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US OPEN 18: On the clock! 25-second countdown s Slam debut

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Any discussion of the serve clocks that will make their Grand Slam debut during the U.S. Open's main draw starting Monday, and could become a regular part of tennis as soon as next year, inevitably turns to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. They are two of the greatest players in history — and two of the slowest between points. For one thing, Djokovic's incessant bouncing of the ball before a service toss delays things. So do Nadal's habitual mannerisms: the touching of the nose, the tucking of the hair, the grabbing at the shorts, and on it goes. And while neither was a big fan of introducing digital readouts on court to show the 25-second countdown before each first serve, the two men with a combined 30 Grand Slam singles titles seem ready to accept that they must abide by a change intended to add uniformity to their sport. "I just need to go faster," Nadal said, matter-of-factly. Djokovic's take: "I'm pretty comfortable with it." Both got a chance to see what this new, stricter world will look like during a test run at a handful of hard-court tuneup tournaments over the past month. "Some of the guys might think this is targeted to them," said Gayle Bradshaw, the executive vice president for rules and competition on the men's tour. Referring to Nadal and Djokovic, specifically, Bradshaw added: "They'll adjust. And I think for Rafa, it's going to be a benefit: Him wearing down the other guy." The U.S. Tennis Association, ATP and WTA are tracking what competitors, spectators and TV broadcasters make of the new system. Reviews from players so far have mostly been positive or indifferent, although Serena Williams said she's "not a fan of it at all." "You're aware of it. You certainly look at it and notice it. I do think it's a good thing," said Andy Murray, a three-time major champion. "It's one of those things in tennis that is so stupid: The players were sort of expected to sort of be counting to 25 in their head. ... How are you supposed to know how much time you're actually taking?" Wimbledon semifinalist John Isner and others noted they would step to the line to serve and still have plenty of time — sometimes 10 seconds or more — left, enabling them to catch their breath or think about how to approach the next point. "I didn't feel rushed at all, by any means," Isner said. "Maybe it can slow you down." That might have contributed to one unintended consequence during the three men's tournaments where clocks were used for qualifying and main draws: longer matches. It's a small sample size, and, of course, it's dependent on the particulars of individual contests — nearly 30 percent more matches went to 7-5 or a tiebreaker in the third set in 2018 than 2017 at those events. But third sets lasted an average of 5 minutes longer this year than last year. First sets were nearly 1 1/2 minutes longer this year while second sets were a minute shorter. Servers were warned 74 times and returners received nine warnings at the ATP and WTA tournaments with the clocks. It's possible this setup will become more widespread as soon as 2019; the ATP Board could consider that for the men's tour during its U.S. Open meeting. The amount of time taken between points has been a subject of discussion in tennis for quite a while now, just as other sports are concerned about whether events that take too long are losing viewers in this age of short attention spans and competition for eyeballs (take Major League Baseball's limits on mound visits, time between innings and movement toward a pitch clock). "This just makes it a little more transparent, a little more visible," U.S. Open tournament director David Brewer said. "North American fans are used to shot clocks. They actually expect this sort of thing." There already was a time limit in tennis, but it was entirely up to a chair umpire's discretion, because no one — most importantly players, but also folks in the stands and TV viewers — knew exactly how many seconds had elapsed. Now it will be apparent to everyone, much like a shot clock in the NBA and college basketball or a play clock in the NFL and college football. The serve clocks — along with a strict 7-minute period from when players enter a court until a match begins, also shown on digital readouts — were tested during 2017 U.S. Open qualifying. The basics of the serve clock: After announcing the score, chair umpires start the countdown (they have leeway to wait if a particularly long point merits an extra pause). If the 25 seconds expire before the service motion begins on a first serve, the server will receive a warning, then be assessed a fault for each subsequent violation (second serves are supposed to happen without delay, so clocks won't be used). If the returner isn't ready at the end of 25 seconds, first comes a warning, then the loss of a point with every other violation. The basics of the pre-match period: Clocks will count a minute from when players step on court until the coin toss, 5 minutes for the warmup, then another minute until the opening point. Delays can result in fines of up to $20,000, according to USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier. He said players already have been docked as much as $1,500 during recent tournaments. "The intent is not to fine players. The intent is to get players used to this new procedure and also to truly build consistency," Widmaier said, "so the matches start when they're supposed to start for television and for fans.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 26th, 2018

US OPEN 18: From Sloane & Serena to new roof, what to know

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — A little more than a year ago, Sloane Stephens was ranked outside of the top 950 as she tried to work her way back toward the top of tennis after foot surgery. By the time the U.S. Open was over, she was a Grand Slam champion for the first time and soaring up the rankings. On Monday, the No. 3-seeded Stephens will begin the defense of a major title for the first time, facing 80th-ranked Evgeniya Rodina of Russia at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. "Going back again and knowing that you held the trophy there once before is super-cool. I think that it'll be fun. There will be a lot of different pressure and a lot of excitement and a lot of stress," Stephens said. "Whether I lose first round or win the tournament again, I know I'm going to do my absolute best and that's all I can ask myself." Her success at Flushing Meadows in 2017 is emblematic of the wide-open nature of women's tennis ever since 23-time major champion Serena Williams left the tour for a hiatus while she was pregnant. At four of the past six majors, the titlist was a first-time Grand Slam champ: Jelena Ostapenko at the French Open and Stephens in New York in 2017; Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open and Simona Halep in Paris in 2018. Consistency at the majors hasn't exactly been that quartet's hallmark. Current No. 1 Halep lost in the first round at last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open. Ostapenko did the same at Roland Garros this year. Wozniacki exited in the second round at two of the past four Slams. Stephens has been boom or bust lately, too, collecting a pair of runs to finals and a trio of opening-round defeats at the five major tournaments she's entered since the foot operation. "You can't let the lows get you too low," the 25-year-old American said, "and you can't let the highs get you too high." Here is what else to know before play starts on the blue hard courts of the year's last Grand Slam tournament: DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK Six-time champion Williams returns to the U.S. Open on Monday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium against 68th-ranked Magda Linette of Poland. Williams missed the tournament a year ago because she gave birth on Sept. 1. "I feel like everything is just different, in terms of: I'm living a different life. I'm playing the U.S. Open as a mom," Williams said. "It's just new and it's fresh." She is coming off a runner-up finish at Wimbledon but has lost three of her past four matches. Williams could face her older sister, Venus, in the third round. BIG 4 REUNION For the first time since Wimbledon in June 2017, a tournament will have the entire Big Four in the field: five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer , defending champ Rafael Nadal , two-time winner Novak Djokovic and 2012 champion Andy Murray. They have won 49 of the past 54 Slam titles and the last three Olympic singles golds and have been ranked No. 1 every week for the last 14½ years. Djokovic — who could face Federer in the quarterfinals — and Murray sat out the U.S. Open last year because of injuries. Also back is 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, who couldn't defend his title because of a bad knee. WHOSE TURN IS IT? It's been a question asked for years, yet it still remains without an answer: Which youngster will assert himself and break up the dominance at the top of men's tennis? Alexander Zverev, a 21-year-old German who recently began working with Ivan Lendl, hopes he'll be the one, but there is a crop of up-and-comers worth watching. A SECOND ROOF For so many years, and through so much rain, the U.S. Open operated without any possibility of playing despite bad weather, resulting in a series of Monday men's finals pushed back from Sunday. Now there are two retractable roofs: the one added to Arthur Ashe Stadium that's been in use for the past two years, and the one at the rebuilt 14,069-seat Armstrong arena, which will host night sessions, too. It's the culmination of a five-year, $600 million project that remade the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. SERVE CLOCKS Serve clocks make their debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, allowing everyone to see the countdown on courtside digital readouts as players get 25 seconds to start a point. Clocks also will time the 7-minute pre-match period, from the players' walk-on through the coin toss and the warmup. Also new at the 2018 U.S. Open: electronic line-calling on every court......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018

LeBron shines in debut, but Lakers still have lots to do

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. -- His first basket of this new era was much like many others, in terms of impact and its ferocity and jaw-dropping nature. LeBron James stole the Trail Blazers’ cross-court pass and before him was the open court … and thousands of open mouths, all bracing in anticipation of a moment. His fast-break dunk was just as you expected it would be, jammed through the basket with a cocked arm and followed by a brief pose at landing, for emphasis and style. The greatest player in the game was back in full soar Thursday but, as it were, his new team remained stuck to the floor. Overall, this process is gonna take some time, you think? Before the Los Angeles Lakers whip the basketball world into a frenzy, they must whip Portland. And also the Houston Rockets, who visit Staples Center on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) for the Lakers’ home opener. And the Golden State Warriors. And Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans. And any team in the Western Conference that considers itself a contender. But you knew this, right? “We’ll have to go through some moments,” LeBron said after the Lakers lost at Moda Center, 128-119. “We’ll have some adversity.” True, this isn’t an overnight sensation in the making. “Not as fast as you (media) guys think it’s going to happen,” LeBron said. The Lakers will get more chances to make a first impression, and that’s a good thing for them as they navigate through a potentially tricky transition period with their shiny new showpiece. There is only one thing that’s a lock through this bumpy path: LeBron is still the force he was in Cleveland and Miami, his only other NBA stops. Months before turning 34, his flow and his basketball instincts remain steak-knife sharp and his pride is intact. He tipped off his season by playing 37 minutes -- so much for reduced minutes here after 15 years of deep tread wear on his wheels -- and delivered 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. “I mean, that’s crazy, a guy to be in his 16th year playing at that pace and above the rim the way he was,” said Blazers guard Damian Lillard. “He looked like himself.” That said, he and his teammates are still working on their wavelength. This was evident for much of the night, when connections were missed and confusion reigned at times. On Thursday (Friday, PHL time), LeBron threw a behind-the-back pass that in Cleveland or Miami would usually hits is mark to teammates aware of his tendencies and timing. Last night, LeBron tried it and the ball dribbled out of bounds, all of which flummoxed LeBron and Kyle Kuzma (the nearest Laker). After the whistle blew and possession went to Portland, LeBron and Kuzma had a brief chat. “I expected Kuz to pop,” explained LeBron, “and he rolled. Then another time (Rajon) Rondo went to the hole, JaVale (McGee) thought it was going to him and it was meant for me. We’ll get better at that.” These first few weeks, if the Lakers are fortunate, will be conducted in a vacuum and a laboratory. Transitions are usually like that. LeBron had a similar one in Miami eight years ago, when a 9-8 start playing alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had folks thinking the sky was falling. With these Lakers, the reaction will -- or should, anyway -- be more muted if only because the expectations aren’t through the ceiling this season. The Lakers are trying to nourish the limited basketball experience of Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram with LeBron (and Rajon Rondo) taking on more of a mentor role. That means class will be in session most, if not all, season. LeBron is preaching patience not only for those in and outside of the organization, but for himself as well. Sometimes, it’s easier said than done. LeBron realizes that he’s on the clock personally, even though his stamina and level of play remain high. “A lot of these guys don’t have as much experience, so I have to understand that,” James said. “And I do.” LeBron seems cursed by celebrated season openers, falling to 0-4 all-time in his debut games. He scored 25 points in his rookie opener, but Cleveland lost to the Sacramento Kings. He had 31 in his Miami opener in a loss to the Boston Celtics. And he had 17 points in his Cleveland return in 2014, a home loss to the New York Knicks. The Lakers’ crime Thursday (Friday, PHL time) was a failure to tighten up defensively and of course the mistakes that could be blamed on a getting-to-know-you game. And then there’s another issue that LeBron will soon discover, if he hasn’t already: He’s not in the easy East anymore. “There’s a tough game every night,” Lillard said. The West had 10 teams with winning records last season fighting for eight playoff spots. Coaches and players in the West were fond of tweaking their neighbors across the Mississippi in 2017-18, saying the non-playoff teams in the West should take some East spots. Of last season’s playoff teams, none return seriously weaker -- unless you’re ready to bury the San Antonio Spurs (who have a 21-year playoff streak going) or Minnesota Timberwolves (who are coping with the Jimmy Butler crisis). The Blazers were the No. 3 seed and were swept in the first round by the Pelicans, which puts the depth and overall strength of the West in perspective. Only three games separated the Blazers and the ninth-seeded Nuggets during the regular season. Meanwhile, the Rockets and Warriors were beyond the reach of mortals. LeBron chumped the East eight straight times to reach the NBA Finals. Yet by most indications, he’s an A-list teammate away from spooking the Warriors -- and that teammate isn’t in a Lakers uniform this season. This journey through the West could either humble LeBron or, at the least, make him realize the work needed for the Lakers to regain contender status. Heck, the Lakers couldn’t even prevent Nik Stauskas from having the biggest night of his NBA life. He scored 24 points and made more three-pointers (five) than the Lakers’ starting lineup (two). It was telling that Lakers coach Luke Walton started Rondo over Ball at point guard -- an understandable move after Ball missed several months recovering from knee issues. Rondo was mainly stellar (11 assists, three steals) while the Lakers’ fourth-quarter lineups excluded Ball. Meanwhile, Hart (20 points off the bench) earned crunch time minutes. “Everyone had different roles last year,” Walton said, “and some of those roles could change.” Well, someone’s role will remain the same. Regarding that guy, Walton said: “Glad he’s on our team. He’s pretty good at the game of basketball.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2018

PBA: Lee, Hotshots spoil Murphy s fiery debut with SMB

What a win for Magnolia. The Hotshots showed composure in the end against San Miguel, pulling off a pulsating 109-108 win over the Beermen Sunday in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup at the Big Dome. Down four, 104-108, in the final minute and having onlt 3.5 seconds on the shot clock, Romeo Travis found Justin Melton wide open for a booming three, cutting Magnolia's deficit to one. The Hotshots then took the lead for good after Paul Lee drilled a baseline jumper for a 109-108 advantage with 34 seconds to go. Magnolia made several stops in the final Beermen possession, forcing misses from Kelly Nabong, Christian Standhardinger, and Alex Cabagnot to hold on for the win. "Very nice win," head coach Chito Victolero said. "Credit to the players, dun sa kanilang puso ika nga ng Gilas," he added as his team improved to 4-1. Paul Lee led Magnolia with 28 points, nine in the fourth. Four other Hotshots finished in double figures with import Romeo Travis adding 18 points and Ian Sangalang chipping in 16. For the Beermen, new import Kevin Murphy impressed in his debut, firing 37 points to go along with 10 rebounds and seven assists. Christian Standhardinger added 27 points and 16 boards for the now 2-3 SMB.   The Scores:   Magnolia 109 - Lee 28, Travis 18, Sangalang 16, Melton 12, dela Rosa 10, Barroca 8, Jalalon 5, Ramos 3, Simon 3, Reavis 2, Gamalinda 2, Brondial 2. San Miguel 108 - Murphy 37, Standhardinger 27, Lassiter 14, Santos 8, Ross 6, Nabong 6, Cabagnot 4, Heruela 3, Pessumal 3, de Ocampo 0.    Quarters: 29-36, 57-61, 84-88, 109-108.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 30th, 2018

Warriors secure now, but face questions on Cousins, Durant

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. -- All is rather calm at the moment with the defending champs, who are idling until they reach two important checkpoints in their gold-bricked road: What happens when DeMarcus Cousins comes back, and what happens if Kevin Durant doesn’t? One carries implications for this season, the other impacts next season and beyond. It’s really that simple for the Warriors, the heavy NBA favorites who once again are threatening to burst everyone else’s balloon for the next seven months and then pop bottles in June. While his new teammates are busy breaking a sweat in Camp Kerr, Cousins is mostly off to the side of the court, on his own schedule, going through the next phase of his rehabilitation from a torn Achilles suffered last spring. There is no timetable on his debut. Still: He represents a bonus for the defending champs, an ace card that doesn’t need to be played until it’s time, perhaps around the All-Star break in February, before for the playoffs. It’s quite a luxury to have, for a team that has everything: A big man with skills who averaged 25 points, 13 rebounds and 1.6 blocks last season with the Pelicans and is only 28. Assuming a full recovery, which isn’t a slam dunk by any means, Cousins would still be in his prime once he suits up and makes life complicated for teams trying to game plan for Golden State. And then there’s the elephant in the gym. Durant remains on a year-to-year contract. Initially, this was done mainly to ensure the Warriors wiggle room under the salary cap to re-sign Andre Iguodala and keep the core of a three-time champion. Yet Durant chose the same financial strategy this summer during free agency and therefore will be back on the market in 2019. You ask, and he says only: “Just keeping my options open.” It’s a rather sound, if rare, strategy that’s afforded by only few, as in, just Durant and until this summer, LeBron James. For the superstar who has already banked in excess of $100 million on the court and pulls that much and perhaps more in endorsements, there’s no financial incentive or urgency to lock in long-term. LeBron did so with the Lakers last July only because it was finally the right time: He turns 34 this year. Going year-to-year allows Durant, 30, to stay unchained in case something happens that causes him to sour on the Warriors and/or fall in love with another team. He’s an MVP contender in his prime and so a long-term deal will always await, no matter if he stays or goes. The only risk is a career-threatening injury, and in such an unlikely yet worst-case scenario. Durant is already wealthy times ten. Flexibility, right now, is more valuable than long-term money. The bigger issue is how this hovers above the Warriors, and there’s no sign that it’s causing sleepless nights. For one: Durant is in the fold for this season and the Warriors remain loaded; therefore their sights are fixated on June, when the championship will be decided, not July, when free agent starts. And two: The organization seems secure in itself and believes at the moment of truth, Golden State will be his best option. The evidence is pretty compelling. Next season the Warriors move into a state-of-the-art arena in San Francisco; ownership is laughing at the luxury tax, which could approach over $150 million in two seasons depending on the payroll; and in case you haven’t noticed, the Warriors are on a championship roll. Finally: Durant enjoys his surroundings. “We’re selfless, care about each other, that’s what the Warriors do,” he said. “My cup is full here knowing that you can walk in here and be yourself, no judgment, just all love. The championship is just the cherry on top.” It’s hard to imagine Durant going to a more talented team. The Warriors are still in their prime, at least the core. Steph Curry is 30 and Durant joins him on Saturday. Cousins, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are 28. It’s rare for a professional sports team to have three titles in the bag with stars in their prime as they chase No. 4; usually, one or two of the main pieces are old and in decline. Extensions are due for Thompson and Cousins next summer along with Durant, and Green in two years. The conventional thinking is a team can’t pay everyone, and perhaps not. But the Warriors will generate millions in their new building, enough to keep a payroll approaching $300 million (and cope with high luxury taxes) if they chose to do so. The goal is to keep the championship train running, until it can’t, because dynasties are hard to build and trickier to maintain. The Warriors have the opportunity to see this through, and so they’ll try. “We’re not looking at this as the final dance,” said coach Steve Kerr. “Like I said, we want to have some fun and enjoy what we have this year and move on from there. Our focus is to really enjoy it while it lasts. And nothing lasts forever, so we know that. We want to go out this year and enjoy every step of the way." Thompson repeated Thursday how much he “loves” living in the Bay Area and “I’d be crazy not to” think about the amount of in-prime talent he’d leave behind if he signs elsewhere. Green said he imagines himself a Warrior “for a long time.” Durant? We’ll see. In the meantime, the Warriors, like Durant, will take it year-by-year. It’s the only way to do business in the modern NBA. This year promises big returns, once again, on the floor. The last team to reach the Finals five straight years was the Bill Russell Celtics. And the Warriors, who swept the Cavaliers last June, who bring Durant and Curry and Thompson and Green back, finally have a center-piece this time. When Cousins returns, this team will be built to make history. And then, come free agency next summer, when the bill comes due, we’ll find out if they’re built to last. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 28th, 2018

Djokovic to provide firepower for Team Europe at Laver Cup

      CHICAGO, United States – The second installment of the Laver Cup comes at just the right time for 14-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic who is back in top form after winning the US Open. Djokovic is making his debut in this week's three-day team event which has been dubbed the ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsSep 20th, 2018

1, done: Halep 1st No. 1 to lose 1st Open match; Serena wins

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Some players, like top-ranked Simona Halep, freely acknowledge they don't deal well with the hustle-and-bustle of the U.S. Open and all it entails. Others, like 44th-ranked Kaia Kanepi, take to the Big Apple and its Grand Slam tournament. Put those two types at opposite ends of a court at Flushing Meadows and watch what can happen: Halep made a quick-as-can-be exit Monday, overwhelmed by the power-based game of Kanepi 6-2, 6-4 to become the first No. 1-seeded woman to lose her opening match at the U.S. Open in the half-century of the professional era. On a Day 1 that featured the major tournament debut of 25-second serve clocks, Halep blamed opening-round jitters, a recurring theme throughout her career. The reigning French Open champion has now lost her first match at 12 of 34 career major appearances, a stunningly high rate for such an accomplished player. "It's always about the nerves," said Halep, who was beaten in the first round in New York by five-time major champion Maria Sharapova in 2017. "Even when you are there in the top, you feel the same nerves. You are human." She also offered up an explanation tied to this particular site. "Maybe the noise in the crowd. The city is busy. So everything together," said Halep, who was coming off consecutive runs to the final at hard-court tuneup tournaments at Cincinnati and Montreal. "I'm a quiet person, so maybe I like the smaller places." Her departure means she can't stand in the way of Serena Williams, who could have faced Halep in the fourth round. Williams, the 23-time major champion who missed last year's U.S. Open because she gave birth on Sept. 1, returned with a flourish, following singer Kelly Clarkson's opening night performance in Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Magda Linette under the lights. "The first set was tight. It was my first back here in New York, so that wasn't the easiest," Williams told the crowd. "Once I got settled, I started doing what I'm trying to do in practice." Williams, a six-time winner at Flushing Meadows, moved a step closer to a possible third-round matchup against her older sister, two-time winner Venus, who defeated 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Others making the second round included defending champion and No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens, two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka, and two-time major champ Garbine Muguruza. Four seeded men lost, including No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov against three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, who also beat him in the first round of Wimbledon, No. 16 Kyle Edmund and No. 19 Roberto Bautista Agut. Andy Murray, whose three major titles include the 2012 U.S. Open, played his first Grand Slam match in more than a year and won, eliminating James Duckworth 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. At night, defending champion Rafael Nadal advanced when the man he beat in the 2013 French Open final, David Ferrer, stopped in the second set because of an injury, while 2009 champ Juan Martin del Potro had no trouble dismissing Donald Young 6-0, 6-3, 6-4. Halep's loss was the first match at the rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium, which now has about 14,000 seats and a retractable roof, and what a way to get things started. That cover was not needed to protect from rain on Day 1 at the year's last major tournament — although some protection from the bright sun and its 90-degree (33-degree Celsius) heat might have been in order. "The courts suit my game, and I love being in New York. I like the city," said Kanepi, who is from Estonia and is sharing a coach this week with another player, Andrea Petkovic. "I like the weather: humid and hot." But several players had trouble in the heat, struggling with cramping or simply breathing. Since professionals first were allowed to enter Grand Slam tournaments in 1968, only five times before Monday did women seeded No. 1 lose their opening match at a major — and never at the U.S. Open. It happened twice to Martina Hingis and once to Steffi Graf at Wimbledon, once to Angelique Kerber at the French Open and once to Virginia Ruzici at the Australian Open. Halep got off to a slow start at Roland Garros this year, too, dropping her opening set, also by a 6-2 score, but ended up pulling out the victory there and adding six more to lift the trophy. There would be no such turnaround for her against Kanepi, a big hitter who dictated the points to claim her second career win against a top-ranked player — but first top-20 victory since 2015. Kanepi has shown the occasional ability to grab significant results, including a run to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows a year ago. On this day, Kanepi took charge of baseline exchanges, compiling a 26-9 edge in winners, 14 on her favored forehand side alone. Wearing two strips of athletic tape on her left shoulder, the right-handed Kanepi also had far more unforced errors, 28-9, but that high-risk, high-reward style ultimately paid off. "I thought, 'I just have to be aggressive and try to stay calm,'" Kanepi said. Early in the second set, on the way to falling behind by two breaks at 3-0, Halep slammed her racket twice, drawing a warning for a code violation from the chair umpire. Eventually, Halep got going a bit, taking advantage of Kanepi's mistakes to break back twice and get to 4-all in that set, getting a lot of support from fans who repeatedly chanted her first name. "I was thinking about that: Why (did) they cheer so much for her? Because normally, they cheer for the underdog," Kanepi said with a smile. "It was a bit annoying for some time, but I got over it." Sure did. She ended a 14-stroke exchange with a cross-court forehand volley winner to break right back for a 5-4 lead, then served out the victory......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2018

US OPEN 18: Zverev leads group of up-and-comers in New York

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Alexander Zverev has shown he can win run-of-the-mill tournaments and Masters titles, too. He's shown he can make it to the second week of a major. What everyone is watching — and waiting — for now is a Grand Slam semifinal, final or trophy. "Sascha Zverev," said Citi Open co-founder and chairman Donald Dell, using Zverev's nickname after the 21-year-old German won Washington's hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open a second consecutive year, "is the future of pro tennis." Zverev is seeded No. 4 at Flushing Meadows, where play begins Monday, and is widely considered the likeliest member of the latest generation of tennis pros to make a deep run at this U.S. Open after getting to his first major quarterfinal at the French Open. Zverev isn't alone, though. He's part of a crop of youngsters who might be ready to take over the sport from the old hands who have dominated it for more than a decade. Stop us if you've heard that before, though. "They're still there," Zverev said about the so-called Big Four of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. "Obviously, they're still contenders for every single tournament they play." It's worth noting that Zverev is one of only five active players who's won at least three Masters events. The others? Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray, who are all in their 30s and have combined to win 49 of the past 54 Grand Slam titles. Men's tennis just keeps skewing older: Last month at Wimbledon, all four semifinalists were in their 30s, the first time that happened at any Slam in the half-century of professional tennis. Ah, but look closely, and there are signs that change could be on the way. "They're definitely knocking on that door," Federer said, "and there is some exciting talent around." At the Citi Open this month, for example, Zverev's victory over 19-year-old Alex de Minaur of Australia made for the youngest final on the ATP World Tour since a 20-year-old Nadal beat a 19-year-old Djokovic at Indian Wells in 2007. And the ages of the two losing semifinalists in Washington? Andrey Rublev is 20; Stefanos Tsitsipas turned 20 the following week at the Toronto Masters, where he became the youngest player to beat four top-10 opponents at one tournament since the ATP World Tour was established in 1990. "Four 'NextGen' players in the semifinals. That's amazing for tennis, I think," Zverev said in Washington, referring to the marketing campaign the tour uses to promote up-and-comers. "Me being the oldest — that never happened to me before. It's interesting. And I like where tennis is going. I like the development of the other young guys. It's going to be interesting to see what it'll be like in the future." Agreed. Zverev is one of seven men who are 21 or younger and ranked in the top 50. Here's a look at the other half-dozen, each worth keeping an eye on during the U.S. Open: ___ STEFANOS TSITSIPAS Country: Greece Age: 20 Ranked: 15th (career high) Plays: Right-handed; one-handed backhand Career Titles: Zero 2018 Record: 30-20 Best Grand Slam Showing: 4th Round at Wimbledon in 2018 Best U.S. Open Showing: Making debut His Words: "I am part of a group of (young) players that make me better — and I make them better. We have a very good competition among us. Without this, I probably wouldn't even be inside the top 100." ___ BORNA CORIC Country: Croatia Age: 21 Ranked: 20th (career high) Plays: Right-handed; two-handed backhand Career Titles: 2 2018 Record: 26-14 Best Grand Slam Showing: 3rd Round, four times Best U.S. Open Showing: 3rd Round in 2017 His Words: "I learned by now that this is tennis and, you know, one week can be great; another one can be a disaster." ___ DENIS SHAPOVALOV Country: Canada Age: 19 Ranked: 28th (career high is 23rd) Plays: Left-handed; one-handed backhand Career Titles: Zero 2018 Record: 25-20 Best Grand Slam Showing: 4th Round at U.S. Open in 2017 Best U.S. Open Showing: 2017 His Words: "I'm only 19 and I've proved a lot to myself this year." ___ ANDREY RUBLEV Country: Russia Age: 20 Ranked: 37th (career high is 31st) Plays: Right-handed; two-handed backhand Career Titles: 1 2018 Record: 15-14 Best Grand Slam Showing: Quarterfinals at U.S. Open in 2017 Best U.S. Open Showing: 2017 His Words: "When you see, for example, somebody, a young guy, winning a big match, I start to think, 'If he can win, maybe I also can win it. Why not?' Is (giving) me more motivation." ___ FRANCES TIAFOE Country: United States Age: 20 Ranked: 42nd (career high is 38th) Plays: Right-handed; two-handed backhand Career Titles: 1 2018 Record: 24-16 Best Grand Slam Showing: 3rd Round of Wimbledon in 2018 Best U.S. Open Showing: 0-3 record His Words: "There's so much more work that needs to be done to be at the top of the game. I'm at the middle grounds now. I just want to do more. I want to keep working." ___ ALEX DE MINAUR Country: Australia Age: 19 Ranked: 43rd (career high) Plays: Right-handed; two-handed backhand Career Titles: Zero 2018 Record: 16-13 Best Grand Slam Showing: 3rd Round of Wimbledon in 2018 Best U.S. Open Showing: 0-1 record His Words: "I really wanted to be known in the locker room as that guy that's never going to give up: He's going to find until the end and you're really going to have to play well to beat him. That's something that I've tried to do every time I step out on court." ___ AP Sports Writer Brian Mahoney in New York contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

Game-changing imports who raised the bar in the PBA

Imports are considered not only crowd drawers that invite national attention to the PBA. They are also game changers who raised the bar of play in the pioneering Asian pro cage league, with their incredible skills, breathtaking court wizardry, huge scoring might, and of course fantastic flights of fancy. Through the years, we’ve anticipated only the best from them, and definitely there are a few of them who really made their mark with their names etched in the annals of the league. One of them is Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, who bagged the PBA Best Import Award recently. Not flashy or flamboyant, Brownlee just gets the job done, leading Ginebra to the 2016 and 2017 Governors Cup, and just recently the 2018 Commissioners Cup. Aside from Brownlee, who were the other imports in PBA history that made a huge impact in the league and in the consciousness of this basketball-crazy nation? Here are some of the greatest imports ever to play in the country. 1. Cyrus Mann Cyrus Mann is remembered as one of the first prolific imports that played in the PBA, donning the Crispa Redmanizers jersey during its Grand Slam year in 1976 up to 1979. He provided that imposing presence in the paint with his 6’10” frame and was a monster off the boards, including those killer moves in the paint scoring at will against opponents. 2. Byron “Snake” Jones Memorable for his versatility and workhorse attitude, Byron “Snake” Jones was a journeyman, playing for three different teams in the PBA and leading two of them to championships. He played for the Toyota Comets in the PBA’s maiden season and won the First and Second Conference crowns and then went on to play for the U-Tex Wranglers and help them in bagging their first-ever title in the PBA Open Conference in 1978. He would then end his PBA journey with the Crispa Redmanizers in 1981. 3. Andy Fields Considered the first “resident import” in the league, Andy Fields has been called back frequently to play for his lone PBA team Toyota in his entire stint in the PBA. A feared shotblocker, midrange shooter, and rebounder, Fields led Toyota to three PBA championships, including the 1979 Invitationals, 1981 and 1982 Open Conference titles. 4. Norman Black Norman Black is simply called the import that gives his all in each game, one who was frequently labeled as “Mr. 100%.” He started his PBA career with the Teflin Polyesters in 1981, then began his connection with the San Miguel franchise in 1982 as its main workhorse and scorer, who would guide the Beermen to its second franchise title in the Invitationals the same year. He would then serve as import for Great Taste the next year, played again for the SMC franchise in 1985 under Magnolia Quench Plus, then suited briefly for Alaska in 1986. After returning to San Miguel in 1987, Black would then become a playing coach and eventually a coach who engineered its first Grand Slam in 1989. 5. Billy Ray Bates Billy Ray Bates is considered by many as the “best ever” who would fascinate everyone with monster dunks from the charity stripe years before Michael Jordan. Not only would he run rings around defenders, Bates would soar up, up away to score, and score without letup, hence the title “The Black Superman.” His debut stint with Crispa in its second Grand Slam year in 1983 was astounding and remarkable, as his unstoppable incursions, aerial shows, and powerful slams made him unforgettable to this day. Three years later, he would bring his greatness to Ginebra San Miguel and bag the 1986 Open Conference crown, which was the then-Palanca franchise’s first title. 6. Michael Hackett Loyal and dedicated, Michael Hackett is the gentle giant opponents feared. He is considered one of the most dominant forces in PBA history, who would just power his way through defenders at the paint and score at will. Playing for Ginebra San Miguel, Hackett is best remembered for being the first PBA player to score over a hundred points, 103 points to be exact, in a match against Great Taste in the 1985 Open Conference, wherein he won Best Import honors. In the next year, Hackett and fellow import great Billy Ray Bates collaborated to lead Ginebra to the 1986 Open Conference title.   7. Bobby Parks For most coaches, the late Bobby Parks was seen as the greatest not only due to the fact that he is the most decorated with seven Best Import awards, but also being the most hard working and coachable import ever. A gallant scoring machine yet a silent operator, Parks showed a wide variety of moves in his lane incursions in his prime that would leave defenders helpless, ending in mind-boggling baskets. Apart from his individual skills, Parks really completes his mission, giving championships to San Miguel Beer in the 1987 Reinforced Conference, and then Shell as its resident import with two titles, the 1990 and 1992 First Conference plums.      8. Tony Harris He might not be that much of an obedient trooper, but Tony Harris and his brand of play was simply breathtaking. As Coach Yeng Guiao decided during his time as coach of the Swift Mighty Meaties that they must let him be and ordered his court lieutenants to just pass the ball to him and make him simply wield his magic. And he did leave everyone in awe with his speed, agility, and power to score over all defenders thrown at him, hence the monicker “The Hurricane.” Proof of his incredible abilities is scoring 105 points, the single game scoring record that holds to this day, against Ginebra in the 1992 Reinforced Conference, wherein he would single-handedly cop the title for Swift. 9. Sean Chambers You could be charmed by his beaming smile when you meet him off the court, but when you meet him on-court, prepare for the worst beating. Though he’s not the heavy scorer type of an import PBA fans are accustomed to, Alaska’s “resident import” shows his class and might as a team player. He worked for the Milkmen in 13 seasons, giving them titles 6 times, yet only won the Best Import plum once—in the Reinforced Conference of Alaska’s Grand Slam year in 1996. The memory of what these imports brought to the league continues to delight true PBA fans through the years. And we see their legacy in such players as Justin Brownlee, who continue to show the example, the standard for other foreign players setting foot in the country to follow.     .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 13th, 2018

No Bull: Buffalo pulls off big upset, knocks off Arizona

Results from the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday (Friday, PHL time): ___ EAST REGION ALABAMA 86, VIRGINIA TECH 83 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Collin Sexton scored 21 of his team-high 24 points after halftime to lead Alabama over Virginia Tech for the Crimson Tide's first NCAA Tournament win in a dozen years. John Petty kept ninth-seeded Alabama (20-15) in it while Sexton struggled during a sluggish opening half and finished with 20 points while shooting 6 of 8 on 3-pointers. Sexton found a rhythm in the second half, including a handful of big shots over the final five minutes to give the Crimson Tide a bit of breathing room in a game that featured 10 lead changes, with no team ever being up by more than seven points. Justin Robinson scored 19 points to lead the eighth-seeded Hokies (21-12). FLORIDA 77, ST. BONAVENTURE 62 DALLAS (AP) — Egor Koulechov scored 20 points and Florida eased past St. Bonaventure, ending the Bonnies' postseason run two days after their first NCAA Tournament victory in 48 years. Jalen Hudson scored 16 points and Chris Chiozza had 11 assists for the sixth-seeded Gators (21-12), who have reached the Elite Eight the past five times they've been in the tournament. A whirlwind week finally caught up with the Bonnies (26-8), who finished at 35 percent shooting but were in the 20s when the outcome was in doubt. Courtney Stockard led St. Bonaventure with 14 points after scoring 26 in a win over UCLA in a First Four game in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday. VILLANOVA 87, RADFORD 61 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored 16 points and top-seeded Villanova hit 14 3-pointers to rout Radford. The Wildcats (31-4) played to near-perfection for the first 30 minutes and led 44-23 at halftime. The Highlanders (23-13) posed no threat at becoming the first 16 seed to ever knock off a No. 1 in the tournament. TEXAS TECH 70, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 60 DALLAS (AP) — Keenan Evans scored 19 of his 23 points after halftime and third-seeded Texas Tech ended the game on a 13-2 run. Evans' layup with 3:58 left put the Big 12 runner-up Red Raiders (25-9) ahead to stay. Texas Tech will next play the winner of the Florida-St. Bonaventure game. SFA (28-7), the Southland Conference tournament champion, led by eight early in the second half. ___ SOUTH REGION BUFFALO 89, ARIZONA 68 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Wes Clark scored 25 points, Jeremy Harris added 23 and No. 13 seed Buffalo pulled off the biggest upset of the opening round, rolling over No. 4 seed Arizona. The smaller Bulls (27-8) used their quickness to zip around the Wildcats (27-8), scoring at the rim and on kickout 3-pointers. Defensively, Buffalo neutralized Arizona's size inside by collapsing on the paint, forcing the Wildcats to shoot from the perimeter. Arizona went 2 for 18 from beyond the 3-point arc, while the Bulls knocked down 15 of 30. CJ Massinburg had 19 points and Buffalo shredded Arizona's defense at a 55-percent clip for the program's first NCAA Tournament win. TENNESSEE 73, WRIGHT STATE 47 DALLAS (AP) — Admiral Schofield had 15 points and 12 rebounds as third-seeded Tennessee advanced to the second round by overwhelming Wright State. Lamonte Turner had 19 points and a career-high nine assists for the Volunteers (26-8), SEC co-champions in the regular season after being picked in the preseason to finish 13th in the 14-team league. They'll next play Loyola-Chicago on Saturday. Wright State (25-10) was the Horizon League tournament champ. KENTUCKY 78, DAVIDSON 73 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Kentucky didn't make a 3-point for the first time in a game since 1988, but still did enough to top Davidson. Fifth-seeded Kentucky (25-10) went 0 for 6 from behind arc after hitting a 3 in a nation-best streak of 1,047 games. Kevin Knox scored 25 for Kentucky, which next plays the Arizona-Buffalo winner. Davidson (21-12) made 11 3-pointers, led by six from Jon Axel Gudmundsson, who finished with 21 points. LOYOLA-CHICAGO 64, MIAMI 62 DALLAS (AP) — Donte Ingram hit a 3-pointer from the March Madness logo just before the buzzer, lifting Loyola-Chicago over Miami 64-62 in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1985. Ingram's long shot came from well above the key. The 11th-seeded Ramblers (29-5) matched the school record for wins from their 1963 national championship team. Loyola was boosted by a pregame prayer from its team chaplain, 98-year-old Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt. The buzzer sounded as Ingram's shot went in, but officials put 0.3 seconds back on the clock. A desperation pass by Miami (22-10) bounced away harmlessly. ___ MIDWEST REGION KANSAS 76, PENN 60 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Devonte Graham ignited sluggish Kansas midway through the first half, pouring in 29 points and lifting his top-seeded team. Lagerald Vick added 14 points for the Jayhawks (28-7), who trailed the Ivy League champs 21-11 with about 7 minutes left in the first half. Kansas advanced to play Seton Hall. A.J. Brodeur had 14 points to lead the Quakers (24-9). DUKE 89, IONA 67 PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marvin Bagley III dominated in his NCAA Tournament debut, pouring in 22 points to go with seven rebounds as Duke rolled. The Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year made 10 of 14 shots in 32 minutes and grabbed seven rebounds. Grayson Allen scored 16 points as the second-seeded Blue Devils (27-7) powered past 15th-seeded Iona (26-7). Duke will next play Rhode Island. RHODE ISLAND 83, OKLAHOMA 78, OT PITTSBURGH (AP) — E.C. Matthews hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime and Rhode Island topped dynamic scorer Trae Young and the Sooners. The seventh-seeded Rams (26-7) won a game in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and will play Duke on Saturday. Young scored 28 points on 9-for-18 shooting with six turnovers. The freshman scored 13 straight points for Oklahoma (18-14) late in regulation and made two free throws to open OT. SETON HALL 94, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 83 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Khadeen Carrington scored 26 points, Desi Rodriguez added 20 and eighth-seeded Seton Hall won a foul-filled first-round matchup. Myles Powell added 19 points and Angel Delgado scored 13 for the Pirates (22-11), who led the entire way a year after a late meltdown cost them against Arkansas. Allerik Freeman hit six 3-pointers and had 36 points to lead No. 9 seed North Carolina State (21-12). The only thing that slowed down the high-scoring, up-and-down matchup was the whistles. The teams combined for 53 fouls. ___ WEST REGION MICHIGAN 61, MONTANA 47 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Charles Matthews had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Michigan locked down on defense and the third-seeded Wolverines beat Montana in a plodding game. Michigan (29-7) trailed by 10 in the opening minutes, struggled to get into rhythm until late in the first half, and never really went on a big run to seize control of the game. Instead, coach John Beilein's team methodically drew away over a long period of the second half when No. 14 seed Montana (25-8) failed to score. Michael Oguine and Ahmaad Rorie scored 15 points apiece to lead the Grizzlies. GONZAGA 68, UNC GREENSBORO 64 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Zach Norvell Jr. hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 20.8 seconds left to help Gonzaga escape a major scare. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (31-4) trailed 64-62 with 1:48 left after squandering a 12-point lead they took early in the second half. Gonzaga, in its 20th straight NCAA tournament, won its first game of March Madness for the 10th year in a row. UNC Greensboro (27-8) was the Southern Conference champ. OHIO STATE 81, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 73 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Kam Williams made a tiebreaking four-point play with 1:36 left, then added a trio of free throws after being fouled on another 3-point attempt to lift Ohio State. The fifth-seeded Buckeyes (25-8) built a 13-point lead by reeling off 16 straight points midway through the second half. Ohio State advanced to play Gonzaga. The teams met in November and the Zags romped 86-59. Mike Daum scored 27 points for 12th-seeded South Dakota State (28-7). HOUSTON 67, SAN DIEGO STATE 65 WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Rob Gray scored 39 points, including a wind-milling layup that just trickled over the rim with 1.1 seconds left that lifted sixth-seeded Houston. Trey Kell's off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good for 11th-seeded San Diego State (22-11). Houston (27-7) posted its first tournament win since 1984......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 16th, 2018

Kiefer, Mallari make winning plays as NLEX takes 1-0 lead over Magnolia

Alex Mallari, a former Grand Slam champion with San Mig Coffee, just burned his former team. Taking a pass from Kiefer Ravena, Mallari drilled a wide-open triple in the final 14.4 seconds and NLEX dropped Magnolia, 88-87, in Game 1 of the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals Saturday at the Big Dome. Down one, 83-84, Ravena collapsed the Magnolia defense and then found Mallari for the booming go-ahead triple. In the ensuing possession, Paul Lee missed the answer for the Hotshots and Kiefer secured the rebound, making an additional two free throws for insurance. Lee then made up for his earlier miss, connecting on a corner triple with 4.5 seconds to go to cut the deficit to one, 87-88. Magnolia then actually forced a turnover for a chance to win but Ravena saved NLEX, making a counter steal and forcing the Hotshots to foul. JR Quinahan missed two free throws with less than a second left and the Road Warriors managed to hold on, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7. "We knew coming into this game that it would be a defensive matchup so had to finetune our execution," head coach Yeng Guiao said. "So we really worked hard on our execution and at the same time, sinubukan naming humanap ng paraan para ma-control si Paul [Lee] and we actually succeeded at least partly and we won the game," he added. The first half was an ugly defensive struggle for both teams as NLEX only took a 32-27 lead at the break. However, action picked up in the third period as Mark Barroca sparked the Magnolia offense. Both teams then traded blows in the fourth, setting up the wild finish. Cyrus Baguio put up a vintage performance for NLEX, scoring a team-high 17 points, eight in the fourth quarter. Ravena and Mallari scored 16 and 14 respectively for NLEX while Raul Soyud added another 10. For the Hotshots, it was Ian Sangalang that led the way with 21 points while PJ Simon turned back the clock to finish with 20. A cause of concern for Magnolia, more than being down 0-1, is Marc Pingris as the veteran forward left the game left in the final quarter due to an apparent knee injury. Game 2 is set for Monday at the MOA Arena.     The scores: NLEX 88 - Baguio 17, Ravena 16, Mallari 14, Soyud 10, Miranda 7, Fonacier 7, Al-Hussaini 6, Alas 5, Quiñahan 4, Tiongson 2, Ighalo 0, Taulava 0, Gotladera 0. MAGNOLIA 87 - Sangalang 21, Simon 20, Barroca 9, Lee 8, Ramos 8, Reavis 6, Herndon 5, Pingris 5, Dela Rosa 5, Melton 0, Jalalon 0, Brondial 0. Quarters: 14-12, 32-27, 60-61, 88-87.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 10th, 2018

Nadal, Dimitrov advance to Australian Open quarterfinals

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — If Rafael Nadal wanted a fitness test in the first week of the Australian Open, he got one in his almost four-hour, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 win over Diego Schwartzman. No. 3-ranked Grigor Dimitrov did it tough, too, before advancing to the quarterfinals at the expense of the last Aussie in the draw. Dimitrov avenged a loss two weeks ago to Nick Kyrgios with a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (4) win over Nick Kyrgios on Sunday night. He'll next face Kyle Edmund, who reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal with a 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 win over Andreas Seppi earlier in the afternoon and could relax and watch the night-time entertainment. Nadal, with his spot in a 10th Australian Open quarterfinal secure, draped an arm around his Argentine friend Schwartzman and patted him on top of the head after they met at the net. "A great battle ... he's a good friend of mine," Nadal said. "This is the first big match that I played in 2018. That's confidence for myself ... confidence I can resist for four hours on court at a good intensity." Nadal lost last year's Australian Open final to Roger Federer, but went on to regain the No. 1 ranking and win the French and U.S. Open titles before bringing his season to a premature end because of an injured right knee. He didn't play a competitive match before the season-opening major, and advanced through three rounds without dropping a set. That streak finished when Schwartzman took the second set, rebounding three times after dropping serve to break back against Nadal and level the match. Nadal lifted to win the third, but Schwatzman didn't relent. The second game of the fourth set lasted almost 13 minutes and 20 points, with Nadal finally holding after saving five break points. The 16-time major winner broke again in the next game and withstood more break points — seven in all in the last set and 15 of 18 in the match — before clinching it in 3 hours, 51 minutes. "It was a good test for me. It was a lot of hours on court. Moments under pressure," Nadal said. "So, yeah, a lot of positive things that I managed well." Nadal will next play 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, who collected his 100th Grand Slam match win with a 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (3) victory over No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta. "I had the 300th win of my career at the U.S. Open in 2014, so this is also beautiful one," Cilic said of his latest major milestone. "I hope I'm going to continue and gather three more here." Caroline Wozniacki continued to cash in on her second chance, reaching the quarterfinals here for the first time since 2012 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Magdalena Rybarikova. After saving match points and coming back from 5-1 down in the third set of her second-round win, No. 2-ranked Wozniacki said she was "playing with the house money" and had nothing to lose. "I played really well from being down 5-1 ... since then I've just kept that going," she said. After a tight tussle in the opening four games against No. 19-seeded Rybarikova, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, Wozniacki dominated the fourth-round match and conceded only six points in the second set. She tried a between-the-legs shot for the first time in a tour-level match. "I think you can tell my confidence is high," Wozniacki said in an on-court TV interview. "I tried a tweener today and it went in." Wozniacki next plays Carla Suarez Navarro, who came back from a set and 4-1 down to beat No. 32 Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 6-4, 8-6. Elise Mertens reached the quarterfinals in her Australian Open debut, beating Petra Martic 7-6 (5), 7-5 to extend her winning streak to nine matches including a title run at the Hobart International. _____ More AP coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2018

No. 2 Wozniacki saves 2 match points, advances to 3rd round

MELBOURNE, Australia --- Second-ranked Caroline Wozniacki fended off two match points and rallied from 5-1 down to win the last six games in the third set and avoid a second-round upset at the Australian Open. Former No. 1-ranked Wozniacki used her experience to save match points in the seventh game of the deciding set against No. 119-ranked Jana Fett, who was making her main draw debut at a major, and eventually pull off a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 win. "That was crazy," said Wozniacki, who has reached two Grand Slam finals and was a semifinalist here in 2011. "I don't know how I got back into the match. "She's a tricky opponent and she had nothing to lose. And then I think she reali...Keep on reading: No. 2 Wozniacki saves 2 match points, advances to 3rd round.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Promising signs from Bulls young guns

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com In time, Zach LaVine’s return, development and eventual career arc will determine to a large extent how successful the Bulls’ Draft Night trade of Jimmy Butler to Minnesota was. For now, and until LaVine suits up this season and beyond, his value to Chicago is strictly to be determined. The two-time NBA Slam Dunk champ is back in the practice gym in his recovery from left knee (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery. Playing 1-on-1 with teammates, working out with the G-League Windy City Bulls in Chicago’s northwest suburbs and improving his timing and his conditioning, LaVine is penciled in to make his season debut before the end of 2017. Meanwhile, though, the Bulls have two other pieces to show from the Butler deal: stretch-four forward Lauri Markkanen and point guard Kris Dunn. Both have offered glimpses of what they can do and how they might fit into the team’s long-term vision that someday won’t prioritize losing. Markkanen, the lanky Finn by way of the University of Arizona, is averaging 13.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and in 30 minutes. He’s putting up 7.2 three-point shots per game and hitting 31.7 percent. His 140 attempts from the arc ranked 14th in the NBA – more than Bradley Beal (126), more than Carmelo Anthony (125) – and Markkanen’s 48 makes are the most by any player in his first 20 games. Dunn, whose disappointing 2016-17 rookie season with Minnesota essentially has gotten a reset, was at 12 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 4.2 apg after having 19 points, five rebounds and five assists in Thursday night's (Friday, PHL time) loss at Denver. The 23-year-old from Providence is shooting 43.2 percent on three-pointers (43.2 percent)  and his steal percentage of 3.8 – an estimate of the percent of opponents’ possessions ending in Dunn steals – ranked No. 1 in the NBA. Their trajectories have been somewhat different so far in 2017-18: Markkanen has been consistent while fighting through a flu bug and some road weariness, while Dunn has played his best most recently. But they’ve both contributed in ways that, aside from the Bulls’ relentless losing, suggests brighter days and in time a positive verdict on that headline-grabbing, bit-spitting trade. Markkanen: Stays cool, likes cold, shoots hot It’s fair to say that the Bulls, when they acquired Markkanen as the No. 7 selection in the Draft last June, got a sleeper. No, literally. That’s about all the 20-year-old native of Vantaa, Finland was able to do after a hectic spring leading up to the draft followed by a tortuous summer at the Las Vegas Summer League and a key role for his home country’s national team in the FIBA Eurobasket 2017 tournament. Markkanen’s single season at Arizona not only acclimated him to the American game, it earned him all-American status and a taste of the NCAA tournament before the Wildcats lost to Xavier. In the Euro competition, he averaged 19.5 points and 5.7 rebounds before heading to Chicago for an early jump on training camp. “When he came over here, he was exhausted,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “The week before training camp was completely lost time – he needed to recharge his batteries. So, we really didn’t know what we had. He was still tired when we started camp. We didn’t throw him out there for all the drills, just as part of the process in getting his body back. “But then every time he stepped on the floor, he showed a little more.” First Markkanen demonstrated he would crack the rotation. Then – when forwards Nikola Mirotic (facial injuries) and Bobby Portis (suspension for the punch that caused them) rendered themselves unavailable two days before the season opener – Markkanen was thrust into the starting lineup. Butterflies? Rookie mistakes? Not so much. Markkanen looked almost unflappable in averaging 17.2 points and 9.3 rebounds through his first six appearances, with a high of 25 points at Miami and double-doubles against San Antonio and Atlanta. “We had to adjust our offense,” Hoiberg said, “and put in some new things to try to get him the ball in different spots on the floor, because of his versatility to score.” Justin Holiday was one of the teammates who learned quickly to get the ball more often to the tall blond guy. “He’s playing consistent, and that’s a very mature thing to do in this league,” Holiday said. “What’s maybe surprising is his confidence in shooting the ball. He’s not afraid to shoot it.” Said Markkanen, whose father Pekka lettered at Kansas before returning home to play professionally: “I’m expecting big things from myself. I think that’s what motivates me every day. Whatever I do, I’m not satisfied. So, I try to set higher goals every time I step on the court. Try to do things better. “It’s going to get harder, I know that. I’m trying to face it like any other job. Just go at it positively, fight through it, put the work in, and I think it will work itself out.” At 20 games and counting, Markkanen will soon blow by the 37 he played in college, and the workload probably has something to do with his recent production; in his five most recent games before Thursday (Friday, PHL time), he shot 25.4 percent, including 11-of-39 from the arc. He says he has adjusted from one game to the next – “I don’t want to give my scouting report, but I try to add something new and figure out what they’re going to throw at me,” he said. He even drew praise from the great LeBron James after hitting four three-pointers in the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Cavaliers. Markkanen hasn’t been fooled by Chicago’s relatively balmy late-autumn weather and has to be one of the few NBA players to welcome winter’s chill (“I’m actually looking forward to snow”). He isn’t flinching from the Bulls’ task at hand, either, which looks longer and more laborious with each lopsided defeat. “I understand this part of a process,” said Markkanen, who would appear to be on his way to the Rising Stars Challenge game at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. “We’ve got a young group. We’re having tough times. ... It’s about sticking together and having everyone know that. We can’t afford to not trust or not be a good teammate.” Dunn: Pushing a personal reset button Dunn’s young career was looking a little snakebit. He suffered a concussion in the first game he played for Minnesota in the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League. This time, he had to leave the Bulls’ Vegas entry early to attend to family matters. Then the point guard got hurt in a preseason game against Milwaukee Oct. 7 (Oct. 8, PHL time), winding up with an “open dislocation” of his left index finger. All those setbacks cost Dunn valuable learning time, as far as running first the Wolves’ and then the Bulls’ attacks. He never fully recovered from it last season, sputtering through a rookie season that fell far short of his and others’ expectations. His fellow Class of 2016 draftees had voted him the most likely to snag the Rookie of the Year award, but it went instead to Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, who’d been chosen in the second round 31 spots after Dunn. This time, Dunn was out of action until Chicago’s fifth regular season game. And the delay showed in his performances: 9.8 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 38.6 percent shooting in his first eight games. One Bulls insider said Dunn “had a lot going on in his head” from last season’s failures, even as he tried to get traction in Chicago. Said Holiday, 28, who went undrafted and bounced through five organizations in barely three years from 2013 to 2016: “When you’re young, man, everybody’s pushing. Who knows what was going on his head? He might have been trying to be perfect. Sometimes it takes time. It’s a big role. “But he has the confidence to do it, where last year maybe he didn’t have as much confidence. All you can really do is go out and play hard, and if it works out, it works out.” Over Dunn’s past seven games before Thursday (Friday, PHL time), he was a more effective, more efficient player: 13.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.0 apg, while averaging 2.1 steals and 27.7 minutes. He had made 9-of-15 three-pointers, compared to 6-of-21 to start the season. Already in the five weeks he’s been active, he has played about 30 percent of the total minutes he got in 78 appearances for Minnesota’s Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls have been 3.6 points better when he’s been on the floor, too. That’s not enough to tip outcomes, but keep in mind the Wolves were 2.6 points worse a year ago with Dunn in the game. He played probably his best NBA game Tuesday against Phoenix, scoring 24 points on 10 of 16 shooting with eight assists, four rebounds and four steals. If not for a couple of egregious turnovers among his four, he might have agreed with Hoiberg’s “terrific” assessment. That performance came 48 hours after Dunn had scored two points and missed all six of his field-goal attempts against Miami. Hoiberg sought him out and demanded that the second-year guard play more aggressively, and Dunn proved his coach right. “He called me out,” Dunn said. “When a coach calls you out, you try to play as hard as you can. I had to get through my mind, ‘Go out and play the way I used to play. With that aggression. On defense, on offense. Try to stay down in errors as much as I can and get everybody involved.’ “I want to be an elite point guard one day and I understand, the best point guards don’t make those killer turnovers. If I want to reach my goal, I have to get better each and every day in practice, watch film and, y’know, think a little smarter when you’re playing.” Some have suggested Boston’s Marcus Smart as a legitimate comparison for Dunn, given their defensive aptitudes and challenges both face when shooting from range. Dunn is a huge fan of Smart, but believes he can be a full-service, top-notch playmaker. Mostly, he finally looks comfortable with this reset to his NBA experience. “Individually for me, it is a reset,” Dunn said. “I say this is my first year because I didn’t get too many minutes and I didn’t play the right position in Minnesota. I was a two, a three, sometimes a one. But this is my first year of [regularly] playing the point guard. As a team, we don’t have Jimmy, we don’t have [Rajon] Rondo, we don’t have Dwyane Wade, so we’re all trying to figure it out. Everybody is trying to step up and come together as a unit.” With LaVine’s debut now weeks rather than months away, the Bulls – and their skeptical fans – will be able to more fully judge the yield from that Butler trade. Two out of three so far are giving glimmers of hope. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 1st, 2017

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per NBA.com/Stats, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. 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 NewsOct 17th, 2017

PVL: I feel old –- Valdez on facing new breed of Lady Eagles

Alyssa Valdez got her first shot at taking on her former college team when Creamline faced Ateneo-Motolite on Sunday. The former Queen Eagle taught the new breed of Lady Eagles a thing or two when she led the Cool Smashers to a straight sets win in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference at the Baliwag Star Arena here.     Going up against new faces except for Bea De Leon, Deanna Wong and Kim Gequillana in the college team that she led to back-to-back UAAP titles in Seasons 76 and 77 before graduating the following season, Valdez felt that like it has been a long time since she left the Katipunan-based squad. “I feel old. Hahaha!” joked Valdez after scoring 19 points in the Cool Smashers’ 25-23, 25-17, 25-14, victory that pushed Creamline’s winning run to six for a 6-1 win-loss slate at solo lead.    Valdez last played for Ateneo back in 2015 together with De Leon, Gequillana, Maddie Madayag and Ponggay Gaston. Kat Tolentino was supposed to debut in Valdez’s last playing year but was sidelined with a knee injury before the start of the season. The three-time UAAP MVP became the face of Ateneo volleyball and the players in the current lineup of the Lady Eagles look up to her. “Well, nakaka-pressure din in a way kasi you have to live na sa mga pressure and sa mga expectations ng mga tao pero that pressure kasi would make you push yourself pa and nai-inspire ka rin sa mga bata,” said Valdez. The Creamline star didn’t hold back against the younger Lady Eagles, scoring all of her points on attacks while showcasing great floor defense with 11 digs.    “Siyempre mga bata ‘yan, iba ‘yung laro ng mga bata, mas mataas ‘yung laro ng mga bata, mas kundisyon sila so ako as mas ate sa kanila will try my best para may mas matutunan pa sila sa akin,” she added. Valdez and the Cool Smashers drew first blood in their first elims meeting but the Creamline open spiker knows that Ateneo-Motolite will surely try to bounce back in their early rematch next week with Tolentino, Madayag and Gaston back for the Lady Eagles. The trio skipped Ateneo-Motolite’s for a community immersion as part of their academic requirement. “Well not naman complete Ateneo team so definitely they’ll gonna bounce back,” said Valdez. “So I guess the real battle will be on Sunday ‘cause everyone’s gonna be there.”       --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News7 hr. 37 min. ago

The action-packed pilot episode of LeBron s Lakers

By Favian Pua "Let me shut up." At the 9:25 mark of the first quarter between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers, TNT analyst Chris Webber found himself caught in mid-sentence. Webber was passionately defending JaVale McGee’s legitimacy as an NBA player when LeBron James intercepted a pass intended for Al-Farouq Aminu and saw a wide-open runway. Understanding the historical gravity of what was about to take place, Webber immediately uttered those four words and gave color commentator Marv Albert the floor as James accelerated towards the basket. “James off the steal... James with the stuff!” LeBron James THROWS IT DOWN for the @Lakers! 👑🔥 🏀: #LakeShow x #RipCity 📺: @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/l4VrJPpAzR — NBA (@NBA) October 19, 2018 Delirium. And with that sequence, so began the circus. It only seemed fitting that Webber called the game in Moda Center for James’ regular season debut with the Lakers. Nearly 15 years ago, he was also a spectator, or rather a witness, when James made his ballyhooed NBA debut against Webber’s Sacramento Kings. That spectacle was the first paragraph of James’ ever-growing narrative. As @KingJames embarks on a new journey with the @Lakers, #TBT to his NBA debut in 2003! 🔥 Lakers vs. Trail Blazers // 10:30pm ET on TNT! 📺 pic.twitter.com/sQfXbV95ST — NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 18, 2018 As a historian of the game, James fully understands the implications of his move to Los Angeles. Win, and he will see himself elevated among the greatest to ever wear purple and gold. Lose, and no blockbuster Hollywood film can compensate for his shortcomings, leaving the door open for critics to question yet again whether his championship resume was padded by an inferior Eastern Conference. To reach his goal of playing for another ring, he will need to rely on his youthful teammates and trust the front office to shoulder the massive burden and expectations. “Anytime you fall, stay down. Your brother (is) gonna come pick you up,” James told his teammates in a brief huddle during a deadball situation. That mindset is what a team in flux needs. Having each other’s back is high on the priority list because building trust is as important as racking up wins. "Anytime y'all fall, stay down. Your brother'll come pick you up." - @KingJames pic.twitter.com/E46MXQwDk4 — Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 19, 2018 The opening night loss to the Blazers serves as a heavy dose of reality check for the Lakers. They are not yet close to unseating the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers have emerging talent, but they do not boast of a Big Three, such as what James was flanked with during his previous stops with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. Brandon Ingram is the team’s de facto second option, but he is not yet in the same stratosphere as Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving. Kyle Kuzma is tantalizing, but asking him to fill the shoes of Chris Bosh or Kevin Love this season is a Herculean task. James arrived in Los Angeles as the elder statesman, but he might discover the fountain of youth with his new comrades. Since he came into the league, none of James’ teams finished higher than 12th in terms of pace over the course of a season. These Lakers, with an average age of 24.7, are much younger than any of the squads James has been on. They can play with unbridled energy that can reinvigorate James, and make him feel like a 16-year-old rather than someone playing in his 16th season as a pro. The 82-game grind will serve as test of endurance for the Baby Lakers. The beauty of the regular season is that this squad will undergo several iterations as they search for their most optimal rotations. One thing is for sure: the three-man unit of Lonzo Ball, Lance Stephenson, and Michael Beasley should not be on the court at the same time again under any circumstance. What exactly do you root for when you root for the Lakers? Is it the legacies and winning tradition established by the legends who came before? Is it the current roster and this collection of misfit toys? Is it the idealized #FutureLaker, the one who could alter the trajectory of this franchise and deliver it to greater heights? Or is it the simple fact that they employ the greatest player of this generation? One thing is certain: throughout the course of the season, LeBron and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers will be putting their own spin on, perhaps even reclaiming Joakim Noah's “Hollywood as Hell” utterance. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 20th, 2018

Mirotic, Davis push Pelicans past Kings, 149-129

By BRETT MARTEL ,  AP Sports Writer NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Nikola Mirotic scored 36 points, Anthony Davis had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and the pace-pushing New Orleans Pelicans continued their torrid start to the season with a 149-129 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Jrue Holiday had 15 points and 10 assists for the Pelicans, who shot 58.9 percent (56 of 95) and reached 110 points before the third quarter ended. Julius Randle and Ian Clark each scored 13, and Randle also had 13 rebounds for New Orleans, which opened the season with a surprising 131-112 victory at Houston and has scored at least 30 points in each of its first eight quarters of play so far. Mirotic hit three 3s in quick succession in the middle of the fourth quarter, the third a step-back shot from the right wing, drawing chants of "Ni-ko! Ni-ko!" from the crowd. Willie Cauley-Stein scored 20 points and Marvin Bagley III had 19 for Sacramento, which has lost its first two games. De'Aron Fox and Frank Mason each scored 18 for the Kings, who shot 52.1 percent but simply could not keep up with the Pelicans, whose relentless style produced a slew of crowd-pleasing moments. In the first half, Holiday lofted a right-handed lob that looked like a running hook to Davis, who soared to palm the ball with his right hand and slam it down in one motion. Later, Davis grabbed an offensive rebound as he crashed to the court, and from his back flipped a pass to Holiday, who drove down the lane for a layup. New Orleans finished with 16 3-pointers on 31 attempts from deep (51.6 percent). TIP-INS Kings: Former Pelicans first-round draft choice Buddy Hield scored 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. ... C Kosta Koufos was out with a right hamstring strain. Pelicans: Randle played despite being on New Orleans' injury list with left plantar fasciitis. ... G Elfrid Payton had 11 points to go with six rebounds and six assists in his second game with New Orleans after getting a triple-double in his debut. ... Darius Miller scored 10 points. ... The Pelicans are 2-0 for the first time since 2011-12, the last season before Davis was drafted. UP NEXT Kings: Visit Oklahoma City on Sunday. Pelicans: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 20th, 2018

Olynyk s putback off Wade s miss lifts Heat past Wiz 113-112

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Kelly Olynyk’s putback of Dwyane Wade’s missed jumper produced the go-ahead basket with 0.2 seconds left Thursday night (Friday, PHL time), lifting the Miami Heat to a ragged 113-112 comeback victory over the Washington Wizards, who were without new center Dwight Howard for their season opener. 🚨GAME WINNER ALERT🚨@KellyOlynyk puts the Wizards away! pic.twitter.com/Euoik9BCIq — Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 19, 2018 Olynyk was booed every time he touched the ball, on account of a past playoff fracas with the Wizards back when he was with the Boston Celtics. But he certainly got to enjoy the way this game ended, after Miami trailed by as many as nine points. Josh Richardson led Miami with 28 points, Rodney McGruder added 20, and the Heat hit consecutive three's late in the fourth quarter. With Howard sidelined by a sore backside, the Wizards were led by old standby John Wall, who delivered 26 points and nine assists. He and fellow All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who scored 20 points, accounted for Washington’s last eight points. But with a 112-111 lead, Wall missed a 26-foot pull-up jumper, giving Miami a chance. Wade’s shot with about three seconds left was off the mark, but Olynyk grabbed the rebound and his layup won it. The Heat were playing on the second night of a back-to-back — they lost at Orlando on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) — and Wade appeared in both games, scoring nine each night. He shot a combined 7 for 24. Wizards coach Scott Brooks put an emphasis on pleading with his players to shoot more three's this season. Didn’t work. At least not in Game 1. Washington was only 7-for-26 from beyond the arc. Wall led the way with 18 points as Washington went into halftime ahead 59-58. And after Miami briefly went up in the third quarter, the Wizards used a 10-point run midway through the period to enter the fourth with an 89-85 edge. They couldn’t hold on. TIP-INS Heat: Coach Eric Spoelstra was asked about Wade, 36, appearing in both ends of a back-to-back to open the season. “Right now, it’s Game 2. He wants to play. We want him to play,” Spoelstra said. “And he’s in great shape, he feels good, so he’s able to go.” ... G Wayne Ellington (ankle) was active but did not play. Wizards: Ian Mahnimi started for Howard, but picked up his fourth foul 15 seconds into the third quarter. By quarter’s end, four Wizards — three starters — each had four personal fouls. ... F Kelly Oubre Jr. was the first substitute used by Washington, entering for Otto Porter Jr. midway through the first quarter. TOLIVER’S DEBUT WNBA All-Star Kristi Toliver made her regular-season debut as an assistant coach on Scott Brooks’ staff. “I love her. Our staff loves her. Our players feel the same way,” Brooks said. “She adds value to our program. She’s very talented. She loves the game. She’s passionate. And she wants to learn. She has this incredible desire to get better.” NO HOWARD This was the first game Howard missed for a health reason since the 2016-17 season. He appeared in 81 of 82 games last season with Charlotte, missing one because of a suspension. “He’s getting close,” Brooks said. “We just don’t feel like he’s quite there yet. Like I said a few weeks ago, we’re in no rush. We just want to make sure that he’s comfortable — we’re comfortable — going forward.” UP NEXT Heat: Host Charlotte on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) in their home opener. Wizards: Host Toronto on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) in a rematch from last season’s playoffs. The Raptors eliminated the Wizards in the first round......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2018

Training camp abroad up for grabs in Collegiate Grand Slam

A one-week training camp abroad will be up for grabs for the six teams competing in the inaugural Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam slate to open shop on November 3. PSL president doctor Ian Laurel formally announced the incentive waiting for the tournament winner.          “These teams are preparing for their big tournaments so we will give incentives for their training camp, most likely it will be in Thailand for seven to ten days and this will be awarded to the winner,” said Laurel on Thursday during the combined PSL All-Filipino and Collegiate Grand Slam press conference held at Club Filipino in San Juan.  “Magandang labanan ito pagdating dito sa incentive na ‘to,” he added. Vying for the title and a chance for an all-expense paid international camp are University of the Philippines, University of the East, University of Sto. Tomas, Far Eastern University and provincial teams Colegio San Agustin-Binan and De La Salle University-Dasmrinas. The Lady Maroons, who are fresh from winning the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference that ended their 36-year title drought, are considered as one of the teams to beat.     Tots Carlos will make her return after recovering from a stress fracture on her right shin but UP will miss the services of Isa Molde, who is taking a break after playing in the UAAP beach volleyball tournament last month. “My team is composed of half very young rookies and veteran members so this tournament will help my team get exposure,” said UP coach Godfrey Okumu. “I believe that my team will learn again how to deal with their losses and wins in every game. So to me it’s a process of growth to my team, especially the young players coming in.” The tournament will be played in a single-round robin elimination round. The top two teams will faceoff in a winner-take-all match for the title while the No. 3 and No. 4 squads will dispute the bronze medal.   ---          Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2018

Antetokounmpo scores 25, Bucks top Hornets 113-112

By Steve Reed, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists, and the Milwaukee Bucks spoiled the Charlotte Hornets' celebration of 30 years of basketball with a 113-112 victory in the season opener for both teams Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Antetokounmpo made two free throws with 23.7 seconds remaining to put the Bucks ahead after the Hornets battled back from a 20-point deficit behind 41 points from Kemba Walker. Walker missed a driving layup with 3.4 seconds left and the loose ball got kicked outside where Nic Batum misfired on a three-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer. Khris Middleton had 19 points and Eric Bledsoe added 17 as the Bucks set out on the quest to reach the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. Brook Lopez 14 points in his debut for the Bucks after signing a one-year contract in the offseason. Walker, a two-time All-Star, was terrific in the loss, hitting 15 of 29 shots including seven three-pointers — three of those in the fourth quarter — to rally the Hornets. Malik Monk had 18 points and Tony Parker had eight points and seven assists in his first game with the Hornets after 17 seasons with the Spurs. New Bucks coach Budenholzer stressed spacing and perimeter shooting to open up more 1-on-1 opportunities for the 6'11" Antetokounmpo to drive the lane. It certainly opened up some three-point chances as the Bucks used that spacing to knock down 11-of-22 three-point attempts in the first half to build a 67-54 halftime lead. The Hornets trailed by as many as 18 in the second half, but battled back to tie the game at 101-101 with 6:22 after coach James Borrego went small ball with a lineup of Walker, Parker, Monk, Batum and former small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at center. TIP-INS Bucks: Started the game on fire, hitting their first five shots to take a 14-5 lead. Hornets: Charlotte wore its throwback white jerseys with pinstripes and they celebrated its inaugural team back in 1988-89. Several members of the original team were introduced before the game, including Muggsy Bogues, Dell Curry, Rex Chapman and Kelly Tripucka. ... Walker set a franchise record for the most points in a season opener. UP NEXT Bucks: Host Indiana on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Hornets: At Orlando on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2018