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Prado takes backseat in scoring in stacked Arellano roster

Jovielyn Prado’s scoring average in Arellano University’s first three games in the 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball competition is far from her production norm last year. In three outings, Prado’s average is only 8.6 points per game. She had double-digit norms last year.   But the Lady Chiefs’ prized hitter is not worried. In fact, she likes that somehow she’s able take a backseat in scoring with the repeat-seeking Arellano U stacked with other offensive options this year. “Mas okay po para sa akin ‘yun kasi mas nakikita ko na ‘yung improvement ng teammates ko,” said Prado on Friday after the Lady Chiefs’ 25-17, 25-17, 25-12, win over Letran at the FilOil Flying V Centre for their third win in as many games and 15th straight win since last season.  Prado only had seven markers in the match, her second single-digit scoring this season after finishing with 12 in a straight-set win over Emilio Aguinaldo College last Sunday.   The graduating player also scored seven in their season-opening sweep of Mapua University. Rookie Necole Ebuen is Arellano U’s leading scorer, currently averaging 10.6 points per outing while Regine Arocha is chipping in almost 10 markers per game. Skipper Anne Esguerra is averaging six points per game while middle Andrea Marzan has a 5.6-point norm per outing for the Lady Chiefs.   Prado sees their well-balanced scoring as an advantage as they go deep into the season. “’Pagdating sa crucial games masasabi ko po na may ibubuga ‘yung bawat isa sa amin,” she said. “And mas OK din po yun para hindi lang isa o dalawang tao lang yung babantayan samin at hindi po mababasa yung play namin.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 12th, 2018

Nowhere To Go But UP

Akhuetie secures the defensive rebound! In one motion, turns and makes the outlet pass to Juan Gomez De Liaño streaking from the wing… before he even puts the ball on the floor he makes another forward pass to Paras who then takes a power dribble from the 3-point line, takes two steps and then soars for the tomahawk slam… Two possessions later, it’s a ball screen set by Akhuetie for Juan at the left wing. The defender – who fights over the screen – is left behind; as Bright’s man tries to hedge, Akhuetie sucks the help defense in with a strong roll to the hoop. Juan whips a pass to the right corner to an open Ricci Rivero, who shot fakes, gets his man in the air, drives baseline and eludes the last defender with his trademark euro-step to the middle, before kissing the layup softly off the glass… Deep in the fourth period, UP enters the ball into Akhuetie in the post. He backs his man down, and after a couple dribbles, sees the double team from the middle and makes a kickout pass to a wide open Javi GDL at the top of the key. The weakside defender rushes to close out against an open 3, but Javi passes it off to his brother Juan at the wing, who knocks down the booming triple!   These are just some of the plays that UP fans will bask in the glory of come UAAP Season 82, when their highly-touted all-UAAP 5 are finally all eligible to suit up for the Fighting Maroons. Before we get ahead of ourselves however, let’s dial it back and take a look at each of these players at this point of their college careers and what they bring to the Diliman stable. Javi Gomez De Liaño A product of the UPIS system, Javi is the first of the De Liaño brothers to play in the Seniors division after a successful stint in the high school ranks. Although not as highly-touted as his younger sibling, Javi is a stretch 4, standing 6’5” with lots of length and athleticism, and a reliable outside touch. Definitely one of Coach Bo’s blue-collar glue guys, who has stepped up his game (8.3ppg, 5.9rpg, 30% 3P% 21.2mpg in S80) as his minutes have increased. He will play both ends of the floor, can defend an opponent’s best scoring big or forward, and will be Mr. Intangibles on the court. Juan Gomez De Liaño Season 80’s Rookie of the Year, Juan GDL is already one of the UAAP’s most exciting and explosive players to watch. Arguably the most athletic and shifty guard in the league today, he’s a natural born scorer who can finish at the rim but has also shown the ability to run a team and make great decisions. While he needs to raise his 3pt shooting percentage to the high 30’s to be a real threat from the outside, he has that same winner’s mentality as his fellow fighting Maroon, Mr. “Atin to!” Paul Desiderio. Bright Akhuetie The two-time NCAA Mythical Five member and former Perpetual Help double-double machine could easily be the most dominant big man in the UAAP after Ben Mbala. Not only will he bring the much needed inside scoring UP has sorely lacked for the past several years, but he will immediately be a dominant inside presence on both ends of the floor – commanding double and even triple teams on offense, and altering shot after shot as the last line of UP’s defense. After serving a year of residency after transferring from UPHSD, Akhuetie is surely raring to stamp his mark in the UAAP, much like he did in the NCAA during his two seasons with the Altas. Ricci Rivero The biggest surprise and recruiting coup this summer belonged to UP Diliman, if only for the transfer of Ricci Rivero from DLSU. The prized former LSGH swingman was already making waves as the possible next King Archer when his career at Taft was cut short due to out-of-court issues. But on the court, Rivero has dazzled UAAP fans the past two years with a combination of athleticism and finesse not seen in decades. His natural scoring ability (12.9ppg, 35% 3P%, 5.9rpg, 1.6apg in Season 80) and trademark euro-step have left many defenders bewildered, and have unleashed a social media fandom unlike any we’ve seen so far. Kobe Paras As if the UP Community didn’t already have enough to watch out for in season 82, they pulled off another big catch when Kobe Paras, son of former UP legend Benjie Paras, committed to Diliman just early this month. Another LSGH product, Kobe played for the Creighton Bluejays in the US NCAA and has represented the country in multiple FIBA tournaments, including a gold medal finish in the 2017 SEA Games. Another prolific and high-flying scorer, Paras stands 6’6” but plays the wing position; and while he has a respectable outside touch, he is more known for his thunderous finishes, as a 2-time FIBA 3x3 dunk champion. With Paras and Rivero, UP would have the most athletic wing combination the UAAP has seen in years.   BUT, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s remember that basketball is still won by an entire team, and not just the five on the floor, star-studded as they may be. And more importantly, not only will UP be able to seriously contend for the final four and even a championship in Season 82, they could in fact contend for one as early as this Season 81. Paul Desiderio, their undisputed leader, will be playing out his final year, coinciding with Akhuetie’s first year with the team. Together with the GDL brothers, Jun Manzo, Noah Webb, Gelo Vito, Diego Dario, Jan Jaboneta,  Jerson Prado, Jarrell Lim, and even Will Gozum, among others, UP will have its deepest roster in more than a decade; and will definitely be a favorite to finally barge into the Final Four. Thus, while Season 82 is ripe with championship promise; as early as now, there is nowhere to go but UP for the Fighting Maroons.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 27th, 2018

NCAA Jrs. MVP Will Gozum says UP has always been where his heart is

Will Gozum will be making a return to the stage where he first started opening eyes. The NCAA Juniors MVP is set to play once more for the University of the Philippines, giving a long-suffering community even more reason to hope for the end of a two decade-long playoff drought. Even with the sentimentality of staying in Mapua University or the lure of transferring to National University or University of Sto. Tomas, Gozum said coming home to Diliman was the best decision for him. “Home is where your heart is and sa UP ko feel na feel yun,” he shared. The six-foot-six big man was once part of a promising core for UP Integrated School alongside Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. However, he was cut from the roster for reasons he opted not to disclose. Fortunately, Gozum landed on his feet with the Red Robins and established himself as one of the blue-chip prospects in high school in his two years there. Through it all, the 18-year-old said his love for UP and the UP community’s support for him never wavered. “Dati pa, kahit po nasa Mapua ako, sinu-support nila ako. Lalo na po yung Gregorios and GDLs, nakatututok sila lagi sa akin at gusto nila akong bumalik sa UP,” he said. Allan Gregorio and son Jaggie were Gozum’s former head coach and teammate, respectively. The GDLs, meanwhile, went on an all-out offensive to recruit their one-time running mate. Now the reunion has come true, Gozum wants nothing more than to prove he is deserving of a spot in the Fighting Maroons’ surprisingly stacked lineup. Able to play both center and power forward, he will bolster a frontline that already includes Bright Akhuetie, Paul Desiderio, Javi GDL, Jerson Prado, Gelo Vito, and Noah Webb. Then manning the backcourt are Diego Dario, Juan GDL, Jarrell Lim, Jun Manzo, and Jaydee Tungcab. The UP commit promises to do whatever it takes to help his new team get back to the Final Four for the first time since 1997. “Ngayon po, back to zero kasi wala na naman dito yung high school career. Basta ako, trabaho lang lagi,” he said. He then continued, “I’m not expecting playing time. Basta matawag ako rito, I will do my 101 percent sa loob ng court.” --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 6th, 2018

HEADS UP: 10 sporting events to watch out for in 2018

2017 has come and gone, and it delivered some exciting sporting moments that has every sports fan clamoring for more. Worry not, though, as 2018 looks primed to satisfy even the most die-hard Pinoy sports aficionado with its bevy of local and international sporting events. Let's welcome the upcoming year with 10 of the most exciting sporting events to watch out for this 2018.   NCAA 93 & UAAP 80 VOLLEYBALL The cagers are out, and the spikers are in. Volleyball season begins this January 4 with NCAA season 93, followed by the 81st season of the UAAP this February. NCAA volleybelles are once again ready to take center court, and the defending women's champion Arellano University Lady Chiefs, led by heavy hitters Jovie Prado and Regine Arocha are banking on their undisputed team play to propel them to another title. Playing inspired volleyball throughout the season, the Lady Chiefs stunned the thrice-to-beat San Sebastian Lady Stags in the Finals last year, ultimately ending Grethcel Soltones' collegiate career with a dud. Rising stars like San Beda's Ces Racraquin, JRU's Karen Montojo also make the upcoming NCAA volleyball season worth waiting for. UAAP volleyball begins a month later the NCAA tournament, but expect the field to be even more tumultuous. With no clear-cut number 2 team to challenge the two-time defending champions DLSU Lady Spikers, it will be a toss-up against basically the other seven schools to step up. Dangerous squads include the much-improved Adamson Lady Falcons, last year's pleasant surprise UST, the dynastic Ateneo Lady Eagles, and the intact NU Lady Bulldogs and FEU Lady Tamaraws. NBA ALL-STAR GAME & 2018 NBA FINALS The annual showcase of the NBA's brightest stars just got a major revamp. That's right, the league has done away with the traditional East-West teams, and will now have a playground-type pool selection of players between its two captains when the exhibition tips off in Los Angeles. This raises a lot of interesting questions: Will the captains pick their teammates or will they go with a more controversial pick and select a rival? Will we able to know the order of the draft? Will this actually work in making the game better? While answers to those questions might not be answered until a few months, one thing's for sure, the NBA Finals, the spectacle that actually counts, will be epic. Will we be treated to Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Pt. 4? Or will another squad swoop in to spoil the party? The league has indeed improved, with surprising teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Pistons out in the East already staking claim to playoff spots, and the Wild, Wild, West staying true to its monicker. The Houston Rockets and the perennial powerhouse San Antonio Spurs are still the favorites to pull the rug under the Warriors, while the Oklahoma City Thunder is right behind. Either way, with months of hoops already invested in it, the NBA Finals will surely be another explosive one, as it always is.   HOMECOMING QUEEN Alyssa Valdez spent the majority of 2017 overseas, spreading her wings in Taiwan with volleyball club Attack Line. This 2018 though, The Phenom plans on staying in the Philippines, armed with two year’s worth of international experience to focus on her home club team in the Creamline Cool Smashers.  "Next year, I'm planning to focus sa Creamline. Just this year, I travelled a lot talaga. They supported me throughout, esepcially doon sa National Team stint ko. They sacrificed a lot for me talaga. I think I have to focus sa team ko talaga,” she said last week.Alyssa Valdez just got scarier.   PINOY HOOP DREAMS: REMY MARTIN, KOBE PARAS  Two proudly Pinoy ballers based in the U.S. set out this 2018 to continue shooting for our island nation’s humble hoop dreams. Kobe Paras is still serving residency this 2017-2018 season with the California State University-Northridge Matadors, but his development is sure to be a joy to watch. The 6’6” Pinoy swingman accomplished a tour of duty with Gilas Pilipinas earlier in the year, and many Pinoys saw why we should all be excited about high-flying forward. Remy Martin, a 5’11” point guard dazzled in his first few games with the Arizona State Sun Devils, with his athleticism, explosiveness and feisty defense. The Filipino-American cager is proud of his roots and hopes to represent flag and country with Gilas Pilipinas in the future.   WHO (OR WHAT) IS NEXT FOR MANNY PACQUIAO? The never-ending saga of what’s next for Manny Pacquiao looks like it'll seep into 2018.  Following a rather controversial loss to Australian boxer Jeff Horn, Pacquiao has been “courting” the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a rematch, even taking to Instagram to ”greet” MMA superstar Conor McGregor before finally admitting that he’s been in talks with the Irish fighter’s camp. Whether he actually retires from boxing for good, or takes on another foe in the squared circle, one thing’s for sure: we’ll all have our eyes on Manny Pacquiao’s next move.   2018 WORLD CUP RUSSIA™ After four years, the best of world football will once again converge, this time in Russia to crown the Kings of the beautiful sport. The stage is set, the groups are finalized, and the 32 squads are promising the best 30-day football extravaganza in the hopes of dethroning defending champions Germany this June. Some group stage clashes to look out for are Germany vs Mexico, England vs Belgium, Portugal vs Spain, to name a few. June couldn’t come soon enough.   CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER'S PBA DEBUT No PBA rookie has probably come into the league as pro-ready as the Filipino-German standout Christian Standhardinger. The 6’9” big man was the consensus top overall pick of the 2017 PBA draft, and was also at the center of the controversial trade that sent Kia Picanto’s rights to the number 1 selection to the already-dominant San Miguel. While the trade did go down, so did former commissioner Chito Narvasa. Standhardinger’s entry to the PBA has come at a cost, but San Miguel is more than ready to wait one more conference to bulk up their already stacked squad. Seeing Standharinger play alongside 6’11” center and reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, versatile forward Arwind Santos, and the Beermen’s bevy of guards in Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross, is definitely a sight to see, just look at how he's tearing it up in the ASEAN Basketball League.    2018 ASIAN GAMES INDONESIA The Philippines’ less than stellar performance at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games was met with widespread flak. Not directed at our athletes however, but aimed at our sports development and governing body for its subpar work in getting our sports representatives ready. While the 2018 Asian Games isn’t so far away, a handful of Pinoy medalists from the SEA Games are going into the continental meet with high hopes. After dominating the SEA Games’ triathlon event, our Filipino endurance athletes, led by gold medalists Kim Mangrobang, and Nikko Huelgas, are once again primed to take home hardware. Marathoner Mary Joy Tabal, and boxers John Marvin, and Eumir Marcial, all gold medalists at Malaysia, are all bright spots that could soon unravel into full-fledged stars come 2018.   GILAS PILIPINAS IN THE FIBA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS It’s official, basketball is coming home to the Philippines this 2023 by way of the FIBA World Cup, but Gilas Pilipinas will first have to try its luck in the 2019 meet. After dealing with Chinese Taipei and Japan this 2017 for a perfect 2-0 slate in the qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas still has to face the Japanese anew, and the powerhouse Australian team early in 2018. A good showing against these squads will help Gilas strengthen its bid to international basketball’s biggest stage before we actually host the event in six years’ time.   UAAP 81 BASKETBALL UAAP season 80 just came to an end, but the next season just got way more interesting. Aside from the title defense of the intact Ateneo Blue Eagles and their ongoing rivalry with La Salle, a certain move by a coach has shaken up the league. With Aldin Ayo reportedly accepting the job as the new head coach of the struggling University of Sto. Tomas, we might just be witnesses to the rebirth of the once proud basketball program under the fiery mentor. That, and the way the DLSU Green Archers can adjust from the departure of Ayo and former two-time MVP Ben Mbala, key cogs to their season 79 championship run. The tight race for the MVP award will also be one to watch, with Mbala gone, it’s up to the local stars to step up to the challenge......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017

Six standout local volleybelles of 2017

We’ve seen them shine this year whether in the collegiate stage, in the club leagues or even in the international scene. These six Pinay volleyball players took the sport’s limelight in the year that’s about to end.     DESIREE CHENG Desiree Cheng came into De La Salle University during the time bitter rival Ateneo de Manila University got the Lady Spikers’ number. From Seasons 76 to 77, Cheng saw her team fall prey to the might of the Lady Eagles in the UAAP Finals. Then redemption came in Season 78. Unfortunately, the 5-foot-8 spiker was forced to watch from the sidelines with an ACL tear as her crew reclaimed the crown. A year after, Cheng got her biggest break. DLSU lost most of its veteran core after Season 78 and needed another scoring option. Cheng heeded the call. Though Cheng struggled at the start of the eliminations, the hitter slowly got her groove back and delivered when DLSU needed offense in their sixth straight championship showdown against Ateneo. Cheng was the X-factor for the Ramil De Jesus-mentored squad during the series. Her contributions both on offense and floor defense played a huge part in the Lady Spikers’ series sweep of the Lady Eagles for the school’s 10th title. Cheng also helped F2 Logistics claim the Cargo Movers’ breakthrough Philippine Superliga Grand Prix title and a runner-up finish in the All-Filipino Conference.   ALYSSA VALDEZ Although Alyssa Valdez failed to claim a crown in the Premier Volleyball League this year and a continued title drought since 2016, the Phenom’s magic remains. She can still fill up game venues whenever she takes the court and 2017 proved as the former Queen Eagles’ biggest year in terms of her flourishing volleyball career. Valdez brought her talents abroad, landing a stint with 3BB Nakornnont in the Thai League and in the Thai-Denmark Superleague where her team finished third in both tournaments. After her appearance in Thailand, Valdez donned the Creamline jersey and led the Rebisco franchise to a bronze medal finish both in the PVL Reinforced and Open conferences. Valdez also had another tour of duty, playing for the national team in the AVC Asian Women’s Senior Volleyball Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The 24-year old hitter got another international gig when she was tapped by Attack Line to play in the Chinese-Taipei Volleyball League.          Outside volleyball, Valdez has a blooming relationship with basketball star Kiefer Ravena. If she’s not busy with her volleyball and other commitments, Valdez also drew attention as one of the newest member of the so-called PBA players’ WAGS (wives and girlfriends) cheering for Ravena and the NLEX Road Warriors.      DAWN MACANDILI She may be only 5-foot tall but Dawn Macandili stood alongside Asia’s volleyball giants this year. The De La Salle University libero was the catalyst in the Lady Spikers’ back-to-back UAAP championship run. Her pesky floor defense frustrated DLSU’s rivals while giving her teammates a good first ball to operate their lethal offense.  But her biggest showing was when she landed a spot in the national team that competed in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship and in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games. A first-timer donning the national colors, Macandili did not disappoint as she earned the respect and admiration of Japanese coaches and trainers during the Nationals’ training camp in Japan. She performed even better when the PHI hosted the AVC Asian Seniors. Ms. Everywhere gave teams like Asian powerhouse Vietnam, Kazakhstan, South Korea and Thailand a hard time with her floor defense. All her efforts caught the eyes of the AVC tournament officials and she was rewarded with the historic 2nd Best Libero award. She made the final list of in the national team that participated in the SEA Games. Back in the local scene, Macandili helped F2 Logistics to runner-up finish in the PSL All-Filipino Conference and a breakthrough crown in the Grand Prix.    JAJA SANTIAGO Tall, powerful and versatile, Jaja Santiago is a force to reckon with.  At 6-foot-5, Santiago dominated the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference as she led the National University Lady Bulldogs to a perfect championship run. She also bagged the conference’s Most Valuable Player award. Though NU failed to make it in the Final Four of UAAP for the second straight year, Santiago’s effort for the Lady Bulldogs was rewarded with a third straight Best Attacker award to go with the Best Scorer and Best Blocker recognitions. In the PSL, Santiago was a consistent scorer for the Foton Tornadoes in the All-Filipino Conference and the Grand Prix. Under the tutelage of Serbian import Moro Branislav, Santiago became an even more dangerous and versatile player. Aside from her natural position as a middle blocker, she can now wreak havoc on both wings the puts her height advantage to good use. She made it into the national team that competed in the AVC Asian Seniors and SEA Games and was the Nationals’ scoring ace. Santiago received an offer from Thai powerhouse Bangkok Glass but declined the offer to play in her last year with the Lady Bulldogs.             KIM FAJARDO Setter Kim Fajardo left winning legacy when she played her swan song for DLSU. It took her a few months to decide to play her fifth year with the Lady Spikers. Leading a young crew after the departure of the core of the Season 78 championship squad, Fajardo faced a tough challenge in the Taft-based squad’s title-retention bid. But the Batanguena proved her worth as a leader and the skipper rallied the Lady Spikers back into the Finals in a sixth straight collision against bitter rival Ateneo. Fajardo’s composure carried DLSU in a tough Game 1 match and again in the five-set title-clincher to complete the Lady Spikers’ series sweep of the Lady Eagles. She earned a spot in the national team as a starting setter. Fajardo steered F2 Logistics to its first PSL Grand Prix crown bagged the conference’s Best Setter award. She helped the Cargo Movers to a runner-up finish in the All-Filipino Conference.     JOVIELYN PRADO Silent but deadly. Jovielyn Prado may not be the typical vocal leader but her presence inside the court is enough to rally the Arellano University Lady Chiefs to meet their goals. The outside hitter proved her worth to the Lady Chiefs when she led the Legarda-based squad back on the NCAA women’s volleyball throne. A year removed from the title, Arellano U turned to Prado to provide the spark the Lady Chiefs needed to make another shot at the crown. Consistent, efficient and effective, Prado delivered for the Obet Javier-mentored squad. Arellano U advanced in the stepladder semifinals and dethroned College of St. Benilde to set up a date with thrice-to-beat, three-time Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones-led San Sebastian College. Undaunted even with a great series disadvantage, Prado played her best three games of the season to power the Lady Chiefs to an impressive sweep of the Lady Stags. Prado continued her great performance in the PVL Reinforced and Open Conference playing for the Power Smashers. She then bannered the Lady Chiefs to a bronze medal finish in the Collegiate Conference at the expense of UAAP team Adamson University.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2017

LOOK: NCAA Season 93 team rosters

Defending champion Arellano University will parade a veteran core when the Lady Chiefs begin their quest for a repeat title in the 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball tournament starting January 4 at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. With key returnees in top hitter Jovielyn Prado, Regine Arocha, Mary Anne Esguerra and reliable middle Andrea Marzan, the Obet Javier-mentored squad remains to be a force to reckon with even after the departure of Rialen Saet and libero Eunice Galang. Arellano U will open its campaign on Jan. 4 against Mapua University at 1:30 p.m. after the San Sebastian College and Emilio Aguinaldo College tussle at 12:00 noon. The Lady Chiefs closed Season 92 with an 11-game winning streak including three in a row in the Finals against thrice-to-beat SSC-R to claim their second crown in three years. The Lady Stags of head coach Roger Gorayeb lost two scoring aces in three-time Most Valuable Player Grethcel Soltones and Kat Villegas, who both exhausted all their playing years, and will field the least number of players this season with only nine in their roster. Here’s the complete team rosters in the women’s and men’s divisions: WOMEN’S       MEN’S         --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2017

Futility in Phoenix wears on Devin Booker

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com He is already a star at age 22 but on this particular play, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker had role player instincts Sunday (Monday, PHL time) at Staples Center. The basketball bounced toward the baseline, beyond his reach, and he hustled anyway. And so the predictable happened: The ball beat him off the court and into the first row. Then the unthinkable happened: He grabbed his left leg and bent over in pain. The first player who rushed over to him yelled: “Book! Book! Hamstring?” ]It was thoughtful of LeBron James to check on Booker, even better if LeBron did this last summer as a free agent when Booker really could’ve use a hand. Instead, Booker is not only limping right now -- hopefully just temporarily for the team’s sake -- but also losing, something he has done more prolifically in Phoenix than get buckets. One of the shames of the NBA is how one of its breakout stars and franchise players is stuck on a habitually bad team, with no playoff shine in sight, and mostly invisible. Yes, only LeBron and Kevin Durant have reached 4,000 career points faster than Booker, but neither ever took Ls like this. Booker is now up to 136 in slightly over three seasons and once again the Suns, now 4-19, are on pace to be forgotten by Christmas. You could hardly blame their fans for getting their basketball fix these days by watching Duke games. All roads lead to the lottery, as it has since 2015 when Booker became one of the few draft decisions that actually worked out. But for Booker and the Suns, that’s some tough medicine, playing another 55 games, swallow many depressing nights along the way, and then pray the odds work in their favor come June. It’s fair to wonder how much of a toll this culture takes on Booker, who’s once again a player who demands a double team, averaging nearly 25 points a game and doing decently as a stand-in at point guard. Some perspective is needed, though. Booker signed a five-year, $158 million contract extension in July, giving plenty of living and den space for all the losing he takes home at night. Still, he said, "It sucks." Booker lost 58 games as a rookie, then 58 again, then 61 last year and may reach 65 or more this season. He’s lost 13 straight games twice, and the Suns once lost 28 of 30 with Booker on the floor. In an 82-game season, it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to put together, say, a four-game win streak. Booker is still waiting on that. For years the situation just wasn’t pretty in Phoenix and it’s only slightly less ugly now. Too many poor Draft picks have delayed progress and ruined the team. Former lottery picks Dragan Bender, Marquese Criss and Alex Len couldn’t earn rookie extensions and there was Phoenix's infamous point guard fetish of recent years when they went through Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight for little or nothing in return when they left. Sprinkle in some weird free-agent decisions -- like signing Tyson Chandler only to buy him out three years later -- and hilariously chasing LaMarcus Aldridge and it smacked of a team lacking both direction and a plan. Most of these moves were made by former GM Ryan McDonough and while James Jones represents a refreshing front-office change, he comes with little experience in that role. When you examine the fast-track of Booker, you get the best young scorer the league has seen since Durant and LeBron. You also get these numbers: Two, four and 47. That’s how many general managers, coaches and teammates Booker has had in less than four NBA seasons, heavy turnover storming all around him. “My whole career except for the NBA, I’ve been a winner,” Booker said. “I want to get back to that. I’m done with not making the playoffs.” Well, the circumstances say otherwise. The Suns are essentially holding tryouts for the future now, though. Chandler was the first one thrown overboard and if Phoenix could get anything for Ryan Anderson and his contract, he’d be next. For some reason Phoenix gave a head-scratching $15 million this season last summer to aging swingman Trevor Ariza. He's shooting 37.2 percent and scoring 9.9 ppg, taking minutes from young players. Among rotation players, the lone holdovers from 2017-18 are Booker, TJ Warren and Josh Jackson. Taking some advice he received from Chandler, who became a mentor, Booker believes it’s necessary for him to adopt a more forceful role on the court and in the locker room even if, from an age perspective, he needs more seasoning for that. But what are the alternatives, given the ever-changing lineup? “I’m doing more leading by example and being more vocal about it, holding people accountable and hold myself accountable too,” he said. It’s a chore trying to pick up others when, after taking yearly poundings, you need a hand yourself. This is the mountain Booker is up against. Again. “I know losing is tough on him because last year as a rookie I struggled with it,” said Jackson. “I’m just keeping my head on straight now. We show flashes but we need consistency.” Or you could say they need LeBron. And if Booker misses any extended time with a hamstring that has given him trouble before Sunday, well, as Jackson said: “Everybody knows we need him desperately. The sooner we get him back, the better.” With the possible exception of the Knicks, no franchise has splattered the concrete with the speed and consistency as the Suns. Before Booker was born, the Suns were a destination franchise, a place most players wanted to sign with, get drafted by and be traded to. The balmy winter weather was an obvious attraction but in the mid-1990s with Charles Barkley, and then 10 years later with Steve Nash, the Suns were also entertaining and won everything except a championship. Sellouts were common, the arena was a tough place for visitors and fans frolicked along with the Gorilla mascot. All this happened on Jerry Colangelo’s watch and prosperity under owner Robert Sarver is on hourglass time. At least Booker is locked up for four more years and there’s no danger of losing him, at least to another team, in the immediate future. They could lose him to frustration, though, fairly soon, especially when he sees other teams playing meaningful games and listens to other players during USA Basketball gatherings talk about what he’s missing. “I’ll do whatever I have to do,” Booker said, when asked about recruiting help in the near future. “I think Phoenix is a place where people can see the potential, see our young nucleus.” Unless there’s a reversal of fortune in the near future, Phoenix could remain a basketball wasteland and no player, not even Booker, wants to wallow in that. Problem is, until there’s a positive roster shakeup, the Suns lack enough to convince another superstar to sign up next summer or maybe even by 2020. At least when their lone star falls to the floor, as he did Sunday against the Lakers, Booker carries enough clout and respect to get a hand of a different sort from LeBron James. For now, that must do. 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 NewsDec 3rd, 2018

FIBA WORLD CUP: Gilas going Stanley for KAZ; Stan vs IRI

Despite not yet giving a final 12-man lineup for the Philippines-Kazakhstan and Philippines-Iran FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3, respectively, Gilas coach Yeng Guiao says the team has made up their mind for their naturalized players. The fiery coach says the team was "90-percent" sure that they would be fielding in explosive guard Stanley Pringle of the NorthPort Batang Pier against Kazakhstan on Friday November 30th, where his scoring is expected to be a factor. Gilas will then be utilizing the services of San Miguel big man Christian Standhardinger to match up with the tall and phyisical Iran frontline on Monday, December 3rd.  Guiao also added that at this point, 10 players have been decided but the last two slots will be still be determined before the submission of the names to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Wednesday afternoon. He further explained that choosing among the most stacked roster the Philippines has seen in recent memory has been quite difficult. "We're trying to cover all the bases at this point. These are the games that will really matter. Importanteng laro na we will be judged, we will be defined by the games that we will play in the next few days," shared the national team coach. The penultimate full practice at the Meralco Gym before Gilas faces off against Kazakhstan was held Wednesday morning and was attended by 17 of the 19 players in the pool, namely Jayson Castro, Matthew Wright, Beau Belga, Scottie Thompson, Ricci Rivero, Gabe Norwood, Marcio Lassiter, June Mar Fajardo, Poy Erram, and Arwind Santos. Also in attendance were Alex Cabagnot, Troy Rosario, LA Tenorio, Paul Lee, Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter, and Pringle. Standhardinger (illness) and Kai Sotto (school) were not present. The final full practice for Gilas before the Kazakhstan tussle will be Thursday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena.  __ Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 28th, 2018

NCAA Season 94 volleyball: Lady Chiefs open three-peat bid

Arellano University begins its hunt for its third straight women’s title on Friday against Jose Rizal University in a rematch of last year’s Final Four when the NCAA Season 94 volleyball opens shop at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The Lady Chiefs and Lady Bombers march into action at 12:00 noon following the 11:00 a.m. opening ceremony that will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183 and via livestream. Last year’s Finals Most Valuable Player Regine Arocha will play the role of Arellano U’s leader after the departure of the Lady Chiefs’ Big Three Jovielyn Prado, Anne Esguerra and Andrea Marzan. Despite losing three key players, the Obet Javier-mentored squad will still be one of the title favorites with the return of high scoring hitter and last year’s rookie of the year Necole Ebuen. Meanwhile, after a historic Final Four appearance last season, the Lady Bombers will need to step up their game to fill in the scoring void left by Season 93 MVP Shola Alvarez. Head coach Mia Tioseco will pin her hopes on key holdovers Dolly Versoza, Karen Montojo and Christine Ebuenga for another successful run. In men’s play, last year’s runner up Chiefs battle the Heavy Bombers at 9:30 a.m. after the 8:00 a.m. clash between the Braves and Lights Bombers in juniors division.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2018

Q& A: Hornets Walker starts season in scoring groove

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com With the new season underway, and with his game as hot as almost anyone to start, Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker was asked what impressed or surprised him about the first 10 days or so of 2018-19. “Nothing besides my own play,” Walker said, laughing after a shootaround Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Nothing besides seeing my name near the top of the NBA scoring, which is pretty weird.” Eh, maybe not so weird. Walker, a two-time All-Star, is the Hornets’ all-time leading scorer. At 28, the former ninth overall pick in the 2011 Draft is in his prime as a player. The 41 points he dropped on Milwaukee on opening night and the fact he’s gone for at least 23 every game since (with three more games of 30 or more) seems like the next logical step. It earned him the season’s first Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor and as Week 2 ended, his 31.7 ppg trailed only Golden State’s Stephen Curry (33.9) and Portland’s Damian Lillard (33.8). “It was [gratifying]. Who wouldn’t want it to keep going?” Walker told NBA.com. “I know teams will be gearing up on me and double-teaming me. But I just want to win, man. I want to get back to the playoffs any way possible. I don’t care what I average the rest of the year.” Walker, in the final year of a four-year, $48 million deal he signed in 2014, never has shot the ball so well -- 40.5 percent from the arc, 46.6 percent overall. Neither has he shot it so often and from such range. Walker is averaging 23 shots, including more than 11 3-point attempts. His usage rate of 33.5 trails only Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (35.1) and his 29.4 PER puts him ahead of Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Is it sustainable? That was one of multiple topics Walker talked about with NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner: *** Steve Aschburner: On Media Day, you made it sound as if you would hit this season hard from the start, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen. How do you explain it? Kemba Walker: I knew I had a good summer. I put in the work and the time and the effort to get better. And I’m healthy -- I haven’t felt healthy like this in a long time. Over the last three summers, I wasn’t healthy, having knee surgeries and ‘scopes. So I was rehabbing. This summer, I had a chance to work on my game. Being able to work on my shooting over a long period of time really helped as well. SA: You took as many 3FGAs last season as you shot your first two seasons combined. Now you’re launching them at a pace (11.3 per game) to break Steph Curry’s single season record (886). Is this a conscious change by you or a reaction to the league’s preferred style? KW: Both. The league definitely has changed from the time I first came in. Everybody’s shooting more threes, no matter their position. Me, I’ve just become more confident. I worked on my shot tremendously to get to this point. I’m comfortable now shooting it, whenever I can get to my spots. SA: What’s your preference -- pull-up threes, spot-up threes or those halfcourt threes like Steph takes? KW: Not at all [laughing]. Steph is a different type of shooter, maybe the best to ever shoot the basketball. But I’m comfortable shooting them however. It doesn’t matter. If I can get ‘em up, I try to make ‘em. But I do love for my teammates to create for me and get me some easy ones. It does take some stress, some pressure, off of me. SA: Your coach, James Borrego, has talked of using you more off the ball. Does that suit you? KW: It really helps. It gets me a little bit of rest, and it opens up a different dynamic in my game. As well as giving other guys a chance to have the ball in their hands and create for others. But the main thing is, it just keeps me fresher, which is huge for me. SA: What’s your take on the Charlotte rookies? KW: Oh, I’m a huge fan. Devonte’ [Graham] really hasn’t gotten a chance to play yet, but I’ve always been a huge fan, even when he was at Kansas. Just love his game, love his poise. And that’s skill -- I don’t think people understand how much of a skill it is to be poised, especially at a young age. It’s something that I didn’t have, something that took me a very long time to get. Miles [Bridges], he’s a hard-playing kid. Smart, always in the right spot on both ends of the floor. I can see him getting more minutes as the season progresses. SA: Malik Monk is a second-year guy who didn’t have the most satisfying rookie season. What do you see from him, and can he become a reliable backcourt mate? KW: Oh yeah, he’s growing. Every single day. His efficiency will come. He needs time to learn, needs time to develop, to figure out where his shots are going to come. He’s getting better already. He’s passing the ball really well, getting other guys involved. He needs to know we need him every night, with him coming off the bench for us. SA: Your rookie season was about as challenging as could be -- delayed by a lockout, rushed through training camp and a quickie preseason, and then a 7-59 experience. Did that set you back as a player? KW: Nah, it wasn’t a setback. It was humbling. I took it as a point in my career where I was going through adversity. It was tough -- nobody likes to lose -- and through my basketball career I felt I had been a winner. But I just stuck to it, just kept working hard. SA: You said you don’t want to talk anymore about your free agency next summer -- and your general manager, Mitch Kupchak, is on record saying, “Our intention is for him to end his career in a Hornet uniform.” Some people wonder what the market might be, though, given how many terrific point guards are out there. So let’s address that another way: what is it like competing with all those rivals? KW: It’s unbelievable, man. Every night. Every single night, somebody is there to … I can’t even explain it. Every team, there’s so many great point guards out there who are just ready to showcase their talents. There are young guys ready to show how good they are. Yeah, it’s a point guard league. SA: We’re seeing more and more teams switching everything defensively. How hard is that on a 6-foot-1 point guard? KW: It’s … tough sometimes. Some matchups, you don’t want to get. But I rely on my teammates to help out as much as possible. The most challenging part probably is boxing guys out. But I’m always up for the challenge. SA: Some players talk or at least play like defense is optional. Your thoughts? KW: Not at all. I’m paid to do it all. It’s not even about being paid -- I’m just competitive. I want to play defense. I want to score. I want to do it all. SA: I’ve often wondered what it’s like to play for the team that Michael Jordan owns. Other teams, the owners aren’t basketball experts. But that’s not the case for the Hornets. Is it intimidating? KW: I wouldn’t say intimidating. I love it. I want my owner to have played. He knows what’s going on, he knows how it feels after losses, after wins. Traveling. Being tired. He’s been through it. He knows what it takes to win games in this league. Even though basketball’s a bit different now from when he played, but still, he knows. I feel like I’m at an advantage because I can go to him, I can ask him things. Or he can just come to me, or text me or call me to let me know things. And let me know how to get past things. No, it’s an honor for us, it’s an honor for me to have him as an owner. SA: How is basketball different from when Jordan played? KW: For me, just the threes. A lot of bigs shooting threes. The bigs are different in general, you know? Back with MJ, I feel like the shooting guards and the forwards were dominant, and it was more of a post-up league. Now it’s a point guard’s league for the most part. And it’s not a post-up league much anymore. There are so many threes up in the air. SA: Do you little guys resent the stretch-fours and stretch-fives coming out onto your turf these days? KW: Yeah, man, it’s crazy. But it’s fun. Just seeing the development and the change. Even from when I first got in the league it wasn’t like that. But guys are so talented nowadays, it’s unbelievable. SA: Tell me about the Big Brothers Big Sisters work you do, mentoring four kids -- two boys and two girls -- in the Charlotte area. KW: Just to be in their lives. I take ‘em out to eat, take ‘em to Dave & Buster’s every now and then. It’s fun. I try to avoid the cameras. It’s not for social media. It’s not for anything but them. The kids are doing great in school. That’s the biggest progress, that’s what you want. They’ve really started to love basketball now -- they come to games sometimes. It’s been fun to see them grow, each and every time I see them. One of the kids, his mom passed away. I know it’s been a struggle for him. For me to be able to help get his mind off of that for a time, just be there for him, that’s definitely rewarding for me but I hope it’s more rewarding for him. SA: You’re in your eighth season, and you’ve played a total of 11 playoff games. What stands out for you about the postseason? KW: I remember every game. We played Miami twice. The first year [2014] was when they had LeBron, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. They swept us, but I thought we played really well. Obviously it wasn’t enough -- they had three Hall of Famers. I remember the level of intensity those guys played with. I remember telling myself, the next time I get to the playoffs, I’m going to try my best to play like that. The next time [2016], that’s what I did. People thought we might get swept again, but we went to seven games. It was really fun. The whole atmosphere was so intense. I loved it. You have to take your game to a whole ‘nother level. You have to play hard every possession, every second of those games. The competitiveness, the toughness, everything goes up. SA: A problem that team had, it still has -- you’re carrying such a big load offensively. Do you need a second reliable scorer, and is that guy on the roster now? KW: Of course. We need it. I’m not going to have huge games every night. It’s on one of these guys to step up. I think guys are still searching for their roles at this point, especially with a new coach, new system. We’re still learning. But as the season progresses, I think they will. We have guys who are capable of putting points up for us. SA: The All-Star Game this season is in Charlotte. You’ve been selected twice. What would you think of playing in that game in your market? KW: That’d be amazing. To be in Charlotte, the team that drafted me, the team I’ve played with for eight years now, it would be a really special moment. Hopefully I can get there. It’d be fun. A really important and fun moment in my career. 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 NewsOct 30th, 2018

Kings looking to De’Aaron Fox to lead faster paced offense

By MICHAEL WAGAMAN, Associated Press SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sacramento Kings coach Dave Joerger wants his team to run more this season and plans to give speedy point guard De’Aaron Fox all the room he needs. Fox was one of the fastest players in the NBA last year as a rookie, but the Kings offense was uneven most of the season and frequently bogged down in the half-court. With an influx of young, quick players added to an already youthful roster, the hope is that Fox can get Sacramento out and running and, possibly, back into the postseason. “The best thing you can do for him is play fast and give him as much room as possible,” Joerger said Monday at the Kings practice facility during media day. “To play small and try to do that is best for De’Aaron. He’s our franchise guy. I think he is and I think everybody kind of agrees on that.” The fifth overall pick in 2017, Fox started 60 games and averaged 11.6 points with 4.4 assists, but shot only 41.2 percent while struggling with an inconsistent mid-range jumpshot. The Kings were 20th in the NBA with 10.4 fastbreak points. Those are numbers Fox hopes to improve in his second season. “That’s the way I’ve always played,” Fox said. “I’ve always played for a team that gets up and down, high school college, AAU, all of that. That’s what (Joerger is) emphasizing this year. I’m excited to see what happens.” The Kings drafted Fox with the first of their three first-round picks a year ago, but used him sparingly early while George Hill ran the point. Hill was eventually dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of a multi-team trade. Fox flourished at times, but Sacramento struggled with its half-court offense and finished 27-55. Correcting the problems the Kings had there, as well as getting better in the fastbreak, are Fox’s main goals. “When we did do it, it was pretty effective but you don’t see too many young teams really executing at a veteran level in the halfcourt,” Fox said. “That’s something that I definitely need to work on as a point guard myself and us as a team.” Sacramento used the second overall pick this year on 6-foot-11-inch power forward Marvin Bagley III of Duke. Harry Giles, the 20th overall selection in 2017 who sat out his entire rookie season injured, is also back to add speed and size to the frontcourt. They also signed 6-10, 240-pound forward Nemanja Bjelica to play the stretch-four when the Kings want to go small. “Last year, our fastest lineup was playing Justin Jackson at power forward next to Bogdanovich and Buddy Hield,” Joerger said. “That group analytically would have been the fastest-paced team in the NBA. That serves to De’Aaron’s strength.” Better rebounding will also help, Joerger said. “It’s not easy to run when you’re always taking the ball out of bounds after a made shot,” Joerger said. “We have to try, try to get some stops. It’s fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. It’s a commitment. DeAaron’s going to have to push it, but it takes all five guys.” Fox will be without his backcourt mate, Bogdan Bogdanovic, for the start of training camp. Bogdanovic underwent minor surgery Monday on his left knee after having a similar procedure done in April to repair a slight tear of the medial meniscus. No timetable has been given for his return. “It puts us behind a little bit,” Joerger said. “I was hoping to play he and Buddy Hield, either of them or play them together, at backup point guard. I wanted to see how that looks and put more scoring, shooting on the floor. So that will be a little behind.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Middle 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Middle 10 * * * 11. TORONTO RAPTORS 2017-18 RECORD: 59-23; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals ADDED: Coach Nick Nurse; G Danny Green (acquired from Spurs); F Kawhi Leonard (acquired from Spurs) LOST: Former coach Dwane Casey; G DeMar DeRozan (traded to Spurs); F Alfonzo McKinnie (waived); C Jakob Poeltl (traded to Spurs) RETAINED: G Fred VanVleet (two years, $18.1 million) THE KEY MAN: Nurse. The former Raps assistant has extensive G League head coaching experience. But the NBA isn’t just about a coach’s Xs and Os acumen. We know Nurse can do that. But an NBA coach has to have command presence in a locker room not only full of millionaires, but full of Alpha males who have their own very strong opinions on how they should be used and how their teammates should help them. Nurse will have to show he can put his own stamp on a team that will have some new faces while still having extremely high expectations. THE SKINNY: You may well think Toronto should be higher, based on Leonard’s standing as a top-five player in the league when fully healthy. No matter what you think of DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, no one can realistically say he’s better than “The Klaw” when both are 100 percent. But, of course, we don’t know if Leonard’s 100 percent. And, trading DeRozan, who’d been the franchise’s biggest advocate during his nine seasons there -- and who had led the team to its greatest extended run of success ever -- is not a transaction without consequence for the Raptors. He helped get the best out of Kyle Lowry. He could help recruit free agents. And, the circumstances of his departure have not helped the franchise’s reputation. Still, this is a talent-based league, and Leonard has it. His and Green’s presence on the perimeter gives Toronto the chance to be a switching defensive monster -- and will help the Raptors be able to match up better with the likes of the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers in a late-May playoff matchup, as long as the Raptors’ young core in which it believes so strongly continues to play as well in reserve as it did last season. 12. MILWAUKEE BUCKS 2017-18 RECORD: 44-38; lost in first round ADDED: Coach Mike Budenholzer; G Donte DiVincenzo (No. 17 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trevon Duval; F Ersan Ilyasova (three years, $21 million); C Brook Lopez (one year, $3.32 million); F Pat Connaughton (two years, $3.2 million); LOST: Former interim coach Joe Prunty; G Brandon Jennings (waived); F Jabari Parker (signed with Bulls) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: G Eric Bledsoe. His departure from Phoenix early last season was messy. But once he got to Brewtown, Bledsoe solidified the Bucks at the point, averaging 17.8 points and 5.1 assists per game in 71 starts. At 28, Bledsoe faces the last year of his contract and will have to show a new coach he’s capable of running things long-term and playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo through the meat of his prime. THE SKINNY: Budenholzer’s arrival should coincide with an improvement in the Bucks’ defense, something that former coach Jason Kidd could never quite accomplish. Ilaysova’s return for a second tour in Milwaukee should help, with his celebrated charge-taking skill and Lopez’s still-substantial size a double-boon to Milwaukee’s interior D as the Bucks were bottom 10 last season in points allowed in the paint (47.4 per game). If the paint becomes a little tougher to traverse, the Bucks should finally able to use their substantial length on the wing to get back to create deflections and turnovers, and get out in transition, where Antetokounmpo and Friends do their best work and their most damage to the opposition. They’ll do so 41 nights a year for the next couple of decades in the 17,500-seat Fiserv Forum, the Bucks’ new arena that will open in early September with a concert and should pump new revenues into the Bucks’ bloodstream, giving them more financial wherewithal to keep “The Greek Freak” surrounded with high-quality talent. 13. UTAH JAZZ 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in Western Conference semifinals ADDED: G Grayson Allen (No. 21 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jarius Lyles; G Naz Mitrou-Long LOST: F Jonas Jerebko (waived) RETAINED: G Dante Exum (three years, $33 million); F/C Derrick Favors (two years, $37.6 million), G Raul Neto (two years, $4.4 million); F Georges Niang (three years, $4.9 million) THE KEY MAN: C Rudy Gobert. He’s a monster presence, the hub of the Jazz’s defensive wheel and the reigning Kia Defensive Player of the Year. And he has to take a step back in Utah next season for the Jazz to take the next step forward. He has to understand what Utah has in Donovan Mitchell and let that kid eat. Nobody in the league can do what Gobert does defensively. So embrace that and concentrate on that -- take the Draymond Green attitude about being the “defensive guy” on a great team (not that Jazz fans want you to do anything that Green does). Gobert’s handsomely paid and the DPOY award found him in Salt Lake City; there’s no small-market bias at work here. So let Mitchell and Joe Ingles carry the shooting/scoring load, let Ricky Rubio orchestrate, and snuff out opponent dreams at the other end, night after night. It’s what you were born to do. THE SKINNY: My God, Mitchell had a great rookie season. And Utah brought most of the band back from last season to provide advice and consent for him again, re-signing Favors, Exum and Neto each on very reasonable contracts. Doing so leaves Utah over the cap, still comfortably under the tax, and with nothing on the books that should raise an eyebrow financially. (Utah’s front office should handle my checking account for a while.) Anyway, no reason to expect any backsliding next season with the crew returning, though coach Quin Snyder will surely miss the counsel of his longtime friend Igor Kokoskov, off to run the Suns. 14. ATLANTA HAWKS 2017-18 RECORD: 24-58; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Lloyd Pierce; F Justin Anderson (acquired from 76ers); G Kevin Huerter (No. 19 pick, 2018 Draft); C Alex Len (two years, $8.5 million); G Jeremy Lin (acquired from Nets); F Omari Spellman (No. 30 pick, 2018 Draft); G Trae Young (No. 5 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former coach Mike Budenholzer; G Antonius Cleveland (waived); G Damion Lee (signed with Warriors); F/C Mike Muscala (traded to 76ers); G Dennis Schröder (traded to Thunder); G Isaiah Taylor (waived) RETAINED: C Dewayne Dedmon (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: GM Travis Schlenk. The second-year executive will be judged on how well Atlanta uses its trove of Draft picks -- three firsts this year, three firsts next year, two firsts in 2022 -- the next few years. And, ultimately, the Hawks will live or die by whether Young or Luka Doncic becomes the bigger NBA producer. Schlenk’s chances of completing the rebuild may well ride on that. THE SKINNY: The Hawks’ roster teardown is nearing completion, but the renovated Philips Arena will come online faster than the team, which now needs Young to live up to all the hype after his one season at Oklahoma. He has incredible range and great potential, but he’ll be challenged every night to stay in front of the legion of great points in this league. Pierce, the former Sixers’ assistant, is going to have a very tough time melding all the newcomers with the small core of players who survived, including John Collins, Kent Bazemore, DeAndre' Bembry and Taurean Prince. 15. LA CLIPPERS 2017-18 RECORD: 42-40; missed playoffs ADDED: C Marcin Gortat (acquired from Wizards); G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 11 pick, 2018 Draft); F Johnathan Motley (acquired from Mavericks); F Mike Scott (one year, $4.3 million); F Luc Mbah a Moute (one year, $4.3 million), G Jerome Robinson (No. 13 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Austin Rivers (traded to Wizards); C DeAndre Jordan (signed with Mavs); G C.J. Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Avery Bradley (two years, $24.9  million); C Montrezl Harrell (two years, $12 million); G Wesley Johnson (picked up player option); G Milos Teodosic (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Tobias Harris. He was the key tangible piece of the Blake Griffin trade last season (the intangible being the unprotected first from Detroit in the deal that eventually became Gilgeous-Alexander after a Draft night trade with Charlotte). And Harris played quite well in his 32 games with the Clips, averaging 19.3 points and six rebounds per game. Those numbers could each well go up in a contract year and with few others outside of Lou Williams on the roster that can go get their own buckets. THE SKINNY: Amazing, but true: the Clipper player with the longest current tenure is … Wesley Johnson, who came aboard in 2015. “Lob City” is in the history books and change will be the norm here for a while, including next summer, when the Clippers expect to be a free-agent destination. The Clips did what they could with that not-insignificant restriction, but the best stuff was in the Draft, winding up with a potential long-term point in Gilgeous-Alexander and a two in Robinson that rocketed up the pre-Draft charts. Bradley’s on a very team-friendly and controllable contract, as is Patrick Beverley, whose modest 2018-19 salary isn’t guaranteed until January. Those two and Mbah a Moute can give coach Doc Rivers hope that he can get some stops on the perimeter, because while Gortat is still willing defensively and still takes a bunch of charges, he is not Jordan when it comes to rim protection. 16. BROOKLYN NETS 2017-18 RECORD: 28-54; missed playoffs ADDED: F/C Ed Davis (one year, $4.4 million); F Jared Dudley (acquired from Suns); F Kenneth Faried (acquired from Nuggets); G/F Treveon Graham (two years); F Rodions Kurucs (No. 40, 2018 Draft); F Dzanan Musa (No. 29 pick, 2018 Draft); G Shabazz Napier (two years, $3.7 million) LOST: F Darrell Arthur (traded to Suns); F Dante Cunningham (signed with Spurs); C Dwight Howard (waived); G Jeremy Lin (traded to Hawks); C Timofey Mozgov (traded to Hornets); G Nik Stauskas (signed with Blazers); G Isaiah Whitehead (traded to Nuggets) RETAINED: G Joe Harris (two years, $16 million) THE KEY MAN: Co-owner Joseph Tsai. The Alibaba executive and billionaire has 49 percent of the team, and can buy majority control from Mikhail Prokhorov by 2021. Until then, they’ll run the team jointly, so no matter Prokhorov’s ups and downs, Brooklyn’s financial spigot should never run dry. Tsai reportedly has designs on expanding the Nets’ brand further in China, just as Prokhorov believed the Nets had global reach. They didn’t, at least not the post-KG and Pierce squads. THE SKINNY: If you love Ed Davis like smart people who know basketball do, Brooklyn makes the top half by bringing the ex-Blazer in on a short deal. If he plays great, he’ll cost the Nets a pretty penny in 2019, but Brooklyn has to take chances on guys who can outperform their contracts. The only thing the Nets couldn’t do was take on more ’19 salary when they’ll be in line to potentially add two max players. Won’t be easy to lure the elites, but Brooklyn also has accumulated enough assets to be able to make uneven trades for salaries if need be. In the interim comes next season, with coach Kenny Atkinson needing to continue to develop diamonds in the rough like Graham, who Cleveland wanted and who will help the Nets at multiple positions. 17. CHICAGO BULLS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: G Antonius Cleveland; C Wendell Carter Jr. (No. 7 pick, 2018 Draft); F Chandler Hutchison (No. 22 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jabari Parker (two years, $40 million) LOST: F Jerian Grant (traded to Magic); G Sean Kilpatrick (waived); G Julyan Stone (waived); F Noah Vonleh (signed with Knicks); G Paul Zipser (waived) RETAINED: G Antonio Blakeney; G Zach LaVine (matched four year, $78 million offers sheet from Kings) THE KEY MAN: G Kris Dunn. As the 24-year-old will be every season he’s in Chicago. The Jimmy Butler trade in 2017 yielded the pick that became Lauri Markannen, and he’s also a key piece to the Bulls’ future. But Chicago won’t ever get elevation again if Dunn doesn’t become an elite point guard in a league full of them. He showed signs last season that he could be just that, most notably a December in which Dunn averaged 14.9 points and eight assists, and the Bulls went 10-6. But a concussion in January derailed Dunn’s progress and his production fell sharply the rest of the season. THE SKINNY: Can Parker play the three, as the Bulls insist he can? There isn’t a ton of evidence suggesting so, and Parker’s hypothesis that he isn’t getting paid to play defense does not provide much comfort. But the Bulls will try him there alongside Markannen and rookie Carter Jr. in what would be a huge frontcourt. Almost $20 million annually for LaVine going forward is also a stretch, but less of one if LaVine comes all the way back from his 2017 ACL tear with a full training camp and season. Carter may be more important to the Bulls’ hoped-for resurgence than Parker and LaVine; the Duke big man has that much potential. 18. WASHINGTON WIZARDS 2017-18 RECORD: 43-39; lost in first round ADDED: C Thomas Bryant; G Troy Brown (No. 15 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jeff Green (one year, $2.5 million); C Dwight Howard (two years, $11 million); G Austin Rivers (acquired from Clippers); G Issuf Sanon (No. 44 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Marcin Gortat (traded to Clippers); F Mike Scott (signed with Clippers) RETAINED: G Jodie Meeks (picked up player option); C Jason Smith (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Coach Scott Brooks. Entering his third season in Washington, Brooks keeps saying he wants the Wizards to defend and play fast. But he has to follow that up with action, especially when and if John Wall doesn’t provide the on-ball defense Washington needs to have any chance to unleash a still-potent fast break. Wall is 27 and, if healthy, in his prime. The team takes almost all of its cues from him; when he’s locked in, the Wizards can compete with anyone. But when he’s indifferent, so are they -- as evidenced by their horrible record against bad teams. Brooks has to demand Wall’s best, or be ready to limit his minutes. THE SKINNY: NBA protocol almost demands you hate the pickup of Howard, such is his current perceived valued among many after multiple stops the last few seasons. The guess here is that Howard won’t hijack the Wizards’ locker room, as he had been accused of while in with the Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets, especially. Howard’s skill set can help Washington, which fell off defensively last season. But there’s also not much sense he’ll be a significant pick-me-up in D.C., either. He can’t stretch the floor and he’s not especially potent finishing in pick and roll, either. But the Wizards should at least be deeper off the bench with Green, who played well for the Cavs last season, and Rivers, who gives Washington legit guard depth along with Tomas Satoransky. 19. SACRAMENTO KINGS 2017-18 RECORD: 27-55; missed playoffs ADDED: F Nemanja Bjelica (three years, $20.4 million); C Marvin Bagley III (No. 2 pick, 2018 Draft); G Yogi Ferrell (two years, $4.1 million); G Ben McLemore (acquired from Kings); F Deyonta Davis (acquired from Grizzlies) LOST: G Garrett Temple (traded to Grizzlies) RETAINED: G Iman Shumpert (picked up player option); C Kosta Koufos (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: F Harry Giles. The Kings traded for the one-and-done forward on Draft night 2017 and redshirted him, feeling he needed a year to fully recover from the multiple knee surgeries he’d undergone the last three years. Those surgeries stopped his top-five Draft potential in its tracks, before and after a year at Duke. But Giles is back on the floor, having flashed his skills during NBA Summer League, as Sacramento gushed about his progress. If the 20-year-old is ready to roll come October, he could be an enormous boost. He’ll have to at least become a contributor, lest folks remind the Kings they passed on the likes of Kyle Kuzma and O.G Anunoby to trade for his rights. THE SKINNY: Bagley III has superstar potential, and he better become one, or the Doncic Stans among the Kings’ fan base will have aneurysms. The Kings were all over everyone, seemingly, this summer, dropping sheets on Zach LaVine, almost doing the same with Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker, and going after unrestricted free agent Mario Hezonja. All well and good, and getting Bjelica out from under Philly and prying Ferrell from Dallas were decent late July pickups. But it will be Bagley III who’ll be under the microscope. His skill sets are prodigious and he’s been working out feverishly all summer. And he wants to make a mark in restoring the Kings to where they were on the floor during the Webber Years. He worked out for them. He’s enthusiastic about them. That counts for something. 20. HOUSTON ROCKETS 2017-18 RECORD: 65-17; lost in Western Conference finals ADDED: G Michael Carter-Williams (one year, $1.5 million); G De'Anthony Melton (No. 46 pick, 2018 Draft); F Vincent Edwards (No. 52 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Trevor Ariza (signed with Suns); Luc Mbah a Moute (signed with LA Clippers); C Chinanu Onuaku (traded to Mavs) RETAINED: C Clint Capela (five years, $90 million); G/F Gerald Green (one year, $2.3 million); G Aaron Jackson (picked up team option); G Chris Paul (four years, $159 million) THE KEY MAN: Jason Biles, Joe Rogowski, Keith Jones and Javair Gillett -- the Rockets’ athletic trainers, sports performance and rehab staff. Their only mission next season, should they decide to accept it, is to get Paul through an 82-game regular season and a two-month playoff slog without breaking or pulling anything of importance that keeps him out of key games. Of course, should any of the staff be unsuccessful, the Morey will disavow any knowledge of their employment. Good luck, men. THE SKINNY: We have not yet included Carmelo Anthony, who will be signing in Houston any minute now. When he’s officially on the roster, he’ll certainly help, and we all saw that even Houston can go through extended scoring droughts in the playoffs. Having Anthony around should alleviate that. The Rockets may have had the best signing of the summer, keeping the 24-year-old Capela locked up long-term for $18 million per -- incredible value these days, given the way salaries are skyrocketing. But that was mitigated by the losses of Ariza and Mbah a Moute, who were crucial to the switching defense Houston employed and perfected by the playoffs, which threw sand in the gears of the Warriors’ impenetrable offense and would likely have propelled the Rockets to The Finals if Paul hadn’t gotten hurt in Game 5. Ennis and Carter-Williams will help some in that regard, but they don’t have the resume of Mbah a Moute and Ariza -- which means they sometimes won’t get the benefit of the doubt from refs that the old heads do. Houston’s still the clear number two to Golden State in the West, but the gap between the Rockets and the best of the rest has closed. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

PVL: UP transferee at the forefront of AU’s offensive might

As at it was in the last season NCAA finals between Arellano University and eventual champion University of Perpetual Help, Christian dela Paz, 20, is again leading the offensive drive of the Chiefs in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference.      The 20-year-old former UP Fighting Maroon sizzled with 24 points in Arellano’s debut in the PVL Saturday against Adamson University to underscore the leading role he is to take again on his third year with the Chiefs.    To set the record straight, the soft-spoken hotel & restaurant management student from Parang, Marikina, Rizal, said he left the UP squad because of differences with the coach, not because of the lack of playing time. Standing five-foot-nine, dela Paz, one of superstar Marck Espejo’s teammates in Sta. Elena High School in Marikina, leaps so high he can outsmart the taller blockers on the other side of the court whether he is near or far from the net.   Stories to tell     Dela Paz takes understandable pride in Espejo’s phenomenal rise and singular achievements in the sport being products of the same town. He relishes telling and retelling how dominant a player the multi-awarded former Ateneo Blue Eagle was as early as then and where their high school team was competing.  Middle blocker Christian Segovia, 24, Demmy Lapuz, 19, and Kim Tan, 18, who help ease dela Paz’s scoring load, also have interesting stories to share.       Segovia, born and bred in Tondo and studying HRM as well, says in Filipino: “I should have been playing for FEU, not with Arellano. I was already listed on the FEU team barely a week before the UAAP opened. My mother, already frustrated with my poor grades, got wind of it and immediately pulled me out of the team.       “I was transferred to Arellano where I earned good grades that pleased my mother. I got back into volleyball and showed her I could balance sport and studies this time around. Now, my mother, grandmother and three siblings are always watching my games.”     Yolanda survivor    Lapuz says he had an auspicious beginning with the Chiefs. He was already a starter on his rookie year when Arellano reached the finals against Perpetual last year.      This Tacloban City native was in third year high school when Typhoon Yolanda battered his place of birth in November 2013.       He recalls the ordeal in Filipino, “We were lucky to be living in a subdivision on a mountain slope. The roof of the house was blown away but we survived. The great destruction and the stench of death all around us was one experience everyone should not be subjected to.”       Learning and enjoying volleyball in his physical education classes in UDM had, according to Tan, weaned him away from basketball. The same school gave him his first training in volleyball; he became competent at it.       Higher tuition fees drove his family to seek other schools for him. He enrolled in NU and stayed there without playing volleyball for three years until his barkada in Arellano convinced him to try out for a spot on their varsity team.       He tried out and was taken in. Only a rookie, he started for the Chiefs in their first PVL game, making him a shoo-in for Arellano’s NCAA squad next season.       The other members of the Arellano Chiefs are Roi Domingo, setter Edmark Meneses, Adrian Villados, Tonell Arellano, Jethro Cabillan, Joshua Esguerra, Junnel Cacam, Jesrael Liberato and Evo Rinon        .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 23rd, 2018

MPBL: Manila opens campaign with statement win over Bataan

Manila has wasted no time in making it known that it should be looked at as one of the contenders in the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Datu Cup. NAASCU standout Aris Dionisio had a breakout game in his league debut as the home team Stars stole the spotlight from stacked Bataan, 89-82, last Saturday at the San Andres Gym. Dionisio, the pride of St. Clare University, tallied 21 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals to tow his team to a season-opening win. It was also his fastbreak layup in the dying seconds that sealed the deal for Manila and closed the door for good for the Risers who had the likes of ex-pro Gary David, UAAP star J-Jay Alejandro, NCAA star Gab Dagangon, as well as ABL champions Robbie Celiz and Pamboy Raymundo. Backstopping Dionisio were former PBA D-League player Adrian Celada who had 18 points to his name as well as ex-pros Reil Cervantes and Marvin Hayes who had 15 and 13 markers, respectively. For Bataan, Byon Villarias topped the scoring column with 17 points. The highly-touted team will have to wait a little longer to prove their worth, however. Meanwhile, Navotas has also barged into the win column courtesy of the hot hands of Levi Hernandez who shot his team over expansion team Pasay, 83-75. Arellano University product Hernandez poured in his 12 of his 26 points in the third quarter to take both the lead and momentum for the Clutch. They would never relinquish those en route to 1-0. Former San Beda University player Yvan Ludovice paced the 0-1 Voyagers with 17 points. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME NAVOTAS 83 – Hernandez 26, Publico 22, Arong 9, Neypes 7, Denison 6,  Trinidad 6, Porter 5, Sorela 2, Javelosa 0, Salem 0, Padilla 0, Gumaru 0 PASAY 75 – Ludovice 17, De Leon 15, Alanes 10, Lastimosa 8, Salcedo 7, Jamon 7, Balucanag 6, Vidal 2, Cadavis 2, Mendoza 1, Bartolo 0, Ilad 0 QUARTER SCORES: 11-20, 32-34, 60-57, 83-75 SECOND GAME MANILA 89 – Dionisio 21, Celada 18, Cervantes 15, Hayes 13, Yap 7, Sabellina 6, Bitoon 4, Rodriguez 3, Lopez 2, Laude 0, Cruz 0 BATAAN 82 – Villarias 17, Raymundo 14, Batino 13, Alejandro 12, David 7, Grospe 6, Inigo 6, Celiz 6, Tolentino 1, Dagangon 0, Faundo 0 QUARTER SCORES: 19-20,42-42, 69-64, 89-82 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Ateneo crushes NU by 34 points to stay spotless in Filoil Preseason

Ateneo de Manila University remains the pacesetter in the 2018 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament all while flexing its muscle up against a UAAP rival. Drawing contributions from up and down their lineup, the Blue Eagles routed National University for a convincing 94-60 victory on Thursday at the Filoil Flying V Centre. Thirdy Ravena fronted the charge with 20 points while new reinforcement Angelo Kouame had 12 markers to his name. With Ravena on-point from the get-go, the reigning and defending UAAP champions blazed to a 26-10 start in the first quarter. They would never look back all the way to a still spotless 5-0 slate – good for joint first in Group A. Ateneo needs just one more win to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. Conversely, the Bulldogs now find themselves in a must-win situation as their latest lost drops their record to 2-5. Shaun Ildefonso was the only one in double-digits for them in this one with 16 points. Also still in the running for a quarters berth is the University of the Philippines which took care of business against University of the East, 66-61, even without top guns Paul Desiderio and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Nigerian powerhouse Bright Akhuetie posted a 17-point, 16-rebound double-double and Jun Manzo chipped in 13 markers of his own in the Fighting Maroons’ fifth win in a row after a 0-3 start to the tournament. With Juan GDL injured and Desiderio and Javi GDL tending to their studies, Janjan Jaboneta also stepped up with nine points, none bigger than a big-time triple with under a minute remaining. Overcoming the absence of its top guns, State U moved to solo fifth in Group A still win one assignment left in its schedule. Reymark Acuno paced the now 2-4 Red Warriors with 14 points. Meanwhile, Adamson University is the first team to deal a defeat to College of St. Benilde with an 80-60 whopping. Sean Manganti showed the way with 17 points, nine rebounds, and five assists while Jerom Lastimosa contributed 13 markers, five dimes, and three steals as the Soaring Falcons ascended to a 5-1 standing. Now tied with them for first-place in Group B are the Blazers who had Kendrix Belgica topping the scoring column with 18 points. In other results, Arellano University edged out Jose Rizal University, 76-74, to improve to 3-3. On the other hand, the Heavy Bombers finished the preseason without a win. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME ARELLANO (76) – de la Torre 15, Sera Josef 14, Alban 11, Chavez 8, Meca 7, Concepcion 6, Bayla 5, Ongolo Ongolo 4, Abdurasad 2, Abanes 2, Santos 2, Filart 0, Labarda 0, de la Cruz 0, Alcoriza 0, Dumagan 0, Codinera 0. JRU (74) – Mendoza 15, de la Virgen 15, Ramos 9, Bordon 9, Esguerra 7, Padua 6, Silvarez 5, de la Rosa 5, de Guzman 3, David 0, Estrella 0, Mallari 0. QUARTER SCORES: 12-20, 27-38, 44-50, 76-74. SECOND GAME UP (66) – Akhuetie 17, Manzo 13, Jaboneta 8, Gozum 7, Prado 7, Vito 6, Murrell 3, Lim 3, Dario 2, Santiago 0, Espanola 0, Tungcab 0, Longa 0. UE (61) – Acuno 14, Conner 13, Pasaol 13, Varilla 12, Antiporda 4, Ph Manalang 3, Gagate 2, Maloles 0, Strait 0, Dimayuga 0, Bartolome 0, Cullar 0, Sobrevega 0. QUARTER SCORES: 15-12, 26-24, 52-43, 66-61. THIRD GAME ADAMSON (80) – Manganti 17, Lastimosa 13, Ahanmisi 11, Catapusan 9, Mojica 8, Colonia 6, Sarr 6, Camacho 5, J Espeleta 2, Zaldivar 2, V Magbuhos 1, Orquez 0, W Magbuhos 0, Macion 0. CSB (60) – Belgica 18, Leutcheu 15, Carlos 9, Domingo 6, Dixon 5, Naboa 3, Haruna 0, Young 0, Flores 0. QUARTER SCORES: 18-8, 32-21, 63-47, 80-60. FOURTH GAME ATENEO 94 — Ravena 20, Kouame 12, Mi. Nieto 11, Mendoza 9, Ma. Nieto 8, Navarro 7, Asistio 6, Tio 6, Belangel 5, Black 3, Maagdenberg 3, Mamuyac 2, Wong 2. NU 60 — S. Ildefonso 16, Mosqueda 8, Mangayom 7, Joson 6, Aquino 5, Clemente 5, D. Ildefonso 5, Galinato 3, Gallego 2, Salim 2, Diputado 1, Gaye 0, Sinclair 0, Tibayan 0, Yu 0. QUARTER SCORES: 26-10, 48-33, 69-46, 94-60. —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 31st, 2018

Draw of another title lights postseason path of Warriors

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Davis shrugs off pain, makes case for MVP

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com You’ll have to forgive New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry for not feeling the need to mount some coordinated public campaign for Anthony Davis for Kia MVP. Gentry figures the voters have eyes, so they've seen the same jaw-dropping things from the superstar big man that he sees every night. “He’s great, man. Just an absolutely great player in every aspect,” Gentry said in a hallway at the Smoothie King Center after Davis and the Pelicans came up short in a critical game against the Portland Trail Blazers. “You want to know what kind of guy he is? He’s in there beating himself up saying he should have done more. What more could he have done? He got 36 and 14 with three guys handing on him all night. Come on, man, he’s just a great, great player.” Davis finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks and played the final 17 minutes in pain after injuring his left ankle late in the third quarter. He took a minute to shake it off and finished the game favoring the ankle, that required treatment after the game. These are the sorts of performances he’s turned in routinely this season, particularly since the Pelicans’ other All-Star big man, DeMarcus Cousins, went down with a season-ending Achilles injury Jan. 26 (Jan. 27, PHL time). He and Cousins were on pace to become the first pair of teammates in NBA history to each average better than 25 points and 10 rebounds. Davis is averaging 31.1 points, 12.3  rebounds and 3.6 blocks since the All-Star break, after averaging 27.4, 10.7 and 2.1 in the 51 games before the break. So the “M-V-P” chants he heard in those final minutes against the Trail Blazers were well warranted for a player with range and versatility as a two-way performer that might be unrivaled in the league. “I can only think of a couple guys in this league who can impact a game the way he can from end to end. It’s AD and … ” Gentry said, before a reporter blurted out the name of the other player he was thinking of, “yeah, LeBron. I mean, these guys can guard from the three-point line to the rim and can score from those same spaces on anybody. Guys like that, wth that ability and those talents, they are just very rare.” James and Davis (who occupy the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively, in this week’s Kia Race to the MVP Ladder) will square off today at Quicken Loans Arena. It’ll be another chance for Davis to be measured against the league’s standard-bearer in regards to the MVP conversation. James has four MVPs in his war chest, and could (and probably should) have a couple more. Meanwhile, Davis is still searching for his first. At 33, James has shown a durability and staying power that Davis, 25, is also still searching for. If there is a knock on his game, it’s that he’s struggled with injuries, bumps and bruises to a degree that’s greater than you’d expect from a player as physically gifted as the 6'11", 253-pound dynamo. Tuesday night’s (Wednesday, PHL time) spill against the Trail Blazers marked the 11th time this season Davis has had to exit a game because of an injury. The reaction of the crowd, a collective hush as Davis writhed in pain under the basket, was followed by wild cheers when he got to his feet and limped to the bench. Davis refused to go to the locker room, choosing instead to take a moment to gather himself and return to the game, knowing the severity of his injury was overshadowed by the weight of the Pelicans’ current predicament. They need every single game to reach the postseason for just the second time in his career, the same postseason he suggested the Pelicans would have dominated had Cousins not gotten injured. That’s why he’ll play through whatever lingering discomfort he has to against the Cavaliers tonight. The gravity of the Pelicans’ situation demands that he fight through the pain, dust himself off and get back on the floor the same way he did Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). “Just knowing the type of situation we’re in,” Davis told reporters in New Orleans Thursday (Friday, PHL time), “I just wanted to be on the floor. I felt I couldn't leave that game, even though it was bothering me. I just tried to tough it out and just play through it.” * * * The top five in the Week 24 edition of the 2017-18 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. James Harden, Houston Rockets Last week: No. 1 Season stats: 30.7 points, 8.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds Harden took a rare night off Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) and the Rockets still rolled over the Chicago Bulls. The Rockets are good enough to go on auto-pilot the way they’re playing. They’ve already set the franchise record for wins in a season and secured the Western Conference's No. 1 seed ... all with seven games to go in their season. Harden’s work from the start of training camp has been the catalyst for this special season for the Rockets. He worked to integrate the new additions to the lineup, but did so without sacrificing any of the things that made him the strong MVP candidate he was last season. Topping his performance from last season should be more than enough to secure his first Kia MVP. The official word will come on June 25 (June 26, PHL time) at the NBA Awards show. But with the way the Rockets have played down the stretch of this season with Harden leading the way, the suspense in this MVP chase has evaporated. 2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers Last week: No. 2 Season stats: 27.6 points, 9.1 assists, 8.6 rebounds You have to appreciate LeBron’s admission that he would indeed vote for himself if he had a say in the race for the Kia MVP. And it’s hard to argue with his logic. Given all that the Cavaliers have endured since Kyrie Irving’s trade request was made public, it’s truly remarkable that he’s been able to compartmentalize the way he has and continue to play at an otherworldly level. If not for James Harden, LeBron would be clearing space on his mantle for his fifth Maurice Podoloff Trophy. Instead, he’ll have to settle for another season of milestones and his continued assault on nearly every career statistic the league has to offer. Not to mention he's still on track to play all 82 games for the first time in his career. And if you were wondering how the old man (relatively speaking, of course) bounces back after tough night (18 points in their Wednesday, PHL time, loss to Miami), catch the highlights from his 41-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist masterpiece in Charlotte on the second night of a back-to-back set. 3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Last week: No. 4 Season stats: 28.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 blocks Back-to-back losses at Houston and at home to Portland have put Davis and the Pelicans in a familiar position in the Western Conference playoff chase. Every game until the finish is a must-win affair, with today’s tilt against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers serving as the ideal showcase for Davis. He’s been an absolute monster of late (29.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.8 blocks and 2.4 assists in his last 10 games). He knows what it will take to push the Pelicans into the playoff mix without DeMarcus Cousins, as that is something Davis had to do three years ago to secure his lone playoff voyage. It took a home win over San Antonio on the final night of the regular season to clinch a spot and it might take the same this time around -- Davis and the Pelicans finish up the regular season April 11 (April 12, PHL time) with a home game against the Spurs. 4. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors Last week: No. 3 Season stats: 23.3 points, 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds Saturday’s trip game in Boston (Sunday, PHL time) couldn't have come at a better time for DeRozan and the Raptors, who still have some work to do secure the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Their lead over the Celtics is down to three games. Given Toronto's recent losses to the Cavs and LA Clippers, a statement win on the road against the surging Celtics would go a long way towards resetting the Raptors' collective confidence. DeRozan’s continued evolution as a playmaker has remained on full display (15 assists in his last two games) and will be crucial to the Raptors’ offensive effectiveness in the playoffs. That's assuming coach Dwane Casey does indeed plan to keep his rotation as deep in the playoffs as he has all season. But the scoring prowess that has propelled DeRozan to All-Star status the past four seasons will be just as important, if not more so, given the relative inexperience of several of the Raptors’ role players. Both DeRozan and fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry know how vital it will be for them to be in a good rhythm for the postseason. 5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Last week: No. 5 Season stats: 26.8 points, 6.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds Lillard was spectacular in a critical road win in New Orleans Tuesday night, finishing with a game-high 41 points (and nine rebounds, six assists and four steals). He did all that while out-dueling fellow MVP candidate Davis in what was a thrilling, must-see fourth quarter. It didn’t matter who was guarding Lillard -- sometimes it was Davis and other times it was Pelicans defensive wiz Jrue Holiday. Lillard was locked in and on absolute fire in a playoff atmosphere. His importance to the Trail Blazers, though, was even more evident a night later when he was missing from a deflating road loss to in Memphis. Lillard missed the game for a good reason: the birth of his son. But it should be clear by now that these Trail Blazers will go only as far as the mercurial Lillard can take them in the postseason. C.J. McCollum is as good a No. 2 option as you’ll find and Terry Stotts has done Coach of the Year-caliber in developing the roster. It’s Lillard’s scoring and playmaking, however, that takes them from a solid team to a top-three seed in the Western Conference. The next five: 6. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 7. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 8. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 9. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics 10. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves And five more ... LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers; Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers Next up? An inside look at LaMarcus Aldridge from an Western Conference advance scout: “I would love to know exactly what was said in the conversation he had with [Spurs coach Gregg] Pop[ovich] after last season, from both sides. Because whatever it was, it’s produced the best season I’ve seen from LA since he’s been in the league. And I’m dating that back to his best years in Portland. The Spurs aren't close to the team they are with all of the heavy lifting he’s done this season. He’s been more physical and much more active on the defensive end than he was last season and obviously, with Kawhi Leonard missing from the lineup for basically the entire season, his responsibilities as the No. 1 option for them offensively has been tremendous. He’s always been a skilled, face-up big. Working from the L and on the baseline extended, he’s as tough a cover as you’ll find at that position. "He embraced the other stuff, though, and perhaps at Pop’s urging. He’s made himself a more physical presence around the basket and at the rim. When he’s working in space against opposing [centers], that’s when he really has an advantage, because he’ll abuse guys his size and bigger who aren’t as mobile, guys who cannot match his quickness. He’s not an above the rim guy or a rim protector that causes you any concern, but he’s stronger than he looks and this season, he’s mixed it up more when necessary. He’s been more physical than usual. I’d suggest that’s a direct result of what Pop was trying to convey to him. Without Kawhi out there, someone had to play that role as their offensive catalyst and to do that LaMarcus was going to have to toughen up and show more fire than he did last season. I give him credit for stepping up to that challenge. I’ll admit, I was a bit of a skeptic when he was the hot free agent name a couple summers back. It’s easy to forget that. He was the player everybody wanted and the Spurs got him. And it seems like he’s finally comfortable there now in the role he’s playing leading that team right now. I’ve gained a lot of respect for him and his game with the way he’s played this season.” Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 NewsMar 31st, 2018

DLSU, Ateneo grouped together in first-ever UAAP 3x3

The fiercest foes in the UAAP have been lumped together for the elimination round of the inaugural 3x3 Tournament in Season 80. De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University will be jostling for the top two spots in Group A along with Adamson University and University of the East on Sunday at the SM MOA Music Hall in Pasay. The Green Archers boast of one of the more stacked lineups in the tournament with former Rookies of the Year Andrei Caracut and Aljun Melecio, Justine Baltazar, and Santi Santillan. Meanwhile, the Blue Eagles will be bannered by QJ Banzon, Rodney Manuel, Gabe Natividad, and Dan Wong. Over in Group B, the University of the Philippines is poised to lord over with a roster of Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan, Jun Manzo, and Gelo Vito. Still, Far Eastern University and National University are all set to put up a fight against the Maroons. University of Sto. Tomas decided against fielding a team in the Men's division. The top two teams from each group will move on to the semifinals where the top-seed in one group will be pitted against the second-seed in the other. The winners there will then move on to the Finals where the first-ever 3x3 Men’s champion will be crowned. While competition will not be count in the general championship, league executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag expects all member-schools to go all-out for bragging rights. “We’re going back to our roots because even before I played five-on-five basketball, tatluhan lang naman ang laro e. Ice tubig, Coke litro lang ang panalo dati,” he said. He then continued, “Dito, school pride naman ang paglalabanan.” Of course, all of the action will be LIVE and EXCLUSIVE on livestream starting at 9:00 AM. Here is the full schedule of games: This is the schedule for the #UAAP3x3 on Sunday in MOA. UP, DLSU teams to watch for Men’s. NU, UST teams to watch for Women’s. pic.twitter.com/tTTkfSY0mq — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) Marso 1, 2018 In the Women’s division, top teams NU and UST have been grouped together in Group B together with FEU and UP. Just like in the Men’s, the Women’s Group A will consist of Adamson, Ateneo, DLSU, and UE. Here is the full list of participants: Men’s 3x3 Adamson June Rey Buenaventura. Lenda Douanga. Brendan Espeleta. Jasper Longalong. Ateneo QJ Banzon. Rodney Manuel. Gabe Natividad. Dan Wong. DLSU Justine Baltazar. Andrei Caracut. Aljun Melecio. Santi Santillan. FEU Michael John Casino. Wendell Comboy. Richard Escoto. Kenneth Tuffin. NU JP Cauilan. Chammy Diputado. Theo Fores. Anthony Sistoza. UE Mark Maloles. Philip Manalang. Alvin Pasaol. Jason Varilla. UP Javi Gomez de Liano. Juan Gomez de Liano. Jun Manzo. Gelo Vito. Women’s 3x3 Adamson Jamie Alcoy. April Cabug. Jonalyn Lacson. Nathalia Prado. Ateneo Nicole Cancio. Katrina Guytingco. Jhazmine Jason. Johanne Nimes. DLSU Lauryn Del Campo. Angel Figueroa. Marja Jimenez. Vea Malarde. FEU Claire Castro. Princess Jumuad. Valerie Mamaril. Fatima Quiapo. NU Jack Danielle Animam. Afril Bernardino. Ria Nabalan. Annick Tiky. UE Christine Cortizano. Joyce Francisco. Princess Pedregosa. Anna Requiron. UP Carmela Bascon. Justine Domingo. Christine Isip. Lourdes Ordoveza. UST Jhenn Angeles. Angel Anies. Karla Manuel. Maria Sangalang. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 1st, 2018

Arellano U begins title defense against hungry San Beda

Games Friday: (FilOil Flying V Centre, San Juan) 10:00 a.m. –- Letran vs. EAC (jrs. semis) 1:30 p.m. –- Arellano U vs Perpetual (m) 3:30 p.m. –- awarding ceremonies 4:00 p.m. –- Arellano U vs. San Beda (w)   Experience versus hunger, dynasty against destiny. Reigning champion Arellano University begins its title defense on Friday when the Lady Chiefs clash with first-time finalist San Beda University in Game 1 of the best-of-three 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Game time is at 4:00 p.m. after the individual awards rites at 3:30 p.m. The match will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA on SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD on SkyCable Channel 183 and via livestream. Arellano U is on its third Finals appearance after stints in Season 90 and 92. The Lady Chiefs went on to win it all on both championship trips. The Legarda-based squad closed the eliminations with an 8-1 win-loss record tied with the Lady Red Spikers. Arellano U swept first-time semifinalists and Season Most Valuable Player Shola Alvarez-led Jose Rizal University, 25-13, 25-20, 25-17, in their sixth Final Four appearance. “Ni-remind ko lang sa mga players ko na ibigay na natin ang dapat nating ibigay pagdating sa Finals kasi ito na ‘yun eh, dumaan na tayo sa mahirap na mahirap na sitwasyon ‘wag na natin bigyan ng pagkakataon na maisahan tayo ng kalaban,” said Lady Chiefs coach Obet Javier. Arellano U will parade a solid roster led by graduating hitter Jovielyn Prado, Regine Arocha, Mary Anne Esguerra, Andrea Marzan and Rookie of the Year winner Necole Ebuen. The Lady Chiefs dominated San Beda in their elimination round meeting, 25-17, 25-10, 25-17, on Jan. 26 with Lady Red Spikers top hitter Cesca Racraquin limited to a season-low six points. But San Beda, which made history with a historic first championship appearance, is playing with nothing to lose and believes that the pressure is on the Lady Chiefs side as they try to avoid an upset against an upstart team. The Lady Red Spikers downed the Perpetual Help Lady Altas, 25-21, 25-15, 25-23, to book a championship berth. “I think kasi sa amin no pressure naman kasi ano pa lang naman kami, kami ang challenger,” said Racraquin. “So kailangan laruin lang namin (ang laro namin), relax lang kami and then sila nasa kanila ang pressure kasi sila gusto nila mag-back-to-back.” “Basta ‘yun lang relax lang kami, play our game and si God na ang bahala,” added Racraquin, who will be backed by the Viray twins Nieza and Jiezela, setter Rebecca Cuevas and Satrianni Espiritu. Game 2 is on Monday. Meanwhile, the unbeaten Altas begin their campaign to regain the crown they lost last year at the hands of College of St. Benilde in a best-of-three Finals showdown with the Chiefs. Perpetual, in search of its 11th title, swept the nine-game elims and earned an outright Finals berth while Arellano U dethroned the Blazers, 25-22, 28-26, 25-23, in the stepladder semis Tuesday. In juniors play, Emilio Aguinaldo College and Letran dispute the last Finals berth to challenge four-peat-seeking Perpetual Help at 10:00 a.m.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 15th, 2018

Cavs avert slow death with roster overhaul

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND – Koby Altman might not have completely made a name for himself on Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) NBA Trade Deadline Day, but the Cleveland general manager was busy and high-profile enough in his makeover of the Cavaliers that most people now will remember that he’s the one who spells it with a “y.” Those of us convinced for weeks now – at least since the Cavaliers’ home loss to the Warriors on Martin Luther King Day – that another Golden State-Cleveland Finals would be a dud movie we already saw last June, well, we no longer have to worry. Those stale, sputtering Cavs are no more. They are gone – six players out Thursday (Friday, PHL time), four new players in – and done, replaced by a younger, quicker, more athletic cast who’ll be force-fed their playoff experiences. What with so many in and out doors banging to a frenzied beat, All-Star forward Kevin Love barely got a mention. But Love, out with a fracture to his left hand, will be coming back in a month to six weeks to a vastly reconfigured roster and lineup rotation. However long it takes this team to incorporate new guys George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., count on another period of adjustment for Love playing with them for the first time. Presumably – for Love’s sake – it will go more smoothly than Isaiah Thomas’ learning and comeback curve, which sort of triggered much of Thursday’s maneuverings in the first place. Thomas was the fall guy of the day, the flip side of what most expect to be an enthused, rejuvenated and newly focused LeBron James. It already had been a tough nine months for the 5'9" scoring guard, going from the most valuable player on a formidable contender (Thomas finished fifth in NBA MVP balloting) to the hip injury that ate deep into this season, the Kyrie Irving trade that landed him in Cleveland and the rust and skepticism that marred his 15 largely forgettable games there. The Cavs went 7-8 with Thomas, who shot 25 percent on three-pointers and 36 percent overall. Their defense, leaky enough before, got worse (Thomas had a net rating of minus 15.1 points per 100 possessions). Ball movement ground down to a series of dreary isolation plays or desperate 3s. Also, Thomas began to serve as one of the team’s spokesman in the media, a role that suits his personality but one he had not earned in the Cavs’ locker room. He spoke of things “we” had to do better without quite yet being part of that “we.” That included comments after the team’s collapse in Orlando Tuesday about the Cavs failing to make adjustments during games, a criticism that went directly to coach Tyronn Lue and his staff. It was not appreciated. By the time Thomas followed up 24 hours later, after the last-second overtime victory over Minnesota at Quicken Loans Arena, with heartfelt comments about liking Cleveland and not wanting to be traded, he effectively already was gone. Altman reportedly talked with James before the game, running some possible trade scenarios by the team’s star. “We were marching a slow death,” Altman told reporters in a post-trades conference call Thursday evening (Friday, PHL time), “and we didn’t want to be a part of that.” Although it’s undeniably part of the dynamic of trades – dwelling on the down sides of the departed vs. seeing the upsides of the newbies – it’s fair to say that the players to whom the Cavs bid adieu (IT, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade) represented a lot of things that weren’t working or weren’t getting done. Energy was low, enthusiasm lower. The new arrivals, once they finally do arrive, bring not just their skills but – with three of the four, anyway – enough youth and hunger to jolt a Cavs locker room that lacked a bit of a pulse. Hill is the most like the veterans Cleveland shed Thursday (Friday, PHL time), but he does bring playoff experience and a defensive mindset. Also, his combo-guard ways that could frustrate those in search of a classic playmaker should be an asset where James is initiating so much offense. Hood, Clarkson and Nance get more than just changes of address and the newly dangled carrot of a deep playoff run. They – along with Cedi Osman, already in house and getting an opportunity – get James as a mentor, a role he has enjoyed (think 2015 playoffs and the wonders he worked with Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson, with Love and Irving out or hobbled). Make no mistake, James likes veterans but not in the mix, with the unreliable results, they had until Thursday (Friday, PHL time). So the Cavaliers hit a reset button that they believe will help them for this season. These deals – and the ability to not trade away the Brooklyn first-round pick they hold thanks to the Irving trade – also leave Cleveland in better shape this summer, more attractive to James when he hits free agency and even more resilient if he leaves. For those tempted to conflate the Irving trade with the deals made Thursday and decree that Cleveland didn’t get nearly enough, the economic concept of “sunk costs” comes to mind. Irving was gone, Thomas wasn’t working out, Crowder was not helping; that first deal was done. There was no going back. All Altman and the Cavs could do was go from there. There is a bigger issue that might not be answered over the remaining 29 games and however many follow in the postseason. The Cavaliers began this 2017-18 season as favorites to again win the conference title and reach the Finals. Even after the Irving trade, most NBA GMs and media mavens expected James and his vets to stomp through the East, whenever they chose to get serious about the season. Instead, we got an unprecedented makeover of a Finals favorite two-thirds of the way through a championship-minded season. In a league that preaches continuity and chemistry as ingredients of success, that’s mind-boggling. James’ inability to rouse this group out of its doldrums, on top of whatever Irving came to dislike even before this season began, raises questions about the superstar-down culture – as opposed to many teams’ top-down, or San Antonio’s Pop-down culture – wherever James has played. Or, for that matter, might play in the future. Bottom line on a busy trade day: Who gets to play for Team LeBron is a lot bigger deal than just on All-Star Sunday. 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 9th, 2018

Arellano U eyes return to solo lead

Games Sunday: (FilOil Flying V Centre, San Juan) 9:30 a.m. -- JRU vs. Perpetual (m) 11:00 a.m. –- JRU vs. Perpetual (w) 12:30 p.m. –- LPU vs. Arellano U (w) 2:00 p.m. –- LPU vs. Arellano U (m) 3:30 p.m. –- LPU vs. Arellano U (jrs)   Unbeaten defending champion Arellano University seeks to regain the solo lead when the Lady Chiefs take on struggling Lyceum of the Philippines University in the 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball competition Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Opening serve is at 12:30 p.m. after the 11:00 a.m. clash between University of Perpetual Help and Jose Rizal University. The Lady Chiefs share the leader board with San Beda College after four outings and are on a 16-game winning streak since last season. Arellano U faced a tough battle the last time out, dropping a set for the first time this season in a 25-11, 22-25, 25-18, 25-16, win over the Lady Bombers last Tuesday. Against the Lady Pirates, who are sporting a 1-3 card, Lady Chiefs head Obet Javier will have the advantage of a deep bench with rookie Necole Ebuen, Regine Arocha, Mary Anne Esguerra and Jovielyn Prado at his disposal. A stark contrast to the squad of veteran mentor Emil Lontoc. Crippled with only eight available players, LPU is limping through the tournament. The Lady Pirates dropped a 26-28, 25-20, 24-26, 22-25, match against their Intramuros neighbor. Perpetual, meanwhile, is looking to extend its winning streak to three after back-to-back five-set victories over San Sebastian College and Emilio Aguinaldo College. The Lady Altas carry a 3-1 slate while the Lady Bombers, who are looking to return in the win column after seeing their two-game winning streak snapped by the Lady Chiefs, are locked in a four-way logjam at 2-2 with San Sebastian College, College of St. Benilde and Letran. In men’s play, unbeaten joint leaders Altas and Chiefs hunt for their fifth win against their respective foes. Perpetual takes on listless Bombers at 9:30 a.m. while Arellano U crosses paths with the Pirates at 2:00 p.m. The lone juniors match between LPU and Arellano is set at 3:30 p.m.                --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2018