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Mike Bryan wins Wimbledon for 17th Slam, 1st without brother

By HOWARD FENDRICH ,  AP Tennis Writer LONDON (AP) — Mike Bryan found himself a suitable backup partner for Wimbledon and the result was a record-tying 17th Grand Slam men's doubles title — and his first without his twin brother. Bryan teamed with Jack Sock for only their second tournament together, and the American duo edged Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Michael Venus of New Zealand 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 on Saturday night in the final at Centre Court. The 40-year-old Bryan is the oldest man in the Open era to win the doubles title at the All England Club. He won his first 16 major championships, which included three others at Wimbledon, with his twin, Bob, who is sidelined right now because of a hip injury. "I want to dedicate this title to him, because I'm sure he's watching on TV," Bryan said in an interview with the BBC after the victory, mentioning that their grandfather passed away recently. Sock also mentioned Bob in his post-match remarks, saying: "The tour misses him. He's a legend and icon in tennis. I'm just filling in here for one of the greatest of all time." This is Sock's second Wimbledon title. He paired with Vasek Pospisil to defeat the Bryans in the 2014 final. "There was one guy I was going to play doubles with in this tournament, and it would be Mike Bryan, half of the greatest doubles team," Sock said. The final lasted 3½ hours and began with the retractable roof open, then ended with it shut for the last set. When Klaasen and Venus — who were trying to win their first Grand Slam title — held a set point in the fourth, Bryan was called for a foot fault on a second serve. That meant he double-faulted, giving the set away and forcing a fifth. There were about 20 minutes of daylight left, and Sock said: "I'm good to call it for the night. I can't see." The decision was made to close the dome and turn on the artificial lights, so the match could continue until its conclusion. The key break came with Klaasen serving at 5-all, when he pushed a volley long after Sock sent a big forehand right at him. Bryan then served out the victory. John Newcombe is the only other man in tennis history with 17 Grand Slam doubles trophies. The most he won with one partner was 12, though. The Bryans' 16 as a pair is a record. They had played doubles with each other in a record 76 consecutive major tournaments until Bob missed the French Open in May. Mike entered Roland Garros with Sam Querrey, and they lost in the first round. Mike then played at a grass-court tuneup with Sock last month, their only event before Wimbledon. "It feels like we're getting better every match," Mike said. "We're starting to jell. If Bob can't come back, we'll play this summer.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 15th, 2018

Zverev beats Djokovic in 2 sets to win ATP Finals title

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Despite beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets to win the ATP Finals at only 21, Alexander Zverev knows keeping pace with the Serb isn't going to be easy. Zverev claimed the biggest title of his career with a 6-4, 6-3 upset on Sunday, becoming the youngest champion of the season-ending event since Djokovic claimed the first of his five titles a decade ago — also at age 21. "Oh my God," said Zverev, who also became the first German winner since 1995. "I've won one (year-end title). He's won five. He's won, I don't know what, 148 titles more than me. Let's not go there for now. I hope I can do great ... but just chill out a little bit." Top-ranked Djokovic was attempting to tie Roger Federer's record of six titles but followed the same path as the Swiss great, who lost to Zverev in the semifinals at the O2 Arena. Djokovic's serve hadn't been broken all tournament until the final. Zverev did it once in the first set and three times in the second, completing the victory with a spectacular backhand winner up the line. "There's a lot of similarities in terms of trajectory ... in our careers," said Djokovic, who ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by winning Wimbledon this year, before going on to claim his 14th major trophy at the U.S. Open. "Hopefully he (Zverev) can surpass me." Both players began the match in the same form that had seen them earn straight-sets semifinal victories a day earlier, with few points going against the server. It was Djokovic, who had lost just two of his previous 37 matches and defeated Zverev in the round robin, who began to feel the pressure as consecutive forehand errors gave up his first break of the tournament for 5-4. Fans gave Zverev a huge ovation as he stepped up to serve for the set, and it appeared to inspire him. Three straight aces brought up three set points, the second of which he took when Djokovic sent another forehand long. "I was making way too many unforced errors," Djokovic said. "From 4-4 in the first set, my game really fell apart." Zverev even began to win the longer rallies, an area of the game that Djokovic usually dominates. A 26-shot duel brought up another break point in the opening game of the second set and, although Djokovic saved it, Zverev won another lengthy exchange moments later with a forehand winner to go 1-0 up. With the biggest win of his career in sight, Zverev began to show some nerves. Although he is the only active male player outside of the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to possess three or more Masters titles, the young German has only reached one Grand Slam quarterfinal. Two double faults and two backhand errors gifted Djokovic an immediate break back, but Zverev quickly refocused to win a 28-shot rally on his way to breaking in the following game. "I lost my serve once against him today," Zverev said. "I think this is a pretty good stat, especially as he's the best returner we have in the game." From there he remained solid on serve, before ending with a flourish. A backhand winner on the run drifted past the helpless Djokovic and Zverev sunk to the ground in tears. "This trophy means a lot, everything," Zverev said. "You only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only." Djokovic sportingly crossed the net to embrace the player who will now be considered among the favorites in Australia in two months' time to end the Serb's run of two consecutive Grand Slam victories. "I've had most success in my career in Australia," said Djokovic, who has won six times in Melbourne. "Hopefully I can keep that going." Earlier, American pair Mike Bryan and Jack Sock saved a match point in the deciding tiebreaker to beat Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 5-7, 6-1, 13-11 for their first ATP Finals doubles title together. Having failed to take advantage of five championship points during the first-to-10 match tiebreaker, Bryan and Sock then had to save one against their French opponents before finally closing out victory. "It was a hell of a match," Bryan said. The 40-year-old Bryan has now won the tournament five times. He won four times with his usual partner — and brother — Bob, who has been out with an injured hip since May. Sock and Bryan have dominated since teaming up, winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open before finishing their season in style in London. "It's been a hell of a ride," Bryan said. "This could be our last hoorah because Bob's training back in Florida.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Sale reaches 300-strikeout mark in Major League Baseball

BALTIMORE, Maryland (AP) — Chris Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth hours after beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night. Boston (88-64) was assured at least a wild card and its second consecutive trip to the postseason when the Los Angeles Angels lost to the Cleveland Indians. Of course, the Red Sox are looking for much more than that. They lead the AL East by three games over the rival New York Yankees with 10 to play as Boston pursues its third division title in five years. Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his last pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313. Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero homered for the Red Sox. After winning two straight 11-inning games over the skidding Orioles, Boston jumped to a 6-0 lead in the fifth and coasted to its 11th win in 14 games. Betts and Marrero hit two-run homers in the fourth against Wade Miley (8-14), and Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the fifth. Sale allowed four hits and walked none in matching his career high for wins. Boston joined AL Central champion Cleveland and AL West champion Houston in the American League playoffs, which begin next month. Two spots are still up for grabs. strong>INDIANS 6, ANGELS 5 /strong> ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Francisco Lindor snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-run homer and the remarkable Cleveland Indians held off Los Angeles for their 26th victory in 27 games. It was Lindor's 31st home run of the season, most by a switch-hitting shortstop in major league history. Albert Pujols hit his 614th home run for the Angels, who remained 1½ games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card. The AL Central champion Indians have beaten the Angels 10 consecutive times. Tyler Olson (1-0) won in relief of Josh Tomlin, who allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Bryan Shaw worked two hitless innings for his third save. The game was tied 2-all when Lindor connected off reliever Yusmeiro Petit (5-1). Edwin Encarnacion had an RBI single in the seventh and Jose Ramirez added one of his own in the eighth. The Indians are 95-57, only one game back of the slumping Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Cleveland trailed the Dodgers by 20 games on Aug. 25. C.J. Cron homered and hit an RBI single for the Angels. strong>YANKEES 11, TWINS 3 /strong> NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge hit his AL-leading 45th home run and topped 100 RBIs, Didi Gregorius surpassed Derek Jeter for the most home runs by a Yankees shortstop and New York beat Minnesota for a three-game sweep. The game was briefly halted in the fifth inning when a foul ball down the third-base line off the bat of Todd Frazier struck a young girl, who was carried out of the stands, given first aid and taken to a hospital. Frazier knelt down and covered his head, and many other Yankees and Twins watched in stunned silence as the fan was helped. The Yankees, who have won 10 of 12, opened a seven-game advantage over the Twins for the top AL wild card with 10 games remaining. The Twins have lost five of six and were outscored 18-6 in the three-game series. They lead the Angels by 1½ games for the second wild card. Judge's two-run homer down the right-field line came on an 0-2 pitch from Bartolo Colon (4-6 in the AL and 6-14 overall). Chasen Shreve (4-1) pitched three hitless innings in relief of Luis Severino. strong>RAYS 8, CUBS 1 /strong> ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Blake Snell gave up two hits in seven shutout innings, and Tampa Bay ended Chicago's season-best seven-game winning streak. The Cubs, who had not lost since being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series in Chicago on Sept. 8-10, are scheduled to open a four-game series in Milwaukee on Thursday night. They lead the Brewers by 3½ games in the NL Central. Steven Souza Jr. hit his 30th home run in the first inning and the Rays added three more runs in the second off Jon Lester. Wilson Ramos, who had three of Tampa Bay's 10 hits, made it 7-0 with a two-run single in the fifth that knocked Lester (11-8) out of the game. Lester, who had won three starts since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 2, gave up seven runs and eight hits with three walks in 4 1/3 innings. He had no strikeouts. Snell (4-6) gave up singles to John Jay in the third and Addison Russell in the fifth. He walked three and struck out five in seven innings. Snell is 4-0 in 10 starts since July 24. strong>PHILLIES 7, DODGERS 5 /strong> PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Aaron Altherr hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the eighth after launching a tying, two-run homer an inning earlier, and Philadelphia beat slumping Los Angeles. The Dodgers have lost four straight and 20 of 25 and will have to wait until at least Friday to wrap up the NL West. The Phillies have won eight of 10 and are 32-33 since the All-Star break, climbing out of last place in the majors. Luis Avilan (2-3) walked Cesar Hernandez to start the bottom of the eighth. Freddy Galvis bunted and catcher Austin Barnes made a wild throw to second base for an error that allowed the runners to reach second and third. Odubel Herrera struck out and Rhys Hoskins was intentionally walked. Brandon Morrow entered and Altherr ripped a hit off the right-field fence. Earlier in the series, Altherr became the first major leaguer to hit a grand slam off Clayton Kershaw. Luis Garcia (2-4) got the win despite allowing a run in the eighth. Hector Neris finished for his 23rd save in 26 chances. strong>PIRATES 6, BREWERS 4 /strong> PITTSBURGH (AP) — Adam Frazier hit a two-run homer off Milwaukee closer Corey Knebel with two outs in the ninth inning to lift Pittsburgh to the victory. The Pirates tied it in the eighth on a throwing error by Knebel then ended a seven-game losing streak when Frazier homered into the first row of seats in the right-field stands. Jesus Aguilar and Domingo Santana homered for the Brewers but Milwaukee missed a chance to pull into a tie with Colorado for the second wild-card spot in the National League. Knebel (1-2) had converted 21 straight save opportunities. Milwaukee lost for just the third time in its last 12 games. Felipe Rivero (5-2) earned the victory in relief. Frazier finished 2 for 5 with four RBIs. Starling Marte added two hits for the Pirates. strong>DIAMONDBACKS 13, PADRES 7 /strong> SAN DIEGO (AP) — David Peralta hit a leadoff homer and added a go-ahead double in the seventh for Arizona, which scored 11 runs in the final four innings and overcame Hunter Renfroe's three homers for San Diego. The Padres, who blew a 6-2 lead, hit five home runs and set a team record with 181 this season. Renfroe had his first career three-homer game and tied Nate Colbert's club mark for rookies with 24. Renfroe became the first Padres rookie to hit three home runs, and the seventh San Diego player overall to do it. The Diamondbacks, who have a comfortable lead in the NL wild-card race, hit four homers in avoiding a three-game sweep. They scored four times in the sixth to tie it, including a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez, and went ahead in the seventh. Chris Herrmann singled off Craig Stammen (2-3) and scored the go-ahead run on Peralta's double. A.J. Pollock hit a three-run homer in the four-run ninth. Jake Lamb connected for his 28th home run in the second. Jimmie Sherfy (2-0) pitched one inning for the win. strong>RANGERS 8, MARINERS 6 /strong> SEATTLE (AP) — Rougned Odor's grand slam capped a seven-run fourth inning and Texas beat Seattle to make up ground in the playoff chase. The Rangers moved within 2½ games of Minnesota for the second AL wild card. Seattle dropped its fifth straight and remained four games behind the Twins. Seattle, which trailed 7-1 early, pulled to 8-5 on Robinson Cano's two-run single in the seventh but then left the bases loaded. The Mariners made it 8-6 in the eighth. Andrew Cashner (10-10) allowed three runs in six innings for Texas. Alex Claudio got six outs for his 10th save. Longtime ace Felix Hernandez (5-5), making his second start for Seattle since coming off the disabled list, allowed six runs — five earned — on two hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings. Nelson Cruz and Mitch Haniger homered for the Mariners. strong>ROYALS 15, BLUE JAYS 5 /strong> TORONTO (AP) — Mike Moustakas hit his 37th home run of the season, breaking Steve Balboni's Royals record, Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield also connected and Kansas City routed Toronto. Rookie right-hander Jakob Junis (8-2) allowed four runs, two earned, in 6 1/3 innings, improving to 5-0 with a 2.42 ERA over his past eight starts. Moustakas went 3 for 4 and came within a triple of hitting for the cycle. He eclipsed Balboni's 1985 record with a solo blast to right off Carlos Ramirez in the sixth. Merrifield also had three hits and drove in a pair of runs as the Royals snapped a three-game losing streak and won for the second time in their past seven. Kansas City came within a run of matching its season high. The Royals scored 16 against Detroit twice within a seven-day span in late July. Leading 1-0, the Royals exploded for eight runs and seven hits in the second. Brett Anderson (3-4) allowed eight runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings. strong>GIANTS 4, ROCKIES 0 /strong> SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tyler Chatwood dug himself an early hole and Colorado lost to last-place San Francisco for its third straight defeat. Joe Panik hit a one-out triple in the first inning off Chatwood (8-13) and immediately scored on Denard Span's sacrifice fly. Panik then doubled in the third and came home on Buster Posey's sacrifice fly. Brandon Crawford hit a solo homer in the third to back Matt Moore (6-14), who earned his first win against Colorado after going 0-2 over his first three outings of the year. After two straight 4-3, walk-off setbacks, the Rockies lost for the fifth time in seven games overall following a six-game winning streak. They lead Milwaukee by one game for the second NL wild card. strong>CARDINALS 9, REDS 2 /strong> CINCINNATI (AP) — Dexter Fowler homered for the third straight game while Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong also homered as St. Louis gained ground in its playoff push with a win over Cincinnati. Tommy Pham finished with two doubles, a single and two RBIs and Yadier Molina added a two-run double as the third-place Cardinals (79-72) gained a game on Colorado in the wild-card race to move within 2½ games. St. Louis sits five games behind the Cubs in the NL Central chase. Rookie right-hander Luke Weaver (7-1) retired 10 straight batters in one stretch on the way to his seventh straight winning start, the major leagues' longest active streak and the longest by a Cardinals pitcher this season. The 24-year-old allowed five hits and two runs with seven strikeouts in five innings. Relievers Zach Duke, Seung Hwan Oh, Sandy Alcantara and Sam Tuivailala teamed up to retire 12 of the final 13 Reds batters. Rookie Davis (1-3) gave up all three homers and five runs on five hits with three strikeouts in three innings. strong>NATIONALS 7, BRAVES 3 /strong> ATLANTA (AP) — Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino issued three bases-loaded walks in the six-run eighth, Gio Gonzalez pitched seven strong innings and Washington beat Atlanta. Gonzalez (15-7) allowed two runs, three hits and one walk to enjoy some rare good luck in the series. The left-hander, who struck out eight, began the night 4-11 with a 5.27 ERA in 20 career starts against the Braves. The NL East champion Nationals rallied from a 2-1 deficit for their third straight win. Pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo singled, Trea Turner doubled and Jayson Werth walked in the eighth against Jose Ramirez (2-3). Braves manager Brian Snitker brought in Vizcaino, and the move quickly backfired. Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon walked, and Vizcaino left without a retiring a batter. Rex Brothers then gave up Adam Lind's two-run single and Michael Taylor's RBI single to make it 7-2. Ramirez allowed three runs, two hits and one walk with one strikeout in 1/3 of an inning. strong>ASTROS 4, WHITE SOX 3 /strong> HOUSTON (AP) — Yuli Gurriel had three hits, including a two-run double, Brad Peacock threw six solid innings and Houston extended its winning streak to six games with a win over Chicago. Peacock (12-2) allowed two runs on one hit with six strikeouts. The right-hander continues to throw well, allowing two runs or fewer in each of his last five starts. After Yoan Moncada put the White Sox up 2-1 in the top of the fourth with a two-run homer, Gurriel answered with his two-run hit in the bottom half of the inning. Jose Altuve upped Houston's lead to 4-2 with an RBI single in the seventh, but Yolmer Sanchez cut the lead to one with an RBI double in the eighth. Joe Musgrove struck out Moncada with the tying run on second to end the eighth and struck out Omar Narvaez with the tying run on second to end the game for his second save. James Shields (4-7) allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. strong>MARLINS 5, METS 4, 10 INNINGS /strong> MIAMI (AP) — J.T. Realmuto homered in the 10th inning, and Miami beat New York after rallying for three runs in the ninth against former teammate A.J. Ramos. With one out, Realmuto hit a 1-1 pitch from Paul Sewald (0-6) into the Mets' bullpen for his 17th homer. Miami trailed 4-1 in the ninth before coming back against Ramos, who faced the Marlins for the first time since they traded the closer to New York on July 28. Justin Bour led off with his 22nd homer and first since a six-week stint on the disabled list. Ramos then gave up four singles, including two-out RBI hits by pinch-hitter A.J. Ellis and Ichiro Suzuki. Sewald replaced Ramos and struck out Christian Yelich on a 3-2 breaking ball with the bases loaded to force extra innings. Ramos' blown save was his first with the Mets. Major league home run leader Giancarlo Stanton walked a season-high four times and struck out in his only at-bat to remain at 55 homers with 11 games to go. strong>ATHLETICS 3, TIGERS 2 /strong> DETROIT (AP) — Daniel Mengden pitched seven scoreless innings, and Marcus Semien homered and drove in three runs, leading Oakland to a 3-2 win and three-game sweep of Detroit. Mengden (2-1) allowed seven hits and struck out four, extending his scoreless streak to 16 1/3 innings and helping the A's to their fourth consecutive win. The 24-year-old right-hander missed the first two months of the season after undergoing offseason foot surgery and was making his fifth major league start this year. Liam Hendriks got the final two outs in the ninth to earn his first save. Anibal Sanchez (3-5) pitched well in a losing effort, allowing three hits and one run in six innings. He struck out eight and walked three. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 21st, 2017

1 major goal achieved for Mahut-Herbert; next goal is gold

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Not long after Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut completed their career Grand Slam in men's doubles, the Frenchmen were already turning their attention to the next goal. And that's gold. Mahut and Herbert beat Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia 6-4, 7-6 (1) in the Australian Open doubles final on Sunday, a match featuring just one service break. In doing so, they became the first French team and just the eighth men's doubles team overall in tennis history to win each Grand Slam tournament at least once. The 37-year-old Mahut was asked if he'd now consider retirement. He ruled that out immediately, preferring to instead focus on his next significant priority: the Olympics in Tokyo. The Frenchmen were the top seeds in the Olympic doubles tournament at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but were upset in the first round. "We have so many things to achieve. If you remember well, in 2016 in Rio, we didn't play that good, so I still have this in mind," Mahut said. "So I won't think about retirement (until) after the next Olympics. You can wait at least one more year, and then of course at the end of my career, at least, I could say that we won all four slams." Herbert and Mahut won their first major doubles title together at the U.S. Open in 2015, then added Wimbledon in 2016 and the French Open last year. "We knew when we won Roland Garros that it was the one missing, so for sure it added maybe a special motivation" for Australia, Herbert said. "It's always tricky because when you want something, you have to make the good decisions and to be in the good state of mind to be good on court. "We wanted it, but we also wanted to be good on court on each match and we focused on the game, and that's why maybe today we could achieve what we achieved here." Herbert and Mahut saved all four break points they faced Sunday, all while Herbert served in the fourth game of the second set. The match's only break came when Kontinen served at 4-all in the first set. Mahut said he didn't need any extra motivation when it came to winning major titles, and came to Melbourne Park with a focus on the final rather than the title. "But now we can talk about it, and here we are," he said. "We have the four slams. So it's a great feeling." Mahut didn't play in the singles draw after losing in the first round of qualifying, and said he's going to give it six more months before deciding whether or not he should continue to play both of focus more on doubles. The 27-year-old Herbert lost in the third round in the singles draw to big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic. That left them both able to concentrate entirely on achieving their career Grand Slam. Mahut and Herbert had a quarterfinal win here over fourth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan, who were the most recent pair to complete the career Grand Slam when they won at Wimbledon in 2006. The Bryan brothers were reuniting as a team at Melbourne Park after Bob missed three majors last season because of injury......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2019

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Bottom 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Bottom 10 * * * 21. DETROIT PISTONS 2017-18 RECORD: 39-43; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Dwane Casey; New executive Ed Stefanski; G Bruce Brown (No. 42 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jose Calderon (one year, $2.3 million); C Zaza Pachulia (one year, $2.3 million); G/F Glenn Robinson III (two years, $8.3 million); G Khyri Thomas (No. 38 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former coach Stan Van Gundy; G Dwight Buycks (waived); F/C Eric Moreland (waived); F Anthony Tolliver (signed with Wolves) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: F Blake Griffin. And he will be for some time. The Pistons need him to be his former All-Star self again, able to take slower defender to the basket, able to stretch the floor if he plays the five in small-ball lineups. They need him to be a playmaker, to get Reggie Jackson more looks off the ball and Andre Drummond some high-low lobs at the rim. They need him to sell tickets at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit’s revitalized downtown -- a building that seems to be more for the NHL’s Red Wings than the NBA’s Pistons. And they need Griffin to be an anchor that draws players to the Motor City during the life of his extension. THE SKINNY: Owner Tom Gores agonized over firing Van Gundy, but he finally did so, and was fortunate that Casey was available and willing to step right back into the fray after being cashiered in Toronto. Casey will be quite in his element building a defense around Drummond, but, like Van Gundy, Casey will need Jackson to stay healthy; he’s missed a combined 67 games the last two seasons. Detroit did well for not having a first-round pick to come out of the Draft with two solid guard prospects deep in the second in Thomas and Brown. However, the new coaching staff will have to get more out of the team’s last three first-rounders: Stanley Johnson (2015), Henry Ellenson (2016) and Luke Kennard (2017). 22. BOSTON CELTICS 2017-18 RECORD: 55-27; lost in Eastern Conference finals ADDED: G Brad Wanamaker (one year, $838,000); C Robert Williams (No. 27 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Shane Larkin (signed to play in Turkey); F Abdel Nader (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: C Aron Baynes (two years, $10.6 million); F Jabari Bird (two years, $3 million), G Marcus Smart (four years, $52 million) THE KEY MAN: F Gordon Hayward. All indications are he’s well on his way back from that horrific injury he suffered on opening night last season. He can do so many great things in coach Brad Stevens’ system, and if he’s 100 percent by the playoffs, Boston may well be the one team that can match up, player for player, with Golden State in a Finals meeting. (Remember this when people inevitably say I ranked the Celtics 23rd in offseason moves.) THE SKINNY: Boston got its biggest work done after Smart couldn’t loosen up an offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings or Dallas Mavericks, and eventually worked out a deal for less than he sought to return. Smart’s deal puts Boston in the tax for the foreseeable future, but the Celtics knew that was the next step in keeping a Finals-capable core group together. With Kyrie Irving and Hayward expected back on line Stevens can throw so many different lineups out there, all committed to stifling opponent movement with long, switching defenders led by Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Williams was worth an end of the first flier, though he didn’t get off to a great start. If he gets a good wake-up alarm on his phone, he has a chance to be the Celtics’ center of the future. 23. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 2017-18 RECORD: 52-30; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals ADDED: F Wilson Chandler (acquired from Nuggets); F/C Mike Muscala (acquired from Hawks); G Zhaire Smith (No. 16 pick, 2018 Draft); G Landry Shamet (No. 26 pick, 2018 Draft); G Shake Milton (No. 54 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former GM Bryan Colangelo (resigned); F Justin Anderson (traded to Hawks); G Marco Belinelli (signed with Spurs); F/C Richaun Holmes (traded to Suns); F Ersan Ilyasova (signed with Bucks); G/F Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: C/F Amir Johnson (one year, $1.5 million); G T.J. McConnell (picked up team option); G J.J. Redick (one year, $12.2 million) THE KEY MAN: G Markelle Fultz. His rookie year laid waste by a combination of injury and the yips -- which the Sixers have finally copted to -- Fultz is reportedly rebuilding his shot successfully under the learned eye of development coach Drew Hansen. If that carries over to the fall, Fultz will get a true opportunity (he had some cameos late in his rookie season) to show a skeptical Philly fan base he was worth the top pick in 2017, and worth Philly trading up to get him. He definitely could fill a need with the 76ers for a second playmaker to go with and occasionally in place of reigning Kia Rookie of the Year winner Ben Simmons. But if Fultz has another setback, physically or otherwise, it will be hard for him to stick much longer in Philly -- not a town known for patient reflection with regard to its sports teams. THE SKINNY: Coach Brett Brown was quite clear when he said the Sixers were hunting for a superstar this summer with the cap space they’d assiduously cleared the last couple of years. But the summer has come and gone and there’s no LeBron, no Kawhi, no trade, at least not yet, for Jimmy Butler or anyone else at that level. Belinelli and Ilyasova both played huge roles for Philly in the playoffs; maybe Fultz (see above) takes on some of that role, and Chandler will help. But this doesn’t feel like a successful offseason for one of the real risers in the East. 24. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 2017-18 RECORD: 49-33; lost in first round ADDED: G Seth Curry (one year, $2.7 million); G Nik Stauskas (one year, $1.6 million); G Anfernee Simons (No. 24 pick, 2018 Draft); G Gary Trent Jr. (No. 37 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G/F Pat Connaughton (signed with Bucks); F/C Ed Davis (signed with Nets); G Shabazz Napier (signed with Nets); C Georgios Papagiannis (waived) RETAINED: C Jusuf Nurkic (four years, $48 million) THE KEY MAN: Assistant coaches David Vanterpool, Nate Tibbets, Dale Osbourne, Jim Moran, John McCullough and Jonathan Yim. With the Blazers mostly landlocked the next two seasons -- they’re currently above the projected luxury tax line both for next season and 2019-20 -- there aren’t likely going to be many significant roster changes for a while. And in the West, especially, standing pat is often falling behind. It will thus fall to Portland’s excellent staff behind coach Terry Stotts to maximize the production of the current group. They can point with some pride to success stories like Will Barton and Allen Crabbe, now in Denver and Brooklyn, respectively, along with Maurice Harkless and Al-Faroqu Aminu. For Portland to take another step up, they’ll have to coach up someone like 2017 first-rounder Zach Collins or this year’s first-rounder, Simons. They must have them exceed expectations to become a third legit star behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. THE SKINNY: Lillard insists the rumblings heard in some quarters that he’s unhappy in Portland aren’t true, and the franchise better hope he’s being honest. The decisions the Blazers made in 2016 continue to lock them in place; if they catch a favorable first-round matchup (a grumbling Rockets team in 2014; an injury-strafed Clippers squad in 2016), they can advance a round. But last year’s 4-0 sweep by the New Orleans Pelicans had to give everyone pause. How does Portland respond mentally? Re-upping Big Nurk in the middle on a very reasonable deal -- $12 million for a starting center was the going rate five years ago, when the Wolves gave Nikola Pekovic a five-year, $60 million contract -- was necessary. But losing Davis, a locker room and fan favorite for superior work ethic, will hurt, even though Collins should sop up a lot of those minutes. 25. ORLANDO MAGIC 2017-18 RECORD: 25-57; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Steve Clifford; C Mohamed Bamba (No. 6 pick, 2018 Draft); G Isaiah Briscoe (three years, $3.9 million); F Melvin Frazier (No. 35 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jerian Grant (acquired from Bulls); F Justin Jackson (No. 43 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jarrell Martin (acquired from Grizzlies); C Timofey Mozgov (acquired from Hornets) LOST: C Bismack Biyombo (traded to Hornets); G Mario Hezonja (signed with Knicks); C Dakari Johnson (traded to Grizzlies); G Shelvin Mack (waived); G Rodney Purvis (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: F Aaron Gordon (four years, $82 million) THE KEY MAN: G D.J. Augustin. A vet’s vet, he’s played 10 years in the league and started 226 games for eight teams, including 56 over the last two for the Magic. He’ll enter this season as the unquestioned starter at the point with Elfrid Payton in New Orleans and Orlando still looking to solve its long-term search for a point guard. It’s Augustin’s turn. THE SKINNY: At some point, Orlando’s yearly gambles on size and potential will pay off. Bamba could be the goods; he’s got a demeanor and toughness that should keep him together while he learns the craft at the pro level. But -- again -- it will take some time for Bamba, like 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Isaac, and Gordon, in whom Orlando invested a sizeable sum in July, to flourish. And Magic fans rightly can ask exactly how long they’re to remain patient. Clifford is supposed to improve the defense, but so was Frank Vogel … and so was Scott Skiles … and so was Jacque Vaughn. 26. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in Western Conference semifinals ADDED: G Tony Carr (No. 51 pick, 2018 Draft); G Elfrid Payton (one year, $3 million); F Julius Randle (two years, $17 million) LOST: C DeMarcus Cousins (signed with Warriors); G Rajon Rondo (signed with Lakers) RETAINED: G Ian Clark (one year, $1.7 million); F Nikola Mirotic (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Owner Gayle Benson. Mrs. Benson took control of the team after the death of her husband, Tom, last March. She displayed great grace in the days and weeks after Tom Benson’s death, making it clear at the time she had no interest in selling the team and would continue to make outlays to keep the team competitive. The Pels didn’t blink last summer giving Jrue Holiday $126 million, and that will have to remain the case going forward if New Orleans is to repeat its surprising run to the Western Conference semifinals last spring. THE SKINNY: Can’t lose your starting point guard and your starting All-Star center in one offseason -- no matter what the circumstances -- and come out of it with high offseason marks. And especially when Rondo seemed like the perfect fit for the team. Mirotic mentioned during the Warriors series how good Rondo was at picking him up and connecting him quickly with the team after he was traded to New Orleans from Chicago. And, yes, coach Alvin Gentry mentioned he may have exchanged cusses with Rondo every now and again, too. Life in RondoWorld. The path forward is narrower, but not impassible; Randle can be tantalizing at times, maddening at others, but he could plug-and-play at the four, and he can take some of the playmaking burden off of Holiday. But big minutes on the ball for Holiday again is not what New Orleans had in mind. Payton is going to have to perform immediately. And losing “Boogie” Cousins is a big minus. It’s not what the Pelicans gave up to get him. It’s the fit and flow he had with Anthony Davis before the injury, and what the promise of a return this season could have meant toward carrying the momentum of last year forward. 27. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES 2017-18 RECORD: 47-35; lost in first round ADDED: F Anthony Tolliver (one year, $5.7 million); G Josh Okogie (No. 20 pick, 2018 Draft); F Keita Bates-Diop (No. 48 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Cole Aldrich (waived); F Nemanja Bjelica (signed with Kings) RETAINED: G Derrick Rose (one year, $1.5 million) THE KEY MAN: Vikings QB Kirk Cousins. He signed for big, big money by NFL standards (three years, $84 million), and the Vikings have Super Bowl aspirations. So all the light will be on the Vikes most of the fall and winter in Minneapolis, keeping it off of the still-young Wolves, who won’t be able to sneak up on anyone after breaking their long postseason drought. THE SKINNY: The Wolves should be positioned to build on their playoff run, especially if Butler can get through a full season healthy and Karl-Anthony Towns adds consistency to his prodigious talents. But they didn’t do much in the offseason, and the team that they beat out on the last day of the regular season, Denver, looks to be much improved. Tolliver should help the Wolves’ depth; they essentially traded him for Bjelica, and he shot slightly better on 3-poiners last season than Belly. Plus, they don’t come better as a guy than Tolliver and he can help Minnesota in the locker room. The issue of Butler’s contract isn’t going away; there will be a reckoning at some point, and he’ll have a lot more options next summer than free agents had this summer. Until then, coach Tom Thibodeau has pretty much the same team that he has to cajole better defense out of next season (22nd in Defensive Rating; 17th in points allowed). 28. CHARLOTTE HORNETS 2017-18 RECORD: 36-46; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach James Borrego; GM Mitch Kupchack; C Bismack Biyombo (acquired from Magic); F Miles Bridges (No. 12 pick, 2018 Draft); G Devonte' Graham (No. 34 pick, 2018 Draft); F Arnoldas Kulboka (No. 55 pick, 2018 Draft); ; G Tony Parker (two years, $10.2 milliion) LOST: G Michael Carter-Williams (signed with Rockets); C Dwight Howard (traded to Nets); C Timofey Mozgov (traded to Magic); G Julyan Stone (traded to Bulls) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: C Cody Zeller. It’s a guess -- Borrego could opt for Frank Kaminsky III -- but Zeller would seem to be the replacement at center for Dwight Howard, who wound up in Washington after the Hornets traded him to the Nets. Zeller started 58 games two years ago and was very good in screen and rolls with Kemba Walker. Zeller only played in 33 games last season because of a left knee injury; if he returns to form, the Hornets could pick up offensively and actually have a little more diversity at that end than last season. THE SKINNY: Team owner Michael Jordan cleaned house after a disappointing 2017-18, bringing another Tar Heel back home in the veteran Kupchak. Kupchak dispatched Howard and then got Mozgov’s guaranteed 2019-20 season off his books to take back Biyombo, who’d left Toronto two years ago for $72 million from the Magic and who’s got a player option for 2019-20. Well before then, the Hornets are going to have to decide what to do with Walker, who’ll be one of the top free agents available next summer if Charlotte can’t get him re-signed or extended. The Hornets were 8.8 points worse when the two-time All-Star was off the court rather than on. Nicolas Batum has to make a return to the all-around talent that enticed Charlotte to trade for him and give him a $120 million extension; he averaged just 11.6 points per game last year, his lowest in three years. Howard’s presence in the paint may have clogged things up some, but that’s no longer the case. 29. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 2017-18 RECORD: 50-32; lost in The Finals ADDED: F Channing Frye (one year, $2.3 million); G Collin Sexton (No. 8 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Jose Calderon (signed with Pistons); F Jeff Green (signed with Wizards); F LeBron James (signed with Lakers); C Kendrick Perkins (waived); F Okaro White (waived) RETAINED: F Kevin Love (contract extension) THE KEY MAN: GM Koby Altman. Altman has a blank slate now after trying to steer a championship-contending ship that had been stripped of a few propeller blades in the last 13 months. With James gone, as well as former GM David Griffin, the 35-year-old Altman has team owner Dan Gilbert’s charge to rebuild the Cavs without taking them down to the studs (as the Cavs did after James first departure in 2010). Altman’s next task after working out Kevin Love’s $130 million extension is clearing the roster of all the veterans brought in the last three years mainly because of their ability to play off of James. THE SKINNY: There weren’t any widespread jersey burnings this time in the Land. James left for L.A. with relative good will from his hometown, having delivered the championship it had waited 52 years for in 2016. Truly, the Cavs’ rebuild started the minute Kyrie Irving demanded a trade; last season seemed more rearguard action than an attack at another title. Extending Love through 2023 with no outs -- keeping him locked with rookie Sexton through the latter’s last controllable season before hitting unrestricted free agency -- gives Cleveland a base upon which to build. Cap room will follow in 2019, but next season will be difficult; Sexton has a lot of toughness and potential, but rookie point guards tend to get their lunch handed to them. 30. MIAMI HEAT 2017-18 RECORD: 44-38; lost in first round ADDED: None LOST: None RETAINED: G Wayne Ellington (one year, $6.2 million); F/G Derrick Jones Jr. THE KEY MAN: G Josh Richardson. Like many of his teammates, Richardson got an extension a couple of years ago -- four years and $42 million. Last season, he was (again) a solid two-way player for Miami -- almost 13 points per game, 84.5 percent from the line, 37.8 percent on 3-pointers. But if the Heat is going to shake out of the middle lane in which it currently seems stuck, Richardson will have to expand. Miami’s current roster makes it complicated; Pat Riley thinks Richardson’s probably more of a two, but he plays mostly three for coach Erik Spoelstra because Miami’s best lineups were small ball ones. Another offseason at P3 in California will help Richardson continue his development. THE SKINNY: No, Heat people: I don’t hate your team. But when you have no Draft picks, and you have no cap space, and thus you literally could do nothing in the offseason, and basically did nothing in the offseason, and your biggest, most newsy event was whether your 36-year-old future Hall of Fame guard will come back for one more season or play over in China … well, what am I supposed to do with that information? Rank you first? The question is, how much better is your team now than it was at the end of last season? It’s essentially the same team; other than the likes of Richardson (see above) or Justise Winslow, it’s not like there’s a great step up expected from Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic, is there? The Heat is not any better than last season. It isn’t any worse. It just … is. So, 30. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

Get ready for Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova in Paris

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — If the upcoming French Open showdown between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova provides any of the sort of animus and back-and-forth they manage to stir up away from the court, look out. During a news conference after both won Saturday to set up the longtime rivals' fourth-round matchup at Roland Garros, Williams criticized Sharapova's autobiography as "hearsay" and twice brought up the Russian's 15-month doping ban. Producing by far the best performance in her return to Grand Slam tennis — 16 months after her last major tournament and nine months after having a baby — Williams played cleanly and powerfully in a 6-3, 6-4 tour de force against 11th-seeded Julia Goerges that lasted a mere 75 minutes and lacked much in the way of theatrics. "There is still a ways to go, but it's moving in the right direction," said Williams, who made only three unforced errors in the first set, 12 in all. "And I think that as long as it's moving in the right direction, I know I will get there." Sharapova advanced with a similarly lopsided win, 6-2, 6-1 against 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova. Now comes the drama: Williams vs. Sharapova on Monday with a quarterfinal spot at stake. They have verbally clashed in the past, such as a 2013 public spat about their private lives. Williams, 36, owns 23 major singles titles. Sharapova, 31, has won five. Williams has won the French Open three times, Sharapova twice. They are the only active women with a career Grand Slam; they are two of six in history to accomplish that. Both have been ranked No. 1. But the head-to-head history is overwhelmingly in Williams' favor: She has won 19 of 21 meetings, including 18 in a row. "Quite frankly, she's probably a favorite in this match, for sure," Williams said with a chuckle. "She's been playing ... for over a year now. I just started. So I'm just really trying to get my bearings and trying to feel out where I am and see where I can go." The last time Sharapova beat Williams was in 2004. The last time they played was in the 2016 Australian Open quarterfinals, Sharapova's final appearance before her 15-month drug suspension. "Well, it's been a while," Sharapova said, "and I think a lot has happened in our lives for the both of us, in very different ways." Williams was asked about Sharapova's book, which was published last year. It contains quite a bit of material about the American, including a reference to Williams crying in the locker room after losing to Sharapova in the Wimbledon final 14 years ago. "As a fan, I wanted to read the book and I was really excited for it to come out and I was really happy for her. And then the book was a lot about me. I was surprised about that, to be honest," Williams said. "I was, like, 'Oh, OK, I didn't expect to be reading a book about me — that wasn't necessarily true.'" Insisting she doesn't "have any negative feelings" toward Sharapova, Williams said "the success of one female should be the inspiration to another." Seconds later, Williams made reference to Sharapova's "incident of drugs." There were plenty of other results involving top names at the French Open on Saturday. Other women moving into the fourth round included 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza, two-time runner-up Simona Halep, two-time major title winner Angelique Kerber and reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. Men's winners included 10-time champion Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Marin Cilic, No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 6 Kevin Anderson and No. 9 John Isner. The story of Day 7, though, was what everyone can look forward to on Day 9: Williams vs. Sharapova. This is Williams' first Grand Slam tournament since January 2017, when she won the Australian Open while pregnant. The American made a brief foray on the tour earlier this season, but she played only four matches. She had some problems in her initial two outings in Paris, including in the second round, when she dropped the first set against 17th-seeded Ashleigh Barty before — as Williams herself put it — "Serena came out." Against Goerges, the careless errors were largely absent. The missing energy was back. In front of a crowd that included former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, it took 15 minutes for Williams to gain the upper hand, sprinting to reach a drop shot and whip a cross-court forehand passing winner for a 3-1 lead. Williams yelled loudly and raised her fist. It was almost as if she'd never left the scene. "Any time you play against Serena, you know what you're up against. You know the challenge that is upon you," Sharapova said. "Despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best players.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

Joe Maddon wins in return to Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) — Mike Montgomery took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, Kyle Schwarber hit his 28th home run and the Chicago Cubs extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Tuesday in manager Joe Maddon's return to Tropicana Field. Maddon managed Tampa Bay from 2006-14, then left for Chicago and last year led the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. Chicago holds a 3½-game lead over second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central. A crowd of 25,046, the largest at the Trop since opening day, gave Maddon a standing ovation in the middle of the first inning. Montgomery (7-8) allowed one hit in six innings, a one-out homer in the sixth by Brad Miller. The left-hander struck out six and walked one. Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr. and Wade Davis each followed with an inning of perfect relief to complete the one-hitter. Davis struck out the side and remained perfect in 32 save chances. Javier Baez hit an RBI double against Chris Archer (9-11), who gave up four hits in six innings. strong>INDIANS 6, ANGELS 3 /strong> ANAHEIM, California (AP) — Jay Bruce had a triple and a double among his three hits, Austin Jackson singled four times and the incredible Cleveland Indians notched their 25th victory in 26 games. Roberto Perez added a solo home run for the AL Central champions to support a strong outing by Mike Clevinger (11-5). Los Angeles' offense struggled for the third consecutive game as the Angels missed a chance to gain ground on Minnesota in their bid for the final American League playoff berth. strong>RED SOX 1, ORIOLES 0, 11 INNINGS /strong> BALTIMORE (AP) — Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the game's lone run on a wild pitch by Brad Brach in the 11th inning, helping the Red Sox improve to 15-3 in extra-inning games. Boston has won 10 of 13 to move a season-high 23 games over .500 (87-64) and draw closer to clinching a postseason berth. The Red Sox stayed three games ahead of the second-place Yankees in the AL East. With a runner on second and two outs in the 11th, Brach (4-5) walked Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who sidestepped a bouncing pitch from Brach that enabled Bradley to score without a throw. Joe Kelly (4-1) worked the 10th and Matt Barnes got three outs for his first save. The Orioles have lost 11 of 13 to fall out of contention. strong>YANKEES 5, TWINS 2 /strong> NEW YORK (AP) — CC Sabathia recovered from a shaky start to pitch six innings, Brett Gardner had a pair of tying hits and the Yankees clinched their sixth straight series win. With their ninth victory in 11 games, the Yankees opened six-game lead over the Twins for the top AL wild card. Minnesota, which started the night 1 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card, has lost four of five. Pitching on seven days' rest in a game that started 65 minutes late because of a downpour, Sabathia (12-5) allowed two runs and six hits. Aroldis Chapman worked a scoreless ninth for his 20th save in 24 chances. Minnesota right-hander Jose Berrios (12-8) yielded three runs in 3 1/3 innings. strong>PHILLIES 6, DODGERS 2 /strong> PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rhys Hoskins had four RBIs for Philadelphia, including a tiebreaking three-run double off Pedro Baez in seventh inning. Los Angeles' magic number to clinch its fifth straight division title is two. The Dodgers have lost three consecutive games and 19 of 24. Hoskins saw 30 pitches in going 2 for 3 with a walk. He knocked out Yu Darvish with a sixth-inning RBI single that cut Philadelphia's deficit to 2-1, and then doubled to the left-center gap on the 10th pitch of his at-bat against Baez (3-6) for a 5-2 lead. Aaron Nola (12-10) allowed two runs in seven innings while striking out eight. The Phillies have won seven of 10. strong>BREWERS 1, PIRATES 0 /strong> PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chase Anderson struck out eight in six innings, Domingo Santana homered and the Brewers shut out the Pirates for the second straight day. The Brewers won for the ninth time in 11 games, keeping pace in the NL Central and wild-card races. They won for the fourth time in the past seven days against reeling Pittsburgh, which has lost a season-high seven consecutive games and 12 of 13. It was the 12th shutout of the season for the Brewers, tied for the second-most in the NL. Anderson (11-3) allowed five singles. Anthony Swarzak retired six of his seven batters, and Corey Knebel earned his 37th save. Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams (6-9) pitched five innings of three-hit ball. strong>MARLINS 5, METS 4, 10 INNINGS /strong> MIAMI (AP) — J.T. Realmuto homered in the 10th inning and Miami beat New York after rallying for three runs in the ninth against former teammate A.J. Ramos. With one out, Realmuto connected off Paul Sewald (0-6) for his 17th homer. Miami trailed 4-1 in the ninth before coming back against Ramos, who faced the Marlins for the first time since they traded him to New York on July 28. Justin Bour led off with his 22nd homer, and first since a six-week stint on the disabled list. Ramos then gave up four singles, including two-out RBI hits by pinch-hitter A.J. Ellis and Ichiro Suzuki. Ramos' blown save was his first with the Mets. Major league home run leader Giancarlo Stanton walked a season-high four times and struck out in his only at-bat to remain at 55 homers with 11 games to go. strong>CARDINALS 8, REDS 7, 10 INNINGS /strong> CINCINNATI (AP) — Dexter Fowler hit a tying homer in the eighth inning and a go-ahead double in the 10th to help St. Louis get past Cincinnati. Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong also connected for the Cardinals, who were swept by NL Central-leading Chicago last weekend and had dropped four of five overall. Juan Nicasio (4-5) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win, and Tyler Lyons got two outs for his third save. The third-place Cardinals (78-72) remained six games back of the Cubs in the division. St. Louis also is in the mix for a wild card after missing the playoffs last season. The winning rally began when Tim Adelman (5-11) hit Kolten Wong with a pitch leading off the 10th. After the double by Fowler, DeJong added a two-out RBI single. Cincinnati got one back on Scooter Gennett's 26th homer. Zack Cozart also went deep for the Reds. Each team used eight pitchers. strong>NATIONALS 4, BRAVES 2 /strong> ATLANTA (AP) — Max Scherzer allowed five hits in seven innings, and Washington tuned up for the playoffs with a victory over Atlanta. Scherzer (15-6) bounced back from his worst start of the season, also against the Braves last week, when he walked six and was roughed up for seven runs in an 8-2 loss. This time, Scherzer struck out seven and walked only one while throwing 83 of 112 pitches for strikes. Sean Doolittle earned his 22nd save, his 19th in as many chances since the Nationals acquired him from Oakland on July 16. Ryan Zimmerman had three hits and two RBIs for the NL East champions. Braves rookie Luiz Gohara (1-2) gave up four runs and 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings. strong>BLUE JAYS 5, ROYALS 2 /strong> TORONTO (AP) — Marcus Stroman pitched seven innings to win for the first time in six starts and Darwin Barney hit a two-run homer, helping the Blue Jays to the victory. Alex Gordon's solo drive for Kansas City in the eighth was the majors' 5,694th homer of the season, breaking the record set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era. There were 5,610 homers last year, an average of 2.31 per game, and this year's average of 2.53 entering Tuesday's action projects to 6,139. Barney went 2 for 3 with three RBIs as the Blue Jays opened their final homestand on a winning note. Stroman (12-8) allowed one run and four hits, and Roberto Osuna got his 37th save. Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-12) was charged with two runs in five-plus innings. strong>ASTROS 3, WHITE SOX 1 /strong> HOUSTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered, Alex Bregman hit an RBI double and AL West champion Houston extended its winning streak to five games with a victory over Chicago. Collin McHugh (3-2) allowed one run and five hits with five strikeouts in five innings for the Astros. It was the right-hander's first outing since detaching a fingernail on his pitching hand Sept. 8. McHugh has made only 10 starts this season after also missing time with a shoulder issue. Will Harris, Luke Gregerson and Chris Devenski each threw a scoreless inning before Ken Giles pitched the ninth for his 32nd save. Lucas Giolito (2-3) gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings for the White Sox. strong>ATHLETICS 9, TIGERS 8 /strong> DETROIT (AP) — Jed Lowrie hit a go-ahead grand slam against Alex Wilson, and Oakland overcame a four-run deficit to beat Detroit. The Tigers trailed 3-0 in the third inning, then took an 8-4 lead into the seventh, when Ryon Healy hit a bases-loaded grounder to shortstop Jose Iglesias, who bobbled the ball for an error as Lowrie scored. Joey Wendle, Franklin Barreto and Chad Pinder started the eighth with singles off Wilson (2-5), and Lowrie followed with his third career slam. Miguel Cabrera singled off Chris Hatcher starting the bottom half and took third on Nicholas Castellanos' double. But Jeimer Candelario grounded out and, after an intentional walk, Hatcher struck out James McCann and Mikie Mahtook. Santiago Casilla (4-5) pitched a perfect seventh. Blake Treinen closed for his 12th save this season and ninth since being traded from Washington to Oakland. Oakland rookie Matt Olson homered for the fifth straight game, tying Matt Stairs (1998), Dave Kingman (1986) and George Alusik (1962) for the second-longest streak in Athletics history behind Frank Thomas' six in 2006. Olson has 15 home runs in his last 21 games. Castellanos, Alex Presley and Ian Kinsler homered for Detroit. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2017

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. 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 NewsFeb 16th, 2019

Kvitova-Osaka: Australian final from different perspectives

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Petra Kvitova has shed her tears. The tears, for a long time private, were in a very public arena this week. A violent home invasion that caused serious knife wounds to her left hand was a punctuation point in her career, as she sees it. There's the before — two Wimbledon titles — and her "second career" — which so far is highlighted by her run to Saturday's Australian Open final. What she is focused on now is winning her first Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 2014. To get there, she'll have to beat 21-year-old Naomi Osaka, the U.S. Open champion who is on a 13-match winning streak in the majors. "To be honest, I'm still not really believing that I'm in the final," Kvitova said. "It's kind of weird, to be honest, as well, that I didn't know even if I was going to play tennis again." Kvitova was 21 when she made her Grand Slam breakthrough at Wimbledon in 2011 and was a star on the rise, much like Osaka is now. Unlike Osaka, she lost in the first round in her next Grand Slam. There were ups — including a second Wimbledon title — and downs in tennis until that until the horrible ordeal in December 2016 that could have derailed her career, or worse. For a while she was confident being alone, she remembered, until one day she left the locker room at a tennis club in Prague and told her support crew "yeah, it was a good one today that I really felt OK." Her doctor didn't tell her at the time of concerns about the scarring on her surgically repaired left hand that could hinder her return to top-level tennis. In retrospect, Kvitova said it's good she didn't know. "It wasn't only physically but mentally was very tough. It took me really a while to believe," she said. "It was lot of, lot of work ... a lot of recovery, treatment. You know, it was — I think that's kind of the sport life help me a lot with that. I just set up the mind that I really wanted to come back, and I just did everything." She missed the 2017 Australian Open during three months off the tour. She returned at the French Open and had a second-round exit there and at Wimbledon before a bright spot in her comeback, a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open. But that was the peak for two seasons. She was out in the first round at Melbourne Park last year and at Wimbledon, and third rounds the French and U.S. Opens. Minor setbacks, all things considered. "The mental side was there, and I really needed to be strong and not really thinking too negatively about it," said Kvitova, who is now on an 11-match winning streak. "Yeah, it's been long journey." Kvitova and Osaka have never played each other. Osaka has been watching Kvitova for a long time, though. "I've watched her play the Wimbledon finals. I know what a great player she is," Osaka said. "To have the opportunity to play her for the first time in a final of a Grand Slam is something very amazing." Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father is from Haiti, has been a star in Japan since she beat Serena Williams in the final of the last U.S. Open. And her fan base has grown, as has her physical condition and mental strength. That was crucial when she had to come back from a set and 4-1 down against Hsieh Su-wei in the third round, when she spiked her racket in frustration. Wins over No. 13 Anastasija Sevastova, No. 6 Elina Svitolina and 2016 U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova followed. Now, she's aiming to be the first woman to win back-to-back majors since Serena Williams in 2015. "It definitely helped knowing that I won the U.S. Open," she said, "because I knew that I had the ability to win that many matches, play for that long." Both players are aiming for top-ranking with a win, and both will have plenty of support in Rod Laver Arena. Kvitova will be a sentimental favorite, particularly after her tearful on-court acknowledgment of success in her "second career" after her quarterfinal win over Australia's Ash Barty. She was asked Friday if she could sense that the crowd knew her story and was behind her. "I don't know. They are not screaming it," she said, smiling. "Hopefully I can find some of them to be on my side.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 25th, 2019

Stephens wins battle of frenemies at Australian Open

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Sloane Stephens advanced at the Australian Open at the expense of her former doubles partner Timea Babos in a second-round match the women's tour billed as a battle of the so-called "frenemies." Fifth-seeded Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, dominated the Rod Laver Arena opener 6-3, 6-1 on Wednesday but Babos kept her working by saving 18 of the 23 break points she faced. The pair combined to win three junior Grand Slam doubles titles — the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open — in 2010. Stephens said she knew what to expect from Babos but that didn't make it any smoother. "I just had to hang in there and be patient," she said. Stephens will next play No. 31-seeded Petra Martic, who beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 7-5. Under sunny skies and an expected high temperature of 29 Celsius (84 Fahrenheit), local hope Ashleigh Barty was due to play the second match on the main show court against Wang Yafan. This is the first time since 2014 that Stephens has put back-to-back wins together at Melbourne Park. She reached the fourth round in 2014, a year after making a run to the semifinals. "It's tough getting back into the swing of things," Stephens said of her preparation for the season-opening major, which this month included first- and second-round losses in Brisbane and Sydney. "It's a little bit toasty, but a beautiful place to play." In other early women's matches Wednesday, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova eliminated ninth-seeded Kiki Bertens 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round of a major for the first time since her quarterfinal run here in 2017, and Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat 20th-seeded Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-3. No. 19-seeded Caroline Garcia advanced 6-3, 6-3 over Zoe Hives 6-3, 6-3. Defending champions Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki were in action later Wednesday, as well the No. 2-ranked players Rafael Nadal and Angelique Kerber......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2019

On bad hip, Andy Murray out in 1st round of Australian Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — If this was it for Andy Murray, if this truly was it, he gave himself — and an appreciative, raucous crowd that included his mother and brother — quite a gutsy goodbye. What Murray could not quite do Monday at the Australian Open was finish off a stirring comeback and prolong what might just be the final tournament of his career. Playing on a surgically repaired right hip so painful that pulling on socks is a chore, he summoned the strength and strokes to erase a big deficit and force a fifth set before eventually succumbing to 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2, Murray's first opening-round loss at a Grand Slam tournament in 11 years. "If this was my last match ... I gave literally everything I had," Murray told a full house at Melbourne Arena, his voice shaking. "It wasn't enough tonight." Murray, just 31, is a year removed from the operation and he announced in the days leading up to the Australian Open that he will retire in 2019. The biggest looming question is whether he'd be able to make it to July for Wimbledon, where he won two of his three major titles, including the first for a British man in 77 years. He had raised the prospect that he might not be able to continue past this week, although he did leave a bit of room open, saying after Monday's match: "Maybe I'll see you again. I'll do everything possible to try. If I want to go again, I'll need to have a big operation (and) there's no guarantees I'll be able to come back, anyway." Even with a hitch in his gait, even as he leaned forward to rest his hands on knees between points, Murray summoned the strength and the strokes to push the match beyond the 4-hour mark. And the fans tried to will him past Bautista Agut, who had lost in straight sets all three previous matches the two men had played. They roared when Murray managed to break back to 2-all on the way to taking the third set, with his mom, Judy, smiling widely as she stood alongside other spectators. They chanted his name when he grabbed the fourth set. They stood when the compelling contest ended. "Andy deserves this atmosphere. Andy deserves (that) all the people came to watch him," Bautista Agut said. "He's a tough, tough fighter. A tough opponent. He gives everything until the last point. I want to congratulate him for all he did for tennis." Afterward, a video was shown in the stadium with tributes to Murray from various players, including rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, along with Nick Kyrgios, Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova and Sloane Stephens. "Amazing career. Congratulations, buddy," Federer said. "I'm your biggest fan.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Top sports headliners in the year that was

From the FIFA World Cup to the NBA, the PBA to the UAAP and NCAA, the Asian Games to Manny Pacquiao, volleyball to MMA, the past 12 months truly was a great year for Filipino sports fans.   Here are some of the most memorable sports headliners that bannered the year that was.    San Miguel Corporation dominates PBA San Miguel Corporation owned 2018. For the first time in the history of the Asia’s first professional basketball league one company dominated all three conferences of the PBA. The San Miguel Beermen annexed their fourth straight Philippine Cup title against sister team Magnolia last May, while Ginebra rode on undersized do-it-all forward Justin Brownlee to the Commissioner's Cup title at the expense of San Miguel last August. Then it was Magnolia's time to shine in December. The Hotshots dismantled Alaska in six games to complete SMC’s domination of PBA 2018. Outside of basketball, SMC also made its presence felt in volleyball as Petron bagged the Grand Prix, Challenge Cup (beach volleyball) and the All-Filipino Conference in the Philippine Superliga.   Kai Sotto stands tall as Ateneo takes title vs NU Kai Sotto became a household name in 2018 as the 7'1" wunderkind showed off in the UAAP Season 80 juniors' basketball tournament. The eventual Finals MVP was a beast in Game 1 of the Finals against the NU Bullpups, tallying a triple-double of 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks in the 86-70 win, the first of its kind since 2003. Ateneo finished the season almost unscathed at 16-1, with their lone loss in Game 2 of the series, a very chippy one to say the least. In Game 3, Sotto came up clutch, scoring the go-ahead basket, 60-58, with about 30 seconds left as Ateneo came away with the 63-58 win to take the title.  SJ Belangel, Joaqui Manuel, Dave Ildefonso and Jason Credo, and coach Joe Silva all appeared in their last games for the Blue Eaglets.   DLSU completes three-peat; NU dethrones Ateneo  The UAAP Season 80 volleyball tournament was filled with lasting memories that will surely be remembered for a long time. Numerous upsets in the eliminations, great games, and much more were the name of the game for the women's tournament. However, a long-time rivalry was rekindled when two-time defending champs De La Salle Lady Spikers met 29-time title holders FEU Lady Tamaraws for all the marbles last May. Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, and Dawn Macandili all ended their careers on a high note as they swept graduating Bernadeth Pons and the Lady Tamaraws in two straight games to win their third straight title. Graduating libero Macandili was named Finals MVP for the first and final time in her collegiate career.  Behind their magnificent floor defense and some stellar play from Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas, the NU Bulldogs also swept three-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles to reclaim a title they last enjoyed in Season 76. Espejo, a five-time UAAP MVP, had an awesome performance for the world's record books, scoring a record-55 points to force the FEU Tamaraws to a do-or-die Final Four. The Blue Eagle legend had played his last, and has since suited up for a semi-pro team in Japan's topflight volleyball league.   Alab fends off Mono Vampire to claim ABL title San Miguel-backed Alab Pilipinas were such a glorious sight to see in the eighth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last March. Coached by perennial fan favorite Jimmy Alapag in his very first season, the trio of Renaldo Balkman, Justin Brownlee, and Local and Finals MVP Bobby Ray Parks to their first title in home soil. Alab faced Thailand-based Mono Vampire, who were led by Mike Singletary, towering Sam Deguara, Fil-Am Jason Brickman and Pinoy Paul Zamar. In the very same day as the coronation of the UAAP volleyball championships, Alab took home the crown in a rousing 102-92 victory in Sta. Rosa, much to the delight of the home crowd. Balkman, the league's Defensive Player of the Year led Alab in scoring with 32, while Brownlee added 24 of his own. Parks added 13 markers. The two imports played in the PBA for the Commissioner's Cup, where Balkman (San Miguel) and Brownlee (Ginebra) would face each other in the Finals.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Warriors send LeBron packing to Los Angeles The Golden St. Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers locked horns in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season after the two teams were pushed to the brink in the Conference Finals. Both teams were down 3-2 and won Game 7 on the road to win their respective conferences, with both teams banking on experience to forge another bout in the championship series. Game 1 was undoubtedly the most exciting game in the series as LeBron James had an epic performance of 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  However, JR Smith's blunder at the end of regulation became the lasting image of that game, as he dribbled out the clock with the score tied at 107-all. The defending champions rode the surge and took the opening game, 124-114. Stephen Curry's brillant performance throughout the series was overshadowed by Kevin Durant's dagger in Game 3, a few feet away from the spot where he launched the go-ahead three in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Durant was named as the Bill Russell Finals MVP after norming 28.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the four-game sweep, demolishing the Cavs 108-85 in the series finale last June. It would also be the last game LeBron James had in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform, as he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers almost a month later.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) France rules 2018 FIFA World Cup The most-coveted title of the beautiful game returned to France after two decades. The youthful French squad celebrated their conquest soaked in a downpour in Moscow after a 4-2 victory over first-time finalist Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup last July. Teenager Kylian Mbappe stood out in the French team composed of a bunch of 25 and under players. Speed, strength and youth became France’s biggest asset during the quadrennial football spectacle watched by almost 3.5 billion viewers around the world.  The 19-year-old migrant scored one of the four goals in the championship match to become the second teen to score a goal in the Finals after the legendary Pele back in 1958. France defeated Belgium in the semifinal, 1-0, while Croatia outlasted the favored Russians in penalty shootout, 4-3 (2-2). The French team also displayed diversity, with players born of migrant parents including Alphonse Areola, whose parents are both Filipinos working in France.   Pac on top, The Filipino Flash returns The most-celebrated Filipino athlete continued make the headlines this year. Manny Pacquaio stripped Lucas Matthysse of his WBA welterweight world championship belt with a seventh round technical knockout win in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July. Pacquiao split with long-time trainer Freddie Roach during his build up for the Matthysse bout back in April but confirmed their partnership once again for the 40-year old boxer’s title defense against Adrien Broner next year. Nonito Donaire Jr. announced that he would be going back down to super bantamweight after a loss to Carl Frampton in April for the interim WBO Featherweight belt and would be taking part in the World Boxing Super Series' super bantamweight tournament.  Matched up in the quarterfinal round against Ryan Burnett back in November, Donaire scored what many consider an upset, winning via TKO after the Irishman suffered a back injury to snatch the WBA (Super) Bantamweight World Championship.  Up next for Donaire will be WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in the semifinals.           Pinay power in the Asian Games   The Philippines participated in the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia that ran from August 18 to September 2. A total of 272 athletes that participated in 31 sports represented the country in the quadrennial meet with Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and medalist Margielyn Didal marching as flagbearers in the opening and closing ceremonies, respectively. Rio Olympian Hidilyn Diaz gave the PHI its first gold medal in women’s -53 kg. weightlifting. Five days after Diaz’s victory, the trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go accounted for the women’s golf team mint. Saso also bagged the individual gold. In Palembang, Didal rolled her way into winning the women’s street skateboard gold. The celebrated men’s basketball team started out strong after routing Kazakhstan but lost by two-points to China in the group stage. The Gilas Pilipinas squad advanced in the quarterfinals but bowed down to South Korea by nine points eventually settling for a fifth spot in the classification phase after wins over Japan and Syria. The PHI finished with a 4-2-15 gold-silver-bronze haul and landed at 19th spot, three places higher that its 2014 finish in Incheon, South Korea.      Red Lions roar, Blue Eagles soar San Beda University continued its mastery over the NCAA as it annexed its third straight title and 22nd overall. The Red Lions grabbed its 11th crown in 13 years at the expense of Lyceum of the Philippines University. It was one-sided championship series – just like in their Finals meeting last year – with the San Beda ripping the Pirates apart in Game One with LPU playing sans its best player in CJ Perez, who was banned for one game after failing to notify the league of his intention to join the PBA Draft. Perez returned in Game 2 but even his presence didn’t stop the Red Lions from painting the NCAA red once again. In probably one of the most memorable UAAP season in recent years, Ateneo de Manila University won its second straight crown. Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year 6-foot-11 Ange Kouame made an immediate impact for the Blue Eagles complementing the already stacked Ateneo squad led by Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena. But the glory of Ateneo was overshadowed by the Cinderalla story of the team it vanquished in the Finals. Climbing up from the cellar in the past years, University of the Philippines made history by making it in the Finals for the first time since winning it all in 1986. But before their championship stint, the Fighting Maroons ended a two-decade Final Four drought. UP then shocked twice-to-beat Adamson University with both games decided by game-winners. Ateneo came in the series as the title favorites but overwhelming support from a very hungry UP community and underdogs fans backed the Fighting Maroons. But in the end, it was the Blue Eagles championship experience that prevailed.       Pinoys make wave in MMA Fighters under Team Lakay flexed their muscles in One Championship. Flyweight star Geje Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Eustaquio then defeated two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau last July to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  Joshua Pacio earned the ONE Strawweight World Championship last September after a unanimous decision win over two-time champion Japanese Yoshitaka Naito. Kevin Belingon dropped former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April. He followed it up with a dominating win over then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to capture the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion. Belingon ended the five-year reign and seven-year winning streak of of long-time bantamweight king Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes in November via split decision.  Eduard Folayang outclassed Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to bag the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.  Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera needed only 64 seconds to knockout hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila early December to remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    Petron, Creamline rule respective club leagues Creamline claimed its breakthrough championship in the Premier Volleyball League by sweeping PayMaya in the Reinforced Conference Finals series last July. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought with the Cool Smashers' victory. Creamline opposite hitter Michele Gumabao was named Miss Globe-Philippines during the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 last March. Gumabao represented the country in the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania last October and won the Miss Social Media and Dream Girl awards while landing a spot in the Top 15.     The Cool Smashers completed a sweep of the PVL’s Season 2 after claiming the Open Conference crown at the expense of Ateneo-Motolite via an emphatic series sweep this month. In the Philippine Superliga, Petron reigned supreme in the Grand Prix after taking down archrival F2 Logistics last May. Petron extended its supremacy in the sands after the tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadethn Pons defeated Dhannylaine Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia of Sta. Lucia in the Challenge Cup final last May. The Cargo Movers got its revenge in the Invitational Cup, toppling the Blaze Spikers in a series sweep last July. Petron wrapped the year with the All-Filipino Conference in its pocket. The Blaze Spikers won its first 14 games before dropping Game 2 of the Finals. Petron swept F2 Logistics in Game 3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

Modric wins Balkan award ahead of Djokovic and Halep

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Croatia soccer star Luka Modric has been chosen Balkan athlete of the year. Modric won the Champions League with Real Madrid and then guided Croatia to the World Cup final in July, where the midfielder was voted player of the tournament. He also won the prestigious Ballon d'Or for the first time earlier in December. Tennis great Novak Djokovic of Serbia was second in the Balkan poll, and Romania's Simona Halep third. Djokovic raised his haul of major trophies to 14 with Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year, and Halep won the French Open for her first career Grand Slam title. The poll was organized by the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) and included the national news agencies of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2018

Serena welcomes rule change on players back from pregnancy

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Serena Williams has welcomed the extra protection given to new mothers when they return to the women's tennis tour. "It's great," the 23-time Grand Slam champion said on Thursday in quotes published by BBC Sport. "Women that are younger can go out there and have kids and not have to worry about it, and not have to wait until the twilight of their years to have children." The WTA rule changes were agreed on this month and are meant to ensure players are not penalized after they return from pregnancy or an injury that causes a long absence. The changes were prompted in part by the experiences of former No. 1 players Williams and Victoria Azarenka, both of whom returned to competition after giving birth. The WTA announced that players returning to the tour may use a special ranking for up to three years after the birth of a child, and the exemption can be used for seedings at big events. "Having gone through the experience myself really opened my eyes. Would I have done it sooner had there been different rule changes? I don't know," Williams said in Abu Dhabi ahead of an exhibition tournament where she played her sister Venus in a one-off match. "But now there is an opportunity, people don't have to ask that question." Williams was unseeded at the French Open in her first major since the birth of her daughter — despite having won the previous major she played, the 2017 Australian Open. Williams was seeded 25th at Wimbledon and 17th at the U.S. Open, and she reached the finals and lost at both of those majors......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2018

Nadal looks to Australian Open with confidence after surgery

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rafael Nadal is confident he can be fit for the Australian Open as he chases an 18th Grand Slam title. A right knee injury forced Nadal to retire from his U.S. Open semifinal in early September — his last competitive match — and the 32-year-old Spaniard had ankle surgery at the start of November. Asked Thursday to assess his fitness level out of 10 ahead of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, Nadal said: "I don't know . I am not that good with numbers. "I started about two weeks ago and I am taking small steps forward. I am just making sure I am moving forward and it's not a step backwards. I know I have time to be ready for Melbourne at 100 percent." The Australian Open starts Jan. 14. Nadal, who won his 17th Grand Slam at the French Open in June, said he was happy with his progress "but of course I need to prove myself in competitions and hopefully, playing here will help me take the first steps." The exhibition tournament also features top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who had surgery in February for an injured right elbow. "It's been a very exciting 12 months. Last year here, I was still carrying the injury of the elbow that resulted in the surgery," Djokovic said. "I am grateful that this season has taught me a lot about myself as a tennis player and as a person. I really had to dig deep to sort of turn the table in my favor." Djokovic, who raised his haul of major trophies to 14 this year with Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, said his aims had changed. "I feel I am not prioritizing success on the tennis court for the sake of success only as I used to do probably until about five years ago," Djokovic said. "For me, tennis is more of a platform now for other things — for the values that I want to share and the messages that I want to give out to the young generation." The exhibition tournament also features a one-off match between the Williams sisters — Venus and Serena — on Thursday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2018

Serena voted AP Female Athlete of the Year for 5th time

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press She showed up in Paris wearing a black catsuit, a reminder that nobody can command the Grand Slam stage quite like Serena Williams. She reached the finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, proving again how well she can play no matter how little she practices. Williams didn't win those or any other tournaments, which in every other situation might have made for a forgettable year. In 2018, it was a remarkable one. Her rapid return to tennis after a health scare following childbirth was a victory in itself, and for that, Williams was voted The Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for the fifth time. Williams received 93 points in balloting by U.S. editors and news directors announced Wednesday, while gymnast Simone Biles was second with 68. Notre Dame basketball player Arike Ogunbowale was third, while Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim and swimmer Katie Ledecky, the 2017 winner, rounded out the top five. All of those players won a title or titles in 2018, while Williams had to settle for just coming close a couple of times. Now 37 and a new mother facing some players who weren't even born when she turned pro in 1995, Williams isn't the same person who ruthlessly ran her way to 23 Grand Slam singles titles — the last of which came at the 2017 Australian Open when she was pregnant. "I'm still waiting to get to be the Serena that I was, and I don't know if I'll ever be that, physically, emotionally, mentally. But I'm on my way," Williams said on the eve of the U.S. Open final. "I feel like I still have a ways to go. Once I get there, I'll be able to play even hopefully better." The Male Athlete of the Year will be announced Thursday. The women's award has been won more only by Babe Didrikson Zaharias, whose six wins included one for track and five for golf. Williams' previous times winning the AP honor, in 2002, 2009, 2013 and 2015, were because of her dominance. This one was about her perseverance. Williams developed blood clots after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on Sept. 1, 2017, and four surgeries would follow. She returned to the WTA Tour in March and played in just a pair of events before the French Open, where she competed in a skin-tight, full-length black catsuit . She said the outfit — worn partly for health reasons because of the clots — made her feel like a superhero, but her game was rarely in superstar shape. She had to withdraw in Paris because of a right pectoral injury and didn't play again until Wimbledon, where she lost to Angelique Kerber in the final. Williams came up short again in New York, where her loss to Naomi Osaka in the final will be remembered best for her outburst toward chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who had penalized Williams for receiving coaching and later penalized her an entire game for calling him a "thief" while arguing. That loss leaves her one major title shy of Margaret Court's record as she starts play next year in a WTA Tour that will look different in part because of new rules coming about after issues involving Williams. Players returning to the tour may use a "special ranking" for up to three years from the birth of a child, and the exemption can be used for seedings at big events. Also, the tour says players can wear leggings or compression shorts at its tournaments without a skirt over them. Williams insists she is still driven to play and win as much if not more than before she was a mother. That drive is the focus of a Nike ad showing her in action. "Getting this far, crazy," it says. "Stopping now, crazier." Williams won't. "I'm still on the way up," she said. "There's still much more that I plan on doing." The rest of the top five: Simone Biles, gymnastics. The American won four golds and six medals overall in the world championships in Qatar, giving her 20 in her career to tie Russia's Svetlana Khorkina for the most by a female gymnast. Arike Ogunbowale, women's basketball. She hit one jumper to knock off previously unbeaten Connecticut in the Final Four, then a 3-pointer in the championship game to lift Notre Dame over Mississippi State. Chloe Kim, snowboarding. At 17, the Californian won the halfpipe Olympic gold medal in South Korea, where her parents were from before they immigrated to the United States. Katie Ledecky, swimming. The 21-year-old U.S. Olympian tuned up for the 2020 Games in Tokyo by winning five medals in the city at the Pan Pacific Championships......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

Adamson, FEU keep proving UAAP 81 Jrs. no two-team race

STANDINGS Ateneo 5-1 NU 5-1 Adamson 5-2 FEU-Diliman 5-2 DLSZ 3-4 UST 3-4 UE 1-6 UPIS 0-7 While everybody’s eyes have been focused on last year’s Finalists, Adamson High School and Far Eastern University-Diliman continue sending statements they are contenders as well in the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament. Both the Baby Falcons and the Baby Tamaraws finish the first round of eliminations in joint second-place after coming out on top against separate foes on Saturday at the Blue Eagle Gym in Quezon City. In the first game, Adamson made quick work of De La Salle Zobel, 72-57. Workhorse wing Adrian Manlapaz kept opening eyes with a career-high 18 points while Didat Hanapi and Andrey Doria also added 12 and 11 markers, respectively. Top gun Joem Sabandal made his presence felt elsewhere with 11 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and two steals as the Baby Falcons outscored their opponents 36-18 in the middle periods to come away with a convincing victory. Now at 5-2, they are assured of the league’s second-best record heading into the second round whatever happens in the clash between Ateneo de Manila High School and Nazareth School of National University, both 5-1, later in the day. Also standing on level ground with them is FEU-Diliman which tamed University of Sto. Tomas, 63-37. The Baby Tamaraws charged to a 14-2 start in the first eight minutes and never looked back en route to what was likewise their fifth win in seven games. The Tiger Cubs could only come as close as 11 points in the third quarter only to see RJ Abarrientos take charge and take back control for the green and gold. In the end, Abarrientos did it all once more with 11 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three blocks while Bryan Sajonia chipped in 12 markers. Along with forging a three-way tie for the second spot, both Adamson and FEU-Diliman could boast of big-time wins over last year’s Finalists – the former having downed runner-up NU and the latter having defeated champion Ateneo. Meanwhile, University of the East got its first taste of victory at the expense of the University of the Philippines Integrated School, 74-72. Little-known Leo Almacen dropped a career-high 29 points off the bench while Sean Manaug posted a 20 marker-, 15-rebound double-double in the Junior Warriors’ long-awaited, much-wanted breakthrough win after seven games. For the Junior Maroons, Jordi Gomez de Liano, younger brother of Fighting Maroons Javi and Juan, also scored a career-best 27 points built on seven triples. That was far from enough, however, as they remain winless in the season. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME ADAMSON 72 – Manlapaz 18, Hanapi 12, Doria An 11, Sabandal 11, Doria Ad 5, Prodigo 4, Padilla 3, Barcelona 2, Santos 2, Dominguez 2, Tulabut 2, Engbino 0, Nitura 0, Capulong 0, Berwite 0 DLSZ 57 – Jomalesa 15, Unisa 10, Subido 8, Macasaet 7, Marana 6, Pingol 4, Sevilla 3, Villarin 2, Milan 2, Buncayo 0, Dee 0, Luna 0 QUARTER SCORES: 18-17, 34-25, 54-35, 72-57 SECOND GAME UE 74 – Almacen 29, Manaug 20, Sullano 11, Dichoso 9, Alinsoring 5, Flores 0, Villarta 0, Agbas 0, Dy Tioco 0, Tajonera 0, Escamilla 0, Lima 0 UPIS 72 – Gomez de Liano 27, Torres 12, Tuazon 12, Labao 11, Vergeire 7, Lopez 3, Napalang 0, Armamento 0, Galotera 0, Estrera 0 QUARTER SCORES: 22-18, 51-39, 64-52, 74-72 THIRD GAME FEU-DILIMAN 63 – Sajonia 12, Abarrientos 11, Alforque 11, Ona 8, Tolentino 6, Torres 5, Armendez 4, Bagunu 2, Bautista 2, Sicat 2, Anonuevo 0, Barasi 0, Libago 0 UST 37 – Lina 11, Nonoy 7, Estrella 6, Marzan 3, Sumabat 2, Casingcasing 2, Dolendo 2, Gamboa 2, Barranco 1, Oliva 1, Manabat 0, Dumlao 0, Javier 0, Beliran 0, Amador 0 QUARTER SCORES: 18-7, 34-18, 53-27, 63-37 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 15th, 2018

Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray all confirmed for Australian Open

Serena Williams will make her return to the Australian Open for the first time since winning in 2017 when eight-weeks pregnant, it was confirmed Wednesday, with virtually all the world's top 100 players due at Melbourne Park. That includes injury-prone Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. Williams returned from giving birth to her first child to reach the 2018 Wimbledon and US Open finals, but suffered upset losses in both to leave her stuck on 23 major wins. Australian Open organisers said she was among the entries for the opening Grand Slam of the year as she attempts to equal Margaret Court's record of 24. Her appearance will mark her first major since her controversial ran...Keep on reading: Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray all confirmed for Australian Open.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 5th, 2018

Zverev s ATP Finals win vs. Federer tainted by ball boy flub

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — After pulling off one of the biggest wins of his career, Alexander Zverev was left apologizing for an unforced error he didn't make. Zverev denied Roger Federer a shot at a 100th career title by beating the Swiss great 7-5, 7-6 (5) at the ATP Finals on Saturday to advance to the championship match against Novak Djokovic. Federer was leading the second-set tiebreaker 4-3 and in the ascendancy of a rally on a Zverev service point when a ball boy at the back of the court dropped a ball. Zverev immediately signaled for the point to be stopped and the umpire ordered the point to be replayed. Zverev served an ace before going on to close out the match moments later. "I want to apologize for the situation in the tiebreak," said Zverev, who was booed by some of the crowd during his on-court interview. "The ball boy dropped the ball so it's in the rules that we have to replay the point. "I'm a little bit upset about the whole situation because this is not how I wanted it to end." Zverev is the youngest player at 21 to reach the final since 2009 and the first from Germany since 1996. He will face five-time champion Djokovic, who defeated Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2 to extend his semifinal win-loss record at the tournament to 7-1. Federer, 37, was seeking a record-extending seventh title, but was unable to cope with the pressure created by Zverev's power and precision at the O2 Arena. "He (Zverev) apologized to me at the net," Federer said. "I was like, 'Buddy, shut up. You don't need to apologize to me here. Congratulations on a great match and a great tournament so far. All the best for the finals.' And you move on." An inspired series of shots earned Zverev the first break points of the match in the 12th game and Federer sent a forehand wide to fall behind. Federer willed himself to a break for 2-1 in the second set, but Zverev quickly composed himself to hit straight back in the following game. Zverev overcame the freak interruption to establish a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker, and Federer netted the simplest of forehand volleys to bring up match point. He saved the first, but Zverev confidently put away a backhand drive volley to set up a shot at the biggest title of his career and leave Federer waiting until next season for his 100th title. "Overall, I'm happy how the season went," said Federer, who picked up his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. "There's many positives. So I'm excited for next season." Despite having reached only one Grand Slam quarterfinal this year, Zverev is the only active player outside the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to have won three Masters titles. But victory at the tour's flagship event would exceed those achievements. "Novak right now is the best player in the world," said Zverev, who lost to Djokovic in the round robin. "You have to play your best game to even have a chance. I hope I'll be able to do that tomorrow." The Serb maintained his record of having not lost a set — or service game — at the tournament as he thrashed debutant Anderson to give himself the chance to join Federer on six titles. "I played very well in the group stage against Sascha (Zverev)," Djokovic said. "But I don't think he was close to his best." Djokovic won 20 out of 27 points on Anderson's second serve as he broke the South African twice in each set. "It was the best match I've played so far this week," Djokovic said. Having ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by defeating Anderson in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic went on to win his 14th major trophy at the U.S. Open and has already sealed the year-end No. 1 ranking. The victory extended Djokovic's record to 35-2 since the start of Wimbledon, a tournament he began ranked 21st after a right elbow injury interrupted his first half of the season. "It's remarkable what he's done since Wimbledon," Anderson said. "It seems like he's definitely right back playing some of the best tennis of his career.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2018

Djokovic beats Sousa in straight sets at Paris Masters

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic began his bid for a record-extending fifth Paris Masters title with a 7-5, 6-1 win against Joao Sousa in the second round on Wednesday. Serving for the match at 5-1, Djokovic handed a towel to a male spectator who seemed unwell and who wiped his forehead with it. The second-ranked Serb set up match point with an ace and sealed victory on his third match point when Sousa returned a second serve long. The U.S. Open champion won four of the last five tournaments he has entered, including Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and most recently the Shanghai Masters. Djokovic is seeking to reclaim the top ranking from Rafael Nadal at a tournament Nadal has never won. Djokovic next faces Damir Dzumhur. Dzumhur upset 14th-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-3, while big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov also advanced to the third round. He led 6-2, 2-0 against Matthew Ebden when the Australian retired. Returning from a right knee injury , Nadal faces Spanish countryman Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday, with 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer also in action against Milos Raonic. Federer leads the big-serving Canadian 11-3 overall. Federer's last appearance at the Paris indoor event was a third-round loss to big-serving John Isner in 2015. There were doubts Federer would play after a grueling past week which saw him clinch his ninth victory at the Swiss Indoors and 99th overall. "I feel good," Federer told a news conference. "I feel like I recovered well from last week." The 37-year-old Federer is selective of when he plays in order to keep his body as fresh as possible, and he skipped the entire clay-court season for the second straight year. With the season-ending ATP Finals in London starting Nov. 11, he is playing three straight tournaments. But the third-ranked Federer feels comfortable with it. "I feel like it's better for me to play matches rather than practice," Federer said. "As long as I don't feel like I'm taking a chance on my health prior to London, that's the key as well." Federer showed fighting qualities last week in Basel, where he was twice taken to three sets and went an early break down in three of his last four matches. "I was a bit bumpy. But I was happy how I was fighting, how I was trying to figure it out in a different manner," he said. "Last week was special to win the way I did it, in a different manner." Federer moved within 10 titles of Jimmy Connors all-time singles record. He is cautious about his chances of success in Paris, where his only tournament victory came in 2011. The Australian Open champion is drawn in the same half as Djokovic, Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic and big-serving Kevin Anderson, who upset Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals this year. "I rarely play two or three tournaments in a row now. So starting on Wednesday and winning five matches in a row with this caliber (of players) is very difficult," Federer said. "If I get close to the last four that would also be great." In first-round play Tuesday, there were wins for Mikhail Kukushkin, Gilles Simon, Daniil Medvedev, Marton Fucsovics, Raonic and Verdasco......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 31st, 2018

Nadal reaches US Open quarterfinals, will face Thiem

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal is back in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, where he won't face a rematch of the 2017 final. Instead, it's a rematch of this year's French Open final. Nadal beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4 on Sunday at Flushing Meadows. Next up is No. 9 seed Dominic Thiem. Thiem beat Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2), denying the fifth-seeded South African a second shot at Nadal. Nadal beat Anderson last year for his third U.S. Open title. The top-ranked Spaniard captured his 11th title in Paris by beating Thiem in straight sets in June. That was part of what's now a 26-1 run since Thiem beat him in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open in May. "He's a very powerful player, and, yeah, he knows how to play these kinds of matches," Nadal said. "Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament." Nadal leads the series 7-3, with all the meetings on clay. On Sunday, he responded to losing the third-set tiebreaker by breaking Basilashvili twice in the fourth set. Anderson was hoping to be waiting for Nadal. His run to last year's final was a surprise; At No. 32, he was the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist in the history of the ATP rankings. But he backed that up with a strong season, reaching the Wimbledon final and earning the No. 5 seed in this tournament. "Of course it's disappointing," Anderson said. "I wanted to be here right until the end and put myself in contention of winning my first major. It wasn't meant to be." He had won six of seven meetings against Thiem, including all six on hard courts. Thiem's only victory had come on clay, his best surface. But Anderson couldn't get anything going in this matchup with Thiem, who won 41 of 45 points (91 percent) and never faced a break point. "First of all, I served really, really well today," Thiem said. "Not the best percentage, but I almost made every point in the first serve game. So I didn't face one break point, and I didn't feel so much pressure on service games." Thiem reached his first quarterfinal at any Grand Slam besides the French Open. He was agonizingly close to getting there last year at the U.S. Open, leading by two sets against Juan Martin del Potro in the round of 16 before the 2009 champion roared back to win. "It was not on my mind, but I was pretty close last year," Thiem said. "It was very painful." Del Potro was on Sunday's night schedule, facing Borna Coric. John Isner or Milos Raonic would meet the winner of that match. Serena Williams was in action later Sunday after routing her sister on Friday in what she felt was her best match since her return to tennis. She'll need to be sharp again, with Kaia Kanepi looking to knock out another women's star. Serena, seeded 17th, routed Venus 6-1, 6-2 in matching the most-lopsided victory in the Williams sisters' series. That put her into the match against Kanepi, the 44th-ranked Estonian who upset top-ranked Simona Halep in the first round and is seeking her second consecutive quarterfinal in Flushing Meadows......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2018