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PBA: Banchero after big game: 'I think it was my turn tonight'

After Alaska beat Columbian in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup, head coach Alex Compton wasn't particularly too happy about his locals. After Alaska beat Blackwater in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup, safe to say Compton can smile about the way his locals performed. No other Alaska local shined brighter than Chris Banchero against the Elite, as the point guard put up the points in the win over Blackwater. Seriously, a lot of points. Banchero only missed four times and drilled 28 points for the Aces, finishing just behind import Mike Harris who had 38. "We needed to play better basketball than we did against Columbian, I thought we did tonight," Banchero said. "I got it going a little big tonight. I was good. I'm glad I played well, I think it was my turn tonight to score the basketball. I was not realy trying to score, it was just that I kinda got it going," he added. With the win, Alaska has forced a three-way tie for first place in the Governors' Cup with Ginebra and Magnolia as all three have identical 7-2 records. Still, Banchero says the Aces have room to take things to a higher level. "We knew we needed to get that win because top-4 is our goal and we'll make the push from there. Being top-4 is a huge advantage," he said. "I think we still have room to grow," Banchero added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnOct 21st, 2018

PBA: Aces finally on the board after destroying Magnolia in Game 3

ANTIPOLO CITY, Rizal --- Alaska is finally on the board. The Aces scored their first win of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup in convincing fashion, dominating the Magnolia Hotshots, 100-71, in Game 3 Sunday at the Ynares Center here. With import Mike Harris at the lead, Alaska reduced the final 12 minutes into mere garbage time and the Aces cut their series deficit in half, 1-2. After a slow first quarter, the Aces got it going in the second, pouring 34 points to take a commanding lead they would never surrender. Behind the shooting of its guard core led by Simon Enciso, Alaska took a 50-36 lead at the break and never looked back. Harris then went to work in the second half, finally having his first great game of these Finals and the Aces held off any possible Magnolia uprising. Harris scored 18 straight points for the Aces in the third period as Alaska took a 73-49 lead over the Hotshots. Alaska led by 33 after three quarters. "I thought we had a great defensice effort and we made some shots," head coach Alex Compton said. "Overall, the story of the game in the first three quarters was we made a bunch of shots, we didn't turn it over, and we defended at the same time," he added Harris was a beast for the Aces, leading the way with 36 points and 18 rebounds. He scored 22 total in the third period as Alaska landed its knockout blow. Vic Manuel added 14 points as the top local for Alaska while Enciso and Carl Bryan Cruz finished with 12 and 10 points respectively. For the Hotshots, everyone struggled as they only shot 33 percent collectively from the field. Romeo Travis was the high man with 18 points while Mark Barroca was good for 13. No other Magnolia player scored in double figures. Game 4 is set for Wednesday at the Big Dome.   The scores: ALASKA 100 - Harris 36, Manuel 14, Enciso 12, Cruz 10, Banchero 6, J. Pascual 4, Teng 4, Galliguez 4, Casio 4, Andrada 2, Baclao 2, Racal 2, Exciminiano 0, Magat 0, Potts 0. MAGNOLIA 71 - Travis 18, Barroca 13, Herndon 7, Sangalang 7, Mendoza 6, Dela Rosa 5, Abundo 4, Reavis 3, Lee 2, Ramos 2, Melton 2, Jalalon 2, Simon 0, Gamalinda 0, Brondial 0, K. Pascual 0. Quarterscores: 16-22, 50-36, 83-50, 100-71.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 9th, 2018

PBA: Gin Kings fell right into Magnolia s trap says Brownlee after Game 1 loss

Brgy. Ginebra is an overwhelming force, the Gin Kings can certainly take over a game in a snap. The reigning two-time champs displayed that kind of explosiveness in Game 1 of the 2018 Governors' Cup semifinals Saturday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo. With Justin Brownle scoring 20 points, the Gin Kings fired 39 points in the opening period to start Manila Clasico. It was all Ginebra. The only problem was it was all Magnolia the rest of the game and the Hotshots actually pulled through for an early 1-0 lead in the best-of-5. "Man, kind of fell into a trap tonight. Give credit to Magnolia, they came out and played an incredible game," import Justin Brownlee said after the Gin Kings dropped the opener. "I think we fell into the trap of playing their game. I think we just gotta get back into playing our game," he added. After an explosive first quarter for Ginebra, Magnolia's signature defense kicked in and dominated the Gin Kings. When that happened, Brownlee felt that Ginebra became a little stubborn and tried to force the issue on offense instead of responding to the Hotshots and turn the game into a defensive struggle. "I think we got dependent on our offense. We didn't focus on our defense anymore," said Ginebra's super import. "I think we juts fell in love with our offense because we were scoring so well. But we gotta remember we're a defense-first team and I think that was just the biggest difference after that first quarter," Brownlee added.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 11th, 2018

UAAP: Franz Pumaren after Adamson-Ateneo: Playoffs started tonight

For the first time in the UAAP, the men's basketball games were played in the Ynares Center in Antipolo. One might have expected that the games would be sparsely attended due to the out-of-town venue, but the UAAP Season 81 fans did not disappoint. In the Ateneo de Manila University versus Adamson University game, rabid fans filled the ringside and the lower box section of the arena adding to the intense action on the hardwood. Considering the game and the crowd, even though it is still just the second round, Falcons head coach Franz Pumaren felt the playoff atmosphere. "Tonight's game is a testament that the playoffs started tonight. Atmosphere was different, the intensity was different," said Pumaren after his Adamson squad was dealt with its third loss of the season after eleven games. The Soaring Falcons had a statement victory over the Blue Eagles in the first round. However, as much as they wanted to sweep Ateneo in the eliminations, they failed as the Eagles' defense limited them to 26.4 points lower than their average. "We were too relaxed, I guess, thinking we can always turn it on and off. We have to give credit to Ateneo. They came out with a lot of fire, a lot of intensity. Its just a matter of simple analysis. They played well. We played bad. We were taken out of our comfort zone," he said. Jerrick Ahanmisi, who usually scores an average of 18.8 points, was held to just 10 points while Sean Manganti, who has averaged 15.1 points, was limited to just six. With Adamson's two top gunners having an off night offensively, Pumaren looked at the silver lining and thought that they did a decent job defensively. "Coming from a team that's been on a massacre mission, they scored 62 points. We still had a decent defensive effort for tonight's game. It's just we couldn't convert," he said, "They really wanted this victory. In spite of that, we forced them to 22 errors, for a number one team I think that's an accomplishment on our part. Just imagine if we don't force them, baka mas malaki pa ang lamang." Regardless of the outcome of the latest Adamson versus Ateneo tiff, Pumaren hopes to meet the Blue Eagles again this season. After all, he has been very honest that he loves coaching against Tab Baldwin. "It's nice playing against Ateneo. Hopefully, we can still meet each other. They make the best out of me and the best out of the team because coaching against a very experienced coach," Pumaren said. With Ateneo currently the league-leading team with a 10-2 record and Adamson coming in second with an 8-3 slate, Pumaren might just get his wish. But he made it clear that he is not banking on the current standings. They still have three more games to play -- versus University of Santo Tomas, University of the East, and Far Eastern University. "We're not even sure of everything. We just have to do our own job. We cannot rely on other teams beating the other school for us to be assured. Who knows. We still have three games. I think the last games, this is the most [important], there's a logjam with 2, 3, 4," said the Adamson mentor. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @the9cruz.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2018

PBA: Red-hot Aces add to Beermen’s woes in Govs’ Cup

ANTIPOLO CITY, Rizal —- Alaska continues to make its case as one of the best teams in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup. The Aces rolled to another win Saturday, overwhelming San Miguel Beer, 128-119, at the Ynares Center here. Alaska pushed its record to 5-1 for the conference, which tied Magnolia for second place and is only half a game back of two-time champion Ginebra for pole position. The Aces also added to the Beermen’s woes this conference, sending San Miguel to their third straight loss for a 2-4 mark. "I'm so happy to get a win here. Obviously we made some shots. I thought our ball movement was pretty good, and then we made some shots," head coach Alex Compton said.  "Sometimes you have games where your ball movement is good but you miss shots. Tonight we knocked them down," he added. Import Mike Harris was a beast anew for Alaska, firing 36 points on 58 percent shooting. He also had 23 rebounds. The locals also came through for the Aces with Vic Manuel scoring 20 points and Simon Enciso adding 18. Chris Banchero had another double-double with 15 points and 12 assists. For the Beermen, Kevin Murhpy's explosive PBA stint continued with 45 points. Unfortunately, San Miguel is yet to win with Murphy as import. 2017 top pick Christian Standhardinger scored 23 in the first half and finished with 28 points total to go along with 13 rebounds.   The scores: ALASKA 127 – Harris 36, Manuel 20, Enciso 18, Banchero 15, Teng 12, Exciminiano 11, Casio 7, Racal 7, J. Pascual 1, Baclao 0. SMB 119 – Murphy 45, Standhardinger 28, Santos 20, Cabagnot 14, Lassiter 7, Nabong 5, Mamaril 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Ross 0. Quarters: 34-36; 67-64; 93-89; 127-119. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 6th, 2018

NFL preseason games see players demonstrate during anthem

By The Associated Press Player demonstrations took place during the national anthem at several early NFL preseason games Thursday night. In Philadelphia, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De'Vante Bausby raised their fists during the anthem, and defensive end Chris Long placed his arm around Jenkins' shoulder. Jenkins had stopped his demonstration last December. Defensive end Michael Bennett walked out of the tunnel during the anthem and walked toward the bench while it played. It appeared all the Steelers stood. "Everybody is waiting for what the league is going to do," Jenkins said. "We won't let it stop what we stand for. I was very encouraged last year with the direction and that obviously took a different turn. "I think it's important to utilize the platform as we can because for whatever reason, we have framed this demonstration in a negative light, and often players have to defend why we feel the need to fight for everyday Americans, and in actuality we're doing the right thing." At Miami, Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson and defensive end Robert Quinn protested during the anthem. Stills and Wilson kneeled behind teammates lined up standing along the sideline. Quinn stood and raised his right fist. There were no apparent protests by the Buccaneers. Stills kneeled during the anthem during the 2016-17 seasons and has been vocal discussing social injustice issues that inspired the protest movement by NFL players. Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a leader of the movement, tweeted support for Stills and Wilson. "My brother @kstills continued his protest of systemic oppression tonight by taking a knee," the tweet said. "Albert Wilson joined him in protest. Stay strong brothers!" And in Seattle, three Seahawks players ran into the tunnel leading to the team's locker room prior to the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Defensive linemen Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson, and offensive lineman Duane Brown left the field following team introductions and before the start of the anthem. They returned to the sideline immediately after it concluded. All three were among a group of Seattle players that sat during the anthem last season. In Jacksonville, four Jaguars remained in the locker room during the national anthem, and team officials said it would be up to the players to explain why they weren't on the field. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Telvin Smith, and running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon joined teammates on the sideline after the anthem. "As a man, I got certain beliefs," said Smith, who wore "Salute the Service" cleats. "You know what I mean? This is not going to become a distraction, and Jacksonville's not going to become a distraction for this team. I got beliefs. I did what I did. I don't know if it's going to be every week, can't answer if it's going to be every week. "But as a man I've got to stand for something. I love my team, I'm dedicated to my teammates, and that's what we're talking about. I did what I did. It was love. I hope people see it and respect it. I respect views." At Baltimore, both teams stood, but while most of the Ravens lined up shoulder to shoulder on the sideline, second-year linebacker Tim Williams stood alone in front of the bench with his back toward the field. All of the players on each team at New England appeared to stand for the national anthem, some bowing their heads and others placing their hands on their hearts. The Patriots observed a moment of silence beforehand for Weymouth, Massachusetts, police officer Michael Chesna, who was killed last month in the line of duty. The league and the players' union have yet to announce a policy for this season regarding demonstrations during the anthem after the league initially ordered everyone to stand on the sideline when "The Star-Spangled Banner" is played, or remain in the locker room. "The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email. "While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem. "Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL's policy regarding the national anthem. The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. Personnel who do not wish to do so can choose to remain in the locker room. "We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities."  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2018

San Beda silences CSB to set up Finals duel against Ateneo

College of St. Benilde is for real, but San Beda University remains the defending champion in the NCAA and in the 2018 Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup. The Blazers gave it all they’ve got, but in the end, the Red Lions’ poise yet again proved to be the difference in a well-earned 78-71 win on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre. San Beda, the winners of the preseason tournament a year ago, was actually the lower-seed to a CSB crew that has been opening eyes. “First, I gotta give credit to St. Benilde. They really played well tonight and sabi ko talaga sa players ko, we have to match their effort,” San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez said post-game. Indeed, the Blazers continued to do just that as Justin Gutang waxed hot with 22 points, the last three of which pulled his team to within 71-74 with 40.6 ticks to go on the clock. The Red Lions’ championship experience came through anew, though, as even incoming first-year players Toba Eugene and Evan Nelle made good on all four of their free throws to close the door on their opponents once and for all. Nelle wound up with five points and four rebounds while Eugene hauled in 14 markers and six boards. Donald Tankoua also had 14 points and five rebounds and Javee Mocon posted a 13-marker, 12-board double-double to make up for quite the quiet game from Robert Bolick who scored nine points. Now, the defending Filoil Preseason and NCAA champions turn their attention to UAAP king Ateneo de Manila University. “Hopefully, we’ll be ready for Ateneo. They probably have jet lag for now, but they’re still the champions of the UAAP,” Fernandez said, referring to the fact that the Blue Eagles had just come home from a series of tuneup games in Greece. That Finals showdown tips off on Saturday evening still at the same venue. Gutang paced CSB while Clement Leutcheu chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds. Even with the semifinals loss, the entire preseason has been nothing but a positive sign for them. BOX SCORES SAN BEDA 78 – Tankoua 14, Eugene 14, Mocon 13, Doliguez 11, Bolick 9, Canlas 6, Nelle 5, Abuda 3, Cuntapay 3, Presbitero 0, Tongco 0, Oftana 0, Cabanag 0 CSB 71 – Gutang 22, Leutcheu 15, Haruna 11, Pasturan 8, Belgica 4, Dixon 4, Naboa 3, Domingo 2, Pagulayan 2, Carlos 0, Young 0, Nayve 0, Velasco 0 QUARTER SCORES: 20-19, 40-34, 54-53, 78-71 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2018

Thompson s hot hand carries Warriors into Game 7 with Rockets

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson flashed back to a night he left the arena still in uniform, furious about his forgettable performance against Denver. It used to be he struggled to shake off a bad night, or even a bad start to a game. Now, he just keeps shooting. Whenever he feels like it, from wherever. No conscience. A hand or two in his face, no matter. “I was not always like this. I used to be so hard on myself, especially early in my career,” Thompson said. “... I learned, as I get older, if you play with passion, you play hard, and you leave the game saying I gave everything I have tonight in those 48 minutes, you can live with the result.” The Warriors’ season lives on largely thanks to Thompson’s shooting touch. Golden State is one win from a fourth straight NBA Finals, headed back to Houston for Monday night’s (Tuesday, PHL time) Game 7. He came through with the defending champions’ season on the line in another do-or-die Game 6, just as he did two years ago at Oklahoma City. This time he scored 35 points with nine three-pointers as the Warriors rallied with a huge second half to beat the Rockets 115-86 on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) to force a deciding game in the Western Conference finals. His defense shined, too. Oh, and the typically subdued Thompson let his emotions flow for all to see: He flexed his biceps Draymond Green style, pumped his arms like Kevin Durant and yelled out the way Stephen Curry often does at Oracle Arena. Thompson has long been content to be the understated All-Star among the four in Golden State’s starting lineup. “I just wanted to play with as much passion as I could tonight. Probably sounded more vocal than I usually am,” Thompson acknowledged. “When your back’s against the wall, if your shot’s not falling, you can always control your passion and how hard you play. Usually when I do that, it trickles over to other aspects of my game.” Curry’s Splash Brother did it in 2016 when he scored 41 points against Durant’s former Thunder team with the Warriors facing elimination. They went on to win Game 7 before falling to LeBron James and the Cavaliers in a seven-game NBA Finals. Durant had no interest in recollecting, smiling and laughing with Curry as he said, “next question.” As for Curry? “I think we both blocked that whole year out of our memory,” the two-time MVP quipped. No arguing they both appreciate Thompson’s no-fear shooting approach and ability to almost single-handedly turn the tide of a game with a timely three-pointer or two — or nine. Once Golden State got going in transition, following clutch defensive stops, Thompson found the looks he so prefers from long range. “I feel like we’re the best team in the world and most fun team in the world to watch when we’re pushing that ball, getting defensive stops and making plays,” he said. “We’ve got too much talent not just to hit singles like Coach always says. Trust the next man ahead of us. It will end up working in our favor most of the time.” Thompson shot 13-for-23 and 9-of-14 from deep as the Warriors responded from an early 17-point deficit to dominate James Harden and Houston the final three quarters, outscoring the Rockets 93-47 after trailing 39-22 at the end of the first. Thompson went a combined 20-of-32 from three-point range in those two impressive Game 6 shows, Saturday and in 2016. “I think Klay doesn’t worry too much about repercussions. He doesn’t worry about judgment and results. I think he just loves to play,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s so comfortable in his own skin. I just think he wants to go out there and hoop, and he doesn’t worry about much else. So the pressure doesn’t seem to bother him much. He just competes and plays. As I said, the two-way ability of this guy hounding the MVP of the league, most likely, all game, and continuing to rain down three-pointers, he’s amazing.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2018

Warriors need just one game to establish superiority

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com HOUSTON — Months of building up the hard shell required to wade this deep into the NBA’s merciless playoff waters can evaporate in a snap. One bad rotation, followed by a missed layup on the back of yet another dagger from the other team and even a mighty, 65-win juggernaut can see it all unravel. The Houston Rockets know the feeling now, after living through it on what could turn out to be the biggest night of the best [regular] season in the history of the franchise. They invited the Golden State Warriors in, dared to beat the reigning NBA champions at their own game in these Western Conference finals with an emphatic win and came up woefully short of that goal in the opener. The home court advantage they worked for all throughout a brilliant season is gone. The comfort provided by a 2-1 record against the Warriors during the regular season series the Rockets held tight since January was blown away after just four quarters. Whatever aura they thought they owned heading into the Toyota Center Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) for Game 1, they shed long before the final seconds of their decisive 119-106 loss to the Warriors. It looked good early, when James Harden had the Rockets rolling to a nine-point lead in the frenzied opening minutes. But Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and the rest of a Warriors team making its fourth straight appearance in the conference finals, they don’t fold at the first sign of danger. “You’re not going to just come in and knock them out,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I mean, there’s just too many times we had mental lapses. We either didn’t switch properly or we didn’t switch hard enough. We turned the ball over  little too much. Every time we missed a layup, which we missed a lot of layups, they ran out. “They’re really devastating. We’ve got to make layups, don’t turn it over and do a little bit better job of mentally just staying up on people.” The fact that they were starting this series away from the friendly confines of Oracle Arena for the first time during their recent run did nothing to shake their belief in themselves. And if there is anything that is clear after just four wild quarters of this most anticipated series, it’s that the Warriors’ collective confidence is far superior to the artificial skin the Rockets wrapped themselves in leading up to the opening round of this heavyweight fight. Harden played inspired, for most of his 35 minutes, finishing with a game-high 41 points and seven assists. Chris Paul’s 23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists look good on paper. But it wasn’t enough. It was nowhere near enough to offset the Rockets’ self-inflicted mistakes or the fury the Warriors can rain down on their opponents this time of year. “They’re obviously champions for a reason,” D’Antoni said. “If we want to beat them, we have to be mentally sharper. KD, he’s tough. Obviously, he was on tonight. Hey, you can live with that. But you can’t live with that and then make mental mistakes, and that's what we do. The combination of the two was devastating.” Durant was hell bent on devastation, torching an assortment of Rockets defenders for his 37 points. Thompson drilled the Rockets for 28 points of his own, his 15 attempts from beyond the three-point line serving as a more demoralizing dagger for a Rockets defense designed to limit those attempts. With so much attention on them, the Rockets seemed to lose their defensive focus on basically everyone else. “Defensively, we’ve got to be better,” Paul said. “You know it’s funny, I got caught helping a couple times in the first half and I think Nick Young hit three [three-pointers] off those plays. Some games, some series, you may make those mistakes and guys don’t make the shots. But tonight, every time we did it, they made the shot. They make you pay when you make mistakes.” Just to be clear about what kind of armor the Warriors travel with these days, they’ve won a game on the road in 18 consecutive playoff series, well before the Durant era. So as much as this is about the back and forth between Durant and Harden, the former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates who once got this point in a season together and elbowed their way into The Finals in 2012, it’s about Curry, Thompson, Green and Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP. Those are the other four members of the Warriors’ “Hamptons Five” lineup that started the game, the group that withstood everything the Rockets threw at them Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) and then beat them up over the final 15 minutes of a must-have game on their home floor. “They’re a good team,” Eric Gordon said, stating the obvious. "They’ve been playing together, they know who they are. They’ve been to four straight Western Conference finals. We just got to be a little better.” The Rockets’ must-win game is now Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). The pressure shifts to a Game 2 effort that has to be much better offensively if they want to keep pace with the Warriors. They’ll also need a much cleaner effort that doesn’t include sloppiness (the Warriors converted 16 turnovers into 17 points) and deficient defense (the Warriors shot .525 from the floor and .394 from the three-point line) that was on display in Game 1. These are all things D’Antoni believes to be correctable. And they could be. Indeed, they better be if the Rockets plan on stretching this series to the limit. Because there is still no way to account for the experience factor, the muscle memory edge the Warriors have when it comes to recognizing the time and place to apply the ultimate pressure on an opponent that’s ready to break. They sniffed it late in the third quarter, when the Rockets were reeling under a relentless barrage of Durant buckets. The only thing that saved them then were crucial baskets of their own from Eric Gordon and Gerald Green, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr subbing Durant out for a breather the Warriors closer did not want. “Yeah, he wasn’t really thrilled and I probably should have left him in,” Kerr said. “Late third he was going pretty well. I knew I had to get him some rest at some point. As soon as I took him out, they went on a quick run, so he was not thrilled. But he came back in and got us back on track.” You can toy with a team like the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round, dropping Game 3 on the road only to come back and close out the series with back-to-back wins, especially when you are clearly the superior team and own that coveted home-court advantage. You might be able to get away with it in next round against a team like the Utah Jazz, when you lose home-court advantage in Game 2, but are are once again clearly the superior team and win three straight games to squash that challenge. Slip up a third time, as the Rockets did Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), against a team that has won two of the last three Larry O’Brien trophies, a team with their sights set on a third, and … and there might not be another chance. 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 NewsMay 15th, 2018

Harden, Rockets pass first postseason test

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com HOUSTON — If the long road to June basketball is to come to fruition for the best regular-season team in basketball, it had to start like this for the Houston Rockets. That first step, that first foray into the great postseason abyss, required this sort of confirmation from the No. 1 overall seed in the entire tournament, so to speak. There’s no room for Cinderellas around here, no slaying of Goliath, not on Clint Capela’s watch. Not with James Harden on the case when the Rockets needed it most, and especially at crunch time. And not with Chris Paul, chip planted firmly on his shoulder as always, eyeballing bigger and better things than being the best from late October to mid-April. So it won’t be easy. Nobody said it would be. And let’s be clear, the Minnesota Timberwolves are not a normal eight seed. Not really. A healthy Jimmy Butler and the infusion of veteran talent that helped end the second longest playoff drought in NBA history this season makes that big a difference. They certainly did Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) at Toyota Center, when the Rockets were forced to battle until the very end for a 104-101 win despite a 44-point masterpiece from Harden. But like everyone else who dealt with these juggernaut Rockets all season long, Harden and his crew proved to be too much with the game on the line. With Harden on the bench and the game tied at 85 with 6:49 to play, the script was already written. He came in for Paul with 6:07 to play and the Rockets up a point, and promptly scored on a driving layup. He stole the ball and then scored on a driving floater. After a Capela block, he scored on a driving layup. By the time he knocked down a three-pointer with 4:27 left, the Rockets’ lead was back up to eight points, 94-86, and it was clear that Harden was going to do whatever it took — scoring, playmaking and even defending — to keep Game 1 from going awry. It was vintage work from the maestro who has owned the floor most every night since the season opener, when Harden and the Rockets went into Oracle Arena as the reigning champion Golden State Warriors hung another banner and collected those diamond-laced title rings and walked off the floor winners. “Another day for James,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said after Harden finished one point shy of his playoff career-high. “He’s done it all year and he really stepped up. We were struggling to make shots, struggling to really have any kind of rhythm of play and James put us on his back and he’s been doing it for a while now.” D’Antoni will have to forgive the rest of us, including the frontrunner for the Kia MVP this season, for not digesting his theory about the playoffs being something other than a referendum on his team’s magical regular season. Harden operated like someone keenly aware of what was at stake with the Timberwolves, each and every one of them, trying in vain to slow him down. “Honestly, I just try to be aggressive and make the right play,” Harden said. “Things got slowed up a little bit, just try to be aggressive with my shot and fortunately it went in.” Jimmy Butler is an All-Star and one of the league’s best two-way players. Derrick Rose is a former Kia MVP himself, and still has enough juice left to make things difficult for someone when he locks in the way he did on this night. And neither one of them had any luck slowing Harden down during his second-half blitz. He scored 25 of his points in the final 18 minutes, making play after play when the Timberwolves appeared to be on the verge of potentially pulling off a shocker. “There were several plays in which I thought we defended well and he made shots,” Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “James is that type of player and we’ve seen it all year, [he’s] very difficult to guard. Basically, you have to guard him with your whole team. And it’s not just his scoring, but his playmaking and all the things that he does.” The Rockets won on a night when they shot a brutal 27 percent (10-for-37) from beyond the three-point line, where they’ve feasted on the opposition all season. They roasted the Timberwolves from distance during their regular season match ups to the tune of 43.4 percent and more than doubled them up in three-point makes during those games, but made just two more Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Harden was 7-for-12 from deep, a playoff career-high for makes, while the rest of the Rockets shot a combined 3-for-25. And he was draining his shots with hands in his face routinely. “He’s an MVP candidate and you know why,” said Timberwolves big man Taj Gibson. “Every time the game was ‘mono e mono’ and they were in a tight spot, he just took over the game. He made some tough shots, he played phenomenal tonight. We were trying to throw everything at him, he’s a talented player.” He’s clearly much more than that. “I mean yeah, he’s a hell of a player,” Butler said. “Everyone knows that. But you don’t just guard him with one guy. It’s everybody out there, everybody has to be in the correct position. Challenge shots; contest them at the rim, but more than anything, if there is a miss we’ve got to get the rebound and take off the other way. But we didn’t do any of that tonight, we’ve got to be better [in Game 2] on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time).” Thibodeau had to turn to his bench to stay in the game before halftime and they delivered, scoring 19 points and playing with an energy level that matched what the Rockets did regardless of who was on the floor. Rose (nine points), Jamal Crawford (seven) and Gorgui Dieng (three) did all that bench scoring, which was the only way to offset the furious 49 points Capela and Harden combined for before the break. Jeff Teague’s three fouls and Butler’s defensive task, trying to keep Harden under wraps, required so much of his attention that the scoring load had to be picked up by someone else. He went scoreless in the first quarter and just never seemed to get untracked early on, finishing with just 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting. It’s an issue the Timberwolves won’t be able to scheme their way out of in this series, not as long as Capela is the most energetic and effective young big man on either team. He outscored the All-Star Towns 20-3 before the break and out rebounded him 10-5, adding two blocks and a steal to drive home the point that he’s up for this challenge all series long. “Man, Clint was all over the place, both ends of the court offensively and defensively,” Paul said. “You see him defending KAT, who’s a tough cover in the post. You know I’m low, and I weak side and I’m watching him go up for the hook, and then I’m watching Clint block it, and then he’s running. he was unbelievable tonight and we’re going to need that all season.” Capela finished his night with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks while Towns didn’t crack double digits in the scoring column (eight points on 3-for-9 shooting, 12 rebounds in a team-high 40 minutes of action). Chalk it up as a lesson learned for the playoff rookie. That must-win game the Timberwolves won at home over Denver Wednesday night had all the hype and intensity of a playoff game, only it wasn’t. Thibodeau credited the Rockets’ defense, the swarming and double-teaming of Towns, for slowing the big man down. “He has to be more active,” Thibodeau said, before praising the Rockets for perhaps their most underrated trait this season: The ability to lock down defensively. “They’re good, they’re very good. They’re tied together, they do a lot of switching and after the switch they read the ball extremely well. They react, they swarm, and so you have ti make good decisions, you have to make good plays. You have to have the ability to read and react.” Funny, that’s what the Rockets’ best player does perhaps as well as any other player in the league right now. Harden reads and reacts accordingly, always seemingly coming up with the right play at the right time. That’s how you know he’s in the moment right now, as are the rest of the Rockets. No matter how many times and how many different ways anyone tries to deflect attention from the obvious, they comprehend every bit of what lies ahead for a team riding into the postseason on the strength of a 65-win regular season that saw them run away from the competition. They wouldn’t have souls if they didn’t. They wouldn’t be human if they hadn’t already calculated the weight of the best regular season in franchise history times a wide-open postseason equaling something that’s never been done here, which says a lot for a franchise that has two Larry O’Brien trophies to show off. They know how important each and every step on this current journey is, starting with Sunday night’s very first choppy ones. Any suggestion to the contrary is, shall we say, a distant cousin of the truth. But we’ll play along for now, at the beginning. 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 16th, 2018

Kelly says he s a better player now compared to MVP year

Kelly Williams shot the ball 18 times against Kia Wednesday and according to head statistician Fidel Mangonon, that's the most ever for him in a TNT uniform. So basically, that's the first time that since he was still a Sta. Lucia Realtor. Williams noticed right off the bat. "It felt awkward today so something had to be different," Williams said on his 18 attempts. "It felt good to shoot and be free, the bigs had their hands full tonight becuase Mo [Tautuaa} wasn't here so we gave extra effort on the offensive side today and it paid off," he added. Kelly certainly took advantage of his 18 attempts, making 11 of them to score a game-high 23 points. And despite the adjustments he's been through and the fact that he'll turn 36 next week, Williams says he's a better player now compared to his days with Sta. Lucia where he won league MVP. "It's been a big adjustment, this is my 12th year in the league and you know, to go from the role I had in Sta. Lucia as MVP to coming to TNT and changing and evolving over the years, I consider myself a better player than I was during the MVP years [in terms of] mentality, approach of the game, physical abilities," he said. "I jump higher, which is weird. But it's been a process and I can't be anymore grateful with what I have, the opportunities I et. You know my teammates trusted me so I've been fortunate," he added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 31st, 2018

Oladipo, Sabonis helping Pacers move forward

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com INDIANAPOLIS – Victor Oladipo has a fever and the only prescription is ... no, not more cowbell. Cowbell might make sense, if you factor in Oladipo’s love of and commitment to music (his debut R&B album has been available since Oct. 6). But the fever currently afflicting Oladipo, shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers, has nothing to do with extracurriculars and everything to do with the odes and anthems he’s been performing within the confines of 94 feet by 50 feet. If the fifth-year guard out of Indiana University, by way of the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder, looks comfortable in his new star turn for the Pacers, well, just remember that’s your word. Not his. “You could say I’m comfortable with the people here,” says Oladipo, who spent three seasons with the Hoosiers before becoming the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. “I played in front of these fans, they mean a lot to me and I gave a lot to them just like they gave a lot to me while I was in college. “But I’m never comfortable in any situation I’m in. I will never be comfortable. That’s what kind of makes me get up and work every day. It’s like, never be satisfied. Because for some reason, ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted more.” Oladipo’s eyes just about glow after a weekend practice as he delves into his unflagging intensity. He doesn’t undercut it with a smile or a token laugh. This is real heat. “Maximize my talent and exhaust my potential,” he says. “In order to do that, I’ve got to come to work every day. That’s my thought process. Wake up each day and be great that day.” Each day would include tonight, when Oladipo will share center stage at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with the more decorated and once-beloved star who preceded him in the Pacers lineup. Paul George, a four-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist during his seven seasons in Indiana, was due to face his old team for the first time since being traded to Oklahoma City in July. It was a parting necessitated by George, who had made clear his desire to sign a maximum-salary contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018. But the trade was orchestrated by Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, and Chad Buchanan, their general manager, who surprised the NBA by swapping George to OKC for Oladipo and big man Domantas Sabonis. You want intense? The initial reaction to that deal was intensely negative, quickly reaching hysterical proportions. The Pacers immediately were mocked for having traded George for nickels on the dollar. Reports out of Boston characterized Indiana’s POBO as more of a bobo for allegedly spurning a Celtics’ offer of multiple players and draft picks. *Takes a well deserved nap for 3 hours ** Opens Twitter: pic.twitter.com/xWNYaVfKTy — Myl3s Turn3r (@Original_Turner) July 1, 2017 The west is sick!!!! Best conference in the world!!!! — Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) July 1, 2017 Vic to the Pacers?! He might as well run for governor while he's at it! — Cody Zeller (@CodyZeller) July 1, 2017 Former Thunder star Kevin Durant called the move “shocking” and of George said “Indiana just gave him away.” Among much of the media that covers the league, there was a general feeling of “rubes” afoot -- that the Pacers had been snookered in taking back an overpaid ($21 million annually through 2020-21) second-tier talent and an overbilled guy who had disappeared in OKC’s postseason. And now? Not so much on any of those fronts. ‘He knows how good he is’ George’s stats are down in the “OK3” core he’s formed with reigning Kia MVP Russell Westbrook and aging Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder (12-13) are the NBA’s consensus disappointment, team category, with nearly a third of their season in the books. Sabonis has boosted the Pacers off the bench in a half dozen ways. And Oladipo has all but earned himself a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team while speeding his new team’s fans past their heartbreak over George’s jilting. Generally, the best trades in sports are win-win, but for Indiana right now, a bit of win-lose has made the start of 2017-18 downright sublime. “We happened to really like Sabonis in the draft,” former Pacers president and ongoing consultant Donnie Walsh said last week. “We wanted more of everything in the trade too. But when it came down to it, we had this offer with Oladipo, who we also liked. They’ve come in here and the more they’ve been here, the more we like ‘em. We’re happy.” The Pacers also are 16-11, two weeks ahead in the victory column over their 42-40 finish last season that was good for a playoff berth. Oladipo is the biggest reason why, averaging more points per game (24.5) than George ever has. The 6'4" guard who attended famous DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Md., spent much of last season being beaten up for his contract and negligible impact in Oklahoma City. He had taken grief earlier for his status as the second pick in 2013, a lofty status not of his doing. And here he was again in the summer, hearing it all over again for a transaction he didn’t design. “He came in with a chip [on his shoulder],” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought he should come in with a chip.” Some would have flinched from the pressure. A few might have curled up, full blown fetal. Oladipo has gone entirely the other way. “His confidence is at an all-time high,” backup point guard Cory Joseph said. “He knows how good he is.” As Joseph spoke after the Pacers’ upset of Cleveland Friday, a game in which Oladipo scored 20 of his game-high 33 points in the third quarter, a lilting voice drifted from behind the scenes in the home dressing room. “Look at it right now, he’s singing in the shower,” Joseph said, tilting his head and laughing. “He’s confident. You guys are all in here, he’s just singing. He’s a confident guy. Everybody in this locker room, everybody in this organization definitely welcomes that.” Trade not driving Oladipo’s breakout season Don’t misunderstand. The critics still are out for Oladipo. “My mom told me yesterday I need to work on my free throws,” he said with an eye roll after practice Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). She had noticed, during her son’s run of big games in December -- 36 points at Toronto, 27 vs. Chicago, 33 against the Cavs the night before her chiding text -- that he had missed 18-of-31 foul shots. This, by a career 80 percent shooter from the line. “I’m over that,” Oladipo said. “I’m not going to miss no more. I’ll make ‘em next time. And if I miss ‘em, I’ll make ‘em the next. If that’s my problem right now, I think I can fix it.” Twenty-four hours later, Oladipo took 13 free throws against Denver and made 11. He scored 47 points in all, hitting 15-of-28 shots and half of his 12 three-pointers. The comeback victory in OT got the Pacers to 4-for-4 on their six-game homestand and continued to shrink whatever chip it was that the 25-year-old was shouldering. “In the beginning of the year, I said, ‘I don’t have a chip. I have a brick house on my back,’” Oladipo said. But not anymore, right, now that some folks are referring to it as “the Victor Oladipo trade” rather than “the Paul George trade?” “That’s what I feel like every morning, no matter what’s going on,” he said. “I don’t even think about the trade, honestly. It’s in the past for me. People’s opinions are going to be there whether you like it or not. From the outside looking in, I guess you could say [then] that was a great trade for OKC. That’s what they believed. But it wasn’t going to change the way I worked. It wasn’t going to change my approach.” This step up in status is considered perhaps the most difficult an NBA player can make. Suddenly, opposing coaches are X&O-ing him to death. The player dogging him up and down the court is the other guys’ best defender. Often, they’ll send double-teams to get the ball into one of his teammates’ hands. “He hadn’t had that,” McMillan said. “When he was in OKC, the game plan was focused on Westbrook. When he was in Orlando, he was just a young player. Now he is seeing the defenders like a LeBron [James], like a [DeMar] DeRozan, what these stars are seeing. He’s seeing the best defenders and he’s seeing teams game-plan to take him out. “Learning how to play and be consistent every night with that challenge is something he’s going through.” Oladipo’s quick success with the Pacers has kept any crowd critics at bay. They were pre-disposed to like him just as their rebound date after George, but had he underperformed, Oladipo’s service time in Bloomington wouldn’t have protected him for long from criticism. But now, it’s George who likely will get the harsh reception. Oladipo, overtly after each of the recent victories, has made it clear to the home fans via some emphatic pointing and body language that the Fieldhouse happens to be his house. “I don’t say it, they say it,” he said. “I just do the gesture and they do the rest of the work for me. I let them do all the talking. We feed off them -- when they’re into it, we play better. I don’t know why, that’s just how basketball’s always been. They’re our sixth man and we need ‘em every night.” Oladipo’s breakout season has been bolstered, too, by the Pacers’ second-through-15th men. Those who already were in Indy knew how valuable George was at both ends. Those who, like Oladipo and Sabonis, were new this season were within their rights to be as skeptical as the national headlines of the guys coming in trade. Go-to guy emerges for Pacers OKC was a specific challenge, Oladipo having to learn on the fly how to fit his own darting, ball-heavy style to only the second man in NBA history to average a triple-double. Westbrook’s usage was off the charts, rendering the other Thunder players to supporting cast whether suited to that role or not. Just like that, Oladipo had to catch and shoot as someone to get Westbrook into double digits in assists. It wasn’t his nature and it made for an individually forgettable season. “I had a role. I tried to play that role to the best of my ability. And I improved certain areas of my game in that role,” was all he’d say Saturday, stiffly, about the OKC experience. Said Walsh: “I felt like he was going to get a different opportunity here. ... When he got to Oklahoma City, he was playing wih a guy who was averaging a triple-double. And he liked Russell Westbrook. But he comes here, he’s got an opportunity to be ‘our guy.’ “I think he might have been looking for that. I never asked him. He’s a really cool guy. He knows what he wants to be, I think.” Oladipo needed this and the Pacers needed him to need it. With George gone, they were like a smile missing a front tooth. The other teeth weren’t just going to move up in the pecking order -- no matter how good young big man Myles Turner is -- and replace the one they’d lost. If they were going to have any success this season, if McMillan was going to be able to coach and adjust in his second year taking over for Frank Vogel, the players needed to fill their roles and welcome this new addition. That’s why this tale of Oladipo’s growing success is about what the Pacers have done for him, as much as it is what he’s done for them. “We didn’t really present it like that,” McMillan said, “because we were still trying to develop who our ‘go-to guy’ was. He has been slowly taking on that role through the things he’s done. I haven’t had to say anything. He’s making good decisions with the ball. And the guys are getting a feel for what we’re doing down the stretch because we’ve had some success, and we’ve had it with Victor having the ball.” Chemistry change for Pacers There might be NBA teams with chemistry as solid as the Pacers’ right now, but it’s hard to imagine there are any with better. It’s more than mere relief that someone has stepped up, easing their own loads a bit. It is a genuine eagerness for Oladipo to max out, for each of the rest of them to do the same in whatever lane they’re riding. “Vic’s been everything at this point,” Turner said. “He’s done a great job of stepping up and being that guy, being that dude. It’s amazing to have that when you’re going through a situation where it’s a brand-new team. We’re still learning each other and he’s showing that he’s ready.” Did Turner know this would happen and, if so, when? “First couple days he started texting me in the summertime,” the big man said. “I saw what his mindset was, and I loved it from the jump. He carried that right in when we started playing pickup this summer. “Vic’s been traded, what, [two] times? He finally comes back home and he has a team that’s telling him to go, telling him to be him. I don’t think he had that with his former teams. Now that he’s here and he’s doing that, I’m pretty sure he’s [enjoying it].” Said Joseph: “He’s been a beast for us and he’s going to continue to be a beast for us. ... He’s been running with that opportunity and opening eyes around the world.” Even strong-willed, uber-confident Lance Stephenson, has backed up for Oladipo. “There’s no hate, know what I mean?” he said over the weekend. “Some guys get mad about somebody doing good. This team wants its teammates to do good. That’s what’s going to make us even better.” Oladipo keeps referring to the other Pacers in a legit lubricating of the “no I in Indy” process. “Honestly I think it’s the personalities and the men that we have in this locker room,” he said. “My teammates are phenomenal people -- not just basketball players, phenomenal people. When you surround yourself with great people, people who sincerely care about you and your team, the chemistry just comes naturally.” Sabonis shows glimpses of success, too The other guy in the trade, Sabonis, has developed more organically, his maturation seemingly inevitable regardless of locale when you tote up his youth, his work ethic and his bloodlines (son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis). He has gone from that rookie who logged just six minutes in the Thunder’s five 2017 playoff games against Houston to an essential piece in McMillan’s rotation. “Once I got traded, I knew this was a great opportunity for me to show people what I can really do,” said Sabonis, the No. 11 pick in 2016. “I was a rookie last year. Everything was new. Here, I’m being used more at the 5. That’s more the position I’ve been used to playing my whole life.” Sabonis’ minutes are up from 20.1 in OKC to 24.6 off Indiana’s bench. His scoring has doubled from 5.9 ppg to 12.1. And his PIE rating has soared from 4.9 last season to 12.6, a sign of the versatility the skilled big man possesses. “I love Sabonis,” Walsh said. “His father was one of the greatest players in the world, so I don’t like that comparison -- it kills him. He [Domantas] is just more of everything you think he is. He’s stronger than you think. He can shoot the ball better. He’s got good hands, he can catch the ball. I’ve seen him make moves in game that I’ve never seen him make in practice.” Said Turner: “I played against Domas in college -- I knew what kind of player he was. I was excited when we got him. He’s gotten bigger and stronger since then, obviously, and he just didn’t have a chance to show himself last year. But he’s been big for us now, especially when I was out with the concussion. He stepped up huge in that role and we’ve played well since then.” The Pacers are playing faster this season, up from 18th in pace last season to 10th now, part of their improvement from 15th in offensive rating (106.2) to 6th (108.3). They’re doing better, too, in contesting shots and throttling opponents’ field-goal accuracy. The biggest reason why has been Oladipo’s blossoming. Whether due to the sunshine of new, happier surroundings or from that darker, more intense place, to prove cynics wrong. No one can now talk of the Pacers’ bungling of what, after all, was a deal to rent George, not to have him long-term. Fans at Bankers Life figure to boo George on his first visit back, with an inventory they haven’t needed or used on Oladipo. Some might see that as ingratitude, others as respect. It’s a little bit of love lost, too. “Look, they loved Paul when he was here,” Walsh said. “They guy is a great player. One thing I’ve always felt: These guys that play here, they always know more about what they want for their lives than we do. How you gonna argue with that? He treated us good, we treated him good. No bad blood here. I don’t know about fans.” Folks in Indy have a new crush now, one they hope lasts for a while. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2017

Brady, Patriots send Broncos to fifth straight loss, 41-16

By Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — Denver is no longer Tom Brady’s House of Horrors and the Broncos sure don’t scare anybody anymore. Brady threw three touchdown passes and the New England Patriots matched their own AFC record with their 12th consecutive road victory, pummeling the Broncos 41-16 on Sunday night. Brady’s 86th regular-season road win broke a tie with Peyton Manning for most all-time. “It’s always hard to win in the NFL, certainly on the road,” Brady said. “We found a way to do it last year and we’re off to a good start this year.” Not so the Broncos. These teams have represented the AFC in the last four Super Bowls, and the Broncos (3-6) were hoping a visit from their rivals would help shake them from their funk. Beat Brady, suggested Aqib Talib, and “the swag, the energy in this locker room, it’ll skyrocket.” Instead, the Broncos fizzled. They lost their fifth straight game, their worst skid in seven seasons, and they dropped back-to-back games to the Patriots (7-2) in Denver for the first time since 1966. Avoiding Von Miller all night and throwing for 266 yards on 25-of-34 passing, Brady improved to 8-9 against the Broncos, the only team he has a losing record against, and he won for just the fourth time in 11 trips to Denver. The Patriots also won a dozen consecutive road games from 2006-08. The NFL record is 18 set by the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers from 1988-90. Speaking of historic, the Patriots for the first time since 1979 had a special teams takeaway , a blocked punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown , a trifecta that fueled a comfortable 27-9 halftime lead. The Patriots went three-and-out to start the game but rookie Isaiah McKenzie’s muffed punt led to Brady’s 14-yard TD toss to running back Rex Burkhead. “That’s not the first punt McKenzie has muffed this year,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. Indeed, it was his fifth fumble, including four muffs. “It puts us in a big hole,” McKenzie said. “I put the blame all on me. If I would’ve caught that first punt, did anything with it, besides turn it over, then probably ... things would’ve changed for us.” The Patriots had five touchdowns and a pair of field goals before they’d punt again. “We knew McKenzie had muffed a couple so we told our gunners to get down there and make it tough on him,” Patriots DB Devin McCourty said. “Then we get the blocked punt return.” He’s getting ahead of himself, but who could blame him? After kicking a 39-yard field goal, Brandon McManus failed on the ensuing kickoff to get in front of returner Dion Lewis, whose 103-yard return down Denver’s demoralized sideline made it 14-3. “How are you supposed to win against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots when you’re starting off” like that? wondered Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe. “You can’t.” Then, Burkhead sliced through the line to block Riley Dixon’s punt at the Broncos’ 30-yard line, leading to Stephen Gostkowski’s second field goal and a 20-6 lead. “I have not,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph replied when asked if he’d ever seen a worse special teams performance. “That wasn’t the only issue we had. We were 1 for 4 in the red zone. We moved the ball better tonight but we didn’t score touchdowns. And defensively they scored on seven straight possessions.” When the Broncos finally forced another punt in the fourth quarter, they were whistled for 12 men on the field, giving the Patriots a fresh set of downs. Brady took advantage of that gaffe by throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to James White, capping both the blowout and a 16-play, 94-yard drive that ate up more than seven minutes. “Besides that first series, we couldn’t stop them,” Miller said. BROCK ON: Brock Osweiler hooked up with Emmanuel Sanders five times for 114 yards in the first half but Denver stalled twice in the red zone and also at the Patriots 21, settling for field goals while the Patriots were scoring touchdowns. Sanders finished with six catches for 137 yards. Joseph refused to say if Osweiler (18 of 33, 221 yards) would stay the starter. “We’re going to watch the tape tomorrow as a staff and determine who the quarterback is next week,” Joseph said. BENNETT’S BACK: Tight end Martellus Bennett was active — and productive — for New England just a few days after he accused the Green Bay Packers of pressuring him to play through a shoulder injury. Green Bay waived Bennett with the designation that he “failed to disclose a physical condition,” but Bennett said the Packers were aware of his balky shoulder when they signed him. He said it got worse during the season and he elected to have surgery. When the Packers waived him, the Patriots grabbed him. His first catch covered 27 yards and he finished with three catches for 38 yards. “He did a great job to have come in on Friday,” Brady said. “I love having Martellus on our team. He adds a lot, he’s a great player, and he was for us last year.” MILESTONE WIN: Belichick moved into a third-place tie with Tom Landry on the all-time head-coaching list for wins, with 270. He trails only Don Shula (347) and George Halas (324). INJURIES: Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater went out in the first half with a pulled hamstring. Broncos tight end A.J. Derby was knocked out with a shoulder injury. Umpire Jeff Rice was carted off in the third quarter after hitting his head on the ground when Patriots linebacker Trevor Reilly bowled him over on during a Denver punt. UP NEXT Patriots: At Raiders at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca (elevation 7,280 feet). The Patriots are staying in Colorado all week, practicing at the Air Force Academy (elevation 6,621) feet to acclimate to the altitude. Broncos: Host the Cincinnati Bengals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 13th, 2017

'Fafa Rey' Hugnatan is officially back in business for Meralco

Ranidel De Ocampo's calf injury, which can put him out for the rest of the 2017 Governors' Cup Finals by the way, may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Meralco. That's because with RDO out, "Fafa Rey" is officially back in business. And for some magical reason, Reynel Hugnatan might actually be Meralco's best shooter. Hugnatan delivered the best performance by a Meralco local in these Finals against Brgy. Ginebra, firing 22 points, 21 from downtown, in a 94-81 Game 3 win Wednesday. His game perfectly complimented that of import Allen Durham and the Bolts are finally in the board, cutting their series deficit in half, 1-2. "Of course [surprised with big performance]. Of course thank you kay coach na he gave me playing time. I know Ranidel is out so I just stepped up," Hugnatan said post-game. "Buti naman nandun yung shooting," he added. With Meralco finding it hard to draw anything from its locals, Hugnatan's breakout performance comes as a sigh of relief for head coach Norman Black. Because if Durham had to carry all the load again and the Bolts ended up losing, it can be safe to say that the Gin Kings were practically on their way to back-to-back titles. "He did a great job tonight spacing the floor, very similar to what he did last year in the playoffs and it just makes life a lot easier for AD when guys can make outside shots," Black said of Hugnatan. "Now we just have to get some of the other guys to start making their own shots and hopefully we can get back in the series," he added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2017

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News14 hr. 26 min. ago

2019 NBA All-Star Diary: Day 1

5:20 A.M. – For some reason, I woke up 10 minutes before the alarm on my cellphone was scheduled to ring. Maybe it was jetlag. Maybe it was excitement. It didn’t matter, I had to get up from bed to prepare for the 2 hour and 30 minute drive from Durham to Charlotte. Me and my colleague, TJ Manotoc had taken a detour from our planned schedule to visit Duke University. Now, that we were done with that, it was time to revert back to our primary task of covering the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. During our drive back to Charlotte, I looked out the window to the sight of clear skies telling me that it was going to be a good day. 8:50 A.M. – The first task for journalists covering the NBA’s mid-season event is to secure a media pass. This is basically an ID that gives one clearance to all events that are happening throughout All-Star Weekend. After parking our rented car and walking to the designated hotel for the media credentials pick-up, we were ready to head to our first activity of the day. 9:35 A.M. – Hosting the best young players in the league was the Bojangles Coliseum where the first media availability session was about to take place. The Mountain Dew Rising Stars is first major event of All-Star weekend and we were given the opportunity to see the players from Team U.S. and Team World up-close to field in questions. Rookie sensation Luka Dončić drew the biggest crowd of reporters from all over the world. Because it would be tough for me to ask the Slovenian a question, I decided to go to another podium where this year’s number on overall pick, Deandre Ayton was sitting. “Deandre! Who’s the toughest center you’ve played against so far in your rookie season?” I asked. “Uuuhhh… nobody. Not yet. All the centers I’ve played against so far haven’t really went at me yet. I think they were just playing though the rhythm and not really going at me,” replied Deandre. I saw another player drawing a huge crowd and realized it was Ben Simmons, who is currently my second favorite NBA player behind Blake Griffin. After waiting for a little while, I pounced on the opportunity to field in a question. “Ben, with the current Sixers lineup, what do you think are the weaknesses that you guys need to improve on so that you can win the championship this year?” The 6’10” point guard from Australia looked right at me and said, “Offense. Defense.” Honestly, I was a little bit disappointed because I was expecting a more thorough answer but I guess that’s how it is sometimes. These athletes are asked a million questions and it might be a struggle for them to stay consistent with regards to being accommodating to people. Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young and LA Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma were two other players I visited. With so many players on both rosters, it would be extremely difficult to get to converse with all. But, seeing them right in front of you and having an opportunity to talk to them was an amazing experience. 11:00 A.M. – All media had been requested by the organizers to clear the court so we could witness Team World practice for the night’s event. Even though I got a very short answer from Simmons, I still observed him. Watching him dribble the ball up the floor and make long strides to the basket for dunks was a sight to behold. He could even knock down three-pointers. 11:45 A.M. – It was now the turn of Team U.S. to take the floor for practice. Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum looked like they could be the best players on the squad but I was particularly looking at Young and his ability to shoot the ball and handle it exceptionally well. Kuzma was also taking every drill seriously. Just like he would the Rising Stars. 1:06 P.M. – After gathering content, TJ and I decided to have a late lunch at Denny’s. We looked at the schedule and realized that our next activity would not be happening until nine in the evening. More time to sleep, I thought. 2:23 P.M. – TJ dropped me and our luggage off at Springhill Suites, our hotel for the next three days. He left me there to check-in while he returned the rental car to the airport. But, as I went to the counter, I was told by the front desk that our room would not be available until 3:00 P.M.. That’s when I decided to look around. 2:45 P.M. – I went to the Hornets Fan Shop to look at the NBA All-Star merchandise and saw an interesting selection of hats, jerseys and all kinds of memorabilia. And then, I noticed a man carrying a box which contained a pair of Nike Adapt BBs, the shoes I tested last month in New York. I asked him where he got them and told me to check out the “Jordan pop-up shop” across the Spectrum Center. 2:55 P.M. – While walking on the street, I saw a long line outside a building. It turns out, this was where that man got his Nike Adapt BBs. It was a Foot Locker – House of Hoops pop-up shop which sold various sneakers that were scheduled to be released specifically during the NBA All-Star weekend. Because of my unforgettable experience in Manhattan, I decided to join the line for a chance to get my own pair of the most futuristic basketball shoes Nike has ever made. Thankfully, I was given a wristband with a number, allowing me to leave the line to check into the hotel. 3:15 P.M. – I checked into our hotel room and felt thankful that it had such a great location. Springhill Suites was right across the Spectrum Center, the venue of NBA All-Star weekend and of course, just down the block from the pop-up shop. As soon as TJ arrived, I left to resume my quest to buy the shoes. 4:46 P.M. – Finally, I was a proud owner of my very own Nike Adapt BB. I felt like my trip to the New York was given more meaning now. Also, I felt like this was one of the reasons my journey has taken me to Charlotte. But, there was still more work to be done. 8:30 P.M. – Less than an hour before tip-off of the Rising Stars game, TJ and I did a Facebook Live discussion right outside the Spectrum Center to update fans back at home about what has happened so far at the All-Star event and what we should look forward to. 8:55 P.M. – We couldn’t believe it. Our assigned seats were located high up in the bleachers. On the very last row. I was breathing heavily after making the climb up the arena. All of a sudden, the players looked more like ants compared to the giants that they were during our morning sessions with them. 10:54 P.M. – Team U.S. defeated Team World behind the 35 points and 6 rebounds of Kuzma, who was named MVP of the Rising Stars. Kuzma was also one of the easiest players to talk to among his peers. 11:05 P.M. – Just when I thought we were given a lot of access to the players, we were given more. There was another media session which commenced right after the game! 12:11 A.M. – Another thing the NBA is very generous with is food. TJ and I ended our long day at a restaurant and bar that the league booked for us international journalists. As we chomped down our food, we talked about how the NBA All-Star weekend would take a lot of our time from us, including our sleeping hours. TJ has been covering this annual event since 2011. He’s used to the grueling schedule. Me, I’m just soaking it all in. I have a few hours left before I have to get up and work again. As always, I’m going to try to have as much fun as possible. After all, it’s the NBA All-Star. It’s supposed to be fun......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News14 hr. 26 min. ago

10 things to know about NBA All-Star 2019

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — With All-Star festivities set to officially begin Friday (Saturday, PHL time), here are 10 things to know going into the weekend: BACK TO CHARLOTTE Charlotte hosted NBA All-Star weekend in 1991, and now gets it back a second time to join 14 other cities that can say it hosted the league’s showcase midseason event on multiple occasions. Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, St. Louis, Los Angeles and the L.A. suburb of Inglewood, California, are the other previous multi-hosting All-Star cities. The Bay Area, the Detroit area and the Dallas area are also two-time hosts, though never technically twice in the same city. LEBRON’S RECORDS LeBron James now has the record for most All-Star captaincies: Two. He and Stephen Curry had the jobs last year when the captain’s format was first introduced to the All-Star weekend, and he and Giannis Antetokounmpo have the jobs this year. But James’ records revolving around this game hardly stop there. By starting on Sunday (Monday, PHL time), James will tie Kobe Bryant with 15 starts in the All-Star Game. James will also extend his record of consecutive starts, which will also rise to 15. Some of the other All-Star records James already holds include total points (343), field goals (141) and three-pointers (35). And by playing two minutes, James will increase his All-Star total in that stat to 416 — one more than Bryant for No. 2 on the all-time list. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has played the most All-Star minutes, 449. FOULING OUT Bold prediction: No one will foul out on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). The last player to foul out of an All-Star Game was Hakeem Olajuwon in 1987. Chris Paul was the most recent to come close, when he was whistled for five fouls in the 2008 game. There have been only 14 instances of someone fouling out of an All-Star Game. Rick Barry and Bob Cousy each fouled out twice; 10 others, including Olajuwon, have done so once. MVPs AT HOME Kemba Walker, the lone Charlotte player in this year’s All-Star Game, has suggested that he’s hoping he can wow the home crowd with an MVP-worthy performance. There’s a history of that sort of thing happening. There have been 14 players who have won All-Star MVP honors in their home cities, spanning a total of 15 games. The list of hometown All-Star MVPs: Anthony Davis (New Orleans, 2017), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles, 2011), Shaquille O’Neal (Phoenix, 2009 and Los Angeles, 2004), Karl Malone and John Stockton (Utah, 1993), Michael Jordan (Chicago, 1988), Tom Chambers (Seattle, 1987), Jerry West (Los Angeles, 1972), Rick Barry (the San Francisco area, 1967), Adrian Smith (Cincinnati, 1966), Bob Pettit (St. Louis, 1958 and 1962), Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia, 1960), Bob Cousy (Boston, 1957) and Ed Macauley (Boston, 1951). AGE MARK Assuming he plays, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki — one of the special additions to the rosters by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who also added Miami’s Dwyane Wade to the list — will become the second 40-something to appear in the All-Star Game. Nowitzki is 40; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played in the game when he was 40 and 41. Michael Jordan almost pulled off the feat; he was eight days shy of turning 40 when he last played in the All-Star Game in 2003. Jordan, now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets and the unofficial host of the weekend, will turn 56 on Sunday. Wade, also assuming he gets into the game, will become the 12th player to be an All-Star at 37 or older. Wade turned 37 last month. HEROES Jason Weinmann and James Shaw Jr. might not be “celebrities,” at least not in the classic sense. But the NBA rightly believes they should be celebrated. Weinmann and Shaw were invited to play in Friday’s All-Star Celebrity Game to commemorate heroic acts. Weinmann, a retired Marine, used a military transport vehicle — which he bought at a government auction years ago — during Hurricane Florence last September to help rescue flood victims in North Carolina and bring them to safety. Shaw disarmed a man who had opened fire at a Waffle House restaurant near Nashville last April and has been heralded as a life-saving hero since for wrestling the AR-15 out of the alleged shooter’s hands by the barrel. G LEAGUE FIRST Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks is the first member of a new club. He’s the first G League alum to become an NBA All-Star. Middleton spent a short time during the 2012-13 season in the G League, before blossoming into one of the league’s best players and a key to Milwaukee going into the break with an NBA-best 43-14 record. There will be plenty of G League graduates participating on All-Star Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) as well — Middleton, Seth Curry, Danny Green and Joe Harris are all slated to be in the 3-point contest. CASH MATTERS There is some money at stake during All-Star Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) events, and everybody gets something. Everyone in the dunk contest will receive at least $20,000, everyone in the skills challenge gets at least $15,000 and all participants in the 3-point shootout take home at least $10,000. From there, prize money varies by finish — the skills challenge winner gets $55,000, the 3-point shootout champion wins $60,000 and the dunk contest winner takes home $105,000. In all, the Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) participants will split $610,000. EASTBOUND This All-Star weekend is the first of four straight in Eastern Conference cities. Chicago gets it next year, Indianapolis in 2021 and Cleveland in 2022. The site for the 2023 game remains unknown; Salt Lake City and Sacramento are two sites often mentioned as candidates for that year, and Orlando is a likely suitor for the 2024 game. THE REFS Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) All-Star Game will be officiated by Scott Foster, Curtis Blair and David Guthrie. It’s a home game of sorts for Guthrie, who resides in Charlotte. Foster worked the 2010 All-Star Game in Dallas. It’s the first All-Star Game for Blair and Guthrie. The Friday and Saturday (Saturday and Sunday, PHL time) events will be worked by a crew of newer refs — third-year official Aaron Smith and fourth-year officials Mitchell Ervin and Gediminas Petraitis......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 15th, 2019

PBA: Lee on Magnolia s 0-3 start: 'Alam ng lahat sitwasyon namin ngayon'

Magnolia's rough start to the season continues. After capturing the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup, the Hotshots haven't won since, starting the 2019 Philippine Cup with three straight losses, the latest being a dramatic one-point loss to Rain or Shine Wednesday. Entering the Gilas break, Magnolia remains as the only winless team in the All-Filipino. Still, despite the 0-3 record, the Hotshots are not dwelling on their poor card. "Siguro ano, di na lang namin titingnan na parang negative," guard Paul Lee said. "Kailangan kung ano yung nasa harap namin, doon kami mag-focus kasi baka lalo lang mapasama kapag inisip namin yung 0-3 kami," he added. While that's a great mindset to have, it doesn't change the fact that the Hotshots are 0-3. And if Magnolia is to build on its latest championship and have another strong playoff run, the team will have to turn things around and start winning games. The break to give way for Gilas is the perfect way for the Hotshots to recalibrate. "Laging nire-remind ni Coach Chito na yung sense of urgency, kailangan and yan na talaga. Kasi yun nga, mahirap malubog talaga. Kailangan next game, talagang next game pilitin namin na makuha yung panalo, kasi parang do-or-die na sa amin yun," Lee said. "Siguro alam naman ng lahat kung ano yung sitwasyon namin ngayon, so there's no point na magre-relax pa kami or what," he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 14th, 2019

PBA: Allein Maliksi learning the ropes as Blackwater s leader

For 31-year old Allein Maliksi, taking the daunting task of being the Blackwater Elite's locker room leader will be no walk in the park, but he is willing to take charge. His team showed promise against the hobbled Alaska Aces Wednesday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena, going down by as much as 13, 63-50, midway through the third quarter before closing in on the lead and eventually taking the lead in the fourth. Although Blackwater exhibited grit, the inexperience of a young team became speed bumps down the stretch as the veteran Aces escaped with a 103-101 win. Maliksi led the Blackwater offense with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and several clutch jumpers, as he became a much-needed driving force for a team that features five rookies and a handful role players. "Wala yung teamwork. So kailangan talaga namin mag-build ulit ng magkakasama kami ng matagal, so kumbaga medyo parang naging rookie team ulit yung team ko so para sa akin as a leader nila na nilo-look forward," said the former Growling Tiger.  "I'm always trying to take charge na ma-encourage sila, fix their mindset na this game, we need to be smart." Maliksi previously thought that being a leader was to sacrifice one's indivudual game for the overall well-being of the squad, but as coach Bong Ramos made him realize, that was far from being a leader. "Sabi ko sa kaniya, 'ba’t ayaw mong tumira?' 'Kasi, coach, diba ako ang leader,' sabi niya, 'eh gusto ko sakin magsimula yung nagfi-feed, yung nagpapasa.' “No,' sabi ko, 'not because you’re trying to be a leader or you’re the leader of the team, hindi ka na titira," Ramos said. "That is not your game. Your game is to score, maging agresibo ka umopensa. Hindi pupwede yung ganiyan. Eh yung mga kasama mo inaasahan shu-shoot ka eh. Biro mo four attempts ka lang sa Ginebra,'" he added. By being the team's designated scorer, Maliksi noted that aside from the points, he had also set an example for the team in other aspects of the game, such as precise passing and defending. That could serve as a great start for their talented rookies in Paul Desiderio, Abu Tratter, and Diego Dario, along with newcomers Joseph Eriobu and Gelo Alolino. "[Medyo proud ako sa mga teammates ko and sa team ko. Kasi, kahit nalalamangan kami ng double-digit, nakakabalik kami. And yung sa dulo, medyo breaks of the game, di kami naka-depensa. Naka-shoot si Banchero at si Sonny Thoss sa huli. So, yun nga, sabi ko sa kanila, after the game, proud ako sa kanilang lahat kasi hindi tayo nag-give up." Staring at a record which is unlikely enough for a playoff run, all Maliksi wants the team to do is to hang their head high for the season isn't over in the first conference. "Iniisip lang namin every game magimprove kami. Every game lumalaban hindi yung lopsided na tambak talaga kami -- yun yung talagang iniiwasan namin eh. Though hindi kami ganun kabeteranong team kasi mga rookies and mga ngayon lang halos nabigyan ng playing time yung iba,"  "We need to be patient about it. Hindi pwede mawalan ng pasensya -- ako hinahabaan ko rin kasi minsan gusto ko na mainis pero hindi pwede kasi hindi ka pwede bumigay as a leader." __ Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2019

7s Football League Match Day 2: Tondo FC, Super Eagles, Deportivo Matu, Ghana FC and Delimondo remains undefeated; Bohemians bounces back from first game loss

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #454545} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #454545; min-height: 14.0px} The Philam Life 7s Football league is back at the McKinley Hill Stadium this week with its matchday 2 for both its youth and seniors division. Once again, youth teams had proven that football in the country is growing and that youth talent only need an avenue to practice their skills in the sport. Youth teams opened the matchday 2 of the league with an action-packed set of games with the Kaya youth teams seemingly dominate the league in all four age groups. Giving them a run for their money is the Simon Greatwich –led G8 and Bohemians Sporting Club. Over at the Seniors Division, the boys from Tondo had once again proven that they are a force to be reckoned with at the league as they whipped H&J All-Stars with an impressive 3-1 victory. Coming into the game, Tondo FC did make some adjustments, mainly getting reinforcements from players from Marikina, something that Coach Mark Balbin is thankful for. “Kasi in Tondo, we play the attacking side so more of us specialize in dribbling which makes the defensive side our loophole. The ones na kinuha namin from Marikina, mga defenders, we know yung caliber nila kaya ni-recruit namin sila as part of the team. Yung squad namin is composed of 14 players and sinabi namin is we know those players [H&J All Stars] who are not young, unlike some of our players na mas bata sa kanila who are more technically and physically good," said Balbin. "Sinabi ko na lang sa kanila is to pressure kasi may mga subs naman na pwedeng pumalit so all out kapag nasa field, wag magpipigil sa sarili and pagurin yung sarili nila. Kahit yung mga subs ganun din sinabi ko, all out din kapag nasa field. Yung lang ang ginamit namin na tactic against sa kanila. Tactically speaking, sa loob, wala kaming ginagawa masyado kasi alam naman namin na mabibilis kami so all out lang ng all out.” After being down 0-1 and then 1-2 at the end of the first half, Bohemian made an epic come back at the second half and score the equalizer that sent the game to extra time. The extra five minutes is all that they need to regroup in order to score the golden goal to seal their comeback with the win. “A come from behind win is always difficult. I think we started out a little bit too relaxed, Real Amigos came out with intensity, came out really with high pressure, I think out players were a bit too relaxed but then we got the first goal - unlucky because it was a rebound, they scored one goal, but you know that’s football, breaks of the game. But like you’ve said, we’ve kept our game, we continued to play our game, eventually, we were able to come back and get to 1-1. Then they were able to get to it again at 2-1 and then at the second half, I think we put on much pressure or intensity. We picked it up and we got to get the equalizer. In the last few seconds, they gave up a 6th foul and that’s a penalty so we got to 2-2, then I didn’t know that there was extra time. Anton was saying that there’s still 5 minutes of extra time and then we were able to get that golden goal and the victory.” Says Coach Mikee Carrion At the second set of games scheduled for matchday 2; Superbad became the next team to have fallen into the Super Eagles’ prey. The defending champions led as much as 3-0 at the end of the first half and were even more resilient in protecting their lead at the second half, scoring five more goals to prove that they are determined to win the league title for the third time in a row. “I think it was just hard work and determination. We are the defending champions and we are committed, we really want to win again. I don’t need to say that they will fall into our prey because it is all about 7 versus 7 but in the game of soccer, anything can happen. But I just want to assure you that Super Eagles is going to win, there is no doubt about it, we are going to win.” A very satisfied Coach Prince says On the other side of the field, Delimondo-Laro FC and Ceres FC were inseparable at the first half, giving the fans present at the stadium an all the more exciting game as they anticipate which of these two teams will draw first blood. Ceres FC went on to take the lead at the beginning of the second half, but Delimondo-Laro FC was able to equalize not long enough. Another goal scored by Ceres broke the lead but it was not for long as Delimondo-Laro FC was able to bounce back, scoring another goal from the penalty area and then eventually scoring another one to seal off their come from behind win. “We pushed a bit more, then they got the lead then we pushed again to pressure them after they got the lead again, we kept on pushing. I think our game tonight was more entertaining in the second half compared to the first one,” says Joaco Canas at the post-match interview For the last batch of fixtures of match day 2; Ghana FC lived up to their statement from opening day that they will give each team a run for their money as they led against Stallions FC at the end of the first half. However, Stallions tried to make a comeback at the start of the second half only to fall short against the league runner-ups. “It was a very intense game, Stallions is one of the professional teams in the Philippines and they even started training before the season began, they prepared really well. Playing against them, you know, it’s really going to be tough. Our game plan today was to play 3 defenders, 2 midfielders and one attacker, first half, we scored the only one which we tried to hold down to the 1 up until halftime and then we got another goal at the start of the second half, which is really a good goal. Then when we conceded a goal, we started panicking especially when we conceded a penalty, good thing our goalie saved it, and then less than two minutes later, another penalty which our goalie saved again. We have to give all the glory to our goalkeeper for saving those two penalties.” Coach Ayi Bimbo narrates “It was so hard, really wasn’t easy. 2 players down and our Coach is out. It’s very frustrating but we came together, we played together as a team and focused at the game, played how it is.” Sam Yakubu, who scored the winning goal added. Deportivo Matu, on the other hand, lived up to extend their winning streak as they trounce the Futbol Fanatics with a clean sheet; 5-0. “Great feeling, obviously, especially being here, great people, a lot of people supporting us. It started off really rough. First half, I think we manage to have a lot of composure when Nico starting, obviously and we managed to keep the ball quite well, we managed to keep them out of our 6 meters because it is the most important thing for us – starting off and then we capitalized it on the second half so we’re quite satisfied with that.” Coach Chris Johnson says after the game.   Complete Game Results are as follows: Youth Division [U9]: FFast vs. Loyola (0-1) BSC vs. FFast (2-0) G8 vs. FFast (1-1) Kaya vs. FFast (5-0) Sugod vs. G8 (0-8) Kaya vs. Ceres (2-0) Sugod vs. Loyola (0-0) BSC vs. Socceroo (0-0)   Youth Division [U13]: Loyola vs. Super Fanatics (0-1) BSC vs. Futbol Funatics (3-0) Kaya vs. Fanatics (5-0) Soccerro vs. G8 (0-1) Kaya vs. Ceres (2-0) Socceroo vs. Loyola (0-0) G8 vs. Fanatics (1-0) BSC vs. Ceres (2-0)   Youth Division [U11]: Loyola vs. FFast (0-1) BSC vs. Kaya (0-0) G8 vs. FFast (0-0) Kaya A vs. Kaya B (2-0) Socceroo vs. G8 (0-0) Sugod vs. Kaya (0-1) Loyola vs. Ceres (2-1) BSC vs. Sugod (0-1)   Youth division [U15]: Loyola vs. Futbol Funatics (0-0) Kaya vs. Futbol Funatics (2-2) Voltes vs. Futbol Funatics (0-1) Kaya A vs. Kaya B (1-4) Sugod vs. BSC (3-0) Kaya vs. G8 (6-1) BSC vs. Loyola (0-3) BSC vs. G8 (2-1)   Seniors Division: BSC vs. Real Amigos (3-2) Tondo FC vs. H&J All Stars (3-1) Delimondo-Laro FC vs. Ceres FC (3-2) Super Eagles vs. Superbad (8-0) Ghana FC vs Stallions FC (3-1) Deportivo Matu vs Futbol Funatics (5-0).....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 11th, 2019

Old School Power Rankings 2018-19: Weeks 15-16

By Scott Wraight, NBA.com It almost happened. The King almost surrendered the throne and his crown. But thanks to an impressive performance, the kingdom avoids disarray -- for now. Over the past month or so, it's becoming clear that we have a slight separation of powers, with the Big Three putting some distance between themselves and the field. But that could change depending on how a certain big man responds to his new surroundings in Toronto. And now that he's back and healthy, that gritty guard in Houston could quickly ascend the ranks. - NOTE: Statistics are through games of Feb. 8 (PHL time) - Any player who turns 32 during regular season can be added to rankings. - Check out previous rankings. 1. LeBron James (34), Los Angeles Lakers Previous rank: 1 Latest stats: 3 games, 23.3 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 10.0 apg Season stats: 27.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 7.4 apg James must have sensed he was about to lose his spot at the top of the mountain, as he quickly responded with an impressive triple-double against the Celtics (we'll overlook the 1-for-5 from the free-throw line). The King hasn't shown much rust since returning from a long-term groin injury, but others have elevated their game. 2. LaMarcus Aldridge (33), San Antonio Spurs Previous rank: 2 Latest stats: 7 games, 24.4 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 2.6 apg Season stats: 21.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.5 apg If not for James' triple-double on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), Aldridge would've claimed the throne. That's what happens when you grab double-doubles in five of the last seven, and go for 30-9 and 22-9 in the other two. In fact, over his last 10 games, he's only had one subpar performance (13 points and five rebounds on Jan. 24, PHL time). 3. Lou Williams (32), LA Clippers Previous rank: 3 Latest stats: 8 games, 23.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.9 apg Season stats: 19.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.2 apg We didn't forget. Williams started the stint with his first career triple-double. If that wasn't enough, he poured in a career-high 39 four games later. If that wasn't enough, he added 31 two games after that. Despite closing out the period with a relative stinker (10 points in 17 minutes), Williams is averaging 24.5 in February after 20.4 in January. 4. Marc Gasol (34), Toronto Raptors Previous rank: 5 Latest stats: 6 games, 18.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.7 apg Season stats: 15.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 4.7 apg It was another mixed bag for Gasol, who managed two games of 24 or more, two games of 18-19 points and two games between 8-11 points. We fully expect Gasol to step up now that he's playing on a team in the Raptors with serious title aspirations, as he should be able to integrate nicely with both the offense and defense. 5. Rudy Gay (32), San Antonio Spurs Previous rank: 8 Latest stats: 8 games, 16.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.1 apg Season stats: 14.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.5 apg Shooting 50.5 from the field and 52.2 from beyond the arc, Gay turned in six games of 15 or more points. He's now managed to score in double figures in 12 straight while shooting better than 50 percent in eight of those contests. No wonder he's shooting a career-best 52.2 percent from the field. 6. J.J. Redick (34), Philadelphia 76ers Previous rank: 4 Latest stats: 3 games, 16.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 2.7 apg Season stats: 18.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.8 apg A small sample size is the reason for Redick's slip, as he failed to make any big impressions in his three games. He did, however, shoot 42.3 from deep (11-for-26) while scoring 13 or more in all three. But he'll need to pocket more 20-point games if he hopes to climb back to where he was. 7. Kyle Lowry (32), Toronto Raptors Previous rank: 6 Latest stats: 5 games, 14.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 8.4 apg Season stats: 14.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 9.3 apg In three wins, Lowry averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 assists. In two losses, he averaged 9.5 points and 7.0 assists. But the shooting remains a big issue. Lowry's 40.6 FG% is his lowest since 2012-13 (40.1) and his 32.5 3PT% is his lowest since '09-10 (27.2). On a positive, Lowry's 9.3 assists per game easily rise to a career-best mark. 8. Jeff Green (32), Washington Wizards Previous rank: Just missed Latest stats: 7 games, 19.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.1 apg Season stats: 12.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.9 apg Shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 42.3 from three-point range, Green went for 20 or more points in five of seven games, including four straight -- his longest such stretch all season. Green's stellar run has been boosted by increased playing time; he's averaging 35.7 minutes in three February games after averaging 30.5 minutes in 14 January games. 9. Chris Paul (33), Houston Rockets Previous rank: NA Latest stats: 5 games, 15.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 7.2 apg Season stats: 15.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 7.9 apg Paul finally returned to action Jan. 27 (Jan. 28, PHl time) after missing 17 games with a hamstring injury. He's managed to turn in five straight double-figure scoring games to go along with six or more assists in four of the games. There's a little rust, but we like what we see, especially the 2.4 steals and 47.2 FG% during the span. 10.  Al Horford (32), Boston Celtics Previous rank: 10 Latest stats: 7 games, 14.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 5.1 apg Season stats: 12.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.8 apg Horford started the stint on fire, turning in back-to-back double-doubles for the first time this season. Yes, you read that right. In addition to the double-doubles, he shot 60.3 percent from the field and 2.3 blocks, including a season-best six blocks in last Monday's win over the Nets. Just missed the cut: Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Trevor Ariza, Marco Belinelli The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 10th, 2019