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SBP mulls battle plan for Olympic 3x3

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas looks to use Team Phl’s worthy showing in the FIBA 3x3 World Cup as impetus towards its drive in making the Olympics in 2024, if not 2020......»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarJun 14th, 2018

Cojuangco mulls case vs Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines -  Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco is not backing off in his legal battle against PSC commissioner and for.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 7th, 2017

US Open hopes ultimate test doesn t feature trick questions

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — The U.S. Open wants to be the ultimate test in golf, and sometimes that leads to a series of trick questions. One of them was 14 years ago at Shinnecock Hills. A year after Jim Furyk tied the U.S. Open scoring record at Olympia Fields, the 2004 U.S. Open was so bone dry and lightning fast that only three players broke par on the weekend, none on Sunday. Fans having to move to the side because of a golf ball rolling toward them is not unusual, except when the player hit the shot with his putter from the green. Tee shots that landed on the seventh green rolled off the putting surface and into a bunker. One year after Rory McIlroy broke the U.S. Open scoring record at Congressional, no one broke par at Olympic Club in 2012 when Webb Simpson won. Moments like this lead to criticism that the USGA overreacts. Justin Rose sees it another way. "When everything is in balance, it's kind of boring," he said. "And I think in life, the closer you get to the edges, that's where the excitement is. So I would say the USGA is not reactionary. It's counterbalancing. So if you go too far one way, you've got to come back the other way. You don't want to fall off the edge." That's the question going into the 118th U.S. Open that starts Thursday. Might the USGA lean toward going easy on players because of what happened the last time at Shinnecock Hills? Or will it make it tougher on them because of the record scoring last year at Erin Hills? Brooks Koepka tied the record to par at 16 under, and six other players finished at 10 under or lower. "We're confident this should be a marvelous test," said Mike Davis, the chief executive of the USGA who has been in charge of setting up the courses for the U.S. Open since 2006 at Winged Foot, when the winning score was 5 over. Davis believes Shinnecock Hills is right where the USGA wants it, even with a light, steady rain on the final day of practice. Wednesday is never the measure of how a golf course presents itself. McIlroy is among those who likes what he sees. It's not a U.S. Open if players are not complaining, but it's been a quiet three days ahead of competition. The biggest question is whether the fairways are narrow enough. They are tighter than last year at Erin Hills, for sure, and an average of 15 yards wider than in 2004. "Honestly, I think they've got it right," McIlroy said. "It presents guys with options off the tee. You have to make a decision basically on every tee box what you're going to do. I'm obviously not that old, but when I watched U.S. Opens on TV and saw these long, narrow corridors of fairways and thick rough, that's what I was used to at a U.S. Open. ... If you look at the venues that are coming up, they're very traditional venues like Oakmont, Winged Foot, Pebble Beach. "Maybe you'll see more of what we perceive as a traditional U.S. Open setup." Rain was expected to yield to plenty of sun over the next four days, with the strongest wind on Thursday. Davis said he already has called several audibles on the original plan of where to put the pins on the greens, an example of the USGA not wanting the course to get on the wild side. Davis also said the winning score is not an issue at a major where par tends to be at a premium. "Never since I've been at the USGA — and it's been almost 30 years — I've never heard anybody at the USGA say we're shooting for even par," Davis said. "But we talk incessantly, 'How do we get the course to be really a great test of golf?' As we say, get all 14 clubs dirty to make sure that these players are tested to the nth degree." And what makes a good championship inside the ropes? The quality of the winner? Different players have won the last 15 U.S. Opens, the longest stretch of the four majors. The margin? The last playoff was 10 years ago when Tiger Woods won at Torrey Pines. Three of the last four U.S. Opens have been decided by three shots or more. "You need some great players in the mix," Rose said. "You need some great story lines." This U.S. Open is not lacking for either. Five players have a chance to replace Dustin Johnson at No. 1 in the world this week. Woods is hitting the ball well enough to win any week if he ever gets all parts of his game working together. To win a record-tying fourth U.S. Open would cap off an unlikely comeback following four back surgeries. Phil Mickelson, in the USGA record book with his six runner-up finishes, needs only this trophy to complete the career Grand Slam. "And then just a good test of golf where people think, 'Wow, they've really stepped up and played great golf under pressure,'" Rose added. "I think that's what people would like to see in this tournament is that guys are tested to the ends of the ability, to whether they can cope or not. And I think that's part of the charm ... not charm, but part of the allure of this tournament." The ultimate test starts Thursday. Results won't be available until the end of the week......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

PNP Chief Urges Tighter Scrutiny of Recruits

The Philippine National Police (PNP) mulls publishing the names of would-be policemen as part of its plan to further scrutinize recruits seeking to join its ranks. Speaking to reporters on Monday, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said publishing the names of recruits would allow the general public to report those with pending criminal cases […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsJun 12th, 2018

DeAndre Ayton should have immediate impact in the NBA

By Chris Dortch, NBA.com As the only coach who had to game plan for Arizona’s Deandre Ayton three times in the freshman sensation’s only year of college basketball, Colorado’s Tad Boyle is qualified to let the NBA know what’s coming. “He’s a monster,” Boyle said of the 7'1", 260-pounder with the 7'5" reach. “I played [at Kansas] in the ’80s, and he’s the best player since Hakeem Olajuwon. He’s that kind of talent. He’s not as good a low-block player as Hakeem, but the similarity is that, if he catches it eight feet from the basket, he’s gonna score. There’s nothing you can do about it. “He doesn’t have Hakeem’s shimmy moves, but facing the basket, he’s certainly better than Hakeem was at the same stage of his career. This kid’s got good footwork, agility, the ability to run the floor, explosiveness, intelligence and skill. He’s special.” When Boyle shook Ayton’s hand after the third time his Buffaloes played the Wildcats, in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, he told the big man he was happy to see him move on to the NBA, where the Phoenix Suns, having won the lottery, will most likely make him the No. 1 pick in the Draft. Lest the Suns decide they might get better value dealing the pick, well, Boyle can’t imagine that happening. “This kid’s just scary,” Boyle said. “You see him on tape and how he finishes dunks. It’s like he’s playing with a Nerf ball in the basement. Then you see him in person. If you were going to build the perfect basketball player on a computer screen, you’d want someone who’s seven-feet and cut, who can run and jump and make perimeter shots. You’d build Deandre Ayton.” Colorado managed to win one game of the three it played against Arizona. That was the first one, where Ayton scored 26 points, grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots. The Buffs lost the next two, but they whittled down Ayton’s contributions each time. By the third game, Ayton contributed just 10 points, six boards and three blocks. Boyle’s plan was to front Ayton and try to prevent him from catching the ball anywhere close to the basket. A second defender was always nearby to help and try to turn Ayton into a passer, a skill Boyle thinks Ayton hasn’t mastered — yet. “I played with Danny Manning,” Boyle said. “Danny was such a good passer. If you brought [a second defender] at him, he’d find somebody on the floor or skip it. Deandre isn’t at that level yet, but I think he’ll figure it out.” With Ayton, Colorado decided to pick its poison. The consensus first-team All-American, Pac-12 Player of the Year and Karl Malone Award winner shot a solid 34 percent from three-point range, albeit in limited attempts, and, per Hoop-Math.com, he also made 43 percent of his face-up two-pointers during the season, solid considering those made up 44 percent of his total attempts. “We decided if he wanted to pick and pop and beat us with 15-foot jump shots, go right ahead,” Boyle said. “We had to keep him away from the 10- to 15-toot foot area, where if he catches it, he just overpowers you or goes around you. It’s not like he’s not capable of making that 15- to 17-foot jump shot. That’s just what you have to live with.” Colorado’s strategy of containing Ayton led to one of the biggest upsets in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Arizona drew Buffalo in the first round. Bulls coach Nate Oats replaced Bobby Hurley when the latter moved on to Arizona State and spoke to his old boss as soon as the NCAA bracket was announced. Ayton was a primary topic of the conversation. “Bobby didn’t think you could front him,” Oats said. “But I said we’re going to front him. Colorado was the only team in the Pac-12 that I saw that actually fronted him. Everybody else played zone, which I could understand because they had another seven-footer in the lineup [Dusan Ristic]. But Ayton’s got great basketball feel. You can’t keep a body on him in the zone. You can’t pressure the ball in the zone. “We sat Ristic’s man right behind Ayton. Offensively, we didn’t think their spacing was that great. They had two pros, both seven feet, and you’ve gotta play them. But that also limits how you space the floor.” Buffalo’s plan worked. Ayton still managed to deliver 14 points and 13 boards, but Arizona shot 11 percent (2-of-18) from three. The Wildcats couldn’t take advantage when the Bulls sprang the double team on Ayton, who passed for just one assist. “Limiting his touches and keeping it congested around him,” Oats said. “Daring them to skip the ball to a shooter on the back side. That was our plan.” At least Boyle and Oats had some time to prepare for Ayton. When SMU played the Wildcats in the Battle 4 Atlantis last November, coach Tim Jankovich and his staff had just a few hours to get ready. “Our preparation was by the seat of our pants,” Jankovich said. “We went to bed late that night. But we figured out we were going to front him and trap. We double teamed him, but a different way than we’d been doing.” Jankovich wouldn’t elaborate. “It’s kind of a trade secret,” he said, laughing. SMU’s double team worked. The Mustangs won. Ayton still piled up 17 points and 15 rebounds, but he took only 11 shots and six free throws. And the Wildcats shot 25 percent (5-of-20) from three. Boyle, Oats and Jankovich all figured out a way to deal with Ayton, but their message to his future opponents in the NBA was essentially the same. Good luck. “I think he’s going to be a better pro than he was a college player, and he was a great college player,” Oats said. “Sean [Miller] is an unbelievable coach and did a great job with the kid. But in the NBA, the spacing’s better. You can’t double that easily.” “I can’t fathom him not being impactful, and right away, too,” Jankovich said. “He’s one of those rare players that you can’t help but keep your eye on during the game, because he’s so different than most. Your eye always goes to him. That’s all great players. You don’t mean to focus on him, but when you can’t help but do it, you’re always worried, every possession.” Chris Dortch is the editor of the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. You can email him here, follow him on Twitter and listen to the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Hour. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

$500M settlement in Nassar case won t be shared equally

By Ed White and David Eggert, Associated Press DETROIT (AP) — The $500 million settlement between Michigan State University and hundreds of Larry Nassar's victims will be divided up after weighing many factors, including the date and victim's age when the sexual assaults occurred and the impact it had on their lives, lawyers say. The school, where the sports doctor worked for nearly 20 years, announced Wednesday that it would set aside $425 million for 332 women and girls who say Nassar abused them and another $75 million to cover future claims. But it won't have a role in determining how much each victim will receive. That will likely fall to one or two former judges or experienced mediators who will be selected by lawyers to oversee the process, said John Manly, who represents roughly 200 victims in the worst sexual abuse case in sports history. "This can be wrapped up in four or five months," he predicted. Simple math says $425 million divided by 332 people would be $1.28 million each. But it's not "share and share alike," said attorney David Mittleman, whose Lansing-area firm represents 111 victims. Indeed, claims must be evaluated in many ways. Manly said some people could receive "substantially" more than $1.28 million while others get much less. Attorneys will also get a share of any award under agreements they have with clients. "The age of the abuse, the duration of the abuse," Manly said, listing the likely factors. "Treatment in the future and the past. Have you lost earnings? Are there things about a particular case that are aggravating or mitigating." Mittleman said the dates of the assaults will be important. Older abuse probably will be worth less because without the settlement, Michigan State could have been shielded by a statute of limitations. New York attorney Michael Barasch is not involved in the Nassar case but has represented hundreds of victims sexually abused by New York priests. He said a pool of money is "definitely the way to go." "You've got to have a sensible, systematic and transparent solution," Barasch said. "Who better than a fair mediator accepted by everybody? ... Some of these people are going to be disappointed — guaranteed. But I can tell you from my church abuse cases, the vast majority are so appreciative of having finality." Michigan State was accused of ignoring or dismissing complaints about Nassar, some as far back as the 1990s. The school had insisted that no one covered up assaults, although Nassar's boss was later charged with failing to properly supervise him and committing his own sexual misconduct. In a statement Thursday, his first since the settlement, Michigan State President John Engler apologized, calling Nassar an "evil doctor" whose assaults "shocked our campus and the nation." The former Michigan governor was hired as interim leader after Lou Anna Simon's sudden resignation in January. Michigan State hasn't disclosed how it will pay for the settlement besides leaning on insurance companies. Engler told reporters in Lansing on Thursday that he doesn't plan to ask state lawmakers for money. Dianne Byrum, a member of the school's governing board, said Michigan State likely would borrow money, tap savings, delay big projects and consider budget cuts. She said a tuition increase tied specifically to the Nassar case is unlikely. Nassar, 54, will be locked up for the rest of his life under three decades-long sentences for molesting athletes with his hands and possessing child pornography. He's at a federal prison in Arizona. In addition to working at Michigan State, Nassar worked with Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics, which trains U.S. Olympians. His assaults were mostly committed in Michigan at his Lansing-area home, campus clinic and area gyms, but his accusers also said he molested them at a gymnastics-training ranch in Texas and at national and international competitions. The settlement applies only to Michigan State. Lawsuits are still pending against USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and an elite gymnastics club in the Lansing-area. The deal surpasses the $100 million-plus paid by Penn State University to settle claims by at least 35 people who accused assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky of sexual abuse, though the Nassar agreement covers far more victims. ___ Eggert reported from Lansing......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

Jr Blu Girls, Taiwanese clash in Asian Softball opener

The Philippine Blu Girls face an uphill battle in the XVI WBSC Women’s World Softball Championship in Chiba, Japan as they found themselves groupmates with five of the Top 10 countries led by defending champion and top-ranked USA in the Aug. 2-12 Olympic-qualifying meet......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 12th, 2018

Long-awaited matchup arrives for Rockets, Warriors

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com James Harden and the Rockets must get past the Warriors to reach their first Finals since 1995. Finally, it’s here. The series the NBA world has been waiting for from the moment Chris Paul requested a trade last summer that sent him to the Houston Rockets to join forces with James Harden has arrived. It's the Rockets vs. the four-time Western Conference and two-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors for West supremacy. The Rockets had a feeling they could see this journey through to this point, even when the teams met on opening night at Oracle Arena. Houston was built to beat the champs, and did it twice in their three regular season encounters. Rockets center Clint Capela voiced his opinions on the matchup after a January win, saying his team was superior to the champs. And he’s just as eager for this match up, in which the Rockets hold home-court advantage. “I’m real excited,” Capela said. “This [Warriors] team is going to be hard, it’s going to be a fight. There’s going to be a lot of adjustments after every game. It’s going to be a chess game. Of course, we’re going to be ready. They’ve been to The Finals three straight years. So we’re just excited. Everybody's excited about it. I’m sure all the NBA fans are excited about it, too.” The Warriors are fired up, too, and have heard all the chirping. “Now you’ve got to play the game,” All-Star forward Draymond Green said. “You wanted us, now you’ve got us.” The Warriors are attempting to conquer the West for a fourth straight season, but this will be their first West finals without home-court advantage. Doing it against a team specifically designed to take them down just adds to a battle wrought with connections. Harden, Paul, Green, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all won gold medals together, be it on the Olympic or World Cup of Basketball stage. Harden and Durant were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder team that lost The Finals in 2012. Paul’s LA Clippers squad in 2014 was the last West foe to knock the Warriors out of the playoffs before The Finals. And the Rockets were the team the Warriors beat in the 2015 West finals to jump-start their would-be dynasty. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni pioneered the style the Warriors have used to dominate the league while he was coaching in Phoenix, where Warriors coach Steve Kerr was the Suns GM. The three-pointers will fly from all directions. Both teams are capable of defending at a championship level. The personnel on both sides is ideally matched. Perhaps best of all, though, is that both teams are healthy and without any ready-made excuses overshadowing this showdown. It’s best on best, a test of collective wills between the “cream of the Western Conference crop,” as Curry declared after the Warriors and Rockets each won their West semifinal series just hours apart on May 8 (May 9, PHL time). The NBA world has been waiting on this heavyweight showdown. Now, it’s finally here. 3 quick questions and answers 1. Who flinches first, Kerr with his “Hamptons Five” lineup or D’Antoni with his Harden-Paul-Capela trio? Against every other team in the league, the Warriors’ small-ball unit of Durant, Thompson, Curry, Green and Andre Iguodala has a clear advantage. No one else has three shooters like Durant, Curry and Thompson playing alongside the versatile Green and Iguodala. The Rockets come close with Harden, Paul and Capela alongside defensive specialists and three-point marksmen Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker. It’ll be a fascinating study in styles watching them matchup against each other. But advantage Warriors ... until we see someone crack the code against the "Hamptons Five." 2. What’s more valuable -- Houston's home-court advantage or Golden State's experience? Home-court advantage is always preferred. The Warriors know that. It’s been good to them in each of the past three seasons grinding through the West playoffs to The Finals. But it’s not infallible (as the Cleveland Cavaliers taught us, rallying from a 3-1 Finals deficit to take Game 7 at Oracle Arena). Which is exactly why the Rockets need to have the threat level turned all the way up for Games 1 and 2. Lose either one of the first two games at Toyota Center and the Warriors will pounce in this series. 3. Who is the biggest wild card for each team? And, are they capable of swinging this series? It’s Eric Gordon for the Rockets and whichever big man (JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Kevon Looney or perhaps Jordan Bell) that Kerr taps for service for the Warriors. Gordon has to shoot more consistently than he has thus far in the playoffs (34.2 percent overall, 31.4 percent on three-pointers) if the Rockets hope to match the Warriors basket for basket. The Warriors have a big man for basically every season, it’s just a matter of which one will fare best against a much-improved Capela. He has outplayed two more heralded bigs (All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and the Jazz's Rudy Gobert) in each of the Rockets’ series to date. Overall, though, there's too much star power in this series for any role player to swing the momentum for more than a few minutes. The number to know 100.7 --The two best offensive teams in the regular season have been the two best defensive teams in the playoffs, combining to allow just 100.7 points per 100 possessions on their way to the conference finals. In the first round, the Rockets and Warriors held the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs to 5.6 and 5.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they scored in the regular season, respectively. And in the conference semifinals, they held the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans to 7.0 and 16.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they scored in the first round, respectively. The Rockets' starting lineup has allowed just 92 points per 100 possessions in its 153 minutes, having forced more than 21 turnovers per 100 (the best mark among lineups that have played at least 75 minutes). The Warriors' "Hamptons Five" lineup, meanwhile, has allowed less than 87 points per 100 possessions in its 54 minutes, and the champs have allowed just 94 points per 100 possessions in 250 total minutes with Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala on the floor together. These teams aren't just here because of how potent their offenses are, and the team that advances to The Finals will be the one that continues to defend at a high level. -- John Schuhmann Making the pick The Rockets made it their mission to put together a group to avenge their 2015 and 2016 playoff failures, with the Warriors serving as their primary target. They’ve got home-court advantage, an inspired Paul and what appears to be all of the requisite parts needed to interrupt the Warriors’ dynasty plans. But do they have the nerve to snatch it all from Golden State, which took a measured approach to 2017-18 and has seemingly flipped the proverbial with another championship run on the line? Experience over ambition this time. Warriors in 6. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2018

Young Celtics look to stop James, Cavaliers

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com For a few days at least, much of the talk about this rematch of the 2017 Eastern Conference finals will focus on what might have been. In what could have offered some poetic closure to the Eastern Conference portion of this season, former Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving would be taking on his old team and, specifically, LeBron James, the superstar “big brother” whom he’d dissed by demanding a trade. Meanwhile, in a more perfect pulp-fiction world, Cleveland would be setting loose point guard Isaiah Thomas on the Boston Celtics, giving him a chance for payback to the team that dealt him away the instant it sniffed the chance to land Irving. Those plotlines are kaput; Irving’s season ended in March with left knee surgery, Thomas got dealt from Cleveland at the February trade deadline. The best we’ll get now are sideline shots of Irving in street clothes on Boston’s bench, reacting to the series’ ebbs and flows. Thomas might be limited to tweeting from afar. That leaves one clear, distinct narrative: The King of the East vs. perhaps the best collection of aspirants to his throne. James is trying to cap one of his most remarkable seasons by advancing to his eighth consecutive Finals, having led the Cavaliers to the past three after four with the Miami Heat. He has coaxed and carried these Cavs along a steep learning curve, finally getting them spiffed up by the end of their sweep of Toronto. “He’s been doing this for a long time,” Boston’s Marcus Smart said after the clincher over Philadelphia. “He’s, if not the greatest, one of the greatest to do it. What better way than to go up and compete against a guy that’s [going to have] statues and things like that.” The Celtics, by contrast, are a team trying to write fresh history. They’re ahead of schedule, too, given Irving’s absence and the loss of prize free agent Gordon Hayward way back on opening night to a gruesome leg injury, coincidentally, in Cleveland. Boston put out a talented Milwaukee Bucks club in the opening round, then dumped the Philadelphia 76ers -- another rising franchise in the East – in five games. And for those who think the West has the sexier conference clash, this one offers a pretty slick matchup: James against Boston coach Brad Stevens. Widely regarded as a master tactician, Stevens -- whose Celtics lost in five games to the Cavaliers in last year’s East finals -- gets another multi-game shot. In last year’s series, James averaged these numbers to beat: 29.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 6.8 apg, 2.2 spg and 1.2 bpg. 3 quick questions and answers 1. Who guards LeBron? This is the first question (or should be) of every preview of every playoff series every year of James’ career since he first started qualifying in 2006. Toronto used the length of OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam on James but neither of the Celtics’ young, long forwards -- Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum -- would be ideal for the duty, because Boston needs their scoring. Brown will take his turn but look for Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart in the crosshairs, counting on their physical force to bother Cleveland’s star. With undoubtedly lots of help and different looks, all the while sticking close to shooters like Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and Kevin Love. Said center Aron Baynes late Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time): “We know where the head of the snake is and we know what we have to focus on but he’s got a lot of great role players around him and some other guys that can really create as well. 2. Will Point Guard Showdown 1A be a letdown? So instead of Irving vs. Thomas, we’ll get Terry Rozier vs. George Hill. That’s not a bad backup plan, because Rozier has had a star-is-born postseason so far and Hill has been a huge help to the Cavs after missing 3.5 games in the first round. Hill has more experience and is a scrappy defender, but Rozier -- who averaged 16.7 points and shot 47.1 percent from three in the regular season vs. Cleveland -- has speed and energy that might swing this matchup in Boston’s favor. 3. Will Love love this matchup with Horford? Kevin Love doesn’t like playing center, but Cavs coach Tyronn Lue likes the effect that has on opposing defenses. Love has an inside-outside game that makes him a tough cover for both the big fives and for more agile power-forward types. The challenge in this round is how Love copes with Al Horford, who has comparable forward’s skills. It won’t be a traditional battle of bigs, for which Love will be grateful after tangling with Toronto’s jumbo Jonas Valanciunas. The number to know 18.5 -- The Cavs scored 121.5 points per 100 possessions in the conference semifinals against Toronto, 18.5 more than they scored in the first round against Indiana (103.0). The Indy series was too close for comfort; The Pacers actually outscored Cleveland by 40 points in the series and Cavs not named James registered an effective field goal percentage of just 47 percent (the league average is 52 percent). But things were much different against the No. 1 seed, with Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith combining to shoot 24-for-38 (63 percent) from 3-point range and Kevin Love recovering from a funk to average 25 points on 54 percent shooting over the final three games. The Cavs' defense remains a question, but they always have the ability to score points in bunches. The Celtics had the No. 1 defense in the regular season and the regular season series was on the ugly side (the teams combined to score just 100 points per 100 possessions), but Boston will have to pick its poison with James surrounded by shooters that have started to shoot well. -- John Schuhmann Making the pick The Cavaliers won two of the three meetings between these teams in the regular season, with their more impressive victory coming mere days after the Cleveland roster makeover at the trade deadline. The Cavs were plus-11 in the season series, James averaged 24.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg and 8.3 apg, Boston shot 30-of-106 from three and ... aw, who are we kidding? Regular season results matter little now. James is determined to win his 24th consecutive Eastern Conference series to reach his eighth straight Finals. He was a maestro vs. the Raptors in drawing out his teammates’ games. The Celtics, allowing for their injuries, already have overachieved. That ends here. Cavaliers in 6......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2018

Marvel considering an ‘Eternals’ film

  With the battle between Thanos and the Avengers coming to a head in this week's "Avengers: Infinity War", Marvel is in the process of tying up Phase Three of its Marvel Cinematic Universe plan. "Ant-Man", "Captain Marvel", 2019's untitled "Avengers" film, and a sequel to "Spider-Man: Homecoming" are "taking up 90 percent of our time," Feige told TheWrap. The other 10 percent is going towards future projects. "Some of that is you can take cues from everything we've done in the 22 movies before those, which is sequels to existing characters, new interpretation of existing characters and trying whole new swings with stuff that most people never heard of," Feige explai...Keep on reading: Marvel considering an ‘Eternals’ film.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 25th, 2018

Cocolife aims to contain Petron s Bell

Stopping Katherine Bell would be on top of Cocolife’s battle plan when it faces Petron in Game One of their Philippine Superliga Grand Prix best-of-three semifinal series......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsApr 23rd, 2018

Cocolife, Foton book last semis seats

Cocolife weathered a furious late rally by an undermanned Cignal squad to eke out a 25-22, 25-21, 28-26 victory in the quarterfinals of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Serbian imports Marta Drpa and Sara Klisura were impressive while Erika Alkuino delivered the match-clinching block that sent the Asset Managers to the semifinals. Cocolife will face Petron in the best-of-three semifinal battle next week. Meanwhile, Channon Thompson made her presence felt as she towed Foton to a 25-22, 25-23, 25-19 victory over Sta. Lucia Realty to grab the last remaining semifinal seat in the second game. Thompson, who starred for Trinidad and Tobago national women’s team in various international tournaments, tallied 24 of the Tornadoes’ 46 total attacks to finish with 26 points in a furious battle that lasted for 80 minutes. Dindin Manabat chipped in 11 hits while Elizabeth Wendel and CJ Rosario combined for 14 markers for Foton, which will face reigning champion F2 Logistics in the best-of-three semifinals. “I told the team that we should want it more than them,” said Foton coach Rommel Abella, who paraded two new players in Diana Carlos and Isa Molde. “I commend the ladies for following our game plan. They showed that they are hungrier than Sta. Lucia.” Ukrainian Bohdana Anisova drilled 11 kills and two blocks for 14 points while MJ Philips had eight for the Lady Realtors, who bombed out of contention after making a strong run in the latter stretch of the tourney. Coming in as a replacement for American Taylor Milton, Drpa delivered 11 digs and four of the Asset Managers’ eight total blocks on top of 15 kills to finish with game-high 19 points. Klisura, on the other hand, chipped in 14 kills and two aces for 16 points while providing the defensive muscle down the stretch together with Alkuino, who came up with a booming block off Rachel Anne Daquis that sealed the victory for the Asset Managers. It was such a sorry loss for the HD Spikers, who marched into the battle without injured import Sonja Milanovic and head coach Edgar Barroga, who is calling the shots for the National University boys’ volleyball squad in the ongoing Palarong Pambansa in Vigan City. They also lost spiker Janine Navarro midway through the third set due to injury. Jeane Horton tallied 17 points while Daquis chipped in 12 markers for Cignal, who still managed to come up with a very good fight despite opening its campaign without a handful of players like Jovelyn Gonzaga and Janine Marciano, who crashed with a knee injury last year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 17th, 2018

Richard Gomez buckles down to work as 18th Asian Games Chef de Mission

Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez began his first official activity as the country’s Chef de Mission to the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia this year by sitting down with the joint technical working group of the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila on Friday. “We have only four months left before the Asian Games,” said Gomez who immediately buckled down to work upon his appointment as CDM by newly-elected POC President Ricky Vargas. Budget, medical and administrative staffing, delegation size and quotas as well as provisions like luggage, track suits and parade uniforms were among the matters discussed by the 2018 Asian Games Task Force. Gomez imparted that they will not be veering away much from the estimated team size given by previously-tasked 18th AG CDM Julian Camacho.   "We still do not have the final numbers, but there will be not much difference from the previous projection," Gomez clarified, with adjustment seen to be applied for measurable sports. “We are strongly considering the inclusion of men’s basketball and women’s volleyball,” he added.  He also expressed his pleasure in seeing good coordination between Judo and Kurash. PSC Chairman William Ramirez said during the meeting that he shall respect whatever number (delegation size and composition) Gomez will endorse for support of the PSC. “We leave the decision to the POC. The PSC shall support as best we can,” Ramirez remarked. Ramirez also gave orders to assemble a medical team from the PSC’s Philippine Sports Institute to assist Asian Games-bound athletes. This is not the first time Gomez will be leading a delegation to battle in a multi-sporting event.  He was also the Chef de Mission in the 2014 Phuket Asian Beach Games, where the Philippines reached its best finish since the game’s inception in 2008 held in Bali, Indonesia......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 23rd, 2018

FEU solves Sisi Rondina puzzle

Far Eastern University had one simple game plan against University of Sto. Tomas. Make Sisi Rondina bleed for her points. The Lady Tamaraws followed their battle plan to a tee as FEU collected its fourth straight win with a 25-16, 25-22, 25-20, demolition of the Tigresses Saturday in the 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the MOA Arena. Rondina, who terrorized their previous six opponents with 23.33 points average per game, was limited to a season-low 11 points on a 11-of-30 spiking clip. “Nu’ng training pa lang namin, nag-usap na kami lahat. Kasi alam naman namin kung ano yung palo ni Sisi. More on crosscourt sya eh,” said FEU skipper Bernadeth Pons. “Mas lalamangan namin yung block namin sa cross, which is naging effective naman sya kanina,” Pons added. “Na-block namin sya kasi minsanan lang talaga sya nagdo-down the line. Kaya mas lamangan namin yung cross pero may tao pa rin kami, basta ready pa rin kami palagi sa likod.” Aside from shackling Rondina, FEU also silenced Dimdim Pacres. The opposite spiker was limited to only five points and sat out the third frame.              “Pinag-aralan namin ‘yun. Sabi ko nga 70% kay Sisi. But di natin pwedeng pabayaan sina Pacres saka yung core ng team nila kasi baka na-check natin ito, yung iba naman (gumawa). So kailangan balansehin lang,” said FEU coach George Pascua. Fortunately for the Lady Tams no other Tigresses aside from Carla Sandoval, who paced UST with 12 points, stepped up.     “Priority si Sisi sa block then itinapat namin si Sisi kay (Celine) Domingo saka kay Kyle (Negrito)," he added. It didn’t help that the Espana-based squad committed 29 errors and had a poor outing on service reception as UST allowed FEU to land 12 service aces. The win came a lot sweeter as the Lady Tams snapped a two-game slide against the Tigresses as FEU climbed to second spot with a 5-2 slate.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 3rd, 2018

Vargas goal: Go beyond disputes and look for the best athletes

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Fresh from ending Peping Cojuangco's 13-year reign as Philippine Olympic Committe (POC) president last February 23, Ricky Vargas is already implementing his plan to unite the National Sports Associations of the Philippines.  Vargas, together with his running mate for POC chairman Bambol Tolentino, will be recognized in their first board meeting on Monday, March 5, where ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsMar 1st, 2018

After Olympics, South Korea mulls reviving bulldozed forest

JEONGSEON, South Korea--- As hundreds of Olympic spectators flocked to a sparkling white ski slope cutting through the rugged mountains of Jeongseon, the marquee venue of this year's Winter Games, Cho Myung-hwan stepped back and looked up. He let out a sad chuckle. "It's dreadful to watch," Cho, 62, a landscape photographer from Seoul, said as he examined the steep downhill course one day during the Olympics. "Under all the cheers and fun, there are the screams of buzzed-off trees." Cho has visited Mount Gariwang 16 times since 2006, including several trips after 2014 to document the construction of the slope, which was finished in late 2016. He pointed to a spot near the s...Keep on reading: After Olympics, South Korea mulls reviving bulldozed forest.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMar 1st, 2018

Cojuangco, Vargas battle anew for POC presidency

The battle for the Philippine Olympic Committee presidency continues after incumbent leader Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. and Ricky Vargas of Association of Boxing Alliance of the Philippines filed their certificates of candidacy Wednesday. Both parties submitted their certificates of candidacy at the POC office inside the Philsports Complex in Pasig City where an election committee headed by Frank Elizalde will review their eligibility to run in the scheduled election on Friday. Cycling federation president and Tagaytay City representative Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino and table tennis head Ting Ledesma also filed their COCs. The 82-year-old former Tarlac representative Cojuangco won his fourth term as president unopposed during the November 2016 POC election after Vargas was disqualified to run after allegedly failing to meet the qualifications of being active members of the POC general assembly. Tolentino, who ran as POC chairman during the poll two years ago, was also disqualified for the same reason. Vargas, whose attempt for a temporary restraining order on the 2016 poll was denied by the Pasig Regional Trial Court, won an election case his camp filed on the same court December last year.   According to the court decision, the ‘elections of POC last Nov. 25, 2016 for Chairman and President is null and void” and ordered a reelection. An extraordinary POC general assembly was called Monday regarding the election with Vargas again fearing disqualification.   The election will be held 12:00 noon at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 21st, 2018

Violinists and cheering squads: North Korea’s Olympic lineup

TOKYO --- North Korea won't be dominating any medal counts when the Winter Olympics come to Pyeongchang in South Korea next month. But it's hoping to grab as much of the spotlight as it can with what might be an Olympic first in ice hockey and a flamboyantly crowd-pleasing all-female cheering section to liven up the stands. Negotiators from the two Koreas, fighting against the clock ahead of the games' Feb. 9 start date, announced some of the key details of North Korea's plans after a day of talks Wednesday in the Demilitarized Zone that divides them. Officials from North and South will take the plan to the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland this weekend for appro...Keep on reading: Violinists and cheering squads: North Korea’s Olympic lineup.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 18th, 2018

Amazon opts for truce, prepares sales of Apple TV, Chromecast

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) --- Amazon is angling for a truce in its two-year battle with Apple and Google over streaming gadgets: It says it is preparing to put Apple TV and Chromecast back on sale. A spokeswoman for Amazon confirmed Friday it is preparing to sell the devices. However, fresh links for the products that went live on Thursday indicate they are still unavailable. Amazon stopped selling Apple TV streaming devices in late 2015 in retaliation for Apple not making Amazon's Prime Video app available on Apple TVs. It said at the time the move was to reduce possible confusion caused by items sold on its store not playing videos bundled with its Prime shipping plan. It also stop...Keep on reading: Amazon opts for truce, prepares sales of Apple TV, Chromecast.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 16th, 2017

As Olympics near, South Korea agonizes over post-Games costs

By Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — South Korean officials have ruled out turning a state-of-the-art Olympic skating arena into a giant seafood freezer. Other than that, not much is certain about the country's post-Winter Games plans for a host of expensive venues. As officials prepare for the games in and around the small mountain town of Pyeongchang, there are lingering worries over the huge financial burden facing one of the nation's poorest regions. Local officials hope that the Games will provide a badly needed economic boost by marking the area as a world-class tourist destination. But past experience shows that hosts who justified their Olympics with expectations of financial windfalls were often left deeply disappointed when the fanfare ended. This isn't lost on Gangwon province, which governs Pyeongchang and nearby Gangneung, a seaside city that will host Olympic skating and hockey events. Officials there are trying hard to persuade the national government to pay to maintain new stadiums that will have little use once the athletes leave. Seoul, however, is so far balking at the idea. The Olympics, which begin Feb. 9, will cost South Korea about 14 trillion won ($12.9 billion), much more than the 8 to 9 trillion won ($7 to 8 billion) the country projected as the overall cost when Pyeongchang won the bid in 2011. Worries over costs have cast a shadow over the games among residents long frustrated with what they say were decades of neglect in a region that doesn't have much going on other than domestic tourism and fisheries. "What good will a nicely managed global event really do for residents when we are struggling so much to make ends meet?" said Lee Do-sung, a Gangneung restaurant owner. "What will the games even leave? Maybe only debt." ___ TEARING THINGS DOWN The atmosphere was starkly different three decades ago when grand preparations for the 1988 Seoul Summer Games essentially shaped the capital into the modern metropolis it is today. A massive sports complex and huge public parks emerged alongside the city's Han River. Next came new highways, bridges and subway lines. Forests of high-rise buildings rose above the bulldozed ruins of old commercial districts and slums. The legacy of the country's second Olympics will be less clear. In a country that cares much less now about the recognition that large sporting events bring, it will potentially be remembered more for things dismantled than built. Pyeongchang's picturesque Olympic Stadium — a pentagonal 35,000-seat arena that sits in a county of 40,000 people — will only be used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics before workers tear it down. A scenic downhill course in nearby Jeongseon will also be demolished after the games to restore the area to its natural state. Fierce criticism by environmentalists over the venue being built on a pristine forest sacred to locals caused construction delays that nearly forced pre-Olympic test events to be postponed. Gangwon officials want the national government to share costs for rebuilding the forest, which could be as much as 102 billion won ($95 million). ___ NO FISH Despite more than a decade of planning, Gangwon remains unsure what to do with the Olympic facilities it will keep. Winter sports facilities are often harder to maintain than summer ones because of the higher costs for maintaining ice and snow and the usually smaller number of people they attract. That's especially true in South Korea, which doesn't have a strong winter sports culture. Not all ideas are welcome. Gangwon officials say they never seriously considered a proposal to convert the 8,000-seat Gangneung Oval, the Olympic speed skating venue, into a refrigerated warehouse for seafood. Officials were unwilling to have frozen fish as part of their Olympic legacy. Gangwon officials also dismissed a theme park developer's suggestion to make the stadium a gambling venue where people place bets on skating races, citing the country's strict laws and largely negative view of gambling. A plan to have the 10,000-capacity Gangneung Hockey Center host a corporate league hockey team fell apart. Even worse off are Pyeongchang's bobsleigh track, ski jump hill and the biathlon and cross-country skiing venues, which were built for sports South Koreans are largely uninterested in. After its final inspection visit in August, the International Olympic Committee warned Pyeongchang's organizers that they risked creating white elephants from Olympic venues, though it didn't offer specific suggestions for what to do differently. Cautionary tales come from Athens, which was left with a slew of abandoned stadiums after the 2004 Summer Games that some say contributed to Greece's financial meltdown and Nagano, the Japanese town that never got the tourism bump it expected after spending an estimated $10.5 billion for the 1998 Winter Games. Some Olympic venues have proved to be too costly to maintain. The $100 million luge and bobsled track built in Turin for the 2006 games was later dismantled because of high operating costs. Pyeongchang will be only the second Olympic host to dismantle its ceremonial Olympic Stadium immediately after the games — the 1992 Winter Olympics host Albertville did so as well. ___ 'MONEY-DRINKING HIPPOS' Gangwon has demanded that the national government in Seoul pay for maintaining at least four Olympic facilities after the Games — the speed skating arena, hockey center, bobsleigh track and ski jump hill. This would save the province about 6 billion won ($5.5 million) a year, according to Park Cheol-sin, a Gangwon official. But the national government says doing so would be unfair to other South Korean cities that struggled financially after hosting large sports events. Incheon, the indebted 2014 Asian Games host, has a slew of unused stadiums now mocked as "money-drinking hippos." It would also be a hard sell to taxpayers outside of Gangwon, said Lee Jae-soon, an official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Unlike the 1988 Olympics and the 2002 World Cup, which were brought to South Korea after bids driven by the national government, the provincial government led the bid for the Pyeongchang games and it did so without any commitment from Seoul over footing the bill. Under current plans, Gangwon will be managing at least six Olympic facilities after the games. These facilities will create a 9.2 billion won ($8.5 million) deficit for the province every year, a sizable burden for a quickly-aging region that had the lowest income level among South Korean provinces in 2013, according to the Korea Industrial Strategy Institute, which was commissioned by Gangwon to analyze costs. Hong Jin-won, a Gangneung resident and activist who has been monitoring Olympic preparations for years, said the real deficit could be even bigger. The institute's calculation is based on assumptions that each facility would generate at least moderate levels of income, which Hong says is no sure thing. He said that could mean welfare spending gets slashed to help make up the lack of money. South Korea, a rapidly-aging country with a worsening job market and widening rich-poor gap, has by far the highest elderly poverty rate among rich nations, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development figures. If Seoul doesn't pay for the Olympic facilities, and Gangwon can't turn them into cultural or leisure facilities, it might make more sense for Gangwon to just tear them down. Park said the national government must step up because the "Olympics are a national event, not a Gangwon event.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 15th, 2017

Oladipo, Sabonis helping Pacers move forward

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com INDIANAPOLIS – Victor Oladipo has a fever and the only prescription is ... no, not more cowbell. Cowbell might make sense, if you factor in Oladipo’s love of and commitment to music (his debut R&B album has been available since Oct. 6). But the fever currently afflicting Oladipo, shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers, has nothing to do with extracurriculars and everything to do with the odes and anthems he’s been performing within the confines of 94 feet by 50 feet. If the fifth-year guard out of Indiana University, by way of the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder, looks comfortable in his new star turn for the Pacers, well, just remember that’s your word. Not his. “You could say I’m comfortable with the people here,” says Oladipo, who spent three seasons with the Hoosiers before becoming the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. “I played in front of these fans, they mean a lot to me and I gave a lot to them just like they gave a lot to me while I was in college. “But I’m never comfortable in any situation I’m in. I will never be comfortable. That’s what kind of makes me get up and work every day. It’s like, never be satisfied. Because for some reason, ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted more.” Oladipo’s eyes just about glow after a weekend practice as he delves into his unflagging intensity. He doesn’t undercut it with a smile or a token laugh. This is real heat. “Maximize my talent and exhaust my potential,” he says. “In order to do that, I’ve got to come to work every day. That’s my thought process. Wake up each day and be great that day.” Each day would include tonight, when Oladipo will share center stage at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with the more decorated and once-beloved star who preceded him in the Pacers lineup. Paul George, a four-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist during his seven seasons in Indiana, was due to face his old team for the first time since being traded to Oklahoma City in July. It was a parting necessitated by George, who had made clear his desire to sign a maximum-salary contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018. But the trade was orchestrated by Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, and Chad Buchanan, their general manager, who surprised the NBA by swapping George to OKC for Oladipo and big man Domantas Sabonis. You want intense? The initial reaction to that deal was intensely negative, quickly reaching hysterical proportions. The Pacers immediately were mocked for having traded George for nickels on the dollar. Reports out of Boston characterized Indiana’s POBO as more of a bobo for allegedly spurning a Celtics’ offer of multiple players and draft picks. *Takes a well deserved nap for 3 hours ** Opens Twitter: pic.twitter.com/xWNYaVfKTy — Myl3s Turn3r (@Original_Turner) July 1, 2017 The west is sick!!!! Best conference in the world!!!! — Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) July 1, 2017 Vic to the Pacers?! He might as well run for governor while he's at it! — Cody Zeller (@CodyZeller) July 1, 2017 Former Thunder star Kevin Durant called the move “shocking” and of George said “Indiana just gave him away.” Among much of the media that covers the league, there was a general feeling of “rubes” afoot -- that the Pacers had been snookered in taking back an overpaid ($21 million annually through 2020-21) second-tier talent and an overbilled guy who had disappeared in OKC’s postseason. And now? Not so much on any of those fronts. ‘He knows how good he is’ George’s stats are down in the “OK3” core he’s formed with reigning Kia MVP Russell Westbrook and aging Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder (12-13) are the NBA’s consensus disappointment, team category, with nearly a third of their season in the books. Sabonis has boosted the Pacers off the bench in a half dozen ways. And Oladipo has all but earned himself a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team while speeding his new team’s fans past their heartbreak over George’s jilting. Generally, the best trades in sports are win-win, but for Indiana right now, a bit of win-lose has made the start of 2017-18 downright sublime. “We happened to really like Sabonis in the draft,” former Pacers president and ongoing consultant Donnie Walsh said last week. “We wanted more of everything in the trade too. But when it came down to it, we had this offer with Oladipo, who we also liked. They’ve come in here and the more they’ve been here, the more we like ‘em. We’re happy.” The Pacers also are 16-11, two weeks ahead in the victory column over their 42-40 finish last season that was good for a playoff berth. Oladipo is the biggest reason why, averaging more points per game (24.5) than George ever has. The 6'4" guard who attended famous DeMatha High in Hyattsville, Md., spent much of last season being beaten up for his contract and negligible impact in Oklahoma City. He had taken grief earlier for his status as the second pick in 2013, a lofty status not of his doing. And here he was again in the summer, hearing it all over again for a transaction he didn’t design. “He came in with a chip [on his shoulder],” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought he should come in with a chip.” Some would have flinched from the pressure. A few might have curled up, full blown fetal. Oladipo has gone entirely the other way. “His confidence is at an all-time high,” backup point guard Cory Joseph said. “He knows how good he is.” As Joseph spoke after the Pacers’ upset of Cleveland Friday, a game in which Oladipo scored 20 of his game-high 33 points in the third quarter, a lilting voice drifted from behind the scenes in the home dressing room. “Look at it right now, he’s singing in the shower,” Joseph said, tilting his head and laughing. “He’s confident. You guys are all in here, he’s just singing. He’s a confident guy. Everybody in this locker room, everybody in this organization definitely welcomes that.” Trade not driving Oladipo’s breakout season Don’t misunderstand. The critics still are out for Oladipo. “My mom told me yesterday I need to work on my free throws,” he said with an eye roll after practice Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). She had noticed, during her son’s run of big games in December -- 36 points at Toronto, 27 vs. Chicago, 33 against the Cavs the night before her chiding text -- that he had missed 18-of-31 foul shots. This, by a career 80 percent shooter from the line. “I’m over that,” Oladipo said. “I’m not going to miss no more. I’ll make ‘em next time. And if I miss ‘em, I’ll make ‘em the next. If that’s my problem right now, I think I can fix it.” Twenty-four hours later, Oladipo took 13 free throws against Denver and made 11. He scored 47 points in all, hitting 15-of-28 shots and half of his 12 three-pointers. The comeback victory in OT got the Pacers to 4-for-4 on their six-game homestand and continued to shrink whatever chip it was that the 25-year-old was shouldering. “In the beginning of the year, I said, ‘I don’t have a chip. I have a brick house on my back,’” Oladipo said. But not anymore, right, now that some folks are referring to it as “the Victor Oladipo trade” rather than “the Paul George trade?” “That’s what I feel like every morning, no matter what’s going on,” he said. “I don’t even think about the trade, honestly. It’s in the past for me. People’s opinions are going to be there whether you like it or not. From the outside looking in, I guess you could say [then] that was a great trade for OKC. That’s what they believed. But it wasn’t going to change the way I worked. It wasn’t going to change my approach.” This step up in status is considered perhaps the most difficult an NBA player can make. Suddenly, opposing coaches are X&O-ing him to death. The player dogging him up and down the court is the other guys’ best defender. Often, they’ll send double-teams to get the ball into one of his teammates’ hands. “He hadn’t had that,” McMillan said. “When he was in OKC, the game plan was focused on Westbrook. When he was in Orlando, he was just a young player. Now he is seeing the defenders like a LeBron [James], like a [DeMar] DeRozan, what these stars are seeing. He’s seeing the best defenders and he’s seeing teams game-plan to take him out. “Learning how to play and be consistent every night with that challenge is something he’s going through.” Oladipo’s quick success with the Pacers has kept any crowd critics at bay. They were pre-disposed to like him just as their rebound date after George, but had he underperformed, Oladipo’s service time in Bloomington wouldn’t have protected him for long from criticism. But now, it’s George who likely will get the harsh reception. Oladipo, overtly after each of the recent victories, has made it clear to the home fans via some emphatic pointing and body language that the Fieldhouse happens to be his house. “I don’t say it, they say it,” he said. “I just do the gesture and they do the rest of the work for me. I let them do all the talking. We feed off them -- when they’re into it, we play better. I don’t know why, that’s just how basketball’s always been. They’re our sixth man and we need ‘em every night.” Oladipo’s breakout season has been bolstered, too, by the Pacers’ second-through-15th men. Those who already were in Indy knew how valuable George was at both ends. Those who, like Oladipo and Sabonis, were new this season were within their rights to be as skeptical as the national headlines of the guys coming in trade. Go-to guy emerges for Pacers OKC was a specific challenge, Oladipo having to learn on the fly how to fit his own darting, ball-heavy style to only the second man in NBA history to average a triple-double. Westbrook’s usage was off the charts, rendering the other Thunder players to supporting cast whether suited to that role or not. Just like that, Oladipo had to catch and shoot as someone to get Westbrook into double digits in assists. It wasn’t his nature and it made for an individually forgettable season. “I had a role. I tried to play that role to the best of my ability. And I improved certain areas of my game in that role,” was all he’d say Saturday, stiffly, about the OKC experience. Said Walsh: “I felt like he was going to get a different opportunity here. ... When he got to Oklahoma City, he was playing wih a guy who was averaging a triple-double. And he liked Russell Westbrook. But he comes here, he’s got an opportunity to be ‘our guy.’ “I think he might have been looking for that. I never asked him. He’s a really cool guy. He knows what he wants to be, I think.” Oladipo needed this and the Pacers needed him to need it. With George gone, they were like a smile missing a front tooth. The other teeth weren’t just going to move up in the pecking order -- no matter how good young big man Myles Turner is -- and replace the one they’d lost. If they were going to have any success this season, if McMillan was going to be able to coach and adjust in his second year taking over for Frank Vogel, the players needed to fill their roles and welcome this new addition. That’s why this tale of Oladipo’s growing success is about what the Pacers have done for him, as much as it is what he’s done for them. “We didn’t really present it like that,” McMillan said, “because we were still trying to develop who our ‘go-to guy’ was. He has been slowly taking on that role through the things he’s done. I haven’t had to say anything. He’s making good decisions with the ball. And the guys are getting a feel for what we’re doing down the stretch because we’ve had some success, and we’ve had it with Victor having the ball.” Chemistry change for Pacers There might be NBA teams with chemistry as solid as the Pacers’ right now, but it’s hard to imagine there are any with better. It’s more than mere relief that someone has stepped up, easing their own loads a bit. It is a genuine eagerness for Oladipo to max out, for each of the rest of them to do the same in whatever lane they’re riding. “Vic’s been everything at this point,” Turner said. “He’s done a great job of stepping up and being that guy, being that dude. It’s amazing to have that when you’re going through a situation where it’s a brand-new team. We’re still learning each other and he’s showing that he’s ready.” Did Turner know this would happen and, if so, when? “First couple days he started texting me in the summertime,” the big man said. “I saw what his mindset was, and I loved it from the jump. He carried that right in when we started playing pickup this summer. “Vic’s been traded, what, [two] times? He finally comes back home and he has a team that’s telling him to go, telling him to be him. I don’t think he had that with his former teams. Now that he’s here and he’s doing that, I’m pretty sure he’s [enjoying it].” Said Joseph: “He’s been a beast for us and he’s going to continue to be a beast for us. ... He’s been running with that opportunity and opening eyes around the world.” Even strong-willed, uber-confident Lance Stephenson, has backed up for Oladipo. “There’s no hate, know what I mean?” he said over the weekend. “Some guys get mad about somebody doing good. This team wants its teammates to do good. That’s what’s going to make us even better.” Oladipo keeps referring to the other Pacers in a legit lubricating of the “no I in Indy” process. “Honestly I think it’s the personalities and the men that we have in this locker room,” he said. “My teammates are phenomenal people -- not just basketball players, phenomenal people. When you surround yourself with great people, people who sincerely care about you and your team, the chemistry just comes naturally.” Sabonis shows glimpses of success, too The other guy in the trade, Sabonis, has developed more organically, his maturation seemingly inevitable regardless of locale when you tote up his youth, his work ethic and his bloodlines (son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis). He has gone from that rookie who logged just six minutes in the Thunder’s five 2017 playoff games against Houston to an essential piece in McMillan’s rotation. “Once I got traded, I knew this was a great opportunity for me to show people what I can really do,” said Sabonis, the No. 11 pick in 2016. “I was a rookie last year. Everything was new. Here, I’m being used more at the 5. That’s more the position I’ve been used to playing my whole life.” Sabonis’ minutes are up from 20.1 in OKC to 24.6 off Indiana’s bench. His scoring has doubled from 5.9 ppg to 12.1. And his PIE rating has soared from 4.9 last season to 12.6, a sign of the versatility the skilled big man possesses. “I love Sabonis,” Walsh said. “His father was one of the greatest players in the world, so I don’t like that comparison -- it kills him. He [Domantas] is just more of everything you think he is. He’s stronger than you think. He can shoot the ball better. He’s got good hands, he can catch the ball. I’ve seen him make moves in game that I’ve never seen him make in practice.” Said Turner: “I played against Domas in college -- I knew what kind of player he was. I was excited when we got him. He’s gotten bigger and stronger since then, obviously, and he just didn’t have a chance to show himself last year. But he’s been big for us now, especially when I was out with the concussion. He stepped up huge in that role and we’ve played well since then.” The Pacers are playing faster this season, up from 18th in pace last season to 10th now, part of their improvement from 15th in offensive rating (106.2) to 6th (108.3). They’re doing better, too, in contesting shots and throttling opponents’ field-goal accuracy. The biggest reason why has been Oladipo’s blossoming. Whether due to the sunshine of new, happier surroundings or from that darker, more intense place, to prove cynics wrong. No one can now talk of the Pacers’ bungling of what, after all, was a deal to rent George, not to have him long-term. Fans at Bankers Life figure to boo George on his first visit back, with an inventory they haven’t needed or used on Oladipo. Some might see that as ingratitude, others as respect. It’s a little bit of love lost, too. “Look, they loved Paul when he was here,” Walsh said. “They guy is a great player. One thing I’ve always felt: These guys that play here, they always know more about what they want for their lives than we do. How you gonna argue with that? He treated us good, we treated him good. No bad blood here. I don’t know about fans.” Folks in Indy have a new crush now, one they hope lasts for a while. 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 NewsDec 14th, 2017