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Woods on expectations for another major win: Absolutely

By Jimmy Golen, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Hoist the anchor, and set sail the great ship Privacy on a course for Carnoustie Bay, Pebble Beach or some other future site of a golf major. Tiger Woods isn't going to win the U.S. Open this year. He still thinks he can win another major before he's done. "Absolutely," Woods said after shooting a 2-over 72 at Shinnecock Hills on Friday for a 36-hole total of 10 over that saw him miss the cut. "They're not easy," he said. "I mean, I've won a few of them over the course of my career, and they're the hardest fields and usually the hardest setups. So they're meant to be testers, and you don't win major championships by kind of slapping all around the place and missing putts. "You have to be on," he said. "You just can't fake it at a major championship." Woods couldn't even fake it for the first 34 holes in Southampton, and despite birdies on the last two holes, he needed a lot of help to avoid the cut for the fifth time in his last eight majors. That means he won't need to bunk for the weekend at the Sag Harbor Yacht Club on the 155-foot boat he jokingly calls "the dinghy." Woods also missed the cut when he brought Privacy to the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot in New York City's northern suburbs. He has not played the weekend at a U.S. Open since 2013, or won one since 2008 — his last major victory. He remains stuck at 14 in his career, four short of Jack Nicklaus' record. "Our whole careers are pretty much measured as if you can win four times a year," Woods said. Woods' chances were effectively eliminated after two holes. He shot a triple bogey on Thursday on No. 1 — a 399-yard par 4 that is the fourth-easiest hole on the course — needing three tries to manage a short rise to the elevated green and then two-putting. He entered the second round nine strokes behind the leaders and thought if he could shoot in the 60s on Friday he would have a chance to get back into it. Now he won't even have a chance to play. "I couldn't chase down the leaders right away. It's going to take me probably 2½ to 3 rounds to do it," he said. "Unfortunately, I went the other way." Starting the second round on No. 10, Woods made the turn at even par and came back around to No. 1. His drive was fine, but he yanked his approach shot to the right of the green into deep rough, and then rolled his third shot over it. After pitching to about 14 feet, he missed a bogey putt. He then bogeyed No. 2 for the second straight day. "I didn't play the first and second hole very well," said Woods, who started on No. 10 for the second round. "I was kind of hanging in there until, unfortunately, first and second hole kind of derailed it." Woods said he would take the week off before playing the National and then heading to Carnoustie, Scotland, for the British Open......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 16th, 2018

At the US Open, a battle among the best with only 1 major

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Jordan Spieth considers himself lucky. As hard as he made it look, winning the U.S. Open three years ago felt easy. He was two months removed from his victory at Augusta National. No matter what happened at Chambers Bay, he was the Masters champion for the rest of the year, and a major champion for life. "House money," he described that week. And then he won another major with a birdie-double bogey-birdie finish, helped by Dustin Johnson three-putting from 12 feet to lose by one. Spieth was 22 when he became the first player in 74 years — Craig Wood in 1941 — to win his first major and then add a second major in his next try. It didn't come that quickly for Tiger Woods, even after a 12-shot victory at the 1997 Masters in his first major as a pro. Woods played 10 more majors, half of them while overhauling his swing, before he won his next one. Winning one major is great. Winning multiple majors commands a new level of respect. "You could make an argument that it could be harder to get the second one than it is the first," PGA champion Justin Thomas said Tuesday. "You could make an argument that every major is the hardest. But I just think that to be known as a multiple major champion as opposed to, 'He won the PGA,' it has a little better ring to it. So I hope to have that to my name, sooner rather than later." Identifying the best player without a major has been a topic for the better part of 30 years. Given the depth of talent, it might be time for a different question. The best with only one major. It's a long list, from as young as Thomas (24) to Henrik Stenson (42). All it takes is one week, one more major — perhaps this week at Shinnecock Hills — for such a player to enter a different conversation. Dustin Johnson might lead that list. He finally broke through for his first major at Oakmont in the 2016 U.S. Open, and given his 18 victories on the PGA Tour, he probably should have more. If not for getting in his own way, he might have more by now. There was the 82 at Pebble Beach when he had a three-shot lead in the 2010 U.S. Open. He hit an errant drive into a patch of sand that he didn't know was a bunker at Whistling Straits that same year in the PGA Championship. The bogey dropped him into a three-man playoff. Grounding his club in the sand for a two-shot penalty dropped him out of it. And then at Chambers Bay, he was 12 feet away for eagle and the U.S. Open until it took three putts and a par for a runner-up finish. He is No. 1 in the world, and wants to get major No. 2. "It's hard to get No. 2 right now, but it was hard to get No. 1," Johnson said with a smile. "I think it's hard to get any of them. It's just a tough task. There's only four majors, and to win a major you have to have everything working very well. You've got to play really good all four rounds. ... I'd love to get that second one. But it's one of those things where, like I said, everything has got to work well for four days." Jason Day has 12 victories on the PGA Tour, and only the 2015 PGA Championship among majors. He spent 47 consecutive weeks at No. 1 the year after winning his major, and had only one good chance. Justin Rose won the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion for his first major. Rose has won at least somewhere in the world every year since 2010, and he has won on prestigious courses — Muirfield Village, Congressional, Aronimink, Doral — and he was one putt away from adding Augusta National to that list. But he's still stuck on one. So is Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka and Webb Simpson. Add to that list Louis Oosthuizen, who has been runner-up in all four majors since his 2010 victory in the British Open at St. Andrews. "I mean absolutely zero, no disrespect to guys that have won one — obviously, myself included," Thomas said. "But it's a lot easier to get hot one week than it is to do it again and win another major. Because when you're a major champion, you have more asked of you. You have more expectations on yourself, more expectations from other people to where if you do get in the hunt, then you're asked, 'How is it going to feel to get your second major?' You're constantly reminded of that." The top players when Woods was in his prime years were Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh. Woods rarely fails to mention Retief Goosen on that list, mainly because when Woods was at his best, Goosen was the only other player with multiple majors. He won his second U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in 2004. Seventeen players at Shinnecock Hills this week have only one major and would love to add another. If they don't? It's still better than being on that other list occupied by the likes of Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm. They're young. But they would settle for one......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

MAJOR POINT: Finding Family Away From Home

I’ve been in the Philippines now for over 21 years. I can’t believe it has been that long, but I just checked my passport stamp the other day and sure enough my arrival stamp says August 2, 1997. So many things have happened since then that it puts me in this weird nostalgic state of mind thinking back to how I was back then. I had no idea what was in store for me when I decided to try my luck in professional basketball in the Philippines. I thought I knew. I thought I knew everything, but I really had no clue. I was recruited by a Filipino agent living in the United States to come to the Philippines to play basketball. This made me feel pretty special. I had put together a solid playing resume in high school and college and had played a year professionally in Denmark. I thought I would come to the Philippines, play basketball for 11 years, retire, go back to Michigan and get into coaching. That was my plan. It was pretty simple to me. I never thought about the people I’d meet or the relationships I’d build during my stay in the Philippines. And even though I knew nobody in the Philippines, I didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity to go to the Philippines to play basketball. There were a few things I underestimated when I came to the Philippines back in 1997. Being from Michigan, the heat was a often times painful adjustment to get used to. I had never lived in a big city before, so Manila and its traffic was also something to get used to. I don’t speak Tagalog, so getting around that can still be difficult at times. The style of play here in the Philippines is different than I was used to, so I had to get used to that. But, the biggest adjustment for me was that I knew absolutely no one when I came to the Philippines. I had no friends. My mom is from Lawaan, Eastern Samar. She had only been back once since she had left the Philippines in the late 1960s. Most of my relatives on her side of the family still live in the province. So while, I have family in the Philippines, I don’t have any relatives in Metro Manila. So, here I was, on the other side of the planet with no family and no friends. Like most people, I like having friends. I had always had a close group of friends in high school and college. Playing a year in Denmark, not having my friends around was probably my biggest adjustment and I went through a rough period of homesickness there. Now that I was in the Philippines, I was in a different, but also similar situation. In my early years here in the Philippines, I played for two great teams. My first team was Tanduay Rhum. My first coach was Alfrancis Chua and my first boss was Boss Bong Tan. Both of those guys took great care of me. After four years with them, I was then traded to Barangay Ginebra. My boss there was Boss Henry Cojuangco. He also took great care of me. I had many great teammates through the years, including my years on those two teams. My teammates were very welcoming of me and I enjoyed my time on the court with those guys. However, when practice ended. My teammates would go back to their friends, family and responsibilities and I would go back to an empty condo unit. Everyday I would have practice in the morning from 9-12. After practice, I’d eat and then go find a gym to workout in. By the time I was done with my workout at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, I would then have to figure out what to do from 3 or 4 until the time I went to bed around 10 or 11. I thought a lot differently back then than I do now, so most of that time was wasted. I spent a lot of that time alone, bored, in front of the TV, just waiting for the day to end, so I could get up and do it again the next day. Although I was living my dream of playing professional basketball, it was strange for me to be living that life day after day after day. My first couple of years here, I didn’t have a car. I didn’t know my way around Manila. I didn’t know anybody outside of my team. I was living in Quezon City in a non-walkable area. It was a grind. I often wondered how long I could continue to stay on that type of grind. It wasn’t until after 18 months of living that way that I started to meet other Filipino-Americans that were going through similar experiences. In the late 1990s, the PBA landscape was much different than it is today. One thing that was a lot different, was there weren’t as many Fil-Ams as there are today. Having Fil-Am players playing in the PBA was still a new thing. There was a novelty about us. We were the new kids in school, in a way. Guys like Jeff Cariaso, Andy and Danny Seigle, Nic Belasco, Ali Peek, Noy Castillo, Rudy Hatfield and myself had played college basketball in the United States. The basketball fans here in the Philippines didn’t know who we were before we went high in the PBA Draft and then started playing in the PBA. Most of us were the only Fil-Americans on our teams. Upon meeting them, I found out that these guys were living the similar grind I had been going through. It’s hard to explain, but after meeting some of the other Fil-American basketball players, my life instantly got better. It was so refreshing to hear about their experiences. Although, we were all different and from different areas of the US, we were basically going through the same thing at near the same stage of our lives. We were all out here on our own trying to make it in professional basketball in country that was new to us. I found comfort in learning that other people were struggling with similar things that I was struggling with. There is always pressure to win in professional sports. My new friends helped me deal with that pressure. Learning about other peoples experiences in similar situations, having an outlet and having fun with new friends off of the court, helped bring balance to my life. I related to those guys. I smiled and laughed more when I was around those guys. Two guys in particular that helped me were Jeffrey Cariaso and Andy Seigle. Both of those guys are older than me and had been in the country and the PBA before I was. I looked to both of them for advice and valued their opinions. Jeff is from San Francisco was drafted in the PBA in 1995. By the time I had met Jeff in 1999, Jeff had won the PBA Rookie of the Year, had won multiple championships and was a multiple time PBA All-Star. Jeff was always a guy I respected for the way he handled himself on the court and off of it. Jeff was also a leader in the Fil-Am community here, organizing dinners and get togethers. Even today, it is nice to be able to message Jeff and he is still always willing to listen or give advice. Jeff will always shoot you straight. A friend like him is hard to find. Andy was the number one overall pick in the 1997 PBA Draft. At 6 for 10 Andy was the first Fil-Am from my generation to have big expectations put on his shoulders the very first day he stepped on a PBA court. Dealing with that pressure must have been tough, but Andy was one of the most accommodating, giving people I have ever met. Whenever he was doing something, he would invite me. Random days out of the blue, he would invite me to his house to have dinner with his family. Andy would host dinners at his house for holidays, where families from different teams would get together to celebrate. I was fortunate enough to eventually play with Andy at Ginebra, where we won three championships together. Having him in practice and as a friend made my life better in the Philippines. Just as Jeff and Andy helped me, I also tried to help new Fil-Americans that came to the Philippines after me. Rudy Hatfield came to Tanduay a couple of years after I had been there and I tried to show him the ropes. We became very close friends. When Jimmy Alapag and Harvey Carey were new to the country in 2002 and 2003, respectively, I tried help where I could. I can’t say I ever really mentored anybody, but I always tried to listen, and share. Even if I can only help you laugh or smile more, I know that can help. Those guys have also become close friends of mine. I know they have also helped others that have come after them. Since Alapag and Carey arrived, there have already been a couple generations of new Filipino American basketball players. I still see the younger Fil-Ams from different teams hanging out together. While I’ve heard that some people view that as Fil-Ams trying to separate themselves, I don’t believe that is true. Just like guys from the same province or same school are more likely to hang out together, young Fil-Ams are more likely to hang out together. It’s a natural thing to gravitate to things and people you relate to and have something in common with. It’s not the easiest thing to do, to go to a foreign country where you have no family and friends to start a new career. I know. I’ve been there. A lot of things have changed for me since 1997, when I first came to this country. I am now married and have two small children of my own. My wife, kids and her family provide my support system now, as I do for them. However, there was a time and a long time where I didn’t have that. My Fil-American friends were my family and support system. And while that wasn’t ideal, I was always taught to do the best with what you had. I’m thankful for what I had. Eric Menk played in the PBA from 1999 to 2016. Menk is a four-time PBA champion, three-time PBA Finals MVP and one-time PBA MVP (2005). He currently writes for ABS-CBN Sports weekly. Menk also has his podcast Staying MAJOR as welll as his own YouTube channel ......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2018

DA s 2018 NBA Offseason Rankings: The Top 10

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 8th, 2018

Federer, Nadal happy to play doubles, Borg to decide

em>By Karel Janicek, Associated Press /em> PRAGUE (AP) — With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the Laver Cup team tennis tournament, expectations are running high about the chance of seeing the two as doubles partners. The three-day competition at the O2 Arena in Prague starts Friday, pitting a team of the best six European players against the top six from the rest of the world. No ATP rankings points will be awarded. Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Tomas Berdych are also on the European team to face Sam Querrey, John Isner, Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe. The tournament is to honor Rod Laver, an 11-time major champion who won two calendar-year Grand Slams. It will include three singles and one doubles match every day. Bjorn Bjorg captains Europe while John McEnroe does the same for the opponents. Federer and Nadal were clear about their choice of a possible partner. 'I've played a lot against Rafa on so many occasions, in big matches,' Federer said at Prague's picturesque Old Town Square. 'I think in nine Grand Slam finals. Finally, to have him on my side it's a joy. We talked about playing doubles a long, long time ago. It never happened. Of course, I would love to share the side of the net this time around. We have to see how practice goes and then at the end Bjorn will take the ultimate decision.' Nadal concurred. 'Of course, I would love (to play with Federer),' Nadal said. 'It will be amazing if that happens. We've talked about that years ago to play in some tournament together. It didn't happen yet. We're looking forward to playing here, hopefully. Let's see if the captain allows us to play.' Borg has yet to decide how to form pairs for doubles, but suggested 'there's a very good chance' for Federer and Nadal. 'He's the captain, he's the boss here now,' Nadal said. 'I am just here to try my best, every time the captain wants me on court, I am just here to try to help the team to win the Laver Cup.' Federer warned a victory was not a given even though the two are currently ranked No. 1 (Nadal) and No. 2 (Federer). 'There's a lot of expectations and everybody thinks we're going to win and play together then we bomb out,' Federer said. 'So, we better make sure we focus on just playing good doubles and if it works together at the same time, that'd be great. 'I'm sure that the crowd would go absolutely crazy.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 21st, 2017

UAAP Season 81: Lady Maroons, Lady Warriors clash in season opener

Pre-season favorite University of the Philippines and University of the East cross paths Saturday in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The two squads will duke it out at 2:00 p.m. in a match that will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and via livestream. The Lady Maroons are coming into the season as one of the top contenders after their impressive pre-season showing and an intact lineup. UP ended a 36-year title drought in any major tournament after the Lady Maroons ruled the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference. The Diliman-based squad followed it up with its conquest in the Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam that also earned them an all-expense paid training camp in Thailand. Expectations are high for the Lady Maroons especially with an intact core. Top hitters Tots Carlos and Isa Molde are back with other holdovers in Ayel Estranero, Marist Layug, Marian Buitre and Justine Dorog. But UP is sure to face a tough resistance from an inspired Lady Warriors side. UE bagged third place in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam, its first tournament podium finish in years. The Lady Warriors will also parade an intact core led by prized libero Kath Arado, Me-Anne Mendrez, Judith Abil, Roselle Baliton, setter Lai Bendong and Seth Rodriguez.           --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 15th, 2019

UAAP Season 81: Atin ‘to. Amin ‘to

Ayel Estranero and Tots Carlos knew they’re in for a tough challenge when University of the Philippines men’s basketball team star Paul Desiderio nailed the game-winning jumper in the Final Four against the twice-to-beat Adamson University. That was UP basketball’s ‘Atin ‘to’ moment. Right after the final buzzer sounded that signaled UP’s first Finals appearance in the UAAP’s first semester centerpiece event after 32 years, the Lady Maroons already felt the pressure of high expectations when it’s their time to march inside the court and carry the State University’s pride in women’s volleyball.       “Their journey is totally inspiring,” said Estranero, who is in her fifth and last playing year, of the Fighting Maroons’ runner-up finish in the cagefest. “Pero ‘yun nga noong naka-Finals sila ang sabi namin, “Ay, patay! Magi-expect din ang mga tao this volleyball season naman,’” the setter added. Carlos shared the same sentiment. “’Yun nga ang mga success ng UP motivation sa amin pero at the same time pressure talaga,” said Carlos, who with Isa Molde are expected to deliver the goods for the Godfrey Okumu-mentored squad. “Lagi lang namin nire-remind ang mga tao, sabi nila ‘O basketball tapos na, volleyball naman.’ ‘Yun minsan napag-uusapan namin. Minsan nagti-team talk kami na ‘wag namin isipin ‘yun, isipin namin ang ilalaro namin this season. ‘Wag naming i-cut short to the result of the season. One game at a time.” The UP faithful have all the right to expect high especially with the Lady Maroons making waves of their own during the pre-season. UP reigned supreme in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference and Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam. Those twin crowns were UP’s first major titles after ruling the UAAP 36 years ago.  “Of course, it affects how people want us to perform. People also dream big for us. Of course, they’re dreaming for us to be in the Finals and win the championship especially we won two championships in the offseason,” said Estranero. “So high expectations from other people, high expectations from the team but I guess we just have to trust the process and take it game by game.” The playmaker could only hope that the lessons they learned in the offseason will carry them to greater heights in the UAAP.  “I can say that the offseason din naman was a big help in terms of learning how to win and in terms of developing our skills individually but it wasn’t something that will actually define UAAP. Coming into this season it’s a new start for all of us,” she said. “We’re more confident. There’s more pressure but there’s a lot of hope and passion to win a championship,” said Estranero. Now, it's the Lady Maroons’ time to create their own ‘Atin ‘to’ moment.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 11th, 2019

I believe we would be in the Final Four -- Okumu

The University of the Philippines showed what it could do during the pre-season after collecting titles in the Premier Volleyball League and the Philippine Superliga. It is but natural for Lady Maroons fans to expect more from the Godfrey Okumu-mentored squad come UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament. Their pre-season romp, according to Okumu, is a morale boost, but at the same time it created pressure for his wards to live up to expectations. “The excitement is there but also the stress, the pressure. We cannot count that out,” said Okumu, who has done wonders to the squad in just his second year as mentor. “The fans are excited, we are excited, the players are excited as well because most of them believe that it's a time for them to show themselves to the UAAP community.” Okumu’s first year with the squad was a period of adjustment and the Lady Maroons struggled to adapt to the new system and ended up at fifth to sixth spot tied with Adamson University, tallying six wins in 14 games. For the second straight year UP missed the Final Four.     “The last season was quite challenging, Season 80. I barely had enough time to prepare the team the way I wanted,” he said. During the offseason, the Lady Maroons were able to fully grasp Okumu’s system and it paid dividends.       UP made history by capturing the PVL Collegiate Conference award, the Diliman-based team’s first major women’s volleyball crown since winning it all in UAAP Season 45 back in 1982, despite playing without injured spiker Tots Carlos. The Lady Maroons followed it up with another championship run in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam without Isa Molde, who was rested following her stint in the UAAP beach volleyball tournament. UP’s PSL win also earned them an all-expense paid training camp in Thailand, where they got a chance to play against club team Supreme Chonburi led by Thai national team stars Pleumjit Thinkaow and Wilavan Apinyapong.   “They never had a pre-season like this. Playing together as a team. This was a good opportunity for them to test themselves. They were tested well and they've land their position but this were just preseason tournament,” said Okumu. But for Okumu, the real battle will start come February 16 in the UAAP wars. “I expect them to give their best, I expect them to play like this is their last tournament of their lives,” said the mentor, who will parade a battle-tested core led by Molde, Carlos and graduating setter Ayel Estranero. “That's what I say every time they play, ‘Make it look like it's your last. Don't play thinking that oh we still have another game. Don't serve that ball thinking that oh I still have another serve to six rotations. Always make it look like it's your last so give it your best everything you do and also have disciplining, know your court, respect your opponents and respect the game that you're playing and you'll get your returns.’” Also back in the fold are veterans Marist Layug, Justine Dorog, Jessma Ramos and Marian Buitre, giving UP a mature and experienced core.     “What I expect is for them to go hard, they came from far, some of them four years ago, some of them five, like Ayel, she's coming, five years, playing and training to win. I think some of them in their first years that was when they were in the Final Four,” said Okumu. “Last season they thought they were gonna be in the Final Four but it was bad luck that that we didn't make it. I think this time we should start strong, and finish strong.” With the Lady Maroons pre-season showing, Okumu is confident that his team will make it to the Final Four this time and even beyond if they stick to their game plan, focus and work hard to achieve their goals. “This season, 81, I think I believe we would be in the Final Four based on how we played. That is my strong belief,” he said. “Like every other team, we have a chance of winning like all the strong teams. We have a chance and we wanna go out there and take that chance because as I said before, it's not gonna be easy.” “We have to go there hard, nobody is gonna give it to us. We have to go out and take it so that's what we are trying to do. Go out there and take it because everybody else is trying to take the same so we tread carefully, very politely, and with a lot of discipline towards our goal,” Okumu added. “As I said before, it's not gonna be easy because everybody wants the same thing.”   ---   Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 11th, 2019

Her knees broken beyond repair, Vonn retiring after worlds

By Pat Graham and Andrew Dampf, Associated Press Lindsey Vonn transcended her sport in a way only a handful of Olympic athletes could even imagine. She was about more than skiing. She was about more than medals. She was about more than winning. She was often in the spotlight, appearing in the pages of mainstream and sports magazines, walking the red carpets, mingling with A-list celebrities and dating high-profile sports figures. The record-setting racer who grew up in Minnesota, then relocated to Colorado, became a household name in mountain towns and big cities — to people who knew a lot about racing and those who only tuned in every four years. But now, conceding her body is "broken beyond repair," Vonn is nearing the finish line for the final time. The woman who won more World Cup races than any other female is calling it quits at 34. On Friday, she said she'll retire after the world championships this month. "She's accomplished so many things and has overcome so much adversity in her life, with her injuries, and comebacks, and setbacks and comebacks," U.S. Ski and Snowboard CEO Tiger Shaw said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "Very few people can focus and train as hard as she does. We're all in awe of what she's accomplished in her career." Vonn's original plan was to step away in December, after one final charge down the course in Lake Louise, Alberta — a course she won on so often it's now named in her honor. She was forced to move up her retirement due to persistent pain in both knees, which she fully realized after failing to finish a race in Cortina d'Ampezzo , Italy, last month. Now, she's down to two races: The women's super-G on Tuesday in the Swedish resort of Are, and the downhill scheduled for Feb. 10. That's it. That's all her knees have left. "My body is broken beyond repair and it isn't letting me have the final season I dreamed of," Vonn wrote on Instagram . "My body is screaming at me to STOP and it's time for me to listen. "It's been an emotional 2 weeks making the hardest decision of my life," she wrote, "but I have accepted that I cannot continue ski racing." Vonn's impressive resume: three Olympic medals, including downhill gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Four overall World Cup titles. And 82 World Cup wins, leaving her four behind the all-time mark held by Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden. Her off-the-slopes portfolio includes: Appearing in the pages of everything from Vogue to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, earning sponsorship deals with companies such as Red Bull, meeting actors like Dwayne Johnson and even being an extra on one of her favorite shows, "Law & Order." The spotlight only increased when she dated golfer Tiger Woods. She's now seeing Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban . She's big on social media, with 1.6 million Instagram followers. A recent post from Vonn was cryptic in nature and yet all-too-insightful as she quoted the French philosopher Voltaire: "Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game." Translation: She simply had no more cards to play. Her aching knees and beat-up body finally applied the brakes to her hard-charging ways. Vonn's right knee is permanently damaged from previous crashes. She has torn ACLs, suffered fractures near her left knee, broke her ankle, sliced her right thumb and had several concussions — to name a few. She's limited to about three runs per day, and her body just can't handle the workload of other skiers. "Honestly, retiring isn't what upsets me. Retiring without reaching my goal is what will stay with me forever," Vonn said. "However, I can look back at 82 World Cup wins, 20 World Cup titles, 3 Olympic medals, 7 World Championship medals and say that I have accomplished something that no other woman in HISTORY has ever done, and that is something that I will be proud of FOREVER!" Her first World Cup start was Nov. 18, 2000, in a slalom race in Park City, Utah, and she didn't qualify for the second run. She was Lindsey Kildow then, before changing her name to Vonn after marrying her now ex-husband and ex-coach, Thomas. Her first World Cup win came four years later, in a downhill event at Lake Louise. Retiring in Sweden brings Vonn full circle. She won her first two major championship medals — two silvers — at the 2007 worlds in Are. As for how she will be remembered, that's simple for U.S. coach Paul Kristofic: Her comebacks. "That never-give-up attitude is something that everyone can take away from," Kristofic said. "She has created that character and lived it. Those are life lessons that everybody can take. Give it your all and never give up. That's a very strong legacy." ___ Associated Press writer Eric Willemsen in Maribor, Slovenia, contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 2nd, 2019

Gilmore has quietly made major noise in Pats Super Bowl run

By Kyle Hightower, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — In two years, Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower still has never heard Stephon Gilmore yell. Not in practice. Not in a game. Not ever. "He's stays quiet, it's not just because y'all are in here," Hightower said with a chuckle this week. "He doesn't talk. He's a mute." Gilmore's also — silently — assumed the role of lockdown cornerback for New England as it prepares to face two of the NFL's top two receivers in its Super Bowl matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. Being tasked to guard an opponents' top receiver won't be anything new for Gilmore, who is in his second season with the Patriots after leaving Buffalo and signing a five-year, $65 million free agent deal in 2017. There were some shortcomings this season. Notably when New England's secondary struggled in the second half of its narrow regular-season victory over Kansas City, allowing Tyreek Hill to catch three touchdown passes. But more times than not, Gilmore has lived up to the challenge. He combined with J.C. Jackson and Keion Crossen to limit Hill to one catch and no touchdowns in the Patriots' AFC championship game win over the Chiefs. And he's only allowed two catches on the 10 passes thrown in his direction during the postseason. Gilmore had a career-high 20 passes defensed during the regular season, the second most in the NFL behind Chicago's Kyle Fuller (21). His previous high was 18 with Buffalo in 2015. He's also had two or more passes defensed in four of his past five playoff games, including his first career playoff interception against the Chargers in the divisional round. "I kind of let my game do the talking," Gilmore said. "I try to play my game regardless of who I'm going against. Some people can handle it, some people can't." It helped the 28-year-old earn All-Pro honors for the first time in his career, becoming just the fourth Patriots cornerback to be named to the first team. He joins Ty Law (1998, 2003), Asante Samuel (2007) and Darrelle Revis (2014). But for a guy who tries to maintain a low profile, it's not something he's trying to put a lot of stock in right now. "That's a big accomplishment. But the one thing I wanted was a Super Bowl ring and I'm gonna try to do whatever it takes to get that done," he said. Last season Gilmore's contract was a conversation topic in New England with Malcolm Butler — star of the Patriots' Super Bowl win over Seattle in the 2014 season — not being offered the contract extension he was looking for from the Patriots. Gilmore started slowly in 2017 and appeared in only 13 games, missing two starts because of a concussion. He finished with two interceptions, but had only nine passes defensed. Butler signed with Tennessee in free agency in the offseason, making Gilmore the top cornerback in the Patriots secondary. Gilmore said he entered training camp focused on improvement. "To me it doesn't really matter what happened in the past. You just gotta learn from it and get better," he said. The Patriots will need someone to step up on Sunday, with the Rams trotting out two 1,200-yard receivers in Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, who was traded by New England to Los Angeles last summer. Gilmore's practice battles with Cooks are fresh in his mind and he's also played with Woods in Buffalo. The practice field has been Gilmore's sanctuary this season, teammate and fellow cornerback Jason McCourty said. "He doesn't even let guys catch the ball in walkthroughs. That's kind of his mindset and his demeanor," McCourty said. "He goes out there, he takes the field and his one job is to shut whoever he's guarding down and that's something that he's done on a week-in, week-out basis for us this season." Hightower said Gilmore's work ethic is contagious across the defense. "There will be days when you want to be lackadaisical and you might not want to push yourself. Then you see Steph running from one hash to the other hash guarding a guy on a route, pushing his leverage," Hightower said. "When you see a guy work like that day in and day out, you can't help but push yourself with whatever you're going through." With a second consecutive shot at a Super Bowl ring, Gilmore said he'll be drawing on everything he's learned over the past two seasons. "I've learned a lot about myself just trying to be consistent," Gilmore said. "Just really trusting my teammates. I've learned a lot of football. I'm smarter than I was last year, just from coaches putting me in the best position to make plays. "Now I'm the Super Bowl in position to finish everything off.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 1st, 2019

Justin Rose, Adam Scott hit $50M milestone together

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press SAN DIEGO (AP) — Justin Rose won at Torrey Pines. Adam Scott challenged him to the final hole. And thanks to that 1-2 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open, both surpassed $50 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour. It's a feat achieved by only five other players. These days, it's little more than a monetary milestone. But it was fitting they did it together. Born 14 days apart in July 1980, they have been great friends since they tussled in South Africa at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in January 2001. Both were 20. Scott made a 4-foot birdie putt on the last hole to beat Rose and win for the first time as a pro. Oddly enough — or maybe not — Rose won his first professional title a year later in the same tournament. What makes the timing so appropriate that both joined the $50 million club on the same day is that their PGA Tour careers effectively began together, with a little help from the men who now run the PGA Tour (commissioner Jay Monahan) and the PGA of America (chief executive Seth Waugh). Go back to a rainy Labor Day in 2003 on the TPC Boston to find Scott closing with a 66 for a four-shot victory in the inaugural Deutsche Bank Championship, which had given him a sponsor exemption. The victory gave him instant PGA Tour membership. Rose also was given an exemption, shot 67 in the final round and finished third. He earned $340,000 that day, giving him enough money to earn a tour card. Waugh at the time was CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, the title sponsor of a new tournament that had the Tiger Woods Foundation as the charitable arm. Monahan was hired as the tournament director. "We gave them both exemptions," Waugh said Tuesday from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he was caddying for his son in a PGA Tour Latinoamerica qualifying tournament. "Adam was pretty obvious. Jay called me and said, 'Let's talk about exemptions,' which I'd never done." Monahan mentioned using a special exemption for international players on an English kid who had had a good British Open, turned pro and missed 20 consecutive cuts before getting his career on track. Waugh already was aware he was talking about Rose, who had won on three tours (Europe, South Africa, Japan) the previous year. And then Waugh really got to know him. "We get to the pro-am draw party Wednesday night at the statehouse in Boston," Waugh said. "It was a formal deal. Mitt Romney was the governor, and we're all giving our suit speeches. There's this tall kid by the seafood bar eating shrimp and looking lonely. I walk up to him and said: 'How are you doing? Are you Justin Rose?' I said, 'What are you doing here?' "He said Deutsche Bank was nice enough to give him an exemption and he thought he would come up and thank somebody," Waugh said. "He was staying all the way in Providence. I said, 'You just did.' But that's Justin. No agent, nobody telling him what to do. He ended finishing third. And the rest is history." The history between Scott and Rose was just getting started. They have piled up victories around the world, amassing long streaks of winning. Scott went 14 consecutive years with at least one victory worldwide and has 27 for his career. Rose won Sunday for the 22nd time worldwide, extending his streak to 10 consecutive years with at least one victory, including his gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. They now are neighbors at Albany in the Bahamas, both married with two children. They each have won one major, which they won consecutively. Scott finally delivered Australia a green jacket when he won the 2013 Masters. Rose sent him a text message of congratulations, which prompted this famous reply from Scott: "This is our time." Two months later, Rose won the U.S. Open at Merion. He had practiced the week before the Masters with Scott in the Bahamas, even played a couple of rounds together. "I took his money both times," Rose said. And then Scott won the Masters, which made the text exchange really hit home. Indeed, it was their time, and they kept going. Scott reached No. 1 in the world in the spring of 2014. Rose reached No. 1 in the world late last summer, and the Englishman extended his lead atop the world ranking with his two-shot victory at Torrey Pines. Waugh still thinks about that Monday afternoon at the TPC Boston, where Scott and Rose spent the entire week together, at restaurants and on the leaderboard. They have won so much and done so well that money doesn't define them. In this case, it was simply a reminder of where it all began......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 30th, 2019

Matthew Slater carries proud family football tradition

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Matthew Slater is more than halfway to his father's longevity as an NFL player. He doesn't plan to equal it. The star special teamer of the New England Patriots just completed his 11th pro season, and he's at his fifth Super Bowl, with two wins. In his dad Jackie's 20-season NFL career, he made one Super Bowl — coincidentally, with the Rams in 1980 — and lost to Pittsburgh. "That's a long time to do anything," Matthew Slater said Tuesday. As for the New England kick coverage ace lasting so long, he added with a laugh: "Absolutely not." Of course, when your team becomes a regular visitor to the Super Bowl, it lengthens the season by more than a month. No one in the NFL would want to pass on that, but in reality Slater has played nearly 12 seasons, making All-Pro in 2016 and being voted to seven Pro Bowls. Not bad for someone whose Hall of Fame father didn't necessarily want Matthew to play football. "He felt that way for two reasons," Matthew Slater says. "First, he didn't want me to feel the pressure of living up to his name. He thought the expectations could be unfair. "He also wanted me to avoid injury. He knew the toll it takes on you physically." Matthew and his brother played plenty of sports, and guess who usually was the coach. Yep, Jackie. "Sports have always been a big part of my life and have so many life lessons from being on a team, and the disciplines of preparing to compete and how you compete, and having teammates around you. I thought they were good lessons to learn," Jackie Slater said. "I discouraged them to play football. I didn't think (Matthew) would be big enough to play football. I coached in basketball, soccer, track and field, even some flag football. I didn't see football as something that he would excel. But when he played flag, he had good speed and he caught the ball and ran well." Matthew kept improving in high school and grew, though not to Jackie's offensive tackle measurements. Because Jackie was unfamiliar with the kind of skills his son possessed, he turned to teammates Ron Brown — a 1984 Olympic champion speedster, who played wideout and returned kicks — and outstanding cornerback LeRoy Irvin. Brown refined Matthew's technique and speed, and Irvin worked with him on back-pedaling and breaks for receivers. "Things I was not familiar with," says Jackie, who recalled watching Matthew leave everyone behind in a 100-meter race, only to have Brown say "he did everything wrong. "I knew I needed to get out of the way." Not really. Matthew, now 33, credits pretty much everything he has achieved in football to his father, who entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001. "He made every effort to be present," the son says. "That's what I appreciate the most: He was a father first. So many young kids ... many black kids ... I see they don't have a presence like that. "Anytime I have success, certainly my dad is sharing in it. It all goes back to my dad; I wouldn't be playing this game without him. It's pretty unique, a son being able to do something his dad did. We are enjoying this ride together." For sure. But on Sunday, well, Jackie admits to being a bit torn when the Rams — his team — take on the Patriots — Matthew's team. You see, Jackie Slater still has plenty of millennium blue and new century gold running through his veins. "This is a win-win situation for me," the elder Slater notes. "If my son loses, it's not as if he hasn't experienced the thrill of victory in a Super Bowl, something I never did. And if he loses, it hurts, but he has a great attitude about it. It helps me live with the defeats he has. "If the Rams win, I will be happy because I have been pulling for this team for more than 40 years. My first hero in the game was Tom Mack, who I actually played with for three years. "You know, he has an unbelievable opportunity to experience things I never did. I don't know what it is like to win the Super Bowl beyond the joy my son had when he won on two occasions. That's almost as good as me winning, I felt.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 30th, 2019

‘Back to the garden’: Festival to mark Woodstock’s 50th

Fifty years after the Woodstock festival became a high point of 1960s counter-culture, featuring performances by Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin and other icons of the era, an anniversary event is planned at the same site in New York. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts announced on its website "a new festival of music, culture, and community" from August 16-18 next year at the original location of the 1969 concert, which took place on Max Yasgur's farm about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of New York City. In conjunction with major concert promoter Live Nation, the event will span the same dates as the original festival and will include live performances from "promin...Keep on reading: ‘Back to the garden’: Festival to mark Woodstock’s 50th.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

Balance of power in L.A. to be decided in July

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com The Friday (Saturday, PHL time) game at Staples Center is one of 82, in a sense. The two L.A. teams who share the building will meet for the first time this season. The young Lakers will be without their superstar leader -- LeBron James, still nursing a strained groin -- and the Clippers bring a scrappy group that’s resourceful without a true star. Those are the credentials that give each a measure of pride; the Lakers are suddenly vibrant again since LeBron’s arrival while the Clippers’ nearly identical record gives them a sense of satisfaction and pride for doing more with less. Their first “contest,” however, must wait until next summer, when victory will go deeper than the standings. The Lakers and Clippers will each have massive room under the salary cap and, therefore, ample chances to chase A-list free agents in what will be a limited market for superstars, surely pitting one team against the other in most if not all cases. Lakers vs. Clippers? Is this the one-sided arm wrestle that it appears to be strictly from a historical standpoint, or will the Clippers make this more suspenseful than anyone would’ve imagined? Yes, a decade ago in such a situation, the only glance that a franchise player would shoot in the direction of the Clippers would be a side-eye. Former Clipper Ron Harper once joked that whenever strangers asked which team he played for, he’d answer “Los Angeles,” which meant he wasn’t lying, and also meant he probably wouldn’t be heckled. But those Clippers, long the butt of jokes, constantly mismanaged, perpetually dealing with doses of bad luck and ruled by the one and only Donald Sterling, are six feet under. Whether they’re still dealing with the ghosts of the past and outdated images of buffoonery will be determined by their skill in free agency. In fact, the case could be made that the franchise is in better shape, from an all-around standpoint, than at any time in their history. Yes, that’s quite a statement, considering the Clippers had Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin all in their prime and for over half a decade, and that crew was coached by Doc Rivers, who’s still at the helm. But those Clippers, mayors of Lob City, mainly teased. They never went anywhere special (no conference finals, no NBA Finals) and arguably underachieved from a bottom-line standpoint. Entertaining and interesting? Sure. Box office? Yes. Successful from October through April? Absolutely. Yet, in the end, duds. Plus, with all due respect to Rivers, who also handled the personnel duties until two summers ago, the Clippers never pulled off a franchise-changing move to supplement their All-Star core and give them a leg up on the competition. These Clippers are in good shape on the court and great shape on the salary cap, which is bringing the flexibility of a gold medal gymnast. They don’t have LeBron to entice free agents, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe that actually works to their advantage. Clippers to A-lister: Why play next to LeBron when you can be our LeBron and help put your own team together? The Clippers have enough room to sign two lead singers if they rescind their "Bird rights" on leading scorer Tobias Harris, who's only 26: For example, imagine Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard to get the conversation started. And what’s best is they wouldn’t have to gut the team. They have enough players either on team-friendly contracts or rookie contracts to stick around: Montrezl Harrell, a worker bee who’s improved; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a wise point guard at age 20; and Lou Williams, a scorer who’s comfortable coming off the bench. They could also exceed the cap to re-sign Harris. To recap, the Clippers have money, Rivers as coach, good players to surround a star, a loaded owner in Steve Ballmer, all the LA perks enjoyed by the Lakers. Everything except tradition and Jack Nicholson. Is that necessarily a deal breaker? And wouldn’t the Clippers qualify as a bolder challenge for a superstar than riding shotgun with LeBron for a franchise already with 16 titles? You could picture someone like Durant, searching for a team to call his own, anxious to add something special to his legacy, taking the bait. Maybe Leonard, too, who’s from the Pasadena area. And also Jimmy Butler, who spends his offseasons in LA. However, the Lakers’ footprint in LA is so massive that it must be respected. Hard to say no to Magic Johnson and LeBron, a pair of certified winners and all-timers. LeBron is the most unselfish scorer the game has ever seen. He dominates the ball but doesn’t overwhelm it. Every major co-star, from Dwyane Wade to Chris Bosh to Kyrie Irving, won championships next to LeBron. And in this late stage of his career, he’d probably be more willing than ever to share the ball, the wealth, the load, whatever, just to grab another ring before walking out the door for good. Plus, the Lakers have assets on rookie deals: Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball. Brandon Ingram’s contract comes up for renewal next summer, so that’s trickier. No matter; point is, any incoming free agent will have help besides LeBron. The wild card is Anthony Davis and whether he forces his way out of New Orleans next summer by refusing to extend his current deal, which runs through 2019-20, with a player option for 2020-21. The Pelicans would either keep Davis until the contract is up, hoping his changes his mind in the process, or trade him. Short of squeezing the Pelicans for Davis, the Lakers will be anxious to add help because LeBron, who turns 34 in a few days, is on the clock even though it doesn’t reflect in his play right now. So those are the choices for the impatient free agent star looking for a change of scenery and wanting to relocate to Los Angeles. It’s Lakers or Clippers, the chance to be next to LeBron or be away from his shadow, start a new legacy for a franchise or add to a franchise that’s already rich. Two Los Angeles teams meet Friday in a game, months before the “contest” that will dictate their future and direction. Next year’s first game between these two will tell us how their summer went. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

Southgate, Kane on Queen s list for honors after WCup run

LONDON (AP) — England coach Gareth Southgate and his captain Harry Kane have been rewarded in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year honors list on the back of the team's surprise run to the World Cup semifinals. Away from soccer, Geraint Thomas, who won cycling's Tour de France in July and was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year earlier this month, gets an OBE, while former England cricket captain Alastair Cook and ex-England rugby skipper Bill Beaumont received knighthoods. After decades of disappointment at major tournaments, England's soccer team matched its best overseas World Cup performance earlier this year. The 48-year-old Southgate was key to the surprise display in Russia, changing the culture of the team, with their run followed by progress to the inaugural UEFA Nations League finals. He received an OBE — Officer of the Order of the British Empire. "I hope everybody that has supported me throughout my career feels pride in the fact I've received this honor because I wouldn't be in this position without that help and guidance," former England defender Southgate said. Kane, honored with an MBE — Member of the Order of the British Empire, won the Golden Boot after finishing top scorer at the World Cup. The 25-year-old striker netted six goals as Southgate's side reached the final four and he has also shone throughout the year for high-flying Tottenham. "It's quite surreal," Kane said. "It's been a great year for club and country. It's hard to put into words. I'm very passionate about our country, very patriotic." England, which hosted and won the World Cup in 1966, previously reached the semifinals in Italy in 1990. Outgoing Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore becomes a CBE — Commander of the Order of the British Empire — for services to football, and former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg gets an OBE. The 86-year-old Gregg survived the Munich air disaster in 1958. Four-time Ashes winner Cook, 34, becomes the first England cricketer to be given a 'Sir' prefix since Ian Botham in 2007. He retired from internationals this year, scoring a 33rd test century on his final appearance against India at The Oval. Cook has compiled more test centuries and runs — 12,472 — than any other England player during a record 161 tests. The 66-year-old Beaumont is recognized for services to rugby. He led England to a Five Nations Grand Slam in 1980 and also captained the British and Irish Lions. He is a former Rugby Football Union chairman and was elected chairman of World Rugby in 2016. Irish rugby great Willie John McBride — the most decorated player in British and Irish Lions history — was "absolutely thrilled" to receive a CBE. There is also an OBE for ex-Scotland rugby international Doddie Weir, who is fighting motor neurone disease, for services to rugby, motor neurone disease research and to the Scottish Borders community. World Curling Federation president Kate Caithness gets a CBE for services to sport, and fellow Scot — Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin — is made a Dame. British honors are awarded twice each year, at New Year and on the Queen's official birthday in June. The winners are chosen by committees based on nominations from the government and the public......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 29th, 2018

It means a lot of pressure – Okumu on UP’s pre-season romp

Two women’s volleyball titles in the pre-season means a lot for University of the Philippines. For the faithful, it’s the fruit of the school’s long and arduous task of building and training a competitive team. An accomplishment and a source of pride for the Diliman-based squad, which for years lagged behind compared to other schools’ volleyball program. For the players, those trophies serve as morale-booster that will fuel their drive to achieve more success. However, those mints also mean high expectations and pressure to live up to the hype coming into the UAAP Season 81 two months from now. A fact that head coach Godfrey Okumu knows too well. “It means a lot of pressure. For them and for me. That's what it means,” said the second year mentor after the Lady Maroons beat University of Sto. Tomas in their Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam title showdown Thursday. The Lady Maroons ended a long championship drought last September after defeating Far Eastern University in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference Finals to hoist their first major tournament title since winning it all in the 1982 edition of the UAAP. In those tournaments, Okumu utilized different lineups with star hitters Isa Molde and Tots Carlos suiting up alternately in the PVL and PSL, respectively. Carlos skipped the PVL to recover from an injury while Molde got a much-deserved rest as she sat out the whole PSL tournament.         “I've tried all my players in these preseason games. I've played almost 28, at least 25 or 26 players. I've been able to recycle them in all the tournaments we've played,” said Okumu, whose squad received a P350,000 prize money for winning the PSL Grand Slam. With his two units delivering crowns in the pre-season, Okumu now faces another dilemma: choosing his final lineup for the UAAP. “It's gonna be hard to choose, so don't ask me my line-up for UAAP, because I don't know,” he said. “We played well, and everybody gave... We had a trophy, and this is the second one. It's just a big pressure, and just hoping for the best.” Still, the feat they achieved in the pre-season attested his belief to the team he inherited after UP parted ways with former coach Jerry Yee last year. “I believe since two or three years ago, this team was a champion team, and it was just a matter of time,” said Okumu, who first met the team during a training camp a couple of years back. “But as I said before, big pressure. UAAP is another game altogether. We only played against three of the other teams. So, I don't wanna judge ourselves before playing against everybody else,” he added. “So yes, we want to go out there and win the UAAP, but we have to tread carefully.” “We have to be polite as we move on, train, work hard. Because it's a really big challenge for us, and we wouldn't like to play so well in the offseason, and when the real tournament comes up, we don't perform,” said Okumu. “So I believe, it puts us in a very tight situation, but the fight is there. So we're gonna fight until the end.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 21st, 2018

AP column: Why it was special for Rahm to beat his hero, Tiger

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Three victories in three countries against fields large and small, strong and weak, couldn't make Jon Rahm's year any better. Nothing could top one win that offered no money, no world ranking points or even a trophy to call his own. He beat Tiger Woods in the Ryder Cup. "I don't think there's anything I can do in the game anytime soon that's going to mean more than that," Rahm said. When he spoke late Sunday afternoon after a four-shot victory in the Bahamas, the Masters was still 130 days away. That's the next major, and majors are the greatest achievement for any player. Rahm is no exception. But yes, that Ryder Cup was special. If his tears that Sunday at Le Golf National didn't show that, Rahm spoke for just over 4 minutes and used 638 words to explain. His year ended with Woods presenting him the trophy from the Hero World Challenge, but really that was the start of his story. As they looked at the trophy, where Woods' name first shows up in 2001, Rahm said Woods asked, "How old were you?" Rahm was 7. "I saw him win a great deal of events, grew up with a dream of someday beating him, and to do it on the Sunday or a Ryder Cup ... it was extremely special," he said. Seve Ballesteros inspired him, and still does. Woods motivated the 24-year-old Spaniard, as he did for so many other young players from Rahm's generation. He studied Woods, including a recent documentary for the British Open that helped on Sunday at Albany. "He said once he got in the lead, his goal was to never go back to the field, to have the field catch him," Rahm said. That wasn't the only film Rahm has watched. He says he probably has seen every video on Woods and Ballesteros that can be found on the internet. And that's probably how his fiancee learned the game. "She had no idea about golf, and I would just get the laptop and make her watch all the highlights of Tiger," Rahm said. "I've seen Tiger's final round at Pebble in 2000 about 150 times." And that brings him to Saturday night outside Paris. Europe had a 10-6 lead with Rahm contributing a point in his first Ryder Cup. "Kind of felt like I was letting the team down," he said. Rahm knew he would be in the No. 4 spot for Europe, and then the U.S. lineup was revealed. He was expecting to see Woods toward the back because that's where he had been the last two times he played, at No. 8 in Wales and No. 12 at Medinah. This time, Woods was at No. 4 against Rahm. "I'm like, 'Great.' To me, the greatest golfer of all time that I've been able to see, he just won at East Lake, he's 0-3, I was 0-2. I'm like, 'He really wants to win this, for sure, and I'm not playing my best.' So that was my first train of thought," Rahm said. He spent time that night and the next morning talking to his mental coach, European captain Thomas Bjorn and Tommy Fleetwood, who had experience playing Woods, including all three of Woods' losses that week. He thought about a strategy, which turned out to be the easy part. Woods doesn't make a lot of mistakes, so the Ryder Cup rookie better be close to flawless. The gallery was the largest on the course, and not because Rahm was playing. Turns out it was Woods who made the mistakes, with bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes to fall 2 down. Rahm missed a short putt on the 16th hole, giving him a 1-up lead with two to play. He responded with a shot into 5 feet on the 17th and a chance to close out his golfing idol. Rahm never lacks for emotions, and by now they were raging. His grandfather died on the Sunday of the PGA Championship and was on his mind. As he settled over the putt, he heard a Spanish voice in the gallery yell, "Do it for Seve!" Rahm could picture both of them watching and thought to himself, "There's no way them two are going to allow me to miss the putt." He dropped his putter and lost his mind when the putt went in. "It's all that feeling, right?" Rahm said. "I tried to stay as balanced as possible, I never got mad, even after missing the putt on 16. Making the putt to beat Tiger Woods, my all-time hero ... man, it was hard." He was screaming and hugging and forgot for a moment that Woods had walked across the green to congratulate him. "He came to me with a smile," Rahm said. "He said, 'Man, don't even worry, you played great.' And I started crying in front of Tiger. It was such an emotional moment." That's how much it meant to him, because that's how much Woods means to him......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 5th, 2018

Tiger hunting more Majors in 2019 | The Manila Times Online

NASSAU, Bahamas: A rejuvenated Tiger Woods will head into the New Year excited knowing hes won six of his 14 Major Championship titles on three of the four 2019 hostREAD The post Tiger hunting more Ma.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilanewsRelated NewsNov 29th, 2018

Ex-UP top gunner Paolo Mendoza to Fighting Maroons: Focus on goal, not yourselves

After 21 years, the UP Fighting Maroons are on the cusp of entering the UAAP Finals as they battle against the Adamson Soaring Falcons for the right to face the defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles for the Season 81 title.   A familiar situation 1997 was the last time UP made it to the Final Four, also forging a sudden death match for a spot in the Finals in Season 60. One of the top players back then was scoring sensation Paolo Mendoza, who is now the head coach of the UPIS Junior Fighting Maroons. Unfortunately, however, Mendoza's team lost by just a point, 69-70, during the Game 2 of the knockout match against the FEU Tamaraws, denying their march to the Finals. Being the top scorer and team leader of the Fighting Maroons at that time, Mendoza is elated to see the current team in the same position they had in 1997. In an exclusive interview, Mendoza said he is elated that UP finally made it again this far in the league, considering also that Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, Diego Dario, and Wil Gozum were former UPIS Junior Fighting Maroons.   Defensive intensity Mendoza stressed that offense has always been and will always be there as the roster has top gunners like the Gomez De Liano brothers, Paul Desiderio, Jun Manzo, and MVP favorite Bright Akhuetie. However, he believes the team’s defensive intensity was the most obvious improvement compared to their performance during the first round of playoffs. “Magaling ‘yung attention and commitment nila sa defense. Ang galing ng ginawa ni Coach Bo (Perasol),” he said, adding that the boys definitely executed even the smallest of details in their defense. Being optimistic for today’s game, Mendoza thinks that the main concern or probable weakness of the team will be nothing and no one but themselves. “Sometimes in situations like this, you will be overwhelmed. Your focus on the game will really be tested,” he said, adding that focus is just what might probably get in the way in getting the win in today’s match.   Similarities with 1997 team Meanwhile, the major similarity that Mendoza thinks there is between their team during Season 60 and the current Fighting Maroons is the commitment of the players. “‘Yung similarity na talagang nakikita ko is ‘yung commitment ng parehong generations. During our time, very committed kami sa goal namin, the same way how the team is committed now,” he said. Reminiscing the exact situation they were in during Season 60, Mendoza is certain that they were still successful during their time despite falling short against the FEU Tamaraws, who were then the number one team in the standings and had the that twice-to-beat edge. “Ang maganda siguro sa team namin noon, we know our roles and we accept those roles. We respect each other a lot. Kaya masasabi naming naging matagumpay noong time namin,” he said.   Like an ordinary game The old cliche that is  “playing one game at a time” was the mindset of Mendoza during that do-or-die game against FEU. Mendoza admitted that he actually just treated that game as an ordinary game as he did not want to pressure himself so much. “During times like this, medyo iseseparate mo muna ‘yung sarili mo sa mundo kasi everybody’s talking about the game - your friends, family, and the whole UP community,” he said. Difficulties will always be present during crucial knockout games and Mendoza admitted it was really the focus on the game, which was very hard for them back then. “Sometimes, you tend to focus on yourself eh; nakakalimutan mo na yung goal ng team that is why importante ‘yung may leaders who know how to gather the team,” he said, adding that when you are already one of the top teams you always have to bring your “A" game” every time. Knowing how to handle pressure In sharing his learnings from his experience as a veteran player, Mendoza stressed that each one on the team now should know how to handle the pressure and expectations. “They should not take their eyes off the goal. Dapat alam nila ‘yung kailangan nilang gawin. Most importantly, they should think of everybody, the whole UP community sacrificing their time to support the team,” he said. Mendoza also pointed out that the performance of GDL brothers Juan and Javi is very crucial. “I think sila ang barometer ng UP. If they play well, strong ang chance ng UP to win,” he said. When asked what the Finals picture is for UP, Mendoza confidently said that his hopes are high for the very talented team. With the way the boys play, there is a very high chance that they will make it into Finals. They just need to maintain it and keep it a notch higher on defense. “Hindi talaga ako magugulat kung manalo ang UP. If it happens, first Finals appearance ulit ng UP in years,” he said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 28th, 2018

Philippines internet speed to become faster with 3rd telco

Internet speed in the country may rise to third fastest in Southeast Asia from being among the slowest at present with the provisional third telco player’s commitment in its first year of operations, but telco giant PLDT has advised the public to temper their expectations for at least two years with the arrival of the new major player......»»

Category: financeSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 11th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: More concern over Rockets or Thunder?

NBA.com blogtable Who's in more trouble right now, the Rockets or the Thunder? * * * Steve Aschburner: Right now? “Right now” doesn’t much matter because it is, in fact, early. But what Houston is going through is more than a right-now problem. First, the switcheroo in its ratings -- essentially mirror images of last year’s, from a plus of 8.4 in 2017-18 to a minus 9.6 now -- is elevator-shaft stuff. Naturally, since James Harden has missed two games, the offense is sputtering. But the defense? That became an issue when Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute left in the summer. And given the expectations -- and four home losses by an average of more than 17 points -- PANIC CAN’T BE FAR AWAY! If I were Minnesota, I’d be on the phone constantly with Rockets GM Daryl Morey, because his team’s need for Jimmy Butler is growing by the day, presumably dragging the price right with it. Shaun Powell: Given that the stakes are higher in Houston -- nobody with a basketball pulse figured OKC would compete for a title this year -- the choice is easily the Rockets. They lost defensive coach Jeff Bzdelika, Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza and replaced those defensive specialists with Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams. They've gone from No. 7 in Defensive Rating to No. 24 this season, which might be the new normal for them this season. Not sure if the Rockets will be one game from the Finals again this season. John Schuhmann: After another ugly loss on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), it's got to be Houston, because, with the four-year, $160 million contract they just gave a 33-year-old Chris Paul, they're all-in on being a title contender. They've been without one starting guard or the other during this four-game losing streak, but they were 21-11 with one of the two and not the other last season. There are a couple of real concerns even when they're completely healthy. No. 1: They lost too much defensively with the departures of Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute and assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik, and the player departures have forced them to play forwards that just aren't good enough on end of the floor or the other. No. 2: How good they were in isolation last season (setting a record, by a wide margin, for iso efficiency) was unsustainable. You can be sure that GM Daryl Morey won't stand pat and that the Rockets' roster will not be the same in March as it is now. Maybe they can add two-way talent by trading a bunch of picks (going more all-in than they already are), but that's easier said than done. Sekou Smith: The Rockets by a mile. Given the immense expectations that accompanied them into training camp, both internally and beyond, their early-season struggles dwarf those plaguing the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets tweaked what was beautiful team chemistry from a season ago for absolutely no reason at all. We will never know what might have happened in the Western Conference finals if Chris Paul hadn't gone down with a hamstring injury late in Game 5. And the Rockets made sure of it when they let perfect fits Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute go and added Carmelo Anthony. You can dive into the metrics all you want, but this is a chemistry problem that has nothing to do with crunching numbers. The Rockets sauntered into this season like a team that won something last season. That's a dangerous space to be occupy in a sport where the championship window for most contenders often vanishes quickly. The Rockets are searching for a quick fix (like a deal for Jimmy Butler in exchange for four first-round picks) in an effort to turn things around. They better hurry up and figure it out before the hole they've dug for themselves gets deeper......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 1st, 2018