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Patriots chase 7th straight AFC title berth against Titans

By Kyle Hightower, Associated Press FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Two things, among many, have been consistent for the Patriots the past decade: Tom Brady at quarterback and New England in the AFC championship game. Brady will try to lead his team to its seventh straight conference title game Saturday when it hosts the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round. It has been a challenging week off the field for the Patriots following reports of turmoil involving Brady, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft. But Brady says he's never doubted his team's ability to compartmentalize potential distractions. "I think we have a job to do and we know what our job is and that's to go out and play football at a high level and play well," he said. "Nothing really should get in the way of that." Tennessee hasn't been to a conference championship game since the 2002 season, but has been invigorated coming off its first playoff win in 14 years. The Titans enter as 13-point underdog, but linebacker Derrick Morgan said it's a role they happily embrace. "Nobody respects us. Nobody really expects a lot from us. That's fine," he said. "We haven't been a very successful team in the last 10 years. So it's easy for people to overlook us. So we've got to take care of business and start winning games like this to get the respect that we desire." To get it, they'll have to stop a quarterback that has been nearly unbeatable in this round of the postseason. Brady is 11-2 in 13 divisional-round games since 2002 , passing for 3,700 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also has a 6-1 career record against the Titans with 13 touchdowns and just one interception. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was mostly unflappable in leading his team back from an 18-point halftime deficit to beat Kansas City — the largest comeback on road in Super Bowl era. But since 2001, quarterbacks making their first or second career playoff start are 0-7 against New England. "When it comes down to it, it's all about us," Mariota said. "I think that's kind of been the mindset through this entire season. Ups and downs come and go, you just want to try and make the most of this opportunity." Some things to watch on Saturday: MOVING ON UP: It will be Bill Belichick's 37th career playoff game as a head coach, breaking a tie with Tom Landry and Don Shula for the most in NFL history. HEISMAN BROTHERS: Mariota, the 2014 Heisman winner, and Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman winner, combined to turn in the best rushing performance in franchise history in the wild-card round. Henry ran for a career-high 156 yards, and Mariota added 46 yards. Henry will be starting his third straight game with DeMarco Murray already out (right knee). PRESSURE: The Titans ranked fifth in the league with 43 sacks during the season and added four more against the Chiefs last week. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey had six from his interior spot, while Morgan led the Titans with 7 ½ sacks. Linebackers Brian Orakpo (seven) and Wesley Woodyard (five) give the Titans a variety of options to attack Brady, not counting backup linebacker Erik Walden (four). EXPERIENCE GAP: New England has 41 players with postseason experience, most of 2017 playoff teams. Fourteen Patriots players have played at least 10 playoff games. That's more such players than 11 other playoff teams combined (13). Before the start of this postseason, the Titans had 18 players who had appeared in a playoff game. BELICHICK AND LEBEAU: There aren't too many current NFL coaches that have been around the game longer than Belichick and Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau . LeBeau has an NFL-record 45 consecutive seasons as a coach, with Belichick at 43. Yet, with Belichick as head coach, he and LeBeau have faced off in the playoffs only once: the 2004 AFC championship game that New England won in Pittsburgh 41-27. The respect between the two is mutual. "Not very many coaches have the record coach Belichick's gotten. In fact he's probably closing in on the best ever," LeBeau said. Said Belichick: "Coach LeBeau is as good as there is, as good a defensive coach as there is." ___ AP Football Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 12th, 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

Titans beat Jaguars 15-10, end playoff drought with AFC spot

By Teresa M. Walker, Associated Press NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown and used his legs to help the Tennessee Titans end an eight-season playoff drought by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 15-10 Sunday to clinch an AFC wild-card berth. The Titans (9-7) snapped a three-game skid in a game they needed to win or get some help with losses elsewhere to advance. They also posted their first back-to-back winning seasons since 2007 and 2008. Mariota ran a season-high 10 times for 60 yards, the biggest a 13-yard scramble on third-and-5 at the 2:00 mark . Mariota also threw for 134 yards. Derrick Henry took a screen pass from Mariota 66 yards for a TD in the second quarter, and Ryan Succop kicked three field goals. The Titans also sacked Blake Bortles twice and forced four turnovers, two interceptions by Kevin Byard. The Jaguars (10-6) clinched their first AFC South title a week ago when Tennessee lost to San Francisco. Coach Doug Marrone promised they came to win. Only left tackle Cam Robinson and wide receiver Marqise Lee were scratched — both were on the injury report this week. Yet they head into the postseason having lost two straight. The Jaguars had a chance to win after Mariota lost his first fumble this season in the fourth quarter. Henry collided with Mariota on a handoff, popping the ball in the air. Yannick Ngakoue picked it up and ran 67 yards for a TD, pulling the Jaguars within 15-10 with 10:48 left. But Byard got his second pick with 10 seconds remaining to seal the win. The Titans led 6-3 when they forced two turnovers 42 seconds apart just before halftime. Jaguars returner Jaydon Mickens signaled for a fair catch only to try blocking Taywan Taylor of the Titans as the ball arrived, and Phillip Supernaw recovered the bobble for Tennessee. On the next drive, Titans rookie cornerback Adoree Jackson punched the ball loose from Keelan Cole and Jayon Brown recovered. Succop capped each drive with a field goal, his second a 39-yarder as time expired for a 12-3 halftime lead. HENRY’S CHANCE The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner got his fourth career start and first this year with DeMarco Murray scratched with an injured right knee. Henry struggled in the first quarter and was tackled for too many losses. But Henry gave the Titans’ their lone TD when he took a screen on the second play of the second quarter for a 6-0 lead. It was Henry’s first TD catch of his career. It was his third TD of 60 yards or longer this year, second in the NFL to Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill who has five. INJURIES Jaguars safety Barry Church hurt a hamstring, but he returned. Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan left for a play when officials stopped action in the fourth quarter for an injury. He also returned and finished the game. UP NEXT Jaguars: Host AFC wild-card game for their first playoff game in Jacksonville since the AFC championship game in January 2000. Titans: Hitting road for first playoff game since January 2009......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2018

Eagles clinch No. 1 seed with 19-10 win over Raiders

By Rob Maaddi, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jake Elliott kicked a 48-yard field goal with 22 seconds left, and the Philadelphia Eagles clinched the No. 1 seed for the NFC playoffs with a sloppy 19-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Monday night. Ronald Darby intercepted Derek Carr's pass and ran it back 52 yards with 54 seconds left, but was ruled down by contact at the spot of the pick. Nick Foles then completed four straight passes for 21 yards. After an incomplete pass, Elliott nailed his kick right down the middle. Derek Barnett returned a fumble for a touchdown after picking up a lateral on Oakland's final play from scrimmage. The Eagles (13-2) went to the Super Bowl and lost 24-21 to New England the last time they had home-field advantage following the 2004 season. Coming off a 12-4 season, the Raiders (6-9) were a popular pick to challenge the Patriots for the AFC title. But they've had a disappointing season and were eliminated from the playoff chase on Sunday. Still, playing for pride, Oakland nearly spoiled Philadelphia's Christmas. Carr threw a 63-yard TD pass to Amari Cooper to tie it at 7 early in the second quarter. Cooper was wide open after cornerback Jalen Mills tried to jump the route. Giorgio Tavecchio kicked a 25-yard field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter to give the Raiders a 10-7 lead. The teams traded turnovers on three straight possessions, starting with Patrick Robinson intercepting Carr and returning it to Oakland's 44. Eagles left guard Chance Warmack then caused Jay Ajayi to fumble when he tried to push the pile and hit his teammate. The Raiders recovered at their 30, but gave it back on the next play when Marshawn Lynch fumbled at the same spot. Philadelphia couldn't do much with excellent field position and settled for Elliott's tying 35-yard field goal. After Tavecchio missed a 48-yard field goal with 7:58 remaining, Foles threw a pass that bounced off Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz's hands and was intercepted by Reggie Nelson at the Eagles 37. But Philadelphia quickly got the ball back when Malcolm Jenkins stripped Jalen Richard and recovered it at the Eagles 16. The offense went three-and-out. Oakland's first drive ended with Carr throwing the ball away on fourth-and-2 from Philadelphia's 42. The Eagles scored on the ensuing possession when Foles tossed a 17-yard TD pass to Ajayi for a 7-0 lead. Corey Clement ran 2 yards on fourth-and-1 to extend the drive. STREAK SNAPPED Foles had gone 170 passes without throwing a pick. It was the longest active streak in the NFL. MISSED CHANCES Raiders: Nelson dropped what should've been a pick-6 in the second quarter. Eagles: Elliott was wide right on a 33-yard field goal at the end of the first half. INJURIES Raiders: OT Vadal Alexander sustained a concussion. Eagles: DE Brandon Graham left with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. UP NEXT Raiders: Host the Los Angeles Chargers (8-7), who are still in contention for an AFC wild card. Eagles: Host the Dallas Cowboys (8-7) in a game that has no playoff implications......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2017

Sale reaches 300-strikeout mark in Major League Baseball

BALTIMORE, Maryland (AP) — Chris Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth hours after beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night. Boston (88-64) was assured at least a wild card and its second consecutive trip to the postseason when the Los Angeles Angels lost to the Cleveland Indians. Of course, the Red Sox are looking for much more than that. They lead the AL East by three games over the rival New York Yankees with 10 to play as Boston pursues its third division title in five years. Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his last pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313. Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero homered for the Red Sox. After winning two straight 11-inning games over the skidding Orioles, Boston jumped to a 6-0 lead in the fifth and coasted to its 11th win in 14 games. Betts and Marrero hit two-run homers in the fourth against Wade Miley (8-14), and Hanley Ramirez added a two-run double in the fifth. Sale allowed four hits and walked none in matching his career high for wins. Boston joined AL Central champion Cleveland and AL West champion Houston in the American League playoffs, which begin next month. Two spots are still up for grabs. strong>INDIANS 6, ANGELS 5 /strong> ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Francisco Lindor snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-run homer and the remarkable Cleveland Indians held off Los Angeles for their 26th victory in 27 games. It was Lindor's 31st home run of the season, most by a switch-hitting shortstop in major league history. Albert Pujols hit his 614th home run for the Angels, who remained 1½ games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card. The AL Central champion Indians have beaten the Angels 10 consecutive times. Tyler Olson (1-0) won in relief of Josh Tomlin, who allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Bryan Shaw worked two hitless innings for his third save. The game was tied 2-all when Lindor connected off reliever Yusmeiro Petit (5-1). Edwin Encarnacion had an RBI single in the seventh and Jose Ramirez added one of his own in the eighth. The Indians are 95-57, only one game back of the slumping Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Cleveland trailed the Dodgers by 20 games on Aug. 25. C.J. Cron homered and hit an RBI single for the Angels. strong>YANKEES 11, TWINS 3 /strong> NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge hit his AL-leading 45th home run and topped 100 RBIs, Didi Gregorius surpassed Derek Jeter for the most home runs by a Yankees shortstop and New York beat Minnesota for a three-game sweep. The game was briefly halted in the fifth inning when a foul ball down the third-base line off the bat of Todd Frazier struck a young girl, who was carried out of the stands, given first aid and taken to a hospital. Frazier knelt down and covered his head, and many other Yankees and Twins watched in stunned silence as the fan was helped. The Yankees, who have won 10 of 12, opened a seven-game advantage over the Twins for the top AL wild card with 10 games remaining. The Twins have lost five of six and were outscored 18-6 in the three-game series. They lead the Angels by 1½ games for the second wild card. Judge's two-run homer down the right-field line came on an 0-2 pitch from Bartolo Colon (4-6 in the AL and 6-14 overall). Chasen Shreve (4-1) pitched three hitless innings in relief of Luis Severino. strong>RAYS 8, CUBS 1 /strong> ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Blake Snell gave up two hits in seven shutout innings, and Tampa Bay ended Chicago's season-best seven-game winning streak. The Cubs, who had not lost since being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series in Chicago on Sept. 8-10, are scheduled to open a four-game series in Milwaukee on Thursday night. They lead the Brewers by 3½ games in the NL Central. Steven Souza Jr. hit his 30th home run in the first inning and the Rays added three more runs in the second off Jon Lester. Wilson Ramos, who had three of Tampa Bay's 10 hits, made it 7-0 with a two-run single in the fifth that knocked Lester (11-8) out of the game. Lester, who had won three starts since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 2, gave up seven runs and eight hits with three walks in 4 1/3 innings. He had no strikeouts. Snell (4-6) gave up singles to John Jay in the third and Addison Russell in the fifth. He walked three and struck out five in seven innings. Snell is 4-0 in 10 starts since July 24. strong>PHILLIES 7, DODGERS 5 /strong> PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Aaron Altherr hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the eighth after launching a tying, two-run homer an inning earlier, and Philadelphia beat slumping Los Angeles. The Dodgers have lost four straight and 20 of 25 and will have to wait until at least Friday to wrap up the NL West. The Phillies have won eight of 10 and are 32-33 since the All-Star break, climbing out of last place in the majors. Luis Avilan (2-3) walked Cesar Hernandez to start the bottom of the eighth. Freddy Galvis bunted and catcher Austin Barnes made a wild throw to second base for an error that allowed the runners to reach second and third. Odubel Herrera struck out and Rhys Hoskins was intentionally walked. Brandon Morrow entered and Altherr ripped a hit off the right-field fence. Earlier in the series, Altherr became the first major leaguer to hit a grand slam off Clayton Kershaw. Luis Garcia (2-4) got the win despite allowing a run in the eighth. Hector Neris finished for his 23rd save in 26 chances. strong>PIRATES 6, BREWERS 4 /strong> PITTSBURGH (AP) — Adam Frazier hit a two-run homer off Milwaukee closer Corey Knebel with two outs in the ninth inning to lift Pittsburgh to the victory. The Pirates tied it in the eighth on a throwing error by Knebel then ended a seven-game losing streak when Frazier homered into the first row of seats in the right-field stands. Jesus Aguilar and Domingo Santana homered for the Brewers but Milwaukee missed a chance to pull into a tie with Colorado for the second wild-card spot in the National League. Knebel (1-2) had converted 21 straight save opportunities. Milwaukee lost for just the third time in its last 12 games. Felipe Rivero (5-2) earned the victory in relief. Frazier finished 2 for 5 with four RBIs. Starling Marte added two hits for the Pirates. strong>DIAMONDBACKS 13, PADRES 7 /strong> SAN DIEGO (AP) — David Peralta hit a leadoff homer and added a go-ahead double in the seventh for Arizona, which scored 11 runs in the final four innings and overcame Hunter Renfroe's three homers for San Diego. The Padres, who blew a 6-2 lead, hit five home runs and set a team record with 181 this season. Renfroe had his first career three-homer game and tied Nate Colbert's club mark for rookies with 24. Renfroe became the first Padres rookie to hit three home runs, and the seventh San Diego player overall to do it. The Diamondbacks, who have a comfortable lead in the NL wild-card race, hit four homers in avoiding a three-game sweep. They scored four times in the sixth to tie it, including a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez, and went ahead in the seventh. Chris Herrmann singled off Craig Stammen (2-3) and scored the go-ahead run on Peralta's double. A.J. Pollock hit a three-run homer in the four-run ninth. Jake Lamb connected for his 28th home run in the second. Jimmie Sherfy (2-0) pitched one inning for the win. strong>RANGERS 8, MARINERS 6 /strong> SEATTLE (AP) — Rougned Odor's grand slam capped a seven-run fourth inning and Texas beat Seattle to make up ground in the playoff chase. The Rangers moved within 2½ games of Minnesota for the second AL wild card. Seattle dropped its fifth straight and remained four games behind the Twins. Seattle, which trailed 7-1 early, pulled to 8-5 on Robinson Cano's two-run single in the seventh but then left the bases loaded. The Mariners made it 8-6 in the eighth. Andrew Cashner (10-10) allowed three runs in six innings for Texas. Alex Claudio got six outs for his 10th save. Longtime ace Felix Hernandez (5-5), making his second start for Seattle since coming off the disabled list, allowed six runs — five earned — on two hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings. Nelson Cruz and Mitch Haniger homered for the Mariners. strong>ROYALS 15, BLUE JAYS 5 /strong> TORONTO (AP) — Mike Moustakas hit his 37th home run of the season, breaking Steve Balboni's Royals record, Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield also connected and Kansas City routed Toronto. Rookie right-hander Jakob Junis (8-2) allowed four runs, two earned, in 6 1/3 innings, improving to 5-0 with a 2.42 ERA over his past eight starts. Moustakas went 3 for 4 and came within a triple of hitting for the cycle. He eclipsed Balboni's 1985 record with a solo blast to right off Carlos Ramirez in the sixth. Merrifield also had three hits and drove in a pair of runs as the Royals snapped a three-game losing streak and won for the second time in their past seven. Kansas City came within a run of matching its season high. The Royals scored 16 against Detroit twice within a seven-day span in late July. Leading 1-0, the Royals exploded for eight runs and seven hits in the second. Brett Anderson (3-4) allowed eight runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings. strong>GIANTS 4, ROCKIES 0 /strong> SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tyler Chatwood dug himself an early hole and Colorado lost to last-place San Francisco for its third straight defeat. Joe Panik hit a one-out triple in the first inning off Chatwood (8-13) and immediately scored on Denard Span's sacrifice fly. Panik then doubled in the third and came home on Buster Posey's sacrifice fly. Brandon Crawford hit a solo homer in the third to back Matt Moore (6-14), who earned his first win against Colorado after going 0-2 over his first three outings of the year. After two straight 4-3, walk-off setbacks, the Rockies lost for the fifth time in seven games overall following a six-game winning streak. They lead Milwaukee by one game for the second NL wild card. strong>CARDINALS 9, REDS 2 /strong> CINCINNATI (AP) — Dexter Fowler homered for the third straight game while Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong also homered as St. Louis gained ground in its playoff push with a win over Cincinnati. Tommy Pham finished with two doubles, a single and two RBIs and Yadier Molina added a two-run double as the third-place Cardinals (79-72) gained a game on Colorado in the wild-card race to move within 2½ games. St. Louis sits five games behind the Cubs in the NL Central chase. Rookie right-hander Luke Weaver (7-1) retired 10 straight batters in one stretch on the way to his seventh straight winning start, the major leagues' longest active streak and the longest by a Cardinals pitcher this season. The 24-year-old allowed five hits and two runs with seven strikeouts in five innings. Relievers Zach Duke, Seung Hwan Oh, Sandy Alcantara and Sam Tuivailala teamed up to retire 12 of the final 13 Reds batters. Rookie Davis (1-3) gave up all three homers and five runs on five hits with three strikeouts in three innings. strong>NATIONALS 7, BRAVES 3 /strong> ATLANTA (AP) — Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino issued three bases-loaded walks in the six-run eighth, Gio Gonzalez pitched seven strong innings and Washington beat Atlanta. Gonzalez (15-7) allowed two runs, three hits and one walk to enjoy some rare good luck in the series. The left-hander, who struck out eight, began the night 4-11 with a 5.27 ERA in 20 career starts against the Braves. The NL East champion Nationals rallied from a 2-1 deficit for their third straight win. Pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo singled, Trea Turner doubled and Jayson Werth walked in the eighth against Jose Ramirez (2-3). Braves manager Brian Snitker brought in Vizcaino, and the move quickly backfired. Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon walked, and Vizcaino left without a retiring a batter. Rex Brothers then gave up Adam Lind's two-run single and Michael Taylor's RBI single to make it 7-2. Ramirez allowed three runs, two hits and one walk with one strikeout in 1/3 of an inning. strong>ASTROS 4, WHITE SOX 3 /strong> HOUSTON (AP) — Yuli Gurriel had three hits, including a two-run double, Brad Peacock threw six solid innings and Houston extended its winning streak to six games with a win over Chicago. Peacock (12-2) allowed two runs on one hit with six strikeouts. The right-hander continues to throw well, allowing two runs or fewer in each of his last five starts. After Yoan Moncada put the White Sox up 2-1 in the top of the fourth with a two-run homer, Gurriel answered with his two-run hit in the bottom half of the inning. Jose Altuve upped Houston's lead to 4-2 with an RBI single in the seventh, but Yolmer Sanchez cut the lead to one with an RBI double in the eighth. Joe Musgrove struck out Moncada with the tying run on second to end the eighth and struck out Omar Narvaez with the tying run on second to end the game for his second save. James Shields (4-7) allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. strong>MARLINS 5, METS 4, 10 INNINGS /strong> MIAMI (AP) — J.T. Realmuto homered in the 10th inning, and Miami beat New York after rallying for three runs in the ninth against former teammate A.J. Ramos. With one out, Realmuto hit a 1-1 pitch from Paul Sewald (0-6) into the Mets' bullpen for his 17th homer. Miami trailed 4-1 in the ninth before coming back against Ramos, who faced the Marlins for the first time since they traded the closer to New York on July 28. Justin Bour led off with his 22nd homer and first since a six-week stint on the disabled list. Ramos then gave up four singles, including two-out RBI hits by pinch-hitter A.J. Ellis and Ichiro Suzuki. Sewald replaced Ramos and struck out Christian Yelich on a 3-2 breaking ball with the bases loaded to force extra innings. Ramos' blown save was his first with the Mets. Major league home run leader Giancarlo Stanton walked a season-high four times and struck out in his only at-bat to remain at 55 homers with 11 games to go. strong>ATHLETICS 3, TIGERS 2 /strong> DETROIT (AP) — Daniel Mengden pitched seven scoreless innings, and Marcus Semien homered and drove in three runs, leading Oakland to a 3-2 win and three-game sweep of Detroit. Mengden (2-1) allowed seven hits and struck out four, extending his scoreless streak to 16 1/3 innings and helping the A's to their fourth consecutive win. The 24-year-old right-hander missed the first two months of the season after undergoing offseason foot surgery and was making his fifth major league start this year. Liam Hendriks got the final two outs in the ninth to earn his first save. Anibal Sanchez (3-5) pitched well in a losing effort, allowing three hits and one run in six innings. He struck out eight and walked three. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 21st, 2017

Joe Maddon wins in return to Tropicana Field

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) — Mike Montgomery took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, Kyle Schwarber hit his 28th home run and the Chicago Cubs extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Tuesday in manager Joe Maddon's return to Tropicana Field. Maddon managed Tampa Bay from 2006-14, then left for Chicago and last year led the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. Chicago holds a 3½-game lead over second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central. A crowd of 25,046, the largest at the Trop since opening day, gave Maddon a standing ovation in the middle of the first inning. Montgomery (7-8) allowed one hit in six innings, a one-out homer in the sixth by Brad Miller. The left-hander struck out six and walked one. Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr. and Wade Davis each followed with an inning of perfect relief to complete the one-hitter. Davis struck out the side and remained perfect in 32 save chances. Javier Baez hit an RBI double against Chris Archer (9-11), who gave up four hits in six innings. strong>INDIANS 6, ANGELS 3 /strong> ANAHEIM, California (AP) — Jay Bruce had a triple and a double among his three hits, Austin Jackson singled four times and the incredible Cleveland Indians notched their 25th victory in 26 games. Roberto Perez added a solo home run for the AL Central champions to support a strong outing by Mike Clevinger (11-5). Los Angeles' offense struggled for the third consecutive game as the Angels missed a chance to gain ground on Minnesota in their bid for the final American League playoff berth. strong>RED SOX 1, ORIOLES 0, 11 INNINGS /strong> BALTIMORE (AP) — Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the game's lone run on a wild pitch by Brad Brach in the 11th inning, helping the Red Sox improve to 15-3 in extra-inning games. Boston has won 10 of 13 to move a season-high 23 games over .500 (87-64) and draw closer to clinching a postseason berth. The Red Sox stayed three games ahead of the second-place Yankees in the AL East. With a runner on second and two outs in the 11th, Brach (4-5) walked Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who sidestepped a bouncing pitch from Brach that enabled Bradley to score without a throw. Joe Kelly (4-1) worked the 10th and Matt Barnes got three outs for his first save. The Orioles have lost 11 of 13 to fall out of contention. strong>YANKEES 5, TWINS 2 /strong> NEW YORK (AP) — CC Sabathia recovered from a shaky start to pitch six innings, Brett Gardner had a pair of tying hits and the Yankees clinched their sixth straight series win. With their ninth victory in 11 games, the Yankees opened six-game lead over the Twins for the top AL wild card. Minnesota, which started the night 1 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card, has lost four of five. Pitching on seven days' rest in a game that started 65 minutes late because of a downpour, Sabathia (12-5) allowed two runs and six hits. Aroldis Chapman worked a scoreless ninth for his 20th save in 24 chances. Minnesota right-hander Jose Berrios (12-8) yielded three runs in 3 1/3 innings. strong>PHILLIES 6, DODGERS 2 /strong> PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rhys Hoskins had four RBIs for Philadelphia, including a tiebreaking three-run double off Pedro Baez in seventh inning. Los Angeles' magic number to clinch its fifth straight division title is two. The Dodgers have lost three consecutive games and 19 of 24. Hoskins saw 30 pitches in going 2 for 3 with a walk. He knocked out Yu Darvish with a sixth-inning RBI single that cut Philadelphia's deficit to 2-1, and then doubled to the left-center gap on the 10th pitch of his at-bat against Baez (3-6) for a 5-2 lead. Aaron Nola (12-10) allowed two runs in seven innings while striking out eight. The Phillies have won seven of 10. strong>BREWERS 1, PIRATES 0 /strong> PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chase Anderson struck out eight in six innings, Domingo Santana homered and the Brewers shut out the Pirates for the second straight day. The Brewers won for the ninth time in 11 games, keeping pace in the NL Central and wild-card races. They won for the fourth time in the past seven days against reeling Pittsburgh, which has lost a season-high seven consecutive games and 12 of 13. It was the 12th shutout of the season for the Brewers, tied for the second-most in the NL. Anderson (11-3) allowed five singles. Anthony Swarzak retired six of his seven batters, and Corey Knebel earned his 37th save. Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams (6-9) pitched five innings of three-hit ball. strong>MARLINS 5, METS 4, 10 INNINGS /strong> MIAMI (AP) — J.T. Realmuto homered in the 10th inning and Miami beat New York after rallying for three runs in the ninth against former teammate A.J. Ramos. With one out, Realmuto connected off Paul Sewald (0-6) for his 17th homer. Miami trailed 4-1 in the ninth before coming back against Ramos, who faced the Marlins for the first time since they traded him to New York on July 28. Justin Bour led off with his 22nd homer, and first since a six-week stint on the disabled list. Ramos then gave up four singles, including two-out RBI hits by pinch-hitter A.J. Ellis and Ichiro Suzuki. Ramos' blown save was his first with the Mets. Major league home run leader Giancarlo Stanton walked a season-high four times and struck out in his only at-bat to remain at 55 homers with 11 games to go. strong>CARDINALS 8, REDS 7, 10 INNINGS /strong> CINCINNATI (AP) — Dexter Fowler hit a tying homer in the eighth inning and a go-ahead double in the 10th to help St. Louis get past Cincinnati. Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong also connected for the Cardinals, who were swept by NL Central-leading Chicago last weekend and had dropped four of five overall. Juan Nicasio (4-5) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win, and Tyler Lyons got two outs for his third save. The third-place Cardinals (78-72) remained six games back of the Cubs in the division. St. Louis also is in the mix for a wild card after missing the playoffs last season. The winning rally began when Tim Adelman (5-11) hit Kolten Wong with a pitch leading off the 10th. After the double by Fowler, DeJong added a two-out RBI single. Cincinnati got one back on Scooter Gennett's 26th homer. Zack Cozart also went deep for the Reds. Each team used eight pitchers. strong>NATIONALS 4, BRAVES 2 /strong> ATLANTA (AP) — Max Scherzer allowed five hits in seven innings, and Washington tuned up for the playoffs with a victory over Atlanta. Scherzer (15-6) bounced back from his worst start of the season, also against the Braves last week, when he walked six and was roughed up for seven runs in an 8-2 loss. This time, Scherzer struck out seven and walked only one while throwing 83 of 112 pitches for strikes. Sean Doolittle earned his 22nd save, his 19th in as many chances since the Nationals acquired him from Oakland on July 16. Ryan Zimmerman had three hits and two RBIs for the NL East champions. Braves rookie Luiz Gohara (1-2) gave up four runs and 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings. strong>BLUE JAYS 5, ROYALS 2 /strong> TORONTO (AP) — Marcus Stroman pitched seven innings to win for the first time in six starts and Darwin Barney hit a two-run homer, helping the Blue Jays to the victory. Alex Gordon's solo drive for Kansas City in the eighth was the majors' 5,694th homer of the season, breaking the record set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era. There were 5,610 homers last year, an average of 2.31 per game, and this year's average of 2.53 entering Tuesday's action projects to 6,139. Barney went 2 for 3 with three RBIs as the Blue Jays opened their final homestand on a winning note. Stroman (12-8) allowed one run and four hits, and Roberto Osuna got his 37th save. Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-12) was charged with two runs in five-plus innings. strong>ASTROS 3, WHITE SOX 1 /strong> HOUSTON (AP) — Jose Altuve homered, Alex Bregman hit an RBI double and AL West champion Houston extended its winning streak to five games with a victory over Chicago. Collin McHugh (3-2) allowed one run and five hits with five strikeouts in five innings for the Astros. It was the right-hander's first outing since detaching a fingernail on his pitching hand Sept. 8. McHugh has made only 10 starts this season after also missing time with a shoulder issue. Will Harris, Luke Gregerson and Chris Devenski each threw a scoreless inning before Ken Giles pitched the ninth for his 32nd save. Lucas Giolito (2-3) gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings for the White Sox. strong>ATHLETICS 9, TIGERS 8 /strong> DETROIT (AP) — Jed Lowrie hit a go-ahead grand slam against Alex Wilson, and Oakland overcame a four-run deficit to beat Detroit. The Tigers trailed 3-0 in the third inning, then took an 8-4 lead into the seventh, when Ryon Healy hit a bases-loaded grounder to shortstop Jose Iglesias, who bobbled the ball for an error as Lowrie scored. Joey Wendle, Franklin Barreto and Chad Pinder started the eighth with singles off Wilson (2-5), and Lowrie followed with his third career slam. Miguel Cabrera singled off Chris Hatcher starting the bottom half and took third on Nicholas Castellanos' double. But Jeimer Candelario grounded out and, after an intentional walk, Hatcher struck out James McCann and Mikie Mahtook. Santiago Casilla (4-5) pitched a perfect seventh. Blake Treinen closed for his 12th save this season and ninth since being traded from Washington to Oakland. Oakland rookie Matt Olson homered for the fifth straight game, tying Matt Stairs (1998), Dave Kingman (1986) and George Alusik (1962) for the second-longest streak in Athletics history behind Frank Thomas' six in 2006. Olson has 15 home runs in his last 21 games. Castellanos, Alex Presley and Ian Kinsler homered for Detroit. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2017

Royals beat Indians 4-3 to halt Cleveland's record streak

The Associated Press br /> CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians can return to clinching their division and playoff preparations. Their historic winning streak is, well, history. Cleveland's AL-record run was stopped at 22 straight games by Friday night's 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals, who became the first team to conquer the defending league champions since Aug. 23. Jason Vargas (16-10) pitched into the sixth and Brandon Moss homered off Trevor Bauer (16-9) as the Royals ended baseball's longest win streak in 101 years. With one last chance in the ninth, the Indians put the tying run on base before Mike Minor struck out the side for his first pro save, fanning Francisco Lindor on a pitch in the dirt for the final out. DODGERS 7, NATIONALS 0 WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Wood struck out eight in six innings, Corey Seager hit a three-run homer during a five-run second and the Dodgers won on the road. Wood (15-3) allowed three hits and walked one. Los Angeles has won three in a row after losing 11 consecutive games and 16 of 17. The teams entered the highly anticipated three-game series having clinched playoff berths and owning the top two records in the National League. The Dodgers lowered their magic number to clinch the NL West to six. Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig homered in the Dodgers' first Washington appearance since winning Game 5 of the NL Division Series last October. Edwin Jackson (5-6) lasted just 2 1/3 innings. The NL East champion Nationals fell six games back of Los Angeles in the chase for home-field advantage in the playoffs. BREWERS 10, MARLINS 2 MILWAUKEE (AP) — Neil Walker hit a grand slam during an eight-run eighth inning, and the Brewers beat the Marlins in the opening game of a series relocated from Miami to Milwaukee because of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The Marlins were technically the home team and batted in the bottom of the innings. Milwaukee even used palm trees, fake flamingos and giant blue and pink sea shells to give Miller Park a South Florida feel. Miami's Dee Gordon went hitless in four at-bats to end his 17-game hitting streak. Brian Ellington (0-1) got the loss. Jared Hughes (4-3) picked up the win after tossing a scoreless seventh inning. RED SOX 13, RAYS 6, 15 INNINGS ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Xander Bogaerts had two hits in Boston's seven-run 15th inning and the Red Sox beat Tampa Bay in a game that lasted 6 hours, 5 minutes. Austin Pruitt (7-5) walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to lead off the top of the 15th. Bogaerts followed with a single. Dustin Pedroia hit a ground ball that was misplayed by second baseman Brad Miller, allowing Bradley to score the lead run. Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, Deven Marraro and Bogaerts drove in extra runs for the Red Sox, who maintained their three-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East. Brandon Workman (1-1) got the win. Blaine Boyer, the 21st pitcher to appear in the game, pitched the 15th for Boston. Nine Red Sox pitchers set a club record with 24 strikeouts. CUBS 8, CARDINALS 2 CHICAGO (AP) — Kris Bryant had three hits, including his 27th homer, and the Cubs opened a big weekend series with their fourth consecutive win. Bryant went deep in the fourth and singled twice in Chicago's seven-run sixth. The NL Central-leading Cubs stayed three games ahead of Milwaukee and increased their advantage over St. Louis to four games. Chicago pitcher John Lackey and catcher Willson Contreras were thrown out for yelling at plate umpire Jordan Baker in the fifth. Carl Edwards Jr. (4-4) pitched a perfect sixth for the win. Tommy Pham homered for St. Louis. Carlos Martinez (11-11) was charged with seven runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. YANKEES 8, ORIOLES 2 NEW YORK (AP) — Didi Gregorius hit a tiebreaking two-run homer and drove in four runs, leading the Yankees to their fifth win in six games. Luis Severino (13-6) allowed three hits in eight innings. He made one big mistake, Welington Castillo's opposite-field, two-run homer to right that put the Orioles ahead 2-1 in the second. Severino is 8-2 with a 2.09 ERA in 12 starts since the All-Star break. Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly in the first, homered against Miguel Castro for a 4-2 lead in the fifth and added another sacrifice fly in a three-run seventh. Baltimore lost for the eighth time in nine games. Gabriel Ynoa (1-2) allowed three runs — two earned — and five hits in 4 1/3 innings. ASTROS 5, MARINERS 2 HOUSTON (AP) — Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis had two hits apiece and each drove in a run, and the Astros moved closer to clinching the AL West title. Houston's magic number dropped to two, meaning the Astros could secure their first division championship since 2001 with a win on Saturday if the Angels lose Friday or Saturday. The Astros led 3-0 after one inning as James Paxton (12-4) struggled in his return from the disabled list after sitting out since Aug. 10 with a strained pectoral muscle. He allowed three runs in 1 1/3 innings to snap a seven-game winning streak. Charlie Morton (12-7) pitched six strong innings for Houston. Ken Giles tossed a scoreless ninth for his 31st save. DIAMONDBACKS 3, GIANTS 2 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Robbie Ray won his fifth straight start and A.J. Pollock hit a two-run double as Arizona beat San Francisco. Ray (14-5) struck out 10 and gave up two runs (one earned), six hits and no walks as the Diamondbacks won for the 19th time in 24 games and for the eighth straight time on the road. The Diamondbacks trailed 2-1 when Pollock doubled in two runs off Jeff Samardzija (9-14) in the seventh inning. Arizona reduced its magic number for clinching its first postseason berth since 2011 to seven. BLUE JAYS 4, TWINS 3 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Josh Donaldson homered and drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning with an infield single that ricocheted off the mound, sending Toronto to the win. J.A. Happ (9-10) pitched into the seventh inning in his third straight win, and Roberto Osuna got three outs for his 36th save in 46 opportunities. The Twins had a three-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card going into the night, with the Seattle Mariners 3 1/2 games back. The New York Yankees hold the first wild card with a four-game edge on the Twins. Twins starter Bartolo Colon (6-13) was charged with four runs in six-plus innings on 'Big Sexy Night.' The Twins had souvenir T-shirts for fans who bought a special ticket package in honor of the burly right-hander, who joined the Twins two months ago and has more than held his own despite his decreased velocity. ANGELS 7, RANGERS 6 ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — C.J. Cron hit a two-run homer to cap the a five-run rally in the sixth inning, and Los Angeles trimmed its deficit in the AL wild-card race to two games. Andrelton Simmons had two run-scoring singles for the Angels (75-72), who gained a game on the Minnesota Twins (77-70) with just their third win in eight games. Los Angeles used seven pitchers in a bullpen start, with former closer Bud Norris getting the first six outs. Yusmeiro Petit (5-0) pitched two perfect innings, and Blake Parker earned a six-out save. Shin-Soo Choo hit a two-run homer in the sixth for Texas (72-75). The Rangers have lost four straight and six of seven, their playoff hopes down to a flicker. Yohander Mendez (0-1) took the loss. ROCKIES 6, PADRES 1 DENVER (AP) — Tyler Chatwood pitched into the sixth inning and drove in his first runs of the season, helping the Rockies to the victory. Nolan Arenado homered as Colorado remained 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee and moved 3 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis for the second NL wild card. Chatwood (8-12) tossed 5 2/3 innings and left after Wil Myers' 28th homer. It was Chatwood's third start after six relief appearances. San Diego's Clayton Richard (7-14) allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings. REDS 4, PIRATES 2 CINCINNATI (AP) — Zack Cozart hit two of Cincinnati's four solo home runs, powering the last-place Reds to the victory. Joey Votto and Scott Schebler also connected, sending the Pirates to their third straight loss and eighth in the last nine games. Homer Bailey (5-8) allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings for his first win in six starts since Aug. 11. Raisel Iglesias got five outs for his 27th save. Chad Kuhl (7-11) gave up all four home runs, a single-game career high for the second-year right-hander. ATHLETICS 4, PHILLIES 0 PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Daniel Mengden pitched a two-hitter for Oakland, and Matt Olson and Matt Joyce each hit a two-run homer. Mengden (1-1) struck out seven and walked none in his first career shutout in his 18th start. J.P Crawford had both hits off Mengden. Phillies starter Mark Leiter Jr. (3-6) allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings. Mengden also got his first career hit, a single off Crawford's glove in the shortstop hole before Joyce connected in the second. TIGERS 3, WHITE SOX 2 DETROIT (AP) — Mikie Mahtook hit a game-ending RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning, helping Detroit stop a six-game skid. Former Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque (0-2) walked Jeimer Candelario with one out in the ninth, and Aaron Bummer walked Tyler Collins with two outs. White Sox manager Rick Renteria brought in Juan Minaya, who uncorked a wild pitch to move the runners to second and third. Mahtook then hit a 3-2 pitch up the middle for his first career game-ending hit. Shane Greene (4-3) got four outs for the win. BRAVES 3, METS 2 ATLANTA (AP) — Sean Newcomb struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings, and the Braves handed the Mets their fifth straight loss. Newcomb (3-8) gave up two runs and six hits. Arodys Vizcaino pitched the ninth for his 11th save in 13 opportunities. Rafael Montero (5-10) became the fourth straight Mets starter pitcher to fail to complete five innings. He was lifted with two outs in the fifth after throwing 108 pitches and allowing three runs and seven hits. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 16th, 2017

Cool Smashers nail first PVL title berth

  MANILA, Philippines – Crowd-favorite Creamline took down defending champion Pocari Sweat in straight sets, 25-15, 25-17, 25-16, to clinch the first championship berth in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Season 2 Reinforced Conference on Friday, July 6 at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.  Team captain Alyssa Valdez took charge ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 6th, 2018

Bubba Watson shoots 63 to rally for 3rd Travelers title

By Pat Eaton-Robb, Associated Press CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Bubba Watson says TPC River Highlands feels like home. It certainly was a comfortable place again this week. Watson overcame a six-stroke deficit Sunday to win his third Travelers Championship title, shooting a 7-under 63 for a three-stroke victory. The left-hander became the first three-time winner on the PGA Tour this season and pulled within one of Billy Casper's tournament record of four victories. He finished at 17-under 263. Third-round leader Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Beau Hossler and J.B. Holmes tied for second. Casey shot 72, Cink 62, Hossler 66 and Holmes 67. Watson also came from six back to win the 2010 event for his first tour title and beat Casey in a playoff in 2015. "I feel like this is my home course," Watson said. "As soon as they put the schedule up, I sign up for this. I want to come back here. This means so much, not only from the golf side of it, but from the family side. My dad, it was the only time he got to see me win (in 2010). He got to see me qualify for the Ryder Cup at this event. So all these things just mean so much to my family." During the victory ceremony, Watson's adopted children — 6-year-old son Caleb and 3-year-old daughter Dakota — received small trophies of their own. Watson shot a 33 on the front nine, but really got it going on the back, with five birdies. He tied Casey at 16-under par by getting up and down from the bunker for a birdie on the course's signature 15th hole. Still tied on the par-4 18th, Watson hit his tee shot 366 yards, then pitched inside 3 feet, giving caddie Ted Scott a big high-five before taking the lead with the putt. "Hitting some of those shots, especially the shot on 18, downwind, it was very difficult, but somehow pulling it off" Watson said. "And that's what we all try to do on Sundays is pull off the amazing shot." Casey, who shot 65, 67 and 62 to lead the field by four shots coming into Sunday, birdied his opening hole. But he gave that back on the fifth and had back-to-back bogeys on 16 and 17 to end any chance he had of catching Watson. The Englishman has finished in the top 20 in eight of his last nine tournaments. He was second here during his first visit in 2015, came in 17th a year later and had a fifth-place finish in Cromwell a year ago. "There was a lot of fight in there," Casey said. "But, I fought my golf swing all day as you can see coming down the last couple of holes." Watson also won at Rivera in Los Angeles in February and the World Golf Championships-Match Play in Austin, Texas, in March. He earned $1.26 million for his 12th career victory. Cink tied the best round of the week with a 62 on Sunday. The two-time Travelers Champion came out blazing, opening with three straight birdies and putting up a 29 on the front nine. He was 7-under through 10 and acknowledged thinking about a sub-60 round after making birdie on the 15th. "I knew that I needed three birdies to shoot 59. But quickly, I also remembered that the golf tournament was on the line and it would mean a lot more to me to win the Travelers Championship than to shoot a 59." He bogeyed 16, but finished the round with his 10th birdie. Defending champion Jordan Spieth, who was tied for the lead after the opening round, shot a 69 to finish at 4 under. There hasn't been a repeat champion in Cromwell since Phil Mickelson in 2001 and 2002. Spieth said he was originally planning to take time off until he defends his title at the British Open, but may re-evaluate that as he works on his game. U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka shot a 65 to tie for 19th at 9 under. He said his top priority right now is rest, but said that won't come until after he attends a bachelor party for his best friend next week. "I don't feel like I need to play; I feel like my game is in a good spot," he said. "I played really well this week, just some stupid mistakes, just mental errors. That's all it was, lack of focus, low energy. To be honest with you, I'm not surprised." Qualifier Chase Seiffert shot a 63 on Monday just to make the tournament. He shot a 64 Sunday to finish at 12 under and tie for ninth. Seiffert's round included an eagle at the sixth hole that saw him put second shot 301 yards over the green, before holing out from 49 feet away. The 26-year-old former Florida State star also qualified last year and tied for 43rd. "I feel like my game's good enough to be out here full-time and kind of confirms that with the way I've been playing this week and last year here as well," he said. Jason Day holed out on 18 from 38 feet, just in front of the greenside bunker to finish at 69 and 11 under......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2018

Belgium, team of tomorrow, hopes to finally win now

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Belgium is the team of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. De Rode Duivels, as the Red Devils are known, have been playing for 114 years and remain in search of their first major title. A polyglot known for waffles, chocolate and beer, the nation of 11 million hopes for soccer to join the national identity, boosted by a golden generation that includes Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bryune. Belief is growing. Philippe, King of the Belgians, was on hand wearing a bright red tie and team scarf. "Belgium is a small country, you know? So we're very happy that we have this kind of talent," defender Toby Alderweireld said after Saturday's 5-2 rout of Tunisia all but clinched a round-of-16 World Cup berth. "Hopefully we can do something special." Lukaku tied Cristiano Ronaldo for the tournament lead with four goals, becoming the first with consecutive two-goal games in the World Cup since Diego Maradona and Gary Lineker in 1986. Hazard also scored twice , and Michy Batshuayi added a 90th-minute goal after failing to convert a trio of prime chances. Belgium opened with a 3-0 victory over Panama and has an 8-2 goal difference. Ranked third in the world behind defending champion Germany and Brazil, the Red Devils have become a chic choice to join the exclusive club of eight World Cup winners: Brazil (five), Germany and Italy (four), Argentina and Uruguay (two), and England, France and Spain (one). "Belgium was not the favorite because of the history of the country — and especially the history of the other countries," said former Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf, now a Fox analyst. "They're growing. Also, they're playing with important team spirit. So for me, it's not really a big surprise what they're doing at the moment." Training is conducted in English under Spanish coach Roberto Martinez, who spent a decade managing in England. Postgame interviews sound like a corridor at European Union headquarters in Brussels, with players alternating among English, French, Dutch and Spanish. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has picked up a Scouse accent after five seasons with Liverpool. Seventeen of the 23 players were on Champions League clubs last season, a glamorous group that includes Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. "That gives them the confidence and the experience to play at the highest level. That is what a World Cup is about," Mignolet said. "For us, it's now the third tournament in a row where we play, which gives you the experience, so nobody's really fussed about the occasion anymore. Maybe the two tournaments were a bit different where we arrived and we were thinking about what was going to happen. Everything was new." After completing the group stage against England on Thursday, Belgium would face Colombia, Poland, Senegal or Japan in the second round, and then could have a possible quarterfinal against Germany, Brazil or Mexico. Since losing their first match under Martinez to Spain two years ago, Belgium is unbeaten in 21 games (16 wins) and has outscored opponents 72-17 during the run. But while outscoring Panama and Tunisia by 8-2, the defense and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois looked like they could be exploited by better opposition. "Today what I saw is a team that it was prepared to suffer, prepared to work for each other, and we look well-balanced in that respect," Martinez said. "So when you've got that, then the individuals can show their talent." Lukaku has 15 goals in his last 10 international matches but left in the 59th minute after injuring an ankle ligament. Hazard came off nine minutes later with a calf problem, and forward Dries Mertens came out in the 86th after an ankle issue. Belgium came closest to a title at the 1980 European Championship, losing 2-1 to a German team that got a pair of goals from Horst Hrubesch. It has reached semifinals twice at major events, losing 2-1 to West Germany at the 1972 Euros and to Maradona's Argentina at the 1986 World Cup. After missing two straight World Cups, the Red Devils returned four years ago, beat the U.S. in extra time in the round of 16, then lost to Argentina in the quarters. At the 2016 Euros, they wasted an early lead in a 3-1 quarterfinal loss to Wales. Given the past and the sound and fury that would follow any misstep, Martinez wants to manage expectations. "To be a favorite in a World Cup, you need to have the know-how of winning a World Cup," he said. "The World Cup is something that probably gives you an advantage psychologically when you've won it before.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2018

Dub Dynasty: Warriors sweep Cavs for second straight title

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — Golden State. Golden still. Stephen Curry scored 37 points, NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant added 20 and a triple-double and the Warriors stamped themselves a dynasty after winning their second straight title and third in four years Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), 108-85 over the Cleveland Cavaliers to complete a sweep and perhaps drive LeBron James from his home again to chase championships. Overcoming obstacles all season long, the Warriors were not going to be denied and won the fourth straight finals matchup against Cleveland with ease. "This is so hard to do and doing it three out of four years is incredible," guard Klay Thompson said. It was the first sweep in the NBA Finals since 2007, when James was dismissed by a powerful San Antonio team in his first one. His eighth straight appearance didn't go well either, and now there's uncertainty where the superstar will play next. James finished with 23 points and spent the final minutes on the bench, contemplating what went wrong and maybe his next move. Act IV between the Warriors and Cavs featured a drama-filled and controversial Game 1. But from there on, Durant, Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of this California crew showed why they're the game's gold standard. And they may stay that way. "Can't get enough of this feeling so we're going to celebrate it together," Curry said. Not wanting to give the Cavs or their fans any hope despite the fact that no team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs, the Warriors built a nine-point halftime lead when Curry ignored a closeout by James and dropped a three-pointer. Then the league's best team tightened the screws on Cleveland in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs 25-13 and prompting Golden State fans to begin those drawn-out "War-eee-orrss" chants that provide a perfect musical accompaniment to their three-point barrages. By the start of the fourth quarter, the only question was whether Curry would win his first NBA Finals MVP or if it would go to Durant for the second year in a row. And again, it was Durant, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists — more satisfaction and validation for a player who couldn't beat the Warriors so he joined them. After surviving a rougher-than-usual regular season and beating top-seeded Houston in Game 7 on the road in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors withstood an overtime scare in Game 1 and joined an elite group of teams to win multiple championships in a four-year span. Only Bill Russell's Boston Celtics, the "Showtime" Lakers and the Los Angeles squad led by Kobe and Shaq, and Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls have been as dominant in such a short period of time. The Dub Dynasty. The path to this title was more precarious than the first two for coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors, who overcame injuries, expectations, a built-to-dethrone-them Rockets team and the brilliance of James, who scored 51 points in the series opener and carried a Cavs team from the beginning of their rollercoaster season until the end. It may have been the final game in Cleveland for the 33-year-old, who is expected to opt out of his $35.6 million contract for 2019 next month and become a free agent. James was pulled from the game with 4:03 left, and he slapped hands with the Warriors before heading to the bench. He plopped down in a chair and draped a towel over his broad shoulders, looking like a boxer on a corner stool. James averaged 34 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10 assists in the series, but as has been the case in the past, he didn't have enough help. Another Summer of LeBron is officially underway and there are already teams stretching from Philadelphia to Los Angeles hoping to land the three-time champion, who may have to go elsewhere to put together a cast strong enough — and as James made clear this week, smart enough — to bring down the Warriors. Right now, the Warriors are on another tier and with Durant expected to re-sign with them in weeks and Curry, Thompson, Green and the rest still young and hungry, their reign could last much longer. Heading into the playoffs, the Warriors appeared vulnerable. There were lingering questions about Curry's sprained left knee that sidelined him for almost six weeks and kept him out of Golden State's first-round series against San Antonio. Kerr was forced to mix and match lineups, and it became obvious the Warriors weren't going to go 16-1 and storm their way to a title like they did in 2017, when their only postseason loss came in Game 4 after the Cavs made 24 three-pointers. Kerr used 27 different starting lineups during the regular season, which ended with a head-scratching 40-point loss to Utah. The Warriors began defense of their title as a No. 2 seed and their season was in serious jeopardy when they fell behind 3-2 to presumptive MVP James Harden and the Rockets. But Golden State, catching a break when Houston star guard Chris Paul was forced to sit with a hamstring injury, showed a champion's poise by winning two straight. That set up another reunion with James and the Cavs. Maybe the last. TIP-INS Warriors: Curry made a three-pointer in his record 90th consecutive postseason game and extended his mark for three's in road playoff games to 44. ... Green is the only visiting player to post a triple-double in the playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena, doing so in Game 6 of the 2015 finals. ... Became the ninth team to sweep a finals and first to win consecutive titles since James did it with Miami in 2012 and 2013. ... Golden State has won a road game in 19 straight playoff series, tying the Heat's NBA record. ... With his 43-point performance in Game 3, Durant joined Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal as the only players to score at least 25 points in their first 13 finals games. Cavaliers: Appeared in its 26th NBA Finals game, moving past Atlanta/St. Louis into 10th place all-time. ... James averaged 34 points in his 13th postseason, his second-highest total. BROWN OUT Longtime network broadcaster Hubie Brown injured his knee while sitting courtside preparing before the game. He was treated by a medical staff on site and taken to the hospital. The 84-year-old Brown was replaced on the radio broadcast by Jon Barry. Brown was working his 17th NBA Finals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2018

Warriors await word on top defender Iguodala as LeBron looms

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson sat on the floor in the middle of his teammates and pointed to his “2018 NBA FINALS” hat during a locker-room photo. An important face was missing from the moment: Andre Iguodala. In a postseason defined by uncertainty for the defending champions, Golden State could be without one of its top defenders as the Warriors chase a repeat title — taking on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a fourth straight NBA Finals matchup. Iguodala’s status for Game 1 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) is a question as he recovers from a bone bruise in his left knee, which caused him to miss the final four games of the Western Conference finals against Houston. Cleveland’s Kevin Love is in concussion protocol, so he might not be ready, either. Coach Steve Kerr has said Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP, will return when he can run without pain. The Warriors sure could use his presence against King James, who is making an eighth straight Finals appearance. “We’re still without Andre, which is a big blow for us,” Kerr said before Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) Game 7 at Houston. “In a different way. He’s not a scorer for us as Chris [Paul] is for Houston, but a huge component. So you go through the playoffs and things happen, and you’ve got to be able to bounce back no matter what and keep going.” Last month, Kerr became concerned his team’s defense wouldn’t return to its top form after Golden State struggled late in the regular season and even endured a particularly poor stretch in which the Warriors dropped seven of 10 games. Yet here they are in a familiar spring spot as June approaches. Once the buzzer sounded and the 101-92 Game 7 win over Houston was official, the Warriors could exhale. It hasn’t been pretty for much of these playoffs, a far cry from that remarkable, record-breaking 16-1 romp through last year’s postseason. There is clearly some relief to be back where this All-Star group expected to be all along. Stephen Curry kept the game ball tucked under his left arm long after Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) game, toddler daughter Ryan held in his right arm. Kevin Durant hugged general manager Bob Myers, while always-animated Nick Young beamed wearing his Finals hat and “Champions of the West” T-shirt, then enjoyed hoisting the shiny trophy. Draymond Green smooched his 1-year-old son, Draymond Jr. Back home, fireworks went off in the East Bay as everyone anticipates another battle with King James. “There’s a lot of just built-up anxiety, I guess, about this moment. When you walk off the court with a win and get this fancy hat, it’s a good feeling,” Curry said. “We had to work for it, and you’ve got to appreciate the moment. Somebody asked, ‘It’s four years in a row getting to The Finals, do you appreciate it?’ Yes, because it’s really hard. So all the smiles and embraces you have with your teammates, your coaches, it’s well deserved.” Golden State struggled to hit shots for stretches. The stars went through funks and the Warriors had to play catch up time and again — including from double-digit deficits in the final two games to beat James Harden and the 65-win Rockets on their home court after settling for the second seed in the West. James has willed his Cavs this far, saying, “I don’t know how I can compare it to other seasons because I can only think about this one in the present.” “Definitely a different team but we know everything goes and stops with LeBron James with them,” Green said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2018

Draw of another title lights postseason path of Warriors

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst One of the Golden State Warriors’ people, walking out of Smoothie King Center Sunday (Monday, PHL time), summarized the team’s season so far in detailing Kevin Durant’s 38-point performance against the Pelicans in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. “Sometimes, people forget,” he said, a wry smile on his face -- and, yes, they do. With all that has gone on around the league this season, the Warriors’ storyline hasn’t been quite as eyeballed nationally this season compared with previous years. (Not that they should care. It’s just an observation.) The Cleveland Cavaliers blew things up last summer and reformed in the fall, blew it up again in the winter and reformed again in the spring. The Boston Celtics are displaying amazing resilience through seemingly devastating injuries to put themselves on the brink of another conference finals. The Philadelphia 76ers have their Fun Bunch. There was Paul George’s trade to Oklahoma City (and all that entailed, now and later) and the Toronto Raptors’ dramatic and successful changes throughout the year. And, at the forefront, there was the Houston Rockets’ rise as a legit and serious challenger to the Warriors in the Western Conference. During the regular season, the Warriors’ energy and productivity dropped off ever so slightly, like the planet killer in “The Doomsday Machine,” one of the all-time best original “Star Trek” episodes, after the doomed Commodore Decker drove a Shuttlecraft right down its throat. (Of course, Captain Kirk figured out to destroy it. Dude, come on. This is James Tiberius Kirk we’re talking about.) And at the end of the regular season, they were hit with a series of body shot injuries: Stephen Curry’s MCL strain, Durant’s ribs, Klay Thompson’s thumb injury, Draymond Green’s hip, and on and on. Those all sapped their continuity and made them look mortal down the stretch of the 2017-18 season, and the Warriors went 7-10 as the season waned. But, after dispatching the Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs in five games in the first round, and taking a 3-1 lead on the Pelicans now, they’re again on the precipice of the Western Conference finals. A date with Houston is looming and a chance at a third title in four seasons is still on their racket. “I think as the playoffs go on, every series requires a different intensity level,” Green said last week. “I think we met that standard that it takes to win playoff games at the level we’re at right now, which is the second round. It’s not our first rodeo. We’ve been here a lot of times and we know what it takes.” Steve Kerr rolled the “Hamptons Five” lineup out Sunday (Monday, PHL time), the Lineup Formally Known as Death -- Curry, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Green and Durant. It’s been their trump card for almost two years, the lineup that can’t be solved by the opposition, even as it’s chipped away at most of Golden State’s other conventional units. Durant went for 38, and the Warriors rolled to a 118-92 win and a 3-1 series lead. They didn’t use it much this season -- that quintet only played 127 minutes together this season, after logging 224 minutes last season -- because of all the injuries, because they tried to limit their biggest players’ minutes and because using Iguodala as a starter thins out Golden State’s bench. The Warriors’ most frequently used five-man unit this season featured Zaza Pachulia at center; among five-man units leaguewide that played 200 minutes or more together this season, per NBA.com/Stats, that quintet was third in the league in Offensive Rating, at 118.6. But Pachulia hasn’t played a minute in the playoffs, and if the Rockets are the Warriors’ next opponent, he may not play much then, either, against Clint Capela. Kerr often points out that the Warriors have six centers on the current roster, and most of them have gotten at least a little run at various points. But after JaVale McGee was ineffective in Game 3 against New Orleans Friday (Saturday, PHL time), Kerr pulled his trump card. It’s still a game-changer, and when a season comes down to a best-of-seven series, one game can be the difference. “We all bring the best of each other,” Curry said of the Hamptons unit. “We increase the pace of the game, but the versatility [is] at the defensive end -- Andre, Draymond, KD shoring up the paint, switching a lot of the screens and the action from the offense and Klay doing what he does on the perimeter. I think the biggest thing offensively is that we’re all playmakers, try to look for the best shot, stay within ourselves and just make the right play.” Going back to the old playlist may give the Warriors comfort in what has been another drama-filled season, with the contretemps about being disinvited from the White House by President Trump in September getting things off to a rollicking start. But the end of the season was what raised eyebrows around the league. Curry’s absence down the stretch combined with a teamwide ennui -- “I really don’t like talking about it,” Thompson said -- that gave potential playoff opponents hope they might be able to catch Golden State napping. The Warriors’ boredom showed up most at the defensive end. After being in the top seven in both unadjusted and adjusted Defensive Rating in each of the last four seasons -- including first in the league in both categories in the first championship season of 2014-15 -- Golden State fell to 11th and 12th, respectively, in the regular season. They came out of the All-Star break focused -- they were fifth in the league in Defensive Rating on March 1. But all the injuries blunted their momentum, and the scariest of all -- a serious injury to second-year guard Patrick McCaw in Sacramento March 31 (April 1, PHL time) -- shook the team more than people on the outside realized. “Throughout that time, we had spurts,” Durant said. “We played a great OKC team. We went in there and won. Then we lost to Indiana by 20, and then it’s like, when you’re riding just on emotion a lot, you tend to go up and down. It’s like a roller coaster. I think that’s what it was. We had those spurts where we played well and played a focused game, but then Patty goes out, boom, and there was just so much that went on with that. Then Steph goes out with a freak injury. So much went on with that. I think we were just so up and down emotionally it kind of blinded us from our goal, which was to be good every single night as basketball players.” McCaw’s injury -- a bone bruise suffered when he fell after a dunk attempt against the Kings, which required him to be carried off the court in Sacramento on a stretcher -- hit everyone hard. “When Pat got injured, I think that took a little bit out of us,” Durant said. “It took a little bit out of Steve as well. You could just feel it, when Steph went out, then I went out, then Draymond, then Klay. Our emotions were so up and down. When your emotions are, you have too many emotions in the game of basketball, it can kind of blind you from what you really have to do. This is a technical game. So when you put too many emotions into it, it kind of took us away from what we wanted to do.” McCaw, who played in 57 games this season, was not only a part of Kerr’s rotation. He is also a well-liked person who was getting better on the floor. He was re-evaluated last week and will be checked out again in a month. Though he’s been traveling with the team during the playoffs, his season is almost certainly over. And as his injury came during the Warriors’ many injuries down the stretch, its chilling effect was multiplied. “It definitely got to everybody,” Green said. “Kind of the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going on with him. The rotations. Everybody’s like, ahh, kind of tiptoeing around, trying to make sure you get to the playoffs healthy. A lot of that makes a difference. I mean, that’s our brother. To see him down like that, not be able to walk off the court under his own power, him not being around us for two or three weeks, it was kind of like the unknown. It sucked. And I think it definitely had an effect on everything.” But Durant doesn’t like the metaphor of the proverbial switch being turned on at playoff time explaining the team’s improvement the last couple of weeks. “I don’t like when you call it a switch,” he said. “Because guys come in and get extra work in every single day. They work on their bodies every day, they get treatment. You come in here any time, you see guys in here working on their games. I think when you say ‘a switch turned on,’ if guys went cold turkey on everything as professionals during the season, and just tried to pick it up in the playoffs, I think that’s turning on a switch. Mentally, focus-wise, game plan-wise, I think you can turn on a switch, because you can lock in on an opponent, you know their tendencies, you can just focus in on one group of players instead of one day it’s San Antonio, the next day it’s Phoenix, next day it’s Sacramento. You’re going so up and down. If that makes sense. “So I think everybody’s putting in that work individually all year, and as a team, you know, stuff has to come together. We have to focus in on what we need to do, game plan wise, tendency wise, just try to take away things. I think that’s where you kind of turn it up just a bit.” Golden State has performed in fits and starts in the first two rounds. The Spurs didn’t have enough firepower to be a serious threat, but they played hard and were increasingly effectively on defense as the series went on. The Warriors didn’t really have an answer for LaMarcus Aldridge after Game 1. New Orleans had, until Sunday (Monday, PHL time), been more and more successful at making the Warriors shoot contested shots. That certainly gibes with Curry’s return after five weeks. He’s healthy, but rusty. After his adrenaline-filled return last Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) in Game 2 against the Pelicans, he made just 14-of-33 from the floor in the two games in New Orleans. There was talk afterward about breakthroughs for Curry cardiovascularly. The next few games will tell whether Curry is truly recovered and ready to be two-time Kia MVP Steph … or will he just be on the floor (as he was for long and important stretches in the 2016 playoffs after returning from a Grade 1 knee sprain). The Warriors still made The Finals, but Curry wasn’t Curry against Cleveland, and everyone, starting and ending with LeBron James, knew it. No one in NBA history has changed the geometry of basketball more than Curry, and when he’s on the floor, the ball starts flying around. “Our formula is simple: if we out-pass people, we win,” Warriors forward David West said. “Ball movement. With guys going in and out of the lineup, it causes moments where guys try to carry the load, maybe try to shoulder the load individually. But the strength of the group is the group.” But the Warriors can still throw so many different things and people at you. Iguodala shot a career-worst 28.2 percent on three-pointers in the regular season. He’s at 39.3 percent in the 2018 playoffs. Does anyone doubt he was biding his time until the postseason? No one wearing an NBA uniform is in better shape than the 34-year-old Iguodala, no one is smarter about the game or matchups, and no one is a prouder, fiercer competitor. The 2015 Finals MVP brings his bag of intangibles with him on the road even more than at home, as he did Sunday. In that game, he was making life miserable for the Pelicans’ Nikola Mirotic, creating deflections, making the right reads and impacting the game despite scoring just six points. Kerr likened him to Scottie Pippen after Game 4, but Iggy wasn’t buying it -- “Steve just does that to make sure I don’t get mad ‘cause I don’t shots,” Iguodala quipped. He may be right. But Iguodala and Green have a mind meld defensively that’s at the heart of the Hamptons’ effectiveness. “Andre and I, we’re usually on the same page,” Green said. “Two guys who really think the game, especially on that side of the ball. Sometimes we can talk things out and it works perfect and not say a word, and know what each other’s going to do. It definitely helps our team out defensively kind of having two coaches out there on the floor on that side of the ball.” Whether it’s switching to guard each other’s man, running at an open shooter to close before the ball gets there with the other man rotating, they know what the other guy is going to do. And that second or so the Warriors save defensively keeps them from being broken down. “How fast can you make that decision?,” Green says. “How demonstrative are you going to be about that decision? Are you going to second guess that decision? That’s usually when it doesn’t work; if you’re going to go, just go. That’s kind of the motto that Andre and I go by. If you’re going to go, just go; everybody else fall in line and rotate, and we’ll work it out from there.” And while Green and Rajon Rondo have been exchanging pleasantries throughout this series, Green didn’t pick up his first postseason technical foul until Sunday (Monday, PHL time). He’s been under control, coming up to the edge without going over. Someone without access to the internet asked Kerr if he’d ever played with anyone who instigated or tried to get under the skin of opponents. It’s a testament to Kerr’s comic timing that he actually did wait a beat before answering. “I did play with Dennis Rodman,” he said. Never be fooled by Kerr’s overall pleasant disposition and quick-with-a-quip acuity, though. He is a fierce competitor that wants to win big, the same as his current point guard, who is similarly underrated on the competition scale. Kerr has seven rings as a player and coach, and it’s not a coincidence he’s frequently been around teams that got it done in June. But the Warriors are playing for even bigger stakes than just winning the 2018 title. Legacies are created this time of year. A third title in four seasons, with four straight Finals appearances, would put Golden State in very rarified air in the modern game. San Antonio won three titles from 2002-07. But the Spurs, famously, never have won back-to-back titles. The Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal-led Lakers, which won three straight from 2000-02, are the closest modern-day team to pulling off what the Warriors are trying to accomplish. Before then, you’re talking about the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, with six titles in eight seasons -- the two non-title seasons coinciding with Jordan’s sojourn to the minor leagues of baseball. Moreover, the Warriors are the hub around which the modern NBA now spins. And that is an even bigger legacy. Almost everyone (hi, Thibs!) tries to play the way Golden State does now -- the quick hitters, ball movement, pace. Teams do it in different ways. The 76ers look very different than the Warriors, with Joel Embiid their centerpiece of operations, and with 6'10" Ben Simmons taking up so much space with the ball in the halfcourt. The Rockets look different still as there’s not a ton of ball movement. There’s just an unending series of screen and rolls with Chris Paul and James Harden with the rock, looking for the inevitable open man in the corner or way, way behind the three-point line. A lot of things have happened the last 15 years to lead us where we are now. The league changed almost all the rules regarding zone defense, and got rid of almost all defensive contact on the perimeter. Rockets GM Daryl Morey and others led the burgeoning analytics movement, which championed shooting more and more three-pointers as a primary means of scoring, not as a novelty. Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns went with Amar’e Stoudemire at center, surrounding him with four smalls that could all shoot it from deep, and scoring came out of its coma leaguewide. Kerr and Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry have always been quick to credit D’Antoni’s influence on the modern game, starting in Phoenix and working through his current team in Houston. “He’s the guy that just eliminated the center position -- let’s just go small and fast and shoot more threes,” Kerr said of D’Antoni. “I was inspired by Mike, but I was also inspired by Pop (the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich) and Phil Jackson in terms of basic ball movement, screening. But pace is the name of the game these days, and people go about it in different ways. Ironically, Mike’s team (in Houston) is the slowest team in the league now. I didn’t see that coming.” But no one has put all of it together -- pace, small ball, shooting and defense -- like the Warriors have the last four seasons. The Rockets are the closest thing we’ve seen to Golden State, and they’re hungry, and they’re coming. And the Warriors and Rockets are just a win apiece away from seeing the clash of the Western Conference titans. They are in the middle of it, so they can’t stop and think about what it all means. We get that. But everyone wants to put a marker out there that’s hard to catch. LeBron is chasing a ghost. The Warriors have already made their mark on the game. They’re almost in position to do more. History is forever. “It’s important, because it’s what’s right in front of us,” Curry said Sunday. “We don’t think about the historical context of anything. For us, we have an amazing group of guys, amazing coaches sitting behind us. We’re appreciating the moment. That’s really all it is. You have tunnel vision for Game 5 at home, then a new series, hopefully (after that). The historic context doesn’t really seep into the locker room when it comes to what that means. It’s just about this year.” Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2018

Depay scores again as Lyon beats Nantes to go 2nd in Ligue 1

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Memphis Depay scored for a sixth straight game and created the other goal as Lyon beat Nantes 2-0 to move up to second place in the French league on Saturday. He netted a superb strike in the 40th minute and helped set up Bertrand Traore in the 68th. Depay has scored or created 14 of Lyon's 18 last goals. In the chase for an automatic place in next season's Champion League, Lyon is one point ahead of Monaco, which again dropped points after drawing at home to Amiens 0-0. Monaco will drop down to fourth if Marseille wins at Angers on Sunday. A Marseille victory will move it level with Lyon, which has a vastly better goal difference. The team finishing third has to go through the playoffs - unless Atletico Madrid wins the Europa League in Lyon - but Depay is doing his best to help Lyon take the direct route to Europe. He is finishing the season in the kind of form which saw the Netherlands forward once hailed as a future star . Receiving a pass from Nabil Fekir on the edge of the penalty area, he flicked the ball behind his standing leg with his right foot and then whipped a fierce strike with his left into the bottom corner for his 16th league goal. Midway through the second half, Depay cut inside from the left and beat two defenders. He was about to shoot but the ball ran to Traore, who slotted in from a better position. "Of course I'm important to the team and I try to continue to the end of the season. But it's not only me, it's a collective," Depay said. "We have to win the last three games." Depay, who joined from Manchester United midway through last season, would not say if he will stay if Lyon qualifies for the Champions League. "That's a question I cannot answer," he told Canal Plus television. "I don't look at the future." French champion Paris Saint-Germain hosts Guingamp on Sunday. PSG coach Unai Emery is leaving the club at the end of the season. MONACO'S SLUMP Having lost its French title, Monaco is doing its best to throw away second place. The draw with Amiens means Monaco has only five points from the last five games, opening the door for Lyon and Marseille in the race for second place. Monaco and Amiens each had a player sent off late. OTHER MATCHES Lille picked up a vital win by beating last-place Metz 3-1 in a relegation scrap. Lille remains in 19th place, however, because fellow struggler Troyes beat Caen 3-1 to stay in 18th — the relegation playoff place. Troyes is still counting on the aging legs of 41-year-old midfielder Benjamin Nivet, who was among the scorers. Nice is chasing a Europa League place but is one point behind fifth-place Saint-Etienne after drawing 1-1 at Strasbourg. Mario Balotelli scored from the penalty spot in the second half — his 15th goal of the season — to earn a point for Nice. Also, Bordeaux beat Dijon 3-1......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

Paul and Harden lead No. 1 seed Rockets against Wolves

By Kristie Rieken, Associated Press HOUSTON (AP) — So far the trade for Chris Paul to give the Houston Rockets another superstar to help James Harden has worked famously. Now the two, who have both had their fair share of playoff disappointments, will try to carry their regular-season success into the postseason when the Rockets open a first-round series with Minnesota on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). The guards have been effusive in their praise for one another, with Harden recently joking that his relationship with the nine-time All-Star was "love at first sight." Paul didn't go quite that far, but a huge smile crossed his often serious face when asked how their pairing has worked. "Unbelievable," he said. "You just [don't] get this opportunity too often in a career to play with somebody like James ... you get a chance to appreciate greatness. "What he's doing on a nightly basis and stuff like that, it's crazy and I'm in awe," Paul continued. "I'm grateful I get to play alongside him." When told of what Paul said about him, Harden was quick to answer. "You can tell," he said. "It feels like it's been forever but it's not even been a year yet." Their work in the regular season led the Rockets to a franchise-record 65 wins, their first No. 1 seed and sixth straight playoff appearance. They are looking to win the title for the first time capturing back-to-back championships in 1994-95. For the 32-year-old Paul, it's a chance for him to finally shake off years off playoff woes after making nine playoff trips without advancing past the second round. But if he is haunted by the ghosts of playoffs past, he wouldn't acknowledge it and was dismissive when asked if he thought this was his best chance to win it all. "I don't know," he said. "I don't think about all that." What he and the Rockets do know is that they're facing a talented team in the eighth-seeded Timberwolves, who had to win their last regular-season game to get into the postseason. They ended the NBA's longest active playoff drought with their berth, putting them back in the postseason for the first time since 2004 when they lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals. Getting the Timberwolves into the playoffs is a huge accomplishment for the entire team, but might mean just a little more to star Karl-Anthony Towns, who made a vow the night Minnesota selected him with the top overall pick in the 2015 draft. "It means more than I think words can express honestly," he said. "I made a promise to ... Flip Saunders and it meant a lot to me that I was able to keep my word." Some things to know as the Timberwolves and Rockets open their series: BACK HOME The series is a homecoming for Minnesota's Jimmy Butler, who grew up in Tomball, a suburb about 35 miles from downtown Houston. But he insists he won't have any time to get back out there this week. "Nope," he said. "Zero [time]. I ain't even going home. I'm here to work." But he did spend a little time on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) reminiscing about his high school days when he idolized a former Rockets star. "I used to walk around the hallways and in the gym thinking I was Tracy McGrady," he said. "I remember it like it was yesterday. He was my favorite player. I wanted to wear his number, wear his tennis shoes, all of that good stuff." Butler, who returned on April 6 (April 7, PHL time) after missing 17 games with a knee injury, said he's fully recovered from his injury and is "well-rested" entering the playoffs. PLAYOFF HISTORY This is the second time these teams have met in the playoffs. Their other meeting came in Minnesota's first trip in 1997, when the Timberwolves were swept in three games. That Houston team was led by Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Charles Barkley, and the Wolves featured Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury and Tom Gugliotta. LIMIT KAT FROM LONG RANGE The Rockets are resigned to the fact that Towns, who led the NBA in double-doubles, will get his points under the basket and plenty of rebounds. "He's going to get a double-double," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said. "That's who he is." However, they are not OK with letting him shoot three-pointers. The seven-foot Towns ranked 14th in the league with a 42 percent average from three-point range and knocked down a career-high 120 three-pointers this season. "We [can't] leave him open or let him walk into a 3 because we're not guarding him," D'Antoni said. "We have to be aware of that. You can't take away his post-ups and his moves in there. He's going to score on anybody, but you can do a really good job on the three's." HARDEN'S MOTIVATION Despite finishing as the runner-up for MVP last season and being a front-runner for this year's award, Harden still faces plenty of criticism for some of his past performances in the playoffs, notably, a terrible performance in an embarrassing 114-75 elimination loss to San Antonio in the conference semifinals last season. But he has never been motivated by criticism, and he finds his drive in a far different place. "Just going out there and being the best that I can be," he said. "There's no negativity that someone can say that can motivate me. Some people can get motivated by that. I don't really care.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2018

MVP Ladder: No topping Harden in award chase

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Stump speeches aren’t necessary. Not when your campaign drives itself on performance alone, when you elevate the conversation with each and every outing, the way James Harden did from the opening tip of this regular season until the final buzzer. So if it seems like Harden has skillfully avoided getting caught up in this reporter-crafted Kia MVP pickles that often drive the rest of our NBA dialogue on a daily basis, it’s by design. Besides, who needs to dive in on the debate when you have unsolicited celebrity endorsements from the likes of Kobe Bryant, who made clear to USA Today Sports that Harden’s time is now. “It’s got to be James,” Bryant said. “I really don’t understand the debate about picking somebody else. I don’t get it. Like, what the hell does this guy have to do? I mean for the last three years, the guy has been absolutely lights out, and now you still want to sit here and debate who should be MVP when he leads the league in scoring (30.4 points per game), his assists numbers (8.8 apg) are off the charts, they have the best record in the league (65-16). “If he doesn’t win MVP this year, what the hell is he supposed to do to win MVP, average 40 [points], 15 [assists] and 15 [rebounds]? I mean, come on now. Enough is enough.” After coming up short twice in the past three seasons, Harden is poised to capture the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. It is something he felt he earned last season, when his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, Russell Westbrook, used a triple-double season to claim the hardware. Stephen Curry won the award in 2015 and 2016, his star rising in concert with the Golden State Warriors' surge from lottery team, to contender to championship-winner in two of the last three seasons. While Curry claimed those awards, Harden won MVP honors in a vote of his peers at the NBPA’s first Players Awards in July 2015. There will be no dispute this time around. There is no other narrative that trumps Harden’s.   No other player's performance rises above what he’s done for the Rockets this season, the first with he and fellow superstar point guard  Chris Paul sharing the leadership load of the league’s best team. Not even four-time Kia MVP LeBron James, who turned in one of the finest seasons of his 15 year career in Cleveland, could catch Harden on the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder or in the minds of most voters. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni coached Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and two-time Kia MVP Steve Nash. Yet it was Harden who received D'Anton's greatest compliment after a win in Portland last month when called Harden the “best offensive player I’ve ever seen.” “He’s a hell of a player, first off,” D’Antoni told USA Today Sports when asked to explain his declaration. “It’s a combination of everything. There are other players who might be better at this, or a little bit better at that. But when you put everything together, and the way he passes, the way he sees teammates, the way he can lob, the way he can fight through a foul. I mean even on an off night, he’s probably getting 30, 40 points, and I mean efficiently. And he doesn’t even have anything going. But he’s so efficient, and he gets other guys involved.” If the strength of Harden’s MVP case this season was just his own individual offensive brilliance, he’d still have a rock-solid case. He did record the first 60-point triple-double in NBA history this season and won the scoring title a season after leading the league in assists. But, as D’Antoni noted, Harden's ability to raise the level of play from teammates like Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and others is what stands out. “I don't think there's a player that's had to create as much as I've had to in these last three years," Harden said in a GQ profile that came out this week. "I don't know if there's a guy in NBA history.” That comment can be interpreted in a number of ways, and it’s sure to spark yet another debate as the conversation continues deep into this postseason about who is most deserving of Kia MVP honors. But we’re done here. “It’s James Harden, no doubt about it,” a Western Conference executive told me when asked if there was any dispute about this season’s most valuable player. “Harden in a landslide.” * * * The top five in the Final Edition of the 2017-18 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: 1. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 2017-18 season stats: 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds Harden declared early on that this was the Rockets’ season. He felt they finally had the pieces to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference standings, and, therefore, the entire league. He served notice on opening night, when he and the Rockets spoiled the Warriors' championship banner and rings celebration at Oracle Arena by claiming a win. Harden’s 27 points, 11 assists and six rebounds was the opening salvo in what turned into the best season in Rockets history. Harden’s ability to blend his point guard responsibilities with his role as the most lethal scorer in the league fueled one brilliant performance after another. As well, Harden also silenced the critics who suggested he and Paul would not be able to play well off of each other. The Rockets enter the postseason with the No. 1 overall seed and with all the confidence needed for a championship run. 2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Last week: No. 2 2017-18 season stats: 27.5 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds LeBron put the final touches on his outstanding 15th NBA regular season by capturing Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for March/April, the fourth time this season he took those honors (October/November, December and February). In addition to the parade of milestones LeBron reached this season, he also piled up a career-high 18 triple-doubles, led the Cavaliers through a tumultuous year that ended with 50 or more wins for the fourth straight season. He shot better than 54 percent from the floor (.542) and also had his best shooting from beyond the 3-point line (.367) since returning to Cleveland from Miami before the 2014-15 season. The true test of his super powers, though, will be on display in this postseason. The Cavaliers finished as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference but go into the playoffs as the favorite, in the eyes of most, to survive the gauntlet due in large part to LeBron’s work the past seven seasons guiding his teams to The Finals. 3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last week: No. 3 2017-18 season stats: 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks Davis turned it on when the Pelicans needed it most, after DeMarcus Cousins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. He powered the Pelicans with 50 double-doubles, one triple-double and, when the Pelicans needed grind their way into the postseason as 2017-18 waned, he picked his game up even more. He averaged 29 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks during the Pelicans’ season-ending five-game win streak that helped them secure the No. 6 seed. That sealed up Davis' second career playoff run and he’s still looking for his first playoff win. His ability to carry the load for the Pelicans the way he did, though, is easily the most impressive part of his season. There was no guarantee the Pelicans would make the playoffs in a rugged Western Conference even with Cousins healthy. To do it without him speaks volumes about the impact Davis had on his team. 4. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Last week: No. 4 2017-18 season stats: 26.9 points, 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds Lillard has done what few thought possible after the Portland team he joined as a rookie was taken apart and rebuilt around him. The catalyst for a Blazers team that finished third in the West, Lillard forced his way onto that short list of names in the best-point-guard-in-the-game discussion. He lacks the championship and/or Kia MVP hardware guys like Curry, Kyrie Irving and Westbrook all have. But his body of work as the face of Portland's franchise makes it difficult to leave him out of the discussion. The Blazers wouldn't have come anywhere close to that No. 3 seed without Lillard going nuclear in February (31.4 points, six assists and nearly five rebounds in 10 games). This has been a transformative year on and off the court for Lillard, who is not only had a career-best season, but also celebrated the birth of his son late last month. 5. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors Last week: No. 5 2017-18 season stats: 26.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists Durant followed up his 2017 Finals MVP honors with a steady season, by his lofty standard, but not one that pushed him closer to the top of this list. His understanding of the way the regular season connects to the postseason no doubt played a role in the way he paced himself. That’s not to say that Durant didn't have an outstanding regular season, because he did. But just like James and to an extent his All-Star teammate, Curry, Durant’s seasons are now measured against the high standard he’s set in past ones. He actually averaged more points and assists this season compared to his first with the Warriors. And he set a career-high with 1.8 blocks per game, showing off his improved awareness and effectiveness on defense. With Curry out for the first round of the playoffs due to injury, Durant will get a chance to remind the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the league just how dangerous he can be with everything on the line. The next five 6. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 7. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors 8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 9. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks 10. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 NewsApr 14th, 2018

UAAP VOLLEYBALL: We deserve that (win) -- Deanna Wong

We deserve that victory. This was setter Deanna Wong’s statement after Ateneo de Manila University pulled off one of the most exciting comebacks in 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament. Who would not agree? The Lady Eagles came back from a seven-point deficit late in the fourth set and needed to thread the proverbial eye of the needle in the deciding frame on Sunday just to repel an upset-conscious Adamson University side, 24-26, 25-19, 21-25, 26-24, 15-12, at the Big Dome to secure at least a playoff for a Final Four berth.      “We concentrated on the team, on ourselves, all we needed to do was like to talk to each other lang and trust talaga, it’s really what brought the team up,” said Wong, who played a superb game as she led Ateneo’s fluid offense. “I couldn’t let that fifth set slip away from us and I knew we deserve that (win).” The third year volleybelle tallied a career-best 63 excellent sets in 140 attempts. Her great setups were converted by the Lady Eagles to 57 attack points including 20 kills from Jho Maraguinot, who finished with 23 points. Her performance came on the heels of her 50-excellent set outing in a four-set win over University of the East last Wednesday.  “Actually, hindi ko napapansin or I really don’t mind,” she said. “All I really had sa head ko lang is how I can chase the ball, how I can set the ball kahit misreceive.” “So like ano it’s a good thing but it’s better talaga if we win kahit anong number ‘yan hindi naman ‘yan magma-matter if we lose,” she added. Ateneo built an 11-6 lead in the deciding frame only to see Adamson tie it at 11 after Jho Maraguinot sent her attack straight to the net. Bea De Leon put the Lady Eagles back on top before Mylene Paat committed a net touch error that gave Ateneo a 13-11 lead. Jema Galanza saved a point the Lady Falcons but Maraguinot answered with a hammer before the Lady Eagles sealed the win with a solid net defense to deny Paat.     The Lady Eagles went down, 15-22, in the fourth frame before mounting a blistering 11-2 rally to steal the set and turn the tide of the battle in their favor.  “We never gave up lang, that’s the thing, it really all boils down to character and what coach Tai (Bundit) always says, heartstrong talaga ‘yung nakapunta sa isip namin eh,” said Wong. “We trusted our teammates lang and we encouraged each other back, we said na no matter what happens just play our best and everything else will follow.” The win was Ateneo’s fourth straight as the Katipunan-based squad improved to 8-3 win-loss record. The Lady Eagles will face University of Sto. Tomas on April 4, University of the Philippines on April 7 before closing the elims on April 15 against archrival two-time defending champion De La Salle University.    “We may have clinched the playoff spot but our goal is the Top 2 or the Top 1 so importante talaga ang twice-to-beat advantage. I think that’s our next goal naman,” said Wong.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 25th, 2018

Arellano U dethrones CSB, sets up Finals showdown against Perpetual

Arellano University clinched the a championship berth after dethroning College of St. Benilde, 25-22, 28-26, 25-23, Tuesday in the 93rd NCAA men’s volleyball stepladder semifinals at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The Chiefs set up a best-of-three championship showdown against unbeaten University of Perpetual Help starting Friday. Christian dela Paz and Kevin Liberato combined for 27 points to help lift the Arellano U. Meanwhile, reigning titlist Perpetual Help downed Arellano U, 25-17, 20-25, 25-19, 25-17, to clinch the first finals berth in juniors’ play. Noel Michael Kampton led the way with 20 points including 15 on kills to help power the Junior Altas back into the best-of-three finale against the winner of the other Final Four match pitting Emilio Aguinaldo and Letran. The Las Pinas-based school is gunning a fourth straight crown and 11th overall, which would put it the second most titled team in NCAA high school volleyball behind Letran, which has a league-best 14 championships. The Squires, seeded fourth, spoiled a Perpetual-EAC title showdown, after it pulled off a shock 21-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-13 win over the top-seeded Brigadiers to force a knockout duel for the last championship berth scheduled Friday. It was the second straight win of a do-or-die game for Letran, which also edged San Beda, 25-16, 24-26, 25-19, 20-25, 20-18, Friday to clinch the last spot to the Final Four. Christian Wilsan dela Cruz led a balanced attack with 15 hits while Mark Denver Omega, John Paulo Lorenzo and Mhel Gabuyo chipped in 13, 12 and 11 points, respectively, to help the Squires to snatch the win. EAC, which clinched the top seeding entering the Final Four, will have another chance to make a return trip to the finals as it hopes to stop Letran......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2018

Lions hope coach Matt Patricia ends their search for winner

By Larry Lage, Associated Press ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Matt Patricia’s unlikely path to becoming an NFL coach began with his buddies, setting up miniature players on a vibrating, metal field for fierce games of electric football. “I knew at a very young age the strategic part of the game was something that I just loved,” Patricia said Wednesday after being introduced as coach of the Detroit Lions. “I thrived on it. We would try to just out plan each other all the time and we’d have huge games that would roll into weeks at a time.” Years later, Patricia took a pivotal step toward his dream job after earning an aeronautical engineering degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute by being a graduate assistant at his alma mater. The former offensive lineman — who is from Sherrill, New York — coached up one of the players at RPI and saw him do what he was taught during a game. “The success that we had and his joy that he showed from being able to do that, that’s really when it clicked for me as a coach,” Patricia said with his previously bushy beard trimmed and a pencil over his right ear. “At that point, the strategic part of the game along with my coaching aspirations just kind of put things in motion.” The Lions desperately hope Patricia takes full advantage of his first opportunity to lead a football team and ends their decades-long search for a coach who can lead them to elusive success in the playoffs. Since winning the 1957 NFL title, Detroit’s only postseason victory was more than a quarter-century ago. “Our goal is to win and to compete for championships,” team president Rod Wood said. “I believe that we are taking the next step in meeting those expectations.” Lions general manager Bob Quinn fired coach Jim Caldwell last month with a 36-28 mark over four years and two playoff appearances. The Lions went 9-7 last season and missed the playoffs, ranking among the NFL’s worst rushing teams for the fourth straight year. “I wanted to find a leader that could take us to the next level and I am confident we have found that in Matt Patricia,” Quinn said. The 43-year-old Patricia helped New England win three Super Bowls over 14 years. He was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator the past six seasons. Detroit’s search was focused on Patricia right from the start because he worked with Quinn for a dozen years in New England. “We sat next to each other in a lot of team meetings in New England for many of our years together,” Quinn recalled. “We also spent a great deal of time together on the road scouting college prospects, traveling around the country trying to find new players.” In recent years, Patricia has become a candidate to lead a team in the league as one of Bill Belichick’s top assistant coaches. He appeared to be in the running to be hired by his homestate New York Giants and perhaps the Arizona Cardinals, but choose the challenge in the Motor City at least in part because of his relationship with Quinn. “My comfort level with Bob is huge in all of this,” he said. After being a graduate assistant at RPI in 1996, Patricia shifted gears to be an aeronautical engineer for two years. Patricia got back on the sideline as a defensive line coach at Amherst College in 1999 and went on to be a graduate assistant for Paul Pasqualoni, whom he has hired to be Detroit’s defensive coordinator. Jim Bob Cooter was not mentioned in the Lions’ release regarding staff additions , but he is listed on the team’s website as its returning offensive coordinator. “Jim Bob is on staff and he will be here,” Patricia said. “Obviously, he’s done a great job here in what he’s been able to accomplish with both him and (Matthew) Stafford and the offense.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2018

Comeback Kings: Patriots thrive at late-game playoff rallies

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — Tom Brady is the comeback king in the playoffs. From his past two Super Bowl wins to the AFC championship game rally against Jacksonville that got the Patriots to the NFL's biggest stage for the third in four seasons, no quarterback has engineered more late-game playoff comebacks than Brady. But he is not alone. Whether it was Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card round against Kansas City earlier this postseason, or Russell Wilson against Green Bay in (2015) or Andrew Luck against the Chiefs the previous year, there have been as many playoff comebacks from at least 10 points down in the fourth quarter the past five seasons as there were the previous 26 seasons. "What happens is instead of playing the team, they start playing the clock. Sometimes you win and sometimes you go against a bad boy like Tom Brady and you get burned," former Colts receiver and current NFL Network analyst Reggie Wayne said. "A lot of that falls onto the coaches. The players are going to run what the coaches call." Whether it's Atlanta failing to run the ball enough late in last year's Super Bowl that helped the Patriots rally from 28-3 down to win in overtime or Seattle's decision to pass at the goal line instead of hand it to Marshawn Lynch back in 2015, questionable coaching decisions have contributed to some of those comebacks. But nobody is better at exploiting those mistakes than Brady and the Patriots. He has four playoff wins in games he trailed by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter, including the "Tuck Rule" game against Oakland in 2002. No other quarterback has led more than one such comeback in playoff history. "There's a great belief no matter what the circumstances, that we have enough to overcome it," Brady said. "I don't think we want to try to overcome that again this year. That was pretty tough to do. Hopefully we can get a lead, play from ahead, play on our terms." The Patriots are comfortable when that happens. They are 6-6 in the playoffs when trailing after three quarters under Brady and coach Bill Belichick, while the rest of the NFL has a 27-140 record in that span with only Russell Wilson and Eli Manning having more than two fourth-quarter comebacks with four each. Not that it is by design. "That whole comeback thing is overrated," said NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest, who won three Super Bowl titles as Brady's teammate in New England. "Players can't go in and say, 'Hey, we want to win this game in dramatic fashion, be down 11 with eight minutes to go and come back and have the crowd go crazy.' You want to be in control, play a certain way and be in front. Because that changes how you play the game." The biggest deficit overcome to win a Super Bowl before last season was just 10 points and the Patriots were the first team to overcome a deficit that big in the second half when they did it against the Seahawks three years ago. The only other teams to come back from 10 points down to win a Super Bowl faced those deficits early in the second quarter with New Orleans rallying against Indianapolis in 2010 and Washington against Denver in 1988. Brady's postseason passer rating when trailing in fourth quarter the past four years is a staggering 121.2, compared to 75.6 for the rest of the NFL. In last year's Super Bowl comeback, the Falcons appeared to tire and struggled to generate pressure, sending more than four pass rushers on just two of 24 pass plays in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars also only brought more than four rushers on two of 15 fourth-quarter pass plays in the AFC title game when New England came back from 20-10 down to win 24-20. "What teams do wrong is they go zone," Wayne said. "He's going to pick zone apart all day, every day. He's going to spread you out and they're the best at creating mismatches.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 4th, 2018

Patriots back in AFC title game, Titans trip into offseason

Patriots back in AFC title game, Titans trip into offseason.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2018