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Vettel puts Singapore crash behind him to focus on Malaysia

em>By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press /em> SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) — Sebastian Vettel is wasting no energy in his title fight with Lewis Hamilton. After blowing pole position by causing a crash at the Singapore GP two weeks ago, the Ferrari driver threw away a golden chance to regain the championship lead from Lewis Hamilton. It put him 28 points behind Hamilton with six races to go, starting with this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. But speaking on Thursday, Vettel said he has already cast it from his mind. 'I'm not too fussed about the amount of points. It doesn't change anything for how we tackle the last races,' Vettel said. 'It's part of racing. Not much point looking at it over and over again, your energy is best spent looking forward.' Vettel said he 'moved on' within two days of the incident. However, he does concede that the last two races in Italy — where he finished third — and Singapore were below par for a team of Ferrari's high standards. 'If you look at the last two races, we're not happy and we're not proud of them,' said Vettel, who has won four times in Malaysia. Mercedes has the upper hand and Vettel's margin for error is increasingly small. He can ill afford another blip in Malaysia, where the intense heat and stifling humidity make it one of Formula One's toughest races. Singapore offered some respite, since it was a night race, but this one is raced in afternoon heat with 80 percent humidity. Cockpit temperatures reach around 50 Celsius (120 Fahrenheit). 'It's like being in a sauna. We have all of our gear on and the car is hot as well,' Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said. 'The seat itself is warm, and then we're surrounded in the cockpit by the electrical boxes.' Drivers can expect to shed 5 percent of their body weight in fluid loss. 'Fatigue sets in,' Bottas added. 'It's more difficult to be consistent and, in the very worst cases, you can develop cramps or even problems with your vision.' The undulating 5.5-kilometer (3.4-mile) track — a mixture of long straights and quick, sweeping corners — is also one of the most challenging, and enjoyable, for drivers. Many are sad that the Sepang International circuit is hosting its final race. 'They are taking away the toughest, if not the toughest race of the season,' Hamilton said. 'It is sad to think this is our last race at Sepang.' Neither Vettel nor Hamilton have fond memories of last year, however, with both failing to finish the race as Red Bull clinched a 1-2 with Ricciardo holding off Max Verstappen. Vettel could use a helping hand from Red Bull now. Red Bull has been improving in recent weeks and looked strong in Singapore qualifying, placing both cars ahead of Hamilton and Bottas. Ricciardo appears particularly strong, with his second-place finish in Singapore earning him a seventh podium position in the past 10 races. Without a troublesome gearbox, the Australian might even have challenged for the win. On a track that suits Red Bull well, a similar grid position on Sunday would be ideal for Vettel — providing he can avoid crashing again. That Vettel finds himself in a chess-like scenario is much of his own making, and he must still be waking up at night with cold sweats thinking of Singapore. He made a sloppy error of judgment heading into Turn 1, taking out his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Verstappen — both of whom could realistically have denied Hamilton a podium finish and crucial points. Understandably, given that it has not won a driver's championship since Raikkonen's title in 2007, Ferrari was not impressed. Although Vettel deserves huge credit for turning the Prancing Horse into a contender again, he owes them a big performance here, and Hamilton is bracing himself for a strong response. 'Greats generally bounce back, so I have to anticipate this weekend he'll bounce back,' Hamilton said. 'He's a four-time world champion.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2017

Hamilton title chase returns to track he s dominated

By Jim Vertuno, Associated Press AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lewis Hamilton usually feels at ease in the U.S. And why not? It's pretty easy to be happy when he's usually finishing first. Yet despite his commanding lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the chase for the Formula One championship, the Mercedes driver barely cracked a smile Thursday as he dismissed scenarios that he could clinch the title with a win and another Vettel collapse. Hamilton also fended off speculation that he might take a knee when the American national anthem is played before Sunday's race. Hamilton, the only black driver in Formula One, said he supports the demonstration that began as a protest over treatment of minorities by police that has roiled the National Football League and drawn heavy criticism from President Donald Trump. But when asked if he would kneel on Sunday, the British driver said "I don't have any plans" and was concentrating on the race. "I know black and white people that live here in America, so I get quite a view of what's happening here in the States," Hamilton said, calling the protest movement "awesome." "I'm very much in support of it. But I'm here to win and that's the top of my priorities at the moment and I'm not really focused on anything else." Hamilton dismissed the notion of winning the championship in Texas as "silly." He would clinch his fourth F1 season title Sunday if he finishes 16 points ahead of Vettel. For example, if Hamilton again wins a race which he's won four of the last five years, Vettel would have to finish sixth or lower to give the title to Hamilton. Outside of the two races he didn't finish, Vettel has finished lower than fourth just once. "Sebastian, you cannot expect him to have a difficult weekend, they are going to be quick," Hamilton said. "He has been strong all year. He has had a few technical issues, but the car is as good as it has always been ... I have to continue to keep the pressure on." Yet the Circuit of the Americas would seem Vettel's last realistic chance to keep the title chase alive. He's had some success here, winning in 2013 as part of a dominant season with Red Bull when he won nine consecutive races. He finished second in 2012 when he lost a duel with Hamilton's McLaren. Hamilton has made the Austin race something of a personal playground. He cruised to wins in 2014 and 2016 and his rain-soaked victory in 2015 clinched the season championship with three races left on the schedule. Hamilton won from pole last year and from P2 in 2012, 2014 and 2015. The Briton's American success dates back to 2007 when he won the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis. And he's gotten stronger through the second half of this season. Hamilton has four victories and one second-place finish over the last five races as his lead over Vettel has ballooned to 59 points. "The championship, as long as it is done in the last four races that is my focus. I honestly don't care if it is here or the last race, as long as it is done," Hamilton said. Vettel's problems struck late in the season. After two wins in the first three races, many hoped for an epic title fight after years of dominance by Mercedes. But Vettel's season has been hit by car troubles and a crash in recent weeks. In Singapore, Vettel started on pole but a first-turn crash with teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen knocked out all three. In Japan, he was foiled by the smallest of engine parts — a spark plug — that again knocked him out on the first lap. Even when he finished a brilliant drive in Malaysia, coming from the back to finish fourth, he lost ground to Hamilton. Ferrari team principle Maurizio Arrivabene has pledged the team will fight "right up to the last corner of the last grand prix." The U.S. Grand Prix will be the Formula One debut of Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley, who will be the first New Zealander on the grid since Mike Thackwell at the 1984 Canadian Grand Prix. Hartley is a former World Endurance Championship winner in 2015 and a winner of this year's 24 hours at Le Mans. Hartley said the call from Toro Rosso and the trip to Austin happened so fast he's hardly had time to meet his team. "Obviously I want to do the best I can. I'm trying not to put too many expectations on it," Hartley said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 20th, 2017

Hamilton aiming to build championship lead at Japanese GP

SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton can widen his lead when Formula One wraps up its Asian leg at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday. With five races remaining, Hamilton leads Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by 34 points after finishing second at the Malaysian GP. Vettel, despite starting last on the grid, finished fourth in Sepang. Hamilton has won twice before in Suzuka, in 2014 and 2015, and was runner-up to former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in last year's race. A win in Suzuka would move Hamilton a step closer to a third F1 title in four years with Mercedes and his fourth overall. Mercedes was slower than Ferrari and Red Bull for the second straight race in Malaysia after similarly struggling for pace in Singapore. 'We're still leading the championship, we've still got a great car,' Hamilton said Thursday. 'Each race is just really trying to understand more about the car because there's constantly something new thrown in the mix, (that) can catch us off guard.' Mercedes was debating whether to run the team's latest aerodynamic package for the Japanese GP. 'After Malaysia, we have found ourselves analyzing our problems, beginning to understand their causes and working on solutions,' Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said. 'While we work to improve in those areas, we must not forget the many strengths we have shown this season,' Wolff added. 'Our car has taken more pole positions and race wins than any other and we lead both championships.' Vettel, who had a new engine for the race in Malaysia, is a four-time winner in Japan. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who overtook Hamilton with ease early on to win the race in Malaysia, is sixth in the standings and will be looking to build on his momentum in Japan. 'Suzuka will always be a special place for me because I made my Formula One debut there,' Verstappen said. 'It's a proper old-school track.' br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 6th, 2017

Grosjean escapes injury as loose drain causes practice crash

em>By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press /em> SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) — French driver Romain Grosjean escaped without injury after clipping a loose drain and flying into the crash barriers in the second practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday. His tire shredded on impact, catapulting him at full speed from one side of the track to the other. It ended the session with 20 minutes left and, moments later, race director Charlie Whiting and another official from motorsport governing body FIA inspected the damage. It was a spectacular incident but without consequence. Grosjean climbed out of his Haas car unharmed, and was even able to talk about it pretty calmly moments later. 'I didn't see anything. Next thing I knew I was spinning and heading for the wall,' he said. 'I am fine, that is the most important thing.' But it could have been much more serious, with images showing the drain cover sticking up at an angle before Grosjean clipped it. 'It was on the racing line and I had a big hit and impact on rear right. I was spinning and heading to the wall,' Grosjean said, after reviewing footage. 'They need to sort things out, it is a shame. Hopefully we find a good setup for tomorrow and the drains stay in place.' Haas team principal Guenther Steiner was furious. 'Things like this in 2017 shouldn't happen on any circuit,' he said. 'In my opinion this is not acceptable. In a race this would have been a disaster.' Explaining the incident, Whiting said that some welding came loose on a Sepang circuit he claims is 'fatigued' as it hosts a race for the last time. 'One drain grate has come up. It just seems that it has broken away,' said Whiting, explaining that further checks would be made on other drains during the evening. 'We have to get it fixed for tomorrow, of course.' Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was confident the issue would be taken care of. 'The good thing is no one was hurt,' Horner said. 'I'm pretty confident we won't see a repeat issue.' By the time the second practice was over, Ferrari had done enough to secure a 1-2 as Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time followed by Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel has reason to feel confident of securing a second straight pole position in Saturday's qualifying. But it was a different story for Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas struggled with grip and went off track into the gravel within moments of each other. Bottas' left wheel locked as he came out of Turn 10. Hamilton, out of Turn 7, skidded sideways and then backward into the dirt. Hamilton was sixth and Bottas seventh on a poor day for a team that has won three straight drivers' and constructors' championships. 'The car seems to be unbalanced,' Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said. 'One of the worst Fridays I can remember.' Renault driver Jolyon Palmer and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr. — who is replacing Palmer next year — also went off track. Although there was a heavy downpour before the first practice, the track had largely dried out by the afternoon. Drivers have raced in far worse conditions. There is a third and final practice on Saturday before qualifying at 5 p.m. local time. Hamilton has won the last two races and holds a 28-point lead over Vettel, who crashed from pole in Singapore two weeks ago. Earlier, in first practice, Max Verstappen posted the fastest time, followed by Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Vettel and Hamilton were fifth and sixth respectively. 'We just lacked pace today and we have 12 hours to understand why,' Wolff said. It promises to be a long night in the Mercedes garage. 'We're definitely lacking performance, it seems like Ferrari and Red Bull are very strong,' Bottas said. 'We have work to do if we want to be on the front row. The key area we are going to need to focus on tonight will be getting the maximum out of the tires over one lap.'   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 29th, 2017

Brownlee torches Indonesia, tows Alab to back-to-back wins

No matter the opponent, Justin Brownlee looks like he very much belongs in the 2017-2018 Asean Basketball League. That was yet again the case on Saturday, even in his first time in Indonesia, as he poured in 36 points to shoot Alab Pilipinas way and above rookie team CLS, 92-87, at the GOR CLS Kertajaya. The American reinforcement waxed hot from the get-go and scorched the nets with 18 first quarter points – by his lonesome, matching the output of all their opponents. With Brownlee spearheading the attack, the Filipinos built up an 11-point lead after the first quarter that would only increase to as much as 15. The rest of the Philippines’ representatives were no slouches either as fellow import Renaldo Balkman posted a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double while reigning and defending MVP Ray Parks Jr. chipped in 14 markers and four assists. Save for a lone game up against Singapore, Brownlee has been dominant in his first stint in the Southeast Asian professional league. Along with his big-time scoring output, he also had eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in this one. And with him showing the way once more onto a second straight rout, Alab hikes their record to 5-4 – keeping them in fifth-place, but breathing right down the neck of fourth-running Saigon. For the Indonesians, Brian Williams topped the scoring column with 22 points. With no answers for Brownlee, however, he saw his team drop to 1-6. —- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News5 hr. 51 min. ago

Arellano U eyes return to solo lead

Games Sunday: (FilOil Flying V Centre, San Juan) 9:30 a.m. -- JRU vs. Perpetual (m) 11:00 a.m. –- JRU vs. Perpetual (w) 12:30 p.m. –- LPU vs. Arellano U (w) 2:00 p.m. –- LPU vs. Arellano U (m) 3:30 p.m. –- LPU vs. Arellano U (jrs)   Unbeaten defending champion Arellano University seeks to regain the solo lead when the Lady Chiefs take on struggling Lyceum of the Philippines University in the 93rd NCAA women’s volleyball competition Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Opening serve is at 12:30 p.m. after the 11:00 a.m. clash between University of Perpetual Help and Jose Rizal University. The Lady Chiefs share the leader board with San Beda College after four outings and are on a 16-game winning streak since last season. Arellano U faced a tough battle the last time out, dropping a set for the first time this season in a 25-11, 22-25, 25-18, 25-16, win over the Lady Bombers last Tuesday. Against the Lady Pirates, who are sporting a 1-3 card, Lady Chiefs head Obet Javier will have the advantage of a deep bench with rookie Necole Ebuen, Regine Arocha, Mary Anne Esguerra and Jovielyn Prado at his disposal. A stark contrast to the squad of veteran mentor Emil Lontoc. Crippled with only eight available players, LPU is limping through the tournament. The Lady Pirates dropped a 26-28, 25-20, 24-26, 22-25, match against their Intramuros neighbor. Perpetual, meanwhile, is looking to extend its winning streak to three after back-to-back five-set victories over San Sebastian College and Emilio Aguinaldo College. The Lady Altas carry a 3-1 slate while the Lady Bombers, who are looking to return in the win column after seeing their two-game winning streak snapped by the Lady Chiefs, are locked in a four-way logjam at 2-2 with San Sebastian College, College of St. Benilde and Letran. In men’s play, unbeaten joint leaders Altas and Chiefs hunt for their fifth win against their respective foes. Perpetual takes on listless Bombers at 9:30 a.m. while Arellano U crosses paths with the Pirates at 2:00 p.m. The lone juniors match between LPU and Arellano is set at 3:30 p.m.                --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated News5 hr. 51 min. ago

Beermen remain perfect after scrappy affair with NLEX

San Miguel is just too good. The three-time defending champion Beermen went to work in the fourth period, simply overpowering the NLEX Road Warriors on their way to a 109-98 win in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome. In a game that featured more than a couple of physical altercations and shouting matches, San Miguel relied on its superior star power to maintain a perfect 4-0 record. The Beermen's MVP tandem both submitted double-double performances to overcome NLEX's challenge. 2013 MVP Arwind Santos led the way for the champs. scoring 26 points on top 13 rebounds and four assists. Santos did his best work in the fourth, dropping 13 points in the period as the Beermen pulled away for good. Reigning four-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo was dominant as well, going for 25 points and 16 rebounds.  Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter added 14 points apiece. "I know from the start that this will be an exciting game," head coach Leo Austria said. "With NLEX losing their last two games, we knew they will come out hard and it happened. They refused to lose because of their pride and experience," he added. With less than five minutes to go, things got testy as Mike Miranda was called for a flagrant foul penalty 2 for kicking Chris Ross in his nether regions. The Road Warriors paid for it dearly as the Beermen's six-point lead turned into 10 real quick after two free throws from Ross and a jumper from Marcio Lassiter in the same possession. Then Arwind dropped the dagger by hitting a booming triple with 3:42 to go for an 11-point lead. Before the game ended, Ross figured in another altercation, engaging with a shouting match against NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao. Ross was tossed after being called for his second technical foul in the game. His first was for second motion against Alex Mallari earlier in the second half. Meanwhile, Kiefer Ravena scored 15 points to lead NLEX but it wasn't enough to save the Road Warriors from a third straight defeat. Mallari, Raul Soyud, and JR Quinahan each added 12 points for the Road Warriors.   The Scores: SAN MIGUEL 109 — Santos 26, Fajardo 25, Cabagnot 14, Lassiter 14, Pessumal 10, Ganuelas-Rosser 6, De Ocampo 4, Ross 4, Heruela 2, Mamaril 2, Semerad 2. NLEX 98 — Ravena 15, Mallari 12, Quiñahan 12, Soyud 12, Miranda 10, Tiongson 8, Fonacier 6, Uyloan 6, Al-Hussaini 5, Alas 5, Taulava 3, Baguio 2, Gotladera 2. Quarters: 31-24, 49-58, 74-74, 109-98.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 19th, 2018

Garcia shoots 66 to share clubhouse lead at Singapore Open

SINGAPORE (AP) — Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open. Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club. He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning. Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather. Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron. The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33. "I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly," said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par-5s and one of the par-3s on the second nine. "But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round." Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season. He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead. Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last. "I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course," Kitayama said. "I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2018

Globe Wins TM Forum Catalyst Award for Innovation, Pushes for API Standardization

Globe Telecom is taking the lead in setting standards for APIs with Project OAsIS having received the award for Outstanding Catalyst for Innovation in the recently concluded TM Forum Live! Asia 2017 in Singapore. Short for Open APIs for a vibrant IoT ecosystem, Project OAsIS takes on bridging the fragmented IoT industry. The goal of […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  metrocebuRelated NewsJan 17th, 2018

Patriots chase 7th straight AFC title berth against Titans

By Kyle Hightower, Associated Press FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Two things, among many, have been consistent for the Patriots the past decade: Tom Brady at quarterback and New England in the AFC championship game. Brady will try to lead his team to its seventh straight conference title game Saturday when it hosts the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round. It has been a challenging week off the field for the Patriots following reports of turmoil involving Brady, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft. But Brady says he's never doubted his team's ability to compartmentalize potential distractions. "I think we have a job to do and we know what our job is and that's to go out and play football at a high level and play well," he said. "Nothing really should get in the way of that." Tennessee hasn't been to a conference championship game since the 2002 season, but has been invigorated coming off its first playoff win in 14 years. The Titans enter as 13-point underdog, but linebacker Derrick Morgan said it's a role they happily embrace. "Nobody respects us. Nobody really expects a lot from us. That's fine," he said. "We haven't been a very successful team in the last 10 years. So it's easy for people to overlook us. So we've got to take care of business and start winning games like this to get the respect that we desire." To get it, they'll have to stop a quarterback that has been nearly unbeatable in this round of the postseason. Brady is 11-2 in 13 divisional-round games since 2002 , passing for 3,700 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also has a 6-1 career record against the Titans with 13 touchdowns and just one interception. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was mostly unflappable in leading his team back from an 18-point halftime deficit to beat Kansas City — the largest comeback on road in Super Bowl era. But since 2001, quarterbacks making their first or second career playoff start are 0-7 against New England. "When it comes down to it, it's all about us," Mariota said. "I think that's kind of been the mindset through this entire season. Ups and downs come and go, you just want to try and make the most of this opportunity." Some things to watch on Saturday: MOVING ON UP: It will be Bill Belichick's 37th career playoff game as a head coach, breaking a tie with Tom Landry and Don Shula for the most in NFL history. HEISMAN BROTHERS: Mariota, the 2014 Heisman winner, and Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman winner, combined to turn in the best rushing performance in franchise history in the wild-card round. Henry ran for a career-high 156 yards, and Mariota added 46 yards. Henry will be starting his third straight game with DeMarco Murray already out (right knee). PRESSURE: The Titans ranked fifth in the league with 43 sacks during the season and added four more against the Chiefs last week. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey had six from his interior spot, while Morgan led the Titans with 7 ½ sacks. Linebackers Brian Orakpo (seven) and Wesley Woodyard (five) give the Titans a variety of options to attack Brady, not counting backup linebacker Erik Walden (four). EXPERIENCE GAP: New England has 41 players with postseason experience, most of 2017 playoff teams. Fourteen Patriots players have played at least 10 playoff games. That's more such players than 11 other playoff teams combined (13). Before the start of this postseason, the Titans had 18 players who had appeared in a playoff game. BELICHICK AND LEBEAU: There aren't too many current NFL coaches that have been around the game longer than Belichick and Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau . LeBeau has an NFL-record 45 consecutive seasons as a coach, with Belichick at 43. Yet, with Belichick as head coach, he and LeBeau have faced off in the playoffs only once: the 2004 AFC championship game that New England won in Pittsburgh 41-27. The respect between the two is mutual. "Not very many coaches have the record coach Belichick's gotten. In fact he's probably closing in on the best ever," LeBeau said. Said Belichick: "Coach LeBeau is as good as there is, as good a defensive coach as there is." ___ AP Football Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 12th, 2018

Ravena confident former team Alab will get better along the way

After watching his former team suffer a crucial loss in its home soil, Kiefer Ravena said Alab Pilipinas just needs to play more games to be a better and more cohesive basketball unit. Ravena, who played for Alab in the 2017 playoffs against Singapore, watched as his former team drop a 90-80 loss to the Slingers in the ASEAN Basketball League. "The more games they get to be together, the better they'll be," said Ravena Wednesday at Filoil Flying V Centre. "That's the most adjustment they could do, they've prepared well." Alab had a strong start to the game building an early 10-2 lead in the first before allowing Singapore to take the upper hand with a 12-2 run in the second ...Keep on reading: Ravena confident former team Alab will get better along the way.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 11th, 2018

ABL: Slingers’ Alexander insists no travel in crucial play

  Singapore forward Xavier Alexander stood by what the game officials called, or didn't call, in the Slingers' 90-80 road win over Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League Wednesday night. Alexander got away with what seemed to be a traveling violation late in the fourth quarter which drew the ire of Alab head coach Jimmy Alapag and the hometown crowd at Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan. "The referees didn't call, it wasn't a travel," said Alexander insisted. READ:Alab Pilipinas falls to Singapore at home Not only did Alexander get the benefit of a no-whistle, he finished the sequence with a jumper to give the Slingers an 84-76 lead as the 24-second clock b...Keep on reading: ABL: Slingers’ Alexander insists no travel in crucial play.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Alapag livid over ‘really bad call’ but won’t blame refs for Alab loss

Alab Pilipinas head coach Jimmy Alapag made it known that he wasn't happy with the technical foul he got against Singapore in the ASEAN Basketball League but he insisted it wasn't the call that cost them the match. Alapag got called with the infraction with 1:52 left in the game after contesting a supposed non-call on Xavier Alexander's travel a few seconds earlier. READ:Alab Pilipinas falls to Singapore at home Alexander, hearing no whistle blown, went for a mid-range jumper with 2:02 left in the game, barely beating the shot clock, which gave the Slingers an 84-76 lead. "I'll never blame the referees for a loss, but that was a bad call, a really bad call," said Alapag W...Keep on reading: Alapag livid over ‘really bad call’ but won’t blame refs for Alab loss.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Brownlee refuses to point finger at refs: ‘They make mistakes’

Holding on to the past isn't something Justin Brownlee is fond of. The Alab forward said the non-call on Singapore's Xavier Alexander supposed travel is all water under the bridge as they now shift their focus on their future games in the ASEAN Basketball League. "You can't control that," said Brownlee Wednesday at Filoil Flying V Centre. "The referees are not perfect, I'm not a perfect basketball player, so they make mistakes." Alexander looked to have committed a traveling violation late in the fourth quarter but escaped to drill a mid-range jumper that gave the Slingers an 84-76 lead with 2:02 left in the game. Singapore held on to bust Alab's streak, 90-80. "They try ...Keep on reading: Brownlee refuses to point finger at refs: ‘They make mistakes’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Fil-Canadian Mandani, Slingers put out fire in Alab Pilipinas’ winning streak

Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman’s first taste of defeat in the 2017-2018 Asean Basketball League has come at the hands of Singapore. Chris Charles towered above all while Filipino-Canadian AJ Mandani brought out the big guns in the endgame as the Slingers silenced streaking Alab Pilipinas, 90-80, in front of a packed crowd inside the Filoil Flying V Centre on Wednesday. Mandani scored 11 points in the last seven minutes, nearly outscoring all of his kababayans who only mustered 14 in the same timeframe. With Singapore holding onto a four-point lead with 7:05 remaining, the Fil-Can guard’s floater over the outstretched arms of Balkman followed by a booming triple detonated a 9-3 blast that put them on top, 79-69. Alab again threatened at 76-82 with 3:15 left before a controversial non-call led to a jumper by Xavier Alexander, a made technical free throw by Mandani, a split from the stripe from Alexander, and a cold-blooded trey from Mandani that extended the visitors’ lead to 89-76. Charles was also a force with nine points in all of the final frame to help the Slingers improve to 4-5 in the standings. With the win, they silenced the Philippines and its fans and put a stop to their three-game win run. It’s their first loss since welcoming American reinforcements Brownlee and Balkman. The latter posted a 24-point, 12-rebound double-double while the former scored 16 markers, but only shot 37 percent from the field. Ray Parks Jr. also turned in his best scoring output of the season with 16 points, but all of it still wasn’t enough from preventing Alab’s drop to 3-4. BOX SCORES SINGAPORE SLINGERS 90 – Charles 29, Mandani 23, Alexander 20, Goh 6, Liew 5, Ng 3, Low 2, Lim 2, Folkoff 0, Oh 0, Tay 0 TANDUAY ALAB PILIPINAS 80 – Balkman 24, Parks Jr. 16, Brownlee 16, Urbiztondo 12, Maierhofer 6, Raymundo 4, Celiz 2, Domingo 0, Hontiveros 0, Sumalinog 0, Alabanza 0 QUARTER SCORES: 12-19, 42-38, 64-64, 90-80 —- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Kiefer Ravena: Alab Pilipinas will only get better with new imports

Before joining the PBA, Kiefer Ravena made his shoes wet by getting some of his feeling and experience of professional basketball with Alab Pilipinas.  With a solid start to his PBA career, it seems that playing for Alab did wonders for his preparation for the first pay-for-play league in Asia. Ravena, who only played for two games in Alab Pilipinas' playoff series with the Singapore Slingers due to his commitment with the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League, went to the San Juan Arena and supported his former team along with Alyssa Valdez. "It's nice to watch the team. I've played for Alab before, it was one big experience for me, knowing that the ABL is good competition, and really prepared me in going to the pros, and helped me prepare my game. It's nice seeing this guys battle it out," Ravena said after Alab's 90-80 loss to the Slingers. As for who is the NLEX rookie is supporting in the game, he did not name particular players, but of head coach Jimmy Alapag, who is one of the coaches with Gilas Pilipinas, and Alab Pilipinas co-owner Charlie Dy, who is a close Ravena family friend. For Alab, who rode on a three-game win streak after introducing new imports Justin Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman, the former Blue Eagle said that the team will only get better as the team's chemistry improves along with time. "That's the most adjustment they could do, they prepared very well. In face, they beat us, the Gilas team in the preseason, so I don't think, adjustment-wise they'll be a big issue, but I guess the matter of team chemistry with the two new imports who just came in but already gave wins for Alab. " ---   follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Fil-Canadian AJ Mandani always has fun shushing his kababayans

Just like he did in their first meeting in the early going of the 2017-2017 Asean Basketball League, AJ Mandani proved to be a boon for Singapore and a bane for the Philippines. Mandani scored 11 of his 23 points in the final frame to lead the Slingers in taking down Alab Pilipinas on Wednesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre. This, nearly a month after his big shots also sank the Filipinos in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Yes, in the two games that the Slingers have played in the Philippines, it has been the Filipino-Canadian who showed the way to a win. Mandani minced no words about loving each and every moment he has spent in his native land. “It’s great to be here, man. (There’s) something about the environment, something about the air that just helps me make my shots,” he told reporters. More specifically, the environment and the air was good because the shifty guard’s friends and family were in attendance for the first time. “I got my family watching here today and of course, that’s a factor in my inspired play. It’s just good to have family here to support me,” he said. Indeed, Mandani was inspired as he was red-hot from the field, converting six of his eight shots from deep. All of those played a part in breaking the hearts of his kababayans. And as a key cog for Singapore, that’s just the way he wants it. “I knew the crowd was gonna go crazy and we knew that we didn’t want to let the atmosphere shake us up. We just had to stick together,” he said. —- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2018

Lack of experience, chemistry doomed GlobalPort in loss to Gins, says Anthony

Charge it to experience. Sean Anthony opted to look at the positives rather than dwell on the negatives following GlobalPort's 97-104 defeat to Ginebra on Sunday. "We're a young team. We're a new team, and we gotta learn to play with each other still. We have five rookies, four new players, and a new coach, so we're gonna just look at the positives," he said. In control for the first three quarters, the Batang Pier lost grip of the game in the fourth frame as the Gin Kings exploded for 36 points. "We had the lead almost the whole game, up until the end, and we had our spots. We just didn't close it down the stretch," he said. "Our lack of team chemistry and our youth s...Keep on reading: Lack of experience, chemistry doomed GlobalPort in loss to Gins, says Anthony.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

Falcons show playoff poise in 26-13 win over upstart LA Rams

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons jumped to an early 13-point lead before the Rams mounted two swift scoring drives. Los Angeles went to the Coliseum locker room at halftime with just a three-point deficit amid raucous cheers from a home crowd thirsty for playoff success. And then Matt Ryan and the tough, tested Falcons showed the upstart Rams what postseason poise is all about. Ryan passed for 218 yards and hit Julio Jones for an 8-yard touchdown with 5:48 to play, and the defending NFC champion Falcons advanced from the wild-card round with a 26-13 victory over the Rams on Saturday night. Devonta Freeman rushed for an early score and Matt Bryant kicked four field goals for the Falcons (11-6), who spoiled the Rams' first playoff game in 13 years with a methodical performance derived from hard-earned experience. Atlanta's journey to the Super Bowl last season ended infamously with that blown 28-3 lead against New England. In their first playoff game since, the Falcons allowed no surprises from the NFC West champion Rams (11-6). "We knew it was a situation we've been through before," Atlanta defensive tackle Dontari Poe said. "We just had to keep playing and use what we've learned." Jones caught nine passes for 94 yards for Atlanta, which never trailed while winning playoff games in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. Against an opponent that had just six players on its roster with prior postseason appearances, the Falcons' experience showed through. "I think having gone through these situations, understanding what it's like, the atmosphere, those kinds of things, knowing that it's going to be tough, all those things kind of carry forward," Ryan said. "But at the end of the day, experience or no experience, you've got to execute." The Falcons advanced to face the top-seeded Eagles on Jan. 13 in Philadelphia. "Doesn't matter where we're going, we're going," Ryan said. "And that's the most exciting part." A raucous crowd of 74,300 packed the Coliseum on a crisp evening for the first NFL playoff game in the nation's second-largest city since early 1994. Los Angeles went 21 years without pro football before the Rams returned last season, and the franchise emphatically ended a 13-year streak of non-winning seasons this fall with an inspiring run to the Rams' first division title since 2003. But the Falcons have been here before, and they showed it. The Falcons jumped to their early lead by capitalizing on two mistakes by Pharoh Cooper, the Rams' Pro Bowl kick returner. Atlanta's offense then chewed up the clock and field position, with the first drive after halftime consuming 8:15. "To end with a time of possession over 37 minutes, that's hard to do in our league," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. "There was a nine-minute drive to start the second half, and I thought that really set the tone." The Falcons' defense did more than enough to slow down the NFL's highest-scoring offense, harassing Jared Goff into a 24-for-45 performance in his playoff debut. "They did a real nice job there moving the ball up the field and keeping us on the sideline," Goff said. "That can sure get you out of your rhythm." Robert Woods caught nine passes for 142 yards for the Rams, but rookie Cooper Kupp scored their only touchdown late in the first half. Atlanta held MVP candidate Todd Gurley to 101 yards rushing — just 43 in the first three quarters — and four receptions for a mere 10 yards. The Falcons ruined a celebratory night for the Rams, who rebounded from a rough homecoming season in 2016 with an outstanding debut year under 31-year-old Sean McVay, the youngest head coach to reach the playoffs in NFL history. "You see why the Falcons are the defending NFC champs," McVay said. "Certainly this is a humbling game. ... This is an experience that we can learn from. But I don't think this game was too big for our guys." The Rams' offense finally figured it out late in the first half: Goff made several sharp throws on a 79-yard drive ending in Kupp's TD catch, and Sam Ficken's first field goal trimmed the halftime deficit to 13-10. But the Rams' defense simply couldn't get off the field in the third quarter, whether due to missed tackles or clever play-calling by the Falcons. Los Angeles trimmed the lead to 19-13 with 10:49 to play, but the Falcons made another drive highlighted by a beautiful 52-yard screen pass from a blitz-avoiding Bryant to Mohamed Sanu. Jones then caught the sixth playoff TD pass of his career. Goff drove the Rams deep into Falcons territory, but LA turned it over on down at the Atlanta 5 with 2:05 to play. The Falcons stopped the Rams again on downs at midfield with 1:08 left. SARK'S RETURN Although the Falcons' offense took a step back in production this season, Atlanta chipped away at the Rams' defense throughout the Coliseum return of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who coached USC here until 2015. Ryan was methodical under relentless pressure from All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald, repeatedly avoiding trouble and making big throws. Freeman rushed for 66 yards, and Sanu had that key 52-yard gain on a screen pass. "Great call by Sark," Ryan said. COOPER'S MISTAKES Cooper is headed to the Pro Bowl after his outstanding regular season as a kick returner, but the second-year pro's misadventures in his playoff debut cost the Rams dearly. He muffed a punt that bounced off teammate Blake Countess in the first quarter, and Bryant subsequently hit the Falcons' first field goal. After Bryant's second field goal later in the quarter, Cooper got stripped by Damontae Kazee during a kickoff return at the Rams 32, and the Falcons drove for Freeman's short TD run. UP NEXT After the Falcons' defensive performance against Goff, they look like a potential problem for the powerful Eagles without quarterback Carson Wentz in the early Saturday divisional playoff game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2018

Popovich s odd alliance with red state fans

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SAN ANTONIO -- About 400 people gathered at the Oak Hills Country Club in June 2016 and paid $500 to $250,000 to sip iced tea and nibble hors d’oeuvres next to a golf course designed by noted architect AW Tillinghast, who built many. One is owned by the man who was feted at this political fundraiser, Donald J. Trump. The presidential campaign was in full blast and saltier than the crackers on the cheese plate being passed around. Fresh off the plane, Trump thanked the Republicans for the big ‘ole Texas welcome, witnesses say, before launching a blistering attack on the usual targets: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, illegal immigration. Then, near the end of his 30-minute lunchtime appearance, in an effort to connect with the locals, he pivoted and mentioned perhaps the most famous man in town: Gregg Popovich. Witnesses say Trump called Popovich “a great coach” and said “he does a good job” and then there was some fidgeting in the room when the soon-to-be polarizing leader of the free world said this: “I don’t know if the coach is on my side.” Confirmation came emphatically, right after Trump won a divisive election that November. The coach of the Spurs lit into the President over the next several months with a handful of rants that had the stealth of Kawhi Leonard ambushing a timid ball-handler. In no particular order, here were Pop’s Greatest Hits, all issued through the media and without prompting or provocation: “The disgusting tenure and tone and all the comments … have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in a country where half the people ignored that to elect someone.” And: “He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.” And: “The man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks he can only become large by belittling others.” And: “We have a pathological liar in the White House ... You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.” Popovich didn’t stop there with a President whose sensitivity and intelligence he questioned and accused of being guilty of “gratuitous fear-mongering.” When he took Trump to task for criticizing NFL players who knelt during the National Anthem and defended their rights to do so, Popovich also suspected a measure of the public outrage was racially motivated. “Our country is an embarrassment to the world,” he said. A 68-year-old wealthy white man, therefore, became a sports voice with weight in the political and social justice arena, where the NBA league office has greenlighted players and coaches to speak up. Popovich has done so with clarity and insight to gain national applause in certain corners. He wasn’t the first or the last in sports to verbally spank the president or tackle right-leaning sensitivities, yet he’s certainly the most unique in one respect. As a graduate of the Air Force Academy who works in a military town, and a five-time NBA champion coach who might symbolize the city more than The Alamo, Popovich has long been elevated to icon status, perhaps permanently so, in San Antonio, where folks are mad about the Spurs. Still, this is mostly conservative Texas, one of the most Republican of states based on the state legislature and the congressional delegation, a state that voted Republican in 10 straight presidential elections and saw 52.6 percent of voters punch for Trump. While voters in San Antonio-proper lean liberal, the surrounding areas swing solidly the opposite. Julianna Holt, the Spurs CEO and Popovich’s boss since March after assuming the position held for 20 years by her husband Peter, supported various Republican presidential candidates before eventually donating $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, according to Federal Election Commission records. Popovich is therefore a blue blood in a red state and the contrast makes for strange if not uncomfortable alliance between a beloved coach and a group of conflicted Spurs worshippers. His views have in fact shattered the sacrilege by generating hostility from a segment of the basketball flock, something no coach with his credentials would ever feel. The constant winning and acts of charity do not insulate him from those who would prefer Popovich stuff a sweat sock in his bullhorn. Party lines not Popovich's focus “While we all believe Gregg Popovich has the right to his opinions, where was Popovich when Hillary called half of us a 'basket of deplorables?’Many were Spurs fans who are now tired of being insulted ... many of us will never pay to see a Spurs game again.” -- Donna Howington  “The money I will save this year not attending Spurs games should buy me a nice set of golf clubs. Thanks Pop!” -- Jake Ingorgia  “I will never watch them again until Popovich is gone. He is just like all the other leftist celebrities.” -- Lee Harbach, Bulverde They arrive on cue, most from the dusty towns that orbit around San Antonio, some from the city itself. Popovich has unloaded three times this year on Trump, once after the election, once at the start of training camp and most recently by cold-calling Dave Zirin, a friend and liberal writer from The Nation, a progressive magazine. And each time, the letters land in the office of Ricardo Pimentel, the editor who coordinates the comments section of the Express-News, San Antonio’s newspaper of record. “It’s a cycle,” says Pimental, with a sigh. “He speaks out. People who disagree with him send us letters to the editor, then people who object to their disagreement write us letters to the editor defending Pop. Then they respond to one another.” The initial reaction, he said, is always stacked against Popovich and many identify themselves as Spurs fans ripping up their tickets or promising to never attend or watch games again. Even if those who made threats actually carried them out, the change in the Spurs’ home attendance is a blip, from 99.2 percent capacity last season to 98.6 so far this season. Popovich, of course, has been big for business since his first full season as coach in 1997-98. Besides the titles, the Spurs have reached the playoffs every season and won 50 games every season (except for the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 campaign, when they won 37). In short, Popovich's Spurs have a track record beyond reproach in the NBA. If the 2017-18 Spurs stay on pace, it’ll be 20 straight winning seasons for Popovich, one more than Phil Jackson for the all-time NBA record. He hasn’t been this politically vocal until lately, due to Trump, yet was always politically aware, say those who know him. Well-versed through his readings and observations, Popovich welcomes discussion with acquaintences about classism, leadership, government and preferably over a bottle of wine. His two-decades exposure to young black men from humble beginnings raised his awareness and sensitivities about race and bias. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr once played for the Spurs and lately has echoed many of the same thoughts as Popovich. But Kerr coaches in the Bay Area, where folks nod their heads in agreement. Kerr said he can only imagine the flak Popovich catches in Texas. “Here’s this iconic coach who stands for everything that’s right and for honor and integrity, he served in the military, you see him stand at attention for the American flag — man, Pop loves his country,” Kerr said. “And in the middle of Texas for him to be questioning the Republican President, some of the people down there are probably confused. Like, 'I don’t get it, we love this guy but he’s on the other side from us.' “What I love about Pop is that it’s not about party, not about politics. It’s about integrity and character and that’s what people need to pay attention to. It’s not about some policy, not about how much we pay in taxes. If we can just get back to the point where character matters, then we’ll be in better shape. The problem is, it’s clear character has gone down the tubes in many leadership positions in our country. That’s what Pop is calling out.” True enough, Popovich never publicly attached himself to a political party; to suggest he is against Republicans might be as misleading as believing Colin Kaepernick is against the military. When he played for Popovich, Kerr couldn’t recall a time when the coach was this annoyed by the country’s leadership. “The country was in a better place in terms of a relatively peaceful time back then,” Kerr said. “Yes, 9-11 happened and the whole world changed. But we didn’t have quite the same partisan nature, not only in politics but the national conversation. And so people could just admire Pop for who he was and people might not have been aware of his political leanings because they didn’t ask. When we won and went to the White House, Pop and the team went when Bush was in office. We went in ’99 when President Clinton was there. Republican, Democrat, didn’t matter. The times are so different now.” Kerr laughed quickly when asked about the semi-serious groundswell of social media support for a Kerr-Popovich ticket in 2020. Kerr said he hopes to be on his fifth NBA title as a coach then, but turned semi-serious about Popovich. “Our country needs somebody like Pop who can actually lead and unite from a position of authority and credibility,” Kerr said. “This guy served in the military, grew up in a melting pot, understands leadership. More than anything, he’ll cut through all the [expletive].” Since going nuclear on Trump, Popovich declined invites from the national political shows (and wouldn’t comment for this story). That proves what friends have maintained all along: Popovich doesn’t want to be anyone’s political hero or pundit. He’d rather speak when the moment calls for it, then be left alone. That last part is tricky, though. Empathy often marks Popovich's way “Can you imagine being Republican on the Spurs? Would you feel welcome? He’s like Berkeley -- for free speech unless you disagree with him. Shut up and coach, Gregg.” -- Shannon Deason  “When it comes to coaching basketball or drinking wine, Popovich has experience. When it comes to our country, his opinion is no better than anyone else’s." -- Harold Siemens, Seguin  “Open letter to the NBA referee who ejected Pop from the Warriors-Spurs game: Don’t feel bad about what Gregg Popovich called you. He called the POTUS worse and got away with it.” -- Larry Peabody Once the wheels touched down, the pilot jokingly announced over the loudspeaker: “Welcome to Gregg Popovich International Airport,” and one particular passenger noticed that nobody on the plane thought it was strange. Sean Elliott always knew how deeply rooted Popovich is with San Antonio. Aside from the famous Spanish missions and the River Walk, the city is known for the only professional sports team in town. And while George Gervin, David Robinson and Tim Duncan have come and gone, the one lingering reminder is a sometimes gruff and scruffy coach, maybe the NBA’s best ever. “He’s one of the pillars of the community,” said Elliott, twice an All-Star with the Spurs. “He’s looked at with great admiration. He is as respected as anyone who has ever lived in or been part of the city. It’s not just because he’s a basketball coach. Pop has been a big part of the community, huge contributor to charitable functions, good leader.” Elliott was a Spurs rookie in 1989 when their relationship began and he saw the start of Popovich’s reach in the region. Popovich then was an assistant coach under Larry Brown and just planting his feet in the NBA. That summer, Elliott and Popovich piled into a van with the team's "Coyote" mascot and conducted basketball clinics in San Marcos, Corpus Christi, Laredo and similar places. They were signing autographs in malls and running kids through drills in 100 degree heat, never hearing a complaint from the coach. Elliott said folks in those small conservative towns loved him. “If you sit and hear him talk about something, you tend to agree with him,” Elliott said. “He’ll put it in a logical way and he’s very thoughtful, well read and super intelligent, maybe the most intelligent person I’ve ever known.” The owner of the Spurs then was Red McCombs, a homespun Texan who made his fortune in car dealerships and media companies. McCombs didn’t give Popovich the coaching job after firing Brown, telling Popovich “you’ve got a chance to be a great coach” if he got more experience, which he did, going to the Warriors to work for Don Nelson. Popovich returned to San Antonio two years later as general manager, then became coach and the rest is history. Now 90, McCombs said: “Popovich has become the distinguished part of the franchise. He wears it well. Can’t say enough about what kind of man he is and what he’s meant to San Antonio. God has blessed us with Gregg Popovich.” McCombs loves to tell how Popovich, by chance, learned that a local family needed a car. The coach wrote a check, gave it to the father and walked away. McCombs said it was “typical Popovich” who has empathy for those with less. McCombs, curiously, has traditionally been one of the biggest Republican bankrollers in the state, who gave to the Trump campaign and is fully aware of what Popovich thinks of his choice for President. And so one of the most powerful men in Central Texas, who leans politically to the color of his nickname, had a strong reaction to that. “He’s earned the right to give his comments about citizenship or Trump or anything else,” said McCombs, voice rising. “Yes, he made some statements that others might disagree with. But I’ll tell you this: Popovich would be elected to anything he wants to in San Antonio.” Remaining silent never an option “Our country is not an embarrassment to the world. I will tell you what an embarrassment is. It is an American citizen who got a free education from the great Air Force Academy ... and then has the audacity to say that the greatest nation in the world is an embarrassment because the President rightly demands that Americans stand for the anthem. Popovich should be ashamed of himself.” -- Nick DeLouis, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Nowhere on God’s green Earth do they have the right to disrespect our flag and the men and women who died to keep us free. I’m appalled that you stooped so low to join in that disrespect. Shame on you!” -- Fred Martin, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Coach Pop has squashed my love and enthusiasm for the team. A national treasure, he is not. Coach Pop has a voice, but not my voice." -- Jo Ivan A few years ago Popovich was in New York with his daughter to catch a Broadway play when the coach had a last minute change in strategy. He learned that John Carlos was giving a lecture at New York University that night. So Popovich told his daughter to take one of her friends instead; said he was going to see “Dr. Carlos” speak. “When he came in I was surprised and delighted,” Carlos said recently. “Quite naturally, everyone knew who he was but he just wanted to sit and listen.” A year later, in 2015, Popovich flew Carlos to San Antonio to address the team and Carlos admitted to being star struck around Tim Duncan and others. Yet Carlos was most curious about Popovich and why the coach took a strong interest in an Olympic sprinter who raised a fist on the victory stand in 1968, which is frozen as an iconic civil rights moment. “Being with the Spurs gave me an opportunity to check his character out,” Carlos said. “I knew he was a whiz at putting players together to bring out their best ability. But through my conversations with him it became apparent that he was a social activist himself at one point in his life. He was teaching his players about activism and to be concerned about their fellow man and what was going on around their lives, not just basketball. “I was impressed. He just wanted them to know they had a larger role than just playing basketball in the society in which they live.” Carlos, therefore, was not surprised to see Popovich defend the rights of kneeling black football players who came under attack from Trump. On the first day of training camp in September, Popovich said: “Obviously race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly it is not going to get better.” What followed was another swirl of exchanges between Popovich critics and supporters in San Antonio, and Popovich acknowledged receiving mail from both sides. The anti-Pop mail, though, was jarring to Carlos, given the coach’s work in town. “When people write and lambast him for taking leaders to task for what they’re doing to society, that’s like water rolling off a duck’s back, man,” Carlos said. “When they write negative things about him, it encourages him to keep doing what he’s doing. Those people are the problem. Go ahead and throw stones and it just motivates him to do his job. “Look, I’m a black man who spoke out. Imagine what they think of him as a white man who speaks just as strong, to try and get people to see things in a better light? They throw stones at him even more, like, 'Hey you’re white, you have a great life. Keep your mouth shut.’ Well, God points people in certain directions. We know who we are. We do what we do.” And what Popovich does is enlist the help of giants in the social justice world and bring them into his world. He did that with Cornel West, the Harvard professor and civil rights activist, last fall. Popovich invited West to San Antonio to speak at an East Side community center with a few hundred mostly black and Latino students and their parents. Done without TV cameras or media invitation, the discussion was about the importance of education, the imperfect world, self respect and how to help communities. This was an audience that, presumably and unanimously, connected with a white man who didn’t live among them, but was with them. They were the people Popovich had in mind when he attacked present leadership. This was not the audience that writes to the Spurs and the Express-News asking him to take a vow of silence, though he is aware of them, too. “Some responses make you wonder what country you live in,” Popovich said, “and other responses make you very hopeful … overall, it renews my feeling that something must be done because there is enough people willing to listen.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2018