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With no World Cup for US this year, Altidore shifts focus

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press For Jozy Altidore, this was supposed to be the time when the United States was preparing for this summer's World Cup. That changed early in October when the Americans got bounced from the tournament. The stunning failure shifted Altidore's focus. He spent the beginning of 2018 in Grand Cayman, where his foundation is bringing soccer to kids in a region hit by hurricanes last fall. Soon, he'll start the new season with defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC. As for this summer? Altidore will watch a few of the matches in Russia on television. The 28-year-old forward isn't stewing in the loss, he's looking with hope to the future. "Of course I'll obviously be disappointed not to be there, but at the end of the day, man, we're blessed to do what we do," he said. Apart from the national team loss, Altidore is coming off one of the better years of his career. He scored 18 goals with the Reds and another four with the U.S. national team. Toronto FC won the Supporters' Shield for the best regular-season record before sweeping through the playoffs and defeating Seattle 2-0 for the league title. Altidore scored in the final and earned MLS Cup MVP honors. The victory was a bit of revenge for a loss to the Sounders for the MLS Cup the previous season, but Altidore said Toronto's motivation was part of a season-long journey he took with his teammates and coach Greg Vanney. "I think more than anything we understood how close we were and how it hurt that we had come up short that season," he said. "The focus for us was to do what we did that last year and if we got to the last game, obviously make sure we got the W and make the most of our chances." Toronto teammate and fellow national team player, Michael Bradley, echoed the sentiment after the title match. "When push comes to shove, you want to step into the biggest moments with people that you would do anything for, that you love, that you believe in, that you trust, that you know have your back," Bradley said. But it wasn't all smooth. Altidore got into a confrontation with New York Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan in a tunnel at BMO Field during the conference semifinals. Altidore and Kljestan were handed red cards in the aftermath. Altidore sat out Toronto's next game, while Kljestan was suspended an additional game and won't be able to play the first two games of the upcoming season. Kljestan, who was also fined, was traded in the offseason from the Red Bulls to Orlando. Altidore and Bradley were also jeered — sometimes with profane and personal attacks — by opposing fans over the U.S. team's qualifying performance. "Look, all that stuff I think would have been magnified had we not achieved our objective," Altidore said. "But we did, and we did it in such a convincing manner." Following the 2-1 U.S. loss in Couva, Trinidad, that cost the national team a spot in the World Cup, coach Bruce Arena stepped down and U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said he would not run for another term. Interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan called 30 players into January training camp in advance of an exhibition game against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 in Carson, California. Altidore and many of the team's veterans were not invited. The camp roster includes 15 players who have never played in a match for the senior national team. The most experienced was LA Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes, who is 26. Twenty-one of the players are 24 and younger. Altidore, who has 41 goals in 110 appearances with the national team, understands that developing young talent is important heading into the next World Cup quadrennial. "We have to do a better job of identifying new talent, for sure," he said, suggesting that missing out on the past two Olympics — where under-23 teams compete — has hurt development efforts. For now, Altidore is pouring his energy into charitable endeavors. Altidore, whose parents are from Haiti, launched his foundation in 2011 following the devastating earthquake that hit the country the year before. The foundation built a well to provide water to a town of more than 400 in Haiti, along with other rebuilding efforts. In 2016, he paid to bring the Copa America matches to television in the country. The latest effort in the Cayman Islands focuses on getting youth involved in soccer. "I think the whole region, the Caribbean has a lot of talent and has a lot of kids who want to become players. And I think it helps to see and identify with players who have played in different leagues from around the world," he said. "If I'm able to be one of those guys that can start that whole thing, it's a great opportunity and honor for me."      .....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 17th, 2018

The Golden State Warriors cannot relax now, or else

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Learn from your mistakes, Golden State. Learn from how one got away in 2016. Learn from how sleepwalking through the third quarter on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time) made Game 2 of this series much more interesting than it ever should have been, at least until Stephen Curry went wild in the fourth quarter. Learn from Boston, both this year and six years ago. Learn from what cost San Antonio a title in 2013, too. Don’t give LeBron James hope. Or else. Golden State leads these NBA Finals 2-0, after a 122-103 win put the defending champions two wins away from what would be their third title in the last four seasons. Only four teams have ever wasted a 2-0 lead in the finals — and Golden State is one of them, letting a championship ring slip away against James and the Cavaliers two years ago. The series shifts to Cleveland for Game 3 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). James looked exhausted when Game 2 was over, but he’ll be somewhat rested by then. And he will most definitely be fueled by a boisterous home crowd that will want to both give him an immediate lift — and make one last series of impressions before he goes into free agency and considers leaving the Cavaliers again next month. Game 3 is everything for the Cavs. If they go down 3-0, series over. Game 3 has to be everything for the Warriors as well. They know it, too. “I think because we’ve been here several times, I don’t think I’ll need to say much,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “Guys in the locker room, they already know that.” They better. Boston had James in a 2-0 hole this year, then lost Games 3 and 4 in Cleveland and wound up falling in seven. The Celtics had him and the Heat down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals in 2012, and couldn’t finish. The Spurs led 3-2 in the 2013 NBA Finals, had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 6, and came undone. The Warriors led 2-0 and 3-1 in 2016. This is not the same Golden State team (Kevin Durant helps). This is not the same Cleveland team (Kyrie Irving would really help). But the Warriors would be foolish to not remember that series, not to remember the ultimate cautionary tale. They’re saying all the right things. “It’s nothing to feel happy about being up 2-0,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “This [Cleveland] team plays great at home and we expect their other guys to play better at home too, not just LeBron. So we’re not going to relax at all because this team’s been down and out before and counted out by the media. We’re not going to focus on that. We’re just going to focus on what we can do to win Game 3.” This series at times has been the Cavaliers versus the cavalier. Golden State was fortunate to win Game 1, and realized as such. The Warriors should have been up much bigger than 13 at halftime of Game 2, and found themselves in a dogfight instead of a victory lap in the third quarter when the Cavs got within five on a number of occasions. It took things like JaVale McGee going 6-for-6 and David West stepping up in a critical late-third-quarter moment to hit his first three-pointer in seven months to help the Warriors keep the Cavs at bay Sunday, until Curry ran wild late on his way to a NBA Finals record nine three's and turn the game into a rout. It took James, grotesque-looking eye and all, playing like his version of a mere mortal — 29 points, 13 assists, nine rebounds, 10-for-20 shooting. “It was too easy for them,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said of the Warriors. Give Golden State credit. They adjusted nicely against James after his 51-point barrage in Game 1. They took a page from the 2014 Spurs — who beat James in five games in the NBA Finals that year, the end of his Miami era — and routinely picked him up 30 to 40 feet away from the basket. Do that, and more often than not James will say that giving up the ball is the right play. The Warriors welcome that. They want the other Cavs to have to beat them. The formula worked Sunday (Monday, PHL time). They just have to do it twice more to win another title. And just like the Warriors on the not-wanting-to-relax front, James said he hopes the Cavaliers continue feeling uncomfortable as well. “Just because we’re going home doesn’t mean we can relax,” James said. “This is the last team in the world you want to relax against. They’ve proven they can win on someone else’s floor, no matter if it’s through adversity as people may call it like when they were going through the Rockets series or whatever the case may be.” It’s often been said, even by James himself, that a series doesn’t really start until one team wins on the other’s home floor. All Golden State has done so far has hold serve. That’s true. But by the close of business Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), we’ll know if this is a series or not. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

IBF champion Milan Melindo meets WBA champ Ryoichi Taguchi in Japan

The road to becoming light flyweight king begins.  After winning the IBF world light flyweight championship back in May, ALA Promotions standout Milan 'El Metodico' Melindo said that his goal was to become 'king' of the light flyweights by capturing all four major world titles.  After successfully defending his IBF strap against South Africa's Hekkie Budler at Pinoy Pride 42 in Cebu back in September, 'El Metodico' shifts his focus to world title number two.  On their official Facebook page, ALA Promotions announced that Melindo will be taking on reigning WBA world light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi in Japan in a unification bout at the end of the year.  A long time member of the ALA Boxing stable in Cebu City, the 29-year old Melindo (37-2, 13 KO) rose to prominence while showcasing his talents in the Pinoy Pride series.  After three tries, the Cagayan de Oro-native finally captured the big one, shocking Akira Yaegashi, also in Japan, to finally become a world champion.  Taguchi (26-2-2, 12 KO) on the other hand, has been the reigning WBA world light flyweight champion since 2014, and has defended the title six times since.  The 30-year old native of Tokyo is currently riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak.  Melindo and Taguchi are set to unify the titles on December 31st, 2017. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 17th, 2017

Japan’s 20-year-olds don’t want to live into their 80s — survey

A survey has shown that when it comes to Japan's 20-year-olds, much of them don't wish to live into their 80s. Despite the country having one of the world's highest rate of life expectancies, young Japanese men and women appear unwelcoming to the government's "100-year-life" society. The 100-year-life society is a slogan championed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Last September 2017, Japan's Cabinet Public Relation's Office reported that Abe held the first meeting of Council for Designing 100-Year-Life Society, with the aim to focus in enhancing the quality of individual human resources and productivity in regard to Japan's aging population and declining birth rate. This...Keep on reading: Japan’s 20-year-olds don’t want to live into their 80s — survey.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 2nd, 2018

WADA report: Kenya doping serious, not institutionalized

By GERALD IMRAY,  AP Sports Writer Kenyan athletes are the target of nearly a quarter of out-of-competition doping tests in track and field, a statistic that underlines how much suspicion there is over the world's most successful distance-running nation. Figures were revealed Thursday by the head of the Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles anti-doping for the world track and field organization, the IAAF. Brett Clothier said Kenyans made up 22% of the AIU's out-of-competition testing program, and the country's athletes took up "at least the equivalent amount of time in our investigations and intelligence team." "Kenya is a great and justly proud athletics nation, but it now has a serious doping problem," Clothier said in comments accompanying the release of a report following a near two-year investigation in the East African nation by the AIU and the World Anti-Doping Agency's intelligence and investigations department. The joint report concluded there was "widespread doping" in Kenya but "the doping practices of Kenyan athletes are unsophisticated, opportunistic and uncoordinated and there is no evidence of an institutionalized system." It didn't need a two-year investigation to discover a problem, with a clear spike in cases involving athletes from the African country since around the time of the 2012 London Olympics. What the report did do, however, was dig deeper into some of the reasons behind the mess in Kenya. It appeared to separate Kenya's doping problems from that of Russia and that country's organized, state-sponsored scheme. Doping in Kenya "is different from other doping structures discovered elsewhere in the world and, as such, it requires a different approach," WADA director of intelligence and investigations Gunter Younger said. In Kenya, athletes are "insufficiently educated on doping and/or wilfully blind as to the consequences of doping," the report said. The investigation also stressed the need for better control over medical practitioners and "quasi-medical practitioners" who are "highly relevant" to the doping problem and often the source of banned substances. Overall, the report pointed to a weak and at times non-existent anti-doping effort in Kenya exacerbated by the unwillingness of athletes to help. WADA and AIU investigators said they reached out for information to 31 Kenyan athletes serving doping bans. Only seven attended interviews and none of them said they had used prohibited substances despite being found guilty at doping hearings. None of them provided any information that was helpful to the investigators. There were other findings in the report: — A total of 131 Kenyan athletes failed doping tests between 2004 and this year. Track and field was by far the worst sport in the country for failed tests. In the same period, all other sports in Kenya produced seven failed tests. — The anabolic steroid Nandrolone was the most prevalent banned substance for Kenyan athletes. The corticosteroids group, anti-inflammatories that can improve athletic performance, were the next most used. The blood-booster EPO was third most prevalent. — The AIU's focus on out-of-competition doping tests on Kenyans was prompted after only 13% of their athletes caught for doping were caught through out-of-competition tests. — Two elite Kenyan athletes, Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumgong and Rita Jeptoo, provided falsified medical records in an attempt to avoid doping bans. Sumgong made up a story about having to attend hospital for an emergency blood transfusion to explain testing positive for EPO. Jeptoo, the leading marathon runner in the world when she was caught in 2014, claimed she was given EPO by a doctor to treat malaria and typhoid. Both athletes were found to be lying and banned for four years......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 28th, 2018

Assault charge against pitcher Roberto Osuna dropped

Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Canadian prosecutors dropped a domestic assault charge on Tuesday against Houston Astros closer Roberto Osuna, who agreed to stay away from the alleged victim for one year and continue counseling. Osuna, formerly with the Toronto Blue Jays, was charged with assault in May. The 23-year-old player was suspended without pay for 75 games for violating Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy, and the Blue Jays dealt him to Houston on July 30. Speaking in court, prosecutor Catherine Mullaly said the complainant, who lives in Mexico, had made clear she would not travel to Toronto to testify against Osuna. "The Crown does not have a reasonable prospect of conviction on this charge absent her testimony," Mullaly told Judge Melvyn Green. Osuna nodded when Green asked if he understood the agreement, known as a "peace bond." "Now I can begin to put these allegations behind me and focus on baseball," Osuna said in a statement. "I am grateful to the Astros for providing me with the opportunity to play baseball and compete for a World Series championship." He said he would have no further comment on the matter, declining to address reporters for a second straight day before Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays, citing advice from his attorney. Osuna's attorney, Domenic Basile, had said his client was remorseful but planned to plead not guilty had the matter gone to trial. "I wish to make it clear that this is not an admission of criminal or civil liability," Basile said Tuesday. "He is content to enter into the peace bond (and) is aware of the conditions and will abide by the conditions." At Rogers Centre on Tuesday, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow acknowledged that Osuna's case had been "a distraction for everybody" since the closer was acquired from Toronto. "You never know how a legal case is going to get resolved," Luhnow said. "We're thankful it's behind us now and we can focus on what's ahead." Houston, the reigning World Series champion, is on the brink of its second straight AL West title and a second straight 100-win season. Monday's win moved the Astros to 99-57, and their magic number to clinch the division is two. Osuna was met with boos when the Astros beat the Blue Jays in Toronto on Monday. The Astros have said they would not tolerate another incident involving their closer and that the organization is committed to supporting victims of domestic violence......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 26th, 2018

S+A to air Cardiff match featuring Azkals GK Neil Etheridge

It’s another exciting week of football for Filipino fans of the beautiful game as S+A will be airing LIVE matches in the ongoing English Premier League (EPL) and La Liga seasons, highlighted by the Cardiff City vs Burnley match featuring Azkals goalie Neil Etheridge on September 30. Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona, led by the indomitable Leo Messi, will take on Girona to fire things off on La Liga this Monday (September 24) at 2:45 am, LIVE from Camp Nou. The next La Liga match day will be on Thursday (September 27) with Sevilla taking on the new-look Real Madrid squad at 3:55 am, LIVE from the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. Action shifts to the anticipated S+A debut of Philippine Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge as his Cardiff City club takes on Burnley in the EPL on Sunday (September 30) at 10:55 pm. Meanwhile, EPL giants Chelsea and Liverpool, led by Eden Hazard and Mo Salah respectively, will clash at an earlier time, 12:55 am, to get an early lead from each other in the EPL table. Etheridge became the first ever Filipino to play in the EPL when he debuted last August. After an impressive debut form, the 28-year-old was nominated for the August Player of the Month in one of the most-popular football leagues in the world. S+A and LIGA, sports channels of ABS-CBN Sports, were also the country’s official broadcasters of the recent the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018. S+A also airs selected matches and highlight shows from top European club football leagues such as the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, and Italian Serie A through a partnership with Hong Kong-based holdings company Triple CH as part of ABS-CBN Sports’ efforts to promote love and appreciation for the most popular sport in the world in the Philippines. Don’t miss the intense action in La Liga and the EPL this week as S+A brings the matches LIVE between Barcelona and Girona on Monday (September 24) at 2:45 am, while Sevilla-Real Madrid takes palce on Thursday (September 27) at 3:55 am. Meanwhile, Sunday (September 30) is EPL day as Chelsea takes on Liverpool at 12:55 am while Neil Etheridge makes his S+A debut as a member of Cardiff City against Burnley at 10:55 pm. For sales and advertising inquiries, please contact ABS-CBN Airtime Sales at (+632) 415-2272......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2018

Stewart, Wilson propel US to 100-88 win over China

By Doug Feinberg, Associated Press SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Spain (AP) — After a quiet first half, Breanna Stewart felt she needed to be more assertive on both ends of the court. She certainly made her presence felt in the final 20 minutes. Stewart scored 21 of her 23 points in the second half and A'ja Wilson added 20 points to help the United States beat China 100-88 on Sunday in the second day of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup. "I needed to be more aggressive. There were a few things that I could have done better — defense and rebounding. Focus on that and the offense comes," Stewart said. China trailed only 36-35 midway through the second quarter as the U.S. was still trying to figure out a lineup that worked on offense and defense. The Americans then closed the half on a 12-4 burst. Wilson had six points during the run. Layshia Clarendon, who played a few minutes in the first game, also provided a spark off the bench in the spurt. She had two points, two assists and two rebounds. The Chinese team hung around in the third quarter and trailed 60-54 before Stewart, who played in China the past few winters, took over. She scored nine of the next 11 points and China couldn't get within seven the rest of the way. "She was trailing a lot, and obviously the defense sucked down. The post players did a great job rim running," U.S. coach Dawn Staley said. "That left Stewie wide open at the top of key and she took advantage of them time and again. That's what we come to expect, Stewie like things. We needed her to be that way to give us some separation and widen our lead in the third quarter." The Americans were still missing Brittney Griner, who suffered a slight sprain of her right ankle in practice Friday. Griner said after the win over Senegal she would have played if it was an elimination game. China was able to exploit the lack of Griner with its own 6-foot-9 center Han Xu. Han showed an impressive array of post moves as well as a deft touch from 10 feet. The 18-year-old finished with 20 points and left to a warm ovation from the crowd with 20 seconds left. "Coach encouraged us to play with confidence. The U.S. is a very good team. We just went out and enjoyed ourselves," said China guard Shao Ting, who had 10 points. The Chinese team, which is the youngest in the tournament with the average age 23 years, lost to the U.S. by 43 points in the 2016 Olympics. The U.S. (2-0) hasn't lost to China (1-1) in six meetings in the World Cup. The Americans won the first five meetings by an average of 25.8 points. The victory was the Americans' 18th in a row in the tournament and 43rd in the past 44 games in the World Cup. The only blemish over the past 20 years was a loss to Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup. Sunday's game came on the 12th anniversary of that loss. CHINA CONNECTION: Many of the U.S. players have competed in China in the offseason. Stewart, Griner, Morgan Tuck, Jewell Loyd and Tina Charles all have spent time there. Wilson will be headed there this year. "You're having some of the top WNBA players going over there to China and showing them the standards of what we put ourselves through," Stewart said. RECOVERING: Elena Delle Donne played only 3 ½ minutes on Sunday. She suffered a bone bruise in the WNBA playoffs and is still recovering. She said that she and Staley would talk before each game to discuss how she was feeling. Delle Donne said after the game the back to back was difficult. SCOREBOARD: It was a great day for Africa with both Senegal and Nigeria winning. It's the first time in the history of the tournament that an African team won a pool play game, let alone two. Senegal beat Latvia 70-69 and Nigeria edged Turkey 74-68. In other games, Canada beat South Korea 82-63; Australia routed Argentina 84-43; Japan edged Belgium 77-75 in OT; France beat Greece 75-71 and Spain topped Puerto Rico 78-53. UP NEXT China: Will face Senegal on Tuesday with second place in the group at stake. U.S.: Will face Latvia on Tuesday looking to continue its dominance......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 24th, 2018

ADB shifts Philippines lending focus to transport infrastructure

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is rebalancing its financial assistance to the Philippines to cover more transport infrastructure projects under its new six-year country partnership strategy (CPS)......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 21st, 2018

Noel Gallagher announces book of behind-the-scenes stories

Noel Gallagher has announced he will be releasing a book titled "Any Road Will Get Us There (If We Don't Know Where We're Going)" that documents the biggest tour to date given by his band, Noel Gallagher's High-Flying Birds. At the focus will be the band's Stranded On the Earth world tour, a year-long trek that included dates in the United States, Canada, the United KIngdom, Ireland, Europe and Southeast Asia. Curated by Gallagher, the book will include hundreds of on- and off-stage pictures taken by Sharon Latham, former official photographer for Manchester City, along with words by journalist Hamish MacBain and candid interviews and anecdotes from the band and crew. "Any R...Keep on reading: Noel Gallagher announces book of behind-the-scenes stories.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 20th, 2018

FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers: Chot Reyes steps aside as NT coach

Gilas head coach Chot Reyes has announced that he is 'stepping aside' from the Philippine men's national basketball team and will focus instead in the national team program focused on the 2023 FIBA World Cup that will be co-hosted by the Philippines.  Reyes, in his third stint as the coach of Gilas, is serving a one-game suspension in international play for his remarks in Gilas' infamous brawl against Australia last July. The only five-time PBA Coach of the Year came out of retirement in 2016 after coach Tab Baldwin was removed after the 2016 Rio Olympic Qualifiers. Before that, Reyes resigned following Gilas' disappointing seventh-place finish at the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea, its lowest. "Now that the PBA has opened its doors fully to the SBP and the national team, it is time for me to step aside and contribute in a differenct capacity, focusing on the 2023 program," he said on an Instagram post. Reyes also expressed his best wishes to new Team Philippines head coach Yeng Guiao. "We are one with you. Once Gilas, always Gilas."         View this post on Instagram                   💪🇵🇭❤️ #oncegilasalwaysgilas #parasabayan A post shared by Chot Reyes (@coachot) on Sep 11, 2018 at 4:34am PDT Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 11th, 2018

No pressure for Donnie Nietes as he makes his super flyweight debut

With 46 professional bouts and three world championship runs across as many weight divisions, ALA Promotions star Donnie Nietes is certainly no stranger to the bright lights.  On Saturday evening (Sunday morning, Manila time), Nietes steps back on the big stage as he looks to add a fourth world championship when he makes his highly-anticipated super flyweight debut against compatriot Aston Palicte on the SuperFly 3 card at The Forum in Los Angeles, California.  Nietes and Palicte will fight for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight World Championship.  While he's the smaller man in terms of height and reach, Nietes comes in as the bigger star among the two Negrense protagonists.  As mentioned earlier, Nietes has been here before, challenging for a world championship. For his opponent on the other hand, this is the closest that Palicte has been to a world championship.  "For me, wala naman nang pressure." Nietes shared with ABS-CBN's Steve Angeles. "Iniisip ko lang na parang normal na laban para hindi tayo ma-out of focus sa gameplan natin." After years of dominating in the light flyweight division, where he eclipsed Filipino boxing great Gabriel "Flash" Elorde as the longest-reigning Filipino boxing world champion, Nietes made the jump to the flyweight division. While his run at the 112-pound division lasted for all of just three bouts, it saw him capture and defend the IBF world title.  Now set to embark on his super flyweight journey, Nietes says he's comfortable and confident in his new weight division.  "Yes, for now masasabi ko na nadagdagan ko yung power ko kasi umakyat ako ng timbang. yung katawan ko kumportable talaga sa 115-pounds." Not to overlook the task that's in front of him, but Nietes knows that Palicte is just the beginning for him.  The 36-year old Murcia, Negros native is finally in a spot where he can go after all those 'big names' that he's wanted to face for so long.  Names like Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzales, like Juan Francisco Estrada, like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, and even fellow Pinoy Jerwin Ancajas.  Simply put, Nietes wants all of them.  "Lahat ng nasa super flyweight, gusto ko kalabanin. Hindi naman ako medyo maliit kumpara sa kanila, talagang makakatapat ako sa kanila sa timbang." "Talagang pinag-hahandaan namin ang super flyweight." he added. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 8th, 2018

Worth a thousand words: NBA photographer Andrew Bernstein details his best shots

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com Andrew Bernstein knew he wanted to be a sports photographer or maybe a documentary filmmaker. Trouble was, he recalled recently, his school at the time – the University of Massachusetts Amherst – offered courses in neither photography nor film. Not exactly a well-planned start to his chosen career. So Bernstein transferred to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. And once the native of Brooklyn stepped off the plane into 85-degree sunshine, he was hooked. Thus began a professional path that has taken him around the world, yet kept him Los Angeles-centric as the NBA’s senior photographer. A part-time job as an assistant to Sports Illustrated shooters helped Bernstein score his first NBA gig as a photographer the 1983 All-Star Game at L.A.’s famous Forum. He’d eventually serve as team photographer for the city’s Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers and Kings, but it was in his work for the NBA that Bernstein made his greatest mark. In 1986, Bernstein helped create NBA Photos as the league’s in-house licensing agency, for which he served as senior director until 2011. He chronicled Team USA through its 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic championships, and has worked 36 NBA Finals and All-Star Games. Next month, his hardcover collaboration with Kobe Bryant -- “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” -- will hit bookshelves everywhere. This week as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, the 60-year-old photographer will be honored as a recipient of the 2018 Curt Gowdy Media Award. To shed light on his craft and share some behind-the-scenes tales, Bernstein -- prior to heading to Springfield, Mass. -- talked with NBA.com about some of his favorite and most famous images. Come fly with him ... Details: Michael Jordan soars with several Lakers in futile pursuit at the 1988 Hall of Fame preseason game between Chicago and Los Angeles at the Springfield Civic Center. Bernstein: “It was one of those crazy moments -- in those days, I could only do one remote camera. Now I can do almost an infinite number because it’s all done by radio. But back then, you had to hard-wire into the strobe [lighting] system for the big flashes, and you could only fire one. I chose the one shooting through the glass, behind the backboard. A lot of things could have gone wrong. His hand could have been in his face. He could have been out of the frame instead of just on the edge. I could only take one shot every four seconds [with the strobe] -- it’s not like I could lean on the motor drive and then pick one frame out of 10. … But it became known as “Come Fly with Me.” It did kind of define him at the time as being able to fly.” Back story: Bernstein added: “If you have a microscope, you can actually see me on the other side of the court, sitting there with a little trigger button. Then there’s the trivia question of all time -- who’s the other guy? That No. 3 happens to be [University of Virginia star and NBA role player] Jeff Lamp.” MJ: Champion, finally Details: Michael Jordan and his father, James, in the visitors’ dressing room at the Forum, after Game 5 of the 1991 Finals. Bulls 108, Lakers 101. Bernstein: “The network would do the trophy presentation in the winning team’s locker room, and the visitors’ side at the Forum was about the size of a closet. There seemed to be a thousand people in there, and all hell was breaking loose. I got up on top of a table in the middle of the room for a vantage point. When they came back live from a commercial, they wanted to have Michael on -- but they couldn’t find Michael. Some sixth sense said, ‘Look to your left,’ and there he was, in the locker, hugging that trophy, crying his eyes out with his dad next to him. I always felt, if he’d had to play that whole season for free to get to the mountain top, he would have. I knew this was a special moment. I banged a couple of frames really quick.” Back story: After James Jordan was murdered in 1993, Bernstein got a phone call from Michael’s office saying he “would love it if I made a print and sent it to him,” Bernstein said. “Which I did. I was very close with my dad and Michael Jordan knew him -- my dad was with me through the entire Dream Team experience [in 1992]. And I knew his dad. So it was a poignant moment in my career to have him request that photo. If I had to pick one photo to put on my tombstone, this would probably be it.” ‘Mamba’ coiled to strike Details: Shot from a camera suspended in the rafters at the Forum, a Hasselblad 120mm with a 350mm lens. “A heavy rig,” Bernstein called it, anchored with multiple clamps and safety cables on the catwalk, aimed straight down. Bernstein: “I love the composition of this photo and how everything just came together. The Forum had that beautiful Laker-gold ‘key.’ This was young Kobe, his first or second year, and he was a dunk machine back then. Look how he’s cocked back like that and flying thorugh the air, the basket right there. All the elements came together. When I saw this the next morning -- I had to take the film to the lab after the game, drop it off, then go back in the morning after sweating it out all night, hoping that I’d see something like this -- I was like, ‘Wow!’ All the preparation, hours and hours, setting the equipment up, and it all paid off.” Back story: It’s not common to see the top of a player’s head and the bottom of his sneakers in the same shot. Bernstein knew he had to share it and, thanks to the large-format film, he knew he could share it big. “As soon as I saw this,” he said, “I immediately made a giant print for Kobe -- I mean, like 50 [inches] by 70. Huge. I framed it and drove it to his house. He was living with his parents in Pacific Palisades at the time. I hope he still has it. I had given players like Magic [Johnson] and whomever 8x10s, but I never had framed something I was super-proud of.” Old Kobe ‘dunking’ again Details: Kobe Bryant, deep in his career, before a game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in January 2010. Bernstein: “During a long East Coast trip, the Lakers had played the night before in Cleveland and were at the Garden less than 24 hours later. Kobe was banged up that year. This was an hour and a half to game time, and he was literally willing himself to play that night. Both ankles are in ice. He’s got the finger in a little cup of ice. During my pregame routine, walking from the locker room to the training room, I just saw him there. Other guys were coming and going, but he was in this meditative state. I took one frame -- God forbid the click of the camera disturb or distract him. Phil [Jackson] called this ‘The Thinker,’ like Rodin’s sculpture.” Back story: A skilled photographer learns how quickly how to be unobtrusive, a “fly on the wall.” Said Bernstein: “You have to, to get behind-the-scenes intimate photos of players away from the bright lights, and what goes on in the bowels of the arena or during travel. In 2009-10, Phil and I collaborated on a book called ‘Journey to the Ring,’ which took the Lakers from media day to whenever their season would end. They ended up winning it all that year, which was unbelievable for the project. The photos were in black-and-white, which was a conscious decision Phil and I made.” Photographer, shoot thyself Details: Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bernstein before the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, Western Conference locker room at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. Bernstein: “This was his last All-Star Game and it was a true Kobe love-fest. I spent the entire weekend just with him, followed him everywhere he went. I mean, I didn’t cover it like I normally do for the NBA, and NBA Photos was very generous for letting me cover it through him. It was a beautiful weekend. He took it all in and was very appreciative. His humility came out -- a lot of people don’t think Kobe is humble, but I think he was. And he was very grateful, that he had an impact on all these All-Stars who were grateful to him.” Back story: The locker room was closed to the media, but as the league’s guy, Bernstein always has special access. “A couple of people were coming over to get photos with him -- Gregg Popovich, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and a couple others,” the photographer said. “And I just jumped in myself. Very, very rarely -- I mean, four times in our 20 years together -- did I jump in the picture with him. But I couldn’t resist.” Shadowing the superstars Details: Another overhead shot at the Forum, this time during the 1991 Finals, with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan fighting for what eventually will be a rebound. Bernstein: “With this angle, it’s always a crap shoot what you’re going to get. The rim could be blocking a guy’s face. Somebody could be too far under the basket. The focus point is so critical -- you have to be right on where it’s focused. As for the shadows, if you can imagine lights in each corner of the court, way up high. It just depended on where the players were placed. If one of them is blocking the light on one side, you get a shadow off to the other side. It’s always dramatic with the strobe. But just to get these two icons in the same frame was difficult.” Back story: Just as the famous parquet court at Boston Garden looked so iconic on TV and from afar, the Forum was best viewed from a distance. The paint worn off the top of the rim by balls and hands was something few ever saw. “The Forum was a dump,” Bernstein said. “The walls were caked with dirt. Nobody ever cleaned it. They used to feed us under the stands where the rodents were. It was like a Hollywood impostor, and it’s in Inglewood, which is not your glitzy Hollywood location. But they made it look good on TV. It was a tough place to work, I have to tell you.” Brothers in arms Details: A fisheye lens captures the moments immediately after Game 5 of 2017 Finals, with Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry front and center. Bernstein: “I’ve gotten good at getting out and being the first guy in the scrum. When a championship is won, I sharpen my elbows and just go for it. I try to be right next to the TV guy and well, I guess people know me and I make my way to wherever I have to be. This particular time, I knew there had to be a moment in there where Curry and Durant had an interaction. And it was amazing -- they’re almost like one body. It’s Kevin’s first championship and Steph is so happy for him as his teammate. And the pressure that was on the whole team to win this championship. I love this picture. It shows so much about the way I work and how I think about what I need to do in the moment.” Back story: Bernstein’s camera captured Durant’s mother Wanda to the left, crying and enjoying the moment. But a few seconds earlier, he said, “his mom came up and grabbed him by the front of the jersey. She kept yelling, ‘We did it! We did it!’ That’s a great picture too.” ‘Uncoachable?’ Unforgettable Details: Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson share a moment after beating the Magic in Game 5 and winning the 2009 NBA championship at Orlando’s Amway Arena. Bernstein: “If you remember the 2008-09 season, there was a lot of pressure on Kobe. People had been saying that he couldn’t win without Shaq, Phil had actually written that he was ‘uncoachable.’ But there’s such a paternal father-son thing going on in this picture. … I know I’ve got to go to the star player immediately at the buzzer. So I ran out and found Kobe. Phil and he had just come together and they were hugging, which is a nice picture. But I knew the instant after a hug can be just as special. Something told me to wait till after the hug -- because [with the limitation of the strobe lights] I can’t shoot rapidly -- and bing! They broke the hug and Phil’s looking like, ‘Job well done, son.’ And Kobe has this amazing look of relief and sense of accomplishment and exhaustion.” Back story: Bernstein said this is the only print of his work that his wife, Mariel, allows him to hang in their house. “We have three teenagers [at the time] who basically were the same age, all within a year of each other, and when all hell was breaking loose at our house, we’d stand the kids in front of this photo. My wife would say, ‘Look at that! If those two guys can get along and be respectful, we can do it in this house.’ ” Forever linked Details: The Celtics’ Larry Bird and the Lakers’ Magic Johnson fight for rebounding position along the foul lane at Boston Garden in the 1987 Finals. Bernstein: “This is probably my most well-known image, other than the one of Jordan hugging the trophy. Remember, these guys played different positions. They never really matched up. You’d never see Magic D-ing up Bird like you would with Michael or Isiah Thomas. And you’d never, ever see Bird D-ing Magic. I had to be unbelievably conscious of when they were on the court together, where they were on the court and somehow, if they would end up in my frame. The only times, honestly, I could ever get them in the same frame was the ‘captains’ meeting’ five minutes before tip at center court, shaking hands, and a free-throw situation. When, by the grace of God, they would line up facing me. That’s what this was. Back story: Just as Bird and Johnson were linked literally, arm in arm, in this photograph, their careers were linked figuratively through the NBA of the 1980s. “It kind of defined the era,” Bernstein said. “These two great guys intertwined, neither of them looking superior to the other. Jostling for position, just like the Celtics and the Lakers did. I love this picture, and I know both of those guys love it. This picture is hanging in the Hall of Fame.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 4th, 2018

Former Brazil great Ronaldo takes over Spanish club

By TALES AZZONI,  AP Sports Writer MADRID (AP) — Former Brazil great Ronaldo took over Monday as the majority stakeholder in recently promoted Spanish club Valladolid, saying he is bringing his soccer expertise to help the team succeed. Ronaldo now owns 51 percent of the shares of the club. He will preside over the board of directors while Carlos Suarez will remain club president, a job he held before Ronaldo's arrival. "I'm really excited," Ronaldo said at Valladolid's city hall. "My entire life has been about football and this is another great challenge for me, a very big one." The former Brazil striker said "transparency" and "competitiveness" will be part of the basis of his management. Financial details were not immediately available, but local media said the operation was worth about 30 million euros ($35 million). "I'll try to put all my soccer knowledge at the players' disposal and will try to manage the club efficiently," he said. "I want the club and the city to grow." Valladolid, which is based in a city of about 300,000 people, is playing in Spain's top division for the 41st time in its 90-year history. It last played in the top league in 2013-14. Suarez said the deal with Ronaldo will "put Valladolid on the map." "This is an important step for the growth of the club," the club president said. Ronaldo, who played at Barcelona and Real Madrid during his career, won World Cups with Brazil in 1994 and 2002. He became a successful businessman after retiring, owning companies and managing players. He said he will be fully committed to his new project. "What do you think? That I'll buy a club and then go on vacation?" Ronaldo said. "There's a lot of work to do, you have to stay close. I'll be as committed as possible, but there is a management team in place and I'm very happy with it." He said there's a lot to handle after "hasty" negotiations to finalize the club's take over. Ronaldo and the club were in talks during the offseason and the agreement reportedly wasn't completed until last week. "Little by little we will plan everything so this club can aspire to great things and grow as much as possible," he said. "This city and this club have a lot of potential." Valladolid opened with a 0-0 draw at Girona, lost to defending champion Barcelona 1-0 and drew 0-0 at Getafe. It's next game is against Alaves. "From now on we will focus on planning for the future, prioritizing the team," Ronaldo said. "It's crucial that we keep gaining points so we can remain in the top.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 4th, 2018

ASIAN GAMES: Wushu s Wong overcomes injuries to deliver Philippines third bronze

JAKARTA — Not even a recurring tendinitis and a battered right knee could stop wushu artist Agatha Chrystensen Wong from delivering the third bronze medal for the Philippine delegation as she placed third in the women's taijijian and taijiquan all-around competition in the 2018 Asian Games held Monday at the Jakarta International Expo. The 20-year-old De La Salle-College of St. Benilde student, who performed second in the field of 16 entries in the finals of the combined event, finished fifth with a score 9.68 points in the taijiquan held Sunday before ending up third with 9.68 in the taijijian on Monday for a total score of 19.36, just enough for her to clinch the bronze and grab her very first medal in a maiden Asian stint. In doing so, Wong tried to focus amid all the noise of an animated crowd, that included Indonesia President Joko Widodo, who came as early at the start of the event and personally witnessed home bet Lindwell Lindwell score a 9.75 first-place performance for a total of 19.50 points and the gold medal. Juanita Uen Ying Mok of Hong Kong grabbed the silver medal with a total of 19.42 points. “I was so nervous because I placed fifth in the first discipline. I had to make sure of an impressive performance in the second discipline so I can have a chance,” said Wong, who had an impressive stint in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia with her gold in the taijiquan event and another silver in the taijijian event. Performing to the tune of Heal the World, Wong,unmindful of Widodo’s presence, dished out her best performance despite a nagging pain in her foot and a bruised knee that both bothered her landing. “Nahirapan po talaga ako tumapak dahil sa tendinitis ko, tapos hirap ako magbend dahil sa knees ko. But I felt relieved kasi tapos na ako and my hard work paid off," said Wong, who didn't expect she will have podium right on her first try in the Asiad. "I had no expectations. I just wanted to do my best and I think I did my best performance. So I think that's worth it na din for my sacrifices and my family, who always supports me," Wong said. "I just always keep a very positive mindset and that has taken me places already ever since SEA Games and World Championships," add Wong. Wong’s bronze medal was the third of such color for the Philippine team here, counting the two others from the men’s and women’s poomsae taekwondo teams......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2018

“Can Aby your boyfriend?”: How Robert Bolick won Aby Maraño’s heart

Aby Maraño is everything you want in an athlete. She’s strong, driven and passionate about her sport. So, when basketball player Robert Bolick saw her play volleyball for the first time…he saw himself. The only difference was she was a three-time champion, two-time MVP and team captain, while he was merely a rookie and a bench warmer. Robert was also three years younger than her. Aby was way out of his league, it seemed. But, this young man was no loser. He was determined to shoot his shot and find some way to win her heart. His first move was to ask for a little favor from his former teammate, LA Revilla, who was the starting point guard of the DLSU Men’s Basketball team at the time. Robert needed LA to find out whether Aby had a boyfriend. Like he usually does on the hardcourt, LA delivered an assist to Robert in form of good news - Aby was single. Now, that Robert knew that his target was open, all he had to do was take a shot. And he took it at the most unexpected of moments. They were inside the school bus on the way back to DLSU after a Green Archers game in the UAAP. Aby, who was undergoing her on-the-job training with ABS-CBN Sports, the official broadcast partner of the league, hitched a ride with the team. There was a lot of joking among his teammates, but all Robert could think of was the soothing smell of Aby’s hair as he was seated right behind her. It was at that moment when Robert decided to crack a joke of his own. “Oy, Pre! Makinig kayong lahat!” announced Robert before motioning towards Aby. “Aby ka ba? Can Aby your boyfriend?” The entire bus erupted. It was as if they were back inside the MOA Arena where fans where screaming their lungs out. Robert looked at Aby’s face and sensed a positive reaction to his sudden revelation. “Ay. Parang kinilig ah,” he thought. As soon as they got off the bus, Robert and Aby shared their first dinner. When it was time to go home, Robert reminded Aby to take care and that they should continue communicating. “Text, text na lang tayo! Text mo ako ha.” he told her. “Paano kita ite-text? Wala naman akong number mo,” she replied. Little did Aby know that Robert didn’t ask for her number directly to avoid getting “busted.” His game plan worked as they started talking and spending time with each other more often. Upon Aby’s advice, Robert even asked her coach, the multi-titled Ramil de Jesus for permission to court her. Although Robert admitted that he was intimidated at first, he knew that he had no choice but to ask for Coach Ramil’s blessing to ensure a smooth passage to Aby’s heart. “Para sa akin naman, wala namang dapat katakutan pag alam mo na gusto mo talaga. Gusto ko naman si Aby eh.” Today, August 8, 2018, Robert and Aby are celebrating their 5th year anniversary together. A lot has happened in their lives since then. Robert has transformed himself into an accomplished athlete like Aby, winning three championships (1 UAAP title with La Salle, 2 NCAA titles with San Beda), a PBA D-League championship and MVP award among many accolades. They both have also become national team athletes as Robert was included in the “23 for 23” Gilas Pilipinas roster for the 2023 FIBA World Cup while Aby was named Captain of the Philippine Women’s Volleyball Team. “Hindi niya ako minahal dahil magaling ako mag-basketball. Minahal nga niya ako na bangko pa lang ako,” said Robert as he reminisced about everything he has been through with Aby throughout the past five years. While watching their careers blossom, following their love story is equally entertaining. The two are very open with regards to how they feel about each other. Aby even proudly declared during an interview on “Down the Line” that she would agree to marry Robert is ever he proposed to her.   We throw it back to an episode of #DownTheLinePH when @MrPureBusiness and @denniselazaro asked about Robert popping the big question to Tyang Aby! pic.twitter.com/NFGitS4TKE — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) August 8, 2018 Despite Robert and Aby being just 22 and 25 years old respectively, marriage has been a topic of conversation between the couple. “Sinasabi na nga niya sa akin na gusto niya na ‘Maraño-Bolick’ pag naglalaro siya,” revealed Robert. “Sabi ko naman sa kanya, ‘Take time lang. Total, five years na tayo magkasama. Di naman natin kailangan madaliin yan. Focus ka lang muna sa kung saan ka ngayon. Eventually, pag nag propose na ako, gusto ko yung ready ka na magka-anak.’” One of Robert’s biggest dreams in life is to be able to play with his future kids as a young father, preferably in his 20s. “Dream ko talaga na while naglalaro ako, makakalaro ko yung anak ko,” said Robert. “Kung magka-lalaki man lang ako, whatever na sport ang gusto niya, makakalaro ko man lang siya. Makaka-takbo-takbo man lang ako.” “Sabi ko kay Aby, ‘Tell me pag ready ka na.’” Only God knows what the future holds for these college sweethearts. But, right now, the King Lion and Tyang Aby are living their best lives. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

NL West-leading Dodgers get Dozier from Twins for Forsythe

By Dave Campbell, Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers kept revamping their infield, getting power-hitting second baseman Brian Dozier from the Minnesota Twins for infielder Logan Forsythe and two minor leaguers shortly before Tuesday’s trade deadline. Dozier will join a Dodgers team that’s in a tight race with Arizona, aiming for a return trip to the World Series. The Dodgers went all in by acquiring Baltimore shortstop Manny Machado during the All-Star break for five prospects. Dozier was the fifth player traded by the Twins in the last five days. Signaling the front office’s shift in focus to the future amid a disappointing season, Dozier followed starting pitcher Lance Lynn, relief pitchers Zach Duke and Ryan Pressly and infielder Eduardo Escobar out the door. The Twins received a total of 12 players in return, with Forsythe the only current major leaguer. The Twins also got outfielder Luke Raley and left-hander Devin Smeltzer for Dozier. Though the 31-year-old Dozier’s production has dropped off this year, he has 161 home runs in six seasons as a regular in the lineup. In 2016, Dozier went deep 42 times, becoming only the fourth player in major league history to hit 40 or more home runs while playing second base. Dozier is batting .224 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs this season, with a .708 on-base-plus-slugging percentage that’s his lowest since he was a rookie in 2012. Dozier, who is making $9 million this year, will be a free agent in the fall. He was drafted in the eighth round by the Twins in 2009. After the Twins lost a team-record 103 games in 2016, the Dodgers pursued Dozier that winter but settled for Forsythe in a trade with Tampa Bay instead. The Twins went on to make the playoffs, and the Dodgers were the National League champions. Forsythe, though, has not panned out in Los Angeles. The 31-year-old, who has played second base, third base and first base this season and took some turns at shortstop and left field in 2017, hit .218 with just eight home runs, 49 RBIs and a .639 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 189 games with the Dodgers. Forsythe will also be a free agent in the fall. The 23-year-old Raley was hitting .275 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs at Double-A. The 22-year-old Smeltzer was 5-5 with a 4.73 ERA at Double-A......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 1st, 2018

Ibrahimovic joins Ronaldo in skipping MLS All-Star Game

By Paul Newberry, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — The MLS All-Star Game will feature one of the world's most storied clubs. Unfortunately for the more than 70,000 fans expected at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Cristiano Ronaldo is not along for the ride. After Portugal's elimination from the World Cup and his transfer from Real Madrid, the five-time FIFA Player of the Year took time off rather than accompany Juventus on its American preseason tour, which includes Wednesday night's game against top players from Major League Soccer. The decision will surely be a disappointment to the big crowd that had hoped Ronaldo would make his unofficial debut while touring the United States with the Italian club that has won seven straight Serie A championships. Juventus acquired the 33-year-old from Real Madrid on July 10 in a deal his new club said was worth 112 million euros ($131.5 million) — the largest for a player older than 30 . Also sitting out the U.S. tour, which includes three other exhibitions, is Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain. He is coming off a scoreless World Cup in which he didn't start in the round of 16 loss to eventual champion France. "Obviously these guys are world-class players," said Atlanta United's Brad Guzan, a goalkeeper for the MLS team. "With or without them, it will be a difficult game. But their names alone bring a lot of attention. It's a shame for everybody on the outside. For me, personally, hopefully it makes for an easier night." Most players take three weeks off after the World Cup. Juventus opens its Serie A schedule at Chievo Verona the weekend of Aug. 18-20 . "We are sorry not to have the Ronaldo, and Higuain as well," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said through a translator. "Unfortunately, they played in the World Cup. They needed some days to rest." Ronaldo and Higuain won't be the only big names missing from the game. One of MLS' top new stars, LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, announced Monday that he's skipping the All-Star match rather than make a cross-country trip to Atlanta. The 36-year-old Swede cited the grind of playing three matches in an eight-day span, including Sunday night's 4-3 victory over Orlando City in which he scored his first MLS hat trick. Ibrahimovic ranks second in MLS with 15 goals. He played with Juventus from 2004-06. "I am disappointed to miss the 2018 All-Star game against Juventus, one of my former clubs," Ibrahimovic said in a statement. "I want to thank the fans for voting me to the team. My main focus is to score goals and help the LA Galaxy to the playoffs." The Galaxy (10-7-5) are unbeaten in nine games and have climbed to third place in the Western Conference. Per MLS rules, Ibrahimovic will also have to sit out LA's next match Saturday against Colorado, one of the league's worst teams. New York City forward David Villa also will skip the All-Star Game after missing six matches with a knee injury. Ibrahimovic and Villa were replaced on the MLS roster by Minnesota forward Darwin Quintero and New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams. Atlanta United coach Gerardo Martino, who will be guiding the MLS team, said the timing of the game does pose problems. "In reality, I recognize it's a little bit of a challenge for coaches who have players participating," Martino said through an interpreter. "Some players are coming from teams where they've played three games (in the last week). Some had a long trip to get here, like from Vancouver. I understand it's a very beautiful spectacle for the league and the United States. But I think what we have to look at in the future is to have it at a different time, either before or after the season. "We have to make sure the players arriving here in good condition are also returning to their teams in good condition." But MLS is eager to show off its most compelling success story. Atlanta shattered the MLS attendance record in its debut season, averaging 48,200 per game, and is on pace to break that mark this year at nearly 52,000 per game. The club already has the five biggest stand-alone crowds in MLS history — each more than 70,000 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The league expects another record crowd for its All-Star Game, breaking the mark of 70,728 in Houston for the 2010 match in which Manchester United defeated the MLS squad 5-2. An extra 1,500 tickets have been put on sale to meet the demand. "It's been fantastic to see the support that the city has given the club," Guzan said. "There's not many cities around the world that have what we have here in Atlanta. I'm happy to have the opportunity to showcase this to everyone.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 31st, 2018

Undeterred by skeptical fans, Thomas takes Tour title

By Andrew Dampf and Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — The spits and the jeers. The eggs thrown at team cars. The attempts to unbalance riders while riding up the most grueling climbs. Geraint Thomas never flinched at whatever fans — or his rivals — threw at him or Team Sky. The Welsh rider was the steadiest rider from the start, the strongest in the Alps and the Pyrenees. On Sunday he concluded his transformation from a support rider into a champion of cycling's biggest race by claiming his first Tour de France title. "With the boys, that's the main thing for the whole three weeks, we stuck together through some tough times, stayed strong," Thomas said. "Everything just clicked this race." Thomas successfully defended his lead of 1 minute, 51 seconds over second-placed Tom Dumoulin in the mostly ceremonial final stage. Four-time champion Chris Froome, Thomas's teammate, finished third, 2:24 behind. Froome rode next to Thomas as they crossed the line and applauded. Thomas was a support rider during Froome's four victories but he emerged as Sky's strongest rider in this race when Froome crashed early on and couldn't keep up in the mountains. Sky — and consequently Thomas — became a target for many fans due to an asthma drug case involving Froome, stemming from last year's Spanish Vuelta. Even though Froome was cleared of doping days before the start of the Tour, that didn't stop some fans from abusing the British team's riders throughout the three-week race. "When there is negativity like that, it brings us as a team closer together," Froome said. "It feels like it's us against the rest of the world. ... You can choose to let it get to you or you can choose to let it motivate you, and we let it motivate us." Thomas stormed into the lead by winning back-to-back mountain stages in the Alps, including the iconic climb up Alpe d'Huez, then defended his advantage in the Pyrenees. During the podium ceremony, Thomas draped the flag of Wales over his shoulders, then ended his victory speech with a mic drop. "All I can say is that I do it the right way," Thomas said when asked about concerns of alleged doping within Sky. "We train super hard and there's nothing I can say that will prove it. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing. It will stand the test of time." An all-around rider who began his career on the track, the 32-year-old Thomas helped Britain to gold medals in team pursuit at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics before turning his full attention to road racing. "I have my own goals and I kept doing what I'm doing and kept focused on that. ... Obviously it's not nice to hear (the jeers) but I do what I do and focus on myself," Thomas said. "It's easy to get wrapped up in or get angry or depressed but I stay in my own world." Riding a yellow bicycle to match his yellow jersey, Thomas shared glasses of champagne with his teammates during the casual ride into Paris before buckling down to keep up with the other leaders on the jarring cobblestones of the Champs-Elysees. "It's going to take a while to sink in," Thomas said. "Normally that stage is really hard but today I just seemed to float around it. I had goose bumps going around there. The support from the Welsh, British flags. ... To ride around wearing this (yellow jersey) is a dream." Norwegian rider Alexander Kristoff with UAE Team Emirates won the last stage in a sprint finish, narrowly beating John Degenkolb and Arnaud Demare. "I've dreamed about this victory for many years," Kristoff said. "I've been close many times before but never managed to beat the faster guys like (Mark) Cavendish, (Andre) Greipel, or (Marcel) Kittel, but today they're not here, they're out after the mountains, and today I was the fastest, so I'm super happy." The mostly flat 116-kilometer (72-mile) leg began in Houilles just outside Paris and concluded with nine laps up and down the Champs-Elysees. Many spectators along the Champs-Elysees held their arms high to record the riders on their smart phones as they went past on the cobblestones, and there were more cheers when 11 jets flew overhead leaving trails in the blue, white and red colors of the French flag. Street vendors sold chicken, sausages, waffles, cake and sweets, while the smell of crepes filled the air. Glenn Roberts, from Newtown in mid-Wales, was in attendance with his wife and children. The family timed its summer vacation to coincide with the Tour's finish. "Thomas was in the yellow when we left Wales but we didn't know if he was going to keep it. We thought Froome was going to win it, if I'm being honest," Roberts said. "It's the best thing a Welshman has ever done in sport." ___ AP Sports Writer Samuel Petrequin contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 30th, 2018

Up next for USA Basketball: Waiting, and hoping

LAS VEGAS --- And now, they wait. USA Basketball's two-day minicamp ended Friday, and what's next for the national team isn't exactly clear. If all goes well, they'll be gathering for a camp around this time next year to begin training for the FIBA World Cup in China. Thing is, the Americans might not know until February if they've qualified. So while U.S. coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs will keep planning and thinking about what may be ahead, he knows that work comes with no guarantees at this point. "We're not going anywhere if we don't qualify," Popovich said. "Jeff Van Gundy has been doing a great job in handling that. It's a big-time job and our focus, ...Keep on reading: Up next for USA Basketball: Waiting, and hoping.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 28th, 2018

SUPER 8: Inside the Asia League s grand basketball plans for the region

MACAU --- The Summer Super 8 is just the beginning. The Asia League may only have eight teams, including two Pinoy teams, in its tournaments now with the Super 8, but the FIBA-recognized offseason competition platform for club basketball is targeting bigger and better things. All for the continued development of basketball, particularly in this part of Asia. Matt Beyer, CEO of the Asia League, noticed a couple of years back that there's pretty much no international club-to-club basketball competitions in Asia so he made some things happen. While football has tournaments like the UEFA Champions League, basketball has no such thing. There's the FIBA Champions Cup, but that includes all of Asia. What the Asia League tries to focus on is the East Asia and Southeast Asian territory, where top teams from China, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines can go after each other in high-level tournaments. "I just think there's a huge lack in international club-to-club basketball competition in Asia," Beyer said. "And if you look at China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Chinese Taipei, if you add the population of these geographies, it's over 2 billion people. So there's a lot of fans but no high level club-to-club competition. That's the reason this was created," he added. For Beyer, Macau seems to be the perfect setting to stage such tournaments and for the Summer Super 8, he's looking at it as something that could become Asia's version of the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League. Asia League has eight teams competing for the Super 8 this year with two teams each from China, Korea, and the Philippines plus one each from Japan and Taipei. Next year, the Super 8 may no longer be as the plan is to have 16 teams see action. "What we're aiming for is to become the East Asian version of the Las Vegas summer league," Beyer said. "Our July events, we will expand the scale of the teams. The eight teams this year, I wanna have 16 next year and that means more PBA teams if that's logistically possible," he added. Speaking of the PBA, the Asia League is aggressive is trying to work with getting Filipino teams to its events. Why? Pinoy teams attract crowds and they generally perform well with these kind of tournaments. For the ongoing Super 8, both NLEX and Blackwater ended up with identical 2-1 records. The Road Warriors are in the semifinals and the Elite missed the playoffs by one basket and ended up with an inferior quotient. And despite group play being played on weekdays, a decent Filipino crowd have showed up to watch the action at the East Asian Games Dome. "We started the dialogue with the PBA and Commissioner Willie (Marcial)," Beyer said. "We're trying to coordinate being able to make things work with the schedule and have teams released for the tournaments or just fit into the windows where they're available. I think we can work it out long term and I think this is good for the PBA and to the teams to play against different types of teams for a technical perspective and it should help to get the news out about PBA teams in other markets," he added. Aside from the Super 8 this year, the Asia League also has the Terrific 12 coming up in September. More than the number of teams involved, that tournament should be fiercer with club teams being allowed to have imports. Beyer ideally wants to have the PBA participate in that as well but with the Governors' Cup ongoing at that time, it might be difficult at least for this year. Still, the Asia League wants Pinoy teams, but not just any Pinoy teams. That's why Alab Pilipinas has been in consideration to compete in September though it's yet to be seen if Jimmy Alapag's crew can join. Ultimately, Beyer's goal is to have the Asia League be a hub for teams across Asia to compete with one another in such a way that their own mother leagues aren't being disrupted. The Asia League wants its July event to be the premier offseason joust. "The ideal situation that I look at is the July event be the summer league and expand it to 32 teams in three years. And that becomes the premier offseason forum just like the Las Vegas summer league is in the West," Beyers said. "September, we can't expand it above 12, that might be a little too big but let's see how it goes. That's gonna be the biggest preseason party for teams. We're gonna have the best rosters, tons of media, and broadcast on over 30 platforms all over the world," he added. That seems grand enough for the Asia League but there's more. Soon enough, full integration is going to be Beyer's target. "What we want starting the 2019-2020 season is to have integration into the seasons. What I look at is a pilot project where we take teams that are on the region and put them into two small groups that play home and way through the season, maybe one game per month to start," Beyer said. "And then we do a Final Four event, probably here in Macau to start. And then maybe that Final Four event can be like Euroleague Final Four before it moves around the region at an annual basis. That would be what I like to see. That would require a deep partnership with FIBA and the associations like the PBA," he added. Ultimately, the Asia League would like to stay true its mission to raise the standard of basketball in the region through greater collaboration with different leagues. It helps that for the current Super 8, teams are in it to win it and are taking things seriously. There should be more to come. "This isn't a one off tournament. We want to have a series of events. FIBA's mandate is a little different than ours but I think the goal is the same, we want to develop basketball and make the level of competition better in the region," Beyers said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 21st, 2018