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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

“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

As MLB mulls rule changes, union hints at work stoppage

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Major League Baseball wants a broad discussion with players about rule changes to combat decreased offense and longer games, an initiative likely to be met by a testy union stung by declining free-agent prices and already raising the possibility of a work stoppage after the 2021 season. Commissioner Rob Manfred and players' association head Tony Clark outlined their differing agendas during separate sessions with the Baseball Writers' Association of America before Tuesday night's All-Star Game. "There is a growing consensus or maybe even better an existing consensus among ownership that we need to have a really serious conversation about making some changes to the way the game is being played," Manfred said. "We are not at the point where I can articulate for you what particular rule changes might get serious consideration. I can tell you the issues that concern people: I think that the period of time between putting balls in play, the number of strikeouts, to a lesser extent the number of home runs, the significance of the shift and what it's done to the game, the use of relief pitchers and the way starting pitchers are going to be used." Clark repeatedly maintained players are reluctant to change as "stewards of the game." "We may get to a point where those coming to the ballpark or have an interest in coming to the ballpark for whatever reason aren't 100 percent certain that what they are see is the type of game that they want to see," he said. More than 100 free agents remained unsigned when spring training began this year. Many agreed to deals at a fraction of the price they thought they were worth and for fewer years than they expected. "What we experienced last offseason was a direct attack on free agency, which has been a bedrock of our economic system, and if that is going to be different, then we have some very difficult decisions to make moving forward," Clark said. Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95 but has had labor peace since. The current five-year contract runs through the 2021 season, and Clark left open a possible return to the era of strife. "To the extent there are challenges to those rights, historically I would suggest those have manifested themselves in a particular way," he said. The union filed a grievance in February against Miami, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, accusing the teams of failing to appropriately spend revenue-sharing money in an effort to improve their on-field product. Manfred dismissed the allegations, saying the grievance was filed "really for publicity reasons." Manfred said the lack of interest in free agents was due to the dearth of quality. "At the end of the year you'll look at the performance of those players," he said, "I'm pretty sure, based on what's already in the books, you're going to make the judgment that the clubs made sound decisions as to how those players should be valued." Management is alarmed by what is taking place on the field. Strikeouts (24,537) are on track to surpass hits (24,314) for the first time. Strikeouts also are likely to set a record for the 12th straight season, and this year's average of 17.0 per game is up from 12.6 in 2005. The current big league batting average of .247 would be the lowest since 1972. There have been 20,587 shifts on balls in play, according to Baseball Info Solutions. That projects to a full-season total of 34,668 — up 29.8 percent from last year and an increase from 6,882 for the entire 2013 season. That has decreased the batting average of stars such as Washington's Bryce Harper, who is hitting just .214. And the average attendance of 28,568 is down from the 30,159 at the break last year, when the final figure was 30,042. MLB has not dropped below 30,000 since 2002. Manfred blamed early season bad weather. "We've made up some ground," he said. "We were down as much as 8, 9 (percent) early, we were back to like 5.5 percent down, and I'm optimistic." Lack of competitiveness among rebuilding teams also is a likely factor. Three teams are on track to lose 100 or more games, which would match the record set in 2002, and five others are on a pace for 90 or more defeats. Clark called the attendance drop "dramatic" and said while weather is partly to blame "the concerns that fans have in regards to the competitive integrity piece is one of them" along with "players being moved from teams that fans had a connection with." While he wouldn't cite teams for tanking, he said it appears many clubs are deciding to rebuild if analytics tell them they can't compete to win the World Series. "This is only what I am hearing, that teams are making decisions against the backdrop of what they believe their roster is going to yield and the landing place of where their team is going to be at the end of the year, that those data points suggest if you're not in a particular place, then it may make more sense not to look to be the last team standing," he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2018

PFF President Nonong Araneta reveals exciting times ahead for Philippine football

Mariano “Nonong” Araneta is pumped up for Philippine football, and it's easy to see why. The Philippine Football Federation president has divulged exciting details of the federation's plans to develop the national training center in the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite. Plus the Azkals are also getting ready for a busy few months ahead. Araneta is keen on ramping up the federation's partnership with the Manila Jockey Club in SLLP, where the FIFA Artificial Turf Pitch is situated. Already a training ground for youth national teams and club sides, Araneta says that lighting towers will soon be installed that will permit nighttime play. “We are just waiting for AFC because the lights will be bidded out,” Explains Araneta. “Hopefully they will be installed by the end of the year.” The lights will feature an intensity of 900 lux, more than the accepted 800 lux minimum for televised matches. The lights will complement the hundreds of new seats that have already been put in place around the pitch. But that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the PFF has planned for Carmona. “We have spoken to Manila Jockey Club about transferring our headquarters there,” says Araneta. “We are ready to start the bidding and construction.” The PFF is planning to purchase a 3000 sqm parcel of land within the San Lazaro Leisure Park and build a complex with dormitories, classrooms for coaching and referee courses, and a gym. “The funds are ready, initially we will be getting US$1.5 Million from FIFA,” says Araneta, who says the federation will be selling their current building in Pasig to help fund the move. But Araneta says that another option is available, to buy a different 2000 sqm plot of land beside the artificial pitch that is separate from the 3000 sqm parcel. There a grandstand could be constructed, transforming the pitch into a stadium. The headquarters could then be situated under the seating while the other site houses the dorms, classrooms, and gym. More fields are also in the pipeline in the training center. Araneta says that two artificial turf mini-pitches measuring 40 by 20 meters will be made right beside the main pitch. These will also be lighted and can accommodate recreational play and festival competitions. Incredibly, there will be yet another pitch in the training center, a natural grass regulation field within the Manila Jockey Club's racetrack. “That is for our national teams so that if they are set to play on grass, they can train there,” explains Araneta. The middle of the racetrack already has a grass area where football is played. Manila Jockey Club and PFF have yet to decide if the new grass pitch will be a brand new one or if the current surface will be improved. “We want our activities to be there,” declares Araneta. “We have already had coaching seminars there. Schools can also use our facilities. The pitch is there to be used not to be seen,” he adds with a chuckle. Araneta is a former national team player himself and is also optimistic about the near future with the Azkals. The squad is facing two big tournaments in the coming months: the AFF Suzuki Cup in November and December and their maiden appearance in the AFC Asian Cup in January 2019. Araneta says the Azkals will travel to Bahrain during the September FIFA window to play a Bahraini club side, likely on Sept 7, before tangling with the Bahrain national team on September 11. There will also be a FIFA window in October, and Araneta says the Filipinos can enjoy at least one friendly at home. Araneta hopes that Rizal Memorial will still be available before it gets spruced up in preparation for the country's hosting of the 2019 SEA Games. “Our fans will get to watch our new team,” said the president with evident pride. Crunch time begins in November, with the Azkals in a five-team round-robin group with a new home-and-away format. The Philippines will host Singapore in Bacolod's Panaad Stadium on November 13 before playing either Brunei or Timor Leste away four days later. The two ASEAN minnows will square off in a two-legged qualifying series in September to to determine who makes the group stage. On November 21 the Azkals entertain Thailand in Panaad in what promises to be a mouthwatering contest, before closing their group stage against Indonesia, probably in Jakarta, on November 25. The semis will run from December 1 to 6, with the two-legged finals being held on the 11th and 15th. After a quick Christmas break the team jets off to the Middle East on December 26, where final preparations for the Asian Cup will commence in earnest. There are plans to play in Qatar against either a club team or their national side, and then perhaps a game in Kuwait before the team goes to the United Arab Emirates. The group schedule is as follows: January 7 against Korea Republic in Dubai, January 11 versus China in Abu Dhabi, then January 16 against Kyrgyzstan in Dubai. The top two will advance to the knockout round, but the Philippines can also sneak through as one of the better third-placers. But the senior national team isn't the only competition Pinoy football fans can focus on this year. The boys U15 national team were in action while the U16 girls play in an AFC competition. The U19 men also played in the AFF U19 Championship, where they beat Singapore 2-1. The senior ladies team also notched a win against the Lion City in their AFF tournament. Araneta says the very successful PFF Women's League from last year will be run again, and that the PFF also plans a youth league. Both will be partly funded by FIFA. Of course the Philippines Football League will continue, with a League and Cup phase. The realization of these plans will be one of the achievements of Araneta's presidency. Another will be his membership in the 33-person FIFA Council, which acts as a board of directors of the organization. Araneta was recently in Russia to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup along with other council members. Araneta is one of six Asians in the FIFA Council, alongside members from China, Malaysia, Korea Republic, Bahrain, and Bangladesh. He is the first Filipino to serve in this level of leadership in FIFA. The Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo native freely explains the benefit the country can enjoy from this connection. According to Araneta “we have firsthand information on funding, and the Philippines is part of the body that will decide on what's best for football.” He says that in the next cycle of FIFA funding he might be able to acquire an additional US$ 2 million for the development of the training center. The PFF President also enjoys the inside track when it comes to acquiring development funds from the Asian Football Confederation, since he also serves as the Chairman of the AFC Finance Committee. “All budgets pass through us. We know the funding, the revenues. We know when to ask for projects. Like the lights in Carmona, that was approved by the AFC development committee,” continues Araneta. But being part of the FIFA Council is not all glitz and glamor, confesses Araneta. He mentioned a recent Council meeting in Bogota, Colombia, that necessitated an arduous 33-hour trip through Europe for a stay that lasted just two days. Sometimes deliberations in FIFA meetings can stretch for as long as six hours. Immediately after the Bogota confab he jetted off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for another meeting. “It's no joke,” says Araneta, who is 64 years old. But the former striker and defender has no complaints and reveals his motivation to keep on going at the job. “I went to the Youth Football League. I visited the Allianz National Youth Futsal Invitational. You see the kids playing there, you see kids play everywhere. The enthusiasm of the players is what keeps me going.” - RELEASE.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2018

Coach of England wins the nation s heart by being a nice guy

By Danica Kirka, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — In an age of tattoos, tongue piercings and tensions over Brexit, a soft-spoken man in a dark blue waistcoat and striped tie is uniting England amid dreams of victory in soccer's World Cup. Coach Gareth Southgate is the buttoned-down leader of a new generation of players who speak softly and let their victories silence critics. And England supporters have found that refreshing after years of underperforming teams led by stars such as David Beckham, who became as much a celebrity as an athlete. "He's very much about a team spirit. It's more about the collective — you can see it in the way he deals with the squad," said Paul Willis, who was in the stands last Saturday in Samara, Russia, when England reached the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Sweden. "We had superstars, but we didn't have a team." Southgate's focus on teamwork and civility has made him an unlikely icon in a country that is deeply divided by bitter arguments over plans to leave the European Union and a widening gap between rich and poor. England Captain Harry Kane may be the tournament's leading scorer, but fans are donning waistcoats and ties — even as the country enjoys an unusually hot summer — in homage to Southgate as pundits extol the 47-year-old coach's calm leadership. "He has shown us the value of courtesy, kindness, hard work and that most derided of virtues, niceness," columnist India Knight wrote in the Sunday Times. "He has redefined not just how to be a manager, but how to be a man." Southgate displayed his character after England's July 3 victory over Colombia, offering a supportive hug to Colombian player Mateus Uribe after his miss in a penalty shootout helped England advance. The England coach understood Uribe's agony, having missed a similar shot at the 1996 European championships. The moment of empathy also reminded the country how Southgate once lampooned his own failure with a Pizza Hut commercial in which he wore a bag over his head to shield his identity from angry fans. Southgate's compassion sparked a hashtag for the coach's real and imagined acts of kindness such as "#GarethSouthgateWould stop and help you put the chain back on your bike even if he was all dressed in his waistcoat and late for the game." Southgate became manager less than two years ago after the Football Association's first choice was forced out after unguarded comments to undercover reporters. Since then he has quietly ushered out the last of the old stars and brought together a group of youngsters who modestly shrug off compliments and give kudos to their teammates. Perhaps more importantly, he recognized the contribution of the fans, something that had been eroded during the superstar era. After every game, Southgate and his players walk across the field to applaud the supporters who have traveled to Russia to cheer for the team. "We had lost a bit of connection," Willis, a 57-year-old fan from Birmingham, said of past regimes. "That is now back. All the team and the back room applaud our input to the game." That has also translated into huge support back home in football-mad England. At least 20 million people, 38 percent of England's population, watched Saturday's victory over Sweden, according to figures from the BBC. Commentators say the actual number was much higher because so many people watched the game on huge screens in parks and shopping centers. London authorities are inviting 30,000 fans to the city's Hyde Park for a screening of Wednesday's semifinal against Croatia. Fearing demand will far exceed that, authorities stressed that only those with tickets should come to the park. Ticket services reported hundreds of people were trying to dump theater tickets for Wednesday because they had more pressing business elsewhere. Social media sites are urging fans to wear waistcoats — please don't call them vests — to the office ahead of the big match — a "Waistcoat Wednesday" if you will. Marks & Spencer, the official tailor to the England team, says sales of the grandfatherly garments have doubled during the World Cup. Rio Ferdinand, one of the previous "golden generation" of players who is now a commentator for the BBC, has been leading the cheers for this year's team, asking fans to post video of their beer-throwing, chest-bearing, flag-waving celebrations after the win over Sweden. On Sunday, Ferdinand tweeted his own mea culpa for past failures, while also highlighting Southgate's unique contribution. "Why weren't the golden generation... the golden generation???" he tweeted. "We as players look at ourselves first...we never performed....but sometimes you have to be allowed to perform! Gareth is allowing this current @England to do this." That's paying off. Kane, who turns 25 later this month, has scored six goals in the tournament. Dele Alli, 22, came back from injury to score the team's second goal against Sweden. Fabian Delph, 28, played the last 15 minutes of Saturday's game after missing the previous game against Colombia because Southgate allowed him to go home for the birth of his third child. Southgate himself recognizes the contributions of everyone, from the physiotherapists to the players who push their teammates in practice but rarely get into a game, even to fans back home. "Our country has been through some difficult moments recently in terms of its unity, and I think sport has the power to do that and football in particular has the power to do that," he said. "So for us, we can feel the energy and we can feel the support from home, and that's, that's a very special feeling. It's a privilege." Barring that, it does help to have a snappy waistcoat. "Quite frankly, I don't care what he wears," Willis said. "He can wear a tutu if we carry on winning.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

COWD Joins Coastal Cleanup for World Oceans Month

June 8, 2018 is World Oceans Day. The action focus for this year is “Preventing Plastic Pollution and Encouraging Solutions for a Healthy Ocean.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  kagay_anRelated NewsJun 27th, 2018

Bubba Watson shoots 63 to rally for 3rd Travelers title

By Pat Eaton-Robb, Associated Press CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Bubba Watson says TPC River Highlands feels like home. It certainly was a comfortable place again this week. Watson overcame a six-stroke deficit Sunday to win his third Travelers Championship title, shooting a 7-under 63 for a three-stroke victory. The left-hander became the first three-time winner on the PGA Tour this season and pulled within one of Billy Casper's tournament record of four victories. He finished at 17-under 263. Third-round leader Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Beau Hossler and J.B. Holmes tied for second. Casey shot 72, Cink 62, Hossler 66 and Holmes 67. Watson also came from six back to win the 2010 event for his first tour title and beat Casey in a playoff in 2015. "I feel like this is my home course," Watson said. "As soon as they put the schedule up, I sign up for this. I want to come back here. This means so much, not only from the golf side of it, but from the family side. My dad, it was the only time he got to see me win (in 2010). He got to see me qualify for the Ryder Cup at this event. So all these things just mean so much to my family." During the victory ceremony, Watson's adopted children — 6-year-old son Caleb and 3-year-old daughter Dakota — received small trophies of their own. Watson shot a 33 on the front nine, but really got it going on the back, with five birdies. He tied Casey at 16-under par by getting up and down from the bunker for a birdie on the course's signature 15th hole. Still tied on the par-4 18th, Watson hit his tee shot 366 yards, then pitched inside 3 feet, giving caddie Ted Scott a big high-five before taking the lead with the putt. "Hitting some of those shots, especially the shot on 18, downwind, it was very difficult, but somehow pulling it off" Watson said. "And that's what we all try to do on Sundays is pull off the amazing shot." Casey, who shot 65, 67 and 62 to lead the field by four shots coming into Sunday, birdied his opening hole. But he gave that back on the fifth and had back-to-back bogeys on 16 and 17 to end any chance he had of catching Watson. The Englishman has finished in the top 20 in eight of his last nine tournaments. He was second here during his first visit in 2015, came in 17th a year later and had a fifth-place finish in Cromwell a year ago. "There was a lot of fight in there," Casey said. "But, I fought my golf swing all day as you can see coming down the last couple of holes." Watson also won at Rivera in Los Angeles in February and the World Golf Championships-Match Play in Austin, Texas, in March. He earned $1.26 million for his 12th career victory. Cink tied the best round of the week with a 62 on Sunday. The two-time Travelers Champion came out blazing, opening with three straight birdies and putting up a 29 on the front nine. He was 7-under through 10 and acknowledged thinking about a sub-60 round after making birdie on the 15th. "I knew that I needed three birdies to shoot 59. But quickly, I also remembered that the golf tournament was on the line and it would mean a lot more to me to win the Travelers Championship than to shoot a 59." He bogeyed 16, but finished the round with his 10th birdie. Defending champion Jordan Spieth, who was tied for the lead after the opening round, shot a 69 to finish at 4 under. There hasn't been a repeat champion in Cromwell since Phil Mickelson in 2001 and 2002. Spieth said he was originally planning to take time off until he defends his title at the British Open, but may re-evaluate that as he works on his game. U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka shot a 65 to tie for 19th at 9 under. He said his top priority right now is rest, but said that won't come until after he attends a bachelor party for his best friend next week. "I don't feel like I need to play; I feel like my game is in a good spot," he said. "I played really well this week, just some stupid mistakes, just mental errors. That's all it was, lack of focus, low energy. To be honest with you, I'm not surprised." Qualifier Chase Seiffert shot a 63 on Monday just to make the tournament. He shot a 64 Sunday to finish at 12 under and tie for ninth. Seiffert's round included an eagle at the sixth hole that saw him put second shot 301 yards over the green, before holing out from 49 feet away. The 26-year-old former Florida State star also qualified last year and tied for 43rd. "I feel like my game's good enough to be out here full-time and kind of confirms that with the way I've been playing this week and last year here as well," he said. Jason Day holed out on 18 from 38 feet, just in front of the greenside bunker to finish at 69 and 11 under......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2018

Meet the 2018 World Cup All-Pogi Starting XI

The members of the World Cup All-Pogi Starting XI are not necessarily the starters in their respective teams.  This is a different kind of Starting XI. The kind that makes viewers want to stay plastered to their screens not just for the goals, but for those brief moments of close-ups that make the wait worth it. Our Pogi Starting XI follows the classic 4-4-2 formation. These fine fellas bring the “beautiful” to the beautiful game. Here we go.   GOALKEEPER Alphonse Areola, FRA   🇫🇷🆚🇵🇪 📍Ekaterinburg Arena 🕔 17h @equipedefrance #FRAPER #fiersdetrebleus A post shared by Alphonse Areola (@areolaofficiel) on Jun 21, 2018 at 12:19am PDT He may be the third choice keeper for Les Bleus but this 25-year-old, 6’3” Frenchman born to Filipino parents is definitely first in our hearts.   DEFENDER Gerard Pique, ESP   Focus A post shared by Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) on Dec 4, 2017 at 10:45am PST If Shakira thinks he’s hot, who are we to say otherwise?   William Ekong, NGA   End of a good camp with the @ng_supereagles. We keep working and improving. Thanks everyone for your support 🇳🇬🦅🙏🏽 A post shared by William Troost-Ekong (@wtroostekong) on Mar 28, 2018 at 8:32am PDT Ekong has Dutch and Nigerian ancestry and the 6’3” centre back’s fine mix of physical attributes from both sides of his family tree is more than evident.   Ramin Rezaeaian, IRN   ٨٠ ميليون نفر،يك ملت،يك ضربان قلب.. همه براي تيم ملي ايران ❤️🇮🇷🇮🇷🙏 80 milion people, One Nation, One Heart Beat.. Iran ❤️🇮🇷🙏i A post shared by Ramin Rezaeian (@raminrezaeian) on Jun 11, 2018 at 11:07am PDT Mr Rezaeaian owns the Derek Zoolander-approved Blue Steel 100%, and then some.    Gotoku Sakai, JPN   新しいスパイクを履いていいトレーニングできてます👍 #HereToCreate #X18 #スプリントスパイク #createdwithadidas A post shared by GotokuSakai_official (@sakai_go1123) on Jun 6, 2018 at 5:31am PDT Describing Gotoku-san as kawaii doesn’t even cut it. He’s an American-born Japanese right back and he definitely stands out among the Blue Samurai.   MIDFIELDER Isco, ESP   2️⃣2️⃣🇪🇸😍 A post shared by Isco Alarcon Suarez (@iscoalarcon) on Jun 8, 2018 at 11:07am PDT Isco, full name Francisco Roman Alarcón Suárez, rocks the millennial beard like it’s nobody’s business.    James Rodriguez, COL   El mejor café del mundo 🇨🇴✌🏼 A post shared by James Rodríguez (@jamesrodriguez10) on May 24, 2018 at 3:39pm PDT James Rodriguez? More like James Reid. James is your college crush that never seems to age. Andre Silva, POR   É sempre uma honra ter a oportunidade de representar @portugal! Unidos lutaremos pelo nosso objectivo #ConquistaOSonho A post shared by André Silva (@andresilva9) on May 17, 2018 at 1:32pm PDT Boyish good looks? Check. Eyebrows to die for? Check. Until you see his pool-side photos on Instagram. Who you calling a boy?   Makoto Hasebe, JPN   MHSC (Makoto Hasebe Sports Club) 一昨日は藤枝校と浜松校の交流戦を行いました。開校以来、子どもたちの成長するスピードに驚いています。そして子どもたちが楽しんでいる姿が何よりも嬉しいです。特別講義を傾聴する子どもたちのキラキラした目をみて改めて頑張ろうと思えた素晴らしい時間でした。 #mhsc #fujieda #hamamatsu #藤枝 #浜松 #藤枝総合運動公園サッカー場 #素晴らしい環境 #来年度の新しい校舎開校に向けて生徒もコーチングスタッフも募集しています #puma #長谷部誠 A post shared by 長谷部誠 Makoto Hasebe (@makoto_hasebe_official) on Dec 25, 2017 at 2:14pm PST That smile alone can net him a starring role in a Japanese telenovela   FORWARD Cristiano Ronaldo, POR   Parabéns meu querido filho! Estas a ficar um homem!👏🏽8️⃣🎂❤️ A post shared by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on Jun 17, 2018 at 2:38am PDT A virtual lock not only for the Pogi Starting XI but also for the Pogi Hall of Fame.   Radamel Falcao, COL   Vamos a defender esta camiseta con el 💯 % de nuestras fuerzas, energías y capacidad. 🇨🇴 // we are going to fight for this colors with all our energy, strength and ability. A post shared by Falcao (@falcao) on Jun 13, 2018 at 2:40pm PDT He chopped off his lustrous locks for a trendy ‘short at the sides and longer at the top’ cut and the transformation is akin to Jon Bon Jovi shedding the glam-rock hair in the 90’s. Or long hair, short hair, we don’t care.   MANAGER Herve Renard - MAR Monsieur cuts a dashing figure in the touchline with his sun-kissed locks and striking blue gaze. Reminds one of an old-school Hollywood movie star, a classic European playboy or a striking yet dangerous Bond villain. Catch the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD and via livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2018

Spain replaces fired Lopetegui with Hierro

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press With only two days to go before Spain's opening match at the World Cup, Julen Lopetegui was fired as national team coach because he accepted a job to lead Real Madrid next season. Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales, who made the announcement on Wednesday in Krasnodar, later said Fernando Hierro would replace Lopetegui as coach for Spain's match against Portugal in Sochi on Friday. The 50-year-old Hierro, a former national team player and Real Madrid captain, had been acting as the federation's sports director and was already in Russia with the national team. Rubiales said firing Lopetegui wasn't the best solution but it was needed after the federation was caught by surprise by Real Madrid's announcement. "The federation cannot be left out of a negotiation by one of its workers and be informed five minutes before the press release," Rubiales said. "We have been compelled to act." Rubiales, who took over as president last month, said Lopetegui betrayed the federation's values and it was the only decision he could make. "It's a difficult situation, but we are not the ones who determined the action that had to be taken. The federation has its values and it has to maintain them," Rubiales said. "It may look like a weakness now, but with time this will make us stronger." Lopetegui did not attend the news conference but was expected to talk to the media later. "We have to work on a series of decisions that come just two days before the opener," Rubiales said. "There's a lot to do." Hierro spent most of his career as a defender for Real Madrid and finished his playing days with English club Bolton in 2005. He played in four World Cups with Spain, from 1990 to 2002, and in two European Championships, 1996 and 2000. Hierro was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant at Real Madrid after Zinedine Zidane left the post in 2014. He coached second-division club Real Oviedo two seasons ago and was Malaga's general manager after leaving his sports director position with the Spanish federation in 2011. After Madrid's announcement that it hired Lopetegui, critics immediately began questioning some of the coach's decisions with the national team, including his choice to leave some Barcelona players such as Sergi Roberto out of the World Cup squad. There were also questions about how Lopetegui would be able to fully focus on the national team while also having to discuss off-season signings for his new club. There are six Madrid players in Spain's team for the World Cup. Lopetegui's name had not been mentioned by Spanish media among the probable candidates for the Madrid job, which opened up after Zidane unexpectedly quit. Last month, Lopetegui agreed to extend his contract with the national team through 2020. "I admire and respect Lopetegui a lot. He is a top coach, and that made it harder to make this decision," Rubiales said. "Winning is important, but above that, we need to know how things have to be handled." The 51-year-old Lopetegui took over from Vicente del Bosque after the 2016 European Championship. He was credited with reviving a team that was on the decline after winning Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. By successfully blending talented youngsters and veterans from its golden generation, Lopetegui kept Spain unbeaten through 20 matches in charge, comfortably leading the team to the World Cup from a qualifying group that included Italy. He won European championships with Spain's under-19 and under-21 teams in the early 2010s, but had a lackluster stint with Portuguese team Porto in his only job with a major club. He was fired after failing to win a title during almost two years in Portugal. Rubiales took over a federation which was in the hands of embattled official Angel Maria Villar for nearly three decades. He was elected president over Juan Luis Larrea, the federation's former treasurer and its interim leader since Villar was suspended following his arrest last year on suspicion of corruption. In one of his first actions, Rubiales canceled a previously arranged "vacation" trip by officials to the World Cup that would cost nearly 2 million euros ($2.3 million). He got the money reimbursed and spent only about 500,000 euros ($590,000) with new travel arrangements for sponsors and federation officials. "We are all affected," Rubiales said about Lopetegui's departure. "We have to think about what is best for the entity, for the federation and the team, and from this afternoon we will all be together to go forward.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

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

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND -- These combo coronation-funerals can be tricky. Imagine the crowning of a new monarch where the royal subjects couldn’t stop chattering about the freshly deposed or deceased predecessor. Where the traditional cry of continuity and succession, “The king is dead! Long live the king!” got flipped, with what was overshadowing what is. That’s pretty much how it went Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) at Quicken Loans Arena, with the Golden State Warriors’ latest NBA championship having to share the stage with speculation, instantly revved up, about LeBron James and the choice he’ll soon make about his next employer. The Warriors are the kings, claiming pro basketball’s throne yet again by completing a sweep of James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals. But of course, James is the King, and as so many of us learned in sophomore English – thanks, CliffsNotes! – “Uneasy lies the head (of those who fret and obsess about the future whereabouts of the NBA superstar) that wears a crown.” Long live the kings! The King is ... gone? There was so much energy before, during and after Game 4 Friday (Saturday, PHL time) poured into the last game/next game conjecture about James, the Cavaliers and seismic shifts in the league’s 2018-19 landscape that even the player’s surprise reveal near the end of the night – a bruised and bandaged right hand – couldn’t derail it. Turns out, as James ‘fessed up, the sore shooting paw was an injury he had been playing with ever since Game 1 in Oakland eight days earlier. He had “self-inflicted” it in a fit of pique when he smacked a whiteboard in the visitors’ dressing room at Oracle Arena after Cleveland’s overtime loss in the series-setter, an outcome driven at least in part by some teammates’ mistakes and an arcane wrinkle in the NBA’s replay rules regarding block/charge fouls. Despite the hordes of media people chronicling every waking detail of the Finals, James had kept the injury on the down-low (along with the possibility that J.R. Smith’s nickname amongst his Cavs teammates might be “whiteboard”). The cameras zoomed in and clicked in a paparazzi frenzy of motor drives every time James raised the hand, wrapped in black tape, above the table during his postgame podium remarks. Whether a legit Page-2-the-rest-of-the-story factor in the championship series or a too-late alibi, the contused hand wound up as a sidebar to where James plans to be using it when training camps open in a few months. As of Friday (Saturday, PHL time), it had been 95 months since “The Decision,” the 2010 announcement that James made in a tone-deaf vanity TV production that he was taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. Nearly 47 months had passed since he broke the news of his return in a Sports Illustrated ghost-written essay, envisioning much of what actually has unfolded in the four years since. Now savvy insiders and casual observers alike presume James will be on the move again, pushed to leave the franchise he has defined in an urgent search for more and better talent with which he can compete. As in, y’know, some horses, some horses, his kingdom for some horses. James’ free-agency process next month (he can opt out of a $35.6 million deal in the final season of his current contract) is expected to dictate the market of player movement this summer like an oversized domino. It easily could swing the balance of power, if not quite at Golden State’s lofty level then immediately below it. The monster he helped create Dr. Frankenstein eventually was done in by his macabre creation, and it can similarly be argued that James has no one but himself to blame for the predicament in which he again finds himself. He set in motion the machinery of the super team, after all, when he chose to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami eight years ago. Oh sure, the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 got there first by luring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce, but that was about knitting together three stars, all age 30 or older, for what would be their last best chance to win in an extremely limited run. That group won one title, went to two Finals in three seasons and was done, Allen leaving to join James & Co. with the Heat while Garnett and Pierce morphed into trade chips for Boston POBO Danny Ainge. When James, Wade and Bosh teamed up, they were in their basketball primes and their initial giddy boasts of “not four, not five, not six” championships turned off fans league-wide as much for its portent as its pretension. That crew went 4-for-4 in Finals, winning two rings before James, nudged by staleness and chafing as well as his grand plan for northeast Ohio, went home. From there, a line can be drawn through the ill-conceived 2012-13 L.A. Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all the way to this season’s Houston Rockets of James Harden and Chris Paul and the talent-gorged Golden State roster. James was the centerpiece as Cleveland replicated the Big Three concept around him with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, two younger, playoff-stymied All-Stars. The new-look Cavaliers went to the Finals in their first season together and clambered atop the basketball world to win the franchise’s first NBA title by the end of the second, becoming the first team in league history to do so after digging a 1-3 hole in the best-of-seven series. In that moment, regardless of the two Finals trips that followed, James’ bill was stamped: Paid In Full. Misguided fans might burn his jersey if he leaves again, but James burned the mortgage after that Game 7 in Oakland in 2016 as far as any remaining obligation to fulfill. “I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” he said after elimination Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember. Honestly, I think we'll all remember that. It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we'll all remember that in sports history.” James added: “When you have a goal and you're able to accomplish that goal, it actually – for me personally – made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships. And I still want to be in championship mode. I think I've shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.” In other words, James intends to sustain his high level of performance. He expects to win. And he presumably will do whatever – and go wherever – is necessary to achieve that. There’s no perfect fit So what does that mean for the NBA’s best player (never mind what the annual MVP balloting says in any given season)? It means this: compromise. There is no ideal situation, certainly no easy answer to the guesswork surrounding James’ looming free agency. He could transform any of the 30 teams, but not without some trade-offs for him, for them or for both. Most of them won’t be in play. Teams in markets such as Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Portland, Sacramento, the Twin Cities and so on can’t scratch James’ itches for either championship-worthy depth chart or spotlight. New York and Chicago, among the biggies, are out of synch with his timeline. Toronto? No way James is resettling his brand north of the border, and given his stated desire for teammates who have not just sufficient basketball skills but also mental toughness, well, the Raptors teams he and the Cavs have dominated do not qualify. The Boston club that stretched Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals is built for the long haul and would have to surrender much of that to adjust to James’ career calendar. There’s a little Kyrie problem lurking there and, truth be told, the Celtics look to be on their way and are doing just fine without the 33-year-old heading, one of these years, toward decline. At some point in each of the 2018 Finals’ final three days, James spoke admiringly of the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs title teams that blocked his path whether in Miami or Cleveland. He was at it again even as the Warriors were dousing the opponent’s locker room at The Q with Moet champagne. “I made the move in 2010 to be able to play with talented players, cerebral players that you could see things that happen before they happened on the floor,” James said. “When you feel like you're really good at your craft, I think it's always great to be able to be around other great minds as well and other great ballplayers. “That's never changed. Even when I came here in '14, I wanted to try to surround myself and surround this franchise with great minds and guys that actually think outside the box of the game and not just go out and play it.” Where might James find that now or recruit that swiftly? Hard to say. There are asterisks and “buts” everywhere: * If he were to sign with the Houston Rockets, James would be hitching his star to Chris Paul, a buddy with an injury history that’s about the mirror opposite of his own. He would be teaming up with an elite coach in Mike D’Antoni, something he’s never had (though Miami’s Erik Spoelstra was just young and unproven, on his way to big things). But it also would require another big ask of James Harden, who had to adapt last summer to Paul’s arrival and need for the ball. * If James chooses the Lakers, he has the chance to hit reset with the league’s glitziest franchise, in a market that can meet his every off-court wish and where he and his family already own one or more ultra-comfortable homes. The Lakers have young talent to help James transition into a lower-usage veteran’s role, favored status as a destination team for other top free agents and the salary-cap space to get it done this summer with the likes of Paul George or his pal Paul. But that roster might not be capable of insta-contending, which could burn a season or two when James’ clock most definitely is clicking. * If it’s San Antonio, James could link up with the elite coach in Gregg Popovich, where the winning culture is in the DNA rather than some acquired taste. The Spurs have talent, particularly if Kawhi Leonard finds happiness again there. But they might not have enough to rattle the Warriors’ cage. And for all their professed admiration, James and Popovich might both fare better by keeping their relationship long-distance vs. the 82-game grind. * If it’s Golden State? Perish the thought. The NBA might have to board up itself if competitive balance were capsized to that extent. And as Draymond Green shrewdly noted on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), if James climbed aboard, it likely would require him and several other Golden State teammates to be dispatched to parts unknown. * If James prefers to stay East, where the winning comes easier, he could pick Philadelphia. The Sixers have two foundational young stars at positions that matter most, center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. But Simmons is a non-shooter at the moment, the antithesis of what makes a great complementary LeBron teammate. As for Embiid, James never has had to play off of and service a top center. And Philly might feel like a basketball-only move, with the hungriest and most demanding of any new fan base he would embrace. * If it’s Miami – wait, could it be Miami? Could he go second-home again? The Heat always strive to be competitive and offer a talent base deep enough for the East and lots of familiarity. But they also have players such as Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters whose mental approaches don’t seem to fit the model James was cooing about in Golden State and with the Tim Duncan-era Spurs. * That brings us to Cleveland, where it’s possible James might choose to remain. Staying with the Cavaliers, after leading them to four Finals and that heady 2016 title, would be the easiest choice as far as pressure to win. He owes these fans nothing anymore – in fact, had the bargain been offered to them in 2010 (“LeBron will leave and win elsewhere for four years, but will come back and deliver a championship and four Finals trips”), most would have grabbed it. Here, James and the fans who have watched him even through the interruption develop from ridiculously touted high schooler to one of the world’s most famous athletes could grow older together. Then he could partner up and buy the team from owner Dan Gilbert for a long-term future. Certainly, staying has a certain place in his and the rest of the James clan’s hearts. “The one thing that I've always done is considered, obviously, my family,” he said at series end Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I've got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.” It’s worth noting that as James contemplates his options as a modern pursuer of championship excellence, the prospect of him moving again qualifies at some level as a failure. Not just by the support system in Cleveland, where he and Gilbert have their friction and James gets snidely mentioned as the team’s unofficial GM and head coach, but by him too. He’s the one who went off to seek his “college education” in south Florida in what it takes to win, whether on the court, in the front office or in and around the seams 365 days a year, straight out of the Pat Riley handbook. The teams about which James talks so glowingly in Oakland now and in San Antonio then have cultures he covets, stability up and down the flowchart he craves. In Cleveland, for a variety of reasons, his team has been incapable of establishing and maintaining that to a lasting degree. He is part of that missed opportunity and he has to own it, no matter if he goes or stays. James is inseparable from the dynamic of the Cavaliers’ ever-changing and often melodramatic roster maneuvers. Spending big, swapping out draft picks to import current stars and supporting players, and overvaluing secondary guys like Smith and Tristan Thompson are risks the Warriors and the Spurs largely avoided thanks to shrew drafting and laudable continuity. The Cavs’ scrap heap, by contrast, is high with traded picks, scuttled plans, panic deals, short-term patches and folks such as former coach David Blatt and former GM David Griffin. And maybe James could have nurtured a little better relationship with All-Star point guard and 2016 title sidekick Kyrie Irving, enough to have kept Irving from bailing on them all with his trade demand last summer. Now he’s on the verge of casting about again, prioritizing what matters most for however long he continues to play. James is more at peace with it than he was before, particularly in 2010, and surely can enjoy the leverage he wields and the riches it delivers. But there is a burden there as well, one that could be seen as completing a circle. So many of the NBA’s greatest stars have been stuck playing and living in the Age of LeBron, right? Their paths to the Finals blocked, on one whole side of the league, by him and his? Well, LeBron James is stuck now in the Era of the Warriors, freshly swept and anxious to close the gap. What goes around comes around, though the key more pressing of the big W’s now is, where? Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

LOOK: This Team Lakay fighter is also an excellent artist

Baguio-based mixed martial arts stable Team Lakay is best known for producing some of the best MMA fighters in the Philippines, including the likes of former ONE Championship titleholders Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, and reigning interim titleholder Geje Eustaquio to name a few.  It appears however, that one of their fighters has also been flexing his muscle in a different field of art as well.  Meet 24-year old Harold "The Vitruvian Man" Banario.  The younger brother of former ONE Championship Featherweight World Champion Honorio, Harold is 4-1 in MMA, and has had stints with Guam-based promotion PXC.    Soon..#fighter #life #artist #painter #artlover #mma #mmafighter #igorot #teamlakay #art #lifestyle #fitness #fit #passion #work #student #architecture #designer #focused #power #left A post shared by harold banario (@hbanario) on Oct 5, 2017 at 12:01am PDT Also, he's a very talented artist.  Having last fought back in 2015, it looks like the La Trinidad native has shifted his focus to painting.  Some of his works have depicted the likes of former Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach...   Working on this... #painter #artist #art #artistsoninstagram #fashion #style #dress #gown #contemporaryart #artfun #passion #love #piawurtzbach #missuniverse #beauty #lifestyle #color #artsy #horse #horses #animals #painting A post shared by harold banario (@hbanario) on Apr 1, 2018 at 12:52am PDT  ...a couple of recreations of the dance scene from Beauty and the Beast, featuring Emma Watson...   My two version of Beauty and the Beast (artist😂)- oil on canvases. Done. #painting #draw#sketch #art #artistsoninstagram #artist #painter #charcoal #artlover #blackandwhite #loveart #fashion #design #contemporaryart #pencildrawing #fighter #mma #life #lifestyle #style #motivation #artwork #beautyandthebeast #emmawatson #paint #fitness #passion A post shared by harold banario (@hbanario) on Dec 10, 2017 at 9:29pm PST ...as well as  what appears to be an Igorot warrior sitting on the Iron Throne. (You have to admit this is pretty badass.)   Game of thrones artwork. Work in progress.😀 #art #art🎨 #gameofthrones #got7 #gotfans #hbo #ironthrone #jonsnow #emiliaclarke #kitharrington #peterdinklage #contemporaryart #painting #painter #mmafighter #mma #bjj #fitness #fit #artwork #modernart #canvas #drawing #draw A post shared by harold banario (@hbanario) on Aug 18, 2017 at 5:54am PDT His most recent works include amazing paintings of his teammates, including reigning ONE Interim Flyweight Champion Geje Eustaquio... ...and of course, his Manong Honorio.  Truly amazing work from a multi-talented fighter-slash-artist!  You can see more of his work on his Facebook Page as and on his Instagram account. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018

[OPINION] Higher inflation: Is TRAIN to blame? (Part 2)

In Part 1 , I explained the international factors behind the recent rise in inflation: a surge in world oil prices (now at a 3-year high) and the weaker peso (now at a 12-year low). In Part 2, I focus on TRAIN and why its timing is bad. I ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

Sargent & Weah, both 18, score as US beats Bolivia 3-0

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Josh Sargent became the fourth-youngest American to score, making an audacious interception of a goalkeeper's pass over his head to put the ball into the net in his international debut at just 18 years, 102 days. Tim Weah, two days younger than Sargent, got his first goal seven minutes later. With no World Cup to play for, the United States gave youth a chance and they came through in a 3-0 exhibition win over an equally inexperienced Bolivia team on Monday night. "It's great feeling both of us getting to do this together," Sargent said. Walker Zimmerman, a relative geezer at 25 but making just his third international appearance, put the Americans ahead in the 37th minute with his first international goal , on a header from Joe Corona's corner kick. Sargent doubled the lead in the 52nd. "We've come such a long way," said Weah, a son of former FIFA Player of the Year and current Liberia President George Weah. "We just want to impress our fans. We just want to play with our hearts." Christian Pulisic, playing exactly two years after become the youngest American to score — also against Bolivia — struggled to make sharp touches in the 19-year-old's first national team match since the loss at Trinidad and Tobago last October that ended the U.S. streak of seven consecutive World Cup appearances. Interim U.S. coach Dave Sarachan gave six players their debuts, raising the total to 15 in four matches since he took over after the loss in Trinidad. Defenders Erik Palmer-Brown and Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Alex Bono joined Sargent as debutants in the starting lineup, and defender Matt Olosunde and midfielder Keaton Parks entered in the second half. The U.S. starting lineup averaged 22 years, 160 days, and 6.7 international appearances. Fans always have sky-high hopes prospects will become stars, and Sargent and Weah raised the anticipation even higher. "They're reading a lot about themselves and so on," Sarachan said. "They're still steps. If you want to get to A, you still start at D and then to C, then to B. We're very quick to jump them up into the A category. I think that's a process that we have to manage, with expectations, with a lot of noise on the outside." Only three Americans have scored at a younger age than Weah and Sargent: Pulisic (17 years, 253 days), Juan Agudelo at South Africa in 2010 (17-359) and Jozy Altidore against Mexico in 2008 (18-96). Agudelo is the only younger player to score in his debut. Weah has played just three first-team matches for Paris Saint-Germain, one of his father's former clubs, entering twice as a second-half sub in March and getting his first start on the final day of the season this month. Sargent hasn't played any. Sargent scored four goals at last year's Under-20 World Cup and three at the Under-17 World Cup, where Weah was a teammate. He signed a pro contract with Werder Bremen on his 18th birthday, Feb. 20. That was after the international transfer window closed, making him ineligible until next season. "I was very nervous to be honest coming out," Sargent said. "It was my first professional game ever." He made up for lack of experience with daring. Goalkeeper Carlos Lampe rolled the ball to Luis Haquin on the right flank, and the defender returned it. Lampe lofted the ball back toward Haquin. Sargent turned toward the touchline to follow the flight of the ball, stuck out his right leg near the edge of the penalty area to redirect it back toward the center of the field, and then ran onto the ball for an 11-yard right-footed shot that deflected in off the keeper's leg. "I saw him start to chip the ball over, so I started backing up a little bit, and had a good touch to turn it around and good shot," Sargent said. Weah scored after Antonee Robinson beat a defender down the left flank and made a one-hop cross into the penalty area. Weah made a perfect cut and volleyed the ball with his right foot. "Once I saw the service come in, I was like, I got to get there. I got to get this. This is my opportunity to get the goal," Weah said exuberantly. He had felt pain in his right knee after a challenge about 15 minutes in and signaled he needed to come off. "He was all over the shop," Sarachan said. "He looked like a kid that has never played at a higher level, to a guy that was looking to come out a game where he wasn't sure if he was even hurt to flying and beating guys. And so he was the prototypical young, nervous guy." NOTES: Nico Romeijn, the U.S. Soccer Federation's chief sport development officer, said the USSF intends to hire the GM before the World Cup, a position expected to go to former American forward Earnie Stewart, currently sporting director of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union. The new GM will head the search for a new coach, whom the USSF hopes to have in place ahead of September exhibitions. "But maybe it takes more time. You never know," Romeijn said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 29th, 2018

Warriors need just one game to establish superiority

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com HOUSTON — Months of building up the hard shell required to wade this deep into the NBA’s merciless playoff waters can evaporate in a snap. One bad rotation, followed by a missed layup on the back of yet another dagger from the other team and even a mighty, 65-win juggernaut can see it all unravel. The Houston Rockets know the feeling now, after living through it on what could turn out to be the biggest night of the best [regular] season in the history of the franchise. They invited the Golden State Warriors in, dared to beat the reigning NBA champions at their own game in these Western Conference finals with an emphatic win and came up woefully short of that goal in the opener. The home court advantage they worked for all throughout a brilliant season is gone. The comfort provided by a 2-1 record against the Warriors during the regular season series the Rockets held tight since January was blown away after just four quarters. Whatever aura they thought they owned heading into the Toyota Center Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) for Game 1, they shed long before the final seconds of their decisive 119-106 loss to the Warriors. It looked good early, when James Harden had the Rockets rolling to a nine-point lead in the frenzied opening minutes. But Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and the rest of a Warriors team making its fourth straight appearance in the conference finals, they don’t fold at the first sign of danger. “You’re not going to just come in and knock them out,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I mean, there’s just too many times we had mental lapses. We either didn’t switch properly or we didn’t switch hard enough. We turned the ball over  little too much. Every time we missed a layup, which we missed a lot of layups, they ran out. “They’re really devastating. We’ve got to make layups, don’t turn it over and do a little bit better job of mentally just staying up on people.” The fact that they were starting this series away from the friendly confines of Oracle Arena for the first time during their recent run did nothing to shake their belief in themselves. And if there is anything that is clear after just four wild quarters of this most anticipated series, it’s that the Warriors’ collective confidence is far superior to the artificial skin the Rockets wrapped themselves in leading up to the opening round of this heavyweight fight. Harden played inspired, for most of his 35 minutes, finishing with a game-high 41 points and seven assists. Chris Paul’s 23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists look good on paper. But it wasn’t enough. It was nowhere near enough to offset the Rockets’ self-inflicted mistakes or the fury the Warriors can rain down on their opponents this time of year. “They’re obviously champions for a reason,” D’Antoni said. “If we want to beat them, we have to be mentally sharper. KD, he’s tough. Obviously, he was on tonight. Hey, you can live with that. But you can’t live with that and then make mental mistakes, and that's what we do. The combination of the two was devastating.” Durant was hell bent on devastation, torching an assortment of Rockets defenders for his 37 points. Thompson drilled the Rockets for 28 points of his own, his 15 attempts from beyond the three-point line serving as a more demoralizing dagger for a Rockets defense designed to limit those attempts. With so much attention on them, the Rockets seemed to lose their defensive focus on basically everyone else. “Defensively, we’ve got to be better,” Paul said. “You know it’s funny, I got caught helping a couple times in the first half and I think Nick Young hit three [three-pointers] off those plays. Some games, some series, you may make those mistakes and guys don’t make the shots. But tonight, every time we did it, they made the shot. They make you pay when you make mistakes.” Just to be clear about what kind of armor the Warriors travel with these days, they’ve won a game on the road in 18 consecutive playoff series, well before the Durant era. So as much as this is about the back and forth between Durant and Harden, the former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates who once got this point in a season together and elbowed their way into The Finals in 2012, it’s about Curry, Thompson, Green and Andre Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP. Those are the other four members of the Warriors’ “Hamptons Five” lineup that started the game, the group that withstood everything the Rockets threw at them Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) and then beat them up over the final 15 minutes of a must-have game on their home floor. “They’re a good team,” Eric Gordon said, stating the obvious. "They’ve been playing together, they know who they are. They’ve been to four straight Western Conference finals. We just got to be a little better.” The Rockets’ must-win game is now Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). The pressure shifts to a Game 2 effort that has to be much better offensively if they want to keep pace with the Warriors. They’ll also need a much cleaner effort that doesn’t include sloppiness (the Warriors converted 16 turnovers into 17 points) and deficient defense (the Warriors shot .525 from the floor and .394 from the three-point line) that was on display in Game 1. These are all things D’Antoni believes to be correctable. And they could be. Indeed, they better be if the Rockets plan on stretching this series to the limit. Because there is still no way to account for the experience factor, the muscle memory edge the Warriors have when it comes to recognizing the time and place to apply the ultimate pressure on an opponent that’s ready to break. They sniffed it late in the third quarter, when the Rockets were reeling under a relentless barrage of Durant buckets. The only thing that saved them then were crucial baskets of their own from Eric Gordon and Gerald Green, and Warriors coach Steve Kerr subbing Durant out for a breather the Warriors closer did not want. “Yeah, he wasn’t really thrilled and I probably should have left him in,” Kerr said. “Late third he was going pretty well. I knew I had to get him some rest at some point. As soon as I took him out, they went on a quick run, so he was not thrilled. But he came back in and got us back on track.” You can toy with a team like the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round, dropping Game 3 on the road only to come back and close out the series with back-to-back wins, especially when you are clearly the superior team and own that coveted home-court advantage. You might be able to get away with it in next round against a team like the Utah Jazz, when you lose home-court advantage in Game 2, but are are once again clearly the superior team and win three straight games to squash that challenge. Slip up a third time, as the Rockets did Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), against a team that has won two of the last three Larry O’Brien trophies, a team with their sights set on a third, and … and there might not be another chance. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. 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Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018