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Perisic hails ‘dream’ goal as Croatia reach final

Moscow, Russia — Ivan Perisic said his equaliZer that helped Croatia come from behind to beat England 2-1 after extra time and reach the World Cup final was a goal that “he could only dream of” as a child. The Inter Milan winger poked home a cross from Sime Vrsaljko to haul Croatia level midway […].....»»

Category: financeSource: bworldonline bworldonlineJul 11th, 2018

Perisic hails ‘dream’ goal as Croatia reach final

Moscow, Russia — Ivan Perisic said his equaliZer that helped Croatia come from behind to beat England 2-1 after extra time and reach the World Cup final was a goal that “he could only dream of” as a child. The Inter Milan winger poked home a cross from Sime Vrsaljko to haul Croatia level midway […].....»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

Rene Catalan Mirroring Compatriot Eduard Folayang’s Path To World Title Gold

The success of Team Lakay and its contributions to the sport of mixed martial arts in the Philippines is something that has been told, and will be re-told, for a long time. After all, winning four ONE World Titles in one year is a feat that would be hard to topple. However, not all Filipinos who are successful in ONE Championship come from the fabled gym in Benguet.   One of nation’s athletes who has forged his own path is Rene “The Challenger” Catalan.   "Team Lakay has been here for a long time. It's only right to say that they are the top team from the Philippines,” said Catalan, who spearheads Catalan Fighting System in Makati City. “I have nothing but respect for them."   Like Team Lakay, the members of Catalan Fighting System struggled to find their footing in The Home Of Martial Arts at first. But now, each of the members is hitting their stride in their respective weight classes.   For instance, Catalan, an Asian Games wushu gold medalist, went winless in his first three mixed martial arts encounters in ONE. But then, he won his next five bouts and now, he is viewed as a legitimate contender for the ONE Strawweight World Championship, which is currently held by Yosuke Saruta.   Catalan, who is scheduled to face former titleholder Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR on 8 March, is now a stone’s throw away from getting his title shot.   A victory over the Japanese grappler in Yangon, Myanmar could assure him an opportunity to challenge for the gold.   "I see this fight ending by unanimous decision or by knockout," the Filipino quipped.   "I see him as someone blocking my goal of fighting for the World Title, and my goal is to remove him [from] my path."   The 40-year-old slugger, which hails from Iloilo City, is using the rise of Team Lakay — particularly ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang’s — as his main motivation to zoom to the top.   "The likes of Eduard Folayang had to go through many heartbreaks before reaching his current status,” Catalan explained.   “For our team, we also need more experience to reach that level someday. We just need time and determination to reach the level of Team Lakay."   Now, his entire focus is on Naito, knowing well that a win here would be the realization not only of his dream, but his team's goals as well/   "I see this fight ending by unanimous decision or by knockout," Catalan said. "I see him as someone blocking my goal of fighting for the world title; My goal is to remove him in my path."  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2019

Top sports headliners in the year that was

From the FIFA World Cup to the NBA, the PBA to the UAAP and NCAA, the Asian Games to Manny Pacquiao, volleyball to MMA, the past 12 months truly was a great year for Filipino sports fans.   Here are some of the most memorable sports headliners that bannered the year that was.    San Miguel Corporation dominates PBA San Miguel Corporation owned 2018. For the first time in the history of the Asia’s first professional basketball league one company dominated all three conferences of the PBA. The San Miguel Beermen annexed their fourth straight Philippine Cup title against sister team Magnolia last May, while Ginebra rode on undersized do-it-all forward Justin Brownlee to the Commissioner's Cup title at the expense of San Miguel last August. Then it was Magnolia's time to shine in December. The Hotshots dismantled Alaska in six games to complete SMC’s domination of PBA 2018. Outside of basketball, SMC also made its presence felt in volleyball as Petron bagged the Grand Prix, Challenge Cup (beach volleyball) and the All-Filipino Conference in the Philippine Superliga.   Kai Sotto stands tall as Ateneo takes title vs NU Kai Sotto became a household name in 2018 as the 7'1" wunderkind showed off in the UAAP Season 80 juniors' basketball tournament. The eventual Finals MVP was a beast in Game 1 of the Finals against the NU Bullpups, tallying a triple-double of 22 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 blocks in the 86-70 win, the first of its kind since 2003. Ateneo finished the season almost unscathed at 16-1, with their lone loss in Game 2 of the series, a very chippy one to say the least. In Game 3, Sotto came up clutch, scoring the go-ahead basket, 60-58, with about 30 seconds left as Ateneo came away with the 63-58 win to take the title.  SJ Belangel, Joaqui Manuel, Dave Ildefonso and Jason Credo, and coach Joe Silva all appeared in their last games for the Blue Eaglets.   DLSU completes three-peat; NU dethrones Ateneo  The UAAP Season 80 volleyball tournament was filled with lasting memories that will surely be remembered for a long time. Numerous upsets in the eliminations, great games, and much more were the name of the game for the women's tournament. However, a long-time rivalry was rekindled when two-time defending champs De La Salle Lady Spikers met 29-time title holders FEU Lady Tamaraws for all the marbles last May. Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron, and Dawn Macandili all ended their careers on a high note as they swept graduating Bernadeth Pons and the Lady Tamaraws in two straight games to win their third straight title. Graduating libero Macandili was named Finals MVP for the first and final time in her collegiate career.  Behind their magnificent floor defense and some stellar play from Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas, the NU Bulldogs also swept three-time defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles to reclaim a title they last enjoyed in Season 76. Espejo, a five-time UAAP MVP, had an awesome performance for the world's record books, scoring a record-55 points to force the FEU Tamaraws to a do-or-die Final Four. The Blue Eagle legend had played his last, and has since suited up for a semi-pro team in Japan's topflight volleyball league.   Alab fends off Mono Vampire to claim ABL title San Miguel-backed Alab Pilipinas were such a glorious sight to see in the eighth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last March. Coached by perennial fan favorite Jimmy Alapag in his very first season, the trio of Renaldo Balkman, Justin Brownlee, and Local and Finals MVP Bobby Ray Parks to their first title in home soil. Alab faced Thailand-based Mono Vampire, who were led by Mike Singletary, towering Sam Deguara, Fil-Am Jason Brickman and Pinoy Paul Zamar. In the very same day as the coronation of the UAAP volleyball championships, Alab took home the crown in a rousing 102-92 victory in Sta. Rosa, much to the delight of the home crowd. Balkman, the league's Defensive Player of the Year led Alab in scoring with 32, while Brownlee added 24 of his own. Parks added 13 markers. The two imports played in the PBA for the Commissioner's Cup, where Balkman (San Miguel) and Brownlee (Ginebra) would face each other in the Finals.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Warriors send LeBron packing to Los Angeles The Golden St. Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers locked horns in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season after the two teams were pushed to the brink in the Conference Finals. Both teams were down 3-2 and won Game 7 on the road to win their respective conferences, with both teams banking on experience to forge another bout in the championship series. Game 1 was undoubtedly the most exciting game in the series as LeBron James had an epic performance of 51 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  However, JR Smith's blunder at the end of regulation became the lasting image of that game, as he dribbled out the clock with the score tied at 107-all. The defending champions rode the surge and took the opening game, 124-114. Stephen Curry's brillant performance throughout the series was overshadowed by Kevin Durant's dagger in Game 3, a few feet away from the spot where he launched the go-ahead three in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Durant was named as the Bill Russell Finals MVP after norming 28.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the four-game sweep, demolishing the Cavs 108-85 in the series finale last June. It would also be the last game LeBron James had in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform, as he bolted for the Los Angeles Lakers almost a month later.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner) France rules 2018 FIFA World Cup The most-coveted title of the beautiful game returned to France after two decades. The youthful French squad celebrated their conquest soaked in a downpour in Moscow after a 4-2 victory over first-time finalist Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup last July. Teenager Kylian Mbappe stood out in the French team composed of a bunch of 25 and under players. Speed, strength and youth became France’s biggest asset during the quadrennial football spectacle watched by almost 3.5 billion viewers around the world.  The 19-year-old migrant scored one of the four goals in the championship match to become the second teen to score a goal in the Finals after the legendary Pele back in 1958. France defeated Belgium in the semifinal, 1-0, while Croatia outlasted the favored Russians in penalty shootout, 4-3 (2-2). The French team also displayed diversity, with players born of migrant parents including Alphonse Areola, whose parents are both Filipinos working in France.   Pac on top, The Filipino Flash returns The most-celebrated Filipino athlete continued make the headlines this year. Manny Pacquaio stripped Lucas Matthysse of his WBA welterweight world championship belt with a seventh round technical knockout win in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July. Pacquiao split with long-time trainer Freddie Roach during his build up for the Matthysse bout back in April but confirmed their partnership once again for the 40-year old boxer’s title defense against Adrien Broner next year. Nonito Donaire Jr. announced that he would be going back down to super bantamweight after a loss to Carl Frampton in April for the interim WBO Featherweight belt and would be taking part in the World Boxing Super Series' super bantamweight tournament.  Matched up in the quarterfinal round against Ryan Burnett back in November, Donaire scored what many consider an upset, winning via TKO after the Irishman suffered a back injury to snatch the WBA (Super) Bantamweight World Championship.  Up next for Donaire will be WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in the semifinals.           Pinay power in the Asian Games   The Philippines participated in the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia that ran from August 18 to September 2. A total of 272 athletes that participated in 31 sports represented the country in the quadrennial meet with Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers and medalist Margielyn Didal marching as flagbearers in the opening and closing ceremonies, respectively. Rio Olympian Hidilyn Diaz gave the PHI its first gold medal in women’s -53 kg. weightlifting. Five days after Diaz’s victory, the trio of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go accounted for the women’s golf team mint. Saso also bagged the individual gold. In Palembang, Didal rolled her way into winning the women’s street skateboard gold. The celebrated men’s basketball team started out strong after routing Kazakhstan but lost by two-points to China in the group stage. The Gilas Pilipinas squad advanced in the quarterfinals but bowed down to South Korea by nine points eventually settling for a fifth spot in the classification phase after wins over Japan and Syria. The PHI finished with a 4-2-15 gold-silver-bronze haul and landed at 19th spot, three places higher that its 2014 finish in Incheon, South Korea.      Red Lions roar, Blue Eagles soar San Beda University continued its mastery over the NCAA as it annexed its third straight title and 22nd overall. The Red Lions grabbed its 11th crown in 13 years at the expense of Lyceum of the Philippines University. It was one-sided championship series – just like in their Finals meeting last year – with the San Beda ripping the Pirates apart in Game One with LPU playing sans its best player in CJ Perez, who was banned for one game after failing to notify the league of his intention to join the PBA Draft. Perez returned in Game 2 but even his presence didn’t stop the Red Lions from painting the NCAA red once again. In probably one of the most memorable UAAP season in recent years, Ateneo de Manila University won its second straight crown. Ivorian tower and Rookie of the Year 6-foot-11 Ange Kouame made an immediate impact for the Blue Eagles complementing the already stacked Ateneo squad led by Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena. But the glory of Ateneo was overshadowed by the Cinderalla story of the team it vanquished in the Finals. Climbing up from the cellar in the past years, University of the Philippines made history by making it in the Finals for the first time since winning it all in 1986. But before their championship stint, the Fighting Maroons ended a two-decade Final Four drought. UP then shocked twice-to-beat Adamson University with both games decided by game-winners. Ateneo came in the series as the title favorites but overwhelming support from a very hungry UP community and underdogs fans backed the Fighting Maroons. But in the end, it was the Blue Eagles championship experience that prevailed.       Pinoys make wave in MMA Fighters under Team Lakay flexed their muscles in One Championship. Flyweight star Geje Eustaquio opened the year with an interim championship win over former champion Kairat Akhmetov in Manila back in January. Eustaquio then defeated two-time champion Adriano Moraes in Macau last July to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion.  Joshua Pacio earned the ONE Strawweight World Championship last September after a unanimous decision win over two-time champion Japanese Yoshitaka Naito. Kevin Belingon dropped former world title challenger Andrew Leone with a now-famous spinning back kick in April. He followed it up with a dominating win over then-two division world champion Martin Nguyen to capture the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion. Belingon ended the five-year reign and seven-year winning streak of of long-time bantamweight king Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes in November via split decision.  Eduard Folayang outclassed Singaporean contender Amir Khan at ONE: Conquest of Champions in Manila in early December to bag the ONE Lightweight World Championship for the second time in his storied career.  BRAVE Combat Federation Bantamweight World Champion Stephen Loman successfully defended his title twice in 2018.  Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera needed only 64 seconds to knockout hard-hitting Italian challenger Mauro Cerilli in Manila early December to remain the king of the ONE Championship heavyweight kingdom.    Petron, Creamline rule respective club leagues Creamline claimed its breakthrough championship in the Premier Volleyball League by sweeping PayMaya in the Reinforced Conference Finals series last July. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought with the Cool Smashers' victory. Creamline opposite hitter Michele Gumabao was named Miss Globe-Philippines during the Binibining Pilipinas 2018 last March. Gumabao represented the country in the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania last October and won the Miss Social Media and Dream Girl awards while landing a spot in the Top 15.     The Cool Smashers completed a sweep of the PVL’s Season 2 after claiming the Open Conference crown at the expense of Ateneo-Motolite via an emphatic series sweep this month. In the Philippine Superliga, Petron reigned supreme in the Grand Prix after taking down archrival F2 Logistics last May. Petron extended its supremacy in the sands after the tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadethn Pons defeated Dhannylaine Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia of Sta. Lucia in the Challenge Cup final last May. The Cargo Movers got its revenge in the Invitational Cup, toppling the Blaze Spikers in a series sweep last July. Petron wrapped the year with the All-Filipino Conference in its pocket. The Blaze Spikers won its first 14 games before dropping Game 2 of the Finals. Petron swept F2 Logistics in Game 3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

Juventus beats Inter 1-0 to open up 11-point lead in Serie A

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Mario Mandzukic often scores important goals and he did so again as he helped Juventus to a 1-0 win over title rival Inter Milan in the Derby d'Italia on Friday. The imposing Croatia striker headed home in the 66th minute after Inter had missed a couple of golden opportunities as Juventus continued its seemingly unstoppable march to an eighth successive Serie A title. Juventus has an 11-point lead over second-placed Napoli, which hosts lowly Frosinone on Saturday. Third-place Inter is now 14 points behind Juventus. Paulo Dybala had the first chance of the match but headed Cristano Ronaldo's cross over the bar after drifting into the penalty area. Inter had two great chances in quick succession. Mauro Icardi did well to hold the ball up and pick out a good run from an unmarked Roberto Gagliardini, but his scuffed finish came off the inside of the right post. Moments later Icardi and Ivan Perisic both went for a Matteo Politano cross and ended up colliding with each other. Juventus began to take control and Marcelo Brozovic had to desperately slide in to block Rodrigo Bentancur's effort. Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini scored his first goal in two years in last week's 3-0 win at Fiorentina and he almost got another one but he headed the resulting corner narrowly over. Juventus finally broke the deadlock when former Inter midfielder Joao Cancelo put in a delightful cross from the left for Mandzukic — who netted in the World Cup final defeat to France — to nod in at the far post. There was more positive news for Juventus as midfielder Emre Can came on late on for his first appearance for the Bianconeri since Oct. 6, having undergone surgery to have a thyroid nodule removed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 8th, 2018

Atletico, Barcelona, Sevilla power through in Copa

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid was so poor in the first half against fourth-division visitor Sant Andreu that a shock Copa del Rey elimination wasn't a far-fetched possibility on Wednesday. But three goals in the opening 10 minutes of the second period guided Atletico's second-string team to a 4-0 victory at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Barcelona and Sevilla also beat lower division clubs, while Villarreal recorded an 8-0 rout of second tier Almeria with four goals by Cameroon striker Karl Toko-Ekambi. Thomas Lemar scored for Atletico in the 48th minute, Nikola Kalinic in the 53rd, Angel Correa in the 55th and Victor "Vitolo" Machin in the 81st to secure Diego Simeone's team a place in the last 16 following a 5-0 aggregate victory. "We struggled in the first half. We weren't able to play with quick transitions," said Simeone after his 400th Atletico match. "Everything changed in the second half. After the first goal the team played more freely." Atletico was without Diego Costa because of injury, while Antoine Griezmann and several other regular starters were rested by Simeone, who was banned from the bench as he served the second of a three-game suspension following a rant in a Copa match against Sevilla last season. Substitute Lemar went on at halftime and was key for Atletico, opening the scoring with a right-footed shot from outside the area. Kalinic added a header and Correa produced a fine finish with the outside of his right foot. Vitolo's goal from close range came after a pass by Saul Niguez. BARCELONA BOOST Barcelona advanced 5-1 on aggregate after its reserves cruised past third division Cultural Leonesa 4-1 at Camp Nou Stadium. Denis Suarez scored a goal in each half while Munir El Haddadi and Malcom were on target before halftime. Josep Sene netted in the second period for Cultural, the club owned by the Qatari state. Barcelona midfielder Ricard "Riqui" Puig, 19, set up one of Suarez's goals on his debut. "It was a dream come true," Puig said. "I used to come to this stadium when I was three." Malcom went off in the final minutes with an apparent knee injury. TOKO-EKAMBI'S NIGHT Toko-Ekambi became the first Villarreal player to score four goals in a match this century, leading the club to an 11-3 aggregate win. He netted three times in the first half and once in the second. Carlos Bacca scored twice, while Gerard Moreno and Dani Raba added a goal each. TOP-TIER CLASHES In all first-division ties, Girona came from behind to defeat Alaves 2-1 and advance 4-3 on aggregate, while Real Sociedad beat Celta Vigo 2-0 to go through 3-1 overall. Alaves struck first at Montilivi Stadium in Catalonia with an own-goal by Pedro Alcala in the 62nd minute, but the hosts rallied through Alex Granell in the 74th and Cristian "Portu" Portugues in the 79th to reach the last 16 for the first time. Sociedad sunk Celta with two superb goals by Mikel Oyarzabal and Adnan Januzaj. Oyarzabal netted in the 10th with a booming long-range shot into the top corner, and Januzaj scored in the 27th with a curling strike. OTHER RESULTS Sevilla edged third division Villanovense 1-0 to advance following a 0-0 first-leg draw. Andre Silva scored the winner early in the second half, converting the rebound after missing a penalty. Valladolid came from behind to defeat second tier Mallorca 2-1 and progress 4-2 on aggregate......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 6th, 2018

Croatia beats Spain 3-2 to throw open Nations League group

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Defender Tin Jedvaj scored his second goal of the game in injury time to earn Croatia a 3-2 win over Spain on Thursday, a result that left both teams and group rival England still in the running to reach the UEFA Nations League finals. Croatia's win came two months after it was crushed 6-0 by Spain, its worst ever loss, in Seville. Spain is top of League A, Group 4 with six points. England and Croatia have four points before they meet at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. The group winner advances to the Final Four tournament in June. With Croatia needing a victory to keep its hopes alive, the World Cup runner-up pinned Spain in its area in the final moments and Jedvaj scored on the rebound after goalkeeper David de Gea had blocked a shot. Earlier, Andrej Kramaric opened the scoring for the home team in the 54th minute, only for Dani Ceballos to equalize two minutes later. Croatia went back ahead in the 69th when Jedvaj headed in a cross from Luka Modric, but Sergio Ramos leveled for Spain with a penalty eight minutes later after Sime Vrsaljko handled. The team that finishes bottom of the group will be relegated to League B......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2018

Croatia gears up to give heroes welcome to World Cup team

Croatian players celebrate after Croatia's Ivan Perisic scored his side's opening goal during the final match between France and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadi.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJul 17th, 2018

With flags, song, pride, French celebrate unifying victory

By Elaine Ganley, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — It was a victory for all of France and the home crowd did it justice, pouring into Paris' Champs-Elysees Avenue by the tens of thousands to celebrate in an explosion of joy. France's 4-2 win over Croatia in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday marked the second time in 20 years that France has won the World Cup, and came at a time when the people feel needy. "It represents enormous things," said Goffrey Hamsik, dressed in a hat resembling a rooster — the French national symbol — and a shirt with the No. 10 for Kylian Mpappe, the 19-year-old breakout star who hails from the Paris suburb of Bondy. "We've had lots of problems in France these past years," he said, recalling deadly terror attacks. "This is good for the morale ... Here, we are all united. We mix. There is no religion, there is nothing, and that's what feels good." Troublemakers marred some of the festivities at the top of the Champs-Elysees, breaking the window of a major store, throwing bottles, temporary barriers and even a bicycle at riot police as the celebrations wound down close to midnight. Police responded with water cannon and tear gas. BFM-TV reported that the store was pillaged. Earlier, people wrapped in flags and dressed in crazy hats, and one man spotted totally nude except for the Tricolor, marched down the avenue where France displayed its military might a day earlier for Bastille Day. Revelers set off smoke bombs in the national colors — blue, white and red — obscuring Napoleon's triumphal arch. People climbed atop every newspaper kiosk and bus stop in the area to wave flags and lead the crowds below in cheers. The national anthem, the Marseillaise, rang out, cars honked horns and cherry bombs cracks. A young man sprayed a fire extinguisher on the crowd on a late hot afternoon. Hundreds of police in riot gear were discretely lined up on side streets to monitor revelers. Typically, celebrations in France end up with some broken shop windows and other destruction, and Sunday was no exception. Tear gas was lobbed at one point on the Champs-Elysees. About 4,000 police watched over the fan zone — packed to its 90,000 capacity — during the match, then moved to the Champs-Elysees and neighboring streets. As night fell, The Eiffel Tower flashed 1998-2018 to mark France's two World Cup titles. The Arc de Triomph was awash in the national colors, lit with the rooster, the faces of the winning team and the words "Proud to be Blue," or French. The celebrations were spread across the nation. For all the crazy antics — and some revelers who got out of control — a sense of patriotism and unity was almost visceral. Antoine Griezmann, the France striker who scored one of the goal's Sunday, told a news conference two days before the final, televised on BFM TV, that pride in country is in short supply. "We say it so little ... We should be proud to be French," Griezmann said. Mahmoud Bourassi was among those taking a longer-term view and he had some sobering thoughts about France's run to the title and the festivities it has sparked. Bourassi runs a youth center in Bondy — Mbappe's home that was among those scarred by riots in 2005 that exposed the fissures of France that have yet to heal — and he knows the teenage star of the tournament. "All this euphoria and effervescence, it's positive but it's emotional and ephemeral," he said ahead of France's win. Bourassi said sports is a "catalyst to bring people and nations together." But, he added, it must be built on. "What we're seeing is magic, exceptional. But what are we going to do with it tomorrow?" That is a question for President Emmanuel Macron, who was in Moscow celebrating with the team on victory night, and will receive the squad more formally on Monday at the presidential Elysee Palace. Revelers celebrated the moment. "We're happy. It took 20 years ... It's the pride of the nation. It unites everyone. It federates," Frederique Pourquet said as she and her friend left the Champs-Elysees. The win "shows that the French people are consolidated and the work of all France," said Omar Bzi. Hajar Maghnaoui, of Asnieres, north of Paris, said "It's a way to bring the French people together, and also the world." ___ John Leicester in Moscow contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

Vive la France! And a lot of other nations, too

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Antoine Griezmann's father emigrated from Germany, and the France forward's mother is of Portuguese decent. Paul Pogba's parents arrived from Guinea. Kylian Mbappe's dad is from Cameroon, his mom Algerian. Immigrants, sons of immigrants and grandsons of immigrants bonded together with scions of families that have been French for generations, all for the rouge, blanc et bleu. And for only the second time, France is the World Cup champion. About two-thirds of Les Bleus' roster included players with immigrant backgrounds, a mini-United Nations of soccer talent. "That is the France that we love," Griezmann said through a translator after Sunday's 4-2 victory over Croatia ended the most exciting World Cup final in decades. "It's beautiful to see it." Griezmann's free kick was headed in by Mario Manduzkic for the opening own-goal in the 18th minute, and then he converted a penalty kick for a 2-1 lead in the 38th after video review spotted a handball by Ivan Perisic. Mbappe's speed led to the third goal in the 59th . He added a goal of his own in the 65th , at 19 becoming the second-youngest scorer in a World Cup final behind 17-year-old Pele in 1958. Vive la diversite! A day after Bastille Day, the party was on. "The diversity of the squad is in the image of this beautiful country that is France," midfielder Blaise Matuidi, whose parents are from Angola and Congo, said through a translator ahead of the match. France won on a humid night in Russia, with thunderclaps during play and a downpour during the trophy presentation. Quite different from that indelible summer evening at Stade de France in 1998, when fans in the arena and throughout Paris sang "La Marseillaise" until dawn and young teenagers drove cars while their intoxicated parents sat in passenger seats. People called that team "Black, Blanc, Beur," noting how white, black and North African players came together. Zinedine Zidane, a son of Algerians, headed in a pair of first-half corner kicks against heavily favored Brazil. Patrick Vieira, born in Senegal, fed Normand-born Emmanuel Petit for the third in the 3-0 win. This year's team was perhaps even more diverse. Defender Samuel Umtiti was born in Cameroon and backup goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in Zaire. Others descended from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Mococco and Senegal, plus Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. "There may be players who come from different origins, but we do have the same state of mind," Griezmann said. "We all play for the same jersey, the cockerel. For our country, we give everything we have. As soon as you wear the jersey, we do everything for each other." He scored the go-ahead goal after the first video review-created penalty kick in a World Cup final. During a delay of about four minutes that might have unnerved less-composed players. Griezmann told himself to pretend it was a league match. "Carry on and do the same thing as I normally do," he remembered thinking. At 27, he in his prime but in the penumbra of Spanish soccer at Atletico Madrid, toiling in a league that Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate. He led the 2016 European Championship with six goals and tied for second with four at the World Cup, three on penalty kicks, earning the Bronze Ball as third-best player behind Croatia midfielder Luka Modric and Belgium forward Eden Hazard. Griezmann kissed the trophy, knowing his generation will be revered in the same way Zidane, Petit, Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram and Fabien Barthez remain renowned from Calais to Cannes. "From tonight on, I'm sorry for them, but they are going to be different," coach Didier Deschamps said. "Those 23 players will be linked forever, forever. Whatever happens — they might follow different paths, but they will be marked forever and they will be together thanks to this event." Griezmann, man of the match in a World Cup final, will be on posters throughout the republic, asked for endorsements, a mainstay of commercials. He will asked for autographs for the rest of his life. "I'm going to be in the history of French football with my team," Griezmann said. "We don't quite realize it yet. Our children will very proud to have our names.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

All those oh, so nears and more for England at World Cup

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — They sing of alcohol and agony, and of all those oh, so nears. The anguished English now have another line to add to the lyrics of "Three Lions": Football's not coming home. There was no penalty heartache this time, like in the semifinals at the 1990 World Cup or 1996 European Championship. But a 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time stopped England from reaching its first World Cup final since 1966. "It hurts a lot," England striker Harry Kane said. "It's going to hurt for a while." The fans sang of 30 years of hurt in 1996. Two years later, they refreshed it to 32. But the Lightning Seeds, an English musical act, stopped producing updates after that. It's now 52 years and counting. England came very close on Wednesday. For more than an hour, Gareth Southgate's young team led Croatia before the weary, aging opposition sprung back into life at the Luzhniki Stadium. Now, on their way to St. Petersburg for a third-place playoff against Belgium, there are just so many agonizing misses to replay in their heads. Kane. Jesse Lingard. Raheem Sterling. Chances to build on the lead secured by Kieran Trippier's free kick in the fifth minute. While Trippier did Bend it like Beckham for his goal, this generation of England players is far removed from the celebrity-obsessed David Beckham-era that straddled the millennium. They even managed to win a game on penalties, breaking the streak of five tournament shootout losses, in the round of 16. "Wasn't to be this time," British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter amid the latest Brexit turmoil within her government, "but it's been a great journey that's made the country proud." There is a genuine sense of warmth between this squad and its followers. The apathy of just four years ago — when the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium was more than half empty — replaced by a newfound affection for the national team under Southgate. Fans could relate to players like Kane, Trippier and John Stones, who toiled through lower leagues to eventually reach the pinnacle of the game. The coach even became an unlikely fashion icon. "If we have brought joy back home, which I know we have," Southgate said, "that has been worthwhile." Tens of thousands packed into Hyde Park in central London to watch Wednesday's match, roaring in delight and flinging beer in the air when Trippier scored. Thousands more made the journey from England to Russia, packing into the Luzhniki after shunning the group stage. Even after Mario Mandzukic's 109th-minute goal, a young squad was saluted for exceeding expectations with its deep progress in this year's tournament. "They are still maturing and Croatia have some hardened warriors," Southgate said. "They have broken through a number of barriers over the last few weeks. We have made such strides with our supporters." And still they sang , long after the final whistle as midnight approached, about "drinking all your vodka." There are sorrows to drown, but this was not an embarrassment for England. No need to rip up the script that has seen England recover from the humiliation of being denied a place at the 2008 European Championship by Croatia with a coaching blueprint instilled through all age groups winning titles. Champions last year at both the under-17 and under-20 World Cups, collecting the main prize will have to wait at least until 2022. A timepiece at the national team's St. George's Park base has been counting down to the final in Qatar. It was compared to the Doomsday Clock when new leadership took charge at the Football Association. But Southgate has real optimism that his team can hit its peak in the Gulf in four years — from Kane up front to Jordan Pickford in goal. "It's clear to everyone the progress that's been made in terms of the level of performances and the quality of the group," Southgate said. "This is a thoroughly different journey." English soccer has now had its reset moment. The country came to Russia to regain respect. From the ignominy of the failure to win a game at the 2014 World Cup to the meek collapse against Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. "This team has taken us to a place that we never thought we would ever have imagined we would get," Gary Neville, England's assistant coach during the Euro 2016 campaign, said on British broadcaster ITV. "They have taken the nation with them." For all the playfulness in practice with rubber chickens, splashing around with unicorns in a pool and the sense this was a group of friends having fun on an extended summer vacation, there was always a steely, winning mindset. There should be tinges of regret about falling short at a World Cup where defending champion Germany was eliminated in the group stage, and Argentina, Brazil and Spain fell before the semifinals. England does not appear in semifinals very often. Southgate was in the last one 22 years ago. A post-match news conference after the loss to Croatia looked like the last place he wanted to be. "I'm trying to get the balance right," Southgate said, "of recognizing that tonight was a wonderful opportunity for us and you can't guarantee that those opportunities will ever come again." Football will come home in two years when Wembley Stadium stages seven games, including the semifinals and final, at the 2020 European Championship. Southgate has to find a way to get his team one step further than in Russia. Without just coming oh, so near......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

Juventus stays on Serie A title track with wild win at Inter

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Juventus scored two late goals to rescue a 3-2 win over 10-man Inter Milan in a wild Derby d'Italia on Saturday and stay on track for a record-extending seventh straight Serie A title. Juan Cuadrado and Gonzalo Higuain scored in the final four minutes as Juventus moved four points ahead of Napoli, which visits Fiorentina on Sunday in a tense title race. "This is the hunger, pride and thirst for victory that this squad possesses. We will fight to the death to win," Higuain said. After Douglas Costa's early opener for Juventus, Inter equalized after the break with a header from captain Mauro Icardi then went ahead with an own goal from Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli. The victory ended a run of two straight matches in which Juventus dropped points, having drawn with relegation-threatened Crotone and lost to Napoli at home last weekend. Inter remained fifth, one point below the Champions League places. "Inter played well, but got tired in the end, crumbled physically and we took advantage," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "It's another step towards the Scudetto, even if it remains very difficult." Early on, it was all Juventus. Douglas Costa scored with a decisive half-volley, extending the Brazilian's streak of being involved in the last six Juventus goals in Serie A: Two goals and four assists. Inter midfielder Matias Vecino was sent off for a foul on Mario Mandzukic in the 18th. Referee Daniele Orsato originally pulled out a yellow card but changed to red after a video review. Vecino stepped on Mandzukic's ankle and the Croatia international later showed a deep cut. Inter stepped up after the break. Icardi rose above Juve's defense to redirect a free kick into the far corner with a glancing header — his eighth goal in 11 Serie A matches against Juventus. Then in the 65th, Cuadrado couldn't handle Perisic on the left flank and lied down instead to avoid picking up a second yellow card. Perisic then crossed toward Icardi but the ball bounced in off Barzagli. Cuadrado made up for the error by scoring from a tight angle with a shot off Inter defender Milan Skriniar in the 87th. Then Higuain ran past Inter's defense to head in Paulo Dybala's free kick two minutes later to complete the comeback. Allegri was sent off after Higuain's winner for entering the pitch in an attempt to get his players to stop celebrating and refocus for the final minutes. "There were four minutes to go ... I didn't want a repeat of Madrid," Allegri said, referring to the Champions League elimination by Real Madrid. ROMA SHOWS POTENTIAL Displaying the offensive firepower it will need in the Champions League semifinals, 10-man Roma defeated visiting Chievo Verona 4-1 in convincing fashion. Edin Dzeko scored twice, Patrik Schick and Stephan El Shaarawy also found the target, and Roma goalkeeper Alisson saved a penalty. Roma also hit the post twice. Roberto Inglese pulled one back late for Chievo. A similar result on Wednesday would allow the Giallorossi to overturn a 5-2 deficit to Liverpool. "Now we have to recover our physical and mental energy, leave the field on Wednesday knowing we've done all we possibly could," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. "We've proved in the past that we can achieve great results in the Champions League, so we must all believe, that is my slogan." Meanwhile, the victory strengthened Roma's chances of returning to the Champions League next season. Third-placed Roma moved three points ahead of Lazio, which visits Torino on Sunday. Chievo remained two points above the relegation zone. EMPOLI PROMOTED Empoli secured promotion into Serie A after only one season in the second division. Empoli moved 14 points ahead of Parma and Palermo after drawing with Novara 1-1 and was assured of winning Serie B with four rounds remaining. The Tuscan squad is coached by former Roma manager Aurelio Andreazzoli......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

Newly-appointed head coach Roger Gorayeb looked at his line-up heading into UAAP Season 71. A champion mentor of NCAA powerhouse San Sebastian College - Recoletos, Gorayeb had in his hands a gargantuan task of rebuilding Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program. Just a few months before, Ronald Dulay, the mentor before him landed a trio of blue chip recruits who were fresh from a successful stint in the Palarong Pambansa. Angeline "Dzi" Gervacio, Fille Saint Cainglet and Jamenea "Jem" Ferrer just joined the Katipunan-based squad. Gervacio and Cainglet were products of St. Scholastica's College in Manila while Ferrer was a gem from Hope Christian School under girl’s volleyball guru Jerry Yee. Looking at his 15-woman line-up with the season just a few months ahead, Gorayeb knew he needed to do something drastic. The roster just won’t do. Talking to then athletic director Ricky Palou and team manager Tony Boy Liao, the mentor told the team officials that he intended to cut five players from the list. One could just imagine the shock in their faces. “Nakita ko may line-up pero player-playeran lang yung ganoon bang tipo, 15 ata yun. Sabi ko ‘Magtatanggal ako ng lima then magre-recruit ako,’” he said. The three rookies were in. Middle Bea Pascual, Kara Acevedo and libero Steph Gabriel retained their spots. He needed more. “Sa mga tinira kong players, si Kara Acevedo sabi niya, ‘Coach mayroong player ang ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy) na gumraduate naka-exam na rito pasado.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige papuntahin mo,’” said Gorayeb. It was Gretchen Ho. “Sa akin kasi ang talagang nagyaya sa akin si coach Ron Dulay. Si Kara Acevedo teammate ko and she’s been recruited by Ateneo. So one summer wala akong magawa naki-train lang ako noon tapos nagustuhan nila ang laro ko and then fourth year noong graduate na ako I passed the ACET then niyayaya na nila ako,” she said. “Then nagbago ng coach na si Coach Roger and dun niya ako nakita.”   “Pagdating ko ng March (sa Ateneo) wala na akong way para maka-recruit pa. Ang nangyari yung tatlo accepted na kaagad. Si Gretchen tinanong ko sabi ko, ‘ano ba ang laro mo?’ Sabi niya the usual panggitna, tres,” Gorayeb recalled. “So sinubukan ko pero ang laro niya tres hindi quick. Siya panggitna pero hindi quicker na gusto ko saka yung height niya (maliit). Kaya lang si Gretchen takbo ng takbo, mahilig magtatakbo so sabi ko sige pwede na yan. Wala namang player na during that time. So kinuha ko si Gretchen.” Gorayeb just needed just one more. “Ngayon nagkaroon ng STCAA (Southern Tagalog Calabarzon athletic association) eh kulang pa ako ng isa, wala akong panggitna. Ang gitna ko during that time si Bea lang tapos si Gretchen so wala akong pamalit. So naisipan ko may nakita ako sa STCAA,” he said. He spotted a lanky player from Canossa Academy-Lipa, Aillysse Nacachi. “Sabi ko kay Sir Tony pagtyagaan ko na lang ito kahit hindi naman kalakasan at wala naman na rin akong choice na makapili kasi rush ang pagdating ko dyan. Nakiusap lang sila sa akin na magbuo ako ng team kasi si Ronald nag-resign,” said Gorayeb. Another freshman could’ve had ended up with Ateneo, Hope’s libero Melissa Gohing. But a few obstacles prevented her from fulfilling her promise to join Ferrer in Ateneo. She instead chose to join the ladies in green and white in Taft.    SOMETHING PROMISING December 7, 2008. Far Eastern University Gym. Excitement filled the air. Fans, mostly volleyball purists and some who just came to support their classmates or were just curious to see a new spectacle after the basketball season ended, slowly settled in their seats for the women’s division’s second game. It was Adamson University, the previous year’s runner-up, which just visited the turf of their arch nemesis and defending champion FEU, which was led by that era’s finest and most popular volleybelle Rachel Anne Daquis. Fans wanted to see if the Lady Falcons still had the same firepower they had the previous season with the loss of top setter Janet Serafica and power hitter Sang Laguilles. A rookie-laden Ateneo squad should be easy pickings with Angela Benting, rookie Pau Soriano and libero Lizlee Anne Gata in the roster. Besides the Lady Falcons got the Lady Eagles’ number. Or so they thought. “Naalala ko nu’ng time namin sinasabi sa amin ng seniors namin na, ‘Hay naku ang lakas ng Adamson, never kami nanalo dyan,’” Cainglet, now happily married to film director Lino Cayetano and with three beautiful children, recalled.  But the Lady Eagles stunned Adamson in the opening set. The Lady Falcons took the next two frames. Ateneo stole the fourth.  “Ako naalala ko ano eh, parang alam namin na lahat kasi kami palaban. Nasa amin yun. Tapos binigyan kaming lahat ng chance to be in the first six so parang dream come true,” said Ho, now an ABS-CBN host. “Naalala ko rin na palaban kaming lahat kumbaga nothing to lose eh so ang ano namin, sumasabay kami sa laro and nu’ng nakita na namin na ‘Ay kaya pala natin ‘to guys. Kaya pala naming lumaban.’” Still, Adamson had the upper hand in experience. The Lady Falcons, used to pressure and were steady at crunch time, outlasted Ateneo.           The young Katipunan-based squad fell short, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, 25-15, 8-15. But for the Fab 5, it was a loss that felt like a resounding victory. “Parang sobrang natutuwa kami and everybody in the crowd, kaya siguro kami natawag na Fab 5 kasi rookies kami pero kahit ganoon palaban kami,” said Ho. “Saka close game. Five sets yun.” However, it was the first of five five-set matches that Ateneo will drop that season including one in the second round against the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University. “Pero ang problema di kami nananalo ng five sets. Parang ilan lang ang naipanalo namin na ganoon. Feeling ko na-overwhelm kami na ‘Uy nananalo tayo.’ May ganoong disbelief ng konti pero alam namin na may ibubuga kami,” said Ho. “Definitely, our rookie season was full of five-set matches. It was tough, we felt like we were so close, but still so far away. At some point, it gave us frustration also. We just couldn't figure out that time what is it that's still lacking because we couldn't win the five-set matches,” according to Nacachi. “People said, it was because the team was still so inexperienced. We still didn't have the tenacity unlike of those more matured teams. But we didn't take it as bad, it was a learning experience for us all at the end. We had to learn how to develop that finishing will to be able to win games like that in the future.” The Fab 5 finished their rookie season with a 6-8 slate at fifth spot.   ‘MAY MEDAL NA TAYO’ Gorayeb remembered on their second year the look on Pascual’s face in their last elimination game match against Adamson. Already wrapping up their first win over the Lady Falcons, Pascual was giddy. “Natatawa nga ako dyan kay Bea kasi papanalo na kami nu’n tapos sumesenyas na siya ng tres. Sabi ko, ‘Hoy anong ginagawa mo?’ Yun pala sobrang saya na niya kasi for the first time in 30 years magkaka-medal na sila,” he said. It was the most important match of the season for the Lady Eagles. With the Fab 5 already in their sophomore year, Ateneo was already making great strides. The Lady Eagles closed that season’s elims with five straight wins capped with a victory over Adamson. Ateneo posted a 10-4 win-loss mark to enter the Final Four legitimately. “Ang nangyari kasi nu’ng time nila Charo (Soriano) kaya sila nakapasok sa semis kasi may nag-squeal na si (Jacq) Alarca di pala naka-enroll nu’n kaya na-forfeit mga laro ng La Salle,” said Gorayeb. The Fab 5 proved that they were not just a bunch of much-hyped up pretty faces. They backed it up with their skills on court. It didn’t matter that Ateneo were swept by eventual champion University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four.      But the podium finish of Season 72 was short-lived. Adamson got its revenge in the last game of Season 73 elims, bumping off the Lady Eagles in the podium finish. The loss put Ateneo in a collision course with the twice-to-beat DLSU, who could’ve completed an elims sweep if not only for a forfeited match against University of the East after UAAP found out that Carmela Garbin and Clarisse Yeung participated in a ‘ligang labas’ while the season was onoing, in the Final Four. Ateneo gave the Lady Spikers a scare before succumbing in another heartbreaking five-set match. The Lady Eagles finished fourth but that lone semis game gave Ateneo and its maturing Fab 5 enough experience to dream for something big – A ticket into the Finals.      ‘HINOG NA KAYO’ The first three years saw the gradual improvement for Ateneo. But Season 74 proved to be the turning point for the Fab 5. A fresh new recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school, who just completed a year of residency, came into picture and with the Fab 5 armed with years of experience, the Lady Eagles’ fate will forever be changed. Alyssa Valdez, a highly recruited open spiker just like Gervacio, Cainglet-Cayetano and Ferrer years back, gave renewed excitement for the Ateneo faithful. “Alyssa's joining with Ateneo was a great turning point for us. We needed as much support we can get, and Alyssa's entrance to the team was a great boost to the team's morale,” said Nacachi. “The girl is a powerhouse and we felt like with her presence, the team finally became solid.” “We were able to play around with the positions and the rotations, since we had different versatile open players who can also greatly play other roles,” she added. “We were also able to formulate a lot of plays and attacks because Alyssa can generally do all kinds; open, running, quick, name it all. She gave the team the power and the versatility that we previously lacked from the past seasons.” Social media was just gaining traction then but the Lady Eagles were already on the radar of volleyball purists through online forums. For the first time, Ateneo was considered a legitimate contender.   The Fab 5 proved it by winning 11 games in the elimination round, losing only to UST once and dropping two against the Lady Spikers. Valdez’s arrival gave Ferrer an even broader option on offense. It eased the scoring load off the shoulders of Cainglet and Gervacio, who was then moved to an opposite position. “I guess sakto lang din yung dating niya because by that time Kara Acevedo graduated so someone had to fill in her spot so coach Roger decided for me to move to utility or opposite,” said Gervacio. “And then sakto Alyssa naman could fill in the spot na other open spiker.” “So timing din na we had all the pieces put together at the right time,” she added. With a good performance in the elims despite missing a legit middle in Bea Pascual and the entry of Aerieal Patnongon barred by academic problems, Ateneo finished second and for the first-time was armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles faced an experienced Tigresses side in the last stepladder semis stage. UST just came from a hard-fought four-set do-or-die match against FEU and were banking on their four-set win over Ateneo in the second round to force another sudden death. Ateneo’s date with destiny was sealed with a four-set win over the Tigresses, who then bid goodbye to Maika Ortiz and Judy Anne Caballejo. “Pinu-push na rin kami ni Coach Roger noon eh, ‘Hinog na kayo ngayon. Kasi dalawang taon na lang, kailangan makapasok na kayo sa Finals,’” said Ho. “Somehow senior na rin kami,” added Cainglet.  “Season 74 was really the target season for us to be in the finals and target even to win the championship,” according to Nacachi. “During this time, we were already thinking we could not afford to not go in the finals.” “So it was with our mindset and our level of commitment that we were able to finally reach our goal of reaching the finals,” she added. “We had enough experience that time already, and it was really time for us to show the level of game maturity the team had obtained from the past seasons.” But then they had to face an unbeaten team. Unscathed in 14 games, De La Salle University was poised to complete a perfect season. The Lady Eagles spoiled it. Ferrer outplayed DLSU setter Mika Esperanza, 57-42, in excellent sets as Ateneo handed the Lady Spikers its first loss after 25 straight victories in a come-from-behind 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, Finals opener win. Witnessed by 3,002 spectators inside the then The Arena in San Juan, all of the Fab 5 produced points. Cainglet had 19 behind Valdez’s 24, Gervacio scored 12, Ho had 10, Nacachi finished with five while Ferrer had one. Gorayeb made a big gambit and it worked. “Dahil sa wala kong panggitna, yung laro namin ng La Salle, ginawa kong quicker si Alyssa. Kasi si Alyssa nakakapalo. Nagulat si Ramil (de Jesus) dun.” It was a big win. A huge upset. Unfortunately, Ateneo needed to win two more.  DLSU held a thrice-to-beat advantage.   THAT SWAG After Ateneo made a miracle in Game One, fans began to feel a new rivalry born. The attendance spiked. From just 3,000 spectators, the gate attendance more than doubled its size. The interest was there. Fans of traditional powers began to notice the Lady Eagles as a rising team. For the first time, a squad with no previous championship experience except for a title during the Marcos era in a different collegiate league, made a giant jolt. Everybody wanted to see what these girls would do next.    The Lady Eagles, still high on adrenaline after their Game 1 upset, took the opening set in Game 2. But just like in their opener, a well-experienced DLSU squad adjusted to take the next three frames to move a step closer to a repeat crown. With then Rookie of the Year Ara Galang, Season Most Valuable Player Aby Marano, an intimidating Michele Gumabao and a very efficient Finals MVP Cha Cruz teaming up for the kill, the Lady Spikers ripped Ateneo apart in Game 3 in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13. “Sabi nga ni Dzi na nadyan na lahat eh. So I guess noong Season 74 nandoon na pero may kulang pa rin,” said Ho. “I guess we we’re able to make it to the Finals pero wala pa kaming championship experience.” Ferrer agreed. "Siguro ang kulang yung championship experience kasi nasa La Salle na ‘yun eh. Ilang years na silang nagpa-finals, nag-champion and for Ateneo doon pa lang namin sinimulan," said the three-time Best Setter. Lacking championship experience is one thing, but Ateneo during that time wasn’t ready for DLSU’s most feared weapon: the Lady Spikers’ swag.  “They have that swag,” said Gervacio. “Everyone knows about it naman. It’s really coach Ramil’s style talaga kasi as I remember when we were first year, four out of six of the players inside the court were rookies and even if we go against the powerhouses UST, FEU, Adamson, hindi sila yung nakikita nyo na kapag championship na rivalry, na swag, angas, stare down. Pero La Salle talaga kahit sino ang kalaban nila they’ll bring that attitude inside the court.” That Finals series cemented a new rivalry that will become one of the most celebrated in the sport. “I think it also helped that Ateneo-La Salle basketball didn’t face also,” said Gervacio. “Siyempre nandoon ang hunger for the rivalry eh and timely din na its been Ateneo-La Salle na rin sa volleyball.”   CLOSING A CHAPTER The Fab 5 were now in their fifth and last year. They wanted to leave a winning legacy. The pieces were already there. Gorayeb had at his disposal five seniors, a rising star in Valdez, a sophomore middle in Amy Ahomiro, a versatile Ella De Jesus, a steady libero in Denden Lazaro and a new kind of weapon – a massive crowd that can turn any venue into a sea of blue.              As expected, the second installment of the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry was set into place. Both sweeping their semis opponents. The Lady Spikers crushed National University while the Lady Eagles shot down Adamson. Game One was a shocker. DLSU heading into the Finals are on a 14-game roll but were stunned in the first two sets with Ateneo stepping on the gas. But a string of miscues, mostly from the service line, did the Lady Eagles in as they allowed the Lady Spikers to force a decider. DLSU, smelling blood, punished Ateneo to eke out a 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, victory inside the Big Dome witnesses by 17,342-strong gate attendance. Then the series transferred to a newly-built, state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena that drew a crowd of 18,799. The first two frames were frustrating for the Lady Eagles.   Ateneo came back to life in the third set to gain a 9-5 lead. But DLSU easily erased it with Ateneo crumbling under pressure. The Lady Spikers were on an onslaught. Sophomore Galang pushed DLSU at matchpoint with a cold-blooded ace that went in a few inches from the baseline. The score, 24-16. It was a tense moment for the Fab 5. A long rally ensued in the next play. Gervacio, with all her might pounded a kill. Her hand making a great contact on the ball off Ferrer’s backset.     Smack! The ball ricocheted off the hands of DLSU’s Wensh Tiu before falling on the same landing area of Gervacio, who tried to dive for a dig together with Lazaro. DLSU swept Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. Game over.          “Kahit hindi kami nanalo alam naming ibinigay namin ang lahat namin, all-out talaga kaya wala kaming pagsisisi,” said Ho. It was the end of the Fab 5 era, but they left more than what any of them could have imagined. "I remember so many people or fans telling me that they started really watching UAAP Volleyball because of our batch. And that is really touching and fulfilling to know. Knowing that you were able to leave an impact like that to people. We were not able to bring even a single championship to our school, Ateneo, but we were able to touch a lot of people's hearts despite that," Nacachi shared. The Fab 5 closed a colorful chapter of Ateneo volleyball in tears. They were there during the Lady Eagles’ birth pains. They labored. They shed tears, blood and sweat. They laid the foundation for something big. The Fab 5 planted the seeds that would eventually bear fruit and would change the course of Ateneo women’s volleyball program forever. Glory didn’t happen during their time. It started in theirs.    Amidst the roar of the crowd, the falling confetti, banging of drums and the echoing chant of ‘Animo La Salle’ from the sea of green, the Fab 5 hugged each other tight. They found comfort in each other. It was their time to say goodbye. For those who remained – Valdez, Lazaro, Ahomiro, De Jesus – the defeat added fuel to their already blazing desire to bring glory for the blue and white. They were the next in line, heirs to unfinished business. WATCH: FAB 5 Reunion Part 1 and Part 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2018

Guardiola sees red, falls short in Champions League again

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Perched high in the stands, Pep Guardiola buried his head and covered his eyes. At times, the Manchester City manager couldn't bear to watch as his Champions League hopes were extinguished. On a night when his players needed him most on the touchline, Guardiola was largely helpless to intervene. The elevated view was not out of choice but for allowing his emotions to boil over as the players departed for the halftime break. The target of Guardiola's wrath was Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, who had wrongfully ruled out Leory Sane's goal minutes earlier for offside after failing to spot that the ball had come off Liverpool's James Milner. "I didn't insult the referee," Guardiola said. "I just said, 'It's a goal. It came off Milner.'" The remonstrations achieved nothing apart from Liverpool Juergen Klopp having no company on the sideline for the second half of this quarterfinal second leg that City lost 2-1 to go out 5-2 on aggregate. Had Sane's goal not been disallowed, City would have jumped 2-0 in front of the night. Trailing 3-0 from the first leg at Anfield last week, a comeback would have seemed not just possible but highly conceivable from the team Klopp hails as "the best in the world." City had already made a storming start to this quarterfinal second leg when a goal was produced inside two minutes from Gabriel Jesus. But, with Sane's goal scrubbed, a single goal was a meager return for City's relentless and energetic attacks in the first half. And when the second half began, Liverpool had a renewed vigor to take on the runway Premier League leaders. When Mohamed Salah scored 11 minutes into the second half, Liverpool was 4-1 in front on aggregate and City had to score four goals to advance. That became five once Roberto Firmino netted in the 77th minute. "We created chances," Guardiola said, "but of course it's not easy because they had 10 players behind." For the first time in his City career, Guardiola slumped to a third successive loss. "We were beaten by an exceptional team," Guardiola said. For the third time this season. Liverpool also inflicted City's first loss of the Premier League season. The second came on Saturday at home to Manchester United — a derby setback that denied City the chance to seal the title. Just a blip was expected, Guardiola argued, when City has set such high standards until now with exhilarating performances. "I have to analyze what we've done in 10 months and I think it's quite good," Guardiola said. "I saw the body language of my players. You won't find a team who can keep the same momentum, the same rhythm, the same pace with this amount of games. It's almost impossible." The Premier League trophy will still be won — within weeks given City's 13-point lead — to go with the League Cup that is already in the Etihad Stadium trophy cabinet. But is two trophies an adequate return for a manager who has been able to spend more than $600 million in his four transfer windows at the helm? And when the world's costliest defense concedes eight goals in three of the most significant games of the season in the space of seven days? Guardiola was hired to bring the European Cup to City for the first time. Twice a Champions League winner with Barcelona, he isn't sure he can reach the final next season. "Last season it was the round of 16, this season it's the quarterfinals," Guardiola said. "Hopefully next season we can go to the semifinals.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

Still alive: Teams chasing World Cup spots through playoffs

A look at the lineup of teams in the intercontinental and European playoffs for the 2018 World Cup in Russia: ___ em> strong>EUROPEAN PLAYOFFS (matches to be confirmed) /strong> /em> strong>ITALY /strong> Four-time world champion Italy will be favored to qualify no matter which opponent it faces, yet the Azzurri aren't in top form after four discouraging results — a 3-0 loss to Spain, slim 1-0 wins over Israel and Albania, and a 1-1 draw with Macedonia. However, the expected returns from injury of center forward Andrea Belotti and veteran midfielder Daniele De Rossi could provide a boost. The playoff outcome will likely determine the future of Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura. Milan's San Siro or Palermo's Renzo Barbera stadium are being considered to host the home leg of the playoff. strong>CROATIA /strong> Croatia finds itself in familiar territory. Led by playmaker Luka Modric and other high-profile players in Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, the Croatians faced the same hurdle before the 2014 tournament in Brazil, eliminating Iceland 2-0 on aggregate. In this campaign, Croatia was on course to qualify automatically from the first place before two poor results — a 1-0 loss in Turkey and a 1-1 draw at home to Finland. Those results cost coach Ante Cacic his job. Under new coach Zlatko Dalic, Croatia won a needed 2-0 victory at Ukraine to seal a playoff spot behind Iceland. strong>SWITZERLAND /strong> Switzerland was perfect in World Cup qualifying for more than one year: Nine games, nine wins. Now coach Vladimir Petkovic must lift his players after a 2-0 loss in Portugal on Tuesday sent them to the playoffs, where the best runner-up record counts for little except being seeded. The Swiss have a reputation for being an efficient team in group-stage games that falls just short against good opponents in elimination games. They lost to Argentina at the 2014 World Cup, and Poland at Euro 2016. Their opponents next month are likely to be below that class, and Petkovic can expect that forward Breel Embolo — a substitute in Lisbon — will be fully fit after a one-year injury absence. strong>DENMARK /strong> There's a chance Denmark could face neighbor Sweden, which denied the Danes a spot in the 2016 European Championship by winning their playoff. Christian Eriksen is the undoubted star of the Denmark team, the playmaker having been one of the best players in the English Premier League over the last two years and scoring eight times from midfield in qualifying. Denmark was second to Poland in its group, only missing out on automatic qualification in the final round. strong>GREECE /strong> Reaching the playoffs came as a relief for Greece's players and coach Michael Skibbe following an embarrassing qualification campaign for Euro 2016, when the team was twice beaten by the Faeroe Islands and finished last in the group. An obdurate defense was again the key to earning a runner-up spot, nine points behind Belgium, with Skibbe struggling to find stability in midfield and a strike partner for Kostas Mitroglou. The German coach may look forward to the development of 21-year-old Tassos Donis, who provided some badly needed pace in midfield, as well as the talents of the Portuguese-born Carlos Zeca. strong>SWEDEN /strong> Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist says he'd prefer to not play Italy or Scandinavian archrival Denmark and would rather face Croatia or Switzerland. Sweden, for example, has never beaten Italy in the last 17 years. Sweden finished behind France in its group, but ahead of the Netherlands, in its first qualifying campaign without retired striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Marcus Berg has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's leading striker and scored eight times in the qualifying. strong>IRELAND /strong> This will be Ireland's ninth time in the playoffs for a major tournament. The Irish have progressed on three occasions, with their most high-profile failure coming against France in the playoffs for the 2010 World Cup when Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball in the build-up to the crucial goal. In the final round of group play, Ireland beat Wales in Cardiff in a virtual playoff for the playoffs. Coach Martin O'Neill's counterattacking tactics worked perfectly in that 1-0 win and it would be no surprise if he does the same in the playoffs. strong>NORTHERN IRELAND /strong> After reaching the knockout stage at Euro 2016, the Northern Irish continued their rise in international soccer by finishing runner-up behind Germany in their group. They have never been to back-to-back major tournaments. There's no chance of a potentially spicy match against neighbor Ireland, as both are set to be among the non-seeded teams after the seedings are confirmed on Monday. ___ em> strong>INTERCONTINENTAL PLAYOFFS /strong> /em> strong>HONDURAS vs. AUSTRALIA /strong> Both countries have been regulars in recent World Cups, with Honduras looking to make it for a third straight tournament and Australia seeking a fourth in a row. Los Catrachos — as the Honduras national team is nicknamed — were squeezed out of an automatic place in Russia by Panama, which scored a late winner in a dramatic denouement to qualifying in the CONCACAF region. Asian Cup champion Australia had its chances to qualify directly, but failed to capitalize on a glut of scoring chances in the last group game against Thailand and ended up finishing in third spot behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. The Socceroos then beat Syria 2-1 after extra time to clinch the two-legged Asian playoff, but only after Syria hit the post with a free kick in the last moments of the second leg. The Australians were most recently in an inter-confederation playoff in 2006, when they ousted Uruguay over two legs. strong>PERU vs. NEW ZEALAND /strong> On New Zealand's side is a more recent appearance at the World Cup — going through the group stage in 2010 unbeaten but still being eliminated — and a first taste of Russia by qualifying for the Confederations Cup in June. But more than a 100 places separate New Zealand and Peru in the FIFA rankings. While New Zealand is at No. 113, Peru has surged to 12th as it chases a first visit to the World Cup since 1982. Peru claimed fifth place in the tough South American qualifying group to set up the intercontinental play-off that will be played over two legs on Nov. 6 and 14. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

UAAP Season 81: Dawn of a new era for the Lady Eagles

For five years, Ateneo de Manila University embraced the ‘happy, happy’ and heartstrong mantra preached by former mentor Tai Bundit. This coming UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament will be the dawn of a new era for the Lady Eagles under new head coach Oliver Almadro. Known as a great motivator who engineered three straight title conquests in the men’s division, Almadro brings to the Lady Eagles a new system and injects and a different approach to the game. “My players trust naman kung ano ang sistema namin, yun ang maganda,” said Almadro, who replaced Bundit after Season 80. “My players naman are slowly getting the system kasi seven months pa lang ako sa Ateneo.” “Sad part lang talaga na ang nga seniors ko, sina Bea (De Leon) and Maddie (Madyag), is [sic] on their last playing years. Kung mayroon pa sanang isang taon medyo may buwelo pero wala na,” he added. “We really have to give our best, we really have to give all-out this year. We have to mature right away.” Almadro also wants his wards to adopt a simple mindset: ‘be better than their best’. "The mindset of my players is to just aim at what is above, play right and be better than their best. Kung ano ang ibinigay nila sa mga previous tournaments they just have to be better than that. Yan ang mindset namin," Almadro said. Bundit handled the Lady Eagles for five years and gave Ateneo its breakthrough crown in Season 76 and a rare tournament sweep in Season 77. For his first order of business, Almadro will try to bring the Lady Eagles back into the Final Four and eventually a return stint to the championship after missing the Finals last year. Ateneo missed the Finals last year after six straight championship appearances and settled for a third place finish.      “Well, realistic goal, of course, first, to be in the Final Four. Because if we reach the Final Four, we have a chance and opportunity to be in the Finals,” said Almadro, who steered the Marck Espejo-led Blue Eagles to three straight titles from Season 77 to 79. “Now, kapag nasa Final Four na, saka natin pag-isipan kung anong mangyayari doon. But of course, all teams are aiming on what is above always, which is the championship.” Almadro will have in his hands a squad with a good mix of veterans and promising rookies. Seasoned players and co-team captains Bea De Leon, Maddie Madayag and Kim Gequillana will return for their swan songs for the blue and white as well as other veterans Kat Tolentino, Ponggay Gaston and last year’s Best Setter Deanna Wong. Rookies Vanessa Gandler and Jaja Maraguinot, sister of former Ateneo hitter Jho Maraguinot who graduated last year, also showed a glimpse of their game during the pre-season, making the Lady Eagles one of the top title contenders.    “I have 60 percent veterans and 40 percent rookies. Hindi siya 50-50 pero vital role kasi 'yung rookies ko kasi in my system kasi, I really rotate players eh,” said Almadro. “So 'yung mga rookies talaga, magagamit at magagamit sila. So, vital role 'yun.” “Importante talaga 'yung mga rookies ko kahit 40% lang sila nu’ng team. And 'yung mga veterans ko naman, new position. So, basically it's a new system talaga,” he added. As part of their build up for the season, the Lady Eagles joined the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference and finished runner-up to star-studded club Creamline led by former Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez. Ateneo also ruled the Viking Cup and set up a training camp in Japan.   With a report from Danine Cruz. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2019

UAAP Season 81: One more year to make it right, to end it right – BDL

Bea de Leon didn’t need a lot of convincing to return for her swan song with Ateneo de Manila University in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament. Yes, it did took a while for her to announce her decision but it gave her enough time to set her mind into her one last dance with the blue and white.    A year ago, De Leon shared the agony and anguish of the Lady Eagles after Far Eastern University ended their six-year run to the Finals. Now back for her final season with the Lady Eagles, De Leon is on a mission to set things right before she bids adieu to a colorful collegiate career. “Well, kasi siyempre I finished (Management Economics). I graduated last year, so I really had a choice not to come back,” said De Leon, who helped the Lady Eagles complete a rare tournament sweep in Season 77 – Ateneo’s last of back-to-back titles. “But 'yun nga, Coach (Oliver Almadro) said talaga we didn't even make the finals last year which was a heartbreaking event for all of us. And just to know that you have one more year to make it right, to end it right, to get the goal and the dream, you know that's really what pushed me,” De Leon continued. After the Lady Eagles fell short of making it to the Finals in head coach Tai Bundit’s last season, De Leon asked for some time to think about her future with Ateneo.   Then, Almadro gave her a ring one day. “Coach O called me one day when he finally knew he's gonna coach, he said, ‘Bea, gusto kitang part ng team ko. I want you to leave a legacy that you want.’ And for me, you know, when someone says that, how could you say no 'di ba?” recalled De Leon. “So, yeah. I came back for my team. I love them so much and I just really, really want one more chance to get it right.” Almadro, the architect of the Blue Eagles’ three-peat from Seasons 77 to 79 and the successor to Tai Bundit, knew that if he wants to make a good run in his first year as Ateneo women’s team coach he must have someone he can trust to lead the squad inside the court.      “Bumalik si Bea to prove something. Bea played her fifth year para ma-prove niya na kaya niya. Kaya niya na mag-lead ng team at kaya niya na umabot sa goal niya last year,” he said. Oliver appointed De Leon and another graduating player, Maddie Madayag, as co-team captains. A role that De Leon welcomed with open arms. “Well, I think my number one role in this team is to really bring the fire and the passion which Coach O also mentioned was one of the biggest reasons why he called me up,” said De Leon. “He always knew that I had, you know, the fire in my eyes. 'Cause he talks like that eh. And the motivation to bring it to the team.” “So, as a game captain, parang kumbaga, ang pinaka-role ko is hawakan sila,” she added. “To really encourage them and make them believe that they're the best volleyball players in the Philippines, or at least, in the UAAP.” With De Leon back in the fold and with other veterans in Madayag, Ponggay Gaston, Kim Gequillana, Kat Tolentino and last year’s Best Setter Deanna Wong with promising rookies Vanessa Gandler and Jaja Maraguinot, Ateneo could be looking at another strong tittle run this season.    With a report from Danine Cruz.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 13th, 2019

Erik Spoelstra on Kai Sotto: 'It s all about development'

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is just as excited as any other Pinoy basketball fan about the continued growth of Gilas Cadet Kai Sotto. Speaking to ABS-CBN North America correspondent TJ Manotoc, Spoelstra described Sotto's emergence on the international scene as "exciting," and added, "I hope it's a sign of great things to come. "You know, basketball is so big in the Philippines, and I just want everyone to be able to see that and to experience the passion," the Heat mentor added. "The thing that would help that quickest would be getting an NBA player." While Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson continues to be productive as a reserve for the Cleveland Cavaliers, most Pinoys are still looking for a homegrown talent to reach the Association, and many feel the 7'1" Sotto represents the country's best bet thus far. "Hopefully he's getting the right guidance, people that have purity about it and [are] not trying to get something out of it" said Spoelstra. "It's about development, wherever that may be. Over there [in the Philippines] is great, but eventually, if he's going to make a dream of coming over here, it probably helps that at some point, whenever that is, to come over here [the US] and get a little more exposure." The Ateneo Blue Eaglet is set to be named the UAAP Juniors Division's MVP, behind per-game averages of 25.1 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.6 blocks. The defending champs have an 11-3 record, good for the second seed and a twice-to-beat advantage, as the tournament's Final Four kicks off on Saturday. The 16-year-old 7'1" center is also a fixture near the top of the NBTC UAAP 24, and has taken part in scrimmages against international teams with the Gilas Pilipinas national squad......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2019

Coutinho nets 2, Barca routs Sevilla 6-1 to reach Copa semis

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — For Lionel Messi, Barcelona's 6-1 win over Sevilla on Wednesday that put it into the Copa del Rey semifinals means his team will aim for nothing less than another treble of titles. Barcelona completed the rare sweep of Copa del Rey, Spanish league and Champions League trophies in 2011 and 2015. Since then it has gone on to win all three editions of the cup and two more La Liga titles, but its failure to repeat in Europe had led to speculation that Barcelona would not prioritize the Copa del Rey this season to save energy. But Barcelona's commanding performance to overturn a 2-0 first-leg loss speaks otherwise. "They said that we didn't want to win this Copa," Messi said. "This team wants to fight for all three competitions. We are in it for everything and don't give anything away." Messi and Luis Suarez both scored late goals with the pair of star strikers back in Barcelona's starting lineup after getting some rest when their teammates lost in Seville. Phillipe Coutinho netted two goals in his best game of an up-and-down season for the Catalan club. Messi helped Coutinho get going by earning a foul in the area by Quincy Promes, and then stepping aside for his teammate to convert the spot kick. Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who only regularly starts in the cup, made excellent saves to push Andre Silva close-range shot onto his post and stop Ever Banega's penalty after Gerard Pique fouled Roque Mesa. "Lionel was very generous with his teammate and Coutinho took on the big responsibility to open the scoring," said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde. "The penalty saved by Cillessen kept us in the tie. When they took risks with the score 4-1, we found more space and finished them off." Ivan Rakitic turned in a perfectly-weighted long pass by Arthur for Barcelona's second goal in the 31st. Coutinho got his second in the 54th with a glancing header from Suarez's lobbed pass. Sergi Roberto played Messi wide, made a run into the area where Messi had a pass waiting for him to drill in a fourth goal in the 54th. Sevilla wing back Guilherme Arana blasted in a long strike in the 66th to give his team hope until Suarez and Messi rounded off the victory in the final minutes. Messi, who had missed two clear chances, culminated a brilliant buildup to take his haul this season in all competitions to 27 goals. "It is a tough loss," said Sevilla manager Pablo Machin. "It is very hard to head back to Seville after conceding six goals." Coutinho arrived a year ago to Camp Nou after Barcelona paid Liverpool a club record fee of 160 million euros (then $192 million). His erratic play this season had led Valverde to drop him from his group of unquestionable first-choice players, but he has scored in Barcelona's last two Copa del Rey ties to keep it on course to another title. BETIS ADVANCES Real Betis scored two goals in extra time to eliminate 10-man Espanyol and advance on a 4-2 aggregate score. Espanyol was leading thanks to Leo Bapistao's headed goal until Giovani Lo Celso leveled in the 76th. Espanyol had Marc Roca sent off stoppage time for second booking before Betis scored twice through Sergio Leon and Aissa Mandi......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 31st, 2019

Nantes fans chant non-stop in emotional tribute to Sala

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press Nantes fans showed their devotion to missing Argentine striker Emiliano Sala, chanting his name non-stop during an emotional home game against Saint-Etienne on Wednesday. In the first match for Nantes since Sala's disappearance on Jan. 21, the referee also halted play after nine minutes so the crowd could applaud him and chant his name over and over again. "It was a very special night, we played more for him than for us," Nantes defender Diego Carlos said after the 1-1 draw. "We gave everything for him." Fans broke out into long and sustained chants of "Emiliano Sala, Emiliano Sala, Emiliano, Emiliano, Emiliano Sala" around the stadium when the referee paused the match for more than one minute. The former Nantes striker, who wore the No. 9 shirt, has been missing since a plane transporting him to the Welsh city of Cardiff went off the radar. Sala had just been signed by Premier League club Cardiff for a club-record fee. The fans repeated his name, loud and unrelenting, after the break. This time it was a slower, more poignant refrain of "La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la, Em-il-ia-no Sa-la" as Nantes fans showed they will never forget him. Nor will the players. Moments after he equalized for Nantes in the 70th minute, Nantes striker Majeed Waris dropped to his knees in front of the home fans and raised his shirt over his head to show Sala's name on the t-shirt underneath. Remy Cabella put Saint-Etienne ahead in the 58th, but modestly celebrated his goal by raising his arm before lowering it quickly. "It would have been disrespectful to celebrate," Cabella said. "No one would have." Both sides had a player sent off at the end of the first half. Emotions ran high beforehand, with players warming up wearing t-shirts with "On T'aime Emi" (We Love You Emi) written on the back and the player's photo on the front. A giant picture of Sala was projected onto the center circle and a huge Argentine flag was unfurled in the crowd. The whole Nantes squad formed a circle moments before the match started as coach Vahid Halilhodzic spoke to the players. Nantes players wore Sala's name on the back of their shirts when the game kicked off at Stade de la Beaujoire. Saint-Etienne also paid their tributes. Sala's former Nantes teammate Yacine Bammou, who now plays for Caen and was close to Sala, was present in the stadium and television images showed him in tears before the game started. Earlier Wednesday, accident investigators said two seat cushions have been found which are likely to have come from the plane carrying him and the pilot. They are the first traces of the plane to be found since it disappeared over the English Channel. Sala and had gone back to France to say goodbye to his former Nantes teammates and then took a flight back in the evening. Sala had been in the best form of his career , netting 12 league goals in 19 games for Nantes this season. He had a strong working relationship with Halilhodzic, one of the best strikers in Nantes history. The search for Sala and the pilot was called off after a three-day air-and-sea operation near the Channel Islands failed to locate the aircraft, leading to criticism — including from Halilhodzic — and prompting Sala's family to raise money for a private search. Now, British authorities say French counterparts found parts of two seat cushions on a beach near Surtainville in northwest France and a vessel has been commissioned to conduct a search of the seabed starting this weekend. In Wednesday's other match, South Africa striker Lebo Mothiba scored twice as Strasbourg beat Bordeaux 3-2 at home to reach the League Cup final. Strasbourg will play Guingamp on March 30......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 31st, 2019

Piatek scores 2 as Milan beats Napoli to reach semifinals

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press MILAN (AP) — Krzysztof Piatek was given a standing ovation when he went off the field on Tuesday after scoring two goals on his full AC Milan debut to send his new side into the Italian Cup semifinals. Piatek, who joined Milan from Genoa last week for a reported 35 million euros ($40 million), scored both goals inside 27 minutes to help Milan beat Napoli 2-0. "I expected a night like this, I said that I was ready and today I got a brace," Piatek said. "And this is just the start. Both goals were great, even if they were different. Today went well but I already have my mind on the next match against Roma. ... I only want to score goals and I repeat, I feel good and I was born ready." The Poland forward had come off the bench against Napoli in the league this past weekend for the final 19 minutes of a 0-0 draw. He was given his first Milan start at San Siro and it took him less than 11 minutes to open his Rossoneri account. Nikola Maksimovic allowed a long ball from Diego Laxalt to bounce and Piatek ran into the area and drilled it into the bottom right corner. Piatek's second was even better as he controlled the ball on his chest, cut inside Kalidou Koulibaly and curled a shot between the defender and Maksimovic, into that same far bottom corner. The 23-year-old Piatek is the cup's top scorer, having netted four on his debut for Genoa against Lecce and another two against Virtus Entella, when his old side went out on penalties. Piatek replaced Gonzalo Higuain and his threat in front of goal will give Milan hope that he can lead it into the Champions League. Milan currently occupies fourth place in Serie A, the final qualifying spot for Europe's premier club competition, but has only one more point than Roma and two more than Sampdoria. At the other end, Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made several crucial saves as the Rossoneri booked a semifinal spot against either city rival Inter Milan or Lazio, which face each other on Thursday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 30th, 2019