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Now Warriors All-Star, Durant was once their 2nd choice

em>By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press /em> Truth be told, Golden State’s former coach wasn’t sure the Warriors needed Kevin Durant. The Warriors were already small-ball sensations, capable of piling up the points with their daring drives and sizzling shooting. So rather than add another scorer, Don Nelson figured Golden State might be better off getting a dominant man in the middle to shore up the defense in the 2007 NBA draft. Nelson thought the Warriors needed Greg Oden. That was 10 years ago, leading up to the heavily hyped draft in which the Oden-Durant debate raged throughout basketball. And now, as Durant leads the league’s most potent team into the NBA Finals while Oden is long gone from the NBA spotlight, it’s easy to forget that a lot of people agreed with Nelson. “I think everyone felt that there were two players there that were going to be prominent players, but one thing you can’t count on is injuries,” Warriors executive Jerry West said. “So Greg really never had a chance to have a career, where Kevin’s obviously been more than advertised.” The Warriors were looking like a lottery team in March 2007 when Nelson was asked what he thought they should do if they got the No. 1 pick. He’s one of the innovators of small ball, a coach who seemed more comfortable with a point forward than a power forward, so it wouldn’t have been surprising if he leaned Durant. But he favored Oden, a seven-footer who in his lone season at Ohio State was drawing comparisons to Hall of Famer Bill Russell, Nelson’s teammate in Boston. “I think it’d be pretty simple for us,” Nelson said. “We would probably have to go with the bigger guy at this point.” Nelson said he might reconsider if he thought Durant was going to be a superstar, and the forward looked like one as he tore through the Big 12 as a freshman at Texas. But with the Warriors already having Baron Davis, Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson, Nelson saw other needs. “With this team, the center position is one that we’re looking for,” he said. “But I’d say anybody up front. Our backcourt’s pretty solid.” The Warriors were fined by the NBA for Nelson’s comments about players who weren’t yet draft eligible. Boston, San Antonio and New Orleans also would be penalized that spring when normally button-lipped coaches couldn’t help themselves when thinking about the promise of the two freshmen. “I don’t think there could have been any more hype than there was,” Memphis guard Mike Conley said. “It was an amazing time to see two great players who have Hall of Fame potential from the beginning. You just know that they could come in and win multiple championships and be All-Stars every year and you don’t have that in every draft.” The No. 1 pick became a moot point when the Warriors finished the regular season with a 16-5 kick to secure the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, then pulled off perhaps the biggest upset in NBA playoff history when they ousted the 67-win Dallas Mavericks in the first round. Later that postseason, the Portland Trail Blazers won the draft lottery and the Seattle SuperSonics were second. The Grizzlies had the league’s worst record and the best odds at the No. 1 pick but fell to fourth as West, then the Grizzlies’ president of basketball operations, was left livid with the process. Had he been given the chance, West said he would have taken the best player available, which is always his strategy. He said he considered Durant that player. Many mock drafts had it the other way, given Oden’s potential — he likely would’ve been the top pick a year earlier out of high school, but the 2006 draft was the first with the NBA’s age requirement. “Everyone is always looking for someone big in the draft because everyone thinks it’s a game-changer. Well, the game has changed,” West said. “Now, they’re not naming big guys unless you’re really versatile. There are very few back-to-the basket centers in the league that are not versatile enough to go out and play on the court. And so when you look at it, I think A, it would have been really interesting to see if another team, except Portland, who they would have taken if they needed a center.” Oden’s knee injuries ended his NBA career after 105 games, long before he would’ve had to worry about playing away from the basket, the way traditional centers such as Marc Gasol now do. But Conley, Oden’s high school and college teammate who went to the Grizzlies with their No. 4 pick, believes his friend could have handled the transition. “I think he’s that kind of a talent. He would have reminded me of like a Joel Embiid, how he’s able to stretch it out there and shoot the ball like he is,” Conley said, referring to Philadelphia’s rookie center. “So I think they have similar bodies and similar way they move, so I think he could have done it.” Instead, Oden himself acknowledged he goes down as a bust, which nobody could have predicted when coaches were tantalized by him. “Same thing was true with the Bowie-Olajuwon-Jordan draft, and that was years before that,” said former NBA Commissioner David Stern, recalling more of Portland’s painful past, when the Blazers took oft-injured center Sam Bowie at No. 2 in between Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan in 1984. “You never know. That’s the beauty of it. That’s why people watch,” he said. Next week they’ll be watching Durant, who will play for his first title in his first season with the Warriors, a chance to finally be No. 1 on a team that once viewed him as their No. 2. “I’m really proud where I am right now as a player and being as consistent every year as I’ve been,” Durant said. “Since my first year I’ve grown so much and I’m proud of myself in that area as well, but I’ve got a long ways to go. Hopefully there’s another 10 more years.” ___ em>AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley in Oakland, California and Teresa Walker in Memphis, Tennessee contributed to this report /em> .....»»

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Cavs-Warriors Part III joins past championship trilogies

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ONE Championship: Angela Lee, Ben Askren retain titles

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The Six Fix: Lauren Reid And Kiana Valenciano Make Waves As Adorable Showbiz Besties 'KaLaurKi!'

Roll with these two and never worry 'bout how others perceive you when you're at your best!.....»»

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The Six Fix: Lauren Reid And Kiana Valenciano Make Waves As Adorable Showbiz Besties 'KaLaurki!'

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ABS-CBN Lifestyle Asks: Can These Gym Buffs Resist A Free Slice Of Blueberry Cheesecake?

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San Miguel faces undermanned Alaska as playoff race heats up

The first of back-to-back playdates in Antipolo has some major PBA Commissioner's Cup playoff implications. Just a day after Globalport tied them for 8th place, the Phoenix Fuel Masters have the chance to regain control of the final postseason spot as they take on the NLEX Road Warriors in the first game at the Ynares Center. Game time is set for 3:00 p.m. With a 4-6 record, the Fuel Masters look to end the regular season with a win to at least give them some chance of actually advancing to then next round. NLEX meanwhile, after finally snapping a 13-game losing skid dating back to last conference, shoot for its first winning streak this season and improve its 1-9 mark. In the second game at 5:15 p.m., the San Miguel Beermen (6-2) continue their chase for a top 2 finish as they face rival Alaska (4-5). In the middle of a five-game losing skid in the mid-season joust and a seven-game slide against the Beermen, the Aces are once again in a tough predicament as they head to battle without Calvin Abueva and Jvee Casio. .....»»

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Chelsea seeks double, Arsenal looking for redemption

JUSTIN PALMER, Associated Press br /> LONDON (AP) — For Chelsea, it's a chance for a double. Arsenal is just looking for some redemption. The London teams will meet Saturday in the FA Cup final, with Chelsea hoping to win its second league-cup double since 2010 and Arsenal wanting to make up for missing out on the Champions League with a season-ending trophy at Wembley Stadium. 'It has been a great season,' Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said. 'To be a fantastic season we have to win the FA Cup.' Chelsea, which will be making its seventh FA Cup final appearance since 2000, is favored to win the trophy for the eighth time. But a win for Arsenal would set a record for the club and manager Arsene Wenger. Arsenal has won the title 12 times, the same as Manchester United. Wenger has been at the helm for six of those triumphs and one more would see the Frenchman on his own with seven wins, surpassing the six won by Aston Villa manager George Ramsay between 1887 and 1920. It could also be Wenger's farewell. He is expected to announce soon whether he will stay on for next season. Wenger has faced criticism after a season in which the team finished outside the top four of the Premier League for the first time in 20 years. In keeping with brushing off questions about his future, Wenger said his only focus was Saturday's final. 'What I want is to win the next game,' Wenger said. 'I love to win and I want to do well for my club. I want to win the cup for my club and that's all I care about. It's not about me, it's about us winning the trophy and giving absolutely everything to achieve it.' ___ HOLDING THE FORT Arsenal's defensive crisis has given Wenger a major selection headache. The absence of suspended central defender Laurent Koscielny is a huge blow. Gabriel is injured and Shkodran Mustafi is a doubt. 'It's absolutely unbelievable and unpredictable, and we have been hit hard in a position where we will need to be strong on Saturday,' Wenger said. 'We'll have to find solutions and hopefully I will find the good solutions.' Wenger is likely to use 21-year-old Rob Holding, who has made a good impression in his first season since signing from Bolton last year. ___ THIS SEASON Everything looked rosy for Arsenal when it routed Chelsea 3-0 at the Emirates back in September, during a run of nine wins from 11 matches in all competitions. Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil scored first-half goals. The way Arsenal tormented Chelsea's backline that day prompted Conte to make a season-defining tactical defensive switch, adjusting to three at the back in a move that proved to be the catalyst for its title challenge. When the sides met again at Stamford Bridge in early February, Chelsea outplayed Arsenal to win 3-1, getting goals from Marcus Alonso, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas before the visitors netted a late consolation. ___ ANOTHER TERRY FAREWELL? Long-serving Chelsea captain John Terry enjoyed an emotional farewell in his final home game last weekend, playing 26 minutes before being substituted in a contrived exit - 26 is his shirt number. Conte must decide whether to give his 36-year-old center back another moment in the spotlight at Wembley after making more than 700 appearances in 19 years at the club. Terry experienced his first FA Cup final as an unused substitute in Chelsea's win over Aston Villa in 2000. He has since won the trophy four times - 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012. He is the only member of the 2012 team that beat Liverpool in the final still at the club. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: Sports9 hr. 53 min. ago Related News

Djokovic hoping Agassi can inspire him back to No. 1

DANIELLA MATAR, Associated Press br /> PARIS (AP) — Nearly a year after his slump started, Novak Djokovic is ready to reveal his new game at the French Open. The 30-year-old Djokovic won the tournament at Roland Garros last year for his fourth straight major title. That completed a career Grand Slam, but it also marked the end of his dominance. Last week, in an effort to turn things around, Djokovic said former great Andre Agassi would be his coach on the red clay in Paris. 'He's someone who inspires me and that's what I felt I needed. A new inspiration, someone who knows what I'm going through,' Djokovic said Friday, two days before the start of the French Open. 'He's been in my shoes before, playing Grand Slams, being the best in the world, facing all the challenges ... we can relate to each other. 'That's why I'm very excited for him being here because it's a great opportunity for me to learn, to grow.' After last year's French Open, Djokovic lost in the third round at Wimbledon, his earliest defeat in a Grand Slam in seven years. He then lost in the first round at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, reached the final of the U.S. Open, and lost early again at the Australian Open. The Serb finished 2016 at No. 2, his current ranking, and has won only one of his last 11 tournaments. At the beginning of the month, Djokovic split with longtime coach Marian Vajda and two other team members — fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic. 'It feels like a new chapter. It's a big change that I've experienced in the last three, four weeks, separating from the team I was with the last 10 years,' Djokovic said. 'It feels exciting. It feels right in this moment. 'In the last five, six months I was struggling a bit on the court. I'm trying to redefine myself and rediscover what kind of approach is the right one. I just felt I needed change. We needed to go our separate ways.' Agassi, who retired in 2006, won eight Grand Slam titles — four fewer than Djokovic — but has never coached. Djokovic said he wasn't planning on starting a professional relationship when he contacted Agassi for the first time. 'I asked for his contact number to thank him for talking nicely about me in the press,' Djokovic said. 'He only had positives to say about me ... when things weren't going well he was one of the few standing on my side and supporting me so I wanted to thank him. 'It turned out to be a long conversation and that's where it started. We didn't think about it becoming a professional relationship but after a few weeks it did ... I was not rushing the process of getting a new coach because I trust in myself. I've been around long enough to know how to play tennis.' Agassi and Djokovic have been speaking regularly on the phone for the past couple of weeks but trained together for the first time on Thursday at Roland Garros. The 47-year-old Agassi will not stay in Paris for the duration of the French Open. 'Yesterday was the first day. We had practice and then had a very long talk in the evening,' Djokovic said. 'Even thought it was the first day, it felt like we'd known each other a long time. We just clicked and connected. 'Andre is a perfect fit for me now in every aspect.' .....»»

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Petra Kvitova to play at French Open

PARIS (AP) — Petra Kvitova says she will make her comeback at the French Open, less than six months after being attacked by a knife-wielding intruder. The two-time Wimbledon champion says she is able to play, although she still lacks power and strength. Kvitova has missed all season while recovering from surgery on her racket-holding left hand in December. She was injured during an attack at her home in the Czech Republic. She said last month that she was signing up for the French Open, which begins Sunday, in hopes of being able to compete. Kvitova won the Wimbledon title in 2011 and 2014. She climbed as high as No. 2 in the WTA rankings. .....»»

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Sevilla agrees to let Sampaoli go coach Argentina

SEVILLE, Spain (AP) — Sevilla says it has nearly reached an agreement with the Argentine soccer federation to let Jorge Sampaoli coach his country's national team. The Spanish club says 'this outline of an agreement depends on the writing and delivery of relevant documents, which must be signed by both parties on June 1.' Sampaoli has one more season remaining on his contract. Sevilla says that Sampaoli's buyout clause of 1.5 million euros ($1.68 million) was 'not argued about' and that 'both sides are satisfied with the agreement.' Sampaoli had said that he wanted to coach his country's national team after leading Sevilla to a fourth-place finish in Spain. Argentina fired predecessor Edgardo Bauza in April. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: Sports9 hr. 53 min. ago Related News

Totti leaves future uncertain before final match with Roma

ANDREW DAMPF, AP Sports Writer br /> ROME (AP) — Francesco Totti has finally announced that Sunday's match against Genoa will be his last with Roma after an incredible 25-season career with his hometown club. Whether the 40-year-old Totti will continue playing with another squad remains anyone's guess. The 2006 World Cup winner opened his future to questions by releasing a carefully worded statement on Thursday. 'Roma-Genoa, Sunday 28th May 2017. The last time I can wear Roma's jersey,' Totti said. 'I can't tell you in a few words how much these colors meant, mean and will always mean to me. 'I just feel that my love for football never fades; it's a passion, my passion. It's so deep I can't imagine not fueling it any longer. Ever. From Monday I'm ready to go again. I'm ready for a new challenge,' Totti added. The first part of Totti's statement inferred that it wasn't his decision to end his Roma career but that of the club, by not offering him a contract for next season. Totti has not hidden his difficult relationship with Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, who has used Totti mainly as a last-option substitute. However, Spalletti is widely expected to follow former Roma sporting director Walter Sabatini to Inter Milan; while Sassuolo coach Eusebio Di Francesco, a former teammate of Totti's, could move to Roma. The second part of Totti's statement, when he mentioned a 'new challenge,' inferred that Totti is considering ending his career with another club. Miami FC, which plays in the second-tier NASL and is managed by Totti's former teammate with the national team, Alessandro Nesta, and co-owned by Paolo Maldini — another former Italy teammate — appears to be the most attractive option. James Pallotta, Roma's American owner, has offered Totti an unspecified management position. As for Sunday, Totti is not expected to start. While the match at the Stadio Olimpico was sold out for Totti's goodbye, Roma enters the final match of the season still looking to seal second place in Serie A and a direct berth into the Champions League. Roma is one point ahead of third-place Napoli, which will play at Sampdoria. Totti has appeared in 785 matches in all competitions with Roma, third all-time in Italy for most games with a single club behind only Maldini (902 with AC Milan) and Javier Zanetti (858 with Inter Milan). Totti is also second all-time in goals scored in Serie A with 250, 24 short of the record that Silvio Piola established from 1929-54. No other active player has more than 200. But statistics don't tell the entire story for Totti, a cultural icon perhaps more linked with his club and city than any other player in Italian history. Born in the working-class San Giovanni section of Rome, Totti made his debut for Roma at the age of 16 way back in 1993. In 1998 at the age of 22, Totti became the youngest ever Serie A captain. At the 2000 European Championship, Totti's chipped 'Panenka' penalty against the Netherlands highlighted his talent and audacity. A year later, Totti led Roma to its third Serie A title and was the centerpiece of a celebration inside the Circus Maximus attended by a crowd estimated at 1 million. After a spitting incident with Denmark's Christian Poulsen at Euro 2004 slightly tarnished his image, Totti regained respect within the national team by returning from a broken leg to help Italy win the 2006 World Cup — playing with a metal rod and about 10 support screws inside his left ankle. In 2007, Totti led Serie A with a personal-high 26 goals and earned the Golden Shoe award as the top scorer in Europe. In 2015, Totti scored twice as Roma came back from two goals down to earn a draw with Lazio in the city derby, then took a selfie with Roma's fans in the background. A final highlight came in February, when Totti scored in added time to give Roma a 2-1 win over Cesena and a spot in the Italian Cup semifinals. On Sunday, Totti's career will be honored with an extensive post-match celebration at the Olimpico. Whether or not there will be more highlights next season — somewhere — remains to be seen. ___ Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: Sports9 hr. 53 min. ago Related News

Allegri casts aside speculation, says he'll stay at Juventus

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri set aside speculation about his future Friday and said he will remain with the Serie A champions next season. 'I want to stay. But we need to talk about it and meet,' Allegri said. 'I've already made my choice and when the club thinks the time is right we'll meet. But we certainly won't do it this week. We're focused on Cardiff.' After winning a record sixth straight Serie A title last weekend, Juventus is preparing to face Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Cardiff, Wales, on June 3. Allegri's contract with Juventus expires after next season. Since replacing Antonio Conte three years ago, Allegri has guided Juventus to three Serie A titles, three Italian Cups and two Champions League finals. Juventus ends the Serie A season at Bologna on Saturday. 'The first rule for tomorrow against Bologna is we've got to play to win. Then we'll prepare for the last match. Winning in Cardiff would be the coronation of all the work we've done over the last three years,' Allegri said. 'We've got to focus on this world event, which is comparable to the Super Bowl in terms of media coverage.' .....»»

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Steady Geje Eustaquio victorious in Singapore

Pinoy mixed martial artist Geje 'Gravity' Eustaquio gained a measure or revenge after defeating Thailand's Anatpong 'Mak' Bunrad via Split Decision at ONE Championship: Dynasty of Heroes, Friday evening at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.  Bunrad was the aggressor early on, but Eustaquio kept calm and composed throughout the match. The Pinoy appeared to be one step ahead of his Thai counterpart for majority of the fifteen minutes, avoiding Bunrad's strikes and doing a good job of scoring points on counter attacks.  The Team Lakay product used a leg kick-heavy offense, interestingly enough, after saying that he believes leg kicks were a big factor in their first meeting back in 2015.  Eustaquio picked up the pace in the final round, putting together better combinations and staying out of Bunrad's range.  The Thai managed to get some offense in during the latter part of round three, taking Eustaquio down after catching a kick. The Pinoy quickly reversed the situation, holding dominant position as the fight ended.  After three rounds, Eustaquio earned the Split Decision nod, which was coincidentally the same manner in which Bunrad won their first meeting back in 2015. Eustaquio, the lone Pinoy on the card, keeps the Team Lakay streak going as they remain unbeaten in 2016. He improves to 9-5 in his MMA career. br />   .....»»

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Lady Warriors, Jet Spikers face off anew in quarters opener

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Cool Smashers seek repeat over Spikers

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Ginebra powers past Blackwater for solo second place

Brgy. Ginebra has made it a habit to flip the switch during second half of games on its way to victory after victory in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup. The Gin Kings did it again Friday at the Alonte Sports Arena in Laguna, powering past Blackwater for a 96-82 win. Tied at the half and down by eight early in the third period, Ginebra unloaded several mini-runs to regain control before landing the haymaker in the fourth. The Gin Kings outscored the Elite by 11 in the final period, cruising to a 14-point victory and improve to a 7-2 record, half a game behind Star for first place. .....»»

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