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UP vets grateful for another shot at UAAP playoff spot

After more than a decade of drought, the UP Fighting Maroons are on the brink of a second consecutive Final Four appearance in the UAAP men's basketball tournament......»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarOct 24th, 2019

Player Movement: What teams have gained, lost this offseason

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com There's still a lot of work to be done before rosters are set for the 2019-20 season. Some teams (Charlotte, Utah) still have roster spots to fill. Other teams (Memphis, Washington) still have some roster trimming to do. There are about 25 two-way-contract slots that can be filled around the league. And it's certainly possible that players like Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala will be traded a second time before the end of the summer. But it's already been a season of change. At the start of training camp last September, 15 of the league's 30 teams rostered players who played at least 75 percent of the team's minutes in the previous season (2017-18). Right now -- midway through July -- only four teams are set to bring back players who played at least 75 percent of last season's minutes. Continuity Not every team has made big changes. The Denver Nuggets are set to return at least 12 of the 18 guys that played for them last season (the status of two-way, restricted free agent Brandon Goodwin is still in the air), along with Michael Porter Jr., who was with the team all season. The only players that have left the Nuggets -- Tyler Lydon, Trey Lyles and Isaiah Thomas -- played a total of eight minutes in the playoffs. Over the last three years, there has been a correlation between summer continuity and win increase the following season. But the correlation has been small. During that span, 33 teams have brought at least 75 percent of the previous season's minutes back, and only 15 of those 33 increased their win total. The highest individual return percentage of the stretch belonged to last season's Miami Heat, who brought back 97 percent of their minutes from 2017-18 ... and proceeded to win five fewer games. This summer, the two biggest winners in free agency -- the Brooklyn Nets and LA Clippers -- rank 24th and 26th, respectively, by this measure (as of Wednesday morning). And while the Nuggets have a young core that can improve on its second-place finish in the West, the Orlando Magic are bringing back an ensemble that won just 42 games in the Eastern Conference, and the San Antonio Spurs have an older group that was ousted by Denver in the first round, albeit in seven games. Gained and lost math Going forward, we'll be talking about totals gained or lost this summer. These were accumulated by non-rookies for any team last season. For example, in calculating the minutes that Indiana lost (and Milwaukee gained) with Wesley Matthews' departure, we're using all 2,091 minutes that Matthews played for Dallas and Indiana last season. That way, it's a more realistic measure of total production coming in and going out. In that regard, most teams have lost more '18-19 minutes than they've gained. In total, there are more than 230 players who were on rosters (with two-way contracts included) at the end of the season and are either on a new team (via free agency or trades) or remain unsigned. More than half of those players (about 120) have been replaced by other non-rookies. About 70 more have been replaced by rookies (including those on two-way contracts). As an example, here's the roster math for the Golden State Warriors: - LOST 11 non-rookies off their end-of-season roster - GAINED six non-rookies - ADDED three rookies - STILL HAVE one main roster spot and one two-way spot they can fill Minutes gained and lost The Warriors are one of 22 teams that have lost a group of players who played more minutes last season than the group of players that they've added. There are a few teams that have added a lot more '18-19 minutes to their roster. That group is led by the New York Knicks, who have added almost 12,000 '18-19 minutes while seeing almost 9,000 minutes exit. The Knicks have lost four guys - Mario Hezonja, DeAndre Jordan, Emmanuel Mudiay and Noah Vonleh - who played at least 1,000 minutes. They added seven, and all seven started at least 28 games last season. Of course, how many of those seven are difference makers is up for debate, as is the idea of whether the Knicks should have used at least some of their cap space to take on bad contracts -- often spiced up with future picks -- from other teams. The Nets lost as many players (6) who played at least 1,000 minutes last season as they gained. But they added four of the 31 2,000-minute players to have changed teams this summer, most notably in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Utah (3) is the only other team with more than two additions that played at least 2,000 minutes last season. The eight guys that Brooklyn brought in started a total of 363 games in '18-19, while the nine guys they lost started just 179. That's the biggest increase, with New York (+100) and Utah (+84) also seeing differentials of more than 82 games. The Sacramento Kings lost two guys that played at least 1,000 minutes last season, and one of those guys -- Alec Burks -- played only 127 minutes for the Kings. They added four 1,000-minute players, including two - Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph -- that played more than 2,000 minutes last season. As noted above, the Nuggets lead the league in continuity, bringing back all 10 guys that played more than 1,120 minutes for them last season. But they've also added Jerami Grant, who played 2,612 minutes for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Though they've added more players (11, including four rookies) than they've lost (nine) and need to trim their roster between now and opening night, the Washington Wizards are set to see the biggest discrepancy in regard to '18-19 minutes. They've lost more than 11,000 (with Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green and Tomas Satoransky accounting for more than half of that total) and added less than 5,000. The group of players that the Wizards lost also started 208 more '18-19 games than the players added -- the biggest discrepancy in that regard. The Charlotte Hornets not only lost more than 1,000 '18-19 minutes in their Kemba Walker-Terry Rozier swap, they also lost three other guys - Jeremy Lamb, Shelvin Mack and Tony Parker - who played more than 1,000 minutes last season. There's a general consensus that the Indiana Pacers are in the "winners" category this summer, adding Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren. But they also lost five guys (four of their five playoff starters plus Cory Joseph) to have played at least 2,000 minutes last season. The only other teams who lost more than two 2,000-minute players were the the Clippers (3), Oklahoma City Thunder (3) and Wizards (3). Still available Most '18-19 minutes among still-available free agents... - Justin Holiday - 2,607 - Iman Shumpert - 1,481 - Wayne Selden - 1,439 - Jeremy Lin - 1,436 - Shaquille Harrison - 1,430 In regard to minutes played last season, the top 18 available free agents are all perimeter players (unless you want to count Jonas Jerebko as an interior guy). Among available non-perimeter players, Dante Cunningham (928), Cheick Diallo (896) and Zaza Pachulia (878) are the guys who played the most minutes last season. It's all about shooting Putting the ball in the basket is the most important thing in the NBA, and every team is always on the hunt for more shooting. But in regard to '18-19 3-pointers, half of the league (15 teams) has lost more than it's gained. There are a few teams to have seen big increases, however. The Knicks added Reggie Bullock (148-for-393, 37.7 percent), Marcus Morris (146-for-389, 37.5 percent) and Wayne Ellington (138-for-372, 37.1 percent), though creating open shots for those guys might be an issue. None of the six players that the Kings have lost made more than 61 3-pointers last season. Ariza (145) is the big gain in that regard, but they also added Dewayne Dedmon, a big man who shot 38 percent on 217 attempts from beyond the arc. On the other end of the spectrum, it's the Hornets that lost the most 3s, with Walker having ranked fifth in the league in total makes. The Atlanta Hawks ranked fourth in the percentage of their shots that were 3-pointers, but traded Taurean Prince (39 percent on 315 attempts), lost Dedmon, haven't re-signed Vince Carter (39 percent on 316 attempts) and swapped Kent Bazemore (32 percent; 300 attempts) for Evan Turner (21 percent; 52 attempts). The Toronto Raptors, meanwhile, haven't really replaced two of the four guys who made more than 100 threes for them last season. Still available Most '18-19 3-pointers among still-available free agents... - Justin Holiday - 162-for-465 (34.8 percent) - Kyle Korver - 138-for-348 (39.7 percent) - Vince Carter - 123-for-316 (38.9 percent) - Iman Shumpert - 95-for-273 (34.8 percent) - Lance Stephenson - 73-for-197 (37.1 percent) J.R. Smith, waived by the Cavs on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), made 143 threes (shooting 37.5 percent) in 2017-18, but played just 11 games last season. More notes - Eastern Conference - The Boston Celtics are one of three teams (Atlanta and Washington are the others) with a discrepancy of at least 300 between the steals + blocks registered by the non-rookies they've lost (503) and those registered by the non-rookies they've added (194). Swapping Al Horford (145 steals + blocks in 1,973 minutes) for Enes Kanter (58 in 1,639 minutes) obviously hurts. - The Chicago Bulls have seen the second biggest increase in 3-point percentage between the non-rookies they've added (36.9 percent) and the non-rookies they've lost (30.3 percent). Tomas Satoransky (39.5 percent on 162 attempts) was the big add in that regard. - The Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team that hasn't added a single player (via free agency or trade) that played last season, though they still have to add at least one player to their main roster. The only players they've added are the three guys they selected in the first round of the Draft and another rookie (Dean Wade) on a two-way contract. - The Detroit Pistons have had eight non-rookies leave (five have found new NBA teams, three haven't been re-signed) and have added only four. But the four they've added -- Tim Frazier, Markieff Morris, Derrick Rose and Tony Snell -- started the same number of games (60) and played just 11 more minutes in '18-19 as the eight that have left. They did add more scoring, with the four new guys having registered 436 more points than the eight guys on their way out. - As noted above, the Miami Heat led the league in continuity last summer, bringing back 97 percent of their minutes from '17-18. This year, with the retirement of Dwyane Wade and trades that sent Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside out, they're in the middle of the pack. In regard to out vs. in (Jimmy Butler and Meyers Leonard), they've lost total production, but have improved in regard to shooting and free throw rate. Only Denver, Brooklyn and Dallas have seen bigger increases in true shooting percentage from the non-rookies they've lost to the non-rookies they've added. - With the departure of Malcolm Brogdon, the Milwaukee Bucks lost some playmaking. Only the Magic (who didn't lose anybody from their playoff rotation) saw a bigger drop in in assist-turnover ratio from the non-rookies they lost (2.47) to the non-rookies they've gained (1.33). Tony Snell (traded to Detroit) had the fifth lowest turnover ratio (4.9 per 100 possessions) among 299 players that averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 games or more last season. - The Orlando Magic rank second in continuity, one of two teams (Dallas is the other) with nobody on their end-of-season roster having signed with (or been traded to) another team. But they've added one rotation piece by signing Al-Farouq Aminu, who represents the biggest jump in '18-19 rebounds between the non-rookies a team has added (610) and those they've lost or remain unsigned (195). The Magic were already a good rebounding team, ranking 11th in total rebounding percentage and third in defensive rebounding percentage last season. - The Philadelphia 76ers have seen the biggest discrepancy in '18-19 games played between the players they've lost (478) and the players they've added (223), though most of those lost games came from guys who weren't in their playoff rotation. More notes - Western Conference - The Dallas Mavericks have seen the second-biggest jump in effective field goal percentage (lower than only that of Denver) between the players they added (54.4 percent) and the players they've lost (47.3 percent) this summer. Swapping Trey Burke (48.2 percent) for Seth Curry (57.7 percent) goes a long way in that regard. The Mavs are also one of two teams (Orlando is the other) with nobody on their end-of-season roster having signed with (or been traded to) another team. - It remains to be seen how well James Harden and Russell Westbrook fit together and how much the Westbrook-for-Chris Paul swap hurts the Houston Rockets' defense. But we can say for certain that the Rockets got better in the rebounding department. - After ranking 28th in rebounding percentage (and 29th in defensive rebounding percentage) last season, they swapped Paul (who grabbed 7.0 percent of available boards while he was on the floor) for Westbrook (14.1 percent - highest among guards) and also added Tyson Chandler, who had a higher rebounding percentage (15.4 percent) than Nene (10.5 percent). - Good news for the team that ranked 29th in 3-point percentage last season: The non-rookies the Los Angeles Lakers have lost attempted 75 more 3-pointers than those they've gained. But the non-rookies they've gained made 34 more 3s than those they've lost. Among players that attempted at least 200 3-pointers last season and changed teams this season, Danny Green (45.5 percent) ranked first in 3-point percentage, while Quinn Cook (40.5 percent) ranked seventh. - The Memphis Grizzlies had a pretty motley rotation after making multiple trades at the deadline in February. And now they've seen the biggest roster more than any other team this summer, with 11 non-rookies leaving and nine coming in. They currently have guys that played for the Hawks, Warriors, Wolves, Pelicans, Suns, Raptors, Jazz and Wizards last season. - The six non-rookies that the Minnesota Timberwolves have added -- Jordan Bell, Treveon Graham, Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh and Tyrone Wallance -- averaged just 6.3 points per game last season. That's the lowest mark for players added among the 29 teams that have added at least one non-rookie this summer. - In regard to vets, the New Orleans Pelicans have swapped interior players for perimeter players. The (five) non-rookies that they've added had 360 fewer '18-19 field goals, but 127 more 3-pointers than the (10) non-rookies that they've lost. Chicago is the other team with a loss in '18-19 field goals (-38) and a gain in '18-19 3-pointers (+47). - The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen the most '18-19 points walk out the door, with the six guys they've lost having scored 5,619 points last season. One thing they definitely gained in the Westbrook-Paul trade (if they keep Paul) was mid-range shooting. Paul has shot 48.9 percent from mid-range the last five seasons, the second best mark (behind only that of Kevin Durant) among 55 players with at least 1,000 mid-range attempts over that time. Westbrook (37.5 percent) ranks 52nd among the 55. - The 10 non-rookies that have left the Phoenix Suns (five that have found new NBA teams and five that haven't) racked up a cumulative plus-minus of minus-1,709 last season. None of the 10 had a positive plus-minus. The five non-rookies that they've added -- Aron Baynes, Jevon Carter, Frank Kaminsky, Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric -- had a cumulative plus-minus of plus-257. That's the league's biggest differential between players in vs. players out. - The Portland Trail Blazers improved their shooting by swapping Turner for Bazemore and Aminu (34.3 percent on 280 3-point attempts) for Anthony Tolliver (37.7 percent on 215), but are one of four teams - Brooklyn, Indiana and the Lakers are the others - that have lost six players who played at least 1,000 minutes in '18-19. They've added four. - As noted above, the San Antonio Spurs are near the top of the league in regard to continuity. But they've seen the biggest increase in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) between the non-rookies that they've gained (0.335) and the players they've lost (0.181). The pair of vets that they've added (having ranked 24th in free throw rate last season) includes DeMarre Carroll (0.421), who ranked eighth in free throw rate among non-bigs with at least 500 field goal attempts last season. - The Utah Jazz rank 13th in the percentage of '18-19 minutes they're set to bring back, but are one of five teams that have added at least 9,000 '18-19 minutes and lost at least 9,000 '18-19 minutes (when we include unsigned free agents). They parted ways with four of the eight guys that played at least 1,000 minutes for them last season, but all five of their additions - Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley Jr., Ed Davis, Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay - played at least 1,400 minutes. John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. 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 18th, 2019

Love at peace, not worried about trade chatter

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Kevin Love knows change could be coming. A couple of years ago, uncertainty might have been something that stressed him out, triggered the sorts of feelings like the ones that manifested themselves in the form of an in-game panic attack in 2017, rendered him unable to compete as efficiently as he wanted. Not this time. Even though he has three full years and about $90 million left on his contract after this season, it’s no secret that Love could be traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Plenty of teams even make sense for such a move — Portland, Dallas, Denver, Miami among others. But going public with the details of his panic attack — and his ongoing involvement in the conversation about the need to take care of mental health — has not left Love feeling vulnerable. He’s more at peace than anything else, and that’s why the rumors that are out there aren’t gnawing at him. “I’m just going to let the chips fall,” Love said. “I know that this is a young team. I think I can help them. I’m going to do right by Cleveland, the organization. This is a league where teams want to rebuild, teams want to go young but certain teams are looking for a piece, a guy who’s played in the finals, a guy who has playoff experience. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think it definitely lessens the burden and the anxiety.” Cleveland is 5-12 and Love missed Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) game against Brooklyn with back issues. Now in his 11th season, the five-time All-Star can still play — he’s averaging 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds, is a 36% shooter from 3-point range and won a ring with the Cavs in 2016. Even with him, the Cavs are likely a long shot for a playoff spot in the East. But Love insists that he isn’t forcing a change. “I’ve been committed to Cleveland since Day 1,” Love said. “I know it’s been a little shaky at some points. It’s been really great at some points. But now I’ve found some semblance of balance in my life, not only on the court but away from it.” Love also doesn’t shy away from the mental health questions. Players like Love and DeMar DeRozan helped bring the conversation into the NBA mainstream by opening up about their own private and personal issues. “I kind of played all my cards and spoke my truth,” Love said. “I just feel like there’s not a lot out there that could really hurt me. I feel like, not only for other people but selfishly for myself, it’s been very therapeutic.” HISTORY LESSON The Spurs are in trouble. Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) loss to the Lakers dropped San Antonio to 6-12, and seeing that is all anyone would probably need to realize that the Spurs’ record-tying 22-year streak of postseason appearances is in major jeopardy. But the numbers really hammer the point home. Over the last 14 seasons, not including this one, there have been 103 instances of teams starting 6-12 or worse. Of those, only four have made the postseason — and none of those four came from the Western Conference. And the last time the Spurs were under the .500 mark 18 games into a season was 1995-96, when they started 3-15. That’s the point where they fired Bob Hill for a guy named Gregg Popovich. “They’re going to be OK,” said Charlotte coach James Borrego, a former longtime Spurs assistant, who crossed paths with Popovich in Washington recently. “At the end of the day, he’s coaching his team, I’m coaching my team. I know what they’re going through. But they’ve been in this territory before. I don’t know if they’ve lost as much as they’ve lost this early, but they’ll bounce back. There’s high character there. They know what they’re doing.” The last West team to start 6-12 or worse and get into the playoffs was the 2004-05 Memphis Grizzlies, who began 5-11, went through two different coaches before bringing in Mike Fratello. He fashioned a 40-26 finish, the Grizzlies sneaked into the playoffs at 45-37 and as the eighth seed. They got swept in the first round. The NBA champions that year? San Antonio. KEMBA’S NECK Boston guard Kemba Walker took a scary hit last week when he collided with teammate Semi Ojeleye during the Celtics’ game at Denver. The way Walker fell, and how he had to leave the game on a stretcher, understandably raised plenty of concern. He was diagnosed with a sprained neck, which was probably about the best possible outcome given how bad the play looked in real time. Perhaps overlooked is this: The sprain is Walker’s second neck issue in less than three months. He played some games for USA Basketball at the FIBA World Cup in China in September while dealing with neck pain, which intensified to the point that he sat out the Americans’ finale there — the seventh-place game in Beijing against Poland. MIGHTY MAVS With MVP candidate Luka Doncic leading the way, Dallas is flying. The Mavericks have scored 137 points or more in each of their last three games. Only two teams in league history have gone on longer such streaks — Denver in November 1988 and Portland in November 1990, both of those being four-game runs. The Mavs have reached the 125-point mark five times already this season. That matches their total from all of last season. THE WEEK AHEAD A game to watch each day in the coming week: (PHL times listed) Wednesday, L.A. Clippers at Dallas: Doncic is rolling right now. Here comes a very big test. Thursday, L.A. Lakers at New Orleans: Welcome back to New Orleans, Anthony Davis. Friday, Happy Thanksgiving: It’s one of the days the NBA has no games on the schedule. Saturday, Boston at Brooklyn: A noon start time. Could it be Kyrie Irving versus the Celtics? Sunday, Charlotte at Milwaukee: For some reason, few seem to be talking about the Bucks. Next Monday, Memphis at Minnesota: Through Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant averaged 19 ppg. Next Tuesday, Utah at Philadelphia: A matchup of really good teams that usually put defense first......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 26th, 2019

UAAP Finals: Nonoy tried to be whatever UST needed in Game 1

Mark Nonoy was the lone bright spot as University of Sto. Tomas got dominated by Ateneo de Manila University in Game 1 of the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Finals. With everybody from Soulemane Chabi Yo and Renzo Subido and Rhenz Abando and CJ Cansino slowed down, the Rookie of the Year scored a career-best 26 points built on seven triples off the bench. In the end, he was just giving whatever the Growling Tigers needed from him. "Ginawa ko lang lahat kasi nahirapan yung first group namin so kailangan naming mag-step up," he said. Of course, scoring isn't exactly Nonoy's role for the black and gold as, time and again, head coach Aldin Ayo said that he wants his point guard to be, well, a point guard. With almost everybody struggling, however, coach Aldin said he had no problems whatsoever with their super rookie looking for his own shot. "Nung una kasi, he was looking to dish the ball eh walang maka-shoot tapos nalilibre rin siya so siya na lang," he said. He then continued, "Pero alam naman ng bata na ang role niya talaga is to set the plays and make his teammates better." With Game 1 over and done with, Nonoy vowed that UST will go all-out to bounce back in Game 2 on Wednesday at MOA Arena. "Siyempre, masakit kasi eto na yung goal namin, pero na-short kami. Babawi kami sa Game 2," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 16th, 2019

Jamal Crawford on still being a free agent: It s baffling to me

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com In the final game of last season, he scored 51 points -- a rather remarkable distinction just by itself. Today, it carries a degree of historical significance that is rather uncomfortable and maybe unfair for Jamal Crawford. Only one player in NBA history scored more points in Game No. 82 and did not play the following season. In that instance, Kobe Bryant was OK with that as he retired after dropping 60 on the Utah Jazz to close out the 2015-16 season. Meanwhile, Crawford is most definitely not retired, at least not willingly, as he waits to see if that last ballistic game was in fact the last he’ll ever play in the NBA. Officially, he’s currently living in Seattle, where he was raised and always maintained a home throughout his career. But metaphorically he’s residing in a basketball Twilight Zone that annually collects veterans in their, well, twilight. They’re not done playing -- at least in their minds -- and feel fresh enough to extend their careers by another year or two. Yet their fate is being controlled by a season that already began and 30 teams who don’t have an opening for a proven veteran. Unless, of course, there’s an injury or a sudden change in philosophy or, in the case of the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), a twinge of desperation. A 4-8 start prompted the Blazers to reach a deal with one of Crawford’s fellow residents, Carmelo Anthony. He spent the summer and most of the fall waiting by the phone and wondering if his time had passed. Congrats Melo!!!!!!!!!! — ???? Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) November 15, 2019 Yeaaa @imanshumpert , congrats bro! — ???? Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) November 13, 2019 Crawford tweeted out support for ‘Melo and for Iman Shumpert (who signed with the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday). In a sense for these veterans, this is like the NBA Draft green room all over again -- you’re happy the room is emptying … but you don’t want to be the last one sitting at the table. “I know I can play,” Crawford told NBA.com, “and I would think my reputation is still solid. It’s baffling to me.” If you go strictly on how he finished with the Phoenix Suns last season, it’s bizarre that not only is Crawford not in the league, but that he’s not prominently in some team’s rotation. Crawford played (as a reserve) in four of the Suns’ five April games last season, scoring 19, 28, 27 and 51 points while shooting at an extremely healthy clip. If this was a showcase for 2019-20, albeit at a small sample size, Crawford proved he had something left even after 19 seasons. But the July free agency period came and went without a text message. The season tipped off in October without Crawford on a roster for the first time since the 2000-01 season. Almost a full month later, the three-time Kia Sixth Man Award winner is still watching from home. It’s the first time since he began playing organized basketball as a kid that he isn’t wearing a uniform in November. This isn’t restricted to Crawford as every year players with NBA experience must watch the basketball world spin without them. Anthony and Shumpert were just lifted off the pile and yet the list of players waiting by the phone, once again, is lengthy enough. “A lot of teams take a wait and see approach, not only for me, but vets in general,” Crawford said. The group includes, among others: Kenneth Faried, Devin Harris, J.R. Smith, Corey Brewer, Jodie Meeks, Joakim Noah, Jonathon Simmons and Dante Cunningham. Most already had their big contracts, so making money is no issue for them. That’s a good thing, too, because team salary-cap space is, for the most part, swallowed up at this point. Of course, the obvious concerns held by teams with most of these players are age and declining skills. The NBA is an unforgiving league that doesn’t give tenure. If the decision to keep a young player or a veteran is a toss-up, some teams -- especially those needing bodies in their player development program -- will lean toward the young. Crawford was caught in between last season as the Suns were yet again rebuilding while also needing solid-character veterans in the locker room. Tyson Chandler, Trevor Ariza and Crawford served those mentor roles until a sudden philosophical shift hit barely a month into the season. Ariza was traded to Washington, Chandler was bought out and the Suns went full-blast young with Crawford averaging 18.9 mpg (his lowest since 17.2 mpg in 2000-01). “I guess everything changed,” he said. The Suns used Crawford at point guard, not his natural two-guard position. As a result, he didn’t average double-digit scoring for the first time since his sophomore season. The silver lining is that he remained fresh and preserved his body for a possible 20th season. And of course, he had the energy for that 51-point game. In that April 9 game against Dallas, he shot 18-for-31 and 7-for-13 on 3-pointers in a 120-109 loss. The game carried no other significance except for it being the last one played by the great Dirk Nowitzki. Crawford’s output was almost forgotten in that sense. But because he’s not on an NBA roster right now, that 51-point performance could become the ultimate trivia answer. “I’m kind of an outlier because you don’t see anyone my age having games like that,” Crawford said. “And I did it off the bench. A year earlier, in my 18th year, I was still averaging double figures. I can bring a multitude of things. I’ll be ready for whatever team decides how I can fit into what they’re trying to do.” At 39, NBA teams will express concerns about his defense, which is usually the first area that suffers when players age. But players at this stage are used in spot situations anyway, and mainly by contending teams looking for depth and experience. The problem for Crawford and others like him is the numbers game; only a few of these spots open every season. “Physically, I feel better than I did last season,” he said. “I’m able to get my body together. My skill set is sharp. I feel that I’m good. My mindset is be patient and hopefully something good comes about it. I’ll be ready for the opportunity.” Until then, Crawford and others must live a surreal experience for them, though not all of it is bad or uncomfortable. There are kids to take to school; Crawford has three and is also afforded the rare chance to watch their youth games, too. “I’ve missed a lot of that,” he said. “And it’s cool because they enjoy that, too. I’m making up for that this time. I’m the Uber driver.” Beyond that, he stays connected to the NBA but only from a distance. “It’s weird watching games and being apart from it but seeing teams that could use you in certain situations,” he said. “You see where you could help different clubs in different ways.” For Crawford, it’s the love of the game, not a need for anything beyond that, which drives him. He’s the ultimate gym rat who not only hosts a pro-am league in Seattle every summer, but he plays in it, too. There are also legendary stories of Crawford randomly showing up at local parks and gyms for pickup games, something you don’t normally see from players, especially those with nearly two decades of NBA tread. The most famous Crawford cameo: Years ago, then with the Bulls and fresh off the team bus, he appeared at his favorite Seattle park and played pickup ball for three hours the day before a game with the Sonics. The next night, he scored 31 points. “I love the game and stay in the gym anyway,” he said. “Whenever I retire, I’ll still be playing the game, whether that’s at an LA Fitness or somewhere else. At this point, the regular players around here are kind of used to seeing me, although sometimes I’ll go to a different gym and people are surprised,” he said. “Like, the other night, I went to new one and played from 10 o’clock to midnight. They did double takes.” Were they surprised Crawford was actually at their gym, or that he’s not somewhere in the NBA instead? The man who scored 51 in his last NBA game laughed at that. “Probably a little of both,” he said. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsNov 16th, 2019

Unforgettable UAAP Final Four Moments

A Final Four in any of the UAAP seasons in the last 26 years has always been memorable and epic. Since Season 56, the format has intensified the competitiveness in the league, as it has since given four teams the chance at a championship, instead of just two teams in the 55 seasons prior. Here we witnessed dramatic, climactic face-offs between the first and fourth placers, and the second and third placers, with the top two teams enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage. This is to determine who will slug it out in the Finals. Yet there are rare instances when a school tops the eliminations unscathed, just like this year’s mighty Ateneo Blue Eagles, who advanced to the Finals outright after sweeping the round. In this case, a stepladder Final Four is implemented wherein the third and fourth battle each other in a do-or-die match before facing the second placer, which has a twice-to-beat advantage. And yes, these teams have made their playoff wars exciting and spectacular with a level of play that is truly exceptional. Here are some of the most powerful, controversial, heroic, and reverberating moments in the UAAP Final Four that have been forever etched in our minds:   1) UP enters Finals for first time in 32 years in Season 81 In their first Final Four appearance in 21 years, the UP Fighting Maroons had the utmost desire to make history once more with the battlecry “Atin ‘To,” captain Paul Desiderio’s famous call to arms.  And, in Season 81, barreling into the semifinals was already a gigantic feat, having been in the cellar for quite a while in the UAAP.  But they wanted more, and facing a championship-ready Adamson Soaring Falcons was an immense challenge with its lean and mean arsenal, given how the San Marcelino cagers had waylaid the competition in the eliminations, including the defending champions Ateneo. But they were unfazed with Adamson’s twice-to-beat advantage, and in Game 1, they would beat the odds, as the Fighting Maroons and the Soaring Falcons ended up tied at 71-all with three seconds to go. As Juan Gomez de Liano was inbounding, he found an open Bright Akhuetie near the basket to convert the game-winner for UP to arrange a winner-take-all.  And in the decider, it was again a tedious trek for both teams, with the game tied for the last time at 87-all in overtime. Then, the fiery captain will again own it for the Fighting Maroons as he swooshed a jumper off Adamson’s Sean Maganti with 6.6 seconds left. With Falcon guard Jeron Lastimosa missing a three off a timeout as time ran out led to utter euphoria in the Maroon-dominated Araneta Coliseum, spilling out to the numerous UP campuses across the nation, as the Fighting Maroons entered the Finals for the first time in 32 years. They would be denied a repeat of their 1986 title run however by the back-to-back champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, which won the Finals convincingly.   2) Blue Eagle Gec Chia’s miracle “shot” in Season 65 Season 65 was certainly the most unforgettable for the Ateneo Blue Eagles as it achieved a flurry of milestones. Already with a well-developed line-up and the immense motivation to win it all, after their previous heartbreaking campaigns, the Eagles had beaten the league-leading and four-peat-hunting DLSU Green Archers in the last game of the eliminations, denying them a sweep and an outright finals berth. And in third place at the end of the elims, the Eagles would face another formidable squad, the James Yap and Paul Artadi-enforced second-placers UE Red Warriors. After staging a stunning upset in the first game of their Final Four match-up, 84-78, Ateneo again engaged UE in a close, hard fought decider and both teams were tied at 70-all with 7.8 seconds left.  With LA Tenorio trapped in the offensive play, he would kick the ball out to the gutsy marksman Gec Chia, who would rise to the occasion and soar over a phalanx of defenders to make that miracle “Shot” heard everywhere as time expired. That unforgettable shot pushed the Eagles into that climactic end to a 14-year title drought in the Finals by that Herculean drubbing of La Salle.   3) FEU’s Mac Belo buries last-second corner three against La Salle in Season 77 On October 1, 2014, the defending champions DLSU Green Archers threatened the second placers FEU Tamaraws, with a menacing win in their first match in the Final Four of Season 77, nearing to book another trip to the Finals. In Game Two, with 24 ticks remaining, the Tamaraws used up the remaining seconds with the intent of taking the last shot.  FEU point guard Mike Tolomia then barreled his way through the paint, drawing two La Salle defenders and leaving Mac Belo free at the corner. With a little over two seconds to go, Tolomia would hand the ball off to Belo for a catch-and-shoot beyond the arc at the right corner and buried the three as time expired, giving the Tamaraws a return trip to the Finals. They would, however, eventually lose to a gritty NU Bulldogs, which won their first title in 60 years.   4) FEU eliminates Ateneo with Mac Belo’s follow up buzzer beater in Season 78 In Season 78, the FEU Tamaraws would most certainly want another crack at the title, after losing to NU the previous year. And they were really scorching hot in the eliminations, ending up tied with the UST Growling Tigers at the top of the heap, but dropped to second place due to a lower quotient. In the Final Four, they would face the third placers Ateneo Blue Eagles with a twice-to-beat advantage. On November 21, 2015, the FEU and Ateneo were stuck in a really close game with Roger Pogoy waxing hot for the Tams, and Kiefer Ravena leading all departments for the Eagles. With ten seconds to go, Adrian Wong of Ateneo streaked for a layup after a Richard Escoto miss. Wong’s daredevil shot was deflected and the ball ended up in the hands of Mike Tolomia, who rushed back to the FEU side of the court for the final shot. He would make a gallant incursion with a near acrobatic layup with one second to go. And as the ball rimmed out, a well-positioned Mac Belo was below the basket for the quick, buzzer beating putback that once more sent the Tamaraws to the Finals. FEU would then claim their 20th title overall over the UST Growling Tigers in the Finals.   5) FEU's Miko Roldan hits game-winner against Ateneo in Season 63  Mac Belo breaking the hearts of Ateneans with that buzzer beater in Season 78 was like history repeating itself. Fifteen years earlier, the Tamaraws, led by Celino Cruz and Edwin Bacani, also engaged the Blue Eagles to a Final Four battle, with Ateneo having that twice-to-beat privilege.  Led by Rich Alvarez, LA Tenorio and Larry Fonacier, the Blue Eagles were really soaring to get that elusive title it last won in 1988. And in the first game in the Final Four, people were expecting the Blue Eagles to cruise past FEU, having beaten them twice in the elims.  But the Tamaraws really gave them a hell of a match. As Andrew Cruz flubbed two charities in the dying seconds that should have given the Blue Eagles a comfortable three-point lead, FEU gunner Miko Roldan sank a semi-hook shot at the buzzer in the ensuing play to break the hearts of Ateneans everywhere and extend the series, 61-60. In the decider, Cruz and Bacani would conspire for 39 points to complete a monster upset, 75-67, and reach the Finals. The defending champions DLSU Green Archers, led by the legendary Renren Ritualo, was just too much for the Tams in the Finals and copped their three-peat.   6) Fight-marred Ateneo-La Salle Final Four series in Season 66 Joseph Yeo was all over the court in a scoring binge while Rookie-of-the-Year JVee Casio showed a glimpse of being a clutch player as the DLSU Green Archers, the fourth seed, took their storied rivalry with defending champions Ateneo Blue Eagles, the top seed, to a tenacious, heated Final Four war. Heightened emotions were at play since Ateneo’s colossal Finals victory the previous season, and the animosity between the two ballclubs was at its fiercest and most intense. In Game 1, after La Salle’s Jerwin Gaco’s putback sent the game into overtime, the extended play’s physicality went to overdrive. With 1:31 left in overtime, Gaco bumped LA Tenorio in the battle for the loose ball. Tenorio would then sneak a punch at Gaco, who then nudged the Ateneo guard. This led to a bench-clearing brawl, as players punched, kicked and shoved each other while the coaches tried to break up the fight even as referees whistled repeatedly.  La Salle’s Ryan Arana kicked Ateneo’s Wesley Gonzales from behind and the league meted the Archer with a one-game suspension. Also suspended were Tenorio and fellow Blue Eagle Christian "Badjie" del Rosario. The Archers would prevail after the five-minute extension, 76-72. The decider was also as heated with on-court and off-court flare-ups and violent confrontations between players and supporters. Ateneo’s steady offense, however, prevailed in the final minute, as the Blue Eagles hung on to 74-68 victory, entering the Finals for the second straight year. FEU, however, would deny Ateneo a back-to-back run, winning the championship in two games.   7) UST trounces NU twice to become first fourth placer to eliminate the top-seed in a Final Four series in Season 76 The NU Bulldogs were on a roll, and 2013 seemed to be their year, with Bobby Ray Parks returning after back-to-back MVP seasons and leading them to reach the top of the standings at the end of eliminations. But they have their Achilles heel—the dribblers of Espana—who have exerted their mastery of the Bulldogs, winning twice in the elims. And bad news for the Bulldogs, they would meet the UST Growling Tigers, which ended at fourth place, in the Final Four.  In Game 1, a red-hot Kevin Ferrer would lead UST to its biggest margin of 18 within the match, but they needed to fend off NU’s late charge, 71-62, to force a rubber match. And in the winner-take-all, UST completed its mastery of top-ranked Bulldogs, again with a game-long dominance to end at 76-69, marking the first time a fourth seed would snatch a Finals berth from a first-placer in the league.   8) NU’s Alfred Aroga’s monster block on Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena in Season 77 After a frustrating loss to UST in the Season 76 Final Four, NU would get another crack at gaining that elusive Finals appearance. But in the next chapter of the semifinals, NU will hope for a Cinderella finish to gain that berth, trying to beat the top placers Ateneo Blue Eagles, just like what UST did to them in the previous year when they were the top-seed. Jay-Jay Alejandrino and Troy Rosario led NU’s surge in the fourth quarter of the first game to spoil Ateneo’s twice to beat to force a deciding game. In the rubber match, no clear advantage was evident in the majority of the game. But after NU’s Gelo Alolino broke a 63-all tie with two charities off a foul from Ateneo’s Nico Elorde, 65-63, Kiefer Ravena would try to send the game to overtime with a drive against several NU defenders with three seconds left.  He failed however after NU’s Alfred Aroga swatted his attempt as time expired—a monster block that brought NU to its first finals appearance in 44 years. The Bulldogs would then wallop the FEU Tamaraws in the Finals, 2-1, to clinch their first title in 60 years. 9) Coming out party of UE’s Paul Lee in Season 72 The UE Red Warriors had come off from a heartbreaking Finals loss to the DLSU Green Archers in Season 70 after sweeping the eliminations, and another hurtful exit the succeeding year with a Final Four defeat at the hands of the Ateneo Blue Eagles. The Red Warriors would then make another trip to the Final Four in Season 72, which was the coming out party of prolific scorer Paul Lee, as the league’s third best after the eliminations. UE would battle second placers FEU for the chance to enter the Finals once more after the Season 70 debacle. They extended the series after Lee led a late game spurt with three consecutive three-pointers in a devastating 18-5 run, he would end up with a game-high 26 points. In the rubber match, with UE trailing FEU in the first half, the Red Warriors would make an explosive comeback in the second half and would again rely on the dependable Lee and Pari Llagas for their late-game heroics. Llagas would lift UE up for good with two straight field goals, 72-70, while Lee showed nerves of steel as he sank four consecutive free throws at the end of the game, 78-72, to give UE their Finals ticket. UE, however, would bow to powerhouse Ateneo Blue Eagles in the Finals in three games.   10) UST’s Jojo Duncil completes winning three-point play that frustrated UE in Season 69 By this time, the UE Red Warriors were in their fifth straight Final Four appearance. And in Season 69, UE would land at second place after the eliminations behind Ateneo, relishing its twice-to-beat advantage.  In the Final Four, UE would face a determined UST Growling Tigers, who were seeking redemption after last winning the championship in 1996, the last year of their 90s four-peat dynasty. UST would eke out a hard-earned Game 1 victory, 79-75 victory over UE that led to a deciding Game 2. In this clincher, both UST and UE kept the match close.  And in the final quarter, with the score tied at 79-all in the dying seconds, Growling Tiger Jojo Duncil converted on a tip-in, and-1, after a previous miss and teammate Jervy Cruz’s failed putback. Duncil would then complete the three-point play to give the UST an 82-79 edge, a few seconds left. UE’s Marcy Arellano would drive unmolested for an easy two to cut the lead to a solitary point, 82-81, nearing the end of the game. After UST committed a turnover, the Red Warriors had the chance to drop the game-winner but UE’s Jorel Cañizares missed a medium-range jump shot and a follow-up. Teammate Robert Labagala would then grab the rebound, but time ran out on the Recto dribblers. UST entered the Finals and annexed its first UAAP title in 10 years over the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Will there be another unforgettable Final Four moment in this current Season 82? Catch the start of the stepladder Final Four hostilities with the do-or-die match between the UST Growling Tigers and the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday, November 6, for the right to meet the twice-to-beat second placers UP Fighting Maroons on Sunday, November 10......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 4th, 2019

UAAP 82 By the Numbers: Playoff mode activate

Everyone knew the playoff race for UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball was going to get crazy. While that was indeed the case, it’s pretty incredible that the Final Four somehow got decided with a game day to spare. It’s pretty straightforward even and all the uber-complicated scenarios that were possible just last week have been rendered useless. It’s almost go time for the UAAP playoffs but again, before we proceed, a By the Numbers look for everyone here.   7 Straight years that the FEU Tamaraws are in the Final Four, the longest active streak in the UAAP. The Tamaraws clinched their spot by charging past UE and FEU will be this year’s no. 3 seed, up from 4th last season.   4th The final seed for the UST Growling Tigers in this year’s playoffs. UST is making its first postseason appearance since its Finals run in Season 78. At 8-6, the Tigers also got their first winning record in four years.   2nd Final seed for the UP Fighting Maroons for this year’s playoffs. While the 9 wins UP needed to clinch the no. 2 seed is the lowest ever in the Final Four spot, that probably won’t matter for the Fighting Maroons. This is the first time UP will be armed with a playoff bonus for the first time in the UAAP Final Four era.   2 Straight years that the De La Salle Green Archers have missed the Final Four. The Green Archers have missed back-to-back playoffs for only the first time since 1994.   23 Straight wins for the champion Blue Eagles, dating back to last season. Ateneo is 13-0 this year and only needs one more win to make another UAAP Finals. Depending on the timing of that win, we’ll either have a traditional Final Four or a step-ladder semis. UP will have a say on Wednesday on just what kind of playoffs we’re going to have in Season 82.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 28th, 2019

UAAP 82: Paras happy to help UP make history, still focused on Ateneo

ANTIPOLO - Kobe Paras' dunk inside the last minute was the punctuation mark in the pivotal push that sent the University of the Philippines to the second-seed of the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament. Paras' thunderous throwdown off of a Jun Manzo assist proved to be the backbreaker for De La Salle University and the bookend to a historic win for the Fighting Maroons. Behind that pivotal push, State U clinched the two-seed as well as the twice-to-beat advantage it entails. Of course, Paras was nothing but happy to have helped the Diliman-based squad make history. "It means a lot just because UP hasn't been in this situation before so I'm just really grateful na we did our best today," he said of their 9-4 record in the elimination round - already their best in the Final Four era. They already have a playoff incentive for the first time; however, the first-year forward said they know full well they have no time to waste as still up next for them is a Round 2 meeting opposite the Blue Eagles. "La Salle put up a great fight. I just can't wait to go back to practice tomorrow and get ready for Wednesday," he said. The good news is that heading into that much-anticipated matchup, UP has all the confidence in the world with all of Paras, Bright Akhuetie, Jun Manzo, and Ricci Rivero playing their best basketball thus far. "I'm just happy that a lot of players stepped up today. Hopefully, that continues," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 27th, 2019

UAAP 82: Melecio tells La Salle to cherish yet another heartbreaking season

ANTIPOLO - For the first time since 1994, De La Salle University will be out of the semifinals for the second straight season. This is some sort of history as ever since the Final Four had been instituted, the Green Archers have never missed it in back-to-back years. Despite the heartbreak, though, the Taft-based team will only actually have more fuel to their already burning fire because of this. "Masakit na 'di makaabot sa Final Four. Masakit," Aljun Melecio told reporters. "Pero sabi nga sa akin ni Coach Aldin [Ayo] na kung may masamang nangyari sayo, i-cherish mo lang yun tapos dun ka kumuha ng lakas ng loob. Yung mga struggles mo, magiging inspirasyon yun sayo." In his first two years in La Salle, both of which were under the guidance of coach Aldin, Melecio experienced a championship and then a runner-up finish. Since then, however, he and the Green Archers have found themselves just outside of the playoff picture. Until the very last moments of their decisive game this season, they still had a fighting chance. Down by two in the last 40 seconds, the green and white forced a defensive stop and had the ball in the hands of its veteran guard in Melecio. Only, he stumbled as he started running over to their side of the court. "'Di mo rin masasabi na mag-iiba kasi nandun naman si Kobe at si Ricci so alam naman nating grabe sila mag-block ng fastbreak," the fourth-year guard said. "Ni-try ko naman talaga na hindi madapa, pero nadapa talaga e." Encho Serrano recovered the fumble, but he also rushed his shot that was contested by Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero and botched a fastbreak finish. Final score, 71-68 in favor of UP. With that, La Salle will have to wait to try and barge back into the semifinals. "Next season, every game counts talaga. As we saw this season, kahit isang game lang, malaking bagay e so yun yung naging lesson namin," Melecio said. --- Folow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 27th, 2019

La Salle survives Abando’s late flurry to stay in the hunt in UAAP 82

Jamie Malonzo put on a show in the middle of the Araneta Coliseum, Wednesday, but De La Salle University put in the work as they powered through Rhenz Abando and University of Sto. Tomas’ late rally for a well-earned 80-79 win. The win was a big one for the Green Archers as not only did they rise to 6-6 and just behind fourth-running Far Eastern University in the UAAP 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament, they also repulsed the Growling Tigers from clinching a playoff berth. Malonzo was at the center of all that, going for 23 points with a whole lot of highlights sprinkled in between them. Alongside him, Aljun Melecio shone bright while Justine Baltazar and Brandon Bates did the heavy lifting down low. Still, the game was far from over even in the dying moments as, behind Rhenz Abando, UST had a shot to tie the tally. Abando’s right big toe was just stepping on the line, though, in the dying seconds, giving La Salle the slim margin of victory......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2019

The NBA’s West race should be incredibly good this season

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Stephen Curry knew roster change was inevitable. That being said, Curry and the Golden State Warriors aren’t changing their expectations. The five-time defending Western Conference champions aren’t the popular pick to represent their side of the league in this season’s NBA Finals, understandable after losing the likes of Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala. But Curry said the Warriors will strive to remain what they’ve been over the last half-decade — “a team that’s feared across the league.” “Look at every era of basketball,” Curry said. “For a team to sustain this type of level of play and this greatness, it doesn’t happen that often. And when you need to retool, it may look different, but the great teams, great players figure it out as they go.” Thing is, there are so many great players — and potentially great teams — in the West this season. The Los Angeles Clippers are the prohibitive favorite to win the NBA title, at least according to oddsmakers in Las Vegas, after landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Los Angeles Lakers still have LeBron James, and added Anthony Davis. Houston reunited James Harden with Russell Westbrook. Denver and Utah bring back strong cores. Portland might have the league’s best backcourt. “You just can’t take it for granted,” Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti said. “It’s really, really hard to win games in the NBA, especially the Western Conference, the way it is now.” Maybe harder than ever. “We want to maintain the culture that we’ve built, but we want to make sure our players are put in the best position to succeed, and the last four years we pretty much knew exactly what that meant,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We don’t really know what it means this year. That’s why we have a lot of work ahead, but it’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it.” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said the West will be great for fans and the league — not so much for coaches, players and owners. “Somebody is probably going to come in ninth and get fired when they shouldn’t because they did a great job,” D’Antoni said. “But that’s the way it is.” A look at the West, in predicted order of regular-season finish: PLAYOFF BOUND 1. Denver — The team that few are talking about, for puzzling reasons. They’re young, they already know how to win and the Nuggets’ win total has risen in each of coach Michael Malone’s first four seasons there. No reason to think that won’t continue. 2. Houston — James Harden is entering his 11th season. Russell Westbrook is entering his 12th. Mike D’Antoni is entering the last year of his contract. It sure seems like title-or-bust time in Houston, and the wide-open West could be for their taking. 3. L.A. Clippers — When Paul George gets back from his recovery from shoulder surgeries to join Kawhi Leonard on the new-look Clippers, this is going to be a team with frightening potential on defense. They’ll peak toward the end, and could win it all. 4. L.A. Lakers — This is absolutely not to say they’re the fourth-best team in the West. LeBron James knows it’s all about April, May and June, and he certainly isn’t going to care where the Lakers are seeded as long as they’re in the playoffs. 5. Utah — Donovan Mitchell is just starting to come into his own, Rudy Gobert is still the defensive player of the year and Joe Ingles is better than people realize. The addition of Bojan Bogdanovic was big, as was adding Mike Conley — if healthy. 6. Golden State — The five-time defending West champs lost Durant, Iguodala and Shaun Livingston — plus won’t have Klay Thompson for most of the season. But the Warriors still have Curry. Relax. They’ll be fine. 7. Portland — This is way too low, but that’s life in the West right now. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are elite, Terry Stotts is underrated and don’t be surprised if the Blazers tweak the roster after Jusuf Nurkic returns to take a title shot. 8. San Antonio — LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan lead a team that features a young core of Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. Oh, and Gregg Popovich is still there. Count the Spurs out at your own risk. IN THE MIX 9. Dallas — Dirk Nowitzki is gone, but the new star-duo pairing of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis has enormous potential. The Mavs haven’t won a playoff series since the 2011 NBA Finals, but this season will see them get closer. 10. Minnesota — Ryan Saunders’ first full season will lead to improvement, but even a five-game leap to .500 won’t get it done as far as a West playoff berth this season. But if Karl-Anthony Towns plays 82 games at his potential, who knows? 11. Sacramento — Rick Adelman took the Kings to their last playoff appearance in 2006. Luke Walton is the team’s 10th different coach since; he has Harrison Barnes, De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield, yet still faces a tall task. 12. New Orleans — Zion Williamson’s knee is already a concern, not a good sign for the No. 1 overall pick. Lonzo Ball’s shot is better and J.J. Redick has never missed a postseason. But if Williamson isn’t full-go, it may be tough sledding for New Orleans. FACING LONG ODDS 13. Oklahoma City — There is a lot of talent on this team: Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams. If all goes right, the Thunder will contend for a spot. Or will they make more trades and collect more picks? 14. Phoenix — Devin Booker is entering his prime. But the Suns have averaged 22 wins over the last four seasons, are on their fourth coach — Monty Williams — in a span of 24 months and still seem overmatched in the loaded West. 15. Memphis — The Grizzlies’ first-round pick in 2020 is top-six protected or else it conveys to Boston. The Celtics might not want to plan on getting this one. This year’s goal for the Grizzlies? Simple: Get Ja Morant settled into his new job. WHAT TO KNOW Three-Team Ring Circus Kawhi Leonard has a chance to win a ring with a third different team if the Clippers win the title. LeBron James and Danny Green would do the same if the Lakers win it all. The only players to win a championship with three different franchises: John Salley and Robert Horry. Spurs Streak San Antonio is bidding for a 23rd consecutive playoff appearance, which would give the Spurs outright possession of the NBA record. They’re currently tied with Philadelphia with 22 straight playoff trips (the 76ers’ franchise did it from 1950 through 1971, that span starting when they were the Syracuse Nationals). Wide Open The league’s general managers have wildly different views on which team will win the West. In NBA.com’s annual preseason polling of GMs, six different West teams — the Clippers, the Lakers, Golden State, Houston, Denver and Portland — got at least one vote as the conference’s best. LeBron Milestone LeBron James has 993 games of 20 or more points, third-most in NBA history. When he gets to 1,000 of those, he’ll be the last to hit that milestone for many years. Kevin Durant may be the next; he’s got 720. Good Sign With James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Houston becomes the sixth team to have two players who each won an MVP in the last three seasons. Of the other five, four — the 1959 and 1960 Boston Celtics, the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers and the 2017 Golden State Warriors — won an NBA title. The other was the 1984 76ers......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2019

UAAP 82: UST goes for solo third at expense of FEU

Games on Sunday at MOA Arena 12:00 p.m. - La Salle vs Ateneo 4:00 p.m. - UST vs FEU University of Sto. Tomas has a golden opportunity to ring off back-to-back wins and rise to solo third in the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament. To do so, though, the Growling Tigers will have to take care of business against a Far Eastern University side nothing but determined to get a mighty rebound, Sunday at MOA Arena. UST (5-4) is out to keep ahold of the third spot even as FEU (4-5) is out to re-ignite the flames of its playoff hopes starting at 4:00 p.m. As always, all of the action will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, iWant and livestream. In the day's other game at 12:00 p.m., the league serves up an Ateneo de Manila University-De La Salle University noontime showdown......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 13th, 2019

Ben Simmons fell in love with basketball again

By Rob Maaddi, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Videos of Ben Simmons making jumpers flooded social media over the summer and the All-Star point guard is ready to take his game to another level when the Philadelphia 76ers open camp next week. “I feel like this summer I fell in love with the game again,” Simmons told The Associated Press on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). “I kind of got back to who I was and having fun with the game. I felt like the past season I lost that enjoyment side of it but I feel like this summer has been huge for me. Just the work I’ve been putting in, I kinda fell in love with putting that work in again and I’ve been in the gym every day working and the results have been paying off so I’m excited for the season to start. Simmons, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016, has helped lead the Sixers to the second round of the NBA playoffs two straight seasons after making his debut in 2017. He was the Rookie of the Year that season and an All-Star for the first time last season. Simmons has averaged 16.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists and signed a $170 million, five-year contract extension in July. Philadelphia is 101-58 in regular-season games when Simmons plays. He has had 22 triple-doubles in the past two seasons, tied for third most in the league with Denver’s Nikola Jokic and trailing Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (59) and the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (26). Simmons also has had 80 double-doubles over the past two seasons. But the one knock against Simmons has been his reluctance to shoot long jumpers and three-pointers. He’s 0-for-18 from beyond the arc, so defenses often focus on taking away his ability to drive to the basket and dare him to shoot. He’s up for the challenge. “I’m ready to be who I am as a player, continue to develop, keep working,” Simmons said. “It’s a process. It takes time. Obviously, people always want to see results straightaway but that’s not how things work.” Simmons decided to focus on improving his game instead of playing for the Australian team at the FIBA World Cup earlier this month in China. He rediscovered his love for basketball during those long hours in the gym and admitted the criticism weighed on him at times. “I think sometimes you kind of get too deep into it where you listen to other people which should never be the thing you do unless they’re giving you positive feedback or trying to help you get better because there’s a lot of negativity out there,” Simmons said, pointing to various social media platforms. “It’s huge once you kind of block that out, you don’t really care, you kinda go out there feeling free. You don’t care if you miss a shot because everyone misses a shot so that’s one of the things that I think this summer I got back to how I was as a player just playing and doing what I love at a high level.” Despite being a lightning rod for criticism in Philadelphia, Simmons says he enjoys playing in front of a passionate fan base. “I love being in Philadelphia. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” he said. “I think this is the perfect place for me. I just handle (criticism) how it comes.” Simmons heard plenty of boos after a poor performance in Philadelphia’s first-round series opener against Brooklyn in April. He had nine points, seven rebounds, and three assists and shot 1-for-5 from the free throw line in a loss. Afterward, Simmons said: “If you’re gonna boo, then stay on that side.” Simmons answered with his second career playoff triple-double in Game 2, finishing with 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds as Philadelphia reeled off four straight wins. He looks back at it as a learning experience. “I had a terrible first game and I loved it when people are tweeting me saying all these negative things because the next game I came out (and played better),” Simmons said. “It kinda fires me up a little.” Why does he even pay attention to the critics flexing their keyboard muscles? “It’s hard to avoid. It’s hard to not see,” Simmons said. “I’ve done a better job of not watching certain things in terms of what people are saying but that was a good example of people not giving me positive feedback and I had to respond.” The Sixers revamped their roster in the offseason, losing Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick and adding Al Horford and Josh Richardson and retaining Tobias Harris to play with Simmons and fellow All-Star Joel Embiid. “We’re locked in. We’re ready to play,” Simmons said. “We’ve been in the gym. We’ve been there early. We’re competing trying to get each other better from the rooks to the guys who are vets. I think it’s going to be an exciting year for the 76ers.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 26th, 2019

Yankees beat Angels 9-1, claim 1st AL East title since 2012

By The Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — The resilient New York Yankees powered their way to the club's first AL East title since 2012, routing the Los Angeles Angels 9-1 Thursday night behind three RBIs each from old mainstay Brett Gardner and newcomer DJ LeMahieu. A day after wasting a chance to clinch first place, the homer-happy Yankees went ahead when LeMahieu hit a three-run drive in the second inning and breezed to their 100th win. Gardner added a solo shot in the fourth and then hit a two-run double in the sixth. Cameron Maybin and Clint Frazier homered for good measure in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman struck out Albert Pujols to end it. Despite putting 30 players on the injured list this season, New York (100-54) wrapped up first place with eight games to spare and made Aaron Boone the first manager to win 100 games in each of his first two major league seasons. The Yankees open the playoffs on Oct. 4, likely against Minnesota, which leads the AL Central, or the wild-card winner. Masahiro Tanaka (11-8) allowed Kole Calhoun's homer leading off the fourth. The Angels had just four hits in seven innings off Tanaka, who struck out six and walked one. But the Yankees may go to the postseason without their winningest pitcher, Domingo Germán. The 27-year-old right-hander, who is 18-4, was placed on administrative leave under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy earlier in the day. New York's 19th AL East title was its first following a run of 13 in 17 years that started in Derek Jeter's rookie season. Andrew Heaney (4-6) gave up six runs and five hits in five-plus innings. BRAVES 5, PHILLIES 4 ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuña Jr. became the second-youngest player in baseball history to hit 40 homers in a season, Freddie Freeman also drove in two runs and Atlanta clinched at least a tie for first place in the NL East with a win over Philadelphia. The Braves hold a 9 1/2-game lead over the Washington Nationals, who have played three fewer games and were off Thursday. Atlanta can officially celebrate as soon as Friday with either a victory over the San Francisco Giants or if Washington loses at Miami. The Phillies trail Milwaukee by four games in the race for the NL's second wild-card spot. Mel Ott, who was 20 when he hit 42 homers for the New York Giants in 1940, is the only player younger than Acuña to post a 40-homer season. Aaron Nola (12-6) worked five-plus innings, giving up nine hits, two hits and all five Atlanta runs. Mark Melancon worked perfect ninth for his 11th save with Atlanta and 12th overall this season. CARDINALS 5, CUBS 4, 10 INNINGS CHICAGO (AP) — Matt Carpenter homered in the 10th inning against Craig Kimbrel in the All-Star closer's return, and St. Louis regrouped after blowing a late lead to beat Chicago. Emerging ace Jack Flaherty shut down Chicago over eight innings, and despite a tying three-run rally in the ninth, the Cubs dropped a game behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild card and four games behind St. Louis for first place in the NL Central. Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo provided a jolt in his unexpected return from a sprained right ankle, homering in the third inning to tie the game at 1. But Flaherty was spectacular otherwise, pitching three-hit ball while allowing just the one run and striking out eight. Carpenter homered to deep center field off Kimbrel (0-3), who was activated from the injured list prior to the game after dealing with right elbow inflammation. Giovanny Gallegos pitched a perfect 10th for his first save in two chances. Andrew Miller (5-5) recorded the final two outs in the ninth for the victory. BREWERS 5, PADRES 1 MILWAUKEE (AP) — Lorenzo Cain homered before exiting with a sore ankle, Milwaukee pitchers combined to strike out 16 and the Brewers improved their playoff position by beating San Diego. Milwaukee moved within one game of Washington for the top NL wild-card spot. The Brewers are in the second wild-card slot and three games behind Central-leading St. Louis. Ryan Braun put Milwaukee ahead with an RBI double in the first inning off Joey Lucchesi (10-9). The Brewers added a run in the third when Keston Huira doubled and later scored on Lucchesi's wild pitch. Eric Hosmer' homered for San Diego. Freddy Peralta (7-3) struck out three of the four batters he faced for the win. Josh Hader picked up his 34th save in 40 tries, breaking a franchise record for left-handers previously held by Dan Plesac. TWINS 8, ROYALS 5 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nelson Cruz hit two of Minnesota's four home runs and matched his season high with five RBIs, igniting another impressive power display by the first-place Twins. The win over Kansas City kept the Twins' American League Central lead at four games — with nine games to go. Miguel Sanó homered and hit the tiebreaking RBI double in the fifth following the ejection of Royals starter Mike Montgomery, who started that inning by giving up a home run to Mitch Garver. The Twins trimmed their magic number for clinching the division to six. Lewis Thorpe (4-2) worked four innings for the win. Taylor Rogers recorded his 28th save. INDIANS 7, TIGERS 0 CLEVELAND (AP) — Mike Clevinger pitched six shutdown innings, Franmil Reyes homered in his return to the lineup and Cleveland moved into a tie for the second AL wild card with a win over Detroit. Francisco Lindor added three hits, and Cleveland matched idle Tampa Bay at 90-63. Both teams trail Oakland by two games for the top spot. The Indians trail Minnesota by four games in the AL Central. The Indians defeated the Tigers for the 17th straight time this season to match a franchise record set against Baltimore in 1954. Cleveland won 18 of 19 in the season series and outscored Detroit 116-38 Clevinger (12-3) allowed seven hits and struck out six. Starter Daniel Norris (3-13) allowed one run in three innings for the Tigers, who have the worst record in baseball at 45-107. The shutout was the 15th by Cleveland this season, and Detroit was blanked for the 14th time. RED SOX 5, GIANTS 4 BOSTON (AP) — Eduardo Rodriguez struck out 10 over six innings of two-hit ball, and Xander Bogaerts had a pair of RBI singles to lead Boston over San Francisco. Brandon Workman picked up his 15th save. Rodriguez (18-6) walked two and allowed one unearned run. Madison Bumgarner (9-9) lost in his first career start at Fenway Park, giving up five runs on nine hits and two walks in five innings while striking out seven. He allowed the first four Boston batters to reach safely and fell behind 2-1 after one inning. MARINERS 6, PIRATES 5, 11 INNINGS PITTSBURGH (AP) — Shed Long had three hits, two RBIs and scored the go-ahead run in the 11th on an unusual inning-ending double play as Seattle beat Pittsburgh. The Mariners swept the three-game series between last-place teams and sent the Pirates to their sixth straight loss. Long reached base on first baseman Jose Osuna's error to start the 11th and Omar Narvaez singled with one out to put runners on the corners. Austin Nola then hit a chopper to second baseman Kevin Kramer — rather than flip the ball to second, he ran at Narvaez, who alertly stopped and began to retreat. Kramer then threw to first, and Narvaez was eventually tagged in a 4-3-6-2 rundown as Long scored. Kramer likely would've had no chance to throw home at the start to get Long. Pittsburgh's Jake Elmore had three hits and two RBIs. Brandon Brennan (3-6) pitched one scoreless inning and rookie Erik Swanson worked around a walk in the 11th for his first career save. Clay Holmes (1-2) took the loss. BLUE JAYS 8, ORIOLES 4 BALTIMORE (AP) — Cavan Biggio homered and had three RBIs to offset a spectacular, homer-robbing catch by Austin Hays, and Toronto used a six-run seventh inning to beat Baltimore for a three-game sweep. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. also went deep for the Blue Jays, who earned their first sweep at Camden Yards since July 2010. After Biggio and Gurriel homered off Gabriel Ynoa (1-9) within a span of three pitches in the fourth inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sent a drive to center. Hays ran to the warning track, leaped to reach over the 7-foot wall and snagged the ball in the middle of his glove. Upon returning to the ground, Hays pounded his chest three times in succession and yelled with delight. Anthony Kay (1-0) earned his first major league victory. Trey Mancini had four hits for the Orioles, who have lost four straight and 15 of 19......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 20th, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Days: Solid finish, playoff push prompts Magic to run it back

Like most summers in the NBA, the 2019 edition was chock full of trades, free agent news and player movement. From the defending-champion Toronto Raptors to just about every other team in the league, change was the most applicable word when it came to describing team rosters for the 2019-20 season. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- in order of regular-season finish from 2018-19 -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's team: Orlando Magic 2018-19 Record: 42-40, lost to Raptors in first round of playoffs Key additions: Al-Farouq Aminu (free agency), Chuma Okeke (Draft) Key departures: Timofey Mozgov The lowdown: It perhaps escaped your notice, but the Magic actually raised a banner in 2018-19. They won the admittedly-weakened Southeast Division, and while that might make folks snicker, any progress is good progress for a franchise still looking to gain traction in this, the unfulfilled post-Dwight Howard era. They were beastly down the stretch, going 11-2 to fight their way out of a midseason slump to reach the playoffs. Plus, they took a game from the eventual-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round. It helps to be in the Eastern Conference, but let’s not water-down what the Magic did too much. They received solid seasons from Aaron Gordon and Evan Fornier, a career season from Terrence Ross and an All-Star season from Nikola Vucevic. (It didn’t hurt that Vucevic and Ross were pending free agents playing for money.) The club also responded well to new coach Steve Clifford. However, there were mild disappointments -- mainly from the last two first-round picks. Jonathan Isaac didn’t take a leap in his second season and seemed unsure whether to be a stretch-four or use his size advantage in the paint. He wound up being just OK at both (9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds per game). Rookie Mo Bamba looked like a project throughout the season as injuries limited him to just 47 games. All told, the Magic made the playoffs for the first time in seven years and won more games in any strike-shortened season since 2010-11. That was enough to pacify the home crowd and finally show up on NBA radar, however faint. Summer summary: For the second time this decade, the Magic arrived at a crossroads regarding their All-Star center and had to make a decision with fairly large future ramifications. Last time, it was Howard. This time, it was the guy who replaced Howard. The decision now, as then: Should they re-sign the big man? Actually, it was a dual decision. Orlando had to want "Vooch" and vice-versa, considering he was an unrestricted free agent, and it wasn’t an automatic call in either case. Vucevic and his family enjoyed Orlando, yet the franchise, despite finally posting a winning season, was hardly in contender condition. He had options as a number of teams -- the LA Clippers among them -- expressed interest in the center with a soft touch and sound footwork. As for the Magic, they’d just drafted Bamba in 2018 with the No. 6 overall pick. The idea, at least you’d think, was having Bamba replace Vucevic at some point. By keeping Vucevic, what signal were they sending to Bamba? Why would they stifle the growth of a player whom they took over Wendell Carter Jr. and Collin Sexton? In the end, both the Magic and Vucevic agreed and Orlando delivered a four-year, $100 million deal. The team's thinking? Vucevic is an asset and so it’s better to keep him, even at a high price, rather than let him walk and get nothing back. Bamba must wait his turn, and he’ll need more time to develop after a raw rookie season. The other investment was in Ross, who spent much of his previous six NBA seasons as an athletic swingman who teased a lot. Last season, he was (for once) a primary option and shot well from deep (38.3 percent), earning himself a four-year, $54 million deal from Orlando. The Magic believe Ross, 27, is tapping into his prime later than usual. Then Orlando added depth at that position with Aminu. He can spread the floor and is decent defensively ... but isn’t a shot creator because of a weak dribble. At three years and $29 million, Aminu was a reasonable buy. In recent years past, Orlando was a fixture at the Draft lottery, and then their fate changed abruptly by making the playoffs. The downside, though, is Orlando had a middle first-round pick, where future superstars don’t normally live. Those picks are where teams take risks, and the Magic did so by selecting Okeke, who missed Auburn’s Final Four appearance after injuring his knee in the Sweet 16. Before the injury, the 6-foot-8 Okeke showed strong instincts around the basket, especially rebounding, while also shooting 3-pointers. Most scouts believe he would’ve been a lottery pick, and perhaps taken in the top-10, if not for the injury. The Magic spent the summer mulling whether to “redshirt” Okeke as they have another young player at his spot in Isaac. Plus, Okeke can heal thoroughly and also get reps in the NBA G League. There's also former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz here, too, whom the Magic added in a deadline-day trade last season with the Philadelphia 76ers. He's still recovering from the thoracic outlet syndrome he was diagnosed with last season and hasn't played a game for the Magic. Still, Orlando believed in him enough to exercise his contract option for 2020-21. If he's ever healthy and shows the talent that made him a star a Washington, Fultz could help Orlando rise up as a real East contender. Other than big-money decisions on Vucevic and Ross, the Magic was content to make only minor changes. They still lack the superstar needed to rise the ranks in the East, yet their core is proven and capable of knocking on playoffs' door for a second straight season. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsSep 18th, 2019

EYES ON YOU, KID: NCAA 95 Jrs. players to watch

The first round of the NCAA 95 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with. And with the second round already underway, we’re getting even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players: MAC GUADANA – Lyceum of the Philippines University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 18.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.1 steals LPU is on the brink of its first playoff appearance in school history – and throughout its quest to do just that, Mac Guadana has been its constant. For a long time, the 6-foot playmaker has stood as the pillar for the Jr. Pirates, but now, he has taken the leap all the way up there as one of the best players in all of high school. The former Batang Gilas guard has been stuffing the stat sheet and is tops in steals, fourth in scoring, and fifth in assists in the league. Without a doubt, he can and he is doing it all in his fifth and final year in maroon and grey. Most importantly, LPU has only followed his lead all the way to a place well inside the playoff picture. Of course, it remains to be seen if the Jr. Pirates can continue their sail to treasure island. What’s certain, though, is that their 18-year-old homegrown star will keep giving his all for them. RHAYYAN AMSALI – San Beda High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.7 steals For four years running now, Rhayyan Amsali has been one of the most promising prospects in the Jrs. Now in his last year in high school, he has only brought over all the confidence and capabilities he had honed in National U all the way to San Beda. Now donning red and white, the 6-foot-3 forward has unleashed a more well-rounded game as he is actually the league’s best playmaker while at the same time, its third-best pilferer and fifth-best scorer. And if not for a controversial suspension, he would have also been the frontrunner for MVP as he has been a key cog for the league-leading Red Cubs. Still, what matters most for the now 18-year-old is another championship – and at the end of it all, he may very well be in select company of players who have won two titles in two different high schools in two different leagues. JONNEL POLICARPIO – Mapua High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.1 points, 10.6 rebound, 2.6 assists, 1.3 blocks The biggest reason Mapua has found itself in the bottom third of the standings is the inconsistency of main man Jonnel Policarpio. From missing the first three games due to personal problems to getting irregular playing time due to mental lapses, the 6-foot-4 energizer has only proven he has got much room for improvement when it comes to intangibles. Still, whenever he’s on the floor, Policarpio has always made his presence felt and that is very much evident with him being the MVP leader even after only playing seven games. However, the league’s top rebounder needs to prove he can stay on the court and lead his team to victory if he wants to have a hold of that top individual trophy and, more importantly, extend his team’s title reign. JUSTINE SANCHEZ – San Beda High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.5 points, 62.8 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds Justine Sanchez is turning in a career year in his last year for San Beda. From coming off the bench a year ago to claiming a starting spot for himself, the long-limbed forward is on pace to be hailed as the league’s Most Improved Player. All the proof he needs for that is already there as he is an automatic finisher of set-ups by his teammates, with an astounding 62.8 shooting clip from the field. At the same time, though, he has also shown flashes of shooting and playmaking – showing that even the favorite for Most Improved Player looks like he can still keep growing. JOHN BARBA – Lyceum of the Philippines University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 20.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists Mac Guadana does it all, but if and when LPU needs a basket badly, it turns to John Barba. A fearless slasher that boasts of one of the best – if not the best – upper body strengths, the 6-foot-2 swingman can score however he wants once he gets to the paint. That is exactly why he is the league’s second-best scorer. Of course, Barba has to work on his shooting, but as of right now, that hole in his game is only offset by his energy and activity that allow him to haul in offensive rebounds and make good on second chance points. TONY YNOT – San Beda High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 10.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals Tony Ynot missed San Beda’s first five games due to a knee injury, but once he was good to go, he did nothing but make an immediate impact. A defensive specialist who made noise in the preseason with a poster block on Jalen Green, the Filipino-American blue-chip recruit in the US NCAA, he is only proving to be more of a two-way force now in his second season in red and white. The 5-foot-11 wing now has the confidence to let it fly from deep or venture inside the paint for a closer look, but when it all boils down to it, defense is and will always be his calling card. RC CALIMAG – College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 20.7 points, 23-of-60 from three, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals RC Calimag has always been in love with the midrange shot in his time in DLSZ and now in his second season in LSGH. The 6-foot-2 forward knocks those down at a respectable rate, but his transition into taking more threes this year has unlocked his entire offensive arsenal. Calimag is the league’s top scorer, with a bulk of his output coming from deep where he has hit 23 in total. Without a doubt, he has always been a deadly scorer, but with his outside shot now a legitimate threat, he has become an elite offensive player. JOSHUA RAMIREZ – Colegio de San Juan de Letran ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 15.1 points, 29-of-90 from three, 5.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists Joshua Ramirez’s game will not blow anybody away at all as he is yet to have a skill that will put him above everybody else. What the 6-foot-3 forward is, however, is an all-around player who will do whatever it takes to help out his team – if Letran needs points, he will be there; if Letran needs playmaking, he will be there; if Letran needs defense, he will be there. No doubt about it, he is the quintessential glue guy that any other team will want to have on their side. EMMAN GALMAN – University of Perpetual Help ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 19.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 steals One word perfectly encapsulates Emman Galman – gunner. The 6-foot-2 swingman is a volume shooter who has the greenest of green lights to take shots for Perpetual. That’s not a bad thing at all, though, because he actually makes good on many of those and finds himself as the third-best scorer in all of the league. SHAWN UMALI – Colegio de San Juan de Letran ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 9.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.1 steals What Joshua Ramirez is from the perimeter, Shawn Umali is inside the paint for Letran. The undersized big man will not wow everybody, but his do-it-all game has been the engine that has kept the Squires running for two years now. And don’t let his 6-foot-4 height and wide frame fool you, he actually has great timing and is the league’s fifth-best shot blocker. HONORABLE MENTIONS Yukien Andrada – San Beda High School Gholam Garcia – Jose Rizal University High School CJ Saure – Colegio de San Juan de Letran Ezdel Galoy – University of Perpetual Help --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2019

PVL: Laure sisters reunite as UST eyes third win

Sisters EJ and Eya Laure make their much-awaited reunion for University of Sto. Tomas on Sunday when the Tigresses take on Technological Institute of the Philippines in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Collegiate Conference Group B at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. UAAP Season 81 Rookie of the Year Eya Laure will suit up for the Tigresses for the first time when UST meets the Lady Engineers at 10:00 a.m. The game will air via iWant and livestream. The match will also be the first official game that the sisters will play together since the defunct Shakey’s V-League back in 2016 where the then high school standout Eya suited up as a guest player. UST is undefeated in two games and a win will assure the Espana-based squad, who lost hitter Ysa Jimenez due to an ankle injury before the start of its campaign three weeks ago, at least a playoff for a semifinals spot. The Tigresses are coming off a tough five-set win over College of St. Benilde last week but with the arrival of prolific scorer Eya Laure, UST holds a huge advantage over listless TIP. The Lady Engineers dropped their first two outings and another loss will boot them out of the Final Four race to join also-ran Lyceum of the Philippines University (0-3). Meanwhile, Adamson University seeks to join unbeaten Ateneo de Manila University at the top spot in a showdown with San Sebastian College at 12:00 noon in Group A. The Lady Falcons are at second spot with a 2-0 card behind the Lady Eagles (3-0) while the Lady Stags are on the brink of elimination with a 0-2 mark. In the other Group A pairing, University of Perpetual Help (1-1) squares off with Letran (0-2) in the curtain-raiser at 8:00 a.m.   ---    Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles            .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 31st, 2019

With its arsenal fully loaded, UE s ambush good to go in UAAP 82

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 1-13, eighth YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Chris Conner, Philip Manalang WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: John Apacible, Alex Diakhite, Jed Mendoza, Harvey Pagsanjan, Richie Rodger, Rey Suerte, Neil Tolentino GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Reymark Acuno, Wilson Bartolome, Alvin Pasaol, Jason Varilla WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM UE? UE operated in the shadows in the offseason – begging off the 2019 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament and hiding its true form once it played games. Still, the red and white made the loudest noise in the lead-up to UAAP 82 – so much so that it was named ABS-CBN Sports' co-King of Recruiting for 2019. Indeed, the Red Warriors of this year will look definitely different from last year’s iteration as all of 6-foot-9 Senegalese Alex Diakhite, Hope Christian High School standout Harvey Pagsanjan, three-time champion and two-time MVP in CESAFI Rey Suerte, ex-Jose Rizal University super scorer Jed Mendoza, former Ateneo de Manila University forward John Apacible, defensive stopper Neil Tolentino, and Filipino-Kiwi swingman Ritchie Rodger are now flanking team captain Philip Manalang. Without a doubt, that fully loaded lineup is the best Recto has had in recent history – and it is nothing but ready and raring to take everybody by surprise and take the league by storm. Now, the only question is if its coaching staff has what it takes to make it all work. ????? IGMA KADIMA COMING SOON A team of new beginnings, the Red Warriors hit the hardcourt in 8 days ????? #UAAPSeason82 pic.twitter.com/rERUFKrpC2 — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) August 27, 2019 WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM UE? The early exit of Alvin Pasaol will be a big blow to any team, but UE has full faith it has a ready-made replacement in Suerte. While the 6-foot-3 long-limbed forward does not have the blend of size and speed Pasaol had, he is a scoring machine in his own right and has long terrorized Visayan defenses with his shot-taking and shot-making ability from all over the court. The same can be said for Pagsanjan who has long been college-ready. For now, however, the pride of Hope Christian will only be needed to contribute whatever and whenever he can with the likes of Manalang, Suerte and Jed Mendoza, another one-and-done recruit, carrying the offensive load. Add to that Diakhite, who has all the confidence and the capability to position himself right away alongside Bright Akhuetie and Ange Kouame as one of the best foreign student-athletes, and the Red Warriors are sure to be pushoevers no more. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR UE? The last time UE was in the Final Four and the Finals, Paul Lee was still donning the red and white. It has been a decade since and this fully loaded lineup may very well put an end to that drought – that is if and only if there are no complications when it comes to coaching. Whatever it is, the Red Warriors are overdue for a breakthrough and it will not be farfetched to see our co-King of Recruiting for 2019 coming through. WHERE WOULD UE BE AT THE END OF UAAP SEASON 82? UE will be far, far away from the bottom of the standings it had been languishing in as of late. With Diakhite dominating inside, Suerte and Mendoza scoring in bunches, Pagsanjan doing it all, and Manalang showing the way, the Red Warriors will be battling for a playoff berth. And if they do not get derailed by their own doing, it also will not be a surprise if the red and white will be fighting for the championship itself. WHEN IS UE’S FIRST GAME IN UAAP SEASON 82? UE finally comes out of the shadows in a matchup with fellow upstart UST on September 4 at Araneta Coliseum Check the dates. Set your alarms. Save as wallpaper. This is UE BASKETBALL! ?????#UAAPSeason82 pic.twitter.com/ZEsKG3ZA3Z — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) August 27, 2019 Of course, everybody goes All for More and, as always, all of the action will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2019

KaTropa nail No. 1; Bolts get shot at No. 8

Sizzling TNT KaTropa soared to the No. 1 seeding while Meralco gained a playoff for the eighth and last quarterfinal spot after scoring big victories last night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 17th, 2019

PBA: Terrence Jones new tropa wants to send him back to the NBA

Over the last couple of seasons, the PBA has seen its share of super imports. Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee immediately comes to mind. Meralco’s Allen Durham and Phoenix’s Eugene Phelps fit in that mold too. Alaska’s Mike Harris is in that list as well. The uber-talented Glen Rice Jr. could have made it if he just got it together. But for the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, TNT brought not just any other import. Tired of underperforming for the past few conferences, the KaTropa went ahead and signed former Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones for the mid-season joust. With Jones, TNT went the super — SUPER — import route and it has been worth every penny for the KaTropa, at least so far.   ROCKET MAN Many former NBA players have played in the PBA before, that’s not a new thing. But what makes Jones special is that he’s at his peak of his powers now as he plays his first stint in the PBA. Jones is a former first-round pick and was a legitimate NBA contributor. In his best NBA season, in 2013-2014 for Houston, Jones started 71 games and had career-high numbers of 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. This dude is legit. “Oo iba, iba siya talaga,” guard RR Pogoy said of Jones. (Yes, he’s really different). In just one conference, Pogoy and Jones have clicked as teammates. Terrence has admitted that RR is one of his favorite local targets when he’s trying to spot an open teammate when opposing teams double on him. Pogoy admits that Jones is one of the best, if not the best, import he’s ever played with. “Pwedeng-pwede pa siya talaga sa NBA eh. Iba yung skills niya,” he added. (He could still play in the NBA. His skills are just different).   THE DIFFERENCE TNT has ran pretty much the same system for years. Whether you like this team or now, they know what style they want to play andd they identify players that fit that system well. The KaTropa have dominated the PBA without a traditional big man. Ask other teams, they’ve been blindsided and bamboozled by a TNT offense led by diminutive point guards like Jimmy Alapag and Jayson Castro. However, the KaTropa have hit another rough patch. The team hasn’t made it to the PBA semifinals since 2017. Their 2018 campaign was a lot like the horror 2016 year with the only difference being three seasons ago, they actually made it to the semifinals of the Governors’ Cup as a no. 1 seed. Last year, they won zero playoff games and missed the playoffs altogether once so in essence, 2018 was a worse nightmare for the KaTropa. It didn’t help that in the previous All-Filipino, they were practically a missed 24-second violation away from ending the San Miguel Beer Philippine Cup dynasty. The winning formula no longer works for TNT. Or at the very least, it’s not as effective. Enter Terrence Jones. “Malaking tulong talaga siya sa team namin. Kung ano yung kulang samin, parang fit na fit talaga siya eh. Napa-dali na lang yung mga buhay namin sa basketball,” Pogoy said of Jones. (He’s a big help to our team. What we lack, he fits right in. Our basketball lives are easier with him). “Yung rebounding tsaka yung pagka-shot blocker niya [malaking tulong]. Naiilang din yun kalaban namin eh, sa rebound naman naco-control namin kasi may malaki na kami, yun naman talaga kulang namin,” Pogoy added. (His rebounding and his presence as a shot blocker is a huge help). In 10 games so far, Jones is averaging 14.9 rebounds per game. That may not seem much for an import but he’s never had fewer than 10 in a game and has hit a high 22 rebounds. His shot blocking has helped TNT shore up its overall defense as well with Jones averaging 2.9 rejections a game with his three best performances coming against Columbian (7 blocks), Ginebra (6 blocks), and San Miguel (5 blocks). The last two teams feature perhaps the two best frontlines in the league today by a wide margin. Aside from his defensive presences, Jones is a force on offense as well, averaging 34.5 points on close to 50 percent shooting. He’s hit over 30 points eight times and over 40 points four times. Scoring will be a given for a player of his caliber but what sets him apart is his ability to locate open teammates and willingly pass the ball to them. Jones is good for at least four assists in every game and he’s topped out at 16 dimes so far. In 10 games, he’s rounding up to 7.7 assists per outing which leads all imports, and the whole league actually. “Talagang willing passer siya, hinahanap din niya talaga yung mga kasama niya. Kumbaga di niya inaako lahat yung scoring load,” forward Troy Rosario said of his new frontcourt tandem in Jones. (He’s a willing passer. He really tries to find his teammates and he’s not trying to shoulder all the scoring load). “Kami ready pa rin kami lagi. Syempre yung experience niya sa NBA talagang pinapakita niya dito, natutulungan din niya kami kung saan kami dapat lumugar sa plays kasi advanced na siya eh, kahit di na sabihin ni coach alam na niya dapat gawin,” he added. (We’re just ready as locals. He’s really showing his NBA experience here, he’s helping us to where we need to be on plays because he’s so advanced he knows what to do even before coach tells us).   THE LEADER Aside from putting up big numbers across the board, there’s one underrated factor about Terrence Jones that has led to him making a positive impact on TNT. Jones made an effort to be a leader for the KaTropa and his teammates have rallied behind him for sure. The result is in the way they play and the way they win in the Commissioner’s Cup. “I think it’s come to them [TNT locals] listening and understanding that I have a little experience on what it takes to try to win and be a good teammate,” Jones said of his leadership role with the KaTropa and how it worked out. “They listened and understood that and we’ve been having fun ever since,” he added. TNT is full of alpha-level players but Jones’ NBA resume has certainly helped in making them line up behin their import and provide support. The the KaTropa have been running like a well-oiled machince with that set up. “Leadership pa lang niya ang laking tulong na samin. As locals, ginagawa lang namin kung ano dapat namin gawin para maka-contribute din and para matulungan din siya,” Rosario said. (His leadership alone is a big help for us. As locals, we just try to do what we need to do to contribute and to help him out). “Magaling siya, isa talaga siya mga leader namin ngayon. Talagang nili-lift up niya kami, di lang sa salita pati sa gawa,” Pogoy added. (He’s great, he’s one of our leaders now. He really lifts us up not just with words but with action as well)   THE LONG ROAD BACK TO THE ASSOCIATION It would be incredible if TNT ends up having Terrence Jones as a resident import the same way Ginebra has Justin Brownlee or Phoenix has Eugene Phelps or Meralco having Allen Durham. However, the KaTropa know that their super import still has a good shot of returning to the NBA and they plan on helping him get back there. “Syempre goal namin makapasok sa playoffs, nagawa na namin yun. Ang susunod na step is next round sa playoffs. Malaking tulong din yun sa kanya kasi yung pangalan niya bumabango ulit,” Rosario said. (Our goal is to make the playoffs and we did that. Now the next step is to get to the next round of the playoffs. That’s a big help for him to get his name out there again). “Preparation na rin kasi alam namin na after dito, meron siyang invites sa mga training camps,” he added. (It’s also good preparation because we know after this, he has some invites to camps). With TNT at 9-1 and a top-2 seed in the playoffs, the team is certainly favored to win in the Commissioner’s Cup. And perhaps one of Jones’ best ways to once again get some traction is to put up great numbers for a championship team in a big league like the PBA. There’s a big check mark on the numbers part and while he can’t win a title by his lonesome, Jones has an entire tropa that has his back. “Lalo na kung mag-champion kami, mabango yung pangalan niya di ba?” Pogoy said. (If we win the championship, that’s good for his name, right?). “Marami naman nags-scout diyan, nakikita siya and maganda pinapakita niya. Feel ko [kaya bumalik sa NBA],” he added. (There’s people that scout him, seeing him and how good he’s been performing. I feel [he can make it back to the NBA]). Of course, winning a PBA championship does not directly award Jones and NBA roster spot. However, he appreciates that his team backs him up in that regard. Right now TNT’s super import is just concerned about playing well with his team and winning more games. “I appreciate it, I wish nothing but the best for all my teammates as well,” Jones said. “I hope you guys see that while we’re playing, we’re smiling and enjoying one another when anybody scores. It’s just like a family atmosphere,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2019

Finally, Blackwater stands among PBA s elite

Before the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup, Blackwater only had one winning record to show in the 13 conferences it has seen action in. With a well-earned win over Alaska, Sunday at Araneta Coliseum, however, they finally got to celebrate another winning record. Not only that, their seventh win in 11 games clinched for them the third-seed for the next round - by far, the upstart team's best-ever finish in the eliminations. For the players, making franchise history was all the extra fuel they needed for their already burning fire. "Basta gusto lang talaga naming manalo para maka-stay kami sa third kasi ngayon lang din nangyari sa amin na third kami," Roi Sumang said after dropping eight of his 18 points in the last four minutes. He then continued, "Lahat, masaya. Lahat, gusto maglaro." Of course, Blackwater is only cherishing the fact that, for the first time in its five-year history as a franchise, its fate is in its own hands. "Masarap sa feeling yung ganitong number three kasi 'di katulad before na lagi lang kaming umaasa sa kung sino yung mananalo (sa taas ng standings). Ngayon, kami yung may hawak kung aonng pwedeng maging spot namin," Sumang said. In three of the four times it has qualified for the playoffs, it was the lower-seed and was booted out right away. Now, the Elite are the third-seed - and are the ones watching the likes of Magnolia, Rain or Shine, and San Miguel fight over playoff positioning. For this breakthrough, they are nothing but grateful. "We all know that we were dead-last last conference and we thank our proud owners, Dioceldo Sy and Silliman Sy for their unwavering support. Also, the players, congratulations to them for really sticking with each other," head coach Aris Dimaunahan said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2019