venezuelan Maria Jose Perez delivered, but it was the Cargo Movers’ all-out effort at the defensive end and mental toughness that allowed them to level the series. The kill-or-be killed Game 3 is set on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Perez, the reigning Most Valuable Player, displayed her championship form as she tallied 17 kills and three blocks for 20 points while Ara Galang and Aby Marano chipped in 11 and nine markers, respectively, for the Cargo Movers, who marched to the battle eager to bounce back from a sorry five-set meltdown in Game 1. "Mas prepared lang kami mentally ngayon, kasi last time although maganda naman ang ginagawa, noong time na nabigyan ng momentum ang kalaban medyo nag-relax tapos gumana ang kalaban at kami naman ang na-disorganized,” said F2 Logistics coach Arnold Laniog, whose wards emerged with more spikes, 40-35, and blocks, 11-7, than the Blaze Spikers. "This time yung mindset nakatutok na talaga.” In Game 1, Petron was simply impressive. After finding themselves down by two sets, American reinforcement Katherine Bell took over and put Petron back in the thick of things as she scored eight of the Blaze Spikers’ last nine points in the deciding set. This time, the Cargo Movers didn’t allow her to do damage. Bell was limited to only 12 kills and three blocks to finish with only 15 points -- her lowest output since coming in as replacement to injured Hillary Hurley last week. She dropped 42 in Game 1. Five-year veteran Lindsay Stalzer was also not in the groove, knocking down only 13 kills and two blocks for the Blaze Spikers, who gave away 19 points off errors.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2018

Juventus stays on Serie A title track with wild win at Inter

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Juventus scored two late goals to rescue a 3-2 win over 10-man Inter Milan in a wild Derby d'Italia on Saturday and stay on track for a record-extending seventh straight Serie A title. Juan Cuadrado and Gonzalo Higuain scored in the final four minutes as Juventus moved four points ahead of Napoli, which visits Fiorentina on Sunday in a tense title race. "This is the hunger, pride and thirst for victory that this squad possesses. We will fight to the death to win," Higuain said. After Douglas Costa's early opener for Juventus, Inter equalized after the break with a header from captain Mauro Icardi then went ahead with an own goal from Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli. The victory ended a run of two straight matches in which Juventus dropped points, having drawn with relegation-threatened Crotone and lost to Napoli at home last weekend. Inter remained fifth, one point below the Champions League places. "Inter played well, but got tired in the end, crumbled physically and we took advantage," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "It's another step towards the Scudetto, even if it remains very difficult." Early on, it was all Juventus. Douglas Costa scored with a decisive half-volley, extending the Brazilian's streak of being involved in the last six Juventus goals in Serie A: Two goals and four assists. Inter midfielder Matias Vecino was sent off for a foul on Mario Mandzukic in the 18th. Referee Daniele Orsato originally pulled out a yellow card but changed to red after a video review. Vecino stepped on Mandzukic's ankle and the Croatia international later showed a deep cut. Inter stepped up after the break. Icardi rose above Juve's defense to redirect a free kick into the far corner with a glancing header — his eighth goal in 11 Serie A matches against Juventus. Then in the 65th, Cuadrado couldn't handle Perisic on the left flank and lied down instead to avoid picking up a second yellow card. Perisic then crossed toward Icardi but the ball bounced in off Barzagli. Cuadrado made up for the error by scoring from a tight angle with a shot off Inter defender Milan Skriniar in the 87th. Then Higuain ran past Inter's defense to head in Paulo Dybala's free kick two minutes later to complete the comeback. Allegri was sent off after Higuain's winner for entering the pitch in an attempt to get his players to stop celebrating and refocus for the final minutes. "There were four minutes to go ... I didn't want a repeat of Madrid," Allegri said, referring to the Champions League elimination by Real Madrid. ROMA SHOWS POTENTIAL Displaying the offensive firepower it will need in the Champions League semifinals, 10-man Roma defeated visiting Chievo Verona 4-1 in convincing fashion. Edin Dzeko scored twice, Patrik Schick and Stephan El Shaarawy also found the target, and Roma goalkeeper Alisson saved a penalty. Roma also hit the post twice. Roberto Inglese pulled one back late for Chievo. A similar result on Wednesday would allow the Giallorossi to overturn a 5-2 deficit to Liverpool. "Now we have to recover our physical and mental energy, leave the field on Wednesday knowing we've done all we possibly could," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. "We've proved in the past that we can achieve great results in the Champions League, so we must all believe, that is my slogan." Meanwhile, the victory strengthened Roma's chances of returning to the Champions League next season. Third-placed Roma moved three points ahead of Lazio, which visits Torino on Sunday. Chievo remained two points above the relegation zone. EMPOLI PROMOTED Empoli secured promotion into Serie A after only one season in the second division. Empoli moved 14 points ahead of Parma and Palermo after drawing with Novara 1-1 and was assured of winning Serie B with four rounds remaining. The Tuscan squad is coached by former Roma manager Aurelio Andreazzoli......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

Towns, Wiggins step up for Timberwolves in win vs Warriors

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MINNEAPOLIS – Certain games count more than others over the course of an NBA team’s 82-game schedule, and the one the Timberwolves played – and won 109-103 – against the Golden State Warriors Sunday afternoon (early Monday, PHL time) at Target Center was one of those. Did it count double what some ordinary contest might have? Triple? Keep going. More like exponential. It’s too early to claim that Minnesota’s resiliency in the comeback from 12 points down, against the defending champ, saved their season. But the dueling scenarios, win vs. lose, were rather stark for a team facing a rigorous and largely uncharted final month. Fail Sunday (Monday, PHL time), and the Wolves would be lugging a four-game skid on the road to face Washington Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) and San Antonio Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). By the time they got home to face Houston Sunday night (next Monday, PHL time), the losing streak could be six, going on seven. The Timberwolves at the All-Star break was a surprising third seed in the West. However, since Jimmy Butler’s absence from the lineup after a right meniscus tear on Feb. 23 (Feb. 24, PHL time), the Wolves have gone 2-4. Now the Wolves, whether they admit it publicly or not, are driven simply to qualify. Period. Ending up seventh or eighth is no prize, given a likely first-round ordeal against either the Rockets or the Warriors. But for a franchise that hasn’t reached the postseason since 2004, either would be far better than landing ninth. By beating the Warriors, though, the Wolves bought themselves time and opened a smidgen of breathing room over the next few days. More than that, they responded to a serious challenge the way a playoff wannabe is supposed to. They didn’t unravel, they stuck to what was working and they had players slide into Butler’s roles as primary defender, go-to scorer and late-game closer. That is essential until the All-Star wing and obvious team leader returns, ideally, for playoffs that his teammates can deliver. Center Karl-Anthony Towns scored 14 of his team-high 31 points in the fourth quarter. Wing Andrew Wiggins scored 22 of his 23 in the first three quarters to help Minnesota claw back to an 84-84 tie. Those two stepping into the void of Butler’s injury suggested the sort of growth that, frankly, coach Tom Thibodeau and the team’s followers might look back on after this season (and postseason?) as a turning point. “This is a great opportunity for everybody, and certainly those two, in that whenever you have someone like Jimmy go out, it’s an opportunity to grow and get experience in different situations,” Thibodeau said. “We’ve talked about it a lot. We have good veterans on the team. But this is an opportunity for them to step up and lead.” Sure, Golden State was playing without team MVP Steph Curry (ankle) and ace reserve Andre Iguodala (wrist). But the visitors still had three All-Stars and the motivation of Friday’s (Saturday, PHL time) loss in Portland to propel them through the matinee. So, the Wolves did well to start with what Towns admitted was both “urgency” and “desperation.” They did even better to close with aplomb. Towns and Wiggins, both still 22-years-old, stayed cool in reacting and thwarting Golden State double-teams. Wiggins, who still needs to attack and earn his way to the foul line more often, wound up with a team-high plus-21. Towns shot 6-of-10 in the final quarter, while Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were combining to go 3-for-13 and 11 points. Butler’s presence this season often has taken the ball out of the two younger stars’ hands late in games. But Towns is so skilled, inside and out, he should get more opportunities when games are on the line – and will in Butler’s absence. He came in averaging just 3.2 field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter this season, with 1.8 buckets and 5.1 points. Compare that to his 5.7 makes, 10.6 shots and 15.4 scoring averages through the first three quarters of games so far this season. His usage rate drops from 22.4 to 20.9 when it ought to go up. You’d believe that too if you saw his work in the final three minutes, from bulling through Draymond Green for a layup that made it 101-96 to stepping in for a left baseline jumper two possessions later. At 104-103, Towns posted up Green near the end line again, banged a bit, then spun for a fadeaway jumper. Next time down, he followed up a shot against Durant to all but clinch it. The play of Towns, Wiggins and the other three Minnesota starters took any onus off Derrick Rose. Newly signed by his old Chicago coach, Rose had a rusty, regrettable debut with the Wolves, missing five of his six shots with two turnovers and a minus-17 in just 6:36. But his presence, if nothing else, ought to remind Towns and Wiggins that 22 is plenty old enough to grab a pack of Wolves by the scruff of their necks and take responsibility. Rose was 22 when he became the youngest MVP in NBA history, leading the Bulls all the way to the Eastern Conference finals that season. Minnesota basically is in the playoffs now – every outcome matters, bolstering or damaging its run to the postseason. There’s no running away now, no hiding either. “I think we’re more prepared because we’ve had most of the season to go through experiences,” Towns said. “Now that we’re at this point, we have the chance to do something great. It’s for us as a group to take all the experiences we’ve had – of losing close games, winning big, winning games offensively, winning games defensively – and putting them to [use].” It is vital that the Wolves’ young stars stay focused on the opportunities before them, rather than succumbing to the pressure. Said Towns: “The thing is, you don’t ever want to have pressure turn to stress. We have to make sure we keep our composure. Obviously, the situation we’re in, it’s a lot of pressure on us. But we can’t turn that into stress, because that’s when we start becoming undisciplined and start making errors that are more mental.” The proof now is in the playing, said Thibodeau. “The best leadership you can have is your actions,” the coach said. “What are you doing? It’s not what you say. Oftentimes people say things and never do what they say. It’s what you do.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 12th, 2018

CSB, Arellano U dispute the last Finals berth

Games Tuesday: (FilOil Flying V Centre, San Juan) 10:00 a.m. –- EAC vs. Letran (jrs) 12:00 noon –- Perpetual vs. AU (jrs) 2:00 p.m. –- CSB U vs. AU (m)   Defending champion College of St. Benilde is just a step away from a return stint into the Finals. But for the Blazers to continue with their title-retention bid, CSB will need to go through another knockout game Tuesday in the last phase of the 93rd NCAA men’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The Taft-based squad hopes to carry the momentum of its grueling five-set sudden death match survival against San Beda University last Friday to book the last best-of-three Finals ticket and set a championship rematch with unbeaten University of Perpetual Help. Game time is at 2:00 p.m.      Down 12-14 in the fifth set, the Blazers unearthed the same fire that brought them to the throne last year as they saved six match points before pulling off an amazing 25-16, 24-26, 25-19, 20-25, 20-18 comeback.   “Sa panalo namin against Beda doon ko naramdaman na gusto nilang manalo, gusto nilang mai-defend ang title,” said CSB coach Arnold Laniog. The mentor will pin his hopes of Isaah Arda, who scored 23 points in their thrilling win, Francis Basilan and Mark Orian. CSB dropped a five-set battle against the Chiefs in the elimination round last January 29. Arellano U’s lone loss was against Perpetual. The championship round will start on Friday. Meanwhile, twice-to-beat defending champion Perpetual Help battles Arellano U at 12:00 noon in juniors Final Four. Twice-to-beat Emilio Aguinaldo College clashes with Letran in the other semis pairing.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2018

Mac Belo owns up to crunch-time blunders vs Magnolia

"Walang blowout [party]." Blackwater forward Mac Belo was disappointed that he and his team could not give head coach Leo Isaac the perfect birthday gift for his 57th birthday, which largely involved the letter 'W". Belo admitted that he incurred mental lapses in the late stages of the game wherein the Elite, which trailed by as much as 18 points, managed to stage a comeback to eventually knot things up at 72 in the waning stages of the game. As Blackwater went to the next possession, the ball only managed to stay in the former Tamaraw's hands, and was locked down by Ian Sangalang, and subsequently turned the ball over as he dribbled and stepped across the halfcourt line. "Akala ko tatawagan ng foul [si Sangalang] eh, ayon pero nagkamali nga, masyado ako nag-relax so on my part, mental lapses," Belo said after the game. Magnolia then turned the ball over which led to a two-on-one fastbreak between him, teammate John Pinto, and Pingris. Belo drove to the basket, but passed it to the cutting Pinto, who blew the potential game-tying lay-up. "Yun din (mental lapse) kasi may situation na pwede ako mag-lay-up pero mas pinili ko siya ipasa so medyo kinapos yung tira ni Nard [Pinto]. Sabi naman ni coach na walang sisihan." The damage had already been done and only what Belo and the team could say is to move on. Asked what they could have done differently, Belo lamented that the team should have started better, since they used up most of their energy in mounting the comeback. The Blackwater Elite have now lost four straight and may extend it to five as they face defending champions San Miguel on Sunday, and the former #1 pick says that the team needs to do a lot of soul-searching. "Mahirap. Mahirap pumunta sa practice na laging natatalo. Kami naman kailangan humanap ng ways para manalo, so tignan namin, kung ano ang ways to improve as a team." --   follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 2nd, 2018

Petron, F2 Logistics in final showdown for Grand Prix title

Games Saturday: (Mall of Asia Arena) 4:00 p.m. --- Petron vs F2 Logistics   Drama and intensity are tipped to unfold when F2 Logistics and Petron go all out for all the marbles Saturday in the winner-take-all 2017 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix Finals at the MOA Arena. At stake in the 4:00 p.m. encounter is the right to claim the throne in the thrilling finale of the best-of-three series that went the full distance. The Cargo Movers look to write history with their breakthrough title in the import-laden conference while Petron seeks to reclaim the crown they lost two years ago.  The locking of horns between the same squads that figured in the All-Filipino Conference Finals four months ago will be a fitting season-ender in the 5th year of the league. F2 Logistics hopes to complete a series comeback after surviving Game 2 with a morale-boosting 25-20, 24-26, 14-25, 25-19, 15-4, victory. “Of course all out na, kasi that’s what we are hoping for, ang makarating sa Game 3,” said Cargo Movers skipper Cha Cruz, whose leadership and clutch plays sparked F2 Logistics’ amazing comeback. “So we’re gonna grab the chance mapunta sa amin ang Game 3,” she added. But the Cargo Movers will be attempting a feat that no team has ever accomplished.    Since the PSL implemented a best-of-three finals format two years ago, no team has ever crawled back from a 0-1 disadvantage with Foton recovering from a Game 2 meltdown to win the Grand Prix crown in 2015 and F2 Logistics averting a massive collapse to clinch the All-Filipino Conference title in 2016. Petron head coach Shaq Delos Santos remains confident that his team will be able to recover from their Game 2 meltdown, putting into mind the bitter pill they had to swallow after squandering a 2-1 match lead. The Blaze Spikers started the fourth set with a 9-0 lead only to surrender the frame and eventually unravelling in the fifth. “Andun pa rin ‘yun (tiwala). ‘Di naman mawawala ‘yun,” he said. “Kumbaga, sobrang tiwala lang namin sa kanila. Andun lagi ‘yun, di mawawala ‘yung kumpyansa or ‘yung tiwala.” “Syempre di naman kami papasok sa finals kung weak din yung ganun namin, yung tiwala namin sa isa’t isa. I think, lesson learned lang ’to,” added Delos Santos. Aside from the match up of Petron American duo of Lindsay Stalzer and Hillary Hurley against F2 Logistics’ Venezuelan reinforcement Maria Jose Perez and Kennedy Bryan of the USA, the battle of locals will also play a major role in the series decider. Cruz, Aby Marano, Majoy Baron, Kianna Dy, setter Kim Fajardo and libero Dawn Macandili will carry the fight for the Cargo Movers against the Blaze Spikers veterans Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, skipper Ces Molina, Mika Reyes, setter Rhea Dimaculangan and Remy Palma.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 15th, 2017

Petron dethrones Foton, faces F2 Logistics in Finals

American imports Hillary Hurley and Lindsay Stalzer came out with all guns blazing as they led Petron to a return stint in the Finals. The duo delivered the goods to help the Blaze Spikers dethrone two-time champion Foton in a hard-earned 30-28, 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, win in the knockout Final Four of the of the 2017 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday. Petron set up a best-of-three Finals showdown against F2 Logistics starting Tuesday in a rematch of this season’s All-Filipino Conference championship won by the Cargo Movers. Stalzer pumped in 25 points while Hurley got 24 markers as the duo combined for 43 of the Blaze Spikers' 55 attacks in a win that served as a payback for Petron's Grand Prix losses in the previous two editions against Foton.  “Laging maganda 'yung laban, sobrang thankful talaga kami kasi nu’ng last year na first time ko nag-coach ng Grand Prix, sila rin 'yung kalaban namin sa finals and hindi kami nanalo sa kanila. Kung baga sa amin, parang napakalaking achievement ngayon na nag-knockout game kami and kami ‘yung nanalo,” said Petron coach Shaq Delos Santos. Rhea Dimaculangan tallied 23 excellent sets whille Japanese libero Yuri Fukuda had 23 digs for the Blaze Spikers. Stalzer, who led Foton to back-to-back crowns before transferring to Petron, posted nine digs and six excellent receptions.              The Blaze Spikers went behind early in the first set before mounting a great comeback. Foton equalized in the second frame but Petron found second wind in the third and fourth.  The Tornadoes, which will take on Cocolife in a sudden death battle for bronze, made a final push in the fourth frame to close a 17-24 deficit to 21-24 but Dindin Santiago-Manabat overcooked her service to surrender the match and their throne. Jaja Santiago finished with 23 points off 17 kills, four kill blocks and a pair of aces while Serbian Sara Klisura had 22 for Foton. Montenegrin reinforcement Dragana Perunicic scored 13 markers while Maika Ortiz chipped in eight for the Tornadoes.       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 9th, 2017

F2 Logistics import Perez earns POW award

F2 Logistics continues its dominant run when it posted five consecutive victories to remain as the heaviest contender in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix. And one player should be credited for this amazing run – import Maria Jose Perez. The Venezuelan sensation was at the helm of the Cargo Movers’ attack that prompted the PSL Press Corps to name her as its Chooks to Go-Player of the Week from Nov. 11 to 18. With Perez spewing fire at the attack zone, the Cargo Movers defeated Cocolife, Generika-Ayala and Victoria Sports-UST in straight-sets, putting them in a perfect position to capture the top seed in the sudden-death quarterfinal battle. She finished with 14 attacks and two aces for 17 points against the Asset Managers before torching the Lifesavers with 12 attacks to finish with 14 points in another dominant straight-set victory. Perez capped her impressive week with another 12-point effort to lead the Cargo Movers to another impressive win over the Tigresses over the weekend at the La Salle Lipa Sentrum to earn the weekly honor given by reporters and photographers from various newspapers, tabloids and online news outlets covering the league. She won the award over the other explosive imports like her teammate in Kennedy Bryan, Lindsay Stalzer of Petron and Sara Klisura of Foton. But more than her attacking prowess and leadership, Perez said it is their mental toughness that is making them successful. “I think we’re working hard every day in practice,” said Perez, a seasoned international campaigner who donned the colors of Venezuela in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “I (also) think that we come to every match mentally prepared. You know, it’s very important to keep our mental toughness because the Superliga is a very tough competition. All players here are very good.” F2 Logistics coach Ramil de Jesus was elated over their performance, but stressed that it’s still a long way to go, especially with other veteran teams like Petron, Cignal, Cocolife and reigning champion Foton tipped to come up with a run of their own. “We can’t take any team lightly,” said the 10-time UAAP champion. “We just have to keep our focus and be more consistent. Sa nakikita ko kasi parang may kulang pa eh. We have to improve it because it’s going to be tough down the stretch.”  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2017

Gilas hopeful Remy Martin s dreams go beyond the basketball court

Any cager dreams of making it big in the NBA. Just ask Filipino-American point guard Remy Martin of the Arizona State University Sun Devils. But amid his success in the U.S., it's still true to Martin's nature to tap into his Pinoy roots. Aside from openly saying that he dreams of playing for Gilas Pilipinas, he's also manifesting his Pinoy upbringing through his goals. "Being raised in that Filipino household has stuck with me and made me the person I am today," Martin said via Craig Morgan in an interview for thesundevils.com.  "They care for you, they show you love and they are so supportive. That's what I want to be for others," Martin reflects. Now currently seeking further success in the U.S., Martin hopes to inspire Filipinos to reach for the stars, while keeping their roots firmly intact. "Every time I look at it, all I want to do is help the culture, let people know that there are Filipino basketball players that can play at this level and potentially do more," he said. More than basketball, however, Martin wants to give hope, empower Pinoy kids to dream bigger.  "Every time I step out on that court it's for them. It's for hope. I want to help the kids there be more motivated and see that there is another path." Born to Filipina Mary Ann Macaspac, Martin carved out a name for himself during his high school days at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, California by possessing a certain drive and defensive focus not usually seen from younger prospects. Now in college, Martin says he wants his defense to be his calling card. At 5'11" his intensity on the less glamorous end of the court gives him an edge among his taller, more physically gifted peers. As he bares: "I try to capitalize on the little things like playing defense because it's mental and it's mostly heart." Heart. Sounds familiar, right? That's the undying phrase embedded in the Pinoy basketball psyche as the battle cry of Gilas Pilipinas. And it's his Puso -- and defense -- that's earning him praise from head coach and former Duke Blue Devil Bobby Hurley. "He's just got a great fire and passion and positive energy," Hurley said via thesundevils.com. "He likes to demoralize the opponent if he can; just wear him down into submission just because of how hard he's willing to play on defense and then create." And by working hard and being himself, Martin is slowly coming close to his goal. "Imagine being LeBron James here and having that kind of impact on kids," Martin said, "It's about knowing that they have somebody where they can say 'oh, look, we have him. We have somebody that has been through this' and they can follow that." He reportedly wants to visit the Philippines "within the next couple of years" but for now, he's doing his part in inspiring the next generation of Pinoy ballers. "Maybe I can pave the way for those kids to get some exposure. Why not? Why can't I do it? Because I'm small? OK, well, I'll be the first one then," he said.  H/T thesundevils.com.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2017

Lady Tams secure last Finals ticket

Far Eastern University marched into the Finals with a 21-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-18, Game 3 win against Adamson University to complete a best-of-three semifinals series comeback Monday in the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Bernadeth Pons returned into action after missing the Lady Tamaraws’ previous four games and immediately made an impact with her offense and leadership to steer FEU in a best-of-three title showdown against undefeated National University on Wednesday. Pons, who skipped their last two elims games and two semis matches to participate in the 80th UAAP women's beach volleyball tournament, had 15 points anchored on 12 attacks while adding 14 digs and 11 excellent receptions on defense for  the Lady Tams. “Andyan si Pons kaya kami nanalo,” said FEU coach George Pascua.   Helping Pons out were Czarina Carandang, who dropped 20 points in FEU's 5-set Game 2 win, and Toni Rose Basas. Carandang blasted 13 attacks and three kill blocks for a 16-point outing, Basas added 10 markers while Celine Domingo added nine for the Lady Tams. Kyla Atienza, Pons' beach volleyball partner, got 21 digs and 14 excellent receptions for FEU. The Morayta-based squad broke away from tight 15-14 game in the fourth set with a scorching scoring spurt to control the frame, 23-17, and eventually finish off the young but aggressive Lady Falcons. “Sabi ko nga sa mga players ko, kailangan ang labanan dito, kung sino yung may desire to win,” he added. Eli Soyud scored 16, all from kills, while Chiara Permentilla finished with 10 for Adamson, which will take on Arellano University in the best-of-three battle for third.   ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 9th, 2017

Blue Eagles say their win against Green Archers was an upset

Ateneo de Manila University toppled De La Salle University last Sunday. Matt Nieto was the hero, Gian Mamuyac yet again proved to be “Mr. Intangibles,” Thirdy Ravena did Thirdy Ravena things, and both Chibueze Ikeh and Isaac Go held their own against reigning and defending MVP Ben Mbala. Bottom line, there was a total team effort from start to finish for the Blue Eagles – total team effort needed to take down the powerhouse Green Archers. Just like the University of the Philippines before them, the now league-leaders played a near-perfect game to topple DLSU. And just like UP before them, the now league-leaders say their victory versus DLSU should be considered an upset. Asked their win makes them the favorites for the championship, coach Sandy Arespacochaga answered, “It’s too early to talk about that. I think if you watched the game, it was an upset on our part.” He then continued, “I think you all feel that way. La Salle is still the favorite, I guess.” Going into details, Arespacochaga pointed to how they lost a 14-point lead and it took a mental lapse on the part of the usually steady Kib Montalbo to set up Nieto’s game-winning moment. “It was an Ateneo-La Salle game and you know, some of the players were excited so they veered away from what we wanted to do a couple of times,” he said. He then continued, “But in the end, when we asked them to follow the game plan offensively and defensively, they followed and we managed to steal the win.” The mentor also mentioned the disparity between the two teams in terms of shooting the ball. “We shot well especially in the first quarter, but La Salle managed to bring it down,” he said, referring to how they shot 43.9 percent in the first half before finishing with a 39.4 percent mark from the field. Even with those points for improvement, however, Arespacochaga said they were happy that their boys had the discipline in the face of their opponents’ famed “mayhem.” As he put it, “La Salle is a very good pressing team and a very good trapping team. For us to only turn the ball over 11 times is very good for us.” He then continued, “We can always look to improve, but we’re happy we won the turnover battle.” In the end, while they came out on top in the rivalry game, Ateneo reminded everybody that the season is far from over. “Right now, our mindset is we’re done with the first round and we’re looking forward to our next game. Of course, we’re happy that we came up with the win and we’ll celebrate,” he said. He then continued, “But we’re also waiting for the schedule to find out who we’re going up against and we’re gonna prepare for that team.” And in the end, the Blue Eagles vow that they, they who just downed the defending champions to go 7-0, are not yet done being better. “The key is to continue improving each game. I think, to a certain extent, we did that (in the first round),” he said. He then continued, “We’d like to carry that over to the second round. We’re looking at that both as a team and also individually.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 9th, 2017

Santiago drops 28 as NU clinches first Finals berth

National University claimed the first championship berth but not after surviving a tough challenge from Arellano University, 25-17, 26-28, 17-25, 25-13, 20-18, to complete a sweep of the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference best-of-three semifinals series on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Jaja Santiago led the Lady Bulldogs with 28 points coming off 21 kills and seven kill blocks while setter Jasmine Nabor registered 12 points on top of her 47 excellent sets. Risa Sato and Roselyn Doria scored nine markers each while Jorelle Singh and Princess Robles chipped in eight apiece for NU   Down 14-10 in the fifth set, the Lady Bulldogs mounted a dramatic comeback saving six match points before taking the last two points off a Nabor off the block kill and capped by an attack error Lady Chiefs skipper Jovielyn Prado. “Nu’ng 14-10 sabi ko sa kanila whatever the result, itaas natin ang energy natin, doon tayo madya-judge eh, sa effort natin,” said NU coach Babes Castillo, whose squad swept the Lady Chiefs in the series opener last Wednesday. “So kumalma naman sila connecting together right away na parang, ‘oo nga pala ito ang role ko’. So I like how they responded.” NU will await its best-of-three Finals opponent on Monday when Far Eastern University and Adamson University dispute the last championship seat. The Finals will start on Wednesday. Prado hammered a down the line hit to put the reigning NCAA champion Arellano at match point, 14-10, before NU countered with five straight points to take the helm, 15-14. The two squads went neck and neck in the next couple of plays. The Lady Chiefs took their last lead 18-17 off a kill block of Andrea Marzan on Aiko Urdas. Sato equalized on a quick kill before the Lady Bulldogs sealed the two-hour, 10 minute duel.         Prado got 20 points, 18 coming off atacks, Regine Arocha and Marzan added 17 and 11 markers, respectively, for Arellano.   The Lady Chiefs will take on the loser between Adamson and FEU in the best-of-three battle for third.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 7th, 2017

Morata making the most of his time in the spotlight

em>By Steve Douglas, Associated Press /em> Alvaro Morata was only a few weeks into life at Chelsea when some of the vulnerability that has cropped up during his career appeared to strike again. 'They're already killing me,' Morata said of his perceived critics following his miss in Chelsea's penalty shootout loss to Arsenal in the Community Shield. They were worrying words from a player who was about to start the season as the undisputed No. 1 striker at a top club for the first time. Could he handle filling the boots of the larger-than-life Diego Costa, a title-winning striker who would become estranged from Chelsea? How would he adapt in a new country following his move from Real Madrid? Could he live with his club-record transfer fee, an initial 58 million pounds (now $77.5 million)? It turns out there was no need to worry. Morata has been one of the revelations in the early weeks of the Premier League, scoring six goals in six games and showing with his movement, aerial ability and turn of pace that he can be the heir — albeit a different, slicker version — to Costa and Didier Drogba before him. On Wednesday, Morata scored the equalizer to spark Chelsea's comeback in its 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid and next faces leader Manchester City in the biggest match of the Premier League season so far. 'I think he is showing,' Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has said, 'that he is a really complete player.' Conte suspected as much three years ago. Then the Juventus coach, it was Conte who set up the transfer of Morata to the Italian club from Madrid in July 2014, only to resign a few days before the move was completed to take over as Italy coach. Conte has finally got to work with the Spain striker, and likes what he sees. At 24, Morata is making the most of his belated time in the spotlight. In two spells at Madrid (2010-14 and 2016-17), he was popular and proved to be an opportunistic finisher but never established himself as the first-choice striker ahead of Karim Benzema. At Juventus from 2014-16, Morata had an impressive first season — the best of his career, during which he scored twice in the 2015 Champions League semifinals to help eliminate Madrid — before a dip in his second and an eventual move back to Madrid on a buy-back option. Still, Morata only started around half of the league matches during his time at Juve and the club's goalkeeping great, Gianluigi Buffon, said the striker had 'negative thoughts in his last period' with the team. Morata has spoken in other interviews of his mental fragility and frustration at not being given a real chance at club level to prove his worth. To many, Morata is regarded as a so-called 'super-sub,' clearly a natural finisher and a danger in the final minutes to swing results but someone who mostly excels as a back-up. He scored 20 goals in all competitions for Madrid last season, despite having just 14 starts in La Liga and one in the Champions League. 'Alvaro, don't forget, in his previous experience didn't play a lot at Juventus or at Real Madrid,' Conte said after Morata's hat trick against Stoke in the Premier League last weekend. 'Now he has a great chance to show that he is a really good striker.' Costa's drawn-out transfer to Atletico Madrid was sealed this week, only serving to confirm that Morata really is the main man up front at Chelsea. It's time to see how a player with just 54 top-flight league starts can cope in a grueling, intense season in the Premier League. Sitting atop the Premier League scorers' chart with Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero, it hasn't been a bad start. Here's what else to watch out for this weekend: ___ strong>STUBBORN CITY /strong> Morata will need to break down a Man City defense that has conceded just one goal in six games this month, and three goals in nine games all season. City's attack has been getting plenty of plaudits with the team averaging four goals a game this month, but the defense is holding up even without injured captain Vincent Kompany and its full backs playing virtually as wingers. Left back Benjamin Mendy will be unavailable this weekend, however, while he awaits the results of tests on a right knee injury sustained last week. ___ strong>UNBEATEN STARTS /strong> The Manchester clubs are the only teams yet to lose in the league. While City's unbeaten start will be put under severe pressure at Stamford Bridge, United is expected to have an easy afternoon on Saturday against Crystal Palace — a team with the unwanted English top-flight record of having no point and no goals after six matches. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2017

ONE: Danny Kingad happy to play gatekeeper if Geje Eustaquio wins ONE title

Macau, China - ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER in Macau, China on June 23 is one of the deepest cards from top to bottom offered by ONE Championship for its 24-event calendar this 2018. From the preliminary portion to the main card of ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, there are plenty of bouts with championship and ranking implications, including the three-round flyweight encounter between former title contender Danny Kingad and Chinese prospect Ma Hao Bin. The winner of the aforementioned 61.2-kilogram tussle could earn a shot at the ONE Flyweight World Championship, which will be on the line in the main event of ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER as Adriano Moraes is slated to duke it out with Geje Eustaquio in a much-awaited rematch and title unification contest. Kingad is now trying to build some momentum towards a second crack at the ONE Flyweight World Championship, while Ma has aced six of his assignments since joining the promotion in 2016. However, the 22-year-old Baguio City native finds himself in a peculiar position if he and his teammate Eustaquio will walk out of the Studio City Event Center with respective victories. Kingad knows that he has to be relegated to a gatekeeping role if Eustaquio will be successful in unifying both titles against Moraes at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER. “I will be super happy for coach Geje if he wins the match in Macau. It’s an honor to be competing alongside him on June 23. I’ve learned a lot of things from him. For this training camp, I’ve spent more time with him. I want him to win the title,” he said. Although he could be knocking on the door for a world title shot again with a decisive win over Ma, Kingad stressed that he will gladly play gatekeeper to Eustaquio. “I don’t mind filling that role if ever he wins against Adriano Moraes. He is my senior, and we are teammates. He is like a brother to me,” he stated. “I am still young. I believe that my time will come.” Kingad is not fond of the idea of squaring off with Eustaquio for the flyweight crown, pointing out that he would not trade his treasured friendship with his Team Lakay comrade for a shot at the world title. “That's not going to happen. We always go at it in practice anyway. I'm happy that I get to spar with him all the time because he pushes me to the limit. We push each other, and we push each other to the next level,” he shared. “I will support coach Geje all the way. For now, I'll just keep getting better as a competitor. I'll wait for my time,” Kingad added. Following an unsuccessful challenge for the ONE Flyweight World Championship this past November against Moraes, which ended in his first professional defeat, Kingad rebounded with an impressive triumph over a battle-tested veteran in Sotir Kichukov four months later. Kingad seeks to sustain his winning groove in ONE Championship as he is set to take on Ma, a Chinese national freestyle wrestling champion with a mixed martial arts record of 11-2. Diligently preparing under the tutelage of head coach Mark Sangiao at Team Lakay in Baguio City, Kingad is fully aware of his opponent’s capabilities. “Training is, as usual, very tough. We are drilling very hard each and every day. I am still working on all areas, be it my striking or my grappling,” he mentioned. “Knowing my opponent is a good wrestler, however, I am particularly working on my takedown defense for this match. I want to keep this fight standing, so I have worked very hard on my takedown defense,” Kingad explained further. Despite the threat that Ma poses in the grappling department, Kingad assured that he is comfortable wherever the bout goes on June 23. “I want to test his stand-up game. I believe I am stronger, faster, and more explosive than he is,” he disclosed. “I am definitely going for a knockout in this match. However, if he does take me to the ground, I will be ready for anything.” Kingad believes that his in-ring meeting with Ma at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER is a must-win clash as he embarks on a hazy road towards the organization’s flyweight championship. “I must win this bout because honestly, I don’t know what the future holds. What if we don’t get the result that we want for coach Geje? I am ready to step up. I cannot wait to get right back in there and make another run at the title. I know things will be very different next time,” he ended......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

Grizzlies name Stackhouse Van Exel among 8 assistants

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies have named Jerry Stackhouse, Nick Van Exel and six others as assistant coaches. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff says his staff will emphasize "discipline, grit, physical and mental toughness." Along with Stackhouse and Van Exel, it will include Chad Forcier, Greg Buckner, Vitaly Potapenko and Adam Mazarei as assistants and J.J. Outlaw and Kevin Burleson as assistant coaches for player development. Forcier brings 22 years of NBA experience to his position. He was an assistant in San Antonio when the Spurs won the NBA championship in 2014. Stackhouse compiled a 70-30 record the past two seasons as a head coach in the NBA G League. Van Exel, Buckner, Mazarei and Outlaw all worked with Bickerstaff last season, when he replaced the fired David Fizdale on an interim basis in November. The team finished 22-60, the second-worst record in the league, but removed the interim tag from Bickerstaff and made him the coach after the season. Potapenko and Burleson both come to the Grizzlies with NBA and G League coaching experience......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

Team manager Dan Palami hopes new coach re-energizes Azkals

With new head coach Terry Butcher set to join the Azkals as they begin preparations for the upcoming 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, there are already expectations from the Philippine National Men’s Football Team moving forward. And from team manager Dan Palami’s side, he expects the former England skipper to re-energize the Pinoy squad as they get ready for what’s set to be a crucial pair of tournaments in the coming months. “I expect him to bring new energy, his leadership when he was a player and as a coach in his clubs will be infectious and will give the players the high that’s needed, rejuvenate them and get them to prove themselves in the competitions that are about to come.” Palami told ABS-CBN Sports. (READ ALSO: Azkals captain Phil Younghusband excited to learn from new coach) The arrival of Butcher signals the end of the Thomas Dooley era for the Azkals.  Dooley, who handled the Philippine National Team from 2014 to 2018, steered the Azkals to their biggest win yet, one over Tajikistan to secure their spot in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in Philippine football history, in his final match with the team.  And while there was nothing but gratitude for what Dooley did with the team during his four year stint, Palami explains that changes needed to be made, even coming off the heels of the team's biggest victory in history.  "Believe you me, when everything seems to be looking up, then you have to prepare for that, because you usually see a lot of downs, but the good thing is, we’re up and down, up and down, but the general trend is going up." "We wanna make sure that that continues and even bring it up some more, and that’s why sometimes we have to make changes, it’s a catalyst that will make us perform better, I hope, because historically, that’s how it’s been. Everytime we make changes, people criticize it, people get anxious, but at the end of the day, we have shown that our perfomance has gotten better." Palami added.  Later this year, the Azkals will be participating in the Suzuki Cup, and it could be a shot at redemption after having crashed out of the semifinals in the tournament’s previous staging back in 2016. Barely two months after the Suzuki Cup, the Azkals embark on their most important journey yet, as they kick off their AFC Asian Cup campaign, the highest level they’ve ever been on. Being grouped with South Korea, China, and Kyrgyzstan in Group C, it’s definitely an uphill battle for the Azkals, given that the country is on the lower tier of the pool in terms of rankings. Palami says that defying the odds is nothing new to Butcher, who back in 2009 to 2013, took a relegated Inverness club back to the Scottish Premier League. “Let’s face it, the Philippines is not the most palatable country to coach, but I think with Coach Terry, he has been in similarly-situated conditions, although in club levels. When he was in Inverness, he achieved a great deal with such a small club with such a small budget.” “It’s kind of inspiring, it parallels the journey of the Azkals, na parang maybe he could do the same, and he’s shown that kind of spirit throughout these years, since that time. I’m looking forward to him sharing that experience and bringing that experience dito sa atin.” Palami added. With a new coach, a new coaching staff, and new beginnings, this could be the start of something grand for the Azkals. For Palami and the rest of the squad, it’s nothing but excitement for the coming months. “I think everybody’s excited. We look forward to the tandem of Terry and [Senior Football Adviser] Scott [Cooper] doing a lot for Philippine football and the Azkals.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Football: Azkals fighting for redemption, recognition in upcoming tournaments

As important as the first quarter of 2018 was for the Philippine Azkals, the coming months are definitely even more crucial. With the introduction of former England skipper Terry Butcher as the national team’s new head coach, the road to redemption and recognition begins. "The next 12 months is huge for Philippine football. If we can have success in the Suzuki Cup and the Asian Cup, that will be huge strides in the development of football here in the Philippines." said Azkals skipper Phil Younghusband. Redemption is the goal for the upcoming 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, which kicks off in November. The last time that the Azkals participated in the biennial Southeast Asian tournament, it was definitely one to forget. For the first time since 2008, the Philippines failed to qualify for the Suzuki Cup semifinals, snapping a streak of three straight Final Four appearances. This year, the Azkals once again find themselves grouped with Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore, just like in 2016. “We have the same group as in the 2016 Suzuki Cup, so it’s a chance for us to redeem ourselves and do better.” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami.      “[It's] the same draw we had two years ago when we didn’t qualify,” said Younghusband. “We know it will be tough and it’s a challenge for us.” The Fil-British striker added that in order to establish themselves as a force to reckon with in Southeast Asian football, teams like Thailand and Indonesia, and Singapore are ones that they need to take care of. “If we want to continue to help the growth of Philippine football, these are teams we will have to play and win against.” A successful AFF Suzuki Cup campaign will also definitely give the Azkals the much-needed momentum as they begin their AFC Asian Cup campaign, their first in team history. On the biggest stage that they’ve been on, their goal is to be recognized as a legitimate contender in Asian football. “The Asian Cup draw is a difficult group, but there are other groups that are more tough. It will be great to get the experience of playing a World Cup side to see what level we are at.” Younghusband said. In the Asian Cup, which kicks off in January of 2019, the Azkals find themselves grouped with South Korea, China, and Kyrgyzstan. All three teams are ranked higher than the Philippines. And while it’s bound to be an uphill battle for the Azkals, Younghusband is hopeful that they can come up with some surprises. “China will be very difficult, but we played them last year so we know what to expect. I would rather play a team we have played before. Kyrgyzstan, we played twice recently and had good victories so it should be interesting. Hopefully, we can claim a best third spot or even surprise a few people and claim second spot.”  Much like the captain, Palami acknowledges that the Asian Cup will indeed be a tough go, but going through tough opponents is the only way for the Azkals to prove themselves among Asia’s elite, and that’s what Palami wants to see from the Pinoy side. “For the Asian Cup, it will be a tough group, but I think if we do it right, we can pull off one of the biggest surprises in the tournament, and that’s what we aim to do.” “We don’t want to be mere participants, but we want to be true competitors in the Asian Cup.” Palami added......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

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

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- These combo coronation-funerals can be tricky. Imagine the crowning of a new monarch where the royal subjects couldn’t stop chattering about the freshly deposed or deceased predecessor. Where the traditional cry of continuity and succession, “The king is dead! Long live the king!” got flipped, with what was overshadowing what is. That’s pretty much how it went Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena, with the Golden State Warriors’ latest NBA championship having to share the stage with speculation, instantly revved up, about LeBron James and the choice he’ll soon make about his next employer. The Warriors are the kings, claiming pro basketball’s throne yet again by completing a sweep of James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. But of course, James is the King, and as so many of us learned in sophomore English – thanks, CliffsNotes! – “Uneasy lies the head (of those who fret and obsess about the future whereabouts of the NBA superstar) that wears a crown.” Long live the kings! The King is ... gone? There was so much energy before, during and after Game 4 Friday (Saturday, PHL time) poured into the last game/next game conjecture about James, the Cavaliers and seismic shifts in the league’s 2018-19 landscape that even the player’s surprise reveal near the end of the night – a bruised and bandaged right hand – couldn’t derail it. Turns out, as James ‘fessed up, the sore shooting paw was an injury he had been playing with ever since Game 1 in Oakland eight days earlier. He had “self-inflicted” it in a fit of pique when he smacked a whiteboard in the visitors’ dressing room at Oracle Arena after Cleveland’s overtime loss in the series-setter, an outcome driven at least in part by some teammates’ mistakes and an arcane wrinkle in the NBA’s replay rules regarding block/charge fouls. Despite the hordes of media people chronicling every waking detail of the Finals, James had kept the injury on the down-low (along with the possibility that J.R. Smith’s nickname amongst his Cavs teammates might be “whiteboard”). The cameras zoomed in and clicked in a paparazzi frenzy of motor drives every time James raised the hand, wrapped in black tape, above the table during his postgame podium remarks. Whether a legit Page-2-the-rest-of-the-story factor in the championship series or a too-late alibi, the contused hand wound up as a sidebar to where James plans to be using it when training camps open in a few months. As of Friday (Saturday, PHL time), it had been 95 months since “The Decision,” the 2010 announcement that James made in a tone-deaf vanity TV production that he was taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. Nearly 47 months had passed since he broke the news of his return in a Sports Illustrated ghost-written essay, envisioning much of what actually has unfolded in the four years since. Now savvy insiders and casual observers alike presume James will be on the move again, pushed to leave the franchise he has defined in an urgent search for more and better talent with which he can compete. As in, y’know, some horses, some horses, his kingdom for some horses. James’ free-agency process next month (he can opt out of a $35.6 million deal in the final season of his current contract) is expected to dictate the market of player movement this summer like an oversized domino. It easily could swing the balance of power, if not quite at Golden State’s lofty level then immediately below it. The monster he helped create Dr. Frankenstein eventually was done in by his macabre creation, and it can similarly be argued that James has no one but himself to blame for the predicament in which he again finds himself. He set in motion the machinery of the super team, after all, when he chose to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami eight years ago. Oh sure, the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 got there first by luring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce, but that was about knitting together three stars, all age 30 or older, for what would be their last best chance to win in an extremely limited run. That group won one title, went to two Finals in three seasons and was done, Allen leaving to join James & Co. with the Heat while Garnett and Pierce morphed into trade chips for Boston POBO Danny Ainge. When James, Wade and Bosh teamed up, they were in their basketball primes and their initial giddy boasts of “not four, not five, not six” championships turned off fans league-wide as much for its portent as its pretension. That crew went 4-for-4 in Finals, winning two rings before James, nudged by staleness and chafing as well as his grand plan for northeast Ohio, went home. From there, a line can be drawn through the ill-conceived 2012-13 L.A. Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all the way to this season’s Houston Rockets of James Harden and Chris Paul and the talent-gorged Golden State roster. James was the centerpiece as Cleveland replicated the Big Three concept around him with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, two younger, playoff-stymied All-Stars. The new-look Cavaliers went to the Finals in their first season together and clambered atop the basketball world to win the franchise’s first NBA title by the end of the second, becoming the first team in league history to do so after digging a 1-3 hole in the best-of-seven series. In that moment, regardless of the two Finals trips that followed, James’ bill was stamped: Paid In Full. Misguided fans might burn his jersey if he leaves again, but James burned the mortgage after that Game 7 in Oakland in 2016 as far as any remaining obligation to fulfill. “I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” he said after elimination Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember. Honestly, I think we'll all remember that. It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we'll all remember that in sports history.” James added: “When you have a goal and you're able to accomplish that goal, it actually – for me personally – made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships. And I still want to be in championship mode. I think I've shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.” In other words, James intends to sustain his high level of performance. He expects to win. And he presumably will do whatever – and go wherever – is necessary to achieve that. There’s no perfect fit So what does that mean for the NBA’s best player (never mind what the annual MVP balloting says in any given season)? It means this: compromise. There is no ideal situation, certainly no easy answer to the guesswork surrounding James’ looming free agency. He could transform any of the 30 teams, but not without some trade-offs for him, for them or for both. Most of them won’t be in play. Teams in markets such as Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Sacramento, the Twin Cities and so on can’t scratch James’ itches for either championship-worthy depth chart or spotlight. New York and Chicago, among the biggies, are out of synch with his timeline. Toronto? No way James is resettling his brand north of the border, and given his stated desire for teammates who have not just sufficient basketball skills but also mental toughness, well, the Raptors teams he and the Cavs have dominated do not qualify. The Boston club that stretched Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals is built for the long haul and would have to surrender much of that to adjust to James’ career calendar. There’s a little Kyrie problem lurking there and, truth be told, the Celtics look to be on their way and are doing just fine without the 33-year-old heading, one of these years, toward decline. At some point in each of the 2018 Finals’ final three days, James spoke admiringly of the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs title teams that blocked his path whether in Miami or Cleveland. He was at it again even as the Warriors were dousing the opponent’s locker room at The Q with Moet champagne. “I made the move in 2010 to be able to play with talented players, cerebral players that you could see things that happen before they happened on the floor,” James said. “When you feel like you're really good at your craft, I think it's always great to be able to be around other great minds as well and other great ballplayers. “That's never changed. Even when I came here in '14, I wanted to try to surround myself and surround this franchise with great minds and guys that actually think outside the box of the game and not just go out and play it.” Where might James find that now or recruit that swiftly? Hard to say. There are asterisks and “buts” everywhere: * If he were to sign with the Houston Rockets, James would be hitching his star to Chris Paul, a buddy with an injury history that’s about the mirror opposite of his own. He would be teaming up with an elite coach in Mike D’Antoni, something he’s never had (though Miami’s Erik Spoelstra was just young and unproven, on his way to big things). But it also would require another big ask of James Harden, who had to adapt last summer to Paul’s arrival and need for the ball. * If James chooses the Lakers, he has the chance to hit reset with the league’s glitziest franchise, in a market that can meet his every off-court wish and where he and his family already own one or more ultra-comfortable homes. The Lakers have young talent to help James transition into a lower-usage veteran’s role, favored status as a destination team for other top free agents and the salary-cap space to get it done this summer with the likes of Paul George or his pal Paul. But that roster might not be capable of insta-contending, which could burn a season or two when James’ clock most definitely is clicking. * If it’s San Antonio, James could link up with the elite coach in Gregg Popovich, where the winning culture is in the DNA rather than some acquired taste. The Spurs have talent, particularly if Kawhi Leonard finds happiness again there. But they might not have enough to rattle the Warriors’ cage. And for all their professed admiration, James and Popovich might both fare better by keeping their relationship long-distance vs. the 82-game grind. * If it’s Golden State? Perish the thought. The NBA might have to board up itself if competitive balance were capsized to that extent. And as Draymond Green shrewdly noted on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), if James climbed aboard, it likely would require him and several other Golden State teammates to be dispatched to parts unknown. * If James prefers to stay East, where the winning comes easier, he could pick Philadelphia. The Sixers have two foundational young stars at positions that matter most, center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. But Simmons is a non-shooter at the moment, the antithesis of what makes a great complementary LeBron teammate. As for Embiid, James never has had to play off of and service a top center. And Philly might feel like a basketball-only move, with the hungriest and most demanding of any new fan base he would embrace. * If it’s Miami – wait, could it be Miami? Could he go second-home again? The Heat always strive to be competitive and offer a talent base deep enough for the East and lots of familiarity. But they also have players such as Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters whose mental approaches don’t seem to fit the model James was cooing about in Golden State and with the Tim Duncan-era Spurs. * That brings us to Cleveland, where it’s possible James might choose to remain. Staying with the Cavaliers, after leading them to four Finals and that heady 2016 title, would be the easiest choice as far as pressure to win. He owes these fans nothing anymore – in fact, had the bargain been offered to them in 2010 (“LeBron will leave and win elsewhere for four years, but will come back and deliver a championship and four Finals trips”), most would have grabbed it. Here, James and the fans who have watched him even through the interruption develop from ridiculously touted high schooler to one of the world’s most famous athletes could grow older together. Then he could partner up and buy the team from owner Dan Gilbert for a long-term future. Certainly, staying has a certain place in his and the rest of the James clan’s hearts. “The one thing that I've always done is considered, obviously, my family,” he said at series end Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I've got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.” It’s worth noting that as James contemplates his options as a modern pursuer of championship excellence, the prospect of him moving again qualifies at some level as a failure. Not just by the support system in Cleveland, where he and Gilbert have their friction and James gets snidely mentioned as the team’s unofficial GM and head coach, but by him too. He’s the one who went off to seek his “college education” in south Florida in what it takes to win, whether on the court, in the front office or in and around the seams 365 days a year, straight out of the Pat Riley handbook. The teams about which James talks so glowingly in Oakland now and in San Antonio then have cultures he covets, stability up and down the flowchart he craves. In Cleveland, for a variety of reasons, his team has been incapable of establishing and maintaining that to a lasting degree. He is part of that missed opportunity and he has to own it, no matter if he goes or stays. James is inseparable from the dynamic of the Cavaliers’ ever-changing and often melodramatic roster maneuvers. Spending big, swapping out draft picks to import current stars and supporting players, and overvaluing secondary guys like Smith and Tristan Thompson are risks the Warriors and the Spurs largely avoided thanks to shrew drafting and laudable continuity. The Cavs’ scrap heap, by contrast, is high with traded picks, scuttled plans, panic deals, short-term patches and folks such as former coach David Blatt and former GM David Griffin. And maybe James could have nurtured a little better relationship with All-Star point guard and 2016 title sidekick Kyrie Irving, enough to have kept Irving from bailing on them all with his trade demand last summer. Now he’s on the verge of casting about again, prioritizing what matters most for however long he continues to play. James is more at peace with it than he was before, particularly in 2010, and surely can enjoy the leverage he wields and the riches it delivers. But there is a burden there as well, one that could be seen as completing a circle. So many of the NBA’s greatest stars have been stuck playing and living in the Age of LeBron, right? Their paths to the Finals blocked, on one whole side of the league, by him and his? Well, LeBron James is stuck now in the Era of the Warriors, freshly swept and anxious to close the gap. What goes around comes around, though the key more pressing of the big W’s now is, where? Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

MPBL: Better prepared QC Capitals coming with 'NSD attitude

Given that they only had a couple of weeks to prepare, the Quezon City Capitals’ quarterfinals run in the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Rajah Cup was definitely an impressive feat. Being one of the last teams to confirm their participation, the Capitals only had two weeks to prepare for the season, and still managed to finish fifth out of ten teams and qualify for the post season. Now after a full conference of experience and a full training camp, the Capitals are looking to build on from their past success and go even further in the postseason. QC Capitals head coach Vis Valencia addressing the crowd. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/yIINy7kOoc — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) June 5, 2018 “Ngayon mas maganda yung preparation ng Quezon City Capitals, if you remember last conference, we only had less than two weeks, we had a good start, we were able to make it to the quarterfinals pero nag-short kami ng preparation.” Capitals head coach Vis Valencia told ABS-CBN Sports. “Now, we have better preparation, we have a good combination of players, young and experienced players, combined. Kumbaga maganda yung naging jelling nila, ang aga nila mag-jell actually because they’re all professionals.” Joining the Capitals for the Datu Cup will be a couple of ex-pros in Jojo Duncil and Magi Sison. Duncil, a former UAAP Champion and UAAP Finals MVP, spent eight years in the PBA while Sison was a former Gilas call-up and played three years in the pros. (READ ALSO: Ex-pro Jojo Duncil continues basketball life with the QC Capitals) Coach Vis hopes that the addition of experienced pros such as Duncil and Sison can not only bolster the Capitals’ talent, but also provide much-needed guidance and leadership. “We’re glad to have Jojo Duncil, Magi Sison, marami silang maitutulong, lalo na with our young players. Sila yung parang kuya ng team, they share a lot of their experiences to the young players.” said Valencia. “It’s a good combination, we have young and athletic players and at the same time we have senior players like Jojo Duncil who can guide us for the whole season.” Coming from a four-month tournament that featured ten teams, the upcoming Datu Cup will now feature a much bigger 26-team tournament that’s expected to stretch out for ten months. For Valencia, physical and mental fitness will be key in surviving the long, gruelling season. “Of course, we have to really make sure that we are prepared physically, its a very long and rough season, 25 games, home and away. Sabi ko nga nung last conference, we only had nine teams [to face], pero we felt yung, we got exhausted pagdating nung six, seven, eight games, we already felt the pagod of the conference.” “That’s one thing, we prepare everybody physically, then also we prepared everybody mentally. I told the boys it’s a long and rough season pero let’s enjoy every moment, at practice, at games. That will help us the whole conference, yung physical and mental preparations.” After an impressive inaugural run, Valencia promises that the Capitals will at an even higher level in the upcoming Datu Cup. “You can expect the Quezon City Capitals to come with that never say die attitude, we will play our hearts out, expect that the team this conference will really give their hearts, especially for Quezon City.“ The 2018 MPBL Datu Cup opens on Tuesday, June 12th at the Araneta Coliseum......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

PVL: High Flyers survive feisty Water Defenders

Tess Rountree plucked 27 points to lead semifinals-bound PayMaya to a hard-earned 13-25, 25-21, 25-21, 20-25, 15-9, win over BaliPure-National University Wednesday in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The American import finished with 25 kills and two aces for the High Flyers, who closed the preliminary round with a 5-2 win-loss record. Jorelle Singh added 11 points, Grethcel Soltones had 11 markers while Jamsine Nabor tallied 23 excellent sets against their former team, which they helped win the inaugural Open Conference crown last year. The Final Four no. 2 seed PayMaya won its second straight match to build its momentum heading into the best-of-three semis. The High Flyers will have almost a month-long break and will wait for their semis rival. But head coach Roger Gorayeb was far from satisfied with his team’s performance. “Ang sama ng nilaro ng team ko,” he said. “Ang sama ng nilaro ng team sa first set, masyadong kampante.” “Yung first set worst yun. Kailan kami naglaro ng ganoon? Nagdadasal ako tumawid sana sa 10 (ang score),” he added. The Water Defenders dropped their third straight match for a 3-4 slate tied with Petro Gazz and defending champion Pocari Sweat-Air Force. American Janisa Johnson had 27 points anchored on 20 spikes, four aces and three kill blocks while Alexis Matthews and Roselyn Doria chipped in with 16 and 12 markers, respectively, in a lost cause for BaliPure. The Water Defenders, Pocari Sweat, Petro Gazz, BanKo, Iriga-Navy and Tacloban will battle in a round robin quarterfinals for the last two Final Four berths.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2018