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NCAA 95: Nelle wasn t making shots, but was making all the right plays for San Beda

Evan Nelle was off from the field, shooting just two of eight for San Beda University in their matchup opposite Jose Rizal University, Friday at Filoil Flying V Centre. More particularly, the second-year guard who is a known knockdown shooter, only made good on two of his seven shots from deep. And so, showing much-welcome maturity, Nelle turned his attention on helping his team another way. "Bad game for me eh. Honestly, hindi ako maka-shoot so nag-create na lang ako para sa teammates ko kasi sila, nakaka-shoot," he said. He did that, and more, even threatening to top Jiovani Jalalon's record for assists in a game at 16. "Yun naman talaga ang trabaho ko eh: to pass," he said. Just at halftime, the 21-year-old had 11 dimes to his name. "We thought na yung 11 assists niya (at halftime), magiging record-breaking na, but we missed shots nung second half," head coach Boyet Fernandez said. He would only be able to add three more from that point, but nonetheless, there is no doubt it was his 14 assists that keyed the Red Lions' back-to-back wins to begin their title defense. And for Coach Boyet, this is just the start for their playmaker. As he put it, "One day, he'll be one of the best point guards in college and hopefully in the future, the PBA." He then continued, "He's good. He has to bulk up a bit lang kasi payat." Of course, Nelle's mentor knows what he's talking about as back in his playing days, the latter was one of the best playmakers in all of the PBA. For his part, though, the promising point guard is just returning the full faith that his coaches, his teammates, and the San Beda community have in him. "It's a privilege to be a starter for San Beda. Nagpapasalamat ako kay coach na pinagkakatiwalaan niya ako," he shared. He then continued, "Tapos when my teammates are making their shots din, mas madali mag-create. So basically, I just have to do my job." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 12th, 2019

SUPER SHOWDOWN: FEU s L-Jay Gonzales vs San Beda s Evan Nelle

Razzle. Dazzle. Those are the two words the could best describe what Far Eastern University and San Beda University have in their backcourt. In L-Jay Gonzales, the Tamaraws have a speedy playmaker while in Evan Nelle, the Red Lions have a stylish playmaker. While they go about their games in their own different ways, though, what's certain is Gonzales and Nelle make all the plays - and make all the right plays at that - for their teams. Who does the better razzling and dazzling between them, though? We set out to find out just who in this week's Super Showdown where we match up the best young playmakers in Philippine collegiate basketball. To determine the result, we will judge them in five categories (making plays for teammates, making plays for himself, making plays on defense, threat in transition, leadership) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. MAKING PLAYS FOR TEAMMATES Nelle is tops in assists in the NCAA in just his first full season at the controls of San Beda's offensive with 6.7 per game. Gonzales isn't doing too bad either, with 3.8 dimes per game in his first full season in charge of FEU's attack - good for fourth in the UAAP. Both players masterfully orchestrate their teams' game plan while at the same time, also making ways for some highlight plays. In terms of those highlight plays, though, Nelle's stylish setups are more of a treat to watch than Gonzales' deliberate dishes. Just run down the Red Lion point guard's best plays and you will have to ask yourself, just how many no-look passes can anybody make? Advantage, Nelle, 10-9 MAKING PLAYS FOR HIMSELF While both are pass-first point guards, they are also no slouches in terms of scoring. In fact, Gonzales is top scorer for FEU with 10.4 points per game while Nelle is fourth in San Beda in terms of points per game with 10.2 markers. When it comes down to it, though, the Red Lions' playmaker is a threat from all over the floor, with the shooting touch from long-range as well as the finishing capability from up close. The Tamaraws' court general is actually a much better finisher, what with his nifty bag of reverses and hand-switching layups, but his outside shot has a long ways to go. Advantage, Nelle, 10-9 MAKING PLAYS ON DEFENSE Nelle's first and foremost point for improvement has always been his reed-thin frame. He has gotten bigger since his days as a Red Cub, but he also still doesn't present much of a problem for big-bodied guards who can bully him. The opposite is true for Gonzales who not only has the body strength, but also couples it with elite speed and agility to be a frustrating faceoff. Not only that, FEU actually has its point guard at the head of the defensive attack and still, he doesn't seem to run out of energy. Safe to say, nobody would ever say that having Gonzales in front of you will ever be a walk in the park. Advantage, Gonzales, 10-9 THREAT IN TRANSITION Gonzales has all the speed in the world to leave opponents, and even his teammates, in the dust. The transition game is the most dangerous game to play with FEU because it has just the point guard to take advantage of it. When it comes to taking advantage of the whole court, however, Nelle has got it on lock as not only can he set up his teammates for easy transition baskets, he can also pull up for open jumpers or take it straight to the rim. And so, just like he has the advantage in the halfcourt, San Beda's floor leader also has the advantage on his Tamaraw counterpart on the open court. Either of the two is a scary sight charging straight at you, but it's actually easier to defend Gonzales' drive than the threat of Nelle from all over the floor. Advantage, Nelle, 10-9 LEADERSHIP Both of them are at the head of the attack for their contending teams. Neither of them, however, are necessarily the vocal leaders of their contending teams. It must be the youth and it must be the inexperience, but Gonzales and Nelle still defer to other teammates when it comes to leadership. Perhaps, that will come in time, but as of right now, their sophomore seasons, this is the one department they have much room to improve on. Push, 10-10 FINAL SCORE, 49-47 for San Beda's Evan Nelle.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News6 hr. 21 min. ago

SUPER SHOWDOWN: La Salle s Justine Baltazar v Letran s Larry Muyang

Almost two decades ago, the power of Pinatubo was felt all over the Philippines. Now in 2019, two towers from Pampanga are making their presence felt in the premiere collegiate leagues of the country. De La Salle University's Justine Baltazar and Colegio de San Juan de Letran's Larry Muyang are the undisputed best local big men in the UAAP and in the NCAA, respectively. Baltazar has done a stand up job replacing Cameroonian MVP Ben Mbala while Muyang has made sure the Knights are no longer pushovers in the paint. So what happens when an irresistible force like Baltazar collides with an immovable object like Muyang? That's what we're here to find out in the second edition of the Super Showdown as we pit Philippine collegiate basketball's top Filipino centers against one another - judging them in five categories (post scoring, perimeter scoring, rebounding, defense, and playmaking) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision. POST SCORING These two learned from one of the best in the business in so-called big man whisperer Jeff Napa. Napa discovered and then developed Baltazar in Nazareth-NU and then harnessed the potential of Muyang in Letran. When it all boils down to it, though, Muyang's bulk is just perfect for the back to the basket game and he has honed his skills so much that even the likes of Cameroonians Donald Tankoua and Mike Nzeusseu have a tough time bodying him up. Baltazar is no slouch posting up, make no mistake, but his lankier frame is also not that much of a problem for bigger defenders such as Nigerian Bright Akhuetie or Senegalese Alex Diakhite. Letan's big boy has a big body in need of big sustenance - and it just so happens that he can do just that by feasting inside the paint. Advantage, Muyang, 10-9 PERIMETER SCORING Put simply, Baltazar is a threat from outside while Muyang is not - not yet, at the very least. La Salle's versatile center has the touch to take and make shots from long-range as well as mid-range. In fact, he already has five triples to his name in eight games in the season. On the other hand, Letran calls for its hulking center to make a living down low and, as such, he has not had that many chances to show off his shooting. More than that, Baltazar is the prototype for the modern big man - a tall, long-limbed, and agile giant who needs to be defended even when he's standing behind the arc. Advantage, Baltazar, 10-9 REBOUNDING Baltazar just had for himself a 25-point, 25-rebound double-double. In terms of cleaning up the glass in the UAAP, nobody is better aside from the foreign student-athletes, with his norms of 12.5 rebounds the fourth-best in all of the league. Muyang inhales his fair share of rebounds, but also lags behind in terms of cleaning up his teammates' misses. Of course, the simple explanation is that La Salle just has the more athletic big man compared of Letran's more ground-bound behemoth. Advantage, Baltazar, 10-9 DEFENSE Rim protection has always been Baltazar's elite skill - even when he was just a raw prospect as a Bullpup. Now, he has blossomed into a menace patrolling the paint and his mere presence can alter shots, if not swat them away all the way. And because he is more ground-bound, Muyang was never one to host a block party, but he more than holds his own inside thanks to his bulk. Bottom line, though, La Salle can actually boast of having the more well-rounded two-way player. Advantage, Baltazar, 10-9 PLAYMAKING Muyang is such a force down low that he attracts double and triple-teams. As such, he always has a golden opportunity to make plays for his teammates and, more often than not, makes the right plays. After all, it wasn't that long ago that Muyang, along with Jeo Ambohot, Christian Fajarito, and Bong Quinto, all clogged the paint, but still had many, many assists to share among them. This is then the department where Baltazar has the biggest room for improvement as he only has a total of eight assists in the season. Advantage, Muyang 10-9 FINAL SCORE, 48-47 for La Salle's Justine Baltazar.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 10th, 2019

Harden dazzles, then Raptors rally past Rockets in Japan

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press When James Harden's night was over, defense got easier for the Toronto Raptors. Pascal Siakam scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and the Raptors — in their first game since winning the NBA Finals — rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 134-129 in Tokyo on Tuesday to open the NBA Japan Games. The exhibition game at the Saitama Super Arena, a site for basketball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was the NBA's first in Japan since 2003. The Rockets and Raptors return there to conclude the two-game series on Thursday. Raptors coach Nick Nurse said he liked the arena and felt energy from the Japanese fans. "We get 'Let's go Raptors' in a lot of cities," Nurse said. "It's nice to see it in Tokyo as well. Lot of Raptors fans around the world. It's great." There were plenty of Rockets fans as well, for good reason. Harden put on yet another dazzling offensive show, making his first six shots and finishing 11 for 14 from the field and scoring 34 points in 27 minutes. His final points were a pair of free throws with 3:40 left in the third quarter that put Houston up 104-87. He checked out shortly afterward, and Toronto outscored Houston 47-25 the rest of the way. "It was amazing," Harden said. "They got an opportunity to see what NBA basketball is about, what Rockets basketball is about. They brought the energy tonight. They were excited from the beginning of the game. They made us want to go out there and put on a show, so hopefully it can be that same kind of atmosphere on Thursday." Russell Westbrook played for Houston for the first time, scoring 13 points in 21 minutes in his preseason debut. "It wasn't bad," said Westbrook, the longtime Oklahoma City star and former MVP now in his first season with Houston. "Unfortunately, we didn't win. That's the main goal. But it was good to get on the floor for the first time, get up and down, try to find a rhythm. We've got a lot of work to do." Serge Ibaka scored 18 points and Fred VanVleet scored 16 for the Raptors, who played without Marc Gasol and Kyle Lowry. There are six games later Tuesday (Wednesday morning, PHL time): Philadelphia plays host to Guangzhou of the Chinese Basketball Association, San Antonio visits Miami, Memphis hosts New Zealand, Dallas goes to Oklahoma City, Minnesota is at Phoenix and Denver plays in Portland......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 8th, 2019

San Beda-Letran rivalry game banners big, big week in NCAA 95

These are the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament games from October 1 to 4 all of us just CAN NOT miss! TUESDAY, 10:00 a.m., Squires vs Red Cubs Rivalry game in the Jrs.! San Beda is, as of right now, the one and only team to be already assured of making it into the next round. Hoping to do the same is Letran, but to give itself a good shot at doing so, it needs to win all of its remaining assignments – and the next one just so happens to be opposite its archrival. The Squires and the Red Cubs do battle and y'all can watch VIA LIVESTREAM. TUESDAY, 2:00 p.m., Letran vs San Beda Rivalry game in the Srs.! San Beda remains undefeated, unbeaten, and unchallenged in its quest for a four-peat. Letran is coming off a sorry loss to neighboring and fellow contender LPU, but it also remains one of the biggest, if not the biggest, threats to dethrone its archrival. The Knights and the Red Lions do battle and y'all can watch on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant as well as livestream. TUESDAY, 4:00 p.m., LPU vs Mapua LPU gained much-needed separation for the second-seed when it downed Letran a week ago. Now, the Pirates are out to build on that momentum by clipping the wings of a Mapua side which has been flying high, all the way inside the playoff picture actually, as of late. The Pirates and the Cardinals do battle and y'all can watch on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant as well as livestream. TUESDAY, 6:00 p.m., Jr. Pirates vs Red Robins Defending champion Mapua is on the brink of being dethroned and one more loss may very well put an end to its title reign. That golden opportunity rests on the shoulders of upstart LPU which has been struggling in recent weeks, but still believes that a taking the crown off of the head of the Red Robins is just what it needs to get going once more. The Jr. Pirates and the Red Robins do battle and y'all can watch VIA LIVESTREAM. FRIDAY, 10:00 a.m., Red Cubs vs Red Robins Whether or not Mapua is still the defending champion when this matchup rolls along is yet to be determined, but whatever it is, a clash between the two teams that has dominated the NCAA Jrs. in the last decade is always a must-watch. The Red Cubs and the Red Robins do battle and y'all can watch VIA LIVESTREAM. FRIDAY, 2:00 p.m., San Beda vs Mapua San Beda is yet to find its match in its title defense, but who knows, probably that challenge may very well come from a Mapua side flying high with multi-titled mentor Randy Alcantara calling the shots. At the same time, though, this may very well end up as one more chance for the Red Lions to send a statement. The Red Lions and the Cardinals do battle and y'all can watch on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant as well as livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2019

Arellano s rebuild has a pillar in Player of the Week Justin Arana

In just his first year in Arellano and in just his first round in the NCAA, Justin Arana is already making the most out of his second shot in his collegiate career. A seldom used bench player in his three-year stint in UST, Arana has transformed into a pillar for the Chiefs and their rebuild. The 6-foot-5 big man left his biggest mark yet in the past week, coming up big in the clutch to lead Arellano in its game-defining run, hitting shot after shot as they downed two-time finalist Lyceum. Arana wound up with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks in the Chiefs' 87-81 sinking of the Pirates, a win that put an end to their three-game skid and, at the same time, positioned him as the Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps NCAA Player of the Week. Without question, the first-year forward has been repaying his new team's trust with stellar play. "We talk from time to time and I remind him na magaling talaga siya," said Arellano mentor Cholo Martin. "He was consistent the whole week and today, nag-deliver ulit siya." Making his effort even more impressive, Arana actually outworked opposing Cameroonian bruiser Mike Nzeusseu in crunch time, holding him scoreless in the fourth quarter. Moving forward, Arellano's rising tower only promises to keep growing as a leader for the Season 95 hosts. "Sobrang laking bagay sa akin ngayon 'to kasi before sa UST, quality minutes lang ako. Binigyan ako ng kumpyansa ng Arellano and ng coach namin," shared Arana, who bested San Beda's Calvin Oftana and Evan Nelle as well as San Sebastian's Allyn Bulanadi for the weekly plum handed out by scribes from print and online covering the beat. "Kaya ko ni-grab ko lang talaga ang opportunity na 'to para ibalik sa kanila yung pasasalamat ko na tinanggap nila ako.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2019

NCAA 95: San Beda s Bandana Bros got a Bolick-Mocon-sized chip on their shoulder

San Beda University has remained unscathed in its title defense in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament. Through five games, the Red Lions have set themselves as the standard as they already count victories versus title hopefuls Colegio de San Juan de Letran and San Sebastian College-Recoletos. Even more impressive, the three-peat champions have done it with second-year stars showing the way. Thus far in their sophomore seasons, James Canlas and Evan Nelle have been as good as advertised. Canlas has looked the part of a go-to-guy with averages of 14.6 points, including 32 percent from deep, on top of 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists while Nelle seems to be the school's next in a long line of great point guards, averaging 12.2 markers, including also 32 percent from deep, to go along with 6.6 dimes, 5.8 boards, and 1.2 steals. Of course, they have had huge help from the likes of Cameroonian powerhouse Donald Tankoua and Calvin Oftana. Still, the fact remains that the "Bandana Bros." have only proven worthy to be wearing the red and white crowns of leaderships that, for them, just so happen to be, well, bandanas. Even better, rather than be dragged down by the weight of taking over for Robert Bolick and Javee Mocon, both now making waves in PBA, the challenge of being the storied squad's new leaders have actually done nothing but lift up the two. "We want to prove something to everyone that we're still a winning team without Bolick and Mocon," Canlas said. "We're still sophomores, but we just want to improve every game and show what we can do every game." And this is, apparently, just the start for San Beda's "Bandana Bros." as the rest of the league better watch out because both of them also want to prove they can also do what the other does. "Coach puts me at two and Evan at one and we switch," Canlas said. "I can also play the point guard aside from the scoring role and he can do more than just playmaking and passing." That means, Evan setting up a James score in one possession and then Nelle finishing what Canlas started the next? Without a doubt, the Red Lions are in good hands. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2019

Bad game for me : San Beda s Nelle downplays passing exhibition in rout of JRU

"Bad game for me eh, halos hindi ako maka-shoot... so what I thought nalang [my teammmates] were making their shots so pass it to them nalang," Nelle said after the game......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 13th, 2019

Zion Williamson brings rare potential to New Orleans

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Eventually, as with every NBA Draft, there will be a “re-draft” of the Class of 2019. That’s the irresistible exercise in hindsight from media outlets that rank a particular year’s prospects not on their projected value but on actual demonstrated value five, 10 or more seasons into their professional careers. Some players will rise. Others will fall. “Bust” and “sleeper” tags will be dispersed accordingly. This team or GM will be lauded for an especially savvy selection, that one will be razzed for the quality player or players on whom it whiffed. But the through line of the dreams-come-true event Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Barclays Center, the lone selection that will not or at least should not change, is Zion Williamson. Williamson is the sure thing, the “can’t miss,” consensus No. 1 pick bound for the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s a 6'7", 285-pound freshman from Duke whose comps aren’t merely established players currently in the NBA but some of the game’s legends. So think Blake Griffin, sure. But also think LeBron James. And Charles Barkley. And, for that matter, every other wide-body who’s ever played with muscles on muscles, above-the-rim explosiveness, balletic body control and an instantly recognizable game that’s as charismatic as it is freakish. Yeah, awfully small subset. “I’m looking forward to playing against everybody,” Williamson said soon after his selection. “I want to be the best. I feel I have to earn everybody’s respect.” It’s not just a matter of Williamson’s game tickling NBA fans’ fancy, either. He managed, in almost his first official pro moment, to capture a lot of their hearts too. No sooner had Williamson – the first No. 1 pick to be born in this millennium (July 6, 2000) – strode to the stage in his cream-white suit, tugged on a Pelicans draft cap and embraced NBA commissioner Adam Silver, he dropped his guard to let the world share his emotions in the moment. His status as college basketball’s best and his draft position had been established months ago. There was no new mystery as to when his name would be called by Silver at the podium. And yet, when the first ESPN microphone was poked in front of him, with his mother Sharonda Sampson at his side, the big guy lost it. He choked up and blinked back tears, not quite winning that battle. “My mom sacrificed a lot for me,” Williamson said. “I wouldn’t be here without my mom. She did everything for me. I just want to thank her.” Several interviews and maybe 20 minutes later, Williamson explained how the horribly kept secret of his No. 1 selection could trigger his response. “Because I love the game of basketball,” he said. “You can hear people say things like, ‘Oh, it was likely I was going to go No. 1.’ But I guess you don’t know until you actually go through it.” What mattered most to Williamson about his mother’s role in his life? “Tough love,” he said. “She was always be the first one to keep it real with me. … She put aside her dreams just so me and my brothers could have a chance at ours.” The love already heading Williamson’s way in New Orleans was less tough and more unconditional at this stage, for the teenager represents a re-birth for a Pelicans franchise rocked by the loss of All-Star forward Anthony Davis. Davis, coincidentally, was the No. 1 pick in 2012 and generally considered the top prospect to hit the Draft before Williamson. But after six-and-a-half seasons and only two trips to the playoffs, Davis asked in December to be traded, despite having more than two-plus seasons left on his contract. David Griffin, the Pelicans' new vice president of basketball operations, had hoped that Williamson’s arrival might convince Davis to stay. When that didn’t happen, Griffin swiftly shifted to Plan B, arranging to trade the discontented big man to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal that won’t be official until July. Now New Orleans, which has won just two playoff series in its 17 seasons and failed to qualify 10 times, has a new cornerstone. Williamson figures to be under team control contractually for as long or longer than Davis stuck around, with teammates relocated from L.A. such as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart to run with him and Pelicans holdovers. “What excites me the most is the fact that they’re young and they’re close to my age,” said Duke’s third No. 1 overall pick (Elton Brand in 1999, Kyrie Irving in 2011). “So they can help me a lot more, like how to deal with this transition. I think we can build something over there.” The essential block is Williamson, who swept college basketball’s major awards with a game that strains credulity. At 285 pounds, his listed weight is greater than almost every big man in the NBA, but he has quick-twitch speed and thrives in the open court. He can stare down into the rim before slamming home dunks with unnerving ferocity, and he is a deft and willing passer. Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 30 minutes for the Blue Devils, while making 68 percent of his shots. He and fellow Top 10 picks R.J. Barrett (New York, No. 3) and Cam Reddish (Atlanta, No. 10) helped Duke reach the Elite Eight, with Williamson earning ACC Tournament MVP along the way. He’s not a perfect player – his jump shot and range need work – but he already is working to complement his transition and low-post repertoire. Defensively, Williamson has the motor and mobility to switch assignments and quick hands to dislodge the ball without fouling. As a rebounder, his verticality is matched by, well, his horizontality in controlling the air space above and around him. “His size, his athleticism, his power is visible,” former St. John’s coach and Naismith Hall of Famer Chris Mullin said. “But to me his speed is really incredible from end to end. “I would morph Charles Barkley and Shawn Kemp and put them together [as a comparison]. When he gets to the NBA and he plays with that extra space they have in the wide key, he’s going to be a monster.” Williamson arrives with hype – no, make that expectations, because of all he’s shown already on courts around America – that rival what James shouldered when he arrived from high school in 2003. His plan for lugging that responsibility: “Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m willing to do it, because I feel people remember winners.” The selections immediately after Williamson were nearly as predictable, based on intelligence and mock drafts that solidified in the days before the Draft. Murry State guard Ja Morant was chosen by Memphis at No. 2, and Barrett’s ensuing selection by the Knicks delighted their always boisterous fans in the stands at Barclay. The order of the next four choices was jumbled from some predictions. Yet by the time the smoke cleared, sure enough, the seven players projected to come off the board soonest had slotted into the night’s top seven spots. That included Virginia forward De’andre Hunter to Atlanta at No. 4 (via the Lakers, in the aforementioned Davis trade that has yet to be completed), Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland to Cleveland at No. 5, Texas Tech wing Jarrett Culver to Minnesota at No. 6 and North Carolina guard Coby White to Chicago at No. 7. Just because there wasn’t a lot of suspense at Barclays didn’t mean there was no intrigue. Much of that came from unusually heavy trade action – all technically unofficial – that had teams moving up, down and all around to snag picks, dump picks or clean up their salary-cap positions in anticipation of free agency that starts June 30. The timing of the Draft, relative to when the NBA’s new business year begins, had players donning caps of teams they’ll never play for, while speaking guardedly about those for whom they really were picked. A reported nine trades impacted draft decisions made in the first round alone. There even was a moment when Morant, in his post-Draft media session, gave a shout-out to veteran Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, whose spot he’ll presumably be taking once Conley’s trade to Utah officially goes through. But there’s no such uncertainty about Williamson, the through line of this year’s class, the true line in his heartfelt reactions Thursday (Friday, PHL time) and broad-shouldered hope of a Big Easy franchise in need. Williamson showed his grasp of the NBA’s and sports’ need for fresh icons, in effect accepting his status as a legend in waiting. “You know, times change,” he said. “That’s why there are so many debates about who people think the greatest players of all time are. If you were in the time of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, you’d probably say one of those two. If you were in the time of Jordan, you’d say Jordan. In our generation, a lot of them say LeBron. “So times changes and I think younger fans like younger players.” You don’t have to be young, though, to have your eye on Zion. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2019

Lloyd, a World Cup starter again, scores 2 as US beats Chile

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Carli Lloyd wasn't thrilled to open the Women's World Cup on the bench for the United States. She accepted the role, but made no secret she wanted to start. When the call came Sunday, Lloyd made it count with a pair of goals to lead the defending champions to a 3-0 victory over Chile. The win pushed the United States into the round of 16. Lloyd was the hero of the World Cup in Canada four years ago when she scored three goals in the final against Japan that gave the Americans their third World Cup title. But she was on the bench when the U.S. opened the tournament, even though she scored later as a substitute in the 13-0 victory over Thailand. "I know that my ability is there, I know this is my best version of me. I've just got to go out there and prove it," she said. "Whether that's coming off the bench and making an impact, whether that's starting and getting the opportunity, which I'm grateful for, I'm just trying to make the most of it. I want to win." Lloyd became the first player to score in six straight World Cup matches with her goal in the 11th minute. She added another on a header off a corner in the 35th for her 10th career World Cup goal, which moved her into third on the U.S. list behind Abby Wambach (14) and Michelle Akers (12). At 36, she became the oldest player to have a multi-goal game in the tournament. She nearly got another hat trick — which would have made her the first player with two in the World Cup — but her penalty kick in the 81st minute went wide left. "It's haunting me right now," Lloyd said. "Wasn't good enough." The score could have been worse for Chile without unshakable goalkeeper Christiane Endler, who finished with six saves and fended off a flurry of U.S. shots in the second half. Endler was named player of the match. "I love the balls coming towards me and being able to showcase my skills," she said through a translator. "Obviously it's difficult to maintain concentration. I think in the first half it was difficult for me to get into the game. I think the second half went better for me and in general for the team." The victory over Chile was more subdued than the U.S. team's record-breaking rout of Thailand. The Americans celebrated every goal even after the win was well in hand, and the display offended many who thought the champions should have shown more class. The controversy clouded the run-up to the match against Chile. Several of the American players reached out to their Thai counterparts following the match. Lloyd exchanged encouraging words and tweets with goalkeeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying, and FIFA posted an interview with Thailand's coach thanking the U.S. players for being professional and playing well. After such a rout, Jill Ellis made sweeping changes to the starting lineup against Chile, including a new front line with Lloyd, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh. Alex Morgan was moved to the bench along with Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath. Becky Sauerbrunn, who sat out the match against Thailand because of a minor quad injury, returned and anchored a backline that included 20-year-old Tierna Davidson, who was making her World Cup debut. Davidson is the youngest player to start for the United States in a World Cup since Tiffany Roberts against Norway in 1995. Chile made just one lineup change, starting midfielder Claudia Soto in place of Yanara Aedo. Chile lost its opener to Sweden 2-0, but Endler was solid in that game, too, keeping the Swedes out of the goal until 83rd minute. The second goal got past the 6-footer in stoppage time. Julie Ertz scored in the 26th minute with a header off a corner kick from Davidson that Endler got her hands on but couldn't stop. It was Ertz's first World Cup goal and came with her husband Zach Ertz, a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, looking on. Endler denied Lloyd another chance at the hat trick when she tipped the U.S. captain's shot over the net in the 72nd minute. Sweden also advanced out of Group F with a victory 5-1 victory over Thailand earlier Sunday in Nice. Japan, playing in Group D with England, also went through to the knockout stage because both the United States and Sweden won. Former Vice President Joe Biden was among the U.S. team's well-wishers before the sold-out game at Parc des Princes stadium. Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, referenced the team's lawsuit against U.S. Soccer alleging gender discrimination and seeking equitable pay. "As we cheer them on in the World Cup, we must support their fight off the field for equal pay. In 2019, it's past time we close the pay gap and ensure women get paid as much as men," Biden tweeted. U.S. soccer maintains the two teams have different pay structures because of separate collective bargaining agreements. But for now, the players are concentrating on France and bringing home a fourth World Cup championship. The United States plays Sweden on Thursday to wrap up the group stage. It is the first meeting between the two teams since Sweden ousted the Americans from the quarterfinals at the 2016 Olympics. Chile wraps up the group with a match against Thailand on Thursday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Film Study: Raptors ignore the non-shooters in Game 4

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com TORONTO -- In Game 4 of The Finals on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), the Toronto Raptors went back to the box-and-one defense - four guys in a zone and Fred VanVleet chasing Stephen Curry - that helped them come almost all the way back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter of Game 2. This time, the Raptors went to the box and one for just three possessions late in the third quarter. The Golden State Warriors scored just one point on those three possessions, but then Klay Thompson checked back into the game and the Raptors returned to their standard defense. Their standard defense is, technically, a man-to-man. But often, there's at least one Toronto defender playing zone and ignoring his assignment. And in Game 4, the Warriors being ignored weren't able to do anything about it. This was the ninth straight game that the Warriors played without Kevin Durant. And it was the one where his presence, at least on the offensive end of the floor, was missed the most. Over the previous eight games, the Warriors had scored 113.3 points per 100 possessions. They were better in their 11 playoff games with Durant (117.0 per 100), but 113.3 was still sufficiently efficient. Game 4 was the Warriors' worst offensive game of the postseason, though. They scored just 92 points on 95 possessions, a rate more than 10 points per 100 possessions worse than any of their previous 19 games. Even with both Curry and Thompson on the floor, the Warriors were held to just a point per possession (77 on 77). It's hard to think that a team with Curry and Thompson doesn't have enough shooting. And the pair combined to score 55 points in Game 4. But most of those 55 points did not come easy. And getting enough offensive production from elsewhere on the roster was even more difficult. Zoning up On the Warriors' very first possession of Game 4, Pascal Siakam left Andre Iguodala alone once he cleared out to the weak side. Siakam hung near the basket for a full 12 seconds before DeMarcus Cousins committed the first of the Warriors' 19 turnovers. For contrast, note how Siakam followed Klay Thompson on a similar action just three possessions later, when Danny Green left Draymond Green to help force another turnovers out of Cousins... In regard to Golden State perimeter players not with the ball, the Raptors chased Curry and Thompson, while ignoring Green, Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston. And it's hard to argue with the results, as the latter three shot a combined 1-for-8 from outside the paint. Brick city Livingston, of course, has attempted just five three-pointers (not including shots from the backcourt) over the last three years. Iguodala attempted six three's in Game 3, but is just 4-for-24 (17 percent) from beyond the arc since the start of the conference finals. And the 10-for-49 (20 percent) that Green has shot from three-point range in the playoffs is the worst mark among 71 players with at least 25 attempts. Green was given two wide-open looks from outside in the first half on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). The first came off an Iguodala drive when Siakam was ignoring him on the right wing. Danny Green could have rotated off of Curry to contest, but chose (wisely) to stay with his man. The second jumper for Green came when Siakam helped on a Curry drive, and it doesn't get much worse than a wide-open corner three off the side of the backboard... After that shot off the side of the backboard, Green didn't attempt another shot from outside the paint. Not only was he not making shots, he wasn't even threatening to take them. Midway through the third quarter, a quick-hitting Iguodala screen for Thompson drew two defenders to the shooter. Iguodala was open on his roll to the basket, but the Toronto defense collapsed, and the ball found its way back to Green at the top of the arc. Instead of shooting an open three himself, Green got the ball back to Iguodala, who had relocated to the left corner, doing his best Curry imitation. Alas, Iguodala's shot (with 12 seconds still on the shot clock) barely touched the rim... Notice that, after Thompson gave the ball up, Kawhi Leonard never left Thompson and VanVleet never left Curry. The screen option The Warriors have ways to take advantage of a defense that doesn't want to guard their non-shooters. On the possession following the Iguodala miss above, Siakam was sagging way off of Green, who was on the right wing... Green set two screens on Kyle Lowry, the second freeing Thompson for a catch-and-shoot three before Siakam could recover and contest... But there wasn't enough of that. And even if there was more, it puts a lot of stress on Thompson and Curry to keep moving until they get open, and when they do get open, make 25-foot shots at a high rate. There also weren't a lot of Curry/Green pick-and-rolls. According to Second Spectrum tracking, Curry used a Green screen only nine times in Game 4. The first resulted in a Curry hitting a step-back jumper over Leonard, but those nine plays resulted in only eight points for the Warriors. You could certainly argue that Curry's tank wasn't full after scoring 47 points in Game 3 (with 3 and 4 being the only games with just one day of rest in between). But according to Second Spectrum, Curry's average speed on offense in Game 4 (5.02 miles per hour) was faster than he averaged through his first 19 playoff games (4.79). The missing piece The Warriors can obviously be better offensively than they were on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). But Game 4 was a pretty desperate situation (33 of 34 teams to take a 3-1 lead in The Finals have gone on to win the championship), and they just couldn't summon up the offense they needed to keep up with the Raptors. The difference between having three shooting threats on the floor and having just two is huge, especially against a defensive team as good as the one the Warriors are facing in this series. Toronto has earned this 3-1 lead and there should be no implied asterisk should the Raptors win one of the next three games. But there's no denying that a big part of their success has been their ability to have smart and athletic defenders like Siakam and Leonard play off their primary assignments and help their guards defend the Warriors' remaining threats. Durant's status for Game 5 in Toronto on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time)) is unknown as of Sunday. If he remains out, the Raptors' defensive priorities remain clear. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2019

Warriors injuries create opening with Finals in balance

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — From now until further notice, each game of the 2019 NBA Finals will be largely influenced not by a go-ahead basket or a big stop or a rally-induced comeback, but a hot-off-the-press medical update prior to tipoff. Is Klay Thompson's tweaky hamstring a go? Will this be the day Kevin Durant finally shakes that lingering calf strain and suits up? The hints and subtle signs seem to point toward the positive for Golden State. Thompson was a late scratch Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) because the Warriors -- with a mixture of confidence and arrogance and concern -- felt the guard missing Game 3 was perhaps best for his recovery without proving deadly in the long run. And as for Durant, he’s still “ramping up” his workouts, in the description of coach Steve Kerr, and so his status has been upgraded to "stay tuned." It has become must-watch after a 123-109 loss. Yet if the answer is negative to all of the above, the next entry on the medical report might be the grim health of the dynasty built by these two-time defending champions. Their still-under-construction monument now teeters, prone to a nudge from Toronto. The Warriors find themselves down 2-1 to the Raptors, lacking any guarantee they’ll see two of their three leading scorers back in the lineup Friday (Saturday, PHL time) for Game 4 ... or for however long this series lasts. Thompson joined Durant on the sideline, and the Raptors (as could be anticipated) pounced on the gift to seize control of the series. It was a game the Raptors had to win, and they did. The production came from multiple players, with Kyle Lowry finally making an imprint on this series and Danny Green rediscovering his long-lost three-point touch. Meanwhile, the Warriors consisted of Steph Curry and not much else. The two-time Kia MVP dazzled and fought through traps and triple-teams all night to drop a career-high 47 points, some of it on shot-making wizardry. But the short-handed Warriors were doomed when Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins in particular were underwhelming on a night they needed to be stellar for Golden State to have a chance. As a result, the atmosphere inside Oracle Arena was flatter than most of the shots taken by Curry's teammates, and this was partly due to the introduction of the starting lineups, when Thompson’s name wasn’t announced. The fans knew then, officially, that their eyes and the home team were in for a long night. While the Warriors fought, scrappy doesn’t win games at this point in the postseason, not when the other team is good and opportunistic. Playing in a hostile building for the first time in the Finals, the Raptors made a collective decision to greet fire with fire. Or, as they wrote on the blackboard inside the visitor’s locker room: Let It Rip. “I think we all kind of followed that advice,” said Danny Green. “We hadn’t really had a good team shooting night and I knew we were due.” For Toronto, it wasn’t just that they won, but that they did so with their most impressive outing in the series. And now, the question for the Raptors is this: Will their inconsistent players use this outing to turn the corner and push the Warriors, even if Thompson and/or Durant return? This is aimed, first and foremost, at Lowry. He took the “let it rip” plea personally. Entering this game, he had six baskets total in this series and at times suffered defensively. Challenged by a pregame talk from coach Nick Nurse, Lowry embraced his inner pit bull and was relentless all night. The All-Star point guard took 16 shots, making eight, for 23 points and nine assists while making his presence felt for the first time this Finals. “For me, it was just not being so passive and trying to get everyone else involved and get myself going and let everyone else feed off that,” Lowry said. He and Green re-introduced the three-pointer to the Raptors’ offense. The two shot 11-for-19 and repeatedly stole whatever momentum Golden State could generate by responding with long-distance daggers that forced fans to slump back into their seats. This from the same player who had five total three's in his previous five playoff games, ruining more than a handful of runs with momentum-deflating misses. There’s no other way to describe the last three weeks of Green’s postseason shooting but dreadful. He has only one job: Stand in the corner and shoot open 3s. He’s made a career of that. So what do the Raptors make of Green shooting 6-of-10 from deep Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)? In the short term, it helped win Game 3. In the big picture, will this confidence carry over from one night to another, or does it depend on whether Green hits his first few? Nurse said: “Danny’s buckets boosted our whole team’s confidence because we were used to relying on those most of the year.” With better production from players who had been mostly missing, the Raptors had the balance needed to deliver their highest-scoring and most efficient (52 percent shooting) contest of the series. Green and Lowry joined Kawhi Leonard (30 points) and Pascal Siakam (18) and Marc Gasol (17) to take turns pummeling the Warriors from all different directions and manners. One reason for this was Thompson’s absence. Not only is he a proven outside shooter, but his defense is top-notch as well. You could even argue that Thompson’s missing defense was just as costly as his jumper. Yet the 109 points Golden State did manage were mainly because of Curry providing nearly half the offense. Given the circumstances of being without Thompson and Durant, and the constant pressing by Toronto whenever he had the ball, this was Curry’s finest post-season effort. His shooting was superb all across the floor, making three's (six) and free throws (13-14) and in general (14-31). “It’s the Finals,” Curry said. “You give everything you’ve got, sacrifice your body when you have the opportunity. Just competitiveness and trying to play until the buzzer.” “He does things that honestly I don’t think anyone has done before," Kerr added. "The way he plays the game, the way he shoots and the combination of his ball-handling, it’s incredible to watch.” If only he had someone riding shotgun. Cousins was sloppy on both ends, with three turnovers and one basket, and a step slow on defense against Gasol. This came one game after he seemingly regained his legs and confidence to gave Golden State a much-needed lift. Green’s continued recklessness was mystifying; he often made questionable decisions as a playmaker, suffered four turnovers and once again struggled to contain Siakam. The Warriors needed Green’s best, given their missing parts, and received something less. “We’ve got to be more solid with the ball and it starts with me,” he said. “I’ve had a bunch of turnovers in every game of this series. I think if I played better with the night (Curry) had, we would have won.” And so the Warriors, while talking bravely about their next-man-up mentality and embracing their “Strength in Numbers” slogan, must realize, deep down, that preventing the Raptors from winning two more games with a handicapped team might be difficult, if not impossible. Keep in mind that Golden State hasn’t sparkled for four quarters since the first game of the Western Conference finals. The last three games of that series, and the first three of the NBA Finals, the Warriors trailed by double digits. Thompson has an off day and Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) pregame period for therapy on his hamstring, although such strains are unpredictable and tricky. Will he be able to cut and fight through screens and be bouncy for 35-plus minutes through the intensity of an NBA Finals game, or will the injury restrict him and cause Kerr to seek a healthier, yet less productive replacement? “The whole point was to not risk a bigger injury that would keep him out the rest of the series,” said Kerr, explaining a decision made in consultation with the team doctors. “I feel very comfortable with it. I never would have forgiven myself if I played him and he had gotten hurt. So you live with the decision you made. The good thing is Klay has done well the last two days; hopefully he’ll be out there Friday.” Then there’s Durant, who last played May 8 (May 9, PHL time). After doing nothing but individual drills the last few days, he’ll go through a more normal practice session that will be simulated with the help of some assistant coaches and bench players. They'll see how Durant holds up. But that won’t match the stress level of a real game. And even if Durant gets clearance for Game 4, he hasn’t played in roughly a month. What about his timing? His wind? His touch? His ability to bring the same energy on defense? All legit questions and concerns for the Warriors -- until they’re not, whenever that is. “No one cares if guys are hurt,” Green said. “Everyone wants to see us lose anyway. So I’m sure people are happy they’re hurt.” Chances are that basketball fans, even if they’re against the Warriors, want to see stars on the floor this time of year. That’s what the NBA Finals is always about: Premium players doing premium things, or failing to do so, and letting the championship odds rise or fall on their performances. This year’s Finals have been denied one star for every game, and an additional star for one game. The battle with star attrition finally cost the Warriors a postseason loss, and at the worst possible time. The flow of the remainder of the NBA Finals, then, could rest with aching tendons and muscles and the recovery powers of those who own them. “We’re missing 50 points with KD and Klay, but we’ll adjust,” said a confident Curry. “It’s a long series, you know. It’s going to be fun for us.” The next Warriors medical update will arrive Thursday afternoon (Friday, PHL time). And another one Friday (Saturday, PHL time) just prior to tipoff. All along, the Warriors have led everyone to believe that it’s only a matter of time before they’re fully healthy. But will it be in time? And even then, will it be enough against a Toronto team suddenly thinking big? Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

Curry, Warriors lose game of numbers versus Raptors

Stephen Curry had one of those nights that Warriors fans all secretly hope to see. Golden State normally loves to share the ball, spread the wealth, make sure the opponents are bewildered by the buffet of offensive options on the defending champions' side. In Game 3 of the 2019 NBA Finals though, they didn't have a lot of choices to get points from. In fact, they only had one player who could put the ball into the bucket reliably: the former two-time MVP. It was, as many hoped it would be, spectacular to watch. Curry notched a postseason-best 47 points on 14-of-31 shooting, converting 6-of-14 three-pointers and 13-of-14 free throws. He drove hard into the lane. He broke down defenders with his dribbles. He flung insane shots from far away. The only unanimous pick for Most Valuable Player logged 43 minutes, and made sure the Raptors did not have a comfortable game. "Steph was incredible," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after the game. "The stuff he does, he does things that honestly I don't think anybody has ever done before. The way he plays the game, the way he shoots it and the combination of his ball handling and shooting skills, it's incredible to watch. He was amazing." It just wasn't enough. On a night when Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both failed to hit the court, only Curry stepped up to the plate. Draymond Green belatedly canned a few triples, but had as many assists (four) as turnovers. DeMarcus Cousins looked like the complete opposite of his Game 2 self, making just 1-of-7 shots and failing to provide any semblance of playmaking. Quinn Cook had nine points, but didn't hit any three's. But there was Curry, perpetually keeping the Warriors within spitting distance of the Toronto Raptors. Only it wasn't enough. Curry's brilliance was met and exceeded by not one, not two, but all three members of Canada's backcourt: Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, and Fred VanVleet. Where Curry had 47 points and six three's, the trio combined for 52 points and 14 triples. Whenever the Warriors seemingly had a comeback lined up, one of them would hit a big three-pointer, or come up with a huge defensive play, or find a Raptors big man for the assist. "I think Danny's [Green's] buckets boosted our whole team's confidence," said Raptors coach Nick Nurse. Green had been a putrid 6-of-32 from downtown in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, but has been heating up, going 7-of-16 over Games 1 and 2. "I think that when he banked a couple there and then he kind of kept it going, I think it was just a huge confidence boost all around." It was a game the Raptors knew they had to win. The Warriors had stolen Game 2 and home court advantage in Toronto, despite Thompson and Kevon Looney exiting mid-way through that one. And with Durant's presence looming over the series like the Falcon ready to tell Curry's Captain America "on your left," the challengers to the NBA throne knew they could ill afford a 2-1 series deficit. "For me it was just coming off being aggressive and not being so passive and trying to get everybody else involved," said Kyle Lowry. The team had been told to "let it rip" by Nurse and the rest of their coaching staff, and answered in kind. They were 17-of-38 on three's in this one (44.7%) compared to 11-of-38 (28.9%) in Game 2. Stretching it back further, the Raptors were 13-of-33 (39.4%) in Game 1, which they had won. The Warriors have scored 109 points in all three games so far; to come out on top, it seems, the Raptors simply have to better that number. "We just kept scoring," Fred VanVleet added. "We knew that they were going to make a run. [We] just tried to keep continuing to put pressure on them and just work the game." "Every time we made a run or got the crowd into it, they either made a tough three or there was tough foul called," Curry pointed out. "They slowed the tempo down, or something went their way. "So it's just how it goes sometimes. You have to tip your cap to all the guys that made pivotal plays in the right times." It would have been one thing if it were just that trio of Raptor guards, but it wasn't. Kawhi Leonard, appropriately enough, had the quietest 30-7-6 outing you'll probably ever see. Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol added 18 and 17, respectively, while Serge Ibaka provided a late jolt with six points and six blocks. And again, the only real Warrior of note was Curry. The question of these Finals for the Warriors has always been whether or not they'd be able to ride out the Kevin Durant injury. On one hand, they could be down 1-3, have Durant come back and go on to win the whole thing. On the other, that's hardly realistic, and the Raptors aren't going to just fold if the Slim Reaper shows up opposite them. "We didn't play well enough and we ran into a team that played an excellent game," admitted Kerr. "So, a long series. We got to bounce back and move on from here." "I mean, we fought, but we lost," added Curry. "So we got to go back to the drawing board and jus recalibrate for Game 4. It's kind of been like a roller coaster type of series these first games, and I like the things that we saw tonight that we can make adjustments on and protect home court on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). "It's the Finals man, an oppotunity for us to get back in the series on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) and take it from there." The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

Moore s 65 leads by 1 at Memorial as Woods rallies for 70

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Tiger Woods got off to a slower start than he would have liked Thursday at the Memorial. That had more do with a stopwatch than a scorecard. Ryan Moore opened with five birdies in seven holes and never missed a fairway after the first one, posting a 7-under 65 for his best start in his 14th appearance at Muirfield Village. He was one shot ahead of Jordan Spieth, who chipped in for birdie, chipped in for par and holed a 35-foot eagle putt. Woods made a pair of late birdies to salvage a 70 in his first round since missing the cut at the PGA Championship. He played his back nine in a foursome with Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose and a rules official in a cart timing them because they were so far out of position. "We were on the clock most of the back nine," Woods said. "That made things a little more complicated." Getting caught up wasn't easy with various tee shots in water hazards, though it was obvious how far behind they were. Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas were in the group ahead of them, and McIlroy hit his tee shot on the par-4 second into a backyard. With no official nearby, he had to walk 300 yards back to the tee to hit again. That took time. Still, walking off the fourth green, the group of Woods, DeChambeau and Rose still had not reached the third tee. DeChambeau, who considers such variables as air density and elevation change in his pre-shot routine, went over his allotted time on No. 5 and was given a warning for a bad time. He made birdie, took double bogey from a fairway bunker on the next hole and began his title defense with a 74. He was frustrated by being on the clock, and by not getting through to the PGA Tour on how to measure pace of play. "The time to hurry is in between shots. It's not the shot," DeChambeau said. "It's timing how people walk. You have to add that to the equation. If you've got someone walking slow, they get up to the shot, take their 20 seconds. What's the aggregate time for them to hit that shot in between shots? That's really what matters. That's what I believe. The total time it took me — if you were to take my process and walking time — is the exact time as everyone else." Golf still is measured by score, and Moore had the lowest on a rain-softened Muirfield Village. Only two of his seven birdies were longer than 10 feet, and the only time he came close to a bogey was on his opening hole, where he saved par with a 6-foot putt. He was among 22 players who broke 70, and only 44 players broke par despite the soft conditions. Phil Mickelson, using two drivers this week to go after longer tee shots on a half-dozen holes, opened with a 70. Spieth looked as though he couldn't miss for the longest time. On his second hole, the par-5 11th, his wedge came up so short on a soft green that it spun off the front. He chipped in from 50 feet for birdie. Another chip from thick rough caught the slope on the back of the par-5 15th green and rolled down to 3 feet for a birdie. He went out in 32, made an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 3 and then had consecutive holes that illustrated how his round was going. On the par-3 fourth, his tee shot was buried in the slope of a mound above the bunker. With his feet well below the ball, he hooked it out onto and across the green into more rough, and then chipped in for par. On the par-5 fifth, his hybrid caught the right side of the green and he rolled in the long eagle putt. Spieth took only 22 putts for the round. And then his luck ran out with a tee shot that plugged into the sand left of the green on the par-3 eighth, leaving him two options: go at the pin and run off the green into rough, or aim away from the flag and leave a 60-foot putt for par. He chose the latter and came inches within making it. "Sooner or later, it was going bite me," Spieth said with a smile. Even so, he had no complaints. "Six under around Muirfield I'd take any day of the week, no matter what form you're coming into it with," he said. "I felt like I hit more fairways today, gave me some more opportunities, and the putter stayed hot." Thomas, in his first tournament since the Masters because of a bone bruise in his right wrist, showed plenty of rust in his round of 71. McIlroy had a 75 with two double bogeys, both from tee shots either lost (No. 15) or out-of-bounds (No. 2). Anirban Lahiri, Marc Leishman and Martin Kaymer were at 67. Woods made birdies on all but one of the par 5s. His regret was a few loose iron shots that led to bogey, especially on the 13th when he hit 9-iron from the fairway into a bunker that led to a careless bogey. But he finished strong — eventually — and while 10 players from his side of the draw broke 70, he wasn't too far behind. At least on the leaderboard. "That was frustrating, because the last eight holes we were on the clock," Woods said. "The group ahead of us ... JT doesn't take a lot of time, Rory plays quick and Jordan was 7 under. So they were obviously playing fast. And we were obviously not.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 31st, 2019

Kawhi Leonard s improved playmaking has Raptors on cusp of Finals

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com MILWAUKEE -- At some point in the regular season, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse had a feeling that his team's best player would be even better in the playoffs. "He seemed to cruise to 30 points a lot of nights," Nurse said of Kawhi Leonard. "Thirty is a lot in this league, and that's why I kept saying, 'Geez, it just feels like there's another gear here with this guy that we're going to see.'" [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Leonard acknowledged as much in early March. "There's 82 games and for me, these are just practices," he said, "and playoffs is when it's time to lace them up." Nurse's reaction when he heard that? "Now we're talking." Indeed, Leonard has taken things to another level in this postseason, playing big minutes, making huge shots, and defending at an elite level. But Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals brought something new. Leonard scored 35 points in the biggest win in Toronto Raptors franchise history, a 105-99 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks that gave the two-seed a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 in Toronto on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Fifteen of those 35 points, including two huge step-back three-pointers over the seven-foot-tall Brook Lopez, came in the fourth quarter. That wasn't the new part. This was Leonard's seventh game of 35 or more points in this postseason. And you might recall a couple of big fourth-quarter shots over a seven-footer in the last series. Leonard also played smothering defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo. That wasn't new either. Since Game 3, Leonard, with plenty of help from his teammates, has made the presumed MVP look somewhat mortal. The new part was the number "9" in the assists column. In 570 career games (regular season and playoffs combined) prior to Thursday, Leonard had never recorded as many as nine assists. That he did it in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on the road and against the league's No. 1 defense says a lot about Leonard as a big-game star. That, given his star status, he had never had nine assists before just as much about his history as a playmaker. Leonard may be the most complete player in the game right now, but his passing can still get better. It doesn't come naturally to him. In regard to making his teammates better, Leonard is certainly not LeBron James. And you can even say that Antetokounmpo, still emerging as a superstar himself, has been better at reading the defense and finding open shooters. In the regular season, Leonard recorded assists on just 12.2 percent of his possessions, the fifth lowest rate among 35 players with a usage rate of 25 percent or higher. And his assist rate has actually been lower (11.7 percent) in the playoffs. But over the last two series, Leonard has been the focus of the Philadelphia and Milwaukee defenses. At times, he has tried to score through multiple defenders. And often, because his teammates weren't willing or able to do much offensively themselves and because he was scoring so efficiently, he was probably right to force things. Leonard forced little on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). He drove into the teeth of the Bucks' defense, saw where the help was coming from, and made the right play. "We keep stressing that in this series and in the last series, too," Nurse said. "When you've drawn two, you've done your job. You've got to find the guy who's open." And on the 22 possessions in which he drove, the Raptors scored 29 points, 10 from Leonard himself and 19 from his teammates. "Pretty much try to stay with a consistent mindset throughout the whole game," Leonard said of his performance. "Just trying to read the defense throughout the entire game, see what's working." It was all working, whether it was Leonard calling his own number or making plays for others. And it certainly helps that the others have seemingly found their mojo. Fred VanVleet, who shot 6-for-42 over a nine-game stretch from Game 2 of the conference semis through Game 3 of this series, is a 63 percent shooter (10-for-12 from three-point range) when he has more than one child. All of Leonard's nine assists in Game 5 were on three-pointers - so he accounted for 62 (59 percent) of the Raptors' 105 points via his own points and assists - and four of them were to the dad who hasn't slept much since Fred Jr. was born on Monday. "Any time he chooses to get the rest of us involved," VanVleet said of Leonard, "it's going to bode well for our offense. The rest of us just got to be ready to step up and knock them down." VanVleet had both the biggest shot of the night - a three from the right wing off a Leonard kick-out that broke a 93-93 tie with 2:19 to go - and the quote of the night when asked about his formula for success: "Zero sleep, have a lot of babies, and go out there and let loose." The Raptors' offense has been the biggest key to this series, because Toronto's defense, when it has been set, has been tremendous. They've kept Antetokounmpo from getting all the way to the basket, and they've been able to recover out to and contest the Bucks' shooters. While the Raptors scored 1.32 points per possession when Leonard drove in Game 5, the Bucks scored at a rate less than half of that (0.57, 12 points on 21 possessions) when Antetokounmpo drove. "We've got to play good offense," Nurse said, "not turn it over and score the basketball, because if you don't, they're getting what they want, which is downhill basketball in a hurry. If we can score it, if we can take care of it, we can get our defense set up, for the most part we get down and guard them and make the shots a lot tougher." Just six days ago, the Raptors were a possession away from falling into an 0-3 hole, one that no team in NBA history has ever come back from. Now, they've won three straight games against the team that hadn't lost three straight all season. After scoring less than a point per possession over the first two games of this series, the Raptors have scored 110.3 per 100 over the last three. The defense feeds off of the offense. And the offense feeds off of the star that keeps taking things to a new level. "I'm not afraid of the moment," Leonard said. "I enjoy it." The Kawhi Leonard that we saw in Games 1-4 against Philadelphia (when he averaged 38.0 points on 62 percent shooting) was a preposterously efficient scorer, good enough to keep his team even in the second round. The Kawhi Leonard that we saw on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) has his team playing even better ... and just one win from the NBA Finals. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Antetokounmpo learning how to deal with playoff disappointment

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO – Whenever LeBron James struggled through the sort of playoff performance Giannis Antetokounmpo had Sunday (Monday, PHL time), he seemed to want to put it behind him as swiftly as he could. His routine – assuming it wasn’t The Finals, where he got summoned to the podium, win or lose – typically went like this: the door to the Cleveland or Miami dressing room would swing open and there James would be, ready to face the questions, antsy to move on ASAP. Once he ‘fessed up to the shots he’d missed or the plays he’d botched, that was it. Oh, you knew he’d be looking plenty at video of that game in the hours before he played again, as a way to find and fix the flaws. But for public consumption at least, he shed it fast, like an ill-fitting suit. Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks’ young star, is still learning this face-of-the-franchise and cutthroat competitor stuff. He took his time afterward in the spartan visitors’ room at Scotiabank Arena. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] There he sat, with his knees wrapped and his feet plunged into an ice bath. The Kia MVP candidate stared at the score sheet that had been handed to him, the one bearing all sorts of dreary news from the double-overtime setback that cut Milwaukee’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1. Antetokounmpo barely looked up as the semicircle of cameras, microphones and reporters around him grew with media people tip-toeing that fine line between giving him some space and blocking out for position whenever he’d finally take their questions. (“Talk,” as we say in the trade). Heck, Antetokounmpo barely looked up when Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer strode through the dressing room and tapped him on his left knee, a little atta-boy bonding near the end of a long, disappointing night. While teammates poked habitually at their phones in the aftermath of Milwaukee’s 118-112 loss, Antetokounmpo mostly let his lie there on the seat next to him. By the standards he set this year as an MVP favorite, he knew he’d had a lousy night. The reporters standing there, like fans everywhere, knew he’d struggled, of course, in ways rarely seen since his first taste of the postseason four years ago. And he knew that they knew, so… “Obviously it wasn’t my best game,” Antetokounmpo said eventually. “I’ve got to be more aggressive… I’ve got to make the right play.” Defensively, Antetokounmpo was pretty much his usual self, grabbing 23 rebounds for the Bucks, challenging Toronto’s players out on the floor and close to the rim, and blocking four shots. Offensively, though, Antetokounmpo was a mess. He scored only 12 points, his fewest in a playoff game since he was first dipping his toe into postseason waters as a 20-year-old back in 2015. Through three quarters, Antetokounmpo had only six points on 3-for-8 shooting. Seven Milwaukee players and five Raptors had outscored him to that point, and he hadn’t earned his way to the foul line even once. What made it all worse was that the game was sitting there, aching to be taken by someone, anyone. Antetokounmpo got himself going a bit in the fourth quarter, making a couple of shots and earning five free throws. But he missed three. Then he went scoreless while playing the entire first overtime. And then he fouled out just 36 seconds into the second OT. He didn’t object, either, when that sixth foul for stepping in front of Toronto’s Pascal Siakam sent him to the side. Antetokounmpo just took it and exited, sealing it as one of those “not your night, kid” hard lessons. Asked about the frustration that Antetokounmpo might have shown to teammates, if not the public, Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe said: “If you don’t feel bad when you play bad, you don’t need to be playing this game. That’s the feeling that drives you to success. I’m happy he’s feeling like that.” Antetokounmpo’s game didn’t just spin sideways on its own. Raptors coach Nick Nurse switched some defensive duties around and assigned Kawhi Leonard – a two-time Defensive Player of the Year with the wingspan, instincts and reflexes to confound any open-court player – as the tip of Toronto’s spear against the Greek Freak. Then, as expected, Toronto sent second defenders at him, the surest way to get the ball out of Antetokounmpo’s hands or force him into difficult shots. So he tried to make the right basketball plays, as they say, and sometimes he did – he dished a team-high seven assists. Sometimes, though, he did not, turning over the ball eight times. For the record, Antetokounmpo has played 31 postseason games in his young career. In the games in which he has scored fewer than 19 points, his team’s record is 3-6. When he scores 19 or more, the Bucks are 14-8. Not to lay it all at Antetokounmpo’s feet. Fellow All-Star Khris Middleton was way off his usual offensive form, missing 13 of his 16 shots. And Bledsoe matched that. Together, those three starters were a combined 11-of-48. The rest of the team shot 50 percent (27 of 54). “We have the utmost respect and belief that the next game is not going to be as bad as [this] was,” said guard George Hill, who scored 24 points off the bench. “But I know it's sitting in their head that they go for a combined 11-of-48 or something like that. We're not worried about it.” Right. Who’s even counting? Budenholzer and his staff are going to have to figure out ways to get scoring opportunities without being stymied by all the defensive traffic. Teammates are going to have to shoot better, to keep those diggers honest in their matchups. And Antetokounmpo is going to need to play more aggressively and take what happened in Game 3 very personally. He wasn’t quite there yet, Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). “Obviously I want to stay aggressive. But we stick to our game plan,” Antetokounmpo said. “Some days I’m going to have a bad night. But my team has to focus on doing their job and I’ll do mine.” Said Brook Lopez, after watching the throng swallow Antetokounmpo on the opposite side of the room: “We know he’s not going to quit or stop playing. He’s going to continue to be him.” As he talked, Lopez’s phone began vibrating next to him. He said it was Bucks GM Jon Horst calling and, in a bit of gallows humor after a stinging loss, joked that maybe he shouldn’t answer. “I don’t know if I should pick up or not,” the Milwaukee center said, “’cause I want to be here tomorrow.” Antetokounmpo has a call to answer now, too. In Game 4, Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

He makes us go : Green elevates Warriors to 3-0 series lead

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — There is nothing Draymond Green failed to do Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) when he helped push the Blazers to the edge and the Warriors to the verge. Here is the checklist of his duties: Dribbler, pace-setter, rescuer, shooter, director, shot blocker, shot-caller and the one that probably escaped most witnesses, psychiatrist. Yes, Dr. Dray suddenly offered his services and sofa when poor Jordan Bell blew a breakaway dunk during a critical moment, just as the Warriors were in the process of flipping an 18-point deficit during their 110-99 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Bell immediately hung his head as he returned downcourt, and seconds later at the next timeout, he slowly headed toward the Warriors bench with slumped shoulders. But who intercepted him before he could take another step? That’s right, it was Green, famously known for his cool and soothing words in times of crisis. (OK, put the laugh track here.) But seriously … The type of leader every team needs ????pic.twitter.com/Tr3JblKAyX — Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019 “I knew he wasn’t going to lecture me or anything like that,” said Bell. “He just told me that everybody misses dunks, that I shouldn’t worry about it, that mine happened to be an open one, and to keep my head into the game because I’d get another chance.” Bell paused. “I was down here,” he said, lowering his hand, “and he lifted me up here.” And wouldn’t you know, Bell got that next chance minutes later. This time, the dunk was thrown down ferociously and completed with a chin-up that belonged at LA Fitness. We can give Green credit for the 20-point, 13-rebound, career playoff-high 12-assist triple double, and we can give Green partial credit for that second-chance slam, too. That’s more like it JB ???? pic.twitter.com/JUvMfKQDsl — Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019 The man was that multi-layered. “I don’t even know what to say about Draymond,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Once again, Green demonstrated his value to the Warriors in these playoffs with a magnificent all-around game. He left fingerprints all over the Moda Center court and various Blazers' efforts. He was there for the Warriors when nothing else worked, and he was there for the Warriors when everything finally began to click and they needed a finishing touch. His desire and will do not show up directly on the stat sheet, yet those elements made the victory possible. The Warriors won for the fourth straight game without Kevin Durant and are one more away from reaching the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year. It makes you wonder: As great as Durant is, would the Warriors be more vulnerable if it was Green who were out with a calf strain instead? That question stands valid because the Warriors lack anyone who does what he does. The energy, intensity, floor direction, ability to defend three and sometimes four different positions, as well as the rebounding were all apparent Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and in heavy doses. They came alongside leadership, evidenced by Green giving Bell a pat on the back during that down moment. Green played Game 3 as a blur, grabbing rebounds, pushing the ball up the floor, creating scoring chances for himself or his teammates and providing help defense that triggered the pace. Green was forceful because Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were 9-for-24 shooting in the first half, at times overwhelmed by the trapping Blazers defense. So Green took it upon himself to make things happen and provide the foundation for a second-half comeback. The Golden State defense held Portland to 13 points in the third quarter, Curry had 11 points in the fourth quarter, and this series simply continued along the same path. “He was the difference-maker,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “His energy, the way he was pushing the ball, he kept them going. He makes his teammates better and defensively he’s all over the place. He impacted the game.” In the third quarter, Green poked the ball loose from Damian Lillard for one of his four steals. At the time, the Warriors were down 12 and in dire need of a jolt. But here’s what was remarkable about the play. Not only did the 6'7" Green stoop and strip one of the NBA's most composed ballhandling point guards (although perhaps not in this series), but he also managed to search for and grab it while it bounced between him and Lillard, then dribbled downcourt without missing a beat. The dexterity, quickness, daring and smarts sets Green apart from others who play his role, or at least try to emulate it. “More than reacting, he acts,” said Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams, who oversees the team’s defensive schemes. “There’s reacting and then there's acting. He’s an actor. He sees things. He’s decisive.” Green is averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds and almost 10 assists across the last two games and those numbers barely tell the real story. It’s just heightened because of Durant’s absence. In those two games, the Warriors trailed Portland by 17 and 18 points and Green was the point man on the rally. He says his main purpose is to give Thompson and Curry a breather from the load and responsibility. With the Blazers throwing traps at those two guards to limit their scoring, Green is forcing Portland to pay him respect. He is, in essence, breaking down Portland’s defense by pushing the ball and directing the attack. “I know I have to be more aggressive,” he said. “I think it’s easy to get (Curry and Thompson) to take more shots, but we can’t put that much pressure on them, so I just take it upon myself to get the tempo where I want it and make plays for other guys as well.” It was no coincidence that six Warriors off the bench managed to get at least one basket with Green directing traffic. And Green managed to play such a high-energy game without making constant mistakes; he had only two turnovers in 38 minutes. “He’s playing with force and he’s playing with discipline,” said Kerr. “He’s playing under control. He’s not letting anything bother him, like officiating, bad shots, he’s just moving on to the next play. From that standpoint, he’s as good as he’s ever been.” This is the Draymond Green that makes the Warriors more than willing to put up with the occasional nonsense, mostly stemming from his short temper and low tolerance with the officiating yet also with teammates and coaches at times. The constant technical fouls, the early-season clash with Durant, the high maintenance that often comes with coaching him, those are all part of the package. Taken as whole, that package is more positive than negative. And when there’s no negative, as it’s been through much of this postseason, the package is irresistible. “It’s nothing new; I’ve seen him do this for seven years,” said Thompson. “I’m just so proud of Dray. He makes us go.” There was no more positive reinforcement from Green than when he comforted Bell and told the young player to shake off a missed dunk seen by millions and laughed at by thousands inside Moda Center. Green gave Bell the encouragement needed to forget the embarrassment and maintain composure, which was important because Kerr kept Bell in the game. That set Bell up to gain redemption. And the Warriors, after struggling through a sloppy start, to gain complete control of a series that could end Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in a sweep. “I’m one of the leaders of this team and in those situations you either go one of two ways. You’re either going to do your job and lift everybody up or you’re going to go the opposite way,” said Green. And so Green, with passing, defense and pace-setting, is stamping his signature on this series. His floor direction is flawless. He hasn’t shown the ability to direct the Blazers right out of the playoffs, but that’s perhaps just a matter of time. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

UP, UE share 2019 s king of recruiting crown

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2019

Player of the Week Salado steers Arellano back on track in NCAA 95

After missing Arellano’s Season 94 campaign due to an ACL tear in his right knee, it is safe to say that Kent Salado is making up for lost time in the NCAA Season 95 Seniors’ Basketball Tournament. The latest evidence of which was last Friday as with his squad down seven in the final frame against Perpetual, Salado put the Chiefs on his back and carried them to a gutsy win. Behind the graduating guard, Arellano overcame its deficit with a 16-1 run for an eight-point lead. Salado's heroics did not end there just yet as when the Altas came knocking to within two, he drove hard to the basket and dished to Dariel Bayla who then converted an and-one play. With 14 seconds left in the match, he once again flaunted his playmaking brilliance by setting up Justin Arana underneath to finally seal Perpetual’s fate. The 5-foot-8 playmaker wound up with 18 points, 12 assists, four steals, three rebounds and, most importantly, the win that arrested the Chiefs' three-game losing skid. With his exceptional performance, Salado earned the Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps NCAA Player of the Week award. “Sinasabihan ko lang yung teammates ko na kaya pa naman natin kasi kaya nga natin yung malalakas, humahabol nga tayo. Wag lang dapat kami mawalan ng gana,” said the Cagayan de Oro native about 3-9 Arellano's playoff hopes. Salado edged Noah Lugo of Mapua, James Canlas of San Beda, and Jaycee Marcelino of Lyceum for the weekly recognition given by print and online scribes covering the country’s oldest collegiate league......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 22nd, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Days: Pelicans could be in for seamless rebuild

Like most summers in the NBA, the 2019 edition was chock full of trades, free agent news and player movement. From the defending-champion Toronto Raptors to just about every other team in the league, change was the most applicable word when it came to describing team rosters for the 2019-20 season. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- in order of regular-season finish from 2018-19 -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's team: New Orleans Pelicans 2018-19 Record: 33-49, did not qualify for the playoffs Key additions: Zion Williamson (Draft), Lonzo Ball (trade), Brandon Ingram (trade), JJ Redick (free agency), Derrick Favors (trade), Josh Hart (trade), Jaxson Hayes (Draft), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Draft) Key departures: Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton The lowdown: There were teams with worst records and teams with more drama. But no team had a combination of both quite like the Pelicans. It all swirled around Davis, the best player in franchise history, who pulled a power move by switching agents to Rich Paul, business partner of LeBron James. Everyone saw what was coming next except Dell Demps, the beleaguered GM who refused to be proactive and instead tried to fight a losing battle. Through Paul, Davis made a private trade request in the fall and then went public a week prior to the trade deadline when Demps hesitated. When the deadline passed, Davis was still in New Orleans and that was a problem. The rest of the season was a disaster, as Davis was in an awkward state of limbo and the Pelicans, anxious to preserve their only true asset, managed his minutes. The fallout was severe: Fan backlash toward Davis, a fractured locker room, a state of emergency within a franchise that wasn’t among the league’s healthiest to begin with, and Demps getting the boot. Everything else about the Pelicans was overshadowed, such as Randle’s solid production in his first (and subsequently only) season in New Orleans and Jrue Holiday’s continued splendid play on both ends. In the end, Davis had long checked out, the Pelicans fell back into the lottery a year after reaching the second round of the playoffs, and a housecleaning was ordered by ownership. Summer summary: History might reflect that the Davis fiasco, in hindsight, was the most important moment in franchise history, and in a positive way. That’s because a much-needed series of changes were forced to happen because of it, and just maybe the Pelicans will be better off for it. It created a change in command, with David Griffin replacing Demps and tackling the Davis situation head-on rather than tiptoeing around it. And because Davis was essentially benched the entire second half of the season, that allowed the Pelicans to fall into the lottery, where they got lucky and landed the first overall pick in one of those drafts that contained a potential game-changer. New Orleans flipped almost overnight, getting an impressive haul for Davis in the long-awaited trade with the Lakers, and adding Zion Williamson, an explosive talent with gate appeal. It was a best-case scenario for the Pelicans, who went from laughingstock to landing a game on Christmas Day this season. Griffin played his hand skillfully, unlike Demps. Griffin didn’t create distrust or burn bridges and instead maintained good communication with Davis and all potential trading partners. He created a robust market for Davis and then negotiated with the one team that needed Davis the most: the Lakers with an aging LeBron James. Not only did Griffin get promising young players in Ball, Ingram and Hart, he also acquired the Lakers’ future with a collection of first-round picks and first-round swaps. Essentially, if the Lakers collapse in the post-LeBron era, the Pelicans will be awash in assets similar to the Boston Celtics when those Brooklyn Nets’ first-rounders turned to gold. Williamson should never have to worry about talent around him in New Orleans as Davis did. And unlike Davis, Williamson won’t be in a hurry to leave in a huff. There’s no reason for the Pelicans to tank, knowing that ample picks are coming their way. With that in mind, Griffin seized the moment to ramp up the rotation, adding some much-needed shooting in Redick and a reliable veteran in Favors. It’s very possible that the Pelicans can compete for a playoff spot in 2019-20, and again, this seemed remote when last season ended. There’s plenty of hope for Ball. He’ll have the relief of playing away from L.A. for the first time in his life and the advantage of suiting up next to Holiday, who can play off the ball if necessary. Ingram will be returning from a health scare related to blood clots that cut short his season but the prognosis is good. In addition to Williamson, the draft also produced Alexander-Walker, who brings good size (6-foot-5) to the backcourt, and Hayes, a raw big man who’ll instantly enroll in the Pelicans’ development school. To make the upcoming season as stress-free as possible, Griffin handed coach Alvin Gentry a one-year extension. The pair once worked together in Phoenix, when Gentry led the Suns to the Western Conference finals. For the first time in his tenure with the Pelicans, Gentry has ample talent and a solid plan. Now it’s up to him to put the right pieces in place. Clearly, though, the big prize is Williamson, who comes with robust talent and also a personality that reflects well on him and the franchise. Williamson can be a savior and, once Drew Brees retires, the face of New Orleans sports. It all depends if he makes good on the immense expectations. Given his knack for making crowd-pleasing plays on both ends, the burly forward has star potential -- which is exactly what a small market needs. There’s a reason why the Draft lottery results caused Gentry to curse with joy and team employees to dance on tables. Perhaps never before has a franchise fallen hard, then rose suddenly, quite like the Pelicans did in a matter of weeks. They’re still partying in New Orleans. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 10th, 2019

NCAA 95 Player of the Week Balanza better than ever a year after brain surgery

A year ago, Jerrick Balanza had to undergo surgery to remove the tumor in his brain, forcing him to celebrate his birthday on a hospital bed. A year after the successful surgery, the senior swingman is playing the best basketball of his young career and making the most of his new lease on life. Balanza celebrated his 23rd birthday last Friday by firing a game-high 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field in just 23 minutes of play to lead Letran's 88-64 thrashing of CSB. With his offensive brilliance that resulted to the Knights' most convincing victory yet in NCAA Season 95, he more than proved to be worthy as the latest Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps NCAA Player of the Week. “Ayun nga kasi, nabigyan pa ako ng isang taon, bagong isang taon. So [ngayon], yung sinasabi ko is lahat ng opportunity na dadating sa buhay ko, ima-maximize ko talaga dahil bihira lang yung nabibigyan ng ganito eh,” said Balanza who is currently averaging 17.4 points, 3.6 assists, and 3.0 rebounds after missing all of the second round and the playoffs last season. With their team captain spearheading the charge, Letran was able to arrest a two-game losing skid while also forging a four-way tie for the second-seed with Lyceum, CSB, and San Sebastian. Balanza edged Calvin Oftana of San Beda and Allyn Bulanadi of San Sebastian for the weekly plum handed out by scribes covering the beat from print and online......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 8th, 2019