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It’s part of the process – Valdez on PHI U-23 team

Despite the stinging losses and less than desirable score lines, the PHI Under-23 women’s volleyball team will always have the support and admiration of established local stars in Creamline’s Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado and Michele Gumabao.   The young squad, which played without most of its vaunted hitters and recognizable names because of various reasons ranging from club commitments to injuries, finished the 2019 Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Volleyball Championships empty-handed save for valuable experience and lessons playing in the international scene. Never mind the bashers, the searing and scarring criticisms and all, they’re volleyball ‘ates’ got their backs. “Ako, for the girls lang, they don’t have to be down,” said Valdez, who was a part of the PHI U-23 team that finished seventh in the 12-team inaugural Asian U-23 Championship that the country hosted in 2015. “I’m not saying na dapat maging masaya but you keep on fighting, you keep on going.” Valdez, who has been a part of the national team since her girls squad stint 11 years ago, admired the determination of the PHI U-23 to represent the country even on short notice.   “Kahit anong mangyari we’re just really proud of the girls. Pinatawag sila to represent our country, pumunta sila ipinaglaban nila yung bansa natin,” said Valdez, who is set to make her third Southeast Asian Games tour of duty in November. “Who knows sila ang future generation natin na magre-represent talaga ng bansa natin at makapagdala ng medal.” Playing with an inexperienced core with a few high school standouts, the Filipinas were easy pickings for their seasoned tormentors. “It’s part of the process. Kung mababa ang score and matalo, it’s part of the learning experience you get internationally,” added Valdez. The PHI U-23 team suffered a humiliating 9-25, 12-25, 6-25, whipping at the hands of one of Japan’s best club teams, the Okayama Seagulls – the same team that will host the country’s senior national team during their international training camp. Looking to save face after their embarrassment, the Filipinas did regain some sense of pride with a better showing albeit it still ended with a 20-25, 12-25, 15-25, loss to 3BB Nakornnont, which fielded a couple of players from the Thai national team.    “Pero 'yung girls we’ve seen them, I’ve seen them. I watched their games also. I see how hard they fight. I’ve seen how they trained also,” said Morado, who was also a former PHI U-23 standout and currently part of the senior squad. “’Yun nga lang lahat ng players talaga na pinapadala sa ganoon lumalaban talaga,” she added. “They’re not there just for nothing, they’re there for the country, so kudos sa kanila.” Gumabao, who represented the country in the 2015 Asian Seniors Championship in China, commended the patriotism of the girls despite overwhelming odds. “Nothing to be ashamed of,” said Gumabao, who also carried the nation’s pride outside of volleyball in the 2018 Miss Globe competition. Gumabao like Morado and Valdez called on the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. to come up with a comprehensive and concrete program for the all of the sport’s national teams for future international competitions.   “You reap what you sow. We in Creamline, we reap what we sow. We sow hard work, we reap wins,” Gumabao said. “Same internationally, if you sow years of training and experience, makikita natin ang score.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019

James Harden withdraws from 2019 FIBA World Cup

NBA.com staff report All-Star James Harden wants to focus on the Rockets late this summer and fall, specifically on adapting to playing with new teammates such as Russell Westbrook. According to a report by Jonathan Feigen in The Houston Chronicle on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), Harden has informed Team USA coach Gregg Popovich that he is withdrawing from the team that will represent the U.S. in the FIBA World Cup in China. Speaking at an event on Friday to donate shoes and other sporting goods to children from the Greater Houston Police Activities League, Harden said he wanted to spend the remainder of the offseason to focus on preparing for the retooled Rockets. Rockets teammates P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon are both scheduled to participate in practices in Las Vegas Aug. 5 to 9. Harden has previously played for the 2012 USA Basketball Olympic team and 2014 World Cup team. Harden joins Anthony Davis as the second top player to withdraw from Team USA in the past week. Team USA still has All-Star guards Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker and Bradley Beal among those who remain committed. The FIBA World Cup is scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 15 in China, and doesn't leave much lead time for players to start NBA training camps......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 20th, 2019

Anthony Davis joins Lakers with championship plans

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Anthony Davis' year of uncertainty finally felt finished when he stood in the Los Angeles Lakers' training complex and proudly held up his new gold jersey while LeBron James looked on approvingly. After months of upheaval around his departure from New Orleans, the superstar forward is looking forward to years of success and stability on the West Coast. Sure, Davis knows the Lakers are rarely stable, and championships are the only success this franchise understands. The six-time All-Star can't wait for the challenge of winning big in the Hollywood spotlight. "The most difficult part for me was just not knowing," Davis said Saturday (Sunday, PHl time). "When it was announced that I was being traded, I don't want to say it was a relief, (but) it was something that I'd thought about for a long time. Obviously it was tough to leave the city I'd been playing in for seven years, but I think it was best for me. "When I found out I'd been traded to the Lakers, I realized it was an unbelievable opportunity for me," he added. "To be here with a wonderful organization, and then to be able to play alongside LeBron and the players that we have now ... to get the opportunity to do that and come here and play for an organization that's all about winning, and winning championships, and that's the only goal, I think that was the biggest thing for me." The Lakers formally acquired Davis this month in one of the biggest moves of the NBA's tumultuous offseason, but this courtship has been happening for much longer. Davis became determined to leave New Orleans last season, and Los Angeles made an in-season run at Davis before eagerly blowing up its young core to get a second game-changing star to play alongside James. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka introduced Davis as "the most dominant young basketball player in the world." "There is no more complete basketball player in the game," Pelinka added. "There is nothing he can't do. He can shoot. He can make plays. He can defend 1 to 5. He can protect the rim. He can handle the ball. His dedication to his craft is unparalleled. To sit here next to him and think he's going to be on our team and he's going to be a pillar in this franchise for many years is just something we're incredibly proud of." The Lakers gave up Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and a slew of draft picks to land Davis one year before he could become an unrestricted free agent. While Pelinka clearly expects Davis to sign a long-term deal to stay with the Lakers, Davis didn't make a declaration of his intentions right away. "Right now, my focus is on this year, and trying to help this organization become a championship team," Davis said. Davis' new jersey will bear a No. 3 after his plan to take his usual No. 23 from James fell through thanks to rules involving jersey supplier Nike, who had already begun planning for next season with James in the No. 23 shirt. Davis will go back to the number he wore in elementary and middle school, although he jokingly said the denial of No. 23 "was pretty hurtful." Davis and James have been kept up to speed on Pelinka's machinations to build a strong roster around them. Davis strongly endorsed the signing of DeMarcus Cousins, his former teammate in New Orleans — and not just because Davis prefers to play as a power forward instead of a center. "I like playing the 4," Davis said to a laughing coach Frank Vogel. "I'm not even going to sugarcoat it. I don't like playing the 5, but if it comes down to it, Coach, I'll play the 5." Pelinka said the Lakers signed Cousins and re-signed JaVale McGee precisely so that Davis wouldn't wear down his body guarding centers. Davis was asked about load management, and he dismissed it: "I'm playing. I'm 26-years-old. I love the game of basketball. I'm ready to play." Davis also waived a $4 million trade kicker in his contract so the Lakers would have cap room to take their failed run at Kawhi Leonard, a move that Pelinka praised as selfless. "Anytime you're able to acquire a player like Kawhi, I think you have to do almost everything to get a guy like that," Davis said. "It didn't work out for us, but I wanted to make sure I did whatever I could to help the team." Basketball-loving Los Angeles is still buzzing after its two teams were turned into immediate contenders during free agency, but they're hardly alone in a league that might have achieved a measure of parity after years of Golden State dominance. While Leonard and Paul George landed with the Clippers, Davis and James are confident about the future ahead for the 16-time NBA champions, who are exponentially more beloved in their hometown than their local rivals. Davis has lived in Los Angeles during the offseason for several years, and he loves everything about it but the traffic. "It's going to be fun," Davis said of the new-look league with its new crop of superstar pairings. "I'm excited about it. I think the league has grown. I think it's better. (With) all the players teaming up and spreading that talent throughout the league, it's going to be a fun season. I like our roster. I like every player that we have, from one through 14." The Lakers have been the worst team in the NBA during their team-record six consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, but Davis and James expect to end those struggles and drought in the year ahead. They're aiming for much more, too. "I know we'll talk about it and do whatever we can to definitely make this team a championship team next season," Davis said, before correcting himself: "This season.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2019

End of an era: Westbrook exits Oklahoma City

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com LAS VEGAS – Just when you thought it was safe to step out from under a doorway, another seismic tremble rumbled through the NBA Las Vegas Summer League Thursday evening (Friday, PHL time). Earthquake again? Nope, just more Thunder. Get your first look at the NBA’s top Rookies during NBA Summer League LIVE on NBA League Pass! Oklahoma City and general manager Sam Presti were back at it, this time reportedly sending former Kia MVP Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for guard Chris Paul, first-round draft picks in 2024 and 2026, and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025. Six days earlier, OKC had stunned the pro hoops world by trading All-Star wing Paul George to the LA Clippers, serving up the co-star that coveted free agent Kawhi Leonard wanted as a condition of signing with Staples Center’s other NBA team. That deal yielded for the Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari and guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, along with five first-round picks and swap rights on two more. The biggest difference in moving Westbrook was that this one was anticipated. George had gone to Presti quietly after conspiring with Leonard, requesting the trade in a way that enabled the OKC GM to work behind the scenes. Presti had leverage on the Clippers, since he in essence was delivering both two-way stars – George and Leonard, who otherwise might have re-signed with Toronto – simultaneously. The deal Thursday (Friday, PHL time) paired Presti with Rockets counterpart Daryl Morey. Given their trade-happy track records, it wasn’t surprising that, if an NBA fan listened closely, he or she might have heard the sound of gods bowling. George’s departure and OKC’s subsequent trade of forward Jerami Grant to Denver made it clear which direction the Thunder were heading. Getting ousted from the playoffs’ first round for three consecutive years made the team’s $146 million payroll (and the luxury taxes it triggered) untenable. “People [within the league] knew they were going to do something pretty profound,” one GM told NBA.com earlier this week. “What they got for George was more than a king’s ransom. And if they end up trading Russell for all the tea in China, it will be the same deal again, right?” There were other suitors, most notably Miami, fueling speculation that Presti might not be done. How about Chris Paul to the Heat for expiring contracts, a prospect or two and more draft assets? As it is, the Thunder already have lassoed or retained an outrageous 15 first-round picks over the next six years. That sets up Oklahoma City ridiculously well, on paper, for the medium- and long-term. Short-term? Meh. A crew of Paul (if he stays), Gallinari, Gilgeous-Alexander, Andre Roberson, Steven Adams and Terrance Ferguson seems undermanned in the wild, wild West. But Presti has amassed enough picks that Thunder fans won’t have to worry about their favorite team tanking -- they can just root against the Clippers, the Heat and the Rockets in hopes of desirable draft positions. Westbrook deserves credit for spending the first 11 years of his career in an unglamorous, small-revenue market (though $168 million in NBA earnings had something to do with it too). He had two MVPs (Kevin Durant and James Harden) and one MVP candidate (George last season) leave via trade or free agency before he did. Now he has a chance, re-teamed with Harden in Houston, to step into the void opened by Golden State’s anticipated decline in 2019-20 (Durant’s departure from the Bay has something to do with that). The Rockets and Morey have to be on the clock, their extended window as championship contenders not likely to stay propped open for long. Westbrook and Harden, a tandem of past MVPs, should have most of their statistical and usage itches scratched by now. Each badly needs a ring on his resume. Paul, meanwhile, might find himself hooking up with Jimmy Butler with the Heat, a pairing that makes more sense than Butler-Westbrook at least in terms of basketball compatibility. Presti’s performance over the past 10 days or so has been “breathtaking,” according to the rival GM. But with so many folks in and outside OKC so eager to spin the Thunder’s picks and prospects forward, a nagging question remains: What should we make of their past? In Presti’s 12 seasons, beginning with the franchise still in Seattle in 2007-08, his team has won 50 games or more six times (counting the 47-19 equivalent in lockout-shortened 2011-2012). Over the Thunder’s first 10 seasons in Oklahoma, only the San Antonio Spurs won more often. The Thunder have reached the postseason nine times, winning 14 series. They lost the Finals in five games to Miami in 2012, and got bounced three times from the conference finals, once from the West semifinals and four times from the first round. There were injuries and close calls, sure, but those are a part of it for everyone. Drafting, Presti strung together Durant (No. 2 overall in 2007), Westbrook (No. 4, ’08) and Harden (No. 3, '09). His record deeper into the first round has been predictably mixed: Reggie Jackson (No. 24, ’11) and Adams (No. 12, ’13) on one side of the ledger, fellows such as Perry Jones (No. 28, ’12), Mitch McGary (No. 21, ’14) and Cameron Payne (No. 14, ’15) on the other. The Thunder’s two most notable trades prior to this summer involved Harden going out and George coming in. When they sent out Harden -- the league’s reigning Kia Sixth Man of the Year award winner in 2012 -- it was an anticipatory financial move that for a time kept them out of luxury tax trouble ... as well as the Finals. When Presti traded for George in 2017, the players he gave up, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, had a better first season in Indiana than George in OKC. But as with Westbrook, Presti got George to sign a *cough* long-term extension, and the former Pacer finished third in MVP balloting this spring. So bottom line, which is it: Should the Thunder’s extended run as a contender in the West be applauded? Or should they be considered underachievers, considering the three MVPs they had – Durant in 2014, Westbrook in 2017 and Harden (with Houston) in 2018 – as well as George? OKC got a total of 25 seasons from those four players, 23 of them in tandem or as a trio. Only Durant as a rookie and Westbrook in 2016-17 worked as a solo act, star-wise. Those two plus George made a total of 17 All-Star appearances while playing for the Thunder, and in seven of the past nine seasons, OKC sent two to the February gala. That’s a lot of firepower for a fairly limited payoff (the lone Finals trip). So as excited as the Thunder and their fans might be for what’s headed their way, they’re right to feel melancholy over what’s done and now gone. 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 NewsJul 12th, 2019

NCAA 95: Will third time be the charm for TY Tang-coached CSB?

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 10-8, 5th YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Kendrix Belgica, Justin Gutang, Yankie Haruna, Clement Leutcheu, Unique Naboa WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Ladis Lepalam, Mark Sangco GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Carlo Young WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM CSB? A year ago, CSB came oh so close to finally breaking through to the Final Four. Now in NCAA Season 95, the Blazers are bringing back a mostly intact core that only lost two-way guard Carlo Young. Even so, rising star Justin Gutang remains in green and white alongside tireless workhorse Kendrix Belgica, hard-nosed forward Edward Dixon, pint-sized playmaker Unique Naboa, and Cameroonian center Clement Leutcheu. “We have no doubt Edward Dixon and Kendrix Belgica will be stepping up for us big time.” – head coach TY Tang They will also be joined by a couple of sophomores being eyes to take the next step in Prince Carlos and Robi Nayve as well as a pair of standouts from CSB-La Salle Green Hills in 6-foot-8 raw project Ladis Lepalam and long-limbed wing Mark Sangco. All that may very well be the perfect mix TY Tang has long been looking for now in his third year at the helm – and that elusive playoff berth may very well be within reach for the Taft-based team. “We can always say we are ready but the result will show if we are or we are not. For us, we are just looking forward to again play in the NCAA.” – head coach TY Tang WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM CSB? NCAA Season 95 is Gutang’s time to transform from an impact rookie to a bonafide star. Without a doubt, CSB will go wherever its Filipino-American takes it, but that also means that the do-it-all swingman would need to take on more of a leadership role for his young supporting cast. “In terms of playing inside the court, no doubt na siya talaga ang leader namin, but more than the on-court stuff, it's more of his character, yun ang hinahanap namin sa kanya. When you're a leader, you're supposed to command and earn the respect of your team. That's where we want him to lead. He's still a work-in-progress with his maturity, pero nag-improve naman.” – head coach TY Tang In that light, it’s only a step in the right direction that the Blazers are, at long last, getting to add talent from its thriving high school program. Lepalam and Sangco may be under the radar pickups, but both are more than capable of being key cogs for a contender. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR CSB? CSB has long been longing for another run to the Final Four, or even the Finals, after the school took the league by storm by winning the championship in its early years of membership. In recent history, the Blazers have fallen a win or two short of the playoffs more than a few times. With the field as wide open as it has been in a long while, NCAA Season 95 may just be the opening they need to finally get that Final Four monkey off their backs. “To get to the playoffs is our main goal.” – head coach TY Tang WHERE WOULD CSB BE AT THE END OF NCAA SEASON 95? CSB will be fighting with its all for a place in the Final Four, but it is far from a shoo-in. Coach TY needs even more lucky bounces to go his way if he is to finally accomplish the mission he set out for with the Blazers. WHEN IS CSB’S FIRST GAME IN NCAA SEASON 95? CSB begins its quest for a breakthrough when it wages war against Emilio Aguinaldo College on July 9 at the Filoil Flying V Centre. As always, the latest season of the first and oldest collegiate league in the country will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream. HERE’S WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE NINE OTHER TEAMS IN NCAA SEASON 95: Young guns to be wind beneath JRU’s wings for NCAA 95 EAC turning over a new leaf for NCAA 95 Kent Salado back in the driver's seat for Arellano in NCAA 95 Mapua Srs. out to reap the rewards of its champion Jrs. team Health only thing standing in way of Baste's best shot at a title --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2019

Seven takeaways from Lakers reported trade for Anthony Davis

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Here are seven takeaways on the reported blockbuster trade sending New Orleans star forward Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. 1. Davis gets what he wanted all along Davis and his camp, fronted by agent Rich Paul, first made noise about getting out of New Orleans in January, when he still had a year and a half to go before he even reached the player-option year in his Pelicans contract extension. New Orleans management, notably GM Dell Demps, resisted the power play then. Of course, Demps lost his job after resisting the trade demand and seeing the ripple effects undermine his own team’s season. Demps’ replacement, David Griffin, took over on a more traditional timeline -- one year out from the dreaded possibility of having a star free agent walk without compensation. After apparently trying to change Davis’ mind, Griffin did what he felt he had to do. So the six-time All-Star doesn’t have to wait until the summer of 2020, or even the trade deadline in February, to swap a less glamorous market for the bright lights and a franchise that has never won for the Lakers’ legacy of champions built around elite big men. 2. Will future franchise players do the same? What cost did Davis pay for his trade demand? Not much. His playing time plummeted from about 37 minutes in the first four months of 2018-19 to 22 in the 16 games he actually played after Jan. 18 (Jan. 19, PHL time). He did not participate at all in 21 games as New Orleans tried to protect its asset, which derailed any ambitions with which the Pelicans began the season. They went 12-24 in those 36 games to fall into the lottery – and land the No. 1 pick. But that didn’t concern Davis. He got what he wanted. The Pelicans got what they could. 3. Right package at right time for Pelicans There’s a time-value to money and there’s a time-value in trades, too. The best time for Griffin to deal was now, with the No. 4 pick in this year’s Draft in play to team with the No. 1 pick that presumably will be on Duke’s Zion Williamson. Landing that, along with two more first-round picks from the Lakers, a Draft pick swap, and players Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart (per ESPN’s report), shifts New Orleans into full rebuild mode with an exciting core of current and maybe future young players. Could Griffin have gotten more had he waited deeper into the offseason or heading toward the in-season trade deadline? Perhaps. But Boston, the other oft-purported suitor for Davis, no longer could count on teaming Davis with Kyrie Irving, who will explore free agency (and likely leave). Besides, the Celtics never did want to part with Jayson Tatum, so what they could offer the Pelicans was limited. Didn’t matter, anyway. Griffin didn’t want to drag this into a new season. In fact, he might work the phones to find point guard Jrue Holiday’s market value. As strong as Holiday is as a leader and two-way player, at 29 with 10 seasons in, he’s out of sync with the new era in N’Awlins. 4. Griffin should have held out for Kyle Kuzma OK, the Lakers had committed publicly to keeping Kuzma, the overachieving forward and No. 27 pick in 2017, out of the deal. And as noted above, the Pelicans were on the clock to make a clean break with Davis pre-Draft. But would the Lakers really have scuttled the deal if Griffin had held out for Kuzma? Some say yes, as the time factor gave them leverage. I’m not so sure. I’m reminded of the blockbuster deal that sent Kevin Garnett from Minnesota to Boston in 2008. Word eventually got out that Kevin McHale, the Wolves’ president of basketball operations, had wanted a raw point guard named Rajon Rondo in the package of players Minnesota received. His Celtics’ counterpart and buddy, Danny Ainge, pushed Sebastian Telfair instead. But with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on board, and Garnett so close to his wearing o’ the green, would Ainge have blown up the trade over young Rondo? Same applies here. So the positive spin on Kuzma staying put is, the Lakers did well to keep him. 5. LeBron gets his greatest sidekick yet That statement might offend a few folks. Dwyane Wade for one. Maybe Irving, Chris Bosh or Kevin Love, too. Heck, Davis might bristle at the idea of being anyone’s “sidekick” after being the man in Mardi Gras to this point in his career. But the truth can’t be controversial, and the success of this deal will be measured in the short-term by how well Davis meshes with James in the superstar’s quest for a fourth ring and beyond. Some believed that agent Rich Paul, who represents both James and Davis, was more concerned with helping the former than the latter, which Paul refuted a few days before news came out on this blockbuster trade. Who’s to say AD wouldn’t have thrived and won sooner in Boston had the Celtics and Pelicans worked out a Kawhi-like rent-a-player price? What if James not only is past his best years, but his most durable ones, and injuries intervene as he heads to age 35 and beyond to stymie title hopes? For James, though, there’s no downside to this. Ingram, because of the blood clot issue that cut short his 2018-19 season, is an unknown for now. Ball isn’t essential with James as a ball dominator. Hart actually backslid in his second season. And James has little or no use for draft picks at this stage of his career. Davis is good enough to carry the bigger load relative to James, more than any of his past Super Friends who all caught him in his extended prime. But it’s still to be determined how they’ll work that out – the two previous elite big men that he played alongside, Bosh and Love, wound up as No. 3 options once they teamed with James. 6. Kemba Walker might be next in Lakers’ sights Walker is a free agent who has served his time in Charlotte, a team that might not want to be locked into a super-max deal for their lone star anyway. He would be a nice backcourt complement to James and Davis, another scorer if not the pure shooter L.A. would seem to need. Speaking of which, that suggests other free-agent implications as the Lakers search for shooters. Say, if not J.J. Redick himself, then the next Redick perhaps. 7. So long Warriors, hello Lakers in 2020 Finals? You’ve got to admit, it would be something to see LeBron James pop up on the Western Conference’s finalist vying for a championship, in what lately has been Golden State’s accustomed spot. That’s what some anticipated for this June, until the Lakers went sideways with injuries and dysfunction. But with ESPN’s report of the Davis trade, a team that already was ranked atop the NBA’s contenders for 2020 saw its odds improve. Caesars Sportsbook put the Lakers as 7-2 favorites, ahead of the Bucks (6-1), the L.A. Clippers (6-1), the newly crowned Raptors (8-1), the Rockets (8-1) and what would be a distinctly different Warriors team (11-1). 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 16th, 2019

Mighty Sports braces for tougher, more competitive Jones Cup

Mighty Sports could be in for a tough competition this time when it represents the country anew in this year’s Jones Cup. The club team will be facing national teams of different countries in the July 12-21 cagefest annually being held in Taipei. National teams of Iran, Japan, South Korea, Jordan, and Tunisia are confirmed to see action in the meet which they are using as part of their preparation for the coming FIBA World Cup in China this August. Their presence will have Mighty Sports hard-pressed to duplicate the same feat the team had in the 2017 edition of the Jones Cup when it won the championship being an impressive eight-game sweep. “The participating teams right now are all strong, national teams lahat. So it’s much more competitive and stronger,” bared Mighty Sports assistant team manager Jessie Angchonghoo at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel-Manila on Tuesday. “But we’re ready. We have all the tools to compete with them.” Charles Tiu will call the shots again for Mighty Sports, which will be reinforced by former PBA imports Renaldo Balkman, Zachary Graham, and Eugene Phelps while the local sides are led by Fil-Ams Jason Brickman, Jason Gray, Roosevelt Adams, Mikey Williams, Aaron Black, Gab Banal, and Joseph Yeo. For the 35-year-old Yeo, the stint will be the second time he’ll be playing in the Jones Cup after previously suiting up for the national team under then coach Chot Reyes. “Very excited to be back and represent the country again. At tsaka ang daming nanonood lagi (na mga Pilipino), so parang everybody is cheering for you. Masaya, masarap,” said Yeo, who was also at the session presented by San Miguel Beer, Braska Restaurant, Amelie Hotel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). Mighty Sports is also not taking chances as it tapped former Gilas Pilipinas mentor Rajko Toroman as part of the coaching staff. It was Tiu who invited the Serbian coach to come over and help him handle the team. Tiu served as one of Toroman’s deputies during his stint with the original Gilas Pilipinas national squad. “He’s a very experienced coach,” said Angchonghoo of Toroman, who Mighty Sports plans to bring in here around June 25 when the team begins to practice together......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2019

Pelicans going at own pace after hitting NBA lottery jackpot

By Brett Martel, Associated Press NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In the NBA city most familiar with “gris-gris,” folks see no small measure of poetic justice in the fact that their team will dictate the fate of a coveted prospect named Zion. Mystical explanations aside, the Pelicans are in the driver’s seat now — but say they’re in no hurry to disclose their plans for likely pick Zion Williamson or disgruntled All-Star Anthony Davis. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] A franchise that looked downtrodden for months since Davis requested a mid-season trade has been suddenly buoyed by the leverage that comes with winning the NBA’s draft lottery— and the option to pick the Duke star, widely seen as the best pro prospect since Davis entered the league in 2012. “What it’s doing to the franchise and to the city of New Orleans is probably not even measurable at this point,” said David Griffin, hired just weeks ago as New Orleans’ top basketball executive. “There’s a groundswell of excitement that frankly is palpable. “What has to come next is that we have to make it mean something. This is a lot of fun, but we’ve got to build a winner now.” It was welcome news for beleaguered sports fans in Louisiana, who had endured a rough start to 2019. It started with the “NOLA no-call,” a pair of missed penalties in the waning minutes of the NFC championship that likely cost the NFL’s Saints a Super Bowl berth. Fans were so angry that many joined lawsuits against the league or attended parties on Super Bowl Sunday which featured re-runs of the Saints’ 2010 title triumph instead of the most recent championship game between New England and the Los Angeles Rams. Less than two weeks later, Davis, the city’s six-time NBA All-Star and face of the Pelicans, publicly requested a trade, and the firing of ninth-year general manager Dell Demps followed not long after. Even at the major college level there was disappointment when one of LSU’s best campaigns in program history was tainted by the suspension of coach Will Wade amid questions surrounding his recruiting tactics. Wade wasn’t reinstated until after LSU was eliminated in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, and his future remains far from certain. Political commentator James Carville — a Louisiana native, New Orleans resident and avid sports fan — said Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) that the recent series of setbacks had led him to adopt a pessimistic theory that, “We are a cursed people, and so all we’re going to get is curses.” Then came Tuesday night’s (Wednesdahy, PHL time) NBA draft lottery, which the Pelicans had a 6% chance of winning. In New Orleans, interest had focused more on seeing which other team would get the top overall pick and become more of a player in a potential Davis trade. Instead, the Pelicans got that pick, placing them in a stronger position to try to change Davis mind — or dictate more favorable trade terms. “This is big,” said Carville, a Pelicans season ticket holder along with his wife, and fellow political commentator, Mary Matalin. “It’s good for the psyche of everybody.” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry stood up and joyously shouted an expletive when New Orleans was announced as the lottery winner, after which he apologized with a grin, sat back down and put both hands on his head. Pelicans ticket office staff celebrated wildly with shouts, leaps and hugs. Owner Gayle Benson’s decision to hire Griffin, who announced at his introduction last month that he would not make a coaching change, combined with the New Orleans’ top draft position, represent a sharp turn in fortune for Gentry after a trying year that began with last summer’s defections during free agency of DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo. But it could take a while to see how the Pelicans’ lottery luck plays out. Griffin, the club’s executive vice president of basketball operations, foreshadowed a deliberate approach to dealing with Davis, who is under contract through next season. “I want Anthony Davis to be part of this,” Griffin said. “If Anthony wants to buy into that, then that’s fantastic. And if he doesn’t, then we’ll deal with it when it becomes appropriate. But this isn’t something for me where that answer happens because of a conversation. That answer is going to reveal itself over a period of time.” Griffin also stopped short of confirming that the Pelicans would draft Williamson — albeit for reasons relating more to his insistence on adhering to his own managerial process than because of any doubts about the 6'7", 285-pound Duke star. “We just have to know what the fit is like among those people in the pool for us in terms of who we thought were the most elite players,” Griffin said, emphasizing that “there was more than one” such player. “Everybody wants to look at this as this is a fait accompli. If that were true, we would have gotten up there with somebody’s jersey in our hands,” Griffin said. “I’m not saying there’s anything at all derogatory about Zion in any way. What I’m saying is ... you can hope that people are like-minded, but until you talk about what matters to you and you sit in a room together, it’s hard to know.” One thing is for sure, it’s nice to have options......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2019

Steph or Seth? Coin flip to decide who mom, dad represent

By Steve Reed, Associated Press Dell Curry was standing near the loading dock at the Pepsi Center in Denver when Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum approached, gave him a big hug and asked, “Which shirt are you wearing” for the Western Conference final? “Got to flip a coin,” Curry responded. Literally. With sons Stephen and Seth Curry becoming the first siblings to face each other in an NBA conference final, it’s a dilemma most any parent would love to have. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Dell and his wife, Sonya, decided wearing a split jersey with the Warriors and Blazers would be “too easy.” Instead, they’ll flip a coin before each game in the best-of-seven series to determine which team they’ll represent. It will go something like this: If Sonya flips heads, she’ll wear Blazers attire to support Seth, while Dell wears Stephen’s Warriors colors. If the coin lands on tails, she’ll dress in Warriors clothing while Dell dons Blazers gear. The next game Dell gets to flip the coin, and so on — until the series is decided. So who gets to flip the coin for Game 1 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time)? “Well, we have to flip to see who flips first,” Dell said with a laugh. “There’s going to be a lot of coin flipping going on.” And a lot of traveling. Dell and Sonya Curry plan to attend every game, sitting with Stephen’s wife Ayesha at Warriors home games and with Seth’s fiance Callie Rogers when the Blazers host. But Dell, who played 16 seasons in the NBA and is currently a TV analyst for the Charlotte Hornets, said the entire situation is just a bit unnerving for him. “I normally don’t get nervous for games when either one of them play,” he said. “But I got a little nervous knowing how they’re going to play against each other.” As hard as this will be on the parents, Dell knows it will be even more difficult for his sons. “It’s going to be tough to put everything aside and battle each other because as siblings they want each other to do well,” Dell said. “They watch each other’s games and cheer for each other.” Earlier this year, the Curry boys competed against each other in the three-point shootout at the All-Star game in their hometown of Charlotte, with 31-year-old Steph getting the best of his younger brother. Seth, 28, said it’s hard to believe they’ll now meet in the playoffs. “So many years I’ve watched Steph play in the Western Conference final, the NBA Finals, being in the crowd,” Seth Curry said. “It’s going to be fun to be out there on the court, competing, to get to that final. It’s a dream come true for us, but our families are going to have a lot of fun as well.” Steph Curry has been to the NBA Finals four times, winning three with the Warriors. This is his brother’s first playoff run. “It would be great for Seth to get a (championship) ring, but we can’t root for one son over the other,” 54-year-old Dell Curry said. “We’re just going to let it play out and have fun watching them both play.” Dell said it’s been fun, and exhausting. The Currys have been jetting around the country for the last month on commercial flights, back and forth between Oakland, Portland, Los Angeles, Denver and Houston to see their sons play. They’ve attended 21 of their sons’ combined 24 playoff games, only missing two Blazers’ first-round games in Oklahoma City and one second-round game in Denver. Sometimes, they wake up in a hotel unsure of what city they’re in. “Everybody says to us, ‘you guys have to be tired,’” Dell said. “I’m like, well, we’ll probably sleep for a week when it’s over.” __ AP Sports Writer Pat Graham in Denver, Colorado contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2019

UP, UE share 2019 s king of recruiting crown

Who was our King of Recruiting in 2018? Find out here. --- Last season, the University of the Philippines, at long last, broke through in the UAAP. Behind the leadership of Paul Desiderio and key contributions from Season MVP Bright Akhuetie and Mythical selection Juan Gomez de Liano, the Fighting Maroons made their first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals in 32 years. Now, even without the iconic Desiderio, State U is nothing but confident it could build on its breakthrough. The reason? Well, because two of the brightest young stars in Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero are now orbiting Diliman. Paras has all the physical tools to take any league by storm and now in maroon and green, he is out to continue the legacy of his father Benjie who delivered the school’s first and only championship. Meanwhile, the Euro-stepping Rivero already knows a thing or two about taking the UAAP by storm, having been chosen for the Mythical Team when he was still playing for De La Salle University in 2017. Add big man J-Boy Gob, another transferee, to that and, indeed, UP is only equipped to keep contending. On the strength of the transfers of Paras and Rivero alone, the Fighting Maroons would have been worthy of the title of 2019 King of Recruiting. Right up there with them, though, in terms of getting a big boost in the offseason is University of the East. Absent from the Final Four in the last decade, the Red Warriors will be heading into the upcoming season with a fully stocked arsenal. Now up front for them – alongside stalwart Philip Manalang, of course – will be 6-foot-9 Senegalese Adama Diakhite, three-time champion and two-time MVP in the CESAFI Rey Suerte, and college-ready Harvey Pagsanjan, the no. 7 high school player in the 2019 NBTC 24. Diakhite is a hulking presence who will prove to be a tough matchup even for the likes of reigning MVP Akhuetie and last year’s Rookie of the year Ange Kouame. Suerte, a gifted scorer from anywhere on the court, fills right into the hole left behind by scoring dynamo Alvin Pasaol while Pagsanjan can continue making all the right plays he had been doing as the longtime beacon of hope for Hope Christian High School. Also flanking them are former Ateneo de Manila University forward John Apacible, defensive stopper Neil Tolentino, Filipino-Kiwi swingman Richie Rodger, and Filipino-Australian point guard Jasper Rentoy. And with that, UP and UE will have joint custody of the crown of the 2019 King of Recruiting. They dethrone National University which claimed the crown a year ago behind a big-time recruiting class that included Ildefonso brothers Dave and Shaun, John Lloyd Clemente, and John Galinato. Just like last year, there remains no doubt that the new Fighting Maroons and Red Warriors will make their respective sides forces to reckon with come UAAP 82. Still, several squads also made it a point to be better in the offseason. In fact, the graduating players in the 2019 NBTC 24 have been spread out among eight different teams. From the 2019 NBTC 24, the annual ranking of the best high school players in the country, 14 are moving on up to the Seniors. Adamson University is the biggest winner in terms of recruits from that ranking, with three of the top 15 players now in San Marcelino. Ninth-ranked Aaron Fermin is a double-double machine in the NCAA Jrs. and is nothing but determined to realize his potential as a two-way force under multi-titled mentor Franz Pumaren. In CESAFI standout Joshua Yerro and UAAP Jrs. Mythical selection Joem Sabandal, coach Franz also has young blood to bolster the backcourt that will no longer have Koko Pingoy. The Soaring Falcons also scored four other former Baby Falcons in big man Lorenz Capulong and wings Adam and Andrey Doria and AP Manlapaz. When it comes to reaping the rewards of its high school program, though, nobody could still touch Mapua University which again got two keep its Jrs. studs in Clint Escamis and Dan Arches, both of whom made it into the top two-thirds of the 2019 NBTC 24. Escamis and Arches are offensive guards who will give much-needed firepower to a promising core comprised of fellow Mapua HS products Warren Bonifacio, Eric Jabel, Noah Lugo, and Laurenz Victoria. Also, the Cardinals are the favorites to land NCAA 94 Jrs. Finals MVP Paolo Hernandez, another Red Robin. Also bagging two prized prospects from the 2019 NBTC 24 is La Salle which is now the place where the talented tandem of Joel Cagulangan and Joshua David get to work. Cagulangan has long been a star in the making and the NCAA 94 Jrs. MVP is, without question, Taft Avenue’s point guard of the future. The even better news is that he will still have wingman David, a tried and tested glue guy, to grow with. Also set to debut for the Green Archers are Filipino-Americans Jordan Bartlett, a speedster guard; Tyrus Hill, a high-flying forward; and Kurt Lojera, a big-bodied swingman. In all, there are six graduates from the top 10 of the 2019 NBTC 24. All of them would be on different teams in the Srs. Two players from 2019 NBTC 24 are yet to commit to any school, but there is no doubt that Red Robin Hernandez and Greenie Inand Fornilos will be able additions to any collegiate team. For the second straight year, Aldin Ayo will be adding a top three recruit out of high school as incoming sophomore CJ Cansino will now join forces with another triple-doubling talent in Mark Nonoy, a rookie who plays way beyond his years. But wait, there’s more as UST also welcomes with open arms its newest foreign student-athlete in Beninese Soulemane Chabi Yo whose speed and skill will make him a problem for the other foreign student-athletes more used to being powerhouses. Sprinkle in stretch four Sherwin Concepcion as well as versatile forwards Rhenz Abando and Brent Paraiso and there’s a reason why the Growling Tigers are now very much a darkhorse contender. L-Jay Gonzales and RJ Abarrientos remain FEU’s backcourt for tomorrow, but in the meantime, the former is poised for a breakout just as the latter is poised to wrap up his K-12 schooling. Yes, Abarrientos is not yet good to go come UAAP 82, but his steady hand is still the perfect pairing for the burst of energy that is Gonzales. Make no mistake, however, the Tamaraws have gotten help in the form of 6-foot-10 Cameroonian Patrick Tchuente as well as former Baby Tams Daniel Celzo and Jack Gloria. Letran is already the biggest it has ever been up front with NCAA 94 Rookie of the Year Larry Muyang alongside Jeo Ambohot, Christian Balagasay, and Christian Fajarito. Now, the Knights have also beefed up at the wings with Allen Mina and Mark Sangalang as well as former Red Warrior and Growling Tiger Jordan Sta. Ana. LPU will have to prove it could continue contending even without NCAA 93 MVP CJ Perez, but the good news is that now backtopping Marcelino twins Jaycee and Jayvee are former San Sebastian College-Recoletos key cogs Alvin Baetiong, Jayson David, and Renzo Navarro. That’s still a pretty solid lineup in our books. Just like last year, the now two-time UAAP champions are mostly intact, only losing team captain Anton Asistio as well as reserve guard Aaron Black. That doesn’t mean, however, that there are no new faces in Ateneo. Geo Chiu, Kai Sotto’s twin tower, decided to stay in Katipunan just as fellow ex-Blue Eaglets RV Berjay and Jason Credo are now seeing minutes in head coach Tab Baldwin’s rotation. And oh, there is a possibility that double-double machine Fornilos, who placed no. 13 in the 2019 NBTC 24, is bound to be a Blue Eaglet. Perps is nothing but determined to build on the triumphant return to the NCAA of head coach Frankie Lim and to do that, they will be leaning on former San Beda University pillar Ben Adamos as well as ex-Adamson HS workhorse Jefner Egan. Count out the Altas at your own risk. JRU is just on the first phase of a grand rebuild, but there is no doubt that things are looking up for Kalentong. In John Amores, they now have an end-to-end force who is all set to make an immediate impact as a rookie. These are the new names to watch for the teams: Baste CSB National U San Beda --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2019

Warriors' Zaza Pachulia has Kerr, not critics, in his head

JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer OAKLAND, California (AP) — Zaza Pachulia heard all the negative noise from his Golden State Warriors fans, and he began taking it personally. He was the new guy at the start of this NBA season, the lone non-All-Star in Golden State's decorated starting lineup. He was no Andrew Bogut, the imposing big man he replaced, and fans got nasty with their frustration. Now, Pachulia constantly recalls what coach Steve Kerr preaches: The only thing that matters is how the Warriors feel about each other, not what anyone outside thinks or says. Not that it was easy for Pachulia to ignore the scrutiny. 'That was one of the biggest challenges I've had. I've never been in this situation,' he said on Monday. 'It's a lot of responsibility, I understand it. It was very emotional for me at the beginning. I was kind of taking it very personal. But that's where mental toughness kicks in. 'I'm fortunate I have friends who have been in this situation throughout the league, but most importantly, the biggest help came from my coaching staff.' With Kerr in his ear, Pachulia has made an effort to tune out the critics. As expected, the Warriors have needed time to jell this season, and Pachulia's been at the center of the development. Early on, the center from Georgia took a passive approach, and also found himself in subpar shape. Now he's getting more comfortable, and is emerging at the perfect time. The Warriors are headed into the second half, and Pachulia has found his place complementing Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. Last month, Pachulia had season-bests of 15 points and 14 rebounds in a win at Brooklyn, and he believes that helped him turn a corner. He has four straight games scoring in double figures entering Tuesday's home matchup with Miami after doing so just twice in his first 32 games. In a victory at Sacramento on Sunday, Pachulia made a jaw-dropping, no-look backward heave that was right on target to Curry and led to an easy basket by the league MVP. 'He's tried some crazy stuff before, but he made a good, timely read as the best way to get me the ball,' Curry said. 'It was right on target, one bounce into my lap and I was able to finish it. I'm sure Coach will make sure he's not experimenting too much more with that.' Pachulia's enjoyed being part of the 'fancy stuff' these pass-happy Warriors get up to — Golden State wracks up 30-assist performances at an astonishing rate. 'Zaza's got a little flair to him,' Kerr said on Monday. 'He likes making plays like that. Not that he's constantly making them, but he's got a little of that in him. I know he had fun with that play.' Never before had the big man been part of a team with so many great players, and finding his way with this group made for a daunting adjustment. That core of talent is the reason he chose to join Golden State for his 14th season. 'No disrespect to Dallas, Milwaukee, but we weren't this type of team. No one was expecting a championship from us,' Pachulia said. 'This team is different, right? Let's be honest. So every time you make a mistake on the court, and that's very normal, especially in the beginning, it looks like 10 times, 100 times worse. 'Fans are spoiled here because of the types of seasons they had — last year, where they broke the record even though they lost in the Finals, it was amazing. The year before they won the championship, so they were feeling really comfortable with the players and the personalities they had.' For Pachulia, the improvements have come from focusing on the small things — such as minor footwork adjustments and working to better defend the perimeter. That has come with a willingness to learn. 'The thing that I'm most proud of in watching him this year is his growth. I'm talking about a guy who's played a lot of basketball,' Warriors assistant coach and defensive guru Ron Adams said. 'The ability to be coached at his age has really been fun. ... He is one of those lifelong learners.' Still, Pachulia knows the compliments from those around him must be earned. From the basketball-crazed Bay Area fans, too. 'My skin got thicker,' Pachulia said. 'I don't listen to stuff from outside or even if I hear or if I read something, I just let it go very easily. It's not bothering me, because the truth is that Steph or Klay or KD or Draymond or Andre (Iguodala), all these guys, they either like playing with me or they don't. That's what matters. The coaching staff is happy with my presence or not. 'Maybe the first day, you're not expecting any of your teammates to give you some good words. We've played enough games that my teammates have a lot of compliments to say about me. My coaching staff has a lot of compliments to say about me. Those compliments don't come just like that. They are professionals and you get a compliment because you deserve it. That means a lot.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

LOOK: Meeting Manny Pacquiao puts a smile on Fun Guy Kawhi Leonard s face

As we have seen throughout his career, Kawhi Leonard is one of the most enigmatic personalities in the NBA today.  The self-proclaimed 'Fun Guy' isn't too big on talking, or even emotions for that matter.  The usually-stoic swing man usually just gets on the court, gets things done, and then leaves. That's pretty much what he did last season.  After being traded to the Toronto Raptors, Leonard got the job done by helping The North to their first ever-NBA championship, and then left in the postseason to go home and play for the Los Angeles Clippers.  Winning a championship, the second of his career, as well as winning his second Finals MVP plum was enough to put a smile on Kawhi's face, and let's face it, there isn't much that can 'The Klaw" to flash his pearly-whites.  One other thing that apparently can get Kawhi to smile is meeting boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.  The NBA star was in attendance at the Pacquiao-Keith Thurman welterweight title bout in Las Vegas over the weekend, and while he seemed to less than psyched while watching the action, he did seem to be quite happy to see the "Pacman" backstage, and a photo is circulating social media.  I wonder if Kawhi flashed this smile at any time during the fight ???? Mr. Fun Guy and Mr. Pacman (Not my photo - floating around Twitterverse) pic.twitter.com/gCq2E5qf0V — TJ Manotoc (@tjmanotoc) July 22, 2019 To be fair, getting a photo opportunity with a living legend like Manny Pacquiao, especially after he turned in yet another masterful performance, will make anyone grin.  The 40-year old Pacquiao defeated Thurman by split decision to become the new WBA (Super) Welterweight World Champion.  Congratulations to Manny Pacquiao, and congratulations to Fun Guy Kawhi for the title, the new team, and the big payday! .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News1 hr. 24 min. ago

Team Lakay s Gina Iniong and Joshua Pacio: Two paths, one goal

Lakay. It is the Ilocano word for old man.   But when you go up to Baguio, it has an altogether different meaning. You cannot miss that word when you drive down Benguet road, on a nifty sign attached to a normal-looking office building: Team Lakay.   The home of the best Philippine mixed martial arts team in history. Almost all of the big names local fight fans have come to cheer and love as our modern-day heroes trace their roots to the relatively small, packed training room down Benguet road, where mats are soaked with the sweat of the fighters.   Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, Honorio Banario, Rey Docyogen, Roldan Sangcha-an, and Mark Eddiva are all hallowed names in the annals of Philippine mixed martial arts, disciples of Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, who established, and groomed Team Lakay to the fearsome fighting factory that it is today.   While all the names above have ensconced themselves on pedestals, Team Lakay’s pipeline includes two more who have been fighting for recognition in recent fights: lone female fighter Gina Iniong, and ONE’s current Strawweight lynchpin and youngest champion, Joshua Pacio.   Both fighters may have started their professional fighting careers for different reasons, but Iniong and Pacio still have a lot to offer and prove for mixed martial arts in the country and in the international stage, such as being prominent fighters in the prestigious cage of ONE Championship.   CHANCE OF A LIFETIME   Gina, the first female Filipino mixed martial artist to fight and win abroad, started boxing back in high school as part of her after-school activities. When she was about to graduate, she actively sought scholarships in order to finish her education. One such opportunity presented itself in the form of an athletic scholarship, concentrating on the martial art of Wushu, which has a huge following in her hometown of Baguio City, with the University of the Cordilleras having a team of its own.   “Our former boxing coach, who was a former student of Coach Mark (Sangiao), approached me one day, telling me to join the upcoming wushu competition then for the college scholarship. So I joined it, and took a chance,” Iniong shared, recounting how she got into the world of combat sports as a young lady.   However, it was too good to be true, as she had to hurdle quite a huge problem if she wants that scholarship: a fight record. Sangiao told the young Iniong it would be difficult to get her a scholarship if she does not have a record to show in active combat in Wushu.   “I was lucky because there was a Wushu National Games here in Manila and we immediately went down and made our way there. Thankfully, I got the gold after the competition, and that paved the way for my scholarship,” said Iniong.   From there, the “Conviction” was born. After competing in numerous Wushu tournaments, Iniong finally caught the eye of Sangiao, who decided to take her under his wings and train her to be his female version inside the MMA cage.   After debuting in the Universal Reality Combat Championship in 2010, Iniong hasn’t looked back in the 12 bouts she has figured in, compiling a professional record of 8-4.  As the lone female representative of the most-successful mixed martial arts team in the Philippines, she has displayed that trademark fearsome striking prowess of fighters coming from the Lakay camp.   When asked about the fact that she is one of the only five Filipinas making the country proud inside the ONE cage, the 29-year old’s face lit up, in disbelief, in honor, in humility, for she cannot believe it herself.   “I’m very proud, and humbled, of the fact that I am the lone female fighter representing Team Lakay in ONE Championship. Many very skilled female fighters dream of being part of ONE Championship, and fight under Team Lakay, yet I am the one that Coach Mark has seen with the most potential to carry the flag inside the cage,” she said.   However, what drives Gina to fight, and it has been a well-known fact, is her mother, diagnosed with a stage 5 chronic kidney disease. In her fight against Jihin Radzuan last February, Iniong dedicated the fight to her mother, who to this day, is scared of seeing her daughter mix it up in the ring.   “To this day, she hasn’t watched me fight live, not even on TV because she is quite the nervous person, and she would only watch if she knew I won, during replays. She is very unlike my dad, who has fully supported my life as an athlete, after being a boxer himself in his younger days,” she shared.   CHALLENGE ACCEPTED   Joshua “The Passion” Pacio never intended to make mixed martial arts fighting a career growing up. The 23-year old fighter deemed it impossible back then, to reach a stage as huge as ONE Championship, due to the excellence of the fighters that he used to watch with his uncle through videos.   Add to the fact that Pacio was overweight. Obese, specifically. It made it all the more difficult for the kid to follow his dream and passion to be a fighter.   It all changed when his uncle started training him in Muay Thai, the art of the eight limbs that originated from Thailand, and considered one of the deadliest forms of combat striking. It started out as training just for fitness, but as if seeing a tiny ray of light in a dark tunnel, Pacio wanted more.   “At first, it was only for fitness, with my uncle training me, and watching videos of various MMA fights, which really inspired me to push myself harder. I really wanted to test myself, compete with the best, and it all seemed impossible when I was out of shape. My uncle really pushed me starting with Muay Thai. I started competing a few months after that, but I suffered defeat after defeat in amateur competitions. I questioned myself why I still trained afterwards. But at the same time, that’s when I realized that this is really my passion, that even if I lost my last fight,” shared the ONE Championship Strawweight king, who has not looked back since then.   “The goal for me has ever been to prove to myself that I have improved in skills, and be the best fighter I can be,” Pacio added.   He made his ONE debut three years ago, finally fulfilling his lifelong dream of professional mixed martial arts, facing a more experienced Filipino fighter in Robin Catalan at the age of 20, one of the youngest to enter ONE’s cage.   “Before I got to represent Team Lakay in ONE Championship, the roster spot was actually up for grabs. Fighters of the team figured in a Team Lakay Championship, a grand-prix style tournament within the team, for the ONE Championship contract. I fought twice victoriously in one night to get it. Two weeks later, with a ONE Championship event in Manila, that’s when I found out I am making my professional debut,” said an astounded Pacio.   Everything about the man they call “The Passion” has been hard earned. He finally tasted gold last 2018 when he decisioned the famed Yoshitaka Naito, a Japanese ground and wrestling master that forced Pacio to tap via a rear-naked choke when they first met. Facing, and losing to Naito, according to Pacio, was a revelation that he has to improve his overall skills, especially his ground game in order to play with the big boys of the cage.   Striking will definitely get you somewhere, as is with Pacio’s base as a martial artist, but one has to have more tricks up his sleeve when they aspire for the pinnacle of the competition. Joshua came back with a vengeance in 2018 to show “Nobita” that “The Passion” is no longer the young kid who will be submitted easily.   However, 2019 did not start of great for Pacio and Team Lakay, after he lost the belt in January to Naito’s contemporary in Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta in a questionable split decision. But that did not deter the young man, who has made it his personal goal to continue improving and treat each loss as a lesson, in ONE Championship’s “Roots of Honor” fight card, where he faced Saruta once more.   This time, in front of a racous Filipino crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena, Pacio did not let the judges’ cards decide as he detonated a right knee to the side of Saruta’s head late in the fourth round to reclaim his throne. The dreaded Team Lakay striking power knocked the lights out from the Japanese fighter as Baguio’s young lion let out a furious roar to celebrate his redemption.   TWO PATHS, ONE GOAL   One did it for education, the other for health. Nowadays, however, MMA means more to Iniong and Pacio than just a stepping stone to something else. It is their passion, their advocacy, their bread and butter.   They continue to grind each day, waiting for another opportunity to show what they got and get the win, not just for personal glory, but also for the country and their family.   Inspired by her ailing mother, the “Conviction” promises to keep her current winning streak up despite being up against a formidable foe in her next match. After tasting defeat from Brazilian Istela Nunes, Iniong bounced back with a split decision over Radzuan last February to get herself back on track. Right now, Gina has one thing in mind with their goal: chase that ONE Women’s Atomweight division title, currently held by Angela Lee, and become the Philippines’ very first female ONE world champion.   However, Iniong acknowledges that the path towards the gold may not be easy, as she is currently eyeing a rematch with Japanese tormentor Mei Yamaguchi, the number one-ranked Atomweight fighter whom she has fought with twice, in order to settle who the rightful challenger to Lee’s belt is.   “Everyone has gotten belts. My big brothers in the team have tasted championship. I felt jealous because I do not have a belt, and lost my fight that would have given me a title shot. This time, I will make sure that I will do my best to secure a title fight,” rued Iniong in a previous interview with ONE Championship prior to fighting Radzuan.   While Iniong wants hit paydirt, it’s all about keeping the belt on his waist for Pacio, the reigning ONE Strawweight champion. His most probable foe is his nemesis Yoshitaka Naito who he does not have a problem with facing for the third time.   “I really want to prove I am the champion, and if it’s by facing him (Naito), so be it. I also want to prove that I have greatly improved as well from the last time we fought,” he shared.   While Iniong and Pacio await their next fighting assignment, their teammates are in the thick of training for the upcoming “Dawn of Heroes” megafight card happening on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena. It features Team Lakay members, led by Edward “Landslide” Folayang, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, and Danny “The King” Kingad, who will face the best of the world as represented by Eddie Alvarez, Reece McLaren, and Yuya Wakamatsu.   The entire country will be cheering on them as the whole world watches. And maybe somehow, somewhere there will be new blood encouraged and inspired by them to take on the challenge of continuing the legacy of the nation’s best fighting team alongside Iniong and Pacio.   After all, Sangiao did not establish Team Lakay just to be some Bagiuo-based fitness gym down Benguet road. He made Team Lakay to provide a home, a family, for young Filipinos who have the heart to fight for their dream, their family, and the country.     Watch “ONE: Dawn of Heroes” on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena, to be broadcast LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD with livestreaming on iWant for all the Pinoy fight fans to see. For more stories and news one ONE Championship, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2019

Simmons out of Aussie World Cup bid

In a statement posted on Twitter, the Melbourne-born star said he wouldn’t make the trip to the FIBA championship that tips off in China on August 31......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJul 17th, 2019

Summer League winds down, and now, maybe, some NBA rest

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press They'll hand out T-shirts to the Summer League winners following the championship game between Memphis and Minnesota in Las Vegas on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), and then things will finally slow down a bit in the NBA. Maybe. And probably not for long. It's been a hectic month since Toronto won the NBA championship and the so-called offseason commenced. Already this summer, 18 current and former All-Stars have changed franchises, and that number will rise to 19 if Vince Carter finds a new home for his final season. Recent NBA Finals MVPs Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala all were among those on the move. And another three past finals MVPs — Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker — all retired. So when next season begins, very little will look the same. "I think there's going to be a lot of parity," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "That's my gut." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expected this summer to be loaded with player movement, and wasn't complaining about so many big names — Durant, Leonard, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jimmy Butler and many more — needing to file change-of-address cards. "At the end of the day, it's positive for the league," Silver said. "I will say, though, I'm mindful of this notion of balance of power, and I think it applies in many different ways. An appropriate balance of power between the teams and the players ... at the end of the day, you want to make sure you have a league where every team is in a position to compete." There were some clear winners in free agency: Brooklyn (who got Durant and Irving), the Los Angeles Clippers (who got George and Leonard) and the Los Angeles Lakers (who got Davis) were among them. It could be argued that the Oklahoma City Thunder won as well — no, they won't be as good this season as they were this past season after trading George and Westbrook, but general manager Sam Presti has enough draft picks now to enjoy flexibility for years. The losers are clear as well: Toronto lost Leonard and Danny Green and Golden State lost Durant, so last season's finalists certainly aren't favorites to be this season's finalists. It's also easy to say that New York lost after coming up empty on the big-name free agents, but the Knicks got plenty of good players on deals that ensure the team will have money again next summer. A lookahead at what's coming, and some notes on what's gone down: SO NOW WHAT? Any NBA withdrawal will really only last about three weeks, until roughly three dozen players return to Las Vegas for USA Basketball's training camp leading up to the FIBA World Cup in China that starts on Aug. 31. San Antonio's Gregg Popovich is coaching the Americans, assisted by Golden State's Steve Kerr, Atlanta's Lloyd Pearce and Villanova's Jay Wright. Zion Williamson, knee permitting, may take part in camp as one of the young players brought in to help the more-established pros get ready. If Williamson impresses, he may get a shot at joining the varsity club. Also, this season's NBA schedule is likely to come around the second week of August, if recent years are any indicator. WHO'S LEFT? Plenty of free agents remain unsigned, and that'll still be the case even in September as training camps get ready to open. It's still hard to see the Thunder keeping Paul, acquired in the Westbrook trade to Houston, so expect at least one more blockbuster trade before too long. Or can a player who is owed $121 million over the next three seasons be bought out? Stay tuned. Carter wants to come back for a 22nd NBA season, which would be a league record. If he gets into a game after Jan. 1, he'll also become the first NBA player to appear in four different decades. Jamal Crawford remains out there as well, and contenders should be calling him. LOADED WEST Philadelphia, Boston, Brooklyn, Indiana and Miami all likely got better in the East. Milwaukee kept most of its team that won an NBA-best 60 games. The East will be good. The West might be bloody. The Clippers, the Lakers, Houston, Golden State, Denver, Utah, Portland and San Antonio could end up as the eight playoff teams in the Western Conference. It's plausible; they're probably the most realistic eight picks right now. But at least four of those teams — most of them with superstar duos that are all the rage now — won't be in the second round of next season's playoffs. LONGEVITY AWARD For now, Golden State's Stephen Curry is the longest-tenured player under contract to one team. He's entering his 11th season with the Warriors. With Nowitzki (21 seasons with Dallas) retired, Mike Conley (12 seasons with Memphis) traded to Utah and Westbrook (11 seasons with Oklahoma City) traded to Houston, no current player has had a longer uninterrupted run with one team than Curry. But if Udonis Haslem re-signs with Miami, it'll be his 17th season with the Heat. THE NUMBERS Including the $196 million extension for Portland's Damian Lillard, a $170 million extension for Denver's Jamal Murray and another in-the-works $170 million extension for Philadelphia's Ben Simmons, NBA teams have committed to spend roughly $4 billion in new deals that were struck in the last three weeks alone. And that's with 100 more signings to come, at least. That $4 billion figure is twice what the total payroll was a decade ago for every team in the league, combined......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2019

PVL: Valdez claims third MVP award

Creamline star Alyssa Valdez added another feather to her cap after bagging the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Most Valuable Player award. The prized hitter collected her third conference MVP hardware on Saturday before the Cool Smashers’ Game 2 match against PetroGazz in the best-of-three Finals at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Valdez averaged 12 points per game, tallied a 35.77% success rate in attacks and led the rest of the field at the service line with 0.68 aces per set during the 10-game elimination round. The national team member also landed at the 10th spot in digging with 2.24 digs per frame for a consistent all-around performance that fueled Creamline’s return to the championship round for the third straight tournament. The Cool Smashers’ skipper, who won the inaugural import-laden conference and last year’s Open Conference MVP recognitions, was also named 2nd Best Open Spiker. BanKo’s Nicole Tiamzon won the 1st Best Open Spiker award. The Perlas Spikers hitter averaged 13 points per game, the highest scoring norm from a local player.      Tiamzon’s teammates Dzi Gervacio and Kathy Bersola won the Best Opposite Hitter and 1st Best Middle Blocker, respectively, Angela Nunag was named Best Libero while Jia Morado pocketed her fourth straight Best Setter award. Morado, who averaged 5.94 excellent sets per frame, ruled the playmaking position since joining the league in the inaugural Open Conference two years ago.               Rounding up the award winners were PetroGazz players Cherry Nunag (2nd Best Middle Blocker) and Cuban Wilma Salas (Best Foreign Guest Player).   ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2019

Asian Games gold medalist Margielyn Didal happy to see growth in Philippine skateboarding scene

Twenty-year old Margielyn Didal was one of the Philippine contingent's biggest stars during last year's Asian Games in Jakarta/Palembang.  The Cebuana was one of four Filipina athletes to take home a gold medal, representing the tri-colors in an event that wasn't necessarily a popular sport in the Philippines: street skateboarding.  Nearly a year since, the Philippine skateboarding scene is seemingly getting more and more traction, and Didal's success on the big stage served as a catalyst.  "I think the Philippine skateboarding scene, malaki siya, and it’s getting bigger and bigger, especially because they put it in the Olympics, and some parents are interested in putting their kids into skateboarding now," Didal shared during a media scrum at the New Balance Numeric Asia Specific Tour, Friday afternoon in Manila. "I’m super hyped na mas lumaki yung skate scene and mas nabigyan ng pansin." Since becoming an Asian Games gold medalist, life has not been the same for Didal, who has continued to compete with the hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.  "It [has been] hectic, with schedule and skate events especially, for these qualification and ranking for the Olympics. I’m super happy about that, getting support from the Philippine government." she said.  For Didal, the busy life is all worth it, especially since the Philippine skateboarding scene is getting some shine along with it.  "Sobrang mas naging busy yung life, pero mas naging okay kasi nabigyan ng pansin nga yun skateboarding dito sa Pilipinas, kasi dati, wala lang." "Before hindi naman sport yung skateboarding. Skateboarding is to have fun. Even now, we’re still having fun, in a good way naman na we’re getting support, we’re getting exposure, at mas lumaki pa nga, tsaka skateboarding kasi, sobrang saya. Hindi ko na-expect na gagawin siyang sport, and from this, I’ve changed my life a lot, and my family’s," she continued.  As such, Didal has become an inspiration to aspiring skaters in the Philippines. Pinoy skateboarders, young and young at heart alike, trooped to the press conference with hopes of getting to meet, and take photos with Didal as well as the other members of the New Balance Skate Team, including Jamie Foy and Franky Villiani.  Seeing the turnout was an amazing feeling for the young Filipina skater.  "Sa mga kids din diyan na naiinspire ng mga pro-skaters katulad ni Jamie Foy, it’s such an honor and it feels amazing na may na-iinspire kami na mga kids or mga other skaters din na gusto mag-skate or yung nag-stop mag-skate and gusto bumalik dahil nami-miss nila yung feeling pag-skateboard." It wasn't only the fans that took notice of Didal's success, but also her hometown's government. Following her Asian Games gold, the Cebu City government pledged the construction of a skate park, which will not only hopefully develop even more future medalists, but also keep them from skating in potentially dangerous places like the streets and main throroughfare.  "It’s such an honor to represent the Philippines, especially for me, I grew up in my hometown without a skate park, getting chased by security, but still, we made it, and now they recognize us and give us the support. That’s overwhelming, na nakita nila lahat, na gusto nila mag-build ng skate park for all skaters," Didal said of the development.  Apart from bringing honor to the country, Didal was also able to show the world that while skating is mainly a male-dominated sport, the girls can hang as well.  "Before, it’s kinda [considered] as male stuff, now there are girl skaters growing all over the world, and it’s good, seeing these girls skating, shredding with them in big events, it’s cool that these girls can skate." Barely in her 20s, Didal still has a lot more skating to do in her career, but already, she has an idea of what she wants her legacy to be when it's all said and done, and that's to have been able to share her talent and her knowledge to the next crop of star skaters.  "I want to share my talent sa ibang tao," Didal expressed. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2019

PBA: Mark Barroca got a lovely surprise last Father s Day

Magnolia guard Mark Barroca received the most precious gift a man could ever receive last Father’s Day. Though it took a month before the basketball star’s wife, Ruselle, to post the good news on her Youtube channel, it was still a heart-warming video for the now growing Barroca family nonetheless, as they announced that they are expecting a new baby.  “S’yempre sobrang overwhelmed ako,” said a very happy Mark Barroca on Sunday before the Hotshots’ Manila Clasico match against Barangay Ginebra in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Big Dome.    “Noong Father’s Day pa ‘yun, eh maaga pa para magsabi na buntis na siya eh kasi pwede pang mawala ‘yun ‘di ba?” he added. “So hinintay muna namin magkaroon ng heartbeat, nagpa-check up kami and ayun may heartbeat na.” Mark Barroca said that it is blessing that the couple has been praying for years.                View this post on Instagram                   Nung nakaraang Father’s Day, sobra akong natuwa sa regalo na binigay ng asawa ko. Yun na yung pinaka maganda at pinaka masarap na feeling naramdaman ko sa regalo na binigay niya sa akin. Salamat, Panginoon. Thank you mahal????????. Mahal na mahal ko kayo! Kung gusto nyong malaman kung ano yun please click the link in my bio. Blessed Sunday!!!!! A post shared by Andy Mark Barroca (@mark14barroca) on Jul 6, 2019 at 8:37pm PDT “Ang tagal namin hinintay, ang tagal namin nag-try and biniyayaan kami. Worth it para sa amin kasi ang tagal ng inantay namin, ang tagal na pinag-pray namin,” he said. “Ilang breaks na kami sa team na pumunta kami ng ibang bansa para mag try na magka baby pero wala talaga.” After Magnolia’s 2019 Philippine Cup Finals heartbreak to sister-team San Miguel Beer, Mark asked Ruselle for a short vacation in Dubai. A time away from the daily grind of playing professional basketball.   “Noong Dubai nga, biglaan lang. Pagkatapos namin ng Finals pumunta kami,” said Mark. “Sabi ko nga sobrang blessing na hindi man kami nanalo [sa championship] at least ‘yung blessing [na magkaroon ng anak] ‘yung mga hindi mababayaran na moment na narinig ko galing sa asawa ko.” Then came the Father’s Day surprise. Russelle filmed her preparation all the way to handing Mark her gift. Together with their 6-year-old daughter, Natalie Faith, Mark got the best gift that special day. “Tinanong niya kasi ako kung anong gift daw gusto ko para sa Father’s Day, sabi ko sa kanya na kahit ano lang na ibibigay niya. ‘Yun pala pinaghandaan niya, na-surprise talaga ako,” he said. “Kasi noong pagbigay niya ng regalo, nagulat ako, ‘Uy, ano to?’ Pagkakita ko may damit ng bata eh wala nang bata sa amin eh, malaki na si Natalie.” “Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Buntis ka ba?’ And sabi niya nga na four weeks na, sobrang saya ko lang noong time na ‘yun,” he added. Though the couple has yet to know the gender of their baby, Mark said that they already have possible names in mind. “May pangalan na kami, hindi pa namin sasabihin,” he said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019

Leonard-George tandem turns Clippers into legit contender

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com At the moment of truth, Kawhi Leonard went against his persona and caused a shakeup that wasn’t so quiet after all. Quite stunning, actually, was the Friday (Saturday, PHL time) series of events that directly affected four teams, caused a major trade of unprecedented details, and influenced the NBA Finals MVP to sign a free agent contract with the Clippers and instantly turning a franchise without a banner into a hardcore contender. Get your first look at the NBA’s top Rookies during NBA Summer League LIVE on NBA League Pass! Leonard is now joined by Paul George, who finished third in the 2018-19 MVP balloting and who requested a trade from Oklahoma City at the 11th hour to essentially swap Russell Westbrook for Leonard. The Clippers are now bringing a pair of swingman who excel on both ends of the floor, giving them the sort of dynamic tandem that’s almost required to win a title these days. The price for George was steep — basically, the Clippers surrendered more for George than the Lakers did for Anthony Davis. They handed over a chunk of their future, with three unprotected first-round picks (2022, 2024 and 2026) belonging to the Clippers, a pair of coveted Heat first rounders (2021 unprotected and 2023 protected 1-14) that were owned by LA, and the option to swap first-rounders with the Clippers in 2023 and 2025. OKC also gets 20-year-old point guard Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and veteran shooter Danilo Gallinari. And so the Clippers drastically changed their personality in the span of a few years, replacing the “Lob City” era of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan with a feisty defensive club led by Kawhi, George, Pat Beverley and Montrezl Harrell. It’s also a team with three reputable scorers as well: Kawhi, George and Lou Williams. Imagine: The Clippers just upstaged the Lakers in an offseason where the Lakers added Davis to join LeBron James. Adding to the intrigue is the presence of Jerry West, the Laker Hall of Famer whose reign as general manager helped raise multiple banners, but whose touch as a consultant with the Clippers in this process is undeniable. Two summers ago when he joined the Clippers after serving the same role with the Warriors, it was West who persuaded the Clippers to trade Griffin, whom they just gave a maximum contract, to the Pistons. West believed Griffin’s best years were behind him and thought the Clippers would be better as a team with more salary cap flexibility going forward. Plus, West and GM Lawrence Frank traded Tobias Harris, the team’s leading scorer, to Philly at the February deadline rather than re-sign Harris this summer in free agency. All of this was done with the idea of signing an impact player in mind, and Leonard was that player and the Clippers’ top target over the last year. Leonard’s appeal to the Clippers was evident and easy to understand. He’s a player who can score 25 points and grab 7-8 rebounds and lock down his man on the other end of the floor. And of course, he just led the Raptors to a championship without being generously helped by a fellow superstar. Interestingly, Leonard had the option of having not just one, but two fellow superstars this summer had he chosen the Lakers. LeBron and Davis and Leonard would make for a championship favorite, especially when you add Kyle Kuzma to the mix. In the end, Leonard wanted to beat the Lakers, not join them. The Lakers still bring those three players, though, and will now garnish the team with minimum-waged players to fill out the roster. Already, Danny Green announced he’ll sign a two-year, $15 million deal with the Lakers, and Rajon Rondo is perhaps not far behind. Both the Lakers and Clippers could compete in the coming days for DeMarcus Cousins as well. The team harmed the most, at least in the immediate sense, is OKC. With the amount of top competitors in the West — Clippers, Lakers, Rockets, Nuggets, Jazz and Blazers among others — the Thunder likely will take a step back and could enter a semi-rebounding phase without George. Also: Could OKC be forced to part ways with Westbrook? The former MVP struggled at times last season and especially in the playoffs, and turns 31 in November, and is on a max contract. It’s not the type of atmosphere that fits Westbrook, who’ll soon enter his twilight. Thunder GM Sam Presti, if nothing else, has shown a willingness to do whatever it takes if it works for OKC. Lastly, there’s the Raptors, who must now go forward without their lone superstar. There are no other players on the level of Leonard that Toronto can chase this offseason. In addition, the core of their rotation is on expiring contracts — Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. The Raptors will surely groom Pascal Siakam to take a lead role with Leonard gone, yet will face major decisions next summer as they attempt to reshape the team. All of this is because Leonard caused a domino effect that ultimately moved mountains. Something of this nature and this magnitude doesn’t happen often in the NBA and is never done virtually overnight, given the amount of pieces involved and teams who put their existence on hold while Leonard stretched his decision nearly a week since free agency began. Evidently there was a reason for that. He wanted the Clippers but only if they could add another major piece. When other options dried up — Jimmy Butler unexpectedly signing with Miami and Kevin Durant with Brooklyn, for instance — the Clippers had to go the trade route. And George had to be convinced by Kawhi to force a trade. And OKC had to agree to that, rather than risk going through a season with an unhappy player. When the Clippers coughed up a bevy for draft picks, that put the entire process in motion. And in the end, basketball in LA became the big winner. It would not be unusual or unexpected if the road to the next conference championship goes through Staples Center and gets decided by one of its two home teams. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 6th, 2019