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2016-17 Old School Power Rankings: Weeks seven and eight

2016-17 Old School Power Rankings: Weeks seven and eight.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2016

2016-17 Old School Power Rankings: Weeks five and six

2016-17 Old School Power Rankings: Weeks five and six.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 11th, 2016

2016-17 Old School Power Rankings: Weeks three and four

2016-17 Old School Power Rankings: Weeks three and four.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 26th, 2016

New look: Murray, Kerber start Australian Open as top seeds

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It's new and exciting for Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber, entering a Grand Slam tournament with the No. 1 in front of their names. Both reached the top of the rankings for the first time near the end of 2016, ending long reigns by Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. And so they'll open their Australian Open campaigns on Rod Laver Arena on day one — both against Ukrainians. Murray, a five-time runner-up, opens his pursuit of a first Australian title against Illya Marchenko in the last day match on the main show court. Kerber opens the night session against Lesia Tsurenko. She'll be followed on court by Roger Federer, who is returning from six months on the sidelines. The 'one-round-at-a-time' cliche is well worn in tennis. For Kerber, though, it's pertinent. Seeded seventh last year, the left-handed German had to save a match point in the first round against Misaki Doi. Spurred on by that, she went on to beat Serena Williams in the final and claim her first Grand Slam title. She added a second major at the U.S. Open and ascended to the No 1 ranking. 'I think this point where I was match point down, that was the important point for my career,' Kerber said Sunday, speaking of her first-round escape against Doi. 'You never know (if) I lost the match, what would have happened.' It gave her the freedom to play without pressure, and that made all the difference. 'When I'm looking back, I was feeling that I got a second chance to stay in the tournament,' she said. 'I was playing since then without expectation ... just enjoying everything.' Kerber can hang on to the top ranking by reaching to the final here, but she's already feeling there's more to defend than her title. 'It's a new challenge for me, for sure,' she said. But, 'We are starting from zero here. I have to be ready from the first round again. 'I will try to not put too much expectation and pressure on myself. I mean, I will try to do it like last year — that was the way I had my success.' Record-chasing, six-time champions Djokovic and Williams, seeded No. 2 and anchoring the bottom half of the men's and women's draws, won't be in action until day two. Djokovic is aiming to be the first man to win seven Australian titles. Serena Williams is chasing an Open-era record 23rd major title. Newly-engaged Williams hasn't wanted to talk about the record, being a little bit superstitious. Williams is concentrating on her first-round match against Belinda Bencic, who was seeded 12th here last year and who beat her in Toronto in 2015. While Serena has to wait, the Williams family will be represented on Rod Laver Arena on Monday by her older sister, Venus. The 13th-seeded Venus Williams will play against Kateryna Kozlova following fourth-seeded Simona Halep's opener against Shelby Rogers. French Open champion Garbine Muguruza starts play on Margaret Court Arena against Marina Erakovic, and U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka opens the night session on the second show court. Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori gets things underway against Andrey Kuznetsov on Hisense Arena, where Nick Kyrgios will make his return to the tour against Gastao Elias. The 21-year-old Kyrgios finished 2016 under a ban in a season overshadowed by clashes with officials and fans and by the tanking at the Shanghai Masters which led to an eight-week suspension. The ban was reduced to three weeks when Kyrgios agreed to consult a sports psychologist, allowing to warmup for the Australian Open at the Hopman Cup. That's where Federer made his return from six months out to give his injured left knee time to heal. The 17-time major winner didn't play after Wimbledon and his ranking slid to No. 17 by this week. That resulted in him getting a tougher draw than usual at the tournament he has won four times, and where he has reached the semifinals in 12 of the last 13 years. If results go with rankings, he'll play two qualifiers before a potential third-round match against No. 10 Tomas Berdych. Nishikori and Murray are also in his quarter. Federer will open against another 35-year-old veteran, former No. 8-ranked Jurgen Melzer. 'That's the part of the draw I care most about because of having not been playing,' Federer said. Wild-card entry Destanee Aiava, a 16-year-old Melbourne high school student, is set to become the first player born in this millennium to play a main draw match at a Grand Slam when she meets German qualifier Mona Barthel on Show Court 2. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Nadal continues comeback with a 1st win in Brisbane

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal was in need of some sleep, so he didn't waste much time against Alexandr Dolgopolov on Tuesday. The 14-time major champion, playing his opening match at the Brisbane International a day after arriving in Australia following a win in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, beat the Ukrainian 6-3, 6-3 after getting on court at almost 10:30 p.m. local time. Returning from a wrist injury which curtailed the end of his 2016 season, Nadal said he's determined to use every match as preparation for a shot at the title in the season-opening Grand Slam event in Melbourne. The 30-year-old Spaniard dropped serve in the third game but recovered to win the last five games of the first set against the 2012 finalist. In all, he converted all four of his break points and fended off three of the four he faced. 'A little bit of jet lag. It's tough, these kinds of things at the beginning,' said Nadal, who added that he was still sleeping in the early afternoon and felt 'destroyed' after the travel. 'There wasn't a lot of time to adapt.' He only made nine unforced errors, and his most glaring miss of the night was when whiffed at a ball as he tried to hit it into the crowd to celebrate his win. In a post-match news conference, he apologized after stifling a yawn, but said he still preferred the late start to help him overcome the jetlag. Nadal has changed his preparation for the Australian Open, arriving two weeks ahead of time to fine tune his game in a bid to make amends for a shocking first-round exit last year. He will next play Mischa Zverev, who opened with a 6-3, 6-3 win over teenage Australian qualifier Alex De Minaur, and has a potential quarterfinal match against defending champion and top-seeded Milos Raonic. Also, sixth-seeded Lucas Pouille lost the first five games before rebounding for a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4) win over Gilles Simon, while Viktor Troicki beat Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 7-5 and Diego Schwartzman had a 6-2, 6-4 win over Sam Querrey. In the women's draw, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina, who all had career-highlight victories over Serena Williams last season, are already through to the quarterfinals. Destanee Aiava, a 16-year-old high school senior who was inspired to take up tennis when she was 5 after watching Williams on TV, also made a mark. Aiava became the first player born in the 2000s to win a main draw match in an elite WTA event when she beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a first-round match that spanned two days. She already has a wild-card entry to the Australian Open but, before then, will face two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round in Brisbane. The third-seeded Pliskova, who beat Williams in the U.S. Open semifinals last year before losing the final to Angelique Kerber, defeated American qualifier Asia Muhammad 6-1, 6-4 to secure the first spot in the quarterfinals. Svitolina, seeded sixth and the only woman to beat both Williams and Kerber when in 2016, advanced with a 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 win over Shelby Rogers. The fourth-seeded Muguruza wasted a match point and saved one before clinching a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7) win over Daria Kasatkina in a three-hour night match. Both players had eight service breaks and Muguruza, who beat Williams in the French Open final last year to claim her first Grand Slam title, dropped her opening serve in all three sets. Her next match will be against either Kuznetsova or Aiava, who was born on May 10, 2000, was No. 386 in the latest rankings and is very new to the tour. 'Pretty crazy,' Aiava said of her first trip to the locker rooms in the main draw. 'I walk in, and there is people I have watched on TV before and it's, like, 'Oh!'' Her mother, Rosie, has been her coach since she showed interest in the game. She keeps the teenager grounded. After her milestone win, Aiava said her mother just said 'good job' and took her back onto the practice courts for 20 minutes to work on her serve. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2017

2016-17 Old School Power Rankings: Week two

2016-17 Old School Power Rankings: Week two.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 12th, 2016

2016-17 Old School Power Rankings: Week one

2016-17 Old School Power Rankings: Week one.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 5th, 2016

Bonds, Clemens making slow gains with changing electorate

NOAH TRISTER, AP Baseball Writer The electorate is changing, however, and that could be good news for both. Bonds and Clemens inched past the 50-percent mark for the first time Wednesday, each appearing on about 54 percent of ballots cast by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. For a fifth straight year, Bonds and Clemens fell short of the 75 percent needed for induction, but their support is slowly climbing. Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to the Hall on Wednesday. Bonds and Clemens remain on the outside looking in because of drug suspicions, but they could continue to gain ground as more new voters are welcomed into the process. 'I think, just generationally, people in their 20s and 30s look at this different than people in their 50s and 60s,' said Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, a first-time voter who supported Bonds and Clemens. 'Maybe we're missing something — I'm not one of these people that thinks, like, I'm right and they're wrong. It's just different viewpoints.' A writer can receive a Hall of Fame vote when he or she has been an active member of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, so newcomers are always on the way. In 2015, the Hall of Fame eliminated voters who had been inactive for more than 10 years — a move that further boosted the influence of newer voters. The closest thing to a Hall of Fame exit poll is Ryan Thibodaux's online vote tracker , which has charted over half the ballots from this year's election. Of the 14 first-time voters identified on the site as of Wednesday night, 13 supported Bonds and Clemens. One of those first-time voters was Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News, who said he supported Bonds after former Commissioner Bud Selig was elected as part of this class by a veterans committee. Selig presided over the era in which drug suspicion became so rampant. 'The last few years in my Sunday column in The Buffalo News, I refused to use Barry Bonds' name. In my column, it became kind of a trademark. I just referred to him as No. 25,' Harrington said. 'So now people see my article in The Buffalo News — 'Wait a minute, how did you vote for Bonds and Clemens?' I explained in my column a couple weeks ago: To me, I felt, the Bud Selig thing was a tipping point.' Bonds and Clemens are back on the ballot next year, along with newcomers such as Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, Johan Santana and Omar Vizquel. Here are a few more things to watch: PUBLIC BALLOTS The BBWAA voted to release each voter's Hall of Fame choices to the public, starting next year. That change will add transparency to the process, although there are some concerns about groupthink and peer pressure. 'I'm very conflicted about this,' Mellinger said. 'I applaud the reasons that they are public. We are a profession that demands transparency in others, so why shouldn't we have the same here? I get all that. I can't argue against any of that. The part that I'm uncomfortable with is: I hope that people still vote their hearts and their minds and don't change based on, you know, 'I don't want to get ripped on Twitter.'' SABERMETRIC FAVORITES Raines had plenty of support in sabermetric circles. 'You've got these new stats. You've got WAR (wins above replacement). You've got all this stuff,' Raines said. 'Back in the day, when you looked at a Hall of Famer, you looked at 500 home runs, 300 wins and 3,000 hits, and a lot of times if you didn't reach those criteria, it was kind of hard for anyone to kind of look at you as a Hall of Famer. But I think the way the game has changed today, the way they look at the stats and everything, it has changed.' The next beneficiary of modern stats could be Mike Mussina, who achieved 51.8-percent approval this year. Mussina never won a Cy Young Award, but according to Baseball-Reference.com, his career WAR is comparable to that of Nolan Ryan and Bob Gibson. LOGJAM Nearly half of this year's 442 voters used the maximum 10 slots on their ballots, and although three people were elected, players like Trevor Hoffman (74.0 percent) and Vladimir Guerrero (71.7) fell just short, meaning they'll be back to take up votes again next year. With some credible new candidates eligible in 2018, the 10-player limit could come into play for quite a few voters. Lynn Henning of The Detroit News has abstained from voting at all when he's felt there were more than 10 Hall-worthy players. He didn't have that problem this year, but it could happen again. 'The 10-ballot restriction is silly, it's perverse, it's unjust, it's convoluted. It's a complete affront to players who deserve recognition, when they've earned recognition and are otherwise screened out because of some arbitrary adherence to this number 10,' Henning said. 'I think it's the most outlandishly preposterous restriction I've ever been exposed to in the realm of professional voting.' SPECIALISTS One challenge Hall voters now face is evaluating players who had more specialized roles — like designated hitters and closers. 'It's easy to find context for a Vladimir Guerrero or a Mike Mussina because there are tons of outfielders in the Hall of Fame, there are tons of starting pitchers in the Hall of Fame,' said Ryan Fagan of Sporting News. 'Defining the context for a DH or for a relief pitcher, that's more challenging, because there aren't a lot of guys like that in there.' Fagan supported Edgar Martinez, a DH, but did not vote for closers Hoffman, Billy Wagner and Lee Smith. None of those four made it in. All but Smith will be on the ballot again in 2018. ___ Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Big wins for Justin Thomas, proud moments for his father

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   HONOLULU (AP) — Justin Thomas used to call his father when he arrived at junior tournaments, and the conversation almost always started the same way. 'What's the number?' The father wasn't asking what score it would take to win, the length of the course or even the entry fee. The number in question was how many greens his son would be able to reach in regulation, and not just on the par 4s. 'I was guaranteed to hit driver into at least one par 3,' Thomas said. Mike Thomas was in the gallery along the ninth fairway at Waialae Country Club when his 23-year-old son nearly left his feet while launching a 358-yard drive, setting up a wedge into the par 5. It was only his seventh-longest drive during his time in paradise. This Aloha State adventure was the best two weeks of Thomas' career. He joined Ernie Els as the only players to sweep the Hawaii swing and became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win by at least three shots in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour. Thomas rose to No. 8 in the world and he is the third-ranked American behind Dustin Johnson (No. 3) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5). 'Unforgettable,' Thomas said of the last two weeks. That goes for his parents, too, mainly because they had yet to see him win on the PGA Tour. His other two victories were in Malaysia, so Mike and Jani Thomas had to stay up until the early morning hours to watch him beat Adam Scott one year, Hideki Matsuyama the next. Watching in person with an ocean view is better. Mike Thomas has been the head pro at Harmony Landing outside Louisville, Kentucky, for the last 28 years, and golf is really all his son has ever known. Justin was not even 2 when his father gave him a cut-down driver with a wooden head to whack golf balls around the house and at Harmony Landing. As a toddler, when the boy wanted to play he would tell his mother, 'Bag of balls, bag of balls.' But the boy fell in love with golf by himself. 'I made sure there was no formal instruction until he asked for it,' Mike Thomas said. 'There were a lot more little lessons than big lessons.' Part of the reason is that he had a golf shop to run, members to serve and lessons to give. A larger part was that Mike Thomas had seen too many kids pushed too hard and he didn't want to be that parent. 'I decided that I wanted to be his best friend more than his father,' he said. 'There were times I had to get on him as a parent. But mostly we had just had a lot of fun.' Even now, when he takes time away from Harmony Landing to watch his son on tour, he stands quietly behind Thomas and caddie Jimmy Johnson without saying a word unless his son asks him to shoot video of a swing with his phone. They will look at it together. Mike Thomas tends to wait to see if his son can figure it out first. His fondest memories are not the tournaments he won as a junior, but the time they spent on the golf course in twilight hours, sometimes playing nine holes, other times creating games by seeing who could throw a golf ball closest to the pin. Golf has been in the family for three generations. Paul Thomas was the longtime club pro at Zanesville Country Club in Ohio who qualified for the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont. Mike Thomas played at Morehead State and competed in college against Kenny Perry, but his aspirations of playing the PGA Tour didn't last long. He spent one year on the mini-tours before working fulltime as a PGA professional. He took three jobs, in Ohio and Pittsburgh, before moving to Kentucky. Justin was in elementary school, still swinging away, when his father began a tradition of keeping golf balls from every tournament he won. There were 128 balls at Harmony Landing when they left for Hawaii. The father headed home with five more golf balls — and he wanted six. Two were from the victories at the SBS Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open, bringing the victory count to 130. A special display will hold the golf ball that Thomas rolled in from 15 feet for eagle on the final hole of his opening round for a 59. Another ball is from the 36-hole scoring record (123) he set on Friday, and the fifth is from the 72-hole record (253) Thomas set Sunday. 'I wanted the one after Saturday for the 54-hole record,' Mike Thomas said with a laugh. 'But Justin said that wasn't a record, it was only a tie.' It's tempting to think back to the toddler who said 'Bag of balls' the way most kids ask for candy, and see where his son is now. But only the stage has changed. 'The feeling is the same,' Mike Thomas said. 'I know this is the PGA Tour, but when he had a chance to win as an 8-year-old at a U.S. Kids event, it was like, 'This is really cool.' ... As a parent, I'm just glad he's healthy, I'm glad he's safe and I'm glad he's doing what he wants to do. What else could any parent want?' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Fowler returns to Abu Dhabi seeking upturn in form

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rickie Fowler flew home from the 2016 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with more than just the Falcon Trophy. The win over a stellar field last January boosted Fowler's belief that a first major title was within sight. Lifting him to a career-high No. 4 in the rankings, it also sparked talk about whether he should be included in the conversation with golf's so-called 'Big Three,' which comprised Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy at the time. 'It would have been nice to kind of continue that form,' Fowler said Tuesday on his return to Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Instead, that proved to be the only victory of 2016 for Fowler, the United States' triumph in the Ryder Cup notwithstanding. His best finish at a major was a tie for 33rd at the U.S. PGA Championship and he ended the year ranked outside the top 10. U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and — most recently — Justin Thomas are among those who have accelerated past Fowler, who said his dip in status is pushing him to play better in 2017. 'Golf's so deep right now,' Fowler said, 'and it will be nice if we can get Tiger back for a full season.' Fowler's chances of a successful defense of his Abu Dhabi title improved Monday when McIlroy — at No. 2, the highest-ranked player in the field — withdrew because of a rib injury. Still, the field remains strong, as always in this event which starts Thursday. The third-ranked Johnson is making his debut, while two more current major champions — Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett — are there, too. 'He's obviously one of the best players in the world,' Fowler said about McIlroy. 'It was fun to have him in contention with me last year here. 'Does that make me look at the tournament any differently? No. You know, it's one less top player in the world I'm going to have to beat, but the field here is one of the best fields on the European Tour.' Refreshed after spending time over Christmas and the new year with family and friends, Fowler cannot wait to get back on the course. Particularly after seeing Thomas — one of his best friends — winning back-to-back events in Hawaii. 'It's inspiring and motivating,' said Fowler, currently the world No. 14. Fowler's main focus is tailoring his schedule to give him the best chance at winning a major. He said that will mean playing events in the weeks leading up to the majors, rather than using that time to rest or work on the range. The Masters is already in his sights. He was renowned as a slow starter to seasons until last year, when he won in Abu Dhabi and then lost the Phoenix Open in a playoff to nearly reduce him to tears. That didn't translate to a good performance at Augusta National in April, though, as he opened with an 80 and failed to make the weekend. 'Obviously looking to peak,' Fowler said, 'getting the first few months going, heading the right direction and peak that first week of April.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

McIlroy to have tests on his injured back

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — One tournament into the new year, Rory McIlroy is going for tests on his back Monday to make sure he is fit enough to play Abu Dhabi without further damage. McIlroy felt pain in his back before the second round of the South African Open, and it lingered throughout the final round, where he closed with a 67 and lost in a playoff to Graeme Storm. McIlroy was flying to Dubai on Sunday and said he would have an MRI 'just to see what's up with this joint in my back.' 'It's OK,' McIlroy said on the European Tour's website. 'It was manageable this week. I'm taped up and I've got a few pills in me and I'm fine. But first and foremost, that's the most important thing, to get fit and healthy again. And hopefully, I'll be all right to play next week.' The runner-up finish looks to be enough for McIlroy to have a chance to return to No. 1 in the world if he were to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, which in recent years has been the strongest field of the year among regular European Tour events. Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler are among those playing. McIlroy has not been atop the world rankings since September 2015. He is scheduled to play Abu Dhabi and then Dubai two weeks after that. 'If I go to Abu Dhabi next week and win, I think I get back to No. 1, so it's a nice goal to have going into next week,' McIlroy said. 'I really want to make next week because there's so much to play for. But at the same time, there's so much to play for this season. I don't want to jeopardize long-term goals for short-term gains. So we'll see. Hopefully, I'll be good to go.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Yes Sir: Andy Murray confident he can break Aussie drought

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray has become a father, gained the No. 1 ranking and received a knighthood since he left Melbourne Park 50 weeks ago after losing a fifth Australian Open final. Stress weighed him down at the season-opening Grand Slam in 2016, to the point where he thought about quitting the tournament to head back to Britain to be with his heavily pregnant wife. But even that would have presented problems, considering his father-in-law was in a Melbourne hospital after collapsing with an illness while watching a match at the Australian Open. Clearly, he's in a better place this year as he seeks to end his Australian drought. 'I obviously feel pretty confident after the way that last season finished,' he said. 'I do love it here. I love the conditions. I have played really well here over the years, and just haven't managed to get over the final hurdle. 'But, yeah, I think I'm in a decent position, for sure, to do it. I think I have a chance to win here. I'm playing well. Practice has been good. I feel healthy. I'll give it a good shot.' Rumors circulated last year that Murray would go home before facing Djokovic, his Melbourne nemesis, in the final. As it was, he was on the first flight to Heathrow after losing in straight sets — his fourth Australian Open final defeat to Djokovic and fifth overall dating back to 2010. His wife, Kim Sears, gave birth to their first child, Sophia Olivia, the following week. He confirmed Saturday, two days before he opens the 2017 tournament against Illya Marchenko of Ukraine, that he really had thought about leaving early. 'It was a tough tournament, obviously the situation with Kim and the baby coming was tough,' he said. 'Then with what happened with Nigel during the event made it really kind of awkward because there was times ... it was like 'I want to home for the birth,' but then I'm not just going to leave while my father-in-law is also in hospital. 'It was tough, and certainly not a position I would want to put myself in again, or my wife, or any of my family really.' Murray had a stunning end to 2016 after reuniting with Ivan Lendl as coach in June, winning his second Wimbledon title, defending his Olympic gold medal, and adding titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris to end Djokovic's 122-week stint at No. 1. He then clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking by winning the ATP Finals, beating the players seeded second, third, fourth and fifth. He set a record for most time between gaining the No. 2 and No. 1 rankings — seven years, and 82 days. But he has set a lot of timely records for British tennis in the last three seasons and, in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year's honors list, he received a knighthood from the British monarch for reaching the pinnacle of the sport. Roger Federer was asked if he could remember what it was like back in 2004 when he first became No. 1, and how he'd explain it to Murray. 'It definitely feels different because everybody comes up to you and says, 'You're the best,'' said Federer, who spent a record 302 weeks at No. 1. 'You start walking around a bit differently. Just feel more confident overall in your shots.' Murray said he hasn't really felt a difference yet, but it has only been eight weeks. Considering how hard it was to achieve the top spot, he's hoping it doesn't take twice the energy to hang on to it. 'It is a mindset thing, because I think it could be quite easy that once you get to No. 1 that you think, 'Well, actually, I just need to keep doing what I've been doing,'' he said. 'The reality is that things obviously keep moving on, the game will get better, I'll obviously get older, the young guys will continue to improve, and also Novak and Roger and Stan (Wawrinka) and Rafa (Nadal) and all the guys at the top are still going to be wanting to get there. 'I need to continue to improve. I for sure need to keep working hard.' One thing he doesn't really want to change is how people refer to him now that formally he's recognized as Sir Andy Murray, particularly the broadcasters. 'I'm more than happy just being Andy. That's enough for me,' he said. 'Yeah, if they call me Andy, I'd be happy with that.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Thomas will take his 59, and a trophy would be a bonus

div>DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer /div> div>  /div> div>HONOLULU (AP) — Two islands, two big moments to celebrate, and Justin Thomas had to think about which meant more to him. /div> div>  /div> div>He won at Kapalua, but that won't put him in the record book. Winning a PGA Tour event happens 47 weeks out of the year. /div> div>  /div> div>And then on Thursday in the Sony Open, he made a 15-foot eagle putt on the final hole to shoot 59 . That gets him in the record book with the eighth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history. But he still hasn't won the tournament. /div> div>  /div> div>That won't be decided for three more rounds, and history is not necessarily on his side. Of the previous seven sub-60 rounds, only three players wound up winning — Al Geiberger at the Memphis Classic in 1977, David Duval at the Bob Hope Classic in 1999 and Stuart Appleby at the Greenbrier Classic in 2010. Duval and Appleby each shot 59 in the final round. /div> div>  /div> div>So which was the greater feat? Which brought more satisfaction? Winning a tournament or shooting 59? /div> div>  /div> div>'On paper, it would be today,' Thomas said. 'I have a chance to win a golf tournament every week. I don't have many chances to shoot 59.' /div> div>  /div> div>Oddly enough, only when he thought he had a chance did he start thinking he was out of chances at Waialae Country Club. /div> div>  /div> div>Golf's magic number — even though Jim Furyk holds the record with a 58 , any score that starts with 'fifty' is still magic — first crossed his mind when he two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th to make the turn in 29. /div> div>  /div> div>'As well as I was driving it, I can go shoot 6 or 7 (under) on this side and really, really post history,' he said. /div> div>  /div> div>He birdied the next two holes. On the par-3 fourth, he hit 7-iron to 5 feet for birdie. He was 9 under through 13. And then he started to think that maybe this wasn't going to be his day. Thomas missed a 10-foot birdie chance on No. 5 and still doesn't know how his 30-foot birdie attempt on the No. 7 didn't go in. /div> div>  /div> div>Spieth and Daniel Berger — all of them were born in 1993 and graduated high school in 2011 — were as much into this pursuit as Thomas, if not more. Spieth wrapped his hands around the back of his neck when Thomas didn't make the putt on No. 7. /div> div>  /div> div>'When those didn't go in, I was kind of saying to myself, 'Maybe this isn't meant to be.' I thought some of the things that happened earlier in the day, I was kind of curious if I was going to post a number or if it was just an unbelievable round,' Thomas said. /div> div>  /div> div>He made eight birdies and two eagles. Equally important — maybe even the key shot for him — was a 10-foot par save on the eighth hole. That kept him at 9 under going to the par-5 ninth, his final hole which is 506 yards and easily reachable with a good drive. /div> div>  /div> div>He thought he hit a good drive. It wasn't easy. Instead of clearing a fairway bunker down the left side, Thomas saw it hit top of the bunker. /div> div>  /div> div>'I saw some sand flying and I was ready to punch something,' Thomas said. 'I was pretty upset about that, because I felt like all chances right there were gone.' /div> div>  /div> div>That's when Berger saved the day. /div> div>  /div> div>Berger, who beat out Thomas for PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2015, also was in the bunker. Thomas already was planning to hit wedge out of the sand and take his chances from the fairway. At worst, he shoots 60 or 61. /div> div>  /div> div>But then Berger hit a 4-iron out of the bunker and onto the green. Thomas asked for a 5-iron. /div> div>  /div> div>'This isn't a time for me to lay it up,' he said. /div> div>  /div> div>From 207 yards, with as good a shot as he has hit, Thomas cleared the lip and hit it to 15 feet. Berger was just outside of him, so he got a good read — the putt broke to the right — and he poured it in. /div> div>  /div> div>Thomas joined Duval as the only players to break 60 with an eagle on the last hole. He joined Furyk as the only players to break 60 with a bogey. /div> div>  /div> div>He just wasn't sure what to make of it. This wasn't the stoic Duval fist-pumping his way around the green. Thomas held both arms to the side, and he punched the air with his right fist only after seeing Spieth and Berger celebrating far more than he was. /div> div>  /div> div>'I think I got more excited from seeing them get excited than I did my putt going in,' Thomas said. 'I thought about it going up to the green. I'm like, 'If I make it, what am I going to do?' It's not like winning a tournament. You have three days left to try to play well. So I didn't really know how to react. I never had a putt on the last hole on a Thursday mean that much.' /div> div>  /div> div>And that's where he was on Friday. Back to work. His name is in the record book, but not yet the trophy. /div> div>  /div> div>The only other player to shoot 59 in the opening round was Paul Goydos at the John Deere Classic in 2010. He was runner-up to Steve Stricker, who opened with a 60. /div> div>  /div> div>Thomas only had a three-shot lead over Hudson Swafford when the day ended. /div> div>  /div> div>No matter. It's already a great week. /div> div>  /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Neri-Chaves Clan: A Tale of Southern Nobility

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, the crown jewel of Mindanao, is the country’s newest boom town, experiencing an accelerated level of modernization and real estate investments. Infrastructures such as hotels, malls and condominium towers are vigorously constructed one after the other to accommodate the influx of new residents and visitors to the city. Proof that, Cagayan de Oro as it is fondly called, had long since shed its small-town roots, to become the mega melting pot of pioneering entrepreneurs and upwardly mobile young professionals that it is today. Apart from the perks and comforts of living in a highly urbanized city, people who call Cagayan de Oro home also bask in its rich and colorful history that dates back to pre-colonial times. One clan in particular has been a prominent figure in the city’s enduring saga and cultural evolution. The Neri-Chaves family are descendants of a strong-willed Rajah whose resoluteness drove him to seek out dominions beyond his stronghold’s fertile terrains in Lanao province. The Malay prince, whose name was Samporna, or Sanskrit for ‘perfect’, decided to invade Cagayan or Kalambagohan as it was then known. Excerpts from the writings of the Neri-Chaves family historian, Filomeno M. Bautista, recounted how a potential bloody struggle was averted, when the then chief of Kalambagohan, Datu Bagani, sent his beautiful daughter guarded by his bravest warriors to meet Rajah Samporna. She was to initiate the conditional surrender, so that their people would not be enslaved by the invaders. It was told that the Rajah, captivated by Datu Bagani’s daughter, ended up marrying her. The prince also built a fortress around their village in Kalambagohan to protect them from other conquistadores. Rajah Samporna later succeeded the Datu as ruler of Cagayan. He also converted from Islam to Christianity to solidify his devotion to his wife’s religion, and in 1779 was baptized by a Spanish priest with a peculiarly Italian name, Neri. It ushered an era of peace in Mindanao, when Muslims lived harmoniously with Christians. The Neris intermarrying with the Chaveses of Cagayan was perhaps providential as it produced one of the most enduring clans in the country. Today, the Neri-Chaves clan is many thousand strong. Well-known lawyer and congressman Rufus Bautista Rodriguez attributes the successes enjoyed by many family members throughout many generations to the tireless pursuit of life’s true purpose. “We are hardworking people. We are also fortunate to have had many individuals in the family who continue to inspire us, like Vice President Emmanuel Neri Pelaez and Ambassador Felino Neri”, Rodriguez said, adding in jest, “At mga gwapo, gwapa pa!” Most if not all of Cagayan de Oro’s earliest leaders, from Governors to Mayors, were members of the Neri-Chaves family. Some became pioneers in other fields like business, education and the arts, from Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan to musicologist and concert pianist Vilma May Chaves Cataylo. The clan has had three grand reunions, first in 1985, then in 1993, and the most recent one took place in August 2016 where hundreds of family members came together from all over the world to rekindle family ties. Jessica Dingcong, who spearheaded the recent reunion held at the Chaves family-owned Chali Beach and Mallberry Suites in Cagayan de Oro City, wants to inspire the next generation to carry on the legacy of benevolence and integrity of their forebears. “We should be proud that we are very family oriented,’ Dingcong said. In attendance at the grand reunion were the Neri-Cheves clan’s many young professionals and millennials. Sixth generation Neri-Chaves and journalist Alessandra Marie Chaves Jalandoni, who carries her nickname Apples professionally, admits feeling the pressure of belonging to a family of achievers. “We have some pretty big shoes to fill, so we soldier on, and never give up,,” Jalandoni said, adding that, “We have always been taught to do the right thing, and not just what looks good on paper.” Jalandoni’s maternal grandfather Engineer Camilo Vamenta Chaves was a World War II veteran and subsequently Dean at the family-owned Liceo de Cagayan University. Her mother Alma Marie Chaves Jalandoni is a pioneer in garments manufacturing and export in the Philippines. Current Social Security Services Commissioner Pompee La Viña will head the next Neri-Chaves grand reunion in 2018. La Viña is the son of Lourdes Chaves Maestrado La Viña who was the first woman elected to the City Council in Cagayan de Oro. His younger brother is former Ateneo School of Government dean and climate change lead negotiator Tony La Viña. Commissioner La Viña hopes to welcome many more family members to their tight-knit Mindanaon clan. “It roots us in Mindanao, the blood of Mindanao is running through us,” he said. La Viña also ponders on how leadership is ingrained in the members of the clan. After all they are descendants of a warrior prince. But the word is also taking on a new meaning as the Neris and Chaveses usher Mindanao to its most vibrant era. “We will always be leaders, we are simply inclined to lead,” La Viña maintained, “but to lead as serving the people rather than ruling them.” (By J. C. Bautista) &'160; 121&'160;total views, 121&'160;views today.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Pistons outlast Trail Blazers in double OT

em>By Erik Garcia Gundersen, Associated Press /em> PORTLAND, Ore. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a three-pointer with 9.4 seconds left and the Detroit Pistons outlasted the Portland Trail Blazers 125-124 in double-overtime Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) in a game postponed a day because of a winter storm. Reggie Jackson led Detroit with 31 points, Andre Drummond had 28 points and 14 rebounds, and Caldwell-Pope finished with 26. The Pistons have won two straight for the first time since Dec. 2 (Dec. 3, PHL time). CJ McCollum had 35 points for Portland in the game with 14 lead changes and 11 ties. He has scored 20 points or more in seven straight games and is averaging 33.8 points in the last five. Allen Crabbe added a career-high 30 points, and Damian Lillard had 20. McCollum's three-pointer with 8.3 seconds left tied it and 106, setting up overtime. Portland led by three in the first overtime, but the Pistons countered with a 6-0 run. McCollum answered once more, hitting a three-pointer with 16.7 seconds left to force a second extra period. The Pistons overcame a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a four-point lead, after back-to-back baskets from Marcus Morris with 2:31 left. Crabbe brought Portland closer with 48.1 seconds left to cut the Detroit lead to 104-103. Jackson came right back with a step-back jumper to put Detroit up 106-103 with 24 seconds left, only to be answered by McCollum. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Pistons: /strong> /em> Due to the postponement, the Pistons decided to kill time Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) at Rock Bottom Brewery in downtown Portland. 'Guys were playing pool. Most of them were over there,' coach Stan Van Gundy said. 'There was a lot of other staff there too. I wanted to go over there and not be as anti-social as I usually am.' Backup center Aron Baynes made his return to the floor after missing two games with a left ankle sprain. However, the Pistons did not get out of the game unscathed. Starting power forward Jon Leuer left Sunday's game after just six minutes with a sore right knee. em> strong>Trail Blazers: /strong> /em> Coach Terry Stotts said he likes the progress he's seen from Lillard in his return from a left ankle injury that kept him out two weeks. 'For not playing for two weeks and not really having a practice per se, I thought it was pretty good,' Stotts said. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Pistons: /strong> /em> At Sacramento on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). em> strong>Trail Blazers: /strong> /em> At Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

FIFA set to approve bigger, richer World Cup on Tuesday

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is set to make the World Cup bigger and richer, even if the price to pay is lower quality soccer. FIFA President Gianni Infantino hopes his ruling Council will agree Tuesday to expand the 2026 World Cup to 48 nations, playing in 16 groups of three teams. A decision could be delayed if some Council members demand to know exactly how many qualifying places each continent will get before agreeing to scrap the 32-team format. It has been successful, popular and profitable since 1998 and is locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar. The prize of 16 extra places, and the biggest increases to Africa and Asia, has 'overwhelming' support from FIFA's 211 member federations, Infantino has said. Their promise of extra funding from Zurich could also be secured by FIFA's forecast 20 percent rise in rights fees paid by broadcasters and sponsors. 'Financially, the 48-team format is the most appealing or successful simply because the sporting element is prevailing and every match is important,' Infantino said two weeks ago. 'The decision should not be financially driven, neither in terms of revenue or costs ... but the driver should really be the development of football and boosting football all over the world.' World Cup champion Germany is not in favor. It argued that diluting the number of European and South American teams — which won all 20 titles since 1930 — could 'strengthen the imbalance' seen at some tournaments. 'The (German soccer federation) fundamentally believe that the current 32-team format is the best option,' its president Reinhard Grindel said last week. Germany has no delegate at Tuesday's meeting though Grindel is set to join the FIFA Council in May. FIFA acknowledged the risk of lower standards in a research document sent to members last month, as first reported by The Associated Press. The 'absolute quality' of soccer, defined by high-ranked teams playing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA said, citing 10,000 tournament simulations made to reach that conclusion. Still, Infantino promised voters more World Cup places and funding raises before his election last February. FIFA expects $5.5 billion income tied to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, though 25 of 34 sponsorship slots are unsold. The research document predicted the equivalent of $6.5 billion revenue from a 48-team tournament in the '16x3' format, which would send two teams from each group to a new Round of 32 knockout bracket. All 80 matches would play in an exclusive time slot. Currently, 64 World Cup matches have 56 broadcast slots because the eight four-team groups play their last matches simultaneously. FIFA predicts organizing costs for '16x3' rising from $2 billion to $2.3 billion, giving a potential profit rise of $640 million. Though a '16x3' World Cup would still need a maximum of 12 stadiums, the demand for 16 more top-quality training camps and hotels suggests FIFA would look for 2026 hosts with existing capacity. A North American bid from two or three of the United States, Canada and Mexico is currently favored in a contest that could start within weeks. Five options are open Tuesday, including staying with 32 teams. Infantino campaigned last year on a 40-team promise, in either eight groups of five teams or 10 groups of four teams. Neither impressed voters in recent regional meetings of FIFA member federations. When the FIFA leader first proposed 48 teams, it included an opening playoff round. The 16 winners would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group stage. FIFA members disliked 'one-and-done' teams going home before the 'real' World Cup kicks off. It would also stretch to a 39-day event with more short-notice travel for fans. Africa and Asia could be the big winners, and FIFA hopes new teams would include another Iceland, Wales and Costa Rica — over-achieving teams and feelgood stories at recent tournaments. Still, hapless Tahiti was outclassed at the 2013 Confederations Cup, conceding 24 goals in three games. 'The goal of expanding the FIFA World Cup,' it has told members, 'is to further advance the vision to promote the game of football, protect its integrity and bring the game to all.' ___ Entry quotas for 2018 World Cup: Europe 14 (including host Russia to qualify direct); Africa 5; Asia and South America 4.5 each; North, Central America and Caribbean 3.5; Oceania 0.5. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

A guide to FIFA's options for expanding the 2026 World Cup

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is preparing to decide Tuesday on adding 16 more teams to the 2026 World Cup for a 48-team tournament. President Gianni Infantino's favored format would break with soccer tradition to play in groups of only three teams. Two would advance from each group to a Round of 32 knockout bracket. If agreed by the Infantino-chaired FIFA Council in Zurich, the 2026 hosting contest could formally open in weeks. A co-hosted North American bid is widely seen as the best option. Here are some things to know about overhauling the greatest competition in the world's most popular sport: ___ WHY EXPAND? A bigger World Cup was an Infantino campaign promise before his election last February, when his plan was 40 teams. It might have been key. Infantino's momentum for victory in a second-round poll was a three-vote lead over Sheik Salman of Bahrain in the first. Sheik Salman had promised only to review if more World Cup teams were wanted. Infantino also pledged to give more of FIFA's money to member federations — all 211 are now entitled to $5 million from each World Cup — and send more to continental and regional soccer bodies. So, more teams also had to mean more games, earning more revenue from broadcasters and sponsors. The '16x3' format arguably works better with only group winners advancing. But that would leave total matches unchanged at 64. Infantino also wants to create fervor in the extra countries which would qualify. In the short-term, competing national teams attract more sponsors. The long-term goal is appealing to more young people who are the future players, fans and officials. Expect to hear much FIFA talk of helping the next Costa Rica or Iceland — feelgood stories at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 — by inviting 16 more teams to the party. ___ 48-TEAM OPTIONS A near-consensus is growing around the '16x3' option revealed just one month ago. All 80 games would be played in exclusive time slots. That's more hours of TV exposure for sponsors and sales time for broadcasters in the same 32-day tournament period. By advancing two teams from each group, a Round of 32 ensures most teams still play at least three matches. FIFA's own analysis predicts this format will raise revenue by 20 percent from the equivalent $5.5 billion forecast from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The flaw for purists is planning for penalty shootouts to settle drawn group matches. If each game has a 'winner' that guards against teams colluding on a mutually favorable result in the last group games. Previously, Infantino suggested an opening playoff round of 16 matches to decide who would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group phase. That was unacceptable to many FIFA members federations who said 'one-and-done' teams were not part of a real World Cup. It also would stretch the tournament to 39 days. ___ 40-TEAM OPTIONS Infantino's plan from one year ago is now almost friendless. Either of two options, 10 groups of four teams or eight five-team groups, gives lopsided or weak match schedules, FIFA judged. In '10x4,' only 76 matches are played and only six group runners-up advance from a muddled tiebreaker process to a Round of 16. In '8x5,' the 88 matches include meaningless ones in a flabby group phase ripe for collusion. Also, the four semifinalists would play eight matches and that workload is unacceptable to European clubs releasing employees to national-team duty. ___ PROVEN 32-TEAM FORMAT Why fix something that is not broken? Germany, the defending champion, has publicly asked this question. The 32-team format and perfect 64-match bracket has worked well since being introduced at the 1998 World Cup in France (where Europe had 15 teams). FIFA acknowledged that it produces the best soccer — 'the highest absolute quality' of games pitting high-ranked teams against each other. Recall that former winners Italy, England and Uruguay were drawn in the same 2014 World Cup group — and yet Costa Rica finished top. Still, enough of FIFA's 211 members want change and their chance to play. ___ WHO WILL PLAY? A big question is likely not being resolved Tuesday. FIFA has yet to announce exactly how many entry slots each of six confederations would get for their own qualifying program. Quotas for a 40-team World Cup were proposed in December 2015 by a FIFA advisory group that included Infantino, then UEFA's general secretary. Some saw a cynical move to sweeten skeptical FIFA voters who were being asked to vote through modernizing and anti-corruption reforms on the same day they picked a new president. Then, assuming a single host nation would get automatic entry, the proposal for sharing 39 qualifying slots was: Europe 14; Africa 7; Asia 6; South America 5; North, Central America and Caribbean 5; Oceania 1; plus a final slot awarded 'based on sporting merits using a method yet to be defined.' Going from 40 to 48 can add at least one more from each continent. Who could those new teams be? On current form, maybe Wales and Panama, Congo and Burkina Faso, Uzbekistan and Oman, will bring something new to the 2026 World Cup. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Opinion: Vantage Point -- Luis V. Teodoro: "The Pollyanna Principle"

The advent of every new year inevitably brings with it not only the cheery predictions of hacks who claim to have the power to foretell what will happen in the next 12 months by telling the world which celebrity will be sleeping with whom or how the economy will perform. It's also one more opportunity for the survey firms to regale the citizenry with what the average man on the street thinks is in store for him in this earthly paradise. Not to be outdone, one's favorite commentator is also likely to weigh in with his or her forecasts on what will happen in the political scene in the coming 52 weeks......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

No. 10 Creighton rebounds from 1st loss by beating St John's

NEW YORK (AP) -- Freshman 7-footer Justin Patton scored a season-high 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds as No. 10 Creighton bounced back from its first loss of the season with an 85-72 victory over St. John's on Wednesday night, snapping the Red Storm's three-game winning streak. The Bluejays (14-1, 2-1 Big East) lost to No. 1 Villanova on New Year's Eve, ending their 13-game winning streak - the school's longest since 1942-43. Patton led Creighton's huge advantage over St. John's in points in the paint, 52-24. During one sequence, Patton scored on two layups, blocked a shot and then hit a 3-pointer that gave the Bluejays a 42-24 lead with 51 seconds left in the first half. Creighton scored the first six points of the second to take a 50-26 lead, its biggest of the game. Marcus LoVett had 23 points to lead the Red Storm (8-8, 2-1), who finally got their offense going but got no closer than 63-55. Maurice Watson Jr. scored 19 points for Creighton, and Marcus Foster added 15. The best individual job of defense on the Creighton side came from Khryi Thomas, who did a good job shutting down freshman star Shamorie Ponds early. Ponds averaged almost 21 points on 50 percent shooting in the three-game winning streak. With Thomas all over him on the defensive end, Ponds was able to score 17 points on 6-for-13 shooting. BIG PICTURE Creighton: Coming into this game, Creighton had trailed for a total of 83:17 out of 560 minutes. The loss to Villanova marked the only time this season the Bluejays trailed in the final 3 minutes of a game and only the second time they trailed in the final 8 minutes. ... Watson entered leading the nation with 9.1 assists per game. He had five Wednesday. ... Creighton's name appears a lot in the national statistics. The Bluejays are ninth in scoring (88.4), second in field goal percentage (53.7) and second in 3-point shooting (43.0). St. John's: The last time St. John's beat a Top 10 team in Carnesecca Arena (then Alumni Hall) was Dec. 9, 1975, defeating No. 7 Tennessee, which featured Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld. ... Federico Mussini returned to the team after missing three games with an injury. He finished with five points. ... Ponds was Big East freshman of the week for the third time in the last four weeks. He had 26 points in the upset of then-No. 13 Butler. UP NEXT Creighton: The Bluejays are at Providence on Saturday and then head home to host No. 18 Butler. St. John's: The Red Storm head back on the road to face No. 16 Xavier on Saturday and are at Georgetown on Monday. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

V-LEAGUE: Successful 13th season

Huge crowds, high TV ratings from the country's largest network, a two-title romp by Pocari Sweat and a National University repeat highlighted another banner year for the V-League, which continued to pack wallops, deliver top-notch matches and stay on top of the heap. With all matches shown live over ABS-CBN S+A and via livestrean through sports.abs-cbn.com/livestrean/vleague, the league had a very successful 13th season and reached broader audience nationwide and even abroad.    It was also a season of firsts and comebacks with Iriga City Mayor Madeleine Alfelor-Gazmen playing an actual game in the Open Conference and the Summer Spikers making their return after a one-year absence, shuttling from Baguio and Manila and back during games. Veering away from its regular opening conference fare, the league, where it all started, actually marked its 13th season with a fans’ day where they played with their favorite stars in a variety of game-related skills challenge and ended up mingling with their idols for photo-ops and autograph signing sessions during the All-Star. The league, in partnership with ABS-CBN, held its All-Star Game, along with that of the Spikers’ Turf, as part of its social commitment with proceeds, amounting to P200,000 going to the typhoon Lawin victims through ABS CBN Foundation. The All-Star was also staged to give something back to the league’s ever-loyal fans through the backing of Shakey’s, Mikasa, Accel, Pocari Sweat, BaliPure, the Philippine Sports Commission and ABS-CBN Sports + Action. Bannered by veterans Michele Gumabao, Melissa Gohing, Myla Pablo and Desiree Dadang, Pocari Sweat made sure to mark its maiden stint in the country’s premier volley league with a victory – grounding the Air Force Lady Jet Spikers in sudden death to snare the Open Conference crown before a huge crowd. Pocari Sweat also came into the season-ending Reinforced Conference armed to the teeth, tapping a pair of talented imports in Andrea Kacsits and Breanna Mackie and sweeping another Alyssa Valdez-led team, this time, the Bureau of Customs Transformers in the finals to complete the Lady Warriors’ remarkable two-title sweep before another banner crowd. Most marquee matches were beamed live over ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 with the championships aired on primetime, further adding to the popularity and following of the league which turned a once-dormant sport in 2004 into what it is today. Customs also toughened up in a bid to claim a V-League championship on its very first try, luring not only the high-flying, power-hitting Valdez but also tapping Thai imports Nic Jaisaen and Kanjana Kuthaisong, while BaliPure, raring to atone for its failed bid in the Open, also came in with reinforcements Kaylee Manns and Kate Morell. But both fell short against the Lady Warriors, so did the five other teams which showed up with an all-local crew with UST and UP dishing out solid games while underscoring their readiness for the UAAP wars. The Lady Bulldogs also proved they’re more than ready for the UAAP battle, beating the Ateneo Lady Eagles in a pair of five-setters to repeat as champions of the mid-season Collegiate Conference. MVP Jaja Santiago and former utility spiker-turned-setter Jasmine Nabor took charge for the Bustillos-based school, which actually notched its third V-League title, including its breakthrough in Season 10, also against Ateneo. Over in the men’s side, the second season of Spikers’ Turf also proved to be a big success with the Air Force Jet Spikers dispatching the Cignal HD Spikers in both the Open and Reinforced Conference finals. Air Force’s season-ending conference victory also served as a revenge of sorts as Cignal edged it in three matches to clinch last year’s Reinforced crown. Ateneo, on the other hand, got back at NU as the Eagles kept the Collegiate Championship for the second straight season. Both squads have figured in the last three UAAP finals as well as the first two V-League Collegiate Conference championships with the Katipunan-based squad lording it over NU, 4-1, in their head-to-head duel. With Sports Vision lining up a number of innovations to make the league more interesting and at the same time compete for media attention in mainstream sports, there’s no other way for Season 14 to go but up.     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2016