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Football: Neil Etheridge fully intent on staying with Azkals and helping them move forward

Filipino-British goalkeeper Neil Etheridge has every intention of suiting up for the Philippine Men's National Men's Football Team moving forward.  The 29-year old has been the Azkals' first-string keeper the better part of his eleven-year career with the national team, and he plans on keeping it that way.  "Of course, I want to be part of the Azkals going into the World Cup Qualifiers," Etheridge said in a press conference in Manila, Thursday morning. "I decided to play for the Philippines at 18 years old. I’m 29 now, so [since] eleven years ago, I’ve been with that team." "Yes, people have said, ‘Is he just gonna play Premier League Football and just drop the Azkals?’ No, because I’ve been a part of that team for eleven years, and you don’t just drop something after eleven years," he continued.  More than just being on the team, Etheridge added that he would also like to be part of the team's progress moving forward, even if he has club commitments abroad.  "I want to be a part of it, I want to move it forward, I’d love to have the responsibility, not just from the Premier League or wherever I’m playing in England or Europe, I want to have a responsibility here. Moving forward, I want to continue being part of the Azkals, I feel like I’ve got a lot more to give, I just hope and pray that the Federation and everyone involved gets along the same lines and moves in the same direction." While Etheridge was part of the lineup that ultimately clinched a historic spot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, he wasn't able to join his Azkals during the tournament itself due to his club team commitments with Cardiff City FC.  Etheridge believes that while the Azkals were ultimately unable to record a win in the tournament, they were able to show that they indeed deserved to be on that stage of competition.  "Even though I wasn’t part of the Asian Cup, I think the team did extremely well, and they probably exceeded a lot of expectations without winning a game, they were very strong and they did very well," he said.  The promising Asian Cup performance, Etheridge hopes, will be a springboard for the Azkals and everyone involved to aim for an even better result moving forward.  "Do we just stop there and accept it? Or do we move forward and go ‘Right now, we want to try to qualify for the World Cup. Now we want to try to get to the next Asian Cup and do better.’ That’s what I want to see and I think everyone involved in that team wants the National Team, the Azkals to move forward, but that needs to, not just come from the players and the coaching staff, that needs to come from everyone behind the scenes all the way to the top." More than just again qualifying for the Asian Cup, Etheridge hopes to be able to, in his career, see the Azkals earn a coveted spot in the FIFA World Cup.  .@Neil38Etheridge talks about @TheAzkalsPH in the Asian Cup and moving forward | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/qGfYw8sFOR — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) May 23, 2019 "I’ve always said it, the Philippine National Team, the Azkals have really had a strong base, and I’ve been fortunate enough to play for the team for ten years. Maybe five years ago, we had a very strong team and people were wondering ‘Are we ever coming back to create a team like that?’ and we did and qualified for the Asian Cup, which is a massive achievement...I just hope that we can keep moving forward. Later on this year, we’ve got the World Cup Qualifiers, which I hope to be a part of, and we’ve created waves. First time we’ve ever qualified for the Asian Cup and I hope, maybe, in my career, that we’ll be able to qualify for the World Cup." The Azkals return to the pitch for an international friendly match against China in Guangzhou on June 7th.  The second round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers will begin on September later this year, with the Philippines among the 40 teams to participate in the qualifying tournament.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 23rd, 2019

ONE Championship: Despite his risk backfiring, Geje Eustaquio says he would do it all over again

  Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio entered the ring willing to risk it all against Japanese knockout artist Yuya "Little Piranha" Wakamatsu at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES.   The former ONE Flyweight World Champion from Baguio City quickly learned the dangers in taking on Wakamatsu, as he suffered the first KO loss of his career at the 1:59 mark of round one last Friday, August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.    “I took the chance to go for the knockout but it wasn’t meant to be, he beat me to the punch,” Eustaquio said.    “I lost my position, I wasn’t expecting him to throw a straight right. In my registry, I was expecting him to throw either a hook or a cross, but he followed it up with a straight.”   After feeling each other out in the opening stanza, “Little Piranha” defied "Gravity" with a hard right hand that dropped the latter hard.    The visiting foe swarmed with a couple of more punches which prompted the referee to halt the contest in front of Eustaquio's hometown crowd.   Despite the loss, Eustaquio remains upbeat - knowing that it’s part of the game.    “That’s our gameplan, to gamble,” Eustaquio revealed.    “I’ve been facing wrestlers and grapplers for most of my career, and now it’s a blessing in disguise that I faced a dangerous striker in Wakamatsu”    If there’s one thing the 30-year old learned against Wakamatsu, it’s that one small mistake could be costly - especially against high-level opponents.   “I was really looking to add up to my knockout record or maybe finish him via submission but it is what it is,” Eustaquio said.    “In this level of competition, if you want results, you’re risking yourself of getting finished as well.”    At the end of the day, Eustaquio charged the knockout defeat to experience as he’ll use the heartbreak to become a better martial artist moving forward.   He knows that his dream of a fourth encounter with ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano "Mikinho" Moraes is unlikely now, so the plan at the moment is to simply get back to the gym and work on his weaknesses.   “I just have to work harder in the gym, maybe plant some more kamotes, so we’ll have better harvest,” Eustaquio said while laughing.   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 7th, 2019

ONE Championship: Eduard Folayang breaks down loss to Eddie Alvarez

Eduard "Landslide" Folayang looked moments away from conquering his most decorated opponent so far in Eddie "The Underground King" Alvarez, but it only took one mistake for it to slip away.   The Team Lakay superstar dropped the former Lightweight World Champion early in round one, only to get swept and choked in the opening round at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES on 2 August at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.   “I think I overdid it. When I saw him go down, I felt like I really wanted to finish him,” Folayang shared.   “I don’t usually give up my back but I lost my cool. I really wanted to finish him in the first round. However, because I wanted to get back up, I lost my position.”   Folayang usually knows what to do when caught in a rear naked choke, but when he stood up he let Alvarez tighten the choke further.   “I had an idea how to defend the choke, but at that time I felt like my mindset changed.”   Folayang admitted that the error did not hit him until the bout was officially over. He knows that his overeagerness to finish got him into trouble and he paid the ultimate price.   “When I saw his face, I know that he was close to being finished,” Folayang said.   “But when the match ended, I was in shock. I really lost focus on the match and singled out the stand-up game,” the Filipino added. “It hurts but we learn from it.”   While many people feel like Folayang’s experience, or lack of it, when it comes to the ground cost him the match, the 35-year-old Filipino hero said that was not the case.   “I don’t think I can be easily submitted when I roll in the ground for jiu jitsu but, things happen in an MMA bout. We’re not really top-notch jiu jitsu practitioners, and we’re not that experienced, but there are things that happen in the match which are beyond your control,” Folayang shared.   “We’re always working on our ground game, but it’s not why we lost today. My mistake was moving in with the wrong mindset. Letting the emotions get the better of me.”   Despite letting a huge opportunity slip, Folayang is quick to move forward from it.    “The results don’t matter anymore. What’s important is that we learned. We’ll be back. We’ll try to fix it. Then we’ll rise again.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2019

ONE Championship: After disappointing night in Manila, it’s back to the drawing board again for Team Lakay

ONE Championship’s third trip to Manila for 2019, ONE: Dawn of Heroes which was held last August 2nd at the Mall of Asia Arena, was tagged as the biggest martial arts event in Philippine history.    With fans packing the stadium, it was the perfect platform for La Trinidad-based mixed martial arts stable Team Lakay to showcase their talents in front of what could possibly be the biggest ONE crowd in Manila.    Unfortunately for Team Lakay, ONE: Dawn of Heroes would prove to be an unfavorable night for the most part.    “1 and 4,” said Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao during the post-event press conference. “One win and four losses, but again, it’s not the first time that we’ve experienced a case like this. We’ve gone 0-5, and again, we learned a lot of lessons from tonight, and we’ll be back to the drawing board. We’ll go back to the hotel and discuss what happened.”   The preliminary card was nothing short of a disaster for Team Lakay, as former champions Geje Eustaquio and Honorio Banario, and featherweight contender Edward Kelly all absorbed painful losses.    Kelly, who was the first on deck, fell victim to unintentional illegal blows to the back of the head at the hands of Chinese contender Xie Bin, rendering him unable to continue. With the bout already past the halfway point when the infraction occurred, a technical decision needed to be made, and it went in favor of Xie, who had been dominating Kelly all throughout the first one-and-a-half rounds.    Hoping to right the ship and get himself back on track as well was former ONE Featherweight World Champion Banario, who took on a short-notice replacement in South Korean Dae Sung Park. Banario was originally slated to face Russian Timofey Nastyukhin, but instead went to the prelims after Nastyukhin needed to pull out due to an injury.    Banario found himself in trouble early on after getting rocked with a left high kick and an elbow, but was able to survive and make things competitive for the rest of the bout. Banario had his moments, but it was Park who was in control for the better part of the three-round bout, leading to a unanimous decision win.    “Siguro the lesson I learned in this fight is I need to train more,” a dejected Banario said during the post-fight presser. “I gave everything in the fight, but it wasn’t my night, so I think the next time, I need to train more and improve my game.”    With the loss, Banario is now riding a two-fight losing streak, and while he admitted that the short-notice opponent change may have thrown him off his game for a bit, “The Rock” offered up no excuses for the defeat.    “Just a little bit, because my opponent changed to a southpaw, I tried to adapt for three weeks, but there’s no excuses. I lost the fight and [I need] to go back to the drawing board,” he said.    Hoping to be able to end the slump was former ONE Flyweight World Champion Eustaquio, who was coming off a bounce-back win back in Singapore. Against a heavy-handed Japanese striker in Yuya Wakamatsu, Eustaquio was hoping to get a win and throw himself back into title contention. Instead, Wakamatsu had other plans, as he landed a stiff right straight that knocked Eustaquio out in the first round.   It was Eustaquio’s first loss via knockout.    “Things happen, you know? In this level of competition, it’s either you get knocked out or you will knock him out. It’s just that tonight was not my night. I hope, and I believe that this is going to be a big stepping stone for me to become a better athlete,” he said.    In what was Team Lakay’s main event for the night, former two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang faced arguably his toughest challenge yet in former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion Eddie Alvarez in a ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinal bout.    Folayang appeared to be within moments of victory after chopping Alvarez down with a vicious leg kick and pouncing on the grounded American.    Over-aggression led to a bit of carelessness for Folayang as he found himself getting reversed as he was looking to finish Alvarez off.    With the American star now in dominant position, it was only a matter of moments before he managed to impose his superior grappling and submitted the Filipino hero with a Rear Naked Choke just a little over two minutes into the opening round.   “I think, for Eduard in this fight, the major lesson that we learned is that ‘Don’t rush. We’re winning.’ I thought we won already, but because of small details, we’re in the [world-class] calibre, so small details will finish everything and lose the fight, so next time, we’ll be cautious,” Sangiao said of Folayang’s loss.    The lone bright spot for the team was their youngest Lakay in Danny Kingad, who rallied back to defeat Reece McLaren in their ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semifinal bout. With the win, Kingad advances to the Finals to face American MMA icon and former long-time UFC Flyweight king Demetrious Johnson, who was also victorious that night against Japanese contender Tatsumitsu Wada.    Kingad and Johnson are set to square off at ONE: Century in Tokyo, Japan this October.    As Coach Mark said, this isn’t the first time that Team Lakay has felt disappointment in Manila. In fact, they have gone worse.    Back in 2013, Team Lakay went 0-5, with Folayang, Eustaquio, and Banario and Kevin Belingon all suffering losses that night in Manila.    But following the downs are usually ups, and Team Lakay has had their share of ups as well since then. They have gotten quite a few clean sweeps and even ended 2018 with four world championships, which means that all is not lost for the Igorot warriors, and Sangiao is confident that his team will regain their glory in the future.    “As I’ve said, this isn’t the first time that we’ve experienced cases like this. Before, we experienced going 0-5, and now we will be back again, and I know that they will be back stronger and better.”   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2019

PBA: Coach Leo thankful as SMB somehow still makes Finals

Despite making yet another PBA Finals, San Miguel Beer’s journey to the title round of the Commissioner’s Cup was far from easy. The Beermen let go of former Best Import and champion Charles Rhodes after they stumbled into a sorry 2-5 start. And while his replacement, Chris McCullough, has been sensational, San Miguel still almost didn’t make the playoffs, barely moving on as the no. 7 seed. In the playoffs, the Beermen had to overcome Northport’s twice-to-beat advantage and had to erase a combined 55-point deficit in their three semifinals wins against Rain or Shine just to make the Finals. “Nagpapa-salamat kami sa Panginoon at dinala na naman kami dito sa Finals,” said head coach Leo Austria said after the Beermen’s close Game 4 win over ROS. “At the start of the conference, we were struggling and we almost didn't make it into the quarterfinals. It was just a matter of one win. But it's a roller-coaster journey to the Finals and we will embrace this,” he added. In the Finals, the Beermen draw top-ranked TNT. The KaTropa ended Ginebra’s title reign in the semifinals and they enter the championship round with just three losses all conference long. San Miguel has little to no time to prepare but the Beermen will certainly be ready by the time Game 1 tips off Sunday. “Talk ‘N Text, after watching their game last night, I think it will be tough to face them kasi alam nating they're really playing at the highest level of basketball. They transformed their team into another high-caliber championship team,” Austria said. “But we will see. We don't have ample time to prepare, but for us to be in the Finals, we're thankful. This is the Finals, let's see what we can do,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2019

Manny Pacquiao admits he relaxed during middle rounds against Keith Thurman

Eight-division world champion and newly-crowned WBA (Super) Welterweight World Champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao once again put on an impressive performance in his split decision win over previously-undefeated Keith "One Time" Thurman in Las Vegas last July 20th.  While it was another win for the Filipino boxing icon, it didn't come as easy as he would have liked, as Thurman proved to be a tough customer.  In fact, the 30-year old American was the more active fighter in terms of punches, as he landed 210 punches compared to Pacquiao's 195 throughout the 12-round contest.  Early on, it was Thurman who was more aggressive, but everything shifted when he got clipped and dropped by a left hook in the latter part of the first round.  "Yung first round, siguro yun yung magandang advantage natin, dahil in that early round, naipakita natin na hindi mo pwede akong i-underestimate or taking me lightly, taking me easy sa fight. Parang doon natin na-tatak sa isipan niya na ‘mag-ingat ka.’, Pacquiao shared in an interview with Migs Bustos for ANC's Gametime.  Pacquiao continued to outwork Thurman in the succeeding rounds, but admitted to taking some rounds off, essentially allowing Thurman to catch up and land more punches.  "Nag-relax kasi ako sa 6, 7, 8, 9," Pacquiao revealed. "Nag-relax ako nung mga rounds na iyon, so medyo sinamantala niya yung pag-rerelax ko, and the nung 10, 11, 12, nag-sigurado ako, hindi ako nag-relax, kumbaga nag-ikot-ikot ako, nag-hanap ako ng mga strategy na hindi ako matamaan and kailangan ko sumuntok ng maraming punches." Round 10 proved to be another momentum-shifting round, as Pacquiao landed a solid body shot that had Thurman visibly in pain and on the retreat.  "Pacman" explained why he opted to go to the body this time around.  "Mailap kasi sa mukha, umaatras siya pag-sumusuntok na ako, pag-gumalaw na ako," he said. "Siguro may nakapag-timbre na sa kanya, basta pag gumalaw na ako, nag-footwork na ako, umaatras na siya, so alam na niya yung strategy ko, so ginawa ko body shot, tapos napuruhan ko siya. Ayun, medyo tumiklop siya tapos tumakbo." In the end, the two most-impactful shots came from Pacquiao in the opening round and in the tenth round, which likely swayed the victory in his favor.  All in all, Pacquiao said that he was happy with how the fight went and he was able to stick with the gameplan.  A big part of the success, he adds, was the fact that he was very motivated heading into the bout, thanks to the trash talk from Thurman.  "Really big difference, kasi my opponent is a good talker, tapos sabi ko naman na it will not help him, it will help me because it will give me more motivation to work hard, to focus on training, yun yung naka-ganda, kasi na-momotivate tayo sa mga sinasabi niya and then nakaka-tulong sa atin." Check out the full interview here: .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 29th, 2019

Team Lakay s Gina Iniong and Joshua Pacio: Two paths, one goal

Lakay. It is the Ilocano word for old man.   But when you go up to Baguio, it has an altogether different meaning. You cannot miss that word when you drive down Benguet road, on a nifty sign attached to a normal-looking office building: Team Lakay.   The home of the best Philippine mixed martial arts team in history. Almost all of the big names local fight fans have come to cheer and love as our modern-day heroes trace their roots to the relatively small, packed training room down Benguet road, where mats are soaked with the sweat of the fighters.   Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaquio, Honorio Banario, Rey Docyogen, Roldan Sangcha-an, and Mark Eddiva are all hallowed names in the annals of Philippine mixed martial arts, disciples of Mark “The Machine” Sangiao, who established, and groomed Team Lakay to the fearsome fighting factory that it is today.   While all the names above have ensconced themselves on pedestals, Team Lakay’s pipeline includes two more who have been fighting for recognition in recent fights: lone female fighter Gina Iniong, and ONE’s current Strawweight lynchpin and youngest champion, Joshua Pacio.   Both fighters may have started their professional fighting careers for different reasons, but Iniong and Pacio still have a lot to offer and prove for mixed martial arts in the country and in the international stage, such as being prominent fighters in the prestigious cage of ONE Championship.   CHANCE OF A LIFETIME   Gina, the first female Filipino mixed martial artist to fight and win abroad, started boxing back in high school as part of her after-school activities. When she was about to graduate, she actively sought scholarships in order to finish her education. One such opportunity presented itself in the form of an athletic scholarship, concentrating on the martial art of Wushu, which has a huge following in her hometown of Baguio City, with the University of the Cordilleras having a team of its own.   “Our former boxing coach, who was a former student of Coach Mark (Sangiao), approached me one day, telling me to join the upcoming wushu competition then for the college scholarship. So I joined it, and took a chance,” Iniong shared, recounting how she got into the world of combat sports as a young lady.   However, it was too good to be true, as she had to hurdle quite a huge problem if she wants that scholarship: a fight record. Sangiao told the young Iniong it would be difficult to get her a scholarship if she does not have a record to show in active combat in Wushu.   “I was lucky because there was a Wushu National Games here in Manila and we immediately went down and made our way there. Thankfully, I got the gold after the competition, and that paved the way for my scholarship,” said Iniong.   From there, the “Conviction” was born. After competing in numerous Wushu tournaments, Iniong finally caught the eye of Sangiao, who decided to take her under his wings and train her to be his female version inside the MMA cage.   After debuting in the Universal Reality Combat Championship in 2010, Iniong hasn’t looked back in the 12 bouts she has figured in, compiling a professional record of 8-4.  As the lone female representative of the most-successful mixed martial arts team in the Philippines, she has displayed that trademark fearsome striking prowess of fighters coming from the Lakay camp.   When asked about the fact that she is one of the only five Filipinas making the country proud inside the ONE cage, the 29-year old’s face lit up, in disbelief, in honor, in humility, for she cannot believe it herself.   “I’m very proud, and humbled, of the fact that I am the lone female fighter representing Team Lakay in ONE Championship. Many very skilled female fighters dream of being part of ONE Championship, and fight under Team Lakay, yet I am the one that Coach Mark has seen with the most potential to carry the flag inside the cage,” she said.   However, what drives Gina to fight, and it has been a well-known fact, is her mother, diagnosed with a stage 5 chronic kidney disease. In her fight against Jihin Radzuan last February, Iniong dedicated the fight to her mother, who to this day, is scared of seeing her daughter mix it up in the ring.   “To this day, she hasn’t watched me fight live, not even on TV because she is quite the nervous person, and she would only watch if she knew I won, during replays. She is very unlike my dad, who has fully supported my life as an athlete, after being a boxer himself in his younger days,” she shared.   CHALLENGE ACCEPTED   Joshua “The Passion” Pacio never intended to make mixed martial arts fighting a career growing up. The 23-year old fighter deemed it impossible back then, to reach a stage as huge as ONE Championship, due to the excellence of the fighters that he used to watch with his uncle through videos.   Add to the fact that Pacio was overweight. Obese, specifically. It made it all the more difficult for the kid to follow his dream and passion to be a fighter.   It all changed when his uncle started training him in Muay Thai, the art of the eight limbs that originated from Thailand, and considered one of the deadliest forms of combat striking. It started out as training just for fitness, but as if seeing a tiny ray of light in a dark tunnel, Pacio wanted more.   “At first, it was only for fitness, with my uncle training me, and watching videos of various MMA fights, which really inspired me to push myself harder. I really wanted to test myself, compete with the best, and it all seemed impossible when I was out of shape. My uncle really pushed me starting with Muay Thai. I started competing a few months after that, but I suffered defeat after defeat in amateur competitions. I questioned myself why I still trained afterwards. But at the same time, that’s when I realized that this is really my passion, that even if I lost my last fight,” shared the ONE Championship Strawweight king, who has not looked back since then.   “The goal for me has ever been to prove to myself that I have improved in skills, and be the best fighter I can be,” Pacio added.   He made his ONE debut three years ago, finally fulfilling his lifelong dream of professional mixed martial arts, facing a more experienced Filipino fighter in Robin Catalan at the age of 20, one of the youngest to enter ONE’s cage.   “Before I got to represent Team Lakay in ONE Championship, the roster spot was actually up for grabs. Fighters of the team figured in a Team Lakay Championship, a grand-prix style tournament within the team, for the ONE Championship contract. I fought twice victoriously in one night to get it. Two weeks later, with a ONE Championship event in Manila, that’s when I found out I am making my professional debut,” said an astounded Pacio.   Everything about the man they call “The Passion” has been hard earned. He finally tasted gold last 2018 when he decisioned the famed Yoshitaka Naito, a Japanese ground and wrestling master that forced Pacio to tap via a rear-naked choke when they first met. Facing, and losing to Naito, according to Pacio, was a revelation that he has to improve his overall skills, especially his ground game in order to play with the big boys of the cage.   Striking will definitely get you somewhere, as is with Pacio’s base as a martial artist, but one has to have more tricks up his sleeve when they aspire for the pinnacle of the competition. Joshua came back with a vengeance in 2018 to show “Nobita” that “The Passion” is no longer the young kid who will be submitted easily.   However, 2019 did not start of great for Pacio and Team Lakay, after he lost the belt in January to Naito’s contemporary in Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta in a questionable split decision. But that did not deter the young man, who has made it his personal goal to continue improving and treat each loss as a lesson, in ONE Championship’s “Roots of Honor” fight card, where he faced Saruta once more.   This time, in front of a racous Filipino crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena, Pacio did not let the judges’ cards decide as he detonated a right knee to the side of Saruta’s head late in the fourth round to reclaim his throne. The dreaded Team Lakay striking power knocked the lights out from the Japanese fighter as Baguio’s young lion let out a furious roar to celebrate his redemption.   TWO PATHS, ONE GOAL   One did it for education, the other for health. Nowadays, however, MMA means more to Iniong and Pacio than just a stepping stone to something else. It is their passion, their advocacy, their bread and butter.   They continue to grind each day, waiting for another opportunity to show what they got and get the win, not just for personal glory, but also for the country and their family.   Inspired by her ailing mother, the “Conviction” promises to keep her current winning streak up despite being up against a formidable foe in her next match. After tasting defeat from Brazilian Istela Nunes, Iniong bounced back with a split decision over Radzuan last February to get herself back on track. Right now, Gina has one thing in mind with their goal: chase that ONE Women’s Atomweight division title, currently held by Angela Lee, and become the Philippines’ very first female ONE world champion.   However, Iniong acknowledges that the path towards the gold may not be easy, as she is currently eyeing a rematch with Japanese tormentor Mei Yamaguchi, the number one-ranked Atomweight fighter whom she has fought with twice, in order to settle who the rightful challenger to Lee’s belt is.   “Everyone has gotten belts. My big brothers in the team have tasted championship. I felt jealous because I do not have a belt, and lost my fight that would have given me a title shot. This time, I will make sure that I will do my best to secure a title fight,” rued Iniong in a previous interview with ONE Championship prior to fighting Radzuan.   While Iniong wants hit paydirt, it’s all about keeping the belt on his waist for Pacio, the reigning ONE Strawweight champion. His most probable foe is his nemesis Yoshitaka Naito who he does not have a problem with facing for the third time.   “I really want to prove I am the champion, and if it’s by facing him (Naito), so be it. I also want to prove that I have greatly improved as well from the last time we fought,” he shared.   While Iniong and Pacio await their next fighting assignment, their teammates are in the thick of training for the upcoming “Dawn of Heroes” megafight card happening on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena. It features Team Lakay members, led by Edward “Landslide” Folayang, Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, and Danny “The King” Kingad, who will face the best of the world as represented by Eddie Alvarez, Reece McLaren, and Yuya Wakamatsu.   The entire country will be cheering on them as the whole world watches. And maybe somehow, somewhere there will be new blood encouraged and inspired by them to take on the challenge of continuing the legacy of the nation’s best fighting team alongside Iniong and Pacio.   After all, Sangiao did not establish Team Lakay just to be some Bagiuo-based fitness gym down Benguet road. He made Team Lakay to provide a home, a family, for young Filipinos who have the heart to fight for their dream, their family, and the country.     Watch “ONE: Dawn of Heroes” on August 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena, to be broadcast LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD with livestreaming on iWant for all the Pinoy fight fans to see. For more stories and news one ONE Championship, follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook or visit sports.abs-cbn.com. For updates, follow @ABSCBNPR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or visit www.abs-cbn.com/newsroom......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2019

End of an era: Westbrook exits Oklahoma City

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com LAS VEGAS – Just when you thought it was safe to step out from under a doorway, another seismic tremble rumbled through the NBA Las Vegas Summer League Thursday evening (Friday, PHL time). Earthquake again? Nope, just more Thunder. Get your first look at the NBA’s top Rookies during NBA Summer League LIVE on NBA League Pass! Oklahoma City and general manager Sam Presti were back at it, this time reportedly sending former Kia MVP Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for guard Chris Paul, first-round draft picks in 2024 and 2026, and pick swaps in 2021 and 2025. Six days earlier, OKC had stunned the pro hoops world by trading All-Star wing Paul George to the LA Clippers, serving up the co-star that coveted free agent Kawhi Leonard wanted as a condition of signing with Staples Center’s other NBA team. That deal yielded for the Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari and guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, along with five first-round picks and swap rights on two more. The biggest difference in moving Westbrook was that this one was anticipated. George had gone to Presti quietly after conspiring with Leonard, requesting the trade in a way that enabled the OKC GM to work behind the scenes. Presti had leverage on the Clippers, since he in essence was delivering both two-way stars – George and Leonard, who otherwise might have re-signed with Toronto – simultaneously. The deal Thursday (Friday, PHL time) paired Presti with Rockets counterpart Daryl Morey. Given their trade-happy track records, it wasn’t surprising that, if an NBA fan listened closely, he or she might have heard the sound of gods bowling. George’s departure and OKC’s subsequent trade of forward Jerami Grant to Denver made it clear which direction the Thunder were heading. Getting ousted from the playoffs’ first round for three consecutive years made the team’s $146 million payroll (and the luxury taxes it triggered) untenable. “People [within the league] knew they were going to do something pretty profound,” one GM told NBA.com earlier this week. “What they got for George was more than a king’s ransom. And if they end up trading Russell for all the tea in China, it will be the same deal again, right?” There were other suitors, most notably Miami, fueling speculation that Presti might not be done. How about Chris Paul to the Heat for expiring contracts, a prospect or two and more draft assets? As it is, the Thunder already have lassoed or retained an outrageous 15 first-round picks over the next six years. That sets up Oklahoma City ridiculously well, on paper, for the medium- and long-term. Short-term? Meh. A crew of Paul (if he stays), Gallinari, Gilgeous-Alexander, Andre Roberson, Steven Adams and Terrance Ferguson seems undermanned in the wild, wild West. But Presti has amassed enough picks that Thunder fans won’t have to worry about their favorite team tanking -- they can just root against the Clippers, the Heat and the Rockets in hopes of desirable draft positions. Westbrook deserves credit for spending the first 11 years of his career in an unglamorous, small-revenue market (though $168 million in NBA earnings had something to do with it too). He had two MVPs (Kevin Durant and James Harden) and one MVP candidate (George last season) leave via trade or free agency before he did. Now he has a chance, re-teamed with Harden in Houston, to step into the void opened by Golden State’s anticipated decline in 2019-20 (Durant’s departure from the Bay has something to do with that). The Rockets and Morey have to be on the clock, their extended window as championship contenders not likely to stay propped open for long. Westbrook and Harden, a tandem of past MVPs, should have most of their statistical and usage itches scratched by now. Each badly needs a ring on his resume. Paul, meanwhile, might find himself hooking up with Jimmy Butler with the Heat, a pairing that makes more sense than Butler-Westbrook at least in terms of basketball compatibility. Presti’s performance over the past 10 days or so has been “breathtaking,” according to the rival GM. But with so many folks in and outside OKC so eager to spin the Thunder’s picks and prospects forward, a nagging question remains: What should we make of their past? In Presti’s 12 seasons, beginning with the franchise still in Seattle in 2007-08, his team has won 50 games or more six times (counting the 47-19 equivalent in lockout-shortened 2011-2012). Over the Thunder’s first 10 seasons in Oklahoma, only the San Antonio Spurs won more often. The Thunder have reached the postseason nine times, winning 14 series. They lost the Finals in five games to Miami in 2012, and got bounced three times from the conference finals, once from the West semifinals and four times from the first round. There were injuries and close calls, sure, but those are a part of it for everyone. Drafting, Presti strung together Durant (No. 2 overall in 2007), Westbrook (No. 4, ’08) and Harden (No. 3, '09). His record deeper into the first round has been predictably mixed: Reggie Jackson (No. 24, ’11) and Adams (No. 12, ’13) on one side of the ledger, fellows such as Perry Jones (No. 28, ’12), Mitch McGary (No. 21, ’14) and Cameron Payne (No. 14, ’15) on the other. The Thunder’s two most notable trades prior to this summer involved Harden going out and George coming in. When they sent out Harden -- the league’s reigning Kia Sixth Man of the Year award winner in 2012 -- it was an anticipatory financial move that for a time kept them out of luxury tax trouble ... as well as the Finals. When Presti traded for George in 2017, the players he gave up, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, had a better first season in Indiana than George in OKC. But as with Westbrook, Presti got George to sign a *cough* long-term extension, and the former Pacer finished third in MVP balloting this spring. So bottom line, which is it: Should the Thunder’s extended run as a contender in the West be applauded? Or should they be considered underachievers, considering the three MVPs they had – Durant in 2014, Westbrook in 2017 and Harden (with Houston) in 2018 – as well as George? OKC got a total of 25 seasons from those four players, 23 of them in tandem or as a trio. Only Durant as a rookie and Westbrook in 2016-17 worked as a solo act, star-wise. Those two plus George made a total of 17 All-Star appearances while playing for the Thunder, and in seven of the past nine seasons, OKC sent two to the February gala. That’s a lot of firepower for a fairly limited payoff (the lone Finals trip). So as excited as the Thunder and their fans might be for what’s headed their way, they’re right to feel melancholy over what’s done and now gone. 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 NewsJul 12th, 2019

Summer of 2020 takes on added importance for Bucks

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com As important as the 2019-20 season and postseason are to the Milwaukee Bucks, in proving to themselves and to the basketball world they can take that next step (Finals) or two (championship), they pale next to the significance of the summer of 2020. That’s when Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s newly minted Kia Most Valuable Player, can sign a “supermax” contract extension worth approximately $254 million over five years. Or not. And the “or not” might have gotten a nudge on the first day of 2019 free agency Sunday (Monday, PHL time). The Bucks were in a tough situation as it was, with three free agents among the top five players from last season’s 60-22 team. Keeping all of them – wing Khris Middleton, center Brook Lopez and guard Malcolm Brogdon – was going to be a challenge, financially and realistically, given how much demand was outstripping supply in the marketplace (nearly $500 million in available cap space plus exceptions burning holes in 30 teams’ pockets). Milwaukee started scrambling in the days heading toward June 30 (July 1, PHL time) by moving or trying to move pieces such as Tony Snell, George Hill and Ersan Ilyasova for payroll and roster flexibility. Snell’s contract was traded to Detroit along with the No. 30 pick in the 2019 Draft, Hill was waived and Ilyasova essentially was sitting at the curb with a “Free” sign on him and his $7 million salary. It wasn’t enough. The free agent-palooza started well enough for the Bucks when reports leaked early that Lopez would be retained on a four-year, $52 million deal. Frankly, that’s a bargain -- $55 million over five years – if you add Lopez’s 2019-20 salary of $3.4 million, a ridiculously low rate for what wound up as a career-redefining season for the veteran big man. After taking a mere 0.5 percent of his 6,826 field goal attempts from 3-point range through his first eight seasons, Lopez let fly 65 percent of his shots from beyond the arc in his 11th. In hard numbers, that’s 31 attempts over eight years compared to 512 in 81 appearances for the Bucks. Factor in Lopez’s underrated defense and rim protection, and his free-spirit calm in the locker room, and he ranked arguably as the Bucks’ next most valuable player after Antetokounmpo. Soon thereafter, Milwaukee’s next move was reported: Middleton re-upping on an enormous five-year, $178 deal. The soft-spoken 6-foot-7 was named an East All-Star reserve en route to averaging 18.3 points and shifting even more of his offensive game to 3-point territory. But Middleton’s greatest leverage was being viewed as the Bucks’ No. 2 player overall and Antetokounmpo’s Scottie Pippen (relatively) for the past six seasons. And hey, his contract represents a $12 million discount from the $190 million “max” Middleton could have demanded. As it is, starting at an estimated $30.6 million salary, he’ll be getting about $5 million more than Antetokounmpo both this season and next. So two done and one … not done. Not done at all. Just when it appeared the Bucks would take care of their most pressing free-agency issues, the news came: Brogdon to Indiana on an $85 million deal over four seasons. In a sign-and-trade, which meant Milwaukee facilitated the restricted free agent’s departure, rather than match the Pacers’ offer and keep him. Brogdon’s value last season, to a team that got within two victories of The Finals, was evident analytically and by most eye tests. He became only the eighth shooter in NBA history to hit 50 percent of his shots overall, 40 percent of 3s and 90 percent of his free throws. He also showed an uncanny ability to take over for minutes at a time when the Bucks were desperate to generate offense. Brogdon’s threat as shooter enabled him to attack the rim at a high percentage, stopping opponents’ runs or sparking them for his side. Brogdon’s relationship with the Bucks seemed to get strained two years ago, when his reward for being named an unlikely Kia NBA Rookie of the Year was 20 bench appearances in the team’s first 37 games. Here Brogdon had won the award over the likes of Dario Saric, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray and Jaylen Brown (Joel Embiid only made 31 appearances in 2016-17), yet his role was unclear once Phoenix made Eric Bledsoe available and Milwaukee pounced. Bledsoe pre-empting his own free agency by signing a four-year, $70 million deal with the Bucks raised questions about Brogdon’s spot in their pecking order again. So too, it appears, did Milwaukee nailing down the East’s No. 1 seed, then going 7-1 in the first two playoff rounds while Brogdon nursed a plantar fascia foot injury from mid-March into May. All of a sudden Brogdon’s deal was looking like the one to blame for pushing Milwaukee’s payroll up, up, up into luxury-tax range. And so he was sacrificed to Indiana, an Eastern Conference rival, for a reported first-round draft pick and a couple second-rounders, protections and years still not known. Bucks GM Jon Horst made a nice save in pulling back Hill from the free-agent pool, to the tune of a three-year, $29 million deal. But losing Brogdon was a considerable step backward for a team determined to go forward. Shedding Snell and having Nikola Mirotic head off to the Euroleague to play in Barcelona doesn’t help. As for the draft picks from Indiana and the $12 million trade exception the Bucks might have gained in the trade, the former are out of sync with the team’s life cycle – namely, Antetokounmpo’s ambitions and contract status – and the latter only matters if it’s used smartly. Everything Milwaukee does – has done, actually, since those four staggered defeats against Toronto in the conference finals – has to be about giving Antetokounmpo reasons to stay. That means improving, that means winning, that means at least being in the building when the championship is decided next June. The clock is ticking. The social media vultures will be circling for "The Greek Freak" soon. There is only one way to fend them off, and a part of that now will be playing for the Pacers. Horst, 2019 NBA Executive of the Year, and Mike Budenholzer, NBA Coach of the Year, might need to repeat if they and their team are going to chase the trophies – the Larry and the Giannis – that matter most. 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 NewsJul 2nd, 2019

10 NCAA players to watch in Season 95

It’s important to note that half of the players who were picked in the first round of the 2018 PBA Draft were products of the country’s first collegiate sports league. CJay Perez and Robert Bolick have immediately become the cornerstones of Columbian Dyip and NorthPort Batang Pier, respectively. Javee Mocon, Jesper Ayaay, Michael Calisaan and JP Calvo have all received high praise from the coaches of their new teams. While last season’s heroes are now living their lifelong dreams in the PBA, new stars are looking to shine as NCAA Season 95 opens on July 7 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. James Kwekuteye (SBU)   If there is one player worthy enough to succeed Bolick as the King Lion of Mendiola, it’s the 6’3” Fil-Canadian shooting guard, James Kwekuteye. As a rookie, Kwekuteye came off the bench for majority of the season and had limited time to really put his talent on display. But, when he did start, particularly in San Beda’s second round game against LPU, Kwekuteye proved that he could be a major threat as he scored a career-high 18 points for the Red Lions, matching the scoring output of Bolick. In that game, Bolick motivated Kwekuteye by saying, “they can’t stop you.” James Kwekuteye introduces himself to Lyceum with 18 big points! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/OQS5eZBTJL — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 18, 2018 As the new starting shooting guard of Coach Boyet Fernandez, Kwekuteye led San Beda in scoring in the 2019 Fil-Oil Flying V Pre-season Cup averaging 14.1 points per game.    Evan Nelle (SBU)   Another talented player who didn’t see the floor much last year due to the loaded roster of guards on the San Beda lineup was former NCAA Jrs. Finals MVP Evan Nelle. Evan Nelle repays coach Boyet Fernandez' trust by drilling the early three! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/kpfdsnro2i — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 11, 2018 Nelle was the fourth string point guard behind Bolick, Jo Presbitero and Radge Tongco in Season 94. But, with the graduation of all three aforementioned players, the keys to the Red Lions’ offense has fallen straight into Nelle’s hands. While sharing the backcourt with Kwekuteye, Nelle led San Beda to the 2019 FilOil Championship and averaged a league-best 4.7 assists per contest.    Donald Tankoua (SBU)   Aside from capturing the title in the country’s most prestigious pre-season tournament, Kwekuteye and Nelle were also named to the Mythical Five along with their starting center, Donald Tankoua.  Donald Tankoua drops 23 points to help San Beda end the eliminations on a high note. #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/EUFpXnAt8T — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 23, 2018 The 6’6” Cameroonian big man has always been one of the most consistent players, year in and year out in the NCAA and will continue to be as he plays out his final year of eligibility in Season 95. Because he’s a walking double-double, expect Tankoua to be the early favorite to win MVP.   Mike Harry Nzeusseu (LPU)   Now, if there is anybody who possesses the physical attributes and the numbers to challenge Tankoua’s MVP campaign, it’s LPU’s Mike Harry Nzeusseu. Mike Harry Nzeusseu gets NASTY ???? #NCAASeason94 #NCAAFinals pic.twitter.com/yEAr0ywBPd — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 12, 2018 Nzeusseu ended last season without confirming that he would return to play one more year with the Pirates but his participation in the Fil-Oil tournament tells us that he will be back to anchor the defense of Coach Topex Robinson. And without Perez, the 6’6” center from the Republic of Cameroon will also have to do major damage on the offensive end as well.  Jayson David (LPU)   Jayson David picks Robert Bolick's pocket for the transition finish! #NCAASeason93 #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/Inl17UZbKq — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) November 7, 2017 Back in Season 91, the NCAA added a Most Improved Player trophy to their list of awardees for every basketball tournament. Based on the pre-season, former San Sebastian guard Jayson David has emerged as the frontrunner for that award as he has assumed the starting spot of Perez with LPU. David is no “Baby Beast”, but it seems that Robinson trusts him enough to be a critical piece in the Pirates’ quest to capture that elusive NCAA championship. He averaged 7.3 PPG, 6 RPG and 2.1 APG in the Fil-Oil tourney.   Jeo Ambohot (CSJL)   Another player who seems to have earned the trust of his coach is Jeo Ambohot. Under Coach Jeff Napa, the ‘23 for 23’ Gilas World Cup pool member came off the bench and underachieved, only averaging 7.2 PPG and 7.2 RPG for the Knights in Season 94. Jeo Ambohot can hit this all game long! ???? #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/5NCj7tV7Gt — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 9, 2018 However, under new Letran Head Coach Bonnie Tan, Ambohot was being utilized as the starting center with last year’s Rookie of the Year, Larry Muyang coming off the bench in their pre-season games. Nevertheless, a player like Ambohot should not be happy with his dismal outing last year and should come out stronger in Season 95.    Renato Ular (CSJL)   Here’s a guy you probably haven’t heard about before. His name is Renato Ular. Ring a bell? Probably not. The last time he saw action was during his rookie year in Season 92. Actually, he didn’t even do much back then. He only played in four games in did not score a single point in any of those games. After two years as a spectator, Ular has finally rejoined the Letran lineup and was their best player in the Fil-Oil tournament averaging 9.8 PPG and 8.1 RPG. The last left-handed legend from Letran was Rey Nambatac. This lefty’s got a long way to go to get on the Sting Rey’s level, but expect him to be one of the Knights' primary attackers this year.   RK Ilagan (SSC-R)   RK Ilagan was FEELING IT from downtown, dropping a new career-high 2??6?? PTS vs Mapua! #NCAASeason94 #GalingNCAA pic.twitter.com/SDIaVmtzCF — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) October 12, 2018 Speaking of attacking, one player who will be more relentless than he’s ever been this Season 95 is RK Ilagan. The pride of Barrio Fugoso, Tondo, Manila ranked seventh in scoring last year, averaging 15.2 PPG and was the Golden Stags’ leading scorer despite the presence of Calisaan. Coach Egay Macaraya loves a shooter and will continue to give the green light to Ilagan who made more triples (40) than any player in the NCAA in Season 94.    Kent Salado (AU)   Prior to injuring his right knee on October 10, 2017 in an 85-79 Arellano win over SSC-R in Season 93, Kent Salado was one of the most exciting players in the NCAA. The spitfire point guard from Cagayan de Oro was averaging 19.1 PPG (2nd behind Perez) and 5.0 APG (2nd behind Bolick) for the Chiefs, taking over the driver’s seat that Jiovani Jalalon occupied during their run to the Finals in Season 92. Lervin Flores with a nice block, Kent Salado with an even better finish! #NCAASeason93 #NCAAStrong pic.twitter.com/ohK28fFFhS — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 15, 2017 Now that he’s finally had surgery to repair what was eventually revealed to be a torn ACL, Salado is looking to excite fans anew especially since Arellano University will serve as the host of the NCAA for the first time in league history. Justin Gutang (CSB)   Recently, I asked former Arellano Head Coach Jerry Codi?era who he thought had the makings of a star in the NCAA now that the likes of Perez and Bolick are in the pros. The “Defense Minister” immediately mentioned one name: Justin Gutang. The 6’3” Fil-American forward from San Francisco, California had an impressive rookie season, averaging 13.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 4.3 APG for the Blazers and winning the Slam Dunk contest along the way. Although we haven’t heard much from Gutang in the off-season, the fact that a PBA Legend still has him on his radar means that the kid’s potential cannot be ignored. ?Editor's Note: The list is based on pre-season performances of teams. There are some NCAA teams who have not partcipated in pre-season tournaments nor released line-ups.  ?Catch NCAA Season 95 starting July 7, Sunday, 11:30 am LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, Liga, Liga HD, iWant and via livestream.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 27th, 2019

Warriors play final game at Oracle trying to force Game 7

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry offered a long list of things motivating the Golden State Warriors to extend their season once more and keep alive the chase for a third straight championship. Winning for injured teammate Kevin Durant certainly ranks No. 1 heading into Game 6 of the NBA Finals. A victory in the last game at Oracle Arena is right up there, too. “I don’t think much needs to be said about the motivation that we have or are going to have tomorrow,” Curry said Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). ”... To protect our home court, feed off our crowd’s energy, play for ‘K’ and try to keep our season alive. There are a lot of things that you can kind of tap into for energy tomorrow. We’ll be ready.” Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and the Raptors are playing for Canada’s first NBA crown, not to mention the country’s first major title since the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993. Toronto lead the series 3-2 series and are 3-0 on the Warriors’ home floor this season. “For some reason I think both teams are really good road teams and have been all season,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “That’s one thing. Two, two really tough-minded teams playing and you’ve got to be a little more tough-minded on the road. And I think a lot of those games probably could have went either way.” The Warriors might have to overcome being both emotionally and physically spent after watching two-time reigning Finals MVP Durant go down again. Durant had returned from a monthlong absence with a strained right calf to start Game 5 only to rupture his right Achilles tendon in the second quarter. Durant announced Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) on Instagram the severity of his injury and that he had undergone surgery. The Warriors also lost reserve big man Kevon Looney as he re-aggravated a cartilage fracture in his right collarbone area. Klay Thompson expects more energy than ever given the Warriors have recently gone through, not to mention all of the highs and lows during 47 seasons at Oracle. “We’re just thinking about enjoying this last show at Oracle we’re about to give our fans. And I expect our fans to be the loudest they have ever been, especially in the name of Kevin and bringing his type of spirit he would bring to the fight and the competitiveness,” Thompson said. “I know our fans will do that because we deserve it, but more importantly Kevin does for what he gave this team, this organization. There wouldn’t be banners if it wasn’t for his presence.” Here are some other things to watch for going into Game 6: SPLASH AWAY Splash Brothers Curry and Thompson will be looking to repeat their hot shooting from Game 5, when they combined to go 19-for-44 from the field and 12-of-27 from deep. “We don’t want to give up that many to those guys,” Nurse said. “I think you got to guard them, got to find them in transition. They get a good chunk of them in that.” Momentum maybe? “It’s definitely a real thing,” Curry said. SUPPORTING DURANT Some well-intentioned Raptors fans, meanwhile, started a campaign to support Durant’s foundation as a way to offer their care and concern after some fans at Game 5 cheered the injury. “Sorry KD. That’s not what Canada is about. We want to make it up to you!” the post read. GREEN’S TECHS Draymond Green has six technicals during this postseason, and one more draws an automatic suspension. Green needs to control is emotions in Game 6 because should the Warriors win he would not want to sit out Game 7 in Toronto on Sunday (next Monday, PHL time). Green had 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in Game 5. MOVIN’ ON UP Leonard goes into Game 6 with 710 points this postseason, 14 shy of passing Allen Iverson (723) for fourth place on the NBA’s single-postseason scoring list and 16 from moving past Hakeem Olajuwon (725) for third. LeBron James is second with 748 last year behind Michael Jordan’s 759 points in 1992. “He’s a gamer. He’s shown that. He’s a Finals MVP back in the San Antonio Spurs days for a reason,” Curry said of Leonard. “He just makes winning plays. He’s obviously expanded his game since then and shown offensively how dynamic he is. He requires attention at all times.” END OF AN ERA Game 6 will be the final hurrah for Oracle. Golden State’s players have said all season the want to leave a legacy on this special home court — and winning a Game 6 would be the ideal outcome for Warriors fans. The Warriors already watched LeBron James and the Cavaliers clinch a Game 7 finals win in Oakland three years ago — it’s not something the home team wants to repeat. “This has been just an incredible environment in which to coach and play back in the day,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Even when the Warriors weren’t any good, to come in here as a visitor and feel the energy in this building, you could tell that the fans loved the game. This was a basketball hotbed. And just the atmosphere out there, the energy, the noise, over the last five years with our team’s rise, combined with that organic energy that this place has always had, it’s just been an incredible experience to coach here.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2019

Things to know about these most-international NBA Finals

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Sometime in the next couple weeks, either the Toronto Raptors or Golden State Warriors will proclaim themselves to be world champions. They won’t be true “world” champions, of course. But these NBA Finals have a very distinct international feel. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Game 1 of the series on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) is in Canada, the first time a finals game will be played outside the U.S. Raptors President Masai Ujiri was born in Nigeria. There are players from eight different countries — the U.S., along with Canada (Chris Boucher), Spain (Marc Gasol), Britain (OG Anunoby), Cameroon (Pascal Siakam), Congo (Serge Ibaka), Australia (Andrew Bogut) and Sweden (Jonas Jerebko). “It says a lot that the first NBA Finals outside of America is being played here,” Ujiri said. “Maybe one day it will be real ‘world champions’ or something, but this is what we dream of.” It’s even a homecoming of sorts for Warriors guard Stephen Curry, again. His first four trips to the finals pitted him against Cleveland, not far from Akron, Ohio — where he and LeBron James both were born. Toronto has even more direct ties than Cleveland does for Curry; his wife Ayesha was born and raised in Toronto until she was 14, and his father Dell Curry played for the Raptors. So Stephen Curry lived in Toronto for a bit, and went to school there. “A lot of family history,” Stephen Curry said. The finals will be aired in 215 countries, three Canadian networks will air the series live (one of them in French), and broadcasters speaking in 50 different languages will work the games. There are a half-dozen networks from Australia, Estonia, Hong Kong and New Zealand airing the finals for the first time. More of what to know going into this series: FAREWELL, ORACLE Game 4 or Game 6 of this series will be the last time the Warriors call Oracle Arena home. The team is moving from Oakland to the new Chase Center in San Francisco next season. The Warriors have played more than 2,000 games at Oracle, and since this run of NBA Finals appearances began when Steve Kerr took over as coach five years ago they are a staggering 218-40 in their soon-to-be-former home building. “You cannot tell the story of professional basketball without including Oracle,” said ESPN analyst Mark Jackson, a former Warriors coach. “Those fans have been incredibly loyal from the beginning to the end. ... As a former coach, as a former player coming into that building, as an analyst, it’s as good as it gets.” STILL WAITING With Toronto now in the finals for the first time, that means there are only six active franchises that still haven’t been to the championship series. The Los Angeles Clippers, Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies are still waiting for their first trip to the NBA Finals. MONEY MATTERS The Warriors and the Raptors are playing for a little bit of money — $1,295,117, to be exact. That’s the difference between winning the finals and losing the finals, at least in terms of the take from the NBA playoff pool. The Warriors are already guaranteed $4,435,312 from the playoff pool; the Raptors have clinched $4,325,888. This year’s playoff pool was $21,676,510, which all 16 postseason teams shared. No playoff team got less than $323,506. Milwaukee got the most, by far, of any non-finals team — after finishing with the NBA’s best record and reaching the Eastern Conference finals, the Bucks will share $2,516,774. SECOND TO ONE Golden State is in the finals for the fifth consecutive year. That’s the second-longest such streak in NBA history, only to Boston’s run of 10 consecutive appearances from 1957 through 1966. Boston (this time in 1984 through 1987, separate from the 10-straight streak), Miami (2011-2014), Cleveland (2015-2018) and the Los Angeles Lakers (1982-1985) had all reached the finals in four consecutive seasons. FINISHING STRONG Even with the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference locked up, the Raptors finished the regular season with a flourish — winning seven of their last eight games. This was why. A 58-24 record meant the Raptors finished a game ahead of Golden State’s 57-25 mark, and that’s why Game 1 of this series is in Toronto. A good omen for the Raptors: Under the current playoff format, teams with home-court advantage in the NBA Finals have ultimately prevailed 26 out of 35 times. ’NOVA NATION It’s been a long time since a Villanova player won a championship ring, and even longer since a Villanova player actually played in a series where his team won the title. Kyle Lowry is looking to change all that. The Raptors’ point guard — who played for Jay Wright at Villanova — is in the NBA Finals for the first time. He’s looking to be the first Villanova player to win a ring since John Celestand got one with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000; Celestand didn’t appear in any playoff games that season. The last player from Villanova to actually play in a victorious NBA Finals was Chris Ford with Boston in 1981. Lowry spoke on the eve of Game 1 about the lessons he learned from Wright that still apply. “If you make a mistake, apologize, kind of just accept everything,” Lowry said. “Accept everything as a man and bounce back from it. If anything negative, just bounce back, take it and keep going. I think those are the things that stick with me today. I never shy from anything, I never shy from negative criticism, constructive criticism, I take it all, I understand it, learn from it, digest it and move on.” RECORD CHASING Stephen Curry already has the NBA Finals record for most 3-pointers made in a career, with 98. He enters this series with 247 attempted 3s in his finals appearances, four shy of tying LeBron James for the most in NBA history. And while not a record, here is an odd stat: If Shaun Livingston makes his first shot of these finals, he’ll pass Wilt Chamberlain and move into fourth place on the NBA Finals all-time shooting percentage list. STARTING EARLY The May 30 (May 31, PHL time) start date for these finals is the earliest for the NBA’s title series since 1986, when the Houston-Boston matchup began on May 26. So the 2019 finals started earlier than has been the norm. That doesn’t mean they’ll be over early. If they go the distance, they’ll end on June 17 (June 18, PHL time) — nine days later than last season’s final game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2019

Steph or Seth? Coin flip to decide who mom, dad represent

By Steve Reed, Associated Press Dell Curry was standing near the loading dock at the Pepsi Center in Denver when Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum approached, gave him a big hug and asked, “Which shirt are you wearing” for the Western Conference final? “Got to flip a coin,” Curry responded. Literally. With sons Stephen and Seth Curry becoming the first siblings to face each other in an NBA conference final, it’s a dilemma most any parent would love to have. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Dell and his wife, Sonya, decided wearing a split jersey with the Warriors and Blazers would be “too easy.” Instead, they’ll flip a coin before each game in the best-of-seven series to determine which team they’ll represent. It will go something like this: If Sonya flips heads, she’ll wear Blazers attire to support Seth, while Dell wears Stephen’s Warriors colors. If the coin lands on tails, she’ll dress in Warriors clothing while Dell dons Blazers gear. The next game Dell gets to flip the coin, and so on — until the series is decided. So who gets to flip the coin for Game 1 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time)? “Well, we have to flip to see who flips first,” Dell said with a laugh. “There’s going to be a lot of coin flipping going on.” And a lot of traveling. Dell and Sonya Curry plan to attend every game, sitting with Stephen’s wife Ayesha at Warriors home games and with Seth’s fiance Callie Rogers when the Blazers host. But Dell, who played 16 seasons in the NBA and is currently a TV analyst for the Charlotte Hornets, said the entire situation is just a bit unnerving for him. “I normally don’t get nervous for games when either one of them play,” he said. “But I got a little nervous knowing how they’re going to play against each other.” As hard as this will be on the parents, Dell knows it will be even more difficult for his sons. “It’s going to be tough to put everything aside and battle each other because as siblings they want each other to do well,” Dell said. “They watch each other’s games and cheer for each other.” Earlier this year, the Curry boys competed against each other in the three-point shootout at the All-Star game in their hometown of Charlotte, with 31-year-old Steph getting the best of his younger brother. Seth, 28, said it’s hard to believe they’ll now meet in the playoffs. “So many years I’ve watched Steph play in the Western Conference final, the NBA Finals, being in the crowd,” Seth Curry said. “It’s going to be fun to be out there on the court, competing, to get to that final. It’s a dream come true for us, but our families are going to have a lot of fun as well.” Steph Curry has been to the NBA Finals four times, winning three with the Warriors. This is his brother’s first playoff run. “It would be great for Seth to get a (championship) ring, but we can’t root for one son over the other,” 54-year-old Dell Curry said. “We’re just going to let it play out and have fun watching them both play.” Dell said it’s been fun, and exhausting. The Currys have been jetting around the country for the last month on commercial flights, back and forth between Oakland, Portland, Los Angeles, Denver and Houston to see their sons play. They’ve attended 21 of their sons’ combined 24 playoff games, only missing two Blazers’ first-round games in Oklahoma City and one second-round game in Denver. Sometimes, they wake up in a hotel unsure of what city they’re in. “Everybody says to us, ‘you guys have to be tired,’” Dell said. “I’m like, well, we’ll probably sleep for a week when it’s over.” __ AP Sports Writer Pat Graham in Denver, Colorado contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2019

Harden, Durant both covet championship, mantle of best player

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com Houston -- Steve Kerr’s mind is made up. He’s seen enough. The debate is closed and conquered, the election over and the firm conclusion has been reached, at least from where he stands. Kevin Durant “is the best player in the world, the most skilled player in the world” according to Kerr, who may be biased, but he didn’t sound like it. Kerr said this not once, but four times in the last two weeks, just in case someone didn’t get the message. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] It’s hard to see where the Warriors’ coach is going wrong. Durant is evidently on a mission to (a) win his third and perhaps final championship with the Warriors, and (1-a) become universally recognized as the singularly greatest force in the league, a distinction that means so much to him. To paraphrase Durant, y’all know who he is by now. Durant is sitting at the mythical 50-40-90 threshold in the playoffs, the benchmark for shooting accuracy and efficiency from the floor, three-point range and free-throw line. He’s averaging 35 points in the postseason, 39 in the last seven games. He has two near-masterpieces, the 50-point closeout of the Clippers in the first round and 46 on the Rockets in Game 3 of this series. He’s making contested jumpers from all over the floor and from all angles. There’s really no defense for him. But when this series is over, James Harden hopes to change the conversation. If he does, that means (a) the Rockets will pull off a stunning comeback from being down two games, and (b) Harden out-dueled Durant in the process. Is either possible? Well, Harden might be the only player qualified to do so, even with a left eye that still looks like the Japanese flag. He managed to minimize if not eliminate that poked eye by chopping down the Warriors and pulling the Rockets within 2-1 of the series. “I was just being aggressive,” he said. “I was in attack mode.” He’s attacking something else. Harden, too, wants exactly the same as his friend and former Oklahoma City teammate. A championship would be his first, so obviously that’s paramount. The mantle of “game’s greatest player” is also desired because Harden believes the last four years bear that out. In that span, he won the MVP award and finished runner-up twice, better than anyone. Of course, the missing prize is the championship, which is the final and most authentic validation, and this season at least he must go through Durant to achieve that. Harden’s postseason hasn’t been as stellar as Durant’s, although perhaps Game 3 marked a shift. Harden scored 41 points and sent the Warriors home on a step-back three-pointer in the final seconds of overtime. He and the Rockets are bringing a fresh sense of confidence and also have Game 4 in their house. Sending this series all square back to Oakland wouldn’t be beyond his or their abilities. “In `Harden World,’ that was good, but he can play better,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni. “That’s James. That’s what he does.” There’s a growing sense among the Warriors, and with some justification, that Harden’s bloody eye is no longer an issue. Harden’s vision was pure when it counted two nights ago and every day brings him a step closer to normalcy, if he isn’t already there. “I think he’s good to go,” said D’Antoni. The other concern for Golden State: Harden’s beginning to figure out the rotations and the Warriors’ defensive scheme. They know Harden adapts quickly to defenders and their tendencies because, at this point, he’s seen it all. Harden is a tough cover because of his shooting range and unwillingness to lose confidence after a string of misses, and his craftiness off the dribble while attacking the rim. “He had 41 points and it was a good chess game,” said Andre Iguodala. “He made some really tough shots. Some shots, where you pat him on the butt, and you say ‘helluva shot’. I felt like it was a little bit of cat and mouse. A guy like that -- you can’t stop him one on one. The defense did a good job of helping off and stopping him. We just have to try to make it hard as possible for him.” The nightmare game for the Warriors is Harden hitting enough early baskets and forcing them to double, then finding teammates for open looks that they make, such as Eric Gordon. In that scenario, points would come in an avalanche and place stress on the defense and possibly get key players into foul trouble, most notably Draymond Green and a suddenly-foul-prone Steph Curry. There’s also an intriguing subplot in the works: The Harden-Durant can-you-top-this drama. With Curry and Chris Paul both performing below their standards in this series, the series seems fixated on Harden and Durant and  what they’re capable of doing to the other team and, by extension, against each other. There’s a genuine and hefty amount of respect between the two, who are friends away from the floor as well. Both left OKC and have since generated millions in endorsement money and find themselves near or at the top of the superstar pecking order. Durant has what Harden doesn’t, a championship. But perhaps Harden has what Durant craves, a team to call his own. That would be the only reason Durant leaves the Warriors in free agency this summer, because it’s difficult to imagine him signing with a team that offers a better chance to win championships or make more in salary than the one he’s already on. Durant earned more points with Harden a few days ago when he defended the Rockets guard, saying Harden doesn’t “cheat the rules” when he tries to draw fouls and manipulate the referees. Durant added: “He can do everything. If you’re not focused, he can drive past you, hit you with the shoulder because he’s strong, and finish with either hand. He can shoot floaters now. Obviously the step-back 3-pointer is one of his staples, but I never believed he was just a free throw guy. He can score in a variety of ways.” Harden must prove that in this series. Last season in the Western Conference finals, he turned to vapor as that series stretched seven games. He made just 24 percent from deep and, after Paul suffered a hamstring pull in Game Five, couldn’t handle the load. In the elimination game, he missed 11-of-13 from deep. Durant, meanwhile, was the star and weeks later would clinch another title and Finals MVP award, outplaying LeBron James in the process. So Kerr’s contention about Durant has much weight and credibility. Through three games of this second-round series, there’s been no reason to question the coach’s claim. Only one person can flip that perception and create doubt. James Harden, therefore, has a tough job ahead. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2019

Jordan Clarkson and this Basketball Crazy Nation

The Philippines was not always a basketball nation. After World War II, all Filipino boys would get out in the fields and play baseball. In fact, we hosted the World Baseball Championships once. It was only in the 70’s when PBA came along and when the country became the basketball crazy country that it is. Now, the Philippines is at the epicenter of the basketball diaspora. It hosted the FIBA World Basketball Championships. Almost every boy grew up playing pickup basketball and anyone and everyone had their own signature ‘bali’ move. There was a time that fathers and sons (and of course, daughters) watched games together, either cheering for the same teams or making jabs at each other because they rooted for rivals. It has the oldest basketball league in the Asia and now, it has a player of Filipino descent playing for one of the greatest basketball franchises in the world – Jordan Clarkson, playing a vital role as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Clarkson was raised aware of his Filipino heritage. Annette, Clarkson’s mother, hails from Pampanga but moved to America with her mother Marcelina Tullao at a very young age. Annette then met Jordan’s father, Mike Clarkson, while serving as a reservist in the Air Force. Jordan, like many young Filipino-Americans, professes a love for lumpia and chicken adobo. As a high school student at Metzger Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, he wore an ornate Barong Tagalog, the Philippines' national costume, while posing in front of the Philippine exhibit. He has been to the Philippines multiple times, even playing some pickup basketball in one of the courts that dot the landscape of the Philippines.   And as of this writing, a little more than a day and a half a way, Filipinos are trying to get Jordan into the biggest event of the basketball world – the NBA All-Stars. It all started from a call on the internet to start voting and using the hashtag 'NBAVOTE Jordan Clarkson on posts and tweets and the Filipinos heard that call. 'NBAVOTE Jordan Clarkson began circulating around the internet, snowballing into a call not just for Jordan Clarkson, but a call for unity in a country that is also known as a social media powerhouse – and the world is starting to take notice. Jordan Clarkson has also taken notice of the efforts, posting on his Facebook account a short video saying, “Hey Facebook fans just want to say thank so much for all your votes. I am so humbled. Please keep posting 'NBAVOTE Jordan Clarkson. Salamat salamat po. Mahal ko kayo.” As of the latest NBA All-Star Voting Returns, Jordan still has not cracked the top 10 of Western Conference guards. Last year’s unanimous MVP, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, leads with 990,390 votes. Close behind are Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma’s Russell Westbrook with 961,185 and 899,024, respectively. Rounding out the top 10 are Golden State’s Klay Thompson with 555,430, Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul with 379,076, Portland’s Damian Lillard with 208,171, Houston’s Eric Gordon with 191,407, Golden State’s Andre Igoudala with 130,224, San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili with 122,333 and Minnesota’s Zach Levine with 94,867. However, signs are looking good for Jordan as Scott notes the strong push coming from social media. “There is a significant increase from Jan. 9 when fans launched the campaign and Jordan’s mentions are much higher than the bottom three players,” she said. “On Jan. 12, Jordan had 53,020 posts while Ginobili had 10,078, Lavine 781 and Igoudala 731. Jordan’s volume shows a spiked upward trend.” The call right now is for every Filipino with access to the internet to vote at least once in the next two days (Monday all day and Tuesday early morning before lunch) and to make every vote count for Clarkson. Fans can vote through the NBA.com and the NBA App wherein fans can submit a ballot of two guards and three frontcourt players, once per day. On social media, using the hashtag 'NBAVOTE Jordan Clarkson also counts as votes, whether as personal posts or comments on another post on Facebook (just as long as the post is public) or tweeting and retweeting the same on Twitter. On Google, fans may also use the search team “NBA Vote All-Star” or “NBA Vote Los Angeles Lakers” to select Jordan Clarkson. The Philippines, a basketball crazy nation, is at the cusp of history. The challenge is now being sent to every Filipino all over the world to make a difference. Every vote counts to bring Clarkson into the NBA All-Stars. And maybe, just maybe, basketball will unite Filipinos again. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Former world champ Sheamus would love to see a Pinoy WWE Superstar

Multiple-time WWE world champion Sheamus is confident that there’s no reason for the Philippines not to be able to have a representative in world’s biggest professional wrestling organization in the near future. The hard-hitting Irish brawler is in the Philippines to promote the WWE’s upcoming live event in Manila on September 20th, was able to hold a quick media Q&A session in Taguig, Tuesday afternoon, and he spoke about his journey to the WWE and what he believes it takes to get there. For the 41-year old, a Filipino WWE Superstar is definitely not out of the realm of possibility. “There’s no such thing as ‘It can’t be done” in any country or any area,” he said during the media Q&A. “There’s no doubt in my mind that somebody here in this country, in the Philippines, that wants to be come a WWE Superstar, if they go the right way about the training, they go the right way about the wrestling, and they get proper training from someone who knows what they’re doing, they don’t take unneccessary risks in the ring, I think there definitely could be, there’s no reason why, from a country like this, there’s no reason why there can’t be a WWE Superstar, man or woman, to come through here and represent this country.” Filipino-blooded wrestlers have walked through the hallowed halls of the WWE before, with Dave “Batista” Bautista and TJ Perkins being the most notable ones. Earlier this year, the WWE’s developmental brand, NXT, signed Michael Paris, a Fil-American from Chicago who now wrestles under the name ‘Joaquin Wilde’. Paris was best known as DJZ during his time outside the WWE. The WWE however, has yet to feature a full-blooded, homegrown Pinoy wrestler, and that is something that Sheamus says he would love to see. “I’d love to see someone from the Philippines represent the WWE. There should be one from every country, it’s great,” he expressed. “I really think it should be somebody from the Philippines next time, we haven’t been here in 3 years, and obviously it takes a long time to start the training process, go to the US and get the NXT vibe, but there’s no reason why like in 5 years’ time, there can’t be somebody, here from the Philippines, holding this microphone, answering your questions about their journey from here to the WWE and promoting a show that’s coming to your country in a couple of weeks.” “There’s no reason why that can’t happen,” he continued. “I’d love to see someone from the Philippines represent the WWE.” - @WWESheamus #SEASheamus pic.twitter.com/5Kf5bAKLgg — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) August 15, 2019 This media tour isn’t Sheamus’ first time in the country, having been part of the WWE’s live event in Manila back in 2016. As it turns out, the Irishman has a special connection with the Philippines. “Well my girlfriend’s from the Philippines,” he revealed. “The food’s amazing, the people here are amazing. I always say that what makes a great country great is the people in it. Especially in the last 24 hours, it’s the fact that everybody here is proud to be from the Philippines. Everyone’s proud of their country, everyone’s super nice, everyone’s so respectable.” .@WWESheamus has nothing but love for the Philippines #SEASheamus pic.twitter.com/q6vc2NEVOG — Santino Honasan???? (@honasantino) August 15, 2019 While Sheamus could still be on the shelf for the forseeable future, his fellow WWE Superstars from the Smackdown Live! brand will be coming to Manila this coming September 20th at the Araneta Coliseum.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2019

ONE Championship: Pinoy Ramon Gonzales targets fourth-straight win at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD

Ramon “The Bicolano” Gonzales looks to leave a bigger dent in the stacked strawweight division in his next appearance inside the ONE Championship ring. The Filipino National Kyokushin Karate Champion will take on “Wolf of the Grasslands” Hexigetu at ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD on Friday, 16 August at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand. Currently on a three-bout winning streak all by way of first-round submission, “The Bicolano” is ready to climb the ladder anew in the hopes of getting a crack at the ONE Strawweight World Title, which is currently held by his compatriot Joshua “The Passion” Pacio. “I’m certainly ready for Friday. I’m ready to display more innovation and improvement from what I can do. Of course, there’s still my striking,” Gonzales said. “I’ve been focusing on everything, from my striking, which is Kyokushin, to my ground game. I know that a win could push me further up the rankings. But on top of that, my main goal for every match is to win and learn.” In the hopes to finally make a splash in his weight class, Gonzales says he has stepped up his training camp in preparation for Hexigetu. “This is one of the best training camps I’ve had. Everyone in the gym helped me out with the challenge I’m facing in Bangkok,” he said. “I am eager and much more determined for this coming Friday. This is for everyone who believes in me.” His game plan is simple - get in the ring and showcase his renowned striking and improved well-roundedness as a mixed martial artist. “Our game plan is to give my all thru striking and the ground. Wherever this match goes, I am ready, and I will give my best,” Gonzales shared. “I know how dangerous of an opponent Hexigetu is, and I have no plans of getting complacent.” Eager to prove himself on the global stage, the Filipino athlete said that he remains as hungry as ever, even after winning three straight matches. “I remain focused in training even on match week. I am excited and challenged for my next fight because this is another opportunity for me.” Tune in to watch ONE Championship’s next event, ONE: DREAMS OF GOLD, this Friday, 16 August. The main card airs live on ABS-CBN S+A at 9:30pm PHT. To catch the prelims, tune in to ONE’s Facebook and Twitter pages at 6:00pm PHT.   More from ONE Championship: Ramon Gonzales Aims To Continue Life-Changing Winning Streak In Bangkok Ramon Gonzales Thrills Manila With 79-Second Submission Ramon Gonzales Opens The Show With Crushing First-Round Choke      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 14th, 2019

ONE Championship: Honorio Banario already a winner even before ONE: DAWN OF HEROES

Honorio “The Rock” Banario dropped a decision loss to “Crazy Dog” Dae Sung Park at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES last Friday at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.  But little does the audience know that the former ONE Featherweight World Champion from Team Lakay was already a big winner even before he climbed into the ring. Moments before Banario marked his return to the ring, his wife Jessica gave birth to their first-born son, Zeus Thorinstone. “I couldn’t sleep at night, I was worried of course,” Banario said. “We were thinking of different things. It’s my first baby. I wasn’t even thinking of my match anymore, maybe it’s because it’s my first time and things are really overwhelming.” Banario barely slept after he learned that his wife went to labor the night before the big event. He did all he could while Jessica was in the hospital, closely monitoring the developments of his wife’s delivery. “The Rock” finally had a sigh of relief when he received word that his partner successfully delivered a healthy baby boy at lunch time. He admitted that his big day as a father took his eye off the ball as he momentarily forgot that he had a match in the evening. “My focus shifted on them. But I mean, it’s no excuse. I should be a professional, it’s part of the challenges,” Banario said. “Of course I’m still [disappointed] with the outcome, but I survived and now we’re moving forward.” “The Rock” took another loss and his dream of becoming a World Champion again moves further away thanks to his latest defeat. Despite all of it, Banario remained in good spirits as he felt like more than a champion for becoming a dad. “I have the best trophy, as they say. I am not thinking about the results,” Banario said. “I gave my best. I entertained the people. It’s just that we fell short. We’ll go back to the gym, work on my game, and bounce back next time. But for now, I can’t wait to return to Baguio cause they’re waiting for me.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 6th, 2019

ONE Championship: Martin Nguyen reigns supreme at ONE: Dawn of Heroes in Manila

2 August 2019 – Manila, Philippines: The largest global sports media property in Asian history, ONE Championship™ (ONE), returned to a packed Mall of Asia Arena in Manila for the biggest martial arts event in Philippine history with ONE: DAWN OF HEROES. Once again, the finest martial arts talent in the world came out to showcase their incredible skills. In the main event, Martin Nguyen retained his ONE Featherweight World Championship with a technical knockout victory over Koyomi Matsushima. In the co-main event, Rodtang Jitmuangnon captured the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Championship with a unanimous decision victory over Jonathan Haggerty. In the main event, Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen of Australia and Vietnam continued his reign over the featherweight division with a second-round technical knockout victory over Japanese challenger Koyomi “Moushigo” Matsushima to retain the ONE Featherweight World Championship. Matsushima put the pressure on Nguyen early in the opening round with his solid ground game. The champion was able to make the necessary adjustments in the second round, however, as he picked apart a tired Matsushima with a barrage of strikes to get the stoppage win and successfully defend his title for a third time.  In the co-main event, Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon of Thailand dethroned English striking sensation Jonathan “The General” Haggerty via unanimous decision to become the new ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion. Haggerty utilized his length in the early going, using front kicks to keep the challenger at bay. Rodtang picked up steam in the succeeding rounds and managed to drop Haggerty twice. After five rounds of explosive action, it was Rodtang who walked away with the victory and the prestigious ONE World Title.  In the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Semi-finals, Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez of the United States recorded his first victory under the ONE banner with a rear naked choke of former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang of the Philippines. Folayang attacked Alvarez with a blitz of strikes to open the contest and a low kick brought “The Underground King” to the mat. Alvarez, however, was able to sweep Folayang to wind up in mount. From there, Alvarez took Folayang’s back, fished for the submission, and forced the tap. In the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Semi-finals, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson of the United States outlasted Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada of Japan to take home a three-round unanimous decision. After a brief exchange on the feet in the first round, Wada was able to take Johnson to the mat and secure his back. Johnson however defended very well. Action continued in the second round with Johnson dominating the grappling exchanges. In the third and final round, Johnson appeared to have Wada figured out and took control of the bout to cruise to a unanimous decision victory. Filipino flyweight star Danny “The King” Kingad secured his spot in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Finals with a split decision win over Australian Reece “Lightning” McLaren. Kingad survived a number of precarious situations in the first two rounds to rally back in the final round. In the last two minutes of the bout, Kingad dominated a fading McLaren as he was able to land a couple of takedowns and unload some ground-and-pound to swing the decision in his favor. Kingad is now one win away from becoming the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion. Muay Thai star Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym of Thailand opened the main card in spectacular fashion with a third round knockout victory over Andrew “Maddog Fairtex” Miller of Scotland. Rodlek overcame Miller’s significant height and reach advantage as he outstruck his foe in the first two rounds of action. In the opening minute of the final round, Rodlek dropped Miller with a short right elbow followed by a knee to score the stoppage win. Japanese flyweight Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu captured his first win under the ONE banner in highlight-reel fashion with a first round knockout of former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio of the Philippines. The heavy-handed Wakamatsu timed his shot, found the opening and unloaded a solid straight right hand that had Eustaquio out before hitting the canvas. Wakamatsu followed up with a few more shots before the referee stepped in to stop the bout. In a lightweight contest, South Korea’s “Crazy Dog” Dae Sung Park overwhelmed former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario of the Philippines over three rounds. Park came out firing powerful combinations and actively pursuing the takedown in the first round. He dropped Banario with a head kick and followed him to the mat for some ground-and-pound nearly finishing the Filipino. Banario survived and came back with a flurry of his own, sending Park reeling towards the ropes. Park rocked Banario again in the third with a high kick, which “The Rock” again recovered well from. In the end, all three ringside judges scored the bout in favor of Park to  win by unanimous decision. Japan’s Daichi Takenaka and Brazil’s Leandro “Brodinho” Issa figured in an epic back-and-forth battle in a bantamweight contest. Takenaka and Issa began the bout testing each other’s grappling skills, with both men taking turns in dominant positions. As the bout wore on however, action shifted to the feet and Takenaka began to pull away with superior striking. After a right hand put Issa down in the third, Takenaka followed up with a plethora of punches on the ground to force the stoppage. American top welterweight contender James “Nako” Nakashima put together a well-rounded performance, defeating Japanese mixed martial arts legend Yushin “Thunder” Okami. Nakashima came out to a fast and aggressive start, taking the action right to Okami in the opening moments of the contest. For three full rounds, Nakashima got the better of Okami in the striking and grappling departments. In the end, all three judges scored the bout in favor of Nakashima to win by unanimous decision. In a featherweight contest, China’s “The Stalker” Xie Bin took on the Philippines’ Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly. However, after an unfortunate halt to the bout in round two, Xie was awarded a technical decision victory over the Filipino. China’s Miao Li Tao was impressive in his return to the ring, defeating Thailand’s Pongsiri “The Smiling Assassin” Mitsatit via unanimous decision. Miao was in control from the get-go as he took Mitsatit down and controlled him on the mat for the majority of the three-round contest. Mitsatit had no answer for Miao’s aggressive and powerful grappling as the Chinese warrior coasted to a convincing decision win. Japanese women’s strawweight contender Ayaka Miura continued to roll in her ONE Championship career, defeating former World Title challenger Samara “Marituba” Santos of Brazil with an Americana submission in the second round. Miura bucked a slow start in the opening round and displayed her superior grappling in the second round by taking Santos down and locking in the Americana in just 39 seconds. Malaysia’s Muhammad “Jungle Cat” Aiman kicked off the action at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES with a unanimous decision victory over Indonesian veteran “The Terminator” Sunoto. Aiman remained a step ahead throughout the three-round bout as he outstruck and outgrappled Sunoto to walk away with the curtain-raising win. Official results for ONE: DAWN OF HEROES ONE Featherweight World Championship bout: Martin Nguyen defeats Koyomi Matsushima by TKO (Strikes) at 4:40 minutes of round 2 ONE Super Series Flyweight Muay Thai World Championship bout: Rodtang Jitmuangnon defeats Jonathan Haggerty by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 5 rounds ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix Semi-final bout: Eddie Alvarez defeats Eduard Folayang by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:16 minutes of round 1 ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Semi-final bout: Demetrious Johnson defeats Tatsumitsu Wada by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Semi-final bout: Danny Kingad defeats Reece McLaren by Split Decision (SD) after 3 rounds ONE Super Series Muay Thai Bantamweight bout: Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym defeats Andrew Miller by Knockout (KO) at 0:49 minutes of round 3 Mixed Martial Arts Flyweight bout: Yuya Wakamatsu defeats Geje Eustaquio by Knockout (KO) at 1:59 minutes of round 1 Mixed Martial Arts Lightweight bout: Dae Sung Park defeats Honorio Banario by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds Mixed Martial Arts Bantamweight bout: Daichi Takenaka defeats Leandro Issa by TKO (Strikes) at 1:39 minutes of round 3 Mixed Martial Arts Welterweight bout: James Nakashima defeats Yushin Okami by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds Mixed Martial Arts Featherweight bout: Xie Bin defeats Edward Kelly by Technical Decision (TD) Mixed Martial Arts Catchweight bout (57.0kg): Miao Li Tao defeats Pongsiri Mitsatit by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds Mixed Martial Arts Women’s Strawweight bout: Ayaka Miura defeats Samara Santos by Submission (Americana) at 0:39  minutes of round 2 Mixed Martial Arts Bantamweight bout: Muhammad Aiman defeats Sunoto by Unanimous Decision at after 3 rounds.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2019

ONE Championship: I rushed - Eduard Folayang on loss to Eddie Alvarez

Eduard "Landslide" Folayang was seemingly within moments of picking up what could have been one of the biggest wins of his career, Friday night at ONE: Dawn of Heroes in Manila.  The Filipino mixed martial arts hero and two-time ONE Lightweight World Champion was taking on former UFC and Bellator Lightweight World Champion Eddie "The Underground King" Alvarez in a ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinal bout and one of the night's most highly-anticipated bouts.  Early in the round opening round, Folayang landed a vicious right low kick that landed flush on Alvarez's ankle, sending the American to the mat.  As the crowed at the Mall of Asia Arena roared, Folayang pounced on the fallen Alvarez with every intention of ending the bout early.  Folayang landed punch after punch as Alvarez fought to survive and repositioned himself as often as he could to avoid taking damage.  Almost as suddenly as Folayang put Alvarez on his seat, the American was able to grab a hold of the Filipino star's leg and reverse positions, landing inside guard.  Folayang, presumably a bit spent from all the ground and pound, was now the one in survival mode and looked to escape the guard but insted ended up giving his back up.  Now, Alvarez is known for his come-forward brawling style, but "The Underground King" is also a gifted grappler, and he showed that by almost immediately locking in a Rear Naked Choke and forcing Folayang to tap out. All in just two minutes and 16 seconds.  Obviously, it was a bitter pill to swallow for Folayang, who was once again on track for a third world title run, had he emerged victorious.  The 35-year old Baguio City-native admits that he rushed himself to get the stoppage win.  "Yeah, I rushed. I think that’s one of the mistakes I made," Folayang said during the post-fight press conference. "I was not cautious, and I wanted to get up as soon as possible, and I forgot that I’m very vulnerable in that position." Folayang was the last member of Team Lakay to see action that night, and with his loss, the La Trinidad-based stable went 1-4. "I was too so eager to get the finish, and I think that’s the mistake, I became impatient, and I wanted to finish him as soon as possible but it didn’t go that way, so, that happened." Now coming off back-to-back losses, Folayang, as well as the rest of Team Lakay, will need to go back to the drawing board and make the necessary adjustments before their respective returns to action.   Coming off a loss is no longer a foreign feeling for Folayang, who has seen his highest moments come after the lowest of lows.  Before ending the post-fight presser, Folayang grabbed the mic one last time with a parting message for the media in attendance. "I just want to quote what Douglas McArthur said: 'We shall return.'"   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 3rd, 2019