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Our Santo Niño and other festivals

THE Philippines is known for its festivals, with three of the biggest celebrated in this month of January – the Ati-atihan of Kalibo, Aklan, the Sinulog of Cebu City, and the Dinagyang of Iloilo City, all in honor of the Sto. Niño. The Ati-atihan is one of the oldest festivals in the country. It celebrates the coming of ten datus led by Datu Puti and their people from Kalimantan, Borneo, in the 13th century to Panay island, where they were welcomed by dark-skinned Atis led by Ati Marikudo. Together the highland Atis and the lowland Marayons came to celebrate good harvests with street dancing. After the Spaniards came in the 16th century, the festival became a homage to the Santo Niño......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Darvish wants to prove himself in final year of Texas deal

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Memphis Depay hoping to bounce back with Lyon

 LYON, France (AP) — With a move to Lyon secured, Memphis Depay is ready to prove himself all over again. The Netherlands forward joined the French club from Manchester United on a 4½-year contract and will wear the No. 9 jersey. 'I just want to show everybody what I'm capable of. I did in the past and I didn't show it every time at Manchester,' the 22-year-old Depay said. 'I want to score goals and get that feeling back again, to play in a full stadium. It's a very nice stadium here and I'm so excited to play there.' br /> Depay was presented on Friday with club president Jean-Michel Aulas and coach Bruno Genesio by his side. br /> 'He can make the difference with his speed and technique and can be a real plus for the team,' Genesio said. br /> Aulas said Depay's fee was 16 million euros ($17 million), along with a further 6 million euros in incentives and another 3 million euros if he extends his contract. United also has a buy-back option of about 35 million euros. br /> The Dutch forward had a largely unhappy spell at United after joining from PSV Eindhoven in June 2015 for 31 million pounds (then $48 million). br /> Depay said 'a couple of other clubs were interested' in buying him but Lyon's enthusiasm persuaded him to join the seven-time French champions, who are currently in fourth place in the league. br /> 'It wasn't just the trainer who wanted me, but also the president and that gave me a really comfortable feeling,' he said. 'Don't forget that it's a big club with a big history.' br /> Depay has not played since coming on as a substitute in the Europa League against Feyenoord on Nov. 24. But he is hoping to play a part in Sunday's home game against Marseille. br /> 'I know Sunday's game is important,' Depay said. 'Physically, I'm good. I've been training hard.' br /> At United, Depay was given the club's iconic No. 7 jersey worn by George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, but failed to live up to expectations, scoring only seven goals in 52 games. He was hardly used by United coach Jose Mourinho, making only four league appearances from the bench this season. br /> At Lyon, Depay is likely to be used on the left wing, forming a formidable forward line with top scorer Alexandre Lacazette and Nabil Fekir. br /> 'We focused on Memphis because he corresponds to the style of play we want,' Genesio said. 'It was an extraordinary opportunity for us to get a player of international class from United.' br /> If Depay does well for Lyon, it could increase the likelihood of Aulas selling either Lacazette — who is rated at about 50 million euros — or Fekir after the season. br /> Mourinho, meanwhile, is hopeful that Depay's United career is not yet completely over. br /> 'He didn't succeed in 18 months (at United), I would say, but he is very young,' Mourinho said. 'We all wish that he plays very, very well at Lyon and why not to come back, because everyone here likes him.' br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Defending champ Kerber advances to 4th round vs Vandeweghe

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Angelique Kerber had a straight-sets win for the first time in her first Australian Open title defense, starting her 6-0, 6-4 third-round victory with an eight-game streak against Kristyna Pliskova on Friday. Top-ranked Kerber beat the other Pliskova twin, Karolina, in the final of the last U.S. Open to capture her second career Grand Slam title. Her first was here at Melbourne Park 12 months ago. Kerber marked her 29th birthday on Wednesday with a second-round win over fellow German Carina Witthoeft, but said she didn't celebrate much between matches and hoped to do more at the end of the tournament. She'll next play 35th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe, who reached the fourth round in Australia for the first time with a -4, 3-6, 7-5 win over 2014 semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard. 'It will be tough,' Kerber said. 'I'm ready. I'm feeling good. I'm loving to play on this court.' Eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova was broken in the second and third sets when serving for the match before finally beating former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 5-7, 9-7 in a 3-hour, 36-minute match. Two-time major champion Kuznetsova will next play No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat No. 11 Elina Svitolina 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Vandeweghe recovered from an early break in the third set in a tense win over Bouchard, who was ranked as high as No. 5 in 2014 when she reached the semifinals in Australia and France and the final at Wimbledon. Vandeweghe converted her only break-point chance to take the first set but Bouchard leveled the match with two breaks in a dominant second set. The 22-year-old Canadian broke to open the third set and appeared to be in control until Vandeweghe changed her approach. 'She started playing better and I got a little passive in my game plan and executing it — I was able to turn it around thankfully,' Vandeweghe said. After holding in the key eighth game of the third set, when she saved four break points in a game that went to deuce eight times, Vandeweghe had the benefit of serving first with no tiebreakers in the deciding set. She easily held for a 6-5 lead and then, after Bouchard had a game point, went on a roll to close with a big backhand winner on her first match point. Vandeweghe has reached the quarterfinals and the fourth round in the last two years at Wimbledon, but her run to the third round in Australia in 2016 was her best at any major not played on grass. 'It's just another opponent on the way to achieving my goal,' Vandeweghe said of her win. 'Anyway I could get it done — I just wanted to get the result. Achieved my goal.' Vandeweghe's new doubles partner, Martina Hingis, cheered her on throughout the match. Afterward, the American joked that Hingis might scold her for playing 'too long to be fresh for the doubles.' Bouchard has been gradually improving her ranking in recent months. She hasn't gone past the third round of a Grand Slam tournament since slipping and falling in the locker room during the 2015 U.S. Open .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Elite face biggest Philippine Cup test against Ginebra

If Blackwater is truly serious about being a true PBA contender, then passing a crucial test Friday is going to be big for the Elite. Fresh from winning their fifth game last week, their most in one conference and only two short of their entire total last season, the Elite battle Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel with a chance to go for a top 2 finish on the line. With one playoff bonus still up for grabs, a win by Blackwater certainly gives the Ever Bilena franchise an inside track especially since eight teams basically remain in contention to join defending champion San Miguel Beer at the top. Being one of those eight teams, the Gin Kings would like to further their own campaign by notching what would be their first winning streak for the season. Through eight games so far, the reigning Governors' Cup champions have stumbled to an even 4-4 mark but the team is coming off a huge win over rival Meralco back in Iloilo City. Gametime is set at 7:00 p.m. from the Cuneta Astrodome. Also one of the eight teams in contention for a top 2 spot, Rain or Shine takes on a free-falling Meralco Bolts in the first game at 4:15 p.m., looking to bounce back from a sorry loss at the hands of the Beermen. Armed with a 5-3 record, the Elasto Painters are out to make sure they maintain solo second place for at least a day while the Bolts simply want to arrest a six-game slide. The Bolts are currently tied for last place with a woeful 2-7 card. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Istomin credits coach (and mother) for upset over Djokovic

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — When Denis Istomin walked off court after upsetting Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open — without a doubt the biggest win of his career — his mother had just two words for him: 'Good job.' There's a reason she's probably more measured than most mothers would be: She doubles as his coach. It's an unusual arrangement on the men's tennis tour, to be sure, but one that works well for the Uzbek player with the neon green eyeglasses and droll sense of humor. He said he wouldn't have it any other way. 'When your family is part of your team, it's great. I was lucky that my mother is coaching me,' he said, before adding with a smile, 'The (other) good thing that I don't need to pay the coach extra, you know. Everything to my mother.' Klaudiya Istomina might be due a raise after her son's stunning 7-6 (8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over Djokovic in the second round on Thursday. Not only was Istomin just 1-33 in his previous matches against top-10 players (the only win coming against David Ferrer at Indian Wells in 2012), he was also ranked a lowly No. 117 after a demoralizing year punctuated by frequent losses. His ranking was so low, in fact, the 30-year-old Istomin had to win a special Asian wild card tournament just to gain entry to the tournament. He was realistic when asked what he would have thought if someone told him before the tournament that he would upset Djokovic, a six-time Australian Open champion. 'I would say, 'Are you crazy or what?'' he said, laughing. 'For me, (it) was impossible to think about that I can hold it five sets with Novak, physically and mentally.' But Istomin still had the belief he could at least compete with Djokovic. The 12-time major winner's loss to Sam Querrey in the third round at Wimbledon last year showed that even the top players are sometimes vulnerable. 'I mean, maybe today (Djokovic) wasn't best,' Istomin said. 'But the level of all players is growing. So if you can see everybody's fighting, even for Roger (Federer) or other players, it's not easy to win against, like, the top 20, top 30. And more young players are coming, as well.' Istomin was nearly forced to give up tennis after a serious car accident in Uzbekistan when he was 14. He was in the hospital for three months and the doctors doubted he would be able to play at the elite level. But two and a half years later, Istomin picked up his racket — thanks to the encouragement of his coach (and mother), Klaudiya. 'I mean, it was all (these) years together. We have a good relationship. We understand each other very well,' he said. 'She was always believing in me.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2017

Impressive Phoenix outing puts NLEX on the ropes

The Philippine Cup woes continue for NLEX. Phoenix caught fire in the second half and simply burned the Road Warriors, 102-91, Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome. Looking to get out of a four-team logjam for the 6th-9th spots in the standings, the Fuel Masters used a big third-quarter effort to blow the game wide open against a struggling NLEX team that has now lost seven out of its last eight games. With the win, Phoenix created a new three-team tie with Blackwater and TNT for the 4th-6th spots, sporting identical 5-4 marks. But the tie is not a cause for celebration though. 'There's nothing to celebrate pa dahil yung mga ka-tie namin tinalo kami,' head coach Ariel Vanguardia said talking about the Elite and the KaTropa. 'Right now, we are victrually tied with them but we are still in seventh or eight place,' he added. After a rough first half, the Fuel Masters exploded in the third quarter behind the efforts of JC Intal and Simon Enciso and went on to outscore the Road Warriors by 13, 28-15. Enciso finished with a team-high 21 points, built around five treys, five rebounds, and four assists for Phoenix while Intal added 12. Cyrus Baguio came off the bench to drop 13. Rookie Matthew Wright almost had his first career triple-double after posting 12 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists, and Willie Wilson returned from sickness to chip in another 12 markers. As for NLEX, who now has lost all seven of its games by double digits, only Sean Anthony served as the bright spot as the forward tallied 23 points and eight boards.   The scores: PHOENIX 102 - Enciso 21, Intal 16, Baguio 13, W. Wilson 12, Wright 12, Borboran 7, Lanete 7, Miranda 5, Torres 5, J.Wilson 2, Caperal 2. NLEX 91 - Anthony 23, J. Villanueva 11, Soyud 10, Guinto 9, Alas 8, Rios 6, Lanete 6, Taulava 4, Khobuntin 3, Lastimosa 3, Monfort 3, Camson 2, E. Villanueva 2, Gotladera 1, Baracael 0. Quarters: 20-22, 53-48, 81-63, 102-91 br /> --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Williams, Safarova in French Open final rematch at Melbourne

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — On paper, Serena Williams' second-round match on Thursday against Lucie Safarova should be no contest. The six-time Australian Open champion in search of her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title has beaten the Czech player all nine times they've met, including the 2015 French Open final. But Safarova, ranked 61st, saved nine match points in the second set of her first-round match here against Yanina Wickmayer before advancing 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1. So Williams may need to be patient, or ruthless, in the match which opens night play at Rod Laver Arena. After her win Tuesday, Safarova wasn't aware of the extent of her feat. 'I stopped counting after a few (match points), I was like, just another one,' she said. 'But I was like, 'I'm just going to go for it and if she closes the match, well OK, but I'm just going to play my game.' It was exciting.' Safarova is expecting a fast start from Williams. 'Serena's always a tough opponent,' Safarova said. 'She hasn't played many matches so that could be maybe a little bit to my advantage, but she always comes out strong. I have nothing to lose so I'll be ready.' ___ Here is a look at some other matches in the bottom half of the draw on Thursday, the fourth day of the Australian Open: CONCERN FROM RAONIC: Milos Raonic takes on Gilles Muller, who is coming off his first career tournament victory at the Sydney International last week. Muller broke down at the trophy presentations in Sydney, relieved that he finally achieved a win. Raonic lost to Muller in Valencia, Spain in 2012, although that was before Raonic developed into the third-ranked player in the world. Raonic also had to retire from a second-round match at Wimbledon in 2011 while leading 3-2 in the first set due to a right hip injury. 'I have struggled with him,' Raonic said. 'He had a great, phenomenal week last week. For him it was something very special, and obviously it was pretty special to see, as well, that final and his reaction to it.' They play an afternoon match on Margaret Court Arena. ___ MUTUAL RESPECT: Johanna Konta beat Naomi Osaka in straight sets in their only previous meeting in the semifinals of qualifying at the U.S. Open in 2015. The pair, who meet again Thursday — the opening match of the day at Rod Laver — made positive impressions on each other during that match in New York. 'I remember playing her, and she had a real good serve and a really good return,' Osaka said of last year's semifinalist. 'I think it's really awesome like how she rose so high and quickly. She's a really good player.' Konta returned the favor: 'She's improved a lot. I know she plays a big game. She has big shots. I'm definitely prepared to go in for a battle.' ___ DOMINATING DJOKOVIC: Six-time champion Novak Djokovic has beaten his second-round opponent, Dennis Istoman, all five times they have met. Two of those matches have come at the Australian Open, although it wasn't until the third round. Istoman has won only one set in those five career matches. Among other matches Thursday, 2009 champion Rafael Nadal plays 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis and No. 3-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska takes on Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Federer's 17 majors stack up nicely against everyone else

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The 64 players contesting second-round matches at the Australian Open on Wednesday have won a total of 36 Grand Slam singles titles. One guy, however, has nearly half of them. Of the 17 titles captured by Roger Federer, who plays American qualifier Noah Rubin at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday, four have been at Melbourne Park. Although he hasn't lifted the trophy here since 2010. Venus Williams, who will play Stefanie Voegele to open play on Rod Laver — has seven major titles. Others in action Wednesday are top-ranked Andy Murray and No. 4 Stan Wawrinka (3 majors each), defending champion Angelique Kerber and Svetlana Kuznetsova (2 each) and Marin Cilic and Garbine Muguruza, who have each won one major. Novak Djokovic, who has 12 Grand Slam titles of his own and is on the other side of the Australian Open draw, was quick to praise Federer as the Swiss star prepared to return from a six-month injury layoff. 'With Roger, you can always see a top level and quality of tennis ... that's what he brings,' Djokovic said last weekend. 'He brings this aura of a champion on and off the court. The sport definitely missed him. He's one of the most important people that ever held the racket.' ____ Here's a closer look at some of the second-round matches Wednesday: BIRTHDAY GIRL: Kerber, who plays fellow German Carina Witthoeft, will celebrate her 29th birthday on Wednesday. She is aiming to become the first player to defend the Australian Open women's title since Victoria Azarenka won in 2012 and 2013. ___ GOOD LUCK ANDREY: Murray plays Russian qualifier and 156th-ranked Andrey Rublev in a night match at Rod Laver Arena. The lowest-ranked player to beat Murray at a Grand Slam tournament is No. 91 Arnaud Clement at the 2005 U.S. Open. Overall, Murray has a 10-1 record against qualifiers at Grand Slam events. Still, Murray will be wary of Rublev. 'I know a little bit about him,' Murray said after his first-round win over Illya Marchenko. 'I never hit with him or played against him, but I've seen him play before and he goes for it. He doesn't hold back. He hits a big ball.' Murray has lost the Australian Open final five times in seven years, and never won the title. He hopes to have another chance this year to atone for his past defeats. 'I have had a lot of tough losses here, for sure,' he said. 'I have played some of my best tennis on hard courts here. But I keep coming back to try. I'll keep doing that until I'm done.' ___ AND GOOD LUCK NOAH: Federer has not lost to a player ranked as low as No. 200 Noah since losing to 249th-ranked Sergio Bruguera at Barcelona in 2000. In terms of Grand Slam events, the lowest-ranked player Federer has lost to was No. 154 Mario Ancic at 2002 Wimbledon. ___ LONGEVITY IN MELBOURNE: Venus Williams' match against Voegele comes in her 17th appearance at the Australian Open. She has never won the title in Melbourne, but was runner-up in 2003, losing to her younger sister, Serena. And for the record, her seven Grand Slam singles titles came five times at Wimbledon and twice at the U.S. Open. ___ ONCE A YEAR: Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori plays France's Jeremy Chardy to open play on Hisense Arena, and their meeting has become an annual thing. Nishikori has a 4-2 edge in matches which they've contested once a year for the past six years. Nishikori is attempting to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the seventh consecutive year. He lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the Brisbane International final two weeks ago. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

Danger matches Tuesday for Djokovic, Williams at Aussie Open

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Not much room for error: six-time Australian Open champions Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic face tougher-than expected first-round matches on Tuesday. Both are chasing records at Melbourne Park, where Williams is hoping to set an Open-era record by winning her 23rd Grand Slam title and Djokovic is striving to be the first man to win the Australian title seven times. Williams, who lost to Angelique Kerber in last year's final, has drawn Belinda Bencic, who was seeded 12th here last year and who beat her in Toronto in 2015. Their career record is 1-1, with Williams having beaten Bencic on clay at Madrid in 2014. Bencic advanced to the fourth round at Melbourne Park last year. 'I think it will be good for us both,' Williams said. 'She's done well here before. It's never easy for me. I didn't come here to lose in the first round, or the second round, or at all. If I can play the way I've been practicing, it will be fine.' Djokovic, meanwhile, faces veteran Fernando Verdasco, a man he's beaten nine times in 13 career meetings. Verdasco had an upset win over fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal last year in the first round. 'Fernando is a very complete player on any surface. In a given day, if things go right, he can beat really anybody on any surface,' Djokovic said. He's not overwhelmed by the occasion of playing on center court. I'm expecting a tough one, there's no doubt about it.' ___ BENCIC IS PUMPED: Bencic has a 9-2 record in first-round Grand Slam matches. Bencic found out about her first-round opponent when, she admitted, 'my Twitter was blowing up. I was like, What's going on? My first reaction was really happy. So I think I'm super pumped, like excited I get to play on the big court.' She thinks it's anything but back luck that she drew Williams: 'I think we're going to play on the big court. It's a big match ... it's what everyone's working for.' Williams has Bencic's record in first-round majors covered, and then some. She's 64-1 in Grand Slam first-round matches, her lone opening-round loss at a Grand Slam came at 2012 Roland Garros against Virginie Razzano. ______ RAFA READY: Rafael Nadal is coming off two lengthy injury layoffs last year, and his match on Rod Laver Arena against Florian Mayer will be the first between the pair since 2012, when Nadal won on clay at Rome. Mayer beat Nadal on hard courts at Shanghai in 2011. Nadal has reached the second round or better in all but one of his 12 previous trips to Melbourne Park — the one failure coming last year when he lost to Verdasco in the first round. Mayer is hoping to end a seven-match losing streak at the majors and record his first Grand Slam match win since he reached the round of 16 here in 2014. ___ CAN KONTA DO IT AGAIN?: Last year, Sydney-born Johanna Konta was a surprise semifinalist at Melbourne Park, and the British player is now in the top 10 and coming off a victory in the Sydney International last week, where she overwhelmed third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the final. She'll play Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium to open the day session on Margaret Court Arena. 'I played her (Flipkens) last year in Monterrey, she beat me there. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to play her again. She's a great player. She's a Wimbledon semifinalist (2013). She's been around the tour for a long time. That's by no accident.' Konta has won only five of her 12 first-round Grand Slam matches. ___ RAONIC FAVORED: Last year's semifinalist and No. 3-seeded Milos Raonic plays Dustin Brown of Germany in the second match on Margaret Court. Brown has never won a match at Melbourne Park, and he's only beaten a top 10 player once in a Grand Slam. Advantage to the Canadian. They have played once before, when Raonic beat Brown in the first round at last year's U.S. Open. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Sumang's surge gets rewarded with POW citation

Roi Sumang is starting to show his true potential after spending much of his rookie season in obscurity. Selected 27th overall by GlobalPort in 2015, the pint-sized Sumang only played 27 games in 8.4 minutes, producing underwhelming numbers of 3.4 points, 0.7 rebound and 0.7 assist with the GlobalPort Batang Pier and late in his rookie year, with the Blackwater Elite. But the former University of the East star seemed right at home now with Blackwater. Coming off the bench, Sumang provided the big spark, firing 17 of his 19 points in the second half as Blackwater pulled the rug from under fancied Alaska, 103-100 on Sunday for a franchise-best fifth win. The 26-year-old Sumang showed quick hands and feet, attacking Alaska’s defense repeatedly with hard drive to the basket to help Blackwater establish a double-digit spread in the final period. Although the Aces came back strong, Sumang and veteran teammate Denok Miranda sank crucial free throws late in the game to seal the win. But more importantly, the native of Tondo, Manila was a steady defensive presence after finishing the game with 3 steals, while issuing 2 assists to seal the win for Blackwater. Sumang’s sterling effort earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period of Jan. 9-15, beating the likes of Mahindra guard Philip Paniamogan, San Miguel Beer slot man June Mar Fajardo, GlobalPort high-scoring guard Terrence Romeo, Barangay Ginebra forward Joe Devance, Star wingman Allen Maliksi and big man Ian Sangalang as well as Calvin Abueva of Alaska. Although Sumang also took home the Best Player of game honors, the diminutive Blackwater playmaker vows to work harder in practice as the Elite shoot for a playoff spot in the All-Filipino conference.  Blackwater clashes with Barangay Ginebra this Friday, before closing its elimination round assignment against Star on January 25. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Sumang's surge gets reward with POW citation

Roi Sumang is starting to show his true potential after spending much of his rookie season in obscurity. Selected 27th overall by GlobalPort in 2015, the pint-sized Sumang only played 27 games in 8.4 minutes, producing underwhelming numbers of 3.4 points, 0.7 rebound and 0.7 assist with the GlobalPort Batang Pier and late in his rookie year, with the Blackwater Elite. But the former University of the East star seemed right at home now with Blackwater. Coming off the bench, Sumang provided the big spark, firing 17 of his 19 points in the second half as Blackwater pulled the rug from under fancied Alaska, 103-100 on Sunday for a franchise-best fifth win. The 26-year-old Sumang showed quick hands and feet, attacking Alaska’s defense repeatedly with hard drive to the basket to help Blackwater establish a double-digit spread in the final period. Although the Aces came back strong, Sumang and veteran teammate Denok Miranda sank crucial free throws late in the game to seal the win. But more importantly, the native of Tondo, Manila was a steady defensive presence after finishing the game with 3 steals, while issuing 2 assists to seal the win for Blackwater. Sumang’s sterling effort earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period of Jan. 9-15, beating the likes of Mahindra guard Philip Paniamogan, San Miguel Beer slot man June Mar Fajardo, GlobalPort high-scoring guard Terrence Romeo, Barangay Ginebra forward Joe Devance, Star wingman Allen Maliksi and big man Ian Sangalang as well as Calvin Abueva of Alaska. Although Sumang also took home the Best Player of game honors, the diminutive Blackwater playmaker vows to work harder in practice as the Elite shoot for a playoff spot in the All-Filipino conference.  Blackwater clashes with Barangay Ginebra this Friday, before closing its elimination round assignment against Star on January 25. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Aces played with fire and they got burned

With a shocking loss to Blackwater that momentarily derailed their chase for a top-2 spot in the playoffs, Alaska head coach Alex Compton is first to admit that his team may have failed to give the Elite their proper due Sunday. And that obviously hurt them a lot. 'We played with fire, we got burned,' Compton said after a 100-103 loss. 'I was watching the Doc Rivers interview last month, and I think it's approriate: If you don't respect the game, it's gonna disrespect you right back.' The defeat put the Aces back up to .500 with an even 4-4 record, tied with at least two teams as of posting time. With the Philippine Cup standings coming down to the quotient system if multiple teams end up with the same record, Alaska might get blindsided again. 'This thing could play out: We could not make the playoffs [and] we could still technically end up at second,' he said, outlining just how wild the playoff race may wind up. But with three games left still, Compton is banking on his team learning its lesson and not let opportunity slip away. They haven't learned their lesson yet as of Sunday. 'We know from our past experiences, the last two All-Filipinos, we got the twice to beat, it's very helpful,' Compton said. 'We lost four games last conference by a total of 12 points. So it means, we haven't got the lesson well enough yet,' he added, going back to the fact that the Aces were slapped with a twice-to-beat disadvantage in the quarterfinals due inferior quotient despite being tied for the third-best record in the league. 'How we respond is what I'll be most interested in.'   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Sumang slowly finding his niche in the PBA

After starring for the University of the East Red Warriors in the UAAP, Roi Sumang has struggled to find his niche in the PBA. But playing for Blackwater in his second pro season, it looks like Sumang has found a perfect fit with the Elite, making the most of his limited time as a sparkplug off the bench. However, Sumang made a case for himself Sunday after playing his best game of the year against the veteran Alaska Aces. The Tondo baller exploded for 17 points in the second half, spearheading Blackwater's offense that went on to score a 103-100 upset. Most impressive about Sumang's performance was 10 of his 19 total points came in the fourth quarter. Six of those 10 came in the last 1:21 of the game. While he's only been fielded in half of Blackwater's games so far this season, Elite head coach Leo Austria sure knows what he's getting from Sumang. 'He's Roi Sumang. Alam naman natin kung ano pwede niyang gawin,' he said. 'You can backtrack to his collegiate days at UE. Tiyempo-tiyempo lang. We're still stikcing to our rule of whoever performs well gets rewarded with extra minutes and true to his performance, he was able to really showcase his talent again,' he added. As for Roi himself, it was just a matter of repaying his coach. 'Coming off the bench, yun lang naman sina sabi nila coach eh. Kung ano lang yung gusto nila mangyari, yun lang ginagawa namin,' Sumang said. br /> --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Australian Open quotes: Rafael Nadal says no plans to retire

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal isn't planning to give up tennis anytime soon. Johanna Konta won't take too seriously her dominating win in the Sydney International last Friday. And Sam Stosur, who has never done well at her home Grand Slam tournament, isn't getting too down on herself after her preparation — or lack of it— for Melbourne Park. Following are some thoughts and impressions from players who spoke on Sunday, the day before the start of the Australian Open: ___ RAFAEL NADAL The takeaway: Rafa is not about to call it quits anytime soon. Nadal, a 14-time major winner, is coming off two lengthy injury layoffs last year, including 2 ½ months off after pulling out of the French Open before the third round with left wrist injury and another rest at the end of the season. Just don't ask him if he's ready to pull out a rod and reel, or a 9-iron. 'If I don't believe that I can be competitive, and when I mean competitive, is fighting for the things that I fought for during the last 10 years, I will be probably playing golf or fishing at home,' Nadal said. 'I am being honest ... I am here because I believe ... I can fight for the things that really motivate me.' Given his history with injuries, Nadal was asked if he was playing pain free. 'What do you mean 'pain-free'?' he said. 'I am not injured, no. Pain-free is a long time ago.' ___ JOHANNA KONTA The Sydney-born British player, a surprise semifinalist at Melbourne Park last year, won the Sydney International final against Agnieszka Radwanska last Friday, a victory so dominating that the Polish player, ranked third in the world, said: 'I can't remember playing someone like this on that level, that consistent for the whole match. I couldn't really say that I did something wrong. She was just playing amazing tennis.' Konta said Sunday she's not reading too much into those plaudits. 'Obviously to have beaten a player like Aga, I'm definitely very pleased with the level I played,' Konta said. 'But we all know that it's not a given. It doesn't decide how you will do in the next event. I'm taking it as a positive from the week itself, but I'm looking to, again, work hard here and really try to do the best that I can here.' ___ SAMANTHA STOSUR Competing in her 15th Australian Open, the highest-ranked Australian woman in the draw has never made it past the fourth round at Melbourne Park. Her preparation for her home major wasn't helped with first-round losses at Brisbane and Sydney 'I can't change it, it is what it is,' Stosur said of her early exits. 'I'm not going into my first round freaking out that I haven't had more than two matches. Like I said, I've done everything else that I can. Obviously it would have been really nice to have played more. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in that situation from the first two weeks of the year.' The 18th-seeded Stosur has a tough first-round match against Heather Watson of Britain. ___ SIMONA HALEP The fourth-seeded Halep lost in the first round last year at Melbourne Park. This year she'll have the distinction of opening play on the main Rod Laver Arena on Monday, against American Shelby Rogers. 'I hope is going to be better this year ... it's special to open the tournament on the biggest stadium. I'm not thinking very much at that thing. I just have to go there. I know the opponent pretty well.' Halep beat Rogers in straight sets in the third round at the 2015 U.S. Open in their only previous meeting. ___ TOMMY HAAS The 38-year-old German veteran has said 2017 will be his last year on tour — he's taking over as tournament director at Indian Wells. Haas, who plays Benoit Paire of France in the first round, wants to go out with some dignity after a career of injuries. He has been ranked as high as No. 2, won 15 ATP Tour titles, reached the semifinals of the Australian Open three times and Wimbledon once, and won a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. His career has been stalled by injuries since he had shoulder surgery two years ago and right foot surgery in the middle of last year. 'I think it's important to find that right time, or that moment for you when you feel it's over and it's time to do something else,' Haas said Sunday. 'For me it's very important just to be back on tour and back here at the Australian Open. It's been a while since I've played here and I'm excited to get the opportunity to go out on the court one more time and compete.' And to keep playing, hoping that his best is once again around the corner. 'When you are a dreamer, and a lot of us are, you obviously like to play at your best level again, maybe play against some of the top players somewhere on a big stage and play a great matches,' Haas said. 'Maybe get far in a tournament one more time.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Thomas will take his 59, and a trophy would be a bonus

div>DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer /div> div>  /div> div>HONOLULU (AP) — Two islands, two big moments to celebrate, and Justin Thomas had to think about which meant more to him. /div> div>  /div> div>He won at Kapalua, but that won't put him in the record book. Winning a PGA Tour event happens 47 weeks out of the year. /div> div>  /div> div>And then on Thursday in the Sony Open, he made a 15-foot eagle putt on the final hole to shoot 59 . That gets him in the record book with the eighth sub-60 round in PGA Tour history. But he still hasn't won the tournament. /div> div>  /div> div>That won't be decided for three more rounds, and history is not necessarily on his side. Of the previous seven sub-60 rounds, only three players wound up winning — Al Geiberger at the Memphis Classic in 1977, David Duval at the Bob Hope Classic in 1999 and Stuart Appleby at the Greenbrier Classic in 2010. Duval and Appleby each shot 59 in the final round. /div> div>  /div> div>So which was the greater feat? Which brought more satisfaction? Winning a tournament or shooting 59? /div> div>  /div> div>'On paper, it would be today,' Thomas said. 'I have a chance to win a golf tournament every week. I don't have many chances to shoot 59.' /div> div>  /div> div>Oddly enough, only when he thought he had a chance did he start thinking he was out of chances at Waialae Country Club. /div> div>  /div> div>Golf's magic number — even though Jim Furyk holds the record with a 58 , any score that starts with 'fifty' is still magic — first crossed his mind when he two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th to make the turn in 29. /div> div>  /div> div>'As well as I was driving it, I can go shoot 6 or 7 (under) on this side and really, really post history,' he said. /div> div>  /div> div>He birdied the next two holes. On the par-3 fourth, he hit 7-iron to 5 feet for birdie. He was 9 under through 13. And then he started to think that maybe this wasn't going to be his day. Thomas missed a 10-foot birdie chance on No. 5 and still doesn't know how his 30-foot birdie attempt on the No. 7 didn't go in. /div> div>  /div> div>Spieth and Daniel Berger — all of them were born in 1993 and graduated high school in 2011 — were as much into this pursuit as Thomas, if not more. Spieth wrapped his hands around the back of his neck when Thomas didn't make the putt on No. 7. /div> div>  /div> div>'When those didn't go in, I was kind of saying to myself, 'Maybe this isn't meant to be.' I thought some of the things that happened earlier in the day, I was kind of curious if I was going to post a number or if it was just an unbelievable round,' Thomas said. /div> div>  /div> div>He made eight birdies and two eagles. Equally important — maybe even the key shot for him — was a 10-foot par save on the eighth hole. That kept him at 9 under going to the par-5 ninth, his final hole which is 506 yards and easily reachable with a good drive. /div> div>  /div> div>He thought he hit a good drive. It wasn't easy. Instead of clearing a fairway bunker down the left side, Thomas saw it hit top of the bunker. /div> div>  /div> div>'I saw some sand flying and I was ready to punch something,' Thomas said. 'I was pretty upset about that, because I felt like all chances right there were gone.' /div> div>  /div> div>That's when Berger saved the day. /div> div>  /div> div>Berger, who beat out Thomas for PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2015, also was in the bunker. Thomas already was planning to hit wedge out of the sand and take his chances from the fairway. At worst, he shoots 60 or 61. /div> div>  /div> div>But then Berger hit a 4-iron out of the bunker and onto the green. Thomas asked for a 5-iron. /div> div>  /div> div>'This isn't a time for me to lay it up,' he said. /div> div>  /div> div>From 207 yards, with as good a shot as he has hit, Thomas cleared the lip and hit it to 15 feet. Berger was just outside of him, so he got a good read — the putt broke to the right — and he poured it in. /div> div>  /div> div>Thomas joined Duval as the only players to break 60 with an eagle on the last hole. He joined Furyk as the only players to break 60 with a bogey. /div> div>  /div> div>He just wasn't sure what to make of it. This wasn't the stoic Duval fist-pumping his way around the green. Thomas held both arms to the side, and he punched the air with his right fist only after seeing Spieth and Berger celebrating far more than he was. /div> div>  /div> div>'I think I got more excited from seeing them get excited than I did my putt going in,' Thomas said. 'I thought about it going up to the green. I'm like, 'If I make it, what am I going to do?' It's not like winning a tournament. You have three days left to try to play well. So I didn't really know how to react. I never had a putt on the last hole on a Thursday mean that much.' /div> div>  /div> div>And that's where he was on Friday. Back to work. His name is in the record book, but not yet the trophy. /div> div>  /div> div>The only other player to shoot 59 in the opening round was Paul Goydos at the John Deere Classic in 2010. He was runner-up to Steve Stricker, who opened with a 60. /div> div>  /div> div>Thomas only had a three-shot lead over Hudson Swafford when the day ended. /div> div>  /div> div>No matter. It's already a great week. /div> div>  /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

Watson and Clemson dethrone top-ranked Tide, 35-31

div>RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer /div> div>  /div> div>TAMPA, Florida (AP) — College football's first national championship rematch was even better than the original, with an incredible twist at the end. /div> div>  /div> div>Deshaun Watson and Clemson dethroned the champs and became the first team to beat Nick Saban's Alabama dynasty in a national title game, taking down the top-ranked Crimson Tide 35-31 Monday night in the College Football Playoff. /div> div>  /div> div>Watson found Hunter Renfrow for a 2-yard touchdown pass with a second remaining to give the Tigers their first national championship since 1981. A year after Alabama won its fourth title under Saban with a 45-40 classic in Arizona, Clemson closed the deal and denied the Tide an unprecedented fifth championship in eight seasons. /div> div>  /div> div>The lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter, but Watson got the ball last. Likely playing in his final college game, the junior quarterback threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns. In two games against Alabama and the most ferocious defense in college football, Watson has thrown for 825 yards and accounted for eight touchdowns. /div> div>  /div> div>Coach Dabo Swinney, the native Alabaman and former Crimson Tide walk-on receiver, has built an elite program at Clemson that was missing only one thing. Now the Tigers can check that box, too. /div> div>  /div> div>'Eight years ago we set out to put Clemson back on top,' said Swinney, who can turn postgame interviews into a rousing sermon. 'We came up a little short last year, but today on top of the mountain, the Clemson flag is flying.' /div> div>  /div> div>After three quarters of vicious hits and tight defense, Tigers-Tide II ended up looking a lot like the first meeting when the teams combined for 40 points in the fourth quarter. /div> div>  /div> div>Clemson took its first lead when Watson found Mike Williams for a 4-yard touchdown a minute into the fourth quarter to make it 24-21. /div> div>  /div> div>The Tigers took a 28-24 lead with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter when Wayne Gallman surged in from a yard out. /div> div>  /div> div>The Tide's offense, which had gone dormant for most of the second half, came to life with the help of a sweet call from newly promoted offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Receiver ArDarius Stewart took a backward pass from Jalen Hurts and fired a strike to O.J. Howard for 24 yards. /div> div>  /div> div>On the next play, Hurts broke free from a collapsing pocket and weaved his way through defenders for a 30-yard touchdown run to make it 31-28 with 2:07 left. /div> div>  /div> div>More than enough time for Watson. /div> div>  /div> div>'I was calm,' Watson said. He said he thought about Vince Young's last-second touchdown for Texas that derailed the Southern California's championship run in the 2005 championship game at the Rose Bowl. He told his team: 'Let's go be great.' /div> div>  /div> div>Watson hooked up with Williams and Jordan Leggett, who made great catches for big gains to get to first-and-goal with 14 seconds left. /div> div>  /div> div>A pass interference on Alabama made it first-and-goal at the 2 with six seconds left. Time for one more play to avoid a game-tying kick and potential overtime. Renfrow slipped away from the defense at the goal line and was alone for an easy toss. It was the walk-on receiver's second TD catch of the night, adding to the two he had last season against Alabama. /div> div>  /div> div>When it ended, Clemson's 315-pound (143 -kilogram) defensive lineman Christian Wilkins did a cartwheel and Ben Boulware, one of the toughest linebackers in the country, was in tears. /div> div>  /div> div>The Tigers had snapped Alabama's 26-game winning streak and beaten a No. 1 team for the first time ever. /div> div>  /div> div>'It's been 35 long years!' Boulware screamed. 'It's coming home baby! It's coming home!' /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Justin Thomas holds on to beat Hideki Matsuyama at Kapalua

br /> DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer   KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Justin Thomas kept reminding himself that a one-shot lead with two holes to play is never a bad place to be on the PGA Tour. Ignoring that his five-shot lead was nearly gone against Hideki Matsuyama, Thomas thought more about the great golf that had put him in this position Sunday at the SBS Tournament of Champions. He responded by hitting an 8-iron from 214 yards on a downhill lie that was so pure he stopped to admire it before it landed. It plopped down in front of the pin and settled 3 feet away for a birdie. Matsuyama three-putted for bogey, and Thomas was on his way to a comfortable victory at Kapalua that moved him into the conversation of golf's young stars. 'The best shot I hit this week,' Thomas said. 'There's a tree that's a little slanted, and it's a perfect aiming point. I just kind of aimed it there and made sure I held onto the club, if anything, to make sure my miss was right. ... And really, I just flushed it. As soon as it came off, I knew it was going to be perfect.' Matsuyama, going after his fourth straight victory worldwide, knew he needed to make his 30-foot birdie putt to stay in the game. He ran it 8 feet by, missed the par putt coming back and was out of chances when Thomas hammered another tee shot on the par-5 18th. Thomas closed with a two-putt birdie for a 4-under 69 and a three-shot victory, his second of the PGA Tour season that moved him to No. 12 in the world. His other two PGA Tour title were at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. 'I think it's potentially floodgates opening,' said Jordan Spieth, his best friend in golf since they were teenagers. 'The guy hits it forever. He's got a really, really nifty short game. He manages the course well. He's playing the golf course the way it should be played, and honestly, he's taking advantage of the easier holes. 'It's awesome to see,' Spieth said. 'He's going to be tough to beat next week, too.' Spieth closed with a 65 and tied for third with Pat Perez (67) and Ryan Moore (71). Matsuyama, who made two soft bogeys on the front nine to fall five shots behind, made it more of a game than anyone expected. The 24-year-old from Japan holed a flop shot for eagle on the 14th hole, and then Thomas hooked a 4-iron into the hazard on the par-5 15th hole and made double bogey. Just like that, Thomas went from a five-shot lead to a one-shot lead, and Matsuyama had a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th to tie for the lead. The putt narrowly missed, and Thomas answered with his 8-iron for birdie to end it. Matsuyama closed with a 70. 'My putter let me down there at 16, 17 and 18,' Matsuyama said. 'I tipped my hat to Justin. He played well all day long.' Thomas is the only player to beat Matsuyama over the last three months. In his last six tournaments worldwide, Matsuyama had four victories and a pair of runner-up finishes — both to Thomas, in Kuala Lumpur and Kapalua. Thomas, who finished at 22-under 270, said his immediate thoughts were booking a return trip to Kapalua next year for the winners-only event. 'It changes things going forward because I know I'm coming back here,' Thomas said. The scenery down the 18th toward the blue Pacific, where humpback whales spent the afternoon breeching and splashing their tails, was even better because his parents were watching him win for the first time. His father, Mike Thomas, is a longtime head pro in Harmony Landing in Kentucky who is still his coach. Spieth closed with a 65 to tie for third with Pat Perez (67) and Ryan Moore (71). Spieth and Jimmy Walker came down to the 18th to congratulate the winner. Thomas started the final round with a two-shot lead and no one got closer until his blunder on the 15th. One of the longest hitters in golf with his slight build, Thomas really did miss a shot until the ninth hole, and that's when he got a huge break. With the wind stiff and in his face, he got quick with his driver and hit a snap-hook into the knee-high weeds left of the fairway. He hit a provisional for a lost ball and was about ready to abandon the search when a TV spotter was summoned to give an indication where it went. They found the ball, and it was sitting up a few inches above the roots, allowing Thomas to at least hack out into the fairway. He followed with a 3-wood onto the green for a two-putt par after starting with a shot that made double bogey appear likely. Thomas wasn't so fortunate on the 15th. 'I stumbled more than I would have liked to do,' Thomas said. 'But it shows where my game is at right now. I had some woes there, but I stuck it out to still get it done.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Rodgers on a roll and has Packers looking unstoppable

The Associated Press br /> Forget Dak Prescott, Tom Brady, and Matt Ryan. Aaron Rodgers has probably been the NFL's top quarterback since Thanksgiving in late November. He's re-established that dynamic connection with receiver Jordy Nelson for the Green Bay Packers, and Ty Montgomery's emergence as a receiver-turned-running back has been a revelation. Rodgers is on a roll, and when he gets going, the Packers look unstoppable, capable of building big leads and coming back from any deficit. After a 1-2 start in 2014, Rodgers famously admonished fans to R-E-L-A-X. This season, after a 4-6 start, he promised to 'run the table' and led them to another NFC North division title. They feature in the showcase of wild-card playoffs weekend, when they host Eli Manning and the New York Giants on Sunday. The playoff history between the Packers and Giants is rich. For the record, the Packers have a 4-3 edge. The Giants won the first matchup and the NFL title in 1938, beating the Packers 23-17. The Packers won the next four games and NFL championships in 1939, '44, 61 and '62. The Giants won the last two playoff games in 2008 and 2012, both at Lambeau Field, and went on to win the Super Bowls. The Packers' weakness is in defense, where the secondary is depleted. The offense has been on a remarkable run of mistake-free football during their six-match winning streak, but they could be hard-pressed to keep up in high-scoring games like they were during a midseason four-game slump. The Giants are showing elements of the frenzied pass rush and opportunistic defense that won them their last two NFL crowns. Over the last 11 games, opponents have averaged just 16 points against the Giants. They need that stingy defense because of their ineffective offense. The Giants didn't score 30 points in any game, and haven't even reached 20 points since Nov. 27 against the hapless Cleveland Browns. The running game is so-so, and Manning seems comfortable throwing only to Odell Beckham Jr. Not that it's a bad idea. In the other game on Sunday, Pittsburgh hosts the Miami Dolphins, who turned around their season with an Oct. 16 victory over the Steelers. But Miami is yet another team using a backup quarterback, Matt Moore, after starter Ryan Tannehill was ruled out on Thursday because he wasn't ready to practice on a sprained left knee. If Jay Ajayi can run wild again, Miami has a solid chance. However, the Steelers are a tested bunch and got to rest several key players in the regular season finale, including Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell. Wild-card weekend begins with the Oakland Raiders, one of the AFC's powers until the past three weeks, traveling to the Houston Texans on Saturday, followed by the Detroit Lions at the Seattle Seahawks. Raiders rookie Connor Cook will become the first quarterback in NFL history to make his first start in a playoff game. Derek Carr and Matt McGloin remain injured. Cook had 150 yards passing and a touchdown in his NFL debut last week. Meanwhile, the Texans are going back to the so-far-underwhelming Brock Osweiler after Tom Savage was concussed last week. Neither the Seahawks nor the Lions have been inspiring in the past month, with Detroit throwing away the NFC North crown with three straight closing defeats, and Seattle kicking away a bye by splitting its final six games. These are two of the worst running teams in American football, but Seattle has gotten back Thomas Rawls, which could make for a distinct edge. The Seahawks also have the better defense, though its been vulnerable against the pass since star safety Earl Thomas broke his left leg a month ago. Detroit's Matthew Stafford is the first quarterback to lead eight game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since the 1970 merger, but he's been sacked an NFL-most 37 times. The Lions are also down to their third running back. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017