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Fernandez, Baldwin hailed as Collegiate Coaches of the Year yet again

For extending their respective squads' dynasties, two of the best and brightest coaches in the collegiate basketball scene are set to be feted. San Beda Red Lions head mentor Boyet Fernandez and Ateneo Blue Eagles chief tactician Tab Baldwin will be hailed as the Coaches of the Year in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Awards presented by SportsVision on Monday at Amelie Hotel Manila in Malate. Fernandez guided the Red Lions to their 11th title in the last 13 years, their 22nd overall in the NCAA Seniors Basketball Tournament. During the tournament, San Beda only lost once, capping the season with a 14-game winning streak, including a two-game sweep of the Lyceum Pirates in the Finals. This will be Fernandez's fifth Coach of the Year plum, tying him for most in the category with former Ateneo Blue Eagles head coach Norman Black. For his part, Baldwin is set to receive his second straight Coach of the Year trophy in this annual event organized by the Collegiate Press Corps, composed of scribes from print and online outfits covering the NCAA and UAAP. Under Baldwin's watch, the Blue Eagles cruised through the UAAP Season 81 Men's Basketball Tournament to win their second straight championship, the school's 10th overall. The awards night backed by  Amelie Hotel, Rain or Shine, NorthPort, World Balance, Arellano, and AXA Team EDS will also distinguish the UP Fighting Maroons. The Fighting Maroons were the feel-good story of the collegiate season, overcoming a shaky start to get things together late in the UAAP tournament. The team led by Paul Desiderio ended up breaking a 32-year Finals drought to end up with silver - the school's first podium finish in the sport in 32 years as well. Also set to be honored in the event are Sisi Rondina (UAAP Volleyball Player of the Year); Regine Arocha (NCAA Volleyball Player of the Year); the National University Lady Bulldogs (Award of Excellence); Ateneo's Angelo Kouame and San Beda's Javee Mocon (Pivotal Players); Lyceum's CJ Perez and Adamson's Sean Manganti (Impact Players). The 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps Awards presented by SportsVision will be aired live over Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas and Tiebreaker Times on Facebook......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

UST s Sisi Rondina, AU s Regine Arocha are first-ever Volleyball Players of the Year

Volleyball has made its mark as one the biggest collegiate spectator sports in the country next to basketball. With the sport’s impact and huge following especially in the women’s division, it is just fitting that the best and brightest volleyball student-athletes share the spotlight with the collegiate basketball’s finest.   For the first time, a pair of volleyball stars will be feted in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps Awards presented by SportsVision to be held at the Amelie Hotel in Malate, Manila on Monday. University of Sto. Tomas’ Sisi Rondina and Regine Arocha of Arellano University will be the recipients of the Volleyball Player of the Year awards in the annual event organized by the Collegiate Press Corps, composed of scribes from print and online outfits covering the NCAA and UAAP. The graduating hitter Rondina wrapped her fifth and last playing year as a Tigress by completing an amazing three-peat in beach volleyball, giving UST its first gold medal in UAAP Season 81. Rondina delivered the Espana-based squad’s fourth sand court crown in five years while bagging for herself four Most Valuable Player awards. The 5-foot-6 Cebuana then turned her focus on indoor volleyball as she led the rookie-laden Tigresses back to the Finals for the first time in eight years in a showdown with a well-experienced Ateneo de Manila University side. UST came a win away from ending a nine-year title drought but eventually bowed down to the Lady Eagles in three exciting games. Nevertheless, Rondina’s heroics all season long earned her the MVP award, UST’s first in 12 years, to become the second person to capture the highest individual recognition in beach and indoor volleyball on the same season since Far Eastern University’s Wendy Semana did the feat 11 years ago.               Meanwhile, Arocha delivered the goods when needed the most for the Lady Chiefs in NCAA Season 94. Arocha played clutch in the Finals, leading Arellano to a thrilling series comeback win over Perpetual Help to complete the Lady Chiefs’ three-peat and winning her second straight Finals MVP award. Rondina and Arocha will be joined by the National University women’s basketball team (Award of Excellence), Ateneo's Angelo Kouame and San Beda's Javee Mocon (Pivotal Players), Lyceum's CJ Perez and Adamson's Sean Manganti (Impact Players) in the awards night supported by Amelie Hotel, Rain or Shine, NorthPort, World Balance, Arellano, and AXA Team EDS. The 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps Awards presented by SportsVision will be aired live over Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas and Tiebreaker Times on Facebook......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2019

Homa comes full circle and wins Wells Fargo Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Max Homa traded in a shovel for a ladder to get places he always thought he could reach. Two years ago in his second try on the PGA Tour, he made only two cuts the entire season and played only one round on a Sunday. Eight months ago, he was on the verge of going back to Q-school and an uncertain future until closing with four straight birdies to make the cut in a Web.com Tour event that gave him another shot at the big leagues. It made Sunday all that much sweeter in the Wells Fargo Championship. In a three-way tie for the lead, in the final group on the PGA Tour for the first time, with Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia right behind him, Homa outplayed them all with a 4-under 67 for a three-shot victory at Quail Hollow and his first PGA Tour title. "I used to say when I hit rock bottom I found a shovel and kept digging. I went to some low, low places," he said. "I'd use a shovel and dig deeper. I went to some low, low places. I realized in that year or two when I started to play bad that my attitude was going to have to get a lot better. ... I'm very proud I finally found a ladder and started climbing, because it was getting dark down there." Suddenly, the immediate future is bright as can be. He has a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a tee time at the PGA Championship in two weeks at Bethpage Black and a spot in the Masters next year. A former NCAA champion at Cal, Homa has "Relentless" in block letters tattooed on his right forearm. The 28-year-old Californian also has a signed photo from former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who once told him to look at the picture and be reminded to believe in himself. The trophy at his side, Homa's press conference was interrupted for him to take a call from the 91-year-old Lasorda. "I guess my whole world is different," he said. Golf felt so hard for Homa for so many years after he left Cal, and then he made it look so easy in a final round that made him so nervous he wanted to throw up, except when he had his hands on a golf club. He pulled away with two birdies to start the back nine for a four-shot lead. He didn't make a bogey until it only affected the final margin. But it was a one-hour rain delay that tested Homa the most. He was leading by three when he nearly went in the water on the 14th hole and chipped up to 6 feet when the horn sounded to stop play. With time he didn't need on his hands, he called his fiancée and his coach and can't remember what either of them said. And then he returned and buried the putt. Over an hour delay while trying to win for the first time on TOUR. Huge save for @maxhoma23. The lead is still three.#QuickHits pic.twitter.com/F3tvjxRrrm— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 5, 2019 "I knew in the back of my mind if I made that putt, I win this golf tournament," he said. Joel Dahmen, who pushed Homa as hard as any major champion, saved par with a tough chip over the creek for a 70 and finished three shots behind. "I didn't beat myself today, which was kind of the goal," Dahmen said. "Max is playing awesome. He's a good friend. I think we're going to celebrate tonight." Homa effectively sealed it with a perfect play to the green on the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, and a 10-foot par putt on the 17th to keep a three-shot leading playing the tough closing hole at Quail Hollow. He made a 10-foot par there, too, and the celebration was on. Homa finished at 15-under 269. "Over the moon, man," he said before going to sign his card. "It means a lot to do it under pressure, and job security is great. I haven't had that." The victory was worth $1,422,000, about $454,000 more than he had made in his previous 67 starts. Justin Rose (68) finished alone in third and moved ahead of Brooks Koepka to No. 2 in the world. Rory McIlroy was primed to join Tom Weiskopf as the only three-time winners at Quail Hollow, starting the final round two shots behind. He never got anything going until it went the wrong way. He turned a 20-foot eagle attempt into a three-putt par on the par-5 seventh, failed to get up-and-down on the reachable eighth for a birdie, and then went bogey-double bogey around the turn to take himself out of the mix. No one else was much of a threat either, just two guys who had never come remotely close to winning on the PGA Tour. Former PGA champion Jason Dufner, part of the three-way tie for the lead to start the final round, made consecutive bogeys early and had no bearing on the final round. A double bogey on the 18th gave him a 73 and dropped him into a tie for fourth. Rose pulled within two shots with a birdie on the par-5 10th, only to settle into a series of pars. By the time Sergio Garcia reached double digits under par, Homa was well on his way. Homa and Dahmen were at 13 under until Dahmen blinked first. He found a fairway bunker on No. 9, couldn't get to the green and made bogey and dropped another shot on the 11th. Homa, playing behind him in the final group, holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 10th for a two-shot lead, made birdie from the left rough on the 11th with a 12-foot putt and escaped more trouble off the tee on the 12th with a two-putt from 80 feet. He survived the rain delay, the nervy finish. Homa has endured a lot more than that over the last few years......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Jason Dufner takes Wells Fargo lead with a 63

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jason Dufner's game was going nowhere, so he changed everything from his swing coach to his equipment to his caddie. It didn't get any better. He at least is starting to see signs of it coming together with an 8-under 63 on Friday in the Wells Fargo Championship, matching his career-low score on the PGA Tour and giving him a one-shot lead going into the weekend at Quail Hollow. Dufner considers it the best two rounds he has put together since the 2017 Memorial, which also is the last time he had a 36-hole lead. "See how it goes being in the heat of it on Saturday and Sunday," Dufner said. "I've been there before. It's been a while, but I kind of know what to expect. It will be a good challenge to see where I'm at, what I'm doing." Dufner was at 11-under 131. Joel Dahmen made his first bogey of the week on his final hole of the second round — from the middle of the fairway, no less — but still had a 66 and was one-shot behind. So was Max Homa, who also knows about coping with bad results when he missed the cut in 14 out of 17 events in 2017. He birdied his last two holes for a 63. The weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship will not feature Phil Mickelson for the first time since he started playing it in 2004. Mickelson shot 41 on the front nine and wound up with a 76 to miss the cut by four shots. Rory McIlroy was stride for stride with Dufner until he dropped three shots over the last two holes. McIlroy made double bogey with a fat shot out of a bunker and a pitch too strong over the green at No. 8, and then went over the green on No. 9 for a bogey and a 70. Even so, he was five behind and in the mix for a third title at Quail Hollow. He was at 6-under 136 along with Patrick Reed, who had a 69 as he goes for his first top 10 of the year. Defending champion Jason Day (69) was six behind. "I stood up here last night talking about that I got the most out of it yesterday, and today it was the complete opposite. I turned a 66 into a 70," McIlroy said. "Golf, it's a funny game and these things happen." Dufner didn't find too much funny about last year, when his world ranking fell from No. 41 to No. 124 and he missed the cut 11 times. That's when he decided to make changes to just about everything. "This is my fourth caddie of the year so far," he said. "I left Chuck Cook, started doing some other things. I started working with Phil Kenyon. I think I'm on my fourth or fifth putter this year. I'm on my fourth or fifth driver, my fourth or fifth golf ball, fourth or fifth lob wedge. I'm trying to find stuff that's going to work." It worked on Friday at Quail Hollow. He started his round by missing the green 35 yards to the left and holing the chip over the bunker. He made a 20-foot eagle. He missed a 3-foot par putt. He drove the green on the par-4 14th for another birdie. And he capped it all off with a 40-foot birdie putt on the peninsula green at the par-3 17th. It was the first time he shot 63 since Oak Hill in 2013, the year he won the PGA Championship. "I'm just getting to that point where I'm kind of settled with everything," he said. "Sometimes you make a change and it happens immediately. For me, that wasn't the case. But kind of getting past all those changes and settling into playing some better golf instead of coming to tournaments wondering how I might play or how it might go or is this going to be the right change. Getting to where I feel more comfortable with that and I can just go out play free and play some good golf." Dufner turned 42 in March and realizes he doesn't have many years left to compete at a high level. "I'm not really trying to be mediocre," he said. "I'm searching for things that are going to make me a better player." Homa always had the talent, winning the NCAA title at Cal with a three-shot victory over Jon Rahm. He just fell into the trap of thinking he had to be even better when he got to the PGA Tour, and he's had a rough go of it. But when he's driving it well, it frees up the rest of his game. He also went back to longtime friend Joe Greiner, who caddied for him his first year on tour until leaving for another friend, Kevin Chappell. "Joe stayed with me until it became financially irresponsible for him to work for me," Homa said. Chappell had back surgery and is out until the fall, and Homa brought him back. "My attitude is awesome nowadays," he said. "I don't really get too down on myself. I have an awesome, awesome caddie that doesn't let me. If I'm quiet, he yells at me and tells me quiet golfers are usually very mean to themselves, so we have a good thing going.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 4th, 2019

UAAP: LSGH glue guy Joshua David takes talents to DLSU

Joshua David will keep doing it all in green and white. David, La Salle Green Hills' Swiss army knife in the last three years, has committed to De La Salle University. "Sa La Salle na po ako," he said. The 6-foot swingman had been a key cog in the Greenies best-ever run in school history. He will not wow anybody with what he does, but his all-around game is a much-welcome addition for just about any team. In 2017, he joined forces with Joel Cagulangan and Inand Fornilos to will LSGH to its maiden championship. The following year, as a Mythical selection, he averaged 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.3 steals, continuing to do whatever his team needed in their run back to the Finals where they bowed to eventual champion Mapua High School. Now, the 18-year-old will be tasked to help steady a rocky boat for La Salle which had just lost all of Kib Montalbo, Santi Santillan, Jollo Go, Mark Dyke, and Taane Samuel. He will follow the lead of Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio as they try to return to the Final Four following a one year absence. The even better news, however, is that David will be re-united with longtime partner-in-crime Joel Cagulangan who had repeated his commitment to the Green Archers a week ago. With those two in the fold, the Taft-based team has a backcourt that has all the chemistry in the world and all the knowledge how to unleash it. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2019

World Sports: Mapua's Oraeme eyes title after 2 MVPs

HAVING won back-to-back National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) most valuable player awards, Mapua Nigerian import Allwell Oraeme said he is determined more than ever to lead his team to the title......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsOct 17th, 2016

Robins rout Cubs, end 16-year title drought

MANILA, Philippines - Mapua ended a 16-year long title wait with an emphatic 84-67 rout of San Beda as the Robins crowned themselves the new NCAA juniors bas.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 14th, 2016

Mapua’s Oraeme crowned NCAA MVP anew

MANILA, Philippines – Mapua's Allwell Oraeme made up for his team's failed title bid by snaring the Most Valuable Player award trophy for the second straight.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 11th, 2016

Red Robins eye 21st title

The Mapua Robins seek to draw inspiration from their shock Game One triumph over the fancied San Beda Cubs as the former goes for the jugular today in the 92nd NCAA junior basketball tournament at the MOA Arena in Pasay City......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsOct 10th, 2016

Robins whip Cubs, near NCAA jr title

MANILA, Philippines - Mapua smothered San Beda with its full-court trapping defense as it came away with an 83-64 victory at the MOA Arena in Pasay yesterday.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 6th, 2016

Robins strangle Red Cubs, near elusive NCAA juniors title

MANILA, Philippines – Mapua suffocated San Beda with its full-court trapping defense as it hacked out an 83-64 victory on Thursday to move on the verge of cl.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsOct 6th, 2016

Crucial NCAA games today

Games Today (The Arena, San Juan City) 10 a.m. – CSB-LSGH vs Lyceum (Jrs.) 11:45 a.m. – Letran vs San Beda (Jrs.) 2 p.m. – EAC vs Mapua (Srs.) 4 p.m. – St. Benilde vs San Sebastian (Srs.) With the Final Four race getting tighte.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsSep 7th, 2016

Bagalay always leaves with a bang

At 21, Philip Michael Bagalay’s already done with his playing years in the NCAA and his studies in Mapua with a degree in AB Psychology.      Next on his agenda is to look for a job. But whatever work he may eventuall.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2016

Arellano Braves kakapit sa solo lead ng NCAA juniors basketball

Mga Laro Ngayon (The Arena) 9 a.m. Letran vs Perpetual 10:45 a.m. San Sebastian vs San Beda 12:30 p.m. St. Benildevs JRU 2:15 p.m. EAC vs Mapua 4 p.m. LPU vs Arellano Team Standings: Arellano (6-0); San Beda (5-0); Mapua (4-1); CSB-LSGH (3-3); Letran (3-3.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 24th, 2016

Arellano kakapit sa solo lead ng NCAA juniors

Mga Laro Ngayon (The Arena, San Juan) 9 a.m. San Sebastian vs Letran 10:45 a.m. San Beda vs St. Benilde 12:30 p.m. Perpetual Help vs EAC 2:15 p.m. Arellano vs Mapua 4 p.m. LPU vs JRU Team Standings: Arellano (5-0); San Beda (4-0); Mapua (4-0); CSB-LSGH (3.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 17th, 2016

PVL: BaliPure: Ready for the challenge

BaliPure will make its return in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference after skipping last year’s season-ending tournament. New head coach Romel Abella welcomes the new challenge of leading a revamped Water Defenders, who won the 2017 Open Conference title.   “Challenge na rin kasi na puro bago ang mga players namin and at the same time yung mga players namin since bago nga it’s their time to prove na yung skills nila at par sa level ng pagplalaruan namin,” said Abella, who steered former team Pocari Sweat to the throne in the inaugural staging of the import-laden conference. “Challenge sa akin, sa coaching staff and sa mga players na rin. Pero masaya ang challenge,” added Abella. The Water Defenders skipped the 2018 Open Conference after a sixth place finish in the Reinforced contest where BaliPure fielded a core of high school and college standouts from National University. This time, BaliPure will lean on the leadership of veteran player Grazielle Bombita, who played for Iriga last year. Helping Bombita are first-time imports Danijela Dzakovic from Montenegro and Slovakian Alexandra Vajdova. Other local stars looking to prove their mettle in the league are Menchie Tubiera, setter Necelle Gual of Perpetual Help, Vira Guillema and Jewelle Bermillo of San Sebastian College, Sandy Delos Santos, Satrianni Espiritu of San Beda College, Carrie Pronuevo, Miracle Mendoza, Patria Pena and Kat Racelis of Mapua University.   “Masaya ngayon since bago ang tuturuan mo, nandoon ang eagerness na ma-prove ang sarili nila,” said Abella. BaliPure will open its campaign on Sunday against newcomer ParificTown Army. “Nilu-look forward ko kung ano ang ilalabas ng mga players natin, na kung hanggang saan ang maipapakita namin as individuals and a team,” Abella said. “Hopefully, mag-translate yung pina-practice namin sa laro namin.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News7 hr. 23 min. ago

PBA: Brownlee expects big things to come from Ray Parks

Justin Brownlee has won an incredible amount of championships with different teams in different leagues since 2016. In one particular memorable run in the ABL with San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas, Brownlee won the title playing alongside Bobby Ray Parks Jr. The two of them crossed paths on the court again Friday, this time as opponents in the PBA. Parks Jr. playing only his second game in the big leagues, led his Blackwater crew to a stunning overtime win against Brownlee and his champion Gin Kings. Ginebra’s super import was not surprised. “That's why – if I'm not mistaken – three-time [ABL] MVP. I've seen him do it for the past 3 years in Alab even before I got there, I was keeping up with him and he was doing great,” Brownlee said of his former teammate. “I definitely expect big things for him in this league too,” he added. Brownlee says Parks’ size and versatility makes him stand out. The no. 2 overall pick of the 2018 Draft certainly showcased his talents against Ginebra, scoring 28 points, including 10 in overtime, to get the job done. “He got a lot of weapons. Has a great size for his position, can put the ball on the floor, can attack, can shoot the three-pointer, can get to the line,” Brownlee said of Parks. “It's very tough trying to contain him, keeping him from the free throw line and not the paint. He hit some big shots. He had a really good game and they're looking really good this conference,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News20 hr. 2 min. ago

Ateneo s Ravena flanked by two UP Maroons in 2019 All-Collegiate Team

Four different schools will be represented in this year's All-Collegiate Team. Robert Bolick of NCAA three-peat titlist San Beda and Thirdy Ravena of UAAP back-to-back champion Ateneo are the headliners of the Mythical Five in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Awards presented by SportsVision scheduled for Monday at Amelie Hotel Manila in Malate. Bolick ended his collegiate career with a bang, averaging 16.8 points in 49.1 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in the Red Lions' 20-1 romp through the 94th Season of the NCAA. That included a 50-point outburst against Arellano in the elimination round - one of the highest individual marks in the history of the Grand Old League. For his part, Ravena flew the highest he ever has with norms of 14.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.0 blocks as the Blue Eagles' dominated UAAP Season 81 with an overall 15-2 record. He saved his best for last when he imposed his will on UP en route to being hailed as Finals MVP. Completing this year's All-Collegiate Team selected by the Collegiate Press Corps, made up of scribes from print and online outfits covering the NCAA and UAAP, are NCAA 94 MVP Prince Eze of Perpetual and the UP pair of Bright Akhuetie and Paul Desiderio. Eze put the Altas on his back all season long as they barged back into the playoffs. Akhuetie's own MVP campaign as well as Desiderio's heroics were also more than enough to bring the Fighting Maroons to their first Final Four since 1997 and first Finals in 32 years. All five will be honored in the annual event also supported by Amelie Hotel Manila, Rain or Shine, NorthPort, World Balance, Arellano, and AXA Team EDS. They will be alongside fellow awardees in NU Lady Bulldogs who will receive the Award of Excellence, Ateneo's Ange Kouame and San Beda's Javee Mocon who will receive Pivotal Player plums, Adamson's Sean Manganti and Lyceum's CJ Perez who will receive Impact Player citations, Red Lions' mentor Boyet Fernandez and Blue Eagles' tactician Tab Baldwin who will be recognized as Coaches of the Year, and UST's Sisi Rondina and Arellano's Regine Arocha who will make history as the first-ever SportsVision Volleyball Players of the Year. The 2019 Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Press Corps Awards presented by SportsVision will be aired live over Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas and Tiebreaker Times on Facebook......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News20 hr. 2 min. ago

Barcelona wants to redeem itself with Copa del Rey title

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Although Barcelona is still smarting from its collapse at Liverpool two weeks ago, the team has another cup final to play in this weekend. The Spanish champions can complete a second straight domestic double when it faces Valencia on Saturday in the Copa del Rey final. "It's the last game of the season and we need to win so we can go on vacation with a better feeling than the one we had after the match against Liverpool," Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet said. "That's why we want to win this final." Barcelona has won a record 30 Copa del Rey titles, including the last four, but it was eliminated from the Champions League by Liverpool after blowing a 3-0 lead from the first leg. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde could have a lot riding on the outcome of the game against Valencia, which will be played on neutral turf in Seville. While Valverde has had an almost impeccable record in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey since taking charge two years ago, many Barcelona fans now doubt he can win it all in Europe. So while another cup is almost expected by Barcelona's supporters, a loss to Valencia would increase the pressure on the club to consider a coaching change. Knowing his coach is under scrutiny, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said Thursday that the club "completely backs Valverde." "We cannot knock this Copa," Bartomeu said. "After the Copa we will able to draw conclusions on how to improve and aspire to win it all in the coming seasons." Barcelona will play without striker Luis Suárez, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a meniscus injury in his right knee following the loss to Liverpool. Suarez scored 25 goals for Barcelona this season, second only to Lionel Messi and his 50 goals. Forward Ousmane Dembele is also out with a muscle injury, while goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen will most certainly keep his starting job after the club said Marc-Andre ter Stegen has pain in his right knee and won't be available. Valencia has had a very strong second half of the season. It surged up the league standings to finish fourth and earn a Champions League berth, and it reached the Europa League semifinals before losing to Arsenal. It will be seeking its eighth Copa del Rey title and first since 2008. "(Valencia) is a very compact, solid team, with a strong defense, a talented goalkeeper, which transitions very quickly to attack with players who take advantage of open spaces," Lenglet said. "We have to be very careful with Valencia because it is very dangerous." Dani Parejo will lead a Valencia attack that relies on the speed of strikers Rodrigo Moreno and Santi Mina, and forward Goncalo Guedes. Midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia said Valencia took note of how much trouble Liverpool caused Barcelona with its aggressive pressure and relentless attacking. "Whenever a team beats Barca, you have to study it as an example," Kondogbia said. "But we have to be ourselves. We have to play like we know how and try to find the points where we can do Barcelona some damage.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019

Nadal opens bid for 12th French Open title against qualifier

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal will start his campaign for a record-extending 12th title at the French Open against a qualifier. And if he makes it to the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam, another qualifier will be waiting. The defending champion was handed what looked like quite an easy draw Thursday at Roland Garros stadium, where the Spanish player attended the ceremony and said he was happy with his form. Nadal won his first title of the season last week at the Italian Open, where he looked close to his best after some uncharacteristic struggles on clay. "It was an important title for me," Nadal said. "I played very well throughout the tournament, I'm very happy to find myself in this situation." In the women's draw, Simona Halep will open the defense of her title against Ajla Tomljanovic. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka, who seeks a third consecutive major championship, will be up against Anna Karolína Schmiedlová. Coming to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was drawn into the top half of the draw with Osaka and Halep. She will take on Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round. Osaka will be up against a tough opponent if she gets past Schmiedlova, facing the winner of a first-round match pitting 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko and former top-ranked player Victoria Azarenka. Nadal, who last year became the first male player to win 11 titles at the same Grand Slam tournament, could meet his old foe Roger Federer in the semifinals. Federer, in his first French Open match since 2015, will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and could face Stefanos Tsitsipas in a potential quarterfinal matchup. Federer is back on clay after skipping that part o the season for the past two years. He reached the quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome, where he withdrew because of a right leg injury. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will begin his run against Hubert Hurkacz. The Serb has been enjoying a good run of form during the clay season, winning the title in Madrid before losing to Nadal in Rome. Organizers announced before the draw that Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic had withdrawn from the tournament, which starts on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019