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PBA: TNT knows it will doubly hard as they face San Miguel on Saturday

For the TNT KaTropa, sporting a 6-2 record is not enough if they want to hold and clinch one of the top two spots in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup playoff race. And if they want to get win #7, they will have to go through a very tough opponent in defending champions San Miguel on Saturday, in their first face-off since the Finals last year, where they lost in six games. Both coming off losses, the two teams will obviously have a chip on their shoulder, but San Miguel will be more motivated, as they aim for a third to sixth spot, holding a 3-4 record. As Roger Pogoy and Terrence Romeo said, their goal is to make the top two in order to enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. However, with their matchup Saturday, it may just have to wait for a game longer. "It all depends on the next three games of course but we really need to focus still on the next one. San Miguel, they lost earlier 'no? Which makes it doubly-hard to play them. But that's a challenge I think for both teams, having to play coming from losses," the former FEU coach said after the game. Even though they were ahead by as much as 12 in the first half, the KaTropa ultimately lost after the Hotshots blew the game wide open in the fourth, leading by as much as 24 points. Racela offered to share his take on the game, and it was not positive. "Actually the whole game hindi maganda. Even when we were leading in the first half hindi rin naman maganda tinatakbo namin. We just felt that the energy was down today, that's why." __   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 13th, 2018

PBA: Energetic Standhardinger runs away with Player of the Week honors

Tireless San Miguel Beer rookie big man Christian Standhardinger secured his first Cignal-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week following his impressive conference debut in the 2018 Governors’ Cup against NLEX. Just a few hours after landing in Manila following his stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the Jakarta Asian Games, the 6-foot-8 Standhardinger suited up the moment he arrived at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. His presence no doubt energized a San Miguel side that missed the services of four-time league Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo. The Cebuano slotman came in with a protective boot due to a right shin fracture he sustained in the Commissioner’s Cup. But the Beermen hardly needed the services of the SMB star center as Standhardinger pumped in a PBA career-high 36 points, to go along with 11 rebounds as the Beermen clobbered the NLEX Road Warriors, 125-112 on Saturday. The hard-banging Standhardinger showed no signs of fatigue though he was just a day removed from registering 27 points and 13 rebounds for Gilas in its 54-point rout of Syria to finish fifth place in the Asian Games. Instead, the former Nebraska and Hawaii standout came out with a lot of energy, making his first six attempts on the way to finishing 14-of-17 from the field in close to 28 minuets of action. Standhardinger won the weekly citation after beating Ginebra forward Japet Aguilar, Magnolia guard Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon and Rome dela Rosa, Phoenix forward Jason Perkins, TNT’s Jayson Castro and NLEX’s Ken Ighalo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 5th, 2018

Defending champion Alexander Zverev reaches Citi Open final

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defending champion Alexander Zverev has reached the final at the Citi Open. The No. 1-seeded Zverev defeated 10th-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals Saturday. Sixteenth-seeded Andrey Rublev beat unseeded Denis Kudla 6-1, 6-4 in one quarterfinal and will face Alex de Minaur in the other semifinal Saturday night. De Minaur reached the semis when former No. 1 Andy Murray withdrew from the hard-court U.S. Open tuneup, citing fatigue. Zheng Saisai beat Allie Kick 6-3, 6-1 in the women's quarterfinals, advancing to face seventh-seeded Donna Vekic in one semifinal Saturday night. Svetlana Kuznetsova faces Andrea Petkovic in the other semifinal Saturday. Rain throughout the week forced de Minaur and Saisai to play two matches Saturday. Murray, a three-time major champion coming back from hip surgery, finished his most recent match at 3 a.m. Friday and decided to withdraw rather than play again so soon afterward......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2018

Defending champ Zverev edges Nishikori in DC QF; Murray out

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defending champion Alexander Zverev returned to the Citi Open semifinals by coming back for a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 7 seed Kei Nishikori in a rain-interrupted match Friday. The No. 1-seeded Zverev, who beat his older brother, Mischa, in the third round, also eliminated 2015 Washington champion Nishikori at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open a year ago en route to the title. Germany's Zverev, 21, improved to 14-2 in his four appearances at the Citi Open. On Saturday, he'll face 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece. The No. 10 seed Tsitsipas beat No. 3 David Goffin 6-3, 6-4. Tsitsipas is coming off his first run to the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament, last month at Wimbledon. On the other half of the draw, three-time major champion Andy Murray pulled out of his quarterfinal after winning a trio of three-setters and lamenting a schedule that had him start his latest victory at midnight. In the women's quarterfinals, Andrea Petkovic got past No. 6 seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (8). Murray cited fatigue when he withdrew Friday, hours before he was supposed to face 19-year-old Alex de Minaur, who was given a walkover into the semifinals. The last quarterfinal was No. 16 Andrey Rublev of Russia against unseeded Denis Kudla, who is from nearby Arlington, Virginia. Murray's third-round victory over Marius Copil ended just past 3 a.m. on Friday. Afterward, Murray told a small group of reporters that he "potentially" could withdrew from the tournament. He also announced Friday that he was going to skip next week's Toronto Masters. Murray is working his way back into form after having surgery on his right hip and being sidelined for 11 months......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 4th, 2018

PBA: Balkman s birthday celebration is postponed for now

Renaldo Balkman has never beaten Alaska until now. As the defending champion Beermen rolled past the Aces Saturday to start the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals, Balkman finally had his breakthrough win. But none of that is important now as Renaldo has some bigger things to look forward to in his comeback PBA stint. More than anything, Balkman wants to win the title he never got five years ago. "Tonight, we won. We’re not looking to the past. We’re looking to the future. We got two more left," Balkman said. "Back in the gym tomorrow and practice, working hard for Game 2 on Monday," he added. Saturday is doubly special for Balk as he celebrated his 34th birthday. He wished that a championship came as a guft but he'll settle for one win for now. "It's always good when you get the win and celebrate your birthday at the same time. I wish it was a championship that we won on my birthday. But we got a long series left. We got two more left. Next game on Monday," he said. The celebration will be postponed as well as Balkman is looking forward to rest up and prepare for the semis grind again. "We just won a game, go back home, get some rest, and get back on Monday. I’m not young anymore so I’ll get my rest," he said. "I’ll save my celebration later this year when I get a couple days off, when I’m not playing basketball. What counts right now is winning a championship. Everybody says happy birthday to me, great win for us and it’s a great day for me," Balkman added.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

Anderson tops Isner 26-24 at Wimbledon; other SF suspended

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — To say that Kevin Anderson won this interminable Wimbledon semifinal, and that John Isner lost it, didn't really seem fair. To Anderson, anyway. They had played on and on, through 6 1/2 hours of ho-hum hold after ho-hum hold, during the second-longest match in the history of a tournament that began in 1877, all the way until the never-ending serving marathon did, finally, end at 26-24 in the fifth set Friday, with Anderson claiming the most important of the 569 points — the last. So when Anderson left Centre Court, well aware that his 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 victory earned him the chance to win his first Grand Slam title at age 32, the South African said: "At the end, you feel like this is a draw between the two of us." He continued: "John's such a great guy, and I really feel for him, because if I'd been on the opposite side, I don't know how you can take that, playing for so long and coming up short." Only one match at Wimbledon ever lasted longer: Isner's 2010 first-round victory over Nicolas Mahut, the longest match in tennis history. It went more than 11 hours over three days and finished 70-68 in the fifth on Court 18, which now bears a plaque commemorating it. Friday's contest lasted so long, the day's second semifinal didn't finish. Novak Djokovic was leading Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) in a compelling showdown filled with entertaining points that was suspended as soon as the third set concluded at just past 11 p.m., the curfew at the All England Club. Some people in the stands booed the decision to halt the match after a fantastic tiebreaker in which Nadal wasted three set points at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7. Djokovic cashed in on his second when Nadal's backhand found the net after an 18-stroke exchange. Because Nadal and Djokovic didn't begin playing until after 8 p.m., the retractable roof above the main stadium was shut between the matches and the arena's artificial lights were turned on. Now they'll come back Saturday to figure out who will face Anderson in the final, resuming at 1 p.m. local time, under the roof. The women's final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will then follow. That creates an unusual situation: Instead of a standard 2 p.m. start, Williams and Kerber won't know exactly when their match will begin. Anderson will certainly appreciate the chance to put his feet up ahead of Sunday's final, while Nadal and Djokovic — who have a combined 29 Grand Slam titles between them, five at Wimbledon — push each other some more. Anderson's fifth set alone lasted nearly 3 hours as his semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill. "He stayed the course incredibly well," said the No. 9 seed Isner, a 33-year-old American playing in his first major semifinal. "Just disappointed to lose. I was pretty close to making a Grand Slam final and it didn't happen." Anderson finally earned the must-have, go-ahead service break with the help of a point in which the right-hander tumbled to his backside, scrambled back to his feet and hit a shot lefty. "That definitely brings a smile to my face," said Anderson, the runner-up to Nadal at last year's U.S. Open. "At that stage, you're just trying to fight in every single moment, and I was like, 'Just get up!'" The No. 8 seed Anderson eliminated eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a 13-11 fifth set in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Between that and the energy-sapper against Isner, it's hard to imagine how Anderson will have much left for his second Slam final. Wimbledon doesn't use tiebreakers in the fifth set for men, or third set for women, so there's nothing to prevent a match from continuing ad infinitum. Both Isner and Anderson said they'd like to see that change. At one point in the fifth set, a spectator shouted, "Come on, guys! We want to see Rafa!" The 6-foot-8 Anderson and 6-10 Isner go way back, to their college days, Isner at Georgia, Anderson at Illinois. In the pros, Isner had won eight of 11 previous matchups. But this one was as close as can be. There wasn't a whole lot of intrigue, or momentum shifts. The serving, though, was something else. Isner pounded his at up to 142 mph; Anderson reached 136 mph. They combined for 102 aces: 53 by Isner, 49 by Anderson. "The effort they both put in and the performance and the guts, the way they competed — a lot to be proud of," said Justin Gimelstob, one of Isner's coaches. Both failed to seize early opportunities. Isner wasted a set point in the opener. Anderson served for the third at 5-3, got broken, and then had a pair of set points in that tiebreaker, double-faulting one away. By the latter stages, with break chances so rare, murmurs would spread through the Centre Court stands whenever a game's returner got to love-15 or love-30. Could we be about to see the sixth and last break of a match that would end up with 90 holds? Repeatedly, the answer was, of course, "No," even when Anderson held break points at 7-all, 10-all and 17-all. The 10-all game ended with Isner hitting a forehand passing winner on the run to hold, then letting his momentum carry him directly to his sideline chair, where he plopped himself down. By the end, he was looking exhausted, leaning over to rest a hand on a knee between points. "I feel pretty terrible," Isner said afterward. "My left heel is killing me and I have an awful blister on my right foot." He never got a break point in the fifth set. Anderson finally came through on his sixth for a 25-24 lead, when Isner wearily put a backhand into the net. Then Anderson served out the victory, with Isner sailing a forehand wide on match point. Soon, they were meeting for an embrace......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

PBA: Magnolia beats SMB but Hotshots still stuck with 7th seed

At least the Hotshots are on a winning streak heading into the playoffs. Magnolia beat defending champion San Miguel Saturday at the Big Dome, 101-97, but the Hotshots are still stuck with the no. 7 seed in the 2018 PBA Commissioner' Cup. In order to avoid a playoff disadvantage, Magnolia needed to win by at least 14 points. They were 10 points short. Thus, Magnolia (6-5) will have Alaska (8-3) for the quarterfinals starting Monday with the Aces holding a twice-to-beat advantage. The Beermen (6-5) are relegated to the no. 6 seed and will face no. 3 TNT (8-3) in a best-of-3 quarterfinals.  SMB-TNT of course, is a rematch from the 2017 Finals. "Very happy pa rin ako because it affords us momentum going to the playoffs," head coach Chito Victolero said. "Pag nanalo ka naman laging masaya eh. Di mo naman pwedeng sabihin na nanalo kami, di pa kami masaya," he added. Magnolia recovered from an early 11-point deficit to frustrate the champs. The Hotshots took an eight-point lead in the middle of the fourth, which was enough of a cushion to hold on for the win in the end. Wayne Chism led the way with 21 points as he moves to 2-0 in his short Magnolia stint so far. Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang added 14 points each for the Hotshots. San Miguel got 31 points from Renaldo Balkman but it was not enough.   The Scores: Magnolia (101): Chism 21, Lee 14, Sangalang 14, Barroca 11, Herndon 10, Jalalon 9, Melton 8, Brondial 5, Dela Rosa 4, Simon 3, Gamalinda 2, Reavis 0, Ramos 0 San Miguel (97): Balkman 31, Fajardo 18, Santos 13, Lassiter 12, Ross 9, Cabagnot 9, Nabong 5, Rosser 0, Heruela 0 Quarter scores: 29-27, 45-44, 78-76, 101-97   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2018

PBA: Magnolia takes bittersweet win vs. SMB to the playoffs

Magnolia just beat defending champion San Miguel Beer and yet the Hotshots are stuck as the no. 7 seed in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup Cup. It was quite a bittersweet Saturday for Magnolia. However, the sweetness of the win should overcome the bitterness of being a no. 7 seed as the Hotshots just did beat the reigning champions. Head coach Chito Victolero will take that as he now turns to prepare his team for a quarterfinal series against Alaska where the Aces are basically already up 1-0 in a best-of-3 series. "Very happy pa rin ako because it affords us momentum going to the playoffs," Victolero said. "Pag nanalo ka naman laging masaya eh. Di mo naman pwedeng sabihin na nanalo kami, di pa kami masaya," he added. Against the no. 2 Aces, Victolero says the Hotshots will just have to continue with their improving effort as they hope to avoid elimination. A two-game winning streak going to the playoffs should help with their confidence a little bit. "Against Alaska. They’re the No. 2 team. Obviously we’re the underdog. We just have to prepare hard. Good thing we have two days to prepare. Our game’s on Tuesday," Victlero said. "I think it’s going to be a hard game for us. But we will try to give our best effort, our best game sa laro na yon," he added.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2018

PBA: Mission accomplished for San Miguel Beer

Defending champion San Miguel Beer had a pretty challenging conference so far so despite taking a disappointing loss to Magnolia to end the elimination round, head coach Leo Austria is still fortunate. For one, the Beermen are in a best-of-3 series. Following a nightmare 0-3 start, San Miguel avoiding a playoff disadvantage is a win in the eyes of Austria. "Parang unfortunate to fortunate dahil na-achieve pa rin namin yung mission namin to get in the best of 3. Parang nagpalit lang ng kalaban," coach Leo said. San Miguel was all but locked in a showdown with Meralco but after the dust settled Saturday, the Beermen will have an early Finals rematch against rival TNT starting Monday. That should be good. "It will be hard considering every series of San Miguel against TNT, we always beat them eh. I'm sure they're thinking differently because they know they have to redeem themselves," Austria said of the KaTropa. But San Miguel finding its way to a best-of-3 series is the huge win for the champs. Following a 0-3 start, finishing in the top-6 is a mission accomplished. "That's what I told the team, guys mission accomplished because from 0-3, we were able to get into the best-of-3. Kung swerte siguro naka-tie pa kami sa 2-4. Masaya na rin kami na umabot kami dito," Austria said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2018

PBA: Beermen move to 5th spot, stop Road Warriors

San Miguel Beer sustained its resurgence after turning back a hard-fighting NLEX side, 125-114, in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup Saturday night at Calasiao Sports Complex in Pangasinan. June Mar Fajardo, Renaldo Balkman and Marcio Lassiter did the heavy lifting as they combined for 81 points for the Beermen. Fajardo, the reigning four-time MVP, posted 30 points and 13 rebounds, Balkman collected 25 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and four steals while Lassiter fired 26 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the 3-point line. Alex Cabagnot added 17 points, including back-to-back baskets to slam the door shut on the Road Warriors. The Beermen, who started the conference at 0-3, has now wo...Keep on reading: PBA: Beermen move to 5th spot, stop Road Warriors.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2018

PBA: Balkman s 43 points lift Beermen to crucial win over TNT

Crucial victory for the reigning champions. San Miguel had superior composure in the end, taking a big 99-94 win over rival TNT Saturday in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup at the MOA Arena. The Beermen got 43 points from import Renaldo Balkman and the defending champions avoided back-to-back defeats, improving to a 4-4 record to maintain its playoff spot. San Miguel actually forced a three-way tie with Magnolia and Globalport for the 5th-7th spots. "This a badly needed win," head coach Leo Austria said. "Thankful kami na we were able to survive TNT. They [Beermen] know the importance of this game," he added. [Related: PBA: Romeo, Lassiter ejected from TNT-SMB game for getting into each other's face] The Beermen opened up a 15-point lead in the first half, 42-27, but that evaporated in the fourth as things got heated between both teams. Terrence Romeo and Marcio Lassiter were ejected in the first half for a pair of technical fouls while Arwind Santos and Anthony Semerad were also thrown out in the fourth for getting flagrant 2 fouls. [Related: PBA: Arwind ejected from SMB-TNT game for flagrant 2] Tied at 83 with 7:36 to go, the Beermen mounted an 11-3 run behind Balkman, taking some much-needed cushion to hold on for the win in the end. Balkman led the way with 43 points, 26 in the first half. He also had 15 rebounds and six blocks. Four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo added 19 points for the Beermen. The KaTropa, who took their second straight loss for a 6-3 record, got 26 points and 18 rebounds from import Joshua Smith.   The Scores: San Miguel (99): Balkman 43, Fajardo 19, Cabagnot 12, Ross 7, Lassiter 7, Santos 7, Pessumal 4, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Lanete 0 TNT (94): Smith 26, Pogoy 13, Trollano 13, Rosario 8, Williams 8, Castro 7, Semerad 6, Reyes 6, Cruz 3, Romeo 2, Garcia 2, Taha 0    Quarter scores: 33-22, 55-46, 79-72, 99-94   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintg8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

PBA: Smith not too worried about latest loss to San Miguel

By virtue of their classic Finals in the Commissioner's Cup last year, San Miguel and TNT will always have some history in the mid-season conference. However, KaTropa import Joshua Smith has moved on from the loss one year ago. After TNT got frustrated by the Beermen once again on Saturday, taking a 94-99 loss, Smith says he's not worried about any playoff implications or whatever. For one, it's not the playoffs. Not yet anyway. "My thing is... everyone wants to talk about the Finals last year. We're not playing them in the Finals, it's the regular season," Smith said. "The playoffs is a whole new ball game. It's regular season, I'm not worried. They won, credit to them," he added. Against the imposing San Miguel frontline, Smith played  just a shade under 45 minutes, his most since returning to TNT a couple of weeks ago. He scored 26 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. The hulking import doesn't mind the workload, saying he'll play heavy minutes if that's what it takes for the KaTropa to pile up wins. "If I have to play 45 minutes for us to win, I will. I'm all about the team. Whatever they need I'll do it," he said. "It's one of those times that I didn't realize it until I got to the locker room and read the stats. I'm just trying whatever I can to help the team out," Smith added. With a two-game slide, TNT has lost control of the no. 1 spot, going down to solo fourth as the elimination round nears its end. Regardless, Smith says the KaTropa's approach remains the same. Right now TNT is moving on to a crucial showdown with sister team Meralco. "We play hard every game and we're trying to win. We'll focus on what we can control," Smith said. "We're on a two-game slide right now we just gotta lock in and bounce back," he added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

Maghihintay lang ako dito [for Marck] -- Kianna Dy

We've heard Marck Espejo's side of the question. Now it's Kianna Dy's turn. It's never easy once a couple goes into a long-distance relationship. May it be due to work, travel, immigration, or any other cause, not being physically there for your special someone will take a lot of courage, determination, and of course, love. The UAAP Season 78 women's volleyball Finals MVP said that she is willing to wait for the five-time UAAP MVP as he makes history by joining Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler, one of the teams of the V1 League, Japan's premier volleyball circuit. "Napag-usapan naman na," Espejo then said about the couple's talk about the move. "Syempre supportive naman siya and alam niya naman na ito talaga yung gusto ko. And alam ko naman na pupuntahan niya ako dun," he added. While we won't be seeing Espejo until a good chunk of 2019 had passed, Dy, who was in the DLSU Lady Spikers' meet-and-greet at the Henry Sy Sr. Hall of the DLSU Taft Campus last Saturday, she said a special message that brought kilig for you and me. "I'm super proud of him, because I think it's the first time that a Filipino is going to play [in the Japanese league], and is considered to be an import. Super proud of him. He's making his mark internationally, so I'll support him and maghihintay lang ako dito," KKD said with a big smile on her face. KKD on Marck Espejo's Japan stint: "I'm super proud." Also: "Maghihintay lang ako dito."@abscbnsports — Philip Martin Matel (@philipptionary) June 9, 2018 Leaving Taft as a three-time champion, Dy also left a message for the incoming and aspiring Lady Spikers, who eventually will be part of the hunt in pursuing the team's 12th title. "Mag-tiyaga lang kayo and you know that it won't be easy. But you have to work hard. Patience lang. Patience sa teammates, patience kay Coach. Makuha nyo rin ang championship." Dy, who came in late due to graduation practice also thanked the hundreds of supporters, who braved the unpleasant weather and came to the campus to show support for their beloved team. KKD gets greeted by rousing greeting from fans who braved terrible weather. Kianna came in late from grad practice. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/bWOz4mCHry — Philip Martin Matel (@philipptionary) June 9, 2018 "Sobrang thankful ako kasi pumunta sila [sa Grand Fans' day'] ang sama pa naman ng weather. Ang lakas ng hangin, ang lakas ng ulan, so nag-effort pa talaga noong pumunta sila dito."   __   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

De Leon strengthens Tornadoes PSL towers

Bea de Leon, the no-nonsense middle blocker from Ateneo, recalls the times she came face to face with towering Jaja Santiago, the dominant National University leader. From across the UAAP net, De Leon said she would jokingly ask the 6-foot-4 Santiago to let her block her for once. "Sige na, Jaja, pa-isa block lang (Come on, Jaja, let me block you one time)," said the 5'11" De Leon. "Now am not gonna be blocking her, thank God, because it's really, really hard." On a rainy Saturday evening in a coffee shop in Manila, the 21-year-old De Leon was presented as the "third tower" of the Foton Tornadoes---joining Santiago and sister Dindin Santiago-Manabat---starting with the Philippin...Keep on reading: De Leon strengthens Tornadoes PSL towers.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 10th, 2018

Boxing: Hometown return for Albert Pagara as he headlines Pinoy Pride 44 in Maasin

ALA Boxing standout Albert Pagara returns to the city where he was born, Maasin, Southern Leyte, to headline Pinoy Pride 44: Laban sa Leyte, Saturday evening at the Maasin City Sports Complex. In his first fight back home in his birthplace, the 24-year old Pagara takes on Ghana’s Laryea Gabriel Odoi for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight Championship. (READ ALSO: Albert Pagara, Laryea Odoi make weight for Pinoy Pride 44) After suffering his first career defeat to former world title contender Cesar Juarez back in 2016, Pagara (29-1, 20 KO) has steadily gotten back to form, picking up three straight wins, including back-to-back early stoppages against Thailand’s Patomsith Pathompothong in Cebu and Mohamed Kambuluta in Bohol. In front of his fellow Maasin natives, Pagara looks to make it three-straight wins via impressive stoppage against Odoi. 28-year old Odoi will make his Philippine boxing debut and is bringing a 20-3-2 professional record with 14 of those wins coming via KO. The native of Acca, Ghana will look to extend his four-fight winning streak against the hard-hitting Pagara in the Laban sa Leyte main event. In the co-main event, another title is up for grabs, as rising Pinoy prospect Jeo Santisima takes on Thailand’s Likit Chan-e for the vacant WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight Championship. One of ALA Boxing’s fast-rising stars, Santisima (15-2, 13 KO) has not tasted defeat since 2014, riding an impressive 13-fight winning streak. What’s more impressive that all but one of those wins on that streak have ended via stoppage. The 22-year old Aroroy, Masbate native will try to make it 14 straight as he tries for his first boxing championship. Thailand’s Chan-e (16-6, 10 KO) on the other hand, will try to snap a two-fight losing skid, with one of those losses coming against Pinoy Juan Miguel Elorde. Also on the card, a couple of ALA Boxing standouts make their return to the ring and try to bounce back from recent losses, as former world title contender Arthur Villanueva (31-3, 17 KO) meets compatriot Renren Tesorio, while Jason Pagara (40-3-1, 25 KO) takes on Indonesian Wellem Reyk.   Full Pinoy Pride 44: Laban sa Leyte Fight Card Albert Pagara vs. Laryea Gabriel Odoi (WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight Title) Jeo Santisima vs. Likit Chan-e (WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight Title) Jason Pagara vs. Wellem Reyk (10 Round Welterweight Bout) Arthur Villanueva vs. Renren Tesoro (10 Round Bantamweight Bout) Melvin Jerusalem vs. Philip Luis Cuerdo (10 Round Light Flyweight Bout) Go Hosaka vs. Holly Quinones (6 Round Lightweight Bout) Joyjoy Formentera vs. Lobert Bayo (6 Round Bantamweight Bout) Jeno Macapobre vs. Carlito Antaran (4 Round Flyweight Bout)   Pinoy Pride 44: Laban sa Leyte takes place at the Maasin City Sports Complex, Maasin, Southern Leyte on Saturday, June 9th. Telecast will be on Sunday, June 10, 6:00 PM on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 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

Thompson, Warriors force inevitable Game 7

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. -- The final game of the Western Conference season will tip on the last Monday in May (Tuesday, PHL time) at the Toyota Center in Houston, as it should. This is the route the GPS mapped out back in October and never had any reason to recalculate from since. Warriors at Rockets in a winner-take-all. Never in doubt, no? A pair of championship-quality teams will go 48 minutes and the previous six games in this series tells us to expect a tense jump ball-to-buzzer affair. With or without Chris Paul. Paul’s inflamed right hamstring is a significant flaw, no question, yet the Rockets do have home-court advantage and will hear a crazed crowd trying to fill the void with noise if as expected Paul misses a second straight game. The Rockets didn’t have their point guard and spiritual leader Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and still sent an early chill through the defending champions on enemy soil, going up 17 after the first quarter and 10 at halftime. Oracle Arena and the Warriors were confused. Then Game 6 flipped suddenly and drastically in the second half, as the Warriors rolled to a 115-86 victory. and here we are. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni: “We got what we want, a seventh game on our home court, now it’s up to us to go get it.” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said: “I feel like we’re the best team in the world.” The Rockets constructed this team specifically to challenge and beat the Warriors. Meanwhile, the Warriors paced themselves through the regular season partly to conserve their attention and energy for Houston, which has Golden State’s attention like no team before in the West playoffs. Both are causing each other irritating problems. The Rockets’ defense with its switching and hand-in-the-face pressure is forcing Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry to work hard for their shots. The Warriors’ ability to thrive even if not all four of their All-Stars are clicking is testing Houston’s limits; such was the case in Game 6 when Thompson, the No. 3 Guy, broke loose for 35 points with nine threes. That’s what makes the Warriors tough to erase: They don’t need to be perfect, and good for them, because they haven’t been in this series, with the exception of their 41-point victory in Game 3. About Thompson: He was locked in, emotionally and physically, popping off screens, catching and shooting, creating space to get good looks and punching the air after big three's. The energy and the shots saved the Warriors from a lackluster and potentially deadly start. Thompson stayed in rhythm most of the night while Curry (29 points) and Durant (23) went through off-and-on cold stretches and afterward joked how he was “born” for this. “Man, that felt good, to be honest,” Thompson said. “I just wanted to play with as much passion as I could. I probably sounded more vocal than I am.” There was a natural link to the last time Thompson was this splashy in a Game 6 elimination game, two summers ago when he dropped 41 on Oklahoma City to trigger a comeback from 3-1 down. Durant was on the wrong side of that performance. “Please don’t go there,” begged Durant, bowing his head. “Next question.” Mindful of what happened right after that series -- the Warriors would blow a 3-1 lead of their own to Cleveland -- Curry said: “I think we both blocked that whole year out of our memory.” Actually, that volcanic performance by Thompson helped convince Durant to leave Oklahoma City, which led to last year’s championship and helped build a solid case for the Warriors to repeat next month. Thompson’s latest piece of work helped awaken the Warriors from being trapped in an extended state of stun, courtesy of how fierce the Rockets came at them right from the start. The Houston lead grew to double digits within minutes and stayed that way through the break. This was further evidence that the Rockets, in this game and actually for the series so far, refuse to concede anything and believe this West title is realistic even with Paul’s status uncertain. “I saw a lot of things that I liked,” said D’Antoni, “and I think we’re in a good position.” Eric Gordon, a strong candidate to win the Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, started in place of Paul and was a concern for the Warriors, drilling deep shots and scoring 19 points. Also, Harden rediscovered his own touch from that distance; he’d missed 22 straight threes in this series but made four and scored 32 points. Houston missed Paul’s composure and steady point guard hand, which could be expected. The Rockets had 22 turnovers, with the Harden-Gordon backcourt combining for 14. The other issue for the Rockets was depth. With Gordon in the starting lineup, D’Antoni was forced to give minutes to Luc Mbah a Moute, still struggling after hurting his shoulder just prior to the playoffs. He wasn’t a factor and neither was the bench. Assuming Paul sits another game, the Rockets will undoubtedly need major scoring and playmaking from Harden, solid shotgun work from Gordon and at least two members of the support group -- Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela -- to break loose in order to make Game 7 interesting. Remember, the Rockets have now gone four straight games without breaking 100 points, and Harden appeared beaten in the fourth quarter Saturday where he went scoreless. The Warriors are also dealing with a missing part, with Andre Iguodala’s inactive streak now at three. They’re crossing fingers whenever Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and/or Nick Young are pressed to play more than 15 minutes. None of them have distinguished themselves since Iguodala suffered a bone bruise on his left knee in Game 3. So that’s the tale of the tape. Between now and tipoff, the Rockets’ therapy staff will work on Paul’s hamstring, hoping for some intervention from the Medical Gods. In the perfect basketball world, Paul and Iguodala would be fit to play; why should the finish of this series be deprived of them, of less than what it should be? Last fall, before training camp, Paul, Harden and Tucker vacationed in the Bahamas for one last moment of chill before preparations for a season of big expectations. Obviously, they talked shop. They set goals and their sights on the Warriors. Tucker asked Paul and Harden: Imagine if we get them on our court for a Game 7. They all nodded and agreed it would be a logical scenario to launch themselves into the NBA Finals. “Obviously we hope to have our starting point guard back,” Tucker said. “If not, we need to be ready.” The Warriors held no such pre-camp huddle -- champions have what others want -- yet knew that once the Rockets added Paul, Houston would be their toughest test since Durant signed up. Warriors vs. Rockets in a single-game elimination is the proper stage, then, to determine who reps the West in the NBA Finals. D’Antoni said: “It should be a great game.” Curry: “It should be fun. This is what you play for, to be in a situation where you’re one win away from going to The Finals. You’ve got to want it.” Truthfully, neither team would rather be in a winner-take-all. Sweeping would be vastly preferred. But the other part about what Curry said is definitely true: Who wants it? Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2018

Alarmed: LeBron, Cavs facing win-or-else Game 6 vs Celtics

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue was answering a question about Boston’s defense on LeBron James during a teleconference when he tripped the security system at his home. A piercing alarm sounded. “Uh-oh,” Lue said Thursday (Friday, PHL time) as he punched in a code to silence the screaming siren. While Lue and his home were clearly safe, and the light-hearted moment passed quickly, it was also symbolic of Cleveland’s urgent situation. The Cavs are in a dangerous spot. Beaten for the third time in Boston in these home-sweet-home Eastern Conference finals, Cleveland will face its second elimination game of the postseason on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Game 6 is for everything. Except, of course, if there’s a Game 7 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in Boston. Fueled by fueled-up Boston fans who must feel some sort of birthright to see their cherished team play in the Finals, the youthful Celtics again showed zero fear or hesitation on their parquet floor on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) during a 96-83 win in Game 5 that was never in any doubt. Despite shooting only 36 percent, the Celtics improved to 10-0 at home in the playoffs as coach Brad Stevens changed his starting lineup, shortened his rotation to seven and released waves of defenders at James, who looked worn down as he attempts to advance to the NBA Finals for the eighth consecutive year. Lue noticed early in Game 5 that James was dragging, but he’s confident the 33-year-old, who was chosen All-NBA first team for a record 12th time, will be ready to save his season and prolong what could be his final games with the Cavs. “I know he’ll be ready to play Game 6, so fatigue won’t be a problem and an issue,” Lue said. “I’m pretty sure a lot of guys are tired during this stretch of the year. If I had to pick one guy and choose one guy to prevail, it would be LeBron. I know he’ll be great come tomorrow.” Stevens started center Aron Baynes for the first time in the series and the move helped slow James, who had been crushing the Celtics when guard Terry Rozier switched on him. Rozier fronted James and got help from Baynes, the 6'10", 254-pound Australian who contributed seven rebounds, six points and attitude. “We’ve got a lot of tough guys on our team,” Stevens said. “But I think they all will tell you Baynes is one of the toughest we’ve all been around.” Now Stevens needs his team to show that same tenacity on the road, where Boston is just 1-6. The Cavs, on the other hand, are counting on James to rebound. He pushed as hard as he could in Game 5, but for one of the only times in what has been a transcendent 13th postseason, he couldn’t summon greatness. He didn’t have his usual burst. He bent at the waist grabbing his shorts, his breathing labored. During timeouts, he wiped sweat and perhaps some frustration from his forehead. James is tired — for good reason. His teammates are draining him. Once again, James, who will play in his 99th game this season Friday, didn’t get nearly enough help from Cleveland’s other starters and Lue didn’t do him any favors, either. James had 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Solid, but sub-par by his standards and he committed six turnovers and missed some makeable layups. James still managed to outscore the rest of Cleveland’s starters — Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, George Hill and J.R. Smith — 26-24. Lue inexplicably left Kyle Korver off the floor for long stretches and following the game he curiously explained that Stevens’ rotation “kind of threw us for a loop.” Asked Thursday (Friday, PHL time) if he wished he had done anything differently, Lue bluntly said: “No.” Thankfully, he’s got James, who has six 40-point games and two buzzer-beaters in these playoffs, to save the season. He’s done it once already this spring, playing through cramps and scoring 45 points in a Game 7 win over Indiana. But he’s played nine games since, and gotten less and less rest as the playoffs have progressed. His body has been forced to handle more than he imagined. James has been down 3-2 in the conference finals before. In 2012, he faced a Game 6 elimination in Boston and scored 45 points with 15 rebounds and five rebounds as Miami won. Now he’s trying to keep this flawed Cavs team alive long enough for another trip to Boston. On Friday (Saturday, PHL time), James will take the floor with his future hanging in the air. His second stint with the Cavs could end this summer if he opts out of his $35.6 million contract for next season and leaves again as a free agent, a decision he can delay again with a win. But before he picks home or Philadelphia or Los Angeles or anywhere else, he’s got at least one more game in Cleveland. Game 6. “No question in my mind that he’ll bounce back,” Lue said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 25th, 2018

PBA: Vic Manuel earns Player of the Week honors

Alaska is off to a flying start in the Honda PBA Commissioner’s Cup, thanks to Vic Manuel’s electrifying plays off the bench. Nicknamed the “Muscleman”, the undersized forward has been providing the much-needed offense and hustle for an Aces side that has won their last three games after dropping their opening match against Rain or Shine. The Aces’ latest victory came on Sunday with the 6-foot-4 Manuel at the forefront.  Manuel fired a PBA career-high 29 points, making 12 of his 19 attempts from the field, while hauling down 12 rebounds to power Alaska to a 110-110 win over TNT in their duel in Antipolo. Manuel’s impressive effort earned him the PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period of May 7-13, edging out Meralco’s Baser Amer and Chris Newsome, Columbian guard Rashawn McCarthy, Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan, Ginebra’s Kevin Ferrer and NLEX big man JR Quinahan. The win, Alaska’s third in four matches, forced a three-way logjam for second to fourth spots with Meralco and TNT, just half a game behind Rain or Shine, which paces the team standings with its 4-1 record. Alaska takes a six-game respite before returning to action on Saturday when it flies to Dumaguete City to face defending champion San Miguel Beer......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 14th, 2018

Brighter days seem to be in store for Knicks, new coach Fizdale

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst There was only one job that made sense for David Fizdale. Despite all the openings for which he interviewed, his pedigree and background -- and, let’s be honest, ambition -- made one gig stand out above the others. And it’s the one he got, with the New York Knicks. New York agreed to a four-year deal with Fizdale last week, a correct pairing of young coach and franchise that is trying to build back up the right way, with an emphasis on defense and conditioning that is right up Fizdale’s alley. No matter the occasional oddity created by working for Jim Dolan, he is an owner who has been willing to spend money when asked, and his team is in the top media market on earth. When you win there, they have parades for you in the Canyon of Heroes, and you almost always wind up in your particular sport’s Hall of Fame. You can’t not take the shot. The Knicks believe they’re in a place where the things Fizdale did in Miami and what he took to Memphis -- his philosophy of culture-building, team-building, discipline and how he connects to players -- were a good fit for where they are as a franchise. Among the 11 candidates the Knicks interviewed for the job, several had more head coaching experience than Fizdale -- whose tenure in Memphis lasted exactly 101 regular season games and six playoff games. But Fizdale checked the most boxes, and at 43, the Knicks are betting he has a lot of growing and improving to do, just as the team does. The Knicks, of course, looked into just why the Grizzlies fired Fizdale so abruptly last season, after just 19 games. Team president Steve Mills and General Manager Scott Perry didn’t just get started in the league last week; they know a lot of people. The chatter around the league was that Memphis chose star center Marc Gasol over Fizdale after the two clashed during the coach’s season-plus there. As I wrote just after Fizdale was fired, the deterioration in their relationship reached the point of no return when Fizdale went after Gasol hard in a film session, basically dismissing the importance of Gasol’s accomplishments overseas, including as a member of the Spanish national team. That that rankled Gasol to no end should have been no surprise to anyone paying attention. The Spanish team’s international triumphs are a point of considerable and understandable pride for both Marc Gasol and his brother, Pau. They helped lead Spain to the greatest era of basketball accomplishment in that country’s history, including a 2006 gold medal at what was then called the FIBA World Championships. Fizdale tried to fix things with Gasol, even flying to Europe after the season to try and make it right. But Gasol was close with majority owner Robert Pera; Fizdale wasn’t. That closed off a potential area of outreach between the two. Gasol had no interest in rapprochement, a stance that Grizzlies players made clear to Fizdale throughout the season. (Caught most in the middle, per league sources, was Grizzlies veteran point guard Mike Conley, Jr., who did and does have strong relationships with both men.) But, importantly, in his discussions with the Knicks, Fizdale took responsibility for his failures with Gasol. He didn’t blame Gasol or anyone else. As one of his chief calling cards is connecting with players, and not finding common ground with Gasol was an L he has to take. “He knew where he messed up and what he’d try to let it never happen again,” said a source who’s spoken with Fizdale since his firing. But, equally importantly, just because Fizdale couldn’t make it work with Gasol doesn’t mean he’s doomed to a similar outcome with All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis. The 22-year-old’s relationship with the Knicks has been scrutinized within an inch of its life the last couple of years. The toxicity level reached under former president Phil Jackson has abated some, but Porzingis and the team still have some navigation to do -- a trip that is blurred as Porzingis continues rehabbing and recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in February. (Porzingis’s brother, Janis, who serves as his agent, politely declined comment on the Fizdale hire via text Saturday, though the Knicks were in contact with Janis Porzingis during the coaching search.) Porzingis’s injury keeps the Knicks in flux, a position it seems they’ve been in most years since the Nixon administration. He is a potential superstar -- “potential” is used quite deliberately here, as “The Unicorn’s” stans on social media have made a very talented offensive player into something that he is not, at least not yet -- a transcendent player. But, assuming Porzingis ultimately makes a full and healthy return, New York has a terrific building block around which to build. And, they have a chance to really get in the game in the summer of 2019. First, they’ll have to resolve Joakim Noah’s status -- he has two years and roughly $38 million left on his current deal. It’s likely the Knicks will stretch him and the only question is whether that happens before or after next season. If it’s the former, the Knicks can spread the remainder of his salary across five seasons; if the latter, three seasons. Nothing is certain, but it would be surprising to see Noah still in New York by the start of camp. Why saddle a new coach with an old problem? That would leave the Knicks with more flexibility going into ’19, which is when Perry has said he’d like New York to be ready to pounce in free agency -- and when the likes of Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard (player option) and Jimmy Butler (player option) can be free agents. But until that bridge year, Fizdale will have to max out the existing roster. Charitably, there’s not a lot there at present that’s proven and has led to much winning anywhere. The Knicks will need to be lucky in next week’s Lottery -- preferably, getting a high enough pick to land one of the elite big men that should be among the top four or five picks in the Draft. If that doesn’t happen, the hope in New York is that until the roster improves, Fizdale can develop the talents of the Knicks’ trio of guards -- Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Tim Hardaway, Jr. -- in which New York has invested Draft and literal treasure the last couple of seasons. (It will help that Fizdale’s relationship with Hardaway, Jr., goes back to when the latter was a kid and his father, the master of the killer crossover, worked in the Heat organization after Tim Hardaway Sr.’s playing days ended.) The additional hope is that Fizdale will get Ntilikina in elite shape while honing his competitive edge, and that a full season under Fizdale will let the Knicks know once and for all if Mudiay can be a significant contributor. Fizdale will also have to adjust his nomenclature. Last week’s story in the New York Daily News correctly identified Fizdale’s consistent referencing “the Miami Way” as shorthand for how he wanted to do things in Memphis alienated Grizzlies people who were -- again, justifiably -- proud of the “Grit-n’Grind” era that produced seven straight playoff appearances before this season’s 22-60 crater. And, he’ll have to be prepared to be, perhaps, the biggest face of the franchise, in a city whose media is dogged and nonplussed and will often go off cockeyed in a crazy, incorrect direction. But its influence should never be underestimated. Fizdale is from Los Angeles, and he has a great way with most. And it didn’t hurt him to work some for ESPN while he was between jobs. But he’ll have to learn the media landscape in New York quickly -- who to befriend, who to be wary of, who he can trust and who he cannot. (Also: I’m sure the Knicks pointed out to him that while he had several causes which were near and dear to him in Memphis, from advocating the removal of Confederate statues in the city to lending his name to other civic causes, he needs to win games in Gotham first.) At base, the Knicks will want to see players throughout the roster held accountable, and charged to compete on a nightly basis. There was not enough of either last season under coach Jeff Hornacek -- who, in fairness, didn’t have all that much time to put his stamp on what was a poor roster. Fizdale will get more time. The Knicks’ roster will look a lot different in two years than it does now. Fizdale will have to be a lot different coach than he was in Memphis, as well. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2018

Draw of another title lights postseason path of Warriors

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2018