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Salah saves Liverpool; Man United draws again

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press If Virgil van Dijk cost Liverpool $100 million, imagine how much Mohamed Salah is currently worth? The Egypt forward is exceeding all expectations in his first season at Anfield and scored another two goals to help Liverpool come from behind to beat Leicester 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday. That's 23 goals in all competitions by the turn of the year — matching the 56-year club record held by Roger Hunt — of which 17 have come in the league. "He is still a young player," Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said of the 25-year-old Salah. "He can improve." It is looking like 42 million euros ($49 million) well spent this summer following Salah's move from Roma. Van Dijk was in the directors' box to watch his new employers after agreeing this week to a move to Liverpool from Southampton for double that fee. The Dutch center back will do well to match Salah's impact at Anfield. Events hours later made it an even better day for Liverpool, with Manchester United held 0-0 at home by Southampton for a third straight draw over the Christmas period. Liverpool, in fourth place, is only three points behind United. Chelsea beat Stoke 5-0 to climb to second place, 13 points behind Manchester City, which plays Crystal Palace on Sunday. ___ SALAH'S RECORD Salah responded to Jamie Vardy's third-minute opener at Anfield to score in the 52nd and 76th minutes, and move onto 23 goals by the turn of the year, the same as Hunt had in the 1961-62 campaign. An errant pass by Joel Matip, who might end up losing his place to Van Dijk, led to Vardy's goal that was set up by Riyad Mahrez. Salah had four decent chances before equalizing eight minutes into the second half, running onto Sadio Mane's back-heel and holding off Christian Fuchs and Daniel Amartey to pick his spot beyond goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. He grabbed the winner in the 76th after another back-heel, this time from James Milner. Salah is one goal behind the league's top scorer, Tottenham's Harry Kane. ___ LUKAKU HURT Man United striker Romelu Lukaku was carried off on a stretcher, wearing an oxygen mask, in the first half of his team's draw against Southampton. Lukaku required a long period of treatment after a clash of heads with Southampton defender Wesley Hoedt. He wasn't immediately taken to hospital. United had already drawn against Leicester and Burnley over the past week, damaging further its slim hopes of catching City. The priority now might be holding onto its place in the top four. Southampton rebounded well from its 5-2 loss at Tottenham last time out. ___ CHELSEA ROUT A big Chelsea win was predicted as soon as the team sheets came out an hour before kickoff. Already hit by injuries, Stoke rested a number of key players for its tough trip to Stamford Bridge in view of an important match with fellow struggler Newcastle on Monday, and was made to pay. Antonio Rudiger, Danny Drinkwater and Pedro Rodriguez scored in the opening 23 minutes, before further goals by Willian — from the penalty spot — and substitute Davide Zappacosta. "We had to protect a number of players," said under-pressure Stoke manager Mark Hughes. "I take responsibility for this, it was my decision. But the feeling is we're in better shape for Monday." ___ CARVALHAL'S IMPACT Carlos Carvalhal made the perfect start as Swansea manager, winning his first game in charge and seeing the team climb off the bottom of the standings. Jordan Ayew scored an 86th-minute equalizer and Luciano Narsingh grabbed the winner in the 90th minute in Swansea's 2-1 victory at Watford. Carvalhal was hired on Thursday as the replacement for Paul Clement, just four days after parting company with under-performing second-tier team Sheffield Wednesday. It was only Swansea's fourth league win this season. West Brom is now in last place. ___ ALLARDYCE RUN OVER Sam Allardyce's unbeaten start as Everton manager is over. In his seventh league game in charge, Allardyce saw his team fall to a 2-1 loss at Bournemouth thanks to Ryan Fraser's 88th-minute winner. Fraser had scored the opening goal at Vitality Stadium, with Idrissa Gueye equalizing in the 57th. It was the first time ninth-place Everton has conceded more than a goal in a game under Allardyce, who made it his first task to shore up the defense. ___ STALEMATES It was the third round of matches in this extremely busy period in the Premier League and it might be taking its toll on some teams. Excitement was in short supply as Huddersfield drew 0-0 at Burnley, while there was also a goalless draw between Newcastle and visiting Brighton......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017

How will the Spurs meld Aldridge, Leonard?

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com A top-three team in the Western Conference is ready to get its best player back from injury. He's someone who, last season, made first-team All-NBA, had a seat at the MVP roundtable and nearly chopped down the champion Golden State Warriors in a playoff game (before being chopped down himself). And this will be good for the San Antonio Spurs, most would agree. What’s less certain is what Kawhi Leonard’s return from an achy quadricep means for LaMarcus Aldridge, who looks comfortable playing the lead right now without his co-star, yet squirmed to find peace when he had to ride shotgun. The Spurs star could make his season debut on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) against the Mavericks. The Spurs’ season rides on a happy balance between the two and a way to once again lurk as the team that gives the Warriors a severe case of the creeps, more than any other in the West. Despite all the fuss made over Chris Paul joining James Harden in Houston, and the star-infused Thunder in Oklahoma City, it’s the same-old Spurs who spooked Golden State in Game 1 before losing the Western Conference finals. They were also the last non-Warriors team to reach the NBA Finals. And look who’s sitting a bounce pass from the top of the West, despite missing Kawhi all season? That opening playoff game last May against Golden State was a flash point for San Antonio. The series of events that followed managed to put Leonard in a bad place physically, saw Aldridge melt epically the rest of that series and generate trade talk in the off-season, forced a major sit-down/showdown between coach Gregg Popovich and Aldridge and then, out of seemingly nowhere and somewhat surprisingly, a peaceful resolution was reached and wins followed. “As you can see, based on the evidence,” said Aldridge the other day, “everything’s good.” Yes, it appears so. With Kawhi out of the lineup, the Spurs are doing what they usually do, using disciplined basketball to stamp themselves as a contender. Some nights, Aldridge has been a force, ripping double-doubles and looming large in close games. The ball is finding him in a greedy groove; Aldridge is taking almost 17 1/2 shots a game and the Spurs’ No. 2 shooter, Rudy Gay, is getting nine. As a result, his scoring average is up from a year ago, from 17.3 points per game to 22.6 ppg, matching his best production during his peak with the Portland Trail Blazers. Now in his third season with the Spurs, Aldridge has never felt this frisky and once again is leaning on his money maker: the floating 18-foot jumper. Most important, the Spurs are winning because of him, and Popovich is gloating over him. “Are you kidding?” Popovich said. “We’d be in the toilet if it wasn’t for L.A. He’s been a complete basketball player at both ends of the floor, great rebounding, defensively, running the floor, scoring. What’s really been great is his leadership. And him bringing it every night.” It’s a short sample size after 25 games, but Popovich and the Spurs are cautiously encouraged by this. The Spurs veered from their usual draft-and-develop ways when they signed Aldridge to a big free-agent contract three summers ago. Because of that, Aldridge was considered an outsider, someone who wasn’t a true Spur, but who was needed by a team that craved proven talent to remain a contender in the post-Tim Duncan era. But it’s been a learning process for Aldridge, Popovich and the Spurs. He came from the Blazers anxious to break free of a team that began to orbit around Damian Lillard, but wouldn’t you know it, Leonard turned into a superstar almost overnight after Aldridge arrived. The timing was good for the Spurs ... and awkward for Aldridge, who was forced to adjust his game with prodding from Popovich. Aldridge bit his tongue last season when he averaged his lowest point total since his rookie season. When Leonard suffered his ankle sprain against the Warriors, Aldridge suddenly had the burden of carrying the load, and he failed spectacularly for the rest of that series. He averaged just 11.3 points in the final three games and became low hanging fruit for critics. Popovich was asked the other day if Aldridge had to atone for that this season and the coach came to his player’s defense. “I don’t know if the word ‘atone’ is accurate,” Popovich said. “If your leading scorer and also your point guard (Tony Parker, who was also out against the Warriors) isn’t there, then it falls on someone else. If you take away the two top players from any playoff team, it’s probably going to be tough to move on. I don’t think he has anything to atone for.” Still, something wasn’t right; anyone could see that. Aldridge requested a summertime meeting with Popovich and came with demands. On the surface, that might seem a risky strategy, given the coach’s credentials vs. someone without a single title, and Aldridge knew he was walking on eggshells. “I didn’t know how it would go because he’s Gregg Popovich. I didn’t know how he’d take me saying things. I didn’t know what to expect, with me coming at a person a different way but I was very honest and I think he could tell this was maybe different from what he was used to. But I was not disrespectful. I was trying to express how I was feeling and he was very receptive to it. We kept talking and things got better. I was pleasantly surprised.” For anyone who thought one of the game’s greatest coaches didn’t have a humble side, guess again. Popovich said: “We broke bread a few times, talked about it, laughed about it, discussed what we thought needed to happen, and frankly 95 percent of it fell on me because I made an error in trying to change him too much. That might sound odd, but he’d been in the league nine years and there’s one way he plays on the offensive end and feels comfortable with. I tried to turn him into Jack Sikma, told him I was going to teach you how to play on the elbow, go on the wing, face up. It was confusing for him. It really didn’t fit his style of play. I was guilty of over coaching in a sense. “We came to an agreement on what had to happen. Well, on defense, I told him ‘I’m going to get on you like I do everyone else. But on offense, I don’t even want to talk to you. When they double you, kick it. Other than that, you be LaMarcus Aldridge.’ You see the result right now. He’s happy, confident and kicking everybody’s butt.” Every star player’s ego needs a degree of pampering, and Popovich did admit that dealing with Aldridge was different than any player he’s ever had, yet says there’s a reason for that. “When guys like Kawhi and Tony Parker and others came to me, they were young kids. When a guy’s been in a league nine years and is used to doing something and I try to take it away, that’s not right. That wasn’t very wise on my part.” Popovich didn’t pull rank in the meeting with Aldridge and if anything, he put his ego in check, something you see from coaches who haven’t accomplished one-fourth of what he’s done. But Pop has never strayed from the first rule in coaching players, especially the good ones: Keep them happy by any means necessary. “You gotta look at things and make it better as a coach,” he said. “It’s your responsibility. This was mostly me.” Here’s Aldridge this season so far: Back-to-back 33- and-41-point games a few weeks ago, sharper court awareness, better rebounding and passing than a year ago. Aldridge: “I was frustrated. I just wanted to help more and I think he understood that. Now I feel as confident as I was in Portland. I’m definitely being myself and playing my game and not overthinking and not worried about what’s going to happen if I don’t play well. I’m not a face-up guy. I like to have my back to the basket more. Pop’s given me the freedom to be myself again and that has shown itself on the court.” The issue, both say, wasn’t necessary the number of shots, though that was certainly one of the issues. It also was about the spot on the floor, when those shots needed to be taken. Aldridge said he has no problem with Leonard as the core -- he called Kawhi “our main guy” -- but wanted the same amount of comforts within the system. “He’s a go-to guy also,” said Aldridge. “The plan is to have him be the guy he is, and I be who I am now.” And there’s the key word: now. Leonard was bothered by the quad all last season and it didn’t respond quickly to offseason treatment. But now he’s nearly 100 percent and hopes a quick return to the level of last season when he jacked his scoring and finished third in the MVP voting, one spot ahead of LeBron James. Count Parker among the teammates who’ve said the obvious about Aldridge and how the power forward, in Leonard’s absence, has looked All-Star quality. “Everything’s going through him right now and he’s doing a better job knowing when to score and when to pass,” Parker said, “along with reading double teams and playing good defense.” But then Parker, the most senior Spur after Manu Ginobili, stressed that everyone, including Aldridge, must sacrifice for Leonard and not vice-versa, for the sake of the system and ultimately, wins. “When you play for the Spurs you don’t get a lot of big stats,” Parker said. “Now that Kawhi is out, he obviously has the ball more and he’s going to shoot more shots.” Then he added the kicker: “When Kawhi comes back we will share” -- Parker said while smiling -- “like we always do here.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or 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 NewsDec 9th, 2017

The Pistons are 10-3, and might be the surprise of the NBA

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press The Detroit Pistons are heading on the road for a few days, so maybe someone will see them play. They’ve certainly been worth watching. Detroit’s 10-3 start, good for No. 2 in the Eastern Conference standings, is one of the biggest good surprises in the NBA through the season’s first month. The Pistons already have a road win at Golden State, swept a five-game homestand — possibly to the delight of all those unoccupied red seats at Little Caesars Arena, more on that in a moment — and are off to their best start in 12 years. “I know that we’re playing as a team right now,” Detroit’s Luke Kennard said. “We’re really locked in. We’re really playing together and we play hard. When you have a team that does that together, you win.” Now comes the test. Starting Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), the Pistons play five of their next six games on the road — visiting Milwaukee, Indiana and Minnesota before returning home to face Cleveland, then heading right back out for a trip to Oklahoma City and Boston. After topping Miami to finish off a 5-0 homestand Sunday (Monday, PHL time), Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy made no effort to hide how pleased he is right now. “We did a great job here, and now you just move on to the next challenge,” Van Gundy said. “Now 9-of-11 on the road, the next three games on the road against teams you beat at home so you know they want back at you. The challenges just keep mounting, but you put wins in the bank.” Maybe at some point, there will be fans in the seats. The brand-new Detroit arena has a listed capacity for basketball at 20,491, which was the announced crowd for opening night. In seven games since, the Pistons have announced crowds between 13,709 and 17,683 — and those numbers may be generous, given how empty the building looks on television. Officially, Detroit sold 76 percent of its tickets in those seven games. ___ GIANNIS WATCH Technically, no foreign player has ever won an NBA scoring title. Dominique Wilkins has one and he was born in Paris, but only because his father was in the U.S. Air Force. Giannis Antetokounmpo may change that in a few months. And if not this season, then probably soon enough. The Milwaukee star who hails from Greece went into this week averaging just over 31 points per game and leading the league in that department. He was the Most Improved Player last season and don’t be surprised if he gets more votes for that trophy this season — along with MVP ballots as well. “He plays now to destroy you,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters last week before Antetokounmpo scored 28 in Milwaukee’s road win over San Antonio. “In the beginning he was pretty darn good and he would do this and he would do that. But now he knows he can do it to you every time. He’s for real.” Antetokounmpo turns 23 on Dec. 6. The only other players in the last 50 years with 5,000 points, 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists before celebrating their 23rd birthdays — Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady, and future Hall of Famer LeBron James. ___ ANNIVERSARIES A couple of significant milestone dates are nearing. Sunday (Monday, PHL time) marks the 13th anniversary since the so-called “Malice at The Palace,” the infamous brawl involving Indiana and Detroit after Metta World Peace (then Ron Artest) went into the stands after a fan hit him with a drink. The aftermath included nine players being suspended, and security in NBA arenas has been different ever since. And Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) is the 16th anniversary of the first call-up from what is now called the NBA G League — the Denver Nuggets brought eventual NBA champion Chris Andersen up from the Fayetteville Patriots, a move that paved the way for hundreds of players to truly view the development league as a springboard to the NBA. ___ THE WEEK AHEAD Some games to keep an eye on over the coming days: — Philadelphia at L.A. Lakers, Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time): Ben Simmons and Lonzo Ball, a matchup of future NBA assist leaders. — Golden State at Boston, Thursday (Friday, PHL time): An NBA Finals preview? The road team has won five straight in this series. — Oklahoma City at San Antonio, Friday (Saturday, PHL time): Russell Westbrook has triple-doubles in his last two games vs. the Spurs. — Houston at Memphis, Saturday (Sunday, PHL time): The Rockets’ wide-open offense goes up against the Grizzlies’ airtight defense. — Washington at Toronto, Sunday: John Wall vs. Kyle Lowry might get overlooked on an NFL Sunday, but shouldn’t. ___ STAT LINE OF THE WEEK Paul George, Oklahoma City: His 37-point, eight-rebound, five-assist game against Dallas on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) wasn’t even his best game of the week (he had 42, 9 and 7 two nights earlier against the Clippers). But the Sunday (Monday, PHL time) game gets the nod since it came on Russell Westbrook’s birthday and when asked what he got his teammate, George said “I got him 37.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2017

History will have to wait as Azkals, Nepal battle to scoreless draw

The Philippine Azkals needed just one more win to make history by clinching a spot in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time, but home team Nepal had other ideas, holding the Philippines to a scoreless draw, Tuesday afternoon at the ANFA Complex in Latipur, Nepal.  Close chances were the story for both teams, as the Azkals and Nepal had a number of golden opportunities to get on the board, but just couldn't find the back of the net.  Hoping to finally secure a spot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup with a game to spare, the Azkals ramped up the intensity in the second half, pushing the offense, but still couldn't buy a goal.  Playing without anything to lose, already-eliminated Nepal gave the Azkals some fits in the second half, including a late strike that was deflected by Junior Muñoz.  The Azkals came very close in the 83rd minute mark, with headers from Daisuke Sato and Mike Ott ulitmately getting denied by the Nepalese defense.  Tense moments as the Azkals are still looking to break through the Nepalese defense. #ACQ2017 pic.twitter.com/KuZP1wDX53 — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 14, 2017 With four minutes of injury time added, the Azkals again had their closest chance to claim history with just seconds remaining, when a Neil Etheridge free kick led to another header attempt that was denied by the right post.  Sato tried to keep the ball in play, but it was ultimately cleared by Nepal.  Azkals were so close to breaking through. The final attempt hits the post after the gorgeous FK by Neil Etheridge. #ACQ2019 pic.twitter.com/qURxhCHVkG — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 14, 2017 The Azkals figure in their third straight draw, but remain unbeaten and at the top of Group F with nine points in five matches played.  The Pinoy side will have to wait until March of next year for another opportunity to clinch history, when they close out the third round of qualification against Tajikistan at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 14th, 2017

Top spot in AFC East on line with Patriots vs., uh, Jets?

em>By Barry Wilner, Associated Press /em> It's difficult to decipher which is more unexpected: The New England Patriots losing twice at home in the first month of the NFL, or the New York Jets holding a 3-2 win record, the same as the Patriots. They meet on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, and with Buffalo on a bye, the winner grabs first place in the AFC East division. Heady atmosphere for New York, commonplace for New England. Jets quarterback Josh McCown, who is new to this rivalry that the Patriots have dominated for years, winning 10 of the past 12, says: 'What they've done so well over the years is game-planning for you. Having 10 days to prepare for us, we know that they'll be ready to go.' That's right: The Patriots haven't played since an Oct. 5 victory at Tampa Bay. Patriots passer Tom Brady has been nursing a sore left shoulder, but promises he'll be behind center going for a record 187th regular-season win for a quarterback. He's tied with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. Brady's 211 combined career wins, including regular season and playoffs, are already a league record. The Kansas City Chiefs are relishing the opportunity to exact a little revenge on visiting Pittsburgh. The last time the Steelers went to Arrowhead Stadium, in January in the playoffs, they beat the Chiefs 18-16 without scoring a touchdown. The Chiefs are much better now, the NFL's lone unbeaten team through the first five weeks. On offense, they're more dynamic. Alex Smith is the league's top-rated passer, receiver Tyreek Hill has built on his dramatic debut season, and rookie Kareem Hunt has emerged as a premier running back. On defense, they return just about everyone who held Ben Roethlisberger and Co. in check in January. Last week against Jacksonville, Roethlisberger tossed five interceptions, two of them returned for touchdowns, and the Jaguars rolled to a 30-9 victory. Roethlisberger wasn't panicking: 'We're still top of the AFC North. We're right there in the hunt in the AFC.' The Green Bay Packers can really establish themselves as the cream of the NFC North by extending their superiority over the Vikings. Green Bay has won five of its past seven road games versus Minnesota, though it lost at U.S. Bank Stadium a year ago. Aaron Rodgers has been at the top of his game in the tightest situations such as last week at Dallas, and he likes facing Minnesota. Rodgers is 12-6 as a starter against the Vikings, with a 68.3 percent completion rate, 4,810 yards, 40 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He will need to be aware of defensive end Everson Griffen, who has at least one sack in each of five games this season, tying a career-long streak. An 11-day road trip begins for the Los Angeles Rams, fortunately for them in Jacksonville, then across the Atlantic to face division rival Arizona in London next week. The team will spend four days in Jacksonville following Sunday's game. The Jaguars have an NFL-worst 9-28 record at home (not including five London games) since 2011. They have dropped eight of their past nine at EverBank Field. A highlight could be the running games, with rookie Leonard Fournette for Jacksonville and Todd Gurley, the 2015 top offensive rookie, for Los Angeles. Week 6 began with Philadelphia beating Carolina 28-23 on Thursday. Carson Wentz threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns to help the Eagles improve to an NFC-best 5-1. Cam Newton threw three interceptions for Carolina. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 14th, 2017

Gano field goal lifts Panthers over Patriots 33-30

FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts (AP) — Graham Gano hit a 48-yard field goal as time expired, helping the Carolina Panthers stun the New England Patriots 33-30 on Sunday. The winner served as redemption for Gano, who missed an extra point in the third quarter. It was the second home loss this season for the usually unbeatable Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The defeat marked just the second time since 2012 that Tom Brady has lost two home starts within a season. Cam Newton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another . Jonathan Stewart rushed 14 times for 68 yards to pass DeAngelo Williams and become the franchise's all-time leading rusher. Newton finished 22 of 29 for 316 yards and an interception, picking apart a New England defense that was giving up an NFL-worst 461 yards and 31.7 points per game. The Patriots (2-2) forced a pair of turnovers, but had trouble containing Newton's stable of targets. Carolina (3-1) finished with 444 total yards, marking the fourth straight game the Patriots have given up at least 300 yards. Brady finished 32 of 45 for 307 yards and two scores. strong>BRONCOS 16, RAIDERS 10 /strong> DENVER (AP) — The Broncos throttled running back Marshawn Lynch and sent quarterback Derek Carr to the sideline with a back injury, then sealed their win on safety Justin Simmons' interception of EJ Manuel at the Denver 8 in the closing minutes. Despite holding Lynch to 12 yards on nine carries, the Broncos found themselves in danger of frittering away an AFC West showdown they had dominated. Trailing by six, Manuel heaved a high toss to Amari Cooper just after the two-minute warning. Simmons, who won the job from three-time Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward this summer, came down with the ball just shy of the goal line and took it out to 8. The Broncos ran out the clock to hit their bye week at 3-1. Oakland (2-2) had cut its deficit to six on Giorgio Tavecchio's 38-yard field goal with 5:23 remaining. That came after Brandon McManus hit the left upright from 29 yards out early in the fourth quarter after nailing kicks from 28, 36 and 46 yards. strong>CARDINALS 18, 49ERS 12, OT /strong> GLENDALE, Arizona (AP) — Carson Palmer threw 19 yards to Larry Fitzgerald with 32 seconds left in overtime for the game's only touchdown. The scoring had been limited to nine field goals on an ugly afternoon in the desert before Palmer directed a seven-play, 75-yard drive with 1:52 to play. Fitzgerald, who had three catches for 13 yards before the winning grab, rose to catch the ball under tight coverage by Rashard Robinson. Robbie Gould kicked his fifth field goal, a 23-yarder with 2:24 left in overtime to put the 49ers ahead 15-12. Phil Dawson kicked four field goals for the Cardinals (2-2), whose two victories both have come in overtime. The 49ers (0-4), losing to the Cardinals for the fifth time in a row, won the coin toss to start the overtime. They used up 7:36 of the extra session, which was shortened from 15 to 10 minutes this season. strong>EAGLES 26, CHARGERS 24 /strong> CARSON, California (AP) — Carson Wentz passed for 242 yards, LeGarrette Blount rushed for 136 and the Eagles extended their promising start to the season. Rookie Jake Elliott kicked four field goals for the Eagles (3-1), who had thousands of roaring fans in the Chargers' temporary stadium while they hung on to win on the road for the second time in 10 tries. Playing without several injured defensive regulars, the Eagles matched last year's 3-1 start even though they blew most of an early 13-point lead. Rookie Austin Ekeler rushed for a score and Hunter Henry made a one-handed TD catch during the Chargers' fourth-quarter surge. But Blount rushed for 88 yards in the fourth quarter alone, and Philadelphia ran out the clock after Henry's TD catch with 6:44 to play. Philip Rivers passed for 347 yards and two TDs for the Chargers, who have lost nine consecutive games dating to last season in San Diego. Tyrell Williams caught a 75-yard touchdown pass , but the Bolts are off to their first 0-4 start since 2003 — three years before Rivers became their starting quarterback. New coach Anthony Lynn is still winless after Los Angeles' new team wrapped up a three-game homestand. strong>BUCCANEERS 25, GIANTS 23 /strong> TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 332 and three touchdowns without an interception, and Nick Folk kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired. Folk redeemed himself after missing two field goals and an extra point earlier in the day, booting the winner after Winston answered Eli Manning's second TD pass of the day with an impressive drive that began at his 25. The Giants (0-4) lost on a last-second field goal for the second straight week. They took a 23-22 lead on Rhett Ellison's 2-yard TD reception with 3:16 remaining. Manning threw to Odell Beckham Jr., in the rear of the end zone for a 2-point conversion that was disallowed because the receiver had stepped out of bounds before making the catch. Winston threw TDs passes of 6 yards to Mike Evans and 58 yards to O.J. Howard in building an early 13-0 lead. His 14-yard scoring pass to Cameron Brate put the Bucs up 22-17 midway through the fourth quarter, setting the stage for an exciting close. strong>RAMS 35, COWBOYS 30 /strong> ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Todd Gurley scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 53-yard catch-and-run, and Greg Zuerlein kicked a career-high seven field goals. Gurley finished with 215 total yards — 121 rushing and 94 receiving — as the Rams overcame two first-half touchdowns from Ezekiel Elliott the day before a federal appeals court hearing related to the star Dallas running back's blocked six-game suspension over a domestic incident in Ohio. The Rams (3-1) rallied from 11 points down late in the first half and matched their start from a year ago, when they went 1-11 the rest of the way as No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff was sitting and later lost the first seven starts of his career. Goff showed more poise in first-year coach Sean McVay's offense, throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He has seven TD passes and one interception this season. The Cowboys (2-2) are already a loss shy of their total from last season when Dak Prescott was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Elliott led the league in rushing, also as a rookie. strong>BILLS 23, FALCONS 17 /strong> ATLANTA (AP) — Stephen Hauschka kicked a tiebreaking, 56-yard field goal with less than five minutes remaining and the Buffalo Bills made a last-minute defensive stand. The Falcons lost star wide receiver Julio Jones to a hip injury and also saw fellow WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) leave the game. Hauschka padded the lead with a 55-yarder with about three minutes remaining. Buffalo's defense stopped the Falcons at the Bills 10 with less than a minute remaining when Matt Ryan couldn't complete a fourth-down pass to Taylor Gabriel, and Atlanta became the last NFC team to lose this season. Tre'Davious White returned a fumble recovery 52 yards for a third-quarter touchdown as the tough Buffalo defense delivered again even when it yielded its first passing touchdown of the season. Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes hit Ryan's arm as Ryan was trying to pass, forcing the fumble. It was one of three turnovers by Atlanta (3-1) on a day the Bills (3-1) set a team record for consecutive quarters without a turnover. Ryan threw two interceptions, giving him five in his last two games. strong>STEELERS 26, RAVENS 9 /strong> BALTIMORE (AP) — Le'Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns to seize first place in the AFC North. Though held to a touchdown over the final 30 minutes, Pittsburgh (3-1) mounted enough of an attack before halftime to earn its first win in Baltimore since 2012. Ben Roethlisberger went 18 for 30 for 216 yards and a touchdown. Bell did more than his share, carrying the ball 35 times to help the Steelers amass 381 yards on offense. The Ravens (2-2), meanwhile, looked every bit like the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL. Baltimore trailed 19-0 at halftime, generated only 154 yards through three quarters and stumbled through a second straight game with only one touchdown. Joe Flacco completed 31 of 49 passes for 235 yards, was sacked four times and intercepted twice. strong>TEXANS 57, TITANS 14 /strong> HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie Deshaun Watson threw for four touchdowns and ran for another as the Texans scored the most points in franchise history. Watson, the 12th pick in this year's draft, became the first rookie to throw four touchdowns and run for another one since Fran Tarkenton in 1961, and tied an NFL record for most TDs by a rookie quarterback. The Texans (2-2) outdid their previous highest point total of 45 set in a victory over the Titans in 2014 and are the first NFL team to score 50 points since the Jaguars scored 51 in December 2015. Houston's defense got things going when Andre Hal intercepted Marcus Mariota on the game's third play. It was the first of four interceptions for Houston's defense. Mariota, who became the first Titans quarterback with two rushing touchdowns in a game since Steve McNair in 2003, injured his hamstring and didn't play after halftime. Matt Cassel took over for the Titans (2-2) and threw for 21 yards with two interceptions. Watson then led Houston's offense to touchdowns on three straight possessions for a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. It was the first time since Oct. 19, 2008 that Houston scored a touchdown on each of its first three possessions. strong>LIONS 14, VIKINGS 7 /strong> MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Zettel led a ferocious performance by Detroit's defense with two sacks, four hurries and a fumble recovery, as the Lions forced three turnovers while holding Minnesota scoreless in the second half. The Lions turned two fumbles lost by the Vikings in the third quarter into 11 points, taking the lead on Ameer Abdullah's 1-yard touchdown run five plays after rookie Dalvin Cook fumbled at the Minnesota 29. The Vikings (2-2) lost more than just possession when Cook limped off with an injury to his left knee and did not return. Tahir Whitehead recovered that fumble for the Lions, plus one by Adam Thielen with 1:43 left at the Detroit 45 that ended the last-chance drive for the Vikings. Detroit (3-1) leads the NFL in turnover margin at plus-9. Abdullah came close to ending a four-year stretch by the Lions without a 100-yard rusher, finishing with 94 yards on 20 carries before leaving with an undisclosed injury. Matthew Stafford was sacked six times for 55 yards, but he hung on to the ball each time and completed 19 of 31 passes for 209 yards, plus the key 2-point conversion to T.J. Jones to give the Lions a seven-point lead. Case Keenum started in place of Sam Bradford at quarterback for the Vikings for the third straight game, going 16 for 30 for 219 yards. He was sacked by Zettel for an 11-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 3 right before the two-minute warning, and his fourth down heave into the end zone sailed over Thielen's head. strong>SAINTS 20, DOLPHINS 0 /strong> LONDON (AP) — Drew Brees threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns and the Saints scored all but three of their points in the second half. Michael Thomas had a touchdown reception in the third quarter, Alvin Kamara added one in the fourth and Will Lutz made two of his three field-goal attempts for New Orleans (2-2), which arrived for the game on Monday and won the lowest-scoring game ever held in London. It was expected to be a big homecoming for the Dolphins' Jay Ajayi, who was born in the city, but the running back finished with 46 yards on 12 carries. Lutz missed his first try, a 41-yarder, wide right on the second play of the second quarter, and the teams threatened to have the first scoreless opening half since Week 14 of the 2011 season until Lutz connected from 43 yards with no time remaining. Brees found Thomas, who had eight catches for 89 yards, on a 4-yarder to push the score to 10-0 in the third quarter, and Kamara took a shovel pass from Brees 12 yards into the end zone with 3:57 remaining to wrap up the victory. strong>JETS 23, JAGUARS 20, OT /strong> EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (AP) — Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 41-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in overtime, lifting the Jets to a wacky win. After Catanzaro split the uprights, he and his teammates celebrated wildly in the middle of the field — but then had to wait because there was a penalty flag on the field. The officials ruled there actually was no penalty on the play, giving the Jets the victory. Bilal Powell rushed for a career-high 163 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown, and rookie Elijah McGuire had a 69-yard score and finished with 93 yards rushing as the Jets (2-2) ran all over the Jaguars (2-2). But New York blew a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead because of some big mistakes, then had to hold on in the extra period. After Jacksonville went three-and-out, on the punt Paul Posluszny was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting as the Jets' Dylan Donahue went down on the Jaguars sideline with an elbow injury. It put the ball on the Jacksonville 25, and after two 1-yard runs, Josh McCown spiked the ball to set up Catanzaro's field goal. McCown finished 22 of 31 for 224 yards with an interception and the Jets outgained the Jaguars 471-311 in total yards, including 256-175 on the ground. strong>BENGALS 31, BROWNS 7 /strong> CLEVELAND (AP) — Andy Dalton threw three of his four touchdown passes in the first half and Cincinnati's offense found the perfect opponent to work out some early season struggles. Dalton only missed on one of 18 throws in the first half as the Bengals (1-3) built a 21-0 lead. He connected with A.J. Green, Tyler Croft and Giovani Bernard while dissecting the young Browns (0-4), who were again plagued by mistakes and were down three defensive starters. Dalton, the NFL's 30th-ranked QB, finished 25 of 30 for 286 yards. His second TD to Croft in the third quarter made it 31-0, and sent even some of the most die-hard Browns fans toward the FirstEnergy Stadium exits. The Browns avoided a shutout with 1:54 left. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 2nd, 2017

Donnie Nietes: A Decade of Championship Greatness

The Philippines has produced many boxing legends, from the likes of Pancho Villa and Gabriel “Flash” Elorde to Luisito Espinosa and Gerry Peñalosa, and Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire Jr. However, none of those mentioned above can measure to the longevity of the reign of one Filipino boxing champion, who up to this day remains on top of his game and has never been beaten in a world title fight. His name is Donnie Nietes. For Donnie 'Ahas' Nietes, the journey to greatness started on September 30, 2007, when he defeated Thailand's Pornsawan Porpramook for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight title. The victory gave Nietes his first world boxing championship, but nobody knew back then that it was the start of what would end up as the longest reign in Philippine boxing history. Believe it or not, ten years after he became a world champ for the first time, Nietes remains a world champion, only in a heavier weight class that is the flyweight division. Previously, Gabriel 'Flash' Elorde held the record for holding the world junior lightweight title from 1960 to 1967, a period of seven years. Nietes held the WBO minimumweight title from 2007 until 2011, when he was forced to relinquish it after winning the WBO light flyweight crown on October 8, 2011. Nietes held the WBO light flyweight crown until 2016, when he gave it up to move up in weight and challenge for the world flyweight title. From September 2007 until May 2016, Nietes reigned uninterrupted as world champion in two weight categories -- a period of almost nine years, thus making him the longest reigning champion in Philippine boxing history. In April 2017, Nietes added another feather on his cap by winning the IBF flyweight title and becoming the country's third three-division world champ after Manny Pacquiao and, Nonito Donaire Jr. Overall, Pacquiao won an unprecedented eight division titles while Donaire captured four regular world crowns. But here's what sets Nietes apart from Pacquiao and Donaire Jr.: Neither Pacquiao nor Donaire Jr. enjoyed a title reign as long as Nietes.' Also, unlike Pacquiao and Donaire, Jr., Nietes has never been knocked out in a world title fight. Nietes has actually never lost when a world title is at stake as the only loss in his career happened in a non-title bout in September 2009 against Angky Ankota. Nietes is unbeaten in his last 32 fights, with only three fights ending in draws. He answered, “After I lost that fight against Ankota, I trained hard to improve my skills and movement. I stay focused during practice. I give my best and I work really hard. For me, it is very important to always have self-discipline” the humble champion added. Nietes is also the true “Mexecutioner,” as he has never lost to a Mexican challenger. Ahas is 16-0 with one draw against Mexican opponents. Whenever he fights in Mexico, he always gets the rock star treatment that he truly deserves as boxing fans there know very well of his greatness. While he does not get the same adulation here, the good thing is that Filipinos still have a chance to appreciate and cheer for Nietes as he seems to get even better and stronger through the years.  Nietes is a tireless workhorse in the ring, which explains why he remains a world champion to this day despite being already 35 years old. He has no trouble making the weight for his fights which speaks well of his conditioning. When he is asked about his motivation, he answered, “I always get prepared whenever I have a scheduled fight. I want to remain a World Champion and give honour to my family and my team ALA boxing stable”. Nietes also offers an unconventional fighting style that allowed him to stay this long as world champion. On offense, Nietes can box and brawl and owns an overhand right that carries above-average power. On defense, Nietes' penchant to crouch low has made him a hard target to find. Nietes always keeps himself ready for the next fight. On regular days, the Filipino Champion loves to do biking. Sometimes he travels with groups.  span style="font-size: 13px;">Sometimes by himself. But what makes it really special is that his biking group conducts a feeding program for children on those provinces that they visit. “For me its dual purpose, I could stay fit through biking and at the same time I could share my blessings with other people and meet new friends.” /span> Giving back has always been part of Nietes’ goals, as someone who grew up in poverty. He was working as a janitor in the ALA Boxing Gym before taking up boxing. From his modest earnings as boxing champion, Nietes has built two homes, one in Mandaue and the other in his native Bacolod, and financed his siblings' education. He describes himself as a kind, simple and an ordinary person. “I am a boxer who is trusts in God. Before my fight, I always pray because on the ring, there is no one to help me but God.” When asked about his humble beginnings, he says, “In order to succeed, you must listen to the advice of your parents. For me, the number one rule is to honour them and avoid disobedience. They always tell me to do good deeds. We must follow. We may not agree with their decisions but your parents is always thinking on what is good for you” he added. In his most recent interview, an overjoyed Nietes expressed his appreciation for all his supporters and the people behind the success of his career, saying, “I would not have been celebrating my 10th year as a world champion if I weren’t given the chance to box in the first place, so I want to thank my manager, sir ALA,” talking of the ALA Boxing Group’s top honcho, Tony Aldeguer. “I’m very grateful to my promoter, ALA Promotions, our partner TV network ABS-CBN, the local and international media, my family, friends, fans, and of course, God Almighty who made all this happen. It has been a long journey, but nothing beats the happiness I feel being identified as Donnie “Ahas” Nietes, the longest-reigning Filipino world champion” he added. Unbeaten in the last 13 years and a world champion in three weight divisions, Nietes has indeed earned his place in the pantheon of great Filipino world champions. Thankfully, Filipinos can still witness his greatness because the country's longest reigning boxing champion is not done winning yet.  br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2017

Morata making the most of his time in the spotlight

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2017

Lady Bulldogs outclass Lady Tams for 5-0 start to season

strong>STANDINGS /strong> br /> NU 5-0 br /> UST 4-1 br /> UE 3-1 br /> Ateneo 2-3 br /> FEU 2-3 br /> Adamson 1-3 br /> DLSU 1-3 br /> UP 0-4 Brand new big three, same old positive outcome for National University in the UAAP 80 Women’s Basketball Tournament. Yet again riding the more than capable shoulders of Jack Animam, Rhena Itesi, and Ria Nabalan, the Lady Bulldogs stamped their class on upstart Far Eastern University, 71-48, on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum. Jack Animam remained a force with 11 points and 23 rebounds while Rhena Itesi had her own 14-point, 14-rebound double-double as the three-time defending champions cemented a 5-0 beginning in their title defense. “It’s (Animam and Itesi’s) job to do that,” a more than satisfied head coach Pat Aquino said. “They’re really working hard for all those stats that they make.” It wasn’t until the third quarter, however, that NU turned the game into a laugher as Nabalan’s five unanswered points punctuated their 14-3 run leading to a score of 67-45. They would not be threatened the rest of the way. Nabalan wound up with 15 points and six rebounds to make sure her team her team’s winning streak dating back to 2014 remains intact. They have now won 53 wins in a row. On the other hand, the Lady Tamaraws suffered a second straight setback to get dragged down to a 2-3 standing. Precious Arellado led them in the losing effort with 15 points. Meanwhile, University of Sto. Tomas moved into solo second after dispatching Ateneo de Manila University, 71-65. Jhenn Angeles showed the Tigresses the way to 4-1 by firing nine of her 20 points in the final frame. “Jhenn is playing in her last year and she’s more mature now. She knows how to take care of the ball so I guess she’s my ace,” mentor Haydee Ong said of her prized ward who also had six rebounds and two steals. Sai Larosa contributed 14 points and nine rebounds for the Espana-based squad’s third consecutive victory. For the lady Eagles, Jollina Go topped the scoring column with 26 points on top of eight rebounds and three steals. Without much help, however, she saw her team drop back-to-back games and drop to a 2-3 standing. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME NU 71 – Nabalan 15, Itesi 14, Animam 11, Sison 10, Antiquera 8, Harada 7, Del Carmen 2, Ano-os 2, Cacho 2, Camelo 0. FEU 48 – Arellado 15, Mamaril 9, Gerner 8, Quiapo 4, Taguiam 3, Ouano 3, Bastatas 2, Jumuad 2, Balleser 2, Antiola 0, Okunlola 0, Payado 0, De Guzman 0. QUARTER SCORES: 23-18, 38-29, 53-42, 71-48. SECOND GAME UST 71 – Angeles 20, Larosa 14, Penaflor 9, Anies 8, Rivera 8, Portillo 7, Aujero 2, Magat 2, Jerez 1, Isanan 0, Capilit 0, Gandalla 0. ATENEO 65 – Go 26, Yam 10, Deacon 10, Villamor 7, Buendia 4, Newsome 4, Cancio 4, Uy De Ong 0, Joson 0, Payac 0, Veloso 0. QUARTER SCORES: 20-9, 38-28, 51-43, 71-65. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 27th, 2017

SJ Belangel joins Ateneo teammate Kai Sotto in top three of NBTC 24

Ateneo de Manila High School's towering teen Kai Sotto and La Salle Greenhills' court general Joel Cagulangan remained the top two high school players in the NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24, but there was a lot of movement this week, including the rise of SJ Belangel. The NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 is a weekly ranking of high school players taking part in the UAAP, CESAFI-NBTC, MMBL, and FCAAF tournaments as well as the recently concluded NCAA competition. Belangel, the Blue Eaglets' graduating floor leader had a sensational week, helping steer his squad to an unblemished 10-0 record. With his exploits, he was the consensus third-ranked player of the week, leapfrogging NCAA MVP Will Gozum of Mapua University. Far Eastern University-Diliman do-it-all guard L-Jay Gonzales and Katipunan swingman Dave Ildefonso also moved up the ladder while University of Sto. Tomas ace CJ Cansino dropped to eighth after finishing fourth last week. Besides movement at the top, there were also a lot of debutatants in this week's list. Ateneo double-double machine Joaqui Manuel's workhorse type of game paid off as he was ranked 21st this week. After firing 51 markers last weekend, Bacolod Tay Tung High School's Harold Alarcon was named as the 22nd top prospect. Joshua Yerro of University of Visayas then rounded out the list. NBTC Chooks-to-Go 24 End of Week 2 1. Kai Sotto, Ateneo Last wk rank: 1 2. Joel Cagulangan, CSB-LSGH Last wk rank: 2 3. SJ Belangel, Ateneo Last wk rank: 5 4. Will Gozum, Mapua Last wk rank: 3 5. L-Jay Gonzales, FEU-Diliman Last wk rank: 6 6. Dave Ildefonso, Ateneo Last wk rank: 8 7. Rhayann Amsali, NU Last wk rank: 7 8. CJ Cansino, UST Last wk rank: 4 9. Clint Escamis, Mapua Last wk rank: 9 10. Aaron Fermin, Arellano Last wk rank: 9 11. Terrence Fortea, NU Last wk rank: 16 12. RJ Abarientos, FEU-Diliman Last wk rank: 15 13. Inand Fornilos, CSB-LSGH Last wk rank: 11 14. Evan Nelle, San Beda Last wk rank: 12 15. Warren Bonifacio, Mapua Last wk rank: 13 16. John Galinato, CKSC Last wk rank: 14 17. Mac Guadana, LPU Last wk rank: 18 18. Raven Cortez, DLSZ Last wk rank: 19 19. Harvey Pagsanjan, Hope Christian Last wk rank: 20 20. Maui Cruz, EAC Last wk rank: 23 21. Joaqui Manuel, Ateneo Last wk rank: N/A 22. Harold Alarcon, Bacolod Tay Tung Last wk rank: N/A 23. Jancork Cabahug, UV Last wk rank: 17 24. Joshua Yerro, UV Last wk rank: N/A The Juniors stars were ranked using the following criteria: league stats, impact in team, team record, leadership, defense, offense, and level of competition. These rankings will be used to determine the 24 players who will take part in the annual SM-NBTC High School All-Star Game on March at the MOA Arena......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News3 hr. 37 min. ago

The Patriots and Eagles will square off in Super Bowl 52

By Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are going back to the Super Bowl in search of a sixth title. They'll face a Philadelphia Eagles team looking for their first Lombardi Trophy. Brady led the Patriots (15-3) back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC championship game Sunday. Starting his 36th playoff game, Brady shook off an injury to his right hand and the loss of top target Rob Gronkowski to rally the Patriots to their record 10th Super Bowl appearance. The Patriots will try to match the Pittsburgh Steelers' six Super Bowl trophies when they face the Eagles (15-3) on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis. Nick Foles, the backup QB who was thrust into the starting role when Carson Wentz blew out his left knee last month, led the Philadelphia to a 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise and moxie in going 26 for 33. The Vikings were hoping to become the first NFL team to serve as host to a Super Bowl in its own stadium, but they followed up their "Minneapolis Miracle " with a "Flop in Philly." So, they'll clear out their lockers long before the Eagles and Patriots and their fans take over U.S. Bank Stadium for Super Bowl 52 in two weeks. Oddsmakers like the chances of Brady winning a sixth Super Bowl ring , making the Patriots nearly a touchdown favorite to beat the Eagles. The Patriots and Eagles, who last won an NFL title in 1960, several years before the first Super Bowl, met in the Super Bowl after the 2004 season with the Patriots prevailing 24-21. Hours after Brady's game-winning 4-yard TD pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining in Foxborough, the Eagles won for the fourth time in five tries under Foles. It started out ominously, however. The Vikings celebrated Kyle Rudolph's 25-yard touchdown catch from Case Keenum on their opening drive by mimicking the Olympic sport of curling for their TD celebration. It was the Eagles who had all the fun after that. Patrick Robinson's spectacular 50-yard interception return got Philadelphia started. Then Foles and his offense tore up the league's stingiest scoring defense, with long TD throws to Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. LeGarrette Blount had an 11-yard scoring run when things were decided in the first half, and the Eagles were headed to an NFL title game the Vikings (14-4) hoped to be in at their own stadium. "You know everyone was against us," Foles said. "Coming out here and stick together and (we) come away with an amazing victory against a great team." Blake Bortles and the stingy Jaguars (12-7) led New England 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold against the defending champions. The NFL's second-ranked defense kept Brady and the Patriots at bay for most of the game, but lost linebacker Myles Jack and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on consecutive plays on New England's winning drive. It was New England's 13th win in 14 games since their 2-2 start. Their only stumble since September was a 27-20 loss at the Dolphins on Dec. 11. Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after needing stitches to close a cut that happened on a play during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered. And, with the game — and the season — possibly on the line, the Patriots star came up big again. "I've had a lot worse," Brady said. "I didn't know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win." Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns to Amendola. It's the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times — including last year's 34-28 overtime rally against the Falcons. "It's pretty amazing," Brady said. "Just to be on a team that wins these kinds of games, it's just a great accomplishment.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News16 hr. 24 min. ago

Jokic’s big night helps Nuggets hold off Mavericks

DENVER --- Michael Malone wasn't all that thrilled about the lack of composure in the final quarter. Or all the turnovers. Or the shot selection. Or even the defense. Still, he won't quibble with the outcome. "We survived," Denver's coach said. Nikola Jokic scored 29 points and grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds, Gary Harris hit two late free throws and the Nuggets held off the Dallas Mavericks 105-102 on Tuesday night after nearly blowing a 23-point lead. "We lost focus in the fourth quarter and we gave them a chance to come back in the game," Jokic said. "That was bad." The Nuggets led 82-59 with 4:04 left in the third before Dallas staged a massive comeback. The Mave...Keep on reading: Jokic’s big night helps Nuggets hold off Mavericks.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Resilient Vikings have taken their cue from Zimmer

By Dave Campbell, Associated Press EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Mike Zimmer was already smiling more than usual, sporting a relaxed look of satisfaction rarely revealed in public during the NFL season, when he really let his guard down a few minutes into his postgame news conference deep inside Minnesota's still-buzzing stadium. "Hey, let's open these things up!" Zimmer blurted out mid-sentence, prodding a Vikings official to push the button that removes the window shades and allows the premium ticket-holders in an adjacent lounge to peer in the room. His wish to interact with the customers who cheered the Vikings on to a last-play divisional round victory was granted. Zimmer then proceeded to slowly and rhythmically clap above his head, dignifying the ritual "Skol" chant performed by the purple-clad fans at each game honoring the area's Scandinavian heritage and the team's nickname. "You deserve it!" Zimmer said, again interrupting his own answer to acknowledge the crowd. From peers around the league to players in the locker room to people up and down the organization, there's a strong sentiment that Zimmer has earned this, too, pulling within one win of a Super Bowl appearance. The way the Vikings finished their 29-24 victory over New Orleans on a last-chance 61-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs suggested they're on some kind of charmed path, an uncharted territory for this championship-deprived franchise. Zimmer, for his part, has experienced his own share of painful setbacks. "I just think he was so proud of us," tight end Kyle Rudolph said. "Proud of us for fighting until there were zeros on the clock." Zimmer is only here, preparing the Vikings for the NFC title game in Philadelphia on Sunday, because he himself resisted the urge to quit. After being passed over for so many head coach vacancies during a six-year run as Cincinnati's defensive coordinator, Zimmer nearly canceled a second interview in Minnesota in 2014 after a different team that considered him chose a different candidate. He ignored the discouragement in his head, instead accepting the offer to become the ninth head coach in team history at age 57. "Sometimes you wonder, but I have a lot of confidence in myself," Zimmer said at his introductory news conference at team headquarters. "I feel like I was destined to do this." That first season, the Vikings improved by two wins to finish 7-9 with rookie Teddy Bridgewater forced into action ahead of schedule at quarterback and running back Adrian Peterson absent for all but one game because of the child abuse case and subsequent NFL discipline dispute he was involved in. In 2015, they went 11-5 and ended Green Bay's four-year hold on the NFC North title. The potholes in the road were waiting, though. Blair Walsh's 27-yard field-goal try went wide left at the end of the one-point wild-card round loss at home to Seattle. The 5-0 start in 2016 was washed away by a torrent of season-ending injuries, including Bridgewater, Peterson and several offensive linemen. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner resigned the day after Zimmer had the first of eight eye surgeries to address a torn retina. The third procedure forced him to miss a game for the first time in his career . The first quarter of the 2017 season brought knee injuries to quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Dalvin Cook, who needed reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL. The Vikings didn't blink, though, particularly with the experience of 2016 so fresh. Case Keenum deftly took over for Bradford, and Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray became a productive backfield tandem. All of these on-field hurdles have paled next to the pain Zimmer has endured in his personal life. His wife, Vikki, died suddenly in 2009. His father and former high school coach, Bill, passed away during training camp in 2015. Zimmer was hired by the Vikings because of his acumen as a defensive strategist and teacher, having started his 24-year NFL career as the defensive backs coach for Dallas before a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2000. Calling plays has been his forte, a responsibility he has yet to give up despite his duty as the main man on the staff on game day, but his ability to mold a disciplined, selfless unit from a collection of alpha males and high draft picks helped the Vikings' defense rank first in the league in 2017 in both fewest yards and points allowed. Beneath the gruff exterior is a deep affection for his players, an emotion that has caused his voice to crack and his eyes to well up several times over the years in various public discussions of their development or character. He's a football coach just like his father, though, and the critical eye and demanding approach are always quick to come out. "We can't make these mistakes in playoff games or we'll be going home," Zimmer said on Monday, reflecting on the reality of the performance after the euphoria of the winning play had worn off. Now the Vikings must go on the road to face a team with a 14-3 record just like theirs, the last and biggest obstacle looming before they can experience a Super Bowl. "We've got a bunch of fighters on this team," Zimmer said. "They've been a resilient bunch all year long. I expect it to continue to be that way.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Jags ‘threw a tantrum’ when Marrone started making changes

By Mark Long, Associated Press JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville’s locker room was abuzz late last season. Four guys played table tennis while others crowded around a small table for dominoes. Two 80-inch televisions were tuned to a sports highlight show, and music blared from one corner of the room. Doug Marrone, the team’s offensive line coach at the time, walked through and shook his head. “Can you believe this?” Marrone whispered. The Jaguars were in the middle of a nine-game losing streak that would ultimately cost coach Gus Bradley his job. Marrone had watched from afar for two years, witnessing an atmosphere he felt was too loose, too laid-back and too lenient amid losing. So when Marrone was hired to replace Bradley last January, high on his to-do list was to change the culture in Jacksonville. His success is one reason the Jaguars (12-6) are in the AFC championship game against New England (14-3). The ping pong table was the first to go. Dominoes followed. The locker room stalls were overhauled, too, with Marrone mixing and matching position groups and putting certain players next to veteran leaders and/or NFL role models. “We definitely threw a tantrum,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “Went in there and talked to him about it. Definitely wasn’t happy. I learned just to be quiet, you know, and go with the flow. He’s been at it longer than I have, and I’m just the football player. He says do this and I go do it. Just learn to follow him, and I’m glad I did.” Marrone saved the most significant changes for the practice fields. Marrone, top executive Tom Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell wanted a much tougher and more physical team. They drafted bruising running back Leonard Fournette and fiery left tackle Cam Robinson to complement a defense that was significantly beefed up in free agency with the addition of All-Pro pass-rusher Calais Campbell, Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye and veteran safety Barry Church. They also designed an offseason program that was more grueling than most players had experienced. Marrone’s message was clear: Go hard or go home. “You remember guys in camp talking about this took a few years off their lives,” Jackson said. “It’s pretty funny just to see us now. I guess he does know what he’s doing.” The Jaguars were in full pads nearly every day during training camp, a tortuous stretch in draining heat and humidity that left rookies and veterans questioning the process and wondering if it would pay off. It was the NFL’s version of boot camp. Break them down, then build them up. It ultimately brought players closer, making them accountable to each other and causing them to care more for each other. Winning was the final piece, and thumping Houston 29-7 in the season opener was all the proof players needed. “It was the toughest training camp I’ve ever been a part of,” said linebacker Paul Posluszny, in his 11th season. “Coach Marrone would talk to us and say, ‘Listen, I have a plan and you have to trust me.’ With that, guys were able to say, ‘OK, we haven’t gotten what we wanted in years past doing things a certain way, so we have to buy in, trust the head man and know that that’ll bring us success when it’s time.’ “It was difficult just because of so many changes from what we were used to. I think the most important thing is we always said, ‘Well, if it helps us win, then it’s all good.’” Jacksonville had lost 63 of 80 games over the previous five seasons — the worst record in the NFL during that span — and had been through two coaching changes. Coughlin’s return was a key part of the team’s revival, and although the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach with the New York Giants gets much of the outside credit for the team’s turnaround, the reality is Marrone was the one pushing all the right buttons. Marrone has been other places where players resisted, prompting personnel moves that would slow progress. That wasn’t the case in Jacksonville, and he credited his players for being open to change. “They gave our staff the opportunity to say, ‘This is what we want to do. This is what we believe in as coaches or as an organization. This is how we want to handle ourselves,’” Marrone said. “We are still working toward that. It is not perfect by any means.” It’s clearly working, though. The Jaguars are in the title game for the third time in franchise history, one victory away from their first Super Bowl appearance. “They say (stuff) rolls downhill,” Jackson said. “Well, the good stuff rolls downhill, too. ... It’s all worth it when you win.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Warriors show off firepower, Cavs show off flaws in Finals rematch

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- Tyronn Lue’s bathroom break came early in the fourth quarter. No, not literally. But the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers had used the familiar call of duty to describe the suddenness with which a game against the Golden State Warriors can turn. And sure enough, on Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena, it turned on Lue and his team. “They’re the only team,” Lue told reporters before tipoff, “where you can be looking at the game and it’s a two-point game. You go to the bathroom, come back, they’re up 15.” Lue’s “loo” moment, figuratively anyway, came after David West sank two free throws to put the Warriors up 95-93 with 9:07 to play. There it was – the two-point lead – in what had been 39 minutes of mostly entertaining, back-and-forth, you-loved-them-then-you’ll-love-them-again basketball between the familiar adversaries. Draymond Green extends the @warriors lead to 10 on @NBAonTNT! 4:47 to play in Q4 #DubNation pic.twitter.com/q2Drea9Jxy — NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2018 Exactly three minutes and 23 seconds later, Draymond Green cut to the basket, took a pass from Shaun Livingston and dropped in a layup that made it 105-95. It was the biggest lead of the night to that point. Lue twice had called timeouts during the run in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Now there was only 5:44 left. The Warriors’ margin would grow to 14. And the Cavaliers, to stick with Lue’s imagery, were circling the bowl. That the defending champions can go into hyperdrive against anybody is a reminder, not a revelation. But there were some things revealed, discovered and learned in the second and final regular-season clash of the respective West and East favorites, including: Isaiah Thomas has a way to go. This was our most extended look yet at Cleveland’s new point guard, their Kyrie Irving replacement, in circumstances most like those he’ll face when the meat of the Cavs’ schedule – the postseason – rolls around. Thomas scored 19 points, matching his high from the four previous games he played. He was on the floor for 32 minutes, nearly eight minutes more than his previous high. Both Thomas, who missed the season’s first 11 weeks recovering from a hip injury left over from last spring in Boston, and the Cavaliers know a) he’s not sharp or in great shape yet, and b) neither he nor the team has gotten familiar enough with the other to achieve the best results. Yet Thomas took 21 shots Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), more than LeBron James (18), more than Dwyane Wade (14) and more than double any other Cleveland player. He made just eight, including just one of his seven 3-point attempts. Lue, though, said he had no problem with Thomas’ gunning, as long as they were good shots. Thomas sounded as if he was seeking out work where he could find it. Granted, it was his hip that kept him out but his elbow, wrist and shooting hand apparently profit from heavy usage now too. “I’ve got to get in shape,” he said later. “I’ve got to get my legs back. Especially when I get a little winded, my legs get even heavier. “The only thing that’s gonna help me is getting reps. Running up and down the floor. Getting my hip, getting my body accustomed to taking a beating. ... Getting in basketball shape.” Kevin Durant didn’t put much stock in Thomas’ play Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) as a sign of how he’ll help Cleveland come springtime. Durant went through a similar enough trial in 2014-15, when surgery in October to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot sidelined him into December, then finally scuttled his season after just 27 games. “Obviously IT is just getting back,” the Warriors forward said. “He hadn’t played in seven months – you’ve got to give him some time. I know exactly how that feels. Especially being thrown in in the middle of the season and starting and playing 30-plus minutes now ... I know it’s gonna take him a while to get into a comfortable groove here.” What we saw is what we’d get. Mostly. It looked at various points as if both coaches were trying lineups, testing young players, tinkering with substitution patterns or probing matchups with an eye on a possible re-re-rematch in June. Likewise, it would be understandable for Lue and Golden State’s Steve Kerr to hold back a few wrinkles, just to have something fresh to try the next time they face each other. ”We don’t hold too much back, to be honest with you,” Kerr said. “I think matchups can dictate some things that you do in the playoffs and sometimes you may make a few different play calls, whatever. But I don’t think there’s a conscious effort to hold anything back for fear of tipping the hand for later.” Kerr started rookie big Jordan Bell again, same as in the Christmas game in Oakland, for more mobility against Cleveland’s small lineup than center Zaza Pachulia would provide. The coach gave Kevon Looney, Nick Young and Patrick McCaw more tastes of the rivalry too. Lue, meanwhile, was asked if he had the Cavaliers target Steph Curry defensively to get him into foul trouble and generally make life difficult. That’s a tactic that has helped when most others have failed against the two-time MVP and it might come in handy down the road. “I can’t remember,” Lue said, pointedly declining to answer. Curry can dunk. And David West still can. It was a rare Curry-in-flight moment early in the second half when the Golden State guard, who usually does his damage from deep, threw down a two-handed dunk. It was his first of the season. Steph Curry throws down the two-handed jam on #PhantomCam! #DubNation pic.twitter.com/eHaHsw2yZV — NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2018 “I think he was taking out some anger from the first half,” Kerr said. “Sometimes that will get him going. Steph loves to dunk more than anybody, you know that. Doesn’t happen often, so when it does, it jacks him up.” Said Durant, who fed Curry for the slam: “He surprised me on that one. Hopefully he’s feeling better tomorrow. I know it took a lot for him to get up there.” David West turns back the clock!#DubNation leads #AllForOne 103-95 with 6:16 to play in the 4th. 📺: @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/dj2iFuZGrr — NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2018 West got his 37-year-old bones up there too, dunking off the dribble during his nine-minute, plus-nine stint in the fourth quarter. The veteran power forward had missed his three shots in the second.   “He was a little short on his jump shot to start the game,” Durant said. “But D. West is such a smart player, he makes adjustments, he doesn’t get discouraged. He made a huge play – his left-handed dunk kind of got us all going. That was definitely surprising when he turned that one over.” But seriously, Cleveland has issues. Besides losing for the eighth time in 10 games, the Cavaliers had their 13-game home winning streak broken in Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) 118-108 loss. And when it was second unit vs. second unit to start the fourth quarter, the Warriors had little trouble switching on defense and crowding away the Cavs’ long-range game. Cleveland shot just 6-of-23 in the fourth quarter, and got outscored 61-44 in what Kerr considered one of his club’s most complete second halves.   The Cavaliers’ defensive leaks have been extensively criticized, and more IT as he gets his game back is not the best way to address those. Even more problematic is the offense now, which over the past few weeks has been grinding, with none of them having much fun with the ball or without. “This is an important time for us,” Wade said, “and we want to see how we respond coming out of this game. ... It’s not about just winning a ball game. It’s about building good habits as a team.” Given James’ record and reputation – seven consecutive trips to the Finals, most in spite of some in-season doldrums for his Heat or Cavs crews – there’s a lot of “In LeBron We Trust,” both inside and outside the Cleveland locker room. Until a rival in the Eastern Conference proves it can knock off the King, no one will believe it. But if the Cavaliers, after so many exposures to their Bay Area nemeses (9-17 in regular- and postseason meetings since the start of 2014-15), can’t come up with solutions, maybe NBA fans should want to see someone else get a crack at them. 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 NewsJan 16th, 2018

Warriors keep evolving in rivalry with Cavs

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- You might expect, given the familiarity from what’s gone on for four years now, that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have worked up some serious mutual contempt. They both covet what the other wants -- in fact, the Warriors or the Cavs could make a persuasive case that, if not for the other guys, one already would have notched a three-peat and be chasing Bill Russell’s Celtics in pursuit of a fourth consecutive championship. They both have poured buckets of blood, sweat, tears, money, Gatorade and offseason counter moves into their nouveau NBA rivalry. And they both, well, as Golden State coach Steve Kerr phrased it to the San Jose Mercury News Sunday (Monday, PHL time), “We just want to kick each other’s ass.” And yet the Warriors and the Cavaliers -- who play again Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena in the NBA’s prime-time MLK showdown -- have more in common with each other than they do with any of the league’s other 28 teams. Playing 100 games or so every year. Locking in mentally and surviving physically longer than anyone else. Showing up each night targeted as a measuring stick, even a season maker, by the opponents. While trying like heck to keep things fresh. Renew. Find and tap into a new source of energy, because old ones wane over time. “It’s the biggest challenge of this whole season,” Kerr told NBA.com late last week, with the Warriors starting a back-to-back in Milwaukee and Toronto on their way back to The Land. Even if it were possible -- and it realistically is not, given free agency, injuries, trades, the salary cap, luxury taxes, hirings and firings each NBA offseason -- playing a pat hand from one championship-level season to the next isn’t desirable. Voices, locker rooms, relationships get stale. Rivals adjust and escalate in the arms race. Some players ebb in the pecking order, others flow. It’s important to inject new faces, add skills and even find fresh themes to fend off monotony, even boredom, through the 82-game slogs. The Warriors, in winning 20 of 23 games over the past seven weeks, largely have managed to do that. The Cavaliers, at 26-15 after 2-7 stretch that started at Golden State on Christmas (Dec. 26, PHL time)? Not so much. Golden State shifts gears after each season It’s easy to think of Golden State’s success since Kerr’s hiring before the 2014-15 season as one uninterrupted run of excellence. Three-pointers, “death lineups,” and the rest. But the differences from one year to the next have been fairly pronounced. “In Year 1, we were trying to prove ourselves to the world,” Kerr said. “Then we win the championship -- it was all so fresh. There were no letdowns at all that year. It was the most exciting, it was the most energized, it was the most refreshing. It was brand new to all of us. It felt like we were riding this wave all year -- we were all giddy, like, ‘Oh my God, we’re really good!’ We didn’t know we could be like that. And for me, it was my first year coaching.” Steph Curry won his first MVP award. He and Klay Thompson generated considerable conversation about the best shooting backcourts in league history. Draymond Green forever changed the old NBA notion of “’tweeners.” The Warriors finished 67-15, ranked second in the league in offense (111.6) and first in defense (101.4) and beat Cleveland in the Finals in six games. “It was maybe like the first stages when you fall in love,” Kerr said. “You’re just on Cloud 9 and she can’t do anything wrong. There’s infatuation and then you truly fall in love, and it’s amazing. “The second year, we sort of rode that wave of euphoria of being the best team in the league and having won the title. The next thing you know, we’re 24-0 and we’ve got a chance to set an all-time record. That 73-win mark carried us all year. We were going to prove that, not only were we the champs but we were one of the best teams ever.” The Warriors were -- by regular season standards. Curry won his second MVP award. Kerr missed the first 43 games due to health issues but assistant coach Luke Walton steered them to a 39-4 mark. They bought into the chase for 73 victories fairly late, but instead of a 16-5 playoff run like the previous spring’s, the Warriors went 15-9 -- coming up one victory short when the Cavaliers became the first team to claw back from a 3-1 deficit. That led directly to Golden State’s next new wrinkle, a reconfiguration that came close to buckling the league’s knees. “We got KD,” Kerr said. “Now we’re changing our team, right? Last year was about incorporating KD, welcoming this incredible player into our organization and our roster. Figuring how to do it, how we were going to adjust. I felt like there were times last year that were tiring, where our guys were done a little bit. But it was ‘new’ again.” Even the challenges were fresh, like counting Curry’s or Klay Thompson’s touches relative to Durant’s or closing ranks around Golden State’s thin man as his reputation took blows for the first time in his NBA career. Not interested in shooting for 74 victories, the Warriors simply took care of business and stayed coiled for the postseason. Then it was a 16-1 dash to title No. 2, Durant snagging the Finals MVP trophy after the five-game dispatching of the Cavs. All of which just set the Warriors’ bar higher, requiring them to search for something new, somebody borrowed, presumably nothing blue. “This year it’s just survive and advance,” Kerr said. “It’s ‘let’s get to April, May, June in one piece.’ There’s a reason we’ve lost six home games already. We don’t have the driving force that we had the last few years. We’re dealing with what any team in NBA history that’s tried to do this has dealt with. The Lakers (1982-85), the Celtics (1984-87, 1957-66)... It’s just really hard and you need that driving force.” Said Warriors vet Andre Iguodala: “Your body is mindful of it, because it hurts.” A couple of young guys -- Patrick McCaw, Kevon Looney -- have taken on bigger roles. Nick Young brings some sort of buzz into any locker room that will have him. Still, as veteran guard Shaun Livingston said: “We’re not chasing any records. We’re not adding another All Star. We’re just trying to make it through the marathon.” Cavs' challenges mount during 2017-18 The Cavaliers are just trying to make it through the marathon, too. But if they could, they might do it like Rosie Ruiz, the 1980 women’s “winner” of the Boston Marathon who perpetrated a hoax by hopping the subway and running only the final mile of Beantown’s famous race. The 2017-18 has been anything but fun for Cleveland so far. It began with the departure of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, a not-so-funhouse mirror image of Durant’s arrival a year earlier in the Bay Area. Irving, for reasons still not quite explained, made it known in the offseason that he wanted out. He wanted to be the man on his own team. Or he didn’t want to be left in the lurch if (when?) LeBron James took his talents elsewhere again. Or both. Or neither. Regardless, once the Cavaliers made his request come true by dealing him to Boston for All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas and Brooklyn’s coveted first-round pick this June, their task got tougher and their season longer. Losing one of the league’s best ball handlers and shot makers doesn’t qualify as “renewal” any more than what went on in Oklahoma City when Durant packed up. There’s been more. Shooting guard J.R. Smith seemingly got old overnight. Jae Crowder, who came from the Celtics in the Irving deal, hasn’t meshed with the Cavs’ style. Kevin Love has been moved to center but hasn’t done anything to satisfy the Cavs’ need for rim protection. Thomas only returned to action from a hip injury as the calendar turned to 2018 and has played only four games in these two weeks. Even with so many new faces -- seven of the top 12 in coach Tyronn Lue’s rotation weren’t here 12 months ago -- it’s a group heavy on veterans, players a little too established or mature to naturally instill raw energy. James said recently that none of this is new, it’s another case of the Cavs biding their time for the “second” season that means everything. But Lue also introduced the topic of “agendas,” suggesting that some of his guys were looking out for their own responsibilities and performances -- particularly on defense -- rather than the group’s. At best, this is another dose of the midseason blahs, the Cavs in their doldrums in need of an All-Star break. At worst, though, they might be honing some bad habits that won’t be so easy to break in May or June. Especially if East rivals such as Toronto, Boston or Washington are emboldened after witnessing or administering some of the Cavs’ more embarrassing beat downs this season. Will any of this matter come spring? It will if the switch each team is minding stubbornly decides not to flip. “That’s the key. You’ve got to find that balance,” Kerr said. “Are you flipping the switch or are you navigating? The idea is, don’t let bad habits slip in. Right now, this moment, we’re into some bad habits. Our defensive efforts  the last five, six games [before the weekend] were awful. We got away with it because Steph was going nuts.” The Cavaliers repeatedly have not gotten away with bad defensive habits, even on nights when James has been dominant. “It’s tough,” Livingston said. “They’re a team that’s built for the playoffs. But our core guys still are in there prime. Their core guys are still good. But we’re talking about ‘prime.’” Most still would pick both Golden State and Cleveland to advance all the way to a “Finals Four” (after last year’s “Rubber Match” series). But one of these years, most will be wrong -- about one or both. That alone might be motivation enough. 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 NewsJan 15th, 2018

Showdown set: Battle-tested Patriots vs. fresh-faced Jaguars

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Watch out, New England. Here comes Sacksonville. Tom Brady and the big game-tested Patriots square off against the sack-happy Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday in the AFC championship game in Foxborough, Massachusetts — with the winner headed to the Super Bowl. That's nothing new for New England, of course, which has been there three of the past six seasons. For fresh-faced Jacksonville, however, this is all rare territory. The Jaguars are playing in the conference title game for just the third time in franchise history, and first since losing to Tennessee during the 1999 season. Jacksonville is also one of four franchises to never play in the Super Bowl. "I'm sure there will still be tons of people that are going to disapprove or talk negative or hate or do whatever they want," quarterback Blake Bortles said. "But we get to keep playing. We get an opportunity to go play in Foxborough for another week, so I'm just honored to be able to do this and especially with this group of guys." And, it has all come full circle for Tom Coughlin, who was Jacksonville's coach the previous time the franchise got this far in the postseason. He went on to win two Super Bowls with the New York Giants — both against Bill Belichick's Patriots — but is now the Jaguars' executive vice president of football operations. He helped assemble a squad with coach Doug Marrone that has been powered by a tenacious defense that ranked second in the NFL during the regular season in sacks. After a few ho-hum games, Bortles, running back Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars offense showed it isn't too shabby, either, outslugging Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in a stunning 45-42 victory Sunday . "Obviously, with what they have on their side of the ball, it's a good team and we know they've got a good offense," Bortles said. "We knew we had to keep scoring." There's also this neat nugget: Jacksonville's first AFC championship game appearance came during the 1996 season — against New England, which went on to play in the Super Bowl under then-coach Bill Parcells and lost to the Brett Favre-led Green Bay Packers. "It's been an awesome year," Bortles said, "and we want to keep it going." The Patriots have made it to the AFC championship game for seven straight seasons, clinching this trip with a 35-14 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night . New England has advanced to the Super Bowl in three of the past six seasons. "The reality of the NFL is what we did this week will have nothing to do with what happens next week," Brady said. "We're going to have to go repeat it, so you've got to get right back to work, right back to the process of trying to figure out how to break down our opponent. "Everyone's got to feel good physically and mentally and go out there and try to cut it loose one more time in a huge game." The Patriots know how to do that, and they're masters of tuning out distractions. Despite a published report during the week that raised questions about the relationships between Brady, Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft, New England was all business on the field against the Titans. "It's pretty incredible to be a part of that," Brady said. "I think the thing is that we don't really take it for granted around here. I know how hard it is to get to this game. We're very blessed to do it." Meanwhile, Philadelphia awaits the winner of the New Orleans-Minnesota game later Sunday to find out who it will face in the NFC title game. The Eagles used steady play by Nick Foles and a late goal-line stand to beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 on Saturday. "We'll be ready for next week," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Kailangan natin lumaban kasi pride natin to -- Racraquin

Games Friday: (FilOil Flying V Centre, San Juan) 8:00 a.m. –- AU vs Letran (jrs) 9:30 a.m. -- AU vs. Letran (m) 11:00 a.m. –- AU vs. Letran (w) 12:30 p.m. -- EAC vs. JRU (w) 2:00 p.m. -- EAC vs. JRU (m)   San Beda College team captain Cesca Racraquin gathered her teammates moments before the Lady Spikers took center court to face University of Perpetual Help Thursday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Narrowly escaping Jose Rizal University in a five-set opening day duel, the team captain gave her team a short pep talk. She reminded them of San Beda pride. They will leave the arena with nothing but victory “Sabi ko sa kanila before mag-start, sabi ko talaga, 'Guys kailangan nating maging aggressive sa lahat ng gagawin natin sa game today, sa offense, sa defense, sa lahat, kasi kailangan nating lumaban kasi pride natin ito,'” said the Queen Lady Red Spiker. And SBC responded with a resounding 28-26, 25-18, 29-27, win for their second straight win in as many games and a share of the lead with repeat-seeking Arellano University and College of St. Benilde in the 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball competition.   The Lady Red Spikers showed composure down the stretch in the third set to stave off the comeback attempt of Perpetual. Racraquin had an all-around performance for the Mendiola-based squad with 10 attacks, including the match-clinching back-to-back hits, two aces a kill block for 13 points. She spiced it up with 11 excellent receptions and eight digs. But it was her leadership in crunch time that fueled the Lady Red Spikers to victory.    "Kasi napansin ko noong first game namin sa JRU, medyo malamya 'yung mga teammates ko. Hindi lang sila, pati ako,” said Racraquin of SBC’s 23-25, 25-19, 13-25, 25-19, 15-9, win over JRU last Friday. “And alam naman natin na Perpetual, malaking dagok din sa amin 'yun. Malaking bump din sa road na dapat nating pagdaanan,” added the Season 92 rookie of the year, who also finished with 13 points in her season debut. “We went through that, nalagpasan namin 'yun, I'm so happy.” Nieza Viray posted 20 points, Sattriani Espiritu got 11 while Nieza’s twin sister Jiezela had nine for SBC.   “Iba 'yung level ng play na ginawa namin as a team today,” said Racraquin. “As a team, hindi lang kami umasa sa isang tao. Hindi kami individual today, we played as a whole.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 11th, 2018

Alaska on the board after physical game against Meralco

Alaska is finally on the board. Following a gritty affair, the Aces managed to shut down Meralco, 103-98, Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum to take their first win of the 2018 Philippine Cup. After back-to-back defeats, Alaska is in the winning column to start the new year with a 1-2 record, tying the Bolts in the standings. In control for most of the game, leading by as many as 14 points at the break, the Aces had to hold off Meralco in the end as a shootout commenced in the fourth period between the two teams. Still, timely baskets by Calvin Abueva and Kevin Racal helped Alaska start 2018 on a high note. "I was particularly proud of our defensive energy. I thought that really set the tone," head coach Alex Compton said. "The defense was way better. I thought our defense was way better and it was really nice to see," he added. True enough, the Aces limited the Bolts to less than 40 percent shooting from the field all while getting key contributions on offense. Calvin Abueva led the way for Alaska with 19 points and nine rebounds while Vic Manuel also scored 19 while coming off the bench. Chris Banchero also had a good game, going for 13 points. For the Bolts, who now lost two straight, Chris Newsome was the high man with 23 points while KG Canaleta continued his strong start for his new team, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds as a starter.   The Scores: Alaska 103 - Abueva 19, Manuel 19, Banchero 13, Teng 9, Casio 8, Racal 8, Pascual 7, Enciso 7, Thoss 5, Potts 4, Exciminiano 3, Cruz 2. Meralco 98 - Newsome 23, Canaleta 16, Amer 15, Bono 9, Dillinger 8, Hugnatan 8, Baracael 6, Caram 6, Laneta 5, Ballesteros 2, Tolomia 0. Quarterscores: 26-16, 53-39, 78-71, 103-98.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Strong run defense could power Alabama past Georgia

JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer ATLANTA (AP) — Alabama's vaunted defense is about to face perhaps college football's best running back duo. Those kinds of matchups tend to work out pretty well for the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide, which shuts down opposing ground games better than anybody. Only Auburn in the regular season meeting has truly contained Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. With the nation's top defense, Alabama is well equipped to at least defend them well enough to win Monday night's national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Leading that charge will be linebacker Rashaan Evans, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne. Payne is ready to get back to doing what he does best after a Sugar Bowl interception and touchdown catch. "I've just been trying to focus on being dominant up front, for real," Payne said. Being dominant up front, on both sides of the ball, has been a big part of Alabama's success under coach Nick Saban. This team's no different. Alabama also has a veteran secondary to contend with the passing of Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm. Fromm has had a terrific freshman season, but he struggled when Auburn's defense held Chubb and Michel to a combined 48 rushing yards. The Tide does have to replace yet another starting linebacker with Anfernee Jennings out with a knee injury sustained in the Sugar Bowl win over Clemson. That leaves probably Terrell Lewis or Jamey Mosley to start. Linebacker Mack Wilson was already a first-time starter in the Sugar Bowl and had a pick six and a career-high six tackles. "Once we lose one man, it's the next man up," Tide defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs said. "Alabama recruits the best of the best so you always have to be locked in and ready to go, because you never know when it's your time. Having Mack Wilson step up and have a bigtime game, everybody on the defense trusts him and I think he's going to have another big game." Offensively, Alabama has playmakers like quarterback Jalen Hurts, tailback Damien Harris and wide receiver Calvin Ridley. The Tide does have to replace guard Lester Cotton, who suffered a knee injury in the semifinal game. If history holds up, Alabama will have an edge in another regard. Saban has a perfect track record against former assistants like Georgia coach Kirby Smart. He's 11-0 and none of them have come closer than 17 points against his Tide teams. Saban has also had a full year to emphasize to his team "Don't waste a failure" since a title game loss to Clemson. Alabama is a slight favorite for this game, just like in the semifinals, but can summon up a little extra motivation from critics of the Tide's choice over Big Ten champion Ohio State for the final playoff spot. It all worked to the tune of a 24-6 win in the playoff rematch with the Tigers. "The real challenge will be, can we duplicate that kind of energy in this game," Saban said. Prediction: Alabama 31, Georgia 17 ___ More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018