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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

Salah, Neymar, Messi, messy, messy: World Cup stars stifled

By Mauricio Saverese, Associated Press SARANSK, Russia (AP) — With nagging injuries, heavy marking from opponents and some simply uninspired play, the top stars of the 2018 World Cup have struggled to deliver on the impossible expectations they carried into the tournament, with one prominent Portuguese exception. Aside from Cristiano Ronaldo, who has all four of Portugal's goals in its two games, many of the biggest names are off to a shaky start. No one has had rougher treatment from the opposition than the world's priciest player, Neymar. During Brazil's opening 1-1 draw with Switzerland, the 26-year-old was fouled 10 times, the highest number on a single player in a single match since the 1998 World Cup, when England's Alan Shearer took 11 challenges against Tunisia. Overall, Switzerland fouled Brazil 19 times , with little intervention from the referee, and it worked — especially on Neymar. Brazilians suggested their opponents were too violent; Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes thinks Neymar has another problem. "He just falls too much," Fernandes said after the game in Rostov-on-Don. "Out of these 10, only seven or eight were fouls. We have to stop their star, and he is the star." Neymar felt the effects of the Swiss strategy long after Sunday's match ended, limping out of training Tuesday as he continues to recover from a foot injury he picked up before the tournament. He trained Wednesday and was confirmed as a starter for the match against Costa Rica on Friday. Superstar Lionel Messi did face heavy marking too, but he also had two uninspired performances for Argentina, which is now on the verge of early elimination after a 3-0 defeat against Croatia. Throughout the matches against Iceland and Croatia, disciplined defenders and midfielders stopped Messi from making his famous runs and getting one-on-one chances. Against Iceland, Messi saw his penalty spot kick saved by goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson, and the game ended 1-1. Against Croatia, he crumbled with the rest of the team, which now desperately needs to beat Nigeria in the last round of group stage to have a chance of advancing to the next phase. "Messi is human," Aguero said after the Iceland match. "Sometimes things happen for a reason. We need to be with him. This was a bad day, but he can decide a match at any given moment. Hope he is better against Croatia." Croatia was taking note. "You can't stop him with one player, you have to defend like a team. You saw that with Iceland," defender Dejan Lovren said ahead of the Argentina clash late Thursday. Egypt striker Mohamed Salah set a Premier League scoring record for Liverpool and held all the hopes for a deep run by the Pharaohs in their return to the World Cup, until he injured his shoulder playing for Liverpool in the Champions League final in a clash with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, of Spain. Salah sat out the opening 1-0 loss to Uruguay in Yekaterinburg, with coach Hector Cuper hoping to have him fit for Egypt's second match, against Russia. He made his World Cup debut in St. Petersburg and scored from the penalty spot, but only after the hosts led by three goals, and his mobility was clearly affected. He barely touched the ball in the first half and avoided physical contact with Russian defenders during the entire game, and Egypt was eliminated with one match left to play. Ronaldo isn't entirely alone in starting strong. Diego Costa has three of Spain's four goals, Harry Kane has both of England's, and Luka Modric scored one goal and set up the other in Croatia's 2-0 win over Nigeria. And there's plenty of time for others to turn things around. Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year-old striker at the center of the second-most expensive transfer in history, managed just one chance in France's 2-1 win over Australia in Kazan, but scored Thursday against Peru in front of an empty net. His famous runs and dribbles, however, were blocked by Australia's physical game. It's early, and the tournament has seen plenty of stellar play from lesser-known players, but many of the star scorers have work to do......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Kolarov scores from free kick, Serbia beats Costa Rica 1-0

By ANNE M. PETERSON ,  AP Sports Writer SAMARA, Russia (AP) — Aleksandar Kolarov scored from a left-footed free kick in the 56th minute and Serbia opened its World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica on Sunday. After David Guzman was handed a yellow card, Kolarov curled the ensuing free kick over the wall. Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who plays for Real Madrid, couldn't reach it. Serbia, which missed out on the 2014 tournament, had the early advantage in a tough group that includes five-time champion Brazil and Switzerland. After a scoreless first half, Navas fought off a barrage of challenges to open the second with the boisterous Costa Rican fans cheering him on at Samara Arena. The final moments of the match were marked by a squabble on the sidelines as Nemanja Matic got into a tussle with a Costa Rican coach. Players from both teams rushed toward the scrum but it was quickly diffused. The Ticos were the surprise of the last World Cup, sweeping through to the quarterfinals in Brazil before being ousted by the Netherlands on penalties. It was the furthest the small Central American nation had advanced in soccer's premier tournament. But there was some uncertainty surrounding the Ticos after a pair of friendly losses heading into the World Cup, including a 4-1 rout by Belgium a week ago. Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic, who replaced Slavoljub Muslin last year, put together a veteran defense with Kolarov, who plays for Roma, and former Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic. Also included were Manchester United midfielder Matic, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who had an apparent falling out with Muslin but was brought to Russia by Krstajic. The opening half between Costa Rica and Serbia was back and forth from the start: Aleksandar Mitrovic's header missed the target in the opening minute and moments later Marco Urena's angled shot for Costa Rica was saved in the left corner by Vladimir Stojkovic. Ivanovic made his record 104th appearance for the national team, surpassing Dejan Stankovic's mark. The 34-year-old Ivanovic had matched Stankovic's record last Saturday in a 5-1 friendly win over Bolivia. Stankovic, known as "Deki," played for the national team from 1998-2013, through three different eras: Yugoslavia, Serbia-Montenegro and finally Serbia. Ivanovic currently plays for Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg, but he's best known for his time at Chelsea (2008-17). Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita was ruled out of the World Cup earlier this week because of a right hamstring injury. He was replaced on the roster by Kenner Gutierrez. GROUP DYNAMICS Costa Rica advanced out of the group stage in Brazil with victories over Uruguay and Italy and a draw with England, but the country's players insisted in the run-up to Sunday's game that this team should not be judged on the past. "There's always a lot of talk about four years ago, but this is a new World Cup, a new history," Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzales said. "Some of us are repeating, but there are teammates who are playing their first World Cup. We know the eyes of the world are on us." Costa Rica will next face Brazil on Friday in St. Petersburg, while Serbia plays Switzerland on Friday in Kaliningrad. KEYS TO SUCCESS Milinkovic-Savic gave Navas a workout in the first half, and while he didn't score, he is clearly a potent weapon for Serbia. He challenged Navas in the 27th minute from just outside the box, but Navas fell on the ball. Navas also stopped Milinkovic-Savic's bicycle kick in front of goal in the 42nd minute, but it was ruled offside. Currently with Italian club Lazio, rumors have swirled that Manchester United might be interested in the dynamic 23-year-old Milinkovic-Savic......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Messi misses penalty, Iceland holds Argentina to 1-1 draw

By GRAHAM DUNBAR,  AP Sports Writer MOSCOW (AP) — Lionel Messi missed yet another penalty kick and Iceland held on for a 1-1 draw against Argentina in an impressive World Cup debut on Saturday. Messi failed to give his team the lead when his 64th-minute penalty was stopped by Hannes Halldorsson. The Iceland goalkeeper dived to his right and got two hands behind the ball. It was Messi's fourth missed penalty in his last seven attempts for Argentina and Barcelona. The Argentines took the lead in the 19th minute when Sergio Aguero scored with a rising left-footed shot. Alfred Finnbogason equalized for Iceland four minutes later after Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero pushed a low cross into the forward's path. The penalty was awarded after Aguero was pushed in the back by Hordur Magnusson as both chased Messi's floated cross in the 63rd. The small Nordic island nation's team created several first-half chances despite having only 22 percent possession, and pushed back Argentina's waves of second-half attacks. Messi had a final chance to redeem his team with the final kick of the game, but his free kick from 25 yards failed to clear a solid Iceland defensive wall. At the end, Messi retreated alone into the center circle with his head bowed and hands on his knees. Iceland played its debut on soccer's biggest stage like it belonged alongside the 2014 runners-up. Before trailing, Iceland could have taken the lead but Birkir Bjarnason side-footed a shot wide of goal when Caballero was exposed. That chance came in a nervous ninth minute for Argentina's defense, which seemed unsettled by Iceland's strength and their own unease with loose balls in the penalty area. No Iceland defender was at fault for failing to stop Aguero's goal. The forward executed a classy spin move to create his chance when a miscued shot by Marcos Rojo arrived at his feet near the penalty spot. It was a finish worthy of Argentina great Diego Maradona, who was watching in the VIP section at Spartak Stadium. The FIFA ambassador was puffing a large cigar despite smoking being banned in all World Cup venues. KEY TO SUCCESS Argentina fans booed and whistled when the giant stadium screen showed that Halldorsson was man of the match. But his faultless handling and excellent shot-stopping was deserving of the accolade. In contrast, Caballero caused uneasy moments for his defense in the first half. Iceland also protected Halldorsson well with swarming running and tackling to shut down Messi and Argentina's attacking lanes. Messi has missed more than 20 penalty kicks in his career, showing there is perhaps one flaw in his genius. GROUP DYNAMICS This was the first game in Group D, which looks even more evenly balanced now than it did at kickoff. Croatia and Nigeria are also in the group. Argentina will next play Croatia on Thursday in Nizhny Novgorod, while Iceland plays Nigeria on Friday in Volgograd......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

Icardi left out of Argentina s World Cup squad

By Debora Rey, Associated Press BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Serie A co-top-scorer Mauro Icardi was left out of Argentina's World Cup squad on Monday. Icardi, also the Inter Milan captain, was the most notable absentee from coach Jorge Sampaoli's 23-man list. Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, who has not played since March and is recovering from a knee operation, was picked. Sampaoli said in a news conference his choices were based on "players that can do many functions to give us different characteristics." "Those players in the final list are closer to the idea we are implementing. They are closer to the opposition's goal line than to their own." Icardi was part of Sampaoli's preliminary list of 35 players announced on May 14. He scored 29 goals in Serie A, one of them on Sunday when Inter secured a spot in the Champions League for the first time since 2012. Aguero had a great season with English Premier League champion City, scoring 31 times until he was injured. It is still uncertain when he will be back in action. Also injured, defender Gabriel Mercado and midfielder Lucas Biglia were in the squad. Mercado's injury opened a door for Torino left back Cristian Ansaldi, who can also play on the right. Asked about the risks of taking recovering players to the World Cup, Sampaoli said he will take full responsibility for his choices. "We need to face the World Cup without fear," he said. "In this list there are players with a lot of skill. The ones that understand our game better will be closer to being starters." Argentina is grouped in Russia with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. ___ Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Wilfredo Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate). Defenders: Cristian Ansaldi (Torino), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Federico Fazio (Roma), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Marcos Acuna ( Sporting Lisbon), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax). Midfielders: Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (Milan), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica). Strikers: Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Modric, Rakitic headline Croatia s preliminary WCup squad

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — In possibly their last World Cup as midfield partners, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic were named Monday in the provisional Croatia squad for the tournament in Russia. Modric's focus could be distracted by perjury charges he faces in his country for testimony about financial deals with a former Dinamo Zagreb director charged with embezzlement and tax fraud. The prosecutors in the eastern town of Osijek say Modric gave a false court statement in June about his 2008 transfer from Dinamo to Tottenham. Striker Mario Mandzukic, who just clinched yet another Serie A title with Juventus, was also chosen by Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic for his 32-man selection. Mandzukic has scored 30 goals for his country in 82 international games. Forwards Ivan Perisic and Nikola Kalinic are also available up front. Center back Dejan Lovren, who will play in the Champions League final with Liverpool, and veteran Vedran Corluka will likely anchor Croatia's defense. Domagoj Vida, Josip Pivaric, Sime Vrsaljko and Ivan Strinic are also part of Croatia's defensive line. Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and his likely backup, Lovre Kalinic, were also included. Croatia will play in Group D at the World Cup campaign against Nigeria on June 16 before facing Argentina on June 21 and Iceland on June 26......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

Liverpool into Champions League, Man City reaches 100 points

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool qualified for the Champions League at the expense of Chelsea, Swansea was relegated, and champion Manchester City made it to 100 points as the loose ends were tied up on a typically high-scoring final day of the Premier League season on Sunday. It was also the end of an era in England's top flight, with Arsene Wenger taking charge of his final game as Arsenal manager after 22 seasons. He went out with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield. Liverpool only needed to draw with Brighton to secure another season in the Champions League, but manager Juergen Klopp fielded an attacking team and was rewarded with a 4-0 victory at Anfield. Mohamed Salah scored one of the goals, taking the Egyptian to a league-high 32 goals for the campaign — the most in a 38-game Premier League season. That meant Chelsea will not be playing in Europe's elite competition for the second season in three years. The London club finished fifth after a 3-0 loss at Newcastle, in what could prove to be Antonio Conte's last league game as manager. The final-day "miracle" that Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal required didn't happen, with the Welsh club losing 2-1 to Stoke to end its seven-year stay in the league and ensure Southampton stayed up. Swansea had needed to win and Southampton to lose to Man City, with a 10-goal swing in goal difference. So it didn't matter that Southampton conceded late to lose 1-0 to City, although that did mean Pep Guardiola's side became the first team to post 100 points in a Premier League season. It is the latest milestone reached by City, which has also claimed the most total wins (32), goals (106), victories in a row (18) and away wins (16) in this record-breaking season. The 19-point margin to second place Manchester United is also a record, as is the goal difference of plus 79. Tottenham beat Leicester 5-4 in the highest-scoring game of the day to secure third place above Liverpool. United was already assured of second place before its 1-0 win over Watford, in Michael Carrick's final game for the club. ANOTHER TROPHY FOR SALAH Fittingly, it was Salah who guided Liverpool back into the Champions League and he ended a sun-kissed afternoon at Anfield lifting the Golden Boot for being the Premier League's top scorer this season. His 32-goal haul was two more than Harry Kane, the winner for the past two seasons. There were wonderful scenes soon after as Liverpool's fans cheered Salah's daughter, Makka, as she kicked about a ball on the field. Dejan Lovren added a second before Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson scored their first goals for Liverpool to complete a routine victory in its last match before playing the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26. Liverpool ended up in fourth place for the second straight season. Chelsea ended the season without even a whimper, and in the Europa League. Four days after drawing 1-1 at home, the deposed champions looked bedraggled in losing to Newcastle thanks to goals by Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez, who scored twice in the second half. SWANSEA DOWN Swansea fans channeled their anger toward chairman Huw Jenkins and the club's American majority shareholders, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, after the team's relegation was confirmed with a loss to a team that started the day in last place. Jenkins was conspicuous by his absence from his customary seat in the directors' box but that did not prevent Swansea supporters urging Jenkins to "get out of our club" from the first minute. Andy King's goal gave Swansea hope of an unlikely final-day comeback, but Badou Ndiaye and Peter Crouch scored to ensure already relegated Stoke would not end the season bottom. That position went to West Bromwich Albion, which lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace. WENGER'S FAREWELL In the 22nd minute, Huddersfield fans joined Arsenal supporters in rising to their feet inside the John Smith's Stadium to applaud Wenger in his 1,235th game in charge of the Gunners. A plane flew over the stadium, carrying the message "Merci Arsene, we will miss you too" in response to Wenger's goodbye speech last week at the Emirates Stadium. "I should have announced every week my goodbye," Wenger said, "because people have been so nice with me." Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the final scorer of the Wenger era, sliding in to convert Aaron Ramsey's cross in the 38th minute for the only goal. Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League — the lowest under Wenger, who will stay working. "Whether that is managing or not... I am addicted and I don't think that can be cured," Wenger said. CITY'S CENTURY City left it to virtually the last kick of its last match to reach the magical 100-point barrier. Gabriel Jesus, on as a substitute, found space to lift the ball over goalkeeper Alex McCarthy in the fourth minute of additional time, prompting wild celebrations among City's players. Pep Guardiola reacted to the team's 106th league goal of the season by leaping out of his seat in the dugout and punching the air. Jesus removed his shirt and twirled it in celebration in front of City's supporters. The players were still on the field 20 minutes after the final whistle. City will celebrate on the streets of Manchester on Monday with an open-top bus parade......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2018

Young Celtics look to stop James, Cavaliers

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com For a few days at least, much of the talk about this rematch of the 2017 Eastern Conference finals will focus on what might have been. In what could have offered some poetic closure to the Eastern Conference portion of this season, former Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving would be taking on his old team and, specifically, LeBron James, the superstar “big brother” whom he’d dissed by demanding a trade. Meanwhile, in a more perfect pulp-fiction world, Cleveland would be setting loose point guard Isaiah Thomas on the Boston Celtics, giving him a chance for payback to the team that dealt him away the instant it sniffed the chance to land Irving. Those plotlines are kaput; Irving’s season ended in March with left knee surgery, Thomas got dealt from Cleveland at the February trade deadline. The best we’ll get now are sideline shots of Irving in street clothes on Boston’s bench, reacting to the series’ ebbs and flows. Thomas might be limited to tweeting from afar. That leaves one clear, distinct narrative: The King of the East vs. perhaps the best collection of aspirants to his throne. James is trying to cap one of his most remarkable seasons by advancing to his eighth consecutive Finals, having led the Cavaliers to the past three after four with the Miami Heat. He has coaxed and carried these Cavs along a steep learning curve, finally getting them spiffed up by the end of their sweep of Toronto. “He’s been doing this for a long time,” Boston’s Marcus Smart said after the clincher over Philadelphia. “He’s, if not the greatest, one of the greatest to do it. What better way than to go up and compete against a guy that’s [going to have] statues and things like that.” The Celtics, by contrast, are a team trying to write fresh history. They’re ahead of schedule, too, given Irving’s absence and the loss of prize free agent Gordon Hayward way back on opening night to a gruesome leg injury, coincidentally, in Cleveland. Boston put out a talented Milwaukee Bucks club in the opening round, then dumped the Philadelphia 76ers -- another rising franchise in the East – in five games. And for those who think the West has the sexier conference clash, this one offers a pretty slick matchup: James against Boston coach Brad Stevens. Widely regarded as a master tactician, Stevens -- whose Celtics lost in five games to the Cavaliers in last year’s East finals -- gets another multi-game shot. In last year’s series, James averaged these numbers to beat: 29.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 6.8 apg, 2.2 spg and 1.2 bpg. 3 quick questions and answers 1. Who guards LeBron? This is the first question (or should be) of every preview of every playoff series every year of James’ career since he first started qualifying in 2006. Toronto used the length of OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam on James but neither of the Celtics’ young, long forwards -- Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum -- would be ideal for the duty, because Boston needs their scoring. Brown will take his turn but look for Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart in the crosshairs, counting on their physical force to bother Cleveland’s star. With undoubtedly lots of help and different looks, all the while sticking close to shooters like Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and Kevin Love. Said center Aron Baynes late Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time): “We know where the head of the snake is and we know what we have to focus on but he’s got a lot of great role players around him and some other guys that can really create as well. 2. Will Point Guard Showdown 1A be a letdown? So instead of Irving vs. Thomas, we’ll get Terry Rozier vs. George Hill. That’s not a bad backup plan, because Rozier has had a star-is-born postseason so far and Hill has been a huge help to the Cavs after missing 3.5 games in the first round. Hill has more experience and is a scrappy defender, but Rozier -- who averaged 16.7 points and shot 47.1 percent from three in the regular season vs. Cleveland -- has speed and energy that might swing this matchup in Boston’s favor. 3. Will Love love this matchup with Horford? Kevin Love doesn’t like playing center, but Cavs coach Tyronn Lue likes the effect that has on opposing defenses. Love has an inside-outside game that makes him a tough cover for both the big fives and for more agile power-forward types. The challenge in this round is how Love copes with Al Horford, who has comparable forward’s skills. It won’t be a traditional battle of bigs, for which Love will be grateful after tangling with Toronto’s jumbo Jonas Valanciunas. The number to know 18.5 -- The Cavs scored 121.5 points per 100 possessions in the conference semifinals against Toronto, 18.5 more than they scored in the first round against Indiana (103.0). The Indy series was too close for comfort; The Pacers actually outscored Cleveland by 40 points in the series and Cavs not named James registered an effective field goal percentage of just 47 percent (the league average is 52 percent). But things were much different against the No. 1 seed, with Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith combining to shoot 24-for-38 (63 percent) from 3-point range and Kevin Love recovering from a funk to average 25 points on 54 percent shooting over the final three games. The Cavs' defense remains a question, but they always have the ability to score points in bunches. The Celtics had the No. 1 defense in the regular season and the regular season series was on the ugly side (the teams combined to score just 100 points per 100 possessions), but Boston will have to pick its poison with James surrounded by shooters that have started to shoot well. -- John Schuhmann Making the pick The Cavaliers won two of the three meetings between these teams in the regular season, with their more impressive victory coming mere days after the Cleveland roster makeover at the trade deadline. The Cavs were plus-11 in the season series, James averaged 24.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg and 8.3 apg, Boston shot 30-of-106 from three and ... aw, who are we kidding? Regular season results matter little now. James is determined to win his 24th consecutive Eastern Conference series to reach his eighth straight Finals. He was a maestro vs. the Raptors in drawing out his teammates’ games. The Celtics, allowing for their injuries, already have overachieved. That ends here. Cavaliers in 6......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2018

Game 4: Cavaliers, Celtics look to finish off East sweeps

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press The unthinkable has happened before. Conference semifinals, 2010, Boston vs. Philadelphia: Boston wins the first two games at home, then goes into Philadelphia to capture Game 3 and take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Undeterred, Philadelphia won in seven games to reach the Eastern Conference finals. One small detail to note: That was in hockey. If there’s one piece of solace for the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors right now, it’s likely this — comebacks from 3-0 deficits are not completely unheard of in major sports. There’s been four of them in the NHL. Another happened in baseball, the Boston Red Sox rallying to oust the New York Yankees in the 2004 AL Championship Series. And even Cleveland has blown a 3-0 lead, albeit again in hockey, and that was of the minor league variety in 1960. But in the NBA, never. NBA teams staring into the 0-3 abyss have never been saved: 129 have tried, 129 have failed. On Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), the 76ers and the Raptors — both down 3-0 after down-to-the-wire defeats in their respective Game 3s of their Eastern Conference semifinal series — get their chance to be the ones who rewrite that ignominious piece of basketball history. Philadelphia plays host to Boston and Toronto is at Cleveland, with the 76ers and Raptors both trying to find ways to extend their seasons. “There’s a breaking point we all have,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “And I believe that if we can maintain our spirit, why couldn’t we be the one? And I mean that. That’s my goal with us, is to fight. That’s all I know. I can’t see any other way to approach this that makes sense to me. So that’s what we’re going to do.” The odds are obviously overwhelmingly in favor of the Celtics and Cavaliers, who seem destined to meet in the Eastern Conference finals for the second consecutive year. That’s hard to believe, given where those clubs were a week or so ago. Both needed to survive Game 7s just to get out of the first round. The narrative around the Celtics, with no Kyrie Irving for the postseason, was that they would be the East high seed ripe for a playoff upset. Oops. They’ve been unflappable. “I’ve never been around a group of guys, and I’ve been around some really special ones, that can just turn the page and they just play the next play the right way,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “It’s a really unique group in that regard.” The narrative around the Cavaliers was that LeBron James was being asked to do too much and his supporting cast was capable of too little. Oops, again. And now James is five wins from an eighth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. “We’re getting better,” Cavs forward Jeff Green said. “We’re getting better each game. Our defense is getting better. We’re playing together. Things are turning a corner for us at the right time.” A look at Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) games: CELTICS AT 76ERS Celtics lead 3-0. Game 4, 6 p.m. EDT, (6am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: The Celtics are playing for a lot of rest. A win on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), and the Celtics wouldn’t play again until at least Sunday (next Monday, PHL time). And there’s nothing more valuable than days off to heal nagging things at this time of year. KEEP AN EYE ON: Jayson Tatum. Boston’s young standout was brilliant in Game 3 with 24 points, and the Celtics were plus-24 when he was on the floor. In the 11.5 minutes he was on the bench, Philadelphia outscored Boston 39-18. STAT QUIRK: Philadelphia set an NBA record with a 16-game winning streak to end the regular season. The 76ers topped the 15-game end-of-season run by the 1950 Rochester Royals — who exited the playoffs in a sweep. PRESSURE IS ON: Ben Simmons. The 76ers point guard made some atrocious decisions in the final moments of Game 3, like going back up with an offensive rebound late in regulation (instead of burning some clock with Philly leading) and the lazy-looking one-handed inbounds pass for a turnover in overtime that sealed Boston’s win. RAPTORS AT CAVALIERS Cavaliers lead 3-0. Game 4, 8:30 p.m. EDT (8:30am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: Pity the Raptors. After coming into these playoffs with title hopes, Toronto has again been unable to solve LeBron James. In the last 15 matchups where the Raptors have faced James, they’re 1-14 and are now on the brink of being ousted by the Cavs for the third straight season. KEEP ANY EYE ON: Kevin Love’s resurgence. Cleveland’s other All-Star has been revived in this series, a development that bodes well for the Cavs going forward. Love finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds in Game 3, responding to urging from Cavs coach Tyronn Lue to play faster. PRESSURE IS ON: Raptors coach Dwane Casey. His moves have been questioned throughout the first three games. Toronto ran a mind-boggling inbounds play in the final minute of Game 3 with guard Fred VanVleet hoisting and missing a 35-foot jumper before the shot clock expired. Casey also benched All-Star DeMar DeRozan for the entire fourth quarter, a bold decision given that he’s the club’s best offensive player. PRODUCT PLACEMENT: James’ choice to wear a Seagram’s 7 whiskey cap to his postgame news conference was interesting. Some suspected he might be trolling the Raptors since Seagram’s was originally a Canadian company. The logo also includes a small crown, so there’s the royal angle. Whatever the case, he may want to start getting Samuel Adams hats ready for the East finals — if he wants to tweak Boston fans a bit more. ___ AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 7th, 2018

Bayern keeper can t explain costly mistake against Madrid

MUNICH (AP) — Bayern Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich "can't explain" how he made a crucial mistake that allowed Real Madrid score a second goal in the Champions League semifinals. The teams were level at 1-1 at the start of the second half when Corentin Tolisso, under pressure from Toni Kroos, played a short back-pass to Ulreich. The Bayern goalkeeper would have reached the ball ahead of Karim Benzema but he appeared to realize late that he wasn't allowed to pick it up. Instead, he attempted to clear it with his foot but let the ball slip through for Benzema to score.   Worte können nicht beschreiben wie enttäuscht ich über das Ausscheiden in der CL bin. Wir wollten unbedingt ins Finale und wir haben unser Bestes gegeben und dann passiert mir dieser unnötige Fehler. Ich kann es mir nicht erklären. Es tut mir leid... für mein Team und für euch Fans. #weiterimmerweiter A post shared by Sven Ulreich (@svenulreichoffiziell) on May 2, 2018 at 1:40am PDT "Words cannot describe how disappointed I am over the Champions League exit. We really wanted to reach the final and we gave our best and then this unnecessary mistake happened to me," Ulreich wrote on Instagram. "I can't explain it. I'm sorry. for my team and for you fans." Bayern ended up with a 2-2 draw, but Madrid progressed to its third consecutive final with a 4-3 aggregate win following a 2-1 victory in Munich last week. Ulreich, who had been playing well while filling in for the injured Manuel Neuer this season, sat alone on the field long after the final whistle. Bayern fans responded positively to his message on Instagram......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2018

Real Madrid keeps adding to its European dominance

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Surrounded by fans and holding a microphone in his hand, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos joined the Santiago Bernabeu faithful in song: "Kings of Europe. We are the kings of Europe." There is still one more Champions League match to go, but Madrid certainly has a claim to that throne. "We are happy, and for good reason," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "It's not normal to make it to the final in three consecutive seasons. Definitely it's not normal. But here we are again, and we will try to defend our title any way we can." Two-time defending champion Madrid reached yet another Champions League final by eliminating Bayern Munich in the semifinals. It will be the team's fourth appearance in the final in the last five years. Already a 12-time champion, Madrid will now try to become the first team to win three consecutive titles in the current Champions League format. Last season, it became the first to win two in a row. "It's not about this team, it's about this club," Zidane said. "It has a long history, one that started a very long time ago. And now we are adding another chapter to it. Others have done it before us, and now it's our time to do it." Zidane was still a player when he helped Madrid win its ninth Champions League title in 2002, but after that the club went more than a decade without even making it to the final. It wasn't until Carlo Ancelotti took over that Madrid returned to glory in 2014, and then Zidane — in his first head-coaching job — led the team to consecutive trophies in 2016 and 2017. "What we have is this never-give-up attitude," Zidane said. "Even when facing significant difficulties, as it happened against a great rival like Bayern. We keep believing and we keep fighting, and that's how we reach our goals." Madrid has become the first team to twice play in three straight finals in the top European club competition. It first did it when it won five straight titles when the competition started from 1956-60. Its other trophies came in 1966, 1998 and 2000. AC Milan is the team closest to Madrid in European titles with seven. Ajax (1971-73) and Bayern (1974-76) are the only other teams besides Madrid to have won with three consecutive trophies. It hasn't been an easy path to the final for Madrid this season. After eliminating Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16, it nearly squandered a 3-0 lead against Juventus in the quarterfinals. And on Tuesday it came very close to relinquishing a 2-1 advantage against Bayern. "We've beaten three enormous teams," Zidane said. "You are not going to do that without suffering. We need to be very happy with what we've done." Madrid conceded early against Bayern, just like it did against Juventus, but Karim Benzema scored twice — including after an embarrassing mistake by Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich — and the hosts held on after James Rodriguez left the Germans a goal away from avoiding their third consecutive elimination against the Spanish powerhouse. "It's not easy to get to four finals in five years," Madrid midfielder Luka Modric said. "We are very happy because we are doing incredible things, it's amazing. We are one step away and I hope we can get our hands on another trophy.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Lewandowski powers Poland revival

By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press Poland's hopes at the World Cup depend on Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich forward scored 16 goals in 10 games — a European qualifying record — to propel Poland to its first World Cup in 12 years. Lewandowski offers hope of a return to the fruitful period during the golden era in the 1970s and 1980s when Grzegorz Lato and Zbigniew Boniek were on the team and Poland played in four straight World Cups, finishing third in 1974 and 1982. Former international Adam Nawalka has crafted a hard-working cohesive unit since taking over as coach from Waldemar Fornalik in 2013. Poland was 69th in the FIFA rankings when Nawalka took over. After qualifying for the 2016 European Championship, where the team lost on penalties to eventual champion Portugal in the quarterfinals, and a strong qualifying campaign for Russia, Poland is now 10th. Here's a closer look at the Poland team: COACH Nawalka, who has never worked outside of Poland, was handed the job after the country failed to qualify for the last World Cup. He ensured qualification was never really in doubt this time, a 4-0 loss in Denmark notwithstanding, as Poland won every home game. Nawalka, who played at the 1978 World Cup for Poland, coached several Polish teams, including three stints at hometown club Wisla Krakow before leading Gornik Zabrze to promotion six months after taking over in 2010. Gornik was at the top of the Polish league standings when he took over the national team. Nawalka was also briefly an assistant to former Poland coach Leo Beenhakker during qualification for Euro 2008. GOALKEEPERS Wojciech Szczesny, now playing for Juventus as an understudy to Gianluigi Buffon, started Euro 2016 but missed the rest of the tournament after picking up an injury in the opening game against Northern Ireland. Former Arsenal teammate Lukasz Fabianski, now with Swansea, filled in and helped the team reach the quarterfinals. Fabianski played most of the qualifiers but Szczesny returned for the final two. Roma goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski should provide additional backup. DEFENDERS The 190-centimeter (6-foot-3) Kamil Glik marshals Poland's defensive line and provides a commanding presence at center back. Tough-tackling and hard-working, Glik also excels in organizational skills, and is adept at quickly switching play to wingers Kamil Grosicki or Jakub Blaszczykowski. Glik, formerly Torino's captain, played a big part in helping Monaco win the French title in 2017. Borussia Dortmund right back Lukasz Piszczek will be another who ensures Poland gets forward quickly from defense. MIDFIELDERS Apart from the tireless Blaszczykowski and Grosicki, Poland has a new creative force in 23-year-old Piotr Zielinski. The Napoli midfielder played in every qualification game and is among the first on Nawalka's teamsheet. Grzegorz Krychowiak is another vital cog for Nawalka. A move from Sevilla, where he had excelled, to Paris Saint-Germain in 2016 didn't work out as well as he hoped, and the 28-year-old defensive midfielder has been playing this season on loan at Premier League club West Bromwich Albion. Krychowiak epitomizes the team's hard working ethic and is already a veteran for Poland after making his senior debut in 2008. FORWARDS While Lewandowski is undoubtedly the star, Poland does have another option in attack in Arkadiusz Milik, a teammate of Zielinski's at Napoli. Milik had little success for Bayer Leverkusen or Augsburg in Germany, but excelled in a loan spell at Ajax, which consequently made his loan permanent. Napoli signed the 24-year-old Milik as a replacement for the Juventus-bound Gonzalo Higuain in 2016. Two serious knee injuries have blighted his time in Italy. Milik made five appearances for Poland in qualifying. Even with Milik at his best, however, Lewandowski is irreplaceable for Poland. The 29-year-old Lewandowski provided more than half of the team's goals in qualifying alone. Clinical in front of goal, strong and skillful, Lewandowski is the key to success. GROUP GAMES Poland will be based in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and will begin its campaign against Senegal in Moscow on June 19. The team then faces Colombia in Kazan on June 24 before wrapping up Group H play against Japan in Volgograd four days later......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2018

I believe is Roma s slogan vs. Liverpool in CL semifinal

By The Associated Press Roma already erased a three-goal deficit once in this season's Champions League. The Giallorossi believe they can do it again against Liverpool on Wednesday. "We've already shown we're capable of coming back and we should have the belief that we can do it again," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. Liverpool won the first leg 5-2, so Roma needs a repeat of its 3-0 second-leg victory over Barcelona in the quarterfinals to reach next month's final in Kiev. A 4-1 win — Roma's result against Chievo Verona on Saturday — would also suffice. "I believe. That's my slogan and that's what I want to transmit to my players," Di Francesco added. However, Roma will have to find a way to stop its former striker, Mohamed Salah, who scored the opening two goals of the first leg. Security will also be a concern following clashes at the first leg that left a Liverpool fan in critical condition. Italian state police said "special attention" will be paid to the arrival and movements of 5,000 Liverpool supporters in the capital. Wednesday's game is a rematch of the 1984 European Cup final that Liverpool won in a penalty shootout in Roma's stadium. In the other semifinal, Real Madrid will look to protect a 2-1 lead against Bayern Munich on Tuesday as it seeks a third consecutive title. REDS REUNITE Liverpool should have its devastating front three intact for the second leg, with coach Juergen Klopp saying Sadio Mane will be fit after a minor thigh injury. Mane, who missed the 0-0 draw with Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday, will link up again with Salah and Roberto Firmino — reuniting the players who scored all of Liverpool's goals in the first leg. They have scored 28 goals between them in this season's Champions League, more than any other team in the competition. Klopp does have issues in midfield, though, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out for the rest of the season after sustaining a serious knee problem in the first leg to join fellow midfielders Adam Lallana and Emre Can on the injury list. Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum are Klopp's only fit senior midfielders. Liverpool, a five-time European champion, has proved to be the master of the counterattack domestically and in the Champions League this season, so is the last team that Roma will want to be gung-ho against. The Reds did, though, squander a three-goal cushion against Sevilla in the group stage to draw 3-3. MADRID OPTIONS Madrid may not be as depleted as expected for the return match against Bayern. Right back Dani Carvajal is still set to miss Tuesday's match because of a muscle problem, but Francisco "Isco" Alarcon appears to have recovered from the shoulder injury that everyone expected to keep him from playing at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Isco, a key piece in Zinedine Zidane's midfield, had to be replaced at halftime in the first leg in Germany because of a sprained left shoulder. He practiced with the rest of the squad for the first time since the injury on Sunday. If Isco can't play, Zidane will likely start with Marco Asensio, who came off the bench to score the winner on Wednesday. Another player who may be available for Zidane on Tuesday is defender Nacho Fernandez, who had been out for a while because of a muscle injury but also practiced with the squad on Sunday. Zidane rested Cristiano Ronaldo and most of the regular starters in the team's 2-1 win against Leganes in the Spanish league on Saturday. Casemiro was the only player who started in the first leg against Bayern and also on Saturday. "They'll come here with nothing to lose," Zidane said of Bayern. "We'll have to put in a huge performance." BAYERN'S BELIEF Bayern is taking heart from the number of chances it created in the first leg and from its 2-1 lead in Madrid last year before Zinedine Zidane's side ultimately won their quarterfinal in extra time. "I think they were floundering for every cross and for every long ball, so we know what we have to do," Bayern striker Sandro Wagner said. Thomas Mueller, one of a host of players including Franck Ribery, James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski left out of Bayern's 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, says the side is traveling with confidence to Madrid. "We all know that we need a top performance on Tuesday. We all know as well, however, that there's everything to play for," Mueller said. Arjen Robben, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez all missed the Frankfurt game through injury. Robben reportedly is still out and won't make the trip, while Bayern hopes David Alaba can make his comeback from a back injury. Bayern, which faces Frankfurt again in the German Cup final on May 19, needs to beat Madrid to keep alive its hopes of a treble after clinching the Bundesliga with five rounds to spare. "We swore that we'd throw everything into the return game," Wagner said. "I'm looking forward to it. I'd play it right now if I could.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

Champions League back in Chelsea s sights as rivals stumble

LONDON (AP) — Chelsea could squeeze into the Champions League after all. In the space of 20 days, Antonio Conte's side has reduced Tottenham's hold on fourth place in the English Premier League from 10 to two points. Cesc Fabregas was set up by Eden Hazard to secure a 1-0 victory over Swansea that gave Chelsea a third successive victory to take advantage of Tottenham's stumbles on Saturday. After Tottenham plays Watford on Monday, the north London club and Chelsea will have three games remaining. Adding further intrigue to the hunt for the three places below newly crowned champion Manchester City was Liverpool slipping to a third draw in four matches. With Mohamed Salah failing to score a 44th goal of the season, Liverpool was held by Stoke to 0-0. Juergen Klopp's priority is protecting a 5-2 advantage over Roma in the Champions League semifinals when it travels to Italy for the second leg on Wednesday. But if the five-time European champions aren't careful they might need to lift the cup again to secure a route back into the Champions League next season. Liverpool is only six points ahead of Chelsea having played a game more than the deposed champion it meets next Sunday at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United, which is two points ahead of Liverpool in second place, has four games remaining, starting on Sunday at home to sixth-place Arsenal. RELEGATION SCRAP The three teams in the bottom three staved off relegation, for now. West Bromwich Albion has mounted an improbable recovery under caretaker manager Darren Moore. Matt Phillips sealed a 1-0 victory at Newcastle — Moore's second success in a four-game unbeaten stint — to nudge the last-place team five points from safety. That's where Swansea is, a place and a point above the drop zone. Stoke is sandwiched between Southampton and West Brom, separated by two points from both fellow strugglers. Dusan Tadic scored twice to give Southampton its first home win since November, 2-1 over Bournemouth. Huddersfield isn't out of danger yet, sitting three points above Southampton after being beaten 2-0 by Everton, whose goals came from Cenk Tosun and Idrissa Gueye. PALACE MAJESTIC Cyrstal Palace looked doomed after losing its opening seven games without scoring. The south London club climbed to 11th place — six points clear of the bottom three — after beating Leicester 5-0. Wilfried Zaha again excelled and scored the opening goal and James McArthur doubled the lead before gaining a man advantage in the 55th minute. Marc Albrighton was sent off for bringing down Zaha. The goal flurry came in the last 10 minutes when Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Patrick van Aanholt netted and Christian Benteke struck a penalty. Leicester, the surprise 2016 champion, is six points ahead of Palace in ninth place. BURNLEY FOR EUROPE Burnley can start to dream of playing in Europe after a 51-year absence, with seventh place virtual assured after drawing with Brighton 0-0. The northwest England club is six points clear of eighth-place Everton with two games remaining and a superior goal difference. Brighton moved five points clear of the relegation zone with nine points to play for. PROMOTION PUSH Cardiff has the edge to join Wolverhampton in returning to the Premier League. Cardiff beat Hull 2-0 to reclaim second place in the second-tier League Championship, a point ahead of Fulham heading into the final round......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Nigeria calm under Rohr for now

By Gerald Imray, Associated Press Gernot Rohr has restored stability to Nigeria heading into the World Cup. The German brought a sense of calm to a team that went through five coaches in two years following the 2014 tournament in Brazil. Africa's most populous nation flew through qualifying and was the first team to qualify from the region, seeing off continental champion Cameroon. Nigeria then showcased its qualities by winning a friendly last year against Argentina — its final Group D opponent. Nigeria has an array of attacking options that includes Premier League talent in Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa. The challenge is to ensure the defense is similarly strong and the squad doesn't get sidetracked by off-the-field issues that have undermined previous campaigns at major tournaments. At the 2014 World Cup, it was a disagreement over player payment that almost caused the team to go out on strike ahead of the last 16 game against France, which Nigeria lost. Rohr will be hoping there's no repeat. Here's a closer look at the Nigeria team: COACH Rohr hasn't had a high-profile career, coaching Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso before taking on one of Africa's most demanding football jobs. Rohr has set out to experiment with various formations in an effort to make the team more tactically aware and versatile, and able to compete with the best in the world like Argentina. Nigeria has lost just twice since Rohr took over in August 2016. GOALKEEPERS This area has been an issue for Nigeria ever since regular No. 1 Carl Ikeme revealed last year that he had been diagnosed with leukemia. Rohr made Ikechukwu Ezenwa, one of the few Nigeria-based players in the squad, the new first-choice goalkeeper for the remainder of the World Cup qualifying campaign. But there may be a surprise in goal in Russia, with Rohr recently talking up 19-year-old prospect Francis Uzoho, who last year became the youngest foreign goalkeeper in La Liga when he made his debut for Deportivo La Coruna at 18. The 6-foot-5 teenager is definitely a talent. DEFENDERS Leon Balogun, born in Germany, and William Troost-Ekong, born in Netherlands, are the preferred central defensive partnership. Either side of them, places are up for grabs. Elderson Echiejile appears to be the first option at left back and Shehu Abdullahi at right back. But there are other contenders for starting places. One of the most intriguing is left back Brian Idowu, who was born in St. Petersburg to Nigerian parents and has lived his whole life and spent his entire career in Russia. MIDFIELDERS Captain John Obi Mikel and Ogenyi Onazi are the rocks of the team in central midfield and their diligence allows Nigeria to play three and sometimes four players in advanced positions. The 21-year-old Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester also has a growing reputation. FORWARDS Victor Moses' recent resurgence means Rohr expects the Chelsea forward to lead Nigeria's attack, which promises to be a handful for opponents. Alongside Moses, Musa and Alex Iwobi could be the other starting forwards if Rohr continues with a formation that gives him two men playing either side of central striker Musa. But the competition for places in Nigeria's attack is fierce. There's also Iheanacho, Moses Simon and China-based striker Odion Ighalo. GROUP GAMES Nigeria's opening game is against Croatia on June 16, it then plays Iceland on June 22 before the big one to finish its Group D campaign, against Lionel Messi and Argentina in St. Petersburg on June 26......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

UAAP Volleyball: Jho Maraguinot will not return next season

The time has come for Jho Maraguinot.  And the decision is final.  Following the four-set loss against the FEU Lady Tamaraws, which ended a season filled with so many questions, the Alitagtag, Batangas native has called it quits after playing four years with the Lady Eagles, and will forego her fifth year of eligibility. "Yeah, I'm graduating. I have one more, but I think I'm done," the veteran said in their final press conference for the season.  Maraguinot, who averaged 14.5 points and was instrumental in Ateneo's run to the Final Four, ended her UAAP career with 11 markers. She played from Ateneo's tail end of their championship seasons, in Season 77, and led the team alongside Alyssa Valdez in her swan song in Season 78. While talking about their 20-25, 21-25, 25-14, 19-25 loss, she reminisced and said on what she'll miss about the women's collegiate volleyball wars. "Siyempre, sobrang sayang kasi it was do-or-die for us and we died. But, kinulang lang kami, lumaban pa rin naman kami. 'Yung third set namin was grabe, 'yun 'yung mami-miss ko sa UAAP -- 'yung feeling na kita mo na lahat ng teammates mo lumalaban, nagtutulong-tulong. We fought 'til the end." When asked about her experience with the team, Maraguinot calls her stint "life changing", adding that her years with the squad made her a better person.  Maraguinot, who concludes her run with Ateneo alongside coach Tai Bundit, who also announced his exit from the team, says she hopes that the team she had just left can finish the job in the following seasons. She also thanked her Thai mentor, for the countless sacrifices he had made with the team, but understands his plight and only hopes only the best for the coach. "Sobrang laki nang ginawa sa akin ni coach. Kundi dahil sa kanya, di ako ganito maglaro. It's sad na he's gonna leave, pero he has his family back home," Maraguinot mentioned. "Marami na siyang na-sacrifice for us, I guess it's time for him to spend his time back home kasi lumalaki 'yung mga anak niya without him." Now that their season is through, the volleyball acknowledged that is was mission accomplished for the team -- as they only aimed for a spot in the Final Four, a step lower since they had made the Finals in six consecutive seasons, winning twice.  "At the start of the season, goal lang namin was to reach the Final Four. Alam namin 'yung kulang sa team, 'yung capabilities noong start. But then, as the days went, ang laking nang naging improvement. Sobrang laki nang in-improve in just a year. Next year, kaya na nila 'yan. For sure, magi-improve pa 'yan." In talking about her future plans, Maraguinot said that she has not yet decided on playing in the pro leagues, but is looking forward to the national team tryouts, since she was one of the 34 players given an invitation for a crack at making the prestigious roster for the Asian Games. --   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 21st, 2018

Madrid has depleted defense for 2nd leg against Juventus

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Scoring hasn't been a problem for Real Madrid recently, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo in top form. But the European champions could have issues in defense when they host Juventus in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday. Madrid will try to protect its three-goal advantage from the first leg with coach Zinedine Zidane unable to use his best players in central defense. Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is suspended and his immediate substitute, Nacho Fernandez, is out injured. Raphael Varane just returned from injury, and the other central defender in the squad, 21-year-old Jesus Vallejo, hasn't been fully fit and it remains unclear if he will be able to make it to the match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Madrid won the first leg 3-0 in Turin, with Ronaldo scoring with a spectacular bicycle kick for his second goal of the match. Madrid can reach the semifinals for the eighth straight year even if it loses Wednesday's game by two goals. Zidane probably would have liked not to force Varane's return in the Spanish league derby against Atletico Madrid this weekend, but he couldn't rest him because Vallejo was bothered by muscle discomfort in practice last week. Exams showed no major injury to Vallejo, but he trained separately from the squad on Monday before joining the rest of the team on Tuesday. "Jesus had a good practice session, he didn't feel anything," Zidane said. "Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will see who gets to play. We shouldn't have any problems. If we do, we will adapt." Vallejo is Zidane's last option to play in central defense, and the youngster didn't impress in the few times he got to play this season. He has made only eight appearances, mostly when Zidane chose to rest his regular starters. His last match was against Las Palmas following the international break last month. Vallejo's last Spanish league match before that was against Sevilla in December. "Jesus is a good player," Varane said. "He doesn't have experience in this competition (Champions League) but he has a lot of quality. From what we've seen in practice, he is fine. If he plays, all of us will be confident that he can get the job done." Madrid didn't concede against Las Palmas, but before that it conceded at least once in five straight matches, including three times against Girona in a league game at home. In the attack, Madrid has scored in seven straight matches, with Ronaldo continuing to impress. He has found the net 20 times in his last 10 games, including in the 1-1 derby against Atletico on Sunday. The match against Juventus will be Ronaldo's 150th in the Champions League. If Vallejo can't play, Zidane will have to improvise in central defense, likely using midfielder Casemiro to play alongside Varane. Mateo Kovacic would likely enter the lineup to replace Casemiro in the midfield, or Zidane could choose a more aggressive setup with an extra attacking midfielder such as Marco Asensio or Francisco "Isco" Alarcon. "Casemiro is used to playing in the midfield but he has practiced in the back many times," Varane said. "We know how he defends, how he plays." Madrid has won three Champions League titles in the last four seasons, including the last two in a row. The team defeated Juventus 4-1 in last year's final. No team has ever overturned a 3-0 home loss in the Champions League. "We'll need to play a complete game against a complete team if we are to get a positive result," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Nobody expected us to concede after two minutes in Turin, so why can't we do the same tomorrow (Wednesday)." If Juventus can't come back, it could be the final Champions League match for veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. "Trying to achieve the impossible will help us achieve the possible," the 40-year-old Buffon said. "This is what we need to do. We need to play with this kind of spirit against an amazing side.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

UAAP VOLLEYBALL: FEU secures Final Four berth

Far Eastern University banked on the fifth set heroics of graduating hitter Bernadeth Pons and Heather Guino-o as the Lady Tamaraws secured the third Final Four berth in a come-from-behind 25-22, 25-27, 14-25, 25-22, 15-11, win Saturday over Adamson University in the 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the MOA Arena. The Lady Tams duo delivered nine points in the fifth frame including the crucial hits in the closing stretch of the match to advance in the semis for the fourth straight year and keep their semis twice-to-beat hopes alive. FEU improved to 8-4 win-loss record while dropping their first round tormentors to 5-7 card. “‘Yun naman talaga ang goal namin na mag-top two kasi hinahabol namin ang twice-to-beat advantage so ‘yun nakuha naming,” said FEU coach George Pascua. The Lady Tams must sweep their last two games against University of the East and National University and hope that either of the grand slam-seeking De La Salle University (9-2) and Ateneo de Manila University (9-3) won't reach 11 wins to force at least a playoff for a semis twice-to-beat.     “Hopefully ‘yung mga susunod na games pa namin mas pagbubutihan namin kasi nabigyan kami ng chance, so ‘yung chance na nabigay sa amin hindi na namin pakakawalan,” said Pascua. Pons had another all-around performance, boosting her stock in for the Most Valuable Player award, scoring 22 points highlighted by 20 attacks while adding 24 excellent receptions and 23 digs for the Morayta-based squad. Celine Domingo dominated the front of the net with six kill blocks in her 18-point explosion while Toni Rose Basas and Guino-o posted 16 and 12 markers, respectively, for FEU.   After clawing their way from a 1-2 match deficit, the  Lady Tam raced to an 8-5 lead capped by Guino-o's hit only to allow the Lady Falcons behind Jema Galanza to overtake them, 10-8, with five straight points. Pons scored four of the Lady Tams' closing 7-1 blitz. Galanza finished with 16 points while Mylene Paat had 15 markers for Adamson. Joy Dacoron and Eli Soyud added 12 and 11 markers, respectively, for the Lady Falcons., who now need to win their last two elims games against two-time defending champion De La Salle and University of Sto. Tomas and hope that National University (6-6) won't reach eight wins to force at least a playoff for the last semis spot.      ---              Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 7th, 2018

PBA: Hotshots 100 percent not enough to handle SMB

The Hotshots waited so long and worked so hard to finally reach the PBA Finals. And when they got there, they were smashed by the almighty San Miguel Beermen. Seriously, in five games, Magnolia trailed at least 20 three different times and in the clincher, they blew a 23-point lead and lost in double overtime. If not for an incredible comeback in Game 1, the Beermen would have swept Magnolia. Instead, San Miguel won the Philippine Cup via a gentleman's sweep for a second year in a row. Still, Chito Victolero, playing in his first Finals a head coach. couldn't be more proud of his wards. "Wala na akong mahihiling sa mga players ko. Usapan naman namin, 100 percent effort. Sumobra pa nga eh," he said after the Hotshots lost the All-Filipino, 1-4. "Our goal is a grind out game, we achieved that. We stayed close. Two overtimes. Breaks of the game lang," Victolero added. The final two games of the series were games Magnolia wanted says Victolero. The Hotshots just couldn't pull it off. And after this experience, Victolero hopes his team can comeback healthy and try again next time. Hopefully, with a better result as well. "Hindi nakalusot," he said. "Sana makabalik ulit kami sa ganitong situation with a complete lineup," Victolero added.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 7th, 2018

Dominant at home, Europe where Bayern & City measure success

By Rob Harris, Associated Press Three of the teams in the Champions League quarterfinals are in a luxurious position, and running away with their domestic competitions allows them to concentrate on European glory. Manchester City and Bayern Munich could even secure trophies between the first and second legs in Europe over the next week or so. City, which travels to Liverpool in an all-northwest England quarterfinal on Wednesday, has a 16-point lead in the Premier League. Bayern, which is a point better off at the Bundesliga summit, visits on Tuesday a Sevilla side that is in the European Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 60 years. Barcelona has a nine-point lead at home as it prepares to host Roma on Wednesday, with defending champion Real Madrid trailing by 13 points in third place. Madrid, though, is a European force. Champions League winners in three of the last four seasons, Zinedine Zidane's side visits Serie A leader Juventus on Tuesday. A closer look at the quarterfinal match-ups: ___ JUVENTUS-REAL MADRID Has Gareth Bale done enough to retain his place in Madrid's starting lineup? Either side of the recent international break, Bale scored three goals in two matches. But he wasn't entrusted with a starting place in the round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain — reflecting the uncertainty surrounding the Wales forward's status in the squad. "I'm pleased with his performance," Madrid coach Zidane said after Bale scored twice in a 3-0 win at relegation-threatened Las Palmas on Saturday. "You'll have to wait and see if he plays on Tuesday." Lucas Vazquez could drop out if Zidane restores the "BBC" front-line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Bale. Bale, though, could miss out again if Madrid decide to add an extra midfielder for the first leg in Turin by including Marco Asensio or Francisco "Isco" Alarcon. Madrid and Juventus are meeting for the first time since last season's final when the Spanish capital club swept to a 12th European title. The only Champions League final Madrid has failed to reach in the last four seasons was in 2014-15 — when it lost to Juventus in the semifinals. Juventus must raise its game after struggling in Serie A recently. After a 0-0 draw at lowly Spal, the team was outplayed by AC Milan for much of Saturday's match before Juan Cuadrado came off the bench to turn things around. On his first appearance after more than three months out with a groin injury, Cuadrado grabbed the crucial second goal in a 3-1 win. "He's come back well and has astounded me," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said, "because often in the past he hasn't done well coming off the bench." Juventus is once again in the hunt for a treble, leading Serie A by four points and through to the Italian Cup final. ___ BARCELONA-ROMA Barcelona can count on Lionel Messi again but how fit is he? After missing recent Argentina games with a muscular problem, he made a scoring return from the bench on Saturday against Sevilla to preserve Barcelona's unbeaten La Liga record this season. Coach Ernesto Valverde, however, said Messi is still bothered by pain heading into the game against Roma. The Italian capital club is awaiting a prognosis on Radja Nainggolan's thigh injury. The Belgium international, who has started all of Roma's Champions League matches, limped off 16 minutes into Saturday's 1-1 draw at Bologna. Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco is doubtful Nainggolan will recover in time "He is the 'Ninja,'" Di Francesco said. "He told me to wait and tried to run it off, but if he had to give up and leave the pitch that means there's really something wrong and the problem is serious." With Roma prioritizing the game against Barcelona, the lack of depth was evident on Saturday when Edin Dzeko had to come off the bench to salvage a draw. __ LIVERPOOL-MAN CITY City makes a return trip to the only stadium where it has lost during an otherwise unbeaten Premier League campaign. With Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane boasting 75 goals between them this season, Liverpool has an impressive attacking armory to take on Pep Guardiola's side. "They are almost unstoppable," Guardiola said. "The way Liverpool play is so complicated for us. We know that. They are so quick, they are so good." The 4-3 loss at Anfield in January was a blip in City's progression to the Premier League title that can be sealed with a win against Manchester United on Saturday. With the European first leg on Wednesday and the return at the Etihad Stadium next Tuesday, Guardiola's predicament will be whether to rest players for the Manchester derby and potentially miss out on winning the Premier League in perhaps the sweetest way. Guardiola is hoping to welcome Sergio Aguero back from a knee injury that has kept the striker out of action for a month. While Liverpool is England's most successful side with five European Cups, City has never won the competition. Guardiola, though, led Barcelona to two Champions League titles. ___ SEVILLA-BAYERN MUNICH Bayern's players must be dreading the sight of Sevilla: Spanish teams have eliminated them in the past four seasons. Before then, Bayern lifted the European Cup in the all-German 2013 final against Borussia Dortmund when Jupp Heynckes completed a treble before stepping down. The 72-year-old coach was brought out of retirement to return in October when Carlo Ancelotti was fired after losing to PSG. Heynckes has overseen a remarkable turnaround, with Bayern on course to repeat the 2013 treble. Sevilla, though, keeps on upsetting more illustrious sides. Not only was Jose Mourinho's Manchester United stunned in the round of 16 but Barcelona was held to a draw on Saturday. Sevilla, which won the Europa League in 2014, 2015 and 2016, is contesting its first European Cup quarterfinal since 1958. ___ Tales Azzoni in Madrid, Daniella Matar in Milan and Ciaran Fahey in Berlin contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 3rd, 2018

History within reach as Azkals face Tajikistan with Asian Cup qualification on the line

The Philippine Azkals are on the brink of making history and could be ninety minutes away from doing so as they close out their 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers campaign against Tajikistan on Tuesday, March 27th at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. A win or a least a draw will send the Azkals to the AFC Asian Cup tournament for the first time in Philippine football history. Sitting at the top of Group F, the Azkals started strong, picking up back-to-back victories in the Group Stages against Nepal and Tajikistan, creating early separation from the field. In their last three matches however, the Philippine side managed three draws, twice against Yemen and once against Nepal. Still, the Azkals find themselves in prime position to advance to the Asian Cup tournament, and while a stalemate would be enough, it’s the maximum three points that they’re after. “This is a game that we have to win because we want to win our home games. We wanna win every game. It’s important for us to beat a team that we’ve beaten before, and we haven’t lost a game yet in the tournament, so we wanna do the same, we don’t wanna lose the game at home.” said Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley during the pre-match press conference. “Our focus is winning the game. If it comes out as a tie, it’s okay, but we’re trying to win our game.” Coming off a 3-2 win over Fiji in an International Friendly last Thursday, the Azkals, who are coming off a long layoff, have now found their footing, and team captain Phil Younghusband believes that the team is confident heading into the match. “It’s a big game tomorrow. The players understand that. The team understands that. We’re looking forward to the game and we’re going to the game with good confidence but also very wary of how good Tajikistan are.” The visitors will need a victory to keep their Asian Cup dreams alive. Aside from the Azkals making history, Fil-British foward is also on-pace to make some history of his own. Already the leading scorer for the Philippine National Team, Younghusband is one away from reaching the 50-goal mark and would be the first Filipino to do so. Reaching the half-century mark puts Younghusband up there with the likes of international football greats such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Ronaldo, and many others. For the Azkals’ skipper however, getting the all-important win is what matters. “The 50th can wait for another time, the most important thing is we win the game. Obviously it would be perfect if I could score the 50th and we win the game, but the most important thing is the win because that would take us to another level in the Asian Cup.”   With a win, the Azkals will improve to 12 points and finish first in Group F, securing a spot in the 2019 Asian Cup. With a draw, they finish with ten points and are assured of a top-two finish in Group F, which will also secure a spot in the 2019 Asian Cup. A loss and the Azkals finish with nine points, while Tajikistan finishes with ten points. Should this be the case, The Azkals will need to hope for a Yemen loss in their final match against Nepal to be assured of a second-place finish in Group F and qualification to the 2019 Asian Cup.   Catch the Azkals as they take on Tajikistan in their final 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers match on Tuesday, March 27th, LIVE on LIGA channel 86 and LIGA HD channel 183. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 27th, 2018