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Durant s return looms large heading into potential clincher

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com TORONTO — Let us dismiss the tasty-yet-faulty comparison folks will try to make regarding Game 5 and Kevin Durant and the fate of the Warriors in these NBA Finals: In 1970, when Knicks center Willis Reed famously limped out of the tunnel at Madison Square Garden for Game 7, he only hit two jumpers and was done, too gimpy to go any further. The Warriors, starved for points against a toothy Raptors defense, will require plenty more than that from Durant before he’s done. Back then, it was winner-take-all, New York vs. L.A. Durant and the Warriors are trailing 3-1 and face elimination at Scotiabank Arena. They’re staring down a far deeper and darker tunnel. This is the stark reality for a would-be savior and his recuperating calf and the desperate two-time defending champions. Durant was upgraded to questionable for Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), which means it's likely he’ll at least be on the floor. Whether he stays long enough to break a sweat or plays well enough to make the Raptors perspire is the real issue. Perhaps never before has an injury to a superstar of this magnitude been this mysterious – and perhaps costly – in the history of The Finals. Remember, with Reed, the Knicks won at the end. Maybe there's more in common with Magic Johnson pulling a hamstring in 1989 during Game 1, but again, Magic was finished for the series, and so were the Lakers, swept by the Pistons. Durant is trying to return and in the process squelch the innuendo swirling about his recovery and also trigger a historic comeback. Can he pull this off after not playing since May 8 (May 9, PHL time), and practicing for the first time only Sunday? It was a practice, but only in the tamest sense. Durant joined his teammates and took part after the media was hustled off the court, leaving no outside witnesses or sneaky TMZ footage. The Warriors, this time of year, only conduct light drills. And it was over within an hour. To recap: Durant is supposed to step into an intense basketball game after missing a month, and battle a Toronto defense led by Kawhi Leonard, and thwart a championship bid by a team and city bracing for a maddening celebration around midnight, and … rescue the Warriors? OK, then. “I think it’s pretty easy to realize we obviously miss him out there and he’s propelled us to two championships in two years,” said Warriors guard Klay Thompson. “So it would be pretty storybook if he could come back and help us do the same.” If it sounds like the Warriors are so stretched for answers and solutions that they’re banking on Durant being close to normal after a lengthy layoff, well … maybe they are. When you’re facing elimination, there’s really no other choice. And the Warriors haven’t been able to solve the Raptors without him. Yet Durant has set himself a high bar. Before his injury, which occurred in the conference semifinals against Houston, he was on another level, nearly galactic. He averaged 34 points, five rebounds and five assists in 11 games and was a finalist for everyone’s “best player in the playoffs" honors with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Since then Leonard, the postseason leader in points, and rebounds, and minutes, has yanked that praise for himself. The Raptors, as a result, are heavy favorites to lift the trophy. Durant may not be 100 percent, leaving what he can possibly do an open question: Will he be more of a decoy than a legitimate offensive threat? And on defense, how can the Warriors cover for him, since the Raptors will surely try to exploit the situation by running Durant through screens? Without Durant, the scoring burden had to be carried by Thompson and Steph Curry, and while both have done fairly well, the Warriors have had little margin for error. Whenever Draymond Green or Andre Iguodala or DeMarcus Cousins failed to lend support for Thompson and Curry, the results have been disastrous for Golden State. Coach Steve Kerr feels Durant’s presence will be enough to cause a ripple effect that influences what both teams do when he’s on the floor. “The game plan changes if Kevin is out there, or if he’s not,” Kerr said. “So you adapt accordingly. It changes matchups, it changes rotations, all that stuff.” It’ll be a surprise if Durant’s return causes issues within the Warriors and the system that was tweaked in his absence. Although they’ve been without him for nine games, he did play three seasons with the club, so there shouldn’t be any adjustment problems. Quite the contrary, says Curry. “We’ll be able to adjust in transition pretty smoothly,” said Curry. “He’s been in plenty of Finals and has played well. No matter what the percentage he’s at, I’m sure he’ll be impactful and effective.” It’s always tricky to play doctor and determine how much time Durant should’ve missed, although that never deters anyone from doing so. Taking it a step further, while none of his teammates or coaches publicly questioned the depths of Durant’s injury, dealing with the daily dose of “is he or isn’t he?” became tiring to some. They all suspect that if Durant could’ve played, he would. What possible motive would encourage him to stay out longer than necessary? To show everyone how much the Warriors need him? That seems a stretch for someone who craves a championship. Possibly not his pending free agency either; if anything Durant would get bonus points for playing through pain and would have all summer to recover in the event of re-injuring the calf, which is not considered career-threatening. Injured players have no obligation to speak to the media, and Durant hasn’t, with his silence only feeding speculation. “I feel for Kevin,” Thompson said. “I know what type of competitor he is and we obviously miss him dearly. But whether it’s tomorrow or Game 6, we just have to do everything in our power to help him get back. He will be very welcome, I’ll say that much. Kevin’s (injury) is serious and I know how badly he wants to be out there. He’s one of the best competitors I’ve been around.” The stretchy shooting range, the high release of a shot that’s nearly impossible to block or discourage, the energy and determination and ability to make plays in tense moments, those are the elements Durant brings and the Warriors have missed in The Finals. They’ll take whatever he can give, whatever that might be.   “I would like to think he would make a difference,” Shaun Livingston said. “Again, it’s just any time a player of that caliber comes back or goes out of the lineup, it’s going to be felt certain ways. We’ll see what happens.” And if Durant is unable to play extended minutes or sputters around the floor, making mistakes and dogged by rust and fatigue and inefficiency? Then it’ll fall on his teammates, a group that couldn’t beat the Raptors in two games at Oracle Arena yet somehow must thrive in a Canadian madhouse that awaits Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). “You’re going to see a resilient Warriors team,” Thompson said. “We’ve had our backs against the wall with this same group. Obviously, it’s a little more daunting being down 3-1 but usually when our backs are against the wall, we respond the best.” Question is, will Durant have their back? Or will he and that wall crumble under pressure from these hungry Raptors and the long odds? Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 10th, 2019

Koepka survives Bethpage Black to win PGA Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Brooks Koepka took his place in PGA Championship history with a wire-to-wire victory, minus the style points. In a raging wind that turned Bethpage Black into a beast, Koepka lost all but one shot of his record seven-shot lead Sunday. He lost the brutal Long Island crowd, which began chanting "DJ!" for Dustin Johnson as Koepka was on his way to a fourth straight bogey. But he delivered the key shots over the closing stretch as Johnson faded with two straight bogeys, and Koepka closed with a 4-over 74 for a two-shot victory and joined Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA Championship since it went to stroke play in 1958. Koepka said at the start of the week that majors are sometimes the easiest to win. This one should have been. It wasn't. His 74 was the highest final round by a PGA champion since Vijay Singh won in a playoff in 2004 at Whistling Straits. "I'm just glad I don't have to play any more holes," Koepka said. "That was a stressful round of golf. I'm glad to have this thing back in my hands." Koepka appeared to wrap it up with a gap wedge from 156 yards to 2 feet on the 10th hole for a birdie, as Johnson made his first bogey of the round up ahead on the 11th. That restored the lead to six shots, and the coronation was on. And then it all changed in a New York minute. Koepka missed three straight fairways and made three straight bogeys, having to make a 6-foot putt on No. 11 to keep it from being worse. The wind was so fickle that it died as he hit 7-iron to the par-3 14th that sailed over the green, leading to a fourth straight bogey. The crowd sensed a collapse, and began chanting, "DJ! DJ! DJ!" as Koepka was playing the hole. Ahead of him, Johnson made birdie on the 15th — the toughest hole at Bethpage Black all week — and the lead was down to one. That was as close as Johnson got. His 5-iron pierced through a wind that gusted close to 25 mph, over the green and into a buried lie. He missed the 7-foot par putt, went long of the green on the par-3 17th for another bogey and had to settle for 69. "Hit the shot I wanted to right at the flag," Johnson said of his 5-iron from 194 yards on the 16th. "I don't know how it flew 200 yards into the wind like that. Johnson now has runner-up finishes in all four of the majors, the wrong kind of career Grand Slam. "I gave it a run," he said. "That's all you can ask for." Koepka returned to No. 1 in the world with a performance that defines his dominance in golf's biggest events. He becomes the first player to hold back-to-back titles in two majors at the same time, having won a second straight U.S. Open last summer 60 miles down the road at Shinnecock Hills. He was the first wire-to-wire winner in the PGA Championship since Hal Sutton at Riviera in 1983. And what stakes his claim as one of the best in his generation was a third straight year winning a major. He joins a most elite group — only Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have done that since the Masters began in 1934. He now has four majors in his last eight, a streak not seen since Woods won seven out of 11 when he captured the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Next up is the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where Koepka defends his title for the third time. No one has won the U.S. Open three straight years since Willie Anderson in 1905. No one will doubt whether Koepka is capable the way he is playing. The 29-year-old Floridian is an imposing figure, a power off the tee and out of the rough with no obvious weakness in his game and the kind of mental fortitude that majors require. He needed all of it over the final hour of this one. Koepka doesn't know his resting heart rate, and he said on the eve of the final round that it probably was not much different on the first tee of a major than when he was chilling on his couch. But he could feel this one getting away from him. He could sense Johnson making a charge. He could hear it. "How could you not with the 'DJ' chants," Koepka said. "I heard everything." Bethpage has a reputation for being over the top, and it irritated Harold Varner III, who shot 81 playing in the final group. "I thought it was pretty weird how they were telling Brooks to choke," Varner said about the 14th hole. "That's not my cup of tea. I was pulling for him after that." Koepka held it together at the most crucial moment. He piped his driver down the 15th fairway and two-putted for par. And he drilled another one into the 16th, which played the most difficult in the final round because it was into the wind. Johnson hit 5-iron just over the green. The wind died enough 20 minutes later that Koepka hit 7-iron only to 50 feet and had another good lag putt to get par. He kept it interesting to the end, three-putting the 17th as the lead went back to two shots, and pulling his driver on the 18th into fescue so thick it left him little choice but to lay up and scramble for par. Once his medium lob wedge settled 6 feet away, he could relax. Finally. Woods won the Wanamaker Trophy in consecutive years twice, in 1999 and 2000, and again in 2006 and 2007. Koepka was starting to draw comparisons with Woods for the way he obliterated the competition, much like Woods in his 12-shot victory in the 1997 Masters and 15-shot victory in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Koepka tied the PGA Championship record by opening with a 63. He broke the major championship record for 36 holes at 128. He set another PGA Championship record with his seven-shot lead. In the end, just having his name on the heaviest championship trophy in golf was all that mattered. Jordan Spieth registered his first top 10 since the British Open last summer with a 71 to finish at 2-under 278, six shots behind. He tied for third with Patrick Cantlay (71) and Matt Wallace (72). This really was a two-man race over the back nine that not many would have seen coming at the start of the final round. Only the outcome was expected......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 20th, 2019

Koepka keeps 7-shot lead at PGA Championship

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Brooks Koepka is on the cusp of some elite company at the PGA Championship — in the record book, not on the leaderboard. He is all alone on Bethpage Black, the public course he has turned into his private playground. Koepka wasn't at his best, particularly with his putter on the toughest scoring day of the championship, and he still kept everyone far enough behind to make the final round feel more like a victory lap. With an even-par 70 that featured a pair of three-putt bogeys, he kept a seven-shot lead and earned another entry in the record book with the largest lead since the PGA Championship switched to stroke play in 1958. No one has ever lost a seven-shot lead in the final round at any major, or even a PGA Tour event. That leaves Koepka 18 holes away from joining Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA in stroke play. He is one round away from becoming the first player to hold back-to-back major title at the same time. Not since Hal Sutton in 1983 has anyone led from start to finish in the PGA Championship. And a third straight year winning a major? Woods and Phil Mickelson are the only players to have done that over the last 30 years. Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only others to win majors in three straight years dating to 1960. Asked if there was any doubt he would win, Koepka said flatly, "No." He is unflappable in speech and on the golf course. Koepka has never bothered to check his heart rate at rest, but he figures it wouldn't be much different from standing on the first tee of a major championship with a big lead and thousands of rowdy New York fans witnessing a master performance. "Every time I set up to a golf shot, I feel like I know what the ball is going to do," Koepka said. "And if I don't, then I guess I'd be nervous. ... I'm trying my butt off, and from there, sometimes you need a little bit of luck. But I'd say I'm pretty flat-lined most of the time, as you can tell." He has all but flattened the strongest field in golf. Koepka was at 12-under 198, the first time this week he did not set or tie a scoring record. "I think we're all playing for second," said Luke List, one of four players tied for second. Dustin Johnson tried to make a run with six birdies, only to stall with five bogeys in his round of 69. No bogey was more damaging than the 18th. A drive into the fairway would have given the world's No. 1 player a reasonable shot at birdie. Instead, he sent it right into bunker, came up well short into the native grass, left the next one in the bunker and had to scramble to limit the damage. That kept Johnson from joining his close friend in the final group. Koepka will play the final round with Harold Varner III, whose week began with plans to play a practice round with Woods on the eve of the PGA Championship until Woods called in sick. Varner birdied the 18th to cap off a bogey-free 67 and lead the group at 5-under 205 that includes Jazz Janewattananond (67) and List, who holed two shots from off the green for a 69. Jordan Spieth did not put any pressure on Koepka at all. Playing in the final group on the weekend for the first time since the British Open last summer, Spieth didn't have a realistic birdie chance until the sixth hole, and he missed that one from 8 feet. He shot 72 and was nine shots behind. Spieth would not speak to a reporter after the round. There was simply no stopping Koepka, who is one round away from a fourth major in his last eight tries and a return to No. 1 in the world. The plan for Sunday was no different from the previous three rounds. "It doesn't really matter. I'm just trying to play good golf," Koepka said. "If I can get off to a good start tomorrow, these first six holes are very scorable. I feel like if you can get 1 or 2 under after six, you're in a good spot." That's what worked on Saturday. Koepka had birdie chances on the opening six holes and converted two of them, from 5 feet on a blind shot up the hill at No. 2, and a gap wedge that landed next to the pin and settled just over 2 feet away on No. 5. His only struggle was missing a 2-foot par putt on the ninth hole for a three-putt bogey, and then missing the 10th fairway to the right to set up another bogey. The most important putt for Koepka was just under 5 feet for par on the 11th, which kept him from three straight bogeys. And then he was back in his groove. List ran off three straight birdies, chipping in from 70 feet on No. 12, holing a 30-foot putt on the par-5 13th and making a 15-foot putt on the 14th. That pulled him within five, but it wasn't long before Koepka birdied the 13th and List began missing enough shots that it finally cost him. Johnson has the most experience and skill among those chasing Koepka, if he even allows there to be a chase. "It's going to take something special to catch Brooks, but it's doable," Johnson said. He then tried to work out the math, and then he stuck to a more practical outlook. "I'm going to need some help from him," Johnson said. "And then I'm going to have to play very, very well.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

Federer joins Murray in 4th round at Australian Open

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Schroder hits go-ahead triple, leads Hawks past Knicks

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2017

Thomas sets 36-hole record and leads by 5

DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer br /> HONOLULU (AP) — Justin Thomas finished with another eagle and put himself in the PGA Tour record book again Friday in the Sony Open. One day after his 59 made him only the seventh player in PGA Tour history break 60, Thomas made an 8-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole at Waialae for a 6-under 64 to set the 36-hole scoring record on the PGA Tour. Thomas was at 17-under 123 and had a five-shot lead over Gary Woodland. The previous mark was 124, last matched at the 2015 BMW Championship by Jason Day at Conway Farm. 'It's cool,' Thomas said. 'Just like yesterday, anytime you can get your name in the record book, it's awesome. I had no idea until I finished.' Thomas started slowly, not picking up his first birdie until the fifth hole. Irritation from a three-putt bogey on the eighth hole got him going, and Thomas ran off four straight birdies around the turn. From there, no one got closer than four shots on another ideal day for scoring off the shore just up the road from Waikiki Beach. Woodland made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole for his second straight 64. Woodland and Thomas as part of the final group could be a real power show — Woodland is regarded as one of the premier power players in golf, though he has been far more reserved off the tee, despite being tempted to hit driver. 'I did that my first couple times here and that didn't work out for me,' he said. 'I'm very comfortable with where my game is. Driver feels great, I just don't get many opportunities out there. I'm not complaining about being in the fairway, either.' Thomas wasn't bashful. He smashed a 355-yard drive down the 12th fairway that set up a flip wedge to 12 feet for his fourth straight birdie. He also took an unusual line on the 14th, hammering a high drive over the trees and bunker down the left side and back into the fairway, leaving him 70 yards to the green on the 430-yard hole. He pitched that up to just under 5 feet and missed the putt, one of the few he failed to convert. Zach Johnson had a 61 and Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose shot 64. They were in the group seven shots behind along with Hudson Swafford, who opened with a 62 but could only manage a 68. Jordan Spieth felt empty after rounds of 65-67, partially because he was nine shots behind and primarily because he had as many chances as Thomas over the last two days. Only one of them has been converting putt after putt. 'Just has a really cold putter this week,' Spieth said. 'I think it added to the frustration on the green, because the game is looking so easy to him. I felt like I was hitting the ball in the same location, I'm just being outdone on the green. That's something a little abnormal to me.' That made Thomas, his best friend in golf for the last 10 years, chuckle. 'Now he knows how a lot of people feel,' Thomas said. Thomas never made it to the North Shore on Thursday after his 59, though he was happy to have missed out on Spieth and Smylie Kaufman's ocean adventure that included a capsized kayak. He approached the next day like any other, trying to hit good shots, get birdie chances and expand his lead. He ticked every box, even picking up a record he knew nothing about. Thomas rolled in a 12-foot birdie from the collar left of the 15th green, only to give the shot back with a tee shot he pulled into the bunker. From the left rough, with the sun in his face, he belted it out and onto the green for another closing eagle. Coming off a three-shot victory last week at Kapalua, he is in prime position to join Ernie Els in 2003 as the only players to sweep Hawaii. 'He's not stopping, as we can see,' Spieth said. 'Someone has to go out and chase him.' Rose was one shot out of the lead when he finished — Thomas had yet to tee off — and was hopeful of staying in range. Rose knows from experience that starting strong and holding it together for four rounds isn't easy. He shot 60 in the first round at Disney in 2006, stretched his lead early in the second round and by the end of the week was five shots behind the winner. 'You definitely need the mindset when you're that far ahead to keep the accelerator down,' Rose said. 'But it's hard to keep that sort of momentum going, for sure.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2017

Federer wins 1st match on return, Switzerland beats Britain

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer returned from six months on the sidelines with a knee injury to beat Dan Evans 6-3, 6-4 on Monday and lead Switzerland to an opening 3-0 win over Britain at the Hopman Cup mixed teams tournament. The 17-time major winner missed the French Open last year, ending a run of 65 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, and hadn't played competitively since re-injuring his surgically repaired left knee at Wimbledon in July. But he showed no signs of rust in his 61-minute win over Evans. 'I'd like to live it again. I'm a little bit sad it's over, because it was so nice out there,' Federer said of his return. 'I was actually quite emotional. When I walked down, I was like, 'Oh my God, this is better than I thought it would be.'' The 35-year-old Federer said it was the kind of feeling he missed the most while he was sidelined. 'I thought for a first match it was great, because my expectations were obviously quite low.' Belinda Bencic held off Heather Watson 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 later Monday to give Switzerland an unbeatable 2-0 lead. Federer and Bencic easily completed the sweep in the mixed doubles, beating Evans and Watson 4-0, 4-1. Federer said he's looking for as many matches as possible in Perth ahead of the Australian Open, which starts Jan. 16 in Melbourne. He hasn't won a Grand Slam title since 2012 at Wimbledon, and hasn't won the Australian Open title since 2010, but hasn't given up hope of extending his record in the majors. 'After all these years, it would be nice to win another one — of course I'd even take two or three or four,' he said. 'We'll see. It's tough at the top. A lot of good guys out there right now. I'll give it a chance, and see what happens.' Federer said he'd spent plenty of time on conditioning during his break from the game and felt pain free. 'I don't have any pain,' he said. 'It's been nice that I was able to get rid of that early.' Switzerland is set to play Germany on Wednesday and France on Friday, with the winning team in Group A qualifying for Saturday's final. France beat Germany 2-1 earlier Monday, with Richard Gasquet defeating Alexander Zverev 7-5, 6-3 and combining with Kristina Mladenovic to win the deciding mixed doubles, which is being played in the Fast4 format, 4-2, 4-1. Andrea Petkovic had earlier beaten Mladenovic 6-2, 6-1 in the women's singles. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2017

The Roots to open NBA All-Star Game 2017

NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2016 – The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that Grammy® Award-winning hip-hop group The Roots will tip off the 66th NBA All-Star Game during the “Entertainment Series presented by JBL” on Sund.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 19th, 2016

Tallo leaves lasting first impression, leads Bacolod to winning MPBL debut

Mac Tallo wasted no time showcasing his skills in shooting Bacolod to its first win in just its first try in the MPBL Lakan Cup, an 87-83 decision against fellow rookie team Mindoro, Monday inside Manila's San Andres Gym. Tallo dropped 31 points in efficient 13-for-21 shooting, 14 of which came in the Masters' 34-point second quarter that broke the game wide open. Not only that, the former NLEX and TNT guard also made his presence felt everywhere else, nabbing six assists, six steals, and four rebounds as well. Jopher Custodio and Louie Medalla also chimed in 12 and 11 points, respectively, while team captain Pao Javelona chipped in seven markers, five assists, three rebounds, two steals, and his usual energy and intensity in Bacolod's breakthrough win. Mac Baracael, another former Road Warrior, paced the Tamaraws with 23 points on top of 11 rebounds and five assists. Joseph Brutas backstopped him with 21 markers. Meanwhile, home team Manila stayed spotless thus far after warding off Nueva Ecija, 96-86. Carlo Lastimosa led three other teammates in double-digits with 20 points as the Stars scored back-to-back wins to start the season. Right behind him were Chris Bitoon who had 18 points, Jollo Go who had 14 markers, and Aris Dionisio who had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double to his name. On the other hand, newcomer Nueva Ecija remained winless in two games. Jerwin Gaco topped the scoring column for them with 19 points......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2019

Air Force takes flight as champions of PBL Open

Philippine Air Force has been racking up the honors in previous leagues and tournaments - and in their first foray in the Philippine Baseball League, the Lawin took flight and soared. Air Force mounted a huge seven-run lead after the third inning to completely take the fight out of the Thunderz All Star squad and take the 2019 PBL Open title, 7-4, last Sunday at Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium. Veteran national team pitcher Romeo Jasmin was virtually unbreachable throughout the match. Despite allowing nine hits in the seven innings played, the former Adamson University standout anchored his defense in stranding eight men at the bases. After a scoreless first frame, the white-shirts broke through Aids Bernardo with consecutive hits before Junmar Diarao punched in a two-RBI single to take a 2-0 lead. Jonjon Robles then drove in another hit to send Diarao home to end the frame at 3-0. In the third inning, PAF pulled away after scoring four more runs capitalizing on the errors of the Thunderz shortstops. Robles got his second hit of the day as he put the game out of reach at 7-0. National team pitchers, playing outfield this match, paced the orange-shirts' offense as Vlads Eguia ended at 2-on-3 hitting and Jerome Yenson had a hit and two runs. In the bronze medal match, the Adamson Soaring Falcons consolidated their Group B win over groupmates and UAAP rivals National University Bulldogs, 4-2. Right fielder Patrick Espinosa had a perfect 3-of-3 batting as Lexter Carandang finished with 2-of-3 hitting and scoring two of these four runs......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2019

About face: US routs Trinidad 6-0 in Gold Cup

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — The only embarrassment and shame was felt on the other side. Two years later, the U.S. soccer team turned the tables on Trinidad and Tobago. Gyasi Zardes scored two goals in a three-minute span, Christian Pulisic added one during a five-goal barrage in the second half and the Americans unloaded on their nemesis in a 6-0 blowout in the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Saturday night, earning a small dose of revenge over the team that handed them a nightmarish loss in 2017. Aaron Long scored his first two international goals — one with his head, the other off his chest — and Paul Arriola scored as the U.S. tallied five times in 25 minutes while cruising to its second shutout this week and advancing to the quarterfinals in Philadelphia on June 30. It was the first matchup between the U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago since Oct. 10, 2017, when the Americans, needing only a tie to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, lost 2-1 to the Soca Warriors. The embarrassing defeat snapped a streak of seven straight World Cup appearances by the Americans and triggered a top-to-bottom overhaul of the men's program, which has operated in the imposing shadow of the powerful U.S. women, seeking their fourth world title in France. There would be no repeat performance by this revamped U.S. team, which is determined to win back global respect. "Every time we step on the field we want to make a statement," said Zardes, who just missed getting a third goal. "We're trying to change the way the world views American soccer." The Americans posted their most lopsided win since beating Honduras 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier on March 24, 2017, when Pulisic, who took over this game in the second half, also scored and had a pair of assists. But while much of the pre-game talk centered on the U.S. getting payback, the Americans insist they've put the past behind them. "For us, we advance to the next round," coach Gregg Berhalter said. "That's important. Our focus was to prepare for this game knowing that if we'd be able to go to the next round. That was the focus of the group. Trinidad was in our way." Not anymore. With the U.S. leading 1-0 on Long's goal in the 41st minute, Zardes scored from right in front shortly after U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen made a diving save to stop Trinidad from tying a match the Americans dominated. Michael Bradley chipped the ball from the left side to a charging Nick Lima, who headed the ball to Zardes in front. The American striker only had to guide it by Trinidad keeper Marvin Phillip in the 65th minute. Two minutes later, Zardes buried a hard shot from the left side for his 10th international goal and second two-goal game for the Americans. Zardes nearly completed a hat trick, but his low shot from up top in the 70th minute hit the left upright. Next up for the Americans is a matchup with Panama on Wednesday in Kansas City, Kansas. The Panamanians improved to 2-0 in Group D of the 16-team tournament with a 4-2 win over Guyana, also clinching a quarterfinal berth. On a picture-perfect night along the shores of Lake Erie, the American team controlled possession and tempo while thoroughly outplaying T&T, which was blanked 2-0 by Panama in its opening match and was eliminated. The Soca Warriors were content to sit back and let the U.S. attack, hoping to spring counters. They nearly connected in the 61st minute as Cordell Cato eluded three defenders on the right side and hit teammate Levi Garcia in stride. But Garcia's shot was high and wide, a close call that prompted a collective gasp from the U.S. faithful. "Big moment," Trinidad coach Dennis Lawrence said. "When you get in that position, you have to put that away." Lawrence was upset with how his team collapsed following the U.S. team's second goal. "How can you play so good for 65 minutes and then so awful for the last 25?" he said, repeating his postgame message to his players. "We have to learn to stand up and fight. We lost focus and we paid the price." Berhalter stuck with the same starting lineup he used in the opener over Guyana but gave the captain's arm band to Steffen for the first time. Bradley captained the Americans in the opening 4-0 win over Guyana. Long, who plays in the MLS for the New York Red Bulls, put the U.S. ahead off a beautiful feed from the left side by Pulisic. Shortly after the U.S. was awarded a free kick, the Americans kept pressing and maintained possession in Trinidad's half before Pulisic spotted Long inside the 6-yard-box and delivered an arching pass to the forward, who left his feet, connected and drove the ball past a sprawling Phillip. The score touched off a flag-waving celebration behind the goal by red-white-and blue clad U.S. fans, who have been anxiously awaiting their team's chance at some redemption. After a 20-month wait, they got a little......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

US defense will face greater challenges in knockout round

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press REIMS, France (AP) — Much of the attention on the United States rightly goes to its prolific offense, especially after that 13-goal game to open the Women's World Cup, but the team's defense has been predictably reliable so far in France. The defense has posted shutouts in the team's first three games, marking the first time the United States has not conceded a goal in the group stage at the tournament. The defending champions open the knockout round Monday against Spain. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher saw little action during the team's rout of Thailand in the opener, but matches against Chile and Sweden provided incrementally tougher tests. "To come away from group play with three shutouts, as a team defensively, I'm very proud of that," she said. "It's a goal that we have going into every game, especially as a back line, to keep clean sheets. We put a lot of time into team defending as well, all 11 players on the field are defending, and that cohesiveness is what helps bring that." The team's backline in France has shifted due to lineup changes and injuries. Veteran center back Becky Sauerbrunn was held out of the first game because of a minor injury, but came back against Chile when coach Jill Ellis rested players. Against Sweden, Ellis used the backline that is expected to start in the knockout phase, with Abby Dahlkemper alongside Sauerbrunn, Kelley O'Hara on the right and Crystal Dunn on the left. Dunn was especially effective against Sweden and in thwarting forward Sofia Jakobsson. The United States has seven clean sheets in its last eight World Cup matches — the exception being the two goals allowed in the team's 5-2 victory over Japan in the 2015 final. The United States went 540 minutes in Canada without conceding a goal, the longest streak in the tournament since Germany's record 679 scoreless minutes from 2003-11. Former goalkeeper Hope Solo allowed just three total goals and won her second straight Golden Glove as the tournament's top goalkeeper. The backline included Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg, Julie Johnston and Ali Krieger. Johnston, now Julie Ertz, has moved up into a role as a defensive midfielder in France. She sat out against Sweden because of a hip contusion but U.S. Soccer characterized the injury as minor. Krieger won a spot on the roster for this tournament because of her big-game experience after a long layoff from the team. Naeher has replaced Solo, considered one of the game's best goalkeepers ever. Solo was dismissed from the team following the 2016 Olympics. Brushing off the inevitable comparisons, Naeher has been steady in goal. "I've played with Alyssa since I was like 16 so I've known her for a really long time. It's awesome to see her step into this role because I've always known that she has the capacity and the talent to be the starting goalkeeper on this team. She's shown that," O'Hara said. "She, for me, provides a very calm consistency back there. She's also someone with steely nerves. I think she does a really good job of just putting on a game face." The United States is currently on a streak of 594 minutes since last conceding a goal. The last came in the 81st minute of a 5-3 victory over Australia in April. Echoing Naeher, Tobin Heath said the Americans have embraced team defense. "It's huge. It's a big part of what we're trying to do, both offensively and defensively. We always talk about this idea of 360 defending, where everybody's contributing," Heath said. "I think Alyssa's been fantastic. It's not easy, especially in the first two games to not face that many shots, and then to have a quality opponent like Sweden, to be on her game." If the top-ranked U.S. can get past No. 13 Spain, there's a possibility of a clash against hosts France in the quarterfinal in Paris. The fourth-ranked French, who scored seven goals in the group stage and conceded just one, face Brazil on Sunday. "I think this is the best team we've had, and we're so confident right now, we're so motivated to want to win and succeed," Krieger said. "We know what tools we have and what we need in order to break teams down and be successful in the final third. I think that's what we've showcased so far.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

Southeast Asian Leaders Open Summit in Bangkok

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Southeast Asian leaders opened a two-day summit in Bangkok on Saturday, though it was unclear what progress their 10-country group could make on disputes in the South China Sea an.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

Injured Sanchez leads Chile to Copa America quarterfinals

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Despite another ankle injury, Alexis Sanchez led Chile to the quarterfinals of the Copa America. Playing in pain after getting hurt in the first half, Sanchez scored a second-half winner to give Chile a 2-1 victory over Ecuador and a spot in the last eight of the South American competition on Friday. Sanchez stayed in the game after taking pain pills and scored in the 51st minute at the Arena Fonte Nova, securing the two-time defending champions a place in the knockout stage. "I twisted my ankle. I kept playing for the love I have for this national team," he said. "When I play for my country, I'm always playing happy." Sanchez found the far corner with a clever one-timer over Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez after a cross by Charles Aranguiz. It was the second goal of the tournament for the Chilean forward, who was coming off a difficult season with Manchester United and recovered from another ankle injury — on the right leg — just in time for the Copa America. "Fortunately it wasn't the same ankle he injured with Manchester United," said Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda, adding that team doctors considered the 30-year-old Sanchez could continue playing on Friday after undergoing ice treatment. "He is motivated when he is with the national team." It was Sanchez's 43rd goal with Chile, which is seeking its third straight Copa title a year after not making it to the World Cup in Russia. Jose Pedro Fuenzalida put Chile ahead with a strike in the eighth minute and Enner Valencia equalized for Ecuador from the penalty spot in the 26th. Ecuador played the final minutes with a man down after defender Gabriel Achilier was sent off for elbowing Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal. The victory gave Chile the lead in Group C with six points, two more than second-place Uruguay, which on Thursday drew 2-2 with Japan. The Japanese squad has one point and Ecuador stayed with zero. The top two teams in each of the three groups advance, along with the best two third-place finishers. The Chilean win guaranteed Uruguay will finish at least third in the group. In the last round on Monday, Chile faces Uruguay at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, while Ecuador takes on Japan at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte. Chile had opened with a 4-0 rout of Japan, while Ecuador lost by the same score to Uruguay......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

Southeast Asian Leaders Open Summit in Bangkok

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Southeast Asian leaders opened a two-day summit in Bangkok on Saturday, though it was unclear what progress their 10-country group could make on disputes in the South China Sea an.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

Copa America: Tite expected to make changes to Brazil s team

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press SAO PAULO (AP) — Under pressure after two lackluster performances by Brazil in the Copa America at home, coach Tite is expected to make changes to his squad ahead of its final group game this weekend. Brazil faces Peru on Saturday in Sao Paulo needing at least a draw to guarantee a place in the next round. Few doubt Brazil will make it through, as the Selecao can advance even with a loss, but only a convincing performance will satisfy the demanding Brazilian fans and relieve some of the pressure on Tite. The coach did not say who will start on Saturday but hinted he will not keep the same team from the first two games. "We have several athletes with different characteristics," Tite said on Friday. "Each one can help in different ways depending on the match." The coach's main changes are expected in the attack, which has been the team's primary weakness. David Neres, Richarlison, and Roberto Firmino, the trio that started the first two matches, are yet to score. In the 3-0 opening win against Bolivia a week ago, Brazil had two goals from Philippe Coutinho and one from substitute Everton. The second match was 0-0 against Venezuela on Tuesday. "We need to improve our precision in attack, we acknowledge that," Tite said. "We know that we need to be able to translate our superiority into goals." Brazil entered the tournament without Neymar because of an ankle injury, and none of the other forwards have been able to make up for his absence. Neymar was dropped from the squad before the tournament but showed up at the team's hotel on Friday to visit his teammates and support the team. Tite, who on Thursday completed three years as Brazil coach, said after the team's World Cup elimination last year he regretted taking too long to make changes to the squad, and that this time he would not make the same mistake. Brazil was jeered in both Copa America matches and many of the boos were aimed at Tite when he substituted defensive midfielder Casemiro with another defensive midfielder, Fernandinho, against Venezuela despite the team's inability to create scoring chances. The fans wanted him to use Everton, who played well coming off the bench in both games and is the player most likely to earn a starting spot against Peru. The quick forward helped open up the opponent's defense, allowing Brazil to improve and create more scoring opportunities. The other possible player to get a chance is Gabriel Jesus, who has also come off the bench twice. The Manchester City forward wasn't as effective as Everton, but did help improve the attack. He found the net in the second half against Venezuela, but the goal was disallowed after video review. Neres had decent performances playing in Neymar's position, but it was Coutinho who many felt should have taken over the leading role. Coutinho also had a goal disallowed by video review against Venezuela, but despite his decisive scores against Bolivia his performances have been below expectations. Fernandinho didn't practice with the rest of the squad on Friday because of a right knee ailment and will not play on Saturday. Midfielder Arthur also practiced separately on Thursday because of a foot injury, but he was back with the rest of the team on Friday and is likely to be available against Peru. Brazil and Peru are tied at the top of Group A with four points, two more than third-place Venezuela. Bolivia has no points after two matches. Venezuela and Bolivia meet in Belo Horizonte on Saturday. Peru eliminated Brazil from the 2016 Copa America with a 1-0 win in the final match of their group, handing Brazil its first group-stage elimination in the tournament since 1987......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

Zion Williamson brings rare potential to New Orleans

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Eventually, as with every NBA Draft, there will be a “re-draft” of the Class of 2019. That’s the irresistible exercise in hindsight from media outlets that rank a particular year’s prospects not on their projected value but on actual demonstrated value five, 10 or more seasons into their professional careers. Some players will rise. Others will fall. “Bust” and “sleeper” tags will be dispersed accordingly. This team or GM will be lauded for an especially savvy selection, that one will be razzed for the quality player or players on whom it whiffed. But the through line of the dreams-come-true event Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) at Barclays Center, the lone selection that will not or at least should not change, is Zion Williamson. Williamson is the sure thing, the “can’t miss,” consensus No. 1 pick bound for the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s a 6'7", 285-pound freshman from Duke whose comps aren’t merely established players currently in the NBA but some of the game’s legends. So think Blake Griffin, sure. But also think LeBron James. And Charles Barkley. And, for that matter, every other wide-body who’s ever played with muscles on muscles, above-the-rim explosiveness, balletic body control and an instantly recognizable game that’s as charismatic as it is freakish. Yeah, awfully small subset. “I’m looking forward to playing against everybody,” Williamson said soon after his selection. “I want to be the best. I feel I have to earn everybody’s respect.” It’s not just a matter of Williamson’s game tickling NBA fans’ fancy, either. He managed, in almost his first official pro moment, to capture a lot of their hearts too. No sooner had Williamson – the first No. 1 pick to be born in this millennium (July 6, 2000) – strode to the stage in his cream-white suit, tugged on a Pelicans draft cap and embraced NBA commissioner Adam Silver, he dropped his guard to let the world share his emotions in the moment. His status as college basketball’s best and his draft position had been established months ago. There was no new mystery as to when his name would be called by Silver at the podium. And yet, when the first ESPN microphone was poked in front of him, with his mother Sharonda Sampson at his side, the big guy lost it. He choked up and blinked back tears, not quite winning that battle. “My mom sacrificed a lot for me,” Williamson said. “I wouldn’t be here without my mom. She did everything for me. I just want to thank her.” Several interviews and maybe 20 minutes later, Williamson explained how the horribly kept secret of his No. 1 selection could trigger his response. “Because I love the game of basketball,” he said. “You can hear people say things like, ‘Oh, it was likely I was going to go No. 1.’ But I guess you don’t know until you actually go through it.” What mattered most to Williamson about his mother’s role in his life? “Tough love,” he said. “She was always be the first one to keep it real with me. … She put aside her dreams just so me and my brothers could have a chance at ours.” The love already heading Williamson’s way in New Orleans was less tough and more unconditional at this stage, for the teenager represents a re-birth for a Pelicans franchise rocked by the loss of All-Star forward Anthony Davis. Davis, coincidentally, was the No. 1 pick in 2012 and generally considered the top prospect to hit the Draft before Williamson. But after six-and-a-half seasons and only two trips to the playoffs, Davis asked in December to be traded, despite having more than two-plus seasons left on his contract. David Griffin, the Pelicans' new vice president of basketball operations, had hoped that Williamson’s arrival might convince Davis to stay. When that didn’t happen, Griffin swiftly shifted to Plan B, arranging to trade the discontented big man to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal that won’t be official until July. Now New Orleans, which has won just two playoff series in its 17 seasons and failed to qualify 10 times, has a new cornerstone. Williamson figures to be under team control contractually for as long or longer than Davis stuck around, with teammates relocated from L.A. such as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart to run with him and Pelicans holdovers. “What excites me the most is the fact that they’re young and they’re close to my age,” said Duke’s third No. 1 overall pick (Elton Brand in 1999, Kyrie Irving in 2011). “So they can help me a lot more, like how to deal with this transition. I think we can build something over there.” The essential block is Williamson, who swept college basketball’s major awards with a game that strains credulity. At 285 pounds, his listed weight is greater than almost every big man in the NBA, but he has quick-twitch speed and thrives in the open court. He can stare down into the rim before slamming home dunks with unnerving ferocity, and he is a deft and willing passer. Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 30 minutes for the Blue Devils, while making 68 percent of his shots. He and fellow Top 10 picks R.J. Barrett (New York, No. 3) and Cam Reddish (Atlanta, No. 10) helped Duke reach the Elite Eight, with Williamson earning ACC Tournament MVP along the way. He’s not a perfect player – his jump shot and range need work – but he already is working to complement his transition and low-post repertoire. Defensively, Williamson has the motor and mobility to switch assignments and quick hands to dislodge the ball without fouling. As a rebounder, his verticality is matched by, well, his horizontality in controlling the air space above and around him. “His size, his athleticism, his power is visible,” former St. John’s coach and Naismith Hall of Famer Chris Mullin said. “But to me his speed is really incredible from end to end. “I would morph Charles Barkley and Shawn Kemp and put them together [as a comparison]. When he gets to the NBA and he plays with that extra space they have in the wide key, he’s going to be a monster.” Williamson arrives with hype – no, make that expectations, because of all he’s shown already on courts around America – that rival what James shouldered when he arrived from high school in 2003. His plan for lugging that responsibility: “Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m willing to do it, because I feel people remember winners.” The selections immediately after Williamson were nearly as predictable, based on intelligence and mock drafts that solidified in the days before the Draft. Murry State guard Ja Morant was chosen by Memphis at No. 2, and Barrett’s ensuing selection by the Knicks delighted their always boisterous fans in the stands at Barclay. The order of the next four choices was jumbled from some predictions. Yet by the time the smoke cleared, sure enough, the seven players projected to come off the board soonest had slotted into the night’s top seven spots. That included Virginia forward De’andre Hunter to Atlanta at No. 4 (via the Lakers, in the aforementioned Davis trade that has yet to be completed), Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland to Cleveland at No. 5, Texas Tech wing Jarrett Culver to Minnesota at No. 6 and North Carolina guard Coby White to Chicago at No. 7. Just because there wasn’t a lot of suspense at Barclays didn’t mean there was no intrigue. Much of that came from unusually heavy trade action – all technically unofficial – that had teams moving up, down and all around to snag picks, dump picks or clean up their salary-cap positions in anticipation of free agency that starts June 30. The timing of the Draft, relative to when the NBA’s new business year begins, had players donning caps of teams they’ll never play for, while speaking guardedly about those for whom they really were picked. A reported nine trades impacted draft decisions made in the first round alone. There even was a moment when Morant, in his post-Draft media session, gave a shout-out to veteran Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, whose spot he’ll presumably be taking once Conley’s trade to Utah officially goes through. But there’s no such uncertainty about Williamson, the through line of this year’s class, the true line in his heartfelt reactions Thursday (Friday, PHL time) and broad-shouldered hope of a Big Easy franchise in need. Williamson showed his grasp of the NBA’s and sports’ need for fresh icons, in effect accepting his status as a legend in waiting. “You know, times change,” he said. “That’s why there are so many debates about who people think the greatest players of all time are. If you were in the time of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, you’d probably say one of those two. If you were in the time of Jordan, you’d say Jordan. In our generation, a lot of them say LeBron. “So times changes and I think younger fans like younger players.” You don’t have to be young, though, to have your eye on Zion. 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 NewsJun 21st, 2019

Uruguay draws with Japan 2-2 in Copa America

By Eric Nunez, Associated Press PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Copa America favorites Uruguay drew 2-2 with Japan on Thursday and delayed until the last round of the group stage its likely qualification to the tournament's knockout phase. Japan, which is playing a young team, was ahead twice in the match at the Arena do Gremio in Porto Alegre thanks to midfielder Koji Miyoshi, one of the seven changes the Asian team made after losing 4-0 to Chile in its opening match. Miyoshi netted his first at 25 minutes, hitting the ball hard to the left of goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. Luis Suarez leveled at 32 after a penalty kick awarded by video review following a foul by a Japanese defender. Miyoshi added Japan's second at 59 in a rebound after Muslera tried to block a cross from the left. At 66 minutes, Uruguay drew with a header by Jose Gimenez after a corner kick. Uruguay has four points in two matches and leads Group C. Defending Copa America champion Chile can reach six points with a win over Ecuador on Friday. Japan has one point, and Ecuador has none. Uruguay and Chile play on Monday, the same day that Japan plays against Ecuador. "I am not worried," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. "Do you know how many times I lived this in those 13 years (as Uruguay coach)? Japan was aggressive. They had fewer opportunities and scored twice. They played a great match." Suarez described the result as "bittersweet." "They pressured us and didn't let us play in the way we wanted," the striker said. Despite the result and a poorer performance than in the 4-0 win against Ecuador, Uruguay had the best chances to score. Gimenez, who scored Uruguay's second, said he knew Japan was quick and resilient before the match. "Against Chile they missed some forcefulness, otherwise the match would have been different," the defender said. "We didn't lose, it is a valuable point." Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu made the changes to the team that was hammered by Chile as part of preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. Japanese players complained in the first half when the match was 1-1 and Shoya Nakajima fell in the penalty box after contact with Uruguay's Giovanni Gonzalez. Colombian referee Andres Rojas did not award a penalty. "We could have won," said Moriyasu. "When the players returned to the dressing room you could see that frustration on their faces. They felt they missed a little to win." Suarez and Edinson Cavani had other chances near the end, but the 2-2 looked like a fair result to more than 30,000 fans attending the match. "We played head to head, respecting all the history Uruguay has," Moriyasu said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2019

PBA: KaTropa get things going with Jones looking like Best Import

Terrence Jones looks like he’s a cut above the rest of the imports in the ongoing 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. The former Houston Rocket leads the league in scoring for TNT with 33.86 points per game. He also has 15.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.4 blocks per outing. Jones' production has the KaTropa on top of the standings with a near-perfect 6-1 mark. However, it’s not only Jones that has TNT in pole position for the mid-season joust. With Jones dominating, the rest of the KaTropa have taken turns in having big games to back up their productive import. RR Pogoy, Troy Rosario, and Jayson Castro remain as top locals for TNT but the team is also getting nice production from Don Trollano, Ryan Reyes, and Anthony Semerad. “I think as a team, that’s what you want, you want different guys to step up so we could keep that energy,” Jones said. “Nobody on our team is selfish, we’re trying to fin the open guy and it’s just showing in our play,” he added. TNT is currently only one of four teams to put up over 100 points per game in the Commissioner’s Cup. The offense is running like a well-oiled machine. But the secret behind the KaTropa’s 6-1 record is defense says Jones. “I think it’s just from the defensive end [6-1 record]. I think we’re doing a great job of playing defense and it’s getting us easy points,” the prolific import said. “And our shooters, different guys have been stepping up you know and they’ve just been playing very well. So it’s just been a lot of guys coming in the game and ready to play. It’s been just a lot of great play by everybody,” Jones added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2019

Maijers rules 10th Le Tour de Filipinas

LEGAZPI CITY -- Dutch Jeroen Meijers of Taiyuan Miogee Cycing Team of China successfully defended his lead in the fifth and final stage topped by German Mario Vogt of Team Sapura Cycling of Malaysia to snare his first title in three years in the 10th Le Tour de Filipinas that concluded Tuesday in this beautiful Bicol City fronting the majestic Mayon Volcano here. Meijers, 26, was with Singaporean Goh Choon Huat of Terrenganu Inc., TSG Cycling of Malaysia in the peloton that clocked three hours, 34 minutes and 48 seconds to secure the victory with a total clocking of 20:38:07. Goh finished second overall in 20:38:52 while Aussie Angus Lyons of Oliver’s Real Food Racing of Australia in 20:39:45. 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Philippines’ Daniel Habtemichael (20:40:20), PGN Road Cycling Team’s Sandy Nur Hasan (20:40:32) and Aiman Cahyadi (20:40:39), Team Ukyo’s Kohei Yokotsuka (20:40:39) and Naoya Yoshioka (20:40:41) and Team Sapura Cycling’s Muhsin Al Redha Misbah (20:40:42) and Taiyuan Miogee’s Li Shuai (20:40:43) rounded up the top 10. “I felt good entering Stage Five, we had a good feeling about it and I know you need to celebrate at the finish line, not before because anything can happen,” said Meijers, whose last manor victory came in France three years back. Vogt topped the 138.1km Stage Five in 3:33:39 and bested Filipino Dominic Perez of 7Eleven and Malaysian Mohd Zamri Saleh of Terengganu Inc TSG Cycing Team of Malaysia, who each timed in 3:34:41. It was the third podium finish for the 27-year-old Stuttgart native after he also ruled Stage Two Saturday and placed third in Stage Four Monday. Vogt eventually finished 12th overall. Team Ukyo clinched the team crown in 61:59:35 and the US$1,200 (P62,400) purse. Taiyuan Miogee wound up second (622:36) and PGN Road Cycling Team (62:03:05) third in this five-stage race sponsored by Air21, Cargohaus, NMM, Ufreight and SPL and backed by the Phl National Police, Armed Forces of the Phl and Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office with Onesports by Cignal as official coveror. Filipino Marcelo Felipe of 7Eleven Cliqq-Air21 by Roadbike Phls slipped from 10th to 11th in 20:43:43 after losing to Li via countback. Li had a better finish than Marcelo in Stage Four, paving the way for the former to steal No. 10. Felipe, however, went home as the best Filipino rider, besting Mark Galedo of Celeste Cycles Bianchi Phls, who won this same race five years ago, Go for Gold’s Jonel Carcueva, who finished 15th and 16th overall, respectively. Meijers’ ascent started in Stage One Friday when bested all comers to win the lap. Meijers lost the Air21 purple jersey for a time in Stage Two when Goh orchestrated the breakaway group only for the latter to get it back at the end of it. And then it was all Meijers from there. Le Tour chair Donna Mae Lina later said she’s looking forward to next year’s 11th edition. “It was a fitting end to Le Tour’s 10th year anniversary and we’re excited for another one next year,” said Lina......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2019