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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

Persistent Popovich, Spurs negate coaching-change ways in NBA

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com The first coach in the Gregg Popovich era to get axed was Brian Winters on Jan. 24, 1997. He lost 100 games faster than anyone in history, a byproduct of overseeing the Vancouver Grizzlies in their expansion season (1995-96) and into 43 games of ’96-97. The most recent to lose his job was Tyronn Lue on Oct. 28, 2018 after Cleveland’s 0-6 start. This was more of a head scratcher as he’s the only coach to win a title with the Cavs. Perhaps his biggest crime was failing to give LeBron James the wrong directions to Cleveland Hopkins Airport last summer. In that span, 245 NBA coaching changes were made in Popovich’s time in San Antonio. Some of them have been understandable, others questionable, in all a spinning wheel that managed to eject all from the first seat on the bench … except one. In the wake of yet another coaching switch, it’s fair to wonder: how and when will it end for Popovich in San Antonio? He’s closer to the finish line than the starting line, but the finish line keeps moving. Any notion of Popovich vanishing once Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili left the organization died when training camp began. Any thought of Popovich turning sour from the organization’s lethal relationship last year with Kawhi Leonard was dismissed when Popovich enthusiastically prepared himself for his 23rd NBA season. And all ideas of Popovich permanently drifting to one of San Antonio’s relaxing 18-hole courses as he approaches his seventh decade on the planet should be shattered with a Big Bertha driver. “I don’t golf,” he said. “What a waste of time. I’d rather read a book. You could be doing a lot of other things.” Like, keep coaching. “I still enjoy this,” he said, before deadpanning, “but I don’t know how to do anything else.” He has survived this long because he wins. With 1,201 victories and counting, he’s climbing toward Don Nelson’s career record of 1,335. With a straight face, Popovich says “my ass would’ve been gone a long time ago” if not for great success that he constantly credits to Duncan, among others. But there’s another factor in play that keeps Popovich in control of his destiny and fate. He has rarely, if ever, had to answer to anyone in the Spurs’ organization, now controlled by Julianna Holt, who keeps away from the basketball operation. Almost from the jump, Popovich ruled the empire, and that has separated him from others who’ve won just as many, or more, than his five championships. It’s a unique setup enjoyed by almost no one in professional sports, which are often controlled by owners who act on a whim. Phil Jackson (11 titles) left two organizations, including the Los Angeles Lakers twice, not totally on his own. Pat Riley had a prickly departure from the Lakers after winning four of his five career titles there. In both cases, the lines were clearly drawn: neither Jackson nor Riley, despite steering their teams to historical runs, carried the strongest voice in the building. Neither had tenure or were immune from the type of sports diseases that can fracture even dynasties and shove great coaches out the door. When he greased the “Showtime” era in Los Angeles, Riley had the biggest coaching profile since Red Auerbach and his signature victory cigars. Riley was charismatic, cool and changed the coaching culture. But inside was a gym rat and a clipboard scribbler. He released the leash on the fast break and made the Lakers intoxicating. He smooth-talked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar into taking a reduced role as age began to weather the Hall of Famer. However, the core Lakers eventually grew weary of Riley’s techniques and motivational tricks. When the Lakers were upset by the Phoenix Suns in the 1990 Western Conference semifinals, Riley heard the increased volume and split. Jackson’s relationship with Bulls GM Jerry Krause showed decay early in the Bulls’ run for a sixth and final championship in 1997-98. Theirs was a clash of egos and ideas. That, and a demand by Jackson for more money, led to a Bulls breakup. In the early 2000s, Jackson restored the Lakers’ franchise as they became the biggest rival for Popovich’s Spurs in that decade. But the chore of coaxing two high-maintenance young stars, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, beat up Jackson and lead to his first LA exit. His second stint with the Lakers ended mainly over money, among other issues. That’s all foreign to Popovich, who had the benefit of taking over a team with David Robinson, the gentlemanly All-Star who gave no gruff. And then, blessed by the basketball gods, Popovich landed Duncan, the most no-frills superstar the game has ever seen. Duncan set the tone in the locker room for professionalism, conduct and work ethic. Everyone followed, something that’s lasted for almost two decades, all while making Popovich’s life easier (for which Popovich is forever grateful). Duncan also drastically changed the lives of two men. When Popovich stepped down from his GM role on Dec. 10, 1996 – taking the coaching job from Bob Hill after a 3-15 start -- he went 17-47. That is his only losing season to date, and the Spurs fell into the Draft lottery. There were whispers at the time -- blasphemy nowadays -- that he might not see another season in San Antonio. In 1997, the Boston Celtics had better odds of winning Draft lottery and its grand prize: a bank-shot-shooting center from Wake Forest (via the Virgin Islands) who could transform a franchise. Had the Celtics gotten the No. 1 pick, perhaps Rick Pitino would still be coaching in the NBA instead of lobbying for a return. As much as Popovich heaps praise on Duncan, there’s no denying Popovich’s role in 21 straight years of playoff trips and his own coaching immortality. The way he runs an organization envied by many, helps find talent with low Draft picks (Ginobili was taken 57th overall; Parker at No. 28), generates respect from players and rivals (LeBron James, among others) and is a San Antonio landmark (along with the Alamo) is no accident. If Popovich can’t control his fate, then no one in his profession ever will. Besides, under what circumstances would Popovich be forced out? Even if it’s his call, how will this end? He turns 70 in January, although the only time he ages is when a referee’s whistle doesn’t blow his way. He survived Leonard, the only documented sign of rebellion by a Spurs’ star. And the Spurs, despite losing Dejounte Murray for the season to a knee injury, might keep their playoff streak alive with DeMar DeRozan blending well with new teammates. “It’s San Antonio, OK? The faces have changed but the standards are the same and the way do things are the same,” Popovich said. “We’re going to expect the guys to do their jobs on and off the court. None of that’s going to change. The way we want to approach the game and have the respect for the game is all the same, just with different people.” Asked about the Murray injury and other non-Spurs-like issues, he adds: “Maybe we deserve a little bad luck. We got to draft Tim Duncan 20 years ago. So, a little misfortune. We deserve it.” Coaching changes since Dec. 1996 Gregg Popovich was named coach of the San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 10, 1996. Since then, there have been 245 coaching changes league-wide. Here's a look at how many changes each team has gone through in the Popovich era. In two years, Popovich assumes control of the US Olympic basketball team. That could satisfy his urge to coach without the 82-game grind and free up time to pursue other stuff. But who knows? “Being a wine consultant going from vineyard to vineyard, or a restaurant critic going from restaurant to restaurant, that would be more fun, for sure,” Popovich said. The 1996-97 season was bloody for the profession. Seven teams, including the Spurs, changed coaches in season. The Washington Bullets (now Wizards) had three coaches that season. And, in fact, Bernie Bickerstaff held two jobs that season, resigning as Denver’s coach in November and was later hired by Washington in February. Cotton Fitzsimmons lasted eight games with the Phoenix Suns. Only one new coach that season lasted more than two decades. Since Popovich’s debut, the Utah Jazz have had the fewest coaching changes (two), while the Grizzlies and Wizards have been on the other extreme (13 each). The Dallas Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle and the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra own the longest tenure after Popovich (10 years each). We’ll never see another like him in our lifetime. He’s a coach who gets results on the court, respect in the locker room and no orders from above. Good luck finding another combination like that. The 245 coaching changes are not a number Popovich particularly likes (because he sticks up for the profession) and it’s not a number that he’ll add to anytime soon -- if he has any say. Which he does. “I’m a simple untalented man,” he said. “This is all I can do. I’d better stick with it.” 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 NewsOct 31st, 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

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. 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 NewsFeb 16th, 2019

2019 NBA All-Star Diary: Day 1

5:20 A.M. – For some reason, I woke up 10 minutes before the alarm on my cellphone was scheduled to ring. Maybe it was jetlag. Maybe it was excitement. It didn’t matter, I had to get up from bed to prepare for the 2 hour and 30 minute drive from Durham to Charlotte. Me and my colleague, TJ Manotoc had taken a detour from our planned schedule to visit Duke University. Now, that we were done with that, it was time to revert back to our primary task of covering the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. During our drive back to Charlotte, I looked out the window to the sight of clear skies telling me that it was going to be a good day. 8:50 A.M. – The first task for journalists covering the NBA’s mid-season event is to secure a media pass. This is basically an ID that gives one clearance to all events that are happening throughout All-Star Weekend. After parking our rented car and walking to the designated hotel for the media credentials pick-up, we were ready to head to our first activity of the day. 9:35 A.M. – Hosting the best young players in the league was the Bojangles Coliseum where the first media availability session was about to take place. The Mountain Dew Rising Stars is first major event of All-Star weekend and we were given the opportunity to see the players from Team U.S. and Team World up-close to field in questions. Rookie sensation Luka Dončić drew the biggest crowd of reporters from all over the world. Because it would be tough for me to ask the Slovenian a question, I decided to go to another podium where this year’s number on overall pick, Deandre Ayton was sitting. “Deandre! Who’s the toughest center you’ve played against so far in your rookie season?” I asked. “Uuuhhh… nobody. Not yet. All the centers I’ve played against so far haven’t really went at me yet. I think they were just playing though the rhythm and not really going at me,” replied Deandre. I saw another player drawing a huge crowd and realized it was Ben Simmons, who is currently my second favorite NBA player behind Blake Griffin. After waiting for a little while, I pounced on the opportunity to field in a question. “Ben, with the current Sixers lineup, what do you think are the weaknesses that you guys need to improve on so that you can win the championship this year?” The 6’10” point guard from Australia looked right at me and said, “Offense. Defense.” Honestly, I was a little bit disappointed because I was expecting a more thorough answer but I guess that’s how it is sometimes. These athletes are asked a million questions and it might be a struggle for them to stay consistent with regards to being accommodating to people. Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young and LA Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma were two other players I visited. With so many players on both rosters, it would be extremely difficult to get to converse with all. But, seeing them right in front of you and having an opportunity to talk to them was an amazing experience. 11:00 A.M. – All media had been requested by the organizers to clear the court so we could witness Team World practice for the night’s event. Even though I got a very short answer from Simmons, I still observed him. Watching him dribble the ball up the floor and make long strides to the basket for dunks was a sight to behold. He could even knock down three-pointers. 11:45 A.M. – It was now the turn of Team U.S. to take the floor for practice. Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum looked like they could be the best players on the squad but I was particularly looking at Young and his ability to shoot the ball and handle it exceptionally well. Kuzma was also taking every drill seriously. Just like he would the Rising Stars. 1:06 P.M. – After gathering content, TJ and I decided to have a late lunch at Denny’s. We looked at the schedule and realized that our next activity would not be happening until nine in the evening. More time to sleep, I thought. 2:23 P.M. – TJ dropped me and our luggage off at Springhill Suites, our hotel for the next three days. He left me there to check-in while he returned the rental car to the airport. But, as I went to the counter, I was told by the front desk that our room would not be available until 3:00 P.M.. That’s when I decided to look around. 2:45 P.M. – I went to the Hornets Fan Shop to look at the NBA All-Star merchandise and saw an interesting selection of hats, jerseys and all kinds of memorabilia. And then, I noticed a man carrying a box which contained a pair of Nike Adapt BBs, the shoes I tested last month in New York. I asked him where he got them and told me to check out the “Jordan pop-up shop” across the Spectrum Center. 2:55 P.M. – While walking on the street, I saw a long line outside a building. It turns out, this was where that man got his Nike Adapt BBs. It was a Foot Locker – House of Hoops pop-up shop which sold various sneakers that were scheduled to be released specifically during the NBA All-Star weekend. Because of my unforgettable experience in Manhattan, I decided to join the line for a chance to get my own pair of the most futuristic basketball shoes Nike has ever made. Thankfully, I was given a wristband with a number, allowing me to leave the line to check into the hotel. 3:15 P.M. – I checked into our hotel room and felt thankful that it had such a great location. Springhill Suites was right across the Spectrum Center, the venue of NBA All-Star weekend and of course, just down the block from the pop-up shop. As soon as TJ arrived, I left to resume my quest to buy the shoes. 4:46 P.M. – Finally, I was a proud owner of my very own Nike Adapt BB. I felt like my trip to the New York was given more meaning now. Also, I felt like this was one of the reasons my journey has taken me to Charlotte. But, there was still more work to be done. 8:30 P.M. – Less than an hour before tip-off of the Rising Stars game, TJ and I did a Facebook Live discussion right outside the Spectrum Center to update fans back at home about what has happened so far at the All-Star event and what we should look forward to. 8:55 P.M. – We couldn’t believe it. Our assigned seats were located high up in the bleachers. On the very last row. I was breathing heavily after making the climb up the arena. All of a sudden, the players looked more like ants compared to the giants that they were during our morning sessions with them. 10:54 P.M. – Team U.S. defeated Team World behind the 35 points and 6 rebounds of Kuzma, who was named MVP of the Rising Stars. Kuzma was also one of the easiest players to talk to among his peers. 11:05 P.M. – Just when I thought we were given a lot of access to the players, we were given more. There was another media session which commenced right after the game! 12:11 A.M. – Another thing the NBA is very generous with is food. TJ and I ended our long day at a restaurant and bar that the league booked for us international journalists. As we chomped down our food, we talked about how the NBA All-Star weekend would take a lot of our time from us, including our sleeping hours. TJ has been covering this annual event since 2011. He’s used to the grueling schedule. Me, I’m just soaking it all in. I have a few hours left before I have to get up and work again. As always, I’m going to try to have as much fun as possible. After all, it’s the NBA All-Star. It’s supposed to be fun......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 16th, 2019

WATCH: Lakers Kuzma dazzles to win NBA Rising Stars MVP

MANILA, Philippines – Kyle Kuzma electrified the Rising Stars Challenge of the NBA All-Star Weekend on the way to crowning himself Most Valuable Player in Charlotte on Friday, February 15 (Saturday, February 16, Philippine time). The Los Angeles Lakers sophomore scattered a game-high 35 points and 6 rebounds as ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsFeb 16th, 2019

7s Football League Match Day 2: Tondo FC, Super Eagles, Deportivo Matu, Ghana FC and Delimondo remains undefeated; Bohemians bounces back from first game loss

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #454545} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #454545; min-height: 14.0px} The Philam Life 7s Football league is back at the McKinley Hill Stadium this week with its matchday 2 for both its youth and seniors division. Once again, youth teams had proven that football in the country is growing and that youth talent only need an avenue to practice their skills in the sport. Youth teams opened the matchday 2 of the league with an action-packed set of games with the Kaya youth teams seemingly dominate the league in all four age groups. Giving them a run for their money is the Simon Greatwich –led G8 and Bohemians Sporting Club. Over at the Seniors Division, the boys from Tondo had once again proven that they are a force to be reckoned with at the league as they whipped H&J All-Stars with an impressive 3-1 victory. Coming into the game, Tondo FC did make some adjustments, mainly getting reinforcements from players from Marikina, something that Coach Mark Balbin is thankful for. “Kasi in Tondo, we play the attacking side so more of us specialize in dribbling which makes the defensive side our loophole. The ones na kinuha namin from Marikina, mga defenders, we know yung caliber nila kaya ni-recruit namin sila as part of the team. Yung squad namin is composed of 14 players and sinabi namin is we know those players [H&J All Stars] who are not young, unlike some of our players na mas bata sa kanila who are more technically and physically good," said Balbin. "Sinabi ko na lang sa kanila is to pressure kasi may mga subs naman na pwedeng pumalit so all out kapag nasa field, wag magpipigil sa sarili and pagurin yung sarili nila. Kahit yung mga subs ganun din sinabi ko, all out din kapag nasa field. Yung lang ang ginamit namin na tactic against sa kanila. Tactically speaking, sa loob, wala kaming ginagawa masyado kasi alam naman namin na mabibilis kami so all out lang ng all out.” After being down 0-1 and then 1-2 at the end of the first half, Bohemian made an epic come back at the second half and score the equalizer that sent the game to extra time. The extra five minutes is all that they need to regroup in order to score the golden goal to seal their comeback with the win. “A come from behind win is always difficult. I think we started out a little bit too relaxed, Real Amigos came out with intensity, came out really with high pressure, I think out players were a bit too relaxed but then we got the first goal - unlucky because it was a rebound, they scored one goal, but you know that’s football, breaks of the game. But like you’ve said, we’ve kept our game, we continued to play our game, eventually, we were able to come back and get to 1-1. Then they were able to get to it again at 2-1 and then at the second half, I think we put on much pressure or intensity. We picked it up and we got to get the equalizer. In the last few seconds, they gave up a 6th foul and that’s a penalty so we got to 2-2, then I didn’t know that there was extra time. Anton was saying that there’s still 5 minutes of extra time and then we were able to get that golden goal and the victory.” Says Coach Mikee Carrion At the second set of games scheduled for matchday 2; Superbad became the next team to have fallen into the Super Eagles’ prey. The defending champions led as much as 3-0 at the end of the first half and were even more resilient in protecting their lead at the second half, scoring five more goals to prove that they are determined to win the league title for the third time in a row. “I think it was just hard work and determination. We are the defending champions and we are committed, we really want to win again. I don’t need to say that they will fall into our prey because it is all about 7 versus 7 but in the game of soccer, anything can happen. But I just want to assure you that Super Eagles is going to win, there is no doubt about it, we are going to win.” A very satisfied Coach Prince says On the other side of the field, Delimondo-Laro FC and Ceres FC were inseparable at the first half, giving the fans present at the stadium an all the more exciting game as they anticipate which of these two teams will draw first blood. Ceres FC went on to take the lead at the beginning of the second half, but Delimondo-Laro FC was able to equalize not long enough. Another goal scored by Ceres broke the lead but it was not for long as Delimondo-Laro FC was able to bounce back, scoring another goal from the penalty area and then eventually scoring another one to seal off their come from behind win. “We pushed a bit more, then they got the lead then we pushed again to pressure them after they got the lead again, we kept on pushing. I think our game tonight was more entertaining in the second half compared to the first one,” says Joaco Canas at the post-match interview For the last batch of fixtures of match day 2; Ghana FC lived up to their statement from opening day that they will give each team a run for their money as they led against Stallions FC at the end of the first half. However, Stallions tried to make a comeback at the start of the second half only to fall short against the league runner-ups. “It was a very intense game, Stallions is one of the professional teams in the Philippines and they even started training before the season began, they prepared really well. Playing against them, you know, it’s really going to be tough. Our game plan today was to play 3 defenders, 2 midfielders and one attacker, first half, we scored the only one which we tried to hold down to the 1 up until halftime and then we got another goal at the start of the second half, which is really a good goal. Then when we conceded a goal, we started panicking especially when we conceded a penalty, good thing our goalie saved it, and then less than two minutes later, another penalty which our goalie saved again. We have to give all the glory to our goalkeeper for saving those two penalties.” Coach Ayi Bimbo narrates “It was so hard, really wasn’t easy. 2 players down and our Coach is out. It’s very frustrating but we came together, we played together as a team and focused at the game, played how it is.” Sam Yakubu, who scored the winning goal added. Deportivo Matu, on the other hand, lived up to extend their winning streak as they trounce the Futbol Fanatics with a clean sheet; 5-0. “Great feeling, obviously, especially being here, great people, a lot of people supporting us. It started off really rough. First half, I think we manage to have a lot of composure when Nico starting, obviously and we managed to keep the ball quite well, we managed to keep them out of our 6 meters because it is the most important thing for us – starting off and then we capitalized it on the second half so we’re quite satisfied with that.” Coach Chris Johnson says after the game.   Complete Game Results are as follows: Youth Division [U9]: FFast vs. Loyola (0-1) BSC vs. FFast (2-0) G8 vs. FFast (1-1) Kaya vs. FFast (5-0) Sugod vs. G8 (0-8) Kaya vs. Ceres (2-0) Sugod vs. Loyola (0-0) BSC vs. Socceroo (0-0)   Youth Division [U13]: Loyola vs. Super Fanatics (0-1) BSC vs. Futbol Funatics (3-0) Kaya vs. Fanatics (5-0) Soccerro vs. G8 (0-1) Kaya vs. Ceres (2-0) Socceroo vs. Loyola (0-0) G8 vs. Fanatics (1-0) BSC vs. Ceres (2-0)   Youth Division [U11]: Loyola vs. FFast (0-1) BSC vs. Kaya (0-0) G8 vs. FFast (0-0) Kaya A vs. Kaya B (2-0) Socceroo vs. G8 (0-0) Sugod vs. Kaya (0-1) Loyola vs. Ceres (2-1) BSC vs. Sugod (0-1)   Youth division [U15]: Loyola vs. Futbol Funatics (0-0) Kaya vs. Futbol Funatics (2-2) Voltes vs. Futbol Funatics (0-1) Kaya A vs. Kaya B (1-4) Sugod vs. BSC (3-0) Kaya vs. G8 (6-1) BSC vs. Loyola (0-3) BSC vs. G8 (2-1)   Seniors Division: BSC vs. Real Amigos (3-2) Tondo FC vs. H&J All Stars (3-1) Delimondo-Laro FC vs. Ceres FC (3-2) Super Eagles vs. Superbad (8-0) Ghana FC vs Stallions FC (3-1) Deportivo Matu vs Futbol Funatics (5-0).....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 11th, 2019

UAAP SEASON 81: I don’t want them to focus on the end goal -- Air Padda

Entering her third season as coach of the Adamson University Lady Falcons, Air Padda shifts to a different approach for her team in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament. Padda in her first two years tried to inject a winning culture to a struggling squad but now with five rookies coming in and with the Lady Falcons on a rebuilding stage, the mentor wants to ease the pressure on her wards by just setting up a modest goal taking it one game at a time. “You know, this season, I don't want them to focus on the end goal so much,” said Padda, who lost some key players from last season after Mylene Paat, starting setter Fhen Emnas and top hitter Jema Galanza exhausted all their playing years. “I don't want them to get ahead of themselves. It's really taking one game at a time. Baby steps,” she added. “And controlling the things we have control over. There's never a way that we control what the other team is gonna do, but we control our effort.” “We can focus on how tough we play, how hard we play, masipag, and family. Staying, sticking together as a family no matter what,” said Padda. “So those have been the three things that I've been kinda feeding into their heads.” Expectations were high for Adamson last year with the return of Paat and Emnas after sitting out Season 79 but the weight of that pressure to return to the Final Four took its toll on the team. The Lady Falcons ended up at fifth to sixth place tied with University of the Philippines, winning six games while dropping eight and missing the semis for the fourth straight year. “Oh man. Last season was really difficult for us. It felt like we really had a really strong team, and I think, it's safe to say that everyone knew we had a strong team,” Padda recalled. “But it was disappointing not to make it to the Final Four.” Taking the lessons she learned from last UAAP season and the pre-season, Padda knows that setting up an end goal too early might be counterproductive considering the lineup she has at hand. Though veterans from last year’s core in graduating Eli Soyud, Joy Dacoron, libero Thang Ponce, Chiara Permentilla and Bernadette Flora are making their return, the Lady Falcons also have rookies in its lineup with a couple filling up the starting positions. The new faces in Adamson’s roster are Trisha Genesis, Krich Macaslang, Nikka Yandoc, Chen Ave, Nina Balang and Hannah Infante.      “You know, some players can't handle that. That's a lot of pressure,” said Padda. “And with my lineup, there's five rookies in my lineup. And two of those might be starting spots. That's a lot of pressure for an 18-year old girl to come into and think she has to do something magical.” “You don't have to do anything magical to get to the Final Four but what we do need to do is focus on coming in here every day and taking one game at a time. You know what I mean? And then, hopefully, we'll be in a position to be in the Final Four.” As part of their build up for the season, Adamson joined the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference, finishing third, and competed in the PVL Open Conference despite losing Genesis and Soyud for most of the tournament due to injuries.   Adamson’s pre-season stints also bore fruit with players Soyud, Flora, setter MJ Igao, Ponce and Dacoron, as part of BanKo, getting individual recognitions in the PVL. Using these as motivations, Adamson could be on the right track of making it into the Final Four… one small step at a time.               --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 10th, 2019

Current Tigresses shine against Alumni stars

Former and current University of Sto. Tomas stars gathered for a night of fun volleyball action Wednesday at the Quadricentennial Pavilion inside the UST campus. The alumni squad led by Ging Balse and Aiza Maizo showed that they still got game but the current Tigresses prevailed in straight sets, 25-20, 25-22, 25-17, in the event that also served as a mini pep rally for the UST squad heading into the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.  Sophomore Milena Alessandrini unleashed 16 points to pace the Tigresses, who are wrapping up their preparation for the UAAP wars, which will open on February 16.  Dimdim Pacres and rookie Eya Laure delivered seven points each while freshman Kecelyn Galdones posted six markers anchored on four aces. “Ang sarap sa pakiramdam, para akong naglalaro sa championship na makalaro mo ang mga legends ng UST. Hindi ko in-expect na ganoon ang feeling,” said graduating UST team captain Sisi Rondina, who fired six points. “Nakita namin na kahit hindi na sila ganoon ka-active sa paglaro ng volleyball nandoon pa rin ang passion nila and the way sila mag-commit sa UST, yung willingness to win, gustong-gusto nila and nagi-enjoy sila,” Rondina added. “I hope makuha namin yun. Kung ano ang ginawa nila (sa UST) sana ma-absorb namin. Balse, who along with Venus Bernal starred in UST’s Season 69 title, showed the way for the Alumni Team with nine points while Pam Lastimosa and Jessey De Leon scored five each. Looking at the Tigresses current roster, Balse felt confident that the squad has a good chance of ending a nine-year title drought. “Sa tingin ko talaga kaya nila mag-champion ngayon,” she said. “Kailangan lang nila ng kompiyansa and kailangan nilang harapin ang darating na challenge. Mayroon silang talent para manalo.” Legendary and multi-titled coach August Sta. Maria was the designated mentor of the Alumni Team with former players Mozzy Ravena and Vilet Ponce De Leon as his deputies. UST’s Season 72 championship core Angge Tabaquero, Aiza Maizo, Rhea Dimaculangan, Maru Banaticla and Maika Ortiz also played for the Alumni Team with Denise Tan, Joey Torrijos, Rubie De Leon, Dancel Dusaran, Mela Tunay, Michelle Del Rosario, Kat Caranngan, Sarah Jane Gonzalez, Shannen Palec and Mia Hirotsuji. Former UST high school star Alyssa Valdez and EJ Laure, who skipped the UAAP tournament for the second straight season, watched the event.     ---                Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 6th, 2019

Patriots defeat Rams in lowest-scoring SB ever

ATLANTA (AP) — For those who may have dozed off ... the Patriots have won the Super Bowl. New England topped the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in a game that dragged the high-def NFL back to the days of black-and-white TV. It was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in the 53-year history of the game. Tom Brady captured his record sixth NFL title by throwing for 262 yards, without a touchdown. The Patriots matched the Steelers for most Super Bowl wins, with six. Julian Edelman caught 10 passes for 141 yards; he was the day's only consistent offensive threat. Brady engineered the game's lone touchdown drive —a five-play, 69-yard march punctuated by an over-the-shoulder, 29-yard throw into the hands of tight end Rob Gronkowski. On the next play, Sony Michel scored on a 2-yard plunge with 7 minutes to play for a 10-3 lead. But the real stars of this game were the New England defenders, who smothered Rams quarterback Jared Goff, holding him to 229 yards that felt like less. After New England's score, Goff moved the Rams down to the New England 28 with 4:30 left. But the third-year quarterback threw one up for grabs near the end zone and cornerback Stephon Gilmore stepped in front for the interception. The Rams, who averaged 32.9 points a game this season, joined the Miami Dolphins —from Super Bowl 6 in 1972— as the only the second team not to muster a touchdown in the title game......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 4th, 2019

Chiefs QB Mahomes takes MVP and top offensive player awards

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Patrick Mahomes' breathtaking breakthrough season earned him the NFL's Most Valuable Player award. The Chiefs quarterback landed a pair of honors at NFL Honors on Saturday night, taking The Associated Press 2018 MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards. In his second pro season, Mahomes led Kansas City to its first AFC title game since 1993 with some of the most creative and clutch plays the league has seen in years. "I'm so humbled," he said. "This is just the beginning. We've got a long ways to go." Mahomes received 41 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees got the other nine. With only one previous start, Mahomes entered the season as something of a curiosity in Kansas City after the Chiefs traded veteran Alex Smith to open up the job. It didn't take long to erase any doubts as Mahomes led the Chiefs to their first AFC title game since the 1993 season, throwing for 50 touchdowns, 5,097 yards and had a 113.8 QB rating, trailing only Brees. Mahomes' ingenuity — the guy can throw from all angles and make plays inside and outside the pocket — energized the Chiefs' fan base and excited fans across the league. "The play is never dead. He can find new ways to get you the ball," Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce said. "It may look like a screwball, a slider here or there, but it'll get to you eventually." Mahomes is the sixth straight quarterback and 11th of the past 12 years to win MVP. No Kansas City player had won the award since the Chiefs joined the NFL in 1970. Earlier, he was selected as the top offensive player, beating Brees 30 votes to 16. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who will play in Sunday's Super Bowl against New England, took his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award. Donald, the only unanimous All-Pro this season and the first Rams player selected for top defensive honor, joins Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt as players to win the award in back-to-back seasons. Donald led the NFL with 20½ sacks. "Any time you put a body of work into it and then it pays off," Donald said, "and you're rewarded for it, it means a lot. It's a blessing." Chicago's Matt Nagy, in his first season with the Bears, was voted Coach of the Year. Nagy has overseen the development of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who blossomed in his second pro season, and saw a defense befitting the "Monsters of the Midway" dominate opponents at times. He is the fifth Bears coach to win the award, joining team founder George Halas (1963, 1965), Mike Ditka (1985, 1988), Dick Jauron (2001) and Lovie Smith (2005). "It's crazy to think this is one person, so for me, it's being a part of this organization and for our players," Nagy said. "Just being able to believe in what we wanted to do with our culture and then follow through with it." Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was chosen the Comeback Player of the Year, following a lost 2017 season to a shoulder injury with a sensational 2018 campaign. "I truly believe there are players on every team, every roster that could be Comeback Player of the Year in their own ways," he said. "Honestly, the best part was playing football again — having fun playing football and being pain free." Giants running back Saquon Barkley was the top offensive rookie, while the defensive rookie award went to Indianapolis linebacker Darius Leonard. Described by some as a "generational running back," Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns behind a weak New York offensive line. He drew 26½ votes and edged Baker Mayfield. The Cleveland quarterback who was selected first overall in the draft, one spot in front of Barkley, earned 21½ votes. Barkley also made a team-high 91 receptions for 721 yards, and his 2,028 yards from scrimmage led the NFL. For his work as defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, Vic Fangio got the head coaching gig in Denver. He also won The Associated Press 2018 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year Award on Saturday. Philadelphia Eagles DE Chris Long won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for community service......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 3rd, 2019

LeBron back in fold, but other issues still on Lakers minds

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com Well, scratch one name off the Los Angeles Lakers’ wait list. LeBron James has finally reported for duty, and who would’ve thought he’d beat Anthony Davis to the team’s lineup? Five weeks felt like forever to the franchise as they sweated out LeBron’s 17-game absence from a groin injury. It was the first injury of any concern in his 16-year career, and given his workload over such time, maybe that will serve as one of the more amazing feats by LeBron. A sense of normalcy crept back into the Lakers’ season if only for a night when LeBron suited up Thursday (Friday, PHl time), played 40 minutes without a hiccup, and -- on the surface anyway -- all seemed well. That doesn’t mean all is well. All is very confusing. The Lakers are juggling a pair of sensitive uncertainties: Davis and whether they can swing a deal to acquire the New Orleans Pelicans’ All-NBA player … and the Western Conference playoff chase. The Davis dilemma has the more urgent expiration date. Thursday’s (Friday, PHl time) deadline means one way or another, the Lakers will have clarity on one of the more uncomfortable scenarios in recent memory. And when there’s finally a verdict, and no matter what it is, there will be a sense of relief (to an extent). That’s because the young core of the Lakers are essentially being held hostage while the club enthusiastically tries to pawn one of two or all of them off in order to get Davis. Imagine being Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and/or Josh Hart now and figuring out what they’re going through. This Davis trade request is in their heads. They don’t know if by next week they’ll be passing the ball to LeBron or … E’Twuan Moore. They don’t know if they’ll be playing in L.A. or … La. They don’t know if LeBron, whose agency also represents Davis and is helping to orchestrate his New Orleans exit, has their back or is sticking a fork in it behind the scenes. There’s so much at work here, so many moving parts, so much head scratching. By all indications, there are exploratory conversations between the Lakers and Pelicans about what it will take to land Davis. The Lakers are dangling young players and Draft picks, and that might not be enough. Meanwhile, the Pelicans are dealing with their own prickly situation. The trade request caused a measure of saltiness and the front office doesn’t appear to be warm to the idea of having Davis around. The Pelicans scrubbed him from their pre-game video intros, as though he doesn’t exist anymore. He’s still on the team bench during games but it’s a weird optic. Davis is with a team he doesn’t feel is good enough for him anymore. In a perfect world, the Pelicans would take their time and weigh considerable offers from other teams, but that may stretch until this summer. Davis’ contract only runs one more season. If he tells other teams he won’t sign an extension with them, he can sabotage deals. Why would those teams surrender assets for a one-year rental? The stare-down continues as the weekend approaches and LeBron returns to face the league-leading Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). “With LeBron back, we have to adjust again as to how we play,” said coach Luke Walton. “But he looked fine to me.” He was initially on a 25-minute restriction Thursday (Friday, PHL time), but played the entire overtime in the Lakers’ win. He was feeling and looking stronger as the game progressed, finishing with 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. “I’m about 80 (percent) right now,” James said. “It’s going to take me a while to get my rhythm back. We got a lot of games coming up. I want to see how my body feels tomorrow after playing tonight. Toughest stretch of my career. I worked my butt off to get back to this point. “I wasn’t positive every day throughout this process. There were times when I felt great and thought I could come back faster. It wasn’t reacting the right way so I had to be patient. I’d never been injured before like that. I didn’t come here to put on a suit everyday. I came here to put on a jersey, when you see your team struggle and you can’t help them in a suit and tie, that was frustrating.” The Lakers went 6-11 without LeBron and dropped games to the likes of the New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers and two to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was unsightly and discouraging at times, and the losing -- combined with LeBron’s sense of mortality -- perhaps kick-started the Davis chase. Perhaps team president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka (with input from LeBron) decided it’s time to get into the express lane, at the expense of youth, and quicken the process. “I’m excited about being back out there with my guys,” James said. “We’re ready for the challenge. We want to get back into a groove and get a playoff spot. That’s what I’m here fore, that’s what we’re here for.” The playoff chase begins in earnest for any team in the West with those aspirations. To reach 48 wins, which should be enough for a playoff spot, the Lakers need to win 21 of their last 30. And given the stiff competition out West, that likely means LeBron will need to play meaningful games in April -- a time which normally would call for rest -- and perform at a high level, too. Keep in mind if the Lakers are gutted to get Davis, the supporting cast around the two stars will be depleted. In such a case, the real pursuit of the Warriors wouldn’t realistically begin until next season. Even that depends on what else the Lakers can do this summer with their salary-cap surplus. Remember, LeBron is 34 … and just sat for the longest stretch of his career. When you sign LeBron, the end game is a championship or at the very least, a reasonable chase. The Lakers are getting him on the back end, so in this situation, there’s a clock and the Lakers are on it. Time is ticking on their chances of getting Davis this season in what would be a major shakeup. And time is also ticking on their playoff pursuit, which if it fails, would be a major letdown. 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 NewsFeb 2nd, 2019

LOOK: Here are the 2019 NBA All-Star Game reserves

NBA press release NEW YORK – Two-time Kia NBA All-Star MVP Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and four first-time All-Stars lead the list of 14 players selected by the NBA’s head coaches as reserves for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. The 68th NBA All-Star Game, featuring Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis, will take place on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. ET at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. (Feb. 18, PHL time). NBA All-Star 2019 will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages. Joining Westbrook as reserves in the Western Conference player pool are San Antonio Spurs forward-center LaMarcus Aldridge, New Orleans Pelicans forward-center Anthony Davis, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.  Jokić has been named an NBA All-Star for the first time. The Eastern Conference reserve pool includes three first-time NBA All-Star selections: Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton, Philadelphia 76ers guard-forward Ben Simmons and Orlando Magic center Nikola Vučević.  They are joined by Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin, Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo. Team captains LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks will draft the NBA All-Star Game rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference. The team rosters will be revealed on TNT in a special NBA All-Star Draft Show on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. ET (Feb. 8, PHL time). James and Antetokounmpo will make their picks without regard for a player’s conference affiliation or position.  Each captain will choose 11 players to complete a 12-man roster. The 2019 NBA All-Star Draft rules include: - The eight starters (aside from James and Antetokounmpo) will be drafted in the First Round. - The 14 reserves will be drafted in the Second Round. - As the top overall vote-getter among fans, James will have the first pick in the First Round (Starters).  Antetokounmpo will have the first pick in the Second Round (Reserves). - The captains will alternate picks in each round until all players in that round have been selected. The 10 All-Star Game starters, unveiled last week, were selected by fans, current NBA players and a media panel.  The Eastern Conference starter pool consists of Antetokounmpo, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, the Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving and the Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker. The Western Conference starter pool is James, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City’s Paul George and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden. The 14 All-Star Game reserves were selected by the NBA’s 30 head coaches. The coaches voted for seven players in their respective conferences – two guards, three frontcourt players and two additional players at either position group. They were not permitted to vote for players from their own team. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will select the replacement for any player unable to participate in the All-Star Game, choosing a player from the same conference as the player who is being replaced. Team LeBron will be coached by the head coach from the Western Conference team with the best record through games played on Sunday, Feb. 3 (Feb. 4, PHL time). Team Giannis will be led by the head coach from the Eastern Conference team with the best record through games played on Feb. 3 (Feb. 4, PHL time). Below is a closer look at the NBA All-Star Game reserves: 2019 NBA ALL-STAR GAME RESERVES Western Conference Player Pool The Western Conference @NBAAllStar Reserve Pool!@aldridge_12 @AntDavis23 Nikola Jokic@Dame_Lillard @KlayThompson @KarlTowns @russwest44 #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/BHu2JnxiHg — NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2019 • LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs (7th All-Star selection): Aldridge is an All-Star for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. The Spurs have now had at least one player selected to 21 consecutive All-Star Games, the NBA’s longest active streak. • Anthony Davis, Pelicans (6th All-Star selection): An All-Star for the sixth year in a row, Davis scored a record 52 points in the 2017 All-Star Game. • Nikola Jokić, Nuggets (1st All-Star selection): Selected with the 41st overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Serbian center is Denver’s first All-Star since the 2010-11 season (Carmelo Anthony).   • Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (4th All-Star selection): Lillard is the fourth player to earn at least four All-Star nods with Portland, joining Clyde Drexler (eight), Aldridge (four) and Sidney Wicks (four). • Klay Thompson, Warriors (5th All-Star selection): This marks the fifth consecutive All-Star selection for Thompson, who made a game-high five three-pointers and scored 15 points in the 2018 All-Star Game. • Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves (2nd All-Star selection): Towns is the third player to be named an All-Star multiple times with Minnesota, along with Kevin Garnett (10) and Kevin Love (three). • Russell Westbrook, Thunder (8th All-Star selection): An All-Star for the eighth time in the last nine seasons, Westbrook is the only player to win the Kia NBA All-Star MVP Award outright in back-to-back years (2015 and 2016). Eastern Conference Player Pool The Eastern Conference @NBAAllStar Reserve Pool!@RealDealBeal23 @blakegriffin23 @Klow7 @Khris22m @VicOladipo @BenSimmons25 @NikolaVucevic #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/LfwuSBvA1P — NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2019 • Bradley Beal, Wizards (2nd All-Star selection): This is the second straight All-Star selection for Beal, who scored 14 points in his All-Star Game debut last year. • Blake Griffin (6th All-Star selection): Griffin is set to appear in the All-Star Game for the first time since 2014, when he scored 38 points as a member of the LA Clippers. • Kyle Lowry, Raptors (5th All-Star selection): With his fifth consecutive All-Star nod, Lowry becomes the second player to be named to at least five All-Star teams after not being selected in any of his first eight seasons, joining Chauncey Billups. • Khris Middleton, Bucks (1st All-Star selection): The 39th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft joins Antetokounmpo to give Milwaukee multiple All-Stars in the same season for the first time since 2000-01 (Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson). • Victor Oladipo, Pacers (2nd All-Star selection): Oladipo has been named an All-Star in each of his two seasons with Indiana. He sustained a season-ending ruptured quad tendon in his right knee on Jan. 23 (Jan. 24, PHL time). • Ben Simmons, 76ers (1st All-Star selection): The reigning Kia NBA Rookie of the Year makes his All-Star debut in his second season – just as Philadelphia teammate Embiid did last year. • Nikola Vučević, Magic (1st All-Star selection): The eight-year NBA veteran from Montenegro is Orlando’s first All-Star selection since the 2011-12 season (Dwight Howard).  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 1st, 2019

Judge approves changes to Weinstein’s legal team

NEW YORK --- Harvey Weinstein won a judge's approval Friday to overhaul the defense team in his rape and sexual assault case, replacing his bulldog New York City attorney with a four-person squad that's high on courtroom stars and headline-grabbing cases. The disgraced Hollywood mogul was in a Manhattan courtroom --- along with new lawyers Jose Baez, Ronald Sullivan and Duncan Levin, and ex-lawyer Benjamin Brafman --- as Judge James Burke signed off on the switch. "Welcome to the New York State Supreme Court," Burke told Weinstein's new lawyers. Weinstein, 66, and Brafman, 70, announced last week that they had "agreed to part ways amicably." The move came a month after they ...Keep on reading: Judge approves changes to Weinstein’s legal team.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 26th, 2019

Adding Cousins gives Warriors big jolt in middle of season

By Stephen Whyno, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — The rest of the NBA isn’t much of an obstacle for the Golden State Warriors right now. But the two-time defending champions have just what they need to test themselves in the doldrums of an 82-game season. Long before the Warriors can go for their third consecutive title and fourth in five years, they’re now in the process of integrating DeMarcus Cousins into the mix. Cousins missed almost a full calendar year after rupturing his left Achilles tendon while playing for New Orleans, and with the All-Star center finally healthy, Golden State gets to use this time to figure out how he fits in. “He’s given us new life, new energy,” coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. “It’s good timing with where we are in the schedule. The All-Star break is still about three weeks away. These are always difficult days in the NBA season. You’re kind of grinding through, a long way to go. His arrival corresponds pretty well with a time that’s normally tough to get through.” It doesn’t look tough for Golden State, which has matched a season-high with eight consecutive victories. Cousins has been a part of just two of those games so far as he builds back up his conditioning level, and that will continue to evolve. As Cousins gets his workload back to normal, fellow All-Stars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson and the rest of the Warriors are getting used to what he brings to the table. So far, so good. “It gives us a big jolt of energy just because he’s been working so hard to get back to this point,” Thompson said. “He adds a whole new dimension to our team, and I get really excited thinking about the possibilities.” As Green pointed out, the Warriors are always thinking about winning a championship, and signing Cousins was another step toward that goal. Cousins signed a $5.34 million, one-year contract understanding he could miss half the season, but he can also be fresher for the stretch run and the playoffs. Cousins, who played 15 and 21 minutes in his first two games, can ease his way back in because unlike December when the Warriors lost 3-of-5, they’re on quite the tear as of late. “It’s also kind of lessened the expectations for him, allowed him to properly get back into the flow of things,” Green said. “To come back at a time where we’re kind of rolling, it allows him to come back and get his legs under him, get his feel back for the game after a year off as opposed to kind of coming back and trying to be that piece to right the ship, which could make it a lot more challenging.” The 28-year-old big man doesn’t have to be the piece, but rather another piece of the Warriors’ winning puzzle. Not only can he dominate inside and shoot from the outside, but Thompson said Cousins helped set him up a handful of three-pointers when he tied an NBA record by making his first 10 attempts Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) — a good sign so early in his time with Golden State. “He can do everything,” Thompson said. “He can pass out of the post, pass out the pick-and-roll, he can lead the break. He’s just one of the most skilled big men I’ve ever been around, and his ability to stretch the floor as well as finish at the rim is nearly unmatched.” Green acknowledged there have been a few times where players have been too anxious to find their new teammate and passed up a shot. That chemistry the Warriors believe will naturally develop with time, but the rest of this season gives them the chance to experiment and see what they have with Cousins before show time in the playoffs. “All of that stuff will come over time,” Green said. “Eventually we’ll just play. But I like to see that because it just shows how it matters to get another guy going, to get him to feeling like he fits and we’re moving in the right direction.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 24th, 2019

Australian men s tennis hit by infighting, Twitter rants

By Dennis Passa, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The situation seems mostly nasty these days in Australian men's tennis. Compared with the genteel nature of past stars like Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall and more recently, the likes of Pat Rafter over-ruling line calls and giving points to his opponents long before video replays existed, Australian men's tennis is filled with Twitter rants, calls by one player for Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt to resign, embarrassing on-court comments. And, to make matters worse, few decent results. The exception, in a big way, is Alex de Minaur, who advanced to the third round at the Australian Open and will play 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal on Friday. And John Millman gave a top performance before losing Wednesday in five sets to Roberto Bautista Agut. After that, it's not pretty. Sure Hewitt wasn't always the consummate "good bloke" — as Australians like to say — in his day, arguing with chair umpires and fellow players and media, but he seems mild mannered compared with the likes of the self-imploding, dynamite-like duo of Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios. After Tomic lost in the first round, he called on former No. 1-ranked, two-time major winning Hewitt to resign as Davis Cup captain. The two have been feuding for more than a year after Tomic claimed that Australia couldn't win without him and Hewitt countered by saying Tomic wouldn't be chosen for further international duty as long as he was in charge. Tomic's form wouldn't see him chosen anyway for Australia's Davis Cup first-round tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Adelaide in February, but Tomic went a bit further, suggesting Hewitt has a personal interest in players he is promoting. "No one likes him anymore," Tomic said of Hewitt. "We have a lot of issues that not a lot of players are happy about. We all know who those players are. Myself, (Thanasi) Kokkinakis, (Nick) Kyrgios." Hewitt wasn't about to get involved in a stoush with Tomic, saying it was "Bernie being Bernie and losing and going on and complaining." After Tomic's comments, Kokkinakis and Kyrgios denied that they had any issue with Hewitt, but Kyrgios's Twitter comments on Wednesday night during de Minaur's match appeared to suggest otherwise. Kyrgios posted a screenshot on Instagram of Hewitt doing television sideline commentary from de Minaur's players' box during the Australian player's five-set win over Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen. Kyrgios posted a poll to his followers, asking whose match Hewitt was watching. He provided two options: "Demon" (de Minaur's nickname) and "No one else". Australian No.2 Millman and No.3 Matt Ebden were playing second-round matches at the same time as de Minaur. Kyrgios appeared to suggest that Hewitt only is interested in de Minaur, the teenager who Hewitt has been mentoring along with his Spanish coach Adolfo Gutierrez. Tomic and Kyrgios reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals as teenagers — Tomic in 2011, Kyrgios in 2014 — but neither has been past that stage at a major since. Kyrgios, who is Australia's fourth-ranked player now, removed his Instagram post not long after. He also criticized Hewitt during the Brisbane International for not watching him or Kokkinakas play. John Newcombe, who won seven Grand Slam singles titles in the 1960 and 70s, including Wimbledon three times, urged Hewitt not to get involved in the argument. "I said to Lleyton the other day: 'Things that are being said and all that, take the high ground," Newcombe told the Australian Associated Press. 'You don't have to defend yourself. Everyone sees what you're doing out there.'" "The general public can see what Lleyton's doing, but every time Bernie (Tomic) gets a microphone he attacks Tennis Australia or someone in it." Millman said after his loss to Bautista Agut that he's felt "quite well-supported by the captain, by the coach, by the support staff," but said he liked Tomic, describing him as "larrikin," and Kyrgios, a "top bloke." Perhaps Millman has the best solution. "This stuff," Millman said, "it's in one ear, out the other.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

Meghan Markle to help vulnerable British women ‘reach for the stars’

LONDON – A British charity transforming the lives of some of the country’s most vulnerable women said on Thursday Meghan Markle would help them “reach for the stars” as it announced she had become a patron. Smart Works, which provides high quality interview clothes and interview training to long-term unemployed women, described Markle as a […] The post Meghan Markle to help vulnerable British women ‘reach for the stars’ appeared first on Interaksyon......»»

Category: newsSource:  interaksyonRelated NewsJan 11th, 2019

Meet the 2019 PBA Opening Day Muses

The PBA is set to tip off its 44th season this Sunday, January 13th at the Philippine Arena. Before the curtain-raising Ginebra Gin Kings vs TNT KaTropa game, however, the PBA will hold the annual Leo Awards and the opening ceremonies to welcome another season. Making the opening ceremony more colorful during the parade of teams are the muses for each squad, notable women who embody each team's spirit. The PBA has announced some of the team's muses, made up mostly of athletes and celebrities. Muses: Yam Concepcion (PHX) Pia Wurtzbach (Ginebra) Aya Fernandez (NorthPort) Alyssa Valdez (NLEX) Jasmine Alkhaldi (Blackwater) Kylie Versoza (SMB) Sharon Cuneta (Magnolia) Klea Pineda (Alaska) — Philip Martin Matel (@philipptionary) January 8, 2019 From sports stars Alyssa Valdez, Michele Gumabao, and Jasmine Alkhaldi, to high-profile public figures like Sharon Cuneta, Pia Wurtzbach, and Yam Concepcion, let's get a glimpse of each lovely lady ahead of the opening. Yam Concepcion (Phoenix)         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Yam Concepcion (@yamconcepcion) on Nov 15, 2018 at 2:37am PST Pia Wurtzbach (Ginebra)         View this post on Instagram                   Sun’s out! Do not disturb - I’m on pool time! 😎 A post shared by Pia Wurtzbach (@piawurtzbach) on Dec 3, 2018 at 7:38pm PST Aya Fernandez (NorthPort)         View this post on Instagram                   2019, are you ready? . . . Creative Director and Stylist: EJ Mondia of EJM Styling @ejmstyling @ejmondia 💄: Thrianne Gellido @makeupbythrianne 📷: Dennis Sulit @dennisulit A post shared by Aya Fernandez (@ayafernandez_) on Dec 31, 2018 at 3:51am PST Alyssa Valdez (NLEX)         View this post on Instagram                   Challenge accepted! Looking forward to learn new things from the #BestBeginsNow challenge! A post shared by Alyssa Valdez (@alyssa_valdez2) on Oct 10, 2018 at 5:55am PDT Michele Gumabao & Jasmine Alkhaldi (Blackwater)         View this post on Instagram                   Today is the day for the Final Show of @themissglobe 2018 ❤️ this was at yesterday's prelims 😘 7pm local time of Albania, livestream is on @themissglobe website 😘 Wearing @soakswimwearph Styled by @gvinsky @mikeeandrei @21wilbur for always helping with my glam 😘😘 Nails @idonailsph A post shared by Michele Gumabao (@gumabaomichele) on Oct 21, 2018 at 1:35am PDT           View this post on Instagram                 happy place 🌊✨ A post shared by Jasmine Alkhaldi (@jazzyalkhaldi) on Dec 23, 2017 at 2:01am PST Kylie Versoza (SMB) Kylie Verzosa will be our Muse on Sunday 🔥 #FearTheBeer 🍻 pic.twitter.com/fEJQ08aJrT — San Miguel Beermen (@TheSMBeermen) January 8, 2019 Sharon Cuneta (Magnolia)         View this post on Instagram                 Thank you again so much from the bottom of my heart, Rebisco, for supporting our movie “3 Words to Forever.” Thank you especially to my former neighbors in Wack-Wack Village, the Ng family. May you have a merry Christmas and may 2019 bring you more blessings of prosperity and abundance! God bless you always. (Luwag na damit ko.) A post shared by ActorSingerPresenter (@reallysharoncuneta) on Dec 14, 2018 at 6:13am PST Klea Pineda (Alaska)         View this post on Instagram                 Sometimes, you just have to take a break - have time for yourself away from everything - just be with nature and reflect... #PoweredByNature #RexonaNaturalWhitening A post shared by Klea Pineda (@kleapineda) on Nov 19, 2018 at 4:29am PST.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2019

ONE Championship: Edward Kelly looks to settle score in rematch with Christian Lee

Edward "The Ferocious" Kelly has his sights fixed on capturing the most convincing victory of his professional career as he faces Singapore's Christian "The Warrior" Lee for the second time.   Both men are slated to lock horns at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY, which takes place at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia on 19 January.   Kelly and Lee initially crossed paths at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON in September 2018, where Kelly won by disqualification after the latter’s suplex was deemed illegal by the referee in the first round.   While a victory was added to Kelly's record, it was not exactly the kind of victory he trained and hoped for from a bout that promised fireworks.   “The Ferocious” knows that having his hand raised in the rematch will be no walk in the park, but he likes his chances against the exceptional 20-year-old from Singapore   "I learned that I should never give my back to him, and that he will come to attack every second," Kelly said.   "I think this fight could go to the judges if I am unable to catch him with a big shot. I feel he is well prepared for my style. We both do not want to lose to each other."   Kelly concedes that there is an added pressure to perform as his stable, Team Lakay, is coming off an unprecedented run in 2018.   "There is an added pressure for me to perform and open the year on a high note for Team Lakay. I am the first to fight this 2019, so I am planning to give it my all when I get inside the cage," he stated.   "The target is to start the year right for Team Lakay. I want to beat Christian Lee, and then hopefully get a crack at the ONE Featherweight World Title in the near future."   Known for his tremendous power in his strikes, Kelly stressed that if the opportunity to score a finish presents itself against Lee, he will not think twice to grab it.   "His relentlessness is his strength, but can also be his weakness. I need to pick my shots, maximize my striking and be careful with his takedowns,” he explained. “Should the opening present itself, I am definitely going for a knockout.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2019