Advertisements


Zidane s successor faces high bar, doubts about stars

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Zinedine Zidane had barely finished announcing that he was leaving Real Madrid when speculation began about who would succeed him. Twenty-four hours later, both Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Germany coach Joachim Loew — two of the top names rumored to be on Madrid's list of candidates — have said they are staying put. Pochettino said Friday that his "commitment is total" to Tottenham. He signed a five-year contract extension last week. Loew, who is preparing Germany to defend its World Cup title in Russia, said "it's not an issue for me. I'm at the World Cup now. I can completely rule it out now." Other coaches that Madrid president Florentino Perez supposedly is considering include Chelsea's Antonio Conte, exiting Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and former Madrid player Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez. While the Madrid job is one of soccer's most coveted posts, its next coach will have some hurdles to tackle. STARS IN DOUBT The biggest worry for any coach coming to the Spanish capital will be the uncertain future of the team's top stars. Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale appear to be mulling an exit, at least according to statements they made just moments after Madrid beat Liverpool in last weekend's Champions League final. Ronaldo put a huge damper on Madrid's celebrations by appearing to speak of his time at Madrid as having reached its end. "In the next few days I'll give the fans an answer because they are the ones who have always been by my side," Ronaldo said. "It was very beautiful to be with Madrid." Ronaldo said he would clear up his future once he joins the Portuguese national team next week as it prepares for the World Cup. Bale, who scored twice as a substitute to beat Liverpool 3-1, was more explicit in stating his desire to get more playing time after a season during which he lost his spot in the starting 11. Midfielder Francisco "Isco" Alarcon has also complained about not enjoying the same untoucbable status as Ronaldo, defender Sergio Ramos or midfielder Luka Modric. COMMITMENT Zidane could hardly have set the bar any higher with three straight European Cups. Still, the Frenchman leaves a Madrid team that woefully underperformed in both the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey this season. It is likely that only his status as fan favorite from his playing days at Madrid and his titles from the previous two seasons kept Zidane in his job through the first six months of last season, until the team finally found its form in the Champions League. Madrid finished in third place in the league, a whopping 17 points adrift champion Barcelona. In the Copa del Rey, the team was eliminated at home by a modest Leganes in the quarterfinals, a moment which Zidane said was the worst of his coaching stint with the club. Whoever inherits the team will have to improve its work ethic to face the weekly grind of games in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey if it hopes to dethrone Barcelona from both domestic competitions. BENZEMA Zidane has been the biggest public defender of Karim Benzema, fending off calls from fans and the local sports media to bench the struggling striker. Benzema scored only five times in 32 league appearances this season, his lowest mark since arriving at Madrid in 2009. If the club doesn't sign a replacement for Benzema this offseason, then its next coach will have to help him recover his best form. YOUNG PLAYERS Madrid tried to rejuvenate its squad last year by bringing in a group of young Spanish players, including defenders Theo Hernandez and Jesus Vallejo, midfielders Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente, and forward Borja Mayoral. But none earned a spot in Zidane's starting lineup or his group of preferred backups. Madrid's in-coming coach will have to bring those players into the fold so their careers don't stagnate any further......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 2nd, 2018

Duke, Kentucky again rely on freshmen in NCAA Tournament

By Joedy McCreary, Associated Press DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke and Kentucky are viewed as the masters of the one-and-done era, winning championships with extraordinarily young rosters. Both programs have a chance to do it again. After several potential one-and-done phenoms were bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the opening weekend, the Blue Devils and Wildcats are the teams still playing that have rosters stacked with high-profile freshmen. Duke, the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region, starts four freshmen — led by Wooden Award finalist Marvin Bagley III — while Kentucky, the South’s No. 5 seed, features Kevin Knox as its centerpiece. The Wildcats (26-10), arguably the biggest beneficiary of a run of upsets in the South, play ninth-seeded Kansas State on Thursday night in Atlanta. The following night, Duke (28-7) faces a rematch with 11th-seeded Syracuse in a Midwest semifinal in Omaha, Nebraska. Hall of Fame Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said his freshmen are “not afraid of the moment. It’s how much preparation do they have for the moment? “We’re trying to condense about four years into eight months,” he said. “I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. You just kind of live it.” Among the star freshmen who didn’t make it to the tournament’s second weekend were Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson, Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Texas’ Mohamed Bamba. Young and Bamba have already declared for the NBA draft, and Ayton joined them Wednesday . Both the Blue Devils and Wildcats have previously had predominantly young teams cut down the nets at past Final Fours. Kentucky won a national title in 2012 behind top-two draft picks Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, while Duke’s most recent national title came in 2015 behind three one-and-done freshmen — Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones. This Duke team has looked capable of joining that squad, with four freshmen averaging double figures in their two NCAA Tournament games, led by Bagley’s 22.0 scoring average. Another of those freshmen, forward Wendell Carter Jr., believes the Blue Devils are “reaching our peak at the right time” and have “developed into a team that can crush another team, our opponent. “I try not to look ahead about this being my last year or anything,” Carter said. “I’m just living in the moment.” The Blue Devils have three players — Bagley, Carter and point guard Trevon Duval — in the top seven members of the 2017 recruiting class, according to 247Sports. The fourth freshman, Gary Trent Jr., was rated No. 17 by the service. The highest-rated members of Kentucky’s class are Hamidou Diallo, Knox and Jarred Vanderbilt — who are ranked 10th-12th by 247Sports — as well as Nick Richards, who’s No. 18. (Point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander arrived as a relatively unheralded recruit.) No other top-20 ranked players are still playing in the NCAA Tournament. “No one really cares what the (NBA) is telling you to do, you’ve just got to come out and do what you do best,” Knox said. “And that’s why (coach John Calipari) has sat down with each and every one of us and told us what we need to do for the team, and that’s what we’ve been able to do.” Calipari has said his group “needed to fail as a team” to figure out how to win. The Wildcats in January dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2014, then in February lost four in a row to NCAA Tournament team. But Kentucky enters the Sweet 16 on a five-game winning streak and are the highest remaining seed in the South. Of his group, Krzyzewski said he doubts “they have ever felt pressure.” It showed last weekend when the Blue Devils beat both Iona and Rhode Island by at least 20 points to cruise into their 26th Sweet 16. “It’s not just pressure being off, it’s confidence growing,” Krzyzewski said. “We know (as coaches), if we lose, that’s it. But they don’t look at, ‘That’s it.’ No, the reality is, that’s it, and that’s a different way of looking at it. “Dealing with reality is good. Being nervous about it is not good.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 21st, 2018

Stephen Curry, Warriors use big second half to beat Knicks

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 17 of his 32 points in the third quarter to go with seven assists and six rebounds, and the Golden State Warriors used a big second half to beat the New York Knicks 123-112 on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Kevin Durant added 14 points, a career-high 14 assists and two blocks before his ejection with 2:50 left for a second technical. Zaza Pachulia added 13 points in Golden State’s seventh straight victory in the series. Curry made 8-of-15 from deep while sporting sneakers featuring the faces of his daughters Riley and Ryan and the message “I can do all things.” Great photo by AP colleague Ben Margot of @StephenCurry30's shoes featuring daughters Riley and Ryan. Not to mention the message "I can do all things." pic.twitter.com/8fwRAe7wvg — Janie McCauley (@JanieMcCAP) January 24, 2018 The Warriors bounced back from Saturday’s (Sunday, PHL time) eight-point defeat at Houston to improve to 10-0 following a loss this season. Michael Beasley scored 21 points and Courtney Lee contributed 20 as New York lost for the third time in four games and sixth in eight. The Warriors opened the third on a 16-9 burst to lead for the first time all night, then went on to score 100 or more points for a 14th straight game. Draymond Green had 12 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Warriors. Curry and Thompson shot a combined 4-for-16 in the first half, including 2-of-10 on three's, before Curry found his stroke and wound up 9-for-19 overall in his 14th 30-point performance of the season. Thompson struggled to nine points on 4-for-10 shooting, missing all three of his three-point tries. The Knicks made 11 of their initial 20 shots while the Warriors began 8-of-18 and 1-for-8 from behind the arc to fall behind 29-19 — Curry missed four of his first five field goals. Andre Iguodala, who had dealt with a bruised left calf that kept him out the previous two games, returned to the Warriors rotation and scored five points in 20 minutes off the bench. ALL KINDS OF ALL-STARS Green and Thompson were named All-Star reserves, joining Curry — a captain — and Durant. The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to have four All-Stars in back-to-back seasons. It will be the ninth time in NBA history that a team has had four All-Stars play in the game. Golden State had the same four All-Stars a year ago. “I’m proud of them, amazing to have four All-Stars two years in a row,” Kerr said. “We’re obviously really lucky to have these guys all together at once on the roster. What I love is they’re so unselfish, they play together so well. That’s why they’re all All-Stars. It wouldn’t work if they were selfish and looking for their own shot, looking for their own points.” TIP-INS Knicks: F Kristaps Porzingis was held out with left knee irritation. ... The Knicks dropped to 3-7 on the road vs. the Western Conference. ... New York’s 14 turnovers led to 16 Golden State points. Warriors: Durant notched his 16th career double-double of points and assists. ... Rookie Jordan Bell missed his second straight game with inflammation in his left ankle. ... Golden State’s winning streak vs. the Knicks is its longest since a nine-game unbeaten run against New York from November 1963-November 1964. The Warriors have won 24 of the last 30 in the series. QUOTEABLE Three years after Thompson’s 37-point quarter on Jan. 23, 2015, against the Kings, Kerr recalled the moment. “It was almost surreal, the frenzy. It was the combination of Klay going crazy and licking his chops and his teammates and the joy that they had for him and with him,” Kerr said. “They were just hunting shots for him. It was like a pack of hyenas.” UP NEXT Knicks: At Denver on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) continuing a seven-game road trip. Warriors: Host Timberwolves on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) looking for a fourth straight home win in the series and third overall......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 24th, 2018

Presidential Trump – CNN News

President Donald Trump reached for poetry and conjured a vision of common national purpose Tuesday during his first address to Congress, shifting his tone from the dark, searing approach of his previous big speeches to the nation. Trump adopted a statesmanlike cadence, hitting notes of inspiration. For once, this most unorthodox of politicians struck a conventional presidential posture as he sought to stabilize his administration after a tumultuous five weeks in office. Though his language was more lofty and unifying than normal, Trump gave little quarter on the substance of his policies on issues ranging from trade, defense, immigration and counterterrorism. The result was a populist, nationalistic prescription that he said would yield &'8220;a new chapter of American greatness.&'8221; &'8220;From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears, inspired by the future, not bound by failures of the past, and guided by a vision, not blinded by our doubts,&'8221; Trump said, from the Speaker's rostrum in the House of Representatives. During a vitriolic campaign and a raucous start to his term, Trump has done little to reach beyond his base of deeply committed voters who revile the kind of political elites that the President was staring down as he spoke on Tuesday. But, beset by the lowest approval ratings of any new commander-in-chief of modern times, Trump made a palpable effort to court voters who didn't support him with an offer to lay down the battles of the past. In fact, his address ticked almost all the boxes of a traditional State of the Union style appearance. &'8220;I am asking all citizens to embrace this renewal of the American spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold, and daring things for our country,&'8221; Trump said. &'8220;I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment. Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future. And believe, once more, in America.&'8221; It was an uplifting and unifying message that many Americans have rarely heard from Trump, who argued &'8220;the time for trivial fights is behind us.&'8221; While Trump is not solely responsible for the coarsening of political life, his brash, Twitter-fueled approach has rocked the nation's politics. The question now is whether the President was previewing a new, more sober political persona or whether he will return to his old habits. The change in his tone was evident from the first moments of his speech when he condemned the recent spate of threats against Jewish community centers, vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and the shooting of two Indian men in Kansas. He said the violence was a reminder that &'8220;while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its very ugly forms.&'8221; The comment followed heavy criticism of Trump for not addressing such violence. The new President entered the House chamber to thunderous applause and spoke of the &'8220;renewal of the American spirit.&'8221; A senior White House official said Trump wrote the speech himself with input from almost every member of his presidential team of advisers. In the emotional high point of the speech, Trump turned to the first lady's box and acknowledged Carryn Owens, the widow of a US Navy Special operator, William &'8220;Ryan&'8221; Owens, who was killed in an anti-terror raid in Yemen in the first major military engagement of the new administration. His less explosive presentation style was welcomed by many lawmakers. &'8220;Donald Trump did indeed become presidential tonight, and I think we'll see that reflected in a higher approval rating,&'8221; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said on CNN after the speech. &'8220;The Donald Trump I heard tonight was a lot more focused and disciplined and subdued, and it was a lot more uneventful in a good way,&'8221; moderate House Republican Charlie Dent told CNN's Tom LoBianco. &'8220;There were not a lot of distractions tonight, this speech was much better than the inaugural speech.&'8221; North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who is up for re-election next year in a state that Trump carried, said the President delivered a &'8220;very good speech.&'8221; &'8220;It was delivered with a sense of 'this is who I am, this is what I want to accomplish' and I think the goals are great,&'8221; she said. &'8220;How we get there is the $10,000 question.&'8221; Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on CNN that Trump's &'8220;speeches and the realities are very, very far apart.&'8221; &'8220;Until his reality catches up with his speeches, he's got big trouble,&'8221; Schumer said. The looks on lawmakers' faces during Trump's speech Though his rhetoric was soaring, Trump still struck hardline notes. He overruled national security adviser H.R. McMaster, according to a senior administration official, to warn of &'8220;radical Islamic terrorism.&'8221; Hitting themes familiar from his campaign, Trump vowed to restore &'8220;integrity and the rule of law to our borders.&'8221; &'8220;We will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border,&'8221; Trump said, drawing Republican cheers even as he didn't mention his earlier promise that Mexico would pay for construction. &'8220;As we speak tonight, we are removing gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak, and as I promised throughout the campaign&'8221; While such language could please conservatives, Trump sent shockwaves through Washington earlier Tuesday [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsMar 1st, 2017

BLOGTABLE: Where do Spurs rank in the West with DeRozan?

NBA.com blogtable Where do you see the Spurs right now -- as currently constructed -- in the Western Conference hierarchy? Steve Aschburner: I think they’re about where they were last season, maybe a bit better because they’ll be swapping in a full season of DeMar DeRozan for just nine games of Kawhi Leonard. So something in the 45-50 victory range seems reasonable. Now, given the arms race out West, that might not be enough to get the Spurs into the postseason (it took 47 this spring to qualify). At least in adding DeMar DeRozan to LaMarcus Aldridge, their status as Monsters of the Mid-Range is secure. Tas Melas: The Spurs are the third best team in the West behind Golden State and Houston. There was a gap between those two teams and the rest and the Spurs just filled it. Two All-Stars plus Gregg Popovich looks like a 50-plus win squad to me. There is a lot of faith in the green Dejounte Murray and in the greying rest of the roster, but the old school mid-range shootin’, high post passin’, draining all that shot clockin’ will be fun to watch. Shaun Powell: The Spurs are in the middle class, which is where teams usually don't want to be. They're not title contenders and at best are title spoilers for someone else. But I'm not sure things would be different had they kept Leonard. John Schuhmann: If you look at it one way, they've replaced Danny Green with DeMar DeRozan on a team that won 47 games last season. They've finished in the top five defensively in each of the last six seasons (and in 17 of the last 21), but have lost something on that end of the floor with the departures of Green and Kyle Anderson. Offensively, they should take a step forward with DeRozan, but spacing will be an issue and the DeRozan-LaMarcus Aldridge dynamic could be more of a my-turn-your-turn situation than a cohesive duo. With the amount of isolations that they'll run and mid-range shots that they'll attempt, it's hard to see them ranking in the top 10 on that end of the floor. And of course, the Western Conference is so strong from 1-10 that there's a chance of the Spurs' 21-year playoff run coming to an end. Sekou Smith: The Spurs are in much the same space they were last season when Kawhi Leonard played in just nine games and knew they weren't a serious challenger to the Rockets or the Warriors in the Western Conference. I really like some of the young pieces, especially Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker, and what they could become down the road. But the Spurs front office understands where they fit in the bigger picture right now and are taking a very pragmatic approach......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 19th, 2018

Still no takers for Chief Justice post

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has yet to receive an application to become the next Chief Justice, nearly a month after the country's highest judicial post was officially declared vacant by the Supreme Court, two members of the JBC said on Sunday. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, an ex-officio member of the body that screens nominees to judicial posts, confirmed that no one had submitted an application as Maria Lourdes Sereno's possible successor. Sereno was kicked out by her own colleagues in the high tribunal on May 11 for her failure to fully disclose her wealth. Her predecessor, the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, was also ousted from office by the Senate impeachmen...Keep on reading: Still no takers for Chief Justice post.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 15th, 2018

Trillanes doubts validity of Duterte& apos;s high ratings, Pulse Asia poll - GMA News

Trillanes doubts validity of Duterte's high ratings, Pulse Asia poll - GMA News.....»»

Category: newsSource:  googlenewsRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Ex-high school aces power Cards vs Bombers

Former high school stars Warren Bonifacio and Eric Jabel marked their NCAA seniors debut in impressive fashion as they pooled 19 points to power Mapua past Jose Rizal U, 72-60, in the NCAA on Tour at the JRU gym in Mandaluyong City yesterday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Golden State Warriors not just good, they re lucky too

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LAS VEGAS -- In this town, fates and fortunes can turn drastically any day, hour or minute. A flip of the card, pull of the switch or roll of the dice can make or break souls. Which brings us to NBA Summer League, the Golden State Warriors and the field. The league is holding its annual gathering of executives, coaches and player hopefuls here, and 29 of the 30 NBA teams are wondering about their chances this upcoming season and why the Warriors are the Chosen Ones. Meanwhile, the Warriors, winners of three of the last four championships, are no doubt doing some head-scratching about how a key injury is once again helping their cause and making them stronger. This is about luck, then, and why those chasing the Warriors can’t seem to get a break, and how the Warriors managed to make themselves both good and lucky. There is considerable buzz among the basketball throng in Vegas regarding the Warriors, who are less than a month removed from a convincing sweep of LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals and how they won twice this summer: championship and then free agency. The collective moan from the rest of the NBA seems to say: What the hell? DeMarcus Cousins agreed to a one-year deal with the Warriors for the NBA equivalent of loose change in a sofa: $5.3 million. Just like that, the Warriors added a dominant and versatile center, maybe the best in the game, which made coach Steve Kerr wisecrack about how the Warriors “needed another All-Star.” This was made possible because of a quirky circumstance that caused Cousins a lot of pain, which translated into plenty of gain for Golden State. When Cousins tore his Achilles last spring with the Pelicans, his market value in free agency fell to the floor right along with him. Suddenly, the rest of the league, including the Pelicans, became wary about investing heavily in a hulking center who most certainly would need most of the 2018-19 season to rehab, without any guarantee Cousins would return to form once medically cleared to play. Cousins averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.6 blocks last season, perhaps the best of his career. He turns 28 in late August. Had he avoided injury, he would’ve been far too expensive for the Warriors to afford. They’re well over the luxury tax and are limited to exceptions, which allow them to sign players but only on the cheap. A healthy Cousins was destined to command in excess of $20 million a season, more had he stayed with the Pelicans. “If he’s healthy, he’s the best player at his position in the league,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry. Well, when free agency opened, Cousins’ phone didn’t ring, and you probably know the story by now: He personally called the Warriors and signed up on the spot. His reasoning: If my only choice in this league is a short-term deal, might as well be with the team in the midst of a dynasty. The Warriors understandably were shocked, but why would they be? This isn’t the first time an injury went their way. Steph Curry’s chronic ankle sprains once threatened his career. He underwent surgery in the summer of 2011 and played only 26 games the next season. At that time, Curry was a good player, but far from the superstar who’d win a pair of MVPs and destroy three-point shooting records. So the Warriors were understandably worried, especially once Curry was due a contract extension. The two sides made a compromise that protected both parties: Four years, $44 million. The risk the Warriors took is Curry would continue having ankle issues and never see a full season. Curry’s risk: He’d remain healthy and see his production swell and spend most of that contract as a bargain. A bargain, for sure: At the end of that deal, Curry was the fourth-highest-paid player. On his own team. The upside for the Warriors and Curry: That contract helped them extend Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala and more importantly, add Kevin Durant. When you’re good and lucky -- remember, the Warriors won their first title over the Cavs when Cleveland was largely without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, and beat the Rockets last spring after Chris Paul suffered a series-ending hamstring injury -- then you get plenty of rings. The beauty of the Cousins situation is the Warriors don’t need him during the regular season. This was mentioned more than a few times by rival general managers and coaches in Vegas. Cousins’ rehab is expected to require another five or six months -- full recovery form Achilles surgery is usually a year -- yet there’s no rush. Golden State won 73 games a few years ago without him and won 58 games last season on cruise control. They can wait until next spring, where Cousins could return, say, in March and use the final few weeks as a warm-up for the playoffs. After using the likes of the plodding Zaza Pachulia and quirky JaVale McGee in the middle, the Warriors are legit at center. Cousins fits the Warriors’ style because he can shoot 3s and is a willing and efficient passer from the high and low post. “That’s really an area where they’ve struggled and been inconsistent,” said Gentry, a former Warriors assistant coach before taking the top job in New Orleans. “It’s going to be a position where they make an upgrade." Meanwhile, Houston lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, a pair of athletic swingmen, this summer from free agency and therefore aren’t a better team on paper than last season, although the Rockets might soon add Carmelo Anthony, for whatever that’s worth. The Lakers welcome LeBron, but they didn’t get Paul George, who stayed in Oklahoma City, and the idea of trading for Kawhi Leonard this season remains a fantasy, at least for now. Which means the Warriors are once again the odds on favorites across town in the Vegas casinos to sip champagne next June. “Hey, that’s the NBA,” said Gentry with a shrug. “It’s supposed to be that way. You’re supposed to put out the best team you can. It’s up to the rest of us to catch them. They’ve put together a great team, drafted great, and guys in free agency wanted to come there. That’s what it’s all about. We have to pick up our game, it’s not that they should say, 'Oh we’re too good, let’s give away players.’ We all have to find a way to catch them, not them coming back to us.” Damian Lillard, the star guard for the Trail Blazers, spoke for the field when he said: “It's just going to get tougher and tougher. It is what it's always been, but just a little tougher. But you know what? Once the season starts, we gotta go. Nobody’s got time to be out there, not having fun and being stressed and all that BS. We gotta find to make it happen.” Twenty-nine teams, and especially the contenders in the West, are at a disadvantage regarding the Warriors because of a lack of All-Stars; not only do the Warriors now have five, but they’re all in their prime years. It’s one thing to try to be as good as the Warriors. Nowadays, you must rise to their level of luck as well. 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 NewsJul 12th, 2018

GM Pelinka: Lakers landing LeBron is ultimate validation

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Rob Pelinka says the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t trying to beat the Golden State Warriors at their own game. Instead, they’re building a team around LeBron James to do something different. Pelinka spoke publicly Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) for the first time since the Lakers’ remarkable offseason overhaul began, and the irrepressibly optimistic former agent radiated excitement about the future for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in five seasons. “To get the commitment from LeBron James to come to the Lakers for four years was really the culmination of everything we’ve been working towards,” Pelinka said. “When LeBron chose to come here, it was the ultimate validation for the moves we’ve made and what we’ve been building since we started.” The longest postseason drought in franchise history could be finished after James chose the Lakers in free agency. The club also added veterans Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson alongside their young core while parting ways with Julius Randle and Brook Lopez, among others. Pelinka and top executive Magic Johnson hope the result is a sturdy, defense-minded team with enough up-tempo offense to trouble the Warriors, the Houston Rockets and every other contender for the title. “I think to try to play the Warriors at their own game is a trap,” Pelinka said. “No one is going to beat them at their own game, so that is why we wanted to add these elements of defense and toughness and depth and try to look at areas where we will have an advantage.” Pelinka said the Lakers focused their free agency recruitment efforts on versatile, playoff-tested talents who can score and defend, instead of looking for elite players with only one specialty. He hopes the result will be a flexible, dangerous team under coach Luke Walton — and a different look around James, whose Cleveland Cavaliers teams often looked like a collection of perimeter shooters whose deficiencies were exposed by Golden State and others. Pelinka praised Rondo as a gritty guard whose championship pedigree will fill a void on the roster. He also described Stephenson as providing “an extreme toughness and an edge,” comparing his skills to Dennis Rodman’s contributions to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, or Metta World Peace’s work with Kobe Bryant’s late-career Lakers. “The road to the NBA championship has to go through the team that won last year, and we all know the guys up north have a special group,” Pelinka said. “But one of the ways to attack what they have is with defensive toughness. I think we saw that in the Houston series with some of the players that Houston has.” Pelinka’s desire for flexibility extended to the payroll as well. After years of trading away draft picks and acquiring high-priced veterans in an effort to win now with Bryant, the Lakers were overextended until Pelinka and Johnson spent the past 16 months creating enough salary cap space to sign two elite free agents. They only got one, although the Lakers still appear to be in contention for disgruntled San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard, who has a year left on his contract with the Spurs. No matter what happens, Pelinka said the Lakers’ series of one-year contracts around James will put them in position to have ample cap space again next summer, when several stars could be available to join James. Pelinka said the Lakers will have “an open training camp” in September, with only James guaranteed to be a starter. That means Rondo and second-year pro Lonzo Ball will compete to be Los Angeles’ starting point guard, a possibility that was welcomed by Rondo after he signed. Pelinka also said Ball will be fully healthy for training camp. The point guard has a torn meniscus in his left knee. Pelinka’s idiosyncrasies shone through again Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), with the GM beginning his news conference by reading a passage from Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” a book recommended to him by former client Bryant and carried by James throughout the playoffs. The passage describes the process of making a decision being “only the beginning of things.” “Hopefully it will lead to things ... happening that are bigger than our dreams could ever imagine,” Pelinka said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

Manuel stars anew as Alaska repulses Magnolia to punch semis ticket

MANILA, Philippines – Twice-to-beat Alaska arrested a near-4th-quarter meltdown to topple Magnolia, 89-78, at the Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday, July 10, and advance to the semifinals of the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup.  Vic Manuel stretched his streak of scoring at least 20 points to 11 games with a game-high of ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 10th, 2018

BLOGTABLE: Best player (and team) in the Eastern Conference?

NBA.com blogtable With LeBron James reportedly moving West, who is the best player in the Eastern Conference right now? And who’s the best team? * * * Steve Aschburner: Giannis Antetokounmpo is now the best player in the East -- and if he develops a reliable perimeter shot, he soon could restore some balance as the best player in the NBA. With Mike Budenholzer taking over for drama king Jason Kidd (and interim man Joe Prunty) as the Milwaukee Bucks' coach, hopefully we'll see the "Greek Freak’s" talents blossom in all their glory and be put to proper team use. The best team figures to be the Boston Celtics, presumably with Kyrie Irving back at point guard, Gordon Hayward feeling like a brand-new free agent signee all over again and coach Brad Stevens and basketball boss Danny Ainge sorting out the rotation and depth chart. Now, if Philadelphia manages to acquire Kawhi Leonard without stripping away too many helpful role players, the Sixers might push up hard from their No. 2 status as “best team” even as Joel Embiid challenges Giannis for “best player.” Shaun Powell: Best player is Giannis Antetokounmpo by a whisker over Joel Embiid, only because Giannis can play multiple positions. He'll need to prove he can take the Bucks a bit deeper in the playoffs. A healthy Boston Celtics squad qualifies as the best team, although if the "star-hunting" Sixers are successful this summer, that could change. John Schuhmann: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid have the most talent, but in the playoffs, they both got outplayed by the same guy: Al Horford. He doesn't have the numbers that stand out, but he is the fulcrum on both ends of the floor for what is now the best team in the East. And even with the returns of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, he will be the Celtics' most important player next season, because his skill set remains unique on their roster. Maybe Antetokounmpo and/or Embiid surpass him in the next year, but for now, I'll go with the guy who just had one heck of a postseason run. Sekou Smith: It's a two-man battle between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid with the "Greek Freak" sitting just a notch above "The Process" on my list, due to the limited sample size we have from Embiid. Antetokounmpo has such a high ceiling (as his outside shot continues to improve and his handle evolves) that he could challenge for the title of NBA's best overall player in the coming years. Embiid could do the same if what we saw from him this season is an indication of what's to come. As for the best team, I'm going with the Boston Celtics. From coach Brad Stevens to the quality and depth of that roster, they have to be No. 1. They've made back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference finals without anything close to their full complement of (healthy) stars. They sit atop the pile in the East until further notice......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 5th, 2018

WATCH: High-flying Fil-Am Jalen Green stars in FIBA Under-17

MANILA, Philippines – The United States continued its dominant run in the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup, overwhelming a hapless Mali team, 97-40, in Santa Fe, Argentina on Monday, July 2 (Manila time). Jalen Green, the Filipino-American athletic freak, showcased his wares in this game, ending with a team-high 15 points along ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2018

Argentina has big weaknesses to address before facing France

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press ST. PETERSBURG, France (AP) — After the euphoria of scraping through to the last 16 of the World Cup, Argentina now must address its glaring weaknesses. Argentina has little time to prepare for Saturday's match against France, which is considered among the tournament favorites, yet has much to work on. Particularly on defense. Argentina's feeble defense was exposed in 3-0 defeat to Croatia last week and once again in Tuesday's 2-1 must-win game against Nigeria. Argentina won with an 86th-minute goal from defender Marcos Rojo, but during the second half the team looked on the verge of another capitulation at the back. Here is a look at some of the key issues facing Jorge Sampaoli's team before taking on France in Kazan: MASCHERANO MISERY If Javier Mascherano is supposed to be protecting the defense, he's not doing a very good job. With 146 international appearances, the 34-year-old Mascherano should be a rock for Sampaoli's team. But instead of offering the protective screen in front of the back four, Mascherano is often proving to be a weak link. As his bloodied face on Tuesday showed, there is no doubting his commitment. But his judgment, especially for someone with so much experience, is lacking. Two horribly misplaced passes gave Nigeria dangerous positions to attack from, while it was Mascherano's clumsy challenge that led to Nigeria's equalizing goal from the penalty spot. In his defense, there may be mitigating circumstances. Although a holding midfielder by trade, Mascherano dropped deeper when deployed as a center half for Barcelona over the past few years. Now back in his traditional position, he often appears caught in two minds as to whether to push up as a midfielder does, or stay back more sensibly like a defender. While it does not excuse his poor passing, it may explain some of his confused judgment. FALLEN STARS Angel Di Maria's failure to control a simple pass during a promising counterattack against Nigeria was a sad sight for such a fine talent. As the ball flew off his foot and went out of play, a helpless look formed on Di Maria's face. Long considered one of the world's best wingers, the 30-year-old Paris Saint-Germain player is not living up to his reputation in Russia. He looked despondent when he was taken off against Nigeria with 20 minutes left, his self-confidence glaringly absent. But it is feasible he is still affected by what happened during the season with PSG. Di Maria was PSG's most in-form player heading into the first leg of its Champions League last-16 game against Real Madrid on Feb. 14, but was surprisingly left out entirely by PSG coach Unai Emery. "I was boiling (inside) because I felt I should have played, or at least have come on," Di Maria said. Perhaps his fragile confidence has not been repaired. But Mascherano and Di Maria are not the only big-name players performing well below their best. So is Gonzalo Higuain. The burly striker looked nervous and heavy-legged against Nigeria, blazing a great chance high and wide with the score 1-1 with 10 minutes left. In the end, he was reprieved by Rojo's late winner, but it was not the finish expected of a forward with a combined 267 goals for Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus. He has 31 for Argentina, too, but tellingly he has not scored in his past eight games for his country. WHERE IS DYBALA? Fans hoping to see Paulo Dybala, one of the brightest attacking talents in soccer, playing in Russia may not get their wish. The 24-year-old forward regularly impresses Juventus fans with his trickery and spectacular goals — scoring 26 times in 46 appearances last season — but for whatever reason, Sampaoli does not seem to need him. With time running out against Nigeria, the coach still did not bring him on, even though Dybala has the skill and imagination to unlock defenses. He has only played once for Argentina all year, and with Sampaoli in charge this does not look like it will change. FRENCH THREAT Although France has yet to find its top form , Argentina's creaking defense will be under threat from its highly rated forwards. Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele are two of the fastest players in the world, while Antoine Griezmann was top scorer at the European Championship two years ago. Imposing striker Olivier Giroud is one of the best headers of the ball around, which gives Sampaoli's back four even more to worry about from crosses, corners and free kicks......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2018

I think it’s a very productive season for them -- Castillo on his high school standouts

BaliPure-National University head coach Babes Castillo gave the Water Defenders a passing grade despite missing the bus ride to the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference. The mentor liked what he saw especially from the high school standouts that are set to move up to the college ranks in UAAP Season 81.    “Overall I think it’s a very productive season for them, first time,” said Castillo after the Water Defenders swept Tacloban, 25-18, 25-16, 25-16, Wednesday at the end of the round robin quarterfinals at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. BaliPure, which fielded seven high school players, closed the quarters with a 2-3 win-loss record and 5-7 slate overall.     “Sabi ko nga perspective, it’s the first time that majority of high school squad has fielded in, it was a good start but I think we anticipated that they might be, they will be challenged in the midway doon sa liga because syempre mga seasoned and veterans ang mga (kalaban), lumabas nga ang pagkabata nila. That’s what we saw,” added Castillo. However, Castillo knew that the exposure will help his players come UAAP season.     Bannered by incoming Lady Bulldogs setter Joyme Cagande, libero Jennifer Nierva, Ivy Lacsina and Princess Robles and high school stars such as UAAP Season 80 high school Most Valuable Player Mhicaela Belen, Faith Nisperos and Alyssa Solomon with seasoned American imports Janisa Johnson and Alexis Matthews, the Water Defenders gave their opponents a good fight.    “It’s a very good experience for them going back to their high school and sa magka-college going into their next UAAP Season. I think it’s a very good experience for them,” said Castillo. Castillo and NU will be back in the Collegiate Conference with Cagande, Lacsina, Nierva and Robles joining the Lady Bulldogs.   ---  Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 27th, 2018

With volleyball career on the rise, Jerrili Malabanan puts Med School dreams on hold

It’s not a stretch to say that Jerrili Malabanan is one of Philippine volleyball’s rising stars. After a noteworthy career with in the UAAP with the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, Jerrili has found success with in the Premier Volleyball League, playing for the PayMaya High Flyers. A career in volleyball wasn’t always the main goal for Jerrili however, as she had her sights set on a career in the medical field. “My parents, they really pushed me, even since I was in high school, that they want me to stay in the medical field, because my dad, most of his sisters are doctors.” Malabanan told ABS-CBN Sports. Malabanan went on to take up BS Biology in FEU because of those Med School aspirations, but now, it seems like that path will have to be put on hold, as she admits that volleyball has become her priority. “I’m not sure yet, because I wanna still keep playing volleyball. For now, volleyball is my priority.” “Playing with a club team, I think this is one of my priorities for now.” Malabanan added. Now on her second season with the PVL, Malabanan was an integral part in BaliPure’s Open Conferece championship run last season. This season, Malabanan and the High Flyers have secured a twice-to-beat slot in the semifinals. Jerrili isn’t closing the door on re-igniting her Med School dreams however, as she says she’s still going to pursue it one day. Right now though, volleyball is at the top of the list, and she’d like to keep playing until she can. Just in case she does end up heading to Med School, what field does Jerrili intend on taking up? “I really like kids, so probably Pediatrics,” shares Jerrili. “Or my mom also wants me to try Pharmacy.”   Catch Jerrili Malabanan and the PayMaya High Flyers as they try to become the PVL Season 2 Reinforced Conference Champions! Don’t miss the action every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166 and via livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2018

DOC VOLLEYBALL: A Dilemma on Loop?

Flashback to March 2017, the whole volleyball community was abuzz about a newly formed national team set to compete in the Southeast Asian Games of that year as tryouts were held, but certain players, particularly from the Ateneo de Manila University, were allegedly not invited. An apology was then issued and special tryouts were held to accommodate the aforementioned athletes. Flashback to 2015, with a newly formed organization in Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) taking the reins from the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) as the volleyball authority in the country, the future looked bright as for the first time in recent history, both the men’s and women’s teams were being sent to the Singapore SEA Games as representation of the sport’s resurgence. As with any newly formed roster, the composition was mired in controversy especially with the men’s team, which was composed of predominantly of young players. Flashback to 2014, with the power struggle between the aforementioned LVPI and PVF, the latter formed the infamous Amihan and Bagwis squads as the women’s and men’s national teams, respectively. Backed by then sponsor PLDT, the rosters boasted of the some of the country’s best talents from both divisions with the likes of Alyssa Valdez, Mark Espejo, Ara Galang, Tatan Pantone, Ran Ran Abdilla and Mark Alfafara to name a few. Both teams never saw the light of day outside the country as the PVF eventually lost its accreditation leading to the teams’ eventual disbandment. And the theme went on as the previous years are revisited. Fast forward to present time, 2018, and once again the volley community is abuzz with the formation of yet again a new national team with a familiar scenario in which local favorites did not make the cut. With the volleyball scene at an all time high in local following, it is quite inevitable for varying opinions on who should have been included in the line-up given the wide pool of talents especially in the women’s division. Coupled with a sudden change in coaching staff, the new roster is once again under scrutiny given the process the team as a whole was structured from the beginning. Another New Beginning Without taking anything from the players and coaches of the new women’s national team, the composition is relatively deserving of the spots for the roster. While expected shoe-ins who have performed tremendously well in the local leagues like Myla Pablo, Maika Ortiz, and Tatan Pantone were not afforded a slot in the team, the new line-up is still pretty much capable of representing the country. Middles – Aby Marano is the best fit amongst the middles who made the final cut. With exceptional timing and good lateral movement, Marano is expected to perform in the position well offensively and defensively despite the lack of height for a middle blocker internationally. Her agility and aggressiveness with her net play more than justifies her inclusion and assignment as the team captain. Her DLSU successor Majoy Baron would add much needed support as the second middle as she has proven to have the power and timing of Aby though much work can still be done for her agility in the net. Baron’s aggressive floaters will also be of much benefit on the service line. Lastly, Mika Reyes would provide the height should the need arise especially against foreign teams with bigger size. Left Wing – Alyssa Valdez’ inclusion as left wing hitter is of no question as she continues to prove that she is one of the best open hitters in the local scene. Perhaps working more on her bulk and power is something the coaching staff must consider to ensure that she can carry over her local performance to the international scene. Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Ces Molina likewise have proven themselves much capable of being offensive threats from the left and their decent size will be of much benefit in blocking against slides and opposite attacks from foreign counterparts. It would be beneficial as well if Santiago-Manabat develops mastery of passing and if Molina becomes a significant threat with the pipe in order for both athletes to really excel in the position. Although Cha Cruz is not much of a power hitter as compared to the aforementioned left hitters, she would serve a special position as the service and defense specialist for the team. If in scenarios in which she will serve in for a middle, her floor defense is of much benefit in Zone 5 and with her background as a former setter, she is still capable of setting up a decent play should the setter get the first contact. Right Wing – Though much of her collegiate season has been utilized hitting from the middle, Jaja Santiago is undeniably more fit for the opposite position. Despite her height and power, which could be considered an automatic criteria for the middle, Santiago has much work to be done with lateral motion which is also a crucial component for middle hitters. With her vertical reach and power, she is better off racking up points from the right wing and right back row as the main offensive option for the team. Likewise, Kim Dy is also a shoo-in for the opposite position as evidenced by her consistency in scoring and blocking from the right. With Kim Fajardo calling the plays, Kim Dy would be beneficial in running faster or creative plays should the need arise. Setters – The selection of Fajardo and Jia Morado is not to be questioned as both have proven and continue to prove that they are top-notch setters in the country. Both setters are a shoo-in for the national team as both are equal in consistency with Fajardo showing mastery in working the middles and Morado displaying her skill in making the wings work for her. Not much can be argued really about the selection of the two athletes. A reserve setter in Rhea Dimaculangan would be also beneficial as she has the consistency and creativity as the aforementioned setters as well as the height, which would be important in blocking. Libero – Currently hailed as one of Southeast Asia’s finest, Dawn Macandili is undeniably a good choice for the main libero position. With her agility and speed to pop up digs and impossible saves, her presence on the floor is highly beneficial for the team on transition defense. On the other hand, her counterpart Denise Lazaro has proven to be highly consistent from the receiving end of services making her inclusion as part of the regular roster and not just a reserve undeniably essential. With Lazaro setting up the passing formation and Macandili guarding on transition, their combined specialized efforts will ensure the first step in letting the setters run the play for the team. A Shift in View Given the fact that the talent pool in the women’s division is deep, player selection will always be put on debate as not all favored athletes will be included. Perhaps a good way of viewing the matter is that given the yet again short preparation time for the next international tournament, the coaching staff would best select players who they have already established a good working relationship for a more seamless adaptation of a new system. Rather than put into scrutiny the individual players, handpicked or not, the focus should be put on the system as a whole and how it can be further developed for the improvement of the sport. Yet again, the 2018 roster is proving to be another promising one as it has been almost every year when a new line-up is formed. More than bringing back pride to the country internationally in the tournaments immediately at hand, the bigger challenge for the national team is to prove itself not as yet another band aid solution in the attempt to have a continuous program. How the 2018 Team will prove itself different from its predecessors in past Asian/SEA Games would be the more important matter that should be put under the lens. With the sport currently a major source of livelihood for many athletes, the players are no longer the ones getting the short end of the stick but rather volleyball and its development as a whole should the loop continues. The country has much individual talent deserving of a spot in the team, but for as long as vested interests continue to rear their head in the Philippine Volleyball System, the level of the sport will continue to fall short in justifying its current local popularity.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

The interview remains critical in the NBA draft process

CHICAGO --- The elevator stopped at the 16th floor of the swanky hotel, and after a few nervous steps down the hallway a soon-to-be professional athlete was ready to face perhaps the most unpredictable part of the NBA draft process. The interview. Down in the lobby, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka of the Los Angeles Lakers chatted with familiar faces and pretended not to notice random fans taking selfies with them in the background. Agents held court with other agents, Clippers coach Doc Rivers talked with some journalists and a couple dozen people were outside with their phones ready to snap pictures of whoever was walking in next. But upstairs, high above the bustle and din of Chica...Keep on reading: The interview remains critical in the NBA draft process.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 18th, 2018

From humble origins in GenSan, Manny Pacquiao s MPBL is now a nation-wide league

With the second season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League kicking things off, Tuesday evening, its steady rise to popularity continues Following a successful inaugural season with ten teams, the playing field has expanded exponentially in the second season, now with 26 teams vying for the title of MPBL National Champion, as well as a very, very valuable piece of hardware. (READ ALSO: MPBL: National Champions to get trophy worth ten million pesos) And as the semi-professional league continues to grow, it’s amazing to think that it all started with a ‘pa-liga’ in General Santos City. The brainchild of eight-division boxing world champion-turned Philippine Senator and avid basketball enthusiast Manny Pacquiao, the MPBL wasn’t always a nation-wide league. “Itong MPBL kasi, the original name is Manny Pacquiao Basketball League, and we piloted it sa GenSan,” Pacquiao explained during the opening day of the 2018-2019 MPBL Anta Datu Cup, Tuesday at the Araneta Coliseum. “Nag-pilot kami ng ten seasons, parang pa-liga ko lang doon tapos open siya and maraming sumali. Nagkaroon kami ng 18 teams, hanggang ten seasons yun, ang premyo namin ay 1 million.” After seeing that the league had potential, Senator Manny decided to take it to another level. “Maganda naman yung resulta, tapos pinag-aralan ko ng mabuti kung ano yung mga dapat gawin, yung titignan natin, and then nung na-complete ko yung ten seasons, in-apply ko sa national.” “[Pwede na ‘to] sa national, i-apply ko, ila-live ko sa TV.” Pacquiao added. After two years of brainstorming and preparation, the MPBL as we know it now was born. Pacquiao added that he decided to replace “Manny Pacquiao” with “Maharlika Pilipinas” so as not to stir anything up, given his political status. From a simple league in General Santos to a nation-wide league that features 26 teams from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, all bannered by former professionals, collegiate hoop stars, and homegrown talents, the MPBL is definitely living up to what Pacquiao envisioned it to be: a platform for even more FIlipinos to showcase their basketball skills at a high level. "Nagsimula lahat sa isang pangarap, na mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang mas maraming Pilipino na makapaglaro ng basketball sa professional level..." Sen. @mannypacquiao speaking at the opening of the 2018 MPBL Datu Cup. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/7PjRARV0bU — Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) June 12, 2018   You can catch the exciting MPBL action on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

Injured Morado, Valdez join national pool training

Creamline stars Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado joined the 13 national women’s volleyball team hopefuls that attended the first training session conducted by new head coach Shaq Delos Santos at the Arellano University-Legarda gym on Thursday. However, the Cool Smashers duo were nursing minor injuries and had to skip the drills and scrimmage. Valdez suffered a swollen right ankle while Morado sustained a right shoulder tendonitis – a lingering injury she aggravated on Wednesday in Creamline’s win over Iriga-Navy in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference.   “Last night kasi sobrang sumakit ‘yung Achilles (tendon) and then I had it checked this morning tapos namamaga nga,” said Valdez, who has been a regular in the national team since high school and is hoping to earn a spot for the Asian Games in August and the AVC Asia Cup in September.  “Doc Raul Canlas said na baka Achilles tendonitis so he’d rather have me rest muna,” added the Valdez, who last played for the national team last year in the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games. “Actually wala rin after the game (against Iriga), when I was sleeping talaga biglang sumakit. Siguro something happened during the game or before the game na hindi ko lang napansin.” Morado left Creamline’s last match midway in the second set. The former Ateneo de Manila University star said that she just needs a week of rest to recover. “The doctor said na it's just tendonitis. I just need to fully rest and continue ice therapy for a week,” said Morado. Valdez and Morado skipped Tuesday’s team meeting at the same venue where Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. introduced Delos Santos as the new mentor after Ramil De Jesus stepped down from his post just two months after accepting the coaching job. Also in attendance were Jaja Santiago,  Aby Maraño, Maika Ortiz, Rhea Dimaculangan, CJ Rosario, Denden Lazaro, Mika Reyes, Mylene Paat, Ces Molina, Rebecca Rivera, and Myla Pablo, who left early to train with her club team Pocari Sweat.   ---  Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018