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Raptors running out of options as series shifts to Toronto

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MILWAUKEE – The Toronto Raptors are two bounces on the rim into their Eastern Conference championship series against Milwaukee. Two more and – unless things change radically for the Raptors in every phase of the game from what we’ve seen – the basketball metaphor of their 2019 postseason is going to fall harmlessly to the side. No points, no buzzer-beater, no victory, no nothing. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Two games into this best-of-seven series, it’s already hard to see a way out for the Raptors that doesn’t include Hefty bags, cleaned-out lockers and a wide-open month of June. Toronto played well enough to win in Game 1, yet managed to lose it anyway thanks to an open elevator shaft of a fourth quarter that qualified instantly as something that would haunt them. Then they played miserably in Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) Game 2, save for a stretch in the third quarter when slippage in Milwaukee’s focus appeared as culpable as anything Raptors-related. Kyle Lowry, Toronto’s veteran point guard, is wandering around these days with a modified blue oven mitt on his left hand. It’s there to protect the thumb he sprained in Game 7 against Philadelphia. That’s the game that got the Raptors here, the one decided by Kawhi Leonard’s eternal-highlight shot at the end that bounced four times on the rim before dropping through the net. It’s been kind of downhill for their crew since then. Anyway, Lowry was asked a series of questions after Milwaukee's 125-103 triumph at Fiserv Forum about the defense, about the rebounding, about the shift from the Bucks’ floor to the Raptors’ for Games 3 and 4 beginning Sunday (Monday, PHL time). And Lowry earnestly answered by saying, yes, they have to defend better, they have to rebound better and they definitely have to assert themselves more to defend their Scotiabank Arena home court. Lowry said the right things. Problem is, that’s a lot of things. The Raptors don’t appear to have the wherewithal – or even the duct tape, if you prefer – to fix so many flaws at once. They have been outrebounded 113-86, a major factor in the Bucks’ 41-20 advantage in second-chance points. They have been outscored by 30 points in the two games and most of the difference has come from the bench (76-51), adding to the sense that Milwaukee isn’t just beating Toronto, it’s ganging up on them. Defensively, the Raptors haven’t been nearly good enough and their coach, Nick Nurse, put the blame squarely on them. He went into detail – both before and after Game 2 – to explain the difference between a good contest of a jump shot and a great, playoffs-worthy contest. After talking at length before tipoff about needing and hoping to see effort from his players as a sign they grasped the urgency involved, it had to be embarrassing for Nurse to acknowledge afterward that, no, that effort in fact was not there. “We were just a step too slow on just about everything,” he observed. To illustrate how casually his players closed on Bucks’ shooters, Nurse did a deep dive on a play in which center Marc Gasol needed to get out to Nikola Mirotic. “It was a good contest, but it wasn't a full-out contest,” the Toronto coach said. “We know the level of contest is going to affect these shots or not, and if you don't go with everything you've got and jump high and really try to let them know you're right pressed up against them, then the chances of [the shots] going in are pretty good.” Poor Gasol. This supremely skilled big man who was so valuable to the Memphis Grizzlies in numerous playoff wars is an early nominee for series scapegoat here. He at least had 12 rebounds and five assists in the opener, but his contributions and minutes fizzled in Game 2. By the time he got to 1-for-9 (3-for-20 in the series), the 34-year-old Gasol was looking creakier than his brother Pau, 38, who was wheeling himself through the halls on a scooter Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) after undergoing foot surgery this week. Then there’s Danny Green, a helpful 3-and-D guy with tons of postseason experience from his San Antonio days. Green’s challenge has been touching the ball enough to make a difference; he’s 3-for-11, getting about two thirds as many shots as he’d expect. But as he noted, Toronto’s ball movement has been spotty, the Bucks’ top-ranked defense stingy and little has been done to alter either from one game to the next. “Our offense was out of whack a little bit tonight, and we didn’t tighten it up,” Green said. A little more Norman Powell, a little less Gasol going forward? Doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough. Now take Pascal Siakam and Lowry from the margin for error that Toronto really doesn’t have. They were good for 45 points in the opener but scored a total of 23 Friday (Saturday, PHL time), each burdened with foul trouble from daring to mess with Milwaukee’s gears. Siakam, a favorite to be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player, wound up as the night’s most removed player, his minutes dropping from more than 42 on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) to 26 on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). There’s no reason to let Leonard off the hook, either. The Raptors’ best player has scored 31 points in each game, but they’ve been about as quiet as 62 points can be, coming almost from a bubble that has nothing in common with the rest of Toronto’s attack. Sometimes Leonard is bailing them out, sure, but many times the ball and the possession stop with him. The Bucks are OK with that, defending him with Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and helpers. Leonard has taken 20 of his team’s 45 free throws, but dished only four assists in the two games. That’s one area in which Leonard is so different from – and so far in this series, lacking when compared to – Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks’ star, with his gravitational pull on defenders, creates a bounty of opportunities for others. Leonard isn’t making any of his teammates better at this stage. And let’s not forget the intangibles. Antetokounmpo is the catalyst for Milwaukee’s superior team chemistry, a top-five talent who is all in on the Bucks’ ambitions and the players corralled around him. Leonard? For all anyone knows, he still has one foot out the door to free agency. His laconic nature doesn’t lend itself to firing up others, and it’s difficult to see how he leads by anything other than example. The cloud of Leonard’s future has been squatting over Toronto’s whole season. Every game is a referendum on whether he feels he has enough help or not. Does Nurse or another Raptors coach dare to challenge him, for fear he’ll start packing his bags immediately? Did anyone object to his “load management” nights off this season? It has been a tough way to grind through a long year, held hostage by your star’s inscrutability. But it’s what they signed up for when GM Masai Ujiri traded for him with just one season to woo and recruit. Compare that to what Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was sharing about Antetokounmpo, as far as pushing him to greater heights. “We're coaching him and we're on him,” Budenholzer said. “We think he can be doing more, and he just soaks it up.” As the series shifts to Canada, the Raptors will look to Friday’s (Saturday, PHL time) third quarter as quickly as the Bucks will dismiss it. Toronto outscored Milwaukee 39-31 over those 12 minutes, the only portion of the game in which they managed to send a ripple of nervousness through the building. OK, well, maybe not quite that, but a few fans surely noticed that what had been a 28-point lead soon after halftime got chiseled down to 13. Not once, but twice. But Malcolm Brogdon and George Hill went to work off the Bucks’ bench, Giannis came back mean-muggin’ to start the fourth and that most definitely was that. Playoff protocol says we must give the Raptors their home games to demonstrate a difference. But they need to know that 0-2 is a gaping hole, from which only 20 teams in NBA history have come back in a seven-game series. Two more bounces on the rim, and we’ll see which way the Raptors fall. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

Lopez sticks to the Bucks plan, and it s more fun for everyone

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MILWAUKEE — Come for the three-point melodrama, stay for the rim protection, the put-backs, the block-outs and the blocked shots. Come for the anguish and frustration that plays out across Brook Lopez’s face over the course of a typical NBA game, stay for the maniacal, jubilant, fourth-quarter clapping that gets turned into a GIF and goes viral within minutes. Brook Lopez clapping violently dot gif pic.twitter.com/a22arVkUSc — CJ Fogler (@cjzero) May 16, 2019 Come for the unbuttoned Fresno Grizzlies minor league baseball jersey, stay for the Disney fashion T-shirt showing beneath it and the Pizza Planet cap up top. “I’ve always tried to have fun when I go out and play basketball,” said Lopez. The Milwaukee Bucks’ center embodied his team’s performance as they clawed back Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, beating the Toronto Raptors, 108-100, Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “I obviously love playing the game,” said Lopez, dressed like a 7-foot 10-year-old for his podium appearance. “But no question I’ve been having a great time here.” Lopez, 31, scored 29 points, a personal playoff best, and grabbed 11 rebounds. It was his first 20-point night of the Bucks’ 10 playoff games so far, only the fourth of his career (he has appeared in just 23 postseason games in 11 seasons). And it came on the heels of a Game 5 effort against Boston a week ago in which Lopez was held scoreless. Milwaukee clinched anyway. This one was an ordeal for Lopez and for the Bucks, an opener in the best-of-seven series in which they slogged through three quarters without much touch or rhythm. The style of play they’ve embraced over 82 games and the past month of postseason was betraying them; Milwaukee kept hoisting and missing three-pointers, as single-mindedly in spite of horrid results as if they all wore beards and played for Houston. The resulting nastiness: A 6-for-34 (17.6 percent) showing from the arc, while digging an 83-76 hole that maxed out at 13 points. Lopez was a notable offender. He missed his first three from deep and only broke through midway through the second quarter. His shot from out front that got the Bucks within 42-37 was followed by a reaction of one part frustration, one part exasperation and a couple parts relief. That’s the wide open space of Lopez’s game, out there on the wing or in the corner launching for all the world to see. Home fans seem to live and die on each attempt, riding an emotional rollercoaster while – on nights such as this one – they wait for his results to regress to the mean. That finally happened in the fourth quarter. Lopez – who shot a total of 31 three-pointers in his first eight seasons, 300-plus in each of the next two and ultimately 512 in 2018-19 with the Bucks – hit two to get his team going in the quarter. His third in the period, one possession after Lopez finished a slo-mo fast-break for a 101-100 lead, sent Toronto into a timeout, down four with 1:55 left. That was when Lopez came with the clapping. And when play resumed, there was Lopez again, getting a hand on Kawhi Leonard’s attempt to attack the rim, stripping and corralling the ball for a block and rebound. As good as Kyle Lowry was over the final 12 minutes, as potent as the Raptors’ offense was at certain points earlier, they were done scoring for the night. Lopez did the small stuff all night, even finishing off the dribble a couple times. It’s just that, by virtue of how he and the Bucks have played this season, those things get overshadowed by the broad strokes that didn’t go his way until late. “This is the Brook we all know and we all love,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo. Said Khris Middleton: “He’s a beast. Inside the paint, made some big plays for us. On the defensive end, he covers up so much for our mistakes.” The Bucks’ adherence to what works has been tested for quarters, for halves, but so far only for one whole game in these playoffs – they dropped the opener against Boston. Milwaukee won the next four in a row to oust the Celtics. In the dressing room afterward, there was chatter that they’d snatched one away, that they couldn't have played worse – at least on offense. In that fourth quarter, outscoring Toronto 32-17, Milwaukee made up for a multitude of sins. The Bucks hit 50 percent of their shots, missed only 1-of-10 free throws and dominated the boards (14-4) to finish with a 60-45 edge. The Raptors were held to 5-of-22 shooting in the quarter. And Lopez, dragging a minus-5 plus/minus rating through three quarters, was sitting on a plus-7 by the horn. The key? Absolutely faith in the style they’ve honed since late September, and a commitment to letting it fly. Whether we’re talking about a conscienceless approach to three-pointers or Lopez’s irrepressible good nature. He has made as many as eight three-pointers in a game this season (at Denver, Nov. 12, PHL time) and attempted as many as 15 (vs. Brooklyn, Dec. 30, PHL time). There is no such thing as too many. “That’s what my teammates have been telling me,” Lopez said. “George Hill specifically and then [Giannis], too. They just stick in my mind: ‘Keep shooting the ball, you just need one to go down. Keep letting it fly.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 16th, 2019

UAAP Season 81 Finals: UST goes for the finisher, Ateneo seeks extension

University of Sto. Tomas head coach Kungfu Reyes is looking to finish off Ateneo de Manila University and end the Tigresses' nine-year championship wait on Wednesday in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball best-of-three Finals at the MOA Arena. “Kung ano nasimulan namin ‘yun pa rin,” said Reyes, whose squad took the series opener on Saturday in straight sets to move a win away from its 15th title and first since Season 72. Game time is at 4:00 p.m. and will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and via livestream. The Tigresses shocked the top seeded Lady Eagles in Game 1 with an emphatic 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, win – UST’s seventh straight victory of the season. “Papagandahin namin ang galaw namin para ma-lessen namin errors namin para matapos na sa Wednesday,” added Reyes. UST will pin its hopes on outgoing hitter Sisi Rondina, who is set to receive her Most Valuable Player award in the awards rites at 3:30 p.m., and Rookie of the Year winner Eya Laure with Caitlyn Viray, setter Alina Bicar and freshmen Ysa Jimenez, Kecelyn Galdones and libero Janel Delerio as support. Ateneo will try to force a Game 3. The series decider, if necessary, is on Saturday. Graduating middles Maddie Madayag and Bea De Leon are expected to go all out to extend their final season with the Lady Eagles, who are hoping to end a four-year title drought. Kat Tolentino, who was the only player in double figures in Game 1, need to get more help from other hitters in Jules Samonte and Ponggay Gaston, who was limited to only one point in three sets of play.   ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 14th, 2019

Rookie Fermin shines bright in Adamson s winning start to Filoil Preseason

Adamson University's prized recruits made an immediate impact just as stalwarts Jerrick Ahanmisi and Papi Sarr did their thing in their 89-65 rout of overmatched Emilio Aguinaldo College in the two teams' opener in the 2019 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament, Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre. Aaron Fermin, a 6-foot-5 big man, opened eyes with 21 points, five rebounds, and two blocks in just 19 minutes of play while fellow rookie AP Manlapaz, a 6-foot-2 forward, contributed 12 markers and two steals of his own. Ahanmisi, for his part, scored 17 points on top of three rebounds, three assists, and three steals while Sarr chimed in 11 markers and seven boards. It was an all-out domination from the Soaring Falcons who used a 50-22 tear in the middle periods to blow out their neighbors in San Marcelino. Joem Sabandal and Joshua Yerro, two other prized recruits, then merged for four points, six rebounds, and three assists as Adamson's new faces wasted no time in introducing themselves. That is nothing but good news for a side which had lost team captain Sean Manganti and court general Koko Pingoy. For the Generals, Marwin Taywan was the lone bright spot with 10 points. Meanwhile, Colegio de San Juan de Letran also got its new era off to a winning start by charging through NCAA rival Jose Rizal University, 78-67. Jerrick Balanza showed the way with 25 points as the Knights gifted new head coach Bonnie Tan with a breakthrough win in just their first game in the tournament. Rookie John Delos Santos topped the scoring column for the Heavy Bombers with 16 points. BOX SCORES FIRST GAME ADAMSON 89 -- Fermin 21, Ahanmisi 17, Manlapaz 12, Sarr 11, Camacho 9, Lastimosa 6, Sabandal 4, V. Magbuhos 3, Bernardo 2, Colonia 2, Capulong 2, Yerro 0, Zaldivar 0, Ad. Doria 0, Albason 0, An. Doria 0, Fuentebella 0. EAC 65 -- Taywan 10, Luciano 8, Corilla 8, Gonzales 8, Maguliano 6, Boffa 6, Martin 5, Fuentes 4, Carlos 3, Estacio 2, Tampoc 2, Cadua 2, Padilla 1, Mendoza 0, Neri 0, De Guzman 0, Oppong 0, Gartiza 0. QUARTER SCORES: 21-19, 43-27, 71-41, 89-65. SECOND GAME LETRAN 78 -- Balanza 25, Ular 13, Pambid 6, Sangalang 6, Mina 6, Muyang 5, Yu 4, Olivario 4, Ambohot 4, Pascual 3, Balagasay 2, Reyson 0, Gallano 0. JRU 67 -- Delos Santos 16, Estrella 10, Bordon 10, Miranda 9, Padua 5, Arenal 4, Dionisio 3, Dela Rosa 3, Dulalia 2, Dela Virgen 2, Steinl 1, Aguilar 1, Ramos 1, Amores 0, Vasquez 0, Umali 0. QUARTER SCORES: 17-11, 40-27, 62-52, 78-67. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 7th, 2019

Celtics need best version of Irving back

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BOSTON — The Boston Celtics are looking forward to getting guard Marcus Smart back, possibly as soon as Game 4 against Milwaukee Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) at TD Garden. They would be better served, however, getting guard Kyrie Irving back. The Irving who led Boston to its victory on the Bucks’ court in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series was the latest, greatest iteration of the six-time All-Star point guard. Irving scored 26 points, passed for 11 assists and showed such maturity in orchestrating Boston’s attack that, even for a guy who has been on the national stage as long as he has, it seemed like some sort of breakthrough performance. That guy, though, exited this series some time in the 48 hours before Game 2. Kryie 3.0 became Kyrie uh-oh. Irving’s play looked rushed, detached and not at all mature. After hitting 12-of-21 shots in the series opener, he shot a combined 12-of-40 in Games 2 and 3 as the Celtics dropped both. They gave back the homecourt edge they had snatched with the opening victory and now need to win Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) just to force a best-of-three mini-series with two in Milwaukee. Irving had a plus/minus rating of minus-26 in the two Celtics defeats. And most disconcerting, the player who arguably is the NBA’s best at making difficult shots seemed bent on making his shots difficult. Too often he went solo, didn’t probe for something better, didn’t spot or even look for another option. Irving and Boston coach Brad Stevens had a conversation off to the side after the Celtics’ practice Sunday afternoon (Monday, PHL time) of moderate length. Afterward, each spoke with reporters. The point guard wouldn’t share what they discussed, while the coach deftly sidestepped the question. “We just wanted to spend 15 minutes talking about the objection of the Kentucky Derby,” Stevens said. “How that could possibly have happened. And so we just created a conversation as long as the objection, and that’s what we discussed in great detail.” Not likely. Stevens probably talked with Irving about some of the things the coach had said to reporters Saturday and Sunday (Sunday and Monday, PHL time): the need for the Celtics not to settle and not to succumb to whatever chaos Milwaukee’s defense was instigating by getting chaotic themselves. For two days, answering various questions, Stevens has steered the discussion to Boston moving the ball as the surest way to high-quality shots. “One of the things that we have to do as a team is just make those right reads off the first drive,” Stevens said, “and then go from there. We do have to do a better job of getting the ball to the second side of the floor, to the third side of the floor, and hopefully that includes as many paint attacks as possible.” The Bucks’ unveiled a switching style of defense in Game 2, something they hadn’t done much all season. Too often, Irving’s eyes lit up seeing center Robin Lopez or forward Nikola Mirotic isolated in front of him, and the tunnel vision that triggered didn’t even generate the best shots for Irving. Too seldom, the Celtics failed to get Milwaukee’s defense shifting left-to-right, and back again. “We have to make sure we’re patient in getting the best looks,” Stevens said Sunday (Monday, PHL time). “That patience doesn’t mean you ease into it. You have to work really hard and be patient against these guys. Because they do a great job of covering up the paint.” Celtics players made only 9-of-19 attempts inside five feet, a feeble rate by NBA standards. Lopez has been one of the league’s best defending the rim this season, and Giannis Antetokounmpo has the mobility to guard his man away from the hoop and still help inside. Admirably, Irving has been willing to shoulder responsibility, flatly stating after the Game 2 loss: “This is what I signed up for. This is what Boston traded for me for.” After each game, he has given detailed breakdowns of what’s gone right, what’s gone wrong and, most important, what he planned to do in the next game. It’s just that his most recent results haven’t matched his pledges. The Celtics have more talent than the Bucks, and more players capable of carrying them offensively through a game or just a pivotal stretch. But those scorers, from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to Al Horford and Gordon Hayward, are dependent on Irving finding them and delivering the ball in a rhythm. Admittedly, Boston has to cinch things up defensively. Averaging 110 points ought to be enough, if you’re not getting blistered at a 39-percent rate from three-point range while sending your opponents to the free throw line an average of 30 times nightly. Irving blamed all those stoppages for stealing transition opportunities and generally messing with the Celtics’ offense. Even so, he must do what Stevens calls “controlling the controllables” and be his best self. He has gotten the better of his individual matchup with Milwaukee point guard Eric Bledsoe, but that’s not enough. And yes, this is what he signed up for. The great unknowns of this offseason, as in Irving’s future whereabouts, could swing wildly on what happens in the coming days. And what he makes happen. “I’ve got to be me. That’s the easy part,” Irving said Sunday (Monday, PHL time). “The same mindset that I’ve always had. Being aggressive. Being patient. Being able to be aware of the time of the game and where I need to make my impact. Being able to be in the right defensive positions and being able to communicate with my teammates as well. “That’s the easy part though. That’s the fun part, if you go out there and just allow the flow of the game to dictate your instincts.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Osaka wins Madrid opener, Muguruza loses in 1st round

MADRID (AP) — Naomi Osaka won her opening match at the Madrid Open, Caroline Wozniacki withdrew due to injury and Garbine Muguruza was upset by Petra Martic in straight sets on Sunday. Top-ranked Osaka, the reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open champion, hit 43 winners, including eight aces, on the outdoor red clay to beat 2016 finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 7-6 (6). "For me, I'm just happy to get through it," Osaka said. "I feel the most nervous during the first round and to play against Cibulkova was kind of tough for me, especially on clay." Osaka will face Sara Sorribes in the second round after she got past fellow Spanish wild card Lara Arruabarrena. A lower back injury forced Wozniacki to retire from her match with Alizé Cornet when she was losing 0-3 in the first set. Martic ousted two-time grand slam winner Muguruza 7-5, 7-6 (2), a week after the Croat won her first career title in Istanbul. Martic will next face fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber, who broke Lesia Tsurenko six times to earn a 6-3, 6-2 victory. Third-seeded Simona Halep, who has won twice in Madrid, brushed off Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan 6-0, 6-4. Fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova had to fight back from a set down to fend off 18-year-old Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka also advanced, while Madison Keys lost to Sorana Cirstea in three sets. NADAL NEXT On the men's side, Rafael Nadal knows who his first opponent will be after Felix Auger-Aliassime beat fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov, a semifinalist last year, 6-2, 7-6 (7). The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime has reached the final in Rio and the semifinals in Miami already this year. Jan-Lennard Struff beat Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (4), 6-4 in a match that saw a combined 21 aces......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Magnolia’s guards stand tall

The Hotshots got significant offensive numbers from their backcourt crew while also displaying the usual defensive effort to play a decisive role in grabbing the series opener, 99-94......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2019

Bucks respond, play their game in Game 2 win over Celtics

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MILWAUKEE – The Stonecutter’s Credo is best known around the NBA as the philosophy and culture of the San Antonio Spurs. The shorthand version – “pounding the rock” – has been embraced as the organization’s mantra across 23 seasons under coach Gregg Popovich. The Spurs hold no monopoly, though, on that faith in hammering away a hundred times without results in order, finally, to split open the rock on blow No. 101. It has been in play in both games so far of the Milwaukee-Boston Eastern Conference semifinal series at Fiserv Forum. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] In the opener, the Bucks were relieved to still be within a possession at halftime after bringing none of their usual energy or intensity. Then the Celtics struck their pivotal blow, splitting the stone when they dominated the third quarter 36-21. This time, in Game 2 Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum, the roles were reversed. Milwaukee dialed up everything, threw in a couple of adjustments and still couldn’t get much separation from Boston. Then wham! Again it happened in the third quarter, the Bucks delivering the blow this time, 39-18. One moment, Milwaukee was up 74-71. The next, 98-73. By the end it was 123-102, the best-of-seven series even at 1-1. Games 3 and 4 will be in Boston Friday and Monday (Saturday and next Tuesday, PHL time). Fans watch scoreboards, the equivalent of counting each team’s whacks at the rock. Coaches watch everything else, which is why both Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer and Boston’s Brad Stevens felt Game 2 was won well before it broke open or officially was decided. Stevens wasn’t fooled by the points. He saw how both teams were getting or denying them, and that was enough. “I thought they dominated a lot in the first half and we were lucky to be down by four,” he said. “They owned their space on both ends of the court better than we did. Our reaction to that was to settle on offense, and it led to some run outs. Then it just steamrolled us.” Budenholzer had the all-full perspective. “That’s more what we’re accustomed to seeing," he said. “I liked our spirit, our activity and our competitiveness up and down the roster.” Those things had been absent, or at least in short supply, when Milwaukee lost its homecourt edge in the series on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). That’s why this one turned must-win so swiftly for the East’s No. 1 seed. Mathematically, the Bucks had wiggle room, but going to Boston down 0-2 raised the very real specter of not getting back to Fiserv at all. The Bucks players claimed not to let that bad mojo in, focusing only on the frustration they felt in starting the series with such a clunker. True or not, they fixed what needed fixing. Giannis Antetokounmpo, especially early, tried less often to bust through a wall of Boston defenders. Instead, he gave up the ball to wing Khris Middleton or let guard Eric Bledsoe probe the defense in a more aggressive performance. Antetokounmpo’s teammates did their part in the symbiotic relationship by taking and making the good perimeter looks he earned them by drawing so much defensive attention. With so many dropping – the Bucks were 20-of-47 on three-pointers, outscoring Boston by 30 in that category – there invariably was more space for Antetokounmpo to work. The Greek Freak scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and shot more free throws (18) than the Celtics’ starting lineup combined (11). He wasn’t likely to get the scolding from his older brother Thanasis that he’d gotten in after the first game. Middleton was the one who served notice to the Celtics that their jobs would be tougher, scoring 20 of his 28 points by halftime. Seven of the three-pointers were his, on 10 tries. “We need to get better with that,” Boston’s Al Horford said. Bledsoe forced action and got the better of his matchup with the Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, who, in 48 hours, went from a game worth bronzing to one in need of forgetting. Irving, arguably the NBA’s top shot maestro, scored nine points on 4-of-18 shooting and shouldered a lot of the responsibility after. “I tried to get to my spots but they were really sending guys over every time,” he said. “That’s a sign of respect and I just have to be more efficient in controlling the tempo of the game, the pace, where I want to get to on the floor and making reads better around that mid-range area.” Irving said that Milwaukee’s “frantic” defensive style in Game 2 revved up Boston’s offensive decisions, and not in a good way. When rushed shots missed, the Bucks pounced for run-outs. The Celtics shot 39.5 percent after their 54 percent success in the opener. Budenholzer unleashed that “frantic” defense by having his guys switch their assignments with each screen. That’s not how they played this season, but those who were around in 2017-18 did that sort of stuff under Jason Kidd. It kept the energy level high, even when a pair of Bucks occasionally ran into each other. The Bucks' other adjustment was starting Nikola Mirotic at forward in place of Sterling Brown, the sub who’d been holding injured Malcolm Brogdon’s place. Mirotic scored just nine points, finally hitting a three-pointer after it mattered, but his size was helpful defensively, Budenholzer said. Boston heads home knowing it can advance without winning another game in Milwaukee. The Bucks assured themselves of a Game 5 and have fresher, happier film to study for the weekend games. As a series, this rock feels like it’s going to take a lot more whacks. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2019

Bucks loathe to adjust gameplan after season-long success

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MILWAUKEE — Just one game removed from one of the most marvelous seasons of basketball in Milwaukee Bucks history – 60 victories in the regular season, a sweep of Detroit in the first round, the debut of a dazzling new arena – the team is loathe to let all that go and overreact to 48 minutes that didn’t go their way in Sunday's (Monday, PHL time) Game 1 loss to the Celtics. But if they underreact in Game 2 Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum, it will be at their own peril. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Adjustments – from game-to-game, at halftime, even on the fly during live action – are as much a part of the NBA postseason as podium interviews. The reason is simple: Strategic mistakes, small failings and tendencies you can get away with facing teams randomly across a six-month canvas are sniffed out and exploited by an opponent you see as many as seven times in a two-week span. You can stubbornly stick with a pat hand, but most coaches and players would rather change things up to minimize what didn’t work last time and might, if repeated, prove fatal again. The Bucks, though, sounded a little clingy Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in the wake of their 112-90 defeat. Wanting to hold on to everything that worked so well from October until, well, noon on April 28 (April 29, PHL time). “No, no. Definitely not,” forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing all year.” You might be inclined to read that quote assuming sarcasm, as in: Oh right, we’re just going to keep doing exactly what got us blown out and stripped of home-court advantage. Sure. After all, Antetokounmpo had one of his worst performances of the season (7-for-21 FGs, a minus-24 rating). But no, the Greek Freak was sincere. “I don’t think there should be no change at all,” he said. “Why should there be a change after a game that we lost, like … we should not be the team that makes the adjustments.” Antetokounmpo was not alone. “The way we’ve been playing all season has been just letting it fly,” center Brook Lopez said. “So even if we miss it 10-out-of-10 times, just keep [shooting].” The Bucks made 13 of their 39 three-point shots Sunday (Monday, PHL time), well off their regular-season rate of 38.2 percent. Lopez was 1-for-4 on three's and 1-for-5 overall, combining with fellow Bucks starters Sterling Brown and Eric Bledsoe to shoot 3-for-17 from the floor. Said Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer: “I think adjustments and all those things are sometimes overrated.” So unless the Bucks are trying to snooker the Celtics with some tweaks they weren’t willing to share, we’ll get to see how that pat hand plays out. Milwaukee did get serious mileage out of its formulas prior to Game 1. Offensively, they’ve surrounded Antetokounmpo with potent three-point shooters, relying on his drives into the lane to draw defenders and offer them unobstructed views from the arc. Defensively, they committed to defending the other guys’ three-pointers, protecting the rim and keeping foes off the foul line. What did that leave? Contested two-pointers and mid-range jumpers – so ugly and out-of-style in the NBA of 2019. It all worked tremendously – until the Celtics shot 15-of-27 on mid-range attempts in their rout. Suddenly, the Bucks’ sagging defense against pick-and-rolls looked as gimmicky and ineffective as that tactic deployed late this season of guarding Houston scorer James Harden from behind. Once the prolific Rockets scorer got over his shock at the unusual method, he was able to pick it apart. Ditto for the Celtics' shooters. Kyrie Irving is one of the most dangerous scorers from any place on the floor but particularly inventing ways to put the ball in the hoop in the mid-range. Celtics veteran Al Horford savored his looks inside the arc, as did Gordon Hayward. The Bucks, meanwhile, were 5-of-12 from mid-range. They try to avoid those shots for the same reasons they encourage opponents to take them. Never mind that the same dynamic was in play in the Houston-Golden State opener later in the day: the Rockets took only four mid-range shots, were 14-of-47 on three's and lost, because the Warriors were 10-of-23 on mid-range attempts and 31-of-53 on two-pointers overall. There is one area in which the Bucks believe they can adjust without, y’know, adjusting. They can play harder. A pervasive lack of hustle and urgency was apparent in real time at Fiserv but was undeniable when Budenholzer and his staff went to “the truth machine” before practice Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). That would be the video the Bucks reviewed before Monday's (Tuesday, PHL time) workout. “He chewed us out. And like I say, ‘Film don’t lie,’” Bledsoe said. “It was effort, man. We weren’t playing our game.” Antetokounmpo said he got scolded on that front in a postgame phone call from his older brother Thanasis. “No. 1, I play for my family,” he said. “So when he’s like, ‘C’mon man. Giannis! You’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. You’ve got to still be aggressive. You’ve got to make the right pass,’ it stabs you in your heart. But at the end of the day, I know it’s the truth.” The Bucks appeared a step slow on both ends. It showed when they went after loose balls or closed out on Celtics shooters. And it showed when lollygagging, relatively, in getting to their spots on offense. Boston already was sending extra defenders at Antetokounmpo, and the Bucks not being crisp in their execution never made them pay. “We weren’t as quick in transition,” Lopez said. “Our pace wasn’t great … We can be better at getting it out. Everyone running the floor, finding their spots. Keeping the spacing wide.” It should be noted the Bucks only lost two games in a row one time all season (March 2-4 against the Jazz and Suns). They’re proud of that resiliency. Of course, in the regular season, they only played the same opponent in consecutive games one time (New York, Dec. 26-28, PHL time). The Bucks never had to react after losses to specific things the other guys did. They merely had to be themselves, only better. “Even though we lost the first game, we’re just gonna come out and play our hardest and see how Game 2 goes,” Antetokounmpo said. “If it doesn’t go well for us, then you can think about adjusting. But right now, we’re not adjusting nothing.” Fine. But unless someone rattles Boston out of its comfort zone in the mid-range, Milwaukee’s adherence to its style of play could contribute to its undoing. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2019

Young Americans coming of age at Australian Open

JUSTIN BERGMAN, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — More than 13 years after Andy Roddick won the 2003 U.S. Open, the last time an American man triumphed at a Grand Slam, the future of U.S. men's tennis appears bright. The next generation of young players, all aged between 18 and 20, is starting to emerge and showing enough promise at this year's Australian Open to suggest they may be on the cusp of a breakthrough. Seven made the main draw at Melbourne Park and three were still in contention after the first round. br /> Frances Tiafoe, who turns 19 on Friday, defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday, while 20-year-old Ernesto Escobedo beat Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1. They joined 20-year-old Noah Rubin, who won his opener a day earlier to set up a second-round match against Roger Federer. The others failed to advance, but not before serving notice to the tour's old guard. Reilly Opelka, 19, lost a tight five-setter to 11th-seeded David Goffin, while Jared Donaldson, 20, lost to Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva after leading two sets to none. Taylor Fritz and Michael Mmoh, both 19, each put up good fights in defeats to veterans Gilles Muller and Gilles Simon, respectively. 'We're all really supportive of each other and happy to see all of us doing so well,' Tiafoe said. 'Hopefully we can keep going and not stop now.' br /> Much has been expected of Tiafoe, the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, since he won the Orange Bowl at age 15, the youngest champion in the prestigious 18-and-under tournament's history. Tiafoe just missed out on a career-defining win at last year's U.S. Open, where as a wild card, he led the long-time top-ranked U.S. player, John Isner, by two sets to none before the match slipped away. It was a heartbreaking loss, but one Tiafoe learned from. 'I was like, the next opportunity I'm definitely going to take it,' he said after his first-round win on Tuesday, flashing a wide grin. 'Now, getting through relatively comfortable today means a lot. ... I really feel like I belong now.' He next plays another 19-year-old, his close friend, Alexander Zverev of Germany. Both Opelka and Donaldson, meanwhile, got their own tastes of Grand Slam agony in Melbourne. br /> Opelka, a 6-foot-11 (2.11 meter) former Wimbledon junior champion with a booming serve and whip-like forehand, had two break points to go up 4-2 in the fifth set against Goffin, but couldn't convert either and ultimately lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Opelka had never before played a five-set match and was making his debut in the singles main draw of a Grand Slam. Yet he showed grit — and no hint of nerves — deep into the fifth set against a seasoned pro like Goffin, even as he started to cramp and struggled to move. 'I've played some guys in the top 10 before so I wasn't uncomfortable,' he said. 'With the way I play, hopefully it really shouldn't matter who's on the other side of the net.' Donaldson's loss was less expected. The Rhode Island native made a stunning run to the third round of last year's U.S. Open, upsetting the 12th-seeded Goffin and Viktor Troicki, a former top-20 player. And he was well on his way to a commanding win over Dutra Silva before the Brazilian stormed back for a 3-6, 0-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory. 'Losses like this really define your character,' he said. 'So I can be upset and sulk about it or I can get back on the practice court and keep working hard and get better so matches like that don't happen again.' br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2017

Belotti shines again but Torino still can't beat AC Milan

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Italy forward Andrea Belotti has three goals in three matches against AC Milan this season but his Torino club can't beat the Rossoneri. Milan came back from two goals down to draw at Torino 2-2 in Serie A on Monday, four days after eliminating the 'Granata' from the Italian Cup. Belotti and Marco Benassi put Torino ahead 2-0 at halftime but Andrea Bertolacci and Carlos Bacca responded for Milan. Milan, which has a game in hand, remained fifth, three points behind Lazio, while Torino dropped to ninth, seven points further back. Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic smashed an interview backdrop as he walked off the pitch. 'I'm not angry, I'm furious and very disappointed because we continue to throw away points and waste chances,' said Mihajlovic, who coached Milan last season. 'It's crazy to draw this match. We made the same mistakes we made in the Italian Cup. We went up by two goals, we narrowly missed a third, and then in the second half we didn't play for 20 minutes.' Midway through the first half, Belotti stuck his boot out to redirect in a shot from Adem Ljajic. Belotti also scored when Milan beat Torino 3-2 on the opening weekend of Serie A in August — when he had an injury-time penalty saved by Milan teenager goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma — and got the opener in the 2-1 loss at the San Siro last week. Five minutes after Belotti's goal, Benassi scored with his backheel, redirecting a cross from Iago Falque. Torino had a golden chance to take a 3-0 lead when Antonio Barreca earned a penalty after a foul by Ignazio Abate but Adem Ljajic's spot kick went directly at Donnarumma in the center of the goal. Just like last week's match, Torino dominated the first half then ceded control to Milan. Ten minutes after the break, Bertolacci scored his first of the season from close range with the help of goal-line technology. Near the hour mark, Luca Rossettini used his arm to push Milan defender Gabriel Paletta to the ground, drawing a penalty that Bacca drilled into the top right corner. It was Bacca's fourth goal in two league matches against Torino this season, having scored a hat trick during the victory in August. Milan ended with 10 men when Alessio Romagnoli picked up his second yellow for a foul on Belotti in the 89th. Before the match, Milan announced it sold forward Luiz Adriano to Spartak Moscow. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2017

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

New look: Murray, Kerber start Australian Open as top seeds

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It's new and exciting for Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber, entering a Grand Slam tournament with the No. 1 in front of their names. Both reached the top of the rankings for the first time near the end of 2016, ending long reigns by Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. And so they'll open their Australian Open campaigns on Rod Laver Arena on day one — both against Ukrainians. Murray, a five-time runner-up, opens his pursuit of a first Australian title against Illya Marchenko in the last day match on the main show court. Kerber opens the night session against Lesia Tsurenko. She'll be followed on court by Roger Federer, who is returning from six months on the sidelines. The 'one-round-at-a-time' cliche is well worn in tennis. For Kerber, though, it's pertinent. Seeded seventh last year, the left-handed German had to save a match point in the first round against Misaki Doi. Spurred on by that, she went on to beat Serena Williams in the final and claim her first Grand Slam title. She added a second major at the U.S. Open and ascended to the No 1 ranking. 'I think this point where I was match point down, that was the important point for my career,' Kerber said Sunday, speaking of her first-round escape against Doi. 'You never know (if) I lost the match, what would have happened.' It gave her the freedom to play without pressure, and that made all the difference. 'When I'm looking back, I was feeling that I got a second chance to stay in the tournament,' she said. 'I was playing since then without expectation ... just enjoying everything.' Kerber can hang on to the top ranking by reaching to the final here, but she's already feeling there's more to defend than her title. 'It's a new challenge for me, for sure,' she said. But, 'We are starting from zero here. I have to be ready from the first round again. 'I will try to not put too much expectation and pressure on myself. I mean, I will try to do it like last year — that was the way I had my success.' Record-chasing, six-time champions Djokovic and Williams, seeded No. 2 and anchoring the bottom half of the men's and women's draws, won't be in action until day two. Djokovic is aiming to be the first man to win seven Australian titles. Serena Williams is chasing an Open-era record 23rd major title. Newly-engaged Williams hasn't wanted to talk about the record, being a little bit superstitious. Williams is concentrating on her first-round match against Belinda Bencic, who was seeded 12th here last year and who beat her in Toronto in 2015. While Serena has to wait, the Williams family will be represented on Rod Laver Arena on Monday by her older sister, Venus. The 13th-seeded Venus Williams will play against Kateryna Kozlova following fourth-seeded Simona Halep's opener against Shelby Rogers. French Open champion Garbine Muguruza starts play on Margaret Court Arena against Marina Erakovic, and U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka opens the night session on the second show court. Fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori gets things underway against Andrey Kuznetsov on Hisense Arena, where Nick Kyrgios will make his return to the tour against Gastao Elias. The 21-year-old Kyrgios finished 2016 under a ban in a season overshadowed by clashes with officials and fans and by the tanking at the Shanghai Masters which led to an eight-week suspension. The ban was reduced to three weeks when Kyrgios agreed to consult a sports psychologist, allowing to warmup for the Australian Open at the Hopman Cup. That's where Federer made his return from six months out to give his injured left knee time to heal. The 17-time major winner didn't play after Wimbledon and his ranking slid to No. 17 by this week. That resulted in him getting a tougher draw than usual at the tournament he has won four times, and where he has reached the semifinals in 12 of the last 13 years. If results go with rankings, he'll play two qualifiers before a potential third-round match against No. 10 Tomas Berdych. Nishikori and Murray are also in his quarter. Federer will open against another 35-year-old veteran, former No. 8-ranked Jurgen Melzer. 'That's the part of the draw I care most about because of having not been playing,' Federer said. Wild-card entry Destanee Aiava, a 16-year-old Melbourne high school student, is set to become the first player born in this millennium to play a main draw match at a Grand Slam when she meets German qualifier Mona Barthel on Show Court 2. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

Booker shoot lights out as Suns eclipse Spurs

MEXICO CITY (AP) Devin Booker scored a career-high 39 points for the second straight game in Mexico City and the Phoenix Suns beat the San Antonio Spurs 108-105 on Saturday in the fifth regular-season game in the country. Booker was 12 of 22 from the field, and Eric Bledsoe added 17 points and 10 assists. Coming off a loss to Dallas in their Mexican opener Thursday night, the Suns overcame an 11-point deficit to snap a two-game losing streak. Kawhi Leonard had 38 points for the Spurs (31-9). Booker made two baskets to give the Suns the lead in the last minute, including a dunk off a break with Bledsoe to put them ahead 106-103. Leonard made two free throws to get San Antonio within one. P.J. Tucker made two free throws, and the Spurs' Danny Green missed an open 3-pointer to seal the win for Phoenix. Phoenix is the first team to play two regular-season games in the same season south of the border. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

SSC-R targets at least a semis playoff

strong>Games Wednesday: /strong> (The Arena, San Juan) 8:30 a.m. --- AU vs. CSB (jrs) 10:00 a.m. --- AU vs. CSB (m) 11:30 a.m. --- AU vs. CSB (w) 12:30 p.m. --- Perpetual vs. SSC-R (w) 2:00 p.m. --- Perpetual vs. SSC-R (m) 3:30 p.m. --- Perpetual vs. SSC-R (jrs)     Unbeaten San Sebastian College goes for at least a playoff for a semifinals spot on Wednesday when the Lady Stags return to action in the 92 sund /su NCAA women’s volleyball competition at The Arena in San Juan. Carrying an immaculate 6-0 win-loss record, SSC-R looks to remain on top of the standings and plant a foot to the next round when it takes on a dangerous Perpetual Help side in the scheduled 12:30 p.m. clash. Behind reigning back-to-back Most Valuable Player winner Grethcel Soltones, who is averaging 16.16 points per game, the Lady Stags won its first six games including a straight sets victory over the Emilio Aguinaldo College Lady Generals last December 6 before the long holiday break. SSC-R is just three wins away from sweeping the elimination round that will propel them straight to the Finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage. In this scenario, the top three teams after the elims will play in a stepladder semis format with the no. 2 team enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage.    But Lady Stags head coach Roger Gorayeb is concerned with the mentality of his team heading into the crucial stretch of the elims with Perpetual, Lyceum of the Philippines and defending champion College of St. Benilde standing in their way.    “’Yung kasing kilos nila kung oobserbahan ko ngayon, ‘yang kilos nilang ‘yan hindi yan pang-straight (elims sweep) na panalo,” said Gorayeb. “Wala, ang dami pa nilang butas.” The mentor added that facing Perpetual will serve as an acid test for his wards. “Ang iniisip ko ngayon ay yung laro ng team ko at hindi yung laro ng iba,” he said. “Masusubukan kami sa huling tatlong laro namin.” The Lady Altas after a sluggish start won three games in a row for a 3-2 slate with Lourdes Clemente, who is averaging 10.6 points per outing, leading the way. Perpetual is coming off a 29-27, 25-15, 25-21 win over Letran last December 7. Meanwhile, CSB is also gunning for a semis spot playoff against streaking Arellano University at 11:30 a.m. The Lady Blazers sit a solo second with 6-1 slate ahead of the Lady Chiefs and idle LPU, who are tied at third and fourth spots with identical 5-1 cards. In men’s play, the league-leading Blazers (6-1) and Chiefs (5-1) face off at 10:00 a.m. while the Altas (4-1) and Stags’ showdown is slate at 2:00 p.m. In the juniors play, AU (3-2) and CSB (0-4) clash in the 8:00 a.m. opener while Perpetual (3-1) and SSC-R (0-4) collide in the 3:30 p.m. match.     ---       Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles        .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Two-time major winner Kuznetsova wins opener in Sydney

SYDNEY (AP) — Two-time Grand Slam singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-1, 6-4 Sunday in the first round of the Sydney International tennis tournament. Defending champion Kuznetsova broke the Romanian's serve in the ninth game of the second set, then held serve to advance to the second round of the ATP-WTA tournament. The Sydney International is one of several Australian Open Series warmup events ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year beginning in Melbourne on Jan. 16. Earlier, Brisbane International finalists Karolina Pliskova and Alize Cornet withdrew from their next scheduled tournaments due to injuries. Pliskova, who beat Cornet 6-0, 6-3 at Brisbane on Saturday evening, withdrew from the Sydney International with a left inner thigh injury. Pliskova, who would have been seeded fourth in Sydney, was replaced by lucky loser Roberta Vinci of Italy. Sydney officials also announced seventh-seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine withdrew due to a viral illness. 'I've had constant headaches for the last two days and unfortunately in today's hot weather it got even worse when I was warming up and my body wasn't ready to compete,' Svitolina said. Svitolina was scheduled to play Olympic champion Monica Puig on Sunday, but Puig will now play a lucky loser from qualifying on Monday. At Hobart, defending champion Cornet withdrew from the tournament with a back injury, a Tennis Australia official said. American Shelby Rogers posted the first upset of the tournament in the opening match, beating second-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. In a men's tournament at Auckland, New Zealand, top-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut and second-seeded John Isner headline the entries. Bautista Agut, Isner, third-seeded David Ferrer and No. 4-seeded Jack Sock have first-round byes in the tournament which begins Monday. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2017

Love, Irving set to return to Cavs' lineup against Nets

NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are expected to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers' lineup for their game against the Brooklyn Nets. Coach Tyronn Lue says both stars would play Friday night in the opener of a six-game road trip. Love missed a loss to Chicago on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) and was limited in the previous game after suffering from food poisoning on New Year's Day. Irving has sat out the last three games while battling right hamstring tightness. The Cavs are trying to complete a trade for Atlanta's Kyle Korver, but he won't play even if it's finalized Friday. Lue says only those at the morning shootaround would play in the game. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017

Suns shine, beat short-handed Heat

em>By Bob Baum, Associated Press /em> PHOENIX (AP) — Devin Booker scored 27 points — 18 in the second half — and rookie Marquese Chriss added a career-best 18 as the Phoenix Suns handed the severely short-handed Miami Heat their sixth consecutive loss, 99-90 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). The Suns snapped a 12-game losing streak against Miami. Phoenix hadn't beaten the Heat since Nov. 3, 2009. Goran Dragic scored 22 of his 24 points in the first half for the Heat, who had just eight available players in the opener of a six-game road trip. Willie Reed had 22 points and 18 rebounds, both career highs, for Miami. Eric Bledsoe added 17 points for the Suns, who stretched a four-point halftime lead to 19 in the second half. The Heat led by nine early and were up 42-37 on Dragic's inside basket with 8:34 left in the first half, but Bledsoe and Chriss sank consecutive three’s in a 9-0 spurt that put Phoenix up 46-42 when Booker made one of two free throws 3:13 before the break. Dragic cut the lead to 54-52 with a left-handed driving layup with 9.3 seconds left before Bledsoe's two free throws with 4.2 seconds remaining put the Suns up 56-52 at the break. The Suns opened the second half with an 11-3 run and were up 79-62 when Booker sank a 28-foot three-pointer with 1:59 left in the third quarter. Phoenix led 83-66 entering the fourth. Wayne Ellington's triple cut the Suns' lead to 85-74 with 8:13 to play, but Booker sank a three-pointer with 6:36 to go to boost the lead back to 14. Miami cut the lead to eight in the final two minutes but got no closer. strong>LONG LIST /strong> The list of missing Miami players was long: James Johnson (food poisoning), Tyler Johnson (migraine), Dion Waiters (pectineus tear), Hassan Whiteside (right retinal contusion), Justise Winslow (right shoulder), Josh McRoberts (left foot stress fracture). That doesn't include Chris Bosh, who has not played all season. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Heat: /strong> /em>Miami last lost to the Suns in Phoenix on Jan. 5, 2007. Heat players not named Dragic were 13-of-34 shooting in the first half. Reed's previous career highs were 14 points and 11 rebounds. em> strong>Suns: /strong> /em>G Brandon Knight was out with a sprained right wrist. Phoenix is 8-4 against Eastern Conference foes, 7-2 at home. Phoenix improved to 3-4 on the second night of back-to-back games. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Heat: /strong> /em> Miami plays at Sacramento on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) in the second stop of a six-game road trip. em> strong>Suns: /strong> /em> Phoenix travels to Dallas to face the Mavericks on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

Djokovic advances at Qatar Open after slow start

SANDRA HARWITT, Associated Press br /> DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Defending champion Novak Djokovic had a slow start to his first match of 2017 before prevailing 7-6 (1), 6-3 over Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round of the Qatar Open on Monday. Second-seeded Djokovic trailed 4-0 in the opener before recovering to 5-5 and finally finding his form in the tiebreaker, where his 63rd-ranked German opponent won only one point. 'I guess I had to get more time to get the engine started,' Djokovic said. 'It's first match of the year. You never know how you're going to start. I was a bit flat on my feet, and Struff, credit to him for playing aggressive, hitting the serves well, and ripping the ball from the baseline.' The second-ranked Serb broke serve in the first and last games of the second set to close out the match. 'I stayed composed because I knew, I believed that I could find the rhythm, start reading his serve better, and that's what happened,' Djokovic said. 'Certainly I can play better. But, again, it's first match of the year. I know that I can't be at my top the very first match, but I believe that the process is right.' Djokovic next plays Horacio Zeballos, who beat Florian Mayer 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (9). Fourth-seeded David Goffin of Belgium also advanced with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over Robin Haase of the Netherlands. Top-seeded Andy Murray plays 69th-ranked Jeremy Chardy of France in his opener on Tuesday. Murray, who took the top ranking from Djokovic at the end of last year, was in action on Monday with Mariusz Fyrstenberg in the doubles. The pair lost to David Marrero and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2, 6-4. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2017

PH vs Singapore

The Philippine Azkals will treat the start of their title bid with caution as they play Singapore in the opener of the AFF Suzuki Cup tonight at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsNov 18th, 2016