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US leagues are on the verge of going international

By Paul Newberry, Associated Press An NFL team in London? Count on it. An NBA franchise in Mexico City? Yep, that's coming too. What was once a pipe dream — major-league teams based in cities outside the United States and Canada — is now just a matter of time. The aforementioned cities are the ones most likely to break through first, but others will surely follow when everyone sees how much potential revenue is there for the taking. "The market is saturated in the U.S.," said Gil Fried, a professor and chair of sports management at the University of New Haven. "They need to find new markets." The NFL has been trying for years to make inroads in Europe — especially London — and those efforts were turned up to full blast by revelations that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is attempting to buy Wembley Stadium, a 90,000-seat, state-of-the-art venue known the world over. Khan brushed off the obvious speculation that this is the first step toward moving the Jaguars to London — where they already have been playing "home" games since 2013 — but didn't exactly provide a resounding vote of confidence for Jacksonville, one of the smallest markets in the NFL. "The first thing you want with certainty is you want a venue," he said. "And this gives us a stadium solution, for us or anyone else." In other words, better get used to calling his team the London Jaguars. "Shad Khan's purchase of Wembley Stadium portends that a substantive NFL presence in London, and ultimately a franchise, is inevitable," said Vince Benigni, a professor of sports communication at the College of Charleston. The NBA, which last expanded in 2004, is looking to get the jump on Mexico City, a sprawling metropolis of more than 20 million people that opened an NBA-ready arena in 2012. That facility hosted a pair of NBA regular-season games each of the last two seasons , drawing an average of more than 20,000 fans. "You can feel it, you can smell it, you can breathe it in the streets." said Gilberto Hernández, president of the Mexican Basketball Federation. "They're just craving basketball." Of course, there are a number of challenges that must be addressed before international expansion becomes a reality — especially so for Mexico City, which is 7,350 feet above sea level (more than 2,000 feet higher than Denver), is plagued by crime and economic-disparity issues, and might have trouble signing top players who are reluctant to step outside their cultural comfort zone. But the appeal is enormous. "It's the largest city in the Western Hemisphere," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. "It's part of a 130 million-person country. There's a very strong, passionate Mexican-American fan base in the United States. This is also a potential gateway for all of Latin America." The NHL first floated the prospect of a European division in the late 1960s. Detroit Red Wings owner Bruce Norris was so fixated on the idea that he launched his own team, the London Lions, who played a 72-game schedule against top European teams in 1973-74. Unfortunately, the Lions never had a league of their own, so the team quietly disbanded after that single season, leaving behind nothing more than a cool logo . Over the last two decades, the NHL has scheduled regular-season contests in Europe and Japan, including two games in Stockholm this past November. The Asian market also remains a top priority, especially heading into the 2022 Olympics in Beijing — though the league sent mixed signals by refusing to send its players to this year's Winter Games in South Korea. For the NHL and the NBA, the enormous travel times between North America and either Europe or Asia remain the biggest obstacle to adding teams in those markets. Unless some sort of supersonic transportation becomes available, it would simply be too difficult to incorporate such faraway cities as London and Tokyo into an 82-game schedule, which requires teams to play games all through the week and sometimes on back-to-back days. Also working against European expansion: the lack on U.S.-quality arenas (even the most modern facilities generally lack the size and amenities to generate as much revenue as their American counterparts) and established basketball and hockey leagues in many countries would surely object to the NBA or NHL coming in to steal their limelight. For the NFL, the challenges aren't nearly so daunting, and the potential rewards could be even greater for a league that has faced declining TV ratings and lots of bad publicity about the devastating physical toll on its players. There are no major pro football leagues in Europe. Teams play only once a week, generally on Sunday, and the entire regular-season schedule is just 16 games. A team in London would have to make the cross-Atlantic trek no more than eight times a year, and the demands could be lessened by scheduling back-to-back road games, halving the number of long-range roundtrips. A London team could even maintain its base of operations in the U.S., essentially playing all its games on the road but perhaps making it easier to sign players in free agency and cope with legal issues and currency fluctuations. Travel would not be a concern for a Mexican team. The NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball have all played regular-season games south of the border — next weekend, in fact, the Los Angeles Dodgers will meet the San Diego Padres in a three-game series at Monterrey . MLB seems the most logical candidate to launch a Mexican team, given baseball's popularity and the large number of Latin American players in the majors, but the NBA is leading the way. Silver wants to put a G League development team in Mexico City, testing the waters for a possible NBA franchise. "As we look down the road, frankly, to see whether there can be an opportunity to even dream about an NBA franchise here in Mexico City, we believe it makes sense as a first step to have a development league team here to work out some of the issues, to better understand what it would mean to have a team in Mexico," Silver said. There are still plenty of questions to answer, that's for sure. But one is crystal clear. Are U.S. leagues going international? No doubt about it......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnApr 28th, 2018

Not just a boy thing : Jr. NBA s inclusive basketball

It doesn’t matter where you look – from international tournaments to your local barangay leagues, there will always be more boys. But that doesn’t mean girls should just stay in the sidelines, and Jr. NBA Philippines is making sure they don’t......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsFeb 5th, 2019

UAAP Season 81: UAAP Board looking to switch to FIVB individual awards format

The UAAP Board is highly considering changing its volleyball individual awards format into the FIVB standards in Season 81. Board member Rod Roque revealed that the change in the awarding format will be one of the main topics that the Board will tackle when they convene on Tuesday and Wednesday. Roque is optimistic that the change will be implemented this season. “Well, isa ‘yan sa napag-usapan naming innovations sa volleyball. Sabi namin susundan namin ‘yung international (standard) kasi by position ang international e,” said the UE athletic director. “So we might do it this year. So depende tomorrow kung ma-approve namin ‘yun then we will implement right away kasi mas marami kang mabibigyan kung position e. Pabor sa players mas maganda,” added Roque, who is also the representative of the UAAP in the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. For the longest time, the UAAP has been feting players by skills: scorer, attacker, blocker, server, setter, digger and receiver as well as the Most Valuable Player. Other local leagues like the NCAA, Philippine Superliga and Premier Volleyball League and UAAP high school have already adapted the FIVB’s by positon individual awards of best two outside hitters, two middle blockers, an opposite hitter, setter, libero and the MVP. “Kami sa eligibility kasi kami ‘yung naga-update ng rules and regulations,” he said. “Sabi namin we follow the international kasi we’re using the international (rules and format) in all sporting events. We might as well do also for the awarding di ba?” Roque is optimistic that the change will be approved as other schools also showed positive response during their previous meetings. “Favorable naman yung response ng walong schools kasi mas maraming mabibigyan ng award e so I think ma-approve ‘yun,” he said. Roque said that it has been on the table years. “Alam mo na ‘yung tradition, tradition we keep on following the tradition, tradition,” sad Roque. “Well hi-tech dapat sumusunod tayo sa panahon, sa trend and that is the trend now we might as well do what is right.”     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Ronaldo scores twice as VAR helps Juventus to 2-1 win

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as runaway leader Juventus escaped with a 2-1 win over Sampdoria in Serie A on Saturday with help from the VAR. Ronaldo's second goal, a penalty, was awarded by the VAR for a questionable handball. Then Sampdoria had a stoppage-time goal chalked off by the Video Assistant Referee. Sampdoria thought it had become the first visiting Serie A club to score more than one goal at the Allianz Stadium in more than a year when Riccardo Saponara's shot went in off the underside of the crossbar, but replays showed the play was offside. "I like (the VAR) a lot because it reduces the number of mistakes," Ronaldo said. "It's not easy for the match officials to analyze everything that goes on. We just have to let them get on with their jobs." Ronaldo had put Juventus ahead two minutes in with a bouncing shot and Fabio Quagliarella equalized with a penalty before the break to become the first player to score in nine consecutive Serie A matches since David Trezeguet accomplished the feat with Juventus in 2005. Ronaldo's decisive penalty came in the 65th after the VAR decided that Alex Ferrari had used his arm, even though it appeared as if the defender kept his arm next to his body and didn't move it toward the ball. The double gave Ronaldo 14 goals in 19 matches this season to move one ahead of Genoa's Krzysztof Piatek atop the league scoring chart. Ronaldo has maintained his form since leaving Real Madrid in the offseason, despite being the subject of a rape allegation in the United States. Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in Nevada in September claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing. Aiming for a record-extending eighth straight league title, Juventus set a record of 53 points at the season's halfway mark with 17 wins, two draws and no defeats. The Bianconeri remained nine points ahead of second-placed Napoli, which beat Bologna 3-2, and 14 points ahead of third-placed Inter Milan, which won 1-0 at Empoli. "The first half of the season has gone really well," Ronaldo said. "We've won nearly all our games and we're a solid side but there's still a long way to go. We must stay focused and keep working away if we want to achieve great things." After a winter break, Serie A resumes Jan. 19. WE'RE ALL KALIDOU Napoli fans and players showed their support for defender Kalidou Koulibaly during the win over Bologna after the Senegal international was subjected to racist chants this week. With Koulibaly suspended, Napoli fullback Faouzi Ghoulam warmed up wearing the Senegal international's No. 26 shirt. Fans held up photos of Koulibaly and anti-racism banners with the hashtag label #SiamotuttiKalidou, which translates as "We're all Kalidou." Koulibaly had monkey noises directed at him throughout a match against Inter Milan on Wednesday at the San Siro Stadium. Against Bologna, Dries Mertens scored the winner two minutes from time with a shot from beyond the area after the hosts had twice given up the lead. Arkadiusz Milik scored twice for Napoli but Federico Santander replied to his first and Danilo equalized after his second. The victory meant Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti got the better of Bologna counterpart Filippo Inzaghi, his former striker at AC Milan. NO FANS The visiting section was empty for Inter's win at Empoli. Local authorities banned away fans after an Inter supporter died following clashes with opposing supporters outside the San Siro stadium before the match against Napoli. Keita Balde scored midway through the second half with a scuffed shot that went in off the post. Inter will also play its next two home matches behind closed doors, plus there will be a partial closure for the club's third home game, as punishment for the clashes and racist chants. OTHER RESULTS Lazio remained fourth following a 1-1 draw with Torino in which both sides finished with 10 men. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored the equalizer for Lazio after a penalty from Andrea Belotti. Gonzalo Higuain broke a two-month scoring drought by netting the winner as AC Milan ended a four-match streak without a victory by defeating Spal 2-1. Roma won 2-0 at Parma with second-half goals from Bryan Cristante and Cengiz Under. Josip Ilicic came off the bench to score a hat trick in Atalanta's 6-2 win at Sassuolo. It was Ilicic's third hat trick in 2018 — matching Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero for the record in Europe's top five leagues. Udinese won 2-0 against Cagliari with goals from Ignacio Pussetto and Valon Behrami. Emanuele Giaccherini scored with a curling free kick as last-place Chievo Verona beat 10-man Frosinone 1-0 for its first win of the season. Genoa and Fiorentina shared a 0-0 draw......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2018

VOLLEYBALL IS LIFE: A look back at Philippine volleyball in 2018

Glorious victories, dynasties, historic feats, controversies and memorable moments once again highlighted another fruitful year for Philippine volleyball.   Now, let us take a look back in the year that was in volleyball:   DYNASTY Powerhouse teams continued to thrive in the country’s most popular collegiate leagues. Arellano University muscled its way back into the NCAA Season 93 Finals and met a newcomer in San Beda University. The Lady Chiefs did find the Lady Red Spikers as feisty opponents in their first championship meeting, needing five sets to survive San Beda in Game One. But it didn’t take long for Arellano U to stomp its class over the newbies to capture its second straight title and fourth overall crown in five years. De La Salle University painted UAAP Season 80 green after annexing its third straight title handing legendary head coach Ramil De Jesus his third grand slam in the country’s most popular and competitive collegiate league. Second year setter Michelle Cobb stepped up to the challenge of filling the big shoes left by Kim Fajardo and complemented the depth and firepower of DLSU. Far Eastern University, which advanced into the Finals for the first time after a decade, stood no chance against the onslaught of the Lady Spikers, which swept their way onto throne. University of Perpetual Help completed a four-peat in the NCAA juniors after sweeping Letran. Philippine Air Force snatched the Premier Volleyball League men’s Reinforced Conference crown and the Spikers’ Turf Open Conference title. Sisi Rondina cemented her legacy as the UAAP’s queen of the sands after completing a three-peat in women’s beach volleyball. Rondina wrapped her tour of duty with four titles in five years. The Tigers ruled the men’s division.       YEAR OF THE UNDERDOGS San Beda University made great strides in NCAA Season 93 after earning its first-ever Finals appearance behind the efforts of Cesca Racraquin and twins Nieza and Jiezela Viray. The Lady Red Spikers closed the elims with an 8-1 win-loss record and took down Perpetual in the semis. Languishing at the bottom half of the standings since the return of its women’s volleyball program in 2008, Jose Rizal University made history by advancing into the Final Four. Shola Alvarez capped the Lady Bombers’ remarkable season by pocketing the Most Valuable Player award.   Far Eastern University made it to the UAAP women’s volleyball Finals by booting out crowd-favorite Ateneo de Manila University in the semis.  For the first time in five years, the Blue Eagles found themselves in a very difficult position in the Final Four. With a twice-to-win disadvantage, the Marck Espejo-led Ateneo shocked FEU – a team that beat them twice in the elims – to march to its fifth straight championship appearance.      But the real underdog story belonged to NU. After three years of finishing runner-up to the Blue Eagles, the Bulldogs led by Bryan Bagunas finally got their long-awaited revenge as they swept Ateneo off its three-year reign at the throne.     OFF COURT STORIES, CONTROVERSIES University of the East parted ways with head coach Francis Vicente midway in Season 80 after three and a half seasons with the Lady Warriors. Vicente left for ‘personal reasons’ with a UE coaching record of 2-45 (win-loss). Red Warriors head coach Sammy Acaylar also resigned from his post midway in the season. University of Sto. Tomas hitter EJ Laure after months of speculations to the real reason of her sitting out UAAP Season 80 broke her silence by saying that needed time to recover from her right shoulder injury to end all the rumors circulating including an alleged pregnancy.    Sound bites, videos and clips that show collegiate players’ ‘human side’ made its rounds around social media that drew mixed reactions from fans.  Just like in the previous years, controversy filled the formation of the national women’s volleyball team. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. initially named Ramil De Jesus as the national team coach but just two months after his designation, the multi-titled DLSU mentor resigned from his post citing ‘conflict of schedule’. Shaq Delos Santos took over De Jesus’ spot. Netizens went abuzz when the composition of the national team that participated in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games was released as fans give their different views on who should and should not be included in the roster.             LVPI named a new president in Peter Cayco of Arellano U to replace Joey Romasanta during the association’s election.   WRITING HISTORY Smart’s Cuban import Gigi Silva carved a world scoring record in the Philippine Superliga after scoring 56 points in a lost cause against Cocolife in the 2018 Grand Prix. Silva pounded 53 kills and had three aces to land her name in the fourth spot in the women’s world scoring record behind Polina Rahimova of Azerbaijan’s 58 points in 2015 while playing in Japan, American Madison Kingdon’s 57 (2017 Korea Volleyball League) and Bulgarian Elitsa Vasileva’s 57 (2013 Korea Volleyball League). Silva also surpassed the 55 points of Americans Nicole Fawcett (2013 KVL) and Alaina Bergsma, who led Petron to the 2014 PSL Grand Prix crown, (2016 KVL).     Not to be outdone, local volleyball star Marck Espejo had a 55-point explosion of his own in the Blue Eagles’ five-set Game 1 UAAP Final Four win over FEU. The five-time MVP pounded 47 attacks, had six kill blocks and two service aces for the Katipunan-based squad. Espejo scored 11 points in the deciding frame including Ateneo’s last four to seal the win in the match that lasted for two hours and 21 minutes. Espejo’s feat fueled Ateneo’s eventual semis series win over the twice-to-beat Tamaraws.  Espejo and DLSU libero Dawn Macandili were named as the Philippine Sportswriters Association’s 2017 Mr. and Miss Volleyball.     The Philippines saw three players make their mark in the international scene this year as Espejo and sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat were tapped as imports in Japan’s V. Premier League. Espejo is now playing for Oita Miyoshi Weiss Adler while Jaja and Dindin suit up for Saitama Ageo Medics and Toray Arrows, respectively.     After 36 long years, the Philippines sent a women’s volleyball team to participate in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The squad won against Hong Kong in straight sets in pool play in the country’s first Asian Games victory since defeating India in the 1982 New Delhi Games. The PHI advanced in the quarterfinals but went home empty-handed. The Filipinas ended up at ninth place in the AVC Asian Cup. Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio made waves in the country’s hosting of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open after the duo barged in the quarterfinals. The tandem eventually bowed down to eventual champion Japan. The NU Bulldogs brought its bark into the international scene and howled its way to giving honor to country by winning the ASEAN University Games gold medal at the expense of Thailand. Volleyball proved to be the most talked about sport in the country as #UAAPSeason80Volleyball became the most tweeted sports hashtag in 2018.   SMASHING WIN, BLAZING VICTORY Creamline became the most successful club in the Premier Volleyball League this year after winning its breakthrough Reinforced Conference crown before following it up with a title romp in the Open Conference. Alyssa Valdez finally ended a two-year title drought after leading the Cool Smashers to the Reinforced Conference throne.   Creamline’s Michele Gumabao joined Binibining Pilipinas and represented the country im the 2018 Miss Globe in Albania, landing at the top 15.     Petron lorded it over in the PSL after winning the Grand Prix and All-Filipino Conference titles at the expense of archrival F2 Logistics, which ruled the Invitational Conference. University of the Philippines ended a 36-year title drought by claiming the PVL Collegiate Conference championship and followed it up by reigning supreme in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam The SiPons tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons of Petron annexed their second straight PSL Challenge Cup beach volleyball title. University of Perpetual Help reclaimed the NCAA men’s title after taking down Arellano University as the Altas bagged it 11th title overall.           National University took back the title it lost last year in the UAAP boys’ tournament while De La Salle-Zobel bagged the girls’ mint. The Beach Volleyball Republic continued its advocacy of propagating the sport throughout the country.   END OF THE ROAD After winning three straight UAAP titles, the Lady Spikers bid goodbye to its Big Three in Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili. Season 80 saw the end of the six-year Ateneo-DLSU Finals rivalry as the Lady Eagles bowed down to FEU in the semis. The Blue Eagles three-year reign ended at the hands of NU as Ateneo gave its farewell to its greatest men’s volleyball star Marck Espejo and prized setter Ish Povorosa.    NU’s four-year domination in the girls’ division was snapped by DLS-Zobel. After a dry 2018 PVL season, Pocari Sweat parted ways with its franchise player Myla Pablo as newcomer Motolite agreed to buyout the hitter’s last three contract years.      Thai coach Tai Bundit after five years and bringing two titles including a rare tournament sweep to the Lady Eagles finally called it quits after Ateneo’s campaign in UAAP Season 80. Creamline gave Bundit a farewell championship trophy in the PVL.      A NEW BEGINNING It was a colorful 2018, indeed, for volleyball but 2019 is another promising year for the sport. Can the Lady Chiefs complete a three-peat in the NCAA? Newcomers are sure to bring more excitement and interest in the UAAP. DLSU will try to extend its reign for another season while NU is looking for a repeat crown in the men’s side. Another season for the PSL and the PVL will open while the national men’s and women’s team will highlight the country’s Southeast Asian Games hosting.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2018

Rejuvenated Dutch strike late, into Nations League s Final 4

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press The Netherlands' recovery from one of the lowest ebbs in its history continued with a last-gasp qualification for the Final Four of the inaugural UEFA Nations League on Monday. Virgil van Dijk volleyed home a 90th-minute equalizer to seal a dramatic Dutch comeback in a 2-2 draw in Germany, allowing Ronald Koeman's rejuvenated side to top its qualifying group on goal difference ahead of France, and join fellow group winners Portugal, England and Switzerland in a five-day finals competition in June. So instead of seeing Kylian Mbappe, France's new wonderkid and star of the team's World Cup triumph in Russia in July, vying for another piece of international silverware, soccer fans will get to see if the Netherlands truly has turned the corner. The slump of the Dutch has been profound since they finished third at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. They failed to qualify for an enlarged European Championship in 2016 and also didn't make it to the World Cup this year. Three coaches — Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind, and Dick Advocaat — came and went. And with Dutch soccer at club level also in strife, debate swirled as to how one of the long-time heavyweights of the world game could recover. Under Koeman, though, the future of the Oranje looks bright. Youngsters like center midfielder Frenkie de Jong and center back Matthijs de Ligt are regarded as two of the most promising players in the world; Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum have returned to their best form over the last 18 months; and, in Van Dijk, the Netherlands has one of the best defenders around. A rock for Liverpool this season and last, Van Dijk — soccer's most expensive defender following his $99 million move from Southampton in January — sidefooted in a cross from the left to follow up an 84th-minute goal from Quincy Promes that gave the Dutch a glimmer of hope in Gelsenkirchen. The Germans had gone 2-0 up after 19 minutes thanks to Timo Werner's dipping shot from 25 meters and Leroy Sane's deflected effort from just inside the area. They couldn't hold on, though, and finished group play with no wins, just two points, and in something of a crisis. They didn't get out of their group in Russia in a dismal defense of their World Cup title, while relegation to League B of the Nations League — featuring Europe's second-tier teams — had already been confirmed after failing to win any of their first three group games. Germany coach Joachim Loew opted to stay in the job after the World Cup, but is now under mounting pressure. The Nations League, a new competition devised by UEFA to replace unpopular international friendlies with competitive matches between teams of a similar level, appears to have won over the skeptics, and the lineup for the Final Four is intriguing if hardly a marketer's dream. Portugal, which will be playing on home soil, has a superstar in Cristiano Ronaldo who should be back in the team after an extended absence from international soccer since the World Cup. England has Harry Kane, the top scorer at the World Cup, and a talented, dynamic group of young players under forward-thinking coach Gareth Southgate. Switzerland, which hasn't reached a quarterfinal of an international tournament since 1954, will be the outsider. The Netherlands, at No. 15, will be the lowest-ranked team in the competition but should not be discounted. This victory came three days after the team produced one of its best performances in years to beat France 2-0, while it beat Portugal 3-0 in March and Germany by the same score at home in the Nations League. The draw for the Final Four, which comprises of two semifinals and then a third-place playoff and final, will take place in Dublin on Dec. 3. Some other loose ends were tied up in the Nations League, which offers teams a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the Nations League playoffs and compete for the last four qualifying places for Euro 2020. NORWAY, MACEDONIA PROMOTED Norway was promoted to the second-tier League B after finishing top of Group C3 with a 2-0 win at Cyprus. The Norwegians started the final round of group play tied for points with Bulgaria, which could only draw at home to Slovenia 1-1. Macedonia went up to League C after beating Gibraltar 4-0 to top Group D4. Armenia, the only team that could have finished above Macedonia, ended up second after drawing at Liechtenstein 2-2. SLOVAKIA RELEGATED Slovakia was relegated to League C after losing at neighbor Czech Republic 1-0, with Patrik Schick scoring the winner in the first half with a deft lob over the goalkeeper on a counterattack. Denmark was already guaranteed promotion to the top tier and Ireland was sure of being relegated before they drew 0-0 in Aarhus......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2018

Portugal qualifies for finals, Italy earn positives in draw

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press MILAN (AP) — No Cristiano Ronaldo, no problem. Portugal drew with Italy 0-0 on Saturday to pick up the point it needed to qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals and confirm it as host of the first Final Four in June. Ronaldo is taking a break from the national team and wasn't present at San Siro, just as he wasn't in Portugal's first two Nations League matches — both of which they won. "There's a lot of satisfaction at having reached the final phase," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "It was a difficult match, much more than we thought it would be. When we had the ball it was difficult to build and that was merit to Italy and demerit to us. Italy had a great game." Poland has already been assured of finishing last in Group A3 and will be relegated to League B, and Italy will finish second. However, a year after Italian football's darkest moment, there are positive signs for the Azzurri. Italy dominated and had the better of the chances in front of a packed crowd in Milan but ended with a sixth successive home draw. The Azzurri have also scored only twice in four matches in the competition — but only conceded as many. "I don't think there's so many problems up front, it's a question of five centimeters here, 10 there," Italy coach Roberto Mancini said. The Azzurri almost took the lead as early as the fifth minute. Lorenzo Insigne unleashed a scorcher from distance which Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio did well to bat away, and Ciro Immobile fired the rebound over from point-blank range. There was a lot of good interplay from the hosts with crisp, efficient passing in the best performance seen by an Italy side in a long time. It was a far cry from Italy's last match at San Siro, when it drew with Sweden 0-0 last November and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades. "Little by little we'll manage to sort out the attack, too," Mancini said. "Having so much possession in their half is something very significant. We're a step further ahead than we thought we'd be. We have to resolve this small problem (of scoring) but we will." The fans are also starting to fall back in love with the Azzurri, with 73,000 spectators at San Siro. LEAGUE B Sweden kept alive its hopes of promotion with a 1-0 victory at Turkey, which was relegated to League C. Andreas Granqvist netted the only goal with a second-half penalty after Okay Yokuslu brought down Marcus Berg. Sweden will be promoted on Tuesday if it beats Russia, which leads Group B2. LEAGUE C Scotland will win Group C1 if it beats Israel on Tuesday following a 4-0 victory over 10-man Albania in Tirana. Ryan Fraser scored his first international goal shortly before Albania captain Mergim Mavraj was sent off. Steven Fletcher doubled Scotland's tally from the penalty spot, and James Forrest netted a second-half double. Serbia beat Montenegro 2-1 despite Aleksandar Mitrovic missing a penalty and will win Group C4 if it beats Lithuania on Tuesday. Mitrovic scored Serbia's second, two minutes after Adem Ljajic opened the scoring, before chipping over from the spot. Lithuania lost 3-0 at Romania, which will go up if it beats Montenegro and Serbia fails to win. LEAGUE D Kosovo beat Malta 5-0 and Azerbaijan beat the Faroe Islands 2-0. The teams set up a winner-takes-all clash when they meet on Tuesday in Group D3, although a draw would be enough for Kosovo. The Nations League also offers a second chance to qualify for the European Championship in 2020. The 16 group winners in Leagues A, B, C and D — or the next best-placed teams who have not already qualified via the European qualifiers starting in March — will progress to the playoffs to compete for the last four qualifying places......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2018

SBP representatives attend 1st FIBA World Basketball Summit in China

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilio, SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios and Special Assistant to the President Ryan Gregorio are in Xi’an China to attend the 1st FIBA World Basketball Summit. The first-ever FIBA World Basketball Summit takes place in Xi’an, China on October 3-4 2018, and will bring together a wide range of high-ranking personalities in world basketball, from top level officials and management personnel in federations, clubs and leagues to business leaders. As the international governing body for basketball, FIBA’s mission is to develop and promote the game worldwide as well as support their National Member Federations and the many other stakeholders in the sport to maximize their potential. The theme of the conference, “Building the Future of Basketball Together”, sums up not only its objectives but the spirit in which it is being held. It is about sharing and collaboration across the global basketball family. Panlilio was invited as one of the panel speakers and discussed effective basketball development strategies covering the role of National Federations, schools and colleges, expectations on government, achieving the best ROI and the development of young pro players. Panlilio shared the stage with former NBA All-Star Andrei Kirilenko, who is now President of the Russian Federation of Basketball  and Mr. Antti Zitting, President, Finnish Basketball Federation......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2018

Syria, North Korea to have their say at UN gathering

UNITED NATIONS --- Two of the planet's most troubled hot spots are sending envoys to have their say before the world on Saturday. North Korea and Syria, places of international concern that spill trouble beyond national borders, are to appear before the U.N. General Assembly at a time when both countries could be on the cusp of significant developments. Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, are trying to regain momentum more than three months after the Singapore summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, and are pushing for a second meeting in their quest to get Pyongyang to renounce its nuclear ambitions. Syria could be on the verge of emerging from seven years of bloody ...Keep on reading: Syria, North Korea to have their say at UN gathering.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 29th, 2018

Alyssa, Aby wants more ‘consistent’ nat’l team

NAKHON RATCHASIMA---A true, solid national volleyball team. This what Philippine team standard bearers Alyssa Valdez and Aby Marao are hoping to form as they "take the initiative" to meet up with current members as well as aspiring players even when their respective leagues are in season and there is no international event scheduled yet. Consistency, according to the duo, is what's needed by the national team which blew away winnable matches against higher ranked teams to end up ninth overall in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Asian Cup. Japan and China were locked in the battle for the championship late Sunday. Australia and Iran, which narrowly escaped the Philippines' cla...Keep on reading: Alyssa, Aby wants more ‘consistent’ nat’l team.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2018

National 3x3 team will not be at the mercy of ball clubs says chief backer

The team Chooks-to-Go is trying to build will be on-call pretty much anytime as long as it's about representing the Philippines in international competitions. The chief Gilas backer announced Tuesday that it's working on creating a full-time national 3x3 team with the goal of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. [Related: Plan to form dedicated 3x3 national team already in motion] And when Chooks says full-time national team, it means full-time national team. In light with the persisting issue of Gilas having trouble securing players to play in international tournaments, this dedicated 3x3 team will have no such problems as assured by Chooks' big boss himself. "The whole point of our investment sa sports, hindi lang dahil mahal namin ang basketball. Our primary agenda is to restore our spirit of nationalism na nawala na. If you talk to the UAAP, to the pro leagues, parang hindi na nahihiya yung mga tao ngayon to refuse to represent the country," Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. President Ronald Mascarinas said. "Yung bang local tournament ng collegiate o sa pro is more important than to serve the country? We keep on compromising. Yung compromise natin is hindi na nahihiya yung mga leaders natin to refuse to serve the country. We will be a nation of pasaway if magtuloy pa ito," he added. In a strong message, Mascarinas says he wants to change that culture. In essense he doesn't want the national team to be at the mercy of ball clubs which is why PBA players might not see action in the 3x3 national team, which has Kobe Paras for the time being. "I really take personal offense na ang lalakas ng loob nila na magpaalam ka. Narinig lang nila that we need to send representatives, sana mag-offer sila ng available na player. Pero hindi nangyayari yun. We want to change that culture," Mascarinas said. "We want to full-time engagement. Sa tingin ko if they are full-time PBA players, we will be at the mercy of the clubs again," he added. The national 3x3 team backed by Chooks-to-Go is set to embark on a grand plan of qualifying to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. To complete the pool of players, there will be a series of tournaments and tryouts all across the country. "This is a good opportunity for everybody. Yung tryouts na ito, even yung out-of-school youth in the barangay-level, puwede sila mag-try out. Itong programa na ito will bring out the best among our dreamers," Mascarinas said.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 14th, 2018

Volleyball star De Guzman shows hops with double-handed slam

With the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference, still a couple of months away, power-hitting John Vic De Guzman keeps on balling. The men’s national team skipper showed his leaping ability but this time in a different kind of ball game. De Guzman, also an actor, during a shoot for a scene in a short film made a slick double-handed slam dunk off a bounce after an own lob.           He didn’t need no double or any adjustment with the hoop, the guy just got hops. Aside from excelling in volleyball, the former NCAA Most Valuable Player from College of St. Benilde is also regular fixture in barangay cage leagues in his hometown in Calamba City, Laguna.   The PLDT Home Fibr team captain and product endorser this offseason is busy with his showbiz career, shooting a short film set to be released online on August 30 and will be entered in international film fests and a couple of full-length movies expected to be included in the Metro Manila Film Festival......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2018

EPL 2018-19: 5 new signings to watch out for

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press The transfer window has been shortened in the Premier League and will close on Thursday, before the season starts. Here is the pick of the signings so far: RIYAD MAHREZ (Manchester City) Whether City needed another attacking midfield to complement Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Leroy Sane, David Silva and rising star Phil Foden is open to question. Not that Riyad Mahrez is concerned about that. The Algeria winger might have thought he had missed out on a dream move to the champions when City and Leicester failed to conclude a deal in January for English soccer's Player of the Year in 2015-16. But City maintained its interest, and Mahrez sealed a club-record $80 million move that gives manager Pep Guardiola another attacking option and a player who can operate anywhere behind the striker. Mahrez mostly played on the right wing, cutting in on his favored left foot, but Sterling and Bernardo Silva already feature there. City may opt to use Mahrez centrally as Guardiola looks to manage the 32-year-old David Silva's game time. FRED (Manchester United) Brazil international Fred not only offers United more energy and solidity in central midfield, he also potentially gives a platform for fellow midfielder Paul Pogba to be more expansive and attacking this season. Joining from Shakhtar Donetsk for $66 million, Fred likely will take up a position in midfield alongside anchorman Nemanja Matic and also Pogba, who should play in his preferred place on the left of a central three and have fewer defensive responsibilities. Perhaps that's what United manager Jose Mourinho meant when he talked about Fred giving the team "another dimension." ALISSON (Liverpool) The arrival of Brazil goalkeeper Alisson, who played in all of his team's matches at the World Cup, provides a solution to Liverpool's one obvious weakness, and should mean Juergen Klopp's team is a genuine contender for the Premier League title this season. Loris Karius never felt like he was the long-term answer in goal and his two huge mistakes in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in May proved his undoing. Alisson — at around $85 million — is a definite upgrade, a strong all-around keeper who rarely makes an error leading to a goal. He also is good with his feet, something Klopp demands. Liverpool now has the most expensive goalkeeper in history, along with the game's most expensive defender in Virgil van Dijk and the explosive front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah. JORGINHO (Chelsea) Seemingly destined for Manchester City, Jorginho instead ended up at Chelsea for $75 million and is set to be the fulcrum around which new manager Maurizio Sarri bases his high-pressing, high-energy style of play. Jorginho, a Brazilian-born Italy international, is a deep-lying midfield playmaker who had more touches per minute for Napoli than any player in Europe's top five leagues last season. The 26-year-old Jorginho will instigate attacks with his snappy passing from the base of the midfield, allowing the marauding N'Golo Kante to play further forward alongside a more creative central midfielder like Cesc Fabregas or Ross Barkley. RICHARLISON (Everton) A shrewd signing or another example of the madness of the Premier League? Richarlison, a 21-year-old Brazilian, had played only one year in England's top division — he faded badly after Christmas at Watford following a strong first half of the season — when he was signed by Everton last month for a fee that could rise to about $65 million. Clearly, recently hired Everton manager Marco Silva, who coached Richarlison at Watford before getting fired in January, thinks highly of the tall midfielder whose pace and strength got him into promising positions but whose finishing often left him down. Richarlison will compete with Theo Walcott, Yannick Bolasie and Kevin Mirallas but is set to be first choice......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 7th, 2018

NBA, MGM in betting deal

NEW YORK — The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women’s NBA will now share official data with MGM Resorts International, a major win for the leagues as they prepare for the anticipated growth of sports betting across the country. The Las Vegas-based casino giant will pay the NBA for that data to use in determining […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2018

NBA strikes deal with MGM Resorts to provide data to bettors

NEW YORK--- The NBA and WNBA will now share official data with MGM Resorts International, a major win for the leagues as they prepare for the anticipated growth of sports betting across the country. The Las Vegas-based casino giant will pay the NBA for that data to use in determining outcomes of various bets. The NBA's stance has been that getting accurate stats to bettors is critical so players know what they're betting on and so casinos will know when to pay out, and MGM Resorts is the first casino to make an arrangement with the league for those numbers. Terms of the deal announced Tuesday were not disclosed, other than it's a multiyear arrangement. "I know the value of...Keep on reading: NBA strikes deal with MGM Resorts to provide data to bettors.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsAug 1st, 2018

SUPER 8: Inside the Asia League s grand basketball plans for the region

MACAU --- The Summer Super 8 is just the beginning. The Asia League may only have eight teams, including two Pinoy teams, in its tournaments now with the Super 8, but the FIBA-recognized offseason competition platform for club basketball is targeting bigger and better things. All for the continued development of basketball, particularly in this part of Asia. Matt Beyer, CEO of the Asia League, noticed a couple of years back that there's pretty much no international club-to-club basketball competitions in Asia so he made some things happen. While football has tournaments like the UEFA Champions League, basketball has no such thing. There's the FIBA Champions Cup, but that includes all of Asia. What the Asia League tries to focus on is the East Asia and Southeast Asian territory, where top teams from China, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines can go after each other in high-level tournaments. "I just think there's a huge lack in international club-to-club basketball competition in Asia," Beyer said. "And if you look at China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Chinese Taipei, if you add the population of these geographies, it's over 2 billion people. So there's a lot of fans but no high level club-to-club competition. That's the reason this was created," he added. For Beyer, Macau seems to be the perfect setting to stage such tournaments and for the Summer Super 8, he's looking at it as something that could become Asia's version of the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League. Asia League has eight teams competing for the Super 8 this year with two teams each from China, Korea, and the Philippines plus one each from Japan and Taipei. Next year, the Super 8 may no longer be as the plan is to have 16 teams see action. "What we're aiming for is to become the East Asian version of the Las Vegas summer league," Beyer said. "Our July events, we will expand the scale of the teams. The eight teams this year, I wanna have 16 next year and that means more PBA teams if that's logistically possible," he added. Speaking of the PBA, the Asia League is aggressive is trying to work with getting Filipino teams to its events. Why? Pinoy teams attract crowds and they generally perform well with these kind of tournaments. For the ongoing Super 8, both NLEX and Blackwater ended up with identical 2-1 records. The Road Warriors are in the semifinals and the Elite missed the playoffs by one basket and ended up with an inferior quotient. And despite group play being played on weekdays, a decent Filipino crowd have showed up to watch the action at the East Asian Games Dome. "We started the dialogue with the PBA and Commissioner Willie (Marcial)," Beyer said. "We're trying to coordinate being able to make things work with the schedule and have teams released for the tournaments or just fit into the windows where they're available. I think we can work it out long term and I think this is good for the PBA and to the teams to play against different types of teams for a technical perspective and it should help to get the news out about PBA teams in other markets," he added. Aside from the Super 8 this year, the Asia League also has the Terrific 12 coming up in September. More than the number of teams involved, that tournament should be fiercer with club teams being allowed to have imports. Beyer ideally wants to have the PBA participate in that as well but with the Governors' Cup ongoing at that time, it might be difficult at least for this year. Still, the Asia League wants Pinoy teams, but not just any Pinoy teams. That's why Alab Pilipinas has been in consideration to compete in September though it's yet to be seen if Jimmy Alapag's crew can join. Ultimately, Beyer's goal is to have the Asia League be a hub for teams across Asia to compete with one another in such a way that their own mother leagues aren't being disrupted. The Asia League wants its July event to be the premier offseason joust. "The ideal situation that I look at is the July event be the summer league and expand it to 32 teams in three years. And that becomes the premier offseason forum just like the Las Vegas summer league is in the West," Beyers said. "September, we can't expand it above 12, that might be a little too big but let's see how it goes. That's gonna be the biggest preseason party for teams. We're gonna have the best rosters, tons of media, and broadcast on over 30 platforms all over the world," he added. That seems grand enough for the Asia League but there's more. Soon enough, full integration is going to be Beyer's target. "What we want starting the 2019-2020 season is to have integration into the seasons. What I look at is a pilot project where we take teams that are on the region and put them into two small groups that play home and way through the season, maybe one game per month to start," Beyer said. "And then we do a Final Four event, probably here in Macau to start. And then maybe that Final Four event can be like Euroleague Final Four before it moves around the region at an annual basis. That would be what I like to see. That would require a deep partnership with FIBA and the associations like the PBA," he added. Ultimately, the Asia League would like to stay true its mission to raise the standard of basketball in the region through greater collaboration with different leagues. It helps that for the current Super 8, teams are in it to win it and are taking things seriously. There should be more to come. "This isn't a one off tournament. We want to have a series of events. FIBA's mandate is a little different than ours but I think the goal is the same, we want to develop basketball and make the level of competition better in the region," Beyers said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 21st, 2018

Argentina has big weaknesses to address before facing France

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press ST. PETERSBURG, France (AP) — After the euphoria of scraping through to the last 16 of the World Cup, Argentina now must address its glaring weaknesses. Argentina has little time to prepare for Saturday's match against France, which is considered among the tournament favorites, yet has much to work on. Particularly on defense. Argentina's feeble defense was exposed in 3-0 defeat to Croatia last week and once again in Tuesday's 2-1 must-win game against Nigeria. Argentina won with an 86th-minute goal from defender Marcos Rojo, but during the second half the team looked on the verge of another capitulation at the back. Here is a look at some of the key issues facing Jorge Sampaoli's team before taking on France in Kazan: MASCHERANO MISERY If Javier Mascherano is supposed to be protecting the defense, he's not doing a very good job. With 146 international appearances, the 34-year-old Mascherano should be a rock for Sampaoli's team. But instead of offering the protective screen in front of the back four, Mascherano is often proving to be a weak link. As his bloodied face on Tuesday showed, there is no doubting his commitment. But his judgment, especially for someone with so much experience, is lacking. Two horribly misplaced passes gave Nigeria dangerous positions to attack from, while it was Mascherano's clumsy challenge that led to Nigeria's equalizing goal from the penalty spot. In his defense, there may be mitigating circumstances. Although a holding midfielder by trade, Mascherano dropped deeper when deployed as a center half for Barcelona over the past few years. Now back in his traditional position, he often appears caught in two minds as to whether to push up as a midfielder does, or stay back more sensibly like a defender. While it does not excuse his poor passing, it may explain some of his confused judgment. FALLEN STARS Angel Di Maria's failure to control a simple pass during a promising counterattack against Nigeria was a sad sight for such a fine talent. As the ball flew off his foot and went out of play, a helpless look formed on Di Maria's face. Long considered one of the world's best wingers, the 30-year-old Paris Saint-Germain player is not living up to his reputation in Russia. He looked despondent when he was taken off against Nigeria with 20 minutes left, his self-confidence glaringly absent. But it is feasible he is still affected by what happened during the season with PSG. Di Maria was PSG's most in-form player heading into the first leg of its Champions League last-16 game against Real Madrid on Feb. 14, but was surprisingly left out entirely by PSG coach Unai Emery. "I was boiling (inside) because I felt I should have played, or at least have come on," Di Maria said. Perhaps his fragile confidence has not been repaired. But Mascherano and Di Maria are not the only big-name players performing well below their best. So is Gonzalo Higuain. The burly striker looked nervous and heavy-legged against Nigeria, blazing a great chance high and wide with the score 1-1 with 10 minutes left. In the end, he was reprieved by Rojo's late winner, but it was not the finish expected of a forward with a combined 267 goals for Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus. He has 31 for Argentina, too, but tellingly he has not scored in his past eight games for his country. WHERE IS DYBALA? Fans hoping to see Paulo Dybala, one of the brightest attacking talents in soccer, playing in Russia may not get their wish. The 24-year-old forward regularly impresses Juventus fans with his trickery and spectacular goals — scoring 26 times in 46 appearances last season — but for whatever reason, Sampaoli does not seem to need him. With time running out against Nigeria, the coach still did not bring him on, even though Dybala has the skill and imagination to unlock defenses. He has only played once for Argentina all year, and with Sampaoli in charge this does not look like it will change. FRENCH THREAT Although France has yet to find its top form , Argentina's creaking defense will be under threat from its highly rated forwards. Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele are two of the fastest players in the world, while Antoine Griezmann was top scorer at the European Championship two years ago. Imposing striker Olivier Giroud is one of the best headers of the ball around, which gives Sampaoli's back four even more to worry about from crosses, corners and free kicks......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2018

Kai Sotto, Alex Eala among those to be awarded in first Siklab Awards

The first Phoenix Siklab Youth Sports awards will honor 50 sports achievers in a simple ceremony on June 27 at the Century Park Hotel in Manila. Leading the awardees are 24 youth athletes, aged 17-years-old below, who made waves in local and international tournaments, and will be conferred the POC Young Heroes Awards trophies. Heading the list are Kim Remolino for triathlon, Rex Luis Krog (cycling), Chezka Centeno (billiards), Samantha Kyle Catantan (fencing), Nicole Tagle (archery), Maria Takahashi (judo), Alex Eala (tennis), Veruel Verdadero (athletics) and boxers Chriztian Pitt Laurente, Kenneth Dela Pena and John Vincent Pangga. Also included in the honor roll are Mary Angeline Alcantara (taekwondo), Rafael Barreto (swimming), Angelo Kenzo Umali (bowling), Caloy Yulo (gymnastics), Kaitlin De Guzman (gymnastics), Bea Hernandez (bowling), Sarah Barredo (badminton), Allaney Jia Doroy (chess), Ghen-Yan Cruz (muay), Johnzenth Gajo (wushu), AJ Lim (tennis), John Paolo Rivero (weightlifting) and Bhay Newberry (swimming). Outstanding athletes who have shone in major school leagues and championships in their respective sport, as well as the Philippine National Games, will be bestowed the POC Super Kids trophies during the historic affair. The POC Super Kids awardees include Kai Sotto (basketball), Tara Borlain (athletics), Marco Umgeher (alpine skiing), Dexy Manalo (canoe-kayak), Morris Marlos (sailing), Rizumu Ono (table tennis), Rosegie Ramos (weightlifting), Daniel Quizon (chess), Jane Linette Hipolito (weightlifting),Kieth Absalon (football),Justin Ceriola (jiu-jitsu), Trojan Dangadang (canoe-kayak), Christine Talledo (dragonboat) and Eya Laure (volleyball). Meanwhile, those who excelled at the Batang Pinoy and Palaro Pambansa games will be awarded the PSC Children’s Games for Peace awardees. They include Jayvee Alvarez (athletics), Rick Angelo Sotto (athletics), Kaila Soguilon (swimming), Althea Michel Baluyot (swimming), Ethan Zafra (archery), Micaela Jasmine Mojdeh (swimming), Karl Jahrel Eldrew Yulo (gymnastics), Princes Sheryl Valdez (arnis), Jared Cole Sua (archery) at si Phoebe Nicole Amistoso (archery). It will be the first time such awards will be given to the 17 year-old and below age bracket.   “We would like to inspire our young athlete and give them more reasons to persevere, pursue their dreams and make our country proud in bigger stages,” said June Navarro, president of the PSC-POC Media Group, which partners with the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission. Navarro also clarified that although there are basic criteria set in giving the awards, some athletes may not have won yet, but "their life-changing stories were enough to inspire others in keeping a positive attitude towards their goals.” To cap the night, Siklab will also pay tribute to two Olympic silver medalists, boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco Jr., and lady weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz. The Velasco and Diaz, whose exploits have spurred a lot of young athletes’ Olympic dreams, will be given the Sports Idols trophies......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2018

DOC VOLLEYBALL: A Dilemma on Loop?

Flashback to March 2017, the whole volleyball community was abuzz about a newly formed national team set to compete in the Southeast Asian Games of that year as tryouts were held, but certain players, particularly from the Ateneo de Manila University, were allegedly not invited. An apology was then issued and special tryouts were held to accommodate the aforementioned athletes. Flashback to 2015, with a newly formed organization in Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) taking the reins from the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) as the volleyball authority in the country, the future looked bright as for the first time in recent history, both the men’s and women’s teams were being sent to the Singapore SEA Games as representation of the sport’s resurgence. As with any newly formed roster, the composition was mired in controversy especially with the men’s team, which was composed of predominantly of young players. Flashback to 2014, with the power struggle between the aforementioned LVPI and PVF, the latter formed the infamous Amihan and Bagwis squads as the women’s and men’s national teams, respectively. Backed by then sponsor PLDT, the rosters boasted of the some of the country’s best talents from both divisions with the likes of Alyssa Valdez, Mark Espejo, Ara Galang, Tatan Pantone, Ran Ran Abdilla and Mark Alfafara to name a few. Both teams never saw the light of day outside the country as the PVF eventually lost its accreditation leading to the teams’ eventual disbandment. And the theme went on as the previous years are revisited. Fast forward to present time, 2018, and once again the volley community is abuzz with the formation of yet again a new national team with a familiar scenario in which local favorites did not make the cut. With the volleyball scene at an all time high in local following, it is quite inevitable for varying opinions on who should have been included in the line-up given the wide pool of talents especially in the women’s division. Coupled with a sudden change in coaching staff, the new roster is once again under scrutiny given the process the team as a whole was structured from the beginning. Another New Beginning Without taking anything from the players and coaches of the new women’s national team, the composition is relatively deserving of the spots for the roster. While expected shoe-ins who have performed tremendously well in the local leagues like Myla Pablo, Maika Ortiz, and Tatan Pantone were not afforded a slot in the team, the new line-up is still pretty much capable of representing the country. Middles – Aby Marano is the best fit amongst the middles who made the final cut. With exceptional timing and good lateral movement, Marano is expected to perform in the position well offensively and defensively despite the lack of height for a middle blocker internationally. Her agility and aggressiveness with her net play more than justifies her inclusion and assignment as the team captain. Her DLSU successor Majoy Baron would add much needed support as the second middle as she has proven to have the power and timing of Aby though much work can still be done for her agility in the net. Baron’s aggressive floaters will also be of much benefit on the service line. Lastly, Mika Reyes would provide the height should the need arise especially against foreign teams with bigger size. Left Wing – Alyssa Valdez’ inclusion as left wing hitter is of no question as she continues to prove that she is one of the best open hitters in the local scene. Perhaps working more on her bulk and power is something the coaching staff must consider to ensure that she can carry over her local performance to the international scene. Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Ces Molina likewise have proven themselves much capable of being offensive threats from the left and their decent size will be of much benefit in blocking against slides and opposite attacks from foreign counterparts. It would be beneficial as well if Santiago-Manabat develops mastery of passing and if Molina becomes a significant threat with the pipe in order for both athletes to really excel in the position. Although Cha Cruz is not much of a power hitter as compared to the aforementioned left hitters, she would serve a special position as the service and defense specialist for the team. If in scenarios in which she will serve in for a middle, her floor defense is of much benefit in Zone 5 and with her background as a former setter, she is still capable of setting up a decent play should the setter get the first contact. Right Wing – Though much of her collegiate season has been utilized hitting from the middle, Jaja Santiago is undeniably more fit for the opposite position. Despite her height and power, which could be considered an automatic criteria for the middle, Santiago has much work to be done with lateral motion which is also a crucial component for middle hitters. With her vertical reach and power, she is better off racking up points from the right wing and right back row as the main offensive option for the team. Likewise, Kim Dy is also a shoo-in for the opposite position as evidenced by her consistency in scoring and blocking from the right. With Kim Fajardo calling the plays, Kim Dy would be beneficial in running faster or creative plays should the need arise. Setters – The selection of Fajardo and Jia Morado is not to be questioned as both have proven and continue to prove that they are top-notch setters in the country. Both setters are a shoo-in for the national team as both are equal in consistency with Fajardo showing mastery in working the middles and Morado displaying her skill in making the wings work for her. Not much can be argued really about the selection of the two athletes. A reserve setter in Rhea Dimaculangan would be also beneficial as she has the consistency and creativity as the aforementioned setters as well as the height, which would be important in blocking. Libero – Currently hailed as one of Southeast Asia’s finest, Dawn Macandili is undeniably a good choice for the main libero position. With her agility and speed to pop up digs and impossible saves, her presence on the floor is highly beneficial for the team on transition defense. On the other hand, her counterpart Denise Lazaro has proven to be highly consistent from the receiving end of services making her inclusion as part of the regular roster and not just a reserve undeniably essential. With Lazaro setting up the passing formation and Macandili guarding on transition, their combined specialized efforts will ensure the first step in letting the setters run the play for the team. A Shift in View Given the fact that the talent pool in the women’s division is deep, player selection will always be put on debate as not all favored athletes will be included. Perhaps a good way of viewing the matter is that given the yet again short preparation time for the next international tournament, the coaching staff would best select players who they have already established a good working relationship for a more seamless adaptation of a new system. Rather than put into scrutiny the individual players, handpicked or not, the focus should be put on the system as a whole and how it can be further developed for the improvement of the sport. Yet again, the 2018 roster is proving to be another promising one as it has been almost every year when a new line-up is formed. More than bringing back pride to the country internationally in the tournaments immediately at hand, the bigger challenge for the national team is to prove itself not as yet another band aid solution in the attempt to have a continuous program. How the 2018 Team will prove itself different from its predecessors in past Asian/SEA Games would be the more important matter that should be put under the lens. With the sport currently a major source of livelihood for many athletes, the players are no longer the ones getting the short end of the stick but rather volleyball and its development as a whole should the loop continues. The country has much individual talent deserving of a spot in the team, but for as long as vested interests continue to rear their head in the Philippine Volleyball System, the level of the sport will continue to fall short in justifying its current local popularity.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

Nat’l squad looking to play in both commercial leagues

Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. looks to enter the national women’s volleyball team as a guest squad in the country’s two commercial leagues as part of its preparation for three major international tournaments. The volleyball association announced Sunday that the yet to be assembled national team will play in the 2018 PSL Invitational set to begin on June 23. LVPI vice president Peter Cayco said that the Nationals, skippered by F2 Logistics star Aby Marano, will participate in the conference as a ‘guest team’.      “Ako ang lumapit sa PSL if pwede nila ma-accommodate ang national team, isali nila sa Invitational Conference parang guest team,” said Cayco. “Pumayag naman sila sa set up na guest team kami (national team) and hindi kasama sa win-loss records ng teams. Parang tune up lang nila kami, no bearing.” Cayco added that he is also looking to talk to the PVL to accommodate the national team in its next conference. The official cited that it was practical to enter the squad in the PSL as the PVL is already in their playoff stage.  “Sa PVL naman, hindi ko na inilapit sa kanila kasi ayaw ko makagulo kasi quarters na sila and going to semis na,” he said. “Nasa importanteng stage na sila ng liga nila so ayaw ko naman makagulo.” “Sa next conference nila, sa kanila naman ako makikiusap na kung pwede, same setup, ma-accommodate rin nila ang national team,” Cayco added. Head coach Shaq Delos Santos is expected to announce the names of the players that will be included in the projected 20-woman pool early this week. From the pool, Delos Santos will pick the 14 players that will compose the final lineup set to participate in the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games in August, the AVC Asia Cup in Thailand in September and in the 2019 Manila Southeast Asian Games. Cayco cleared that the national team players will have an option to play in their respective mother clubs.   “If magkasabay or maging magkalaban ‘yung club team and national team, the player will play sa club team niya because we have 20 players in the pool so OK lang if sa club team maglaro ‘yung player,” he said. “For example, si Aby, if national team versus F2 Logistics, doon siya sa F2.” As for the PVL players who will be included in the national team, Cayco will try to talk to the league to allow them to play. “Now ‘yung PVL players we will ask the PVL, the team owners, sa mother teams nila kung pwede maglaro yung mga players for the national team sa PSL,” said Cayco. “Para sa national team sila maglalaro and not for the PSL.” Creamline’s Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado and Mel Gohing and Pocari Sweat-Air Force’s Myla Pablo are the PVL players invited by the LVPI to join the national team hopefuls.   ---      Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 10th, 2018

Hope Solo says don t vote for US World Cup bid

By Rob Harris, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — A World Cup winner and Olympic champion with the United States, Hope Solo now wants her country to lose one of its biggest soccer contests: FIFA's vote on the 2026 World Cup host. "I can't say it should be awarded to Morocco," Solo told The Associated Press. "But I don't think it should go to the United States, and that's hard to say." Concerns about the financial dealings of the United States Soccer Federation and the closed men's league system led Solo to that conclusion. By choosing to actively campaign against the U.S.-led North America bid, Solo risks alienating herself further from the soccer community in her homeland. The bid leadership was exasperated when informed Solo was undermining their efforts heading into Wednesday's vote, dismissing her criticism of the governance of soccer but declining to go on the record in detail. This is not an isolated eruption against U.S. Soccer. Solo has reason to be disgruntled. After 202 international appearances — a record for an American goalkeeper — Solo was fired over an outburst at the 2016 Olympics against the opposition and a series of off-the-field controversies. In an attempt to take control of the organization that ostracized her, Solo ran for the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) presidency in February. There was a resounding verdict: Solo garnered only 1.4 percent of the vote to finish last out of five candidates. Solo still wants to be heard to try to secure equal pay and equal treatment for the U.S. women's team, and force Major League Soccer to open up the closed competition. Her gripes provide a counterpoint to the loyal championing of the American World Cup bid by David Beckham in a video released by MLS, where the former England captain is launching a team in Miami. That is only possible because Beckham secured a cut-price deal for an expansion franchise as part of his contract to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy. "That is not helping the sport in America," Solo said. "I want to see promotion-relegation in the NASL and the MLS. Right now it's true, you have rich ownership groups owning MLS teams and they're only getting richer and they're alienating everybody else. "A new ownership group can't just come in and purchase a team even though they have the financial security, even though they have the commitment. It's controlled by those single individuals at Soccer United Marketing, MLS in particular, (Commissioner) Don Garber." FIFA's statutes enshrine the principle of a system of promotion and relegation in domestic competitions to ensure participation "shall depend principally on sporting merit." The regulations then say that qualification can be subject to other criteria including "financial considerations." MLS stridently defended itself against Solo's criticism, saying team owners have invested more than $3 billion in stadium and training facilities to grow the sport because it's a closed league. "The structure that we have has given owners certainty to make that type of investment," MLS President and Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott told the AP. "Had we had a system of promotion and relegation it would not have been possible to generate that level of investment from owners, local communities or private banks that help to fund some of these facilities." Solo also questioned Garber's role overseeing MLS and Soccer United Marketing, which is the exclusive marketing partner of U.S. Soccer, while also sitting on the USSF board. "There are too many conflicts of interest that need to be addressed immediately," Solo said. Garber represents MLS on the U.S. Soccer board but recuses himself from discussions about the "sanctioning of other professional leagues in the U.S.," Abbott responded on behalf of the commissioner. Turning on the USSF, Solo said the organization lacks integrity and highlights the absence of an independent ethics committee, which FIFA has. She also filed a claim with the U.S. Olympic Committee, saying the USSF violates a law that offers protections for athletes, alleging improper conditions for soccer players. "If you're an Olympic sport, your national governing body, every NGB has an obligation to give resources and funds to all of its members, not just professional and amateur players or Paralympic team women's teams or youth teams," Solo said. "But what U.S. Soccer does is they give the money directly to the pro teams. So it's in violation of the Ted Stevens Act and I have a hearing in a couple weeks in front of the Olympic Committee. "I also met with Congress members recently. I went to Capitol Hill, met with Republicans and Democrats, and there's a lot of interest to make sure that U.S. Soccer is an organization that actually is run transparently, has integrity and is an open and honest national governing body." Up to 207 soccer federations will vote next Wednesday in Moscow on whether North America or Morocco should host the 2026 World Cup, or the bidding should be reopened by choosing "none of the above." In FIFA's inspections report, North America's bid, which includes Canada and Mexico as minority partners, scored 402 out of 500, while Morocco was marked 275 in part due to a lack of infrastructure. "Hopefully FIFA can stand up and step in and say, 'If we're going to reward you, let's look at everything and point out where you can fix certain things,'" Solo said. Her call for greater transparency from the USSF came after speaking at the London launch conference for the Foundation for Sports Integrity, which has one named official who would not disclose the source of funding for the group or who paid to hire lavish facilities at a Four Seasons hotel. "I want to put my faith and trust in people," Solo said. "Who's funding it? That's no different from the way a lot of organizations are run.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2018