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Fajardo, Castro, Romeo top Gilas picks

MANILA, Philippines - Reigning three-time PBA MVP awardee June Mar Fajardo, back-to-back FIBA Asia best point guard winner Jason Castro and reigning PBA scor.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Fajardo, Castro, Romeo, Abueva favored to lead Gilas pool

MANILA, Philippines – Reigning three-time PBA MVP awardee June Mar Fajardo, back-to-back FIBA Asia best point guard winner Jason Castro and reigning PBA scor.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

PBA: No problem with limited exposure

TNT KaTropa star Jayson Castro doesn’t see any problem with coach Nash Racela’s decision to limit the minutes of his veteran players in lieu of the team’s young guns as they look to find the winning formula in their drive towards making the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Venus focused on tennis, not age, in record 73rd Grand Slam

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — One could never accuse Venus Williams of being sensitive about her age. Not the way she keeps making self-deprecating jokes about it at the Australian Open. Case in point: Asked about the Australian great Margaret Court after her third-round win over China's Duan Yingying at Margaret Court Arena on Friday, Williams said she had a letter from the 24-time major winner hung on the wall in her room as a memento. 'It's a congratulations for me being the oldest person in the draw or something like that,' she dead-panned. The 36-year-old Williams fields more than her fair share of questions about her advanced age in the sport, how often she considers retirement, what keeps her motivated after more than two decades on the court. Indeed, she is appearing in her 73rd Grand Slam singles draw — a record for the Open era. And she is the oldest woman in the draw at Melbourne Park, though it should be noted that male players her age, such as Ivo Karlovic and Roger Federer, aren't continuously peppered with the same questions. But rather than show her annoyance, Williams smiles and patiently responds each time, sometimes with a joke. And she's made clear with her play this week that she's still a serious contender — she's reached the fourth round at the Australian Open for the 10th time in her career, and without dropping a set. Against Duan, a player who admitted she'd never seen the seven-time Grand Slam winner play, the 13th-seeded Williams only lost one game. 'Just like every player here, I have put in a ton of work,' Williams said earlier in the week. 'I'm not coming all the way to Australia for kicks and giggles. I'm here as a competitor.' Williams made clear Friday she doesn't want to get dragged into controversies, either. She declined to comment on a remark by a TV commentator during her second-round match when he described her as moving in and charging with what sounded like a 'gorilla' or 'guerrilla' effect. The commentator, Doug Adler, who maintains he said 'guerrilla' — as in, her choice of tactics — but apologized for his poor word choice, was dropped from ESPN's coverage for the rest of the tournament. 'All I can say is it's been a wonderful, wonderful career for me full of positives. That's what I focus on,' said Williams, who hasn't shied away from addressing issues ranging from racism to gender pay equity throughout her career. 'I pay attention and address situations that are noteworthy,' she added, when pressed on the subject. 'That's been my past record, clearly.' What Williams wants to talk about is her tennis. Especially as she continues to win at Melbourne Park, where she's reached the final just once in her career. Her next opponent is another player many years her junior, 26-year-old Mona Barthel, a No. 181-ranked qualifier from Germany. 'It's never enough,' Williams said. 'I've been in the fourth round before. I've tasted it before and it's always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarterfinals. That's what I'm going to go for.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Istomin credits coach (and mother) for upset over Djokovic

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — When Denis Istomin walked off court after upsetting Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open — without a doubt the biggest win of his career — his mother had just two words for him: 'Good job.' There's a reason she's probably more measured than most mothers would be: She doubles as his coach. It's an unusual arrangement on the men's tennis tour, to be sure, but one that works well for the Uzbek player with the neon green eyeglasses and droll sense of humor. He said he wouldn't have it any other way. 'When your family is part of your team, it's great. I was lucky that my mother is coaching me,' he said, before adding with a smile, 'The (other) good thing that I don't need to pay the coach extra, you know. Everything to my mother.' Klaudiya Istomina might be due a raise after her son's stunning 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over Djokovic in the second round on Thursday. Not only was Istomin just 1-33 in his previous matches against top-10 players (the only win coming against David Ferrer at Indian Wells in 2012), he was also ranked a lowly No. 117 after a demoralizing year punctuated by frequent losses. His ranking was so low, in fact, the 30-year-old Istomin had to win a special Asian wild card tournament just to gain entry to the tournament. He was realistic when asked what he would have thought if someone told him before the tournament that he would upset Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champion. 'I would say, 'Are you crazy or what?'' he said, laughing. 'For me, (it) was impossible to think about that I can hold it five sets with Novak, physically and mentally.' But Istomin still had the belief he could at least compete with Djokovic. The 12-time major winner's loss to Sam Querrey in the third round at Wimbledon last year showed that even the top players are sometimes vulnerable. 'I mean, maybe today (Djokovic) wasn't best,' Istomin said. 'But the level of all players is growing. So if you can see everybody's fighting, even for Roger (Federer) or other players, it's not easy to win against, like, the top 20, top 30. And more young players are coming, as well.' Istomin was nearly forced to give up tennis after a serious car accident in Uzbekistan when he was 14. He was in the hospital for three months and the doctors doubted he would be able to play at the elite level. But two and a half years later, Istomin picked up his racket — thanks to the encouragement of his coach (and mother), Klaudiya. 'I mean, it was all (these) years together. We have a good relationship. We understand each other very well,' he said. 'She was always believing in me.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Young guns carry fight for KaTropa as TNT stops Mahindra

With TNT looking more vulnerable than ever, the KaTropa's top picks from the last two PBA Drafts took matters into their own hands to at least right the ship momentarily. The flagship MVP franchise arrested a two-game slide Wednesday as the KaTropa stopped Mahindra, 104-92, in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. TNT picked things up in the second half, outscoring the Floodbuster by 18 points to move out of a five-team logjam for 5th-9th places and join Blackwater for fourth with a 5-4 record. Troy Rosario led the KaTropa in scoring with 18 points to go along with nine rebounds while RR Pogoy had a career-high 16 points on top of four assists and four steals. Mo Tautuaa added 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and one block for TNT. 'I see my players finding ways to play together and deliver a positive outing for us. I know it's a porcess but I'm hoping that it takes us to the right direction,' head coach Nash Racela said. 'The earlier they accept that reality, it'll be better for our team overall,' he added. After putting up an early 10-point lead, TNT actually fell behind in the first half as the Floodbuster immediately turned the game around in the second quarter, carrying a 57-51 cushion at the break. However, Rosario, Pogoy, and Tautuaa waxed hot in the third, nearly matching Mahindra's entire output as the KaTropa regained control. Behind their young guns, TNT veterans Larry Fonacier (11 points), Kris Rosales (11 points), and Jayson Castro (10 points) also finished in double figures. Alex Mallari led the way for the Floodbuster with 19 as Mahindra dropped to 2-6 after a two-game run came to an end.   The scores: TNT 104 - Rosario 18, Pogoy 16, Tautuaa 14, Rosales 11, Fonacier 11, Castro 10, Reyes 7, Rosser 7, De Ocampo 7, Golla 2, Carey 1, Williams 0.  MAHINDRA 92 - Mallari 19, Paniamogan 10, Yee 10, Revilla 8, Deutchman 7, Celda 7, Escoto 6, Salva 6, Arana 6, Galanza 5, Ballesteros 3, Elorde 3, Eriobu 2, Digregorio 0,  Quarterscores: 29-25, 51-57, 82-78, 104-92   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Angelique Kerber getting used to birthdays away from home

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Little did Angelique Kerber know when she turned 18 at home in Bremen, Germany, that the next decade of celebrating her birthday would be spent some 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) away at the Australian Open. Or for that matter, that her first Grand Slam victory would come at Melbourne Park in 2016. The now 29-year-old Kerber was planning a celebratory dinner on Wednesday night, precise location undecided, hours after she beat fellow German Carina Witthoeft 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-2. She was serenaded off Rod Laver Arena to 'Happy Birthday' from the crowd. 'I just remember celebrating my 18th birthday at home, so that was a big party,' Kerber said. 'But the rest, I was always here. It's nice. I'm feeling at home, so it's great to be always in Australia for my birthday.' She wasn't always celebrating on Wednesday, visibly angry with herself at times during the match. 'I was making a lot of mistakes at the important moments,' Kerber said. 'The conditions were, like, also a little bit difficult, particularly with the sun from the one side.' She managed to keep her emotions in check in the first set, but became frustrated at times with Witthoeft's powerful and accurate forehand in the second. In the tiebreaker, she led 3-2 but double-faulted twice — once on either side of the change of ends — and Witthoeft won five straight points to level the match. She dropped her serve to open the third set, but recovered her composure and took a 4-1 lead, saving two break points in the fifth game. At the end of the match, Witthoeft went to the net and gave her fellow German a kiss on each cheek. Kerber next plays Kristyna Pliskova, who beat No. 27 Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4, 7-6 (8). Pliskova's twin sister, Karolina, lost the U.S. Open final to Kerber. Asked if was strange to be playing a twin sister, Kerber said: 'I don't know if it's weird. I mean, the one is right and the other one is left-handed. So this is the difference. 'But I played once against her (Kristyna), I think, few years ago, and I know that she has a great serve, as well ... I will look forward to playing against her.' But with Thursday an off-day, first things first. 'I think we will go for a nice dinner,' she said of her birthday night plans. 'I don't know yet where, but it will be nice. Maybe sit there with my team and friends and just relax a bit.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Hold the panic button, TNT remains confident despite slump

At the end of 2016, TNT was primed to make a run at the top-2 spots in the Philippine Cup. But after two weeks of play in 2017, the KaTropa suddenly find themselves in a crowded pack where one is surely to be eliminated in about a month. Stuck at 4-4, TNT is tied with four other teams for the 5th-9th spots after a loss on Sunday. A win would have put them tied for second with three games to go. 'Lahat ng teams nasa gitna. Lahat may chance na maka-abot sa twice-to-beat, sayang yung opportunity,' rued TNT star guard Jayson Castro after dropping a 77-88 decision to the Hotshots, their second straight for the new year. Despite the unusual situation they are in right now, no panic buttons have been pressed on the part of TNT. With eight teams separated by only one game in ythe standings, things can certainly chance with three games to go in each of their respective schedules. 'Hindi naman [alarming]. From day one, I've been telling them that there has to be changes. I've been calling out their attention, their names, yung mga dapat nilang baguhin. Change doesn't happen overnight. It's not just letting you know of your mistake and the next day, iba na agad,' head coach Nash Racela said. 'Mindset is to still get as much wins because your position after the eliminations, you don't have control over. Sa amin lang, subukan natin ipanalo every game and kung saan tayo malagay, you just have to prepare for the next battle,' he added. Instead of being worried, Castro shares his head coach's sentiment and remains confident of their chances moving forward. 'Confident pa rin kami kasi alam naman namin na ginagawa namin yung mga kailangan namin gawin,' the Blur said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Australian Open quotes: Rafael Nadal says no plans to retire

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal isn't planning to give up tennis anytime soon. Johanna Konta won't take too seriously her dominating win in the Sydney International last Friday. And Sam Stosur, who has never done well at her home Grand Slam tournament, isn't getting too down on herself after her preparation — or lack of it— for Melbourne Park. Following are some thoughts and impressions from players who spoke on Sunday, the day before the start of the Australian Open: ___ RAFAEL NADAL The takeaway: Rafa is not about to call it quits anytime soon. Nadal, a 14-time major winner, is coming off two lengthy injury layoffs last year, including 2 ½ months off after pulling out of the French Open before the third round with left wrist injury and another rest at the end of the season. Just don't ask him if he's ready to pull out a rod and reel, or a 9-iron. 'If I don't believe that I can be competitive, and when I mean competitive, is fighting for the things that I fought for during the last 10 years, I will be probably playing golf or fishing at home,' Nadal said. 'I am being honest ... I am here because I believe ... I can fight for the things that really motivate me.' Given his history with injuries, Nadal was asked if he was playing pain free. 'What do you mean 'pain-free'?' he said. 'I am not injured, no. Pain-free is a long time ago.' ___ JOHANNA KONTA The Sydney-born British player, a surprise semifinalist at Melbourne Park last year, won the Sydney International final against Agnieszka Radwanska last Friday, a victory so dominating that the Polish player, ranked third in the world, said: 'I can't remember playing someone like this on that level, that consistent for the whole match. I couldn't really say that I did something wrong. She was just playing amazing tennis.' Konta said Sunday she's not reading too much into those plaudits. 'Obviously to have beaten a player like Aga, I'm definitely very pleased with the level I played,' Konta said. 'But we all know that it's not a given. It doesn't decide how you will do in the next event. I'm taking it as a positive from the week itself, but I'm looking to, again, work hard here and really try to do the best that I can here.' ___ SAMANTHA STOSUR Competing in her 15th Australian Open, the highest-ranked Australian woman in the draw has never made it past the fourth round at Melbourne Park. Her preparation for her home major wasn't helped with first-round losses at Brisbane and Sydney 'I can't change it, it is what it is,' Stosur said of her early exits. 'I'm not going into my first round freaking out that I haven't had more than two matches. Like I said, I've done everything else that I can. Obviously it would have been really nice to have played more. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in that situation from the first two weeks of the year.' The 18th-seeded Stosur has a tough first-round match against Heather Watson of Britain. ___ SIMONA HALEP The fourth-seeded Halep lost in the first round last year at Melbourne Park. This year she'll have the distinction of opening play on the main Rod Laver Arena on Monday, against American Shelby Rogers. 'I hope is going to be better this year ... it's special to open the tournament on the biggest stadium. I'm not thinking very much at that thing. I just have to go there. I know the opponent pretty well.' Halep beat Rogers in straight sets in the third round at the 2015 U.S. Open in their only previous meeting. ___ TOMMY HAAS The 38-year-old German veteran has said 2017 will be his last year on tour — he's taking over as tournament director at Indian Wells. Haas, who plays Benoit Paire of France in the first round, wants to go out with some dignity after a career of injuries. He has been ranked as high as No. 2, won 15 ATP Tour titles, reached the semifinals of the Australian Open three times and Wimbledon once, and won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. His career has been stalled by injuries since he had shoulder surgery two years ago and right foot surgery in the middle of last year. 'I think it's important to find that right time, or that moment for you when you feel it's over and it's time to do something else,' Haas said Sunday. 'For me it's very important just to be back on tour and back here at the Australian Open. It's been a while since I've played here and I'm excited to get the opportunity to go out on the court one more time and compete.' And to keep playing, hoping that his best is once again around the corner. 'When you are a dreamer, and a lot of us are, you obviously like to play at your best level again, maybe play against some of the top players somewhere on a big stage and play a great matches,' Haas said. 'Maybe get far in a tournament one more time.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

After sending size 17 shoes, Fajardo willing to work with Ethan Kirkness

With local shops usually only serving up to a size 15, June Mar Fajardo sure knows that it's a struggle trying to scoop up shoes that fit his feet here in the Philippines. So when he found out that Ethan Kirkness was also having trouble with the most basic of his basketball needs, the reigning three-time PBA Most Valuable Player came through with not just one, not two, not three, but four pairs of size 17 kicks for the Batang Gilas prospect to use. 'Wala siyang sapatos eh, nagkataon na same size kami. Madami naman akong extra, wala naman susunod sa akin yung kapatid ko maliit naman yung paa. Mabuti mapakinabangan,' Fajardo said on the reason behind his gesture. Kirkness, the 14-year-old FIl-Australian behemoth who already stands at 6'9', is in the country for a six-week training program with Batang Gilas. He received the shoes on Thursday and was on deck Friday to meet the Kraken and watch San Miguel battle Rain or Shine at the MOA Arena. He was already rocking the blue and red pair of Air Force 1s Fajardo sent him. Seeing himself in young Ethan, Fajardo shares the difficulties Kirkness experiences when it comes to shoes, practically the most essential gear a basketball player needs. Before he was able to buy shoes from the websites of American retailers like Eastbay and Footlocker, the Kraken had to rely to the good hearts of several University of Cebu alumni to send him shoes back in college. 'Dati naman wala akong sapatos, nahihirapan din ako maghanap. Yung mga nagbibigay sakin nung nasa college ako, galing States pinapadala ng mga alumni sa UC. Di ko nga tinatapon yun eh, nasa 30 plus na sapatos nasa bahay,' Fajardo shares. And with him having the opportunity to basically do the same for what many are touting as the future of Philippine basketball, June Mar jumped on the opportunity. 'Pinapahalagahan ko talaga yung mga binibigay sakin tapos ngayon, ako yung may chance na magbigay, bakit hindi di ba, may extra naman ako,' he added. Aside from shoes, Fajardo is also willing to work out with Kirkness if and when the teenager decides to relocate to the Philippines. 'Magpapaturo kaming dalawa, sabay na lang kami. Kailangan ko din mag-improve,' the Kraken said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Best day ever: Destanee hits with Serena, her inspiration

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Last week, Destanee Aiava became the first player born this millennium to win a main draw match at a WTA event. Next week, the 16-year-old Australian will be the first player born in the 2000s to play in the main draw at a Grand Slam tournament, thanks to a wild-card entry to the Australian Open. This week, the highlight has been hitting with Serena Williams, the 22-time Grand Slam champion and the inspiration for Aiava's career. Aiava was 5 when she watched one of the Williams' matches on TV, and told her parents that tennis was going to be her career. Her parents took her seriously, and her mother became her learn-as-she-goes coach. On Thursday, the 35-year-old Williams did a promotional appearance for her racket sponsor on Margaret Court Arena, including a hit up against the Melbourne schoolgirl. Asked what it was like to hit with the six-time Australian Open winner, Aiava paused for a while before Williams chimed in with an answer for her: 'Great.' Aiava laughed, admitting she was more nervous meeting Williams than she had been playing in an exhibition tournament earlier in the day. 'It's actually one of the best days of my life,' she said. 'I've had a lot of fun today, getting to hit with Serena. Hopefully there'll be more opportunities like this in future.' Williams is seeded No. 2 at Melbourne Park, where she lost the final last year to Angelique Kerber. She lost the French Open final to Garbine Muguruza before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 major titles. Aiava, who was born on May 10, 2000, and was No. 386 at the start of the season, has already met the long-retired Graf, her prize for winning the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament in Paris in 2012. After her first-round win in Brisbane last week, she lost to two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. So she's getting more comfortable in elite tennis company. The arena where she hit with Williams carries the name of the woman who holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles — Margaret Court won 24 from 1960 to 1973 in a career that spanned the amateur and Open eras. Williams is aiming for 23 when the Australian Open starts Monday and, with her competitive spirit, there's little doubt there's another target for her in the future. For now, though, she's not prepared to mention those milestones. 'I'm not talking about that,' Williams said Thursday, despite some extra urging. 'I said I'm not talking about that, move on.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

Warriors chill Heat with Klay Thompson resting

em>By Janie McCauley, Associated Press /em> OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry had 24 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Kevin Durant added 28 points and the Golden State Warriors picked it up late to beat the Miami Heat 107-95 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) in another victory while hardly at their best. Durant also had eight rebounds and Draymond Green had 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the Warriors' fifth straight win against the Heat and eighth in 10, including three in a row at home. Klay Thompson had the night off for rest after he played through illness the past two games. Coach Steve Kerr said he was worn down. Hassan Whiteside had 28 points and 20 rebounds for the Heat, who were outscored 26-14 in the third quarter after leading 54-53 at halftime. Rookie Patrick McCaw made his first career start in Thompson's place and contributed a key 3-pointer in the third that put the Warriors ahead 67-60. While they finished with 28 assists, that zippy passing game the Warriors have with Thompson on the court wasn't quite as crisp -- though one pretty sequence of several quick touches led to Ian Clark's key triple on a pass from Andre Iguodala with 5:44 to go. Iguodala later dished to Clark again for a layup. Curry hit just 4-of-11 three-pointers as the Warriors shot 11-for-27 from beyond the arc and 45.3 percent overall. The two-time reigning NBA MVP fell short of a fourth straight game with 30 or more points. Golden State, which played its lone road game in 10 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) with a bus trip to nearby Sacramento, again struggled to find an offensive flow while missing everything from layups to open three’s during stretches. Miami lost its third straight game and dropped to 1-4 on this five-game road as coach Erik Spoelstra works to help his team find 'our identity on both ends of the court and doing it more consistently.' Whiteside's alley-oop dunk with 7:15 remaining pulled the Heat within 85-80 and forced a Warriors timeout. Tyler Johnson scored to make it a three-point game before the Warriors closed it out in their typical, impressive fashion. Luke Babbitt returned for Miami after sitting out against the Clippers on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) with an illness, but he was limited in 18 minutes. Zaza Pachulia had scored in double figures in four straight games for the Warriors but had eight points, six rebounds and three assists. strong>QUOTABLE /strong> Kerr was asked about visiting the White House with Donald Trump as President if the Warriors were to win a championship. 'I certainly hope that we have to have that decision to make next year,' he said. 'I'll move on to the next question.' strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Heat: /strong> /em>Whiteside has eight or more rebounds in a career-high and franchise-best 50 straight games. The Heat have held opponents below 50 percent from the field in 33-of-40 games. Udonis Haslem was available but didn't play while dealing with a chest cold. em> strong>Warriors: /strong> /em>Clark notched his eighth game scoring in double figures. Golden State outscored Miami 21-9 on fast-break points in the first half. Since 2014-15, Golden State is 33-2 at home against the Eastern Conference and 5-0 this season. Chicago and Boston are the lone East teams to win at Oracle Arena during that span. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Heat: /strong> /em>At Milwaukee on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) to wrap up this trip after beating the Bucks 96-73 on Nov. 17 (Nov. 18, PHL time). The Warriors visit Miami on Jan. 23 (Jan. 24, PHL time). em> strong>Warriors: /strong> /em> Host Detroit on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) for the middle game of a three-game home stretch vs. Eastern Conference opponents, including Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) matchup against LeBron James and the champion Cavaliers. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 11th, 2017

Nice has only French league title to focus on after cup exit

br /> JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer   PARIS (AP) — French league leader Nice has only the title race to focus on for the rest of the season after going out of the French Cup on Sunday. Nice lost 2-1 away to Lorient, which is last in the first division, despite taking the lead through top scorer Alassane Plea near the end of the first half. Lorient equalized with a fine individual goal from former Arsenal forward Jeremie Aliadiere in the 71st minute, and Algerian midfielder Walid Mesloub's winner shortly after sent Lorient into the fourth round. 'We're frustrated and disappointed because we really wanted to go far in this competition,' Nice defender Maxime Le Marchand said. 'We didn't cope with their attacks so well in the second half and they took advantage. Maybe they wanted it more than us in some ways, even though we had prepared well.' Nice is also out of the League Cup and the Europa League, while its title rivals Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain are still involved in all three domestic competitions and the Champions League. But this defeat could ultimately work to Nice's advantage. The league resumes next weekend, with Nice two points ahead of Monaco and five clear of PSG. 'To stay at the top we have to correct our mistakes and not repeat a performance like this,' Le Marchand said. 'I hope this defeat stings our pride.' Meanwhile, Lyon crushed Montpellier 5-0 with forward Nabil Fekir scoring one and creating two. Lyon's other goals came from top scorer Alexandre Lacazette, center half Mouctar Diakhaby, and two after the break from forward Maxwel Cornet. However, Lyon faces a tough trip to Marseille in the fourth round. Winger Remy Cabella scored his second goal of the game in extra time as Marseille continued its fine form with a 2-1 win against first division rival Toulouse. Marseille is thriving under coach Rudi Garcia and has lost only one of the last seven games. First division Metz lost 2-0 at Lens — which is chasing promotion from the second division — but all other top-tier sides advanced. Brazilian striker Malcom scored a late winner as Bordeaux won 1-0 away to second division Clermont, while Caen, Angers, Saint-Etienne and Rennes beat non-league teams. Defending champion PSG, which routed Bastia 7-0 on Saturday night, has a difficult match away to Rennes in the next round. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

NLEX comes "home" to ambush KaTropa

The answer to NLEX's struggles, at least to the team's horrible five-game losing skid, was found at 'home.' Travelling to the home province of head coach Yeng Guiao, the Road Warriors rode a solid second half to pummel sister team TNT, 110-98, Saturday in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Gym in Angeles, Pampanga. In trouble after the KaTropa erased a 12-point deficit to take a 94-93 lead with 6:13 to go, NLEX went on a 17-4 tear the rest of the way to win only its second game of the new season. The Road Warriors lost their previous five games by double digits before taking care of TNT, improving to 2-5 and leaving idle Mahindra at the bottom of the team standings. After fighting to a stalemate in the first half, NLEX came out firing in the third quarter, leading by as much as 12, 74-62, after an Eric Camson basket. However, in typical TNT fashion, the KaTropa would respond and even take the lead back before the period ended courtesy of a Larry Fonacier trey, 80-78. Carlo Lastimosa showed his scoring prowess by dropping a game-high 22 points for the Road Warriors on 72 percent shooting. Sean Anthony added a double-double and ended up with 13 points and 13 rebounds. TNT lost a golden opportunity to move into solo second with the loss and is now tied with idle Phoenix and Globalport for third place with identical 4-3 cards. Jayson Castro, who is also from Pampanga, once again came off the bench to lead the KaTropa with 17 points. TNT actually got 72 points from its reserves with Mo Tautuaa and Kris Rosales adding 15 points apiece. No TNT starter scored in double figures.   br /> The scores:  NLEX 110 - Lastimosa 22, Anthony 13, Alas 12, Camson 12, Guinto 11, J. Villanueva 7, E. Villanueva 7, Rios 6, Baracael 5, Lanete 4, Taulava 3, Monfort 3, Khobuntin 3, Gotladera 2. TNT 98 - Castro 17, Tautuaa 15, Rosales 15, Fonacier 9, Reyes 7, Rosario 7, De Ocampo 7, Williams 6, Rosser 6, Carey 5, Seigle 4, Golla 0, Pogoy 0, Tamsi 0. Quarters: 24-26, 52-52, 85-81, 110-98 br /> --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017

LeBron, Irving and Love all questionable as Cavs face Bulls

em>By Tom Withers, Associated Press /em> CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James stayed home from shootaround and is one of three Cleveland stars questionable for Wednesday night's (Thursday, PHL time) game against Chicago. James has been fighting a cold but played Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in a win over New Orleans. The team advised him to skip the morning workout to get some extra rest. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are also questionable to face the Bulls. Irving has missed the past two games with a hamstring issue, and Love continues to recover from food poisoning. Coach Tyronn Lue said Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) that Love lost 10 pounds while he was sick. The Cavs have won 13 straight games with James in the lineup. After facing Chicago, the defending NBA champions will leave for a six-game road trip, which will conclude with a Jan. 16 (Jan. 17, PHL time) matchup at Golden State. Chicago's Dwyane Wade is a game-time decision with a swollen left knee. He missed Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) game against Charlotte. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

Gilas comeback for Castro looks to be set

Gilas comeback for Castro looks to be set.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

Castro to rejoin Gilas?

MANILA, Philippines – Asia’s No......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 31st, 2016

Terrence Romeo's extra offseason rest proved to be worth it

After a busy basketball schedule last season, Terrence Romeo treasured his free time before the PBA opened again for a 42nd year. And the extra rest did wonders for Romeo as he looks to be already in mid-season form after Globalport won its Ph.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 25th, 2016

Nash out to defy odds

It won’t be easy for defending UAAP senior men’s basketball champion FEU to climb back to the finals but for departing coach Nash Racela, there’s extra motiv.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 24th, 2016