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Playing Hero

THERE are superhero movies armed with jaw-dropping visual effects and characters with fantastic superpowers. Then there are superhero movies that showcase the valiant travails of real-life heroes from the past, who have made a relevant impact on society just like the recent flick “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.” Playing Kapitan Juan del Pilar, the lead character’s… link: Playing Hero.....»»

Category: newsSource: manilainformer manilainformerSep 16th, 2018

With Blackwater contract expiring, Zamar rises to occasion

MANILA, Philippines – Paul Zamar has given Blackwater more reasons to keep him in the near future. With his contract expiring in less than two months, the 30-year-old once again proved his worth by playing hero down the stretch to lift the Elite to a gritty 94-91 win over Meralco in ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 6th, 2018

Playing Hero

THERE are superhero movies armed with jaw-dropping visual effects and characters with fantastic superpowers. Then there are superhero movies that showcase the valiant travails of real-life heroes from the past, who have made a relevant impact on society just like the recent flick “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.” Playing Kapitan Juan del Pilar, the lead character’s… link: Playing Hero.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsSep 16th, 2018

Defending champion Capitals have almost no camp competition

By Stephen Whyno, Associated Press ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — While smiles are in high supply at training camp for the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, open jobs are not. Returning 18 of 20 the players who dressed in their Cup-clinching victory, the Capitals have almost no competition for roster spots going into the regular season. Barring injuries, the front office and coaching staff could pencil in probably 95 percent of the opening night roster before anyone hits the ice. "Obviously, I know our roster pretty well," general manager Brian MacLellan said Friday. "It's still going to be competitive on the fourth line. We're going to try to find a fourth line that we'd like to add a little bit more skill, a little more speed, and what we can do on the penalty kill." Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Braden Holtby and the rest of Washington's championship core remaining intact leaves the likes of Travis Boyd and newcomers Nic Dowd and Sergei Shumakov competing for fourth-line roles. MacLellan figures there will also be a competition between veteran Brooks Orpik and young defensemen Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey for playing time on the third pairing. That's a far cry from a year ago when the Capitals lost a handful of key contributors and were looking for someone — anyone — to step up and fill voids. Those voids don't exist this year given that only fourth-line center Jay Beagle and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer aren't around. "You never know what's going to happen tomorrow because it's hockey stuff," Ovechkin said. "It's hard when your friends and when some of your teammates left, especially when you win the Cup, but there's a salary cap. ... It's hard to keep." It wasn't hard this time. The Capitals signed pending free agent defenseman John Carlson before he hit the market and re-signed playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly and deadline pickup Michal Kempny. Their low turnover is similar to what the Pittsburgh Penguins had when they repeated as Cup champions. Todd Reirden replacing Barry Trotz as coach after four years as his top assistant is the biggest change. Reirden knows the roster as well as anyone and won't lie to players about opportunities, but he's trying to set them up to compete for spots that might come open because of injuries. "It's a different kind of competition," Reirden said. "You can't predict it, but all the players that are in camp, they know that there's competition. And whether that's competition for Day One of the season, Day 21 or 121 that there's a chance for them to be a part of a team that is the defending Stanley Cup champs." Dowd saw a chance to win a full-time job with the defending champions and jumped at the opportunity. The 28-year-old who has played for the Kings and Canucks wants to show he can bring everything Beagle did and provide some more offense. He's trying not to wonder every day in camp about where he stands in making the team. "I spent my first two to three years of pro hockey going into training camp trying to split the atom and trying to get in the minds of the coaches and, 'Why am I here, why I am there in the lineup, why am I this group, why am I in that group?'" Dowd said. "A lot of the time it makes no difference where you sit in practices and all that, and it just puts more stress on yourself in worrying about that." Most players at Capitals camp don't have much to worry about because they know where they'll be in October when the season starts. It's almost certain Pheonix Copley is Holtby's backup with prospect Ilya Samsonov in the American Hockey League with Hershey, and neither Bowey nor Djoos will be sent to the minors. Boyd, who played one playoff game during the Cup run, can't be sure and knows he's fighting for a job. "I didn't want to walk in here and think that I'm on the team," Boyd said. "I don't think I am. I definitely think that obviously there's some guys here that are good players too, trying to gain ahold of I guess the one or two spots that are open." NOTES: Carlson and center Lars Eller are nursing minor lower-body injuries that caused them to miss the first day of on-ice work. ... Reirden says the Capitals will take only a handful of veteran players to Boston for the preseason opener Sunday because the Bruins will have a big chunk of their team in China for exhibition games there......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 15th, 2018

Top women s college players practicing with Team USA

By PETE IACOBELLI, AP Sports Writer   COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Dawn Staley told the U.S. national team players, many returning to college soon, to keep working and improving no matter who is on the court.   Staley, the women's national team coach, held a three-day training camp as players began preparations for the FIBA World Cup in the Canary Islands this month. Many of America's best players are tied up with the WNBA playoffs and Staley brought in several of country's top college players to beef up practice and gain valuable experience before vying for a spot on the Olympic roster.   "We just have to keep moving forward. We can't worry about who we have, who we don't have," Staley said this week. "We have to implement the style of play we want on both sides of the ball and just fill players in."   Some of those fill-ins won't start playing for another two months when the college season tips off. The young camp roster includes guard Sabrina Ionescu and forward Ruthy Hebard of Oregon, Final Four hero guard Arike Ogunbowale and forward Jessica Shepard of Notre Dame and guard Tyasha Harris of Staley's South Carolina Gamecocks.   New York Liberty center Tina Charles is the most accomplished veteran in camp — and the only one with Olympic gold from 2012 and 2016.   Charles, 29, said part of her mission this week is to make the younger players feel as welcome by the veterans as fellow UConn alums Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird did when Charles first played with the national team in 2009.   "I'm trying to do the same thing here, make them feel comfortable, allow them to play their game, talk to them," Charles said. The WNBA playoffs have kept veterans like Elena Delle Donne, Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd, among others, tied up. Staley said some of those players may join when their pro teams get eliminated.   For Staley, its full speed ahead, no matter how young and wide-eyed some of the faces.   Ionescu was winded after her first practice Monday, trying to pick up the increased pace of the game.   "I think at every level, it just gets harder and harder," said Ionescu, reigning Pac 12 women's player of the year. "They were just definitely a lot stronger, quicker and had a better understanding of the game and adjustments."   Ionescu believes this experience will help when she's older and competing for a national team spot.   Ogunbowale, who hit back-to-back game winners against Connecticut in the national semifinals and Mississippi State in the title game, spent her offseason as somewhat of a celebrity. She was a guest on Ellen DeGeneres' show and on "Dancing With The Stars." At camp, she's simply a rookie trying to soak up lessons.   Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike spoke to the team before the first practice, urging them to ramp it up early and don't be afraid to compete. "We're all here for the same reason," Ogunbowale said. "We're all here to get better."   Camp ends with a split-squad scrimmage at South Carolina's Colonial Life Arena before they head north for a game with Canada in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on Saturday and another with Japan at in Washington, D.C., on Monday.   The first practice overseas is in France on Sept. 13. The Americans will play three exhibitions in France and head to Tenerife, Canary Islands. World Cup pool play starts on Sept. 22 against Senegal.   Staley's not certain who'll be on the bench when that game starts, but isn't worried about it.   "We have to move forward to the ones that are committed," Staley said. "And that are going to help us compete for another World Cup gold medal."  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 6th, 2018

ASIAN GAMES: Kazakhs break Pinays hearts again

The Philippines faced a familiar foe and again ended up with the same stinging result. Kazakhstan reasserted its mastery over the Filipinas with a 25-11, 22-25, 25-15, 19-25, 16-14, win Friday to advance in the battle for fifth spot in the consolation round of the 2018 Asian Games at the GBK Indoor Hall. The Kazakhs set up a faceoff for no. 5 finish against Vietnam on Saturday. It was Kazakhstan’s third straight win over the PHI since defeating the Filipinas in straight sets in the pool play and in five in the battle for seventh in the AVC Asian Women’s Senior Volleyball Championship held in Laguna last year.      Vietnam defeated Indonesia, 29-27, 18-25, 25-22, 25-22, to advance in the battle for fifth. The Filipinas will meet pool play tormentors Aprilia Manganang-led Indonesia in the battle for seventh place Saturday. Kazakhstan erased a 0-3 deficit in the deciding frame and engaged the Filipinas in a see-saw battle for an exciting windup.    Kristina Karapetan gave the Filipinas a chance for a deuce when she sent her service short, 14-14. But the Kazakhs kept their composure with Alessya Safronova playing the hero’s role for her country with a running kill and the match-clinching kill block on Jaja Santiago. Yana Petrenko led Kazakhstan with 18 points off 12 kills, five aces and a block, Sana Anarkulova scored 15 while Safronova had 13 markers with her last point coming off her only kill block in the match. The Philippines recovered its bearing after a shaky start, putting setter Jia Morado on the wheel to run the Filipinas’ fast play as they took an early lead in the second frame before engaging the Kazakhs in a tight battle up until the closing stretch of the frame. The Filipinas went up, 21-19, only to see the Kazakhs tie at 22. Mylene Paat sparked the closing run of the PHI with a kill before Jaja Santiago sealed it with an ace. The Kazakhs were quick to adjust to the Filipinas’ game plan, using their height advantage to frustrate the PHI’s attackers and dictate the pace of the third frame at the price of losing top hitter Sana Anarkulova. Anarkulova, who returned in the fifth, hurt her right shoulder late in the third set after colliding with libero Tatyana Fendrikova attempting to receive Morado’s service. Down by a set, the Filipinas went charging early in the fourth set to build a 17-8 lead. Kazakhstan was forced to field its prized hitter Katerina Tatko, who punished the PHI in their previous two meetings, as the Kazakhs threatened to comeback but the Filipinas were able to turn back their opponents rally.        Jaja Santiago had 19 points, Mylene Paat, who is on her first national team stint, showed a lot of promise with 14 points while Alyssa Valdez recovered from a disappointing three-point outing in the PHI's straight sets loss to 2016 Rio Olympics champion China with 13 markers, 24 excellent receptions and 18 digs.    Morado tallied 26 excellent sets and finished with five points......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 31st, 2018

Aby, the fan girl

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Their match against Thailand was already over, but national women’s volleyball team captain Aby Maraño was still blushing like a giggling teenager. She could not hide her elation after playing against her childhood hero — Pleumjit Thinkaow. “I’m so happy,” Maraño told Daily Tribune’s Asiad coverage supported by Primehomes shortly after the […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 20th, 2018

‘Pedro Penduko’ gets millennial makeover

Almost a year after making a huge splash with his Cinemalaya debut film "Respeto," filmmaker Treb Monteras II crosses over to the mainstream with a well-loved komiks classic, "Pedro Penduko." The fantasy caper, which was created by National Artist for Literature Francisco V. Coching, will get a millennial makeover in this new adaptation, produced by Viva, Epik Studios and Cignal, with heartthrob James Reid as the titular hero. The iconic character has had several incarnations through the years, with Ramon Zamora and Janno Gibbs playing Pedro Penduko on the big screen and Matt Evans on the boob tube. It is precisely its enduring cinematic mythology that has attracted the indi...Keep on reading: ‘Pedro Penduko’ gets millennial makeover.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 8th, 2018

Young Batman learns the ropes in penultimate ‘Gotham’ season

A masked crime fighter has been stalking unwary thugs since the end of "Gotham's" Season Three, but the scrawny teenage vigilante isn't exactly the Batman yet. It's Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), sans the iconic bat motif, already well-versed in hand-to-hand combat, but still inexperienced and often lacking the crime-busting finesse of the hero he's destined to be. The fourth season of the Warner TV series, however, has shown the constant transformation of Bruce and future figures in the mythology, making the origin/reboot show more watchable than usual. Mazouz, now a teen, started playing Bruce Wayne four years ago. The character lost his parents to a masked murderer in the first...Keep on reading: Young Batman learns the ropes in penultimate ‘Gotham’ season.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 20th, 2018

3x3WC: Canada game hero has some major respect for Gilas

BOCAUE, Bulacan --- Despite breaking the heart of Gilas Pilipinas, Canada game hero Michael Linklater couldn't help but show respect to the Philippine 3x3 team and the home crowd in general in the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup. Linklater was the Canadian guard that came up clutch in wild 20-19 win over the Philippines Monday at the Philippine Arena here. He first hit a long two to regain the lead for Canada, 19-18, before scoring the final go-ahead layup inside the last five seconds. That last shot ultimately eliminated Gilas Pilipinas from contention. "It was a great experience, the Philippines has a solid team. They are all individually talented. It was a tough game that could have gone either way, and it just fell in our favor," Linklater said. "It was a great experience to play in front of this home crowd," he added. A 3x3 veteran, Linklater is ranked 57th in FIBA's World ranking with 439,800 points. With all that experience under his belt, the 35-year-old guard knew that Gilas would eventually draw energy from the home crowd. It was just a matter of keeping composure, which Canada did. "We have been playing 3x3 for a very long time and we knew the crowd was going to be a factor for the home team," Linklater said. "It was part of our game plan not to let the crowd rattle us. We knew they were going to hit some big shots and it was going to be very hard-fought. So we kept our composure," he added. Canada, along with Mongolia, are Pool C's representatives in the quarterfinals slated for Tuesday.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

BJ Armstrong: Everything new is old, everything LeBron is MJ

Note: While many NBA fans have said if LeBron James’ supporting cast did more, the Cavs would be more competitive. BJ Armstrong, a former member of Jordan’s supporting cast, shares his perspective. Armstrong says everything new is old, everything LeBron is Jordan. His take on James and the Cavaliers: ___ The NBA Finals are giving me a feeling of deja vu. Everyone keeps saying all LeBron James needs is help. Maybe true but, with the greatest respect, he also needs to help himself. In 1989-90 I became one of the group known as the Jordanaires, a/k/a the Bulls. From the day I arrived in Chicago, I knew what everyone else on the team did: Michael Jordan was a phenomenal talent. Yet, as the team deferred to MJ’s talent, we could not get past the hurdle of defeating the “Bad Boys” Pistons in the conference finals. Seeing the Cavs in these Finals, I’m seeing the way we were playing then. It’s textbook isolation basketball. Back in the last century, MJ would get the ball and the rest of us on the team would all stand around while he scored. It was a sight to see, but it wasn’t team basketball. What it was was all of us enabling MJ to showcase his best individual talent. At some point, MJ realized that, as great as he was, he alone could not beat the Pistons. That’s what the Jordan Rules were all about — employing a defensive scheme with the sole purpose of limiting hero basketball. Similarly, LeBron has to commit to the team’s system of play. So far, he’s been incredible, but he’s not been a willing participant in the team. This is where trust comes in. He has to trust the system. It reminds me of when everyone was telling Jordan he didn’t have enough to win. His teammates just weren’t good enough — me being one of them. What was really missing was the trust to win. Once MJ found that trust, we beat the Pistons and went on to win the NBA championship many times over. In doing so, MJ discovered that his teammates WERE good enough, because he was part of the team. Greatness is empowered in a system where you pass the ball, not pound it. Everyone has to be committed to this system. The best player on the team has to realize that he needs the team in order to win — and I don’t mean passing the ball when he gets double-teamed. He, and everyone else, has to buy into the system. MJ passed me the ball not because he was being double-teamed, but because he trusted we were playing together as a group. Michael’s greatness was, in part, knowing how to move the pieces on the board in the triangle offense system of play. Isolation basketball will always be part of the game. But the system has to be predicated on ball movement and, more importantly, player movement. LeBron James has proven he can lead by example. My wish for LeBron is to understand the following: He’s an exceptional leader because he leads by example. The next step on the road to Legend, which he’s already on, is to trust he’s the best player in the best system anywhere in basketball. Then his coach, the system and his teammates — the TEAM — will be good enough to win......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2018

Legacies at stake for Rockets, Warriors in Game 7

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com HOUSTON — So much riding on one game, which goes beyond which team reaches The Finals and which one reaches for the golf clubs. Reputations and images and legacies also can and will be determined in this winner-take-all battle between the Warriors and Rockets. Such is the way of professional sports and instant analysis and fortunes, both teams and players and coaches. That said, here’s what’s on the line for the main figures in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals: * James Harden. He can make a solid case for being the second-best player in the NBA over the past three seasons, having finished top three in Kia MVP voting twice and will perhaps take home the award this season. But LeBron James went to The Finals three times in that span and won once. Harden, on the other hand, doesn’t know what June basketball feels like since he joined the Rockets. He’ll have his best chance Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). He’ll be on his court, playing before his crowd, 48 minutes away from facing LeBron and the Cavaliers for a championship. If he loses against the Warriors, then Harden will keep the crown as Best Active Player Without A Championship, which isn’t an honor he embraces. With the possibility of playing this game without Chris Paul, Harden might need to explode for 40 points or more. And that still might not be enough. He’s still in his prime, but reaching The Finals, much less winning, isn’t guaranteed to happen. Remember how Oklahoma City was “destined” to return to The Finals when Harden played there? * Kevin Durant. His championship demons were destroyed last summer when he joined a loaded team and did exactly what everyone expected. Yet Durant didn’t sign up for a one-and-done. The only way to justify leaving OKC is by winning multiple titles. His performance in this series has gone hot and cold. This isn’t the same Durant who tore through everyone last spring and summer; he seems bewildered at times by the Houston defense. If he comes up flat and the Warriors lose, the sensitive Durant might want to stay off social media. * Chris Paul. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said what everyone feels about Paul and his hamstring injury: It stinks. Paul deserves so much more, especially after such a solid run through the playoffs in every round, including outplaying Steph Curry until the injury. Paul never reached the conference finals until now and at 33 is running out of chances to play for the championship. He’ll become an instant hero in Houston if he pulls a Willis Reed and inspires the Rockets in Game 7, then again if he beats his pal LeBron in The Finals. If not? Then he’ll wonder why the Basketball Gods are against him. * Steph Curry. A fourth straight trip to The Finals would make Curry the LeBron of the West. He shook himself free from a shooting slump to recover nicely in this series and save the Warriors from elimination in six games. * Mike D’Antoni. Validation would come finally for D’Antoni should he mastermind a victory over the four All-Star Warriors, especially so should he do it without Paul in Game 7. D’Antoni heard too often about how his offenses weren’t built to last in the postseason but nobody’s saying that now. Anyway, the Rockets employ a far different system than the one he used in Phoenix. Translated: Give him credit for adjusting and cooking up an offense to suit the talents of his players and not vice versa. Also, with the help of lead assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik, the Rockets’ defense is causing plenty of issues for the Warriors this series. Overall, D’Antoni has pushed all the right buttons. * Steve Kerr. Has he already done enough for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach just off two championships alone? If not, then a fourth straight trip to The Finals might be the trick. But Kerr hasn’t always convinced his players to remain calm in fourth quarters. Why did the Warriors’ offense suffer costly breakdowns in Games 4 and 5? Yes, Houston’s defense rose up, but adjustments by Golden State were slow to come, if at all. * Andre Iguodala. He isn’t expected to play Game 7 and if the Warriors advance, you wonder if he’ll be ready for another shot at LeBron. The Warriors gave him a nice contract extension here in his twilight because of what he means to them in spring and summer. They could use his on-court leadership. * Draymond Green. The Warriors are still looking for a breakout game in this series from their emotional leader. It’s not that Green has been a ghost; rather, he just hasn’t stood out in the small lineup or made his presence known in a big way, other than with the referees (as usual). It would help if Green began hitting those open three-pointers the Rockets are generously giving him. * Daryl Morey. Often celebrated as one of the top general managers in the game, Morey built this Rockets team with beating the Warriors in mind. He traded for Paul and signed P.J. Tucker last summer, and those two have repaid that faith with solid playoff performances. How many more times must Morey tweak the Rockets here in the Harden era before Houston finally strikes gold. For his sake, hopefully, this was the final time. But again, much depends on Paul’s hamstring. Sometimes, the fate of your team is beyond your control. Sometimes, you need luck. * Houston. This city endured a deadly flood, then lifted itself with the help of ordinary citizens and a handful of local athletes and celebrities, then celebrated its first World Series triumph courtesy of the Astros. For the last several months, therefore, Houston has been in the headlines, and would like to add another late Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2018

Zark s-LPU forces winner-take-all for PBA D-League title vs Che Lu-Baste

CJ Perez proved why he is the Conference MVP as he towed Zark’s Burger-Lyceum of the Philippines University to a 98-90 Game 2 conquest of Che’Lu Bar and Grill-San Sebastian College-Recoletos in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Finals. The 24-year-old forward scattered 15 points, seven rebounds, and four assists to anchor the Jawbreakers in forcing the winner-take-all Game 3, slated next Tuesday. “Again, we just have to battle our way. Just to have the peace of mind that we know we did our best, we’ll be at peace whatever the outcome is,” said coach Topex Robinson. Jaycee Marcelino also put up 13 markers off the bench while Cameroonian big man Mike Nzeusseu registered a double-double of 11 points, 11 boards, two assists, and two blocks. MJ Ayaay also wound up with 11 points, six rebounds, and five assists. More than the offense, Zark’s-LPU got things done on the defensive side, holding Che’Lu-San Sebastian to just 37-percent shooting from the field compared to its 44-percent clip. It also helped that the Jawbreakers got off to a strong 21-8 start, setting the tone and taking a 20-point lead by halftime, 52-32. The Revellers did make a run behind Allyn Bulanadi and RK Ilagan in the fourth period, closing in to within six, 90-96, with 6.7 seconds left, but Jayvee Marcelino put the nail in the coffin with his pair of foul shots in the final 5.4 to extend the series to a do-or-die Game 3. “For us, it’s about us inspiring others and we’ll not get away from that. We’ll never get out of our mantra of honoring the game, playing it the right way, value integrity, and do the right things,” he said. Game 3 is scheduled at the Ynares Sports Arena. Bulanadi led Che’Lu-San Sebastian with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Ilagan shot 2-of-7 from threes to pour 13 markers. Samboy de Leon, the team’s Game 1 hero, was limited to just five points on a 2-of-10 shooting. BOX SCORES ZARK’S BURGER-LPU 98 — Perez 15, Jc. Marcelino 13, Ayaay 11, Nzeusseu 11, Baltazar 10, Yong 9, Pretta 8, Ibañez 7, Caduyac 6, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 2, Serrano 0. CHE’LU BAR AND GRILL-SAN SEBASTIAN 90 — Bulanadi 23, Ilagan 13, Batino 12, David 12, Costelo 11, Calisaan 7, De Leon 5, Ablaza 4, Siruma 3, Capobres 0, Collado 0, Faundo 0, Taganas 0. QUARTER SCORES: 27-16, 54-34, 75-56, 98-90......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 26th, 2018

Michigan beats Purdue to win 2nd straight Big Ten Tournament

NEW YORK --- The tenacious point guard his coach calls a "pit bull" drove to the basket, but instead of putting up his go-to hook shot Zavier Simpson whipped a pass to the backup big man who became a Michigan folk hero at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Jon Teske's two-handed slam brought down the house and pretty much finished off No. 8 Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament championship game. With Simpson playing catalyst on both ends of the floor --- running Michigan's efficient offense and leading its lock-down defense --- and Teske scoring a surprising 14 points, the 15th-ranked Wolverines beat the Boilermakers 75-66. Fifth-seeded Michigan (28-7) became the first team to repeat as Bi...Keep on reading: Michigan beats Purdue to win 2nd straight Big Ten Tournament.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMar 5th, 2018

Jerry West: This game is going to overtake all the other sports

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com LOS ANGELES – Jerry West’s longevity is surpassed only by his excellence, which is surpassed only by his credibility, which is surpassed only by his legacy, which is surpassed only by his continued relevancy, which is surpassed only by his humility, which is surpassed only by his longevity... Aw, you get the idea. The man known as “Zeke From Cabin Creek” early in his NBA playing days, as “Mr. Clutch” by the time he was putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career and as “The Logo” for much of the league’s past half century got credit for only 81 steals in the 14 seasons he played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1960-1974. The reason: that stat only got tracked starting in West’s farewell season. But he racked up No. 82 by stealing the show with his acceptance speech of the NBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award presented at the annual All-Star “Legends Brunch” at the L.A. Convention Center. West’s appreciation of NBA history, gratitude for his place in it, optimism for the game’s future and competitive fire all shone through when he stood before the audience filled with both his peers – some of the greatest players ever – and fans sampling for the first time one of All-Star Weekend’s most reliable highlights. Three months shy of his 80th birthday, West – who won one NBA title as a player, eight more as an executive with L.A. and Golden State, and as a consultant now to the Clippers, had input into that team’s blockbuster trade of star Blake Griffin – was one of four former Lakers honored per the brunch program’s tradition of recognizing men who associated with the host city. James Worthy received the Global Ambassador Award, Bill Walton was presented with the Hometown Hero Award and Magic Johnson was named the 2018 Legend of the Year. In introducing West, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said: “One thing people know about Jerry is, he pulls no punches. And so, Jerry is someone I know I can count on. When there’s things happening in the league, Jerry will tell me exactly what I should know about today’s game and what’s happening with today’s players.” West used some of his time on stage, though, to acknowledge and thank a fifth Los Angeles legend: HOFer Elgin Baylor. In fact, he got emotional, pausing to collect himself while praising his former teammate and dear friend, long considered one of the most underrated players in NBA history. Baylor got to the Lakers two years before West, before they left Minneapolis, and was an 11-time All-Star from 1958 to 1971 who still ranks third all-time at 27.4 points per game. “Elgin, I won’t ever forget the way you treated me when I came here,” he said to Baylor, who was seated at a nearby table. “Amazing player but more amazing man. I remember when I was in college, never being able to watch the game, no TV, and of course we didn’t have one in my house. But I used to hear about this guy and I thought ‘Oh my God, I’m going to have a chance to play with him.’ “He’s my hero. I used to watch him practice, I’d watch him out of the corner of my eye. Just the way he conducted himself with people. Just one classy man.” West talked up others in the room whose lives he touched, and both lauded and encouraged current NBA players in their performances and in their commitments off the court. “You can be leaders because you have a voice. Don’t ever pass that up. Don’t ever lose your voice,” he said. “I really believe in humility. I also believe in civility.” After talking about the NBA’s astounding growth over the run of his equally astounding career, West’s competitiveness flickered through once more. “I’m going to say this – and I don’t like to say things that are controversial – but this game is going to overtake all the other sports,” he said. Comedian Billy Crystal, a long-suffering Clippers fan, opened the program with a hoops-themed monologue. “When I first started going to Clippers games, there was me, [broadcaster] Ralph Lawler and the players,” Crystal said. “A triple-double meant there were three couples in the stands. ... Watching all of this talent, I was glued to my seat – because that’s the way the Clippers would keep you from leaving.” Crystal provided some imagery when he likened pro basketball’s legendary stars to great musicians. “Wilt in jazz terms was a big band. He was powerful, huge, big brass section,” Crystal said. “Then Elgin came into the league and his style changed the way the game was played. ... He was cool, improvisational jazz. Then came the Big O [Oscar Robertson], who was the Dave Brubeck of basketball – easy but powerful and complex rhythms all at the same time. “That led the way to Dr. J [Julius Erving] and Kareem – Doc was [John] Coltrane, Kareem was Thelonious Monk with a little bit of Duke Ellington. ... Magic was unbelievable [and] brought us to Motown. Also, the country sounds of Mr. Larry Bird. Then came Michael – I can’t remember his last name but he played for the White Sox. He played to the beat of his own drummer. “Tim Duncan was not jazz; Tim Duncan was Beethoven. Then came the rappers, Shaq and [Allen] Iverson. And other virtuosos like Kobe [Bryant], LeBron [James] and Steph [Curry] and KD [Kevin Durant], [Russell] Westbrook. And the best goes on and on and on.” Silver, though, might have had the morning’s best line. In a shout-out to Magic Johnson – who has been fined $550,000 in the past six months for violating league tampering rules in talking publicly about Oklahoma City’s Paul George and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo – the commissioner said: “Magic, thank you for paying for the brunch today.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 19th, 2018

Popovich s odd alliance with red state fans

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SAN ANTONIO -- About 400 people gathered at the Oak Hills Country Club in June 2016 and paid $500 to $250,000 to sip iced tea and nibble hors d’oeuvres next to a golf course designed by noted architect AW Tillinghast, who built many. One is owned by the man who was feted at this political fundraiser, Donald J. Trump. The presidential campaign was in full blast and saltier than the crackers on the cheese plate being passed around. Fresh off the plane, Trump thanked the Republicans for the big ‘ole Texas welcome, witnesses say, before launching a blistering attack on the usual targets: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, illegal immigration. Then, near the end of his 30-minute lunchtime appearance, in an effort to connect with the locals, he pivoted and mentioned perhaps the most famous man in town: Gregg Popovich. Witnesses say Trump called Popovich “a great coach” and said “he does a good job” and then there was some fidgeting in the room when the soon-to-be polarizing leader of the free world said this: “I don’t know if the coach is on my side.” Confirmation came emphatically, right after Trump won a divisive election that November. The coach of the Spurs lit into the President over the next several months with a handful of rants that had the stealth of Kawhi Leonard ambushing a timid ball-handler. In no particular order, here were Pop’s Greatest Hits, all issued through the media and without prompting or provocation: “The disgusting tenure and tone and all the comments … have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in a country where half the people ignored that to elect someone.” And: “He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.” And: “The man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks he can only become large by belittling others.” And: “We have a pathological liar in the White House ... You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.” Popovich didn’t stop there with a President whose sensitivity and intelligence he questioned and accused of being guilty of “gratuitous fear-mongering.” When he took Trump to task for criticizing NFL players who knelt during the National Anthem and defended their rights to do so, Popovich also suspected a measure of the public outrage was racially motivated. “Our country is an embarrassment to the world,” he said. A 68-year-old wealthy white man, therefore, became a sports voice with weight in the political and social justice arena, where the NBA league office has greenlighted players and coaches to speak up. Popovich has done so with clarity and insight to gain national applause in certain corners. He wasn’t the first or the last in sports to verbally spank the president or tackle right-leaning sensitivities, yet he’s certainly the most unique in one respect. As a graduate of the Air Force Academy who works in a military town, and a five-time NBA champion coach who might symbolize the city more than The Alamo, Popovich has long been elevated to icon status, perhaps permanently so, in San Antonio, where folks are mad about the Spurs. Still, this is mostly conservative Texas, one of the most Republican of states based on the state legislature and the congressional delegation, a state that voted Republican in 10 straight presidential elections and saw 52.6 percent of voters punch for Trump. While voters in San Antonio-proper lean liberal, the surrounding areas swing solidly the opposite. Julianna Holt, the Spurs CEO and Popovich’s boss since March after assuming the position held for 20 years by her husband Peter, supported various Republican presidential candidates before eventually donating $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, according to Federal Election Commission records. Popovich is therefore a blue blood in a red state and the contrast makes for strange if not uncomfortable alliance between a beloved coach and a group of conflicted Spurs worshippers. His views have in fact shattered the sacrilege by generating hostility from a segment of the basketball flock, something no coach with his credentials would ever feel. The constant winning and acts of charity do not insulate him from those who would prefer Popovich stuff a sweat sock in his bullhorn. Party lines not Popovich's focus “While we all believe Gregg Popovich has the right to his opinions, where was Popovich when Hillary called half of us a 'basket of deplorables?’Many were Spurs fans who are now tired of being insulted ... many of us will never pay to see a Spurs game again.” -- Donna Howington  “The money I will save this year not attending Spurs games should buy me a nice set of golf clubs. Thanks Pop!” -- Jake Ingorgia  “I will never watch them again until Popovich is gone. He is just like all the other leftist celebrities.” -- Lee Harbach, Bulverde They arrive on cue, most from the dusty towns that orbit around San Antonio, some from the city itself. Popovich has unloaded three times this year on Trump, once after the election, once at the start of training camp and most recently by cold-calling Dave Zirin, a friend and liberal writer from The Nation, a progressive magazine. And each time, the letters land in the office of Ricardo Pimentel, the editor who coordinates the comments section of the Express-News, San Antonio’s newspaper of record. “It’s a cycle,” says Pimental, with a sigh. “He speaks out. People who disagree with him send us letters to the editor, then people who object to their disagreement write us letters to the editor defending Pop. Then they respond to one another.” The initial reaction, he said, is always stacked against Popovich and many identify themselves as Spurs fans ripping up their tickets or promising to never attend or watch games again. Even if those who made threats actually carried them out, the change in the Spurs’ home attendance is a blip, from 99.2 percent capacity last season to 98.6 so far this season. Popovich, of course, has been big for business since his first full season as coach in 1997-98. Besides the titles, the Spurs have reached the playoffs every season and won 50 games every season (except for the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 campaign, when they won 37). In short, Popovich's Spurs have a track record beyond reproach in the NBA. If the 2017-18 Spurs stay on pace, it’ll be 20 straight winning seasons for Popovich, one more than Phil Jackson for the all-time NBA record. He hasn’t been this politically vocal until lately, due to Trump, yet was always politically aware, say those who know him. Well-versed through his readings and observations, Popovich welcomes discussion with acquaintences about classism, leadership, government and preferably over a bottle of wine. His two-decades exposure to young black men from humble beginnings raised his awareness and sensitivities about race and bias. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr once played for the Spurs and lately has echoed many of the same thoughts as Popovich. But Kerr coaches in the Bay Area, where folks nod their heads in agreement. Kerr said he can only imagine the flak Popovich catches in Texas. “Here’s this iconic coach who stands for everything that’s right and for honor and integrity, he served in the military, you see him stand at attention for the American flag — man, Pop loves his country,” Kerr said. “And in the middle of Texas for him to be questioning the Republican President, some of the people down there are probably confused. Like, 'I don’t get it, we love this guy but he’s on the other side from us.' “What I love about Pop is that it’s not about party, not about politics. It’s about integrity and character and that’s what people need to pay attention to. It’s not about some policy, not about how much we pay in taxes. If we can just get back to the point where character matters, then we’ll be in better shape. The problem is, it’s clear character has gone down the tubes in many leadership positions in our country. That’s what Pop is calling out.” True enough, Popovich never publicly attached himself to a political party; to suggest he is against Republicans might be as misleading as believing Colin Kaepernick is against the military. When he played for Popovich, Kerr couldn’t recall a time when the coach was this annoyed by the country’s leadership. “The country was in a better place in terms of a relatively peaceful time back then,” Kerr said. “Yes, 9-11 happened and the whole world changed. But we didn’t have quite the same partisan nature, not only in politics but the national conversation. And so people could just admire Pop for who he was and people might not have been aware of his political leanings because they didn’t ask. When we won and went to the White House, Pop and the team went when Bush was in office. We went in ’99 when President Clinton was there. Republican, Democrat, didn’t matter. The times are so different now.” Kerr laughed quickly when asked about the semi-serious groundswell of social media support for a Kerr-Popovich ticket in 2020. Kerr said he hopes to be on his fifth NBA title as a coach then, but turned semi-serious about Popovich. “Our country needs somebody like Pop who can actually lead and unite from a position of authority and credibility,” Kerr said. “This guy served in the military, grew up in a melting pot, understands leadership. More than anything, he’ll cut through all the [expletive].” Since going nuclear on Trump, Popovich declined invites from the national political shows (and wouldn’t comment for this story). That proves what friends have maintained all along: Popovich doesn’t want to be anyone’s political hero or pundit. He’d rather speak when the moment calls for it, then be left alone. That last part is tricky, though. Empathy often marks Popovich's way “Can you imagine being Republican on the Spurs? Would you feel welcome? He’s like Berkeley -- for free speech unless you disagree with him. Shut up and coach, Gregg.” -- Shannon Deason  “When it comes to coaching basketball or drinking wine, Popovich has experience. When it comes to our country, his opinion is no better than anyone else’s." -- Harold Siemens, Seguin  “Open letter to the NBA referee who ejected Pop from the Warriors-Spurs game: Don’t feel bad about what Gregg Popovich called you. He called the POTUS worse and got away with it.” -- Larry Peabody Once the wheels touched down, the pilot jokingly announced over the loudspeaker: “Welcome to Gregg Popovich International Airport,” and one particular passenger noticed that nobody on the plane thought it was strange. Sean Elliott always knew how deeply rooted Popovich is with San Antonio. Aside from the famous Spanish missions and the River Walk, the city is known for the only professional sports team in town. And while George Gervin, David Robinson and Tim Duncan have come and gone, the one lingering reminder is a sometimes gruff and scruffy coach, maybe the NBA’s best ever. “He’s one of the pillars of the community,” said Elliott, twice an All-Star with the Spurs. “He’s looked at with great admiration. He is as respected as anyone who has ever lived in or been part of the city. It’s not just because he’s a basketball coach. Pop has been a big part of the community, huge contributor to charitable functions, good leader.” Elliott was a Spurs rookie in 1989 when their relationship began and he saw the start of Popovich’s reach in the region. Popovich then was an assistant coach under Larry Brown and just planting his feet in the NBA. That summer, Elliott and Popovich piled into a van with the team's "Coyote" mascot and conducted basketball clinics in San Marcos, Corpus Christi, Laredo and similar places. They were signing autographs in malls and running kids through drills in 100 degree heat, never hearing a complaint from the coach. Elliott said folks in those small conservative towns loved him. “If you sit and hear him talk about something, you tend to agree with him,” Elliott said. “He’ll put it in a logical way and he’s very thoughtful, well read and super intelligent, maybe the most intelligent person I’ve ever known.” The owner of the Spurs then was Red McCombs, a homespun Texan who made his fortune in car dealerships and media companies. McCombs didn’t give Popovich the coaching job after firing Brown, telling Popovich “you’ve got a chance to be a great coach” if he got more experience, which he did, going to the Warriors to work for Don Nelson. Popovich returned to San Antonio two years later as general manager, then became coach and the rest is history. Now 90, McCombs said: “Popovich has become the distinguished part of the franchise. He wears it well. Can’t say enough about what kind of man he is and what he’s meant to San Antonio. God has blessed us with Gregg Popovich.” McCombs loves to tell how Popovich, by chance, learned that a local family needed a car. The coach wrote a check, gave it to the father and walked away. McCombs said it was “typical Popovich” who has empathy for those with less. McCombs, curiously, has traditionally been one of the biggest Republican bankrollers in the state, who gave to the Trump campaign and is fully aware of what Popovich thinks of his choice for President. And so one of the most powerful men in Central Texas, who leans politically to the color of his nickname, had a strong reaction to that. “He’s earned the right to give his comments about citizenship or Trump or anything else,” said McCombs, voice rising. “Yes, he made some statements that others might disagree with. But I’ll tell you this: Popovich would be elected to anything he wants to in San Antonio.” Remaining silent never an option “Our country is not an embarrassment to the world. I will tell you what an embarrassment is. It is an American citizen who got a free education from the great Air Force Academy ... and then has the audacity to say that the greatest nation in the world is an embarrassment because the President rightly demands that Americans stand for the anthem. Popovich should be ashamed of himself.” -- Nick DeLouis, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Nowhere on God’s green Earth do they have the right to disrespect our flag and the men and women who died to keep us free. I’m appalled that you stooped so low to join in that disrespect. Shame on you!” -- Fred Martin, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Coach Pop has squashed my love and enthusiasm for the team. A national treasure, he is not. Coach Pop has a voice, but not my voice." -- Jo Ivan A few years ago Popovich was in New York with his daughter to catch a Broadway play when the coach had a last minute change in strategy. He learned that John Carlos was giving a lecture at New York University that night. So Popovich told his daughter to take one of her friends instead; said he was going to see “Dr. Carlos” speak. “When he came in I was surprised and delighted,” Carlos said recently. “Quite naturally, everyone knew who he was but he just wanted to sit and listen.” A year later, in 2015, Popovich flew Carlos to San Antonio to address the team and Carlos admitted to being star struck around Tim Duncan and others. Yet Carlos was most curious about Popovich and why the coach took a strong interest in an Olympic sprinter who raised a fist on the victory stand in 1968, which is frozen as an iconic civil rights moment. “Being with the Spurs gave me an opportunity to check his character out,” Carlos said. “I knew he was a whiz at putting players together to bring out their best ability. But through my conversations with him it became apparent that he was a social activist himself at one point in his life. He was teaching his players about activism and to be concerned about their fellow man and what was going on around their lives, not just basketball. “I was impressed. He just wanted them to know they had a larger role than just playing basketball in the society in which they live.” Carlos, therefore, was not surprised to see Popovich defend the rights of kneeling black football players who came under attack from Trump. On the first day of training camp in September, Popovich said: “Obviously race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly it is not going to get better.” What followed was another swirl of exchanges between Popovich critics and supporters in San Antonio, and Popovich acknowledged receiving mail from both sides. The anti-Pop mail, though, was jarring to Carlos, given the coach’s work in town. “When people write and lambast him for taking leaders to task for what they’re doing to society, that’s like water rolling off a duck’s back, man,” Carlos said. “When they write negative things about him, it encourages him to keep doing what he’s doing. Those people are the problem. Go ahead and throw stones and it just motivates him to do his job. “Look, I’m a black man who spoke out. Imagine what they think of him as a white man who speaks just as strong, to try and get people to see things in a better light? They throw stones at him even more, like, 'Hey you’re white, you have a great life. Keep your mouth shut.’ Well, God points people in certain directions. We know who we are. We do what we do.” And what Popovich does is enlist the help of giants in the social justice world and bring them into his world. He did that with Cornel West, the Harvard professor and civil rights activist, last fall. Popovich invited West to San Antonio to speak at an East Side community center with a few hundred mostly black and Latino students and their parents. Done without TV cameras or media invitation, the discussion was about the importance of education, the imperfect world, self respect and how to help communities. This was an audience that, presumably and unanimously, connected with a white man who didn’t live among them, but was with them. They were the people Popovich had in mind when he attacked present leadership. This was not the audience that writes to the Spurs and the Express-News asking him to take a vow of silence, though he is aware of them, too. “Some responses make you wonder what country you live in,” Popovich said, “and other responses make you very hopeful … overall, it renews my feeling that something must be done because there is enough people willing to listen.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2018

Brownlee on hearing Ginebra chant in the ABL: 'That was very special'

No, you were not watching the PBA. You were definitely watching the ABL. Yes, what you heard was the familiar "Ginebra" chant Wednesday night at the San Juan Arena. Why? Well, Ginebra folk hero Justin Brownlee was on deck to reinforce the Alab Pilipinas who finally put together its first winning streak of the new ABL season. "That was very special," Browlee said on the massive Ginebra chant in the second half that was triggered by him nailing back-to-back three-point shots to give Alab a 66-63 lead over the Westports Malaysia Dragons. "I know I'm here in Alab, this is a great team, a great organization and a great company and everything and have great sponsors, it’s always gonna feel great to hear that chant no matter where I am," he added. Brownlee made good account of his ABL debut, posting his usual Ginebra numbers of 29 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and two blocks. He did all of that while not being 100 percent, which is amazing really. "I got to admit, it’s a little difficult. Just being jetlagged and coming in, playing with these guys without any practice but the guys made it easy for me and Balkman," he said. However, being back in the country, Brownlee is excited how the the team will move forward. Alab is now 2-3 for the season after back-to-back wins. "It’s great man, the team is a great team, great group of guys. They went out there and played hard. It’s fun and exciting just being in front of the crowd and being back in the Philippines is very exciting for me," Brownlee said.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2018

Woods optimistic for 2018, but schedule still unclear

Tiger Woods said Friday he's taken his game to another level, but his 2018 schedule remains unclear as he plots his comeback from injury. The 14-time major champion posted a lengthy blog on his website, reflecting on 2017 and looking ahead to a 2018 that he hopes will see him playing a full schedule and contending on the US PGA Tour. "Now, I feel I've taken it to another level," Woods said of the strides he's made since an encouraging return to competition at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in November. "I'm continuing to progress and trying to get strong enough to where I can handle a workload again. I would love to play a full schedule in 2018. "What that enta...Keep on reading: Woods optimistic for 2018, but schedule still unclear.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 30th, 2017

Woods still in the hunt

MIAMI, United States (AFP) — Tiger Woods fired a four-under-par 68 to remain in contention in his comeback event at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas on Friday. The 41-year-old superstar, playing his first tournament in nearly 10 months, vaulted up the leaderboard at the Albany Golf Club with….....»»

Category: newsSource:  journalRelated NewsDec 2nd, 2017

Woods returns with solid round and good start in Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas --- Tiger Woods looked a lot better in his return to golf than he did when he left. Playing for the first time since his fourth back surgery, Woods returned from a 10-month layoff with a 3-under 69 on a breezy Thursday in the Bahamas that left him three shots behind Tommy Fleetwood after the opening round of the Hero World Challenge. "For me, I thought I did great," Woods said with a smile. And in a sign that he was ready to get back into the mix, he was far from satisfied. Unlike a year ago, when Woods ended a 15-month hiatus from his ailing back, he didn't show any fatigue at the end of his round or make any big numbers. His only regret was playing the ...Keep on reading: Woods returns with solid round and good start in Bahamas.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 1st, 2017

Focus more on how long Tiger Woods lasts more than his score

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — One year later, the scene hadn't changed. Jordan Spieth paused on the 17th green and looked across the water to the adjacent fairway at Albany Golf Club as Tiger Woods hit his shot to the ninth green, just like he did last year at the Hero World Challenge. Curiosity is just as high over another return from injury for Woods and how he will fare after a long layoff. What's different about the expectations for this comeback — his fifth since he first had back surgery in the spring of 2014 — is they are more about how long Woods will last than what kind of scores he posts. "He seems more confident this year the way he's walking and talking," Spieth said Wednesday in a whisper, having lost his voice to illness. "He seemed more excited at the Presidents Cup before he was even swinging, more anxious. And it seemed to really bother him that he was following doctor's orders, like he really wanted to get going. So once he was given the go, I think it was exciting for him. "So we're all very interested, as we should be, in how it goes for him this week — and obviously, hoping that's the start." The start of his latest comeback is Thursday against an 18-man field that features eight of the top nine players in the world. It's the first time every shot counts for Woods since a 77 in the Dubai Desert Classic on Feb. 3. That was his seventh round in his return. He withdrew the next day, citing back spasms, and had a fourth back surgery in April to fuse two disks in his lower back. Woods reports some stiffness and not as much range in motion. But he says he has no pain. The hype about this return has been fueled by friendly rounds over the last few weeks. Justin Thomas, the PGA Tour player of the year who will be paired with Woods on Thursday, said fans will be "shocked at how good his game looks." Rickie Fowler made a casual reference to how far Woods was driving it past him. Brad Faxon, who played with Woods and Dustin Johnson last Friday in a round with President Donald Trump, said Woods looked at ease and held nothing back in his swing, especially with the driver. Woods had to keep score in his pro-am round Wednesday, and that included a 2 on the 350-yard seventh hole when he drove the green with a breeze at his back and holed a 20-foot putt for eagle. The tournament is unofficial, though it offers world ranking points. Woods is at No. 1,199 in the world, and even if he finishes last, he'll move up more than 200 spots into the top 1,000. That still seems odd for a guy who spent 683 weeks at No. 1 in the world. What enthuses Woods is playing again. "It's been a very long time, and I'm really looking forward to getting out there and playing with Justin and having a good time," Woods said. After that, it will be time to reassess. "I just really want to be able to complete this week, play all four days and give myself a chance on that back nine on Sunday to win this thing," said Woods, whose last victory was more than four years ago at Firestone in the Bridgestone Invitational. He lasted only three starts when he came back from his first back surgery in the summer of 2014. He lasted two starts after he returned at the end of 2014, and then after playing all four majors in 2015, he had a pair of back surgeries. And when he returned from those last year in the Bahamas, he lasted only three events. "My physio was certainly working overtime last year after every day and even in the morning, trying to get me ready to go," Woods said. Woods said the reason his comeback last year was over so quickly was due primarily to the rough at Torrey Pines and not realizing his disk was in bad shape. He said the deceleration in his swing when he hit out of the rough made the injury worse. That's why there's so much emphasis on his health. He looks built to last, or at least last a little longer. And this is the ideal spot for Woods to return. There is no cut. Woods is guaranteed four rounds. Interest is high. Pressure is not. "I think it's an easy week for Tiger as it is for anybody else versus other weeks — not as many people, the golf course doesn't beat you up," Spieth said. "But you can start to see it's actually, I think, pretty important, these end-of-the-year tournaments to kind of set a precedent for next year." That especially holds true for Woods......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2017