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Promising signs from Bulls young guns

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com In time, Zach LaVine’s return, development and eventual career arc will determine to a large extent how successful the Bulls’ Draft Night trade of Jimmy Butler to Minnesota was. For now, and until LaVine suits up this season and beyond, his value to Chicago is strictly to be determined. The two-time NBA Slam Dunk champ is back in the practice gym in his recovery from left knee (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery. Playing 1-on-1 with teammates, working out with the G-League Windy City Bulls in Chicago’s northwest suburbs and improving his timing and his conditioning, LaVine is penciled in to make his season debut before the end of 2017. Meanwhile, though, the Bulls have two other pieces to show from the Butler deal: stretch-four forward Lauri Markkanen and point guard Kris Dunn. Both have offered glimpses of what they can do and how they might fit into the team’s long-term vision that someday won’t prioritize losing. Markkanen, the lanky Finn by way of the University of Arizona, is averaging 13.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and in 30 minutes. He’s putting up 7.2 three-point shots per game and hitting 31.7 percent. His 140 attempts from the arc ranked 14th in the NBA – more than Bradley Beal (126), more than Carmelo Anthony (125) – and Markkanen’s 48 makes are the most by any player in his first 20 games. Dunn, whose disappointing 2016-17 rookie season with Minnesota essentially has gotten a reset, was at 12 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 4.2 apg after having 19 points, five rebounds and five assists in Thursday night's (Friday, PHL time) loss at Denver. The 23-year-old from Providence is shooting 43.2 percent on three-pointers (43.2 percent)  and his steal percentage of 3.8 – an estimate of the percent of opponents’ possessions ending in Dunn steals – ranked No. 1 in the NBA. Their trajectories have been somewhat different so far in 2017-18: Markkanen has been consistent while fighting through a flu bug and some road weariness, while Dunn has played his best most recently. But they’ve both contributed in ways that, aside from the Bulls’ relentless losing, suggests brighter days and in time a positive verdict on that headline-grabbing, bit-spitting trade. Markkanen: Stays cool, likes cold, shoots hot It’s fair to say that the Bulls, when they acquired Markkanen as the No. 7 selection in the Draft last June, got a sleeper. No, literally. That’s about all the 20-year-old native of Vantaa, Finland was able to do after a hectic spring leading up to the draft followed by a tortuous summer at the Las Vegas Summer League and a key role for his home country’s national team in the FIBA Eurobasket 2017 tournament. Markkanen’s single season at Arizona not only acclimated him to the American game, it earned him all-American status and a taste of the NCAA tournament before the Wildcats lost to Xavier. In the Euro competition, he averaged 19.5 points and 5.7 rebounds before heading to Chicago for an early jump on training camp. “When he came over here, he was exhausted,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “The week before training camp was completely lost time – he needed to recharge his batteries. So, we really didn’t know what we had. He was still tired when we started camp. We didn’t throw him out there for all the drills, just as part of the process in getting his body back. “But then every time he stepped on the floor, he showed a little more.” First Markkanen demonstrated he would crack the rotation. Then – when forwards Nikola Mirotic (facial injuries) and Bobby Portis (suspension for the punch that caused them) rendered themselves unavailable two days before the season opener – Markkanen was thrust into the starting lineup. Butterflies? Rookie mistakes? Not so much. Markkanen looked almost unflappable in averaging 17.2 points and 9.3 rebounds through his first six appearances, with a high of 25 points at Miami and double-doubles against San Antonio and Atlanta. “We had to adjust our offense,” Hoiberg said, “and put in some new things to try to get him the ball in different spots on the floor, because of his versatility to score.” Justin Holiday was one of the teammates who learned quickly to get the ball more often to the tall blond guy. “He’s playing consistent, and that’s a very mature thing to do in this league,” Holiday said. “What’s maybe surprising is his confidence in shooting the ball. He’s not afraid to shoot it.” Said Markkanen, whose father Pekka lettered at Kansas before returning home to play professionally: “I’m expecting big things from myself. I think that’s what motivates me every day. Whatever I do, I’m not satisfied. So, I try to set higher goals every time I step on the court. Try to do things better. “It’s going to get harder, I know that. I’m trying to face it like any other job. Just go at it positively, fight through it, put the work in, and I think it will work itself out.” At 20 games and counting, Markkanen will soon blow by the 37 he played in college, and the workload probably has something to do with his recent production; in his five most recent games before Thursday (Friday, PHL time), he shot 25.4 percent, including 11-of-39 from the arc. He says he has adjusted from one game to the next – “I don’t want to give my scouting report, but I try to add something new and figure out what they’re going to throw at me,” he said. He even drew praise from the great LeBron James after hitting four three-pointers in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Cavaliers. Markkanen hasn’t been fooled by Chicago’s relatively balmy late-autumn weather and has to be one of the few NBA players to welcome winter’s chill (“I’m actually looking forward to snow”). He isn’t flinching from the Bulls’ task at hand, either, which looks longer and more laborious with each lopsided defeat. “I understand this part of a process,” said Markkanen, who would appear to be on his way to the Rising Stars Challenge game at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. “We’ve got a young group. We’re having tough times. ... It’s about sticking together and having everyone know that. We can’t afford to not trust or not be a good teammate.” Dunn: Pushing a personal reset button Dunn’s young career was looking a little snakebit. He suffered a concussion in the first game he played for Minnesota in the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League. This time, he had to leave the Bulls’ Vegas entry early to attend to family matters. Then the point guard got hurt in a preseason game against Milwaukee Oct. 7 (Oct. 8, PHL time), winding up with an “open dislocation” of his left index finger. All those setbacks cost Dunn valuable learning time, as far as running first the Wolves’ and then the Bulls’ attacks. He never fully recovered from it last season, sputtering through a rookie season that fell far short of his and others’ expectations. His fellow Class of 2016 draftees had voted him the most likely to snag the Rookie of the Year award, but it went instead to Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, who’d been chosen in the second round 31 spots after Dunn. This time, Dunn was out of action until Chicago’s fifth regular season game. And the delay showed in his performances: 9.8 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 38.6 percent shooting in his first eight games. One Bulls insider said Dunn “had a lot going on in his head” from last season’s failures, even as he tried to get traction in Chicago. Said Holiday, 28, who went undrafted and bounced through five organizations in barely three years from 2013 to 2016: “When you’re young, man, everybody’s pushing. Who knows what was going on his head? He might have been trying to be perfect. Sometimes it takes time. It’s a big role. “But he has the confidence to do it, where last year maybe he didn’t have as much confidence. All you can really do is go out and play hard, and if it works out, it works out.” Over Dunn’s past seven games before Thursday (Friday, PHL time), he was a more effective, more efficient player: 13.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.0 apg, while averaging 2.1 steals and 27.7 minutes. He had made 9-of-15 three-pointers, compared to 6-of-21 to start the season. Already in the five weeks he’s been active, he has played about 30 percent of the total minutes he got in 78 appearances for Minnesota’s Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls have been 3.6 points better when he’s been on the floor, too. That’s not enough to tip outcomes, but keep in mind the Wolves were 2.6 points worse a year ago with Dunn in the game. He played probably his best NBA game Tuesday against Phoenix, scoring 24 points on 10 of 16 shooting with eight assists, four rebounds and four steals. If not for a couple of egregious turnovers among his four, he might have agreed with Hoiberg’s “terrific” assessment. That performance came 48 hours after Dunn had scored two points and missed all six of his field-goal attempts against Miami. Hoiberg sought him out and demanded that the second-year guard play more aggressively, and Dunn proved his coach right. “He called me out,” Dunn said. “When a coach calls you out, you try to play as hard as you can. I had to get through my mind, ‘Go out and play the way I used to play. With that aggression. On defense, on offense. Try to stay down in errors as much as I can and get everybody involved.’ “I want to be an elite point guard one day and I understand, the best point guards don’t make those killer turnovers. If I want to reach my goal, I have to get better each and every day in practice, watch film and, y’know, think a little smarter when you’re playing.” Some have suggested Boston’s Marcus Smart as a legitimate comparison for Dunn, given their defensive aptitudes and challenges both face when shooting from range. Dunn is a huge fan of Smart, but believes he can be a full-service, top-notch playmaker. Mostly, he finally looks comfortable with this reset to his NBA experience. “Individually for me, it is a reset,” Dunn said. “I say this is my first year because I didn’t get too many minutes and I didn’t play the right position in Minnesota. I was a two, a three, sometimes a one. But this is my first year of [regularly] playing the point guard. As a team, we don’t have Jimmy, we don’t have [Rajon] Rondo, we don’t have Dwyane Wade, so we’re all trying to figure it out. Everybody is trying to step up and come together as a unit.” With LaVine’s debut now weeks rather than months away, the Bulls – and their skeptical fans – will be able to more fully judge the yield from that Butler trade. Two out of three so far are giving glimmers of hope. 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: abscbn abscbnDec 1st, 2017

With no World Cup for US this year, Altidore shifts focus

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press For Jozy Altidore, this was supposed to be the time when the United States was preparing for this summer's World Cup. That changed early in October when the Americans got bounced from the tournament. The stunning failure shifted Altidore's focus. He spent the beginning of 2018 in Grand Cayman, where his foundation is bringing soccer to kids in a region hit by hurricanes last fall. Soon, he'll start the new season with defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC. As for this summer? Altidore will watch a few of the matches in Russia on television. The 28-year-old forward isn't stewing in the loss, he's looking with hope to the future. "Of course I'll obviously be disappointed not to be there, but at the end of the day, man, we're blessed to do what we do," he said. Apart from the national team loss, Altidore is coming off one of the better years of his career. He scored 18 goals with the Reds and another four with the U.S. national team. Toronto FC won the Supporters' Shield for the best regular-season record before sweeping through the playoffs and defeating Seattle 2-0 for the league title. Altidore scored in the final and earned MLS Cup MVP honors. The victory was a bit of revenge for a loss to the Sounders for the MLS Cup the previous season, but Altidore said Toronto's motivation was part of a season-long journey he took with his teammates and coach Greg Vanney. "I think more than anything we understood how close we were and how it hurt that we had come up short that season," he said. "The focus for us was to do what we did that last year and if we got to the last game, obviously make sure we got the W and make the most of our chances." Toronto teammate and fellow national team player, Michael Bradley, echoed the sentiment after the title match. "When push comes to shove, you want to step into the biggest moments with people that you would do anything for, that you love, that you believe in, that you trust, that you know have your back," Bradley said. But it wasn't all smooth. Altidore got into a confrontation with New York Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan in a tunnel at BMO Field during the conference semifinals. Altidore and Kljestan were handed red cards in the aftermath. Altidore sat out Toronto's next game, while Kljestan was suspended an additional game and won't be able to play the first two games of the upcoming season. Kljestan, who was also fined, was traded in the offseason from the Red Bulls to Orlando. Altidore and Bradley were also jeered — sometimes with profane and personal attacks — by opposing fans over the U.S. team's qualifying performance. "Look, all that stuff I think would have been magnified had we not achieved our objective," Altidore said. "But we did, and we did it in such a convincing manner." Following the 2-1 U.S. loss in Couva, Trinidad, that cost the national team a spot in the World Cup, coach Bruce Arena stepped down and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said he would not run for another term. Interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan called 30 players into January training camp in advance of an exhibition game against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 in Carson, California. Altidore and many of the team's veterans were not invited. The camp roster includes 15 players who have never played in a match for the senior national team. The most experienced was LA Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes, who is 26. Twenty-one of the players are 24 and younger. Altidore, who has 41 goals in 110 appearances with the national team, understands that developing young talent is important heading into the next World Cup quadrennial. "We have to do a better job of identifying new talent, for sure," he said, suggesting that missing out on the past two Olympics — where under-23 teams compete — has hurt development efforts. For now, Altidore is pouring his energy into charitable endeavors. Altidore, whose parents are from Haiti, launched his foundation in 2011 following the devastating earthquake that hit the country the year before. The foundation built a well to provide water to a town of more than 400 in Haiti, along with other rebuilding efforts. In 2016, he paid to bring the Copa America matches to television in the country. The latest effort in the Cayman Islands focuses on getting youth involved in soccer. "I think the whole region, the Caribbean has a lot of talent and has a lot of kids who want to become players. And I think it helps to see and identify with players who have played in different leagues from around the world," he said. "If I'm able to be one of those guys that can start that whole thing, it's a great opportunity and honor for me."      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Jio Jalalon regaining his old form for Hotshots

Collegiate foes and national team brethrens years ago, Jio Jalalon knows how good Kiefer Ravena is dating back to their collegiate days. That's why he's no longer surprised that his close friend didn't need much time to adjust to the PBA game. "You know how good Kiefer is even before. And I knew that coming to the PBA, he won't have much problems adjusting. Even in Gilas, he's been playing well," he said. The sophomore Jalalon and rookie Ravena clashed on Sunday when Magnolia and NLEX met, and just as expected, the young guns stepped up to the challenge. Ravena was impressive anew for the Road Warriors, notching a new career-high 31 points with four rebounds and five assi...Keep on reading: Jio Jalalon regaining his old form for Hotshots.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 14th, 2018

Castro hopes young guns grow up quickly for 2023

  Jayson Castro feels more rejuvenated with the infusion of the young bloods in Gilas Pilipinas' evening practice session at Meralco Gym. "I feel younger," Castro said in Filipino. "It feels good because you can see it in their faces that they're excited and they want to learn. It's a good feeling for me as a veteran that I can give them advice about the international game that they can use in case they get called up." Seeing the young guns buckle down to work, Castro was ecstatic for the future of the national team as he worked with guys like Robert Bolick, CJ Perez, Paul Desiderio, and Juan Gomez de Liao in the session, giving them pointers on how a guard's role in...Keep on reading: Castro hopes young guns grow up quickly for 2023.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Popovich s odd alliance with red state fans

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2018

US young guns stamp class ahead of Ryder Cup

PARIS – The rising generation of Americans dominated the 2017 season after Spaniard Sergio Garcia’s ‘s memorable Masters triumph, laying down a marker ahead.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 26th, 2017

Jose oozes with excitement in first PBA game

Despite a solid debut of 16 points and six rebounds, Raymar Jose admitted that his excitement may have gotten the best out of him in his very first game as a professional. The 2016 PBA D-League Foundation Cup MVP, who stood tall against worthy competition, was like a child, beaming as he played against the PBA players who he just saw on television as a youngster.  In his first game, Jose shot a 5/11 clip in 21 minutes of action as Blackwater Elite coach Leo Isaac gave him the green light to start his inaugural game. “Ready lang ako sa mga pinapagawa nya, mga play namin. Unang pasok ko, medyo excited, medyo nagaadjust pa ako,” Jose said. “Hopefully next game namin makaadjust na ako.” When Isaac fielded a young but promising frontcourt trio of JP Erram, Mac Belo, and Jose, that was instrumental in the 22-6 run that helped Blackwater come back to within three, the rookie saw potential.  Jose though knows there still needs to be a lot of time to properly jell. “Kulang pa. Wala pa kaming pinapakita. Sana yung team namin, mas maging isa kami at maimprove namin lahat.” As he dawns on a new chapter in his playing career, the former FEU slot man will only look at the positive side for the rest of his rookie season, and will be ready once Isaac asks for his number. “Ako naman, always positive ako sa laro ko. Sanay ako dyan. Nasa isip ko, pag pinasok ako, ready lang ako. Kung anong gusto ni coach, sundin ko lang talaga.” Jose knows that as a rookie, there will be big expectations hanging on his wide shoulders. “Yung mga nakakalaban ko, beterano sila. Kailangan talaga magadjust ako. Bawal magrelax. Konting ano lang, wala ka na kaya kailangan iimprove sarili ko.” -- follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 22nd, 2017

Knicks overhaul: Mills, Perry changing franchise’s identity

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Magic Johnson noticed. Carmelo Anthony, too. The once misguided New York Knicks seem to have a plan. The franchise that’s been good at producing chaos but not much else has the look of a professional NBA organization under president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry — and that’s not just on the court. Like everyone else in the league, the two men want to win. But even before that, they want the Knicks to develop the traits of a model franchise, not the model of dysfunction that they had come to be their identity. “I knew there were a lot of things that needed to change here and we’re in the process of doing that,” Mills said. So far, so good. The Knicks are 16-14 heading into their game against Boston on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) — not bad for a team that parted ways with its team president on the eve of free agency and then traded its leading scorer on the eve of training camp. Hats off to my good friend Steve Mills. He is doing an excellent job. The future is promising for his young Knicks. — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) December 13, 2017 “Hats off to my good friend Steve Mills. He is doing an excellent job,” Johnson wrote in a tweet after the Knicks beat the Hall of Famer’s Lakers on Dec. 12 (Dec. 13, PHL time). “The future is promising for his young Knicks.” And, it appears, much different from the past. Mills and Perry want the Knicks to be known as a team that competes hard, works hard, defends hard. They insist on players that will be accountable to the team and a team that will be accountable to its fans. The only identity the Knicks had in recent years was of a laughingstock. “People say, ‘Can you win first and then have a culture?’ Well, what is the foundation you’re building to fall back on when you talk about being sustainable?” Perry said. “So what we want to be is a sustainable team that’s good year in and year out.” Mills returned to the team president role he briefly held after Phil Jackson was ousted in late June and then hired Perry as his general manager shortly after. They went to work on fixing the Knicks’ roster and reputation, trading Anthony but earning praise by showing him respect Jackson didn’t during a tumultuous final season together. They surprised Anthony with a video tribute before his first game back at Madison Square Garden last Saturday (last Sunday, PHL time), then the Knicks showed their former star how much things have changed by routing Oklahoma City. “I like the potential that they have,” Anthony said. “For me, just to see those guys having fun again, knowing that it wasn’t fun. The fun was lost over the past couple of seasons.” Mills had a firsthand view of it while serving as Jackson’s general manager. Another 50-loss season ended with the Knicks getting a clear signal of how fed up people were when Kristaps Porzingis, the young star who was being groomed to replace Anthony as the face of the franchise, skipped his exit meeting after the season. “Everyone was frustrated. One of our players was obviously frustrated. Our fans were frustrated, we were frustrated, and so it led us to think we have to do something different and I felt strongly about it,” Mills said. “I addressed it with Phil and our coaching staff and our entire staff, that in my view we weren’t a team that really stood for anything in particular and that needed to change. “If it meant changing the triangle, it if meant changing our day-to-day stuff, we had to become more definable by something. When someone sees the Knicks, when someone’s going to play against the Knicks, what are you going to experience when you play that team?” For Perry, the hope is a team like the Pistons of the early 2000s, who won an NBA title and went to the Eastern Conference finals every season he was their director of player of personnel. One thing he’s insistent the Knicks won’t become are losers on purpose, as he and Mills rule out tanking for a high draft pick even though both have said they want to build with youth. “Ultimately our goal is to become a championship-type organization and I have just yet to see in my time in the NBA teams that embrace tanking that ultimately will be champions,” Perry said. Mills, who played at Princeton and worked for 16 years at the NBA, and Perry, who worked previously for four NBA franchises, have plenty of friends throughout the league on both the player and team side. Both can usually be found courtside on game nights talking to people, a far cry from recent seasons when Knicks management was often unseen and unheard. And in another change, Knicks management is also talking to fans, either directly or through the media. “I think sometimes we put the players in a tough situation. We clearly put Jeff in a very difficult situation last year,” Mills said, referring to coach Jeff Hornacek. “It’s not fair to him that every question about what’s going on within the organization he has to deal with.” Mills said at some point the fans need to hear from management. “We have a vision for where we want to take this team,” Mills said. “We want them to believe in it and feel good about it and see what we’re trying to get accomplished.” On and off the court......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

The Headlines So Far in the 2017-18 NBA Season

The new NBA season is still in its early stages, but it feels like we’re already in the thick of things with so much happening already. Luck of the Irish The Celtics, despite losing Gordon Hayward to a season-ending injury, currently have the best record in the league and own the longest winning streak so far this year with 16 games won consecutively. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford have been leading the charge, with young guns Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum upping their game. It certainly won’t be surprising to see them secure the top seed in the East this season if their remarkable play continues. Steve Kerr even declared the Celtics as the East’s “team of the future.” International Beasts of the East Giannis Antetokounmpo is already staking his claim as the league’s MVP, averaging nearly 30 points a game at a very efficient 55% clip as of this writing. With Eric Bledsoe assisting with ball-handling duties, the young Buck’s play is only bound to get better. Remember, Antetokounmpo still hasn’t even developed an outside shot yet. Imagine what the Greek Freak can do when he finally does. Kristaps Porzingis has also been unleashed in New York after the departure of Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson. The Latvian big man has been on a roll, taking advantage of an increased usage rate to average 27.3 points per game. The Knicks are exceeding expectations—The Playoffs doesn’t seem to be a far-fetched reality for them if Porzingis and the rest of the team can keep this up. After playing only 31 games last season, Joel Embiid has been making up for lost time. Along with Ben Simmons, the Cameroonian standout has been leading the Philadelphia to its best start in years, averaging 22.7 points and 11 boards. Additionally, Embiid has been posting roughly 2 blocks per game, and he says that he’s going to go for the Defensive Player of the Year Award this season. It looks like the Sixers fans’ are finally being rewarded for trusting the process. The Rookies Have Been Doing Work In his first season on the floor, Ben Simmons has been averaging 18. 7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per outing. And in almost every game, he’s been flirting with a triple-double. At this rate, it looks like he’s going to be the frontrunner in the Rookie of the Year race. Another solid performer is Jayson Tatum, who is one of the primary contributors in the Celtics’ stellar start. He’s been averaging an efficient 14.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.5 assist per game in around 30 minutes of play. From deep, Tatum has been drilling 48% of his threes. With his smart play, sometimes, it feels like we’re not watching a rookie. Kyle Kuzma, perhaps the biggest steal in this year’s draft class, is currently outperforming most rookies picked ahead of him, including fellow Laker and #3 draftee Lonzo Ball. Kuzma has been averaging 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 15 assists, and he’s shooting nearly 50% from the field and 36% from deep. While he still has a bit of work to do on the defensive end, he’s shaping up to be a cornerstone in LA’s post-Kobe era. Warriors still Super Team to Beat During the offseason, several teams secured major acquisitions to reinforce their lineups. The Cavs were able to reload with future Hall of Fame guards and versatile wings on board. OKC acquired two All-Stars in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, but are still in the process of figuring things out. Minnesota was able to add Jimmy Butler to its young core. But despite the trades and signings, the Golden State Warriors remain the most “super” of the squads with the “super team” tag. After starting the season 1-2, the Warriors have regained their dominating form and are now back with their winning ways—and it seems that they won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Kevin Durant has been on a tear, but it’s Steph Curry that currently leads the team in points per game (25.5), steals per game (1.8), and in Player Efficiency Rating (27.6). He remains the fulcrum of Golden State’s offense, the man that won’t let the Dubs down. Steph Curry continues to perform at a high level because he depends on the World’s No. 1 Deodorant to stay cool and confident. The two-time MVP only trusts Rexona Ice Cool to help him fee dry and fresh all day, so he can be his best on the court, and even off it. It’ll be interesting to see if these stories and trends continue as we go along the new season. Stay tuned, hoops fans!  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

Kuzma, Lakers snap Rockets 14-game win streak

(This recap will be updated) Kyle Kuzma exploded for a career-high 38 points as the LA Lakers dealt the Houston Rockets a mighty upset, 122-116, Thursday (PHL time) at the Toyota Center in Houston, ending the latter squad's 14-game win streak. The youth movement was in full effect in this one, as Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball each played at least 38 minutes in this one. LA was without center Brook Lopez and guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but the Lakers young guns acquitted themselves well. LA led by as much as 22 points in the first half, but Houston slowly brought themselves back into this one. A layup by James Harden made it just a six-point affair, 118-112, with 54 seconds left, but after Josh Hart missed a three-pointer, Eric Gordon was whistled for a charge, and Kuzma knocked down dagger charities to seal the victory. Kuzma shot 12-of-17 from the field, 7-of-10 on three's, and added seven rebounds and four assists. Ball added 16 markers, nine boards, and four assists, while Brandon Ingram managed 13 points on 15 shots. Corey Brewer, a Rocket last season before coming over to the Lakers at the trade deadline, scored 21 off the bench. James Harden went off for 51 points and nine assists in the loss, but the team missed Chris Paul down the stretch. He exited the game and headed to the locker room with 10 minutes left in the match and did not return......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2017

Kings rally in second half to top Embiid-less 76ers

By Aaron Bracy, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Zach Randolph scored 27 points and Buddy Hield added 24 to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 101-95 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Frank Mason III added 16 points for the Kings, who came back from a 16-point second-half deficit. Ben Simmons had 13 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for slumping Philadelphia, which lost for the seventh time in eight games while playing without center Joel Embiid for the second straight night due to a back injury. Robert Covington led the 76ers with 17 points. Embiid did not travel with the team to Chicago for Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) 117-115 loss to the Bulls. He was expected to play against the Kings on the second night of back-to-back games, but coach Brett Brown said the team’s medical staff advised him to keep the seven-foot center on the sideline. The injury has kept Embiid out for four of the last six games. Brown said Embiid’s back “is still a little bit sore.” Philadelphia looked out of sync without Embiid and Sacramento took advantage. Hield gave the Kings a 79-78 lead with a three-pointer with 9:48 remaining. Vince Carter made a full-court outlet pass to Garrett Temple for a layup that made it 92-86 Sacramento with 4:18 left. Carter made another crucial play down the stretch, hustling for an offensive rebound that led to Randolph’s jumper with 1:59 to play. Simmons answered with a driving basket that made it 96-92, but he couldn’t convert the free throw after being fouled and the rally fizzled from there. BROWN ON OKAFOR Jahlil Okafor, whom Philadelphia traded to Brooklyn earlier this month, made headlines in New York on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) for saying he was glad to be with an organization that had “an actual NBA coaching staff.” “Jahlil knows what we did here,” Brown said prior to Tuesday’s (Wednesday, PHL time) game against the Kings. “It’s a young person who gave a quote. ... I think everybody understands how we treat people here and the attention he received while he was here.” TIP-INS Kings: G George Hill (illness) did not play. ... Malachi Richardson had three points in 19 minutes after not playing Sunday (Monday, PHL time) due to an ankle injury. ... Randolph (rest) didn’t play in Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) 108-93 loss at Toronto. ... G De’Aaron Fox was back in the lineup after missing Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) game at Toronto due to a bruised right thigh, but he didn’t return after re-injuring it in the first half. He had two points in 11 minutes. 76ers: Embiid last played in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against Oklahoma City on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), finishing with 34 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the 76ers’ 119-117 triple-overtime loss. ... Prior to the game, the 76ers honored Philadelphia native and South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley. The Gamecocks play at Temple on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). ... J.J. Redick left after injuring his hamstring. He had eight points in 15 minutes. UP NEXT Kings: Finish four-game road trip at Brooklyn on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Sixers: Host Toronto on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) in the first game of a home-and-home series. Philadelphia will play at the Raptors on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 20th, 2017

The legend of Kobe Bryant s career

Five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. 33,570 points, third all time in NBA history. Eighteen All-Star selections. Fifteen All-NBA selections. Four All-Star MVPs. Two Finals MVPs. The 2007-08 regular season MVP. Together, those stats and accomplishments only begin to tell the legacy Kobe Bryant left both in the NBA and the basketball world at large. As the Los Angeles Lakers get ready to retire Bryant's No. 8 and No. 24 jersey on Dec. 18 (Dec. 19, PHL time), take a look back at some of the stories, videos and highlights from the best moments in Bryant's unique career. The Young Kobe * Quote history: Kobe arrives on the scene in L.A. * Quote history: Bryant's legacy begins in Lakerland * Aldridge: Bryant ends his career his way (Editor's note: Column is from 2015-16 season) VIDEO *  Kobe's debut in 1996 *  Kobe comes up short vs. Jazz in 1997 *  Top 10 plays from Kobe's rookie season *  Top 10 plays from Kobe's second season Three-peat time for Lakers * Quote history: Kobe, Phil, Shaq and the new-look Lakers * Quote history: A three-peat to remember in Los Angeles * Quote history: Unique (yet strained) Shaq-Kobe dynamic * Finals moments: Kobe takes over in Game of 2000 Finals * Aldridge: Bryant remembers his role as top bad guy to many fans (Editor's note: Column is from 2015-16 season) VIDEO *  Kobe's top 10 plays from 1999-2000 *  Kobe's top 10 plays from 2000-01 *  Kobe's top 10 plays from 2001-02 The 81-Point Game! * Quote history: A game like no other for Bryant * Even today, outburst still amazes Kobe himself VIDEO *  Every basket ... in 3 minutes *  Kobe 81: The morning of the game *  Kobe 81: Early signs pointed to a big night *  Kobe 81: In second half, 'things started getting crazy' *  Kobe 81: 'You get in a zone and stay there' *  Kobe 81: History made at Staples Center *  'I didn't know it would be that big' of a night *  Kobe tweets thoughts about game in 2013 *  Photographer recounts shooting 81-point game *  NBA stars of today reflect on Kobe's game *  Kobe drops 62 on Mavs in three quarters *  Kobe's top 10 plays from 2005-06 season Renewed glory & final lap *  Quote history: Championship days return for Lakers, Bryant *  Quote history: Injuries short circuit twilight of career *  Quote history: 'Our Michael Jordan' to a generation *  Lakers.com: Crunching numbers from Bryant's jersey history *  Aldridge: Final game a more than fitting finale for Bryant (Editor's note: Column is from 2015-16 season) *  Powell:  For a generation, Kobe was 'our Michael Jordan' VIDEOS *  Top 10 plays from Kobe's MVP season *  Relive Lakers' run to 2009 title *  Relive Lakers' run to 2010 title *  Kobe's best plays vs. every team *  All-Access: Ultimate look back at Bryant's career *  Kobe's best play from each of his All-Star Game appearances *  Final All-Star Game introduction *  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reads Kobe's retirement poem || Kareem's ode to Bryant *  Bryant reflects on amazing career *  Taking stock of Kobe's impact on NBA *  The Starters: What was Kobe's best moment? *  The Starters: Kobe's best dunk? *  The Starters: Kobe more memorable as No. 8 or No. 24? *  The Starters: Is Kobe a top-three all time Laker? *  LeBron, Curry, others bid adieu to Bryant *  Fans say farewell to their idol *  All-Access: Kobe's 60-point finale vs. Utah *  A farewell speech to remember *  Top 10 games in Kobe's career MORE KOBE VIDEOS TOP PLAYS *  Kobe's top 10 career-best plays *  Kobe's top 10 plays wearing No. 24 *  Kobe's top 10 plays wearing No. 8 *  Great playoff 3-pointers in Kobe's career *  Milestone baskets in Bryant's career *  More milestones: 25K points || 30K points || Youngest to 33K *  Best moments from Christmas Day games *  Four straight games of 50+ points in 2007 *  Kobe vs. MJ: Similarities and differences *  Through the years: Kobe vs. LeBron James *  Through the years: Kobe vs. the Celtics *  Through the years: Kobe vs. Michael Jordan *  The Starters: Top 10 games in Kobe's career *  The Starters: Kobe's best season? *  Best moments at Staples Center: In season || In NBA playoffs REFLECTING ON KOBE *  Shaquille O'Neal recalls Lakers heyday with Kobe *  Charles Barkley praises Kobe's career *  Reggie Miller reflects on Finals showdown with Kobe *  Inside The NBA: The legacy of Kobe *  Players around NBA reflect on Kobe *  Defending Kobe * Players reflect on facing Kobe * Derek Fisher shares four untold Kobe stories.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 18th, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Assessing aftermath of Paul George trade

NBA.com blogtable As Paul George returns to Indiana tonight for the first time since he was traded by the Pacers, who should be happier with how things have turned out: Pacers fans, or Paul George? * * * David Aldridge: Uh, Pacers fans. This isn't close right now, is it? PG-13 is miserable in OKC, which inexplicably hasn't been able to figure out how to win regularly yet with three All-Stars, each of whom should be considerably motivated to make it work with the other two guys. George may well have the last laugh if he walks to the Lakers next June, as most still suspect will happen. They have a young core that's promising, and he'll be back home. But Indy isn't a laughingstock, as I and most people thought it would be. Victor Oladipo (One DeMatha!) is having an All-Star season, and Domantas Sabonis looks like a 10-year guy at the the four. I was wrong about how bad the Pacers would be. Way wrong. Loud wrong. Stupid wrong. For now. Let's see where we are in March. Steve Aschburner: Paul George should be happier, even in the muck of the Thunder’s season so far. He’s on his way to what he really wants, which is a key role for the Los Angeles Lakers. Once his perfectly legitimate ambition became publicly known, his days as the Pacers’ best player and leader were over. So much so that I wrote at the time, the best move for all considered -- for George, for the Lakers, for the NBA -- would have been for Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to have done a deal in the summer. It’s not healthy for the league to have a star and a team pining away for each other from afar. But Indiana’s Kevin Pritchard pulled the trigger on the trade with OKC and that was OK. More than OK, given the play so far of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. But let’s not forget the fine years of service George gave to the folks in Indianapolis, and his desire to please extended to sometimes being too candid in interviews. It’s just too bad his journey home to California has to be a two-step process. Shaun Powell: The longer I watch the Thunder, I'm not sure what Paul George can be happy about. And of course, Pacers fans are elated with their team in the playoff mix (OK, it's early) and actually looking entertaining some nights. Victor Oladipo has turned out better than expected and has the floor to do what he wants, now that he doesn't answer to Russell Westbrook anymore. We should wait until summer to check the happy-meter of George, who could be moving on to another place in search of joy. John Schuhmann: I won't pretend to know how George feels. Maybe the Thunder's struggles, if they continue, will make it easier for him to choose a new team next summer. But he can't be happy with the results or the lack of chemistry in Oklahoma City. Pacers fans should surely be happy with how things have turned out. The Pacers have been a better team than the Thunder, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis (who were both clearly misused in OKC) have been terrific, there's more stability in Indiana, and there's still room for improvement. Myles Turner isn't yet the player he can be and Glenn Robinson III hasn't played all season. Of the 16 teams in playoff position, the Pacers are the biggest surprise. Sekou Smith: With the way Victor Oladipo is playing, Pacers fans have every reason to feel like happy heading into the Christmas holiday. The trade that looked so lopsided early in the summer looks like a smashing success for Kevin Pritchard and the rest of the franchise braintrust. It's not just Oladipo playing like an All-Star, though that's a huge part of it. It's Domantas Sabonis playing as solid as he has and the splendid chemistry this group has shown in coach Nate McMillan's second season at the helm. The Thunder haven't had an easy time transitioning George and Carmelo Anthony into a cohesive Big Three. But I'd caution Pacers fans to refrain from gloating too much tonight. There is still plenty of time left in this season. Be careful of celebrating prematurely. If the Pacers make the playoffs and Oladipo continues on his current trajectory, there will be plenty of time to rub in the faces of everyone who doubted things would turn out well in Indianapolis......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2017

Michael Carter-Williams remains optimistic after uneven start to career

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The 2013-14 home opener of the Philadelphia 76ers drew a large and hyper crowd for a game against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, not necessarily because of who was playing; actually, the object of the affection was someone who wasn’t. There he stood in baggy jeans, a jacket one size too big, a do-rag defiantly wrapped around his head and showing puppy eyes that lied about his image and age. Allen Iverson was approaching his 40s and uncomfortably retired. Based on his outfit, he couldn’t let go of yesterday. Nor could nostalgic Philly fans who applauded and shouted during a ceremony to honor the iconic former Sixer, who playfully cupped his ear with his hand to encourage the love. Then, something unexpected happened: Philly honored a second Sixers point guard that same night. Much like Iverson well before him, Michael Carter-Williams buzzed around the floor, getting buckets, attacking the rim, finding the open man and cutting off Miami passing lanes. If he couldn’t upstage Iverson, he certainly outdid LeBron by scoring 22 points with 12 assists, seven rebounds and nine steals in a Sixers’ upset win. It was his first game as a pro, with his misty-eyed family in the stands, with Iverson pumping a fist, with LeBron feeling flat, and the night felt surreal, dreamy, galactic. How could he or anyone not see that this was the beginning of something special? “A great night,” Carter-Williams recalled the other day. “I always wanted to play that way, against guys like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. After I had, like, seven points, my mom told someone that she’d be happy if the game ended right now.” That smash opening act led to the Kia Rookie of the Year award, which of course then led to a series of injuries, trades, bad fits, false starts, airballs, benchings and a failure to secure the kind of blockbuster contract that allows you to live XXL. Four years and four teams later, Carter-Williams is the backup point guard for the Charlotte Hornets with a career creeping down the path of the unknown, already sitting at the crossroads at age 26. This wasn’t a totally self-created spiral. His body betrayed him as much as his jump shot. He found himself trapped in situations that ranged from weird to woeful. He had the timing of a fake Rolex. An award-winning rookie was put through the NBA wringer and fell through the cracks and has now landed a few seats down the bench from Michael Jordan, although symbolically, he’s worlds away from the Hornets owner. Bitter? Angry? Confused? Yeah, just a bit. “It was tough, given the situations I’ve been in,” he said, “and the backlash I received wasn’t worthy or fair to what I’d been going through. I was in tough situations with injuries and being traded and it affected my performance on the floor. I got real low, with everybody asking, `What happened to him?’ It wasn’t right.” He’s on a one-year deal with the Hornets, which he hopes to leverage into security next summer in free agency, though the big-paycheck prospects are hardly encouraging so far. Still searching for durability with his body and respectability for his game, Carter-Williams is averaging 17.3 minutes in role-playing duty. And he’s once again haunted by his faulty shooting, now dragging at 27 percent, deadly for a guard. It’s a cautionary tale about fate and the curvy nature of pro sports, and about the 2013 NBA Draft, headlined by the one and only Anthony Bennett. From almost every conceivable measuring tool and metric, that class lurks as perhaps the quietest in NBA history. The only All-Star is Giannis Antetokounmpo, who went 15th, and he, Rudy Gobert and CJ McCollum are the only franchise cornerstones. Half of the top 10 are already on different teams. Another way to apply context is with money. Only Giannis, McCollum, Gobert, Otto Porter Jr. and Steven Adams received max contracts, and half of the top 10 didn’t see multi-year extensions. Several players sat on the free-agent market last summer for weeks and even months, collecting cobwebs as they nervously stared at a market that turned chilly a year after doling out millions. They begrudgingly settled for qualifying offers that amounted to pocket change: one year and $4 million for Nerlens Noel (the No. 6 pick), one year and $4.2 million for Alex Len (No. 5). The No. 9 pick and consensus college player of the year, Trey Burke, is playing for the Knicks. The Westchester Knicks of the G League. As a whole, that class was astonishingly light at the top, lacked any second-round surprises (besides Allen Crabbe) and quickly became a wash. And of course, the No. 1 pick is already out of the league. Bennett wasn’t even the consensus top choice prior to the Draft among NBA talent scouts, some of whom had Noel rated higher, even though Noel was coming off knee surgery. That said plenty about the class and also Bennett, who leveraged a decent stretch at UNLV to hear his name called first by Cleveland. That joy didn’t last long; Bennett was a hopeless ‘tweener at forward in his pitstop NBA career and instantly exposed for his lack of shooting and low-post grit. He quickly became a throw-in for the Kevin Love trade but couldn’t salvage his career in Minnesota, Toronto or Brooklyn. He currently plays for the Northern Arizona Suns in the G League. It’s a fate that the most celebrated rookie of that class hopes to avoid, and praying he isn’t running out of chances. Carter-Williams, the 11th pick, was consistent and steady that first season. A 6'6" guard who caused matchup problems and brought good vision and defensive instincts, he averaged 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.9 steals. He led all rookies in points, rebounds, assists and steals. Only Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson did that, although for the sake of context, Magic’s competition in his first year was fellow Hall of Famer Larry Bird, and Oscar came in with Hall of Famers Jerry West and Lenny Wilkens. Carter-Williams became the lowest-drafted player to win Rookie of the Year since Mark Jackson in 1987. But coming from that 2013 Draft, it was like winning a sack race without using a sack. After that, he was no longer blessed by the basketball gods; he still hasn’t matched the numbers or impact he had as a rookie. The Sixers were in the early stages of a crash-and-burn rebuilding philosophy managed by former GM Sam Hinkie. Rather than having the chance one day to throw lobs to Joel Embiid, who was drafted a year later but sat with a foot injury, Carter-Williams was dealt midway through his second season by Hinkie. Carter-Williams was exchanged right before the 2015 trade deadline for a package that included three picks (a first-rounder belonging to the Lakers is now property of the Celtics and unprotected for 2018). “Being traded was hard for me,” he said. “I didn’t see that coming. To this day, I still don’t understand it. I never got any answers and never went to ask for any. Of course I felt pretty bad but I was fine with it once I realized the situation I was going into — or thought I was going into.” He was in Milwaukee to be coached and tutored by Jason Kidd, one of the all-time great point guards. Carter-Williams gave Milwaukee a big backcourt with Khris Middleton and the Bucks had a long and lean starting five. He scored 30 against the Cavs and another 30 in his first game back in Philly, and in the playoffs went for 22 points and nine assists in a game against the Bulls. The next season he looked forward once again to feeding passes to Giannis, until Kidd had another idea: Giannis would take Carter-Williams’ position and do the feeding to others. Suddenly and once again, an ideal situation turned sour quickly for Carter-Williams, who couldn’t believe the sharp turn his career took. “I don’t know how to describe it,” he said about his relationship with Kidd. “We didn’t see eye to eye on different things. He was a great player but he hadn’t been coaching for that long and he was still learning. I learned from him but my expectations going there were high and it wasn’t the situation I thought I was going to be in.” On one hand, Kidd and Milwaukee put Carter-Williams out of his misery by trading him; on the other, Carter-Williams went to the struggling, chaotic Chicago Bulls, who were in the process of being stripped to the bone, at the start of the 2016-17 season. Once again, Carter-Williams was swept up by the winds of change and spit out. Not only did his teams change, so did the league, which gravitated to players and especially guards who brought shooting range and consistency. Then and now, that’s his biggest flaw. He’s a career 25-percent shooter from deep (just 40 percent overall), and in a three-point league, that’s a deal breaker. Also, injuries didn’t help. The last three years he has played only 165 out of 246 games due to shoulder, ankle and hip conditions. He needed platelet-rich injections in both knees last summer to quicken the healing process of his patella tendons. “He’s had some difficult injuries and it has clearly hampered his development,” said Jim Boeheim, his college coach at Syracuse. “Let me tell you, he knows how to play. He’s always been a good passer and defender. But the injuries, especially with the shoulder, have held him back in his shooting development. I told him to keep playing and hope the ball goes in.” Those circumstances both within and beyond his control have prevented Carter-Williams from cashing in. He was the first Rookie of the Year in NBA history to fail to have his rookie contract extended and is on a one-year deal with the Hornets for $2.7 million. “You know what? I’m in a good place now,” he said. “It took me a while to regroup and restart and resurface and get healthy, which I’m still trying to do. I’m still young and my game is still growing. I haven’t reached my potential. I still believe I’m a starter in this league. I’ll play a role right now, because that’s what my team needs to win, but I want to lead a team. “Each game I go out and play with a chip on my shoulder. I probably lost some respect from some guys in the league. But ultimately my goal is to make all the teams that gave up on me say, `We had him once.’ I’m going forward.” He’ll always have that opening night with Iverson leading the cheers, that near triple-double against LeBron, and that Rookie of the Year hardware. But that’s the thing, you see. After that launch, Michael Carter-Williams expected more. For one year, he was the king of that 2013 draft. Four years later, he’d rather not become a symbol of what that draft became. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2017

LOOK: Best plays in the NBA today

MANILA, Philippines – It’s a 4-game slate across the NBA today, December 8, and here are some of the day’s best plays.  Young guns were all over the place as seen here from the deserts of Phoenix, Arizona, where Suns rookie Josh Jackson gives “Polish Hammer” Marcin Gortat a taste of ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsDec 8th, 2017

Twin bill: Janine and Pilita

How's this for twinning? A few weeks ago, a vintage photo of a young chanteuse made netizens do a double take. Was that Asia's Queen of Song, Pilita Corrales, or her look-alike granddaughter, the equally lovely Janine Gutierrez? The legendary performer shared the stage with the promising actress at The Theatre at Solaire, in a recent concert, "An Evening With Pilita." Janine recalled that she was on pins and needles backstage. "I was so nervous before the show because my Mamita is such a force onstage," she explained. "But in reality, she's so sweet and gracious and makes everyone feel comfortable." Janine had a blast, performing as her Mamita during her Grand Opera House days. "I...Keep on reading: Twin bill: Janine and Pilita.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 23rd, 2017

Oladipo, defense shine in Pacers 105-87 victory over Bulls

CHICAGO -- Victor Oladipo scored 25 points, and the Indiana Pacers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 105-87 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. After giving up an average of 115 points during its losing streak, Indiana held the Bulls to 39.8 percent shooting in one of its stingiest defensive performance of the season. Bojan Bogdanovic made six 3-pointers and scored 22 points for the Pacers, and Thaddeus Young finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Bobby Portis led Chicago with 20 points and 11 rebounds in his second game of the season. Kris Dunn scored 16 points on 8-for-14 shooting, and rookie Lauri Markkanen had 12 points and 10 boards. Portis had 21 points and 13 rebounds in Tuesday night's 119-114 loss at Toronto. He was suspended for the first eight games of the season after he punched teammate Nikola Mirotic during a preseason practice. Oladipo, who was acquired in the offseason deal that sent All-Star Paul George to Oklahoma City, continued his strong start. The 25-year-old guard was 11 of 20 from the field and finished with six assists, six rebounds and two steals. TIP-INS Pacers: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Indianapolis is in contention to host the All-Star game in 2021. Silver was in Chicago for Friday's announcement that the city will host the 2020 All-Star game. ... Domantas Sabonis (calf) returned from a two-game absence with eight points and nine rebounds. It was just the fifth time this season Sabonis and fellow center Myles Turner were active in the same game. Sabonis, who also came over in the George trade, averaged 13.5 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to the injury. Bulls: Robin Lopez followed his 10-for-11 showing in Toronto by missing his first six shots against the Pacers. He finished with three points on 1-of-7 shooting. . Portis was greeted with mild applause in his first game at the United Center this season. PROPER PUNISHMENT Silver said the Bulls handled Portis' suspension for injuring Mirotic "the right way," and the league did not need to step in as a result. ENDORSEMENT FOR HOIBERG In a rare conversation with reporters following the All-Star game announcement, team president Michael Reinsdorf said he was happy with the direction of the Bulls' rebuild under coach Fred Hoiberg despite the team's 2-7 record coming into the day. "So far we're happy," Reinsdorf said. "When Zach (LaVine) comes back, that's going to be a big indication. Kris just came back from an injury. We have to see, but right now we're happy. The team is playing hard. Fred's got them playing hard. It's not going unnoticed." UP NEXT Pacers: Host Houston on Sunday. Bulls: At San Antonio on Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 11th, 2017

Pistons stay sharp, top Pacers 114-97

By Noah Trister, Associated Press DETROIT (AP) — Tobias Harris scored 23 points and the first-place Detroit Pistons won for the sixth time in seven games, beating the Indiana Pacers 114-97 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Andre Drummond added 14 points and 21 rebounds for the Pistons, who lead Cleveland by three games in the Central Division. Indiana lost its fourth straight. Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 21 points, but Indiana has allowed at least 100 points in 10 of 12 games this season. The Pacers were without injured big man Domantas Sabonis. Detroit led 59-52 at halftime, and after the Pacers fought back to tie the game at 65, the Pistons went on a 13-0 run to take control. Harris made a three-pointer to put Detroit ahead by 11, and Drummond capped that streak with a putback that he made despite being hit in the face by Indiana's Thaddeus Young. Drummond was momentarily shaken up but played on. It was 82-75 after three quarters, then the Pistons scored eight straight points to start the fourth, including three-pointers by Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver. COMEBACK The Pistons trailed 33-22 early in the second quarter, making this their fourth comeback victory of the season from a double-digit deficit. Drummond and Avery Bradley both picked up two fouls in the first 5:31, which contributed to Detroit's slow start. The Pistons outscored Indiana 37-22 in the second and turned their deficit into a halftime lead. TIP-INS Pacers: Sabonis sat out a second straight game with a bruised right calf. ... Al Jefferson scored 19 points and Young added 16. Pistons: F Stanley Johnson (right hip flexor strain) did not play. ... Drummond, whose free throw shooting had improved dramatically this season, went 0-for-7 from the line. UP NEXT Pacers: At the Chicago Bulls on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Pistons: Host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 9th, 2017

Time na niya mag-champion : Joshua Pacio proud of training buddy Danny Kingad

A little over a year ago, ONE Championship strawweight contender Joshua Pacio got the biggest opportunity of his young career so far, when he challenged champion Yoshitaka Naito after just two fights under the ONE banner.  And while Pacio ultimately fell short in his first shot at world title gold, it was still invaluable experience for the 21-year old.  Helping Pacio every step of the way was his close friend and Team Lakay training partner Danny Kingad, who said that he too hopes to walk the same path. "Siya yung partner ko palagi, kaya gusto ko din na maging ganun, tulad ni Joshua, kaya pinag-iigian ko lagi yung training." Kingad said in an interview back in November of 2016.  ("He's always my training partner, that's why I want to be like that, like Joshua. That's why I'm always doing my best in training.") Fast forward about a year later, and Kingad finds himself in nearly the exact same situation.  After just three fights under the ONE Championship banner, the 21-year old Kingad will be facing his biggest test so far in his young career when he challenges reigning flyweight champion Adriano Moraes at ONE: Legends of the World at the Mall of Asia Arena, Friday. This time around, it's Pacio who's doing the supporting and the cheering.  While the two Team Lakay young guns are around the same age, Pacio as a bit more experience, and he knows about the pressures of challenging for the top prize in the game. "Of course, against kay Moraes, co-main event siya, may pressure, lalo na’t dito sa Pilipinas, talagang may pressure yun." Pacio shared with the media. "Pero sinasabi ko nga, pag lumalabas na siya papunta sa cage, hindi na niya maiisip yung pressure kasi maiisip niya, time na niya yun," ("Of course, against Moraes in the co-main event, there's going to be pressure. Especially since the fight's going to be in the Philippines. But I keep telling him, once he walks out to the cage, he won't be feeling the pressure because he'll be thinking that this is his time.") Pacio has nothing but faith in his training partner.  "Alam ko time na niya maging champion." he added.  ("I know that it's his time to become champion.") Kingad's title shot comes somewhat as a surprise, especially after the Team Lakay flyweight had back-to-back fight cancellations.  In the end however, the wait was worth it for Kingad and camp, as it opened up an even bigger opportunity.  Joshua couldn't be any happier for his Team Lakay brother.  "Proud na proud ako kasi kaibigan ko siya, dalawang beses na-cancel yung laro niya, grabe yung training namin dun, tapos napunta lang sa wala yung training namin. Ngayon worth it naman kahit hindi natuloy yung dalawa, kasi title shot naman." ("I'm really proud because he's my friend. His fight got cancelled twice, and we trained so hard for those fights, but it was for nothing. Now, it's all worth it, because while those two fights got cancelled, he ended up getting a title shot anyway.") If all goes according to plan, Kingad could become the third ONE world champion that Team Lakay has produced, joining former featherweight champ Honorio Banario and current reigning lightweight champion Eduard Folayang.    Danny Kingad challenges Adriano Moraes for the ONE Flyweight World Championship at ONE: Legends of the World on Friday,  November 10th at the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City, Philippines.  Catch the action LIVE starting at 8:30 PM on S+A channel 23! .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 8th, 2017

Gilas point of contention

Two veterans, two young guns to figure in.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 6th, 2017

From rido to riches: Buldon town transitions from conflict zone to investment zone

BULDON, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 29 October) — In 1998, a young man walked across the pitch-black night with nothing in sight but the flicker of blazing muzzles of guns firing. He lit his torch made of dried coconut leaves so that the warring families can recognize him. Though nervous, he got himself in their midst […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanewsRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2017