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Category: newsSource: tribune tribuneSep 14th, 2018

Q& A: Hall of Fame Bob Lanier

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Bob Lanier turned 70 Monday, a big number for a big man. In fact, that number can be linked to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer in several ways. It was in 1970 that Lanier was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, selected out of St. Bonaventure by the Detroit Pistons. And it was the 70s as the decade in which Lanier excelled, earning seven of his eight All-Star appearances while averaging 22.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Pistons. Dinosaurs ruled the NBA landscape back then, with Lanier achieving his success against the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Dave Cowens, Willis Reed, Nate Thurmond, Elvin Hayes, Artis Gilmore and other legendary big men. Yet it was Lanier who was the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game, who won the one-off, 32-contestant 1-on-1 championship tournament run by ABC in 1973 as part of its national broadcast schedule and who (with Walton) got name-dropped by Abdul-Jabbar in the 1980 Hollywood comedy “Airplane!” [“I'm out there busting my buns every night!” he tells a kid as “co-pilot Roger Murdock.” “Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!”] Lanier’s Detroit teams never got beyond the conference semifinals, though, so in 1979-80 he asked to be traded. In February 1980, the Pistons dealt him to Milwaukee for Kent Benson and a future draft pick. With the Bucks, who averaged 59 victories in Lanier’s four full seasons there, Lanier flirted with his greatest team success, yet never reached The Finals. He was 36 when bad knees and other injuries forced him to retire. Those knees still are trouble, preventing Lanier from attending this year’s Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony -- he was elected in 1992 -- and limiting his ability to travel from his home in Arizona to catch his daughter Khalia’s volleyball games at USC. But the man nicknamed “The Dobber” was as chatty and opinionated as ever in a phone conversation last week with NBA.com: NBA.com: The league still keeps you busy, doesn’t it? Bob Lanier: Well, it did. But about 15 months ago, I had knee replacement surgery on my right leg and that is not going very well. It still aches and it gets me unbalanced. That’s what I was trying to get away from. The surgeon said mine was the most difficult one he’d ever done. I was supposed to get the left one done but I couldn’t, because the right one was bothering me so much. I can’t even stand to hit a golf ball. NBA.com: You were part of the original Stay In School initiative, if I recall correctly. BL: I was involved with a little bit of everything from the time David [Stern, longtime NBA commissioner] first called me in 1988. It started off with wanting me to do something for kids who stayed in school. We did “P-R-I-D-E,” with P for positive mental attitude, R for respect, I for intelligent choice-making, D for dreaming and setting goals, and E for effort and education. It was really amazing. The first year, we were talking about giving out 25,000 Starter jackets for kids who came to the rally. Shoot, we needed double that amount, the numbers we got. Everything is kind of under the same umbrella now with NBA Cares. Kathy Behrens [president, social responsibility and player programs] has done a wonderful job of taking this to a whole ‘nother level, her and Adam [Silver, NBA commissioner]. NBA.com: Have you ever had one of those kids whose lives you touched reach out to you years later? BL: [Laughs]. You know what, I’m laughing because you don’t expect to hear from anybody. The only time that somebody really validated something we were doing was when I wrote those books. (The “Hey, Li’l D!” series of kids books, loosely based on Lanier’s childhood adventures. Co-authored with Heather Goodyear in 2003, the Scholastic Paperbacks books still are available.) I was on a plane and one of the passengers asked me to sign the book for her, for her child. I was so taken aback by that, I was shaking while I was signing the autograph. That was really good -- I thought, maybe I did something right. NBA.com: But none of the Stay In School kids? BL: Look, in our business, in community relations and social responsibility areas, you don’t really … when you’re building houses for people, the folks who work with you side by side give you a thumbs up and say thank you before it’s over. When we do the playgrounds, we use kids in the neighborhood who are going to enjoy playing in it and having dreams -- they’re thankful. But there’s so much need out here. When you’re traveling around to different cities and different countries, you see there are so many people in dire straits that the NBA can only do so much. We make a vast, vast difference, but there’s always so much more to do. NBA.com: I know you’re not in it for the thank yous. BL: No. The only thing that stands out to me is from when I was still playing in Milwaukee and I was getting gas at a station on, I think it was Center St. A guy came up to me and said, “My dad is sick. And you’re his favorite player. Could you come up to the house and say hello to him? The house is right next door.” So I went over, I went upstairs. The guy was laying there in his bed. His son said, “This is Bob,” and he was like, “I know.” And he just had a little smile, a twinkle in his eye. And he grabbed my hand and squeezed it. And we said a little prayer. About two weeks later, his dad had died. And he left a card at the Bucks office, just saying “Thank you for making one of my dad’s final days into a good day.” NBA.com: It probably wasn’t, and isn’t, uncommon for you to be spotted out in public like that. At your size (6-foot-11, 250 pounds as a player). BL: As time passes on, people know you at first because you’re a player. Then you stop playing. And 10 years after, when a player like Shaquille O’Neal comes along, they know him and figure you must be Shaq’s dad. “You’re wearing them big shoes.” I just go along with it. “Yeah, I’m Shaq’s dad!” NBA.com: That has to sting, seeing as how Shaq took your title for the NBA’s biggest sneakers. You were famous for your size-22s. BL: Yeah, he sent me a pair one time and I think they were 23s. For some reason, I recall he would wear 23s and three pairs of socks or something instead of the 22s. NBA.com: Isn’t it sobering how quickly sports fans forget even distinctive-looking players such as yourself? BL: Absolutely correct. But that’s why we in the NBA and at the players association have to do a better job of passing down the history of our game. In a way that they’ll absorb it. Not necessarily that they’ll have to read it – it could be in a video game form, because that seems to hold interest a lot. NBA.com: You have been as busy in your post-playing career for the NBA as you ever were while playing, right? BL: I’ve really been blessed. You know this story: I started serving people with my mother [Nattie Mae] at church. Getting food to people who were sick or needy, taking it to the hospital, taking it to people’s houses or feeding them right after church. My mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and she was in the church all the time. She had me and my sister and a bunch of kids, we would all be there every Saturday. You start off doing it not only because your mother tells you to, but the food was good. Then David asked me to come help with the Stay In School, which was the start of it all. If I hadn’t graduated from college, I probably would never have gotten an opportunity to do that with the NBA. Plus, the amazing number of young people I’ve met around the country, around the world, that I think I’ve touched … some lives. I can’t say I touched everybody, but some. I always had a knack of selecting -- when I’d call up kids to help me with the presentation -- a girl or a boy who needed it. It’s amazing how many times a teacher has said to me, “You picked Joe” or “You picked Dorothy, and that’s a really difficult kid. You made them feel good.” You never let a kid fail. NBA.com: You never were a shy and retiring type. What do you think of the NBA these days? BL: I’ll tell you what, I wish that I were playing now. It’s not as physical a sport. You can do stuff anywhere in the world. You can make tons of money off the court -- I can’t imagine how much I’d make with a speaker deal and those big-ass sneakers of mine. The only thing I would not like about this era is that you’ve got to be so conscious of social media. And people taking photos of you when you don’t know they’re taking them. And having those things that zoom over your home and take pictures of your house. That part I wouldn’t like at all. NBA.com: It’s hard enough to avoid the public eye at your size. By the way, are you as tall as you used to be? BL: No, no. I remember standing next to Magic [Johnson] last year at some function we had, and I was looking at him eye-to-eye. I said, “Damn, I thought I was 6-11 and you were 6-9. You look like you’re taller than me now.” NBA.com: You might have fared well today, with the range you had on your jump shot. A big man like you or Bob McAdoo would fit right in. BL: But Mac was a true forward and I was a true center. With the game the way it is now, I think guys like he or I -- Dave Cowens, too -- could shoot from outside, inside, open up the lanes, make good passes. I say that gingerly with Mac, because every time it touched his hands it was going up. He’s my boy but that’s the truth. NBA.com: Wayne Embry, the NBA lifer as a player and executive, recently said to me about the current style of play, “C’mon, the big man likes to play too.” The game has gotten so much smaller. BL: I kind of like this game a little bit. If you’re a big who has skills, it helps to stretch the floor. You can always post up, if you’ve got a big can post up. But now you’ve got these bigs who are elongated forwards. Boogie Cousins is probably our last post-up big that I’m aware of. I think I just saw him on TV somewhere making about 10 3-pointers in a row. NBA.com: Any team or individuals to whom you pay particular attention? BL: I like watching ‘Bron [LeBron James], obviously. I like this Golden State team, too, because they play so well together. I like the kid [Anthony] Davis. With Boogie, my concern is whether he’ll be healthy this season. NBA.com: What’s your take on the “super team” approach of the past few years? BL: I think both of ‘em have their sides. Back in the day, we would never do that. There wasn’t a lot of huggin’ and kissin’, all that stuff, when you were competing. You were out there to kick each other’s butt. But with AAU ball, it’s become guys playing together on these premier teams at all these tournaments around the country. So they get to know each before they ever go to college. NBA.com: Do you think today’s players appreciate the work you and other alumni did to build the league? BL: I think everything evolves. The best thing I could say as a player is, you want to leave the game in better shape than when you came into it. You want to leave a legacy, a better brand. You want players to be making more money. You want the league to be stronger. And since we’re partner in this, it’s important that those kinds of things happen. NBA.com: The 1970s seems to be pretty neglected, as far as NBA memories and highlights. At times it’s as if the league went from Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics dynasty to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird carrying the NBA into the 80s. The league had some popularity and PR issues back then, but eight different franchises won championships that decade. BL: Back in the 70s, a lot of people were feeling that the NBA was drug-infested. Too black. That’s one of the reasons the league came up with its substance abuse program, one of the first in sports to do that. The point was not to punish guys but to help guys who needed it to get clean. As that passed, then Larry and Magic came in. The media money started going up, and then Michael [Jordan] came in in ’84 and everything took off from there. So I can see how you could kind of forget about the 70s. NBA.com: And yet now folks complain that each season starts with only three or four teams seen as capable of winning the title. Why was it different then? BL: I think everybody competed a lot. And guys didn’t change teams as much, so when you were facing the Bulls or the Bucks or New York, you had all these rivalries. Lanier against Jabbar! Jabbar against Willis Reed! And then [Wilt] Chamberlain, and Artis Gilmore, and Bill Walton! You had all these great big men and the game was played from inside out. It was a rougher game, a much more physical game that we played in the 70s. You could steer people with elbows. They started cutting down on the number of fights by fining people more. Oh, it was a rough ‘n’ tumble game. NBA.com: There were, of course, fewer teams. Seventeen when you arrived, for instance. BL: There was so much talent on every team. Every night you were playing against somebody really damn good, and if you didn’t come to play, they’d whip your behind. NBA.com: You know, I’m surprised I never heard about you being the target of a bidding war with the old ABA? Did they ever come after you? BL: Got approached at the end of my junior year at St. Bonaventure. They offered me a nice contract. But I wanted to stay in school because I thought we had a real chance at winning the NCAA title. NBA.com: Gee, that almost sounds quaint by today’s get-the-money standards. BL: Yeah. Well, I trusted them as a league -- it was the New York Nets, a guy named Roy Boe -- but I knew we had a really good team. And we did. We got to the Final Four. Then I got hurt. NBA.com: You went down against Villanova, your tournament ended by a torn ligament. I’m surprised, looking back, you were considered healthy enough to get drafted No. 1 and have a pretty strong rookie season. BL: I wasn’t healthy when I got to the league. I shouldn’t have played my first year. But there was so much pressure from them to play, I would have been much better off -- and our team would have been much better served -- if I had just sat out that year and worked on my knee. NBA.com: From the Final Four to the start of the NBA season isn’t much time to rehab a knee injury. Then you played 82 games, averaging 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes. BL: That was stupid. My knee was so sore every single day that it was ludicrous to be doing what I was doing. I wanted to play, but I was smart and the team was smart, everybody would have benefited. NBA.com: Did you ever fully recover? I know your later years were hampered by knee pain. BL: Oh, I fully recovered. Going into my third year, I think I had my legs underneath me a lot. NBA.com: Your coach as a rookie was Butch van Breda Kolff, who had butted heads with Wilt Chamberlain in Los Angeles. Did you have any issues with him? BL: He was a pretty tough coach, but he was a good-hearted person. As a matter of fact, he had a place down on the Jersey shore where he invited me to come and run on the beach to help strengthen my leg. I went there for about 2 1/2 weeks. I liked Butch a lot. NBA.com: Your Detroit teams had you as an All-Star nearly every season and of course Hall of Fame guard Dave Bing. Did you think you’d achieve more? BL: I think ’73-74 was our best team [52-30]. We had Dave, Stu Lantz, John Mengelt, Chris Ford, Don Adams, Curtis Rowe, George Trapp. But then for some reason, they traded six guys off that team before the following year. I just didn’t feel we ever had the leadership. I think we had [seven] head coaches in my 10 years there. That was a rough time, because at the end of every year, you’d be so despondent. NBA.com: So by the time you were traded to Milwaukee, you were ready to go? BL: I wanted the trade. But until you start getting on that plane and leaving your family and start crying, you don’t realize it’s a part of your life you’re leaving. I got to Milwaukee and it was freezing outside. But the people gave me a standing ovation and really made me feel welcome. It was the start of a positive change. I just wish I had played with that kind of talent around me when I was young. The only time I thought I had it was that ’73-74 team they messed up. But if I had had Marques [Johnson] and Sidney [Moncrief] and all of them around me? Damn. NBA.com: I got my start around those Bucks teams, and feel I often have to remind people how good they were deep into the ‘80s. You just couldn’t get past the Celtics and the Sixers in the same year, in a loaded Eastern Conference. BL: They were always a man better than us. We had to play our best to beat them and they didn’t have to play their best to beat us. It haunts me to this day. NBA.com: How did you like playing for Bucks coach Don Nelson? BL: Loved him. It was just like playing for your big brother. He was a player’s coach, for sure. He’d been through it, won championships. Knew what it was like to be a role player, knew what it took to be a prime-time player. Didn’t get upset over pressure. He was just a stand-up guy. NBA.com: As we talk, I’m looking at my office wall and I have that famous All-Star poster from 1977, painted by Leroy Neiman. That game was notable, too, because it was the first one after the NBA/ABA merger. So you had Julius Erving, George Gervin, Dan Issel and those other ABA stars flooding their talent into the league. BL: You know what? I think you could put 10 players from the 70s into the league today and be as competitive as anybody. Think of the guys who could really play and were athletic. And with the rule changes, that would make us even more effective. “Ice’ [Gervin]. Julius. David Thompson, a huge athlete. I don’t know who could mess with Kareem at all. NBA.com: What about Nate Archibald? BL: You took the words right out of my mouth. Tiny! He could scoot up and down and do what he needed to do. These guys knew the game, they played the basics of it so well. NBA.com: No one disputes the advances in training, nutrition, travel and rest. But in raw ability, you think it was close to today? BL: One thing I will say about this group of young men, they seem to be more athletic than we were. They seem to be able to cover so much more ground. Whatever that new step is, the Eurostep? And another thing they do differently know is, they brush-pick. They brush and then they pop. You rarely see a guy do a solid pick and then roll with the guy on his back to cause a mismatch. Everybody’s looking to open the floor to shoot 3’s. This has become the weapon of choice now. NBA.com: No rings for that Milwaukee team from which you retired has meant, so far, no Hall of Fame for Marques Johnson or Sidney Moncrief, the two stars.   BL: That’s what rings hollow in your ears. You hear people saying, “Where’s the ring? The ring!” And we don’t have any rings. That’s what we play for. NBA.com: Didn’t stop your enshrinement though. BL: They must have been blind, crippled and crazy, huh? It’s a short crop of brotherhood that gets in there. I just wish there was more time on those weekends where we could spend time just talking with one another. You rarely see each other, and it would be nice to have a quiet room where you could just re-hash old times and plays, and maybe have your family so your grandkids could listen to Earl the Pearl tell about this or [Bill] Walton tell about that. Just rehashing stuff that brought people a lot of joy. 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 NewsSep 11th, 2018

Djokovic beats Polansky, Del Potro withdraws from Rogers Cup

TORONTO --- Four-time champion Novak Djokovic advanced to the third round of the Rogers Cup on Wednesday, beating Canadian wild-card Peter Polansky 6-3, 6-4. Djokovic, coming off his fourth Wimbledon title last month, had seven aces and never faced a break point in the 1-hour, 25-minute match. A former world No. 1, Djokovic is seeded ninth in the event he last won in 2016. "I thought I served well in the moments when I really need it," the Serbian star said. "I thought I found pretty good accuracy and angles with the first serve, and also my second serve worked pretty well. Overall, my game was so-and-so. In the moments when I probably needed to step it up, I did." Heavy m...Keep on reading: Djokovic beats Polansky, Del Potro withdraws from Rogers Cup.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 9th, 2018

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per NBA.com/Stats, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2017

Nadal saves 2 match points, advances at China Open

em>By Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press /em> BEIJING (AP) — Rafael Nadal needed to save two match points before advancing to the second round at the China Open. The top-ranked Spaniard, playing for the first time since winning the U.S. Open title last month, rallied to beat Lucas Pouille 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5 Tuesday. Pouille held two match points while leading 6-4 in the second-set tiebreaker. But Nadal reeled off four straight points to take the set and turn the match around. 'Was a very tough first round, as I say the other day,' said Nadal, who lost to Pouille in five sets at the 2016 U.S. Open. 'He played well, I think. Very aggressive. He's serving well. For me was little bit difficult at the beginning. Then I started to play better, I think. 'But still, I didn't have the control of the match for almost all the time.' In the final set, Nadal broke Pouille's serve to take a 6-5 lead and then served out the match. Nadal is 57-9 this season and leads the tour with five ATP singles titles, including the French Open. He won the China Open title as a teenager in 2005 and has a 21-5 record in Beijing. He next plays Thursday against Karen Khachanov, who beat Chinese wild-card entry Wu Di. Earlier, Juan Martin del Potro advanced by beating Pablo Cuevas 7-6 (4), 6-4. 'It was enough to win. I play good in important moments of the match, that's the tiebreaks and the last game of the second set,' said the 2009 U.S. Open champion, who returned to professional tennis last year after wrist surgery. Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, sixth-seeded John Isner, eighth-seeded Nick Kyrgios and Leonardo Mayer also advanced. In the women's tournament, Maria Sharapova rallied to defeat Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. 'She definitely picked it up in the second. But I felt like although she won that second set, I was really motivated to start the third,' Sharapova said. 'I was questioning how I would feel physically, but I felt really good going into the third set.' The former top-ranked Russian will next face second-seeded Simona Halep on Wednesday. 'We know each other's games very well. That's no secret. They've always been very challenging, tough, competitive, emotional,' Sharapova said. 'Any time you're able to face an opponent that's done something and well, it's great to see where you are and where your level is.' Halep advanced after Magdalena Rybarikova retired from their match while trailing 6-1, 2-1. Other winners include Karolina Pliskova, Elena Vesnina, Petra Kvitova, Daria Gavrilova, Sorana Cirstea, Darla Kasatkina and Barbora Strycova.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 4th, 2017

Go warns people on Malasakit ID

Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday said Malasakit Centers are open to every Filipino and they don’t need any endorsement of a politician or anybody else to avail of medical assistance from the government. Go made the statement amid the proliferation of Malasakit Assistance ID cards and a photo […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated News20 hr. 6 min. ago

Nadal, Sharapova and Wozniacki advance at Australian Open

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal has missed a lot of tennis since last September. He hasn't missed a beat. The No. 2-seeded Nadal had a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 win over Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth on Monday in the first round of the Australian Open, his first match back on Rod Laver Arena since he had to retire during his quarterfinal match last year. The 17-time major winner hasn't played since retiring from his semifinal at the U.S. Open because of a knee injury, and then had surgery on his right ankle in November. He also withdrew from a tune-up tournament in Brisbane because of a muscle strain in his thigh, mainly as a precaution, to ensure he's fit for the season-opening major. "Not easy to come back after a lot of months of competition, especially against a player playing super aggressive every shot," Nadal said. "It's very difficult to start after an injury — I know it very well. "So that's an important victory because is the first victory since a while, and at the same time, because that gives me the chance to be on court again." Wearing a sleeveless top, he showed no signs of any issues against Duckworth. His only hiccup came when he served for the match in the ninth game of the third set and was broken. He returned the favor quickly, though, to seal his spot in the second round. Nadal has only lost twice in the first round at Grand Slams — to Steve Darcis at 2013 Wimbledon, and to Fernando Verdasco here in 2016. Maria Sharapova's record in the first round is good, too. She was the first of five Australian Open winners to play on Rod Laver Arena on Day 1, starting with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Harriet Dart. No. 2-ranked Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open champion, opened with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Polona Hercog and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3, 6-4 in the first of the night matches on the main arena. Sharapova has the second-best record (behind Serena Williams) among active women's players in first-round matches at the majors, and she gave an illustration of why that's the case in a 63-minute disposal of Dart. Stung by a first-round loss at Wimbledon last year, 2008 Australian Open champion Sharapova said she couldn't afford to feel any empathy for Dart. "There is no time for that, I'm sorry to say ... when you're playing the first round of a Grand Slam," said Sharapova, who is still feeling pain in her right shoulder despite sitting out the end of last season after the U.S. Open. "I think I was just focused on not having a letdown." Also advancing were 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, No. 9 Kiki Bertens, No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka, local favorite Ash Barty, No. 19 Caroline Garcia, No. 20 Anett Kontaveit, No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko, No. 29 Donna Vekic and No. 31 Petra Martic. Katie Boulter earned the distinction of winning the first 10-point tiebreaker under the Australian Open's new system for deciding sets, and she celebrated twice. Boulter beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (6), including 10-6 in the tiebreaker. Boulter started celebrating and went to the net when she reached 7-4 in the tiebreaker, forgetting it wasn't a conventional count. The new rule was introduced to ensure matches don't get too lengthy — previously the third set in women's matches and the fifth set in men's matches at the Australian Open had to be decided by a two-game advantage. Fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson won his first match at Melbourne Park since 2015 when he beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1. Also advancing on the men's side were No. 14 Stefanos Tsitsipas, no. 18 Diego Schwartzman, No. 19 Nikoloz Basilashvili, No. 20 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 26 Fernando Verdasco and No. 27 Alex de Minaur, who won the Sydney International final last weekend. It was high stakes when ninth-seeded John Isner lost 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) to No. 97-ranked Reilly Opelka in a match featuring two of the tallest players on tour. Tomas Berdych sent 2018 Australian Open semifinalist Kyle Edmund home early with right away with a 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 win over the No. 13 seed on Melbourne Arena in the match before five-time finalist Andy Murray took on Roberto Bautista Agut......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Saints rally past Eagles 20-14, will host NFC title game

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press NEW ORLEANS (AP) — When the New Orleans Saints finally found their rhythm, they marched one step closer to the Super Bowl. Using a dominant ball-control offense and a few gambles that paid off, the Saints got two touchdown passes from Drew Brees and two interceptions from Marcus Lattimore in a 20-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Brees took the Saints on scoring drives of 92, 79 and 67 yards after falling behind 14-0. Lattimore clinched it when Nick Foles' pass from the Saints 27 deflected off usually sure-handed receiver Alshon Jeffery with about two minutes remaining. A couple dozen Saints players surged off the sideline toward the end zone in celebration, while Jeffery fell face-first to the turf in agony. New Orleans (14-3) will host the NFC title game next week against the Rams (13-4). Los Angeles, which fell 45-35 at the Superdome in November, will try again next week, with the winner going to the Super Bowl. The Saints' win finished off a sweep of the divisional round by teams coming off byes. Wil Lutz added two field goals for the Saints, who last got this far in 2009, when they won the Super Bowl. Philadelphia (10-8) will not repeat as NFL champion; no team has done so since the 2004 Patriots. This was really two games in one. Philly scored on its first two drives as the Saints could do virtually nothing right. After that, it was all New Orleans, but the resilient Eagles kept it close enough that when Lutz missed a 52-yard field goal with 2:58 remaining, they were only one-score behind. Foles, the hero of last year's Super Bowl run, got them in position for yet another late winning score — just like last week at Chicago and last February against New England for the championship. Then, Jeffery couldn't handle a second-down pass, and it was over. Brees had 2-yard touchdown passes to rookie Keith Kirkwood and All-Pro wideout Michael Thomas, who had 12 receptions for 171 yards. UGLY START Maybe the Saints were rusty after their wild-card bye, but they got two first downs, including one by penalty, gained 17 yards, and Brees threw an interception and had a fumble that was recovered by teammate Ryan Ramczyk in the opening period. Meanwhile, Philly gained 153 yards and scored two TDs, and Foles went 8 of 9 for 113. But Foles was intercepted by Lattimore early in the second quarter, and the Saints finally got going. INJURIES In a span of three plays, two starters were hurt and needed to be carted off. First, Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins went down midway in the first quarter, unable to put any weight on his left foot. Two plays later, Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks hurt his right leg and departed. Philly also lost DB Rasul Douglas in the second quarter to an ankle injury, but he was back in the second half. DLs Fletcher Cox, an All-Pro, and Michael Bennett also were sidelined at times before returning. In the fourth quarter, left tackle Jason Peters left. UP NEXT The Saints host the Rams in the late game next Sunday, with the winner going to the Super Bowl......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

One Championship looks to make MMA splash in States

By Dan Gelston, Associated Press How many casual American sports fans about a year ago had heard of One? Try none. OK, maybe that's a bit of a reach. But the Singapore-based mixed martial arts organization was an afterthought at best in the United States among the hodgepodge of companies trying to put a dent in UFC's heavyweight share of the combat sports marketplace. Try ignoring One Championship now. After staging shows for seven years across Asia from Myanmar to China, One has come out swinging in the U.S. — throwing millions at big-name free agents, signing a major cable TV deal and raising capital needed to not only keep its grip as the dominant MMA promotion of the East, but perhaps use global expansion to eventually rival UFC as the champ of the West. "They're making a serious push," One fighter Eddie Alvarez said. "I don't think it's going to be long before you can crown them one of the top promotions in the world. They've done everything possible in their favor to become that." Alvarez, a Philadelphia native, should know as well as any fighter about One's commitment to becoming a major player in the U.S. fight game. "The Underground King" has fought for several MMA promotions and made his name in Bellator as a two-time lightweight champion and in UFC where he won the same title in 2016 and headlined the promotion's first card in Madison Square Garden against Conor McGregor. The 34-year-old Alvarez became a free agent after his last fight in July 2018 and decided to explore his options outside UFC. He traveled to Singapore and met One founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong and learned U.S. expansion plans and acquiring other name fighters were on the horizon, as well as ongoing talks that would broadcast fights in America. Alvarez was impressed, not just by One's outline for the future, but in a multimillion dollar contract offer that he says makes him one of the highest-paid fighters in the sport. "Our deal is more in the lines of a real pro sport deal, like football or baseball," Alvarez said. "The package deal is an eight-figure deal. When we brought that to the UFC to match it, they declined matching it and I had to move forward. I'm happy I did because One Championship is the only major promotion that I have not won and conquered the world title in. It's history and legacy for me." Alvarez was part of a flurry of transactions that put MMA fans on notice that One was intent on becoming a singular sensation. One obtained Demetrious Johnson, the long-reigning UFC flyweight champion better known as "Mighty Mouse," in a trade with UFC — yes, a trade — for Ben Askren. Sage Northcutt, once hailed as a future UFC star, also signed with One. Meisha Tate, a former 135-pound champion in UFC and Strikeforce, has signed on as One's vice president and was set to move to Singapore. One strengthened its roster with notable U.S.-based talent ahead of a North American television deal with Turner Sports. The three-year deal will see One content broadcast on Turner's platforms including TNT, which is received by more than 90 million households in the United States, as well as streaming platform Bleacher Report Live and other Turner properties. Turner, which also broadcasts the NBA and the NCAA Tournament, is set to air 24 events in 2019 on its various outlets. B/R Live will stream One: Eternal Glory on Jan. 19 from Jakarta, Indonesia. That date is already familiar to MMA fans — UFC is running its debut show on ESPN-plus the same night (yet in different time zones). Johnson and Alvarez will make their One Championship debuts on March 31 in Japan in tournament competition. "I'm not the smallest guy in the organization anymore," the 5-foot-3 Johnson said. "In America, everybody always looked at me as a child. I won't have that issue when I'm in Asia competing." More elite fighters could be on their way to One. Alvarez, who said he left on good terms with UFC and President Dana White, has suddenly become quite popular among his MMA peers. "Every fighter in town is sliding into my DMs. What's going on? What are you being offered?" Alvarez said, laughing. Sityodtong, raised in Thailand and a graduate of Harvard Business School, is the self-made multimillionaire entrepreneur behind One. He's made a name as the most powerful MMA executive in Asia and has trained and coached in martial arts. Alvarez was wowed — and wooed — by Sityodtong's approach toward building One into an American MMA juggernaut. "In three years, our goal is 100 million live viewers per event, making us as big as Super Bowl Sunday," Sityodtong said at the press conference to introduce Alvarez. One has been aggressive in establish a U.S. foothold in large part because of an influx of cash from some of the top venture capital firms in the world. Sequoia Capital and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek helped One secure an additional $166 million in funding in October. One said at the time of the announcement it had exceeded $250 million in total capital base. One also recently announced an exclusive partnership in Japan with TV Tokyo, one of the country's largest national television broadcasters. One could quickly crush Bellator as the No. 2 promotion in the United States with a national TV deal and become a viable option for free-agent fighters — even with no scheduled events in America. Plenty of other promotions are also trying to compete or at least carve out a viable slice of the MMA pie, including the Professional Fighters League, which boasts Kevin Hart and Mark Burnett as celebrity investors, as well as Cage Fury Fighting Championship and numerous promotions that air fights in various disciplines under UFC's Fight Pass online subscription service. Alvarez has a stout belief that the MMA promotion made in Asia can make it in America. "The fans there get it," Alvarez said, "and it won't be long until the American fans here get it, as well.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2019

Poy Erram hopes to help NLEX become a top-tier team in the PBA

Newly-acquired NLEX center Poy Erram knows just how much the Road Warriors needed to give up just to be able to bring him in.  Erram was the focal point of a three-team trade between NLEX, Talk N' Text, and Blackwater that saw the Road Warriors part ways with draft picks Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter, as well as rotation big men Dave Marcelo and Mike Miranda in order to land Erram from the Elite, along with Philip Paredes from the KaTropa.  In Erram, NLEX finally gets a star bigman that they've always wanted to pair with their loaded back court that includes playmakers Kevin Alas and Kiefer Ravena among others.  Already, Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao is happy with what he's seeing with his new star center.  "We’re very happy. It gives us a deeper front line, our system is well-fitted to his style, he can step out and shoot the outside shots, he’s also not a slow big. Big siya pero may speed and quickness for a big, then he can post-up, he can use his length there," shared Guiao. "He’s going to be an impact player, he’s going to make an immediate impact on our team, and I think yung complementary yung game niya to Asi [Taulava], to JR [Quiñahan], and to our other bigs, so we’re hoping that we’re proven right with the decision that we made," he added.  #PBA2019 | New NLEX big man Poy Erram getting shots up. Erram was sent to NLEX via a three-team trade in exchange for first round picks Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter. | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/Vyt2HJd4ef — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) January 7, 2019 For the 29-year old former Ateneo de Manila standout, knowing how much NLEX was willing to deal for him is part of the motivation to do well and make an immediate impact with the Road Warriors.  "Yung pressure, hindi naman mawawala yun, andiyan lang naman talaga yan. Number one motivation ko siya kasi yun nga, marami silan binitawan na players para sa akin, and then, ayoko din isipin na andito ako para naka-center sa akin yung [attention], hindi naman ganun eh, siyempre matagal na silang magkakasama, kailangan ko mag-adjust sa sistema ni Coach Yeng, siyempre kailangan ko mag-adjust sa players, sa mga characters ng mga players," Erram shared with ABS-CBN Sports.  Erram adds that he also relishes the opportunity to be able to play with veterans, the likes of Taulava, Larry Fonacier, and Quiñahan, among others, a luxury that he didn't necessarily have during his time with Blackwater.  "Motivation din kasi kailangan ko pang mag-improve, kasi marami pa akong i-improve eh, and I think this is the best team for me, kasi I have Asi Taulava, I have JR Quiñahan, I have Kuya Larry, Kuya Cyrus [Baguio], veterans na sadly wala dun sa team namin noon sa Blackwater before. For me ito yung best chance ko mag-improve and mag-grow pa yung skills ko and yung talent ko and yung attitude ko towards the game." Having already played for Coach Guiao before with Gilas, Erram says that the transition period wasn't as difficult.  "In terms of transition, hindi naman ako nahirapan kasi naging coach ko din si Coach Yeng sa Gilas, so most of the system na tinatakbo dito sa NLEX, tinakbo niya sa Gilas, so when it comes to mga set plays, defense, hindi naman na ako nahirapan. May mga kaunti lang kasi siyempre hindi naman niya masyado dinetalye nung sa Gilas. Dito mas detalye talaga eh, so mas kaunting adjustment, kaunting-kaunti lang, madali ko lang din naman na ma-gamay dahil yung teammates ko nga, tinutulungan din nila ako, and then yung iba naging teammates ko nung college."  Plus, it also helps, Erram added, being able to play with fellow former Blue Eagles, especially guys like Emman Monfort and Juami Tiongson, whom he got to play with back in the UAAP.  "Laking tulong kasi sila Emman, sila Juami, nakakasama ko yan sa labas eh, kahit magkakalaban kami, lumalabas kami, so pagdating dito, ang laking tulong kasi alam na nila kung paano ako maglaro, alam na nila ugali ko, kung paano yung work ethic ko sa game, alam na nila and then when it comes to adjustment naman, ang dali din kasi sobrang approachable ng mga tao kasi same school kami, so mas madali na may mag-ga-guide sa akin na same school ko tapos nakalaro ko pa." "Ang laking tulong, and excited ako kasi for the first time, makakasama ko si Emman ulit after college, and si Kuya Larry, never ko pa nakasama, so ang laking bagay nun para sa akin," Erram added. Obviously, the Road Warriors expect Erram to become an integral part of their team starting this season, otherwise they would not have pulled the trigger on the deal.  The six-foot-eight slotman, however, doesn't want to overestimate what he brings to the table for NLEX. Instead, he maintains that he's here to do what he's asked for.  "[Kung anong madadala ko for NLEX], hindi ko pa masasabi for now, kasi hindi pa ako naglalaro eh, hindi pa nakikita ng tao na naglalaro ako with NLEX, so ang mindset ko is every game, every practice, gagawin ko yung mga pinapagawa ni Coach, kung anong kailangan gawin, and kung ano man yung kailangan kong i-improve na aspect ng game ko, yun yung i-improve ko para mas makatulong ako sa team," With the arrival of Erram as well as the return of play maker Kevin Alas, Guiao is confident that NLEX has a chance at once again being a contender in the Philippine Cup, much like they were a season ago, when they made it all the way to the semifinals.  If Erram does help NLEX to a similar deep run in the season-opening conference or if he gets to help them over the hump, then well and good, he expressed.  "If ever man na malampasan namin and magawa namin yun, makatulong ako sa team na magawa namin yun, maganda yung nilalaro ko, for me it’s a plus na eh, kasi siyempre hindi naman ito naka-center sa akin. We have Larry, we have the veterans, tsaka si Kiefer darating pa, si Kevin andiyan na, itong team na ‘to contender na sila bago pa ako dumating. Para madagdag ako, hindi ko alam, titignan natin kung anong maitutulong ko sa team." Being a definite presence inside the paint, his defense is the one thing that Erram is sure of, as far as what he brings to the table is concerned.  "Matangkad ako eh, siguro ang maibibigay ko sa team ay yung defense ko, yun talaga yung calling card ko every time I play, so for now yun lang muna siguro ang alam ko na mabibigay ko sa kanila, kasi when it comes to offense, maraming offensive player dito eh, mabibigat yung pangalan nila, yung kalibre ng player," he stated. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2019

NDRRMC validating 85 ‘Usman’ deaths

MANILA, Philippines --- The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said it was validating reports that 85 people died in massive floods and landslides brought by Tropical Depression "Usman" after it barreled through the Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas. In a report, NDRRMC noted that as of Wednesday 6 a.m., 20 were reported missing while 40 others were injured in Mimaropa, Regions V and VIII due to "Usman." NDRRMC said that a total of 45,348 families or 191,597 individuals were affected in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Regions V and VIII. More than 6,000 families or some 24,000 persons are being served inside 170 evacuation centers, the agency added. Dam...Keep on reading: NDRRMC validating 85 ‘Usman’ deaths.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019

Suspect in PH body-dumping case arrested in 2012 FBI operation

MANILA, Philippines – Mir Islam, one of the two Americans arrested Sunday, December 23, for dumping the body of Tomi Michelle Masters in the Pasig River, was previously arrested by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for helping to start up a credit card fraud forum. Islam also served jail time for serial ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 24th, 2018

Kings of the World: Team Lakay s dominance highlights 2018 in Mixed Martial Arts

As always, 2018 offered up another year's worth of memorable moments from the world of mixed martial arts.  From the East to the West, the world's fastest growing sport found a way into sports headlines, and here are some of the biggest stories inside and out of the cage from the past twelve months.    "CHAMPIONS ARE NOT BORN, THEY ARE MADE" 2018 definitely belonged to famed Filipino mixed martial arts stable Team Lakay.  The humble La Trinidad, Benguet-based gym has established themselves as the top team in the Philippines for the past few years, but in 2018, they cemented their status as one of the best in the world.  Building off their elite-level striking skills and continuously-improving grappling accumen, the boys from Baguio City dominated Singapore-based MMA promotion ONE Championship, capturing four world championships in just a span of a single year.  Flyweight star Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Six months later, Eustaquio dropped the "interim" tag by defeating two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  After putting together a tremendous winning streak, young strawweight star Joshua "The Passion" Pacio earned a well-deserved rematch for the ONE Strawweight World Championship against two-time champion Yoshitaka "Nobita" Naito. Back in September, Pacio erased the bitter memory of his previous defeat against Naito two years prior by stifling the Japanese submission specialist with impeccable grappling defense to earn a unanimous decision win and capture the strawweight crown in Jakarta. Much like his stablemate Eustaquio, Kevin "The Silencer" Belingon had to go through two world champions to take his place at the top of the bantamweight division. After blasting former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April, Belingon dominated then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to become the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion and finally earn a long-awaited rematch with long-time bantamweight king Bibiano Fernandes. In November, Belingon did what no other man in ONE has done and defeated Bibiano Fernandes via split decision to become the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Champion, ending Fernandes' seven-year winning streak and five-year reign as ONE world champion.  Capping off Team Lakay's spectacular 2018 campaign was the return to glory of arguably the biggest homegrown MMA star in the country, Eduard "Landslide" Folayang. After losing his title twelve months prior, Folayang put on a masterclass against dangerous Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to once again capture the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  Outside the ONE Championship banner, another world champion from Team Lakay continues to reign, as BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen "The Sniper" Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.    THE TRUTH RETURNS Speaking of Filipino world champions, the biggest one of them all finally made his return in 2018.  After a two-year absence due to outside commitments, reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera made his way back to the cage, and his comeback was nothing short of explosive.  Taking on the hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila last December 7th, Vera needed only 64 seconds to dispatch Cerilli via knockout and remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    NOTORIOUS Conor "The Notorious" McGregor was arguably the biggest combat sports star of 2017, after crossing over to boxing and facing off against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the year's biggest combat sports event.  In 2018, the Notorious one was all over the headlines once again.  In April of 2018, McGregor was stripped of the UFC Lightweight World Championship due to inactivity.  Earlier that month, the Irish star was at the forefront of a backstage melee during the UFC 223 media day in Brooklyn, New York that saw McGregor hurl a dolly at a bus full of fighters, leading to a number of minor injuries. McGregor would later be slapped with charges due to the attack.  In August, it was announced that McGregor would be making his return to the Octagon to challenge reigning lightweight king Khabib "The Eagle" Nurmagomedov, who was the initial target of McGregor's backstage bus attack earlier that year.     "I COME FOR SMASH THIS GUY" The drama-filled leadup to the UFC Lightwieght World Championship bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor made it no doubt one of the most anticipated matches of the year, and when the two were finally locked inside the Octagon, it didn't disappoint.  Nurmagomedov ultimately imposed his will, grounding McGregor for three rounds, before finishing the Irishman off in the fourth round with a rear-naked choke to remain unbeaten and retain the UFC's 155-pound strap.  What happened after, however, overshadowed everything that came before it.  After forcing McGregor to tap out, Nurmagomedove scaled the Octagon fence and jumped out to the crowd to confront Dillon Danis, McGregor's grappling coach.  It didn't take long for mayhem to ensue, as chaos broke out inside and out of the cage.  Both Nurmagomedov and McGregor have been suspended indefinitely, with the final hearing, which will decide the fate of the two fighters, expected to take place this month.    THE HOME OF MARTIAL ARTS Since ONE Championship's inception in 2011, it has primarily operated as a mixed martial arts promotion. In the past years, ONE has put on grappling superfights and special martial arts bouts.  In 2018 however, ONE took it to a whole new level by introducing the ONE Super Series back in April, which features Muay Thai and kickboxing bouts.  The new wrinkle has attracted some of the world's best strikers, including Giorgio Petrosyan, Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, Andy Souwer, Cosmo Alexandre, and many more.  ONE also dipped their foot in boxing, bringing in reigning WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai as the headliner for ONE's October card in Bangkok, where he successfully defended his title against Mexican challenger Iran Diaz in front of a raucous hometown crowd at the Impact Arena.    "DC" ALSO STANDS FOR "DOUBLE CHAMP"  No other fighter has had a better 2018 than Daniel "DC" Cormier.  After being named the UFC Light Heavyweight World Champion after Jon Jones tested positive for banned substances during their 2017 title bout, Cormier successfully defended the 205-pound belt against Volkan Oezdemir.  Six months later, Cormier jumped up to heavyweight and shocked the world by knocking out the once-dominant champion Stipe Miocic to become just the fifth two-division world champion and the second simultaneous two-division world champion in UFC history.  In November, DC made even more history by becoming just the first fighter in UFC history to successfully defend world titles in two weight divisions after submitting Derrick Lewis in the second round.    BIG STARS HEAD EAST Asian mixed martial arts giant ONE Championship made worldwide MMA news in 2018 after snagging a handful of big name talents in former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion Eddie "The Underground King" Alvarez, former long-time UFC Flyweight World Champion and pound-for-pound great Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, and former UFC lightweight and welterweight standout  "Super" Sage Northcutt.  Alvarez and Northcutt signed with ONE after their UFC contracts had expired, while Johnson made his way to ONE via the first-ever trade in MMA history, which sent former ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben "Funky" Askren to the UFC.  All three stars are set to make their debuts in 2019.  Aside from bringing in top-tier athletes, ONE also brought in another big name to fill an executive spot, with former UFC and Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight World Champion Miesha Tate coming in as a Vice President. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2018

Malasakit Centers complement UHC – Go

Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong Go” said Malasakit Centers will complement the implementation of the proposed Universal Health Care program and, together, they will further improve the delivery of health services to Filipinos. “It (Malasakit Center) will complement kasi ‘yung ipapackage na tulong sa Universal Health Care,” Go said in an […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsDec 13th, 2018

Fueled by trash talk, Mike Harris brings Alaska back from the dead

MANILA, Philippines – Let's just say Mike Harris thrives on a little bit of "trash talking." Harris served as a shot in the arm Alaska needed in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup finals as the Aces gave the Magnolia Hotshots a 100-71 shellacking in Game 3 on Sunday, December 9. The 35-year-old reinforcement ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 10th, 2018

Malasakit Centers to complement Universal Health Care Act, says Bong Go

MANILA – Former Special Assistant to the President, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, has vowed to push for the expansion of […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsDec 7th, 2018

PG& E gets ready for Thanksgiving Week storms

SAN FRANCISCO-- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is preparing for the most rainfall since early April across Northern and Central California starting Wednesday and continuing through the Thanksgiving weekend.   PG&E electric crews and vegetation contract crews are on alert for potential outages and will be ready to respond to outages, and local emergency operations centers will activate as needed.   The company's storm response won't affect PG&E's continuing restoration work in response to the Camp Fire in Butte County. As of Sunday, Nov. 18, more than 2,000 PG&E employees and contractors are doing gas and electric restoration work and rem...Keep on reading: PG&E gets ready for Thanksgiving Week storms.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 21st, 2018

Petron stays unscathed, extends win streak to six

Petron tightened its grip of the top spot in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The Blaze Spikers made short work of struggling Sta. Lucia, 25-9, 25-12, 25-6,  to remain on top of the heap. Mika Reyes finished with a game-high 11 points, including five aces while Ging Balse-Pabayo added 10 markers for the Blaze Spikers, who captured their sixth win in as many games. Petron had a dominant performance as it registered twice as much Sta. Lucia’s attacks (37-15) and blocks (5-0) while capitalizing on the Lady Realtors’ poor reception with 12 aces. Meanwhile, veteran Mina Aganon re-asserted her dominance as she towed the Tornadoes back to the winning track after dominating Cocolife, 25-23, 26-28, 25-21, 25-19. The Tornadoes moved to solo second spot with a 5-1 win-loss card. Foton coach Aaron Valdez said their previous loss to F2 Logistics fueled them to work harder and regain their bearings. “I think our loss to F2 Logistics made us better as a team,” said Velez, who took the helm from Rommel Abella in the off-season. “Despite the loss, the team still radiated positive energy and I did not look at it (loss) as a setback.” He added that it was a wakeup call that gave them a chance to identify their weaknesses, especially now that towering Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat are seeing action in the prestigious V. Premier League in Japan. “It served as a wake up call for the team for us to improve on our weaknesses,” he added. “I’m happy that my players responded although they were hesitant at first, it’s normal, but I’m really glad that they exerted effort rather than nothing.” Carla Sandoval also had 18 points while playmaker Gyzelle Sy registered 24 excellent sets for Foton in a match that lasted for two hours and 15 minutes. Filipino-American spiker Kalei Mau led the way with 21 points, 16 digs and six excellent receptions for the Asset Managers, who absorbed their fifth loss in six matches. In the night cap, Cignal walloped its sister-team Smart, 25-20, 25-20, 25-20, for a 4-3 slate. Rachel Anne Daquis and Mylene Paat registered 15 points each and combined for 24 of the HD Spikers' 41 attack points. The Giga Hitters dropped to 2-4 mark......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2018

Clear vision needed to unite different sectors in the future Bangsamoro

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 18 November) — A clear vision of the future Bangsamoro is needed to find a common ground where the Bangsamoro people from various sectors can work together, a former Executive Secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said. Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, who served as ARMM Executive Secretary from December […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanewsRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Why is it so hard to text 911 in the US?

NEW YORK --- People can livestream their every move on Facebook and chatter endlessly in group chats. But in most parts of the US, they still can't reach 911 by texting --- an especially important service during mass shootings and other catastrophes when a phone call could place someone in danger. Although text-to-911 service is slowly expanding, the emphasis there is on "slow." Limited funds, piecemeal adoption and outdated call-center technology have all helped stymie growth. Emergency 911 centers stress that a phone call is still the best way to reach them, since calls provide them with location data and other needed details. But in some cases --- for instance, if a person h...Keep on reading: Why is it so hard to text 911 in the US?.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 31st, 2018

ONE Championship: Brandon Vera returns action in Manila this November

After nearly two years away from competition, reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera finally makes his return to the cage in Manila this November.  Vera will be defending his championship against Italian heavyweight Mauro "The Hammer" Cerilli in the main event of ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS on Friday, November 23rd at the Mall of Asia Arena.  The 40-year old Vera (15-7, 1 NC) will be putting his championship on the line for just the second time in his ONE Championship career, with his first defense coming against Japanese grappler Hideki Sekine back in 2016.  Vera needed only under a round to dispatch Sekine via TKO.  A known finisher with nine of his twelve wins coming via stoppage, Cerilli comes to ONE Championship with a 12-2 professional record and a five-fight winning streak.  Cerilli is coming off a title defense of his Cage Warriors Heavyweight Championship back in March.  The 35-year old native of Terracina, Latina, Italy will look to become just the second heavyweight world champion in ONE Championship history.  Also on the card will be another highly-anticipated world championship bout, as Team Lakay star Eduard "Landslide" Folayang looks to be the only two-time lightweight world champion in ONE Championship history as he faces Singaporean striker Amir Khan for the vacant ONE Lightweight World Championship.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 25th, 2018