Advertisements


We are sorry, the requested page does not exist




Beltré missing baseball less than he thought after 21 years

By Stephen Hawkins, Associated Press DALLAS (AP) — Adrián Beltré was afraid of how he was going to feel after announcing his retirement last November, a decision the former third baseman had pretty much reached privately a few months earlier during the season. While at peace after 21 MLB seasons and 3,166 hits, Beltré still wasn't sure what to expect when the Texas Rangers went to spring training, or when they opened this season without him. "I thought I was going to miss it more, but I'm good," Beltre said Wednesday. "So far it's been good, so hopefully stays that way." Beltre's appearance at the SMU Athletic Forum came about 3½ weeks before he will be back in Texas when the Rangers retire his No. 29 jersey on June 8. "I've seen the guys play, and talked to the guys and every game I see, I don't feel like I wish I could be there," said Beltré, who passed a big test during spring training when he visited the Rangers' complex when his 12-year-old son was playing a baseball tournament in Arizona. "I miss the guys, hanging around the guys. ... Beyond that, I don't think that I'm missing the game that much." The Dominican-born Beltré, the career hits leader for foreign-born players , turned 40 last month. Many of his former teammates were able to celebrate his birthday with him at his California home, since the Rangers' first road trip was against the Los Angeles Angels. While the Rangers are about one-fourth of the way through their 162-game season, Beltré spends his days with his family, transporting his three kids to school and their various activities. "Retirement is nice, but getting a little busy, too," he said. Beltré spent the last eight seasons of his Hall of Fame-caliber career with the Rangers. The four-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner went to his only World Series in 2011, his first season in Texas, and joined the 3,000-hit club in a Rangers home game two years ago. He hit a Texas-high .273 with 15 homers and 65 RBIs in 119 games last season, but was on the disabled list twice because of a strained left hamstring. Calf and hamstring issues in 2017 limited him to 94 games, his fewest since 77 as a 19-year-old rookie with the Los Angeles Dodgers. When he was hurt last season, Beltré said he pretty much decided it was time to retire. But he never publicly revealed what he was thinking, not even to his immediate family, and allowed himself a chance to mentally prepare that his playing career was going to end. "It gave me time to force my mind to this is it," said Beltré, a .286 career hitter with 477 homers whose 2,759 career games at third base are second only to Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson. Beltré, who was a key leader in the Rangers clubhouse, doesn't expect to be a coach any time soon — if at all. "I don't think I have the patience for it. I don't say I will never do it, I just don't see myself doing it," he said. "I was away my house pretty much for 20-something years, and coaching takes more time. ... I don't think I can do that to my family, at least not yet.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2019

Against backdrop of controversy, Red Sox honored by Trump

By Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump honored the World Series champion Boston Red Sox — well, some of them — at the White House on Thursday, but made no mention of the controversy that shadowed the visit. The team's manager, Alex Cora, did not attend the ceremony after citing his frustration with the administration's efforts to help his native Puerto Rico recover from a devastating hurricane. And nearly a dozen members of the team, all players of color, skipped the opportunity to shake Trump's hand. Meanwhile, every white player on the team — as well as outfielder J.D. Martinez, who is of Cuban descent — attended. The Red Sox repeatedly denied that there was any sort of racial divide caused by the White House visit, which has been transformed from moment of celebratory ritual to hyper-politicized event under Trump. And there was no sign of discord during the rained-upon ceremony on the White House South Lawn. The U.S. Marine Corps band played versions of "Dirty Water" and "Sweet Caroline," two unofficial Red Sox anthems. A derogatory shout about the Red Sox rival, the New Yankees, was heard. Trump was presented with a Red Sox jersey with No. 18 on the back. The day was not without mishaps: The White House first incorrectly labeled the team as the "Red Socks" on its website and then later, in an email, dubbed them the champions of something called the "World Cup Series." But Trump himself stuck to the correct script, honoring the team's dominant run to the title. "Frankly, they were unstoppable. I watched," said Trump, who noted that the squad had now won more World Series titles than any other franchise this century. He laughed when Martinez teased him for being a Yankees fan. The president was accompanied by two of the team's stars, Martinez and pitcher Chris Sale, from the Oval Office and joined the rest of the team assembled under the South Portico. The team's third base coach, Carlos Febles, who is from the Dominican Republic, stood two rows behind the president. And dozens of administration officials and members of government, many of whom hail from the six New England states, stood on the lawn to cheer. Tom Werner, the team's chairman, downplayed the no-shows, saying that it was each player's personal decision whether to attend. "We don't see it as a racial divide," he said after the team received a post-ceremony tour of the Lincoln Bedroom. "I think, to the extent that we can, baseball is apolitical." A championship team's coach rarely, if ever, misses the White House visit, a tradition that began in earnest in 1924 when then-President Calvin Coolidge invited the Washington Senators. Cora had considered attending Thursday's White House event to call attention to the plight of those in Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria is estimated to have caused nearly 3,000 deaths. But in the end, he opted not to go. "Unfortunately, we are still struggling, still fighting," Cora said in a statement. "Some people still lack basic necessities, others remain without electricity and many homes and schools are in pretty bad shape almost a year and a half after Hurricane Maria struck. I've used my voice on many occasions so that Puerto Ricans are not forgotten, and my absence is no different. As such, at this moment, I don't feel comfortable celebrating in the White House." Before the visit, Trump defended his stance on Puerto Rico, falsely asserting once again that the territory received $91 billion in hurricane relief money, which he claimed was "the largest amount of money ever given to any state." In fact, Congress has allocated Puerto Rico just a fraction of that figure. The White House has said Trump's $91 billion estimate includes about $50 billion in speculated future disaster disbursements that could span decades, along with $41 billion already approved. Actual aid to Puerto Rico has flowed more slowly from federal coffers, with about $11 billion given so far. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 cost the U.S government more than $120 billion — the bulk of it going to Louisiana. Trump nonetheless told reporters, "the people of Puerto Rico should really like President Trump." Those around the Red Sox locker room stressed that a player's decision to attend was a personal choice and not, in many cases, political. "Politically, it didn't matter who was in the White House. If I have an opportunity to go to the White House and meet the president, I'm going to go," relief pitcher Heath Hembree said Wednesday. "Nobody tried to persuade me. They have their reasons why not to go." For some players, it may be their only chance for a White House invite. It also reflects a larger trend across baseball: A number of players hail from Trump-friendly states like Texas and Florida, while the sport has also seen a surge in Latino players and a decline in African Americans. Having also won World Series titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013, the Red Sox — who also visited wounded veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Thursday — have been honored at the White House under both Republican and Democratic presidents. But the events have taken on sharp political overtones since Trump took office. When the New England Patriots visited in 2017, Trump's first year in office, far fewer players attended than when the franchise won a title under President Barack Obama. After several players on the Philadelphia Eagles and Golden State Warriors publicly declared that they would skip White House ceremonies, Trump disinvited the teams. Trump has also instituted a new tradition for the ceremonies, scrapping gourmet meals in favor of offering plates of fast food to the athletes. The Red Sox were not at the White House for a meal, Werner said. Moreover, the optics of the Red Sox visit are certain to receive additional scrutiny due to the history of racially charged moments for both the team and the city it calls home. The Red Sox, infamously, held a failed tryout for Jackie Robinson before he broke the sport's color barrier. They were the last team in the major leagues to integrate. And an Elks Club in the team's former spring training home of Winter Haven, Florida, invited only white players to events, a practice that stopped only in the 1980s, when black players complained ___ Associated Press writers Kevin Freking in Washington, Jimmy Golen in Boston and David Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 10th, 2019

Player Movement: What teams have gained, lost this offseason

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com There's still a lot of work to be done before rosters are set for the 2019-20 season. Some teams (Charlotte, Utah) still have roster spots to fill. Other teams (Memphis, Washington) still have some roster trimming to do. There are about 25 two-way-contract slots that can be filled around the league. And it's certainly possible that players like Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala will be traded a second time before the end of the summer. But it's already been a season of change. At the start of training camp last September, 15 of the league's 30 teams rostered players who played at least 75 percent of the team's minutes in the previous season (2017-18). Right now -- midway through July -- only four teams are set to bring back players who played at least 75 percent of last season's minutes. Continuity Not every team has made big changes. The Denver Nuggets are set to return at least 12 of the 18 guys that played for them last season (the status of two-way, restricted free agent Brandon Goodwin is still in the air), along with Michael Porter Jr., who was with the team all season. The only players that have left the Nuggets -- Tyler Lydon, Trey Lyles and Isaiah Thomas -- played a total of eight minutes in the playoffs. Over the last three years, there has been a correlation between summer continuity and win increase the following season. But the correlation has been small. During that span, 33 teams have brought at least 75 percent of the previous season's minutes back, and only 15 of those 33 increased their win total. The highest individual return percentage of the stretch belonged to last season's Miami Heat, who brought back 97 percent of their minutes from 2017-18 ... and proceeded to win five fewer games. This summer, the two biggest winners in free agency -- the Brooklyn Nets and LA Clippers -- rank 24th and 26th, respectively, by this measure (as of Wednesday morning). And while the Nuggets have a young core that can improve on its second-place finish in the West, the Orlando Magic are bringing back an ensemble that won just 42 games in the Eastern Conference, and the San Antonio Spurs have an older group that was ousted by Denver in the first round, albeit in seven games. Gained and lost math Going forward, we'll be talking about totals gained or lost this summer. These were accumulated by non-rookies for any team last season. For example, in calculating the minutes that Indiana lost (and Milwaukee gained) with Wesley Matthews' departure, we're using all 2,091 minutes that Matthews played for Dallas and Indiana last season. That way, it's a more realistic measure of total production coming in and going out. In that regard, most teams have lost more '18-19 minutes than they've gained. In total, there are more than 230 players who were on rosters (with two-way contracts included) at the end of the season and are either on a new team (via free agency or trades) or remain unsigned. More than half of those players (about 120) have been replaced by other non-rookies. About 70 more have been replaced by rookies (including those on two-way contracts). As an example, here's the roster math for the Golden State Warriors: - LOST 11 non-rookies off their end-of-season roster - GAINED six non-rookies - ADDED three rookies - STILL HAVE one main roster spot and one two-way spot they can fill Minutes gained and lost The Warriors are one of 22 teams that have lost a group of players who played more minutes last season than the group of players that they've added. There are a few teams that have added a lot more '18-19 minutes to their roster. That group is led by the New York Knicks, who have added almost 12,000 '18-19 minutes while seeing almost 9,000 minutes exit. The Knicks have lost four guys - Mario Hezonja, DeAndre Jordan, Emmanuel Mudiay and Noah Vonleh - who played at least 1,000 minutes. They added seven, and all seven started at least 28 games last season. Of course, how many of those seven are difference makers is up for debate, as is the idea of whether the Knicks should have used at least some of their cap space to take on bad contracts -- often spiced up with future picks -- from other teams. The Nets lost as many players (6) who played at least 1,000 minutes last season as they gained. But they added four of the 31 2,000-minute players to have changed teams this summer, most notably in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Utah (3) is the only other team with more than two additions that played at least 2,000 minutes last season. The eight guys that Brooklyn brought in started a total of 363 games in '18-19, while the nine guys they lost started just 179. That's the biggest increase, with New York (+100) and Utah (+84) also seeing differentials of more than 82 games. The Sacramento Kings lost two guys that played at least 1,000 minutes last season, and one of those guys -- Alec Burks -- played only 127 minutes for the Kings. They added four 1,000-minute players, including two - Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph -- that played more than 2,000 minutes last season. As noted above, the Nuggets lead the league in continuity, bringing back all 10 guys that played more than 1,120 minutes for them last season. But they've also added Jerami Grant, who played 2,612 minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Though they've added more players (11, including four rookies) than they've lost (nine) and need to trim their roster between now and opening night, the Washington Wizards are set to see the biggest discrepancy in regard to '18-19 minutes. They've lost more than 11,000 (with Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green and Tomas Satoransky accounting for more than half of that total) and added less than 5,000. The group of players that the Wizards lost also started 208 more '18-19 games than the players added -- the biggest discrepancy in that regard. The Charlotte Hornets not only lost more than 1,000 '18-19 minutes in their Kemba Walker-Terry Rozier swap, they also lost three other guys - Jeremy Lamb, Shelvin Mack and Tony Parker - who played more than 1,000 minutes last season. There's a general consensus that the Indiana Pacers are in the "winners" category this summer, adding Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren. But they also lost five guys (four of their five playoff starters plus Cory Joseph) to have played at least 2,000 minutes last season. The only other teams who lost more than two 2,000-minute players were the the Clippers (3), Oklahoma City Thunder (3) and Wizards (3). Still available Most '18-19 minutes among still-available free agents... - Justin Holiday - 2,607 - Iman Shumpert - 1,481 - Wayne Selden - 1,439 - Jeremy Lin - 1,436 - Shaquille Harrison - 1,430 In regard to minutes played last season, the top 18 available free agents are all perimeter players (unless you want to count Jonas Jerebko as an interior guy). Among available non-perimeter players, Dante Cunningham (928), Cheick Diallo (896) and Zaza Pachulia (878) are the guys who played the most minutes last season. It's all about shooting Putting the ball in the basket is the most important thing in the NBA, and every team is always on the hunt for more shooting. But in regard to '18-19 3-pointers, half of the league (15 teams) has lost more than it's gained. There are a few teams to have seen big increases, however. The Knicks added Reggie Bullock (148-for-393, 37.7 percent), Marcus Morris (146-for-389, 37.5 percent) and Wayne Ellington (138-for-372, 37.1 percent), though creating open shots for those guys might be an issue. None of the six players that the Kings have lost made more than 61 3-pointers last season. Ariza (145) is the big gain in that regard, but they also added Dewayne Dedmon, a big man who shot 38 percent on 217 attempts from beyond the arc. On the other end of the spectrum, it's the Hornets that lost the most 3s, with Walker having ranked fifth in the league in total makes. The Atlanta Hawks ranked fourth in the percentage of their shots that were 3-pointers, but traded Taurean Prince (39 percent on 315 attempts), lost Dedmon, haven't re-signed Vince Carter (39 percent on 316 attempts) and swapped Kent Bazemore (32 percent; 300 attempts) for Evan Turner (21 percent; 52 attempts). The Toronto Raptors, meanwhile, haven't really replaced two of the four guys who made more than 100 threes for them last season. Still available Most '18-19 3-pointers among still-available free agents... - Justin Holiday - 162-for-465 (34.8 percent) - Kyle Korver - 138-for-348 (39.7 percent) - Vince Carter - 123-for-316 (38.9 percent) - Iman Shumpert - 95-for-273 (34.8 percent) - Lance Stephenson - 73-for-197 (37.1 percent) J.R. Smith, waived by the Cavs on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), made 143 threes (shooting 37.5 percent) in 2017-18, but played just 11 games last season. More notes - Eastern Conference - The Boston Celtics are one of three teams (Atlanta and Washington are the others) with a discrepancy of at least 300 between the steals + blocks registered by the non-rookies they've lost (503) and those registered by the non-rookies they've added (194). Swapping Al Horford (145 steals + blocks in 1,973 minutes) for Enes Kanter (58 in 1,639 minutes) obviously hurts. - The Chicago Bulls have seen the second biggest increase in 3-point percentage between the non-rookies they've added (36.9 percent) and the non-rookies they've lost (30.3 percent). Tomas Satoransky (39.5 percent on 162 attempts) was the big add in that regard. - The Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team that hasn't added a single player (via free agency or trade) that played last season, though they still have to add at least one player to their main roster. The only players they've added are the three guys they selected in the first round of the Draft and another rookie (Dean Wade) on a two-way contract. - The Detroit Pistons have had eight non-rookies leave (five have found new NBA teams, three haven't been re-signed) and have added only four. But the four they've added -- Tim Frazier, Markieff Morris, Derrick Rose and Tony Snell -- started the same number of games (60) and played just 11 more minutes in '18-19 as the eight that have left. They did add more scoring, with the four new guys having registered 436 more points than the eight guys on their way out. - As noted above, the Miami Heat led the league in continuity last summer, bringing back 97 percent of their minutes from '17-18. This year, with the retirement of Dwyane Wade and trades that sent Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside out, they're in the middle of the pack. In regard to out vs. in (Jimmy Butler and Meyers Leonard), they've lost total production, but have improved in regard to shooting and free throw rate. Only Denver, Brooklyn and Dallas have seen bigger increases in true shooting percentage from the non-rookies they've lost to the non-rookies they've added. - With the departure of Malcolm Brogdon, the Milwaukee Bucks lost some playmaking. Only the Magic (who didn't lose anybody from their playoff rotation) saw a bigger drop in in assist-turnover ratio from the non-rookies they lost (2.47) to the non-rookies they've gained (1.33). Tony Snell (traded to Detroit) had the fifth lowest turnover ratio (4.9 per 100 possessions) among 299 players that averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 games or more last season. - The Orlando Magic rank second in continuity, one of two teams (Dallas is the other) with nobody on their end-of-season roster having signed with (or been traded to) another team. But they've added one rotation piece by signing Al-Farouq Aminu, who represents the biggest jump in '18-19 rebounds between the non-rookies a team has added (610) and those they've lost or remain unsigned (195). The Magic were already a good rebounding team, ranking 11th in total rebounding percentage and third in defensive rebounding percentage last season. - The Philadelphia 76ers have seen the biggest discrepancy in '18-19 games played between the players they've lost (478) and the players they've added (223), though most of those lost games came from guys who weren't in their playoff rotation. More notes - Western Conference - The Dallas Mavericks have seen the second-biggest jump in effective field goal percentage (lower than only that of Denver) between the players they added (54.4 percent) and the players they've lost (47.3 percent) this summer. Swapping Trey Burke (48.2 percent) for Seth Curry (57.7 percent) goes a long way in that regard. The Mavs are also one of two teams (Orlando is the other) with nobody on their end-of-season roster having signed with (or been traded to) another team. - It remains to be seen how well James Harden and Russell Westbrook fit together and how much the Westbrook-for-Chris Paul swap hurts the Houston Rockets' defense. But we can say for certain that the Rockets got better in the rebounding department. - After ranking 28th in rebounding percentage (and 29th in defensive rebounding percentage) last season, they swapped Paul (who grabbed 7.0 percent of available boards while he was on the floor) for Westbrook (14.1 percent - highest among guards) and also added Tyson Chandler, who had a higher rebounding percentage (15.4 percent) than Nene (10.5 percent). - Good news for the team that ranked 29th in 3-point percentage last season: The non-rookies the Los Angeles Lakers have lost attempted 75 more 3-pointers than those they've gained. But the non-rookies they've gained made 34 more 3s than those they've lost. Among players that attempted at least 200 3-pointers last season and changed teams this season, Danny Green (45.5 percent) ranked first in 3-point percentage, while Quinn Cook (40.5 percent) ranked seventh. - The Memphis Grizzlies had a pretty motley rotation after making multiple trades at the deadline in February. And now they've seen the biggest roster more than any other team this summer, with 11 non-rookies leaving and nine coming in. They currently have guys that played for the Hawks, Warriors, Wolves, Pelicans, Suns, Raptors, Jazz and Wizards last season. - The six non-rookies that the Minnesota Timberwolves have added -- Jordan Bell, Treveon Graham, Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh and Tyrone Wallance -- averaged just 6.3 points per game last season. That's the lowest mark for players added among the 29 teams that have added at least one non-rookie this summer. - In regard to vets, the New Orleans Pelicans have swapped interior players for perimeter players. The (five) non-rookies that they've added had 360 fewer '18-19 field goals, but 127 more 3-pointers than the (10) non-rookies that they've lost. Chicago is the other team with a loss in '18-19 field goals (-38) and a gain in '18-19 3-pointers (+47). - The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen the most '18-19 points walk out the door, with the six guys they've lost having scored 5,619 points last season. One thing they definitely gained in the Westbrook-Paul trade (if they keep Paul) was mid-range shooting. Paul has shot 48.9 percent from mid-range the last five seasons, the second best mark (behind only that of Kevin Durant) among 55 players with at least 1,000 mid-range attempts over that time. Westbrook (37.5 percent) ranks 52nd among the 55. - The 10 non-rookies that have left the Phoenix Suns (five that have found new NBA teams and five that haven't) racked up a cumulative plus-minus of minus-1,709 last season. None of the 10 had a positive plus-minus. The five non-rookies that they've added -- Aron Baynes, Jevon Carter, Frank Kaminsky, Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric -- had a cumulative plus-minus of plus-257. That's the league's biggest differential between players in vs. players out. - The Portland Trail Blazers improved their shooting by swapping Turner for Bazemore and Aminu (34.3 percent on 280 3-point attempts) for Anthony Tolliver (37.7 percent on 215), but are one of four teams - Brooklyn, Indiana and the Lakers are the others - that have lost six players who played at least 1,000 minutes in '18-19. They've added four. - As noted above, the San Antonio Spurs are near the top of the league in regard to continuity. But they've seen the biggest increase in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) between the non-rookies that they've gained (0.335) and the players they've lost (0.181). The pair of vets that they've added (having ranked 24th in free throw rate last season) includes DeMarre Carroll (0.421), who ranked eighth in free throw rate among non-bigs with at least 500 field goal attempts last season. - The Utah Jazz rank 13th in the percentage of '18-19 minutes they're set to bring back, but are one of five teams that have added at least 9,000 '18-19 minutes and lost at least 9,000 '18-19 minutes (when we include unsigned free agents). They parted ways with four of the eight guys that played at least 1,000 minutes for them last season, but all five of their additions - Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley Jr., Ed Davis, Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay - played at least 1,400 minutes. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. 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 NewsJul 18th, 2019

Team Lakay s Gina Iniong and Joshua Pacio: Two paths, one goal

Lakay. It is the Ilocano word for old man.   But when you go up to Baguio, it has an altogether different meaning. You cannot miss that word when you drive down Benguet road, on a nifty sign attached to a normal-looking office building: Team Lakay.   The home of the best Philippine mixed martial arts team in history. Almost all of the big names local fight fans have come to cheer and love as our modern-day heroes trace their roots to the relatively small, packed training room down Benguet road, where mats are soaked with the sweat of the fighters.   Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, Honorio Banario, Rey Docyogen, Roldan Sangcha-an, and Mark Eddiva are all hallowed names in the annals of Philippine mixed martial arts, disciples of Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, who established, and groomed Team Lakay to the fearsome fighting factory that it is today.   While all the names above have ensconced themselves on pedestals, Team Lakay’s pipeline includes two more who have been fighting for recognition in recent fights: lone female fighter Gina Iniong, and ONE’s current Strawweight lynchpin and youngest champion, Joshua Pacio.   Both fighters may have started their professional fighting careers for different reasons, but Iniong and Pacio still have a lot to offer and prove for mixed martial arts in the country and in the international stage, such as being prominent fighters in the prestigious cage of ONE Championship.   CHANCE OF A LIFETIME   Gina, the first female Filipino mixed martial artist to fight and win abroad, started boxing back in high school as part of her after-school activities. When she was about to graduate, she actively sought scholarships in order to finish her education. One such opportunity presented itself in the form of an athletic scholarship, concentrating on the martial art of Wushu, which has a huge following in her hometown of Baguio City, with the University of the Cordilleras having a team of its own.   “Our former boxing coach, who was a former student of Coach Mark (Sangiao), approached me one day, telling me to join the upcoming wushu competition then for the college scholarship. So I joined it, and took a chance,” Iniong shared, recounting how she got into the world of combat sports as a young lady.   However, it was too good to be true, as she had to hurdle quite a huge problem if she wants that scholarship: a fight record. Sangiao told the young Iniong it would be difficult to get her a scholarship if she does not have a record to show in active combat in Wushu.   “I was lucky because there was a Wushu National Games here in Manila and we immediately went down and made our way there. Thankfully, I got the gold after the competition, and that paved the way for my scholarship,” said Iniong.   From there, the “Conviction” was born. After competing in numerous Wushu tournaments, Iniong finally caught the eye of Sangiao, who decided to take her under his wings and train her to be his female version inside the MMA cage.   After debuting in the Universal Reality Combat Championship in 2010, Iniong hasn’t looked back in the 12 bouts she has figured in, compiling a professional record of 8-4.  As the lone female representative of the most-successful mixed martial arts team in the Philippines, she has displayed that trademark fearsome striking prowess of fighters coming from the Lakay camp.   When asked about the fact that she is one of the only five Filipinas making the country proud inside the ONE cage, the 29-year old’s face lit up, in disbelief, in honor, in humility, for she cannot believe it herself.   “I’m very proud, and humbled, of the fact that I am the lone female fighter representing Team Lakay in ONE Championship. Many very skilled female fighters dream of being part of ONE Championship, and fight under Team Lakay, yet I am the one that Coach Mark has seen with the most potential to carry the flag inside the cage,” she said.   However, what drives Gina to fight, and it has been a well-known fact, is her mother, diagnosed with a stage 5 chronic kidney disease. In her fight against Jihin Radzuan last February, Iniong dedicated the fight to her mother, who to this day, is scared of seeing her daughter mix it up in the ring.   “To this day, she hasn’t watched me fight live, not even on TV because she is quite the nervous person, and she would only watch if she knew I won, during replays. She is very unlike my dad, who has fully supported my life as an athlete, after being a boxer himself in his younger days,” she shared.   CHALLENGE ACCEPTED   Joshua “The Passion” Pacio never intended to make mixed martial arts fighting a career growing up. The 23-year old fighter deemed it impossible back then, to reach a stage as huge as ONE Championship, due to the excellence of the fighters that he used to watch with his uncle through videos.   Add to the fact that Pacio was overweight. Obese, specifically. It made it all the more difficult for the kid to follow his dream and passion to be a fighter.   It all changed when his uncle started training him in Muay Thai, the art of the eight limbs that originated from Thailand, and considered one of the deadliest forms of combat striking. It started out as training just for fitness, but as if seeing a tiny ray of light in a dark tunnel, Pacio wanted more.   “At first, it was only for fitness, with my uncle training me, and watching videos of various MMA fights, which really inspired me to push myself harder. I really wanted to test myself, compete with the best, and it all seemed impossible when I was out of shape. My uncle really pushed me starting with Muay Thai. I started competing a few months after that, but I suffered defeat after defeat in amateur competitions. I questioned myself why I still trained afterwards. But at the same time, that’s when I realized that this is really my passion, that even if I lost my last fight,” shared the ONE Championship Strawweight king, who has not looked back since then.   “The goal for me has ever been to prove to myself that I have improved in skills, and be the best fighter I can be,” Pacio added.   He made his ONE debut three years ago, finally fulfilling his lifelong dream of professional mixed martial arts, facing a more experienced Filipino fighter in Robin Catalan at the age of 20, one of the youngest to enter ONE’s cage.   “Before I got to represent Team Lakay in ONE Championship, the roster spot was actually up for grabs. Fighters of the team figured in a Team Lakay Championship, a grand-prix style tournament within the team, for the ONE Championship contract. I fought twice victoriously in one night to get it. Two weeks later, with a ONE Championship event in Manila, that’s when I found out I am making my professional debut,” said an astounded Pacio.   Everything about the man they call “The Passion” has been hard earned. He finally tasted gold last 2018 when he decisioned the famed Yoshitaka Naito, a Japanese ground and wrestling master that forced Pacio to tap via a rear-naked choke when they first met. Facing, and losing to Naito, according to Pacio, was a revelation that he has to improve his overall skills, especially his ground game in order to play with the big boys of the cage.   Striking will definitely get you somewhere, as is with Pacio’s base as a martial artist, but one has to have more tricks up his sleeve when they aspire for the pinnacle of the competition. Joshua came back with a vengeance in 2018 to show “Nobita” that “The Passion” is no longer the young kid who will be submitted easily.   However, 2019 did not start of great for Pacio and Team Lakay, after he lost the belt in January to Naito’s contemporary in Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta in a questionable split decision. But that did not deter the young man, who has made it his personal goal to continue improving and treat each loss as a lesson, in ONE Championship’s “Roots of Honor” fight card, where he faced Saruta once more.   This time, in front of a racous Filipino crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena, Pacio did not let the judges’ cards decide as he detonated a right knee to the side of Saruta’s head late in the fourth round to reclaim his throne. The dreaded Team Lakay striking power knocked the lights out from the Japanese fighter as Baguio’s young lion let out a furious roar to celebrate his redemption.   TWO PATHS, ONE GOAL   One did it for education, the other for health. Nowadays, however, MMA means more to Iniong and Pacio than just a stepping stone to something else. It is their passion, their advocacy, their bread and butter.   They continue to grind each day, waiting for another opportunity to show what they got and get the win, not just for personal glory, but also for the country and their family.   Inspired by her ailing mother, the “Conviction” promises to keep her current winning streak up despite being up against a formidable foe in her next match. After tasting defeat from Brazilian Istela Nunes, Iniong bounced back with a split decision over Radzuan last February to get herself back on track. Right now, Gina has one thing in mind with their goal: chase that ONE Women’s Atomweight division title, currently held by Angela Lee, and become the Philippines’ very first female ONE world champion.   However, Iniong acknowledges that the path towards the gold may not be easy, as she is currently eyeing a rematch with Japanese tormentor Mei Yamaguchi, the number one-ranked Atomweight fighter whom she has fought with twice, in order to settle who the rightful challenger to Lee’s belt is.   “Everyone has gotten belts. My big brothers in the team have tasted championship. I felt jealous because I do not have a belt, and lost my fight that would have given me a title shot. This time, I will make sure that I will do my best to secure a title fight,” rued Iniong in a previous interview with ONE Championship prior to fighting Radzuan.   While Iniong wants hit paydirt, it’s all about keeping the belt on his waist for Pacio, the reigning ONE Strawweight champion. His most probable foe is his nemesis Yoshitaka Naito who he does not have a problem with facing for the third time.   “I really want to prove I am the champion, and if it’s by facing him (Naito), so be it. I also want to prove that I have greatly improved as well from the last time we fought,” he shared.   While Iniong and Pacio await their next fighting assignment, their teammates are in the thick of training for the upcoming “Dawn of Heroes” megafight card happening on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena. It features Team Lakay members, led by Edward “Landslide” Folayang, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, and Danny “The King” Kingad, who will face the best of the world as represented by Eddie Alvarez, Reece McLaren, and Yuya Wakamatsu.   The entire country will be cheering on them as the whole world watches. And maybe somehow, somewhere there will be new blood encouraged and inspired by them to take on the challenge of continuing the legacy of the nation’s best fighting team alongside Iniong and Pacio.   After all, Sangiao did not establish Team Lakay just to be some Bagiuo-based fitness gym down Benguet road. He made Team Lakay to provide a home, a family, for young Filipinos who have the heart to fight for their dream, their family, and the country.     Watch “ONE: Dawn of Heroes” on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena, to be broadcast LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD with livestreaming on iWant for all the Pinoy fight fans to see. For more stories and news one ONE Championship, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2019

Anthony Davis joins Lakers with championship plans

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Anthony Davis' year of uncertainty finally felt finished when he stood in the Los Angeles Lakers' training complex and proudly held up his new gold jersey while LeBron James looked on approvingly. After months of upheaval around his departure from New Orleans, the superstar forward is looking forward to years of success and stability on the West Coast. Sure, Davis knows the Lakers are rarely stable, and championships are the only success this franchise understands. The six-time All-Star can't wait for the challenge of winning big in the Hollywood spotlight. "The most difficult part for me was just not knowing," Davis said Saturday (Sunday, PHl time). "When it was announced that I was being traded, I don't want to say it was a relief, (but) it was something that I'd thought about for a long time. Obviously it was tough to leave the city I'd been playing in for seven years, but I think it was best for me. "When I found out I'd been traded to the Lakers, I realized it was an unbelievable opportunity for me," he added. "To be here with a wonderful organization, and then to be able to play alongside LeBron and the players that we have now ... to get the opportunity to do that and come here and play for an organization that's all about winning, and winning championships, and that's the only goal, I think that was the biggest thing for me." The Lakers formally acquired Davis this month in one of the biggest moves of the NBA's tumultuous offseason, but this courtship has been happening for much longer. Davis became determined to leave New Orleans last season, and Los Angeles made an in-season run at Davis before eagerly blowing up its young core to get a second game-changing star to play alongside James. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka introduced Davis as "the most dominant young basketball player in the world." "There is no more complete basketball player in the game," Pelinka added. "There is nothing he can't do. He can shoot. He can make plays. He can defend 1 to 5. He can protect the rim. He can handle the ball. His dedication to his craft is unparalleled. To sit here next to him and think he's going to be on our team and he's going to be a pillar in this franchise for many years is just something we're incredibly proud of." The Lakers gave up Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and a slew of draft picks to land Davis one year before he could become an unrestricted free agent. While Pelinka clearly expects Davis to sign a long-term deal to stay with the Lakers, Davis didn't make a declaration of his intentions right away. "Right now, my focus is on this year, and trying to help this organization become a championship team," Davis said. Davis' new jersey will bear a No. 3 after his plan to take his usual No. 23 from James fell through thanks to rules involving jersey supplier Nike, who had already begun planning for next season with James in the No. 23 shirt. Davis will go back to the number he wore in elementary and middle school, although he jokingly said the denial of No. 23 "was pretty hurtful." Davis and James have been kept up to speed on Pelinka's machinations to build a strong roster around them. Davis strongly endorsed the signing of DeMarcus Cousins, his former teammate in New Orleans — and not just because Davis prefers to play as a power forward instead of a center. "I like playing the 4," Davis said to a laughing coach Frank Vogel. "I'm not even going to sugarcoat it. I don't like playing the 5, but if it comes down to it, Coach, I'll play the 5." Pelinka said the Lakers signed Cousins and re-signed JaVale McGee precisely so that Davis wouldn't wear down his body guarding centers. Davis was asked about load management, and he dismissed it: "I'm playing. I'm 26-years-old. I love the game of basketball. I'm ready to play." Davis also waived a $4 million trade kicker in his contract so the Lakers would have cap room to take their failed run at Kawhi Leonard, a move that Pelinka praised as selfless. "Anytime you're able to acquire a player like Kawhi, I think you have to do almost everything to get a guy like that," Davis said. "It didn't work out for us, but I wanted to make sure I did whatever I could to help the team." Basketball-loving Los Angeles is still buzzing after its two teams were turned into immediate contenders during free agency, but they're hardly alone in a league that might have achieved a measure of parity after years of Golden State dominance. While Leonard and Paul George landed with the Clippers, Davis and James are confident about the future ahead for the 16-time NBA champions, who are exponentially more beloved in their hometown than their local rivals. Davis has lived in Los Angeles during the offseason for several years, and he loves everything about it but the traffic. "It's going to be fun," Davis said of the new-look league with its new crop of superstar pairings. "I'm excited about it. I think the league has grown. I think it's better. (With) all the players teaming up and spreading that talent throughout the league, it's going to be a fun season. I like our roster. I like every player that we have, from one through 14." The Lakers have been the worst team in the NBA during their team-record six consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, but Davis and James expect to end those struggles and drought in the year ahead. They're aiming for much more, too. "I know we'll talk about it and do whatever we can to definitely make this team a championship team next season," Davis said, before correcting himself: "This season.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2019

End of an era: Westbrook exits Oklahoma City

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com LAS VEGAS – Just when you thought it was safe to step out from under a doorway, another seismic tremble rumbled through the NBA Las Vegas Summer League Thursday evening (Friday, PHL time). Earthquake again? Nope, just more Thunder. Get your first look at the NBA’s top Rookies during NBA Summer League LIVE on NBA League Pass! Oklahoma City and general manager Sam Presti were back at it, this time reportedly sending former Kia MVP Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for guard Chris Paul, first-round draft picks in 2024 and 2026, and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025. Six days earlier, OKC had stunned the pro hoops world by trading All-Star wing Paul George to the LA Clippers, serving up the co-star that coveted free agent Kawhi Leonard wanted as a condition of signing with Staples Center’s other NBA team. That deal yielded for the Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari and guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, along with five first-round picks and swap rights on two more. The biggest difference in moving Westbrook was that this one was anticipated. George had gone to Presti quietly after conspiring with Leonard, requesting the trade in a way that enabled the OKC GM to work behind the scenes. Presti had leverage on the Clippers, since he in essence was delivering both two-way stars – George and Leonard, who otherwise might have re-signed with Toronto – simultaneously. The deal Thursday (Friday, PHL time) paired Presti with Rockets counterpart Daryl Morey. Given their trade-happy track records, it wasn’t surprising that, if an NBA fan listened closely, he or she might have heard the sound of gods bowling. George’s departure and OKC’s subsequent trade of forward Jerami Grant to Denver made it clear which direction the Thunder were heading. Getting ousted from the playoffs’ first round for three consecutive years made the team’s $146 million payroll (and the luxury taxes it triggered) untenable. “People [within the league] knew they were going to do something pretty profound,” one GM told NBA.com earlier this week. “What they got for George was more than a king’s ransom. And if they end up trading Russell for all the tea in China, it will be the same deal again, right?” There were other suitors, most notably Miami, fueling speculation that Presti might not be done. How about Chris Paul to the Heat for expiring contracts, a prospect or two and more draft assets? As it is, the Thunder already have lassoed or retained an outrageous 15 first-round picks over the next six years. That sets up Oklahoma City ridiculously well, on paper, for the medium- and long-term. Short-term? Meh. A crew of Paul (if he stays), Gallinari, Gilgeous-Alexander, Andre Roberson, Steven Adams and Terrance Ferguson seems undermanned in the wild, wild West. But Presti has amassed enough picks that Thunder fans won’t have to worry about their favorite team tanking -- they can just root against the Clippers, the Heat and the Rockets in hopes of desirable draft positions. Westbrook deserves credit for spending the first 11 years of his career in an unglamorous, small-revenue market (though $168 million in NBA earnings had something to do with it too). He had two MVPs (Kevin Durant and James Harden) and one MVP candidate (George last season) leave via trade or free agency before he did. Now he has a chance, re-teamed with Harden in Houston, to step into the void opened by Golden State’s anticipated decline in 2019-20 (Durant’s departure from the Bay has something to do with that). The Rockets and Morey have to be on the clock, their extended window as championship contenders not likely to stay propped open for long. Westbrook and Harden, a tandem of past MVPs, should have most of their statistical and usage itches scratched by now. Each badly needs a ring on his resume. Paul, meanwhile, might find himself hooking up with Jimmy Butler with the Heat, a pairing that makes more sense than Butler-Westbrook at least in terms of basketball compatibility. Presti’s performance over the past 10 days or so has been “breathtaking,” according to the rival GM. But with so many folks in and outside OKC so eager to spin the Thunder’s picks and prospects forward, a nagging question remains: What should we make of their past? In Presti’s 12 seasons, beginning with the franchise still in Seattle in 2007-08, his team has won 50 games or more six times (counting the 47-19 equivalent in lockout-shortened 2011-2012). Over the Thunder’s first 10 seasons in Oklahoma, only the San Antonio Spurs won more often. The Thunder have reached the postseason nine times, winning 14 series. They lost the Finals in five games to Miami in 2012, and got bounced three times from the conference finals, once from the West semifinals and four times from the first round. There were injuries and close calls, sure, but those are a part of it for everyone. Drafting, Presti strung together Durant (No. 2 overall in 2007), Westbrook (No. 4, ’08) and Harden (No. 3, '09). His record deeper into the first round has been predictably mixed: Reggie Jackson (No. 24, ’11) and Adams (No. 12, ’13) on one side of the ledger, fellows such as Perry Jones (No. 28, ’12), Mitch McGary (No. 21, ’14) and Cameron Payne (No. 14, ’15) on the other. The Thunder’s two most notable trades prior to this summer involved Harden going out and George coming in. When they sent out Harden -- the league’s reigning Kia Sixth Man of the Year award winner in 2012 -- it was an anticipatory financial move that for a time kept them out of luxury tax trouble ... as well as the Finals. When Presti traded for George in 2017, the players he gave up, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, had a better first season in Indiana than George in OKC. But as with Westbrook, Presti got George to sign a *cough* long-term extension, and the former Pacer finished third in MVP balloting this spring. So bottom line, which is it: Should the Thunder’s extended run as a contender in the West be applauded? Or should they be considered underachievers, considering the three MVPs they had – Durant in 2014, Westbrook in 2017 and Harden (with Houston) in 2018 – as well as George? OKC got a total of 25 seasons from those four players, 23 of them in tandem or as a trio. Only Durant as a rookie and Westbrook in 2016-17 worked as a solo act, star-wise. Those two plus George made a total of 17 All-Star appearances while playing for the Thunder, and in seven of the past nine seasons, OKC sent two to the February gala. That’s a lot of firepower for a fairly limited payoff (the lone Finals trip). So as excited as the Thunder and their fans might be for what’s headed their way, they’re right to feel melancholy over what’s done and now gone. 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 NewsJul 12th, 2019

Man United manager says Pogba future not concerning for him

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has deflected questions over the future of France midfielder Paul Pogba, saying that Pogba has "never been a concern" for him and that Manchester United doesn't have to sell players. Pogba, who is considering a possible move, with Real Madrid or Juventus mentioned prominently, was among the players who arrived in Perth on Monday for a 10-day, two-match tour in Western Australia. Pogba said last month in Tokyo that he feels ready for a change despite him having two years remaining on his contract. "There has been loads of talk and speculation, of course, about all our players or many of our players, both ins and outs," Solskjaer said Wednesday during his first media conference in two months. "For me, it's business as usual. When you're Man United, you expect all these things to pop up in the summer. "As far as I am aware and up to now, we don't have any bids for any of our players so there's no reason to say other than Paul — or most of our players — have long contracts. We are Man United. We don't have to sell players." Solskjaer said he hasn't noticed any difference in Pogba's demeanor or effort during training. "When he's on the pitch he's working hard, he's a true professional and he's a proud boy," Solskjaer said. "He's been fantastic so far in training. Paul has never been a concern for me." Manchester United finished in sixth place in the Premier League this season, 21 points behind champion Liverpool. "We know last year was disappointing but we know what we have to aim for this year," Solskjaer said. "We have to close the gap in a very competitive league and we have trophies to play for. United is about bouncing back and pre-season has been very encouraging so far." Solskjaer was also speaking for the first time since the arrivals of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James. "We've got some fantastic players and there's loads of players here that will be successful at this club," he said. "We've signed two fantastic players in Daniel and Aaron with speed and quality, and they're hungry to succeed." Man United signed defender Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace in a deal worth around $60 million at the end of June. The 21-year-old Wan-Bissaka, who made 46 appearances in all competitions for Palace, was Solskjaer's second signing following the arrival of winger James from Swansea earlier in the month. The English Premier League team plays its first match on Saturday against the A-League's Perth Glory. On July 17, Leeds United will be the opposition at the same Perth Stadium. Pogba's comments in Tokyo last month suggested the 26-year-old wanted to play elsewhere. "For me, you know I've been here for three years in Manchester, it's been great," Pogba said then. "(But) I think for me it can be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else." On Tuesday, Pogba's agent Mino Raiola said he was hopeful that Pogba would soon be allowed to leave Man United. "The player (Pogba) has done nothing wrong," Raiola said. "He has been respectful and professional in every way. The club has known his feeling for a long time. Hopefully there will be soon a satisfying solution." Solskjaer dismissed those comments. "Agents talk all the time," he said Wednesday. "Paul is a top bloke, a great professional. He has never put himself out of the team. He has always wanted to play and he always gives his best.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 10th, 2019

LOOK: Team PH launches official uniform for 2019 SEA Games

MANILA, Philippines – Team Philippines will be sporting the national colors in style in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.  The Filipino athletes' official training apparel will be sponsored by Asics, which includes a predominantly red tracksuit to go with the Spring Summer 2019 Roadhawk FF2 running shoes.     .....»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 5th, 2019

Japan hails Hachimura s NBA selection as new era for sport

By Jim Armstrong, Associated Press TOKYO (AP) — Japanese basketball officials, fans and media hailed the selection of Rui Hachimura in the NBA draft, saying the move will usher in a new era for the sport in Japan. Hachimura became the first player from Japan to get chosen in the first round of the NBA draft, taken with the No. 9 overall pick by the rebuilding Washington Wizards on Thursday (Friday, PHL time). "The Birth of the NBA's Hachimura, a huge step for Japan," read the headline in the Nikkansports newspaper's online edition. The 6'8", 235-pound (2.03 meters, 106 kilogram) forward averaged a team-leading 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds last season as a junior at U.S. college Gonzaga, where he was the West Coast Conference player of the year. The only other Japanese player drafted in NBA history was Yasutaka Okayama, who went 171st overall in 1981. He never appeared in a regular-season game, something just two players from the country have done: Yuta Tabuse for the Phoenix Suns in 2004-05, and Yuta Watanabe for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2018-19. "The fact that Hachimura, a product of the Japanese basketball system, has been selected in the NBA draft makes us very proud," said the Japan Basketball Federation's Yuko Mitsuya. While it has grown in popularity with the introduction of a pro league in 2005, basketball still lags far behind baseball and soccer in Japan. Hachimura's NBA career is sure to help the sport grow in leaps and bounds. The son of a Japanese mother and father from the Republic of Benin, Hachimura is the latest Japanese of mixed race to make a splash in the sporting world following the likes of Naomi Osaka and Yu Darvish. "This is a huge step forward for Japan," said Keisuke Tsutsumi, an office worker who follows the NBA. "It will take the sport to a new level here." Hachimura's junior high school coach Joji Sakamoto welcomed the news of his draft selection. Sakamoto coached Hachimura in his native Toyama Prefecture and said he saw potential in his student from a young age. "I told him to visualize his dream, and now it will be a reality," the 59-year-old Sakamoto said. Japan's education minister Masahiko Shibayama said Hachimura had given hope to a generation of young players in his home country. "It's really wonderful," Shibayama said. "By taking a prominent role in a league that is difficult for Japanese players to enter, he will give hope to many Japanese people." Hachimura's rise couldn't come at a better time with Tokyo building to host the 2020 Olympics. Japan's national men's team has qualified as host country and Hachimura could play a leading role at both the Olympics and the World Cup in China later this year. Wizards interim general manager Tommy Sheppard mentioned the 21-year-old's play for Japan's national team. "For Japan to qualify for the world championships, he's the focal point. And when the (Tokyo) Olympics come in 2020, he's going to be the focal point of that country on that basketball team," Sheppard said. "To be able to shoulder that load at his age — the maturity he has — I think that's going to bode well for him in the NBA.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

Seven takeaways from Lakers reported trade for Anthony Davis

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Here are seven takeaways on the reported blockbuster trade sending New Orleans star forward Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. 1. Davis gets what he wanted all along Davis and his camp, fronted by agent Rich Paul, first made noise about getting out of New Orleans in January, when he still had a year and a half to go before he even reached the player-option year in his Pelicans contract extension. New Orleans management, notably GM Dell Demps, resisted the power play then. Of course, Demps lost his job after resisting the trade demand and seeing the ripple effects undermine his own team’s season. Demps’ replacement, David Griffin, took over on a more traditional timeline -- one year out from the dreaded possibility of having a star free agent walk without compensation. After apparently trying to change Davis’ mind, Griffin did what he felt he had to do. So the six-time All-Star doesn’t have to wait until the summer of 2020, or even the trade deadline in February, to swap a less glamorous market for the bright lights and a franchise that has never won for the Lakers’ legacy of champions built around elite big men. 2. Will future franchise players do the same? What cost did Davis pay for his trade demand? Not much. His playing time plummeted from about 37 minutes in the first four months of 2018-19 to 22 in the 16 games he actually played after Jan. 18 (Jan. 19, PHL time). He did not participate at all in 21 games as New Orleans tried to protect its asset, which derailed any ambitions with which the Pelicans began the season. They went 12-24 in those 36 games to fall into the lottery – and land the No. 1 pick. But that didn’t concern Davis. He got what he wanted. The Pelicans got what they could. 3. Right package at right time for Pelicans There’s a time-value to money and there’s a time-value in trades, too. The best time for Griffin to deal was now, with the No. 4 pick in this year’s Draft in play to team with the No. 1 pick that presumably will be on Duke’s Zion Williamson. Landing that, along with two more first-round picks from the Lakers, a Draft pick swap, and players Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart (per ESPN’s report), shifts New Orleans into full rebuild mode with an exciting core of current and maybe future young players. Could Griffin have gotten more had he waited deeper into the offseason or heading toward the in-season trade deadline? Perhaps. But Boston, the other oft-purported suitor for Davis, no longer could count on teaming Davis with Kyrie Irving, who will explore free agency (and likely leave). Besides, the Celtics never did want to part with Jayson Tatum, so what they could offer the Pelicans was limited. Didn’t matter, anyway. Griffin didn’t want to drag this into a new season. In fact, he might work the phones to find point guard Jrue Holiday’s market value. As strong as Holiday is as a leader and two-way player, at 29 with 10 seasons in, he’s out of sync with the new era in N’Awlins. 4. Griffin should have held out for Kyle Kuzma OK, the Lakers had committed publicly to keeping Kuzma, the overachieving forward and No. 27 pick in 2017, out of the deal. And as noted above, the Pelicans were on the clock to make a clean break with Davis pre-Draft. But would the Lakers really have scuttled the deal if Griffin had held out for Kuzma? Some say yes, as the time factor gave them leverage. I’m not so sure. I’m reminded of the blockbuster deal that sent Kevin Garnett from Minnesota to Boston in 2008. Word eventually got out that Kevin McHale, the Wolves’ president of basketball operations, had wanted a raw point guard named Rajon Rondo in the package of players Minnesota received. His Celtics’ counterpart and buddy, Danny Ainge, pushed Sebastian Telfair instead. But with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on board, and Garnett so close to his wearing o’ the green, would Ainge have blown up the trade over young Rondo? Same applies here. So the positive spin on Kuzma staying put is, the Lakers did well to keep him. 5. LeBron gets his greatest sidekick yet That statement might offend a few folks. Dwyane Wade for one. Maybe Irving, Chris Bosh or Kevin Love, too. Heck, Davis might bristle at the idea of being anyone’s “sidekick” after being the man in Mardi Gras to this point in his career. But the truth can’t be controversial, and the success of this deal will be measured in the short-term by how well Davis meshes with James in the superstar’s quest for a fourth ring and beyond. Some believed that agent Rich Paul, who represents both James and Davis, was more concerned with helping the former than the latter, which Paul refuted a few days before news came out on this blockbuster trade. Who’s to say AD wouldn’t have thrived and won sooner in Boston had the Celtics and Pelicans worked out a Kawhi-like rent-a-player price? What if James not only is past his best years, but his most durable ones, and injuries intervene as he heads to age 35 and beyond to stymie title hopes? For James, though, there’s no downside to this. Ingram, because of the blood clot issue that cut short his 2018-19 season, is an unknown for now. Ball isn’t essential with James as a ball dominator. Hart actually backslid in his second season. And James has little or no use for draft picks at this stage of his career. Davis is good enough to carry the bigger load relative to James, more than any of his past Super Friends who all caught him in his extended prime. But it’s still to be determined how they’ll work that out – the two previous elite big men that he played alongside, Bosh and Love, wound up as No. 3 options once they teamed with James. 6. Kemba Walker might be next in Lakers’ sights Walker is a free agent who has served his time in Charlotte, a team that might not want to be locked into a super-max deal for their lone star anyway. He would be a nice backcourt complement to James and Davis, another scorer if not the pure shooter L.A. would seem to need. Speaking of which, that suggests other free-agent implications as the Lakers search for shooters. Say, if not J.J. Redick himself, then the next Redick perhaps. 7. So long Warriors, hello Lakers in 2020 Finals? You’ve got to admit, it would be something to see LeBron James pop up on the Western Conference’s finalist vying for a championship, in what lately has been Golden State’s accustomed spot. That’s what some anticipated for this June, until the Lakers went sideways with injuries and dysfunction. But with ESPN’s report of the Davis trade, a team that already was ranked atop the NBA’s contenders for 2020 saw its odds improve. Caesars Sportsbook put the Lakers as 7-2 favorites, ahead of the Bucks (6-1), the L.A. Clippers (6-1), the newly crowned Raptors (8-1), the Rockets (8-1) and what would be a distinctly different Warriors team (11-1). 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 NewsJun 16th, 2019

OBJ reports to Browns, will practice after skipping workouts

By Tom Withers, Associated Press BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. reported for Cleveland's mandatory minicamp and will practice Tuesday after missing most of the team's voluntary workouts. The star wide receiver has been training in California, and missed nine of 10 practices. But he'll take part in the Browns' three-day minicamp, where he'll try to catch up and develop rapport with his new teammates. Last week, first-year Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said Beckham missed "a lot" during his extended absence. Kitchens' comment was a change in tone after he defended Beckham's decision to be away. The Browns acquired Beckham in a March trade with the Giants. Also, running back Duke Johnson is expected to be on the field after demanding a trade and sitting out OTAs. He's upset with a reduced role after the team signed free agent Kareem Hunt. While Beckham and Johnson are back, receiver Jarvis Landry will likely be held out with an unspecified injury......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2019

Common threads: Warriors and Raptors

The Golden State Warriors are back in the Finals for a fifth straight year, but standing across from them is a new face: the Toronto Raptors, who are playing for the Larry O'Brien trophy for just the first time in franchise history. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Warriors versus Raptors isn't exactly a matchup that screams "historic rivalry." Golden State is 28-17 in the overall series against Toronto, with Canada's club winning both their encounters this season. Still, the two clubs do have some overlap - players having suited up for both teams, plus some on- and off-court history. Here are eight common threads between the two teams in the 2019 NBA Finals. 1. Patrick McCaw Patrick McCaw has made the NBA Finals in all three season of his NBA career, something not many players can say. The first two years, he was with the Warriors, but now, he's facing his old club as a Raptor. McCaw was a second round pick by the Warriors in 2016. The team's long-term hope was that he could possibly succeed Andre Iguodala as a versatile, defense-first swingman, but he opted not to re-sign with GSW this past offseason. Sitting out most of the latter part of 2018, he eventually inked a loaded offer sheet (he was a restricted free agent) with Finals rivals the Cleveland Cavaliers, which the Warriors did not match. The Cavaliers waived him after three appearances, but he eventually found his way to Toronto. McCaw has averaged 2.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.0 assists up north, but has only logged seven appearances, norming 5.1 minutes, in the postseason. With his ex-teammates decidedly miffed about his decision not to come back to the Bay, things could get interesting if he sees playing time in the Finals. SAY WHAT YOU WANT 3 STRAIGHT NBA FINALS APPEARANCES?! I CAN'T MAKE THIS UP ... MY FAITH GOT ME HERE, NOTHING BUT GOD!!! ???????? ZERO WORRIES ZERO DOUBTS ???? — Patrick McCaw (@PMcCaw0) May 26, 2019 2. Jeremy Lin We're a long way from the highs of Linsanity with the New York Knicks, but let's not forget that it was the Golden State Warriors that first had a roster spot for the Harvard product. After going undrafted in 2010, the Warriors snapped up Lin, fielding him as a backup behind Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. In his rookie season, Lin managed 9.8 minutes, 2.6 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.1 steals in 29 games. Golden State opted not to keep Lin following the 2011 lockout, which paved the way for him to sign, first with the Houston Rockets, and then with the New York Knicks. We know what happened there, right? Recently though, Lin has struggled due to injuries. He started this season getting traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks then bought him out in February, which allowed the Raptors to sign him after he cleared waivers. He put up 7.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 23 regular season games for Toronto, but has played even less than McCaw in the Playoffs (7 games, 3.7 minutes, 1.3 points). 3. Alfonzo McKinnie 4. Chris Boucher Same story, different teams. Warriors swingman McKinnie and Raptors big Boucher began last season with the opposite ball club, though they actually spent more time with their respective G League affiliates. McKinnie, who went undrafted in 2015, bounced around playing as an import in Luxembourg and Mexico, before landing in the G League in 2016 with the Windy City Bulls. He signed a multi-year deal with the Raptors the next season, but got waived last July. McKinnie bounced back as a training camp invitee for Golden State, but with McCaw not signing, that opened up a roster spot for the journeyman. He's made the most of the opportunity since, averaging 4.7 points and 3.4 rebounds in 72 regular season games, 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 16 postseason games. Boucher got a two-way contract from the Warriors last season, but was waived this past offseason. He got another two-way contract from the Raptors shortly after, before having his deal converted to a standard contract back in February. Appearing in 28 regular season games, Boucher normed 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds. He really made his presence felt on Raptors 905, the G League affiliate of Toronto, getting named G League MVP and DPoY. He's been fielded in a pair of postseason games, amassing a total of 5 points and 1 rebound. 5. Stephen Curry The first time Stephen Curry shot hoops in Toronto was not as a Warrior, but as a kid. Curry's father Dell closed out his NBA career with three seasons in Toronto, and Steph and his brother Seth were a familiar presence in the arena, shooting hoops with their dad. The team's star back then, Vince Carter, even played 1-on-1 against him back in the day. In addition, Steph's wife Ayesha was born in Toronto and lived there until the age of 14. 6. Phil Handy He's far from a household name, but Phil Handy might be an x-factor in this series. The long-time player development guru was an assistant coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2013 to 2018, which includes those four straight Finals matchups against the Warriors. Handy's worked with names like Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and LeBron James, before bringing his talents to aid Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam, among others. Ironically though, Handy's a California native, and lived in Oakland until the age of 11. 7. Kawhi Leonard The journey that saw Kawhi Leonard go from San Antonio Spur to Toronto Raptor began in a series against the Golden State Warriors. Back in the 2017 Western Conference Finals, Leonard's 26 points had the San Antonio Spurs up big against the Warriors, before he landed on then-Golden State center Zaza Pachulia's foot. That re-aggravated an ankle injury he suffered in the previous series against the Houston Rockets, and Kawhi subsequently missed the rest of the series. Leonard would play just nine more games for the Spurs, due to a right quadriceps injury. The extent though of said injury is something we'll probably never know. Some Spurs players believe Kawhi could have played had he wanted to, while Leonard himself opted to rehab on his own, away from the Spurs medical staff. Regardless of the origin of the animosity between the franchise and the player, the Spurs moved to trade Leonard to the Raptors this past offseason. Safe to say, it's a deal that's worked out swimmingly for Toronto. 8. Will they stay or will they go? Speaking of Kawhi, he's in a similar boat with the currently-injured Warriors star Kevin Durant. Both Leonard and Durant could become free agents this offseason, with both possessing player options. It's largely believed that should they opt out and test the market, they would be the two top options for teams seeking a superstar. Who knows? No matter what the outcome of the Finals is, there's a possibility that a team like the Clippers or the Knicks could put the two of them on the same squad come 2019-20. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 27th, 2019

Proud Parent Problems: For Currys, a fraught conference final

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — They are lock-step and lock-arm and also lock-jersey as they enter Oracle Arena in what is their crowning achievement as a basketball mom and dad. Dell and Sonya Curry are in the running for First Couple of the NBA, and in the Western Conference finals, this honor comes with an equal amount of pride and anxiety. “There’s so much emotion involved because you want both to do well, and here they are, on opposite benches,” says the mom. The father agreed, adding: “It’s hard for both of us.” [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Their sons are, of course, Stephen and Seth Curry, and their dilemma is being played out in front of millions on TV, who see Dell and Sonya sitting in the stands wearing custom-made split jerseys honoring both players. For Game 1, Dell had Steph’s No. 30 Warriors jersey on the front and Seth’s No. 31 Blazers on the back, and vice versa for Sonya. They’ll switch up as the series goes along because the parents never want to show favoritism for any of their children. “Somebody’s going to lose and we’re going to the Finals with one of them and it will be bittersweet,” Dell Curry said. “But whomever doesn’t go to the Finals for his team will be there for his brother.” Aside from this being a sweet story involving a close-knit and stable family, what’s amazing about this is that it's happening at all. Yes, the NBA has had a fair share of siblings before -- do you know how many Plumlees are cashing basketball checks? -- but never in the same conference finals. And what’s more, neither of the Curry boys dropped strong hints, even as far as high school, that they’d be on anybody’s NBA bench. But religion and faith run through all the Currys and the parents, who’ve been married 31 years, must’ve struck the proper chord because they’ve been blessed with a playoff series neither will soon forget, no matter how it turns out. By now, their made-for-reality TV story is a familiar one. Dell was a smooth-shooting guard at Virginia Tech where he met Sonya, who played for the women’s volleyball team. They soon became a couple and delivered Steph while Dell played for the Cavaliers, who drafted him. Seth came a few years later in Charlotte, where Dell by then was one of the game’s best sixth men, dropping shots from distance for the Hornets. Their basketball education started at home and specifically the driveway basketball court where the boys wore Hornets jerseys and pretended to be in the NBA. “They battled each other,” Dell Curry said. “You know, trying to get the game-winning point and arguing whether you got fouled or not. You’re standing there watching them settle it and it never got settled. My wife and I took turns being the referee deciding who won the game.” Understandably, it never got heated, as anger or jealousy doesn’t seem to be in the Curry family DNA. “Steph did a good job with that,” said Dell. “Being the oldest boy, he could’ve beaten up on [Seth] a lot.” The boys became familiar faces around the Hornets’ practice facility and games. They attended small private high schools instead of basketball academies because of academics; their parents didn’t specifically groom them for the NBA. Even if the father’s shooting genetics and mother’s competitive instincts were soon apparent with both boys, they were size challenged. They played like solid basketball players but looked like future accountants. That all changed for Steph not long after he went to Davidson College and for Seth after he transferred from Liberty University to Duke. Steph was an NCAA tournament sensation, and later, Seth became a solid starter who replaced an injured Kyrie Irving at one of the country’s most prestigious programs. And thus began the crazy travel schedule for their parents, each splitting the duties between their sons as best they could; it hasn’t calmed down since. Steph has had the gold-plated path, winning a pair of Kia MVPs and three championships, changing the game from a shooting standpoint and punching an automatic ticket to the Hall of Fame someday. Seth’s career has been nomadic. He wasn’t drafted because teams wondered about his ball-handling skills. The Warriors initially tossed him a lifeline, but Seth didn’t survive training camp and was sent to their G-League team. He’s with his sixth team in five years and seemingly turned the corner last season with the Mavericks, where he started 42 games before injuries intervened. Steph is vested in his younger brother’s career and quietly simmers about how Seth, who’s now 28, lacks a long-term deal and security with one team. Although the younger Curry finished third in three-point shooting percentage this season -- one spot ahead of Stephen -- Seth becomes a free agent this summer. Yet the good news is he should have interest after a breakout season for the Blazers. “They want each other to do well,” said Dell. “They cheer for each other. They watch each other’s games all the time. Steph’s a quiet guy but he roots for his brother and vice-versa.” For the last several years, Seth has been in the stands watching his brother during the postseason, sitting with his parents, marveling at Steph’s talent and fortunes like anyone else. Until now. And here they are, trying to deny each other a championship. There are times when the Curry boys will guard each other and that always puts their parents in a tough spot. When it happened in Game 1, Dell and Sonya just watched, frozen in place. No clapping, no cheering, no nothing. “Coming in here, we didn’t know what to expect or how to react,” Dell said. “This hasn’t happened before. Usually we can go all-in on one team. We don’t know how to cheer or how to respond when one team goes on a run. We can’t totally go on one side.” Sonya said: “It’s hard on my nerves.” These are proud parent problems. There is a solution to the relentless travel, the back-and-forth between two teams and this emotional wringer and the constant wondering about games and victories and losses: Maybe one day, even next season, the boys will be … teammates? Dell Curry’s face suddenly brightens and the stress disappears. “Now that would be great,” he said “Being brothers and teammates, and in this situation where they both win? Let’s see what happens. Both have a lot of years left in the league. Seth’s a free agent. You never know.” Until then, if that ever happens, the parents will keep their travel agent on speed-dial and keep a tailor on stand-by in case they need another set of jerseys stitched together. “It’s been hectic,” Dell Curry said. “But don’t get me wrong, we’re not taking this for granted. We’re just taking it all in. We’re not complaining at all. We know how special this is.” Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 16th, 2019

Bucks stars sit down, supporting cast steps up

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BOSTON – Giannis Antetokounmpo sat down. Khris Middleton sat down. And the Milwaukee Bucks’ chance of beating the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series seemed to sit down with them. In a hostile arena, against an opponent that by all rights should have been desperate (though the emotion never did quite translate to the Celtics’ performance), losing your best two players to foul trouble at a crucial point in the second half should have been too much for Milwaukee. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Antetokounmpo got whistled for his fourth personal foul with 8:18 left in the third quarter, the teams tied at 59-59. Before the score ever budged, 61 seconds later, Middleton got his fourth. It was automatic for Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer to yank both his All-Stars, with so much game left and the risk of one or both fouling out so great. This should have been the opportunity the Celtics needed. They had misfired their way to that point, shooting 37 percent overall in the first half and 4-of-19 on three-pointers. But they had their full complement of starters available. Boston should have pounced. Boston should have cracked open the game right there and earned itself a 2-2 series tie. Instead, the Bucks stiffened, then pushed back. They might even have ended the series, turning that stretch of resiliency to end the third quarter into a 113-101 victory. They hold a 3-1 lead now with a chance to close it out at home in Game 5 Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) and advance to the conference finals. That’s how pivotal the Bucks’ plucky response to adversity was. They not only fended off the Celtics during that star-starved stretch, they took the lead: Milwaukee went on a little 13-9 run to the 2:31 mark of the third, triggering a timeout by Boston coach Brad Stevens. Then play resumed, and the Bucks outscored them again 8-4 to close the quarter. It was the exact opposite of what should have happened, Milwaukee opening up an 80-72 lead while playing shorthanded, and Boston squandering such a ripe chance to seize the game. Yet there wasn’t much surprise showing in the visitors’ dressing room. “We were just playing the same way,” said center Brook Lopez. “We always say, ‘Same way. Same way,’ and just keep grinding. We did a great job these past two games just grinding for the first 30, 35 minutes or whatever, and then just taking advantage whenever the moment comes.” This should have been Boston’s moment, though. It’s true that the Bucks’ depth has been a weapon all season and that their role players have prided themselves on maintaining -- or adding to -- leads. But c’mon, they were working without a net this time. Antetokounmpo and Middleton had to sit for a while at least, if not the balance of the quarter. The worst thing that could happen if they came back too soon would be picking up their fifth fouls. The second-worst thing would be playing overly cautious to avoid doing that. Didn’t the players who stepped into the breach feel the burden? “We didn’t really feel that way,” Lopez said. “We had that trust and belief in one another. We were just trying not to have any sort of letdown.” Budenholzer dealt with the fragile situation by reminding himself that he typically subs out his stars in that general vicinity of the game. Keeping them fresh for the fourth quarter is a priority, particularly with Antetokounmpo. It’s just that this time, the terms were dictated to the Bucks coach. “It’s always hard to take out Giannis, let’s just start there,” Budenholzer said. But he added, “Because of our normal subs rotation, it wasn’t as tough to take him out.” Lopez, George Hill, Ersan Ilyasova, Eric Bledsoe, Nikola Mirotic, Pat Connaughton and Sterling Brown all played during Antetokounmpo’s and Middleton’s absences. (Middleton returned for an uneventful final 20 seconds in the period.) Bledsoe got it going offensively, then Hill – not unlike his super-sub showing in Game 3 – scored nine of Milwaukee’s final 11 points in the quarter. And they all locked in defensively, making life miserable for a Celtics team that never recovered. “Absolutely. We’re always defense first,” Lopez said. “I think we even stepped up our intensity in that moment.” The Greek Freak, while all this was going on, sat between deep reserves D.J. Wilson and inactive rookie Donte DiVincenzo with a concerned look on his face and nervous energy bouncing through one leg. Tough benchmate? “I mean, he’s one of those guys who wants to play all 48,” Wilson said. “He hates when he comes out. He’s kind of like that every game.” Said Antetokounmpo: “It’s amazing to see that the bench can keep playing hard, keep defending hard and set the tone for us.” The past two games, the Bucks’ bench has outscored Boston’s 74-23. So Milwaukee didn’t just survive, it thrived. It started the fourth with its top guys more rested than usual. And oh, did it show. Antetokounmpo scored 17 points in that quarter, but, playing all 12 minutes during which he scored half of the Bucks’ 12 field goals and grabbed seven rebounds. Middleton was scoreless but was a plus-seven the rest of the way, second only to Connaughton’s plus-11. Boston wound up trading baskets for much of the fourth. Al Horford’s layup at 7:25 got his team within 91-86, only to see Lopez and Antetokounmpo score all of the Bucks’ points in a 14-6 stretch that ate up five minutes. The home team seemed to be fraying, bringing an air of inevitability to the night. Speculation that it might have been All-Star guard Kyrie Irving’s final game as a Celtic in Boston – he’ll be a free agent this summer and never has seemed particularly happy here – began immediately. Irving, after a golden Game 1, has played haphazardly in the past three while shooting a combined 19-of-62. “Who cares?” he said. “It’s a little different when your rhythm is challenged every play down. You’re being picked up full court. They’re doing things to test you. The expectations on me are going to be sky high. I try to utilize their aggression against them and still put my teammates in great positions, while still being aggressive and trying to do it all. “For me, the 22 shots? I should have shot 30.” The Bucks, boasting strong chemistry since training camp, never has looked tighter. In fact, when Lopez was asked if he felt a sense of relief that they reached the fourth quarter without getting pummeled, he wouldn’t go there. “I don’t think it’s a sense of relief,” he said. “I don’t want to say that, because one through 15 we have trust in everyone in this locker room. Whoever we have out on the floor, we’re never like, ‘Oh damn, we’re stuck with these guys.’” 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 NewsMay 7th, 2019

Kluber s broken arm will put major stress on Indians depth

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians decided during the winter their starting pitching would carry them to another October. Cleveland's ride might end before then. Corey Kluber's broken right arm may alter the plans for a season the Indians hoped would include a fourth straight AL Central title. Kluber sustained a non-displaced fracture Wednesday night when he was struck by a line drive in the fifth inning of a start against Miami. Kluber, who struggled through the season's first month, couldn't avoid the 102-mph comebacker hit by Marlins infielder Brian Anderson. After being nailed, Kluber chased after the ball while his right arm stayed motionless against his side. He swatted the ball with his glove toward the bag before walking dejectedly back to the mound. The 33-year-old underwent further imaging tests Thursday to determine the length of his absence. The team is reviewing those results and will place him on the 10-day injured list while providing an update Friday before the opener of a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. Based on the initial diagnosis, and assuming there's no other damage, Kluber will likely miss more than one month to allow his ulna bone to heal. The loss of Kluber, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, for any time will hurt. He's been among baseball's most consistent pitchers for the past five years, and the Indians are already without starter Mike Clevinger, who is out with a strained upper back muscle. Without 40 percent of their starting staff, the Indians look vulnerable. They already trail the improved Minnesota Twins by 2½ games, and Cleveland's offense has been in a prolonged slump. The Indians are batting an AL-low .215 and have 111 runs in 29 games. All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor hasn't taken off after being sidelined to start the season with a sprained ankle, and All-Star third baseman José Ramírez has yet to break out of a slump that stretches back to August. When Cleveland's front office chose not to trade Kluber or Trevor Bauer and to reconstruct the team's roster by allowing All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley to leave as a free agent and trading sluggers Edwin Encarnación, Yonder Alonzo and Yandy Díaz, it did so behind the belief that the pitching depth would be enough to get the Indians back to the playoffs. That theory is about to be tested. Clevinger is still probably a few weeks from returning, although he played catch this week and appears to be ahead of schedule. The Indians will likely go to a five-man rotation in May with Jefry Rodríguez getting one of the spots. He's made two starts while filling in for Clevinger and is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox. Kluber would have started Monday, and manager Terry Francona will either juggle his rotation or reach down to Triple-A Columbus and bring up either Adam Plutko or Cody Anderson. Plutko opened the season in the minors and has been recovering from a forearm strain. Anderson has missed most of the past two seasons after Tommy John elbow surgery, but the Indians think he could be ready soon. When Francona went to the mound to check on Kluber, what he saw was alarming. "It looked ugly," he said. Right now, it's not the only unpleasant sight for the Indians......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2019

Darvish wants to prove himself in final year of Texas deal

STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer br /> DALLAS (AP) — Yu Darvish marked his five-year anniversary as a Texas Ranger this week. Now healthy again, he wants to prove how good a pitcher he is. 'It's not much about my contract, but coming back from Tommy John surgery,' Darvish said through his interpreter at the Rangers' winter banquet Friday night. 'This will be my second year to see how my body reacts and how much I can do to prove how good of a pitcher I am. That's what I'm looking forward to.' Darvish is entering the sixth and final year of the contract he signed with the Rangers in January 2012 after seven seasons in Japan. While the 30-year-old Darvish is 46-32 with a 3.29 ERA in 100 career starts for Texas, he missed all of the 2015 season because of the surgery and didn't pitch for the Rangers last season until May 28. Darvish was 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 100 1/3 innings during the regular season. But in his first AL Division Series start last October, he gave up a career-worst four homers. Three of them were in the same inning of a 5-3 loss to Toronto in Game 2 of the best-of-five series that the Blue Jays swept. 'I would love to pitch in that kind of situation again this year,' Darvish said. 'And I would like to pitch very well.' Darvish said he just started throwing again and feels 'really good.' Texas spent more than two years scouting Darvish and getting to know him personally before committing more than $107 million to get him. On top of his guaranteed $56 million contract, the Rangers had to pay in the old system a massive $51,703,411 posting bid to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, his team in Japan. The 2017 season could have become a player option without a buyout had Darvish won the Cy Young and finished second-through-fourth another time, or finished second in the voting once and second-through-fourth two other times. Darvish finished second behind Max Scherzer in the 2013 AL Cy Young voting, when the Rangers right-hander was 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA and a league-high 277 strikeouts. He was an All-Star each of his first three seasons (2012-14), a span in which he had 680 strikeouts before getting shut down late in the 2014 season because of elbow inflammation. 'I am really grateful to the Texas Rangers organization by just giving me this big of a contract. They've been taking care of me really well,' he said. 'So I just want to show the Rangers how much I can do and then show them that they were right giving me that contract.' Darvish said he considered it too much of a risk just two years after surgery to compete in the World Baseball Classic this spring. Then, he smiled and said, 'At the end, let me tell you that I didn't get offered' a spot. NOTES: The Rangers announced they will retire uniform No. 7 during an August ceremony to honor former catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week and will be inducted with the class of 2017 on July 30 in Cooperstown, New York. The only other Rangers to have their numbers retired by the club are Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan (No. 34) and former manager Johnny Oates (No. 26). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

On ballot for final time, Tim Raines hopes for Hall entry

SEAN FARRELL, Associated Press br /> MONTREAL (AP) — The 1982 All-Star Game at Olympic Stadium was the first outside the United States, the host Montreal Expos giving the event a distinctive international flair. As Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn looked on, center fielder Andre Dawson, catcher Gary Carter and left fielder Tim Raines were among five players wearing that tri-color hat of the hometown team. On Wednesday, Raines is likely to join Dawson and Carter as Expos in the Hall of Fame, expected to be voted the honor in his 10th and final year of eligibility. 'If I get in, that's the team I deserve to go in for, regardless if they no longer have a team,' Raines said in a phone interview from his home in Phoenix on Tuesday. 'That was the team I played with and I'm real comfortable with that.' Despite falling short of the 75 percent of votes necessary for election last year, Raines was named on 69.8 percent of the ballots cast by eligible members of the Baseball Writers of America. That was up significantly from 2015, when he finished seventh in voting with 55 percent. 'I was happy that I had gained a lot more votes,' Raines said. 'I was only 23 short and this is actually the first year of the 10 years that I really feel pretty excited about the prospect of it happening. But this will be the first year that I really feel that I have a legitimate shot.' An All-Star in each of his first seven seasons with the Expos, Raines is the only player to have four seasons hitting .300 or higher with at least 70 stolen bases; Ty Cobb and Rickey Henderson each had three. A switch-hitter, Raines batted .294 with 2,605 hits, including 713 for extra bases, and 1,330 walks. He scored 1,571 runs and ranks fifth with 808 stolen bases in a career from 1979 to 2002 with Montreal, the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland, Baltimore and Florida. His 84.7 percent stolen base success rate is the best of any player with at least 400 attempts. Raines finished with a .385 on-base average. 'When you think about the caliber of career that Timmy had, he was an impact player,' Dawson said in a phone interview from Miami on Monday. 'You think about all the greatest leadoff hitters of all time, he measures right there.' To some, Raines' only fault was that he wasn't as great as Rickey Henderson, considered the best leadoff man ever. Carter became the first player inducted into the Hall with an Expos cap on his plaque in 2003, his sixth year on the ballot. Dawson was inducted in 2010 after his ninth try. 'I think it's a tribute to that organization that they are probably going to have three Hall of Famers that were teammates at the same time,' Dawson said. 'I do think that it's going to happen, first of all, but you didn't really get the notoriety, you didn't really get the same publicity as if you had been playing in the States. So it was a really, really tough environment I think playing across the border when it came to recognition.' Traded by Montreal after the 1990 season, Raines spent five seasons with the White Sox. He hit .444 and scored five runs in the 1993 AL Championship Series, which Chicago lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, and then won the World Series twice in three seasons with the Yankees from 1996-98. He signed with Oakland as a free agent in 1999 but was diagnosed with lupus midway through the season. A failed bid to make the United States Olympic team in 2000 fueled Raines' desire to prove he could still play, and Montreal offered him that opportunity in 2001. Raines was greeted with a standing ovation when he returned to Olympic Stadium as the starting left fielder for the Expos' home opener. The crowd of 45,183 remained on its feet all through his first plate appearance and cheered wildly when he drew a walk from Mets starter Glendon Rusch. 'The ovation that I got was really, really emotional,' Raines said. 'I remember I stole my 800th base against the Expos with the Yankees, and that was kind of emotional. The fans gave me a really big standing ovation, but the ovation I got in '01 topped anything that I could have even imagined, and at that time I knew that I was in love with Montreal.' Raines got to play with Vladimir Guerrero, who is on the ballot for the first time this year and could also enter the Hall as an Expos player if he is elected. 'Well, I think he's among the top players that ever played the game, that's for sure,' Raines said. '... He didn't really say much, but when the game started, you know who was top dog out on the field, and it was going to be him.' Late in the 2001 season, the Expos traded Raines to Baltimore to give him the opportunity to play with his son, Tim Jr., who was called up to make his major league debut with the Orioles. Raines, who retired after playing with Florida in 2002, was back with the Expos as a special coach at the end of the 2004 season when Major League Baseball announced that the team, which joined the National League in the 1969 expansion, was moving to Washington, D.C. The world's second-largest French-speaking city, which embraced Jackie Robinson when he played for the Montreal Royals of the International League in 1946, still pines for 'nos amours,' a term of endearment so profoundly French that it defies appropriate translation into English other than to say Montrealers love their Expos. 'Timmy happened to be one of those individuals that really made an impact not only with that organization but with the country for what he did, what he brought to the game, how he played the game, and how he was perceived all around baseball amongst his peers,' Dawson said. 'But I do feel that the Hall of Fame itself is the due recognition in the end.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Match-fixing back in spotlight on eve of first Grand Slam

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press   For Rafael Nadal and the other stars of tennis, there's a familiar ring to the questions being raised as the first ball is about to be struck at the Australian Open. Recent match-fixing sanctions and a new case are bringing fresh scrutiny to the integrity of the sport a year after corruption allegations cast a pall over the first Grand Slam of the year. '(It's) obviously negative, always in the first month of the season starts to happen,' Nadal said at the season-opening Brisbane International. 'You get tired about this kind of stuff, but the most important thing is fight against these kinds of things.' The headlines started appearing early in the new year. On Jan. 5, police in Australia charged an 18-year-old player with a match-fixing offense at a lower-tier tournament last October in Traralgon, near Melbourne. Days later, another Australian player, Nick Lindahl, now retired but once ranked in the top 200, was handed a seven-year ban and $35,000 fine from the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) for offering to throw a match at a minor tournament in the city of Toowoomba in 2013. Lindahl had already been fined after a criminal trial. Two other Australian players received lesser punishments in connection with the incident. While Traralgon and Toowoomba are far removed from the glittering lights of Melbourne Park, the timing of the developments was troubling nonetheless. Last season began similarly beneath a cloud of suspicion after a report by BBC and Buzzfeed alleged that tennis authorities had suppressed evidence of match-fixing and failed to investigate possible cases of corruption. The reports went over old ground, but the timing and the headlines overshadowed the tournament. 'I haven't heard anything (about match-fixing) since last year's Australian Open,' German player Mischa Zverev told The Associated Press last week in Brisbane. 'I think it was funny timing. ... Like the day before the Oscars, they're going to bring something up to make somebody not win it, or win it.' Since then, tennis leaders have gone into overdrive to restore confidence in the sport. An independent panel was created to review the TIU, the internal body tasked with combating corruption, and authorities promised to implement all of its recommendations when it is completed this spring. The TIU also took separate steps to strengthen its monitoring and investigation efforts, develop new anti-corruption education programs for players, and improve the transparency of its operations. In an email statement to The AP, the agency said nine players and officials were sanctioned last year for match-fixing — the most for a single year since the unit was established in 2008. Several were banned for life, including a young South African player and four officials from Turkey and Uzbekistan. The unit also expanded its outreach efforts with betting operators and regulators, leading to increased reporting of suspicious wagers. In 2016, the TIU received 292 betting alerts — an 18 percent increase over the previous year. The vast majority of those came from the Challenger and Futures circuits on the men's tour, considered the most at-risk for match-fixing given the lower likelihood of detection and the smaller earnings of the players. However, the TIU said three alerts were generated at Grand Slam events, as well. The agency was quick to note, though, that an alert isn't necessarily proof of match-fixing. Of the more than 114,000 matches played last year on the professional tours, only 0.2 percent triggered a suspicious betting alert. 'Tennis was one of the first major sports to recognize the potential threat of betting-related corruption and do something about it,' the TIU said. 'It will be for the independent review panel to take a view on the conduct and effectiveness of the unit and to put forward recommendations to improve the current structure and approach.' Whatever the investigators recommend, the fact remains the TIU faces an uphill battle. Technology has shifted the gambling landscape in such a way, it's increasingly difficult for monitors to keep up. In tennis, wagers aren't just placed on who wins or loses; bets can be placed during matches in real time on everything from total points won in a game to whether a set goes to a tiebreak. 'We're talking individual player activities here,' said Hans Westerbeek, dean of the College of Sport and Exercise Science at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. 'It's much easier to get into a situation where you approach individual players to do things that can be, if done well, quite well hidden from it being suspicious.' He likens it to the ongoing battle against performance-enhancing drugs. 'You're always struggling to keep up with the innovations that a better-resourced front of gambling operators, legal or illegal, will have available to advance their technology.' Ryan Rodenberg, an associate professor of forensic sports law analytics at Florida State University, says this is one reason a more sophisticated approach is critically needed. He recommends an internal monitoring system that analyzes each match for suspicious activity in real time, rather than relying solely on betting alerts. 'A robust betting data-monitoring operation would have both in-house capabilities and a number of collaborative information sharing agreements with third parties such as sportsbooks, private monitoring firms or academics,' he said. 'Anything less is sub-optimal.' With a limited budget of just $3.23 million for 2017, however, there is only so much the TIU can do. As such, preventative measures such as education have become a priority. More than 25,000 players and officials have completed the TIU's online anti-corruption training program, and a new version will be launched that players will be required to complete every two years. 'Educating players who are up-and-coming and those who support those players is a very good, positive and necessary thing to do,' Westerbeek says. 'Because the root of the problem is ... people not really (understanding) they're engaging in criminal activity.' ___ AP Sports Writer John Pye contributed to this report. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

FIFA set to approve bigger, richer World Cup on Tuesday

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer   FIFA is set to make the World Cup bigger and richer, even if the price to pay is lower quality soccer. FIFA President Gianni Infantino hopes his ruling Council will agree Tuesday to expand the 2026 World Cup to 48 nations, playing in 16 groups of three teams. A decision could be delayed if some Council members demand to know exactly how many qualifying places each continent will get before agreeing to scrap the 32-team format. It has been successful, popular and profitable since 1998 and is locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar. The prize of 16 extra places, and the biggest increases to Africa and Asia, has 'overwhelming' support from FIFA's 211 member federations, Infantino has said. Their promise of extra funding from Zurich could also be secured by FIFA's forecast 20 percent rise in rights fees paid by broadcasters and sponsors. 'Financially, the 48-team format is the most appealing or successful simply because the sporting element is prevailing and every match is important,' Infantino said two weeks ago. 'The decision should not be financially driven, neither in terms of revenue or costs ... but the driver should really be the development of football and boosting football all over the world.' World Cup champion Germany is not in favor. It argued that diluting the number of European and South American teams — which won all 20 titles since 1930 — could 'strengthen the imbalance' seen at some tournaments. 'The (German soccer federation) fundamentally believe that the current 32-team format is the best option,' its president Reinhard Grindel said last week. Germany has no delegate at Tuesday's meeting though Grindel is set to join the FIFA Council in May. FIFA acknowledged the risk of lower standards in a research document sent to members last month, as first reported by The Associated Press. The 'absolute quality' of soccer, defined by high-ranked teams playing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA said, citing 10,000 tournament simulations made to reach that conclusion. Still, Infantino promised voters more World Cup places and funding raises before his election last February. FIFA expects $5.5 billion income tied to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, though 25 of 34 sponsorship slots are unsold. The research document predicted the equivalent of $6.5 billion revenue from a 48-team tournament in the '16x3' format, which would send two teams from each group to a new Round of 32 knockout bracket. All 80 matches would play in an exclusive time slot. Currently, 64 World Cup matches have 56 broadcast slots because the eight four-team groups play their last matches simultaneously. FIFA predicts organizing costs for '16x3' rising from $2 billion to $2.3 billion, giving a potential profit rise of $640 million. Though a '16x3' World Cup would still need a maximum of 12 stadiums, the demand for 16 more top-quality training camps and hotels suggests FIFA would look for 2026 hosts with existing capacity. A North American bid from two or three of the United States, Canada and Mexico is currently favored in a contest that could start within weeks. Five options are open Tuesday, including staying with 32 teams. Infantino campaigned last year on a 40-team promise, in either eight groups of five teams or 10 groups of four teams. Neither impressed voters in recent regional meetings of FIFA member federations. When the FIFA leader first proposed 48 teams, it included an opening playoff round. The 16 winners would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional 32-team group stage. FIFA members disliked 'one-and-done' teams going home before the 'real' World Cup kicks off. It would also stretch to a 39-day event with more short-notice travel for fans. Africa and Asia could be the big winners, and FIFA hopes new teams would include another Iceland, Wales and Costa Rica — over-achieving teams and feelgood stories at recent tournaments. Still, hapless Tahiti was outclassed at the 2013 Confederations Cup, conceding 24 goals in three games. 'The goal of expanding the FIFA World Cup,' it has told members, 'is to further advance the vision to promote the game of football, protect its integrity and bring the game to all.' ___ Entry quotas for 2018 World Cup: Europe 14 (including host Russia to qualify direct); Africa 5; Asia and South America 4.5 each; North, Central America and Caribbean 3.5; Oceania 0.5. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 9th, 2017

Hello, Cleveland: Indians welcome slugger Encarnacion

TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer br /> CLEVELAND (AP) — With his family watching proudly, Edwin Encarnacion stood in front of his new locker inside Cleveland's clubhouse, pulled on a fitted cap and slowly buttoned the front of his white No. 10 jersey. Once finished, he pointed to the 'Indians' logo on his chest and flashed a huge smile as cameras clicked. It felt seamless. 'He's a perfect fit for our team,' Indians president Chris Antonetti said Thursday. In so many ways. The Indians, accustomed to being outspent for high-priced free agents winter after winter, introduced Encarnacion, a premium player for the middle of their lineup who will boost attendance and maybe help them win the World Series. One of baseball's most productive hitters over the past five years, Encarnacion finalized a $60 million, three-year contract — the richest in Cleveland history — with a team that got to Game 7 of the Series last season. Encarnacion's deal would be worth $80 million over four years if the Indians exercise a $25 million option for 2020 that includes a $5 million buyout. There are also attendance bonuses built in as both the Indians and Encarnacion's agent, Paul Kinzer, recognized the three-time All-Star's ability to spin turnstiles. 'He's a quiet guy that just goes out and grinds every day,' Kinzer said. 'This is a blue-collar town and he's a blue-collar guy. Cleveland is going to love him.' Encarnacion averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs over the past five seasons with Toronto, which made it to the AL Championship Series last season only to be eliminated in five games by the Indians. Encarnacion, who turns 34 on Saturday, watched Cleveland's players celebrate at Rogers Centre that day in October not ever imagining he would be joining them a little more than two months later. But while he figured to land with Boston or Texas or in another major market, Cleveland's pitch was the most persistent. And although the first baseman and designated hitter could have made more money elsewhere, Encarnacion wanted to join a winner. The Indians, with one of the majors' best pitching staffs and a lineup featuring young stars in Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis, are positioned to contend for years. 'That's why I came here,' Encarnacion said. 'I believe in this team and I know we can win the World Series with the talent that we have.' The Indians' courtship of Encarnacion began with owner Paul Dolan's commitment to building on the momentum created by the team's AL Central title and first Series appearance since 1997. Cleveland was boosted by cleanup hitter Mike Napoli, who set career highs in homers and RBIs during his one season with the Indians. There were better options available and, after deciding not to re-sign Napoli, the Indians focused on Encarnacion, who hit 42 homers and drove in 127 runs last season. Antonetti didn't have to sell Dolan on Encarnacion's obvious talents. The challenge was convincing him that the slugger was worth a long-term financial obligation. 'It took a lot of work to make that happen, both compromises from our side and compromises from Edwin's side to make this fit and be the right fit for both teams,' Antonetti said. 'And it took a great leap of faith by ownership to make that extraordinary investment.' It also took some clever negotiating. As the sides were nearing a deal, Oakland made a $50 million, two-year offer that caused the Indians to counter. Kinzer proposed an attendance clause, a suggestion Antonetti initially wasn't sure was possible. 'That was a way to bridge the gap,' Kinzer said. 'When Edwin went on that run five years ago, Toronto was at 1.9 (million) in attendance. Now, they're at 3.4. Well, if Edwin contributes to that, then we should be rewarded for it.' Encarnacion gets a $5 million signing bonus, half payable on May 1 and the rest Aug. 1, and salaries of $13 million this year, $17 million in 2018 and $20 million in 2019. The Indians agreed and Encarnacion has already made an impact, as the team has sold more than $1 million in season tickets since he agreed to the deal on Dec. 22. He would earn bonuses of $150,000 each when the Indians reach 2 million, 2.15 million, 2.3 million, 2.5 million and 2.75 million in home attendance. He can make another $250,000 for 3 million. Once the deal's parameters were settled, Antonetti and Kinzer then had to maneuver around some family holiday obligations. As they neared an agreement, Kinzer was at Six Flags Amusement Park in Atlanta with his grandchildren to see Santa Claus, while Antonetti was attending a performance of 'The Little Mermaid' with his wife and two daughters. Antonetti ducked in and out of the theater's auditorium before closing the biggest deal in team history during a break between two songs from the musical. 'We were somewhere between 'Under the Sea' and 'Part of Your World,' he said with a smile. 'It was a great performance.' The Indians can take a bow for theirs, as well. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017