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Willett struggling to rediscover game before Masters defense

STEVE DOUGLAS, AP Sports Writer ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Danny Willett has 2½ months to rediscover his game before making a pressure-filled return to Augusta National as the defending Masters champion. br /> Odds are that won't be long enough. Willett finished 2016 in a rut after dealing with fresh levels of attention for being a major winner as well as a mid-season swing change. Following a short off-season when he sacrificed practice to enjoy a break from golf and his first Christmas as a father, his start to 2017 is hardly encouraging. br /> Rounds of 74 and 76 saw Willett become the biggest name to miss the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Friday. He was 121st in a 126-man field, with his second round marred by a quadruple bogey 9 at the 10th when everything that could go wrong did go wrong. br /> Next comes the defense of his Dubai Desert Classic title in two weeks. Then all roads lead to Augusta for the Masters starting April 6. br /> 'I think if I'm playing bad, the attention will die down quite nicely, to be honest,' Willett said, when asked if the build-up to the Masters will be a hindrance. br /> Initially, the green jacket weighed heavily on the shoulders of Willett. Everyone wanted a piece of him after he capitalized on Jordan Spieth's back-nine collapse to be a surprise winner of the Masters. He popped up inside Wimbledon's Royal Box, and was a guest at the World Snooker Championship in his home city of Sheffield. br /> The attention died down, allowing him to return his focus to golf. But he is without a win since Augusta and has only three top-10 finishes in that eight-month period. br /> 'At the end of last year, I was working hard and doing the right things, but it was like I was knocking my head against a brick wall,' Willett said. 'I wasn't analyzing it properly. It was all just bad. It wasn't, but that's how I analyzed it.' br /> Willett is trying not to get too down about his play in Abu Dhabi. Finishing with two birdies — and two more decent birdie chances — in his final four holes helped, but couldn't disguise his problems in the previous 32. br /> His main issue was pulling lots of shots as he tried to hit a cut. That led to a triple-bogey 7 on Thursday and a quadruple-bogey 9 at the 10th hole on Friday, when he drove left into the desert, went out of bounds with his third shot, found a bunker with his fifth, and then three-putted. br /> Willett said he was 'slightly shocked' at the contrast between his form on the range and his form on the course. br /> 'Christmas golf-course rust,' Willett said. 'All joking aside, I know there were a few horrendous scores in there, but there was some better stuff in there, too.' br /> ___ br /> Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80 br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Kerr keeps Warriors winning with yoga, creative approach

em>By Janie McCauley, Associated Press /em> OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Anderson Varejao lowered his 6-foot-11 frame into a runner's lunge and raised one arm high into the air to add a twist, demonstrating after a recent shootaround the new yoga pose he just learned. Then, he took it up a notch and attempted an airplane balancing pose on one leg with his arms spread wide. The Golden State Warriors have become yogis. Coach Steve Kerr is committed to changing things up, and he gave Golden State a day off from the practice floor one day last week so the players could practice yoga instead. In the middle of a prolonged stretch at home with a more regular routine, the schedule allowed for some improvising. 'I really liked it,' Varejao said. 'I'm going to do more.' Doubt you'll see Draymond Green or Klay Thompson doing downward-facing dog again soon — though Green might be talked into another try eventually. 'I'm bad,' Green said. 'Yoga isn't for everybody. I think it's a great thing, I just don't think my body is made for all of those different positions. I did well at a few of them. It's hard, it's tough. My body really isn't cut out for yoga.' The very next night after the group class, during warmups for a home game with the Pistons, player development coach Bruce Fraser pulled his foot to his opposite inner thigh for an impromptu tree pose. He laughed as an amused Shaun Livingston watched from the baseline. Andre Iguodala is an experienced yogi who can really cat-cow and is considered top on the team, often taking classes. Center Zaza Pachulia also can forward fold with the best of them. They took prominent positions in the class led by Lisa Goodwin, Golden State's director of corporate communications and also a yoga teacher, at a Berkeley studio — a first for Kerr taking the team away from team headquarters for a yoga session. No surprise, two-time reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry can bring it on the mat, too. 'We've had some optional yoga sessions at our facility. This is the first time we took everybody and made it mandatory,' Kerr said. 'It was good.' The temperature was about 92 degrees for the hour-long power vinyasa class, so it was steamy. Everybody was drenched in sweat by the end for final resting pose, or savasana. 'My muscles felt good,' forward James Michael McAdoo said, rubbing his stomach where his core got a workout. 'It was fun. It was hot in there, like working in a sauna. I told our strength and conditioning coach, 'You got to step up your game. Lisa embarrassed us.'' 'It's awful, it's pitiful,' Thompson said of his own yoga ability. 'It's something I worked on and it's something I actually enjoy. More than just being physically challenging, it's an incredible mental workout. It tests your pain tolerance and your ability to push yourself mentally. That's why I like it. It was really good. I think it helped a lot of us — everybody, even the coaches.' Along with the experienced yoga veterans, there were some first-timers. A few found it extremely tough. 'I'm not the most flexible,' acknowledged player development coach Chris DeMarco. Assistant coach Mike Brown described his debut as 'terrible.' 'For me, it was really hard, but it was fun,' he said, later adding, 'I nearly passed out.' Ron Adams, another assistant who focuses on preparing Golden State's defense, happened to work out in the hottest corner of the room for his first time practicing in that high temperature. 'It's such a cleansing exercise,' he said. The Warriors aren't the only ones doing it. Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy has scheduled yoga time for the Pistons, saying: 'It's got its value, no question about it. Would I consider doing it with them? Probably not.' Kerr goes whenever he can fit it in, typically taking an hour-long class during the lunch hour on game days when the schedule — and his body — allows. It's a time he can focus on taking some deep breaths, literally, away from the pressure-packed NBA workload and just be just another yoga student for 60 minutes out of his day. This weekend marks one year since Kerr formally returned to the bench last Jan. 22 against Indiana after a lengthy leave of absence to deal with complications from a pair of back surgeries. Current Lakers coach Luke Walton led the way during a record 24-0 start and went 39-4 before Kerr's comeback on the way to winning Coach of the Year after an NBA record 73-9 finish. While the 51-year-old Kerr still has some discouraging, physically challenging moments dealing with pain and headaches, he considers himself fortunate to be on the sideline doing what he loves. 'I guess normal is a good way to say it. He seems like his old self,' Curry said. 'You know he's been through a lot just physically trying to recover from the surgeries he's had. I can't imagine the frustration, how long it took and things he had to do and all the doctors he's met with. His whole story is crazy. We're obviously happy to have him back but not only that, you see him with energy and his presence like he wants. It's been good to see.' Whether Kerr will take his team back to yoga any time soon, time will tell. The Warriors are at the season's midway point and the 'dog days' of January as Kerr has put it. Golden State was home for all but a night from Dec. 26 until leaving for Houston on Thursday for Friday's game against the Rockets, with just a quick bus ride to Sacramento as the lone road trip in a 10-game stretch during that span. Because there was so much time to practice, the yoga day was a nice change of scenery. 'Just to get away and go do something else,' Green said. 'We're still together doing something productive. But, it's not for me.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Briton falls to death at 2022 Qatar World Cup stadium site

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer A British man fell to his death this week at a World Cup stadium building site in Qatar, where construction conditions have come under sharp scrutiny since the country was awarded the 2022 soccer tournament. The 40-year-old man has not been named by World Cup organizers or the company overseeing the building of the Khalifa International Stadium , which will also host the world track championships in 2019. The contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, said it was still working with local authorities to establish the cause of Thursday's death. br /> 'The fatal accident took place while the worker was on a suspended catwalk platform designed to manage technical functions relating to sound and light installations,' Midmac-Six Construct said in a statement Friday. 'For unknown reasons one of the lever hoists supporting the platform failed, causing the fall of the worker, who was wearing all his safety equipment, including the safety harness. br /> 'Sadly, the harness was cut during the fall with a fatal outcome. What caused the cut is subject to further investigation.' br /> The stadium, which was first built on the site in 1976, is next to the Aspire sports academy and is described by organizers as 'Qatar's most historic stadium.' br /> 'All parties concerned will carefully review the circumstances of the accident and commit to take any necessary measures that can prevent its recurrence,' Midmac-Six Construct said. br /> Qatar's World Cup organizing committee is also investigating the incident and said it 'shares our deepest condolences with the family for their loss.' br /> Qatar has previously announced the death of four stadium workers, with one fatality the result of a work-related accident. br /> The focus of the scrutiny has been on Qatar's use of a low-paid, migrant workforce to build the sites for the first World Cup in the Middle East, but the organizers are also relying on expertise from Europeans to oversee projects. br /> FIFA, which awarded the World Cup to Qatar in a 2010 vote, said it 'deeply regrets the loss of life' at the stadium. br /> 'It is with great sadness that we send our sincere condolences to the victim's family and colleagues,' FIFA said in a statement. br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Federer joins Murray in 4th round at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer showed against 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych that his first two wins against qualifiers at the Australian Open really were warmups. The 17-time Grand Slam champion, seeded a lowly-by-his-standards 17th after spending six months on the sidelines last season, only needed 90 minutes to beat Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round on Friday night. This was against a rival who played the Wimbledon final in 2010 and reached the quarterfinals or better in Australia the previous six years. And he'd beaten Federer in six of their previous 22 matches. Federer hit some vintage backhand winners, one that earned a hearty applause from the great Rod Laver — sitting in the crowd at the stadium named in his honor — in the second set. He had 40 winners and won 95 percent of points when he got his first serve into play. He didn't face a breakpoint. 'Crazy how quick I got out of the blocks — I did surprise myself,' Federer said of his almost flawless performance against Berdych. 'I did feel like I struggled a bit in the first two rounds.' He next plays fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori, who beat Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round for a sixth straight year at Melbourne Park. Federer leads that matchup 4-2, winning the last three. The winner of that has a potential quarterfinal against top-ranked Andy Murray, who showed no signs of trouble with his sore ankle as he advanced to the Round of 16 for the ninth straight year with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 31 Sam Querrey. It was Querrey who ended then No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic's impressive Grand Slam run in the third round at Wimbledon last year. At that time, Djokovic had won four straight major titles — Wimbledon and U.S. Open in 2015 and Australian Open and French Open in 2016. Murray, who replaced Djokovic at No. 1 last November, said he was surprised at the six-time Australian Open champion's second-round loss to Denis Istomin the previous night. But the five-time Australian Open runner-up didn't think it changed anything for him, unless he reached the final. 'I wasn't scheduled to play Novak today, so my job's to concentrate on Sam and to go into that match with a clear head and a good game plan and try to play well,' said Murray, who lost to Djokovic in four of the five finals he has contested in Melbourne. 'I did that. 'Obviously, if you're to get to the final, then it has an effect.' Murray injured his right ankle in the second round, and said he was hesitant at first but warmed into the match against Querrey. 'I felt better and better as the match went on in terms of my movement,' Murray said. 'I was moving well at the end — it was very positive.' Murray next plays Mischa Zverev. Seven-time major winner Venus Williams routed Duan Yingying 6-1, 6-0 in less than an hour to progress to the fourth round for the 10th time since her Australian Open debut in 1998. 'It's good (but) it's never enough,' she said, looking ahead to her fourth-round match against Mona Barthel. 'I've tasted it before and it's always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarterfinals. That's what I'm going to go for.' The last two Americans in the men's draw lost within an hour of each other. After Querrey's exit, No. 23-seeded Jack Sock lost 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-7 (8), 6-3 to No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. There are no more Australians in the men's draw, either, after Daniel Evans beat Bernard Tomic 7-5, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka had 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7) win over Viktor Troicki to move into a fourth-round match against Andreas Seppi. In the last match of day five, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza closed out with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Anastasia Sevastova. Top-ranked Angelique Kerber had a straight-sets win for the first time in her first Australian Open title defense, 6-0, 6-4 against Kristyna Pliskova. She next play 35th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe, who reached the fourth round in Australia for the first time with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win over 2014 semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard. Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova held off former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 5-7, 9-7 in 3 ½ hours. Australian Open organizers were briefed by Victoria state police over an incident in downtown Melbourne where a man deliberately drove into a street crowded with pedestrians, killing three people and injuring 20. Police said the incident, about three kilometers (two miles) from Melbourne Park, had no links to terrorism. 'Be assured there is no threat to the precinct,' Australian Open organizers said in a statement. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Lionesses secure semis spot playoff

San Beda College played with fire and almost got itself burned but the Lionesses regrouped just in time to turn back the feisty Mapua Lady Cardinals, 25-16, 25-15, 22-25, 20-25, 15-9, Friday to secure at least a playoff for a semis berth in the 92nd NCAA women’s volleyball tournament. The Lionesses dodged an upset at The Arena in San Juan to improve to 6-3 win-loss record which equaled the college’s best finish back in 2014 when San Beda was then led by Frances Molina and Janine Marciano. Francesca Racraquin, who suffered muscle spasms on her left abdomen after the game, finished with 16 points while Satrianni Espiritu had 13 for the Mendiola-based squad. “Masaya kami nakapasok kami sa playoff pero mas masaya kami kung nasa Final Four na kami,” said SBC head coach Nemesio Gavino. The mentor fielded his second stringers in the third set pulling some of his starters with San Beda ahead in the match 2-0. But the Lady Cardinals, hungry for a taste of victory, took advantage of the Lionesses’ gamble with Patricia Pena, Dianne Latayan and Danielle Ramilo leading the way to steal the third frame. Smelling blood, Mapua raced to a 21-17 lead in the fourth set and never looked back to force a decider. San Beda with their season on the line fought back to build an 8-3 lead only to see Mapua close the gap, 11-9, in the fifth set. Racraquin sparked the Lionesses closing rally with an off the block kill to finish off the Lady Cardinals, who closed their season without a win. “Gusto ko rin kasi sana bigyan ang second stringers ko ng kompiyansa kasi hindi naman pwedeng sa first six lang umasa ang team ko eh. Tulad nga nu’ng nangyari kay Cesca kailangan talagang ilabas kasi pagod na,” said Gavino. “Nu’ng dumating ang fifth set sinabi ko sa kanila na kalimutan na ang lahat ng set mag-focus na lang sa last set para mawala lahat ng frustrations kasi nakatanbla sila eh,” he added. Pena had 13 points while Latayan and Ramilo each had 10 markers for the Intramuros-based squad. In men’s play, San Beda completed the Final Four roster by eliminating Mapua, 22-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-13. The Red Lions finished the elims with a 7-2 card and secured at least a playoff for a Final Four twice-to-beat advantage, while sending the Cardinals packing with a 5-4 mark. SBC joined College of St. Benilde (7-1), Arellano University (6-2) and defending champion Perpetual Help (6-1), who is playing also ran Jose Rizal University as of posting time, in the Final Four.           ---     Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles            .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Silence, mourning since fatal crash turn to hope at Chapeco

MAURICIO SAVARESE, AP Sports Writer   CHAPECO, Brazil (AP) — Silence and mourning are slowly being replaced by boisterous fans and hope. As the Chapecoense club rebuilds after the air crash that killed 19 players and nearly all members of the staff and board of directors, so is the town of 200,000. Like many in Brazil, football is the oxygen for everything: gossip, community pride and heated debate. On Saturday, Chapecoense's 20,000-capacity Arena Conda will host the team's first match since the tragedy almost two months ago. Lines outside are filled with fans excited about the club's and the city's restart. Fifty coffins lined the same field in November, where this time Chape's reconstructed team will play Brazilian champion Palmeiras in a friendly match. 'I bet I won't be able to sleep Friday night,' 19-year-old fan Marcelo Ribeiro said as he walked to the stadium. 'Since the accident the city is dead. The festivities were mostly canceled at the end of the year, and all most people are thinking about is the rebirth. I want to see what the rebirth looks like.' At the Hotel Bertaso, where most of Chape's players and coaching staff have traditionally lodged, the first signs of that rebirth are obvious. The second floor, which was home to many of the victims, including coach Caio Junior, is once again full. 'I can't help feeling a lot of hope for the future now,' said receptionist Gelson Mangone, who lost several friends in that crash on an Andean mountain side near Medellin, Colombia, on Nov.28. 'It has been a lot of work to settle all these new signings here, they are also learning their way here,' the receptionist said. 'But it does feel like a brand new start.' New coach Vagner Mancini is one of the hotel's new residents. He said the job makes him 'a better human being, but it's the most challenging to face.' 'We have to build a team, a coaching staff and a club infrastructure in a season in which Chape will be in demand,' Mancini told The Associated Press. 'I understand now that the city was so affected because the club and the city are run like a family,' he added. 'The players we brought are cut from that cloth, but we have to reach a higher level now.' After the crash, Colombian club Atletico Nacional, which was to face Chape in the Copa Sudamericana final in Medellin, awarded the victory to the small Brazilian team. That means that Chape qualified for South America's No. 1 tournament for the first time, the competitive Copa Libertadores. The team will also try to defend its title in the Santa Catarina state championship, try to stay up in Brazil's top-flight competition, and play in a pile of fundraisers, including one against Barcelona. 'We have to assemble a competitive team at the same time we need to hire someone to handle passports, contracts,' Mancini said. 'The club used to handle this well, but like a family run business. Now we are at a different moment.' Chapecoense had almost nothing left after the crash: six players that did not travel on the ill-fated flight, two physiotherapists, one goalkeeping coach, one doctor, one data analyst, one nurse and a few club officials. New chairman and club co-founder Plinio David de Nes Filho, a wealthy local businessman known as Maninho, is leading the charge to bolster club finances. Former players like Nivaldo Constante, who played as a goalkeeper until the tragedy struck, are approaching players that can help. And Chapeco Mayor Luciano Buligon is working as a kind of ambassador for the club and the city. 'Our weekends were about three things: family, church and Chapecoense,' Buligon said. 'It has been hard to get the city back on track because the wounds are still very open. But we are slowly moving on. On Saturday we will start getting a part of our weekends back.' Not everyone is happy. Rosangela Loureiro, widow of crash victim Cleber Santana, said she is upset because his belongings still have not been returned to the family. 'I feel sadness and rage. No one is doing anything to bring their belongings back. I plead with them to soften our pain and make us get the memories that we will hold dear for the rest of our lives,' she said on Instagram last week. Other widows have complained about damages not yet being paid by the club. Chapecoense directors say they are doing the best they can as they try to rebuild. There are even complaints at the joyous Hotel Bertaso. 'These new players love to make a mess in their rooms,' said a cleaner, who declined to offer her name. 'The other ones were older, more mature and the new ones seem to be more infantile. I hope they are up for the task. The city really needs that now.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Schroder hits go-ahead triple, leads Hawks past Knicks

em>By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press /em> NEW YORK (AP) — Dennis Schroder gave the Hawks the lead and the New York Knicks had three chances to take it back. Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah, whom they hoped would be the backbone of a contending team, all failed from inside a few feet. 'When things are not going your way, sometimes they go all the way left,' Anthony said. 'That's a shot that I think I could hit in my sleep.' Schroder scored 28 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 22 seconds left, to lead the Hawks to a 108-107 victory on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 points and Paul Millsap had 17 for the Hawks, who won for the ninth time in 10 games to reach the midpoint of their schedule at 24-17. 'Guys got heart on this team,' said Millsap, who blocked Rose's shot on a drive to the basket before Anthony missed a fairly easy follow. 'Guys compete and when you compete good things happen.' Anthony scored 30 points for the Knicks, who changed their lineup but it wasn't quite good enough. They lost for the 11th time in 13 games. The Hawks rested Dwight Howard, while the Knicks were without Kristaps Porzingis again because of a sore left Achilles tendon. They gave undrafted rookie Ron Baker his first career start and moved Courtney Lee to the bench. Baker helped spark a 10-0 run to start the fourth with a pair of three-pointers, but Schroder kept the Hawks in it all the way while making 13-of-16 shots. 'We knew they were going to make their run,' Hardaway said. 'Their second group does a tremendous job raising the intensity on both ends of the floor. We just had to match that.' It was a much better effort for the Knicks than Sunday (Monday, PHL time), when they reached an embarrassing low by being outscored 27-8 in the third quarter of a 116-101 loss at Toronto. But as usual with the Knicks, the game was only a minor part of the chaos. Anthony responded to questions about a Fanragsports.com piece written by Charley Rosen, a Phil Jackson confidante, that said he had 'outlived his usefulness in New York' by saying that maybe he needed to have a conversation with Jackson if he felt that way. It's unclear if Jackson does, because he has barely spoken publicly this season and not at all to the New York media since preseason, though Rosen posted another piece Monday that his thoughts were his alone. Anthony said he hadn't heard from Jackson and didn't need to. 'My job is to go out there and play ball and I'm not concerned about that,' Anthony said. Anthony made buzzer-beaters to end the second and third quarters, but the Knicks needed one more. 'I was surprised he missed that one,' Millsap said. 'He's made a bunch of tough shots.' strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Hawks: /strong> /em>The Hawks have won five in a row on the road, their longest streak since a 12-game run in the 2014-15 season. Hardaway, a former Knicks guard, had his ninth 20-point game of the season. em> strong>Knicks: /strong> /em>The Knicks were also without forward Lance Thomas because of a fractured left orbital bone. strong>MARTIN KING LUTHER JR. DAY STATS /strong> The Hawks improved to 17-9 on the holiday, with seven straight victories. The Knicks fell to 20-11 with a two-game winning streak snapped. strong>CARMELO CONCERNS /strong> Anthony has a no-trade clause and would need to agree to any deal. Coach Jeff Hornacek, though only in his first season here, says Anthony, like all players, has to deal with trade speculation. 'I think he does a great job of dealing with it and handling that kind of stuff. But does it affect him? I am sure it does in some way,' Hornacek said. 'But hopefully like most players, the trade deadline comes and goes every year.' strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Hawks: /strong> /em>Visit Detroit on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). The teams have split two meetings, with the Pistons winning 121-85 in Atlanta on Dec. 2 (Dec. 3, PHL time). em> strong>Knicks: /strong> /em> Visit Boston on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). The Knicks have lost four straight in the series and four in a row in Boston. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Murray wins in straight sets in 1st major match as No. 1

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — In his first Grand Slam match with the elevated status of having a knighthood and the No. 1 ranking, Andy Murray berated himself when he made mistakes and frequently yelled during his 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Illya Marchenko. In other words, nothing much has changed in his approach. The five-time finalist, back in Melbourne trying to end his drought, started on Rod Laver Arena on Monday and took the first step in his bid for a first Australian Open title. Murray has lost four of the last six finals here — including the last two — to six-time champion Novak Djokovic. But he did take something off his long-time friend at the end of last year when he replaced Djokovic in the top ranking during a stunning finish to the season. In Queen Elizabeth II's New Year's honors list, Murray received a knighthood from the British monarch for reaching the pinnacle of the sport. Murray said the ranking and the civic honors won't change anything, and he faces 'the same pressure, same expectations.' He admits there's one thing he desperately wants to change. 'I've never won here — I'm going to try to change that this year,' he said. Two players who could potentially stand in his way — No. 5 Kei Nishikori and No. 10 Tomas Berdych — had first-round wins earlier in the day. Another, Roger Federer, was set to play his first tour-level match in more than six months when he played Jurgen Melzer in a night match on Rod Laver. There are 18 American women in the draw, and two recorded wins in the first two matches on Rod Laver. Venus Williams went onto main court right after Shelby Rogers' upset win over fourth-seeded Simona Halep, a result which sent the former French Open finalist out in the first round again. Williams also lost in the first round last year, and didn't plan to replicate Halep's early exit again. The seven-time major winner beat Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (5), 7-5, twice recovering breaks in the first set and despite her 48 unforced errors. 'It's never easy playing the first round — you're just trying to find the rhythm,' Williams said. 'She played amazing. It's very satisfying to get through a match against an opponent who is on fire.' Rogers caused the first upset of the tournament with her 6-3, 6-1 win over Halep. Rogers made a surprising run to the French Open quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza last year, when she was ranked No. 108, but only advanced to the second round at one other tournament in 2016. But the run at Roland Garros gave her confidence. 'The biggest thing I took away from that was just that I can compete with the top players in the world and I'm good enough,' said Rogers, who was playing just her second main draw match at the Australian Open. 'So I have definitely carried that away from the French Open and just been enjoying it a little bit.' Halep, a two-time quarterfinalist in Australia, said she'd been hampered by left knee pain that was compounded by the pressure of the match. Seventh-seeded Muguruza saved a set point in the first set, needed a medical timeout and had to fend off three break-point chances at 1-4 in the second set before advancing with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Marina Erakovic. Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig raced through her opening match, beating Patricia Tig 6-0, 6-1, and No. 20 Zhang Shuai, No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and No. 27 Irina-Camelia Begu also advanced. Australian teenager Destanee Aiava's milestone match ended in a 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to German qualifier Mona Barthel. The 16-year-old Melbourne high school student became the first player born in this millennium to play a main draw match at a major. In two all-U.S. matches, Samantha Crawford defeated Lauren Davis 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 and Alison Riske beat Madison Brengle 7-5, 6-3. Fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe recovered from a break down, and an illness, in the second set to beat No. 15-seeded Roberta Vinci 6-1, 7-6 (3). Two other seeded players lost early women's matches, with Varvara Lepchenko beating No. 19 Kiki Bertens 7-5, 7-6 (5) and former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic beating No. 26 Laura Siegemund 6-1, 1-6, 6-4. On the men's side, Nishikori needed 3 hours, 34 minutes to beat Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-2, but Berdych only played a set — which he won 6-1 — before Luca Vanni retired from their match. No. 19 John Isner beat Konstantin Kravchuk 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1 and advanced along with No. 27 Bernard Tomic, No. 29 Viktor Troicki and No. 31 Sam Querrey, who beat Quentin Halys 6-7 (10), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

92 minutes on court, lifetime of experience for Destanee

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Destanee Aiava's Australian Open lasted just 92 minutes Monday while making history as the first person born in the 2000s to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament. She took away enough experience from her 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to Mona Barthel to last a lifetime, she said, and received some advice from the biggest name in the women's game several days before she even stepped on court. And she fully expects to be back. 'This isn't the first and the last time I'm going to be here,' said Aiava, a 16-year-old Melbourne high school student who received a wild card to enter the season's first major. 'There's plenty more to come.' Last week, she had a short practice session with Serena Williams, the 22-time Grand Slam champion and the inspiration for Aiava's career. Aiava was 5 when she watched one of the Williams' matches on TV, and told her parents that tennis was going to be her career. Describing it then as 'one of the best days of my life,' Aiava explained Monday that Williams had imparted some good advice. 'She told me to dream big and you'll achieve big,' Aiava said. 'She's quite a nice person. It was a really good experience to get to hit with her.' Aiava played her match Monday before hundreds of vocal fans on Show Court 2 at Melbourne Park. 'It was pretty fun playing out there with all the crowd supporting me,' she said. 'Nothing really surprised me. I think I learned how to be more composed out there, and I didn't rush as much. Obviously it wasn't my day, but I'm looking forward to the rest of the year and what's out there for me.' What was out there for her shortly after her match ended was prize money of $37,500 as a first-round loser. 'I don't like to focus on that, or gloat,' said Aiava, who didn't plan to celebrate a loss. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Yes Sir: Andy Murray confident he can break Aussie drought

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray has become a father, gained the No. 1 ranking and received a knighthood since he left Melbourne Park 50 weeks ago after losing a fifth Australian Open final. Stress weighed him down at the season-opening Grand Slam in 2016, to the point where he thought about quitting the tournament to head back to Britain to be with his heavily pregnant wife. But even that would have presented problems, considering his father-in-law was in a Melbourne hospital after collapsing with an illness while watching a match at the Australian Open. Clearly, he's in a better place this year as he seeks to end his Australian drought. 'I obviously feel pretty confident after the way that last season finished,' he said. 'I do love it here. I love the conditions. I have played really well here over the years, and just haven't managed to get over the final hurdle. 'But, yeah, I think I'm in a decent position, for sure, to do it. I think I have a chance to win here. I'm playing well. Practice has been good. I feel healthy. I'll give it a good shot.' Rumors circulated last year that Murray would go home before facing Djokovic, his Melbourne nemesis, in the final. As it was, he was on the first flight to Heathrow after losing in straight sets — his fourth Australian Open final defeat to Djokovic and fifth overall dating back to 2010. His wife, Kim Sears, gave birth to their first child, Sophia Olivia, the following week. He confirmed Saturday, two days before he opens the 2017 tournament against Illya Marchenko of Ukraine, that he really had thought about leaving early. 'It was a tough tournament, obviously the situation with Kim and the baby coming was tough,' he said. 'Then with what happened with Nigel during the event made it really kind of awkward because there was times ... it was like 'I want to home for the birth,' but then I'm not just going to leave while my father-in-law is also in hospital. 'It was tough, and certainly not a position I would want to put myself in again, or my wife, or any of my family really.' Murray had a stunning end to 2016 after reuniting with Ivan Lendl as coach in June, winning his second Wimbledon title, defending his Olympic gold medal, and adding titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris to end Djokovic's 122-week stint at No. 1. He then clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking by winning the ATP Finals, beating the players seeded second, third, fourth and fifth. He set a record for most time between gaining the No. 2 and No. 1 rankings — seven years, and 82 days. But he has set a lot of timely records for British tennis in the last three seasons and, in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year's honors list, he received a knighthood from the British monarch for reaching the pinnacle of the sport. Roger Federer was asked if he could remember what it was like back in 2004 when he first became No. 1, and how he'd explain it to Murray. 'It definitely feels different because everybody comes up to you and says, 'You're the best,'' said Federer, who spent a record 302 weeks at No. 1. 'You start walking around a bit differently. Just feel more confident overall in your shots.' Murray said he hasn't really felt a difference yet, but it has only been eight weeks. Considering how hard it was to achieve the top spot, he's hoping it doesn't take twice the energy to hang on to it. 'It is a mindset thing, because I think it could be quite easy that once you get to No. 1 that you think, 'Well, actually, I just need to keep doing what I've been doing,'' he said. 'The reality is that things obviously keep moving on, the game will get better, I'll obviously get older, the young guys will continue to improve, and also Novak and Roger and Stan (Wawrinka) and Rafa (Nadal) and all the guys at the top are still going to be wanting to get there. 'I need to continue to improve. I for sure need to keep working hard.' One thing he doesn't really want to change is how people refer to him now that formally he's recognized as Sir Andy Murray, particularly the broadcasters. 'I'm more than happy just being Andy. That's enough for me,' he said. 'Yeah, if they call me Andy, I'd be happy with that.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Worth a mention: Williams aiming for record 23rd major title

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams definitely doesn't want to talk about the No. 23. She doesn't really want to think about planning a wedding, either, while she's pursuing a Grand Slam record. Newly engaged Williams brushed off concerns about the 88 unforced errors she had in a loss in New Zealand last week in her only warmup tournament ahead of the Australian Open, which starts Monday and where she's aiming for Open-era record 23rd major title. 'I've moved on,' she said. 'I'm feeling relaxed, calm, ready and poised.' Williams responded to questions about milestone achievements last year when she had 21 Grand Slam titles, and it didn't help — she lost the final here to Angelique Kerber and to Garbine Muguruza at the French Open before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's Open era mark of 22. She's being more superstitious this time. 'I'm not talking about that,' Williams, a six-time Australian Open winner, said as she shut down questions during a promotional activity this week. 'I said I'm not talking about that. Move on.' Another Australian title is also high on the agenda for Novak Djokovic, who already has won six. But he isn't thinking much beyond his opening match after drawing Fernando Verdasco. A first is the priority for Andy Murray, recently knighted in Britain after finishing 2016 at No. 1. He is looking at the draw from the top for the first time at a major and is hoping it comes with a change in fortunes at Melbourne Park. He has lost five Australian Open finals — the first to Roger Federer in 2010, the other four to Djokovic. Federer could again stand in his way, only at the quarterfinal stage this time. The 17-time major winner slipped down the rankings during six months off last year recovering from an injured left knee and was seeded No. 17. Williams took time off after the U.S. Open, where she lost in the semifinals for the second year running and lost the top ranking to Kerber. The big news during her break was her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month, when she posted a poem on the news website to confirm she'd accepted his proposal. After hitting this week with 16-year-old Destanee Aiava, who will be the first person born in the 2000s to play in the main draw of a major when she meets a qualifier in the first round, Williams said her mind was back entirely on business. 'I told (Ohanian) my main goal was to win this title,' she said. 'Yeah, it really doesn't feel like anything different.' No date has been set for the wedding, with Williams' mind on one major thing, so she's not thinking about a dress or a cake, and she's not wearing a ring to practice. 'Oh my God. I don't think about it really,' she said, responding to questions about her marriage plans. 'I'm just ... I don't know I'll have to ask him that. I have a job — I mean, he does too. I kinda gotta focus.' Kerber won the Australian and U.S. Open titles last year, so will be attempting to defend a major for the first time in Melbourne. She may be feeling pressure as the No. 1 seed, having won only one match in two warmup tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney. That doesn't take any pressure off Williams. 'I am No. 2, I guess. I definitely don't feel like anyone's saying that, 'Oh, there's no pressure on Serena,'' she said. 'It's always there, I'm used to it. 'I feel like I've been No. 1 for so long, so many times. I've done things that are amazing. Sometimes that ranking really means a lot, but also I feel like sometimes just winning events ... means just as much.' That's something Djokovic understands. His 122-week streak at No. 1 ended amid Murray's incredible finish to last season, when he won Wimbledon and defended the Olympic gold medal among eight titles he won after reuniting with Ivan Lendl as coach. Before then, Djokovic had beaten Murray in the Australian and French Open finals, his 11th and 12th major titles. Half of those have come in Melbourne, where his victory last year equaled the record six Australian titles Roy Emerson won (1961 and 1963-67). 'I'm feeling phenomenal,' Djokovic said after arriving in Australia following a win over Murray in his season-opening event at Doha. 'Maybe this is the year — 2017 for seven. I'm not a numerologist, but it sounds good.' Murray jumped on a flight almost immediately after last year's final to be with his wife, who was expecting their first child. There have been plenty of changes for him since, becoming a father for the first time, No. 1 in the world for the first time, and reuniting with Lendl. 'Each time I come, I think I've got a chance of winning but it's just never happened,' he said. 'Hopefully, this year will be different. 'I do think the last few months of last year can help me with giving me confidence — other players look at that and see you're playing well and (I) feel physically and mentally strong.' Fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who ended the run of wins by Djokovic and Murray when he won the U.S. Open last September, said the next generation of players such as Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori would be among the contenders for the Australian title. But he thinks it will be difficult for any new champion to emerge against the likes of the in-form Murray and Djokovic, and the returning Federer and Rafael Nadal. 'So far, last 10 years, the 'Big Four' was really strong,' Wawrinka said, 'so it's going to be interesting to see this year how Novak, Andy, Rafa, and Roger will play.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Troicki's three-peat won't happen after loss in Sydney semis

SYDNEY (AP) — There won't be a third consecutive Sydney International title for Viktor Troicki after the Serbian player lost 6-3, 7-6 (6) to Gilles Muller in the semifinals on Friday at Olympic Park. Troicki was trying to become the first player in the Open era to win three Sydney titles in a row, surpassing the feats of Americans Pete Sampras and James Blake, and Lleyton Hewitt, who did it twice. Muller was so sick last week in Brisbane he struggled to leave his hotel room. 'When I came here, I wasn't expecting anything because I didn't play really well in Brisbane and I wasn't feeling great,' Muller said. 'I was looking to have one or two more matches before the Australian Open.' The sixth-seeded Muller will play either Daniel Evans of Britain or Andrew Kuznetsov of Russia in Saturday's final. Kuznetov plays Evans in a Friday night semifinal. The women's final between Agnieszka Radwanska and Johanna Konta was scheduled to precede the men's semifinal. At Auckland, New Zealand, Jack Sock will play Joao Sousa in Saturday's ASB Classic final after posting semifinal wins. Sousa beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-1, 7-5 while Sock defeated fellow American Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-3. Sock, who lost to Roberto Bautista Agut in the 2016 final, will play his sixth ATP final. 'It wasn't easy,' Sock said. 'Stevie's such a good player, he had such a good year last year and we know each other so well. We both had a good idea what we wanted to do out there. I was able to execute pretty well.' Sousa was impressive in beating the eighth-seeded Baghdatis in 72 minutes. He was on top from the beginning, breaking Baghdatis twice to take the first set in only 27 minutes. 'I've been playing better and better this tournament which has been a great thing for me,' Sousa said. At the WTA's Hobart International, Elise Mertens of Belgium beat fellow qualifier Jana Fett 6-4, 6-0 to advance to Saturday's final against Monica Niculescu. Mertens beat top-seeded Kiki Bertens in straight sets in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Earrlier, Lesia Tsurenko withdrew from her semifinal against Niculescu, handing the Romanian a walkover to the final. Tsurenko, who has viral illness, has been drawn to meet No. 1 and defending champion Angelique Kerber in the first round of the Australian Open. After withdrawing from the Brisbane International with a similar complaint, the 61st-ranked Tsurenko won three matches in Hobart. 'I'm really disappointed because I'm still not feeling well, and it is getting worse with playing more and more matches,' Tsurenko said. 'I'm taking some more medications and really hope to be better in Melbourne.' The Australian Open begins Monday, although Tsurenko might not have to play Kerber until Tuesday. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Knicks beat Bulls with big games from Anthony, Rose, Noah

em>By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press /em> NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony had 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah had big games against their former team, and the New York Knicks beat the short-handed Chicago Bulls 104-89 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Rose scored 17 points in his return to Madison Square Garden after skipping the last game here, and Noah finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds as the Knicks snapped a three-game losing streak. Rookie forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas had a season-high 19 points. The Knicks bounced back from a loss at the buzzer in Philadelphia on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) to win for the first time this season on the second night of back-to-back games. Dwyane Wade scored 22 for the Bulls, who were missing star swingman Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Denzel Valentine, all because of illness. They dropped their third straight. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017

Rondo says he was told Bulls coaches 'saving me from myself'

em>By Ian Quillen, Associated Press /em> WASHINGTON (AP) — Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo says he was told by a member of the Chicago coaching staff that coach Fred Hoiberg was 'saving me from myself' by benching the four-time All-Star for the past five games. Rondo returned to action Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time) in a game against Washington. Rondo said before the game that he was not provided a reason for his benching from Hoiberg, but 'I got a slight explanation from another guy on the [coaching] staff.' Rondo was surprised by the comment, saying 'save me from myself? I've never heard that before in my life.' Rondo hadn't played since posting a lackluster 11 first-half minutes in Chicago's 111-101 loss at Indiana on Dec. 30 (Dec. 31, PHL time). Hoiberg, speaking before Rondo's interview with reporters, said the 30-year-old point guard would be the first man off the bench Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time) for the short-handed Bulls. Chicago was without an ill Jimmy Butler and a resting Dwyane Wade, and forward Nikola Mirotic was also out with an illness. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Shooter had mental health issues, kin say

The man police say opened fire with a gun from his checked baggage at a Florida airport had a history of mental health problems – some of which followed his military service in Iraq – and was receiving psychological treatment at his home in Alaska, his relatives said Friday after the deadly shooting......»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017

To bye or not to bye in NFL playoffs? Let's take a look

BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer NFL teams pursue byes like they are precious jewels. Are they really? Or does the road to the Super Bowl not particularly come with a rest stop? History tells us that reaching the Super Bowl, let alone winning it, after playing in a wild-card game is anything but ideal. Not impossible but just ask, in recent years, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2007 New York Giants and 2010 Green Bay Packers. But it's certainly the most difficult way of doing things, particularly how those three teams managed it, as sixth seeds with no home games. All of them are in this postseason. Not one of them goes into this weekend wishing they didn't own a bye. Yet there are advantages — yes, really — to being active in the wild-card round. For one, the opponent shouldn't be as formidable as either of the top two seeds in each conference who are enjoying a mini-vacation. Secondly, the momentum gathered from an opening win can carry teams a long way. Again, look up what those Pittsburgh, New York, and Green Bay teams above did. 'We're battle tested,' Giants receiver Victor Cruz says, speaking not only of an early season loss at Lambeau Field, but of the team's general psyche. 'We've been through some things after that game that really set the standard and the focus for this team. That's one of the biggest things for us going into the game: Understanding that we've been through some wars and now we're ready to go.' So the Giants go to Green Bay, where in 2008 they won the NFC Championship. And, four years later, they beat a 15-1 Packers squad in the divisional round. Both times, they went on to win a Super Bowl. Eli Manning was the quarterback and offensive fulcrum of those title runs, while the pressure-first defense was masterful in negating big-time passers. The Giants entered those postseasons pretty much as afterthoughts, then got their acts together immediately in wild-card outings. Sure, they might have won it all in those seasons anyway. Yet there's no question those opening victories against Tampa Bay in 2008 and Atlanta in 2012 helped in a big way. 'You like to prove people wrong,' Manning says, knowing the Giants again are long shots to win it all. 'That is always kind of an exciting thing to do.' Under the eight-division format with 12 playoff teams that began in 2002, teams playing in wild-card games have made the Super Bowl eight times: Carolina in 2004, Pittsburgh in '06, Indianapolis in '07, the Giants in '08 and '12, Arizona in 2009, Green Bay in 2011, and Baltimore in 2013. Six of them won the title, with only the Panthers and Cardinals failing, both with last-minute losses. From 1990-92, there were six divisions, with 12 teams still advancing to the playoffs. Yes, three wild cards per conference, meaning one NFC and one AFC division winner didn't receive a bye. In that span, only four teams came out of the wild-card round to make the Super Bowl, all from the AFC. Buffalo (1993) and Tennessee (2000) both lost to the NFC champion. Denver (1998) and Baltimore (2001) won. Indeed, the Titans beat the Bills in January 2000 in the Music City Miracle, and Buffalo hasn't been back to the postseason since. One franchise that has made a habit of earning byes, of course, is New England. This is the sixth straight year the Patriots are idle for the opening weekend. Even Tom Brady gets antsy during the bye, though. 'You always want to feel great on Sunday,' Brady says. 'You'd always like to practice every day, too. Some weeks it's about prioritization. I'd like to do everything all the time, but sometimes that's not possible just based on ... practice is pretty demanding. Sometimes if you practice it might set you back a little more than you would want. 'After 17 years, I've got a pretty good balance for those things. I'm the type of person who likes to practice a lot. I've also been around long enough to know you've got to be smart, too, so it's just trying to find that right balance.' Brady can kick back this weekend while seeking that balance. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

Lady Blazers take solo second, near semis spot

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. --- CSB vs. CSB (w) 12:30 p.m. --- Perpetual vs. CSB (w) 2:00 p.m. --- Perpetual vs. CSB (m) 3:30 p.m. --- Perpetual vs. CSB (jrs)   Defending champion College of St. Benilde recovered from a sluggish start to take down the San Beda Lionesses, 12-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19, Thursday to move to solo second spot in the 92nd NCAA women’s volleyball competition at The Arena in San Juan. The Lady Blazers improved to 6-1 win-loss record and inched one step closer for a semifinals seat. Rachel Anne Austerio exploded for 13 points while team captain Jeannette Panaga and Jan Daguil scored all their points from kills for the Taft-based squad. Ranya Musa also had 11 markers for CSB, which won their second straight match after a painful five-set loss to Lyceum of the Philippines University a month ago.  Lady Blazers head coach Macky Carino admitted that his team played too tight and was out of sync in the opening set.  “Sobrang bagal ng first set naming,” he said. “Sa sobran focus ng team ko nakatingin na lang sila sa kabila (San Beda). ‘Yung team namin, ‘yung iginagalaw namin ‘di na namin pinansin.” “So ‘yun ang ni-remind ko sa kanila, na alam natin ang gagalawin ng kabila pero dapat laruin din natin ang laro natin,” Carino added. “So ayun pagdating ng second set buti nagbago.” The Lady Blazers will wrap their elimination round campaign against Arellano University on Wednesday before the Finals rematch against unbeaten San Sebastian College (6-0) on January 25. Francesca Racraquin had 17 points while Nieza Viray scored 14 for the Lionesses, who dropped their third match in eight outings and are in danger of missing the cut in the semifinals race. In the men’s division, the Blazers climbed to solo top spot with a 25-19, 25-23, 25-17, victory over the Red Lions. CSB improved to 6-1 slate to secure at least a playoff for a Final Four ticket behind skipper John Vic De Guzman’s 11 points. Isaah Arda and Francis Basilan scored 10 markers each for the Blazers, who handed San Beda its second loss in eight games. The Red Lions despite the loss are also assured of a semis seat playoff. In the junior’s match, San Beda avoided a shutout after the Red Cubs clawed the Junior Blazers, 25-16, 25-20, 25-15, for a 3-4 card. CSB-La Salle Greenhills remained winless after five games.         --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles        .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2017

Murder case dismissed against ex-wrestler 'Superfly' Snuka

  ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania judge on Tuesday dismissed the murder case against former pro wrestler Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka, saying he is not competent to stand trial in the 1983 death of his girlfriend. The decision by Lehigh County Judge Kelly Banach comes a month after Snuka's lawyer told the court that his 73-year-old client has dementia, is in hospice care in Florida and has six months to live. The retired WWE star was charged in 2015 with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Nancy Argentino, whose body was found more than three decades earlier in their Whitehall Township hotel room. Prosecutors allege she was beaten, while Snuka has maintained she died from a fall. Authorities reopened the investigation after The Morning Call newspaper raised questions about the case in 2013. Banach had ruled last summer that Snuka was not competent to stand trial after his attorney argued the ex-athlete suffers from dementia, partly due to the head trauma sustained over a long career in the ring. Prosecutors countered that Snuka's brain shows normal signs of aging and suggested he might be feigning symptoms. At a hearing last month to re-evaluate Snuka's mental fitness, his wife told the judge that the family struggles to keep him from leaving home during bouts of psychosis in which he thinks he's late for a wrestling match. Banach then took time to review Snuka's medical records before ruling. On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office said prosecutors are evaluating their options. Snuka's lawyer Robert Kirwan could not immediately be reached for comment. Snuka, a native of Fiji who previously lived in Camden County, New Jersey, was known on the wrestling circuit for diving from the ropes. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 4th, 2017

Retire or fight back? MMA stars offer advice to Ronda Rousey

div>GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer /div> div>  /div> div>LAS VEGAS (AP) — Ronda Rousey is taking time off to ponder her future after her 48-second loss in her comeback fight at UFC 207. /div> div>  /div> div>Amanda Nunes thinks Rousey must retire. /div> div>Jon Jones believes Rousey should fight again. /div> div>  /div> div>The UFC's biggest names offered strong opinions about Rousey's future Saturday, a day after Nunes punched Rousey into submission in less than a minute. Rousey (12-2), once the most dominant fighter in the sport, has now lost two straight boutss 13 months apart, looking unprepared and overmatched against both Holly Holm and Nunes. /div> div>  /div> div>After Nunes easily defended the bantamweight belt once held by Rousey, the champion encouraged Rousey to move on. /div> div>  /div> div>'That's it for her,' Nunes said Friday night. 'For sure, she's going to retire. She can't take it anymore. If she wants the rematch, I'm going to do the same thing, because she can't take my punches.' /div> div>  /div> div>Other major figures in mixed martial arts disagree. /div> div>Jones was arguably the most feared fighter in the sport before failing a drug test last summer. The suspended former light heavyweight champion took to Twitter on Saturday to encourage Rousey. /div> div>  /div> div>'My advice to Ronda would be to pick yourself up and try again,' Jones wrote. 'I think it's important for Ronda to show her fans how great she truly is by displaying her courage and giving it another try.' /div> div>  /div> div>Rousey declined to promote her comeback bout, and she refused to discuss her loss with fans or reporters after making a guaranteed $3 million along with undisclosed millions in bonuses and pay-per-view revenue from the UFC's year-end show. She issued a statement to ESPN on Saturday. /div> div>  /div> div>'Returning to not just fighting, but winning, was my entire focus this past year,' Rousey wrote. /div> div>  /div> div>'However, sometimes — even when you prepare and give everything you have and want something so badly — it doesn't work how you planned. I take pride in seeing how far the women's division has come in the UFC and commend all the other women who have been part of making this possible, including Amanda. /div> div>  /div> div>'I need to take some time to reflect and think about the future. Thank you for believing in me and understanding.' /div> div>  /div> div>Nunes acknowledged feeling sorry for Rousey after landing 27 punches on the former champion in just 48 seconds. Nunes believes the cumulative stress of Rousey's first loss, her acting career and numerous outside-the-cage responsibilities combined to 'pressure her too much.' /div> div>  /div> div>Nunes spoke directly to a bloodied Rousey in the cage after the loss. /div> div>  /div> div>'I told her, 'You did a lot for this sport,'' Nunes said. ''Thank you so much. Now, take some time to rest and maybe do something else.' Why should she keep doing this? She's a millionaire already. Why would she want to keep doing this? She'll hurt herself.' /div> div>  /div> div>But Jones sees a ferocious competitor in Rousey behind the acting jobs and modeling gigs. /div> div>  /div> div>'What she does next will truly determine her legacy,' Jones wrote. 'I really hope she chooses to be ... unbroken. Her story doesn't have to be over here. I also still believe she beats 90 (percent) of the division. Lots of ass kicking still to be done, lots of money to be made. /div> div>  /div> div>Jones also joined Nunes and innumerable MMA figures in questioning the effectiveness of Rousey's coaching. /div> div>  /div> div>Edmond Tarverdyan, Rousey's coach, was widely criticized for his uneven, unusual coaching methods even before Rousey's career faltered. /div> div>  /div> div>Even Rousey's mother, AnnMaria De Mars, has ripped Tarverdyan, but Rousey has remained fiercely loyal to her longtime guru. /div> div>  /div> div>Jones is based at the Albuquerque gym of respected trainer Greg Jackson, the mastermind behind several UFC champions. Rousey's striking has long been a weak spot for the Olympic judo medalist, and she was utterly unable to cope with Nunes' punching ability, showing little growth in the past year from the weaknesses exposed by Holm. /div> div>  /div> div>'Maybe she just needs to complement her coach with an MMA family,' Jones wrote. 'Maybe she should join one of the bigger MMA teams. ... Being around other bad asses and constantly sharing your spotlight could be good for you (in) so many ways. They can improve on your humility.' /div> div>  /div> div>Rousey turns 30 years old in February, with several years of her ostensible athletic prime before her. While she has circled several major acting jobs after playing three supporting roles in recent years, she doesn't appear to have any major film commitments. /div> div>  /div> div>But Rousey took several months off after her first defeat, and she seems likely to be deliberate again. De Mars, who cradled Rousey as the fighter left the T-Mobile Arena cage, took to her blog Saturday to offer support. /div> div>  /div> div>'She cares DEEPLY about winning to an extent that I don't believe the average person can wrap his/her head around,' De Mars wrote. 'I am very proud of my daughter.' /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2017

76ers survive late flurry to beat Nuggets

DENVER (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers came up big in the fourth quarter a night after collapsing in the final 12 minutes. Ersan Ilyasova had a career-high 23 points and 13 rebounds and the 76ers survived a flurry in the final seconds to beat the Denver Nuggets 124-122 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). 'I feel like the trip has been rewarded with a win and us having the ability to finally close out a game and finish off the fourth period,' Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. Joel Embiid returned after sitting out Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) loss in Utah to score 23 points and hit key free throws down the stretch. The Sixers ended their four-game trip with just their third win away from home despite having just nine available players. They had a chance to win the other three games on this trip but consistently faltered in the fourth quarter. The Jazz outscored them 30-9 to end Thursday's game, and the Sixers went over the tape of the period Friday morning. The attention to detail paid off. 'Tonight, that was the emphasis at the end of the third quarter, that's what everybody was talking about,' Embiid said. 'We focused, we locked in and got the win.' Nikola Jokic had a game-high 25 points for the Nuggets, and Emmanuel Mudiay scored 22. Denver had won four of its last five home games but a bad start led to another defeat. 'I thought our focus at shootaround [Friday, Saturday PHL time] was not great,' coach Michael Malone said. 'And I think that when you win a few games you start to feel pretty good about yourself and you forget why you have been winning games.' The Nuggets had a chance to tie it during a frantic ending. After Embiid hit two free throws to put the Sixers up four, Jokic was fouled on a three-point attempt. Jokic made the first two free throws and intentionally missed the third. Denver's Gary Harris grabbed the rebound but missed a short bank shot, and Kenneth Faried's tip-in try was off as time expired. 'Jokic did a great job missing, I got a shot up and we had a chance for a tip-in, but it just didn't go our way,' Harris said. The Nuggets pulled within 114-113 with 1:43 left, but Philadelphia's T.J. McConnell hit his third three-pointer of the night — matching his total makes for the season. He finished with 17 points and eight assists. Four straight foul shots by Denver tied it, but Embiid split a pair of free throws to put Philadelphia ahead by one. He then stripped Jokic on the other end as the center went up for a go-ahead layup and drained two more free throws to put the Sixers ahead 120-117 with 15.9 seconds left. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Sixers: /strong> /em> Sergio Rodriguez sprained his left ankle in the loss at Utah on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) and did not play Friday. Richaun Holmes was not with the team and is in concussion protocol. G Gerald Henderson missed his second straight game with left hip soreness. em> strong>Nuggets: /strong> /em> Wilson Chandler (right neck sprain/strain) and Jamal Murray (groin soreness) both played. Jokic has scored in double figures in 12 of his last 14 games. strong>CENTER OF ATTENTION /strong> Nuggets big man Jusuf Nurkic played 18:33 after not playing in four straight games and averaging just 6:16 in three other games. Nurkic expressed his disappointment after practice Thursday (Friday, PHL time), telling The Denver Post, 'I'm not here to sit on the bench; I'm here to play basketball.' Malone said before Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) game he had no problem with Nurkic's sentiments. 'Nurk's been great,' Malone said. 'I understand guys want to be out there. They're competitive. You want them to be competitive. Just make sure you're being a good teammate.' strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Sixers: /strong> /em> Host Minnesota on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). em> strong>Nuggets: /strong> /em>At the Golden State Warriors on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2016