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White sorry for hitting Tiu, calls Almazan play ‘dirty’

Malcolm White was at the start and end of the ugly confrontations between GlobalPort and Rain or Shine in the PBA Commissioner's Cup Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. In a game that saw three ejections, several technical fouls, and two players fouling out, White said he has no hard feelings toward the Elasto Painters. "There are no hard feelings, also no hard feelings for the other team," said White after the Batang Pier lost, 96-90. White was on the offensive end first before becoming the recipient of an illegal hit in the final moments of the game when Raymond Almazan clocked him in the mouth with 40.3 seconds left in the game. The GlobalPort import was the first to thr...Keep on reading: White sorry for hitting Tiu, calls Almazan play ‘dirty’.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerMay 21st, 2018

White sorry for hitting Tiu, calls Almazan play ‘dirty’

Malcolm White was at the start and end of the ugly confrontations between GlobalPort and Rain or Shine in the PBA Commissioner's Cup Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. In a game that saw three ejections, several technical fouls, and two players fouling out, White said he has no hard feelings toward the Elasto Painters. "There are no hard feelings, also no hard feelings for the other team," said White after the Batang Pier lost, 96-90. White was on the offensive end first before becoming the recipient of an illegal hit in the final moments of the game when Raymond Almazan clocked him in the mouth with 40.3 seconds left in the game. The GlobalPort import was the first to thr...Keep on reading: White sorry for hitting Tiu, calls Almazan play ‘dirty’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 21st, 2018

Almazan downplays hit, childish antics against White

Rain or Shine center Raymond Almazan downplayed his late-game antics against GlobalPort import Malcolm White in a heated duel won by the Elasto Painters on Sunday. Almazan hit White in the mouth with a forearm with 40. 3 seconds left that nearly triggered another scuffle. "That's just part of the game, of course we can't just let our teammates get hurt like that, and of course he has to respect our league," said Almazan, who was called for a flagrant foul, in Filipino Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. Almazan's dirty play was in retaliation for White's elbow on ROS guard Chris Tiu, who was bloodied with a busted lip. READ: Tiu says 'intentional' elbow by White like 'getti...Keep on reading: Almazan downplays hit, childish antics against White.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 21st, 2018

Troy Rike calls out dirty basketball tactics in UAAP

MANILA, Philippines – Following the suspensions handed to big names Arvin Tolentino, Thirdy Ravena and Javi Gomez de Liaño , National University’s Troy Rike hasn’t been happy with the way some players have been getting away with their dirty tactics. The Filipino-American big man was recently a victim of a dirty play during the ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 21st, 2018

Breaking Down Gilas vs Kazakhstan

From the get-go, it was obvious that this iteration of Gilas Pilipinas would be a bit different. Coach Yeng Guiao, who could have opted on a more offensively potent starting unit, decided to go with familiarity and defense, starting three players from the Rain or Shine core in Gabe Norwood, Maverick Ahanmisi, and Beau Belga, and inserting JP Erram at center and Stanley Pringle at the point guard spot. The effect was immediately evident, as the corner triple from Norwood off a Pringle assist in the first play of the game set the tone. The trio of Norwood-Ahanmisi-Pringle showed why they are probably one of the strongest, more athletic, quick, and defensive-minded perimeter trios that Gilas has fielded in recent years. Practically switching everything on the outside, they did not allow Kazakhstan any room to operate, nor to get any rhythm from the field while forcing multiple turnovers, with Ahanmisi getting two steals that led to transition layups early. It was a 12-2 start for the Philippines before Kazakhstan could blink. The only thing going for the opposing team was their offensive rebounding, albeit these only prevented further transition baskets from the Philippines, as the Kazakhs couldn’t convert on the put backs. One thing Gilas has to adjust to however, is the way the international referees call the game, as their bigs – Almazan and Belga – got into foul trouble early, and penalty situation allowed Kazakhstan to make some headway from the line despite shooting just 1/13 from the field in the first. It was a low scoring first quarter, with Gilas held scoreless for the last 4 minutes and Kazakhstan unable to capitalize on the penalty situation, missing multiple charities. The quarter ended 16-9, Philippines. The second quarter started with Kazakhstan giving up their 7th turnover, which would be a recurring theme throughout the game thanks to Gilas’ defensive pressure. With 6 steals through the first 15 minutes of the game, Gilas prevented their opponents from getting any rhythm offensively, despite Rustam Yergali coming out more aggressive on the offensive end.  James Yap came off the bench and poured in 7 points in the first half, hitting 1 of Gilas’ 6 first half triples. They were 6/19 from deep while holding Kazakhstan, who is known for their outside shooting, to 1/12 at the half. Defense was once again the key in the 2nd quarter, as Gilas allowed just 11 Kazakhstan points, with themselves scoring 25. They forced 15 turnovers with 11 steals total in the first half, scoring 18 turnover points as a result; while they themselves committed just 5 turnovers, yielding 0 turnover points for the Kazakhs. The only downside was they gave up 18 freethrows to Kazakhstan, who luckily only converted on 11 of them. The half ended with the Philippines holding a commanding 21-pt lead, 41-20. Stanley Pringle was impressive to say the least, running the offense and controlling the pace of the game, living up to the all the accolades thrown his way prior to the Asiad. Kazakhstan came out of the halftime huddle with a lot more urgency, employing full court pressure all throughout the 3rd quarter, and outscoring Gilas 9-5 in the first 2 1/2 minutes. They also continued to hold the rebounding edge, especially on the offensive glass. While the Philippines continued to pressure defensively, doubling the ballscreens, Kazakhstan was able to adjust, hitting the rolling big man on multiple occasions for easy undergoal baskets. It was here that Fil-German Standhardinger went to work, getting offensive rebounds and scoring on back-to-back baskets midway through the 3rd, despite picking up his fourth personal with still 4 minutes left in the quarter. This turned out to be Kazakhstan’s best quarter, and the only one where the breached the 20-pt mark, outscoring Gilas 23-20. Whether it was the adrenaline rush with the arrival of Jordan Clarkson in the venue or an earful from Coach Yeng at the end of the third, Gilas started out much better in the fourth, with Pringle once again leading the charge. He hit back-to-back baskets to get to his game high 18pts to start the fourth period; while Almazan – who had multiple skirmishes throughout the game – also hit back-to-back baskets. By the time Paul Lee hit his 3rd consecutive triple midway through the fourth – his only field goals of the game – the game had been blown wide open on a Gilas 20-9 fourth quarter run, 81-52. At that point everyone started getting into the scoring picture while they kept the defensive intensity and held Kazakhstan to just 16 points in the fourth for an emphatic 96-59 opening day win. It was an impressive start to the tournament for Gilas, despite the absence of Kazakhstan’s best player due to injury, and more so with all that had happened prior to arriving in Indonesia. They now have four days to prepare for a key matchup with powerhouse China. With Clarkson, they get not just another elite athlete on the perimeter, but a legitimate NBA talent in his prime. It will take a lot more than that however, as the game against Kazakhstan showed. There will be no room for error against the huge and athletic Chinese frontline, and their younger guards. Defensively they’ll have to communicate as well, if not better; and our bigs will have to work extra hard to box out their Chinese counterparts. We can’t give up too many fouls, as the Chinese are tremendously better free throw shooters, and putting our already thin frontline in foul trouble will further limit their ability to implement Coach Yeng’s defensive gameplan. Offensively, I’m confident we have the talent to compete or even surpass China in the perimeter, and everyone knows Coach Yeng is a master at bringing out the best in his players. If our guards can wreak havoc and break China’s perimeter defense, and we’ll be able to get open looks both inside and out. If our bigs, Belga, Erram, Standhardinger, Almazan, and Taulava can limit China’s 2nd chance opportunities and give us a decent amount of 2nd looks, then we definitely have a shot. This Gilas squad definitely looks promising. I’m sure glad we decided to send one.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2018

Asia, prepare for the Pringle-Lee-Clarkson backcourt

A backcourt of Stanley Pringle, Paul Lee, and Jordan Clarkson? Enough to be the best in Asia, if you ask former Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin. With the entry of the Cleveland Cavaliers guard to the physical and explosive backcourt of Team Philippiines, the current Ateneo Blue Eagles head coach says that Gilas' opponents would have their hands full in guarding them. "So, you know, this is an exceptionally strong back court. I don't think Asia's seen anything like it, to be honest," Baldwin said in an interview at the ABS-CBN Integrated Sports Office. Even before the inclusion of Clarkson in the 12-man lineup in the quadrennial affair, Baldwin already noted the greatness of the backcourt, which includes the Globalport star, which he calls as 'one of the best point guards in Asia.' "Adding Jordan (Clarkson) will help a lot because it puts a guy in the lineup that can do some hard work in and around the basket. He's a good rebounder, he's got good size, strength and experience. But man, what a back court they have now produced." Asia better be ready for an 'exceptionally strong back court' of Stanley Pringle, Paul Lee, and of course, Jordan Clarkson, says coach Tab. "I don't think Asia's seen anything like it, to be honest."'#AsianGames | @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/aIB0qjgrD5 — Philip Martin Matel (@philipptionary) August 15, 2018 In addition to calling Pringle, who was a former top pick in the PBA Rookie Draft, as the best in the continent, Baldwin added that the Lee is not too far behind. The American-Kiwi coach cited the intangibles those two possess since they create opportunities not just for themselves, but for the whole team's offense. "So it gives Yeng [Guiao] the luxury of running a pretty basic offensive action, which with the limited time they have to prepare, you're gonna love that. He's gonna love that." Even though Asia is not necessarily known for tough and physical play, having a backcourt like Pringle, Lee, and Clarkson will work wonders for the Guiao-mentored squad, and have a chance to create mismatches for the Philippine side. With that said, in order to win it all, which is not a far possibility Baldwin says, the loaded backcourt needs to be supported by a 'little bit small and thin' front court, with the tallest player being 45-year old 6 foot 9 Asi Taulava with 6 foot 8 Christian Standhardinger, 6 foot 8 Raymond Almazan and 6 foot 8 Poy Erram not too far behind. "I hope and pray that Christian and Beau and Poy and Asi, that these guys will do a good job on the board for us. If they do that, I think they'll be in good shape."   __   Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Bottom 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 Bottom 10 * * * 21. DETROIT PISTONS 2017-18 RECORD: 39-43; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Dwane Casey; New executive Ed Stefanski; G Bruce Brown (No. 42 pick, 2018 Draft); G Jose Calderon (one year, $2.3 million); C Zaza Pachulia (one year, $2.3 million); G/F Glenn Robinson III (two years, $8.3 million); G Khyri Thomas (No. 38 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former coach Stan Van Gundy; G Dwight Buycks (waived); F/C Eric Moreland (waived); F Anthony Tolliver (signed with Wolves) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: F Blake Griffin. And he will be for some time. The Pistons need him to be his former All-Star self again, able to take slower defender to the basket, able to stretch the floor if he plays the five in small-ball lineups. They need him to be a playmaker, to get Reggie Jackson more looks off the ball and Andre Drummond some high-low lobs at the rim. They need him to sell tickets at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit’s revitalized downtown -- a building that seems to be more for the NHL’s Red Wings than the NBA’s Pistons. And they need Griffin to be an anchor that draws players to the Motor City during the life of his extension. THE SKINNY: Owner Tom Gores agonized over firing Van Gundy, but he finally did so, and was fortunate that Casey was available and willing to step right back into the fray after being cashiered in Toronto. Casey will be quite in his element building a defense around Drummond, but, like Van Gundy, Casey will need Jackson to stay healthy; he’s missed a combined 67 games the last two seasons. Detroit did well for not having a first-round pick to come out of the Draft with two solid guard prospects deep in the second in Thomas and Brown. However, the new coaching staff will have to get more out of the team’s last three first-rounders: Stanley Johnson (2015), Henry Ellenson (2016) and Luke Kennard (2017). 22. BOSTON CELTICS 2017-18 RECORD: 55-27; lost in Eastern Conference finals ADDED: G Brad Wanamaker (one year, $838,000); C Robert Williams (No. 27 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Shane Larkin (signed to play in Turkey); F Abdel Nader (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: C Aron Baynes (two years, $10.6 million); F Jabari Bird (two years, $3 million), G Marcus Smart (four years, $52 million) THE KEY MAN: F Gordon Hayward. All indications are he’s well on his way back from that horrific injury he suffered on opening night last season. He can do so many great things in coach Brad Stevens’ system, and if he’s 100 percent by the playoffs, Boston may well be the one team that can match up, player for player, with Golden State in a Finals meeting. (Remember this when people inevitably say I ranked the Celtics 23rd in offseason moves.) THE SKINNY: Boston got its biggest work done after Smart couldn’t loosen up an offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings or Dallas Mavericks, and eventually worked out a deal for less than he sought to return. Smart’s deal puts Boston in the tax for the foreseeable future, but the Celtics knew that was the next step in keeping a Finals-capable core group together. With Kyrie Irving and Hayward expected back on line Stevens can throw so many different lineups out there, all committed to stifling opponent movement with long, switching defenders led by Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Williams was worth an end of the first flier, though he didn’t get off to a great start. If he gets a good wake-up alarm on his phone, he has a chance to be the Celtics’ center of the future. 23. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 2017-18 RECORD: 52-30; lost in Eastern Conference semifinals ADDED: F Wilson Chandler (acquired from Nuggets); F/C Mike Muscala (acquired from Hawks); G Zhaire Smith (No. 16 pick, 2018 Draft); G Landry Shamet (No. 26 pick, 2018 Draft); G Shake Milton (No. 54 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: Former GM Bryan Colangelo (resigned); F Justin Anderson (traded to Hawks); G Marco Belinelli (signed with Spurs); F/C Richaun Holmes (traded to Suns); F Ersan Ilyasova (signed with Bucks); G/F Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: C/F Amir Johnson (one year, $1.5 million); G T.J. McConnell (picked up team option); G J.J. Redick (one year, $12.2 million) THE KEY MAN: G Markelle Fultz. His rookie year laid waste by a combination of injury and the yips -- which the Sixers have finally copted to -- Fultz is reportedly rebuilding his shot successfully under the learned eye of development coach Drew Hansen. If that carries over to the fall, Fultz will get a true opportunity (he had some cameos late in his rookie season) to show a skeptical Philly fan base he was worth the top pick in 2017, and worth Philly trading up to get him. He definitely could fill a need with the 76ers for a second playmaker to go with and occasionally in place of reigning Kia Rookie of the Year winner Ben Simmons. But if Fultz has another setback, physically or otherwise, it will be hard for him to stick much longer in Philly -- not a town known for patient reflection with regard to its sports teams. THE SKINNY: Coach Brett Brown was quite clear when he said the Sixers were hunting for a superstar this summer with the cap space they’d assiduously cleared the last couple of years. But the summer has come and gone and there’s no LeBron, no Kawhi, no trade, at least not yet, for Jimmy Butler or anyone else at that level. Belinelli and Ilyasova both played huge roles for Philly in the playoffs; maybe Fultz (see above) takes on some of that role, and Chandler will help. But this doesn’t feel like a successful offseason for one of the real risers in the East. 24. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 2017-18 RECORD: 49-33; lost in first round ADDED: G Seth Curry (one year, $2.7 million); G Nik Stauskas (one year, $1.6 million); G Anfernee Simons (No. 24 pick, 2018 Draft); G Gary Trent Jr. (No. 37 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G/F Pat Connaughton (signed with Bucks); F/C Ed Davis (signed with Nets); G Shabazz Napier (signed with Nets); C Georgios Papagiannis (waived) RETAINED: C Jusuf Nurkic (four years, $48 million) THE KEY MAN: Assistant coaches David Vanterpool, Nate Tibbets, Dale Osbourne, Jim Moran, John McCullough and Jonathan Yim. With the Blazers mostly landlocked the next two seasons -- they’re currently above the projected luxury tax line both for next season and 2019-20 -- there aren’t likely going to be many significant roster changes for a while. And in the West, especially, standing pat is often falling behind. It will thus fall to Portland’s excellent staff behind coach Terry Stotts to maximize the production of the current group. They can point with some pride to success stories like Will Barton and Allen Crabbe, now in Denver and Brooklyn, respectively, along with Maurice Harkless and Al-Faroqu Aminu. For Portland to take another step up, they’ll have to coach up someone like 2017 first-rounder Zach Collins or this year’s first-rounder, Simons. They must have them exceed expectations to become a third legit star behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. THE SKINNY: Lillard insists the rumblings heard in some quarters that he’s unhappy in Portland aren’t true, and the franchise better hope he’s being honest. The decisions the Blazers made in 2016 continue to lock them in place; if they catch a favorable first-round matchup (a grumbling Rockets team in 2014; an injury-strafed Clippers squad in 2016), they can advance a round. But last year’s 4-0 sweep by the New Orleans Pelicans had to give everyone pause. How does Portland respond mentally? Re-upping Big Nurk in the middle on a very reasonable deal -- $12 million for a starting center was the going rate five years ago, when the Wolves gave Nikola Pekovic a five-year, $60 million contract -- was necessary. But losing Davis, a locker room and fan favorite for superior work ethic, will hurt, even though Collins should sop up a lot of those minutes. 25. ORLANDO MAGIC 2017-18 RECORD: 25-57; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach Steve Clifford; C Mohamed Bamba (No. 6 pick, 2018 Draft); G Isaiah Briscoe (three years, $3.9 million); F Melvin Frazier (No. 35 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jerian Grant (acquired from Bulls); F Justin Jackson (No. 43 pick, 2018 Draft); F Jarrell Martin (acquired from Grizzlies); C Timofey Mozgov (acquired from Hornets) LOST: C Bismack Biyombo (traded to Hornets); G Mario Hezonja (signed with Knicks); C Dakari Johnson (traded to Grizzlies); G Shelvin Mack (waived); G Rodney Purvis (traded to Thunder) RETAINED: F Aaron Gordon (four years, $82 million) THE KEY MAN: G D.J. Augustin. A vet’s vet, he’s played 10 years in the league and started 226 games for eight teams, including 56 over the last two for the Magic. He’ll enter this season as the unquestioned starter at the point with Elfrid Payton in New Orleans and Orlando still looking to solve its long-term search for a point guard. It’s Augustin’s turn. THE SKINNY: At some point, Orlando’s yearly gambles on size and potential will pay off. Bamba could be the goods; he’s got a demeanor and toughness that should keep him together while he learns the craft at the pro level. But -- again -- it will take some time for Bamba, like 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Isaac, and Gordon, in whom Orlando invested a sizeable sum in July, to flourish. And Magic fans rightly can ask exactly how long they’re to remain patient. Clifford is supposed to improve the defense, but so was Frank Vogel … and so was Scott Skiles … and so was Jacque Vaughn. 26. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS 2017-18 RECORD: 48-34; lost in Western Conference semifinals ADDED: G Tony Carr (No. 51 pick, 2018 Draft); G Elfrid Payton (one year, $3 million); F Julius Randle (two years, $17 million) LOST: C DeMarcus Cousins (signed with Warriors); G Rajon Rondo (signed with Lakers) RETAINED: G Ian Clark (one year, $1.7 million); F Nikola Mirotic (picked up player option) THE KEY MAN: Owner Gayle Benson. Mrs. Benson took control of the team after the death of her husband, Tom, last March. She displayed great grace in the days and weeks after Tom Benson’s death, making it clear at the time she had no interest in selling the team and would continue to make outlays to keep the team competitive. The Pels didn’t blink last summer giving Jrue Holiday $126 million, and that will have to remain the case going forward if New Orleans is to repeat its surprising run to the Western Conference semifinals last spring. THE SKINNY: Can’t lose your starting point guard and your starting All-Star center in one offseason -- no matter what the circumstances -- and come out of it with high offseason marks. And especially when Rondo seemed like the perfect fit for the team. Mirotic mentioned during the Warriors series how good Rondo was at picking him up and connecting him quickly with the team after he was traded to New Orleans from Chicago. And, yes, coach Alvin Gentry mentioned he may have exchanged cusses with Rondo every now and again, too. Life in RondoWorld. The path forward is narrower, but not impassible; Randle can be tantalizing at times, maddening at others, but he could plug-and-play at the four, and he can take some of the playmaking burden off of Holiday. But big minutes on the ball for Holiday again is not what New Orleans had in mind. Payton is going to have to perform immediately. And losing “Boogie” Cousins is a big minus. It’s not what the Pelicans gave up to get him. It’s the fit and flow he had with Anthony Davis before the injury, and what the promise of a return this season could have meant toward carrying the momentum of last year forward. 27. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES 2017-18 RECORD: 47-35; lost in first round ADDED: F Anthony Tolliver (one year, $5.7 million); G Josh Okogie (No. 20 pick, 2018 Draft); F Keita Bates-Diop (No. 48 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: C Cole Aldrich (waived); F Nemanja Bjelica (signed with Kings) RETAINED: G Derrick Rose (one year, $1.5 million) THE KEY MAN: Vikings QB Kirk Cousins. He signed for big, big money by NFL standards (three years, $84 million), and the Vikings have Super Bowl aspirations. So all the light will be on the Vikes most of the fall and winter in Minneapolis, keeping it off of the still-young Wolves, who won’t be able to sneak up on anyone after breaking their long postseason drought. THE SKINNY: The Wolves should be positioned to build on their playoff run, especially if Butler can get through a full season healthy and Karl-Anthony Towns adds consistency to his prodigious talents. But they didn’t do much in the offseason, and the team that they beat out on the last day of the regular season, Denver, looks to be much improved. Tolliver should help the Wolves’ depth; they essentially traded him for Bjelica, and he shot slightly better on 3-poiners last season than Belly. Plus, they don’t come better as a guy than Tolliver and he can help Minnesota in the locker room. The issue of Butler’s contract isn’t going away; there will be a reckoning at some point, and he’ll have a lot more options next summer than free agents had this summer. Until then, coach Tom Thibodeau has pretty much the same team that he has to cajole better defense out of next season (22nd in Defensive Rating; 17th in points allowed). 28. CHARLOTTE HORNETS 2017-18 RECORD: 36-46; missed playoffs ADDED: Coach James Borrego; GM Mitch Kupchack; C Bismack Biyombo (acquired from Magic); F Miles Bridges (No. 12 pick, 2018 Draft); G Devonte' Graham (No. 34 pick, 2018 Draft); F Arnoldas Kulboka (No. 55 pick, 2018 Draft); ; G Tony Parker (two years, $10.2 milliion) LOST: G Michael Carter-Williams (signed with Rockets); C Dwight Howard (traded to Nets); C Timofey Mozgov (traded to Magic); G Julyan Stone (traded to Bulls) RETAINED: None THE KEY MAN: C Cody Zeller. It’s a guess -- Borrego could opt for Frank Kaminsky III -- but Zeller would seem to be the replacement at center for Dwight Howard, who wound up in Washington after the Hornets traded him to the Nets. Zeller started 58 games two years ago and was very good in screen and rolls with Kemba Walker. Zeller only played in 33 games last season because of a left knee injury; if he returns to form, the Hornets could pick up offensively and actually have a little more diversity at that end than last season. THE SKINNY: Team owner Michael Jordan cleaned house after a disappointing 2017-18, bringing another Tar Heel back home in the veteran Kupchak. Kupchak dispatched Howard and then got Mozgov’s guaranteed 2019-20 season off his books to take back Biyombo, who’d left Toronto two years ago for $72 million from the Magic and who’s got a player option for 2019-20. Well before then, the Hornets are going to have to decide what to do with Walker, who’ll be one of the top free agents available next summer if Charlotte can’t get him re-signed or extended. The Hornets were 8.8 points worse when the two-time All-Star was off the court rather than on. Nicolas Batum has to make a return to the all-around talent that enticed Charlotte to trade for him and give him a $120 million extension; he averaged just 11.6 points per game last year, his lowest in three years. Howard’s presence in the paint may have clogged things up some, but that’s no longer the case. 29. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS 2017-18 RECORD: 50-32; lost in The Finals ADDED: F Channing Frye (one year, $2.3 million); G Collin Sexton (No. 8 pick, 2018 Draft) LOST: G Jose Calderon (signed with Pistons); F Jeff Green (signed with Wizards); F LeBron James (signed with Lakers); C Kendrick Perkins (waived); F Okaro White (waived) RETAINED: F Kevin Love (contract extension) THE KEY MAN: GM Koby Altman. Altman has a blank slate now after trying to steer a championship-contending ship that had been stripped of a few propeller blades in the last 13 months. With James gone, as well as former GM David Griffin, the 35-year-old Altman has team owner Dan Gilbert’s charge to rebuild the Cavs without taking them down to the studs (as the Cavs did after James first departure in 2010). Altman’s next task after working out Kevin Love’s $130 million extension is clearing the roster of all the veterans brought in the last three years mainly because of their ability to play off of James. THE SKINNY: There weren’t any widespread jersey burnings this time in the Land. James left for L.A. with relative good will from his hometown, having delivered the championship it had waited 52 years for in 2016. Truly, the Cavs’ rebuild started the minute Kyrie Irving demanded a trade; last season seemed more rearguard action than an attack at another title. Extending Love through 2023 with no outs -- keeping him locked with rookie Sexton through the latter’s last controllable season before hitting unrestricted free agency -- gives Cleveland a base upon which to build. Cap room will follow in 2019, but next season will be difficult; Sexton has a lot of toughness and potential, but rookie point guards tend to get their lunch handed to them. 30. MIAMI HEAT 2017-18 RECORD: 44-38; lost in first round ADDED: None LOST: None RETAINED: G Wayne Ellington (one year, $6.2 million); F/G Derrick Jones Jr. THE KEY MAN: G Josh Richardson. Like many of his teammates, Richardson got an extension a couple of years ago -- four years and $42 million. Last season, he was (again) a solid two-way player for Miami -- almost 13 points per game, 84.5 percent from the line, 37.8 percent on 3-pointers. But if the Heat is going to shake out of the middle lane in which it currently seems stuck, Richardson will have to expand. Miami’s current roster makes it complicated; Pat Riley thinks Richardson’s probably more of a two, but he plays mostly three for coach Erik Spoelstra because Miami’s best lineups were small ball ones. Another offseason at P3 in California will help Richardson continue his development. THE SKINNY: No, Heat people: I don’t hate your team. But when you have no Draft picks, and you have no cap space, and thus you literally could do nothing in the offseason, and basically did nothing in the offseason, and your biggest, most newsy event was whether your 36-year-old future Hall of Fame guard will come back for one more season or play over in China … well, what am I supposed to do with that information? Rank you first? The question is, how much better is your team now than it was at the end of last season? It’s essentially the same team; other than the likes of Richardson (see above) or Justise Winslow, it’s not like there’s a great step up expected from Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic, is there? The Heat is not any better than last season. It isn’t any worse. It just … is. So, 30. 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

PBA: Gin Kings seal Finals date against Beermen

Barangay Ginebra punched a ticket to the Finals but not after a tough Game 4 bout against the gritty Rain or Shine, 96-94, Monday to seal the best-of-five 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals, 3-1, at the Big Dome. LA Tenorio played clutch in crunch time hitting a go-ahead triple after Ginebra fell behind by two in the last two and a half minutes before sinking a runner for a 95-90 lead by the Gin Kings with 37.9 seconds remaining. Reggie Johnson cut the Elasto Painters’ deficit to three with a quick bucket, the Gin Kings came out empty in their possession before Tiu chopped two more points of Ginebra’s lead with two foul shots in the last 7.2 ticks. Jeff Chan split his charities with 2.4 seconds left to give the Gin Kings a two-point lead before tapping the inbound pass of RoS to cut a second in the game clock. Scottie Thompson sealed the win with a steal off the inbound.            Ginebra advanced to its 25th Finals appearance overall and first Commissioner’s Cup championship stint since bowing down to Alaska in a sweep in the 2013 edition.    The Gin Kings will take on its sister-team and defending champion San Miguel Beer in the best-of-seven Finals series on Friday at the Big Dome. Ginebra and SMB last met in the championship round during the 2017 Philippine Cup ruled by the Beermen. “What a battle, what an incredible battle. I'm so focused on the score, we just seemed to lead the whole way but we couldn't separate ourselves from them,” said Gin Kings coach Tim Cone. “They are a team with such great poise, and they're just really tough down the stretch.” “We had some fortunate bounces that went our way, and somehow we pulled it out,” he added. “I'm just happy not to play a Game 5 against this team, they're too good.” Greg Slaughter and Joe Devance finished with 19 points each while Tenorio had 16 markers and six assists for Ginebra. Justin Brownlee flireted with a triple-double with 12 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists while Thompson delivered the intangibles on top of six points, 10 boards and three steals.      The Gin Kings buckled down to work right from the get-go and maintained their aggressiveness throughout the match as Ginebra built its biggest lead in the first half, 40-26, with Jeff Chan and LA Tenorio punishing the Elasto Painters. But the RoS mounted a 14-7 closing rally to enter the half trailing by only seven points, 47-40. Johnson posted 22 points, 16 rebounds and six assists while Raymond Almazan got 16 for the Elasto Painters. Mark Borboran and Jay Washington added 11 markers each while James Yap got 10.     The Scores: Ginebra (96): Slaughter 19, Devance 19, Tenorio 16, Brownlee 12, Chan 9, Thompson 6, J. Aguilar 6, Caguioa 4, Mercado 3, Ferrer 2, R. Aguilar 0, Mariano 0  Rain or Shine (94): Johnson 22, Almazan 13, Borboran 11, Washington 11, Yap 10, Norwood 8, Tiu 7, Ponferada 4, Nambatac 3, Daquioag 3, Belga 2, Ahanmisi 0 Quarter scores: 25-20, 47-40, 73-67, 96-94     ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 23rd, 2018

Jackson scores 29, outshines Young in Summer League debut

By Steve Reed, Associated Press Jaren Jackson Jr.’s NBA Summer League debut couldn’t have gone much better. The same can’t be said for Trae Young. Jackson, the fourth pick in the NBA draft, outshined No. 5 overall pick Young in their first NBA action. The 6'10" Jackson had 29 points and shot 8-of-13 from three-point range to help Memphis Grizzlies defeat Young’s Atlanta Hawks 103-88 on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) in Salt Lake City. Jackson came out hot, hitting his first two three-pointers and was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first half, including a buzzer-beater from half court to give his team a 47-41 lead at the break. The 18-year-old Jackson showed the shooting stroke that made him a 40 percent three-point shooter in college and scored 12 straight points during one stretch in the fourth quarter to help the Grizzlies pull away. “I definitely felt hot at different spots during the game. If kind of felt surreal a little bit,” said Jackson, the team’s highest drafted player since Hasheem Thabeet. While Jackson was doing just about everything right, Young was having a miserable debut. Young, who averaged 27.4 points per game last season for Oklahoma, missed all nine shot attempts in the first half, including six three-pointers. The Big 12 Freshman of the Year struggled to recover after air-balling his first two shots and finished with 16 points on 4-of-20 shooting. He was 1-of-11 from beyond the arc. GRIZZLIES 103, HAWKS 88 Kobi Simmons had 19 of his 21 points in the first half and finished 8-of-13 from the field for Grizzlies, while first-round pick Jevon Carter chipped in with 10 points and five rebounds. Tyler Dorsey led the Hawks with 18 points and seven rebounds. Omari Spellman, one of Atlanta’s three first-round draft picks, had a solid showing with 11 points and six rebounds. Their other first-round pick Kevin Huerter did not play because of a wrist injury. JAZZ 92, SPURS 76 Georges Niang scored 17 points, while first-round draft pick Grayson Allen had 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Jazz defeated the Spurs 92-76 in Utah. Tony Bradley had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The Spurs were led by Derrick White’s 22 points and seven rebounds. San Antonio’s top draft pick Lonnie Walker struggled in his debut, limited to seven points while shooting 3-of-16 from the field. WARRIORS 79, HEAT 68 Kendrick Nunn had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the world champions Warriors over the Heat 79-68 in a game played in Sacramento. The Warriors’ first-round draft pick Jacob Evans did not play because of a bruised toe he suffered in practice last week. Derrick Jones Jr. had a big game for Miami with 24 points and 11 rebounds, including a monster two-hand dunk after slashing down the lane. Bam Adebayo added 14 points and 14 rebounds. KINGS 98, LAKERS 93 Marvin Bagley III showed why he was the No. 2 pick, turning in a strong debut with 18 points and six rebounds on the Kings' home floor. Harry Giles made a successful debut after being held out of last season with knee injuries. Giles, the 20th overall pick in 2017, was 6 of 10 from the field and finished with 13 points and three rebounds. De'Aaron Fox had 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Frank Mason had 16 points, including a key three-pointer late to help seal the win. Josh Hart had 23 points for the Lakers before being ejected from the game with 1:04 left and his team trailing by four after picking up his second technical for disputing a call. Rookie Moritz Wagner had 23 points and seven rebounds......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 3rd, 2018

Tigers draft Auburn right-hander Casey Mize with No. 1 pick

By Dennis Waszak Jr., Associated Press SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Casey Mize went from undrafted three years ago all the way to No. 1. The Detroit Tigers selected the Auburn right-hander with the top pick in the Major League Baseball draft Monday night. The announcement at MLB Network studios marked the second time the Tigers led off the draft, and first since they took Rice pitcher Matt Anderson in 1997. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Mize had long been linked to the Tigers, and he pitched his way this season to the top spot on Detroit's list. Mize went undrafted out of high school three years ago, but developed into a potential big league ace while in college. "It means a ton," Mize said in an interview on MLB Network's broadcast. "I'm very thankful that the Tigers thought of me enough to take me with their first selection. I can't describe this feeling right now." Mize is 10-5 with a 2.95 ERA and 151 strikeouts with just 12 walks in 109 2/3 innings while helping the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament super regionals. Mize has solid command of four pitches, including a fastball that hovers in the mid-90s (mph). His outstanding command and wicked split changeup whip up lots of swings and misses. Mize became only the seventh player in draft history to go from undrafted in high school to the No. 1 pick since Stephen Strasburg went to the Washington Nationals in 2009. "All of us in the Tigers organization are thrilled to select Casey with this pick, and are confident that he will become a pillar in our player development system that's going to bring winning baseball to Detroit for seasons to come," Detroit general manager Al Avila said. "Being a college pitcher — especially coming from the Southeastern Conference — we know Casey has seen elite competition before." With the second selection, San Francisco took slugging Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year. Perhaps Buster Posey's replacement someday, Bart follows in the footsteps of big league backstops Matt Wieters and Jason Varitek, who also came out of Georgia Tech. Bart led the conference in hitting with a .359 average and topped the Yellow Jackets with a .632 slugging percentage, 79 hits, 16 home runs, 55 runs and a .471 on-base percentage. He's also one of the country's best defensive catchers, with a .992 fielding percentage on the season while throwing out 12 of 33 would-be base stealers. Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm was the first of six players attending the draft to be selected, going third overall to Philadelphia. He had some trouble buttoning his white Phillies jersey before heading to the podium to shake hands with Commissioner Rob Manfred. "The holes are pretty tight. It was pretty tough," said the 6-foot-5 Bohm, later adding that his biggest strength is probably his maturity at the plate. "I'm just ready to go play ball." Bohm is one of the top offensive players in the draft, hitting .339 with 16 homers — the most by a Wichita State player since 2004 — and 55 RBIs with 14 doubles and 39 walks. He also showed a knack for hitting in the clutch by setting a school record with three grand slams this year, and led the team with 10 go-ahead RBIs. "Alec Bohm is a tremendous offensive player," Phillies director of amateur scouting Johnny Almaraz said in a statement. "He is a middle of the order bat, a big power-hitting third baseman who could be a .300 hitter and drive in 100-plus runs." Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal went fourth to the Chicago White Sox. Despite his short stature — 5-foot-7, 160 pounds — Madrigal is considered by many to be the best overall hitter in the draft. He rebounded nicely for the Beavers after missing half the season with a broken left wrist. He was hitting .406 with three homers, 32 RBIs and just five strikeouts in 133 at-bats while helping lead Oregon State to the NCAA Tournament super regionals. Rounding out the top five was Cincinnati, which took Florida third baseman Jonathan India. The Southeastern Conference player of the year has been an offensive force for the defending College World Series champions. He's the 12th player in school history to post 20 or more homers, 100 or more RBIs and 30 or more stolen bases in his career......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

PBA: Phoenix holds on against Blackwater despite losing 22-point lead

Phoenix's first win of the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup didn't come easy. The Fuel Masters had to fight off a charging Blackwater Elite to score a 107-102 victory Wednesday at the Big Dome, starting off the mid-season joust on the winning column. Phoenix lost a 22-point lead and was tied with Blackwater inside the lost two minutes. Fortunately, import James White came up clutch for the Fuel Masters as his follow-up, two-hand slam gave Phoenix a 100-98 lead with 1:41 to go. Willie Wilson then completed an and-one play 20 seconds later to give the Fuel Masters the room they needed to hold on. "Very hard win yun guys but we'll take it," head coach Louie Alas said. "Good character ano kasi we're playing Saturday against TNT," he added. Phoenix didn't waste any time establishig control against the Elite, opening up a 31-17 lead in the first period. The Fuel Masters led by as many as 22 points, 42-20, in the first half before the Elite started to come back. Blackwater had several chances of taking over but never did take the lead as White was all over the floor hitting timely baskets. The 24-year-old import, in his thrid tour of duty in the PBA, fired 31 points on top of 14 rebounds, five assists, and five blocks. Backing him up was Matthew Wright with 19 points and eight assists while Justin Chua finished with a career-high 17 points. For the Elite, who dropped to 0-2, it was Roi Sumang that led the way with 20 markers. Import Jarrid Famous and Mac Belo scored 19 each.   The Scores:  Phoenix (107) -- White 31, Wright 19, Chua 17, Chan 11, Wilson 10, Jazul 9, Revilla 3, Mendoza 3, Perkins 2, Kramer 2, Eriobu 0 Blackwater (102) -- Sumang 20, Famous 19, Belo 19, Maliksi 11, DiGregorio 11, Palma 7, Erram 6, Jose 6, Pinto 3, Marcelo 0, Sena 0 Quarter Scores: 31-17, 56-39, 75-69, 107-102     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 25th, 2018

2018 MLB preview: NL East

By The Associated Press Capsules of National League East teams, listed in order of finish last year: ___ Washington Nationals 2017: 97-65, first place, lost to Cubs in NLDS. Manager: Dave Martinez (first season). He's Here: 1B-OF Matt Adams, C Miguel Montero, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Joaquin Benoit, INF Matt Reynolds. He's Outta Here: Manager Dusty Baker, LF Jayson Werth, 1B-LF Adam Lind, C Jose Lobaton, RHP Matt Albers. Projected Lineup: SS Trea Turner (.284, 11 HRs, 45 RBIs, 46 SBs in 98 games), LF Adam Eaton (.297, 2, 13 in 23 games), RF Bryce Harper (.319, 29, 87), 3B Anthony Rendon (.301, 25, 100, 41 2Bs), 2B Daniel Murphy (.322, 23, 93, 43 2Bs, expected to begin season on DL recovering from knee surgery), 1B Ryan Zimmerman (.303, 36, 108, 33 2Bs), CF Michael A. Taylor (.271, 19, 53), C Matt Wieters (.225, 10, 52). Rotation: RH Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.51 ERA, NL-high 268 Ks, 200 2/3 IP, 3rd Cy Young Award), RH Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52, 204 Ks), LH Gio Gonzalez (15-9, 2.96, 79 walks), RH Tanner Roark (13-11, 4.67), RH A.J. Cole (3-5, 3.81 in 11 appearances) or RH Jeremy Hellickson (8-11, 5.43 with Phillies and Orioles). Key Relievers: LH Sean Doolittle (2-0, 2.81, 24/26 saves with Athletics and Nationals), RH Ryan Madson (5-4, 1.83, 2 saves with Athletics and Nationals), RH Brandon Kintzler (4-3, 3.03, 29/35 saves with Twins and Nationals), LH Sammy Solis (1-0, 5.88, 1 save), RH Shawn Kelley (3-2, 7.27, 4 saves), RH Joaquin Benoit (1-6, 4.65, 2 saves with Phillies and Pirates). Hot Spots: Fifth Starter and Catcher. The Nationals have as good a 1-2 combination at the front of their rotation as anyone in the big leagues, with Scherzer and Strasburg. Their 3-4 slots aren't too shabby, either, with Gonzalez and Roark. But the big question is, who will be the fifth starter — the inexperienced Cole or late free-agent pickup Hellickson? The only other spot with some real doubts is catcher, where Wieters is coming off a terrible year at the plate. Outlook: This might very well be the end of an era at Nationals Park, with Harper eligible to leave as a free agent after the season and GM Mike Rizzo's contract set to expire, too. The team has won four NL East titles in the past six years but has zero playoff series wins to show for it. That's why yet another manager (Baker) lost his job, and yet another rookie skipper has been brought in (will Martinez have more success than Matt Williams?). Rizzo has made no secret of the need to start making postseason inroads — a World Series is the stated goal, and that's certainly not an outrageous aim, given all the talent he's assembled. The lineup remains almost exactly the same, although Werth is gone after playing out his seven-year contract, and the rotation and bullpen are also nearly identical to the way they looked at the end of 2017. ___ Miami Marlins 2017: 77-85, second place. Manager: Don Mattingly (third season). He's Here: INF Starlin Castro, CF Lewis Brinson, OF Cameron Maybin, 1B Garrett Cooper, RHP Jacob Turner, OF-1B Scott Van Slyke, RHP Jumbo Diaz, RHP Sandy Alcantara. He's Outta Here: RF Giancarlo Stanton, LF Marcell Ozuna, CF Christian Yelich, 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Tom Koehler, OF Ichiro Suzuki, RHP Dustin McGowan, C A.J. Ellis. Projected Lineup: RF Cameron Maybin (.228, 10 HRs, 35 RBIs, 33 SBs with Angels and Astros), CF Lewis Brinson (.106, 2, 3 in 21 games with Brewers), 2B Starlin Castro (.300, 16, 63 in 112 games with Yankees), 1B Justin Bour (.289, 25, 83, .902 OPS in 108 games), C J.T. Realmuto (.278, 17, 65), LF Derek Dietrich (.249, 13, 53), 3B Brian Anderson (.262, 0, 8 in 25 games), SS Miguel Rojas (.290, 1, 26 in 90 games). Rotation: RH Jose Urena (14-7, 3.82 ERA), RH Dan Straily (10-9, 4.26, 170 Ks), RH Odrisamer Despaigne (2-3, 4.01), RH Jacob Turner (2-3, 5.08 with Nationals), LH Justin Nicolino (2-3, 5.06). Key Relievers: RH Brad Ziegler (1-4, 4.79, 10/15 saves), RH Kyle Barraclough (6-2, 3.00, 1 save), RH Drew Steckenrider (1-1, 2.34, 54 Ks in 34 2/3 IP), RH Junichi Tazawa (3-5, 5.69), RH Nick Wittgren (3-1, 4.68). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. Urena had a breakout season in 2017, and Straily tied for the NL lead with 33 starts, but they're the only established starters. The other three spots will likely be a revolving door occupied by a mix of prospects and journeymen, and the results could be ugly. One potential bright spot is the 22-year-old Alcantara, who had a 4.32 ERA in eight games for the Cardinals last year. He'll begin the season in the minors but might join the Marlins before summer. Outlook: New CEO Derek Jeter is accustomed to winning, and that is about to change. He traded away half of last year's starting lineup, including the NL MVP in Stanton, which means the Marlins are rebuilding yet again. Even with an entirely new outfield, the offense could be decent. But Castro and Realmuto are potential trade bait and might be gone before August, and the season will almost surely end Sept. 30, leaving the Marlins out of the playoffs for the 15th year in a row. This season is really all about developing prospects acquired in those offseason trades, and if youngsters such as Brinson and Alcantara perform well, 2018 will be considered a successful start for the Jeter regime. ___ Atlanta Braves 2017: 72-90, third place. Manager: Brian Snitker (third season). He's Here: RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Anibal Sanchez, LHP Scott Kazmir, INF Charlie Culberson, OF Preston Tucker, OF Ronald Acuna, 3B Austin Riley, OF Jeff Decker, 2B Christian Colon, RHP Shane Carle. He's Outta Here: OF Matt Kemp, RHP R.A. Dickey, 3B Adonis Garcia, 1B Matt Adams, INF Jace Peterson, RHP Jason Motte. Projected Lineup: CF Ender Inciarte (.304, 11 HRs, 57 RBIs, 22 SBs, Gold Glove), 2B Ozzie Albies (.286, 6, 28, 8 SBs in 57 games), 1B Freddie Freeman (.307, 28, 71 in 117 games), C Tyler Flowers (.281, 12, 49) or Kurt Suzuki (.283, 19, 50), RF Nick Markakis (.275, 8, 76), LF Ronald Acuna (.325, 21, 82, 44 SBs with 3 minor league teams) or Lane Adams (.275, 5, 20, 10 SBs), 3B Johan Camargo (.273, 14, 65) or Charlie Culberson (.154, 0, 1 in 15 games with Dodgers), SS Dansby Swanson (.232, 6, 51). Rotation: RH Julio Teheran (11-13, 4.49 ERA), RH Mike Foltynewicz (10-13, 4.79), RH Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 3.98 in 19 games with Dodgers), LH Sean Newcomb (4-9, 4.32 in 19 games), RH Anibal Sanchez (3-7, 6.41 with Tigers), LH Scott Kazmir (10-6, 4.56 with Dodgers in 2016) or LH Luiz Gohara (1-3, 4.91 in 5 games). Key Relievers: RH Arodys Vizcaino (5-3, 2.83, 14/17 saves, 64 Ks in 57 1/3 IP), RH Jose Ramirez (2-3, 3.19), LH A.J. Minter (0-1, 3.00, 26 Ks, 15 IP in 16 games), RH Dan Winkler (1-1, 2.51 in 16 games), LH Sam Freeman (2-0, 2.55 in 58 games). Hot Spot: Third Base. Camargo was the probable starter before an oblique injury left his status uncertain for the beginning of the season. Culberson, expected to play a utility role, or Rio Ruiz would be next in line. Austin Riley, a 2015 first-round pick who has not yet reached Triple-A, might be a year or two away. Camargo, who shared time with Swanson at shortstop last year, could be more than a stopgap if he can provide some of the power the Braves need at a corner infield spot. Outlook: Teheran, Foltynewicz and Newcomb have provided reasons this spring to believe they can improve their 2017 numbers. The progress of Newcomb, one of the team's many touted pitching prospects, became especially important when Gohara sustained a groin injury that will keep him from being ready for the start of the season. For a change, the spring spotlight was on a position player; Acuna was hitting .432 with four homers, 11 RBIs and four steals when he was sent to minor league camp. The move involving the 20-year-old top prospect was expected. It was made to maintain an extra full season of contractual control down the road, but Acuna likely will be recalled in April and immediately start in left field. He could provide a needed power bat to help Freeman in the middle of the lineup. The Braves likely are still at least a year away from contending in the NL East, but improved starting pitching could push them closer to .500 this year. ___ New York Mets 2017: 70-92, fourth place. Manager: Mickey Callaway (first season). He's Here: 3B Todd Frazier, RF Jay Bruce, LHP Jason Vargas, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RHP Anthony Swarzak, LHP Matt Purke, C Jose Lobaton. He's Outta Here: Manager Terry Collins, LHP Josh Smoker, LHP Josh Edgin, RHP Chasen Bradford, OF Norichika Aoki, RHP Erik Goeddel, RHP Tyler Pill, LHP Tommy Milone, OF Travis Taijeron. Projected Lineup: 2B Asdrubal Cabrera (.280, 14 HRs, 59 RBIs, .351 OBP), LF Yoenis Cespedes (.292, 17, 42, .892 OPS in 81 games), RF Jay Bruce (.252, 36, 101 with Mets and Indians), 3B Todd Frazier (.213, 27, 76, .344 OBP with White Sox and Yankees), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.242, 3, 30, .642 OPS in 71 games with Dodgers) or Dominic Smith (.198, 9, 26, .658 OPS, 49 Ks in 49 games), C Travis d'Arnaud (.244, 16, 57, .293 OBP in 112 games) or Kevin Plawecki (.260, 3, 13, .364 OBP in 37 games), CF Brandon Nimmo (.260, 5, 21, .379 OBP, .797 OPS in 69 games) or Juan Lagares (.250, 3, 15, .296 OBP, .661 OPS in 94 games), SS Amed Rosario (.248, 4, 10, 49 Ks, 3 BBs, .271 OBP, .665 OPS in 46 games). Rotation: RH Noah Syndergaard (1-2, 2.97 ERA, limited to 30 1/3 innings by lat injury), RH Jacob deGrom (15-10, 3.53, 239 Ks, 201 1/3 IP), LH Jason Vargas (18-11, 4.16, 179 2/3 IP in 32 starts with Royals), RH Matt Harvey (5-7, 6.70, 110 hits, 21 HRs, 67 Ks, 47 BBs in 92 2/3 IP), LH Steven Matz (2-7, 6.08 in 13 starts), RH Zack Wheeler (3-7, 5.21, 97 hits, 81 Ks, 40 BBs, 86 1/3 IP in 17 starts). Key Relievers: RH Jeurys Familia (2-2, 4.38, 6 saves in 26 games), RH AJ Ramos (2-4, 3.99, 27 saves with Marlins and Mets), RH Anthony Swarzak (6-4, 2.33, 91 Ks, 22 BBs, 58 hits, 77 1/3 IP in 70 games with White Sox and Brewers), LH Jerry Blevins (6-0, 2.94, 1 save, 69 Ks, 24 BBs, 49 IP in 75 games), RH Paul Sewald (0-6, 4.55, 69 Ks, 21 BBs, 65 1/3 IP in 57 games), RH Seth Lugo (7-5, 4.71, 101 1/3 IP in 19 games, 18 starts) or RH Robert Gsellman (8-7, 5.19, 119 2/3 IP in 25 games, 22 starts). Hot Spot: First Base. The 35-year-old Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star weakened by a bad back last season, was signed at a bargain price to provide competition and short-term insurance for Smith, a top prospect who struggled in his initial taste of the majors last year. Smith, 22, slimmed down in the offseason but was disciplined early in camp for arriving late one day. Then he strained a quad, keeping him out of the lineup for most of spring training, so it seems unlikely he'll make the opening day roster. Gonzalez, meanwhile, batted .182 with one extra-base hit and 11 strikeouts in his first 44 Grapefruit League at-bats before connecting for a home run. Wilmer Flores can play first against left-handers, but vs. righties the Mets either need Gonzalez to find the Fountain of Youth or Smith to live up to his first-round hype. Outlook: Callaway had great success with Cleveland's arms and the injury-plagued Mets are counting on his methods, along with new pitching coach Dave Eiland, to keep their talented but fragile rotation intact. New York also overhauled its medical department, hoping to keep star players on the field. Syndergaard and deGrom make for an imposing 1-2 punch. So if Harvey, Matz and Wheeler — even one or two of them — can finally stay healthy and approach their initial big league form, the pitching staff could be terrific again after unraveling last year with a 5.01 ERA that ranked 28th in the majors. Vargas was signed to eat innings but will miss some time at the beginning of the season following surgery for a broken right (non-pitching) hand. All-Star outfielder Michael Conforto (27 HRs, .384 OBP, .939 OPS) is targeting a May 1 return from surgery for a dislocated left shoulder. His status is critical to a lineup that lacks speed and a natural leadoff hitter. Nimmo made strides last season and is a potential candidate for that role while platooning early with Lagares to fill Conforto's spot in center field. After the Mets spent nearly $90 million to plug holes in free agency, it still might be a stretch to envision them seriously challenging star-studded Washington for NL East supremacy. But with better health in a soft division, they could certainly rejoin the wild-card hunt. ___ Philadelphia Phillies 2017: 66-96, fifth place. Manager: Gabe Kapler (first season). He's Here: RHP Jake Arrieta, 1B Carlos Santana, RHP Pat Neshek, RHP Tommy Hunter. He's Outta Here: Manager Pete Mackanin, SS Freddy Galvis, INF Andres Blanco, OF Daniel Nava, OF Hyun Soo Kim, RHP Clay Buchholz, 1B Tommy Joseph. Projected Lineup: 2B Cesar Hernandez (.294, 9 HRs, 34 RBIs, 15 SBs), 1B Carlos Santana (.259, 23, 79 with Indians), RF Nick Williams (.288, 12, 55) or Aaron Altherr (.272, 19, 65), LF Rhys Hoskins (.259, 18, 48), CF Odubel Herrera (.281, 14, 56), C Jorge Alfaro (.318, 5, 14), 3B Maikel Franco (.230, 24, 76), SS J.P. Crawford (.214, 0, 6 in 23 games). Rotation: RH Aaron Nola (12-11, 3.54 ERA, 184 Ks), RH Jake Arrieta (14-10, 3.53, 163 Ks with Cubs), RH Vince Velasquez (2-7, 5.13 in 15 starts), RH Nick Pivetta (8-10, 6.02), RH Zach Eflin (1-5, 6.16) or RH Ben Lively (4-7, 4.26). Key Relievers: RH Hector Neris (4-5, 3.01, 26/29 saves), RH Pat Neshek (5-3, 1.59, 1 save with Phillies and Rockies), RH Tommy Hunter (3-5, 2.61, 1 save with Rays), LH Adam Morgan (3-3, 4.12), RH Luis Garcia (2-5, 2.65). Hot Spot: Starting Rotation. There are a lot of question marks beyond Nola, who emerged as a reliable starter in 2017. Arrieta, the former Cubs ace, had a rough first half in 2017 but finished strong. Yet he was a free agent until mid-March. He's getting paid big bucks to be a No. 1 guy again. Jerad Eickhoff will begin the season on the DL and Velasquez is coming off a disappointing year after showing promise in 2016. Pivetta has upside but needs more maturity. The team has plenty of depth at Triple-A, including several pitchers who have big league experience, in case any of the starters falter or get hurt. Outlook: The decision to sign Arrieta signals the rebuild is over. The Phillies added Santana, Neshek and Hunter to a talented young roster in hopes of being competitive. A month into spring training, they added Arrieta because management thinks it's time to contend now. The lineup has the potential to be dynamic if the young hitters continue to emerge and Santana does what he did in Cleveland. The bullpen should be formidable with Hunter-Neshek-Neris at the back end. If Arrieta regains his old form, Nola lives up to his promise and a couple other starters take steps forward, the Phillies can not only end their five-year run of losing seasons but maybe even make a surprise push for a postseason berth......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 29th, 2018

Lone dog: No. 11 Loyola joins list of regulars at Final Four

By Eddie Pells, Associated Press Three teams that need no introduction. One from out of nowhere. Though the 2018 NCAA Tournament produced the biggest upset in the history of the event along with a seemingly endless string of wild finishes and unexpected results, the Final Four will look very much like it has over the last handful of seasons. In one of next Saturday's semifinals, it's a barnburner of a matchup between top-seeded programs with rich histories: Villanova vs. Kansas. In what will quickly become known as the "other" semifinal, it's an upstart vs. another school that knows this road: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 3 Michigan . Remarkable as Loyola's run — and this tournament — have been, this marks the fifth time over the last six seasons that three teams seeded 1 through 4 have been joined by another seeded 7 or higher. The four previous times, the underdog has bowed out in the semifinal. "Why not us?" Ramblers coach Porter Moser said, repeating his team's oft-used mantra this month — one he hopes can lead to yet another history making upset. "You have to have high-character guys that believe to truly do that." The teams will have trouble topping the show Kansas and Duke put on Sunday with the last spot in San Antonio up for grabs. The Jayhawks topped the Blue Devils 85-81 in overtime to send Kansas back to the site of its last national title, in 2008. The Kansas-Villanova matchup is sure to re-ignite calls for some form of reseeding heading into the Final Four. The winner between the top seeds will almost certainly be favored in the final. This year's most-notable underdog — outside of Maryland-Baltimore County, which beat Virginia in the tournament's first week to pull off the first 16 vs. 1 upset — is Loyola-Chicago. Urged on by their 98-year-old nun, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the Ramblers are the fourth 11th seed to make college basketball's final weekend — joining LSU (1986), George Mason (2006) and VCU (2011). A look at some of the history behind these Final Four teams: LOYOLA-CHICAGO: It's not totally accurate to say the Ramblers are from nowhere. This program won the title in 1963 in one of the most significant championship runs in the sport's history — including a game known as the "Game of Change." The Ramblers, with a mostly black roster, defeated an all-white team from Mississippi State, which served as prelude to the better-known title game in which Texas Western and its all-black starting lineup defeated Kentucky. Loyola went on to beat Cincinnati in overtime for the title. After the win Saturday, Les Hunter, a member of the 1963 team, said the Ramblers are capable of bringing home another championship. "I think they're the best right now," Hunter said. "They work so well together. They can play with anybody — anybody — right now." MICHIGAN: All the freshmen dominating today's game should pay homage to the Fab Five — the group of five freshmen, including Jalen Rose and Chris Webber, who made baggy shorts the rage and took the Wolverines to the Final Four in 1992. This year's Wolverines were a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team in early February, after a loss at Northwestern dropped them to 8-5 in the conference. They haven't lost since, and their 13-game winning streak is second in the country only to the Ramblers, who have won 14 straight. "We don't get caught up in the win streak that we're on," guard Charles Matthews said. "We didn't even know we were on a 13-game win streak." VILLANOVA: Juniors Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges were there for Villanova's national title two years ago. They are the team's leading scorers. The Wildcats haven't been seriously pushed yet in the tournament, winning every game by double-digits and paying no mind to the upsets that have busted brackets for the past two weeks. The key to all this success? "At this point, you don't really try to figure out why," coach Jay Wright said. "You're kind of saying, 'Why us,' you know, and just soaking it in." KANSAS: Since winning it all in 2008, the Jayhawks had been seeded No. 1 five times and failed to make the Final Four any of those times. If Grayson Allen's shot at the buzzer in regulation hadn't gone in and out — twice — this might have marked No. 6. But Malik Newman scored all 13 of Kansas' points in overtime to help the Jayhawks top Duke. "There's a lot of players out there who deserve the best of the best," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. "They get to experience the very best there is. I'm happy for them.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 26th, 2018

Mariners bring back 44-year-old Ichiro Suzuki

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki's wish was granted. He is back in the familiar white and blue jersey of the Seattle Mariners. "Even in the offseason when I would go back to Japan, I always came back to Seattle. This was my home ... has always been my home," the 44-year-old outfielder said through a translator Wednesday after finalizing a $750,000, one-year contract. "Somewhere deep inside, I wanted to return and wear this uniform again." Almost six years away, Suzuki returned to help patch an injury-depleted outfield on the team he played for from 2001-12. The 10-time All-Star can earn an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $200,000 each for 150 and each additional 50 through 350, and $250,000 for 400. Suzuki earned the 2001 AL Rookie of the Year and MVP, with the Mariners and won a pair of AL batting titles. He was traded to the New York Yankees midway through 2012, played parts of three seasons with the Yankees, then spent three seasons with Miami. He has a .312 average and 3,080 hits, not including the 1,278 hits he amassed in nine seasons in Japan. Suzuki appeared in 136 games last year for the Miami Marlins and hit .255 with a .318 on-base percentage. "I still have things that I want to do and I want to accomplish," Suzuki said. "I'm really thinking about this year and what the Seattle Mariners need, what I can do to help. Everything that I've gained, everything that I've done in my career, I want to just give it all right here in Seattle." Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said discussions about Suzuki's return intensified about a week ago, when the club's injury situation became a greater concern. "It did not take very long to put a deal together that brought Ichiro back home," Dipoto said, adding that Suzuki's presence will help a young outfield and veteran Dee Gordon, who is playing center field for the first time. "It's huge for our club and our ability to step forward," Dipoto said. Projected left fielder Ben Gamel is sidelined for at least a month with a strained oblique muscle, Right fielder Mitch Haniger is dealing with a hand injury that has limited his activity for a couple of weeks, and Guillermo Heredia is still in the final stages of recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. Suzuki underwent a physical in Seattle on Monday. His return is similar to the Mariners' reunion with Ken Griffey Jr. in 2009 that was good for one year but had an ugly conclusion. Seattle has significant concerns about depth in the outfield. Other options were available, including free agents Jose Bautista, Carlos Gonzalez and Jon Jay. "Bringing him in, what he can do on the field, still think he's got plenty left in the tank there," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "What he adds in the clubhouse I think is very, very valuable." Suzuki is slated to play left field and will need a few days of workouts and batting practice before he plays in a game, Servais said. Suzuki had 2,533 hits with the Mariners, including 262 in 2004 when he set the big league season record. His trade to New York during the 2012 season was a stunning conclusion to his time in Seattle, but gave Suzuki the chance to play in the postseason for the first time since his rookie season. Suzuki reunites with former Yankees teammates Robinson Cano and David Phelps, and he played with Gordon and Phelps in Miami. Third baseman Kyle Seager, pitcher Felix Hernandez and hitting coach Edgar Martinez were Suzuki's teammates in Seattle before he was traded. On Wednesday, a stall in the Mariners' spring training clubhouse awaited Suzuki, situated between journeyman outfielder Kirk Niewenhuis and starting shortstop Jean Segura. The team shop at the Peoria Sports Complex was already stocked with shirts and jerseys bearing Suzuki's No. 51. ore merchandise was en route......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 8th, 2018

Koreas combined women s hockey team debuts in friendly

By Kim Tong-Hyung, Associated Press INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — Wearing a powder-blue logo of a map symbolizing peace between the Koreas, the most talked-about team at this year's Olympics finally saw game action Sunday in a friendly that drew thousands of spectators in a country that never previously showed much passion for ice hockey. The North and South Korean women's hockey players, who only began practicing together about a week ago as a combined team, showed plenty of fight in their first competitive test, crashing the boards and throwing their bodies to stop pucks and opponents, but never really threatened in a 3-1 loss to world No. 5 Sweden in Incheon, South Korea. The Koreans will play Sweden again on Feb. 12 during the Olympic tournament. But the outcome didn't seem to matter to the capacity crowd of 3,000 at the Seonhak International Ice Rink. Fans waved miniature white-and-blue flags showing a unified Korean Peninsula — the same mark on the players' uniforms — and chanted "We are one" while screaming whenever the Koreans got on the break. The arena thunderously erupted when South Korean forward Park Jong-ah cut the deficit to 2-1 during the first period. The Korean players stood to the Korean traditional tune of "Arirang" at the start of the game, instead of their respective national anthems, and received warm applause as they left the arena after the contest. "I think that the North Korean players played really well — this is one of the biggest crowds they played in front of," said Sarah Murray, the joint team's Canadian head coach. "Being added 12 days ago and not getting to practice together all that much, they played our system pretty well, so I am proud of them." The team's North Korean coach, Pak Chol Ho, said the Koreas "can do anything if they do things as one." He left the postgame news conference without taking questions. The joint Koreas team highlights a series of conciliatory measures the war-separated rivals took for the Pyeongchang games, which South Korea sees as an opportunity to revive meaningful communication with North Korea following an extended period of animosity and diplomatic stalemate over the North's nuclear program. The Olympics begin Friday, with Pyeongchang, a relatively small South Korean ski resort town, hosting the skiing, snowboarding and sliding events, and Gangneung, a coastal city about an hour's drive away, hosting the hockey, skating and curling events. North Korea plans to send hundreds of people to the games, including athletes, officials, artists and a 230-member cheering group. Skeptics think the country is trying to use the games to weaken U.S.-led sanctions and pressure and buy more time to advance its nuclear weapons and missiles arsenal. The decision to create the joint hockey team, which wasn't reached until January, triggered heated debate in South Korea, where many people thought the South Korean players were being unfairly asked to sacrifice playing time to their North Korean teammates, who are seen as less skilled and experienced. Murray, who coached South Korea before taking over the combined team, had also expressed concerns over team chemistry. Sunday's friendly was Murray's only opportunity to experiment with potential lineups in game situations before the start of the Olympics. She previously said the North Koreans' hard-hitting style would be suited for her fourth line, a group of players asked to provide physical play in short bursts while giving their teammates with greater scoring responsibilities a chance to rest. But after seeing them in practice and now in game action, she sees potentially bigger roles for some of the North Koreans, including Jong Su Hyon, a forward who Murray says has broken onto her second line. "They are eager to learn and get better," Murray said about the North Koreans. "We have been having team meetings with them and they ask so many questions. The meeting's supposed to be 15 minutes, and an hour later we are still talking and we are still watching video." The Korean players, at least on the surface, appear to be getting along. They arrived at the arena Sunday relaxed and playful, stretching and jumping in the hallway to get loose before gathering in a scrum and shouting "Team Korea!" Seven of the players later formed a circle and started kicking around a rubber ball, giggling whenever the ball bounced away from them. Amid a heavy police presence, hundreds of supporters began gathering outside the stadium hours before the game despite the icy weather, including dozens who danced to music in matching white parkas and hoodies with the peninsula logo and shouted "Win, Korea!" "I don't even care about the results, I just want to cheer for them and see them work together and help each other out on the ice," said Kim Hye-ryeon, 42, who brought her two children, 8 and 6, to the game. Kim Won-jin, a 33-year-old who made a several-hour trip to the game with his wife and 3 1/2-year-old son from the city of Daejeon, hoped the Korean players had overcome any uneasiness they may have had over the distribution of playing time. "If we ever get unified again, these young players of the South and North will be able to look back and be proud that what they did contributed to a historic change," he said. Not everyone was happy. Across the street from the arena, dozens of anti-Pyongyang activists glumly waved South Korean and U.S. flags to denounce what they said had become the "Pyongyang Olympics." They roared as one of the protesters ripped the banner of the peninsula logo atop a van......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 5th, 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

Bills reverse tank talk by ending 17-year playoff drought

By John Wawrow, Associated Press ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — It took four months and a dramatic turn of events on one of the final plays of the NFL's regular season for coach Sean McDermott and the Buffalo Bills to finally — and succinctly — put to rest any suggestion the team had any intention of tanking last summer. "I'll let you guys handle that," McDermott said, referring to reporters on Monday. "We're moving on after today to the first round of the playoffs." And that's all that matters to the first-year coach, who took the high road rather than an "I told you so" approach some 18 hours after the Bills clinched the AFC's sixth and final playoff berth and ended a 17-year postseason drought — the longest in North America's four major professional sports. McDermott never gave into the doubters and instead preached a simple "Trust The Process" message that resonated with his players. "Every season's a little bit different. Every season you go through tests and challenges," McDermott said. "It's going to try to pull you apart. It's going to test you, and it's going to test your mental toughness," he added. "And our players hung in there." Rather than packing up, as 17 of Buffalo's preceding teams did on the day after the regular-season finale, these Bills returned home to a jubilant reception early Monday. They were greeted at Buffalo Niagara International Airport by some 400 chanting fans, who braved 2-degree temperatures after Buffalo beat Miami 22-16 and clinched its playoff berth once Baltimore gave up a last-minute touchdown in a 31-27 loss to Cincinnati. McDermott is even considering sending the Bengals a gift — chicken wings, perhaps — as a thank you for Andy Dalton hitting Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-12 with 44 seconds left. And now, Buffalo (9-7) is moving on in preparing to play at AFC South champion Jacksonville (10-6) on Sunday. McDermott rewarded his players by giving them the next two days off, before the team returns to practice Wednesday. They earned it. Buffalo overcame exceedingly low expectations following a major yearlong roster overhaul which led to the departures of numerous high-priced stars. Among the players traded were receiver Sammy Watkins (to the Los Angeles Rams) and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (Jacksonville). The Bills' secondary was retooled as was their group of receivers, leaving the team to open the season with 24 holdovers from 2016. On the field, the Bills overcame the elements by beating Indianapolis 13-7 in overtime amid white-out conditions on Dec. 10. And the team failed to unravel when McDermott's decision to start Nathan Peterman backfired after the rookie quarterback threw five interceptions in the first half of a 54-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 19. Buffalo could face even more adversity with running back LeSean McCoy's status uncertain after hurting his right ankle against Miami. What stood out to McDermott was how the Bills responded to the loss to the Chargers the following week by snapping a three-game skid with a 16-10 win at Kansas City. "If you're going to put a landmark moment for this first year, that was probably one of them," he said of a win that improved Buffalo's record to 6-5. "That goes back to the resiliency of this football team and really what this city is all about ... that no matter what people say about us, we're going to compete like crazy." McDermott needed no more validation of how his team has captured the imagination of its supporters than witnessing the scene at the airport. Fans waved Bills flags and placards, sang the team's "Shout!" song and chanted "Let's Go Buffalo." "I've been around a couple of playoffs or two in my 20 years around the NFL, and that was unmatched," he said. "This type of welcome home just speaks volumes about our city and our fans." Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said the staff and players couldn't initially see the fans while de-boarding the plane, but could hear them. "We were like, 'This is incredible.' It just kind of brings home what this means to Buffalo, to western New York," Frazier said. "It just pushes you on to want to keep it going and just show them how much we appreciate their support." Rookie tackle Dion Dawkins was stunned by the reception, "It's 2 degrees out here and they're screaming their tails off," Dawkins said. "This is just flat-out unbelievable." Funny, some were saying the same about the Bills' playoff chances four months ago, too......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2018

Panthers owner under investigation for workplace misconduct

By Steve Reed, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers founder and owner Jerry Richardson is under investigation for workplace misconduct. The team said Friday former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles is overseeing the investigation by a Los Angeles-based law firm. Team spokesman Steven Drummond said in a release that the Panthers and the 81-year-old Richardson take these allegations very seriously and are fully committed to a full investigation and taking appropriate steps to address and remediate any misconduct. "The entire organization is fully committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally," Drummond said in the release. "We have work to do to achieve this goal, but we are going to meet it." Richardson was unavailable for comment. Drummond told The Associated Press because the matter is under legal review, the Panthers cannot comment publicly on the specifics of the allegations. The Panthers made the NFL aware on Friday that it has initiated an investigation into Richardson's alleged workplace misconduct. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league has no comment at this time. The investigation against the team's only owner in franchise history is being led by international law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, LLP, and will be overseen by Bowles, who is a minority owner. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said in a release Friday night that he has had a strong relationship with Richardson since he joined the franchise as coach in 2012. "I have enormous respect for the man, but will wait for the results of the investigation before making any judgment," Rivera said. Richardson brought NFL football to the Carolinas in 1993 when he became the first former NFL player since George Halas to own a team. The Panthers began play two years later in 1995. The Panthers have made a series of peculiar moves in the last year. Team president Danny Morrison, who was well liked in the Carolinas among had worked on the business side, abruptly resigned in February. Then, as the Panthers were preparing for training camp, Richardson unexpectedly fired general manager Dave Gettleman, who has led the team to the Super Bowl just two years ago and replaced him with former general manager Marty Hurney. The move was odd considering Carolina has made the playoffs three times in four seasons under Gettleman. Hurney did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. Richardson, who rarely conducts interviews, never addressed the moves. Richardson was hospitalized 2008, one month after receiving a pacemaker. Richardson underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2002 and was placed on a donor waiting list for a new heart. He received the new heart on Feb. 1, 2009, and has not had any known setbacks since. He is only one of two owners to have owned a franchise since its inception. The other is Houston's Robert McNair......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 16th, 2017

Promising signs from Bulls young guns

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 1st, 2017

Brady, Patriots send Broncos to fifth straight loss, 41-16

By Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — Denver is no longer Tom Brady’s House of Horrors and the Broncos sure don’t scare anybody anymore. Brady threw three touchdown passes and the New England Patriots matched their own AFC record with their 12th consecutive road victory, pummeling the Broncos 41-16 on Sunday night. Brady’s 86th regular-season road win broke a tie with Peyton Manning for most all-time. “It’s always hard to win in the NFL, certainly on the road,” Brady said. “We found a way to do it last year and we’re off to a good start this year.” Not so the Broncos. These teams have represented the AFC in the last four Super Bowls, and the Broncos (3-6) were hoping a visit from their rivals would help shake them from their funk. Beat Brady, suggested Aqib Talib, and “the swag, the energy in this locker room, it’ll skyrocket.” Instead, the Broncos fizzled. They lost their fifth straight game, their worst skid in seven seasons, and they dropped back-to-back games to the Patriots (7-2) in Denver for the first time since 1966. Avoiding Von Miller all night and throwing for 266 yards on 25-of-34 passing, Brady improved to 8-9 against the Broncos, the only team he has a losing record against, and he won for just the fourth time in 11 trips to Denver. The Patriots also won a dozen consecutive road games from 2006-08. The NFL record is 18 set by the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers from 1988-90. Speaking of historic, the Patriots for the first time since 1979 had a special teams takeaway , a blocked punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown , a trifecta that fueled a comfortable 27-9 halftime lead. The Patriots went three-and-out to start the game but rookie Isaiah McKenzie’s muffed punt led to Brady’s 14-yard TD toss to running back Rex Burkhead. “That’s not the first punt McKenzie has muffed this year,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. Indeed, it was his fifth fumble, including four muffs. “It puts us in a big hole,” McKenzie said. “I put the blame all on me. If I would’ve caught that first punt, did anything with it, besides turn it over, then probably ... things would’ve changed for us.” The Patriots had five touchdowns and a pair of field goals before they’d punt again. “We knew McKenzie had muffed a couple so we told our gunners to get down there and make it tough on him,” Patriots DB Devin McCourty said. “Then we get the blocked punt return.” He’s getting ahead of himself, but who could blame him? After kicking a 39-yard field goal, Brandon McManus failed on the ensuing kickoff to get in front of returner Dion Lewis, whose 103-yard return down Denver’s demoralized sideline made it 14-3. “How are you supposed to win against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots when you’re starting off” like that? wondered Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe. “You can’t.” Then, Burkhead sliced through the line to block Riley Dixon’s punt at the Broncos’ 30-yard line, leading to Stephen Gostkowski’s second field goal and a 20-6 lead. “I have not,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph replied when asked if he’d ever seen a worse special teams performance. “That wasn’t the only issue we had. We were 1 for 4 in the red zone. We moved the ball better tonight but we didn’t score touchdowns. And defensively they scored on seven straight possessions.” When the Broncos finally forced another punt in the fourth quarter, they were whistled for 12 men on the field, giving the Patriots a fresh set of downs. Brady took advantage of that gaffe by throwing a 6-yard touchdown pass to James White, capping both the blowout and a 16-play, 94-yard drive that ate up more than seven minutes. “Besides that first series, we couldn’t stop them,” Miller said. BROCK ON: Brock Osweiler hooked up with Emmanuel Sanders five times for 114 yards in the first half but Denver stalled twice in the red zone and also at the Patriots 21, settling for field goals while the Patriots were scoring touchdowns. Sanders finished with six catches for 137 yards. Joseph refused to say if Osweiler (18 of 33, 221 yards) would stay the starter. “We’re going to watch the tape tomorrow as a staff and determine who the quarterback is next week,” Joseph said. BENNETT’S BACK: Tight end Martellus Bennett was active — and productive — for New England just a few days after he accused the Green Bay Packers of pressuring him to play through a shoulder injury. Green Bay waived Bennett with the designation that he “failed to disclose a physical condition,” but Bennett said the Packers were aware of his balky shoulder when they signed him. He said it got worse during the season and he elected to have surgery. When the Packers waived him, the Patriots grabbed him. His first catch covered 27 yards and he finished with three catches for 38 yards. “He did a great job to have come in on Friday,” Brady said. “I love having Martellus on our team. He adds a lot, he’s a great player, and he was for us last year.” MILESTONE WIN: Belichick moved into a third-place tie with Tom Landry on the all-time head-coaching list for wins, with 270. He trails only Don Shula (347) and George Halas (324). INJURIES: Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater went out in the first half with a pulled hamstring. Broncos tight end A.J. Derby was knocked out with a shoulder injury. Umpire Jeff Rice was carted off in the third quarter after hitting his head on the ground when Patriots linebacker Trevor Reilly bowled him over on during a Denver punt. UP NEXT Patriots: At Raiders at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca (elevation 7,280 feet). The Patriots are staying in Colorado all week, practicing at the Air Force Academy (elevation 6,621) feet to acclimate to the altitude. Broncos: Host the Cincinnati Bengals......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 13th, 2017

Coach Egay happy that Stags wanna be like Mike (Calisaan)

Head coach Egay Macaraya has long stated that San Sebastian College-Recoletos should aspire to be a lot like Michael Calisaan. Of course, it’s pretty much a tall task to put up their main man’s per game counts of 16.4 points in 42.7 percent shooting on top of 8.7 rebounds. What Macaraya wants to see from all the other Golden Stags, however, is the non-stop effort Calisaan gives game in and game out. “Ang gusto ko magbago sa team na yung buong team, maging Michael Calisaan. Sa nakikita ko, Michael is just doing his job,” he said. He then continued, “Harworker siya and he goes hard all the time.” This, even though there are people who believe he needs to do away with one aspect of his game. After Baste’s loss to San Beda College two months ago, the latter’s head coach Boyet Fernandez reminded the former’s fourth-year forward that he needs to play “physical lang, wag dirty.” Then, the Red Lions’ mentor said that Calisaan played with much extra-curricular activity. Defending his prized ward, Macaraya said that Calisaan is not a “dirty player” and is “just a victim” of questionable calls. After that time of heightened tension, the two teams turned their attention to different things. Now they are all set to collide in a do-or-die game for the remaining Finals berth, however, Calisaan, Macaraya, and the San Sebastian will cross paths anew with Fernandez and San Beda. Again, the Golden Stags’ mentor made it clear that their main man plays the game right. “Para sa akin, that issue is closed already kasi ‘di na naman nag-respond si Boyet,” he said, referring to their exchange of words. He then continued, “He should also understand kasi player din siya e. he should know about hard work and (being) a fighter.” Macaraya was talking about how Fernandez was once a scrappy point guard back when he was playing in the PBA – much like how Calisaan is now a scrappy forward in the NCAA. “It’s not about dirty. Sometimes, (things happen) because that’s part of basketball, when Michael was hit ng elbow (during a previous game), anong sinabi ko kay Michael,” he shared. He then continued, “Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Tanggapin mo yan. Wag kang masira.’” The Baste head coach then went on to say how his team leader only heeded his advice. Now, Calisaan and his team are one win away from an unlikely trip to the Finals. “Para sa akin po, maglalaro lang po ako. Kung ano po yung masasabi nila sa akin, tatanggapin ko naman po,” he shared. He then continued, “Kung mali po sa kanila, wala akong magagawa, pero para sa akin po, ginagawa ko lang yung trabaho ko.” Indeed, that non-stop effort is what Macaraya wants to see – and is already seeing, actually – from all his boys. “I guess, all my players right now, sinasabi ko nang they have changed their attitude. Everybody is like Michael Calisaan na,” he expressed. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 6th, 2017