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Morata making the most of his time in the spotlight

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

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnSep 29th, 2017

MVP Ladder: Hot start pushes Curry to forefront

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com When Kevin Durant raised the Finals MVP trophy in the air in June -- his second straight, mind you -- it was supposed to be over for Stephen Curry. The prevailing wisdom said there was no way the former two-time Kia MVP winner Curry would be able to contend for a third Maurice Podoloff Trophy playing alongside Durant (a former Kia MVP himself). Their individual brilliance would be muted by the collective strength of their partnership as the two best players on the best team in the league. This notion they would continue to split Kia MVP votes made sense given their super team required all of its stars to sacrifice personal glory for the greater team good. That was the thinking before the first nine games of this season ... and then Curry decided to attack things as he did in 2015-16. That season, he went nuclear -- averaging 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 50.4 percent overall and 45.4 percent on three-pointers -- becoming the NBA's first unanimous MVP winner as the Warriors won an NBA-record 73 games. Durant was still toiling for the rival Oklahoma City Thunder then, sharing the spotlight with another eventual Kia MVP in Russell Westbrook. Curry’s opening salvo this season, though, has been nothing short of staggering. His pace right now -- leading the league in scoring while shooting nearly 55 percent overall and 53 percent on three-pointers  -- could top that 2015-16 season. Doing all this with teammates who could make their own compelling cases for Kia MVP honors makes Curry’s start even more mind-boggling. Both Durant (check out his 25-point fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden) and Klay Thompson (who topped Curry’s three-pointers made record in Chicago) are taking turns showing out, all of which speaks to the Warriors' mastery of a situation that easily could have overloaded these three stars. Curry’s consistent brilliance sticks out in a sea of transcendent scoring performances in the early stages of this season. He was the one who dropped 51 points in 32 minutes in a win over Washington, making 11 of his 16 three-pointers. He went 6-for-11 on three-pointers en route to 29 points when Durant worked the Knicks for 41 points at MSG. When Thompson was in the zone against the Bulls, Curry scored 23 points (on 7-for-9 shooting) in just 25 minutes. And when the New Orleans Pelicans showed up to Oracle Arena Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), Curry lit them up for 37 on 12-for-20 shooting and a 7-for-11 night on three-pointers. That's all why Curry sits atop the first Kia Race to the MVP Ladder this season. And if he keeps this up, there’s no reason Curry won't be in the thick of this season's MVP conversation when the dust settles. The top five in the Week 1 edition of the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Season stats: 33 points, 5.9 assists, 5.0 rebounds Here's the kind of damage Curry is doing so far: he’s not only leading the league in scoring, but doing so while shooting a preposterous 54.9 percent overall and an equally bonkers 52.9 percent on three-pointers. Scoring around the league is on the rise this season, and perhaps no one is taking more advantage of the freedom of movement rule the way Curry has. He’s scoring from everywhere, against any and everyone whenever he wants in a system built around his skills. He’s got one of the league’s early 50-point games (51 points, vs. Washington), and, given the way he’s shooting now, could go for another 50-spot at any time. That’s a warning for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who will see Curry today. 2. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Season stats: 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists Leonard is off to a monstrous start with Toronto, shattering that pesky myth that he was a product of a system in San Antonio. Anyone who forgot just how devastating a two-way player he could be after his nine-game run with the Spurs last season should have a clearer understanding of what he can do when healthy. Just ask Philadelphia 76ers stud Ben Simmons, who couldn't praise Leonard enough after matching wits with the two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year. “He’s a freak,” Simmons said after turning the ball over 11 times while being guarded by Leonard on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “His hands are huge. He’s got long arms. He’s a great defender.” The scary part for the rest of the league? Leonard is shooting as good or better than ever on three-pointers (44.4 percent) while logging a career-high 34.7 minutes. And, technically, he is still undefeated in a Raptors uniform (he got a rest day for Bucks-Raptors). 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Season stats: 26.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists It took a franchise-record 24 made three-pointers for the Boston Celtics to hold off Antetokounmpo and the Bucks Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at TD Garden. It was the Bucks’ first loss this season, but it wasn’t because the "Greek Freak" didn’t show up. He roasted the Celtics for 33 points (on just 22 shots), 11 rebounds, three steals and two assists. The increased floor spacing that comes with the arrival of coach Mike Budenholzer has allowed Antetokounmpo to put opposing defenders in compromising positions. His three-point shot is still in the development stage, but if Budenholzer can help transform that part of his game (as he did for Al Horford and Paul Millsap in Atlanta), the rest of the league will be on notice. As for Antetokounmpo's groove elsewhere on the court, it has made him virtually unstoppable when he’s in attack mode. 4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Season stats: 25.2 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.2 blocks Had there been a top five after the first four games of this season, Davis would have been a runaway pick for the No. 1 spot. He was that good in powering New Orleans' 4-0 start. But the Pelicans have lost four straight and three to the four games since as Davis deals with nagging right elbow pain. Davis missed back-to-back games against Utah and Denver, then played Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) against the Warriors. It was clear he wasn’t at his best, as he had 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. (Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry held him out in a road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.) Davis hasn’t been shy about proclaiming that he’s chasing both Kia MVP and Kia Defensive Player of the Year honors, a double-dip that only half a handful of players could realistically set as a goal. The talent and high ceiling have never been in question. His availability to chase such lofty goals, however, remains a question at times. 5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Season stats: 29.1 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds Lillard entered this season as determined to prove his team’s early 2018 playoff exit wasn't a true measure of Portland's status. Still, getting swept by the Pelicans sent the Blazers into the offseason with tons of questions and skeptics. Since the first whistle of training camp, Lillard has gone about the business of answering those questions. He’s averaging career-highs in points (29.1), field goal percentage (49.7 percent), three-point percentage (40 percent) and free throw percentage (94 percent). The Blazers finished their recent four-game road trip at 3-1, which included wins against Orlando, Indiana and the struggling Houston Rockets. Thursday night’s (Friday, PHL time) win over the Anthony David-less Pelicans was fueled by Lillard’s team-high 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Saturday night’s home game against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers could be another opportunity for Lillard and Co. to show they aren’t stepping aside for anyone. * * * The next five 6.  Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets 7.  Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 8.  Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz 9.  LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers 10.  Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves; DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs; Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2018

Dropped Lukaku set for time out of spotlight at Man United

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Romelu Lukaku spends a lot of his spare time watching videos and YouTube clips of some of the world's greatest strikers in a bid to improve his own game. If he watches footage of his own recent performances for Manchester United, the Belgium striker may understand why he was dropped at the weekend as he goes through the toughest period of his time at England's biggest club. The goals have dried up (it's nine games without scoring, his longest drought in the red of United). His touch has deserted him. He might even be trying too hard. So when United manager Jose Mourinho spoke during the week of Lukaku's confidence being drained and his link-up play being off, the writing was on the wall for the player who moved to Old Trafford for $97 million in July 2017. When the team sheet was released for United's game against Everton on Sunday, it was no real surprise to see Lukaku on the bench and Marcus Rashford leading the attack. "Sometimes," Mourinho said, "we decide that the best thing for the players is to not be on the pitch, (but) to be protected and away from the initial pressure." Tellingly, United produced one of its most fluent attacking displays of the season. Rather than having a striker like Lukaku who often drops deep and ends up congesting the middle of the field, United had, in Rashford, one who stretched the opposition defense and allowed space behind him. United winger Anthony Martial reveled in the open spaces and scored his fourth goal in four games. Paul Pogba had more freedom to roam in midfield — he had more touches (88) and passes (67) than any other player — and was also more threatening going forward. Fred, recalled to the team, had room to take the ball to the edge of the penalty area and unleash shots. United had a 2-1 victory but should have won more convincingly. At times, as United's midfielders flooded forward to assist the mobile Rashford, it seemed like the days of Alex Ferguson. Everton was most dangerous in the final quarter of the game — after Lukaku had come on as a 65th-minute substitute. So does this spell the beginning of the end for Lukaku at United? Unlikely. Mourinho cherishes his big targetmen, such as Didier Drogba at Chelsea. He likes the fact that Lukaku never stops working for the team, saying many times that this is as important as the goals he scores. As Lukaku has said himself, Mourinho sees the striker "like his sergeant on the pitch." United had a similar situation when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was in the team in the 2016-17 season and often slowed its build-up play by dropping short. When Ibrahimovic got injured toward the end of his only full season at Old Trafford, Rashford played as the lone striker and United looked a different proposition. Still, that following offseason, Mourinho chose to buy Lukaku rather than put his faith in Rashford or Martial as the team's striker. The 20-year-old Rashford remains raw and his finishing is inconsistent. Martial appears to be back to his best but there is no telling how long his run of form will last. Perhaps Lukaku will just spend the next few games out of the spotlight. Maybe he can still adjust his game. "Here I still think my teamwork between myself and my teammates can improve and be much better," the striker said last week before United played against Juventus. "It's something that we're working on. The players need to know me and know my movement. "When that starts clicking, I think the results I have with Belgium will also come here." Lukaku has played 14 games for his national team in 2018 and scored 14 goals. He is Belgium's record scorer with 45 goals in 79 games. He is too valuable an asset for Mourinho and United to give up on. "His moment is not sweet," Mourinho has said "... but he's our striker and a good striker and a striker we believe in." POGBA'S STUTTER Pogba's stuttering run-up for his penalty against Everton — which was saved by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford before sidefooting in the rebound — was the subject of much debate after the game. Pogba said he might need to change his technique, which sees him take marginal steps forward without ever really accelerating toward the ball, as goalkeepers are starting to get used to it. Mourinho also said it might need a rethink. "I think the goalkeepers don't move and they are waiting for his decision," Mourinho said, "so I think he probably has to learn from that." As for Pogba's teammates, they are just making fun of it. Luke Shaw posted a photo on Twitter of him talking to Martial with his hand covering his mouth, and wrote: "Make a comeback in your career and renew your contract. (hashtag)ThingsYouCanDoDuringPogbasPenaltyRunUp." Make a comeback in your career and renew your contract. #ThingsYouCanDoDuringPogbasPenaltyRunUp pic.twitter.com/sxGx6C1i11 — Luke Shaw (@LukeShaw23) October 28, 2018.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Paco Alcacer making most of 2nd chance with Spain

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Close to seeing his career stagnate, Paco Alcacer is making the most of a second chance to become Spain's top striker. Alcacer scored twice in his first appearance for Spain in two-and-a-half years to lead a 4-1 away win at Wales in a friendly last week. On Monday, the former Barcelona player will likely feature again when Spain hosts England in Seville seeking a second win over Gareth Southgate's team in the incipient Nations League. "I'm happy that I was able to help the team by doing what we strikers are supposed to, which is provide goals," Alcacer said after Thursday's match in Cardiff. "I just have to keep this good dynamic going." The 25-year-old Alcacer has been rejuvenated since leaving Barcelona on loan for Borussia Dortmund in August, a turnaround that has ended a hiatus from Spain's national team that was in danger of becoming a permanent adios. Previous to his two goals for Spain against Wales, Alcacer had scored seven times in a four-match scoring run for Dortmund. That streak included netting a spectacular hat trick that he completed on the last kick of the game for a 4-3 win over Augsburg. Ironically, Alcacer's slide toward oblivion at Barcelona began under current Spain coach Luis Enrique when he was condemned to a reserve role behind the superstar trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in 2016-17. Not even Neymar's departure at the start of last season changed the situation at Camp Nou for Alcacer. Favoring other players, new coach Ernesto Valverde gave him fewer appearances than Luis Enrique. So Alcacer decided that his best option was to leave Spain and try his luck in Germany. And it turned out that Alcacer just needed a chance to play. With his brace against Wales, Alcacer showed his leading quality as a striker. He is not the fastest, the strongest, nor the slickest passer; he is a pure goal scorer who excels at putting one-touch shots in-between the posts. Against Wales, Alcacer fired a rising right-footed shot into the near corner for the lead— and his first goal with Spain since Oct. 2015. He then put the win beyond doubt by poaching a clearance in the area to make it 3-0. "Alcacer is playing superbly because he is on a scoring streak, but overall his attitude has been marvelous," said Luis Enrique, who called Alcacer up to fill the void left by the injured Diego Costa. Alcacer was not supposed to need a comeback story. Four years ago, former Spain manager Vicente del Bosque considered Alcacer, along with Alvaro Morata, as his strikers of the future. The then Valencia player led Spain in qualifying for the 2016 European championship with five goals, but when he struggled to score for his club in the run-up to the tournament Del Bosque dropped him from his squad. Banished to the bench following his move to Barcelona from Valencia, Alcacer was also ignored by Julen Lopetegui in his two-year tenure that took Spain to last summer's World Cup. Circumstances, however, have put Alcacer in good position to now succeed for "La Roja." While competition remains fierce in the positions of midfielder and playmaker for Spain, the striker job is up for grabs. Long gone are the days when David Villa and Fernando Torres flourished up front for the 2010 world champions, as both Costa and Morata have failed to show they can be counted on for goals. Alcacer said that he had been preparing for this return to his best form. "It's about several things," he said, "about getting on a hot streak, about self-confidence, about having playing time, and, above all, about working each day when you are not playing so you can be ready.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2018

Naomi Osaka: An endearing champion on- and off-court

I'm sure the name Naomi Osaka has been making rounds on your feeds or timeline. Her recent win was a messy one, having been overshadowed by tennis superstar Serena Williams' outburst at the game's umpire, and the crowd's booing. A lot of angles have been presented but ultimately, one thing was settled: Naomi Osaka's victory was robbed off its rightful glory. So I say It's time we put the spotlight where it truly belongs. Get to know the 20-year-old champion below. Young achiever Born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Naomi started her journey to greatness at a very young age. Inspired by the Williams sisters, her father began coaching her early on. This year, though she's ...Keep on reading: Naomi Osaka: An endearing champion on- and off-court.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 10th, 2018

Chelsea tops Arsenal in EPL thriller, Kane ends August curse

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press Chelsea and Arsenal served up a feast of goals in a thrilling London derby in the Premier League. Across the capital, Harry Kane was happy with just the one goal to end his August hoodoo in England's top division. Chelsea scored twice in the opening 20 minutes, conceded twice before halftime and had a late winner through Marcos Alonso in a 3-2 victory over Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. In a game between teams with newly hired managers, Maurizio Sarri will be delighted with the attacking spark his Chelsea team has shown in the opening two games of the Premier League. It also scored three times in a win against Huddersfield last week. But it's two straight losses for Arsenal manager Unai Emery, whose side is showing the same defensive frailties as it did in the final seasons of predecessor Arsene Wenger's 22-year reign. After 15 games and more than 1,000 minutes, Kane finally scored a top-flight goal in August to seal Tottenham's 3-1 win over Fulham at Wembley Stadium. Spurs have also won their first two games after an offseason when they didn't buy a single player. ___ SARRI-BALL Sarri arrived at Chelsea promising to bring some fun after a difficult end to the tenure of previous manager, Antonio Conte. He is doing just that. Leaving gaps at the back but attacking in waves, Chelsea has been a thrill to watch in the opening two weekends — much different to the often cagey approach of fellow Italian Conte. Pedro Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata exploited Arsenal's high line to put Chelsea 2-0 up against Arsenal, which wasted a string of great chances at the other end before scoring twice in a five-minute span through Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi. Alonso swept in a cut-back from substitute Eden Hazard for the winner. KANE CURSE OVER Kane was fully aware of his August woes — he made reference to it in a Twitter post last season after scoring in his first game in September — and the England international failed to score in the 2-1 win at Newcastle last week in Tottenham's opening game. With only one more game left this August, at Manchester United, it looked like the curse might continue after Kane volleyed a shot against the post in the 71st minute against Fulham. His goal came six minutes later when he took a pass from Erik Lamela on the left of the penalty area, cut inside, and bent a low shot into the corner. Brazilian winger Lucas Moura and Kieran Trippier, off a shot from a free kick, had already scored for Tottenham, with Aleksandar Mitrovic making it 1-1 for Fulham just after halftime while sitting on the ground. ___ VARDY RED CARD Jamie Vardy was sent off on his first start of the season for Leicester but the team still eased early-season pressure on manager Claude Puel with a 2-0 victory over newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers. The England striker was handed a straight red card for a strong tackle on Wolves right back Matt Doherty, who had earlier scored an own-goal to give Leicester the lead. Leicester doubled the lead through James Maddison, leaving Wolves without a win so far. RAMPANT RICHARLISON Paying up to $65 million for a 21-year-old Brazilian with one inconsistent season in the Premier League behind him seemed a gamble by Everton. Two games in, however, and Richarlison is looking a bargain. He scored his third goal of the season to help Everton beat Southampton 2-1 for its first win of the season. Richarlison netted twice against Wolves on the opening weekend. Theo Walcott set up Richarlison for his headed goal and also scored himself for Everton at Goodison Park. Offseason signing Danny Ings pulled a goal back for Southampton. OTHER GAMES An offseason of heavy spending and the recruitment of Premier League-winning manager Manuel Pellegrini hasn't done much to improve West Ham's fortunes. The London club lost for the second straight game, beaten 2-1 by Bournemouth after taking the lead through Marko Arnautovic's penalty. Callum Wilson, after a mazy dribble, and Steve Cook replied for Bournemouth, which has maximum points after defeating promoted side Cardiff last week. Kenedy missed an injury-time penalty for Newcastle in a 0-0 draw at Cardiff in the other game Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2018

Morning Tip Q& A: Mohamed Bamba

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst They have come seemingly all at once -- new, freakish size in the NBA with the ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot from deep and block everything that moves. Kristaps Porzingis begat Joel Embiid, who begat this year’s group of young big men who have grown up facing the basket rather than with their backs to it. Among the most intriguing of the 2018 Draft class is Mo Bamba, the 20-year-old from Texas via Harlem, where he grew up -- fast, as city kids tend to do, learning the game on the hardtops around New York City, while his parents, natives of Ivory Coast, wondered what the increasing fuss was around their son. He, on the other hand, has tended to handle the attention with aplomb and a smile. In a group full of long, tall people, Bamba still stands out, with an insane wingspan of 7'10" that allows for court coverage the likes of which hasn’t been seen. Bamba has been in the spotlight for a while -- the Westtown (Penn.) High School team on which he played featured teammates like Cam Reddish, a blue-chip guard who’ll play for Duke next season -- and played against the likes of the No. 1 pick in 2018, Deandre Ayton. At Texas, he starred for Coach Shaka Smart, himself among the biggest names in the sport. After one season in Austin, where he shattered the school record for blocked shots in a season, Bamba declared for the Draft, assured he’d be a high Lottery pick. But Bamba has also shown a willingness to work on what he doesn’t -- or, at least, didn’t -- do that well. He went to California for weeks with noted player development coach Drew Hanlen, who deconstructed Bamba’s jumper from the ground up. Hanlen lowered Bamba’s shot pocket, adjusted his fingers on the ball and eliminated a hitch Bamba had before shooting. Bamba displayed much improved form before the Draft, but even if he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, he was going high -- and, he did, to the Orlando Magic with the sixth pick overall. Desperate to regain relevance in the East, the Magic hired Steve Clifford after he was fired by Charlotte to try and improve their awful defense. At the least, Clifford inherited ridiculous size on his roster, with Bamba joining 6'10" second-year forward Jonathan Isaac and newly re-signed 6'9" forward Aaron Gordon. Bamba must show he can be a killer on the floor like Embiid, and will work to make that happen. The only significant question about him coming into the Draft was the consistency of his motor at Texas. In Las Vegas this week for Summer League with his new team, Bamba is getting his feet wet while keeping them firmly planted to the ground. David Aldridge: I know you’ve spent a lot of time with Drew on the shot. What feels better now? Mo Bamba: Everything. The mechanics are so much cleaner now than they were in college. I think the difference between college and now is just a matter of just repetition, being able to change my jump shot dramatically because of how much I’ve gone in and worked on it. DA: So with time, you can basically improve anything? MB: Yeah, my jump shot is night and day. DA: He also told me that one thing he wanted to keep working with you on after the Draft was, you have a little jump to your left when you shoot? MB: Yeah, that’s a bad tendency that I have. That’s something Drew didn’t want to change. He changed a lot of things, and that’s one of the best things about working with Drew -- he knows boundaries, and he knows how much is too much. That’s one of the things he didn’t want to change right off the bat. But that’s something I’ve been conscious of and something I’ve been working on since he pointed it out. DA: Given where you played high school, was there more pressure on you playing for Westtown or playing for Texas? MB: I’d say there was more pressure playing -- well, actually, it was both, equal. My sophomore year at Westtown, there was a lot of pressure, because I was at a program that had never won a state championship, and had gotten to the finals three or four years in a row. At Texas, I was coming to a team that hadn’t made the NCAA Tournament the year before. So I’d say it was pretty equal. DA: I would imagine playing on a team like that in high school, with Cam and all the others, maybe prepared you not only for college, but playing in the pros. MB: Yeah, Cam can go. He’s a really good basketball player. And I know for a fact I’ll see him here next year. DA: What was Harlem like to grow up in, day by day? MB: It was, when people ask that, I pretty much tell them that you just grow up fast. You’re making decisions at a very young age that most kids don’t even come close to making. I credit a lot of my success to being from Harlem, growing up there. DA: Harlem’s changed a little the last few years. MB: Yeah, gentrification is real. It’s real. DA: What was it like seeing that demographic shift? MB: Well, I was kind of there before gentrification kind of really hit. Obviously there was a bunch of condos that went up and it was pretty cool to see. It was every time I came back home -- I’d see a new development going up. DA: Best advice your parents ever gave you? MB: I wouldn’t say it was direct advice or a quote. I’d say the best thing my parents passed on to me was to let me make my own mistakes and figure out on my age how to kind of see the world on my own. Growing up as the youngest child, one or two years after your siblings, obviously that’s great. You’re learning without truly making the mistakes on your own. But at some point in your life, you’re gonna have to learn on your own. You’re gonna have to fall to rise. DA: Conversely, then, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made so far? MB: I’d say that the biggest mistake I’ve made so far was not committing to Texas earlier. I think waiting was awesome. I was very methodical about waiting, very strategic about what I wanted in a university. But at the same time, if I could go back, I probably would have committed my junior year, so I could hit the ground running and build the relationships, get to know people. DA: How much freedom did Shaka give you when you were there to try things on the floor that might not necessarily be good for the team, but could be good for you individually down the road? MB: Coach Smart, he’s given me so much freedom to sort of grow into who I was. That’s been a big thing in my life -- my parents and all of my coaches. Coach Smart did a great job of just letting me come to terms with myself, as a basketball player and a person. DA: I saw in one of your interviews before the Draft that you don’t think people really understand you when you say you’re a unicorn. So define that for me as you see it. MB: Well, I mean, people kind of have a concept of what it means. To me, it’s just someone who makes plays that have never been seen before -- a seven-foot big guard, those are all unicorns to me. DA: You played against Ayton and guys like Jarrett Allen (the Nets’ first-round pick in 2017) in high school, and I know how much you’ve looked at Joel Embiid on tape. Are you guys the new normal when it comes to the next generation of bigs? MB: Yeah, I think this is becoming a theme, and you’ll see it more and more with guys coming out of high school. One of the guys you’ll see coming up is James Wiseman (the 6'11" rising senior center currently playing at East High School in Memphis, and who is considered by many to be the top college prospect in the Class of 2019). He’s younger, but he does a lot of the things that I do, that Deandre does, that Jarrett does. It’s refreshing to see so many people that can do what I do. DA: If you were six-feet tall instead of seven, what would you be doing? MB: I’d have to be around the game, like a scout or a GM, something around the game. DA: How did the basketball bug bite you so hard growing up? MB: Honestly, it’s just my competitive nature. It bleeds over into other aspects of my life. But basketball is just something that I really excelled at, and whenever I hit kind of adversity, or whenever I do something that makes me vulnerable enough to get better and to ask for help, I just took this and ran with it. DA: Since you’re a kid, I have to ask you how good you are at Fortnight? MB: I play recreationally. One of my best friends is really good at it, and whenever I play him I get Ws. 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 NewsJul 9th, 2018

MPBL: Manila opens campaign with statement win over Bataan

Manila has wasted no time in making it known that it should be looked at as one of the contenders in the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Datu Cup. NAASCU standout Aris Dionisio had a breakout game in his league debut as the home team Stars stole the spotlight from stacked Bataan, 89-82, last Saturday at the San Andres Gym. Dionisio, the pride of St. Clare University, tallied 21 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals to tow his team to a season-opening win. It was also his fastbreak layup in the dying seconds that sealed the deal for Manila and closed the door for good for the Risers who had the likes of ex-pro Gary David, UAAP star J-Jay Alejandro, NCAA star Gab Dagangon, as well as ABL champions Robbie Celiz and Pamboy Raymundo. Backstopping Dionisio were former PBA D-League player Adrian Celada who had 18 points to his name as well as ex-pros Reil Cervantes and Marvin Hayes who had 15 and 13 markers, respectively. For Bataan, Byon Villarias topped the scoring column with 17 points. The highly-touted team will have to wait a little longer to prove their worth, however. Meanwhile, Navotas has also barged into the win column courtesy of the hot hands of Levi Hernandez who shot his team over expansion team Pasay, 83-75. Arellano University product Hernandez poured in his 12 of his 26 points in the third quarter to take both the lead and momentum for the Clutch. They would never relinquish those en route to 1-0. Former San Beda University player Yvan Ludovice paced the 0-1 Voyagers with 17 points. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME NAVOTAS 83 – Hernandez 26, Publico 22, Arong 9, Neypes 7, Denison 6,  Trinidad 6, Porter 5, Sorela 2, Javelosa 0, Salem 0, Padilla 0, Gumaru 0 PASAY 75 – Ludovice 17, De Leon 15, Alanes 10, Lastimosa 8, Salcedo 7, Jamon 7, Balucanag 6, Vidal 2, Cadavis 2, Mendoza 1, Bartolo 0, Ilad 0 QUARTER SCORES: 11-20, 32-34, 60-57, 83-75 SECOND GAME MANILA 89 – Dionisio 21, Celada 18, Cervantes 15, Hayes 13, Yap 7, Sabellina 6, Bitoon 4, Rodriguez 3, Lopez 2, Laude 0, Cruz 0 BATAAN 82 – Villarias 17, Raymundo 14, Batino 13, Alejandro 12, David 7, Grospe 6, Inigo 6, Celiz 6, Tolentino 1, Dagangon 0, Faundo 0 QUARTER SCORES: 19-20,42-42, 69-64, 89-82 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

PBA: Baser-Chris just toppled June Mar-Christian

With San Miguel playing the first game in its title defense and Christian Standhardinger making his long-awaited debut, Baser Amer and Chris Newsome stole the spotlight. Amer collected 28 points, eight rebounds, and three assists while Newsome tallied 23 markers, seven boards, and four dimes as Meralco spoiled the Filipino-German’s welcome party with a 93-85 win on Wednesday at the MOA Arena. Post-game, Bolts head coach Norman Black did nothing but heap praise upon his backcourt. “Of course, our backcourt did very, very well today. They did a great job combining their talents to win this basketball game,” he told reporters. He then continued, “The two of them really made a difference for us.” Indeed, Black’s young guards not only matched their veteran counterparts in Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross, but actually outworked them – for one night, at least. Cabagnot ended with 16 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists while Ross finished with two markers, four boards, and two dimes. And with those two leading the charge for Meralco, and import Arinze Onuaku as well as key cogs Jared Dilinger and Cliff Hodge doing their part, the highly-touted twin towers of four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and Standhardinger were unable to lift the Beermen to a win. If his backcourt continues to play this way, the multi-titled mentor has no doubt that they will continue to prove the cornerstones for the Bolts. “Both guys are only in their third year and they’re quite young in the PBA, but they’re very talented and they play well together. They are actually pretty much the future of Meralco,” he said. For Amer, it was all about just stepping up and coming through. “Lagi rin namang sinasabi ni coach na kailangan kami yung maging tandem sa team. Kami yung bata sa team so okay na okay kami ni Newsome,” he said. And the Davao native vows to just keep going. “Siyempre, as a player, challenge yung every game, maging consistent. Sa next game, yung ibang team, prepared na sayo so challenge talaga sa amin lahat kung paano ma-sustain every game yung ganung laro,” he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2018

2018 MLB preview: NL East

By The Associated Press Capsules of National League East teams, listed in order of finish last year: ___ Washington Nationals 2017: 97-65, first place, lost to Cubs in NLDS. Manager: Dave Martinez (first season). He's Here: 1B-OF Matt Adams, C Miguel Montero, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Joaquin Benoit, INF Matt Reynolds. He's Outta Here: Manager Dusty Baker, LF Jayson Werth, 1B-LF Adam Lind, C Jose Lobaton, RHP Matt Albers. Projected Lineup: SS Trea Turner (.284, 11 HRs, 45 RBIs, 46 SBs in 98 games), LF Adam Eaton (.297, 2, 13 in 23 games), RF Bryce Harper (.319, 29, 87), 3B Anthony Rendon (.301, 25, 100, 41 2Bs), 2B Daniel Murphy (.322, 23, 93, 43 2Bs, expected to begin season on DL recovering from knee surgery), 1B Ryan Zimmerman (.303, 36, 108, 33 2Bs), CF Michael A. Taylor (.271, 19, 53), C Matt Wieters (.225, 10, 52). Rotation: RH Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.51 ERA, NL-high 268 Ks, 200 2/3 IP, 3rd Cy Young Award), RH Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52, 204 Ks), LH Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96, 79 walks), RH Tanner Roark (13-11, 4.67), RH A.J. Cole (3-5, 3.81 in 11 appearances) or RH Jeremy Hellickson (8-11, 5.43 with Phillies and Orioles). Key Relievers: LH Sean Doolittle (2-0, 2.81, 24/26 saves with Athletics and Nationals), RH Ryan Madson (5-4, 1.83, 2 saves with Athletics and Nationals), RH Brandon Kintzler (4-3, 3.03, 29/35 saves with Twins and Nationals), LH Sammy Solis (1-0, 5.88, 1 save), RH Shawn Kelley (3-2, 7.27, 4 saves), RH Joaquin Benoit (1-6, 4.65, 2 saves with Phillies and Pirates). Hot Spots: Fifth Starter and Catcher. The Nationals have as good a 1-2 combination at the front of their rotation as anyone in the big leagues, with Scherzer and Strasburg. Their 3-4 slots aren't too shabby, either, with Gonzalez and Roark. But the big question is, who will be the fifth starter — the inexperienced Cole or late free-agent pickup Hellickson? The only other spot with some real doubts is catcher, where Wieters is coming off a terrible year at the plate. Outlook: This might very well be the end of an era at Nationals Park, with Harper eligible to leave as a free agent after the season and GM Mike Rizzo's contract set to expire, too. The team has won four NL East titles in the past six years but has zero playoff series wins to show for it. That's why yet another manager (Baker) lost his job, and yet another rookie skipper has been brought in (will Martinez have more success than Matt Williams?). Rizzo has made no secret of the need to start making postseason inroads — a World Series is the stated goal, and that's certainly not an outrageous aim, given all the talent he's assembled. The lineup remains almost exactly the same, although Werth is gone after playing out his seven-year contract, and the rotation and bullpen are also nearly identical to the way they looked at the end of 2017. ___ Miami Marlins 2017: 77-85, second place. Manager: Don Mattingly (third season). He's Here: INF Starlin Castro, CF Lewis Brinson, OF Cameron Maybin, 1B Garrett Cooper, RHP Jacob Turner, OF-1B Scott Van Slyke, RHP Jumbo Diaz, RHP Sandy Alcantara. He's Outta Here: RF Giancarlo Stanton, LF Marcell Ozuna, CF Christian Yelich, 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Tom Koehler, OF Ichiro Suzuki, RHP Dustin McGowan, C A.J. Ellis. Projected Lineup: RF Cameron Maybin (.228, 10 HRs, 35 RBIs, 33 SBs with Angels and Astros), CF Lewis Brinson (.106, 2, 3 in 21 games with Brewers), 2B Starlin Castro (.300, 16, 63 in 112 games with Yankees), 1B Justin Bour (.289, 25, 83, .902 OPS in 108 games), C J.T. Realmuto (.278, 17, 65), LF Derek Dietrich (.249, 13, 53), 3B Brian Anderson (.262, 0, 8 in 25 games), SS Miguel Rojas (.290, 1, 26 in 90 games). Rotation: RH Jose Urena (14-7, 3.82 ERA), RH Dan Straily (10-9, 4.26, 170 Ks), RH Odrisamer Despaigne (2-3, 4.01), RH Jacob Turner (2-3, 5.08 with Nationals), LH Justin Nicolino (2-3, 5.06). Key Relievers: RH Brad Ziegler (1-4, 4.79, 10/15 saves), RH Kyle Barraclough (6-2, 3.00, 1 save), RH Drew Steckenrider (1-1, 2.34, 54 Ks in 34 2/3 IP), RH Junichi Tazawa (3-5, 5.69), RH Nick Wittgren (3-1, 4.68). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. Urena had a breakout season in 2017, and Straily tied for the NL lead with 33 starts, but they're the only established starters. The other three spots will likely be a revolving door occupied by a mix of prospects and journeymen, and the results could be ugly. One potential bright spot is the 22-year-old Alcantara, who had a 4.32 ERA in eight games for the Cardinals last year. He'll begin the season in the minors but might join the Marlins before summer. Outlook: New CEO Derek Jeter is accustomed to winning, and that is about to change. He traded away half of last year's starting lineup, including the NL MVP in Stanton, which means the Marlins are rebuilding yet again. Even with an entirely new outfield, the offense could be decent. But Castro and Realmuto are potential trade bait and might be gone before August, and the season will almost surely end Sept. 30, leaving the Marlins out of the playoffs for the 15th year in a row. This season is really all about developing prospects acquired in those offseason trades, and if youngsters such as Brinson and Alcantara perform well, 2018 will be considered a successful start for the Jeter regime. ___ Atlanta Braves 2017: 72-90, third place. Manager: Brian Snitker (third season). He's Here: RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Anibal Sanchez, LHP Scott Kazmir, INF Charlie Culberson, OF Preston Tucker, OF Ronald Acuna, 3B Austin Riley, OF Jeff Decker, 2B Christian Colon, RHP Shane Carle. He's Outta Here: OF Matt Kemp, RHP R.A. Dickey, 3B Adonis Garcia, 1B Matt Adams, INF Jace Peterson, RHP Jason Motte. Projected Lineup: CF Ender Inciarte (.304, 11 HRs, 57 RBIs, 22 SBs, Gold Glove), 2B Ozzie Albies (.286, 6, 28, 8 SBs in 57 games), 1B Freddie Freeman (.307, 28, 71 in 117 games), C Tyler Flowers (.281, 12, 49) or Kurt Suzuki (.283, 19, 50), RF Nick Markakis (.275, 8, 76), LF Ronald Acuna (.325, 21, 82, 44 SBs with 3 minor league teams) or Lane Adams (.275, 5, 20, 10 SBs), 3B Johan Camargo (.273, 14, 65) or Charlie Culberson (.154, 0, 1 in 15 games with Dodgers), SS Dansby Swanson (.232, 6, 51). Rotation: RH Julio Teheran (11-13, 4.49 ERA), RH Mike Foltynewicz (10-13, 4.79), RH Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 3.98 in 19 games with Dodgers), LH Sean Newcomb (4-9, 4.32 in 19 games), RH Anibal Sanchez (3-7, 6.41 with Tigers), LH Scott Kazmir (10-6, 4.56 with Dodgers in 2016) or LH Luiz Gohara (1-3, 4.91 in 5 games). Key Relievers: RH Arodys Vizcaino (5-3, 2.83, 14/17 saves, 64 Ks in 57 1/3 IP), RH Jose Ramirez (2-3, 3.19), LH A.J. Minter (0-1, 3.00, 26 Ks, 15 IP in 16 games), RH Dan Winkler (1-1, 2.51 in 16 games), LH Sam Freeman (2-0, 2.55 in 58 games). Hot Spot: Third Base. Camargo was the probable starter before an oblique injury left his status uncertain for the beginning of the season. Culberson, expected to play a utility role, or Rio Ruiz would be next in line. Austin Riley, a 2015 first-round pick who has not yet reached Triple-A, might be a year or two away. Camargo, who shared time with Swanson at shortstop last year, could be more than a stopgap if he can provide some of the power the Braves need at a corner infield spot. Outlook: Teheran, Foltynewicz and Newcomb have provided reasons this spring to believe they can improve their 2017 numbers. The progress of Newcomb, one of the team's many touted pitching prospects, became especially important when Gohara sustained a groin injury that will keep him from being ready for the start of the season. For a change, the spring spotlight was on a position player; Acuna was hitting .432 with four homers, 11 RBIs and four steals when he was sent to minor league camp. The move involving the 20-year-old top prospect was expected. It was made to maintain an extra full season of contractual control down the road, but Acuna likely will be recalled in April and immediately start in left field. He could provide a needed power bat to help Freeman in the middle of the lineup. The Braves likely are still at least a year away from contending in the NL East, but improved starting pitching could push them closer to .500 this year. ___ New York Mets 2017: 70-92, fourth place. Manager: Mickey Callaway (first season). He's Here: 3B Todd Frazier, RF Jay Bruce, LHP Jason Vargas, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RHP Anthony Swarzak, LHP Matt Purke, C Jose Lobaton. He's Outta Here: Manager Terry Collins, LHP Josh Smoker, LHP Josh Edgin, RHP Chasen Bradford, OF Norichika Aoki, RHP Erik Goeddel, RHP Tyler Pill, LHP Tommy Milone, OF Travis Taijeron. Projected Lineup: 2B Asdrubal Cabrera (.280, 14 HRs, 59 RBIs, .351 OBP), LF Yoenis Cespedes (.292, 17, 42, .892 OPS in 81 games), RF Jay Bruce (.252, 36, 101 with Mets and Indians), 3B Todd Frazier (.213, 27, 76, .344 OBP with White Sox and Yankees), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.242, 3, 30, .642 OPS in 71 games with Dodgers) or Dominic Smith (.198, 9, 26, .658 OPS, 49 Ks in 49 games), C Travis d'Arnaud (.244, 16, 57, .293 OBP in 112 games) or Kevin Plawecki (.260, 3, 13, .364 OBP in 37 games), CF Brandon Nimmo (.260, 5, 21, .379 OBP, .797 OPS in 69 games) or Juan Lagares (.250, 3, 15, .296 OBP, .661 OPS in 94 games), SS Amed Rosario (.248, 4, 10, 49 Ks, 3 BBs, .271 OBP, .665 OPS in 46 games). Rotation: RH Noah Syndergaard (1-2, 2.97 ERA, limited to 30 1/3 innings by lat injury), RH Jacob deGrom (15-10, 3.53, 239 Ks, 201 1/3 IP), LH Jason Vargas (18-11, 4.16, 179 2/3 IP in 32 starts with Royals), RH Matt Harvey (5-7, 6.70, 110 hits, 21 HRs, 67 Ks, 47 BBs in 92 2/3 IP), LH Steven Matz (2-7, 6.08 in 13 starts), RH Zack Wheeler (3-7, 5.21, 97 hits, 81 Ks, 40 BBs, 86 1/3 IP in 17 starts). Key Relievers: RH Jeurys Familia (2-2, 4.38, 6 saves in 26 games), RH AJ Ramos (2-4, 3.99, 27 saves with Marlins and Mets), RH Anthony Swarzak (6-4, 2.33, 91 Ks, 22 BBs, 58 hits, 77 1/3 IP in 70 games with White Sox and Brewers), LH Jerry Blevins (6-0, 2.94, 1 save, 69 Ks, 24 BBs, 49 IP in 75 games), RH Paul Sewald (0-6, 4.55, 69 Ks, 21 BBs, 65 1/3 IP in 57 games), RH Seth Lugo (7-5, 4.71, 101 1/3 IP in 19 games, 18 starts) or RH Robert Gsellman (8-7, 5.19, 119 2/3 IP in 25 games, 22 starts). Hot Spot: First Base. The 35-year-old Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star weakened by a bad back last season, was signed at a bargain price to provide competition and short-term insurance for Smith, a top prospect who struggled in his initial taste of the majors last year. Smith, 22, slimmed down in the offseason but was disciplined early in camp for arriving late one day. Then he strained a quad, keeping him out of the lineup for most of spring training, so it seems unlikely he'll make the opening day roster. Gonzalez, meanwhile, batted .182 with one extra-base hit and 11 strikeouts in his first 44 Grapefruit League at-bats before connecting for a home run. Wilmer Flores can play first against left-handers, but vs. righties the Mets either need Gonzalez to find the Fountain of Youth or Smith to live up to his first-round hype. Outlook: Callaway had great success with Cleveland's arms and the injury-plagued Mets are counting on his methods, along with new pitching coach Dave Eiland, to keep their talented but fragile rotation intact. New York also overhauled its medical department, hoping to keep star players on the field. Syndergaard and deGrom make for an imposing 1-2 punch. So if Harvey, Matz and Wheeler — even one or two of them — can finally stay healthy and approach their initial big league form, the pitching staff could be terrific again after unraveling last year with a 5.01 ERA that ranked 28th in the majors. Vargas was signed to eat innings but will miss some time at the beginning of the season following surgery for a broken right (non-pitching) hand. All-Star outfielder Michael Conforto (27 HRs, .384 OBP, .939 OPS) is targeting a May 1 return from surgery for a dislocated left shoulder. His status is critical to a lineup that lacks speed and a natural leadoff hitter. Nimmo made strides last season and is a potential candidate for that role while platooning early with Lagares to fill Conforto's spot in center field. After the Mets spent nearly $90 million to plug holes in free agency, it still might be a stretch to envision them seriously challenging star-studded Washington for NL East supremacy. But with better health in a soft division, they could certainly rejoin the wild-card hunt. ___ Philadelphia Phillies 2017: 66-96, fifth place. Manager: Gabe Kapler (first season). He's Here: RHP Jake Arrieta, 1B Carlos Santana, RHP Pat Neshek, RHP Tommy Hunter. He's Outta Here: Manager Pete Mackanin, SS Freddy Galvis, INF Andres Blanco, OF Daniel Nava, OF Hyun Soo Kim, RHP Clay Buchholz, 1B Tommy Joseph. Projected Lineup: 2B Cesar Hernandez (.294, 9 HRs, 34 RBIs, 15 SBs), 1B Carlos Santana (.259, 23, 79 with Indians), RF Nick Williams (.288, 12, 55) or Aaron Altherr (.272, 19, 65), LF Rhys Hoskins (.259, 18, 48), CF Odubel Herrera (.281, 14, 56), C Jorge Alfaro (.318, 5, 14), 3B Maikel Franco (.230, 24, 76), SS J.P. Crawford (.214, 0, 6 in 23 games). Rotation: RH Aaron Nola (12-11, 3.54 ERA, 184 Ks), RH Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53, 163 Ks with Cubs), RH Vince Velasquez (2-7, 5.13 in 15 starts), RH Nick Pivetta (8-10, 6.02), RH Zach Eflin (1-5, 6.16) or RH Ben Lively (4-7, 4.26). Key Relievers: RH Hector Neris (4-5, 3.01, 26/29 saves), RH Pat Neshek (5-3, 1.59, 1 save with Phillies and Rockies), RH Tommy Hunter (3-5, 2.61, 1 save with Rays), LH Adam Morgan (3-3, 4.12), RH Luis Garcia (2-5, 2.65). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. There are a lot of question marks beyond Nola, who emerged as a reliable starter in 2017. Arrieta, the former Cubs ace, had a rough first half in 2017 but finished strong. Yet he was a free agent until mid-March. He's getting paid big bucks to be a No. 1 guy again. Jerad Eickhoff will begin the season on the DL and Velasquez is coming off a disappointing year after showing promise in 2016. Pivetta has upside but needs more maturity. The team has plenty of depth at Triple-A, including several pitchers who have big league experience, in case any of the starters falter or get hurt. Outlook: The decision to sign Arrieta signals the rebuild is over. The Phillies added Santana, Neshek and Hunter to a talented young roster in hopes of being competitive. A month into spring training, they added Arrieta because management thinks it's time to contend now. The lineup has the potential to be dynamic if the young hitters continue to emerge and Santana does what he did in Cleveland. The bullpen should be formidable with Hunter-Neshek-Neris at the back end. If Arrieta regains his old form, Nola lives up to his promise and a couple other starters take steps forward, the Phillies can not only end their five-year run of losing seasons but maybe even make a surprise push for a postseason berth......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

Spain experimenting with its forwards ahead of World Cup

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Spain enters the final stage of its World Cup preparations with coach Julen Lopetegui experimenting up front. Lopetegui has called up several different forwards since taking over the national squad and has plenty of options to choose from before announcing the final list for Russia in a few months. It won't be an easy decision because Spain has thrived in attack with a deep stock of strikers. The team has outscored opponents 52-10 in the 16 matches played under Lopetegui. The coach will get a chance to have a final look at some of his forwards in the high-profile friendlies against Germany on Friday in Dusseldorf and Argentina on Tuesday in Madrid. Still unbeaten since Lopetegui arrived after the 2016 European Championship, Spain will go to Russia trying to rebound from disappointments in the last two major soccer tournaments — it was eliminated in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup and in the last 16 at Euro 2016. Here's a closer look at the key issues three months before the World Cup: ___ ATTACK Lopetegui has called up more than 10 strikers since his arrival, with the most-recent list including Diego Costa, Iago Aspas, Rodrigo and Lucas Vazquez. Alvaro Morata, Jose Callejon and Victor "Vitolo" Machin had been regulars in previous lists but were left out of the important pre-World Cup friendlies. Costa hadn't been called up in more than nine months because he couldn't play with Atletico Madrid until the team's transfer ban from FIFA ended in January, while Vazquez hadn't made Lopetegui's list since last year. Aspas has been a regular name in Lopetegui's teams even though he hasn't played much as a starter. Morata was left out of the current list because of physical problems but Lopetegui said the Chelsea player still has a good chance of making it to Russia. "Strikers are always under pressure," Costa said Wednesday. "We need to score goals, otherwise there will be pressure." ___ MORE ATTACK Among the other forwards tested by Lopetegui are Manuel "Nolito" Agudo, Paco Alcacer, Pedro Rodriguez, Aritz Aduriz, Gerard Deulofeu and even 36-year-old veteran David Villa. They had few opportunities recently, though, and are considered a longshot to make it to Russia even though Lopetegui said he hasn't closed the door on anybody. "Some players were not included in this (last) list but they still remain with their chances intact," Lopetegui said. "All players still have chances." ___ MIDFIELD A few attacking midfielders seem to have their spots secured after several call-ups under Lopetegui, including Isco, Marco Asensio, Saul Niguez and David Silva. Silva is among the players with the most minutes in Lopetegui's team, along with Sergio Busquets and goalkeeper David De Gea. Silva also has the most goals scored under Lopetegui with 11, followed by Morata with seven. ___ DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDERS Busquets, Thiago Alcantara, Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion and Andres Iniesta are practically assured of a spot at the World Cup, which will likely be the last for Iniesta. The 33-year-old Barcelona player has been struggling with his physical condition in recent months and hasn't played regularly with the Catalan club. Busquets will miss the friendlies against Germany and Argentina because of a fractured finger in his foot but is expected to recover in time for the tournament in Russia. ___ DEFENSE It will also probably be the last World Cup for Gerard Pique, who has said he plans to retire from the national team after playing in Russia. Sergio Ramos will most likely be his teammate in central defense at the World Cup, with Jordi Alba and Dani Carvajal playing alongside them on the flanks. Left back Marcos Alonso got his first call-up for the upcoming friendlies and will be fighting to be in Lopetegui's final list. "I'm getting a chance to show my worth," the Chelsea player said. ___ GOALKEEPERS Calls for the return of Iker Casillas are long gone as De Gea continues to play in top form and is more than secured as the team's starter in Russia. Kepa Arrizabalaga and Pepe Reina have been included in Lopetegui's most-recent lists and are expected to be the reserve goalkeepers......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 21st, 2018

DOC VOLLEYBALL: Halfway to Greatness

UAAP Season 80 women's volleyball continues to prove itself as the most unpredictable season in recent history. With a good mix of key losses as well as additions across the board for all competitors, the league is at an all out rock-paper-scissors slugfest. Though the current standings clearly represent a quintessential Bell Curve, Season 80 maintains its unpredictability as evidenced by teams upsetting each other. In addition, the sheer number of five-set matches so far is an indication how tight the competition is this season. UE Lady Warriors: 1 - 6 Despite initial concerns about the leave of head coach Francis Vicente, the UE Lady Warriors surprised the league with their maiden win at the expense of the season’s Dark Horse, the Adamson Lady Falcons. Under the mentorship of multi-awarded UE High School coach Rod Roque, the Lady Warriors were able to play their best game so far this season. For that particular win against the Lady Falcons, Coach Roque’s game plan was just to encourage the team to play carefree and enjoy as he is just taking over a team he has never handled. It is a given that UE is a team brimming with potential. They have decent size as well as a good number of seasoned veterans in Shaya Adorador and Kat Arado, who have not been maximized unfortunately. The handover to Coach Roque might just be the much-needed break for UE as they have found new confidence moving on to the second round making them more threatening to upset more teams. UST Golden Tigresses: 2 - 5 Considered to be one of the main contenders based on their pre-season performance, the UST Golden Tigresses have fallen short of expectations as a series of early key injuries has prevented the team from playing to full capability. Ending the first round with two successive disheartening losses against the UP Lady Maroons and old time rivals FEU Lady Tamaraws, UST is pressed to turn around their performance to keep their Final Four dreams alive. UST’s offensive threat from the wings cannot be underestimated as they have league top scorer Cherry Rondina from the left and power player Dim Pacres from the right. However, what the team still lacks is the offensive and defensive threats from the middle reminiscent of the days of Mary Jean Balse and Maika Ortiz. As long as the middles are not generating enough points off the quick or slide attack, the team is expected to continue struggling against better blocking teams through the second round as Rondina continues to be in the spotlight. UP Lady Maroons: 2 - 5 All hopes were high for the UP Lady Maroons to finally break in once again to the Final Four this season under new foreign coach Godfrey Okumu. The squad however kicked off season 80 disappointingly far from their stellar 4-0 run last season. Despite setter Ayel Estranero showing more mastery over shoot sets to the wings and Tots Carlos sporting more power in her attacks, the team has struggled with their floor passing to severely limit their offense set up. Much like UST, UP has yet to show breakout performances from the middles as they continue to struggle getting the first pass consistently to the setter. Much to their credit though, Coach Okumu has adjusted to their struggles by utilizing different patterns for their passing system as well as even going for a 6-2 set-up just to tap into Estranero’s floor play. The gamble proved successful with their win over UST and this system might be their solution to bounce back this second round. Adamson Lady Falcons: 3 - 4 The return of veterans Mylene Paat and Fhem Emnas as well as the addition of transferee Eli Soyud were clear indications that the Lady Falcons this season won't be their former pushover status. True enough, the team started the season strong with massive victories against top seeded teams such as FEU and DLSU as well as trouncing UP in straight sets. Given that head coach Air Padda has much more utility with addition of new seasoned players, the team still lacks consistency as evidenced by their poor passing performance in their game against UST and the error-laden upset by UE to end the first round. Technically, Padda’s passing and transition defense patterns are the most efficient but a lack of more aggressive serving (i.e. fast, flat, well-placed floaters) as well as their tendency to commit individual unforced errors limit the team from winning more games they are undeniably capable of. Ateneo Lady Eagles: 4 - 3 After a concerning opening for the second-seeded team, the Ateneo Lady Eagles managed to go on a four-game win streak midway to still maintain a spot in the top four so far. The team’s three losses were notably against the three tough-serving teams: FEU, DLSU, and NU. The glaring inefficiency in the passing department has been the Lady Eagles’ exploited weakness as evidenced by the barrage of aces DLSU let out in their recent match. Relative to other teams, Ateneo’s offense is not composed of power hitters. As such, the team runs fast and well-placed attacks that heavily rely on efficient first ball to circumvent the opposing block and floor defense. Unless the team manages to remedy their passing and defense patterns, setter Deanna Wong would continue to be forced to do bump sets that are not ideal for non-power hitters making it harder for the team to run the offense. FEU Lady Tamaraws: 5 - 2 The FEU Lady Tamaraws continue to live up to pre-season expectations as one of the top contenders this season. Despite early expectations that Queen Tamaraw Bernadette Pons will have the spotlight in the scoring department, the squad has proven that it's not a one- woman show through commendable ball distribution by setter Kyle Negrito. The team has also proven to be dominant in the serving department as evidenced by their dismantling of weaker passing teams NU, Ateneo, and UST. The combination X-play continues to be the team’s bread and butter offense but its reliance on consistent excellent passing might be a concern against better serving teams like La Salle moving forward to the second round. De La Salle Lady Spikers: 5 - 2 The Lady Spikers continue to prove their defending champion status despite the loss to current top seed NU and the upset by league dark horse Adamson. Despite not being considered as crafty as her predecessor Kim Fajardo, setter Michelle Cobb does her job well in running the offensive set-up for basic plays. Perhaps where the setting falls short is the lack of maximization of Queen Spiker Majoy Baron as she has yet to produce outputs comparable to last season. In line with that, the defending champions have yet to be seen utilizing more back row attacks as added offensive options on transition defense since the left wing is almost always their option on a sub-optimal first ball. NU Lady Bulldogs: 6 - 1 The long developmental process of the Lady Bulldogs is coming into fruition under the new mentorship of coach Babes Castillo. With a roster of seasoned veterans and decent size, the Lady Bulldogs have all the artillery to finally claim the crown. Their lone loss under the hands of the Lady Tamaraws could be well attributed to the fact that Queen Bulldog Jaja Santiago could be mitigated in the middle with well placed aggressive serves. The challenge then for NU moving on to the second round is how to be able to still maximize Santiago in the frontline in the onset that she is relegated to mere decoy status due to a sub-optimal first ball.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 6th, 2018

Best in history Ronaldo put to test by Messi in clasico

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo has made his claim. Now he has to live up to it. Ronaldo will face Lionel Messi on Saturday for the first time since the Portugal forward declared himself “the best player in the history” of soccer after equaling the Argentine’s five Ballon d’Or awards this month. Basking in the spotlight of a glitzy ceremony under the Eiffel Tower, Ronaldo felt confident enough to put himself at the pinnacle of the sport, ahead of Messi and other greats like Pele and Diego Maradona. “You will go and say that I have a big head, but when you’re at the top, it’s normal that you’re criticized,” he told France Football. “I am the best player in history, in both good and bad times.” Personalities aside, Ronaldo has a tough case to make. He and Messi both have four Champions League titles, but Messi’s eight Spanish league titles double Ronaldo’s tally for Madrid and Manchester United. Messi also has the edge in their head-to-head duels. Messi has outscored Ronaldo 19-17 since Ronaldo joined Madrid in 2009. Prior to that, Messi scored in a 2-0 win over Ronaldo’s Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League final. The Barcelona-led Messi has also had a clear advantage over Ronaldo’s Madrid. Messi has helped Barcelona beat Ronaldo’s side 13 times, to eight wins for Madrid and seven draws. Overall, Messi holds the “clasico” record with 24 goals in 36 matches. Ronaldo is one goal shy of matching Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano’s 18 goals against Barcelona. The camera-shy Messi insisted again on Monday when he was recognized for leading the Spanish league in goals last campaign that he put more value on team titles than individual honors. “Titles are our goal,” Messi said. “If individual statistics are there also, that’s even better, but they are not the objective.” Ronaldo has no doubt closed the gap with Messi after he led Madrid to back-to-back Champions League titles in the last two seasons. But for Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres, this past decade is still set to bear Messi’s mark. “If it wasn’t for (Ronaldo), Messi would have won twice as much,” Torres said Wednesday. “What Ronaldo has done in the age of Messi says a lot about him.” Ronaldo will need to be at his best on Saturday because anything other than a victory will deal a huge blow to Madrid’s title defense before the season reaches its midway point. Madrid enters the match in fourth place and trailing Barcelona by 11 with a match in hand. Atletico Madrid and Valencia are in second and third. “Given the situation we are in we are obligated to win,” Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. Messi had one of his most memorable performances at Madrid last season when he scored his second of two brilliant goals in stoppage time to silence the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid got revenge with wins of 3-1 and 2-0 in the Spanish Super Cup in August, when Barcelona was reeling from the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, however, quickly rallied his team and the Catalan club has not lost since, a run of 24 matches. With Neymar gone, Valverde has succeeded in tightening up Barcelona’s defense. “It would be important to win for everything that would represent, since the match is so special, and we are playing at their ground,” Messi said. “There would still be a long way to go for the league title, but a victory would be a nice before the Christmas break.” Here are some other potential keys to the “clasico.” ___ SUAREZ Striker Luis Suarez has rediscovered his scoring touch at just the right time for Barcelona. After only scoring three times in the first 11 matches, Suarez has six goals in his last five league games. They will need him even more with backup forwards Paco Alcacer and Gerard Deulofeu injured. ___ BENZEMA Karim Benzema has only scored two goals in 11 league appearances for Madrid this season. The drop in production has contributed to Madrid’s stumbles, leading many fans to lament the exit of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea. ___ ALBA Jordi Alba has flourished going forward into the hole that Neymar used to occupy. The Spain left back is a favorite of Messi to weave together short-passing combinations that unlock packed defenses. His matchup against Madrid right back Dani Carvajal should be key. ___ BALE Gareth Bale is playing for his future. Recurrent injuries have cost the Wales winger his spot in Madrid’s starting lineup, with coach Zinedine Zidane preferring the playmaking — and sturdier legs — of Francisco “Isco” Alarcon. Bale returned after his latest injury layoff to help Madrid win the Club World Cup, but as a second-half substitute. He is likely to have that role against Barcelona and will need to make the most of the minutes he gets. ___ VERMAELEN Thomas Vermaelen was considered a lost cause. That was until defenders Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano got injured, giving the Belgian another chance to find his spot in Barcelona’s rotation. Vermaelen has played six consecutive matches, a personal record for him at Barcelona. Injuries limited him to 11 league appearances in two seasons before he was loaned out to Roma last year. Now that he is back, the former Arsenal player will be critical to Barcelona’s chances of stopping Ronaldo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

Pair of losses enough to leave Real Madrid reeling

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It's only been two losses, but when it comes to Real Madrid, that's enough to put the team on the brink of turmoil. Consecutive defeats to newcomer Girona in the Spanish league and to Tottenham in the Champions League have left the team reeling. Madrid struggled in both matches despite playing with its top players, prompting a wave of criticism. Although Cristiano Ronaldo dismissed talk of a crisis and coach Zinedine Zidane said he is not worried, they both admitted that there's some work to do to get Madrid back on track. "We are not going to play well every time," Ronaldo said after Tuesday's 3-1 loss in England. "We have to change things and admit that we are not where we wanted to be right now." Zidane said it will take some time to restore the team's morale after the consecutive losses. "It's two defeats in a row and we can't be happy about it," Zidane said. "It's a difficult moment but you have to accept it. We have to keep our heads cool because this is soccer and we have a lot of games to play and there's still a lot of time to turn things around, and that's what we will do." Madrid remains in good position to advance from Group H in the Champions League, and it can do it with a victory at APOEL later this month. But the team is already eight points behind leader Barcelona in the Spanish league, a deficit it has never been able to overcome. Madrid had won four in a row in the league before last weekend's loss at Girona, but it got off to a slow start in which it failed to win its first three home games. Madrid is defending both the Spanish league and the Champions League titles this season. "We have to say calm," Ronaldo said. "Things are not as bad as they look. The team is not playing that badly, so we must remain confident. We have to think positively because it's the end of the season that counts, not the beginning." Zidane blamed the team's letdown on its numerous missed opportunities in front of goal. "There are moments in a season when you score goals from very few chances, and others when you struggle to do that," the former France midfielder said. "We have been creating opportunities but we are not being able to capitalize on them." Zidane said he has a group of experienced players who will be able to quickly steer the team back in the right direction. Ronaldo would have liked to see even more experience in the team at a moment like this. He said some of the players that the club let go in the offseason could have been making a difference right now, including Pepe, Alvaro Morata and James Rodriquez. "The new players who came to the squad have a lot of potential and they are the future of Madrid," said Ronaldo, who scored the team's goal on Tuesday at Wembley. "But if you ask me, every great player is always needed by a club, and Pepe was a great player, and Morata, James ... All players who have left used to make us a stronger team, obviously." Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said it's natural for fans to be upset with the team's recent struggles, but warned that nobody should count them out just yet. "When Madrid loses a couple of games there's always talk about a crisis," Ramos said. "But we have to remain calm and united. We are convinced that Madrid will overcome this very soon. Madrid always fights back, and if people think that we are done, time will show them wrong.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2017

2017-18 NBA season preview roundup

We're just hours away from tipping off the start of the 2017-18 NBA season. That means it's time to get caught up on your favorite team, their player movement, and their storylines entering this new campaign. Check out what you missed below: Opening day rosters Viewing guide for Oct. 18-23, 2017 Top opening day storylines 5 reasons why the Golden State Warriors will repeat 5 reasons why the Golden State Warriors won't repeat +++ Eastern Conference capsule previews “In a watered down East, Celtics-Cavs is the best thing going”   Atlantic Division Offseason moves Boston Celtics 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Offseason overhaul complete, new era begins for Celtics” Toronto Raptors 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Raptors hope offensive evolution pays off in playoffs” New York Knicks 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Anthony, Jackson gone, but Knicks’ losing likely to continue” Philadelphia 76ers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “76ers put trust in oft-injured Embiid as franchise player” Brooklyn Nets 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Nets see potential for improvement behind bolstered roster” Central Division Offseason moves Cleveland Cavaliers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “James returns, Cavaliers debut new 3-MVP starting lineup” Milwaukee Bucks 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Kidd looks to get young Bucks back up to speed quickly” Indiana Pacers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Pacers change directions, making Turner, Oladipo new leaders” Chicago Bulls 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Bulls go all in on rebuild, gear up for run at high pick” Detroit Pistons 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Drummond under pressure as Pistons try to rebound” Southeast Division Offseason moves Washington Wizards 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Not since ’79: Wall, Beal eye 50 wins, East finals for Wiz” Atlanta Hawks 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Atlanta Hawks begin a long, painful rebuilding process” Miami Heat 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Heat are deep, and hoping that means they’ll contend in East” Charlotte Hornets 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Howard-Clifford reunion may determine Hornets’ success” Orlando Magic 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Magic seek better results, more wins with mostly same roster” Western Conference capsule previews “Surprise! Golden State is the team to beat out West, again” Northwest Division Offseason moves Utah Jazz 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Jazz hope Hood can pick up scoring slack after Hayward exit" Oklahoma City Thunder 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Thunder add reinforcements for MVP Westbrook" Portland Trail Blazers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Jusuf Nurkic wants Blazers to channel Pistons of days past" Denver Nuggets 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Leaner Nikola Jokic eager to lead Nuggets back to playoffs" Minnesota Timberwolves 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Now or never for the Minnesota Timberwolves" Pacific Division Offseason moves Golden State Warriors 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Kerr pushes Warriors to keep joy, chase repeat championship" LA Clippers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “With Paul gone, Clippers very much Blake Griffin’s team" Sacramento Kings 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “New-look, youthful Kings try to gain ground in tough West" LA Lakers 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Ball prepared to shine in spotlight with rebuilding Lakers" Phoenix Suns 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “In their 50th season, Suns patient in developing young team" Southwest Division Offseason moves San Antonio Spurs 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Aldridge still trying to find his place with Spurs" Houston Rockets 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Rockets add All-Star Paul as they look to take next step" Memphis Grizzlies 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “New-look Grizzlies leaning heavily on Parsons in new era" New Orleans Pelicans 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Pelicans’ Davis, Cousins embracing throw-back lineup" Dallas Mavericks 1 Team, 1 Stat preview “Mavs take tempered expectations into Nowitzki’s 20th season".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2017

De Bruyne takes down former club Chelsea; Kane scores again

em>By Steve Douglas, Associated Press /em> Kevin De Bruyne felt he was never given a fair chance during an 18-month spell at Chelsea where he played nine games before asking to be sold for the sake of his career. Nearly four years later, the Belgium midfielder returned to Stamford Bridge as a highly coveted and more rounded player with Manchester City, and showed his former club exactly what it lost. De Bruyne helped City assert control of the biggest game of the English Premier League so far, then secured a 1-0 win with a 25-meter shot that flew into the top corner in the 67th minute. 'What happened, happened,' De Bruyne said. 'I have no regrets coming here — it made me stronger in my ways.' Playing in a deeper role as a center midfielder rather than as the winger who arrived at Chelsea in August 2012, De Bruyne is proving to be a crucial part of a City team that has won six of its seven league games — drawing the other one — and is unbeaten in 10 matches in all competitions. Even without Sergio Aguero and Benjamin Mendy, who sustained injuries over the past week, City dominated Chelsea in what left back Fabien Delph described as a 'big message' to the rest of the league. City stayed in first place on goal difference from Manchester United, which won 4-0 against a beleaguered Crystal Palace side that is still without a point or a goal. Romelu Lukaku scored his 11th goal in 10 games for United this season. Another player who cannot stop scoring is Harry Kane, who finished September with 13 goals from eight games by scoring twice in Tottenham's 4-0 win at Huddersfield. There were also wins for West Ham and Stoke. strong>CITY'S SIGNATURE WIN /strong> Three days after delivering one of its best European away displays to beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, Chelsea was overwhelmed by City's movement and passing ability. The hosts weren't helped by the loss to injury of striker Alvaro Morata in the first half. De Bruyne's goal came when he collected a pass from defense with a first-time flick to Gabriel Jesus. The striker laid the ball off instantly to De Bruyne, who surged through to the edge of the box before unleashing a left-footed shot that flew past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. 'He made absolutely everything,' City manager Pep Guardiola said. 'He scores, assists, fights like a humble guy. I'm so happy for him as I know how happy he is.' It was Chelsea's first loss in the league since its opening-day home defeat to Burnley. Chelsea is six points beind the Manchester clubs. strong>ANOTHER BIG WIN /strong> United has four 4-0 wins in the league, a huge upgrade on last season when the team's title challenge faltered because of its profligacy. It helps having Lukaku in this kind of scoring form, although the striker had a quiet afternoon at Old Trafford by his high standards until he completed the scoring in the 86th minute. He scored for the sixth straight club game. Juan Mata opened the scoring inside three minutes and Marouane Fellaini netted either side of halftime, with the bushy-haired Belgium midfielder making the most of his extended run in the team owing to Paul Pogba's hamstring injury. strong>KANE'S SPREE /strong> Kane extended his bewildering run of goals in September by scoring twice in the first 23 minutes at Huddersfield, either side of Ben Davies' goal. 'It's difficult to find different words every three days,' Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said of Kane, who he has lavished with praise in recent weeks — even saying he is 'in love' with him. Moussa Sissoko added a fourth goal in injury time for Tottenham, which is a point ahead of Chelsea in third place. strong>WINS FOR WEST HAM, STOKE /strong> Late goals secured wins for Stoke and West Ham, and earned a point for Watford. Peter Crouch was Stoke's match-winner with an 85th-minute goal in a 2-1 victory over Southampton. Diafra Sakho scored in the 90th minute as West Ham beat Swansea 1-0 at London Stadium. Richarlison left it even later for Watford, the Brazilian forward equalizing in the fifth minute of injury time in the 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion. Leicester held on to draw at dominant Bournemouth 0-0. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 1st, 2017

2018 PBA Draft Baller Breakdown: Rodolfo “Jjay” Alejandro

Another former King Bulldog, Jjay Alejandro has always been known as a scorer. Ever since his days with Malayan College, Jjay could light up the scoreboard, connecting from inside and out; while at the same time making a name for himself as a deadly shooter. While he joined the NU Bulldogs primarily as an outside threat, he improved his scoring in the college ranks year in and year out, averaging almost 17 points per game in his final year. Coincidentally, his final year was played under the mentorship of multi-titled coach, Jamike Jarin, who developed Jjay no longer just as a scorer, but more of a playmaker and leader. Not only was he allowed to play point guard more often, Coach Jamike highlighted his leadership, designating him Team Captain in his senior year.   STRENGTHS Season 80 (his final year) saw Jjay’s usage rate skyrocket, logging an average 33 minutes, scoring 17 points, grabbing 6.4 rebounds, and dishing out 6.7 assists per contest. He also shot close to 40 percent from the field and 27.5 percent from downtown, with almost two 3-pointers a game. Most impressive in my opinion was the emergence of his passing ability, which had been underrated throughout his career. With the ball in his hand more often, Jjay was able to create more opportunities for himself and his teammates by getting into the paint, where he showed a lot of craftiness and composure in traffic. As a result, he more than doubled his assist numbers from season 79. AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT Areas which he will need to improve on as he makes the jump to the PBA are primarily his strength and his defense. While Jjay is a deft pickpocket who can swipe at ballhandlers or play the passing lanes, he will have to hold his own on a nightly basis against stronger and taller guards. That means he’ll have to work on his on-ball defense, whether perimeter or in the post. If he wants to carve out a regular spot in the rotation, he’ll have to play point guard effectively, while polishing his jumper such that he’ll have a quicker release, as defenders are much quicker and smarter in the pros -- think Kevin Alas when he made the jump from college ball. That means tightening his handles, and improving not just his court vision, but his overall control of the game. One thing he’s definitely got going for him though is his ability to make plays in the clutch. Jjay Alejandro has never been known to shy away from big moments, and he will be more than willing to take and make big shots to decide the outcome of a game. That is one thing PBA teams are always on the lookout for.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News9 hr. 3 min. ago

Bombs away: Cherry Rondina comes off the bench, sparks Petron win in PSL Finals opener

MANILA, Philippines---Cherry Rondina is undoubtedly one of the most talented players in Philippine volleyball right now and her stature deserves the spotlight in whatever she goes to. "The Cherry Bomb" is a five-time UAAP MVP in the beach volleyball tournament and was UAAP Season 80's Best Scorer in the indoor tournament. Despite her accolades, and reputation, Rondina doesn't mind coming off the bench to help steer Petron to a record fourth title in the Philippine Superliga. Rondina came off the Blaze Spikers' bench in their 25-23, 25-11, 25-17 Game 1 win in the All-Filipino finals against F2 Logistics and it didn't matter if he had a diminished role. "I was just thinking...Keep on reading: Bombs away: Cherry Rondina comes off the bench, sparks Petron win in PSL Finals opener.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated News13 hr. 50 min. ago

PBA DRAFT: Lao hopes good Draft Combine showing lands him a PBA nod

Gauging his talents alongside his peers, Kyles Lao believes that he has already made a good account of himself in the two-day 2018 PBA Gatorade Draft Combine.   "It was nice to see the immense level of talent in this class and I think I was able to hold my own naman," the UP guard said after participating at the event held at the Gatorade Hoops Gym in Mandaluyong City.   Lao showed how he's one of the most intelligent prospects in this group, making the top five in the reaction tests as he got 83.33-percentage of hits during the biometrics phase of the Combine.   However, data could only speak so much on one's talent, and the former Xavier standout did show glimpses of what he could do when he played in the Combine’s mini-tournament.   The former UAAP Rookie of the Year didn't shy away from the spotlight in the scrimmages, helping his team finish runner-up to the JP Calvo and CJ Isit-led squad in the Finals.   Lao even uncorked 20 points in the semifinals against a team led by Robert Bolick, showing off his fearless slashing and precise sniping that hopefully, turned the heads of some of the coaches. "Si Kyles Lao, maganda ang nilalaro niya since Wednesday," remarked San Miguel coach Leo Austria.   For his part, however, Lao is just hoping for the best ahead of the PBA Rookie Draft at Robinson's Midtown in Ermita, Manila.   "Tingin ko naman naipakita ko na lahat ng kaya ko. Sana makuha," he said.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News21 hr. 29 min. ago

UAAP: Winning Maroons join rainy UP Lantern Parade

The rain did not bother the UAAP Season 81 men's basketball runners-up as the Fighting Maroons participated in the annual Lantern Parade Friday at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. Seven members of the history-making team namely UAAP Season 81 MVP Bright Akhuetie, Jun Manzo, Javi Gomez de Liano, Janjan Jaboneta, Gelo Vito, Diego Dario, and Will Gozum rode a truck that slowly went around the campus' massive academic oval. During the ride, they took selfies with fans along the road. Happening now: #UAAPSeason81 silver medalists UP MBT participating in the annual Lantern Parade. Players are riding a truck as they take selfies with fans around the academic oval. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/cIQ5wXJ3Fr — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) December 14, 2018 UP MBT's turn to be introduced in the Quezon Hall. Several fans still showed up to witness the team despite the rainy weather. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/VuaNR1MjSl — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) December 14, 2018 It was drizzling the whole afternoon but the players and fans still continued the parade. The crowd chanted 'Atin 'To!' and 'UP Fight' while the drummers kept hitting their signature beats just a few vehicles away from the basketball team's truck. The participation of the team in the yearly tradition of the community is in celebration of the men's basketball program ending a 32-year medal drought in men's basketball. "Sobrang sarap ng feeling. At least for one last time lalo na ngayong Pasko na nakita namin yung buong community, na kahit umuulan andito pa rin para sa amin, todo suporta pa rin. We are really blessed as a team and as individuals to have this opportunity and probably this is the best UP experience for me if you're gonna ask me," said graduating player Gelo Vito. "It's really a blessing, may mga naririnig pa nga ako na may dumayo pa from UP Baguio to be here," added Vito. Akhuetie was thrilled to see the warm reception from UP supporters. "It's awesome. I can't wait to make these guys proud by getting the championship. Look at the hearts these people are pouring out. There is nothing you can do for them that can be too much. Despite the weather, the rain and all, they still showed up." However, Akhuetie expressed that despite the love they have been getting from the community, a bridesmaid finish is not enough. "I just couldn't get it in my head that 'Oh okay, for them to be this happy, I've done enough' I still feel we have to do more so I like it, it's okay but I'm not carried away by it," he said. Aside from the basketball team, the men's track and feld team, which ended a 36-year title drought, also had their own truck to celebrate the achievement. Aside from the UP MBT, the track and field team also has a truck of their own in the Lantern Parade. The team ended a 36 year title drought in the #UAAPSeason81. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/Rx2S2noGH0 — Danine Cruz (@the9cruz) December 14, 2018.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2018

Down 2-3 in PBA Finals, Alaska out to prove comeback is real

Alaska was 11.4 seconds away from a 3-2 lead in the race-to-four Finals in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup. Only, Paul Lee had other plans – steal the win from the Aces and shoot Magnolia one win from the championship. Of course, Alaska only acknowledged that the close loss left a bad taste in their mouths. “It’s always a tough pill to swallow when you lose one. It was so close,” reinforcement Mike Harris, who scored the could-have-been game-winner, told reporters on Wednesday. He then continued, “This one just came down to both teams being hungry and fighting for it.” At the same time, the Aces also only acknowledged the heroics put on by Lee and the guts showed by the Hotshots. “Hats off to them. The ball bounced to them and Paul Lee ends up making the tough shot,” Harris said. He then continued, “Both teams were tough down the stretch and that’s what you want. These are the games you wanna play in. You want everybody sore and barely able to move when you come out of there.” Nonetheless, they are adamant that it ain’t over ‘til it’s over – even though they are in a must-win situation from here on out. As their American import put it, “The good thing is we got another one on Wednesday. We can clear our head.” He then continued, “We’re not looking forward to Game 7. Game 6 is do-or-die for both teams because I’m pretty sure they don’t wanna go to Game 7.” Point guard Simon Enciso could only agree. “This is really nothing new to us. We’re down 0-2 at the beginning of the series so we just really need to go back to the gym and work harder,” he said. Game 6 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals is scheduled on Wednesday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2018