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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: abscbn abscbnAug 25th, 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

Zverev s ATP Finals win vs. Federer tainted by ball boy flub

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — After pulling off one of the biggest wins of his career, Alexander Zverev was left apologizing for an unforced error he didn't make. Zverev denied Roger Federer a shot at a 100th career title by beating the Swiss great 7-5, 7-6 (5) at the ATP Finals on Saturday to advance to the championship match against Novak Djokovic. Federer was leading the second-set tiebreaker 4-3 and in the ascendancy of a rally on a Zverev service point when a ball boy at the back of the court dropped a ball. Zverev immediately signaled for the point to be stopped and the umpire ordered the point to be replayed. Zverev served an ace before going on to close out the match moments later. "I want to apologize for the situation in the tiebreak," said Zverev, who was booed by some of the crowd during his on-court interview. "The ball boy dropped the ball so it's in the rules that we have to replay the point. "I'm a little bit upset about the whole situation because this is not how I wanted it to end." Zverev is the youngest player at 21 to reach the final since 2009 and the first from Germany since 1996. He will face five-time champion Djokovic, who defeated Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2 to extend his semifinal win-loss record at the tournament to 7-1. Federer, 37, was seeking a record-extending seventh title, but was unable to cope with the pressure created by Zverev's power and precision at the O2 Arena. "He (Zverev) apologized to me at the net," Federer said. "I was like, 'Buddy, shut up. You don't need to apologize to me here. Congratulations on a great match and a great tournament so far. All the best for the finals.' And you move on." An inspired series of shots earned Zverev the first break points of the match in the 12th game and Federer sent a forehand wide to fall behind. Federer willed himself to a break for 2-1 in the second set, but Zverev quickly composed himself to hit straight back in the following game. Zverev overcame the freak interruption to establish a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker, and Federer netted the simplest of forehand volleys to bring up match point. He saved the first, but Zverev confidently put away a backhand drive volley to set up a shot at the biggest title of his career and leave Federer waiting until next season for his 100th title. "Overall, I'm happy how the season went," said Federer, who picked up his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. "There's many positives. So I'm excited for next season." Despite having reached only one Grand Slam quarterfinal this year, Zverev is the only active player outside the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to have won three Masters titles. But victory at the tour's flagship event would exceed those achievements. "Novak right now is the best player in the world," said Zverev, who lost to Djokovic in the round robin. "You have to play your best game to even have a chance. I hope I'll be able to do that tomorrow." The Serb maintained his record of having not lost a set — or service game — at the tournament as he thrashed debutant Anderson to give himself the chance to join Federer on six titles. "I played very well in the group stage against Sascha (Zverev)," Djokovic said. "But I don't think he was close to his best." Djokovic won 20 out of 27 points on Anderson's second serve as he broke the South African twice in each set. "It was the best match I've played so far this week," Djokovic said. Having ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by defeating Anderson in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic went on to win his 14th major trophy at the U.S. Open and has already sealed the year-end No. 1 ranking. The victory extended Djokovic's record to 35-2 since the start of Wimbledon, a tournament he began ranked 21st after a right elbow injury interrupted his first half of the season. "It's remarkable what he's done since Wimbledon," Anderson said. "It seems like he's definitely right back playing some of the best tennis of his career.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2018

Kevin Anderson vs Kei Nishikori in Vienna final

VIENNA --- Kei Nishikori will try to end his long losing streak in ATP finals and Kevin Anderson will go for his second title of the year at the Erste Bank Open on Sunday. The fifth-seeded Nishikori reached his third final of 2018 after beating Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals. A winner of 11 ATP events, Nishikori hasn't triumphed since winning in Memphis in February 2016. He has lost eight straight finals since. The second-seeded Anderson defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 3-6, 6-4. Anderson has a shot at a fifth career title and second of the year after winning in New York in February. Nishikori leads Anderson 4-2 on career matchups, but the South African ...Keep on reading: Kevin Anderson vs Kei Nishikori in Vienna final.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 28th, 2018

Borrego: Hiring female coaches shows NBA trending right way

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants more women throughout the league. He’s getting his wish. In recent days, two significant moves were made, with Kristi Toliver being added to Washington’s staff of assistant coaches, and Chasity Melvin getting hired as an assistant coach with Charlotte’s G League affiliate in Greensboro, North Carolina. Those hires are signs of progress. Few seemed to notice, which also is not all bad. Women are a becoming a bigger part of the league now than ever before. The hires of Toliver and Melvin were not overlooked; it just no longer seems like such an unusual thing to bring a woman into the fray of an NBA club, probably because the likes of San Antonio assistant Becky Hammon, former Sacramento assistant Nancy Lieberman, Dallas assistant Jenny Boucek, Clippers G League assistant Natalie Nakase and Memphis analyst Nicki Gross took care of the first wave of trailblazing. “I think it’s great and I think it’s great for the NBA,” said Charlotte’s James Borrego, the league’s first Hispanic full-time coach. “It speaks to our league, the diversity, the openness, the inclusion and I’m proud to be part of that, part of a league that’s open to that. I’ve been around Becky Hammon for a number of years now. These are bright women that belong in our league.” Certainly, there’s much more progress to be made, including in business offices around the league — as well as on the sidelines. There’s never been a female NBA head coach, though Hammon — a longtime part of the staff in San Antonio, where Borrego was before taking the Charlotte job — seems on the cusp of breaking that glass ceiling. Only three women have been hired as full-time NBA referees, though Natalie Sago and Ashley Moyer-Gleich will get games this season and are already highly respected by many peers. Borrego expects the numbers of women in the league to increase. “They’re here to stay,” Borrego said. “That’s not going anywhere. It’s only going to trend in that direction.” SCORING UP If you think there’s been a lot more scoring than usual in the NBA this season, you’re right. Granted, six days of basketball is a small —and statistically insignificant— sample size in a six-month season. But teams averaged 106.3 points per game last season, and they’re off to an average of 113.3 points so far this season. Should that average somehow hold up over the course of a full season, it would be the league’s highest since teams averaged 116.7 points in 1969-70. “This is a new age of basketball and this is where we are,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “The days of games in the 80s are probably done. Everything’s spread out. It’s freedom of movement. There’s four attackers and often times five three-point shooters and there are missiles flying everywhere.” For perspective: There were eight instances in October 2017 of teams scoring 130 or more points. So far in October 2018, there’s been nine — with 10 days of play left this month. But big numbers hasn’t meant every game is a rout. There’s already been 12 games this season decided by three points or less. G LEAGUE CHANGES Over the next few weeks, more details will likely come out about the G League’s plan to offer $125,000 contracts to elite prospects who aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft. Much of the details remain unclear: who will get them, how they’ll get them, how many deals will be offered. Another murky part of all this is how the players will be assigned to teams. What would make the most sense is for the G League to go back into the NBA’s past for an answer there. The last territorial pick in the NBA was in 1965, but that’s the road the G League needs to go down now. For a league that’s still looking to grow, imagine the possibilities of putting a potential star with plenty of potential near his hometown. It’ll generate interest, which the G League surely could use. GAMES OF THE DAY If you’re going to watch only one game per day this week, we recommend: — Wizards at Trail Blazers, Monday (Tuesday, PHL time): John Wall and Bradley Beal in one backcourt, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in the other. — Clippers at Pelicans, Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time): Anthony Davis averaged 29.8 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks against the Clippers last season. — Knicks at Heat, Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time): New York’s David Fizdale coached on the Miami side of the rivalry for years as a Heat assistant. — Celtics at Thunder, Thursday (Friday, PHL time): Oklahoma City took leads into the fourth quarter against Boston twice last season, and went 0-2. — Bucks at Timberwolves, Friday (Saturday, PHL time): Milwaukee was one of the teams rumored to be in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes in recent weeks. — Lakers at Spurs, Saturday (Sunday, PHL time): LeBron James’ teams are 5-1 when he scores at least 30 at San Antonio, and 1-14 when he doesn’t. — Warriors at Nets, Sunday (next Monday, PHL time): Stephen Curry put on a dynamic show in Brooklyn last season — 39 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists. MILESTONE WATCH Spurs coach Gregg Popovich enters this week two wins shy of 1,200 for his regular-season career. He’ll be the fifth NBA coach to reach that milestone. ___ AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 22nd, 2018

Djokovic cruises, Federer battles, del Potro out in Shanghai

By Sandra Harwitt, Associated Press SHANGHAI (AP) — Roger Federer was stretched to three sets for a second consecutive match to reach the Shanghai Masters quarterfinals on Thursday. Nevertheless, the top seed insisted he was content with how he's playing. Federer defeated Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, a day after being taken the distance by Daniil Medvedev of Russia. "I'm actually quite happy," Federer said. "Bautista really had to raise his level of play in that second set to stay with me. I mean, he really caught fire, I thought. I served, I think, 80 percent in that second set and got broken twice." Novak Djokovic cruised through his second-round match, but Juan Martin del Potro had to retire after hurting his right knee in a fall. Federer led Bautista Agut by a set and a service break when he became entangled in a fight that lasted until the second-to-last game of the third set. Bautista Agut, a finalist here in 2016, finally offered Federer an opening to take control by surrendering his serve in the ninth game of the third set. Federer will play eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori, a finalist in Tokyo last week, in the quarterfinals. Nishikori ousted Sam Querrey 7-6 (7), 6-4 on Thursday. Third-seeded Del Potro, who has been playing with a cold throughout the week, was playing Borna Coric when he fell near the end of the first set. Del Potro had the knee wrapped but called it quits after losing the first set 7-5. Djokovic earned partial revenge when he beat Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-0. The only other time the second-seeded Djokovic played Cecchinato was in the French Open quarterfinals, where the Italian upset him in four sets. A Masters event is a level below a Grand Slam, but Djokovic was rapt to crush Cecchinato. "I was making him play always an extra shot," Djokovic said. "I was aggressive when I needed to be. The second set was perfect, really." Since Djokovic lost that French Open match to Cecchinato, he's won 28 of his 30 matches. The Serb is on a 15-match winning streak, which includes title runs at Cincinnati and the U.S. Open. He's bidding to win a record fourth Shanghai title this week. He will take on seventh-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa, whom he leads 6-1 on head-to-head. Djokovic defeated Anderson in straight sets in the Wimbledon final in July. Anderson ousted 10th-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece 6-4, 7-6 (1). Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany also advanced to the quarterfinals by pasting Alex de Minaur of Australia 6-1, 6-4. Zverev will play Kyle Edmund after the Briton defeated Nicolas Jarry of Chile 7-6 (5), 6-3......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 11th, 2018

Serena Williams talks fashion, not fouls at Las Vegas event

LAS VEGAS --- Serena Williams talked about her fashion business and her family, but not tennis fouls during a Friday appearance before a business trade group in Las Vegas. The 23-time Grand Slam champion wasn't asked about gender equality in sports or an argument she had last weekend with the chair umpire at her U.S. Open finals match in New York during about 25 minutes onstage with Sarah Robb O'Hagan, chief executive of Flywheel Sports, at the National Retail Federation trade show. Williams, who took no questions from the audience, said previously she felt she had been treated more harshly than a male player would have been for smashing her racket and arguing with match official Car...Keep on reading: Serena Williams talks fashion, not fouls at Las Vegas event.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 16th, 2018

US fashion label Henri Bendel to close after 123 years

Upscale U.S. fashion label Henri Bendel --- known in recent years for its luxury handbags and shoes --- will shut down in January after 123 years in business, parent company L Brands has announced. The Bendel website and all of the label's 23 stores in the United States, including the flagship location on New York's Fifth Avenue, will remain open through the holiday shopping season, L Brands said in a statement. But from the start of 2019, the parent company said it will put its focus on the group's more profitable labels. "We are committed to improving performance in the business and increasing shareholder value," L Brands chairman and CEO Leslie Wexner said in a statement ...Keep on reading: US fashion label Henri Bendel to close after 123 years.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 15th, 2018

Q& A: Hall of Fame Bob Lanier

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Bob Lanier turned 70 Monday, a big number for a big man. In fact, that number can be linked to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer in several ways. It was in 1970 that Lanier was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, selected out of St. Bonaventure by the Detroit Pistons. And it was the 70s as the decade in which Lanier excelled, earning seven of his eight All-Star appearances while averaging 22.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Pistons. Dinosaurs ruled the NBA landscape back then, with Lanier achieving his success against the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Dave Cowens, Willis Reed, Nate Thurmond, Elvin Hayes, Artis Gilmore and other legendary big men. Yet it was Lanier who was the MVP of the 1974 All-Star Game, who won the one-off, 32-contestant 1-on-1 championship tournament run by ABC in 1973 as part of its national broadcast schedule and who (with Walton) got name-dropped by Abdul-Jabbar in the 1980 Hollywood comedy “Airplane!” [“I'm out there busting my buns every night!” he tells a kid as “co-pilot Roger Murdock.” “Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!”] Lanier’s Detroit teams never got beyond the conference semifinals, though, so in 1979-80 he asked to be traded. In February 1980, the Pistons dealt him to Milwaukee for Kent Benson and a future draft pick. With the Bucks, who averaged 59 victories in Lanier’s four full seasons there, Lanier flirted with his greatest team success, yet never reached The Finals. He was 36 when bad knees and other injuries forced him to retire. Those knees still are trouble, preventing Lanier from attending this year’s Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony -- he was elected in 1992 -- and limiting his ability to travel from his home in Arizona to catch his daughter Khalia’s volleyball games at USC. But the man nicknamed “The Dobber” was as chatty and opinionated as ever in a phone conversation last week with NBA.com: NBA.com: The league still keeps you busy, doesn’t it? Bob Lanier: Well, it did. But about 15 months ago, I had knee replacement surgery on my right leg and that is not going very well. It still aches and it gets me unbalanced. That’s what I was trying to get away from. The surgeon said mine was the most difficult one he’d ever done. I was supposed to get the left one done but I couldn’t, because the right one was bothering me so much. I can’t even stand to hit a golf ball. NBA.com: You were part of the original Stay In School initiative, if I recall correctly. BL: I was involved with a little bit of everything from the time David [Stern, longtime NBA commissioner] first called me in 1988. It started off with wanting me to do something for kids who stayed in school. We did “P-R-I-D-E,” with P for positive mental attitude, R for respect, I for intelligent choice-making, D for dreaming and setting goals, and E for effort and education. It was really amazing. The first year, we were talking about giving out 25,000 Starter jackets for kids who came to the rally. Shoot, we needed double that amount, the numbers we got. Everything is kind of under the same umbrella now with NBA Cares. Kathy Behrens [president, social responsibility and player programs] has done a wonderful job of taking this to a whole ‘nother level, her and Adam [Silver, NBA commissioner]. NBA.com: Have you ever had one of those kids whose lives you touched reach out to you years later? BL: [Laughs]. You know what, I’m laughing because you don’t expect to hear from anybody. The only time that somebody really validated something we were doing was when I wrote those books. (The “Hey, Li’l D!” series of kids books, loosely based on Lanier’s childhood adventures. Co-authored with Heather Goodyear in 2003, the Scholastic Paperbacks books still are available.) I was on a plane and one of the passengers asked me to sign the book for her, for her child. I was so taken aback by that, I was shaking while I was signing the autograph. That was really good -- I thought, maybe I did something right. NBA.com: But none of the Stay In School kids? BL: Look, in our business, in community relations and social responsibility areas, you don’t really … when you’re building houses for people, the folks who work with you side by side give you a thumbs up and say thank you before it’s over. When we do the playgrounds, we use kids in the neighborhood who are going to enjoy playing in it and having dreams -- they’re thankful. But there’s so much need out here. When you’re traveling around to different cities and different countries, you see there are so many people in dire straits that the NBA can only do so much. We make a vast, vast difference, but there’s always so much more to do. NBA.com: I know you’re not in it for the thank yous. BL: No. The only thing that stands out to me is from when I was still playing in Milwaukee and I was getting gas at a station on, I think it was Center St. A guy came up to me and said, “My dad is sick. And you’re his favorite player. Could you come up to the house and say hello to him? The house is right next door.” So I went over, I went upstairs. The guy was laying there in his bed. His son said, “This is Bob,” and he was like, “I know.” And he just had a little smile, a twinkle in his eye. And he grabbed my hand and squeezed it. And we said a little prayer. About two weeks later, his dad had died. And he left a card at the Bucks office, just saying “Thank you for making one of my dad’s final days into a good day.” NBA.com: It probably wasn’t, and isn’t, uncommon for you to be spotted out in public like that. At your size (6-foot-11, 250 pounds as a player). BL: As time passes on, people know you at first because you’re a player. Then you stop playing. And 10 years after, when a player like Shaquille O’Neal comes along, they know him and figure you must be Shaq’s dad. “You’re wearing them big shoes.” I just go along with it. “Yeah, I’m Shaq’s dad!” NBA.com: That has to sting, seeing as how Shaq took your title for the NBA’s biggest sneakers. You were famous for your size-22s. BL: Yeah, he sent me a pair one time and I think they were 23s. For some reason, I recall he would wear 23s and three pairs of socks or something instead of the 22s. NBA.com: Isn’t it sobering how quickly sports fans forget even distinctive-looking players such as yourself? BL: Absolutely correct. But that’s why we in the NBA and at the players association have to do a better job of passing down the history of our game. In a way that they’ll absorb it. Not necessarily that they’ll have to read it – it could be in a video game form, because that seems to hold interest a lot. NBA.com: You have been as busy in your post-playing career for the NBA as you ever were while playing, right? BL: I’ve really been blessed. You know this story: I started serving people with my mother [Nattie Mae] at church. Getting food to people who were sick or needy, taking it to the hospital, taking it to people’s houses or feeding them right after church. My mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and she was in the church all the time. She had me and my sister and a bunch of kids, we would all be there every Saturday. You start off doing it not only because your mother tells you to, but the food was good. Then David asked me to come help with the Stay In School, which was the start of it all. If I hadn’t graduated from college, I probably would never have gotten an opportunity to do that with the NBA. Plus, the amazing number of young people I’ve met around the country, around the world, that I think I’ve touched … some lives. I can’t say I touched everybody, but some. I always had a knack of selecting -- when I’d call up kids to help me with the presentation -- a girl or a boy who needed it. It’s amazing how many times a teacher has said to me, “You picked Joe” or “You picked Dorothy, and that’s a really difficult kid. You made them feel good.” You never let a kid fail. NBA.com: You never were a shy and retiring type. What do you think of the NBA these days? BL: I’ll tell you what, I wish that I were playing now. It’s not as physical a sport. You can do stuff anywhere in the world. You can make tons of money off the court -- I can’t imagine how much I’d make with a speaker deal and those big-ass sneakers of mine. The only thing I would not like about this era is that you’ve got to be so conscious of social media. And people taking photos of you when you don’t know they’re taking them. And having those things that zoom over your home and take pictures of your house. That part I wouldn’t like at all. NBA.com: It’s hard enough to avoid the public eye at your size. By the way, are you as tall as you used to be? BL: No, no. I remember standing next to Magic [Johnson] last year at some function we had, and I was looking at him eye-to-eye. I said, “Damn, I thought I was 6-11 and you were 6-9. You look like you’re taller than me now.” NBA.com: You might have fared well today, with the range you had on your jump shot. A big man like you or Bob McAdoo would fit right in. BL: But Mac was a true forward and I was a true center. With the game the way it is now, I think guys like he or I -- Dave Cowens, too -- could shoot from outside, inside, open up the lanes, make good passes. I say that gingerly with Mac, because every time it touched his hands it was going up. He’s my boy but that’s the truth. NBA.com: Wayne Embry, the NBA lifer as a player and executive, recently said to me about the current style of play, “C’mon, the big man likes to play too.” The game has gotten so much smaller. BL: I kind of like this game a little bit. If you’re a big who has skills, it helps to stretch the floor. You can always post up, if you’ve got a big can post up. But now you’ve got these bigs who are elongated forwards. Boogie Cousins is probably our last post-up big that I’m aware of. I think I just saw him on TV somewhere making about 10 3-pointers in a row. NBA.com: Any team or individuals to whom you pay particular attention? BL: I like watching ‘Bron [LeBron James], obviously. I like this Golden State team, too, because they play so well together. I like the kid [Anthony] Davis. With Boogie, my concern is whether he’ll be healthy this season. NBA.com: What’s your take on the “super team” approach of the past few years? BL: I think both of ‘em have their sides. Back in the day, we would never do that. There wasn’t a lot of huggin’ and kissin’, all that stuff, when you were competing. You were out there to kick each other’s butt. But with AAU ball, it’s become guys playing together on these premier teams at all these tournaments around the country. So they get to know each before they ever go to college. NBA.com: Do you think today’s players appreciate the work you and other alumni did to build the league? BL: I think everything evolves. The best thing I could say as a player is, you want to leave the game in better shape than when you came into it. You want to leave a legacy, a better brand. You want players to be making more money. You want the league to be stronger. And since we’re partner in this, it’s important that those kinds of things happen. NBA.com: The 1970s seems to be pretty neglected, as far as NBA memories and highlights. At times it’s as if the league went from Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics dynasty to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird carrying the NBA into the 80s. The league had some popularity and PR issues back then, but eight different franchises won championships that decade. BL: Back in the 70s, a lot of people were feeling that the NBA was drug-infested. Too black. That’s one of the reasons the league came up with its substance abuse program, one of the first in sports to do that. The point was not to punish guys but to help guys who needed it to get clean. As that passed, then Larry and Magic came in. The media money started going up, and then Michael [Jordan] came in in ’84 and everything took off from there. So I can see how you could kind of forget about the 70s. NBA.com: And yet now folks complain that each season starts with only three or four teams seen as capable of winning the title. Why was it different then? BL: I think everybody competed a lot. And guys didn’t change teams as much, so when you were facing the Bulls or the Bucks or New York, you had all these rivalries. Lanier against Jabbar! Jabbar against Willis Reed! And then [Wilt] Chamberlain, and Artis Gilmore, and Bill Walton! You had all these great big men and the game was played from inside out. It was a rougher game, a much more physical game that we played in the 70s. You could steer people with elbows. They started cutting down on the number of fights by fining people more. Oh, it was a rough ‘n’ tumble game. NBA.com: There were, of course, fewer teams. Seventeen when you arrived, for instance. BL: There was so much talent on every team. Every night you were playing against somebody really damn good, and if you didn’t come to play, they’d whip your behind. NBA.com: You know, I’m surprised I never heard about you being the target of a bidding war with the old ABA? Did they ever come after you? BL: Got approached at the end of my junior year at St. Bonaventure. They offered me a nice contract. But I wanted to stay in school because I thought we had a real chance at winning the NCAA title. NBA.com: Gee, that almost sounds quaint by today’s get-the-money standards. BL: Yeah. Well, I trusted them as a league -- it was the New York Nets, a guy named Roy Boe -- but I knew we had a really good team. And we did. We got to the Final Four. Then I got hurt. NBA.com: You went down against Villanova, your tournament ended by a torn ligament. I’m surprised, looking back, you were considered healthy enough to get drafted No. 1 and have a pretty strong rookie season. BL: I wasn’t healthy when I got to the league. I shouldn’t have played my first year. But there was so much pressure from them to play, I would have been much better off -- and our team would have been much better served -- if I had just sat out that year and worked on my knee. NBA.com: From the Final Four to the start of the NBA season isn’t much time to rehab a knee injury. Then you played 82 games, averaging 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes. BL: That was stupid. My knee was so sore every single day that it was ludicrous to be doing what I was doing. I wanted to play, but I was smart and the team was smart, everybody would have benefited. NBA.com: Did you ever fully recover? I know your later years were hampered by knee pain. BL: Oh, I fully recovered. Going into my third year, I think I had my legs underneath me a lot. NBA.com: Your coach as a rookie was Butch van Breda Kolff, who had butted heads with Wilt Chamberlain in Los Angeles. Did you have any issues with him? BL: He was a pretty tough coach, but he was a good-hearted person. As a matter of fact, he had a place down on the Jersey shore where he invited me to come and run on the beach to help strengthen my leg. I went there for about 2 1/2 weeks. I liked Butch a lot. NBA.com: Your Detroit teams had you as an All-Star nearly every season and of course Hall of Fame guard Dave Bing. Did you think you’d achieve more? BL: I think ’73-74 was our best team [52-30]. We had Dave, Stu Lantz, John Mengelt, Chris Ford, Don Adams, Curtis Rowe, George Trapp. But then for some reason, they traded six guys off that team before the following year. I just didn’t feel we ever had the leadership. I think we had [seven] head coaches in my 10 years there. That was a rough time, because at the end of every year, you’d be so despondent. NBA.com: So by the time you were traded to Milwaukee, you were ready to go? BL: I wanted the trade. But until you start getting on that plane and leaving your family and start crying, you don’t realize it’s a part of your life you’re leaving. I got to Milwaukee and it was freezing outside. But the people gave me a standing ovation and really made me feel welcome. It was the start of a positive change. I just wish I had played with that kind of talent around me when I was young. The only time I thought I had it was that ’73-74 team they messed up. But if I had had Marques [Johnson] and Sidney [Moncrief] and all of them around me? Damn. NBA.com: I got my start around those Bucks teams, and feel I often have to remind people how good they were deep into the ‘80s. You just couldn’t get past the Celtics and the Sixers in the same year, in a loaded Eastern Conference. BL: They were always a man better than us. We had to play our best to beat them and they didn’t have to play their best to beat us. It haunts me to this day. NBA.com: How did you like playing for Bucks coach Don Nelson? BL: Loved him. It was just like playing for your big brother. He was a player’s coach, for sure. He’d been through it, won championships. Knew what it was like to be a role player, knew what it took to be a prime-time player. Didn’t get upset over pressure. He was just a stand-up guy. NBA.com: As we talk, I’m looking at my office wall and I have that famous All-Star poster from 1977, painted by Leroy Neiman. That game was notable, too, because it was the first one after the NBA/ABA merger. So you had Julius Erving, George Gervin, Dan Issel and those other ABA stars flooding their talent into the league. BL: You know what? I think you could put 10 players from the 70s into the league today and be as competitive as anybody. Think of the guys who could really play and were athletic. And with the rule changes, that would make us even more effective. “Ice’ [Gervin]. Julius. David Thompson, a huge athlete. I don’t know who could mess with Kareem at all. NBA.com: What about Nate Archibald? BL: You took the words right out of my mouth. Tiny! He could scoot up and down and do what he needed to do. These guys knew the game, they played the basics of it so well. NBA.com: No one disputes the advances in training, nutrition, travel and rest. But in raw ability, you think it was close to today? BL: One thing I will say about this group of young men, they seem to be more athletic than we were. They seem to be able to cover so much more ground. Whatever that new step is, the Eurostep? And another thing they do differently know is, they brush-pick. They brush and then they pop. You rarely see a guy do a solid pick and then roll with the guy on his back to cause a mismatch. Everybody’s looking to open the floor to shoot 3’s. This has become the weapon of choice now. NBA.com: No rings for that Milwaukee team from which you retired has meant, so far, no Hall of Fame for Marques Johnson or Sidney Moncrief, the two stars.   BL: That’s what rings hollow in your ears. You hear people saying, “Where’s the ring? The ring!” And we don’t have any rings. That’s what we play for. NBA.com: Didn’t stop your enshrinement though. BL: They must have been blind, crippled and crazy, huh? It’s a short crop of brotherhood that gets in there. I just wish there was more time on those weekends where we could spend time just talking with one another. You rarely see each other, and it would be nice to have a quiet room where you could just re-hash old times and plays, and maybe have your family so your grandkids could listen to Earl the Pearl tell about this or [Bill] Walton tell about that. Just rehashing stuff that brought people a lot of joy. 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 NewsSep 11th, 2018

Nadal reaches US Open quarterfinals, will face Thiem

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal is back in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, where he won't face a rematch of the 2017 final. Instead, it's a rematch of this year's French Open final. Nadal beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4 on Sunday at Flushing Meadows. Next up is No. 9 seed Dominic Thiem. Thiem beat Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2), denying the fifth-seeded South African a second shot at Nadal. Nadal beat Anderson last year for his third U.S. Open title. The top-ranked Spaniard captured his 11th title in Paris by beating Thiem in straight sets in June. That was part of what's now a 26-1 run since Thiem beat him in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open in May. "He's a very powerful player, and, yeah, he knows how to play these kinds of matches," Nadal said. "Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament." Nadal leads the series 7-3, with all the meetings on clay. On Sunday, he responded to losing the third-set tiebreaker by breaking Basilashvili twice in the fourth set. Anderson was hoping to be waiting for Nadal. His run to last year's final was a surprise; At No. 32, he was the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist in the history of the ATP rankings. But he backed that up with a strong season, reaching the Wimbledon final and earning the No. 5 seed in this tournament. "Of course it's disappointing," Anderson said. "I wanted to be here right until the end and put myself in contention of winning my first major. It wasn't meant to be." He had won six of seven meetings against Thiem, including all six on hard courts. Thiem's only victory had come on clay, his best surface. But Anderson couldn't get anything going in this matchup with Thiem, who won 41 of 45 points (91 percent) and never faced a break point. "First of all, I served really, really well today," Thiem said. "Not the best percentage, but I almost made every point in the first serve game. So I didn't face one break point, and I didn't feel so much pressure on service games." Thiem reached his first quarterfinal at any Grand Slam besides the French Open. He was agonizingly close to getting there last year at the U.S. Open, leading by two sets against Juan Martin del Potro in the round of 16 before the 2009 champion roared back to win. "It was not on my mind, but I was pretty close last year," Thiem said. "It was very painful." Del Potro was on Sunday's night schedule, facing Borna Coric. John Isner or Milos Raonic would meet the winner of that match. Serena Williams was in action later Sunday after routing her sister on Friday in what she felt was her best match since her return to tennis. She'll need to be sharp again, with Kaia Kanepi looking to knock out another women's star. Serena, seeded 17th, routed Venus 6-1, 6-2 in matching the most-lopsided victory in the Williams sisters' series. That put her into the match against Kanepi, the 44th-ranked Estonian who upset top-ranked Simona Halep in the first round and is seeking her second consecutive quarterfinal in Flushing Meadows......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2018

US OPEN 18: Nadal aims for 2nd title in a row in New York

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Men to watch at the U.S. Open, where play begins Monday: ___ RAFAEL NADAL Seeded: 1 Ranked: 1 Age: 32 Country: Spain 2018 Match Record: 40-3 2018 Singles Titles: 5 Career Singles Titles: 80 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 17 — U.S. Open ('10, '13, '17), Wimbledon ('08, '10), French Open ('05, '06, '07, '08, '10, '11, '12, '13, '14, '17, '18), Australian Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-Won Championship,'16-Lost in 4th Round,'15-3rd,'14-Did Not Play,'13-W Aces: Won the U.S. Open as No. 1 seed in 2010, 2017. ... Trying to become first man to repeat as champion in New York since Roger Federer won his fifth in a row in 2008. Topspin: Beat two past U.S. Open champions and two future stars en route to tuneup title at Toronto Masters this month. ___ ROGER FEDERER Seeded: 2 Ranked: 2 Age: 37 Country: Switzerland 2018 Match Record: 33-5 2018 Singles Titles: 3 Career Singles Titles: 98 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 20 — U.S. Open ('04, '05, '06, '07, '08), Wimbledon ('03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '09, '12, '17), Australian Open ('04, '06, '07, '10, '17, '18), French Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-QF,'16-DNP,'15-RU,'14-SF,'13-4th Aces: Only made it to the final at Flushing Meadows once in the decade since his last title. ... Could face Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Topspin: Still has never played Nadal at the U.S. Open. If they meet this year, it would be for the title. ___ JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO Seeded: 3 Ranked: 3 Age: 29 Country: Argentina 2018 Match Record: 37-10 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 22 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-SF, '16-QF, '15-DNP, '14-DNP, '13-2nd Aces: Playing in his 22nd major tournament since his lone such title. If he gets a second, he would set an Open era record for most Slam appearances before No. 2. Topspin: Biggest forehand in the game makes him ever-dangerous on hard courts. Just needs his oft-repaired left wrist to hold up on backhands. ___ ALEXANDER ZVEREV Ranked: 4 Seeded: 4 Age: 21 Country: Germany 2018 Match Record: 43-13 2018 Singles Titles: 3 Career Singles Titles: 9 Major Titles: 0 — Best: QF, French Open ('18) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-2nd,'16-2nd,'15-1st,'14-DNP,'13-DNP Aces: Recently started working with Ivan Lendl, saying: "He's a smart man, a great guy. Done it as a player, done it as a coach, so he knows what it takes." Topspin: Has won three Masters titles. Now it's time to step up at a Grand Slam tournament and get to his first semifinal. ___ KEVIN ANDERSON Seeded: 5 Ranked: 5 Age: 32 Country: South Africa 2018 Match Record: 33-1 2018 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 4 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, U.S. Open ('17) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-RU, '16-3rd, '15-QF, '14-3rd, '13-2nd Aces: Runner-up at two of the past four majors, including in New York last year, then again at Wimbledon last month. Topspin: Coming into his own late in his career, he's shown that with a big serve and consistent groundstrokes, he is a contender on fast surfaces. ___ NOVAK DJOKOVIC Seeded: 6 Ranked: 6 Age: 31 Country: Serbia 2018 Match Record: 33-10 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 70 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 13 — U.S. Open ('11, '15), Wimbledon ('11, '14, '15, '18), Australian Open ('08, '11, '12, '13, '15, '16), French Open ('16) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-DNP, '16-RU, '15-W, '14-SF, '13-RU Aces: Since starting the year 6-6, has gone 27-4. ... Titles at Wimbledon and Cincinnati Masters (beating Federer in the final) make him a popular pick. Topspin: Sure seems very close to being right back at his best after a lull caused at least in part by an injured right elbow. ___ JOHN ISNER Seeded: 11 Ranked: 11 Age: 33 Country: United States 2018 Match Record: 26-5 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 14 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, U.S. Open ('11) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-3rd, '16-3rd, '15-4th, '14-3rd, '13-3rd Aces: 12 of 14 titles have come in the U.S. ... Just one quarterfinal appearance in New York, way back in 2011. Topspin: Says playing with calm and not fretting over results helped him have his best season, including first Slam semifinal at Wimbledon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

Jets McCown still leads, competes even as Darnold emerges

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Josh McCown is still No. 1 on the New York Jets' quarterback depth chart. At this point, though, he might as well be No. 100. With each practice, it appears increasingly likely that rookie Sam Darnold will be the starter when the regular season kicks off in three weeks. Not that McCown has done anything on the field to hurt his chances of retaining the job. It's simply a matter of circumstances. McCown is 39 and been there, done that. Darnold is 21, was the third overall pick in the draft, has immense talent and is considered the future of the franchise — and that future could be now. He has shined in his last several practices and will likely start Friday night against the Giants in the team's third preseason game. "Like I said the whole time, obviously, we traded up to (No.) 3 to draft a quarterback to get Sam because there's a plan in place," McCown said. "So we understand that." That "plan" has been to give Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater the bulk of the work in the preseason and see how they perform. So far, so good — and that means McCown could slide down the depth chart very soon. Coach Todd Bowles hasn't announced a regular-season starter yet, and says he might not do so until after the fourth preseason game. From all indications, it's trending in Darnold's direction. But McCown isn't necessarily reading into the fact Darnold is getting the bulk of the first-team snaps and that is causing the perception that the rookie will be the starter. "No, I mean, obviously, he's younger," McCown said. "I was taking these kind of reps when he was 4 years old." Actually, Darnold was 5 when McCown was in his first NFL training camp with Arizona in 2002. But, point made. "He needs the work and it's good for him," the veteran said. "Every rep is a great rep for all of us, there's no doubt about it." Sure, he wants to start, but McCown is a realist. He knows his days as an NFL player, let alone starting quarterback, are dwindling. "My goal for this is for the quarterback room to play well," said McCown, who signed a $10 million deal in the offseason to return to New York. "And if that's me playing out there, I want to play the best football that I can play. If that's Sam or that's Teddy, whoever that is, that's the ultimate goal." Last summer, McCown also saw limited action in the preseason as the Jets tried to give Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty the opportunity to seize the starting gig. Neither could and McCown was the clear starter. Darnold and Bridgewater have provided a different type of competition, a three-man race that is quickly becoming a two-man show — with McCown in the background. "It's fun to be out there playing and there's no substitute for that," McCown said. "That's why we do it. At the same time, when you look at things from that prospective, if you can help be a part of finding that guy that can be that guy for this franchise for a long time, that means something to me, that's competitive to me. That's what we get up for work to do, that's what makes it fun. "I don't feel like the forgotten guy because we're busy every day working, and working on those things. That's all that matters." McCown has been in just about every situation imaginable throughout his professional career, which is entering its 17th year. He has been a third-round pick, an up-and-coming passer, a backup, a starter and a place-holder in his stops with 10 teams. He spent one year out of the NFL and played in the United Football League. McCown has also spent time as a volunteer coach for a high school team in North Carolina. He has graciously handled the many ups and downs during his career. Those experiences help McCown balance his competitive nature and the willingness to help those trying to take his job. "I think for me, it's just a personal thing," McCown said. "At the end of the day, you go to work and you work as hard as you can and you help as many people as you can. And when you lay down and you can have peace in your heart at night, and you know that I did all I could that day, and then you sleep good. That's what I learned growing up and that's all I know." McCown takes nothing for granted and that's something he has stressed to the young players in camp, and not just the quarterbacks. He's the closest example of a player-coach you could find in the NFL, a mentor who seems destined to be in charge of a team someday. McCown's days of leading from the huddle might be about over, though. And, he's OK with whatever happens next. "At this point in my career, I don't know how many more years of this will happen, so you treasure every moment," he said. "I think when you keep those things in perspective, there are days — nobody is perfect — there are days when you want to take every rep and you look back and you go, 'Man, I wish I was just starting out again,' but (you put it) all in perspective. It's been fun and I enjoy being a part of this group. Todd sets a great tone and tempo every day for us and it is just an honor to be a part of it. "So that is really what keeps me going and what allows me to come and enjoy it and not get caught up in anything else.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2018

Woodland sets PGA record but leads by only a stroke at PGA

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press ST. LOUIS (AP) — Sirens blared across Bellerive, putting the second round of the PGA Championship on hold and ending a day of scoring rarely seen in a major. Gary Woodland set the 36-hole record — for now, anyway — after a round where his driver wasn't as reliable, he didn't see many putts drop and he didn't hit the ball quite as well as the day before. "I can live with that," he said Friday after a 4-under 66. That put him at 10-under 130, breaking by one the PGA Championship record and tying the 36-hole score for all majors. And it was only good for a one-shot lead over Kevin Kisner. There were two rounds of 63, one 64 and six 65s. And that was only half of the 156-man field. Still to be determined was whether Woodland's score even holds up as the lead. Storms arrived forcing a two-hour suspension, and the PGA of America declared the rest of the day a wash when rain pounded the course. Rickie Fowler had just birdied the 10th hole and was at 7 under. Tiger Woods had three birdies through seven holes as he tried to get in range. "I felt I was headed in the right direction," said Woods, who was at 3 under. "Tomorrow is going to be a long day for a lot of us." The second round was to resume at 7 a.m. local time. The greens would be slightly smoother, the course slightly longer, the approach unchanged — see flag, aim at flag. Perhaps it was easy for Woodland not to be overly impressed. He was playing with Kisner, who shot 29 on the back nine and was in the middle of the ninth fairway — his final hole — needing a birdie to become the first player to shoot 62 in the PGA Championship. He came up short of the green, chipped too strong and made bogey for a 64, leaving him one shot out of the lead Friday. Right in front of them was U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, who had a 20-foot birdie putt he wanted to make for no other reason than he likes to make birdies. This one missed, and only later did Koepka realize it was for 62. Instead, he was the 15th player to shoot 63 in the PGA Championship. "My caddie said something walking off," Koepka said. "I didn't even think of it. I've been so in the zone, you don't know where you are." And then Charl Schwartzel made it 16 players with his eight-birdie round of 63. No one from the afternoon draw completed more than 12 holes. The plan was to finish the second round, make the cut and then immediately start the third round in threesomes off both tees. "I feel like we're in a good spot," Fowler said. "But the nice thing about the delay and going back out tomorrow morning, we'll get fresh greens." Bellerive really had no defense. Woodland and Kisner played in the same group, and they offered a great example that Bellerive is accommodating to just about any game. Woodland is among the most powerful players in golf. Kisner is not. He relies more on a clean hit with his irons and a great short game. The course is so soft — not so much from Tuesday's rain, but the extreme heat that requires more water on the turf — that every flag is accessible provided players find the ample fairways. "Greens are receptive, so my 4-iron stops as quick as his 7-iron," Kisner said. "If they were firm, I don't think I would have a chance with the way the greens are situated and the places they're putting the flags. But being receptive, that's my only hope." Woodland's 36-hole score broke the PGA record by one shot, most recently set by Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb at Baltusrol. It also tied the 36-hole record for all majors, matching Jordan Spieth at the 2015 Masters, Martin Kaymer at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 and Brandt Snedeker (Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2012) and Nick Faldo (Muirfield in 1992) at the British Open. Koepka was at 8-under 132, two shots behind. Dustin Johnson, the world's No. 1 player, had a 66 and joined Schwartzel and Thomas Pieters (66) at 133. Spieth still has hope in his second try at a career Grand Slam. Spieth didn't get under par for the tournament until his seventh hole Friday — the par-3 16th hole — and he managed to do enough right for a 66 to get within seven shots of the lead. Spieth has battled with his game all year, and his confidence isn't at its peak. It's the nature of the course that makes him feel he has a farther climb than the seven shots that separate him from Woodland. "A little frustrated at this place in general," Spieth said. "This course would be phenomenal — and probably is phenomenal — if it's not playing soft. You get away with more. You don't have to be as precise. ... Personally, I would prefer more difficult and firmer, faster conditions on the greens. Having said that, I would have shot a much higher score yesterday." Defending champion Justin Thomas was at 2 under through seven holes, while Rory McIlroy was frustrated with all pars in his seven holes. On a day like this, that meant losing ground. "It's been 16 pars in a row from yesterday to today, so hopefully I can break that run in the morning," McIlroy said. Midway through the afternoon round, the cut was projected to be even par. Woodland, even with the lowest 36-hole score in 60 years of stroke play at the PGA Championship, still had a long way to go. In conditions like Bellerive, no lead was safe. "I feel safe because I feel safe where my game is," Woodland said. "I'm not too worried with what anyone else is doing out there.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 11th, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Top 10

By David Aldridge, TNT Analyst Wonder what the rental market is like in San Luis Obispo, Calif. San Luis Obispo is, give or take a few miles, one of the closest cities that is near the midway point between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given the events of the NBA’s offseason, it’s not hare to imagine national reporters are going to be spending a lot of time in California next season, bouncing back and forth between the Bay and L.A. Catch LeBron James and the Lakers on Wednesday and then, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors on Thursday. The Western Conference only got stronger and deeper with James leaving Cleveland for a second time, this time to go to the Lakers. Add four of the top five Draft picks -- including No. 1 overall selection Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings) and international phenom Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, acquired by Dallas Mavericks) -- going to Western Conference teams, and the talent disparity between conferences only seems greater. But did Eastern Conference teams take advantage of Cleveland deflating to make their teams better? And how effective were West teams in making their teams better prepared to at least compete with the Warriors? That’s where this year’s Offseason Rankings come in -- big, bold, definitive. You love them, if the amount of hate tweets and e-mails I get after they’re published are any indication. Every year, we rank how all 30 teams have done since the end of their respective seasons. We look at everything -- how they drafted, what trades they made, what players they signed in free agency, and for how much -- or if they didn’t participate in free agency much at all. We look at if they’ve changed coaches, executives, owners, or if they’re moving into a new building that can generate big revenues. And you have to decide which ones you liked the most. Here's what these rankings ARE NOT: A predicted order of finish for next season. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) I do not expect the Suns, for example, to have a better record than the Celtics, just because they had a better summer. It is not a ranking of the teams in order from 1 through 30 right now; I do not believe the Mavericks are now a better team than Rockets. This is just one person’s opinion about offseason moves -- offseason moves only. Is your team better now than it was before? - If your team is ranked in the top 10, it doesn't mean I love your team.       - If your team is ranked in the bottom 10, it doesn't mean I hate your team. It's an opinion that seeks to answer a question: is the team better now than at the end of last season? The ranking reflects the belief on whether, and how much, that is so. (I liked certain guys who were in the Draft more than others, so if your team took them, I probably weighed it more positively. Doesn't mean I'm right.) What plays into the rankings: - This isn’t science. It’s an educated guess, weighing the impact both of the Draft and free agency, but also assessing whether teams got value in their free-agent signings. Overpaying the right player is as much a sin as signing the wrong player. A good new coach can coax some more wins out of a roster. But if a team’s players don’t believe in the system their team uses, the best Xs and Os on earth don’t matter.       - Teams that are rebuilding obviously have different priorities than teams making a championship push. That's factored in. So Chicago, for example, gets credit for adding young, affordable players as it stockpiles its talent -- but that talent has to fit together, as Wendell Carter Jr. does with Lauri Markannen. And a team like the Warriors that shows it’s willing to go deep into the luxury tax -- which most teams try to avoid -- in order to keep winning has to be commended, and its rankings reflect that commendation.       - Continuity matters here as well. The most successful teams usually not only identify a core group of players, they keep them together for a while, finding that sweet spot: everyone doesn’t get a max contract, but most get paid well enough to keep the train moving down the tracks. That reflects both good roster construction and good financial management -- and, again, is rewarded. The explosion in the cap means everyone has to spend; keeping your powder dry for another day doesn’t have as much cache as it used to. But you still have to manage your money wisely. Salary numbers, with a couple of exceptions, come from Basketball Insiders, whose Eric Pincus does the best job of anyone in the game of keeping track of all the moving financial parts, quickly and accurately -- which is why we use him at NBA TV during the Draft and free agency to tell us what the hell this all means. The Top 10 * * * 1. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in first round ADDED: G/F Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot (acquired from Sixers); G Hamidou Diallo (No. 45 pick, 2018 Draft); G Devon Hall (No. 53 pick, 2018 Draft); F Kevin Hervey (No. 57 pick, 2018 Draft); F Abdel Nader (acquired from Celtics); C Nerlens Noel (two years, $3.7 million); G Dennis Schröder (acquired from Hawks) LOST: F Carmelo Anthony (traded to Hawks); F Nick Collison (retired); C Dakari Johnson (traded to Magic); G Rodney Purvis (traded to Celtics) RETAINED: G Raymond Felton (one year, $2.3 million); F Paul George (four years, $136.9 million); F Jerami Grant (three years, $27.3 million) THE KEY MAN: G Andre Roberson. This is real simple: with Roberson on the court last year, OKC’s opponent offensive rating was 99.2; when he was off, it was 110.7. The Thunder was a near-elite defensive unit when Roberson played and was awful when he didn’t. His Real Defensive Plus-Minus, per ESPN.com, was 4.34, second only to Utah’s Rudy Gobert (5.06). So when Roberson ruptured his patellar tendon in late January, the Thunder’s ability to use George as a weakside defender who could freelance and use his length to create deflections and turnovers (because Roberson had the strong side absolutely locked down) went away. Any chance the Thunder has next season to compete at the highest levels in the West will depend on the 26-year-old Roberson’s recovery and return to the lineup. THE SKINNY: None of us -- none -- thought George was going to stay in OKC. And we all thought Sam Presti and the Thunder were crazy for trading for him last year, because it was just going to be a one-year rental and he was going to be off to the Lakers in 12 months, and OKC would have nothing to show for its deal. But George’s presence helped convince Russell Westbrook -- also long rumored to eventually head back to Cali -- to sign a long-term deal with the Thunder. And OKC’s acquisition of Carmelo Anthony helped convince George that the Thunder was all in on competing. And even though OKC went out in the first round of the playoffs to Utah, its year-long courtship of George and his family paid off when PG-13 spurned L.A. once and for all to stay in the 405. Anthony ultimately wasn’t a good fit, but he brought back Schroder, who will give Billy Donovan a dynamic scorer off the bench that can give Westbrook a blow and keep OKC’s offense from immolating when Westbrook is on the bench, a common malady the last two years. The Thunder has been relevant in an incredibly small market now for almost a decade. With George and Westbrook and Steven Adams and, now, Schroder, all signed up through 2021, that remarkable run will continue for some time. 2. LOS ANGELES LAKERS 2017-18 RECORD: 35-47; missed playoffs ADDED: F Michael Beasley (one year, $3.5 million); F Joel Berry II; F Issac Bonga (No. 39 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jeffrey Carroll; F LeBron James (four years, $153 million); C JaVale McGee (one year, $1.4 million); G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (No. 47 pick, 2018 Draft); G Rajon Rondo (one year, $9 million); G Lance Stephenson; F Mo Wagner (No. 25 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Thomas Bryant (waived); G Tyler Ennis (waived); F/C Channing Frye (signed with Cavs); C Brook Lopez (signed with Bucks); F Julius Randle (signed with Pelicans); G Isaiah Thomas (signed with Nuggets) RETAINED: G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (one year, $12 million); G Travis Wear THE KEY MAN: F Brandon Ingram. The third-year man should be the major beneficiary of James’ presence going forward. Driving lanes previously clogged with defenders should now be runway clear. Opponents who previously could close out strong on Ingram will now have their attention elsewhere. Ingram need only look at James’ last stop: per NBA.com/Stats, among players leaguewide who appeared in at least 60 games last season, three Cavaliers -- Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and Cedi Osman -- were among the top 20 in the league in lowest frequency of having their closest defenders within two feet of them, meaning James created many wide open looks for teammates all season. Ingram vastly improved his range last season over his rookie one, shooting 39 percent on 3-pointers. But he only attempted 1.8 threes per game last season. That number will surely skyrocket in 2018. Ingram must ready to take advantage. That will make him that much more deadly as a driver. THE SKINNY: Team president Magic Johnson was tasked with landing a whale in free agency, and he and GM Rob Pelinka bagged Moby Dick in James. Their subsequent free agent moves once Paul George opted to stay in Oklahoma City were all short-term plays with an eye toward the promising 2019 free agent class, which include the likes of All-Stars Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and DeMarcus Cousins. But that doesn’t mean Lake Show ’18 isn’t going to be the rip-roaringest circus this side of your standard Ozzy Ozbourne tour. What’s the over-under on the first time Rondo cusses out coach Luke Walton, or when we hear of a “spirited practice” that is code for “Lance ‘bowed ‘Bron in the neck and Walton sent everyone home”? The Lakers could be in The Finals or out in the first round, but what they decidedly will not be is boring. 3. DENVER NUGGETS 2017-18 RECORD: 46-36; missed playoffs ADDED: F Michael Porter Jr. (No. 14 pick, 2018 Draft); G Isaiah Thomas (one year, $2 million); F Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 41 pick, 2018 Draft); C Thomas Welsh (No. 58 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Darrell Arthur (traded to Nets); F Wilson Chandler (traded to 76ers); F Kenneth Faried (traded to Nets); G Isaiah Whitehead (waived) RETAINED: G Will Barton (four years, $53 million); G/F Torrey Craig (two years, $4 million); C Nikola Jokic (five-year, $147.7 million contract extension) THE KEY MAN: G Jamal Murray. Denver ended all pretense that the full-time point guard job wasn’t his last season and his second-year numbers were very encouraging. Among regularly playing (60+ games) floor generals, per NBA.com/Stats, Murray’s .577 True Shooting Percentage ranked only behind D.J. Augustin, Kyrie Irving, Darren Collison and Kyle Lowry. No one doubts the still-just-21-year-old Murray can fill it up, and that the Nuggets don’t need a classic ball distributor to light up the Pepsi Center scoreboard. But they do need to get more credible defensively. So does he. THE SKINNY: A great offseason for the Nuggets, who did what they said they would -- keep Jokic off the market next summer -- while clearing roster spots and minutes with two trades, and simultaneously reducing their luxury tax bill for 2019. (The Chandler trade to the Sixers also created an enormous $12.8 million trade exception for Denver through August of 2019.) Jokic should anchor one of the most athletic starting quintets in the game -- along with Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, the re-signed Barton (penciled in for now as the starting three) and Paul Millsap. the Nuggets didn’t add much at the defensive end, which was their Achilles’ heel the last couple of seasons and the main reason they didn’t make the playoffs in 2017-18. Denver opted to strengthen a strength by bringing in Thomas, who’ll be in prove-it mode next season on a short deal with a coach that he knows from their Sacramento days in Mike Malone. Look for Malone to unleash Thomas on second units throughout the West. Porter Jr. was worth a flier at 14; he was the consensus likely first pick in the Draft a year ago, before his back injury took him out of all but a couple of games in his one season at Missouri. Denver can give him the entire year to rehab from two surgeries, the latest last week, and reset his clock for 2019-20. 4. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 2017-18 RECORD: 58-24; won NBA Finals ADDED: C DeMarcus Cousins (one year, $5.3 million); F Jacob Evans (No. 28 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jonas Jerebko (one year, $2.1 million); G Damion Lee LOST: C JaVale McGee (signed with Lakers); C Zaza Pachulia (signed with Pistons); Head of Physical Performance and Sports Medicine Chelsea Lane (went to Hawks) RETAINED: F Kevin Durant (two years, $61.5 million); F Kevon Looney THE KEY MAN: Brett Yamaguchi, Director of Game Operations/Entertainment, Oracle Arena. One doesn’t envy Yamaguchi, whose tasks will be twofold next season: create lifetime memories for the loudest and most loyal fanbase in the league, as the Warriors play their final season at Oracle Arena (aka Roaracle) -- they’re moving into the Chase Center, their tony new digs across the Bay in downtown San Francisco, come 2019-20. And, provide atmosphere and sizzle that will help coach Steve Kerr keep his veteran core from being bored out of its collective mind during the regular season while it waits for the playoffs and a chance at a three-peat. THE SKINNY: So, sure, the best team in the league adds one of the top two or three big men in the game in Cousins. But that’s the ancillary benefit of having such a dominant organization; everyone wants to figure out a way to get to the Bay. Cousins took less money to do so; now he can take his time rehabbing his torn Achilles tendon. If that means he’s not all the way back until All-Star, who cares? The Warriors will roll Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Jonas Jerebko out at the five in non-Death lineups until Cousins is ready. Meanwhile, Kerr has to keep his vets, but especially Andre Iguodala and Shawn Livingston, off their feet as much as possible during the regular season so they’ll be good to go from April through June. Losing Iguodala for the bulk of the 2018 Western finals was almost the Warriors’ downfall. 5. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES 2017-18 RECORD: 22-60; missed playoffs ADDED: F Kyle Anderson (four years, $37 million); G Jevon Carter (No. 32 pick, 2018 Draft); F Omri Casspi (one year, $2.3 million); F Jaren Jackson Jr. (No. 4 pick, 2018 Draft); C Dakari Johnson (acquired from Magic); G Garrett Temple (acquired from Kings) LOST: C/F Deyonta Davis (traded to Kings); G Tyreke Evans (signed with Pacers); F Jarell Martin (traded to Magic); G Ben McLemore (traded to Kings) RETAINED: Coach J.B. Bickerstaff THE KEY MAN: G Mike Conley. It’s no secret how vital Conley is to the franchise, so a return to form is vital for the veteran point, who’ll be 31 on opening night and who missed 70 games last season with a heel injury. Next season will be the third of Conley’s five-year, $150 million deal signed in 2016; remember when so many people thought the world would end when a small market like Memphis invested so much in him? Well, Conley has already dropped to fifth in the league in salary among point guards, behind Stephen Curry Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry. He’ll fall even further down the list next season, when John Wall’s massive extension kicks in, and Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker each get new contracts that could leap his. THE SKINNY: Memphis couldn’t have had a worse 2017-18 if it tried, and the Grizzlies compounded their on-court implosion by not trading Evans when everyone in the league -- seemingly, except for them -- knew he was going to walk in the summer if they didn’t. But, the Grizzlies’ front office recovered in a big way, selling the 18-year-old Jackson that he would fit right in despite not working out for the Grizz before the Draft, then doubling up on “Grit And Grind 2.0” by taking Carter, college basketball’s fiercest on-ball defender, in the second. Ownership was willing to let the front office use the full mid-level exception on Anderson, who isn’t the sexiest pickup to many fans but whose defensive numbers in San Antonio were outstanding. Temple is the ultimate good vet and locker room guy who will get a chance to play for Bickerstaff after the Kings opted to go with their young guys and he was likely out of the rotation. GM Chris Wallace was adamant that the Grizzlies could rebuild again around the aging Conley and Marc Gasol and that they wouldn’t trade Gasol after the latter’s difficult relationship with former coach David Fizdale. They did, and they didn’t. 6. PHOENIX SUNS 2017-18 RECORD: 21-61; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Igor Kokoskov; F Trevor Ariza (one year, $15 million); F Darrell Arthur (acquired from Nets); C Deandre Ayton (No. 1 pick, 2018 Draft); F Mikal Bridges (No. 10 pick, 2018 Draft); F Richaun Holmes (acquired from 76ers); G George King (No. 59 pick, 2018 Draft); G Elie Okobo (No. 31 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former interim coach Jay Triano; F Jared Dudley (traded to Nets); C Alex Len (signed with Hawks); G Elfrid Payton (signed with Pelicans); G Tyler Ulis (waived); F/C Alan Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Devin Booker (contract extension) THE KEY MAN: Ayton. Let’s not bury the lead here: he was the first pick overall for a reason, because he has franchise-turning capability. The Suns don’t need singles or the occasional double any more; they need someone to put them back on the map with big, sweaty, nasty four-baggers, night after night. (cc: mixed metaphor police.) It’s been a minute since Amar’e Stoudemire was at his destructive best, and the list of impactful bigs in franchise history is thin: Connie Hawkins, Alvan Adams, Tom Chambers, Charles Barkley, Stoudemire. Ayton has a chance to be as good as any of them, and better, and he’s a potential stash of Kryptonite down the pike to the Warriors dynasty. THE SKINNY: There’s the makings of a Jazz-like reimaging of the franchise in short order. Kokoskov not only comes from Utah’s staff, but has significant coaching chops outside of Salt Lake City. He’s been coaching since he was 24, and that was 22 years ago. He’s coached both around the world and around the NBA as an assistant and development maven, and he’ll be great at bolstering the confidence of the Suns’ young guys -- including Bridges, a mature and solid rook with collegiate titles from Villianova who’ll be able to grow quietly outside the huge media shadow cast on Ayton. Kokoskov will also make things a lot easier for Devin Booker offensively. But GM Ryan McDonough was also smart enough to surround the kids with some solid vets, starting with Ariza, who will help the Suns again become acquainted with a long-honored NBA concept called “defense.” 7. DALLAS MAVERICKS 2017-18 RECORD: 24-58; missed playoffs ADDED: F Kostas Antetokounmpo (No. 60 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jalen Brunson (No. 33 pick, 2018 Draft); G Luka Doncic (No. 3 pick, 2018 Draft); C DeAndre Jordan (one year, $22 million); C Chinanu Onuaku (acquired from Rockets); F Ray Spalding (No. 56 pick, 2018 Draft); F Ding Yanyuhang; LOST: G Kyle Collinsworth (waived); G Seth Curry (signed with Blazers); G Yogi Ferrell (signed with Kings); F Doug McDermott (signed with Pacers); F Jonathan Motley (traded to Clippers); C Nerlens Noel (signed with Thunder) RETAINED: G/F Wesley Matthews (picked up player option); F Dirk Nowitzki (one year, $5 million) THE KEY MAN: CEO Cynthia Marshall. The former AT&T executive was put in charge after Sports Illustrated’s explosive story last February detailing a toxic workplace for female employees on the team’s business side, with sexual harassment rampant and no relief forthcoming from the supervisors who should have provided it. Marshall has been fast at work changing the business side culture, as separate investigations of who was responsible for allowing the previous environment to fester wind down. After their results are made public, it will be Marshall who will have to both enact their recommendations and sell the public that owner Mark Cuban’s organization has been fumigated for good. THE SKINNY: Dallas is banking that the 19-year-old Doncic is not only the real deal, but that he can come out of the gate in the NBA after starring in Europe and immediately give the Mavs a boost. There’s a large body of work suggesting Doncic will do just that, and accelerate the Mavs’ rebuild. Second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr.’s improvements should also speed up, and Jordan’s presence should start to close the sieve that has plagued Dallas’s defense the last couple of years. Losing both Curry and Ferrell will hurt the Mavs’ guard depth, though, and Brunson won’t be able to work in slowly. 8. INDIANA PACERS 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in first round ADDED: G/F Tyreke Evans (one year, $12 million); G Aaron Holiday (No. 23 pick, 2018 Draft); F Alize Johnson (No. 50 pick, 2018 Draft); F Doug McDermott; C/F Kyle O'Quinn LOST: C Al Jefferson (waived); G/F Glenn Robinson III (signed with Pistons); G Lance Stephenson (signed with Lakers) RETAINED: G Cory Joseph (picked up player option); F Thaddeus Young (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Kevin Pritchard, president of basketball operations. He’s been instrumental in putting this team together -- first as Larry Bird’s assistant, but on his own the last year-plus since Bird left. Now Pritchard will have to deal with not just the expectations last season’s surprising turnaround season will create with fans, but with the incessant calls and texts one receives when one has a team in which six players among the team’s core are on one-year deals and free agents next summer. It is extremely difficult for a team so constituted to stay unified and keep pulling on the rope together. Human nature is human nature, and players (and their families, and their agents) need reassurances they’re part of the organization’s future, just like any drone from Sector 7G would. It’s hard to think about sacrificing minutes and shots when almost players are judged by are their numbers. Nate McMillan, meanwhile, is only concerned, as any coach is, with the game in front of him, tonight. Pritchard’s phone will rarely have an hour off next season. THE SKINNY: What does a team that surprised so many last season need? More depth, because there aren’t going to be a lot of nights off going forward. The Pacers filled in nicely with a bunch of under-the-radar players, getting Evans after a bounce-back season in Memphis and O’Quinn after good years in New York. McBuckets is running out of stops to show he can be a key contributor in the NBA, but everything is tailor made for him to succeed here: he’ll have all the space in the world playing alongside Victor Oladipo, Bogdanovic and/or Myles Turner, depending on the lineup. Holiday was very good value at 23 in the first round. And Oladipo is on his grind. The Pacers are as big a threat as anyone to Boston’s assumed ascension in the post-LeBron East. 9. NEW YORK KNICKS 2017-18 RECORD: 29-53; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach David Fizdale; G Mario Hezonja (one year, $6.5 million); G Kevin Knox (No. 9 pick, 2018 Draft); C Mitchell Robinson (No. 36 pick, 2018 Draft); F Noah Vonleh (one year) LOST: Former coach Jeff Hornacek; F Michael Beasley (signed with Lakers); C/F Kyle O'Quinn (signed with Pacers); F Troy Williams (waived) RETAINED: G Ron Baker (picked up player option); F/C Luke Kornet; C Enes Kanter (picked up player option); THE KEY MAN: F Kristaps Porzingis. It’s unlikely Porzingis will play much, if at all, next season, as he rehabs his torn ACL suffered in February. New York will be extremely cautious with a timeline, and in Porzingis’ absence, if more losing brings more figurative ping pong balls the Knicks’ way … well, they won’t complain about that, either. None if it matters if “The Unicorn” doesn’t regain his form, though. So much of the Knicks’ 2018-19 improvement, or regression, will take place off camera. THE SKINNY: Fizdale won’t have a mandate to try and win with a veteran team in his first season in New York, as was the case in his year-plus in Memphis. So he can implement his position-less/fitness regimen with the young Knicks without looking over his shoulder. New York’s planning for 2019, when it hopes to strike in a big way in free agency, but that doesn’t mean next season won’t be important. Knox will have a lot of light on him, especially after playing well during NBA Summer League, but the Knicks truly believe Robinson will make some contributions this season with his significant physical gifts. Both must continue changing the narrative in Gotham that the team’s new braintrust is rebuilding the brand the right way -- slowly, and correctly. Hezonja was a good low-cost flier for New York who’ll give Fizdale some small ball options. Hezonja came on strong the second half of last season for the Magic, who hadn’t picked up his third-year option and were hamstrung in what they could offer him as a result. 10. SAN ANTONIO SPURS 2017-18 RECORD: 47-35; lost in first round ADDED: G Marco Belinelli (two years, $12 million); F Dante Cunningham (one year, $2.5 million); G DeMar DeRozan (acquired from Raptors); C Jakob Poeltl (acquired from Raptors); G Lonnie Walker IV (No. 18 pick, 2018 Draft); F Chimezie Metu (No. 49 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: F Kyle Anderson (signed with Grizzlies); G Danny Green (traded to Raptors); F Kawhi Leonard (traded to Raptors); F Joffrey Lauvergne (signed with Fenerbahce); G Tony Parker (signed with Hornets); G Brandon Paul (waived) RETAINED: C/F Davis Bertans (two years, $14.5 million); G Bryn Forbes (two years, $6 million); F Rudy Gay (one year, $10 million) THE KEY MAN: Coach Gregg Popovich. There is no way to tell, nor is it really anyone’s business, how Pop will cope with the loss of his wife Erin, who died in April during the Spurs’ first-round series with Golden State. But the NBA grind is an unforgiving one, and Popovich is adding Olympic team coach duties to an already taxing schedule. He knows best how he’s doing and you can only hope he listens to himself when or if he needs time away. THE SKINNY: Backed up against it with Leonard’s still-murky insistence for a divorce, the Spurs did as well as could be expected in getting a four-time All-Star who’ll play with a huge chip on his shoulder next season. DeRozan will certainly help San Antonio extinguish the offensive droughts that came when teams loaded up on LaMarcus Aldridge defensively. LA was sensational for long stretches last season, making second team All-NBA for the second time in his career. Belinelli, rookie Walker and Poeltl should lengthen San Antonio’s bench significantly and reduce the Spurs’ dependence on nightly brilliance from 40-year-old Manu Ginobili, if he comes back for a 17th season. 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 NewsAug 8th, 2018

Defending champ Zverev edges Nishikori in DC QF; Murray out

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defending champion Alexander Zverev returned to the Citi Open semifinals by coming back for a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 7 seed Kei Nishikori in a rain-interrupted match Friday. The No. 1-seeded Zverev, who beat his older brother, Mischa, in the third round, also eliminated 2015 Washington champion Nishikori at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open a year ago en route to the title. Germany's Zverev, 21, improved to 14-2 in his four appearances at the Citi Open. On Saturday, he'll face 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece. The No. 10 seed Tsitsipas beat No. 3 David Goffin 6-3, 6-4. Tsitsipas is coming off his first run to the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament, last month at Wimbledon. On the other half of the draw, three-time major champion Andy Murray pulled out of his quarterfinal after winning a trio of three-setters and lamenting a schedule that had him start his latest victory at midnight. In the women's quarterfinals, Andrea Petkovic got past No. 6 seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (8). Murray cited fatigue when he withdrew Friday, hours before he was supposed to face 19-year-old Alex de Minaur, who was given a walkover into the semifinals. The last quarterfinal was No. 16 Andrey Rublev of Russia against unseeded Denis Kudla, who is from nearby Arlington, Virginia. Murray's third-round victory over Marius Copil ended just past 3 a.m. on Friday. Afterward, Murray told a small group of reporters that he "potentially" could withdrew from the tournament. He also announced Friday that he was going to skip next week's Toronto Masters. Murray is working his way back into form after having surgery on his right hip and being sidelined for 11 months......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 4th, 2018

US Republicans risking conservative backlash over immigration

NEW YORK --- The push toward immigration votes in the House is intensifying the divide among Republicans on one of the party's most animating issues and fueling concerns that a voter backlash could cost the GOP control of the House in November. To many conservatives, the compromise immigration proposal released this past week by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is little more than "amnesty." One tea party group described the Republican plan as "the final betrayal." Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, who is close to President Donald Trump, tweeted Friday that Ryan is "trying to open our borders even more and give illegal immigrants the biggest amnesty in American history." Passage ...Keep on reading: US Republicans risking conservative backlash over immigration.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Johnson leads US Open

SOUTHAMPTON, New York– Dustin Johnson took command of the US Open on Friday, firing a three-under-par 67 at Shinnecock Hills for a four-shot lead as the only player under par after 36 punishing holes. Shinnecock presented a different face as Thursday’s gusting wind gave way to morning mist with stretches of wind-driven rain, followed by […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

LeBron s free agency decision could swing NBA s balance of power

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- These combo coronation-funerals can be tricky. Imagine the crowning of a new monarch where the royal subjects couldn’t stop chattering about the freshly deposed or deceased predecessor. Where the traditional cry of continuity and succession, “The king is dead! Long live the king!” got flipped, with what was overshadowing what is. That’s pretty much how it went Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena, with the Golden State Warriors’ latest NBA championship having to share the stage with speculation, instantly revved up, about LeBron James and the choice he’ll soon make about his next employer. The Warriors are the kings, claiming pro basketball’s throne yet again by completing a sweep of James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. But of course, James is the King, and as so many of us learned in sophomore English – thanks, CliffsNotes! – “Uneasy lies the head (of those who fret and obsess about the future whereabouts of the NBA superstar) that wears a crown.” Long live the kings! The King is ... gone? There was so much energy before, during and after Game 4 Friday (Saturday, PHL time) poured into the last game/next game conjecture about James, the Cavaliers and seismic shifts in the league’s 2018-19 landscape that even the player’s surprise reveal near the end of the night – a bruised and bandaged right hand – couldn’t derail it. Turns out, as James ‘fessed up, the sore shooting paw was an injury he had been playing with ever since Game 1 in Oakland eight days earlier. He had “self-inflicted” it in a fit of pique when he smacked a whiteboard in the visitors’ dressing room at Oracle Arena after Cleveland’s overtime loss in the series-setter, an outcome driven at least in part by some teammates’ mistakes and an arcane wrinkle in the NBA’s replay rules regarding block/charge fouls. Despite the hordes of media people chronicling every waking detail of the Finals, James had kept the injury on the down-low (along with the possibility that J.R. Smith’s nickname amongst his Cavs teammates might be “whiteboard”). The cameras zoomed in and clicked in a paparazzi frenzy of motor drives every time James raised the hand, wrapped in black tape, above the table during his postgame podium remarks. Whether a legit Page-2-the-rest-of-the-story factor in the championship series or a too-late alibi, the contused hand wound up as a sidebar to where James plans to be using it when training camps open in a few months. As of Friday (Saturday, PHL time), it had been 95 months since “The Decision,” the 2010 announcement that James made in a tone-deaf vanity TV production that he was taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. Nearly 47 months had passed since he broke the news of his return in a Sports Illustrated ghost-written essay, envisioning much of what actually has unfolded in the four years since. Now savvy insiders and casual observers alike presume James will be on the move again, pushed to leave the franchise he has defined in an urgent search for more and better talent with which he can compete. As in, y’know, some horses, some horses, his kingdom for some horses. James’ free-agency process next month (he can opt out of a $35.6 million deal in the final season of his current contract) is expected to dictate the market of player movement this summer like an oversized domino. It easily could swing the balance of power, if not quite at Golden State’s lofty level then immediately below it. The monster he helped create Dr. Frankenstein eventually was done in by his macabre creation, and it can similarly be argued that James has no one but himself to blame for the predicament in which he again finds himself. He set in motion the machinery of the super team, after all, when he chose to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami eight years ago. Oh sure, the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 got there first by luring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce, but that was about knitting together three stars, all age 30 or older, for what would be their last best chance to win in an extremely limited run. That group won one title, went to two Finals in three seasons and was done, Allen leaving to join James & Co. with the Heat while Garnett and Pierce morphed into trade chips for Boston POBO Danny Ainge. When James, Wade and Bosh teamed up, they were in their basketball primes and their initial giddy boasts of “not four, not five, not six” championships turned off fans league-wide as much for its portent as its pretension. That crew went 4-for-4 in Finals, winning two rings before James, nudged by staleness and chafing as well as his grand plan for northeast Ohio, went home. From there, a line can be drawn through the ill-conceived 2012-13 L.A. Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all the way to this season’s Houston Rockets of James Harden and Chris Paul and the talent-gorged Golden State roster. James was the centerpiece as Cleveland replicated the Big Three concept around him with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, two younger, playoff-stymied All-Stars. The new-look Cavaliers went to the Finals in their first season together and clambered atop the basketball world to win the franchise’s first NBA title by the end of the second, becoming the first team in league history to do so after digging a 1-3 hole in the best-of-seven series. In that moment, regardless of the two Finals trips that followed, James’ bill was stamped: Paid In Full. Misguided fans might burn his jersey if he leaves again, but James burned the mortgage after that Game 7 in Oakland in 2016 as far as any remaining obligation to fulfill. “I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” he said after elimination Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember. Honestly, I think we'll all remember that. It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we'll all remember that in sports history.” James added: “When you have a goal and you're able to accomplish that goal, it actually – for me personally – made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships. And I still want to be in championship mode. I think I've shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.” In other words, James intends to sustain his high level of performance. He expects to win. And he presumably will do whatever – and go wherever – is necessary to achieve that. There’s no perfect fit So what does that mean for the NBA’s best player (never mind what the annual MVP balloting says in any given season)? It means this: compromise. There is no ideal situation, certainly no easy answer to the guesswork surrounding James’ looming free agency. He could transform any of the 30 teams, but not without some trade-offs for him, for them or for both. Most of them won’t be in play. Teams in markets such as Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Sacramento, the Twin Cities and so on can’t scratch James’ itches for either championship-worthy depth chart or spotlight. New York and Chicago, among the biggies, are out of synch with his timeline. Toronto? No way James is resettling his brand north of the border, and given his stated desire for teammates who have not just sufficient basketball skills but also mental toughness, well, the Raptors teams he and the Cavs have dominated do not qualify. The Boston club that stretched Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals is built for the long haul and would have to surrender much of that to adjust to James’ career calendar. There’s a little Kyrie problem lurking there and, truth be told, the Celtics look to be on their way and are doing just fine without the 33-year-old heading, one of these years, toward decline. At some point in each of the 2018 Finals’ final three days, James spoke admiringly of the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs title teams that blocked his path whether in Miami or Cleveland. He was at it again even as the Warriors were dousing the opponent’s locker room at The Q with Moet champagne. “I made the move in 2010 to be able to play with talented players, cerebral players that you could see things that happen before they happened on the floor,” James said. “When you feel like you're really good at your craft, I think it's always great to be able to be around other great minds as well and other great ballplayers. “That's never changed. Even when I came here in '14, I wanted to try to surround myself and surround this franchise with great minds and guys that actually think outside the box of the game and not just go out and play it.” Where might James find that now or recruit that swiftly? Hard to say. There are asterisks and “buts” everywhere: * If he were to sign with the Houston Rockets, James would be hitching his star to Chris Paul, a buddy with an injury history that’s about the mirror opposite of his own. He would be teaming up with an elite coach in Mike D’Antoni, something he’s never had (though Miami’s Erik Spoelstra was just young and unproven, on his way to big things). But it also would require another big ask of James Harden, who had to adapt last summer to Paul’s arrival and need for the ball. * If James chooses the Lakers, he has the chance to hit reset with the league’s glitziest franchise, in a market that can meet his every off-court wish and where he and his family already own one or more ultra-comfortable homes. The Lakers have young talent to help James transition into a lower-usage veteran’s role, favored status as a destination team for other top free agents and the salary-cap space to get it done this summer with the likes of Paul George or his pal Paul. But that roster might not be capable of insta-contending, which could burn a season or two when James’ clock most definitely is clicking. * If it’s San Antonio, James could link up with the elite coach in Gregg Popovich, where the winning culture is in the DNA rather than some acquired taste. The Spurs have talent, particularly if Kawhi Leonard finds happiness again there. But they might not have enough to rattle the Warriors’ cage. And for all their professed admiration, James and Popovich might both fare better by keeping their relationship long-distance vs. the 82-game grind. * If it’s Golden State? Perish the thought. The NBA might have to board up itself if competitive balance were capsized to that extent. And as Draymond Green shrewdly noted on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), if James climbed aboard, it likely would require him and several other Golden State teammates to be dispatched to parts unknown. * If James prefers to stay East, where the winning comes easier, he could pick Philadelphia. The Sixers have two foundational young stars at positions that matter most, center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. But Simmons is a non-shooter at the moment, the antithesis of what makes a great complementary LeBron teammate. As for Embiid, James never has had to play off of and service a top center. And Philly might feel like a basketball-only move, with the hungriest and most demanding of any new fan base he would embrace. * If it’s Miami – wait, could it be Miami? Could he go second-home again? The Heat always strive to be competitive and offer a talent base deep enough for the East and lots of familiarity. But they also have players such as Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters whose mental approaches don’t seem to fit the model James was cooing about in Golden State and with the Tim Duncan-era Spurs. * That brings us to Cleveland, where it’s possible James might choose to remain. Staying with the Cavaliers, after leading them to four Finals and that heady 2016 title, would be the easiest choice as far as pressure to win. He owes these fans nothing anymore – in fact, had the bargain been offered to them in 2010 (“LeBron will leave and win elsewhere for four years, but will come back and deliver a championship and four Finals trips”), most would have grabbed it. Here, James and the fans who have watched him even through the interruption develop from ridiculously touted high schooler to one of the world’s most famous athletes could grow older together. Then he could partner up and buy the team from owner Dan Gilbert for a long-term future. Certainly, staying has a certain place in his and the rest of the James clan’s hearts. “The one thing that I've always done is considered, obviously, my family,” he said at series end Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I've got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.” It’s worth noting that as James contemplates his options as a modern pursuer of championship excellence, the prospect of him moving again qualifies at some level as a failure. Not just by the support system in Cleveland, where he and Gilbert have their friction and James gets snidely mentioned as the team’s unofficial GM and head coach, but by him too. He’s the one who went off to seek his “college education” in south Florida in what it takes to win, whether on the court, in the front office or in and around the seams 365 days a year, straight out of the Pat Riley handbook. The teams about which James talks so glowingly in Oakland now and in San Antonio then have cultures he covets, stability up and down the flowchart he craves. In Cleveland, for a variety of reasons, his team has been incapable of establishing and maintaining that to a lasting degree. He is part of that missed opportunity and he has to own it, no matter if he goes or stays. James is inseparable from the dynamic of the Cavaliers’ ever-changing and often melodramatic roster maneuvers. Spending big, swapping out draft picks to import current stars and supporting players, and overvaluing secondary guys like Smith and Tristan Thompson are risks the Warriors and the Spurs largely avoided thanks to shrew drafting and laudable continuity. The Cavs’ scrap heap, by contrast, is high with traded picks, scuttled plans, panic deals, short-term patches and folks such as former coach David Blatt and former GM David Griffin. And maybe James could have nurtured a little better relationship with All-Star point guard and 2016 title sidekick Kyrie Irving, enough to have kept Irving from bailing on them all with his trade demand last summer. Now he’s on the verge of casting about again, prioritizing what matters most for however long he continues to play. James is more at peace with it than he was before, particularly in 2010, and surely can enjoy the leverage he wields and the riches it delivers. But there is a burden there as well, one that could be seen as completing a circle. So many of the NBA’s greatest stars have been stuck playing and living in the Age of LeBron, right? Their paths to the Finals blocked, on one whole side of the league, by him and his? Well, LeBron James is stuck now in the Era of the Warriors, freshly swept and anxious to close the gap. What goes around comes around, though the key more pressing of the big W’s now is, where? 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 11th, 2018

Nadal and Djokovic to renew rivalry in Italian Open semis

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry in the Italian Open semifinals — and three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova also reached the last four Friday. Nadal, who holds a record seven titles at the Foro Italico, overcame a poor first set and a partisan crowd to beat Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Then, four-time Rome winner Djokovic rallied past Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. Nadal and Djokovic have played each other 50 times but their last meeting came more than a year ago, when Nadal won in the Madrid Open semifinals. "Tomorrow is going to be the ultimate challenge on clay," Djokovic said. "Beating Rafa is a really difficult thing to do on this surface. But, I've done it before." Djokovic leads Nadal 26-24 overall, but Nadal holds a 15-7 advantage on clay. Nadal can replace Roger Federer at No. 1 if he lifts the Rome trophy for the first time since 2013. Federer is sitting out the clay season to prepare for Wimbledon, where he will bid for a record-extending 21st Grand Slam title. Djokovic, who is returning from a persistent right elbow injury, hadn't reached a semifinal since before Wimbledon last year. "This is what I was looking forward to," Djokovic said. "This is what I was hoping to achieve." In the other half of the draw, defending champion Alexander Zverev extended his winning streak to 12 matches with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over ninth-seeded David Goffin. He'll meet Australian Open finalist Marin Cilic, who beat 10th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3. Sharapova required more than three hours to eliminate last year's French Open winner, Jelena Ostapenko, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-5; and defending champion Elina Svitolina defeated Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4 for her sixth straight victory over the former No. 1 player. Svitolina will next face 26th-ranked Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, who beat Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1. Sharapova's semifinal opponent will be Simona Halep, who advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia that ensures she will keep the No. 1 ranking for another week. Djokovic has now won 12 straight matches over Nishikori and the Japanese player didn't help his cause when he landed an easy overhead into the net early in the third set. Still, it remained tight with long rallies until the end. "It was a fantastic match," Djokovic said. "We went toe to toe until the last point." Fans were decidedly behind Fognini, Italy's top player, and Nadal was under pressure when Fognini won five straight games to cancel out a 4-1 deficit and win the opening set. "He played aggressive, a great level of tennis, creating a lot of winners and taking balls earlier," Nadal said. "I felt the pressure a little bit and played a couple of bad games." But Fognini couldn't keep up with Nadal's consistency and heavy topspin on the red clay court and eventually was physically worn down. "I tried to play more with my forehand and when I play aggressive with my forehand the backhand becomes better," said Nadal, who sat out earlier this season with right knee and hip injuries. "It's important to be able to change the tactics of the match." Fognini had tape applied under his left knee while trailing 3-2 in the third set due to a physical problem that has bothered him for weeks. "The first set lasted more than an hour," Fognini said. "It's him that causes the problem." While the result meant it was now 42 years since an Italian man last won the tournament — Adriano Panatta in 1976 — Fognini was still applauded as he walked off of the court. Nadal joined in the applause for Fognini......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Talent but doubts for Belgium

By Raf Casert, Associated Press BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium has all the ingredients for success at the World Cup. Romelu Lukaku leads the attack, supported by the creative genius of Eden Hazard and with Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings in midfield. Thibaut Courtois is in goal. But for all the exceptional talent, Belgium keeps underwhelming at major tournaments, only reaching the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championship. There are doubts throughout the team. Center back Vincent Kompany spends much of his time in the treatment room at Manchester City. Too many Belgian players have morphed into glorified benchwarmers these days after falling out of favor, including Toby Alderweireld at Tottenham, Thomas Meunier at Paris Saint-Germain and Thomas Vermaelen at Barcelona. Axel Witsel and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco do have a lock on their starting position for their clubs, but in the modest Chinese league. It all makes the road to World Cup success seem far from clear for FIFA's third-ranked team. Here's a closer look at the Belgium team: COACH It took a loss to Wales at the 2016 European Championship for Belgium to oust underachieving coach Marc Wilmots and turn to Roberto Martinez, a Spanish coach with Premier League experience. Martinez led Belgium to the top of its qualifying group with an unbeaten record. But it's unclear how a coach who spent most of his time with teams like Wigan, Swansea and Everton will endure at a World Cup. At least he has already won a trophy, taking unheralded Wigan to the FA Cup title by beating Manchester City in 2013. GOALKEEPERS Having Courtois in goal has made Belgium the envy of world football. Then came the night in March at Barcelona when Lionel Messi beat Courtois twice with shots through the legs to open up the Chelsea goalkeeper to international ridicule for the first time. Courtois will need to banish any self-doubt in Russia. When it comes to doubt, there is plenty of uncertainty about backup Simon Mignolet, who has been banished to the bench at Liverpool. DEFENDERS Previously known for its dour defensive prowess, Belgium added flair with Kompany, Alderweireld, Meunier and Jan Vertonghen. Going into the World Cup, though, only Vertonghen inspires confidence and gets all the playing time he wants at Tottenham. Every time the 32-year-old Kompany takes the field for Belgium, onlookers fear he could come down with another injury. MIDFIELDERS This department is where Belgium's genius resides, with De Bruyne and Hazard dazzling with sparkling moves and piercing passes. Even if their synergy on the field has not been perfect, Martinez has been getting close enough. Now the coach has to figure out what to do with Radja Nainggolan, whose skillful doggedness helped take Roma past Barcelona in the Champions League. Martinez, though, has fallen out with Nainggolan and criticized his sometimes raucous off-field behavior. It means Nainggolan is still not an automatic pick to make it to Russia. FORWARDS The 24-year-old Lukaku is already Belgium's all-time top scorer with 33 goals. All hope is invested in Lukaku staying fit and in form for the World Cup after an impressive first season leading the Manchester United attack, with De Bruyne and Hazard in support. Martinez can also turn to Dries Mertens, the deft, diminutive winger-striker who has been instrumental in Napoli's pursuit of the Serie A title. Michy Batshuayi was just hitting form with Dortmund when he injured his ankle in early April and is racing to be fit for Russia. GROUP GAMES After opening in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on June 18 against Panama, the second Group G game is close to its Moscow base against Tunisia on June 23. The group concludes on June 28 against England in Kaliningrad......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

Panel hopes to end US NCAA one-and-dones

By Ralph D. Russo, Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The most difficult part of the NCAA’s attempt to clean up college basketball begins now. Hours after former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice presented the Commission on College Basketball’s sweeping recommendations for reforming a sport weighed down by corruption, NCAA leaders set in motion the process for turning those ideas into reality. The NCAA Board of Governors, a group of 16 university presidents and the association’s highest ranking body, unanimously endorsed all the commission’s recommendations Wednesday. Now it’s up to various subcommittees, working groups and college administrators to dig into a mountain of work over the next three months as the NCAA attempts to change NBA draft rules, create a new enforcement body, toughen penalties for rules violations, revamp summer recruiting and certify agents. All while trying to get buy-in from organizations that might not be motivated to help. “It’s going to be a challenge to say the least,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “This is a pace of decision making that the association’s really never done on this kind of scale before.” The Division I Council, comprised mostly of athletic directors and headed by Miami AD Blake James, has the job of turning the recommendations into rules. That requires feedback from schools, then council votes with some conference votes counting more heavily than others. Each proposal then goes to the Board of Directors, where a majority vote is needed to send it to the Board of Governors for final approval. It’s a winding path — crossing 351 Division I schools with varied priorities and concerns — and requiring consensus building and compromise for measures to pass. NCAA rule changes can sometimes take a full calendar year to sort out. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t let the good fall victim to the perfect here,” Emmert said. “Nobody believes we’re going to get everything perfect the first time through.” The independent commission Rice led released a much-anticipated and detailed 60-page report , seven months after the group was formed in response to a federal corruption investigation that rocked college basketball. Ten people, including some assistant coaches, have been charged in a bribery and kickback scheme , and high-profile programs such as Arizona, Louisville and Kansas have been tied to possible NCAA violations. “They believe the college basketball enterprise is worth saving,” Rice told the AP of commission members in an interview before addressing NCAA leaders. “We believe there’s a lot of work to do in that regard. That the state of the game is not very strong. We had to be bold in our recommendations.” The proposals were wide-ranging, falling mostly into five categories: NBA draft rules, specifically the league’s 19-year-old age limit that has led to so-called one-and-done college players; non-scholastic basketball such as AAU leagues and summer recruiting events; the relationship between players and agents; relationships with apparel companies; and NCAA enforcement. “Some people like some of (the recommendations) more than others, which is human nature, but as a board we’re unanimous in the endorsement and the acceptance of these recommendations for the NCAA,” said Minnesota President Eric Kaler, chairman of the Division I Board of Directors. It’s not yet clear how the governing body would pay for some of the proposals, though the NCAA reported revenues of more than $1 billion dollars for fiscal year 2017 in its most recent financial disclosures. The commission offered harsh assessments of toothless NCAA enforcement, as well as the shady summer basketball circuit that brings together agents, apparel companies and coaches looking to profit on teenage prodigies. It called the environment surrounding hoops “a toxic mix of perverse incentives to cheat,” and said responsibility for the current mess goes all the way up to university presidents. It also defended the NCAA’s amateurism model, saying paying players a salary isn’t the answer. “The goal should not be to turn college basketball into another professional league,” the commission wrote in its report. The commission did leave open the possibility that college athletes could earn money off their names, images and likenesses, but decided not to commit on the subject while the courts are still weighing in. Rice called the crisis in college basketball “first and foremost a problem of failed accountability and lax responsibility.” ONE-AND-DONE The commission emphasized the need for elite players to have more options when choosing between college and professional basketball, and to separate the two tracks. The commission called for the NBA and its players association to change rules requiring players to be at least 19 years old and a year removed from graduating high school to be draft eligible. The one-and-done rule was implemented in 2006, despite the success of straight-from-high-school stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. “I’m confident they are going to be very supportive,” Emmert said of the NBA and NBAPA. The NBA and players union praised the recommendations on enforcement and expressed concerns about youth basketball. On draft eligibility rules, however, there was no commitment. “The NBA and NBPA will continue to assess them in order to promote the best interests of players and the game,” they said. The commission did, however, say if the NBA and NBPA refuse to change their rules in time for the next basketball season, it would reconvene and consider other options for the NCAA, such as making freshmen ineligible or locking a scholarship for three or four years if the recipient leaves a program after a single year. “One-and-done has to go one way or another,” Rice told the AP. ENFORCEMENT The commission recommended harsher penalties for rule-breakers and that the NCAA outsource the investigation and adjudication of the most serious infractions cases. Level I violations would be punishable with up to a five-year postseason ban and the forfeiture of all postseason revenue for the time of the ban. That could be worth tens of millions to major conference schools. By comparison, recent Level I infractions cases involving Louisville and Syracuse basketball resulted in postseason bans of one year. Instead of show cause orders, which are meant to limit a coach’s ability to work in college sports after breaking NCAA rules, the report called for lifetime bans. “The rewards of success, athletic success, have become very great. The deterrents sometimes aren’t as effective as they need to be. What we want are deterrents that really impact an institution,” said Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins, who was a member of the Rice commission. AGENTS The commission proposed the NCAA create a program for certifying agents , and make them accessible to players from high school through their college careers. AAU AND SUMMER LEAGUES The NCAA, with support from the NBA and USA Basketball, should run its own recruiting events for prospects during the summer , the commission said, and take a more serious approach to certifying events it does not control. APPAREL COMPANIES The commission also called for greater financial transparency from shoe and apparel companies such as Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. These companies have extensive financial relationships with colleges and coaches worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and Adidas had two former executives charged by federal prosecutors in New York in the corruption case......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 25th, 2018