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Returning Djokovic can’t wait to relight the ‘fire’

Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic says he’s excited to be back after a long injury-enforced break, admitting he has missed the “fire and passion” of competitive tennis. The Serbian former world number one has been out of action for six months, and while he enjoyed having his first real break since turning professional, he… link: Returning Djokovic can’t wait to relight the ‘fire’.....»»

Category: newsSource: manilainformer manilainformerJan 13th, 2018

Players criticize risky conditions at broiling Aussie Open

By Justin Bergman, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Some weary players sat shirtless on changeovers, ice-filled towels draped around their necks. Others retreated to any bit of shade they could find on court and sought treatment for blistered feet and heat stress. Temperatures soared to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) as the start of an expected heat wave hit the Australian Open on Thursday, bringing misery to players unfortunate enough to have their matches scheduled during the day session and keeping many spectators away. "I didn't expect to play this kind of match," a thoroughly exhausted Juan Martin del Potro said after beating Karen Khachanov in a nearly four-hour, second-round match. "I prefer to watch on TV. Or stay on the beach, drinking some beer." Scorching temperatures are common at the Australian Open — so much so the tournament has an extreme heat policy that allows for the referee to close the roofs on the three main show courts and suspend play on the outer courts when temperatures surpass 40 Celsius. Matches weren't halted Thursday as the highs stayed just below 40 Celsius for much of the day, but that doesn't mean the heat didn't cause issues for the players. Gael Monfils, for one, staggered through a good portion of his second-round match against Novak Djokovic, bending over repeatedly to catch his breath between points and at one stage returning to the comfort of his shaded chair without even attempting to return Djokovic's serve. Afterwards, he called the conditions "risky" for the players, especially with the new rule restricting the time between points to 25 seconds. "I get super dizzy. I think I have a small heat stroke for 40 minutes," said Monfils, who is considered one of the fittest players on tour. "At that time, the officials have to make a move. Maybe wait a little bit, whatever, five minutes between the set. Maybe they have to do small adjustment." Djokovic agreed, describing the conditions "brutal" and some of the toughest he's ever played in. "There are certain days where you just have to, as a tournament supervisor, recognize that you might need to give players few extra hours until (the temperature) comes down," he said. "I understand there is a factor of tickets. If you don't play matches, people will be unhappy." But he said the conditions were at the point where it becomes a "danger in terms of health." There were no retirements due to the heat on Day 4, however, and some players were even unfazed by the conditions. Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei saw the heat as a benefit in her second-round upset of Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza. "I know the weather is going to be a little bit tough today," she said. "I was thinking, 'Ah, I'm from Asia. I maybe can handle it better than other girls.'" Muguruza did have to stop at one point to wrap her feet to prevent blistering from the hot court. "I think the surface of the court, I don't know how much heat, (but) it's terrible," she said. "Very, very hot." As for recovery, nearly every player mentioned taking an ice bath, but Hsieh had a different approach. "Acupuncture," she said. "Not my favorite ... but it helps a lot. And also do the massage. And eat some nice food." With the weather expected to be hotter on Friday, with highs of 42 Celsius (108 Fahrenheit) in the forecast, Monfils had a message for players scheduled to be on court. "Honestly, good luck for the players," he said. "Just be smart. If you have to give up, you know, it's not a shame.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2018

Struggling Djokovic out, Federer into quarters

MELBOURNE, Australia – Wounded 12-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic was sent tumbling out of the Australian Open by Korean giant-killer Chung Hyeon Monday, January 22, but ice-cool Roger Federer roared into the quarter-finals. The Serb, who was returning from 6 months out with a right elbow injury, was clearly in ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 22nd, 2018

Federer joins Djokovic, Sharapova in 2nd round in Australia

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer picked up where he left off at the last Australian Open on a day when Maria Sharapova, Angelique Kerber and Novak Djokovic ensured there were all kinds of successful comebacks. Defending champion Federer beating Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in a night match, his first on Rod Laver Arena since clinching a career-reviving title here last year. He's been met on court after wins here previously by tennis greats Laver, John McEnroe and Jim Courier. On Tuesday night, he got something different. Comedian Will Ferrell stepped out of the crowd and, slipping into character as Ron Burgundy from the movie Anchorman, conducted the post-match interview. Six-time champion Djokovic and 2014 Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka stuck to business, returning from long injury layoffs with victories in their first matches since Wimbledon. Sharapova barely missed a beat in her first match in Melbourne since a failed doping test in 2016 resulted in a 15-month ban from tennis. One of just two former champions in the women's draw, Sharapova recovered from an early break in the second set and closed out her 6-1, 6-4 victory over Tatjana Maria with an ace at Margaret Court Arena. She celebrated by twirling, waving and blowing kisses to the crowd. "It's been a couple of years since I've been back here — obviously I wanted to enjoy the moment," the 2008 Australian Open champion and three-time runner-up said in an on-court TV interview. Former No. 1-ranked Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open winner, continued her resurgent run with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Anna-Lena Friedsam to extend her streak to 10 consecutive wins. Her ranking slid into the 20s in 2017, but she's coming back into the kind of form that won her a title in Sydney last week and makes her a strong contender at Melbourne Park. "Something is going on with Australia and me," Kerber said. "I enjoy my stay, play my best tennis." Djokovic tweaked his service motion while recovering from an injured right elbow, and used it to good effect in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Donald Young. Djokovic lost in the second round here last year, but won five of the previous six Australian Open titles. "Obviously I wanted to start with the right intensity, which I have," Djokovic said. "I played perfect tennis, like I never stopped." Wawrinka, who had six months out after surgery on his left knee, beat Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2). No. 4-ranked 4-Alexander Zverev and No. 7 David Goffin advanced, but No. 20 Roberto Bautista Agut lost to Fernando Verdasco, a semifinalist here in 2009, and former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic lost 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to Lukas Lacko. No. 13 Sam Querrey restored some order for the U.S. men with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Feliciano Lopez. Two other U.S. contenders, No. 8 Jack Sock and No. 16 John Isner, were out on opening day. Madison Keys also reversed a trend, becoming the only one of the four American women who contested the U.S. Open semifinals last September to reach the second round in Australia. Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe were all eliminated on Monday. No. 17-seeded Keys, the runner-up at the U.S. Open, had a 6-1, 7-5 win over Wang Qiang. No. 9 Johanna Konta beat Madison Brengle 6-3, 6-1 and will meet another American, Bernarda Pera in the second round. The U.S. women had four wins and 14 losses in round one. No. 1-ranked Simona Halep was in serious trouble twice — having to save set points at 5-2 down in the first set, and badly twisting her left ankle early in the second — before beating 17-year-old Australian wild-card entry Destanee Aiava 7-6 (5), 6-1. Halep, who lost back-to-back first-round matches here in the previous two years, will next play Eugenie Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon finalist who beat Oceane Dodin 6-3, 7-6 (5). "It's always really cool to go up against the best in the world," Bouchard said. "You use it as a measuring stick. I want to try to play my game and go out there and do some damage." Other seeded players advancing included Wimbledon champion Garbine Mugurza, No. 6 Karolina Pliskova, No. 8 Caroline Garcia, No. 16 Elena Vesnina, and No. 29 Lucie Safarova. Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova lost 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 to Andrea Petkovic. Sharapova was banned for after testing positive for the drug meldonium here in 2016, when she reached the quarterfinals, and finished last year ranked No. 60. The five-time major winner will next play No. 14-seeded Anastasija Sevastova, who beat her at the U.S. Open last year in her return to a Grand Slam to tournament. After returning in New York, Sharapova is confident she's prepared again for a major. "I felt like I have got a lot of things out of the way physically and emotionally and mentally last year with — there was a lot of firsts again for me, playing the first tournament, first Grand Slam, and just different feelings and what it would be routinely," she said. "But it felt pretty routine today.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2018

Federer deflects attention to Nadal, Djokovic in Australia

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer prefers to think of Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic as the favorites for the Australian Open title, despite entering as defending champion and coming off a worry-free preparation. "I play down my chances just because I don't think a 36-year-old should be a favorite of a tournament," Federer said Sunday on the eve of the year's first Grand Slam tournament, "It should not be the case. "That's why I see things more relaxed, you know, at a later stage of my career." The 19-time major winner can afford to relax slightly longer, given the half of the draw that he shares with Djokovic doesn't start until day two. Top-ranked Nadal will get under way Monday night against Victor Estrella Burgos on Rod Laver Arena, where he lost the final in five sets to Federer last year. All four singles finalists were 30 or older here last year in what became a tournament for the ages, and three of them are back. Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus Williams in the final to capture an Open era-record 23rd major here last year but decided against defending her title because she didn't have enough time to recover from health issues after a complicated childbirth in September. Venus Williams is seeded fifth and is second match scheduled on center court to get her 77th major under way with a challenging opener against Belinda Bencic. She's 4-0 in career head-to-heads against 20-year-old Bencic — who reached a career-high No. 7 ranking in 2016 and who helped Federer win the Hopman Cup title for Switzerland earlier this month — but is coming off an abbreviated preparation that included a loss in the second round to eventual champion Angelique Kerber at the Sydney International last week. At 37, Venus Williams among the top contenders at Melbourne Park. Others in action on Monday include seventh-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, who meets Francesca Schiavone in a match featuring current vs. former French Open champions, No. 2-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, who opens against Mihaela Buzarnescu, and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens against Zhang Shuai. Simona Halep is the No. 1 seed in the women's draw, and one of six women who can hold the No. 1 ranking at the end of the Australian Open. Halep, who has had back-to-back first-round exits on her last two trips to Melbourne Park, opens on day two against Australian wild-card entry Destanee Aiava. Only two men can hold the top ranking in the first week of February — Nadal or Federer — regardless of what No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov or No. 4 Alexander Zverev or anybody else does in Melbourne. Federer returns in contrasting circumstances to his appearance in 2017, when he was coming off a six-month break for an injured left knee and had low expectations about ending a Grand Slam title drought that dated to Wimbledon in 2012. "This year I hope to win the first few rounds and get rolling hopefully, whereas last year I was just hoping to win," a match, Federer told his pre-tournament news conference Sunday. "It was more of a 'let's see what happens' kind of tournament, maybe similar to what Novak or Stan (Wawrinka) or others are going through this year." Six-time Australian Open winner Djokovic has been sidelined for six months with an injured right elbow, returning with a remodeled service motion, and 2014 champion Wawrinka has also been out of the game since Wimbledon after surgery on his knee. Nadal, who won the French and U.S. Open titles last year, has also had a limited preparation restricted to couple of exhibition matches last week as he recovers from a sore knee. None of that makes them any less of a threat to Federer. "Rafa, with the year that he's had, and Novak with the six titles he's had here, even if it's unknown how he's feeling, they could very well be the favorites, too," Federer said. "If you're in the draw, you give yourself a chance. That's what happened for me last year — all ended up way better than I thought it would, as you know.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2018

He’s on fire

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Stephen Curry erupted for 45 points to propel the Golden State Warriors to a 121-105 NBA victory over the Clippers in Los Angeles on Saturday. Curry, who has dazzled since returning from an 11-game injury absence, connected on eight of his 16 three-point attempts and made….....»»

Category: newsSource:  journalRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

Raiders officially announce hiring of Gruden as coach

By Josh Dubow, Associated Press ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders have officially hired Jon Gruden as their coach. The team announced the move Saturday as soon as Gruden finished his final broadcast as an announcer for ESPN. Gruden will be formally introduced at a news conference Tuesday. Gruden is returning for a second stint as coach of the Raiders after being traded to Tampa Bay following the 2001 season. He led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl title over Oakland the following season. He has been out of coaching since being fired by Tampa Bay after the 2008 season. The Raiders fired Jack Del Rio following the end of a disappointing six-win season. Oakland won 12 games in 2016 to earn Del Rio a four-year extension but the team fell flat this season. The offense regressed after the decision to fire coordinator Bill Musgrave and replace him with untested Todd Downing. The defense struggled mightily before a late-season switch from fired coordinator Ken Norton Jr. to play-caller John Pagano. That led to the decision to fire Del Rio following his third season and go hard after Gruden, who reportedly will get a 10-year contract worth an estimated $100 million. Gruden spent four seasons as coach in Oakland from 1998-2001. After leading the Raiders to 8-8 records his first two years, Gruden helped the team reach the AFC title game following the 2000 season and got Oakland back into the playoffs the following season. His tenure ended shortly after the “Tuck Rule” loss to the New England Patriots when he was traded the following month to Tampa Bay for two first-round draft picks, two second-rounders and $8 million. Gruden beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers but didn’t win another playoff game for Tampa Bay in his final six seasons. He has a 95-81 career record. This would not mark the first time the Raiders brought back a coach for a second stint. Late owner Al Davis hired Art Shell in 2006, 11 years after firing him the first time. Shell went 2-14 that season and was fired after one year. Other teams have also done it, with one of the most recent notable coaching hires being Joe Gibbs in Washington. Gibbs stepped away following the 1992 season with three Super Bowl titles in his career. He came back in 2004 and had a 30-34 record in four seasons, leading Washington to two playoff berths......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

Gunmen kill 14 churchgoers in Nigeria shooting

WARRI, Nigeria --- Gunmen killed at least 14 churchgoers returning from a midnight service on Monday in Nigeria's Rivers State, a police source told AFP, the latest violence to hit the oil-rich region. "The gunmen opened fire on a set of worshippers at about 12:30 am on Monday," said Ugochi Olugbo, a relative of one of the victims who were attending a New Year's Eve service. The shooting took place in the town of Omoku about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from the southern oil hub of Port Harcourt. "Fourteen persons died on the spot, while 12 who sustained gunshot wounds were rushed to the hospital and are receiving medical attention," said a police source who asked to remain anon...Keep on reading: Gunmen kill 14 churchgoers in Nigeria shooting.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2018

Leonard returning soon, but no target set for season debut

SAN ANTONIO --- Kawhi Leonard is feeling healthy and will return "soon" from a quadriceps injury that has kept him out all season, but the Spurs All-Star forward does not have a target date for his debut. "I feel good, soon to come (and) be able to play on the floor," Leonard said of his return. "It's been a long wait, but I'm feeling pretty healthy right now." Leonard did not play during the preseason and has missed the team's first 24 games with right quadriceps tendinopathy. He said the injury, which was due to "wear and tear," began to bother him in the offseason. Leonard spoke during an unplanned press conference about a half hour prior to San Antonio's home game a...Keep on reading: Leonard returning soon, but no target set for season debut.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 5th, 2017

Don’t you forget about the FEU Cheering Squad

It's easy to forget that the UAAP Cheerdance Competition is more than just NU, UP, and UST. UP and UST both have the history, creating an epic rivalry that has turned one of the UAAP's signature events into what it is today. NU changed the competition forever, setting a new standard for the modern era by making itself an actual Cheerdance dynasty. Then there's FEU, the other Cheerdance champion. It's easy to forget that before the rise of NU Pep, the FEU Cheering Squad was the team that completed the Cheerdance “Big 3.” While Morayta only has two championships, it's tied with UST for second-most medals with 16, The rise of NU meant that one team had to step back from the podium and for three straight seasons, it was the Tamaraws who made the sacrifice. That was not the case last season as FEU's return to UAAP elite was fast-tracked by taking over as the league's second-ranked squad behind only the Bulldogs. And entering a new season, the Tamaraws are determined to keep that status against some stacked competition featuring 4-time defending champion NU, the always-improving Adamson Pep Squad, and of course, the returning UP Pep Squad. Despite that however, "the process" is still ongoing for FEU. "Of course everyone wants the top spot ‘di ba, pero yun nga since it's a process, hindi mo kailangan madaliin," head coach Randell San Gregorio told ABS-CBN Sports in a previous interview regarding the outlook for this year. "Syempre mas may pressure yun [winning second place in 2016]," he added. With the UAAP Cheerdance Competition being just a one-time event, the margin for error for each competing team is rather slim. Screw up your routine and you have to wait one full year to bounce back. There is always pressure, even more so for teams that made the podium the year before. Anything less than an improvement would be a disappointment. And for FEU, after being second in 2016, it's not crazy to say that it's championship or bust for the team. Still, the Tamaraws would rather have it that way. "Dahil second yung binigay samin [in 2016], parang mas may pressure siya tuloy," San Gregorio said. "Pero kumbaga, I'd choose the pressure anytime kesa hindi kami magplace," he added. Trust the process......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2017

Draymond Green’s intensity, leadership pushes Durant, others

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Draymond Green and Kevin Durant bet on just about anything. “Life,” Green explained, “who drives home faster from the practice facility, who gets to the game earlier. You want us to tell you our whole life?” KD and Dray have formed quite a bond since way back, when Green was part of the strategic recruiting process to bring Durant to the Bay Area from Oklahoma City before last season. They’ve had a few heated moments, too, and both say they are better for it. And there’s no official count — that has been shared, anyway — on who owes who what for losing those friendly wagers. “Yeah, I’m not in those bets,” teammate Shaun Livingston said. “It could be a shot to start the practice, in the corner, anything. It doesn’t matter. Wherever. They just walk up to each other all the time, ‘Bet, bet it, bet it.’” Green, part of the Warriors contingent in the Hamptons to meet with Durant before the big July 4 decision announcement last year, lit into Durant during a loss to Memphis back in January. Then they got into it again in a three-point defeat at Sacramento on Feb. 4 (Feb. 5, PHL time). “Hollered at me? Ha! We’re grown men, ain’t nobody hollering at me,” Durant said good-naturedly after a recent practice when asked about the animated back-and-forth, as surrounding media members erupted into laughter at his response. He then chose far more colorful language — and expletives — to describe their heated exchange during a timeout. Green acknowledges being mad that night. He and Durant are thriving now. “It just shows the trust that we have in each other, the relationship we have that we can go at each other,” Green said. “No one takes it personal. You say what you got to say, I say what I got to say. We figure it out and then we move on. That’s kind of what that was. You want to grow from moments like that if you’re a strong team, if your chemistry’s strong, you grow from moments like that. Chemistry’s not so strong, you’re not much of a together team, you can crumble from situations like that. But our chemistry is one of the things that makes us special.” Golden State seemed to build from those moments, and the defending NBA champs withstood Durant’s absence for 19 games shortly thereafter because of a knee injury. Livingston is the guy who stood between them that night in the Golden 1 Center, and notes, “They’re cut from the same cloth in a sense.” “It’s good to have that type of relationship, honestly, because when adversity strikes and things hit, they’re not afraid to say anything to each other,” Livingston said, “and you need that.” The Warriors’ emotional leader has been doing a bit of everything. After a recent outing, Green stole a look at his stat line and grinned. He certainly appreciated that performance: 10 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, a season-best five blocked shots, two steals and just one turnover in 31 impressive minutes. “I like a line like that,” he said. “It kind of shows that you did everything on the floor and not just one thing. I definitely enjoy having a stat line like that if it means anything.” It means plenty to the Warriors, who are still working to find a consistent flow this season. They have struggled at times to take care of the ball and handle the basic fundamentals. That’s also typical Green, who lately is also having games in which he catches defenses off guard by knocking down three-pointers. His teammates love it all. “I knew he would make my job way easier and I knew I could help him,” Durant said. “I knew that his intensity was going to up the level of everybody on the floor, the way he approaches the game, his passion and love for the game. That stuff stood out more than anything. Obviously he’s quick for his position, he’s got long arms, he can shoot the 3, he can pass, he can rebound, but just his passion and love for the game that kind of shines bright, and it’s contagious.” Green raised his right arm in the air on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter of a Nov. 13 (Nov. 14, PHL time) win against the Magic, knocking down a three-pointer from the top of the arc before a layup moments later. “He’s unique from the standpoint of Steph, Klay and KD are guys that can go for 60. But Draymond just impacts the game in so many ways that you’ve just got to compete against him. You’ve got to understand that he can do it all,” Orlando coach Frank Vogel said. Green and Durant spent time together as 2016 Olympians in Rio. KD couldn’t wait to play with Green regularly — even if they went at it back on Feb. 4 (Feb. 5, PHL time) in Sacramento. “It’s just two teammates in the heat of the moment, both needed, at that point, that game, we were all bad,” Durant said. “We needed energy somehow. We kind of both sensed that. We came back to the huddle and got after it.” Still, that fire is what Durant loves about his intense teammate. Not to mention the work he puts in shooting from every spot on the floor. “It means a lot,” Green said. “You have to have those guys’ trust. If somebody sees you working, they have more trust in that. Obviously as one of the leaders of this team, you should be one of the hardest workers.” In the past three seasons, Green has notched five games with at least five points, five rebounds, five assists and five blocks. “You understand how impactful he can be without really scoring a lot of points or having any ooh or aah moments on the offensive end,” Stephen Curry said. “He has a lot of ooh and aah moments with the hustle plays and defensively. It seems like he’s always kind of in the play somehow. We appreciate every little bit of that effort and the results he prides himself in every single time he’s out there on the floor. His stat lines sometimes look like this where he’s so well-rounded across the board — points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots and whatnot — and he’ll bang down three, four triples every once in a while. You appreciate what he brings to the squad every single night and his energy and his passion.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 24th, 2017

Two former gunners returning for UST

UST Tigers drama is the gift that keesps on giving. Almost immediately after news of head coach Boy Sablan's exit from Espana, two former Growling Tigers have expressed their respective desires to return to the team. After UAAP Season 79, Renzon Subido and Mario Bonleon both left the Tigers for different reasons and missed Season 80 altogether. Subido said he wasn't satisfied with his level of play and opted to play in the PBA D-League to improve. Bonleon cited burnout and claimed he was not getting enough playing time under Sablan. With Sablan on his way out of UST, both gunners are expected to return for the Growling Tigers. Thank you Lord makakapasok na ulit ako sa basketball court ng Qpav ngayon thursday haha I'm so happy right now. 😍😍😍 — bons (@embonsbonleon) November 21, 2017   Can't wait to play for my Alma Mater! Let's do this! #OneforUST pic.twitter.com/zFQHA5FYUT — renzosubido (@RenzoSubido) November 21, 2017 They're not too subtle about the reasons for their return either. Let's see how this latest chapter of UST Tigers drama unfolds. The team still has no head coach after all. It's the gift that keeps on giving.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2017

Jedinak stars as Australia qualifies for 2018 World Cup

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer SYDNEY (AP) — Mile Jedinak didn't miss when it counted, propelling Australia into next year's World Cup with three goals in Wednesday's 3-1 intercontinental playoff victory over Honduras. The Australia captain was in doubt for the series with a groin injury that had forced him to miss end of the Asian qualifying campaign, when his team narrowly missed out on direct entry to the tournament in Russia. But Jedinak played a full game in the 0-0 draw in San Pedro Sula last Friday and, aided by the state-of-the-art rehabilitation program on Australia's charter flight home, took the free kick that broke the scoring drought in the 54th minute at Sydney's Olympic stadium. His free kick curled to the left of the wall and deflected sharply in off defender Henry Figueroa, bringing the parochial 77,060-strong crowd at Sydney's Olympic stadium to life. He converted from the spot in the 72nd after referee Nestor Pitana penalized Bryan Acosta for a hand ball and again calmly slotted home another penalty after Robbie Kruse was dragged down in the area in the 85th to ensure Australia qualified for its fourth consecutive World Cup. "I'll take them all," Jedinak said. "It wouldn't have mattered who scored. I'm happy to chip in." Honduras scored a consolation goal deep in injury time in a scramble in front of goal with Alberth Elis and Maynor Figueroa both swiping at the ball from close range. The result meant Asia got a full quota of five teams into the World Cup in Russia, with 31 of the 32 places decided. Peru was hosting New Zealand for the last spot later Wednesday. Under-fire coach Ange Postecoglou said he was delighted for his team, and declined to comment on his future with the Socceroos amid speculation that he may not stay on for the World Cup. "They got what they deserved — it wasn't by luck or by chance," Postecoglou said. "They believed in something that we started, and right to the end they displayed the kind of resilience and belief that has made me proud all the way along. They did it their way, and got great rewards for it." While the Australians invested heavily in the charter flight to get home Sunday after the first leg, the Honduras squad took a commercial flight and arrived a day later. But with veteran skipper Maynor Figueroa returning, and with Elis adding pace on the flank, Honduras lifted its tempo in the first half and frustrated the Australian attack. Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto said the Australians clearly worked to neutralize Elis out wide, and the momentum shift was too great after the opening goal. "Australia were very strong and aggressive and put pressure on us. In the first half the game was more balanced — in the second half, the (first) goal took a toll," Pinto said. "The second goal, there was contact with the player's hand, but it wasn't intentional." Honduras earned a playoff spot with a 3-2 win over Mexico on a hectic last day of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean, securing fourth spot and ensuring the U.S. missed out. Australia advanced after beating Syria for fifth place in Asian qualifying, with veteran Tim Cahill scoring twice in Sydney, and setting up the intercontinental playoff. Cahill was involved when Australia edged Uruguay on penalties in a playoff in 2005 to qualify for the following year's World Cup in Germany. He was also there when the Australians qualified directly from Asia for 2010 and 2014. There is a good chance he'll be in Russia, too, even after he has turned 38. The final word went to the jubilant Jedinak, a veteran midfielder who plays for Aston Villa in England. "We got the job done and that's all that matters — it's going to be a big 2018," he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 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

Why ‘Game of Thrones’ star Maisie Williams can’t wait for show to end

As much as we want to delay the inevitable, HBO's critically acclaimed fantasy series "Game of Thrones" is headed for its eighth and final season. Based on George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels, the hit show has catapulted most of its previously unknown cast to Hollywood superstardom. But as much as fans want to see the show to carry on, actress Maisie Williams revealed that she actually can't wait for the series to end. The 20-year-old, who brings the fan-favorite "Arya Stark" to life, recently spoke to BBC Newsbeat about pursuing other projects after "Game of Thrones." "I'm really excited for 'Game of Thrones' to finish, and there's going to be time for me to do wh...Keep on reading: Why ‘Game of Thrones’ star Maisie Williams can’t wait for show to end.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Time to sound the alarm in Cleveland?

NBA.com blogtable We've seen this before, early season struggles for the Cavs. But are these the same Cavs? Or are these early struggles something Cavs fans should be frightened by? * * * David Aldridge: Call me in April. Seen this movie too many times to be moved by Cleveland's defensive indifference in October. The age of this year's top Cavs, combined with the shorter preseason, does lead one to believe that they're not in great shape yet, and players that use the season to try and improve their conditioning tend to be susceptible to injury. So we need to keep an eye on that. But the only long-term significant question for Cleveland is what Isaiah Thomas shows up on the floor when he returns from his hip injury. If it's Boston Isaiah -- an elite scorer with devastating fourth-quarter closeout ability -- the Cavs will be fine. That Isaiah is the perfect complement to LeBron and Kevin Love, and will make Cleveland impossible to stop in a seven-game series. But the limited Isaiah of the Eastern Conference finals last spring would be nothing but a target for whoever the Cavs play in June. Steve Aschburner: More concerned about than frightened by, I think. I was counting on all the new faces in Cleveland to grab the Cavaliers’ attention this season in a way last year’s returning crew never fully engaged with its first 82. Between adapting and adjusting to Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade and Jae Crowder, then shifting gears again when Isaiah Thomas returns, I thought that -- and an alleged MVP push by Kyrie-inspired LeBron James -- would carry the Cavs through these six months. They remain my pick to reach The Finals but this lackluster start only emboldens challengers, from near-contenders in Boston, Washington and Toronto to early-round upstarts like Milwaukee or, given history and matchups, even Detroit. Golden State can get away with this in a way Cleveland cannot. Shaun Powell: This start seems bizarre, and the wipeouts suffered by the likes of the Brooklyn Nets downright unreal. Usually the Cavs wait until March to become bored; maybe they're just getting it out of the way early this year. Of course, I tend to ignore pretty much anything weird that happens before Thanksgiving. Besides missing Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs don't feel the need to finish with the best record in the East -- or the top two, for that matter. They need to stay healthy. If LeBron was hurt, then I'd be frightened for Cavs fans. John Schuhmann: Last season taught us that the regular-season Cavs and the playoff Cavs are two very different teams. But this season's Cavs are different too, and while defensive malaise is to be expected, there's reason to be concerned about the offense. They've added three guys -- Jeff Green, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade -- who have shot a combined 28 percent from three-point range over the last three-plus seasons. That's not the best way to complement LeBron James. Floor spacing and three-point shooting have been the Cavs' bread and butter over the last three seasons and both have been compromised with the changes they've made. So far (small sample size alert), the Cavs have been better offensively with none of those guys on the floor (108 points scored per 100 possessions) than they've been with one (105) or two (100). They have time to figure out a new way to succeed offensively, but it's certainly not a sure thing that they'll be as good as they were last season. Sekou Smith: When the Cavaliers were younger, from top to bottom, their temporary struggles didn't bother me as much. You knew there was method to whatever madness a LeBron James-led team was going through and that he would get them through it. LeBron is still doing LeBron-like things ... but he's working with a much older crew than normal. So there could be cause for concern, and Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue has said as much. I don't frighten as easily, though, so I'm in no rush to push the panic button on the Cavaliers. If they don't have these issue solved by Thanksgiving, then I'll be ready to take another look. Yes, the core of this team has played to the final game in each of the past three seasons -- so there has to be some mental, physical and emotional wear-and-tear involved. That's no excuse. It's just a reality for any team trying to climb the mountain to The Finals for a fourth straight season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2017

Giroud s overhead kick gives Arsenal 1-0 win at Red Star

The Associated Press - Olivier Giroud scored late in the second half for Arsenal to maintain its perfect Europa League campaign with a 1-0 win over 10-man Red Star Belgrade on Thursday. Five minutes after Milan Rodic was sent off for a second yellow card, Giroud struck with an overhead kick five minutes before the final whistle after Theo Walcott headed the ball to him. "It was a great combination before the goal as well and he finished well," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. Arsenal opened a five-point lead in Group H with nine points. Red Star and BATE Borisov, which beat visiting Cologne 1-0, are on four. Cologne is bottom without a point. Elsewhere, Lazio rallied to take three points at Nice with a 3-1 win in Group K, and Real Sociedad thrashed Macedonia's Vardar 6-0 in Group L with Willian Jose scoring four goals. Milan was held 0-0 at home by Greek team AEK in Group D, and Everton's campaign suffered another blow after a 2-1 loss at home to Lyon in Group E. Arsenal rested nine front-line players who were in the lineup for the English Premier League's match against Watford on Saturday, which Arsenal lost 2-1. But goalkeeper Petr Cech was in the goal as captain and made his presence felt, making several perfect saves. "It's important to have a good goalkeeper in this kind of game, too," Wenger said. "They were dangerous and Petr Cech kept us in the game." Mathieu Debuchy returned to the squad after a year due to injuries. With several young players, including Reiss Nelson, Joseph Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, the Gunners didn't look dangerous until Giroud's goal. "I believe you win when you can, you do not decide when," Wenger said. "What's remarkable is the spirit we have shown. They defended very well, but the goal is a consequence of us wanting to play through them." Richmond Boakye headed the ball onto the crossbar in the biggest chance for Red Star. LAZIO LEADS Boosted by a 2-1 victory over Juventus in Serie A, Lazio took the sole lead in Group K after rallying to a 3-1 away win at Nice in a matchup of two teams that won their previous two games. The fans didn't have to wait long for goals. Mario Balotelli headed home for the hosts four minutes into the game from Wesley Sneijder's cross, but Felipe Caicedo equalized for the hosts just a minute later. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored his first goal for Lazio in the 65th before adding his second a minute from time. Lazio stays perfect atop the group with nine points from three wins. Nice is second, three points back. Zulte Waregem and Vitesse drew 1-1 and have a point each in the group. REAL ON FIRE Willian Jose scored two goals in each half for Real Sociedad on the way to thrashing Macedonia's Vardar 6-0. Mikel Oyarzabal gave the Spaniards a first-half lead. The Brazilian striker then took charge before he was substituted on the hour. Alberto de la Bella added the final goal at the last minute. Despite the victory, Real is second in Group L with six points, trailing leader Zenit St. Petersburg by three after the Russians beat Rosenborg 3-1 to stay perfect. Rosenborg has three points and Vardar remains bottom after three defeats. EVERTON'S MISERY Everton is 16th in the 20-team English Premier League and is still without a win in three Europa League group matches this season. Nabil Fekir converted a penalty kick six minutes into the match for Lyon after Mason Holgate downed Marcal in the area. Players of both teams briefly clashed after a hard push from Everton captain Ashley Williams on Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes. Everton could face punishment from UEFA after a fan holding a child appeared to aim a punch at a Lyon player during the second-half melee at Goodison Park which continued off the pitch and in front of the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End. Just minutes later, Williams seemed to come to Everton's rescue with a 69th-minute header. But Lyon needed just six minutes to answer with Bertrand Traore restoring the advantage to 2-1. Under-pressure Everton manager Ronald Koeman has something to think about before league games against Arsenal and Leicester sandwich a League Cup match with Chelsea. Italian side Atalanta leads Group E with seven points after a 3-1 win over Apollon Limassol. Lyon trails by two points in second. Apollon has two points and Everton remains last with one point. NO CHEERS IN BALKANS Partizan Belgrade played without its fans at Skenderbeu in Albania on Thursday with the reverse situation— no Skenderbeu supporters — scheduled to happen in Serbia. Both teams agreed on that measure at UEFA's request to not "create a hot situation." The Group B game ended in a 0-0 draw......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 20th, 2017

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per NBA.com/Stats, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. 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 NewsOct 17th, 2017

Bayern flying on Heynckes' return; Dortmund home record over

em>By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press /em> BERLIN (AP) — Jupp Heynckes' fourth stint at Bayern Munich began with a rout then Leipzig ended Borussia Dortmund's club-record 41-game unbeaten run at home in the Bundesliga on Saturday. Leipzig's 3-2 win was league-leader Dortmund's first Bundesliga defeat at the Westfalenstadion since April 4, 2015, a 1-0 defeat to Bayern. Heynckes cut the gap at the top to two points with his side's 5-0 rout of Freiburg in Munich. Heynckes got off to a perfect start with an own-goal from Julian Schuster, a diving header from Kingsley Coman, and second-half goals from Thiago Alcantara, Robert Lewandowski and Joshua Kimmich. The margin of victory also helped restore some of the swagger missing after Bayern's lackluster start to the season. The 72-year-old Heynckes — who won the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble in his previous stint with Bayern before retiring in 2013 — was coaxed into returning after Carlo Ancelotti was fired. Also, Schalke won at Hertha Berlin 2-0 and Eintracht Frankfurt scored late to beat Hannover 2-1. Augsburg also struck late to salvage a 2-2 draw at Hoffenheim, and Mainz defeated Hamburger SV 3-2. strong>JUPP'S RETURN /strong> Even opponents were happy to see Heynckes return after almost 4 1/2 years out of the game. Freiburg coach Christian Streich sought him out and gave Heynckes a warm embrace before they walked out to the field. Heynckes brushed off any concerns the game might have moved on in his absence by insisting 'Football has not been reinvented,' and he stuck with what he knew by putting offseason arrivals Niklas Suele, James Rodriguez, Sebastian Rudy and record signing Corentin Tolisso in the reserves. His team took an eighth-minute lead through Schuster's own-goal under pressure from Thomas Mueller. Coman made it 2-0 with a diving header. Bayern let a two-goal lead slip in its previous two league games, but Thiago allayed any fears of it happening again when he fired in the third after an hour. Lewandowski claimed his ninth of the season, and Kimmich provided the garnish by scoring with his heel in injury time. 'It was unbelievably important to have a good start,' said Heynckes, who has started with a win in each of his four terms in charge. strong>RECORD BROKEN /strong> Dortmund's unbeaten run at home was the league's fifth longest since its formation in 1963. The side didn't have long to wait before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stayed cool to score inside the far post in the fourth minute. Marcel Sabitzer answered minutes later with a header from close range, and Dortmund's defense was at fault again when Bruma eluded Jeremy Toljan to set up Yussuf Poulsen. It got worse for Dortmund after the break when Sokratis was sent off for bringing down Jean-Kevin Augustin, who dusted himself off to score the ensuing penalty. Leipzig's Stefan Ilsanker was sent off minutes later with two yellow cards in quick succession, both for fouls. Aubameyang's second, a penalty, set up a frenetic finale, but Andrey Yarmolenko missed the best chance to equalize. strong>HERTHA PROTEST /strong> Hertha Berlin nodded to social struggles in the United States by kneeling before its home game. The starting lineup all linked arms and took a knee on the field, while coaching staff, officials and substitutes took a knee off it. On Twitter, the Bundesliga club said 'Hertha BSC stands for tolerance and responsibility! For a tolerant Berlin and an open-minded world, now and forevermore!' The side's hopes took a blow before the break when Genki Haraguchi was sent off with a direct red card for a dangerous challenge on Schalke forward Guido Burgstaller. The Japan midfielder apologized straight away. Hertha didn't have a shot at goal in the first half. Leon Goretzka fired Schalke ahead from the penalty spot early in the second, and Burgstaller wrapped it with just over 10 minutes remaining. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2017

Americans keeping rolling, 1 point away from Presidents Cup

em>By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press /em> JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — The Americans came within one match of winning the Presidents Cup. On Saturday. Anirban Lahiri made two clutch birdies that only delayed the inevitable. This is a powerful U.S. team playing to its full potential, and the result is the biggest blowout since these matches began in 1994. Lahiri and Si Woo Kim had the only victory for the International team over two sessions. From the sun rising over the Manhattan until the chilly twilight at Liberty National, the American poured it on. They had a 14 1/2-3 1/2 lead and need only one point Sunday to win the cup for seventh straight time. Phil Mickelson set a Presidents Cup record with his 25th victory, breaking the record set by Tiger Woods. Mickelson hit two wedges into birdie range in the morning foursomes session with Kevin Kisner, when the Americans won three matches and halved the other. Jordan Spieth's best intentions cost him a hole in a ruling rarely seen in match play, though that didn't matter. All that did was inspire Spieth and Patrick Reed to win yet another match. They are 8-1-3 as a partnership in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. Justin Thomas made another big birdie on the 14th hole and cupped his hand to his ear, covered by a beanie in the chill, to fire up a crowd that didn't need much help. Even in the lone loss of the day, the Americans made it hard on them. Charley Hoffman chipped in from short of the 17th green and body-slammed partner Kevin Chappell, a celebration that lasted only long enough for Lahiri to match his birdie with a 20-foot putt. Lahiri and Kim were 1 up playing the par-3 18th, and when Lahiri chipped to 3 feet and both Americans were in the bunker, they chose not to concede Lahiri's putt until after Chappell had made par. It was meaningless in the big picture, yet it illustrated clearly — along with all the celebrations — that no victory is too big for this U.S. team. Hoffman was aware that his match could have ended it. 'We knew what was on our shoulders,' said Hoffman, the 40-year-old who had never been in a team competition as a pro. 'I didn't have my best stuff all day long, but I had a chance. Got to give it up to Lahiri. He made some great birdies coming down the stretch, and they knocked us off.' The 11-point margin is the largest going into the 12 singles matches, breaking the International record of nine points set in 1998 at Royal Melbourne, the only time it has ever won the Presidents Cup. The 2003 matches ended in a tie. While the outcome was inevitable, this day still had its moment, none more peculiar than the 12th hole. Jason Day was already down for a birdie. Spieth had 12 feet for his birdie, while Louis Oosthuizen hit his drive behind the green on the reachable par 4 and had a shot at eagle. The ball raced by the hole and was headed down the slope with water on the other side, and the partisan American crowd was urging it to keep going. Spieth had heard enough and reached over and scooped away the moving ball with his putter. Match referee Andy McFee, a top rules chief on the European Tour, stepped in and informed Spieth that it was a violation of the first rule in golf (Rule 1-2): 'A player must not take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play.' No player would ever do that in stroke play (though John Daly and Kirk Triplett did it to their golf balls on U.S. Open greens). Spieth figured the International team already had its birdie. Even so, the rule meant Spieth was disqualified from the hole, even as Oosthuizen and Day protested. 'I'm sorry for trying to do the right thing,' Spieth said to McFee, a mixture of sarcasm and frustration. That gave Day and Oosthuizen a 1-up lead that lasted only three holes. Spieth birdied the 15th to square the match, Reed hit a tee shot into the wind and along a ridge to 5 feet for birdie on the 16th, and Spieth birdied the 17th to close them out. Day went 0-4-1 in the Presidents Cup two years ago. He heads into singles with a 0-3-1 mark at Liberty National. Hideki Matsuyama has failed to win a match. Adam Scott is 0-3 and sat out the Saturday afternoon session. Dustin Johnson extended his record to 4-0 this week, teaming with Matt Kuchar for an easy victory in foursomes and riding U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and his hot putter for a 3-and-2 victory that put the Americans on the cusp of victory. The celebration will have to wait. Lahiri missed a 3 1/2-foot putt on the 18th hole that cost the International team a rare victory in South Korea two years ago. This time he saved his team, if only for a day. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 1st, 2017

From ‘happily ever after’ to hell – CNN News

Islam and Ahmed met online, looking for their &'8220;happily ever after&'8221; through a Muslim dating site. But instead of bringing love and contentment, their marriage left Islam trapped in a living nightmare. Fast forward four years &'8212; and three husbands &'' and she and her two small children are caught in limbo in northern Syria. Islam Mitat is from Morocco; Ahmed Khalil was originally from Kabul in Afghanistan, but had moved to the UK and become a British citizen by the time they met on Muslima.com. Mitat dreamed of a career as a fashion designer, and saw a British husband as a way out of her drab existence in the Moroccan town of Oujda, near the Algerian border. Months after their first online encounter, Khalil traveled to Morocco with a woman he said was his sister. He met Mitat's family, and proposed marriage, showing them bank statements to prove his intentions were serious. &'8220;He was a normal person,&'8221; Mitat recalls, though she says he did make her swap her regular choice of clothing &'8212; tight jeans and t-shirts &'' for long dresses. After they were married, the couple traveled to Dubai, and from there to Jalalabad in Afghanistan to meet Ahmed's family. Mitat says she only stayed in Afghanistan for a month, because of the security situation there, before returning home to Morocco. Khalil went back to Dubai, but shortly afterward he called her with news. &'8220;He told me had a job in Turkey,&'8221; she says, &'8220;and we're going to go for a holiday too, me and him.&'8221; The &'8220;holiday&'8221; got off to a strange start. Instead of heading to a resort or a hotel, the couple flew to Gaziantep, on southern Turkey's border with Syria. A certified copy of Ahmed Khalil's passport shows his birthplace as Kabul in Afghanistan. A man who spoke only Turkish drove them to a house full of men, women and children. The women and children were in one room, the men in another, Mitat says. She was confused, and asked the other women where they were going. &'8220;We're going hijra,&'8221; they explained. To Syria. Hijra was the journey of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers, the fledgling Muslim community, from Mecca to Medina in 622 to escape persecution. In a modern context, it signifies escape from the tyranny of the enemies of Islam to the realm of the faithful. &'8220;When we were in Dubai he told me, 'I have for you a surprise, but I will give it to you in Turkey.' This is the surprise: to go in Syria,&'8221; she says. When she objected, Khalil's response was blunt. &'8220;You are my wife and you have to obey me,&'8221; she says he told her. Mitat says she wanted to tell Turkish border officials about her predicament, but says that as she and the others approached the Syrian border, the guards opened fire so they ran into Syria. When asked about the incident on the border, a Turkish police spokesman said he could not share information about individual cases. Once inside the country, they headed to the nearby town of Jarablus, to a guesthouse for &'8220;muhajarin&'8221; &'8212; those who were making hijra to the so-called caliphate &'' like them. Mitat says the place was packed with people from &'8220;everywhere&'8221; &'8212; the UK, Canada, France, Belgium, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Saudi Arabia. No sooner had they arrived, than Khalil was sent off for a month of military training, leaving Mitat, who was now pregnant, behind. Once he'd been trained, ISIS sent Khalil to fight. He was killed on his first day, in the battle of Kobani. After his death, Mitat says she was terrified and didn't know what to do; banned from talking to ordinary Syrians, she was forced to stay within the muhajirin community. She moved in with her husband's brother and his family, who had also traveled to Syria, but when her brother-in-law was killed too, ISIS moved her into a guesthouse, where she stayed until her son, Abdullah, was born. As Kurdish fighters closed in, ISIS told Mitat she had to marry again and get out of the area to safety, so she wed a friend of her first husband, a man known as Abu Talha Al-Almani (his name means &'8220;the German&'8221;). He took her to Manbij, northeast of Aleppo, before moving again, this time to Raqqa as Kurdish forces closed in. A month after they got there, Mitat says she divorced Abu Talha because he wouldn't let her leave the house. She says fear played a major role in her decision not to leave immediately. Islam says she was told that other people who tried to leave had their children taken away, or were forced into weeks of intense Islamic studies. All the while, Mitat was trying to escape with little Abdullah. ISIS did its best to keep her and other muhajarin away from local Syrians who might help them, and smugglers hesitated to help, because they faced execution if caught. Others asked exorbitant fees &'8212; as much as USD $5,000 &'8212; according to Mitat. Eventually ISIS compelled her to marry for a third time, this time to a man who Mitat describes as a gentle soul, called Abu Abdallah Al-Afghani. This name &'' given to him by ISIS &'8212; indicates he was of Afghan origin. Mitat, though, says he was Indian, and that his mother lived in Australia. She says he [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsApr 26th, 2017