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PSG returns to French league comfort zone with 5-2 home win

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated PRess PARIS (AP) — After falling short in the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain returned to its French league comfort zone and beat Strasbourg 5-2 on Saturday. Edinson Cavani netted twice, and Julian Draxler, Angel Di Maria, and Neymar also scored to ensure PSG stayed 12 points clear of second-place Monaco at the top. But not without a fright. Strasbourg took the lead in the sixth minute and pulled back to 3-2 as PSG continued to show alarming signs of weakness at the back. Strasbourg had a late goal incorrectly ruled out for offside after PSG's defense was again easily breached, although it was already 5-2 by then. PSG lost at Real Madrid 3-1 on Wednesday in the first leg of the last 16. The way PSG capitulated by giving away two late goals heaped pressure on coach Unai Emery over his team selection. "The atmosphere was a bit tense. That's normal," Cavani said. "We have to look forward now. We played well today, although at times we could have been better." Emery was booed by sections of the home crowd when his name was announced over the loudspeaker before the game. Later, Cavani stopped short of giving Emery his personal backing when asked if the under-fire coach has the full support of the players. "We're a team and big teams stick together in the important moments," Cavani said. "That's the only way you can win." Strasbourg beat PSG at home in December, and stunned the crowd at Parc des Princes by taking the lead when midfielder Jean-Eudes Aholou was left completely unmarked near the penalty spot. PSG hit back hard and was 3-1 up after 23 minutes thanks to Draxler, Di Maria and Neymar's 19th in 19 league games. Stephane Bahoken scored against PSG for the second time this season after a quick counterattack. Strasbourg poured forward but the hope didn't last for long. Cavani gave PSG some breathing space with an assured finish in the 72nd, clipping the ball over goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja, then lobbed him for his league-leading 23rd goal. "It was important to win after Wednesday's match. We have to get our fans ready for the games to come against Marseille (next weekend) and Real Madrid," Emery said. "We have to show we can maintain this level of play against better sides, with all due respect to Strasbourg." To celebrate Chinese New Year, PSG players' names were written in Mandarin on the back of their shirts and a Chinese dragon paraded around the pitch. PSG says it has 1.3 million Chinese followers. In order to better serve the soccer market in Asia, the league match between Nice and PSG on March 18 has been moved forward to 1 p.m. local time (1200 GMT). Marseille players will also have their names in Mandarin for Sunday's home game against Bordeaux at Stade Velodrome. Marseille recently launched an account on Chinese social media site Weibo. ___ OTHER MATCHES Striker Giovanni Sio's second-half equalizer gave Montpellier the point it needed to take fifth place after drawing with Guingamp 1-1. Two goals from newly signed striker Diafra Sakho gave Rennes a 2-2 draw at Caen, which missed two penalties. Saint-Etienne won at Angers 1-0, Troyes beat last-place Metz 1-0, and Amiens drew with Toulouse 0-0 in another relegation scrap. In Sunday's other games, fourth-place Lyon goes to Lille, and Nice hosts Nantes......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnFeb 18th, 2018

Neymar s mouth bloodied between 2 goals in PSG rout of Nice

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Neymar took a whack to the face, played on with cotton tissue in his bloodied mouth, and grabbed his second goal as Paris Saint-Germain won at Nice 3-0 in the French league on Saturday. The Brazil forward was caught by Wylan Cyprien's flailing arm as they contested the ball near the hour mark of an otherwise one-sided contest. Cyprien was sent off for a second yellow card, and Neymar sat down for a while and had a little blood wiped from his mouth with a sponge. He got up and carried on, playing for several minutes as he ran around with the makeshift plaster device protruding from his mouth. Neymar had already done damage of his own to Nice, expertly curling PSG in front midway through the first half from the edge of the penalty area. The ball fizzed past goalkeeper Walter Benitez before he could react and lodged in the bottom right corner. That was enough for league leader PSG's eighth straight win. France star Kylian Mbappe returned from a three-game ban and was desperate to score for PSG, but too much so. He fluffed a good chance right at the start of the second half by taking too many touches. After his shot was blocked near the line, attacking midfielder Christopher Nkunku stroked in the rebound to make it 2-0. PSG has struggled in the past at Nice, which always reserves a vitriolic welcome, but should have scored several more. When Neymar eventually got the third goal, it was in the second minute of injury time as Mbappe set him up for an easy tap-in. With seven goals, Neymar is one ahead of Marseille winger Florian Thauvin at the top of the scoring chart. There seems no stopping PSG in the French league: It has 27 goals and counting. PSG is the second French side to win its first eight games after Lille in 1936, and victory at home to Lyon next weekend will be a record. LYON STUMBLES Lyon missed the chance to overtake local rival Saint-Etienne and move up to second place after drawing at home to Nantes 1-1. United States defender Matt Miazga looked horrified when a penalty was given against him with 10 minutes left. He was shown a yellow card for holding back Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar following a video review. Miazga was irate but then relieved, as Lyon forward Nabil Fekir's penalty was well saved by Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu. Aouar gave Lyon the lead midway through the first half and midfielder Gabriel Boschilia leveled in the 62nd. OTHER GAMES Alsace-based Strasbourg beat Dijon 3-0 at home, while Caen defeated Amiens 1-0. Brittany side Guingamp lost its first six games but has four points from two games after winning at Angers 1-0. Reims drew at home to Bordeaux 0-0. SUNDAY'S MATCHES Marseille can claim second place with a win at Lille, while Montpellier hosts Nimes in a tense derby. Rennes needs a home win against Toulouse to pull away from the relegation zone......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2018

Draw of another title lights postseason path of Warriors

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 8th, 2018

US leagues are on the verge of going international

By Paul Newberry, Associated Press An NFL team in London? Count on it. An NBA franchise in Mexico City? Yep, that's coming too. What was once a pipe dream — major-league teams based in cities outside the United States and Canada — is now just a matter of time. The aforementioned cities are the ones most likely to break through first, but others will surely follow when everyone sees how much potential revenue is there for the taking. "The market is saturated in the U.S.," said Gil Fried, a professor and chair of sports management at the University of New Haven. "They need to find new markets." The NFL has been trying for years to make inroads in Europe — especially London — and those efforts were turned up to full blast by revelations that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is attempting to buy Wembley Stadium, a 90,000-seat, state-of-the-art venue known the world over. Khan brushed off the obvious speculation that this is the first step toward moving the Jaguars to London — where they already have been playing "home" games since 2013 — but didn't exactly provide a resounding vote of confidence for Jacksonville, one of the smallest markets in the NFL. "The first thing you want with certainty is you want a venue," he said. "And this gives us a stadium solution, for us or anyone else." In other words, better get used to calling his team the London Jaguars. "Shad Khan's purchase of Wembley Stadium portends that a substantive NFL presence in London, and ultimately a franchise, is inevitable," said Vince Benigni, a professor of sports communication at the College of Charleston. The NBA, which last expanded in 2004, is looking to get the jump on Mexico City, a sprawling metropolis of more than 20 million people that opened an NBA-ready arena in 2012. That facility hosted a pair of NBA regular-season games each of the last two seasons , drawing an average of more than 20,000 fans. "You can feel it, you can smell it, you can breathe it in the streets." said Gilberto Hernández, president of the Mexican Basketball Federation. "They're just craving basketball." Of course, there are a number of challenges that must be addressed before international expansion becomes a reality — especially so for Mexico City, which is 7,350 feet above sea level (more than 2,000 feet higher than Denver), is plagued by crime and economic-disparity issues, and might have trouble signing top players who are reluctant to step outside their cultural comfort zone. But the appeal is enormous. "It's the largest city in the Western Hemisphere," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. "It's part of a 130 million-person country. There's a very strong, passionate Mexican-American fan base in the United States. This is also a potential gateway for all of Latin America." The NHL first floated the prospect of a European division in the late 1960s. Detroit Red Wings owner Bruce Norris was so fixated on the idea that he launched his own team, the London Lions, who played a 72-game schedule against top European teams in 1973-74. Unfortunately, the Lions never had a league of their own, so the team quietly disbanded after that single season, leaving behind nothing more than a cool logo . Over the last two decades, the NHL has scheduled regular-season contests in Europe and Japan, including two games in Stockholm this past November. The Asian market also remains a top priority, especially heading into the 2022 Olympics in Beijing — though the league sent mixed signals by refusing to send its players to this year's Winter Games in South Korea. For the NHL and the NBA, the enormous travel times between North America and either Europe or Asia remain the biggest obstacle to adding teams in those markets. Unless some sort of supersonic transportation becomes available, it would simply be too difficult to incorporate such faraway cities as London and Tokyo into an 82-game schedule, which requires teams to play games all through the week and sometimes on back-to-back days. Also working against European expansion: the lack on U.S.-quality arenas (even the most modern facilities generally lack the size and amenities to generate as much revenue as their American counterparts) and established basketball and hockey leagues in many countries would surely object to the NBA or NHL coming in to steal their limelight. For the NFL, the challenges aren't nearly so daunting, and the potential rewards could be even greater for a league that has faced declining TV ratings and lots of bad publicity about the devastating physical toll on its players. There are no major pro football leagues in Europe. Teams play only once a week, generally on Sunday, and the entire regular-season schedule is just 16 games. A team in London would have to make the cross-Atlantic trek no more than eight times a year, and the demands could be lessened by scheduling back-to-back road games, halving the number of long-range roundtrips. A London team could even maintain its base of operations in the U.S., essentially playing all its games on the road but perhaps making it easier to sign players in free agency and cope with legal issues and currency fluctuations. Travel would not be a concern for a Mexican team. The NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball have all played regular-season games south of the border — next weekend, in fact, the Los Angeles Dodgers will meet the San Diego Padres in a three-game series at Monterrey . MLB seems the most logical candidate to launch a Mexican team, given baseball's popularity and the large number of Latin American players in the majors, but the NBA is leading the way. Silver wants to put a G League development team in Mexico City, testing the waters for a possible NBA franchise. "As we look down the road, frankly, to see whether there can be an opportunity to even dream about an NBA franchise here in Mexico City, we believe it makes sense as a first step to have a development league team here to work out some of the issues, to better understand what it would mean to have a team in Mexico," Silver said. There are still plenty of questions to answer, that's for sure. But one is crystal clear. Are U.S. leagues going international? No doubt about it......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

Referee takes retribution on player as PSG wins 1-0

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — A bizarre foul committed by the referee overshadowed Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 win on Sunday at Nantes which moved the leaders 11 points clear at the top of the French league. In a highly unusual end to the game, referee Tony Chapron sent off Nantes center half Diego Carlos in the last minute — although the official was the culprit. Carlos was running behind Chapron near the halfway line and trying to catch up with play when he inadvertently clipped the referee's heels as their paths crossed. Chapron tumbled forward onto the turf and then, in what appeared to be a blatant act of retribution, swiped his right leg at Carlos. An irate Chapron got up and brandished a second yellow card for Carlos. "I know it's a difficult job to referee, but they must also have to ask questions of themselves," Nantes midfielder Valentin Rongier said on Canal Plus television. "If we do that it goes before a (disciplinary) commission and we get 10 games (suspension)." There is little suspense in the league with PSG dropping only seven points from a possible 60. Defending champion Monaco is in second place, level on points with Lyon, but neither seemingly has the caliber to pressure PSG by going on a lengthy winning run. Even without playing its usual scintillating football, PSG was able to scrape past a lackluster Nantes side coached by Claudio Ranieri. He guided Leicester City to the 2015-16 English Premier League title in one of the biggest upsets in soccer history, but Nantes remains in fifth place and does not seem to have enough flair to go higher. Angel Di Maria scored in the 12th minute with the home defense slow to react. Kylian Mbappe left striker Edinson Cavani's probing pass go through his legs and the unmarked Di Maria toe-poked the ball into the left corner. It was his third league goal of the season and followed his brace last Sunday in the French Cup. PSG carved Nantes open with a swift counterattacking move late in the first half, but Di Maria blazed over an open goal after midfielder Adrien Rabiot set him up perfectly. Nantes striker Emiliano Sala thought he had equalized in the 60th when he headed powerfully home from a free-kick but it was harshly ruled out for offside. There was no VAR to validate the goal, even though television replays showed Sala was level with Cavani when he made his run into the area. Cavani needed just one more goal to move level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as PSG's all-time leading scorer on 156. He could get the record at home to Dijon on Wednesday. ___ LYON STUMBLES Lyon wasted a chance to move up to second place after being held 1-1 at home by relegation-threatened Angers. Lyon equalizer through top scorer Nabil Fekir. But Angers was hanging on after having midfielder Flavien Tait sent off in the 84th minute. Third-place Lyon is one point ahead of Marseille in fourth. It was a precious point for Angers, moving it up to 18th — the relegation playoff spot. Lyon fell behind to striker Karl Toko Ekambi's penalty kick in the 14th minute. He jogged up casually with a staggered run-up, and stroked the ball to the left as goalkeeper Anthony Lopes guessed the wrong way. Toko Ekambi has 10 league goals and his performances have caught the eye. He has been linked with a move to the Premier League in this month's transfer window, which could damage Angers' chances of staying up. Two minutes after the break, Fekir opened up the defense with a superb piece of skill — dragging the ball back and then flicking it through the legs of a defender. The ball rolled toward forward Maxwell Cornet but Fekir sprinted alongside him and drilled it into the bottom corner. It was Fekir's 14th league goal of the season in a career-best tally. He is expected to make a big-money move to a top club in the summer. ___ MOVING CLEAR Saint-Etienne moved away from the relegation zone after beating fellow struggler Toulouse 2-0. Slovenia striker Robert Beric scored his first goal of the season from the penalty spot moments before halftime. Senegalese midfielder Assane Diousse got his first for the club when he sealed the win in the 86th minute. Saint-Etienne moved up to 14th place. Toulouse is 19th and the pressure is increasing on coach Pascal Dupraz......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2018

Atlanta s Matt Ryan aims for happy homecoming in Philly

By Rob Maaddi, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Quarterback Matt Ryan has another shot at a happy homecoming. A berth in the NFC championship game is at stake when Ryan leads the Atlanta Falcons (11-6) against the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) in a divisional playoff Saturday. Ryan, who grew up rooting for the Eagles and went to Philadelphia's William Penn Charter School, is 1-3 at the Linc. "I'm used to it now," Ryan said about returning home. "Playing as long as I have, I understand regardless of where we play you have to be at your best every week. The one nice part is there will be a lot of familiar faces, friendly faces after the game, which is always nice." Ryan had his worst game of his MVP season last year in Atlanta's 24-15 loss in Philly on Nov. 13, 2016. He was 18 of 33 for 267 yards with one touchdown and one interception. "Obviously, there will be some scheme from that game that we'll take, what went well and what didn't go well and try to improve on that," Ryan said. "We're a different team than we were last year when we played them and they're a different team. It will be some carry over, but it will be a little bit different." Here's some things to watch for when the teams meet in the playoffs for the first time since Philadelphia's win over Michael Vick's Falcons in the 2005 NFC championship game: NICK'S UP: Nick Foles makes his fourth start since replacing Carson Wentz after the MVP candidate tore his ACL in Week 14. Foles played well in his first five quarters and struggled in the next five. He's certainly a dropoff from Wentz, but he's also capable of spectacular performances. Wentz once tossed seven TDs in a game in 2013. He had four TDs in his first start in Week 15. "There's enough substance behind his career that merits having confidence," Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. 'NORTHEAST' NOISE: There's crowd noise, and then there's the noise generated by Philadelphia fans known for their intensity. Falcons coach Dan Quinn seemed to search for a polite term to compare Eagles fans with the fans the team heard in last week's wild-card win at the Los Angeles Rams. "I'm not going to say more passionate, but I would say more Northeast," Quinn said with a smile. The Falcons have pumped in artificial noise in practice this week but will lean heavily on Ryan and center Alex Mack to use their experience with silent counts and hand signals. "That's huge," said tight end Levine Toilolo. "That's where it all starts, coming off the ball, the cadence and stuff like that. We definitely work on that every week. Their fans, we're expecting a loud crowd in a big playoff game." Mack said he expects Philadelphia's fans "to be really dedicated, really loud, really involved. So it's going to be a challenge just in terms of crowd noise." COMFORT ZONE: After leading the league in scoring in 2016, the Falcons finished the regular season 15th with first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Atlanta averaged 22.1 points per game, down from 33.8 last season. Ryan says he has become more comfortable with Sarkisian, especially the last two weeks in wins over Carolina and the Rams. "I think Sark has done a great job of finding who we are week to week, specifically the last two weeks I think he's done a great job," Ryan said. STOPPING JULIO: The Eagles had some success against Julio Jones in their win last year, keeping him out of the end zone but allowing 10 catches for 135 yards. Jalen Mills held him to four catches for 48 yards when he was matched up against Jones. The second-year pro is confident he can contain Jones again. Ronald Darby will have to cover Jones when he's on his side. "You have to think the ball is coming to him each and every play," Mills said. "Whether they're having a run or a pass play, you've just got to think the ball is coming to him." MULTIPLE BACKS: Both teams have options in the backfield. The Falcons are led by Devonta Freeman, who had 865 yards rushing and seven TDs. Tevin Coleman had 628 yards rushing and five TDs. LeGarrette Blount led the Eagles with 766 yards rushing and scored two TDs. Jay Ajayi had 873 yards rushing and one TD combined with the Dolphins and Eagles. He ran for 130 yards against Atlanta in Miami's win on Oct. 15. ___ AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2018

Neymar, Mbappe score as leader PSG wins 4-1 at Rennes

PARIS (AP) — The world's two most expensive soccer stars both scored as Paris Saint-Germain restored its nine-point lead in the French league with a 4-1 win at Rennes on Saturday. Brazil forward Neymar scored twice and turned provider for Kylian Mbappe and striker Edinson Cavani, while Mbappe set up both of Neymar's goals. Neymar put PSG ahead in the fourth minute, turning in Mbappe's cross from the right. Roles were reversed when teenage star Mbappe then netted from Neymar's cross in the 17th. Neymar and Mbappe joined in the summer transfer window, with PSG paying Barcelona a world record 222 million euros ($262 million). Mbappe, who turns 19 next Wednesday, joined from defending champion Monaco in a deal worth 180 million euros ($216 million). Rennes pulled a goal back early in the second half through striker Firmin Mubele, but then had influential midfielder Benjamin Andre sent off in the 63rd minute for a second yellow card following a late challenge on center back Presnel Kimpembe, who was also sent off late on. Andre's red card prompted an angry reaction from Rennes coach Sabri Lamouchi, who argued with referee Antony Gautier. PSG profited from the extra man to make it 3-1 when Cavani ran onto Neymar's pass to brilliantly flick the ball over goalkeeper Tomas Koubek in the 75th for his league-leading 18th goal of the season. A minute later Cavani released Mbappe down the right, he crossed quickly, and Neymar slid in at the back post to grab his 11th of the season. PSG was ruthless in attack but its poor defending — which had also been seen in a recent 2-1 loss at Strasbourg — let Rennes back into the game in the 53rd. From a corner, midfielder Morgan Amalfitano was left unmarked and his header hit the front post. The ball rolled across the goal and presented Mubele with a tap-in. Kimpembe was sent off in the 89th. He was beaten by a pass played behind him and clumsily chopped down midfielder James Lea Siliki. But winger Wahbi Khazri blazed the penalty over the top. Second-place Monaco won 4-0 at Saint-Etienne on Friday night. ___ OTHER MATCHES Despite having one of the smallest budgets in Ligue 1, Strasbourg is up to seventh place after beating Toulouse 2-1 at home. Midfielder Jonas Martin and center half Kader Mangane scored either side of an equalizer from winger Max-Alain Gradel. Striker Wesley Said netted twice as Dijon climbed up to eighth place by beating 18th-place Lille 3-0, with all the goals in the first half. Mid-table Caen and Guingamp drew 0-0. Troyes moved further away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 home win against Amiens. Last-place Metz secured a rare success by winning 3-1 at Montpellier. ___ SUNDAY'S GAMES Third-place Lyon plays at fourth-place Marseille on Sunday night, with both sides three points behind Monaco. Also, fifth-place Nantes takes on Angers, and Nice hosts Bordeaux......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 17th, 2017

49ers earn first win of the season, top Giants

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — C.J. Beathard threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score to lead the San Francisco 49ers to their first win of the season, 31-21 over the New York Giants on Sunday. Beathard connected on an 83-yard TD to Marquise Goodwin and a 47-yarder to Garrett Celek in the second quarter as the 49ers (1-9) took advantage of another listless effort by the Giants (1-8) to win for the first time under coach Kyle Shanahan. Beathard's time as starting quarterback in San Francisco figures to be numbered after the team acquired Jimmy Garoppolo two weeks ago in trade from New England. Garoppolo has been learning the offense and could take over when the team returns from the bye in two weeks. While the Niners could be making a quarterback change soon, this performance will only heighten the questions about whether the Giants will need to change coaches. Ben McAdoo has been under fire after a report this past week from ESPN that quoted an anonymous player as saying the players have given up on the season and don't view McAdoo as a leader. The Giants have not fired a coach during the season since 1976 when Bill Arnsparger was let go after a 0-7 start and replaced by John McVay. FALCONS 27, COWBOYS 7 ATLANTA (AP) — Adrian Clayborn set an Atlanta record with six sacks, Matt Ryan threw a pair of short touchdown passes and the Falcons romped to victory over Dallas. The Cowboys looked anemic offensively in their first game without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott. Ryan hooked up with Justin Hardy on a 3-yard pass for Atlanta's first offensive touchdown in the third quarter this season. Early in the fourth, Ryan put the game away for the Falcons (5-4) by tossing one to Austin Hooper for a 1-yard score. While the Cowboys (5-4) sure missed Elliott, who finally began serving a six-game suspension for allegations of domestic abuse after three legal reprieves, they really noticed the absence of left tackle Tyron Smith. He sat out the game with back and groin injuries, leaving third-year player Chaz Green to protect Dak Prescott's blind side. It didn't go well for Dallas. Beating Green time after time, Clayborn forced two fumbles, recovered one of them and surpassed the team record of five sacks, held by Chuck Smith and Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey. Even more impressively, Clayborn's performance matched the second-most sacks in NFL history. RAMS 33, TEXANS 7 LOS ANGELES (AP) — Robert Woods caught two of Jared Goff's three touchdown passes during a dominant third quarter, and surging Los Angeles returned after a month away from home for their fourth straight victory, 33-7 over depleted Houston. After struggling to a 9-7 lead during a quiet first half for the NFL's highest-scoring team, the Rams (7-2) ran away with a series of big throws by Goff, who passed for a career-high 355 yards. Woods caught a 94-yard TD pass to break it open before Sammy Watkins and Woods made TD catches 19 seconds apart late in the third quarter. The Rams defense shut out Houston in the second half and won at the Coliseum for just the third time in 11 games since returning to Los Angeles last season. Woods finished with eight catches for 171 yards, making the longest catch of his NFL career before following it up with a 12-yard TD. Bruce Ellington caught a 26-yard TD pass for the Texans (3-6), who have lost three straight and four of five. Tom Savage passed for 221 yards with two interceptions for Houston, which lost its second straight since losing rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season with a knee injury. SAINTS 47, BILLS 10 ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Mark Ingram scored a career-best three touchdowns and New Orleans won its seventh straight game by plowing through a porous Buffalo defense. Alvin Kamara also had a 3-yard touchdown rushing as the Saints blew the game open by scoring five times on their first six possessions, not including a one-play series to close the first half. Ingram finished with 131 yards rushing. He scored twice from 3 yards and again on a 1-yard plunge. The Saints finished with 298 yards rushing and 32 first downs. Their defense was just as dominating in limiting Buffalo to 198 yards and 10 first downs. And five of those first downs came on Buffalo's meaningless final drive that ended with backup quarterback Nathan Peterman hitting Nick O'Leary on a 7-yard touchdown pass. New Orleans set a franchise record by scoring six touchdowns rushing, and it marked the most allowed by Buffalo in team history. Even Saints quarterback Drew Brees got involved in the run of rushing touchdowns by scrambling in from 6 yards in the final minute of the third quarter. Trey Edmunds capped the scoring with a 41-yard touchdown run. The Saints never punted, the only thing to stop them was tight end Josh Hill losing a fumble at the Buffalo 9 in the first quarter. The Saints (7-2) haven't lost since dropping their first two games and matched their longest winning streak since closing the 2011 season 8-0. New Orleans has already matched its win total from each of the past three seasons. The Bills (5-4) simply unraveled in losing their second straight and dropping to 4-1 at home. STEELERS 20, COLTS 17 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger's 32-yard completion to Antonio Brown with 35 seconds set up a 33-yard field goal from Chris Boswell as time expired. The Steelers (7-2) have won four straight overall and five in a row in the series. But it sure wasn't easy as the Colts (3-7) held Roethlisberger, Brown and Le'Veon Bell in check. Pittsburgh needed two second-half TD passes from Roethlisberger to fight its way out of a 17-3 third-quarter deficit. And Roethlisberger reverted to his traditional form on the Steelers' final possession. The two -time Super Bowl champion methodically marched the Steelers 70 yards in the final 3 minutes, 10 seconds to give Pittsburgh its only lead. Roethlisberger was 19 of 31 for 236 yards with one interception. Bell had 26 carries for 80 yards and Brown, the league's leading receiver, caught three passes for 47 yards. VIKINGS 38, REDSKINS 30 LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Case Keenum threw touchdowns to four different receivers to build a big lead, and the NFC North-leading Vikings won their fifth in a row. With Teddy Bridgewater active for the first time since January 2016 after a devastating knee injury, Keenum was 21 of 29 for 304 yards and TD passes to Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, David Morgan and Jarius Wright. He was picked off on consecutive throws by D.J. Swearinger. Thielen had eight catches for a season-high 166 yards. Latavius Murray also ran for a score as five players got into the end zone for Minnesota (7-2), which was 8 of 12 on third downs. The Vikings won their first game out of the bye week for the second time in eight seasons as they try to avoid a repeat of the swoon that cost them a playoff spot last season. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins had three TDs — two rushing and one passing — and was 26 of 45 for 327 yards with an interception. The Redskins (4-5) failed to build off an upset victory at Seattle and now find themselves on an uphill climb in the wild-card race. PACKERS 23, BEARS 16 CHICAGO (AP) — Brett Hundley threw for 212 yards and a touchdown, Nick Perry had three sacks and the Packers snapped a three-game losing streak. Hundley, starting his third game for an injured Aaron Rodgers, threw a 17-yard touchdown to Davante Adams to make it 23-13 with 5:29 to play, and the Packers (5-4) hung on to beat the Bears (3-6) for the eighth time in nine games. It was the first victory for a Packers QB not named Rodgers or Brett Favre since 1989. Chicago's Mitchell Trubisky threw for a career-high 297 yards. The rookie hit Josh Bellamy for a 46-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, but the Bears dropped their second in a row after winning back-to-back games. The win was Green Bay's first since a narrow victory at Dallas on Oct. 8. A week later, Rodgers got driven to the turf by the Vikings' Anthony Barr in a loss at Minnesota week and the Packers haven't been the same since then. Hundley completed 18 of 25 passes to help the Packers win their eighth straight at Soldier Field counting the playoffs. TITANS 24, BENGALS 20 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Marcus Mariota tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray with 36 seconds left , and the Titans rallied for their fourth consecutive victory. It's the longest winning streak for the Titans (6-3) since takin five straight in 2009, and it's their best start to a season since 2008 when the Titans last reached the playoffs as the AFC's No. 1 seed. Murray ran for two touchdowns, and Mariota finished with 264 yards passing. The Bengals (3-6) lost for the third time in four games despite sacking Mariota four times. They started with three defensive starters scratched and lost a fourth when linebacker Vontaze Burfict was ejected in the second quarter after pushing the arm of an official. Cincinnati took its only lead at 20-17 on a 70-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green with 5:03 left, but the Bengals couldn't stop the Titans, who drove 73 yards for the winning TD. JAGUARS 20, CHARGERS 17, OT JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Josh Lambo kicked a 30-yard field goal with 3:12 remaining in overtime, lifting the Jaguars in a wild game. Lambo's kick got tipped at the line of scrimmage and still cleared the crossbar. The former soccer player and one-time Charger ran the other way and slid on both knees near midfield before getting mobbed by teammates. It gave Jacksonville its first three-game winning streak since 2013. The game ended up in overtime after a wacky final two minutes of regulation that included a fumble, two interceptions, a taunting penalty and a costly flag for roughing the passer. At times, it looked as if neither team wanted to win. After all the chaos, Lambo drilled a 34-yard field goal to send it to the extra period. After Jacksonville punted, A.J. Bouye intercepted a pass from Philip Rivers on third down and returned it to the 2-yard line. But a taunting call on cornerback Aaron Colvin pushed the Jaguars (6-3) back 15 yards. Lambo hit the winner a few plays later. The Chargers are 3-6. LIONS 38, BROWNS 24 ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Matthew Stafford lofted a 29-yard, tiebreaking touchdown to Eric Ebron early in the fourth quarter and the Lions went on to beat the winless Browns. The Lions (5-4) rallied from first- and second-half deficits to earn consecutive victories for the first time since winning the first two games this season. The Browns, who fell to 0-9 on the season, led 10-0 early in the game for their first double-digit lead of the season, and were up 24-17 in the third after Deshone Kizer led two consecutive touchdown drives. Detroit is the only franchise to have a 0-16 season in 2008. Cleveland's chances to finally win this season were hurt when Kizer took a shot to the ribs by blitzing defensive back Quandre Diggs late in the third period. The rookie quarterback, who came back to play late in the fourth, had perhaps his best game. He completed 21 of 37 passes for 232 yards with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Britt in the first quarter. Kizer ran seven times for 57 yards, including a go-ahead, 1-yard sneak with 6:01 left in the third. BUCCANEERS 15, JETS 10 TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick led two long scoring drives and Tampa Bay limited the Jets to less than 200 yards of offense until late in the fourth quarter to snap a five-game losing streak. With Fitzpatrick filling in for injured quarterback Jameis Winston, the Buccaneers (3-6) used three field goals to build a 9-3 lead. Charles Sims put the game out of reach with a 6-yard touchdown reception with just over six minutes remaining. Fitzpatrick, facing the team he played for the past two seasons, completed 17 of 34 passes for 187 yards and was intercepted once. The 34-year-old Fitzpatrick, one of just four players in NFL history to throw TD passes for seven different teams, led a seven-minute drive that produced a field goal in the first quarter. He finished a 15-play, 81-yard march, also lasting more than seven minutes, with his TD pass to Sims to make it 15-3. Josh McCown, also facing one of his former teams, was 23 of 39 for 263 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Robby Anderson caught a 38-yard TD pass in the final minute for the Jets (4-6), scoring for the fourth straight game to give New York one last chance......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 13th, 2017

Liverpool wins at West Ham to close gap on EPL top five

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — The only member of the English Premier League's top six in action on Saturday, Liverpool took full advantage. Juergen Klopp's side won at West Ham 4-1 to secure successive league victories for the first time since August. Mohamed Salah scored twice, while Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also found the net as Liverpool made light work of West Ham at the Olympic Stadium. The victory took Liverpool level on points with Chelsea and Arsenal, which both face tough challenges on Sunday against top two Manchester United and City, respectively. Third-placed Tottenham meets Crystal Palace. "Two weeks ago I felt quite different. We knew after that game at Tottenham (4-1 defeat) that we were bad," Klopp said. "We wanted to strike back and the boys did with three really nice results." After an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Brighton in its last home league game, West Ham's display did little to relieve the increasing pressure on manager Slaven Bilic. "I definitely don't feel a broken man. I'm very, very strong," Bilic said. "On the other hand, the situation for West Ham is not good." The Hammers dropped to 17th, with just a point separating them from the relegation zone. Here's a look at the action: MANE RETURNS Almost as important as the victory for Liverpool, was the return of Sadio Mane. The Senegal winger missed the last five games after injuring a hamstring on international duty. Mane didn't score, but coming through 77 minutes unscathed with assists for both of Salah's goals vindicated Klopp's decision to start him. "(Playing) Sadio Mane from the beginning after his injury, after yesterday his second session with the team. I never did it before," Klopp said. "Sadio is a naturally fit player, a little machine." The first set-up came as Mane and Salah performed a two-man counterattack, with the latter putting the ball in the net just 13 seconds after West Ham took a corner at the other end. The second was equally impressive as Mane beat two defenders before switching the ball to Salah, who arrowed his finish into the bottom corner. DEBUTANTS EXCELLING Brighton and Huddersfield both won to move into the top half of the standings in their debut league seasons. Brighton extended its unbeaten run to four games by defeating Swansea 1-0 with Glenn Murray scoring for a third consecutive league game. "Eighth has surpassed our expectation, most newly promoted teams would say the same, but we've got to be guarded against any type of complacency," Brighton manager Chris Hughton said. Huddersfield held on for a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion despite playing the final third of the game with 10 men. Christopher Schindler was sent off after receiving a second yellow card, but Rajiv van La Parra's first-half strike was enough. The other promoted team, Newcastle, conceded a last-minute goal to Bournemouth in a 1-0 loss. Steve Cook's injury-time header left Rafael Benitez's side with just one win in its last six. DYCHE STOCK RISES Another overachieving club is Burnley. Sam Vokes scored in the 80th minute to beat Southampton 1-0. Everton is reportedly interested in hiring Sean Dyche away from Burnley after firing manager Ronald Koeman in October. "I've had numerous times when I've been linked with situations and I just continue to see it clearly and that is to work hard at what I do," Dyche said. "There's not a story there. My story is the Burnley story; five years here, another win today, which is a fantastic win, a clean sheet, Southampton away, a place that's been historically very, very tough for us to come and get results - both me as a manager and the club - and we've won 1-0, that's the story." Earlier, Leicester stayed unbeaten under manager Claude Puel while twice wasting the lead in a 2-2 draw with Stoke......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 5th, 2017

As calendar flips to October, the MLB postseason from A to Z

em>By Ben Walker, Associated Press /em> All those home runs by Aaron Judge, all those wins by the Los Angeles Dodgers, nicely done. Except none of that matters now — a sinker that bounces to the backstop, a liner that hooks barely foul, the whole script flips. October has a way of doing that. The Major League Baseball playoffs start Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium when New York hosts the Minnesota Twins in the AL wild-card game. A look at the 2017 postseason, from A to Z: strong>A: ALTUVE'S ASTROS — /strong>Generously listed at 5-foot-6, Jose Altuve is baseball's little big man. The do-everything second baseman won his third AL batting title and aims to lead the Astros to their first World Series crown. With the Houston area recovering from Hurricane Harvey, they're the sentimental favorites. strong>B: BULLPENS — /strong> Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman going long, Andrew Miller entering early, Clayton Kershaw as a closer. The old rules were out last October when it came to relief roles. We'll see what pops up in the 'pens this year. strong>C: CUBS VS. CLEVELAND — /strong>Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Corey Kluber & Crew, once more? It's been a while since a World Series rematch, when Reggie Jackson led the Yanks over the Dodgers in 1977-78. But, it's already been a ripe year for repeats — Warriors vs. Cavaliers, Alabama vs. Clemson. strong>D: DEBUTS — /strong>Strikeout king Chris Sale makes his first playoff appearance when Boston starts at Houston on Thursday in the best-of-five AL Division Series. Rockies bopper Nolan Arenado and Twins slugger Brian Dozier are postseason newbies, too. So is Nationals backup Adam Lind, after 12 years and more than 1,300 games. strong>E: EXTRA — /strong>Hmmm, anyone remember the last time a postseason game went to extra innings? Hard to top the Cubs' 10-inning, rain-delayed, 8-7 thriller over Cleveland in Game 7. The Red Sox are the experts of extras this year — they're 15-3, including seven straight wins. strong>F: FREE AGENTS — /strong>Sure, 20 teams are done. But their fans can always dream. Cubs righty Jake Arrieta, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and Rays thumper Logan Morrison are on the list of who'll soon be available. The most intriguing possibility might be Shohei Otani, a star pitcher and hitter in Japan. strong>G: GOOD TO SEE YA — /strong> Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, when he was 10 for 17. Twins star Joe Mauer has been absent since 2010. And Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg has pitched just once in Washington's three trips, heading into this matchup with the Cubs. strong>H: HOME FIELD — /strong>World Series home-field advantages go to the team with the best record. Thankfully, it's no longer based on who wins the All-Star Game. That means the Dodgers (104 wins) get first dibs, followed by Cleveland (102), Houston (101), Washington (97), Boston (93) and the Cubs (92). strong>I: INJURIES — /strong>Nationals ace Max Scherzer tweaked his hamstring, teammate Bryce Harper is getting over a bad knee. Banged-up All-Stars Miguel Sano of the Twins and Michael Brantley of the Indians might be able contribute this week. Might not. strong>J: JOE MADDON — /strong>A cool cat, he keeps his Cubs loose. He reveled in last year's rallying cry: 'Try Not to Suck.' The skipper became the toast of Chicago, ending that century-old drought. Funny, all those warm-and-fuzzy Wrigley Field feelings are gone now, at least beyond the Friendly Confines. strong>K: KERSHAW — /strong>He tied for the major league lead in wins and won his fifth ERA title. He's a three-time Cy Young Award winner and seven-time All-Star. But will anyone get more scrutiny in the postseason than Clayton Kershaw? Probably not, because the LA lefty is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in the postseason. strong>L: LOUSY WEATHER — /strong>Too bad, the temperature is often better suited for snowballs than baseballs. It was in the low 40s at Wrigley last year, and just imagine how it might feel in Denver or Minneapolis. If you want clear conditions, root for Arizona vs. Houston and their retractable roofs. strong>M: MANAGERS — /strong> Twin Cities native Paul Molitor, Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks and Bud Black of the Rockies are first-time skippers in the playoffs. Washington's Dusty Baker is back for his ninth try, still seeking that elusive first World Series championship. strong>N: NETTING — /strong>Fan safety has drawn special focus ever since a 1-year-old girl was recently hit by Todd Frazier's 105 mph foul ball at Yankee Stadium. Of the teams in these playoffs, three already had extended the netting to screen spectators: Houston, Washington and Minnesota. The Yankees say they'll have it next year. strong>O: OCTOBER — /strong>Of course. But if the World Series goes to Game 7, they'll go beyond Halloween and play on Nov. 1. strong>P: PUERTO RICO — /strong> Carlos Beltran, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa are among the many players from Puerto Rico trying to raise money and awareness for the damage done to their island by Hurricane Maria. Look for messages on caps and shoes over the next few weeks. strong>Q: QUICK? — /strong>Extra mound conferences, longer TV commercials, more pitching changes, they all contribute to slowing down the pace in the playoffs. MLB wants to speed up the action and avoid a repeat from last year, when postseason games averaged almost 3 1/2 hours. Not a good sign that regular-season games this year took more than 3 hours, 5 minutes on average, the longest ever. strong>R: ROOKIES — /strong>Yankees behemoth Aaron Judge broke the major league record with 52 home runs by a rookie, Dodgers surprise Cody Bellinger set the NL mark with 39. Other newcomers who could make an impact: Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, Cubs outfielder/infielder Ian Happ and 33-year-old Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel. strong>S: STREAKS — /strong> Jose Ramirez and the Indians set an AL record by winning 22 straight, the Dodgers dropped 11 in a row for their worst skid since moving from Brooklyn. A year after winning its first six postseason games, and in this season of streaks, Cleveland hopes to do it again. strong>T: TRADES — /strong>Justin Verlander (5-0, 1.06 ERA for Houston), J.D. Martinez (29 homers in 62 games for Arizona) and Jose Quintana (7-3, 3.74 for the Cubs) are some of the stars who were acquired in midseason trades. Yu Darvish, David Robertson and Eduardo Nunez also gave their new teams a boost. strong>U: UMPIRES — /strong>It won't be long before some team is hollering about an ump's strike zone. Those calls can't be contested, but others can. Some teams are very good at getting them overturned (Joe Girardi and the Yankees won 72 percent of their challenges). Others, not so much (the Nationals were right only 36 percent). strong>V: VOTING — /strong>All ballots for MVP, Cy Young and other major awards must be sent before the playoffs begin. These honors will generate plenty of debate before the winners are announced in November. Altuve or Judge, Kluber or Sale? strong>W: WILD CARDS — /strong> Madison Bumgarner and the 2014 Giants are the only wild-card team to win the World Series since MLB went to a one-and-done format in 2012. Before that, five wild cards took the title: Cardinals (2011), Red Sox (2004), Marlins (2003, 1997) and Angels (2002). strong>X: XANDER BOGAERTS — /strong> Perhaps the Boston shortstop might be the next infielder to really break out in postseason. Think Javier Baez, Daniel Murphy, Ben Zobrist and Alcides Escobar in recent years. strong>Y: YANKEE STADIUM — /strong> The playoffs begin the Bronx, with Yankees youngster Luis Severino starting the AL wild-card game, taking on Ervin Santana and the Twins. strong>Z: ZACK GREINKE — /strong>The Arizona ace is set to throw the first pitch in Wednesday's NL wild-card game at home against a familiar opponent. He's 2-1 in five starts vs. Colorado this year. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 2nd, 2017

Monaco rebounds by beating Strasbourg 3-0 in French league

em>By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press /em> PARIS (AP) — Despite the departure of many key players, Monaco's strike force remains intact. Monaco, which had Europe's most potent attack last season when it dethroned Paris Saint-Germain in the French league and made it to the Champions League semifinals, already has 17 goals in six league matches. Monaco's display on Saturday in a 3-0 win over promoted Strasbourg was not as flamboyant as last season, but Leonardo Jardim's side recovered from a shock 4-0 loss at Riviera neighbor Nice last weekend with remarkable efficiency. 'It was not easy for us after the loss in the derby and this match really mattered,' Monaco defender Kamil Glik said. 'We're still in the mix.' Monaco moved level on points with leader PSG, which hosts Lyon on Sunday. Radamel Falcao, the league top scorer, added two goals to his tally to make it nine in six matches after Rony Lopes opened the scoring in the 44th minute from Falcao's assist. Monaco has sold more than 350 million euros worth of players this summer and let burgeoning star Kylian Mbappe join PSG, but it recruited Stevan Jovetic and Keita Balde as attacking reinforcements. Jovetic, who came from Inter Milan having spent the second half of last season on loan at Sevilla, has already developed an interesting partnership with Falcao. Jovetic had the first chance of the match in the 8th when he hit the crossbar after being fed by the Colombia forward. Falcao made it 2-0 after halftime from an offside position that was not spotted by the officials, and sealed the hosts' win by making the most of a defensive mistake from Strasbourg captain Kader Mangane. strong>BAMBA SCORES AGAIN /strong> Forward Jonathan Bamba scored from the penalty spot to help Saint-Etienne win at Dijon 1-0 and lift the 10-time champion to third place. Bamba has been involved in more than half of Saint-Etienne's goals so far. Saint-Etienne 'keeper Stephane Ruffier was also a factor in the visitor's fourth league win with three decisive saves. Saint-Etienne is two points behind PSG. strong>FIRST AWAY WIN /strong> Montpellier secured a first away win, 1-0 at Troyes with a goal from Pedro Mendes, who bagged his first goal in 47 matches in the topflight. Mendes, who joined from Rennes this summer, headed home the winner at the half-hour mark to help his club move three points away from the danger zone. strong>LAST-MINUTE GOAL /strong> Lille went through another tough evening and lost at Guingamp 1-0 after substitute Etienne Didot slotted home the winner in injury time with a long-range shot that took a deflection. At the helm of the youngest side in the French league, Lille coach Marcelo Bielsa has been struggling to find the right formula and won just one out of six matches. strong>ROCK-SOLID DEFENSE /strong> Nantes produced a fourth consecutive clean sheet and moved to sixth place in the standings with a 1-0 win against Caen. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2017

Messi scores twice from free kicks in Barca win vs Espanyol

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Lionel Messi scored twice from free kicks in a league match for the first time in his career on Saturday, leading Barcelona to a 4-0 rout of Espanyol in the Spanish league. Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez also scored in the Catalan derby for Barcelona, which opened a three-point lead over Sevilla and Atletico Madrid. Sevilla drew 1-1 at Valencia earlier Saturday, while Atletico defeated Alaves 3-0 at home. Fifth-placed Real Madrid visits last-place Huesca on Sunday, only a few hours before River Plate and Boca Juniors meet in the Copa Libertadores final at Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. The perfectly struck set-piece goals capped another brilliant performance by Messi, who got past defenders with ease and effortlessly put his teammates in a position to score. The first free kick came in the 17th minute from about 25 meters (yards) away. Messi curled a left-footed shot into the top corner, with the ball turning away from the outstretched arm of Espanyol goalkeeper Diego Lopez. The second came in the 65th, with the ball a bit further back and from a slightly different angle. Messi's shot was struck just as perfectly at the first one, curling over the wall and into the top corner. This time, Lopez didn't even get close to making a save. Messi had also set up Dembele's goal in the 26th, sending a well-placed throughball to the French forward. Dembele got rid of a defender with a nice cut-back move before sending a high shot into the far corner. Dembele gave the assist for Suarez's goal just before halftime, with the Uruguayan's shot from a tough angle finding the net after going through the legs of Lopez......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 9th, 2018

PSG aims to avoid early elimination in Champions League

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain's hopes of breaking through in European soccer could end earlier than usual this season. A loss against Liverpool on Wednesday in Paris, coupled with a home win by Napoli over Red Star, would keep PSG from making it out of the group stage in the Champions League. And that would be a significant setback for the big-spending French team desperately trying to assert itself as a world-class club. It would be the first time PSG failed to reach the tournament's knockout round since 2011-12, after Qatar Sports Investments took over the club with the goal of turning it into a top contender. PSG was eliminated in the round of 16 last season, after reaching the quarterfinals four straight years before that. Failure this time would hurt PSG in its second season since signing Brazil star Neymar for 222 million euros from Barcelona in an attempt to increase its chances of succeeding in Europe. PSG enters the crucial match at Parc des Princes with five points in Group C, one behind leaders Liverpool and Napoli. A victory would put the French club back in position to advance depending on its own results. "It's a decisive match in a very, very complicated group," PSG coach Thomas Tuchel told French broadcaster TF1. The good news for Tuchel is that Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who had been sidelined because of injuries, are expected to be available for the home match against Liverpool. A look at the four Champions League groups on Wednesday: GROUP A Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund lead the group and have a chance to secure places in the knockout round in advance. Dortmund needs a draw at Club Brugge, while Atletico needs a home win against Monaco. Atletico can also advance if Club Brugge loses points against Dortmund, which is coming off a blistering start to the season under new coach Lucien Favre. The only setback for Favre so far was the 2-0 loss at Atletico in the team's previous Champions League appearance. Paco Alcacer, signed on a permanent basis from Barcelona on Friday, scored again on Saturday in a win over Mainz, taking his league tally to nine goals in seven appearances. GROUP B Harry Kane kept Tottenham's Champions League hopes alive with a late double to sink PSV Eindhoven in the last round of games. Now the striker has some back-up as his team tries to complete an unlikely recovery to qualify from Group B. Tottenham has struggled for attacking fluency this season, mainly because attacking midfielders Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have been missing at times because of injury. They appear to be fully fit now and were superb in Tottenham's win over Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, a 3-1 win that might have been its best display of the season. Spurs need to beat Inter Milan at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday to keep alive ambitions of a top-two finish. That would leave the teams tied on seven points. Tottenham would still likely require a win at already-qualified Barcelona to advance, given that Inter closes group play at home to last-place PSV. Barcelona, without Rafinha, Luis Suarez and Arthur because of injuries, has a three-point advantage at the top and will clinch first place in the group with a win over PSV, or a draw if Inter does not beat Tottenham. GROUP C Victories by Liverpool and Napoli would lock up the group which has proven to be the tightest of the Champions League. Napoli, the group's only unbeaten team with three draws and one win, hosts a Red Star team which still has chances of advancing in its return to the tournament's group stage after 26 years. The Serbian club has four points, one fewer than Paris Saint-Germain and two fewer than Napoli and Liverpool. Red Star held Napoli to a 0-0 draw at home in the first round, but then conceded 10 goals in losses against PSG (6-1) and Liverpool (4-0). Liverpool, which beat PSG at home, lost 2-0 to Red Star in its previous Champions League match, but it is coming off two straight wins in the Premier League. PSG, cruising in the French league, beat Liverpool 3-0 the only other time the teams met in Paris, nearly two decades ago. GROUP D Group leader Porto hosts second-place Schalke in a match in which a draw could be enough for both clubs to advance. They would clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a draw if Galatasaray fails to win its match at already eliminated Lokomotiv Moscow. A victory would secure first place for Porto, which has won eight straight entering the match at its Estadio do Dragao. Porto is trying to make it to the round of 16 for the third straight season. The Portuguese champion has 10 points, two more than Schalke and six more than Galatasaray. Porto and Schalke are the only unbeaten teams in the group. Schalke hasn't made it to the knockout stage since 2014-15. ___ Associated Press writers John Leicester, Ciaran Fahey and Steve Douglas contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 27th, 2018

UAAP: Franz Pumaren after Adamson-Ateneo: Playoffs started tonight

For the first time in the UAAP, the men's basketball games were played in the Ynares Center in Antipolo. One might have expected that the games would be sparsely attended due to the out-of-town venue, but the UAAP Season 81 fans did not disappoint. In the Ateneo de Manila University versus Adamson University game, rabid fans filled the ringside and the lower box section of the arena adding to the intense action on the hardwood. Considering the game and the crowd, even though it is still just the second round, Falcons head coach Franz Pumaren felt the playoff atmosphere. "Tonight's game is a testament that the playoffs started tonight. Atmosphere was different, the intensity was different," said Pumaren after his Adamson squad was dealt with its third loss of the season after eleven games. The Soaring Falcons had a statement victory over the Blue Eagles in the first round. However, as much as they wanted to sweep Ateneo in the eliminations, they failed as the Eagles' defense limited them to 26.4 points lower than their average. "We were too relaxed, I guess, thinking we can always turn it on and off. We have to give credit to Ateneo. They came out with a lot of fire, a lot of intensity. Its just a matter of simple analysis. They played well. We played bad. We were taken out of our comfort zone," he said. Jerrick Ahanmisi, who usually scores an average of 18.8 points, was held to just 10 points while Sean Manganti, who has averaged 15.1 points, was limited to just six. With Adamson's two top gunners having an off night offensively, Pumaren looked at the silver lining and thought that they did a decent job defensively. "Coming from a team that's been on a massacre mission, they scored 62 points. We still had a decent defensive effort for tonight's game. It's just we couldn't convert," he said, "They really wanted this victory. In spite of that, we forced them to 22 errors, for a number one team I think that's an accomplishment on our part. Just imagine if we don't force them, baka mas malaki pa ang lamang." Regardless of the outcome of the latest Adamson versus Ateneo tiff, Pumaren hopes to meet the Blue Eagles again this season. After all, he has been very honest that he loves coaching against Tab Baldwin. "It's nice playing against Ateneo. Hopefully, we can still meet each other. They make the best out of me and the best out of the team because coaching against a very experienced coach," Pumaren said. With Ateneo currently the league-leading team with a 10-2 record and Adamson coming in second with an 8-3 slate, Pumaren might just get his wish. But he made it clear that he is not banking on the current standings. They still have three more games to play -- versus University of Santo Tomas, University of the East, and Far Eastern University. "We're not even sure of everything. We just have to do our own job. We cannot rely on other teams beating the other school for us to be assured. Who knows. We still have three games. I think the last games, this is the most [important], there's a logjam with 2, 3, 4," said the Adamson mentor. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @the9cruz.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2018

MVP Ladder: Hot start pushes Curry to forefront

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com When Kevin Durant raised the Finals MVP trophy in the air in June -- his second straight, mind you -- it was supposed to be over for Stephen Curry. The prevailing wisdom said there was no way the former two-time Kia MVP winner Curry would be able to contend for a third Maurice Podoloff Trophy playing alongside Durant (a former Kia MVP himself). Their individual brilliance would be muted by the collective strength of their partnership as the two best players on the best team in the league. This notion they would continue to split Kia MVP votes made sense given their super team required all of its stars to sacrifice personal glory for the greater team good. That was the thinking before the first nine games of this season ... and then Curry decided to attack things as he did in 2015-16. That season, he went nuclear -- averaging 30.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 50.4 percent overall and 45.4 percent on three-pointers -- becoming the NBA's first unanimous MVP winner as the Warriors won an NBA-record 73 games. Durant was still toiling for the rival Oklahoma City Thunder then, sharing the spotlight with another eventual Kia MVP in Russell Westbrook. Curry’s opening salvo this season, though, has been nothing short of staggering. His pace right now -- leading the league in scoring while shooting nearly 55 percent overall and 53 percent on three-pointers  -- could top that 2015-16 season. Doing all this with teammates who could make their own compelling cases for Kia MVP honors makes Curry’s start even more mind-boggling. Both Durant (check out his 25-point fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden) and Klay Thompson (who topped Curry’s three-pointers made record in Chicago) are taking turns showing out, all of which speaks to the Warriors' mastery of a situation that easily could have overloaded these three stars. Curry’s consistent brilliance sticks out in a sea of transcendent scoring performances in the early stages of this season. He was the one who dropped 51 points in 32 minutes in a win over Washington, making 11 of his 16 three-pointers. He went 6-for-11 on three-pointers en route to 29 points when Durant worked the Knicks for 41 points at MSG. When Thompson was in the zone against the Bulls, Curry scored 23 points (on 7-for-9 shooting) in just 25 minutes. And when the New Orleans Pelicans showed up to Oracle Arena Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), Curry lit them up for 37 on 12-for-20 shooting and a 7-for-11 night on three-pointers. That's all why Curry sits atop the first Kia Race to the MVP Ladder this season. And if he keeps this up, there’s no reason Curry won't be in the thick of this season's MVP conversation when the dust settles. The top five in the Week 1 edition of the 2018-19 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder: * * * 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Season stats: 33 points, 5.9 assists, 5.0 rebounds Here's the kind of damage Curry is doing so far: he’s not only leading the league in scoring, but doing so while shooting a preposterous 54.9 percent overall and an equally bonkers 52.9 percent on three-pointers. Scoring around the league is on the rise this season, and perhaps no one is taking more advantage of the freedom of movement rule the way Curry has. He’s scoring from everywhere, against any and everyone whenever he wants in a system built around his skills. He’s got one of the league’s early 50-point games (51 points, vs. Washington), and, given the way he’s shooting now, could go for another 50-spot at any time. That’s a warning for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who will see Curry today. 2. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors Season stats: 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists Leonard is off to a monstrous start with Toronto, shattering that pesky myth that he was a product of a system in San Antonio. Anyone who forgot just how devastating a two-way player he could be after his nine-game run with the Spurs last season should have a clearer understanding of what he can do when healthy. Just ask Philadelphia 76ers stud Ben Simmons, who couldn't praise Leonard enough after matching wits with the two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year. “He’s a freak,” Simmons said after turning the ball over 11 times while being guarded by Leonard on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). “His hands are huge. He’s got long arms. He’s a great defender.” The scary part for the rest of the league? Leonard is shooting as good or better than ever on three-pointers (44.4 percent) while logging a career-high 34.7 minutes. And, technically, he is still undefeated in a Raptors uniform (he got a rest day for Bucks-Raptors). 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Season stats: 26.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists It took a franchise-record 24 made three-pointers for the Boston Celtics to hold off Antetokounmpo and the Bucks Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at TD Garden. It was the Bucks’ first loss this season, but it wasn’t because the "Greek Freak" didn’t show up. He roasted the Celtics for 33 points (on just 22 shots), 11 rebounds, three steals and two assists. The increased floor spacing that comes with the arrival of coach Mike Budenholzer has allowed Antetokounmpo to put opposing defenders in compromising positions. His three-point shot is still in the development stage, but if Budenholzer can help transform that part of his game (as he did for Al Horford and Paul Millsap in Atlanta), the rest of the league will be on notice. As for Antetokounmpo's groove elsewhere on the court, it has made him virtually unstoppable when he’s in attack mode. 4. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Season stats: 25.2 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 3.2 blocks Had there been a top five after the first four games of this season, Davis would have been a runaway pick for the No. 1 spot. He was that good in powering New Orleans' 4-0 start. But the Pelicans have lost four straight and three to the four games since as Davis deals with nagging right elbow pain. Davis missed back-to-back games against Utah and Denver, then played Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) against the Warriors. It was clear he wasn’t at his best, as he had 17 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. (Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry held him out in a road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.) Davis hasn’t been shy about proclaiming that he’s chasing both Kia MVP and Kia Defensive Player of the Year honors, a double-dip that only half a handful of players could realistically set as a goal. The talent and high ceiling have never been in question. His availability to chase such lofty goals, however, remains a question at times. 5. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Season stats: 29.1 points, 6.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds Lillard entered this season as determined to prove his team’s early 2018 playoff exit wasn't a true measure of Portland's status. Still, getting swept by the Pelicans sent the Blazers into the offseason with tons of questions and skeptics. Since the first whistle of training camp, Lillard has gone about the business of answering those questions. He’s averaging career-highs in points (29.1), field goal percentage (49.7 percent), three-point percentage (40 percent) and free throw percentage (94 percent). The Blazers finished their recent four-game road trip at 3-1, which included wins against Orlando, Indiana and the struggling Houston Rockets. Thursday night’s (Friday, PHL time) win over the Anthony David-less Pelicans was fueled by Lillard’s team-high 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Saturday night’s home game against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers could be another opportunity for Lillard and Co. to show they aren’t stepping aside for anyone. * * * The next five 6.  Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets 7.  Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 8.  Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz 9.  LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers 10.  Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers And five more: Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves; DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs; Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons; Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics; Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2018

Westbrook s 23 lead surging OKC past struggling Wiz 134-111

By HOWARD FENDRICH,  AP Sports Writer WASHINGTON (AP) — Continuing their turnaround from a terrible season start, the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up their fourth consecutive victory by beating the struggling, booed-at-home Washington Wizards 134-111 behind Russell Westbrook's 23 points and 12 assists Friday night. From 0-4 to 4-4, the Thunder are clicking right now, led by Westbrook, who missed the first two games after a procedure on his right knee and sat out the final quarter of the rout at Washington. And even though OKC was the team playing on the second night of a back-to-back, it looked a lot fresher and more active than Washington, which was coming off a two-day break and finally got to see new center Dwight Howard make his debut. After missing all of training camp, every exhibition game and the first seven regular-season games with a sore backside, Howard started and immediately appeared to have an impact, scoring 13 first-quarter points. But soon enough, Washington got into its usual bad habits, the ones that have led to loss after loss so far: ineffective defense and low-effort rebounding. The Wizards have lost four games in a row to drop to 1-7, and spectators let the players hear their displeasure in the second quarter, jeering when OKC went ahead 61-40 on Jerami Grant's dunk on a pass from Westbrook. When Paul George made his third straight 3 attempt, a night after going 0 for 10 from beyond the arc, it made the halftime score 79-50, equaling the Thunder's record for most points in a half. An Oklahoma City team averaging 109 points this season was already at 110 after three quarters. George wound up with 17 points to surpass 10,000 for his career, and Grant scored 22. Howard had 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, three rebounds and four fouls in 23 minutes. When he was out of the game, he either laid down on his stomach on the sideline or stood. Bradley Beal scored 27 points, and John Wall had 19 points and nine assists, but Washington's pair of All-Star guards also combined for 12 turnovers. The Thunder went up by as many as 33 points in the third quarter and shot 57 percent for the game. They outrebounded the Wizards 38-30. None of that should come as a surprise, given that Washington began the night allowing an NBA-worst 122.4 points per game and averaging only 41.3 rebounds, 27th in the 30-club league. TIP-INS Thunder: Came in shooting 27 percent on 3s, but hit 47 percent — 15 for 32 — against Washington. ... George has complained of a nerve issue with his left foot, and coach Billy Donovan said George thinks it affects his defense. "There's times where he wishes he could push off a little bit better and move a little bit better — more to the extreme that he's capable of doing," Donovan said. "I think he still feels he's hindered by it." Wizards: Otto Porter Jr. played with a bruised big left toe and scored nine points in only 16 minutes. ... Brooks on Ian Mahinmi, who started at center while Howard was sidelined but now returns to a backup role: "His minutes are going to shrink quite a bit, but he has to be ready whenever he's called on." NEW SPONSOR The Wizards' jerseys had a sponsor's logo for the first time, part of a multiyear deal with an insurance company that also will advertise on uniforms for the WNBA's Washington Mystics and the G League's Capital City Go-Go. Nearly all NBA teams now have such a jersey sponsorship arrangement; the Thunder still do not. UP NEXT: Thunder: Host the Pelicans on Monday. Wizards: Host the Knicks on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2018

Bong Quinto returns to MPBL in Batangas takedown of San Juan

Not even a week after his collegiate career came to an end, Bong Quinto has come back to play for Batangas as they ramp up their playoff push in the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup. Quinto did not skip a beat and made an immediate impact for the Athletics, backstopping red-hot Jeff Viernes in their statement victory versus powerhouse San Juan, 85-78, last Wednesday at home in the Batangas City Coliseum. The Colegio de San Juan de Letran standout scored 16 points to go along with four rebounds and two assists while Viernes had 21 markers, five boards, and four dimes of his own in Batangas’ seventh win in 13 games. Quinto was a big part of the Athletics’ championship in the league’s inaugural staging before focusing on his final year for the Knights in the NCAA. John Wilson paced the MPBL’s Knights with 16 points. They now stand at 10-3. Meanwhile, Makati bested Bulacan, 99-94, behind Cedric Ablaza. Ablaza posted an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double to lift the Skyscrapers to 8-4 while also dropping the Kuyas to 8-5......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 31st, 2018

Tuchel stands up to player power at PSG, and it worked

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel made a bold move by standing up to big names at a club where player power usually rules. He dropped 19-year-old France forward Kylian Mbappe, widely tipped as soccer's next superstar, and midfielder Adrien Rabiot for the game at Marseille on Sunday night. Both players are Parisian-born and fully understood the importance of the match for PSG fans against the club's bitter rival. Yet both turned up late to a pre-match team talk, something Tuchel simply could not excuse and he left them out of the starting lineup. "(It was) a disciplinary situation. We needed to do that," Tuchel said unapologetically on Canal Plus television. "It's like that." Mbappe came off the bench in the second half and scored the first goal in a 2-0 win which sent PSG to an 11th straight league win. It was also the World Cup star's 10th league goal so far, in just seven games for him. Rabiot, who refused to be on France's reserves list for the World Cup and has long been negotiating a new PSG contract, came on about 10 minutes from time. Despite his authoritative decision-making, which was backed by PSG winger Julian Draxler, the coach was surprisingly downbeat and sounded almost despondent after the game. "I don't like playing without Kylian," he said. "I hate it." Tuchel was then was then asked if it was a good day for him as a coach. "For me, personally, no," he said, his head dropping and his voice trailing off. "For me it was quite tough today." It has been a topsy-turvy week for Tuchel, who saw his side fall behind twice and dominated for long spells in a 2-2 home draw with Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday. That draw leaves PSG third in its group and in danger of not qualifying for the Round of 16. If so, Tuchel would become the first PSG coach knocked out of the group stage since cash-rich Qatari investors QSI took over at the club seven years ago. On the other hand, his team is coasting in the league with 39 goals in 11 games and the best defense. Tuchel has earned praise from the French media for his player management skills, often touted as a counterpoint to his predecessor Unai Emery, but the decision to drop Mbappe seemed to weigh heavily on him. Perhaps with good reason, for it puts him in a potentially difficult position because star players often have their own way at PSG. Such is the club's desire to win the Champions League and join Europe's elite, some players have been seemingly indulged. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for example, was allowed days off to go hunting in the forests of his native Sweden. Others, such as Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore, returned late from the mid-season winter break — which even led to public criticism from their own captain, Thiago Silva. Pampering stars has not had the necessary outcome, either, with PSG unable to get beyond the quarterfinals of the Champions League since QSI took over. In the last two years, PSG has failed to reach the quarters, leading to Emery's departure and Tuchel's arrival. Despite his friendly and easy-going appearance, Tuchel is a disciplinarian and firm on principles such as cutting out sugary drinks on the team bus and strict time-keeping. At a club with such lofty ambitions, these should be rudimentary. Yet the way Mbappe was comforted before Sunday's game, even by the vastly experienced goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, suggests he got the sympathy vote rather than Tuchel getting the understanding. Even Tuchel seemed anxiously keen to encourage Mbappe before the teenage forward went on in the 62nd minute, wrapping a consoling arm around him as if to apologize for the sanction. Still, Tuchel was at least supported by Draxler, who scored the second goal against Marseille. "It's something between the coach and the player, but for me it's clear the club is more important than a single player," Draxler said. "The coach will decide what he wants and we won, so he's right.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 29th, 2018

Newton scores 3 TDs, Panthers defeat Ravens 36-21

By Steve Reed, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers didn't wait until the fourth quarter to turn it up a notch on offense. The result was an impressive win against the league's top-ranked defense. Newton completed 21 of 29 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 52 yards and another score as the Panthers soundly defeated the Baltimore Ravens 36-21 on Sunday for their ninth straight win at home. Christian McCaffrey had two touchdowns and the Panthers continued to get electrifying performances from different players. This time, it was rookie wide receiver D.J. Moore, who turned in his best game as a pro with 129 yards from scrimmage. "We present a lot of issues for defenses and that is what this offense was kind of built for," Newton said. "We have dynamic players all around the field." Unlike last Sunday when they needed three fourth quarter touchdowns to erase a 17-0 deficit and beat the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles 21-17, the Panthers took it to the Ravens early and often. After spotting the Ravens a 7-0 lead on the game's first possession, the Panthers (5-2) scored on four straight drives in the final 16 minutes of the first half to break the game open and take a 24-7 halftime lead. Newton threw an 11-yard TD pass to Greg Olsen , McCaffrey ran for a 11-yard score and leaped into the air to corral a 6-yard TD pass that ricocheted off the hands of safety Eric Weddle and into his arms in the end zone. And when Baltimore (4-4) climbed to within 13 late in the third quarter, Newton was there to calmly drive the Panthers 85 yards in nine plays, racing in untouched from 12 yards out on a naked bootleg to put the game away early. The Panthers rolled up 386 yards against a Ravens defense that had come in allowing a league-low 280.6 yards and 14.4 points per game. Baltimore seemed a step behind all day long, unable to figure out the Panthers multiple misdirection plays. "They present a lot of misdirection and formations, different plays and was tough to get in a rhythm with them and Cam played an outstanding game," Ravens safety Eric Weddle said. When asked why Carolina's misdirection offense was so effective, Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith held up one hand and said, "Look at my hand. Now if I smack you with this one (my other hand), you won't see it coming. That's how it works." PANTHERS DEFENSE Carolina showed it can still play a little 'D' as well, forcing three turnovers. The momentum-turning play came in the first quarter when defensive tackle Kyle Love crashed through the line and delivered a vicious hit on Ravens running back Alex Collins, jarring the ball loose. Defensive tackle Vernon Butler came up with the loose ball at the Ravens 12 after Luke Kuechly unsuccessfully tried to scoop and score. Three plays later, Newton found Olsen on a slant route giving Carolina a 14-7 lead it would never relinquish. "Sometimes you're unblocked and you have to make a play," Love said. FLACCO: GOT BUTTS KICKED Baltimore's Joe Flacco finished 22 of 39 for 192 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, and said the Panthers were more physical and simply played better. "We got our butts kicked today," Flacco said. The loss was the second straight for the Ravens. "There is obviously a bigger threat to let this stuff affect you mentally and how we are jelling together, so we have to combat that by being ourselves and being as tough as we can," Flacco said. GETTING HIS KICKS Panthers kicker Graham Gano extended his streak to 39 consecutive field goals made at home — and 28 straight overall — after connecting from 54, 44 and 30 yards. GAMBLING HARBAUGH How many coaches have the guts to make this call? Leading 7-0 in the first quarter at Carolina, Ravens coach John Harbaugh went for a fake punt from his own 10-yard line on a fourth-and-1 — and Baltimore appeared to pick it up easily with Anthony Levine plowing ahead for an 8-yard gain. However, the Ravens were called for an illegal shift on the play, wiping out the first down, and they wound up punting. Harbaugh also went for a first down on fourth-and-1 from his own 34 and got it on a Flacco sneak. STEALING THREE The Panthers used their own brand of trickery to steal three points just before halftime. Facing a fourth-and-7 at the Baltimore 44, coach Ron Rivera sent in backup QB Taylor Heinicke to throw an apparent Hail Mary with Newton's shoulder still sore from last week's game. But after the Ravens defense backed off, Heinicke saw Olsen alone lined up to the left side and he hauled in a 13-yard pass and ducked out of bounds with 2 seconds left. Gano came on to boot a 54-yard field goal to give Carolina momentum heading into the second half. NATIONAL ANTHEM Panthers safety Eric Reid continued to protest against social and racial injustice by kneeling before the national anthem. Also, several fans took a knee during the national anthem outside of the stadium in support of Reid's cause. INJURIES Ravens starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley was helped off the field in the third quarter with a knee injury, but did return. The Panthers reported no injuries. UP NEXT Ravens: Host Pittsburgh next Sunday. Panthers: Host Tampa Bay next Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 28th, 2018

Mbappe stars again as PSG wins 2-0 at Marseille for 11th win

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Left out by his coach for disciplinary reasons, Kylian Mbappe watched his teammates struggle in the first half and then came off the bench to score as French league leader Paris Saint-Germain won 2-0 at rival Marseille on Sunday. Angel Di Maria, who grabbed PSG's injury-time equalizer on Wednesday in a 2-2 home draw with Napoli in the Champions League, set up Mbappe with a threaded pass behind the defense in the 65th minute. The France World Cup star sprinted clear before drilling a low shot into the bottom left corner for his 10th league goal in seven games. He found the net just four minutes after coming on, justifying his importance in an attack which has plundered 39 goals in 11 games. "A big team needs leaders and they need to make the difference," said Mbappe defiantly, after being dropped by coach Thomas Tuchel because he was late for the pre-match team talk. "I think I can fulfill that role." Tuchel stood by his decision to bench Mbappe and midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who was also late for the talk. "(It was) a disciplinary situation," the German coach said on Canal Plus television, confirming what happened. "We needed to do that." Mbappe helped create the second goal by finding Neymar with a pass behind the defense, and the Brazil forward's scuffed shot landed perfectly for Julian Draxler to slide home at the back post five minutes into injury time. It was defending champion PSG's 11th straight league win — matching English side Tottenham's run from the start of the 1960-61 season — and kept the team eight points ahead of second-place Lille. Marseille is 14 points behind in fifth spot. Marseille strangely played without a recognized center forward, yet had the better of the first-half chances at Stade Velodrome as PSG looked tame in attack without Mbappe. "They are very strong at home and they had several phases of play where we were in trouble," Mbappe said. "Credit to them. But we were able to respond." Still, PSG almost scored just before halftime when Di Maria's shot was cleared off the line by midfielder Kevin Strootman. At the start of the second half, some Marseille fans threw objects at Neymar when he took a corner from the left, but he did not seem worried and took it anyway as some stewards formed a shield around him. PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola made a good save to keep out midfielder Dimitri Payet's free kick early in the second half, and saved again from left back Jordan Amavi's dipping shot from the edge of the penalty area shortly after Mbappe's goal. ___ OTHER MATCHES Midfielder Wylan Cyprien's first goal of the season helped Patrick Vieira's Nice to a much-needed 1-0 win at Bordeaux. Cyprien scored in the 54th minute after being set up by pacey winger Allan Saint-Maximin. Bordeaux then hit the crossbar and Nice goalkeeper Walter Benitez made a brilliant injury-time save to keep out a header from forward Andreas Cornelius. Vieira, a standout midfielder for France and Arsenal during his playing days, took charge this summer. His team has been inconsistent, with striker Mario Balotelli lacking match fitness and yet to find the net this season after scoring 18 league goals last season and 15 the season before. The win moved Nice up to 10th place after 11 matches, behind Reims on goal difference. Forward Remi Oudin also netted his first goal of the campaign as Reims won 2-0 at Rennes......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 28th, 2018

Bataan too hot to handle in its 10 straight MPBL win

There's no stopping Bataan as it continues to rise in the 2018 Maharlika Pilipinas Anta-Datu Cup as they were able to extend their winning run to 10 here at the People's Center in Bataan last Tuesday. Pamboy Raymundo and John Villarias combined for 24 points to power the Risers to their 10th win in 11 games, beating Bulacan in a low-scoring affair, 63-49. It was the third home win of the Risers, whose 10-game winning streak is the longest in the tournament. Bataan kept a hold of the solo lead in this tournament and bolstered its chances heading to the halfway stretch of the elimination round. The Risers were able to make stops when needed as they kept the Kuyas out of their comfort zone, proof of that was Bulacan's paltry shooting from the field. The Kuyas were held to only 28-percent shooting from the field (20-of-70) with only Hans Thiele ending up in double figures, resulting to the team's  fourth loss in 12 games. Bataan didn't shoot better either, hitting only 38=percent from the field (27-of-71), but got 35 points off the bench, 11 more than its counterpart. Earlier, Parañaque outplayed Rizal, 59-47, as the Patriots notched their seventh win in 13 games.  They were able to take advantage of the error-prone Crusaders as the team from the east committed 23 errors. That resulted to Parañaque to score 21 points off its rival's miscues......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 24th, 2018