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2020 NBA Champion doesn t deserve dreaded 'asterisk'

Take your asterisk and file it somewhere else. For former NBA champion Glen Rice, the winner of the 2020 NBA title will be a deserving one. It certainly shouldn't be subject to to any asterisks even as the NBA season was postponed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If anything, the season delay and the fact that NBA teams had to be subjected inside the bubble for the duration of the playoffs plus an additional eight seeding games makes this year's champion all the more celebrated. "When you have what's going on around everyone, trying to maintain a safe lifestyle in the bubble, at the same time staying aware of what's going on outside the bubble and the nuances that can go as far as COVID creeping in there, if you can get champion out everything that's going on that's really easy to distract you from basketball, I think that's a huge plus for these guys," Rice said in an interview set up by NBA Philippines. "That just goes to show you how determined and focused they were," he added. The 2020 NBA Champion will be one of the few crowned during a season where teams played less than then 82 regular season games. The 2012 Miami Heat and 1999 San Antonio Spurs won their respective titles during lockout-shortened seasons. Still, those teams don't deserve asterisks shouldn't they? Do the 2019 Raptors deserve an asterisk because Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were injured in the last two games of the Finals? Do the mid-1990s Houston Rockets deserve an asterisk because Michael Jordan chose to play baseball? Each NBA champion will be unique in their own way, Rice says there should be no reason why the 2020 NBA winner should be looked at any differently just because of the current world circumstances. "I think you will see a lot of people saying something different, perhaps having that asterisk. But I think more importantly, people need to realize is that this is different and I'm talking about in a positive way," he said. "This is something that we've never seen in sports. To crown a champion in this environment right now, I think that says a lot about the players and coaches who go out there and do what they gotta do," Rice added. The 2020 NBA playoffs tip off Monday (Tuesday in Manila) with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers leading the East and West, respectively. The Bucks open round 1 against the Orlando Magic while the Lakers battle the Portland Trail Blazers. Defending champion Toronto Raptors take on the Brooklyn Nets while the Boston Celtics meet the Philadelphia 76ers. The Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat complete the East bracket. In the Western Conference, the no. 2 Los Angeles Clippers open things up against the Dallas Mavericks. The Denver Nuggets take on division rival Utah Jazz while the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder duke it out in a best-of-7.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 17th, 2020

UAAP 81: When the sleeping giant named UP finally awakened

No cheering - that's the cardinal rule for sportswriters during coverages. In collegiate sports, not even your very own alma mater song is spared. Still, on November 28, 2018, I thought this one time could be an exception to the rule. After all, more than half of the Araneta Coliseum had their hands raised in singing "UP Naming Mahal." Certainly, not one more fist in the air could be considered conspicuous. After all, the University of the Philippines Men's Basketball Team was letting it all out right there on the court. Certainly, not one more show of emotion could be out of place. And after all, the Fighting Maroons had just done it. It, being seeing a new dawn after the so-called dark days. FROM FIGHTING TO WINNING UAAP 81 started very much like how many, many UP seasons did in recent memory. There was a lot of hope, no doubt, what with Paul Desiderio in his last year, Bright Akhuetie in his first year, Gomez de Liano brothers Juan and Javi being back for more, and Bo Perasol still at the helm. Only, being a fan of the Fighting Maroons also meant you know full well all of it couldn't be true. History is a lesson to be learned - and from the promise of Migs De Asis, Mike Gamboa, Martin Reyes, and great Filipino-American hope Mike Silungan and the potential of Mikee Reyes, Woody Co, and Kyles Lao, Diliman has learned many, many lessons, indeed. And then, the season started. A season-opening win became a 1-3 standing. A 3-3 record worsened to 3-5. Standing at an even 5-5 in the stretch run then led to winning three of the last four games in the elimination round. And before you knew it, UP, yes, UP was knocking on the door of the Final Four. Could this be it? Or could this be just the biggest disappointment the Fighting Maroons had ever served? FROM WINNING TO LOSING A winning tradition could be taken for granted. Coming from a school down south that was, is, and forever linked to a particular powerhouse, I, personally, was very much used to winning. Even more, I was right there when Joshua (or Dave, as we called him) Webb, Jeric Fortuna, and Jed Manguera led the team formerly known as the Bengals to a breakthrough championship. So, yeah, personally, my tradition was to root for a winning team - be it in the Jrs. or in the Srs. Come college, though, I traded in the shield of green and white for the luntian at pulang sagisag magpakailanman. And hey, UP Diliman is and always will be the best school in the history of man, in my eyes. In terms of basketball, though, it left much to be desired. As I was about to go to college, the Fighting Maroons went winless in back-to-back years. And then, they had three-win seasons when I was a freshie and a sophomore. In all my four years in college, I only experienced eight wins out of 56. So yeah, in State U, there was the exact opposite of a winning tradition. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Don't get me wrong here. UP is a power in many, many sports and is a contender for the general championship year in and year out. Back then, though, forgive me if I only had eyes for men's basketball.) FROM JETT TO PAUL And then, a ray of light shone bright, and brighter, and brighter. I have now grown to love Mikee Reyes - he is a great guy and a good analyst. Back then, though, he was a prime proof of what wasn't working in UP. Here was a talent who had a shot at making a name for himself and taking his team along with him for the ride, but unfortunately, just could not put it all together. Reyes was just one of many, many promising players in maroon and green who didn't have the sort of support that a winning tradition entailed. True to their name, though, the Fighting Maroons kept, well, fighting. And in his last year, Jett Manuel proved that the tides could turn in their favor. Manuel would never be the best player on De La Salle University or Ateneo de Manila University or even University of Sto. Tomas and Far Eastern University. Still, he gave his all game in and game out and grew to be a beloved player and leader in Diliman. He set the standard for the kind of fight a Maroon should have and in his last year, steered his squad to a fifth-place finish at 5-9. Not a finish to be proud of by any means, but for the first time in a long time, there were signs of life coming from State U. And that's when I knew Jett Manuel would be my forever King Maroon. However, just two years later, Paul Desiderio made me question that. FROM THEN TO NOW Definitely, Paul Desiderio is not Jett Manuel. Jett is eloquent and looks like he came from an exclusive private school, which he did. Paul speaks in short but sweet terms and is very much proud of his roots in Cebu. What they both have, though, is an undeniable love for UP and an unwavering determination to lead the Fighting Maroons to where they belong. When Manuel left, of course, the reins went to Desiderio and in his very first game as main man, he proved his worth. I know you know what I'm going to talk about - because this was the time he uttered the words that would define State U from that point onto the foreseeable future. "Atin to, papasok to!" -- Paul Desiderio during the timeout. Moments later...#UAAPSeason80 pic.twitter.com/7yafSpldJM — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) September 10, 2017 The maroon and green yet again fell short of the Final Four that year, but come next season, a playoff berth was, indeed, theirs for the taking. Downing La Salle in the very last game of the elims, they booked a trip to the next round for the first time since 1997. That would have been more than enough for their long-suffering faithful, but they did themselves one better - actually, two better - and upset second-seed and twice-to-beat Adamson University. Just like that, UP would be playing in its first Finals since the days of Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano, and Joe Lipa. That day, November 28, 2018, would always live on with me. FROM ME TO YOU As bad as I wanted to break the cardinal rule for sportswriters, I didn't. As bad as I wanted to stay on the floor to listen and live in the chorus singing in harmony, "Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan," I couldn't. When UP made history, I had to go back to the press room and finish my full take on the game. Just minutes before, I honestly couldn't believe the breaking report I was working on in my phone and uploading in our website. Really? The Fighting Maroons had done it. Even with the final stat sheet in my hands, I still couldn't believe it. Really? The Fighting Maroons had done it. Even through writing "those back-to-back wins have set up for them a date with defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in the best-of-three Finals slated for Saturday at the MOA Arena," I still couldn't believe it. Really? The Fighting Maroons had done it. Of course, in the very end, Ateneo was Ateneo and State U had to settle for second-place. Still, there may not be another silver medal that was worth celebrating more. You have to understand that again, this is a team not that far off from its dark days - so, yeah, this silver season was a special season. And so, at the very end of Season 81, when I saw Paul standing on the game officials' table, basking in the UP community's cries of "De-si-de-rio" and "A-tin-to," another chant was playing in my head - "You deserve it." This image, would always live on with me. At the same time, though, I was a firsthand witness to another image that told me this was just the beginning. First Finals appearance, first Finals loss. Fo sho, GDL brothers @javigdl22 and @juan_swish9 will only be better from this. #UAAPSeason81 pic.twitter.com/CMV0JH30rh — No Work Normie Riego (@riegogogo) December 5, 2018 Juan and Javi GDL sat on the makeshift awarding stage while the Blue Eagles were enjoying their back-to-back championships and Desiderio was being serenaded by the Fighting Maroons' faithful. Their eyes were welling up with tears, but deep down there, you could also see their determination to be back, to be better, and to say themselves "Atin 'to" to a championship. FROM HERE ON OUT UAAP 81 was Ateneo's, no doubt about that. UAAP 82, when UP was supposedly stronger, was still Ateneo's, yet again no doubt about that. Actually, the Fighting Maroons were even owned by runner-up UST that year - and those Growling Tigers had a Cinderella tale to tell of their own. And yet, for my money, no team in recent memory has won over everybody quite like Paul Desiderio's UP Fighting Maroons. Maybe, just maybe, that's all because I'm an Isko with student no. 2008-6*1*5. Or maybe, just maybe, it's so good to see a sleeping giant awakened - now knowledgeable of how to build a team and now knowledgeable how to put up support for that team. Or maybe, just maybe, it's so good to see homegrown stars like Diego Dario and the GDLs stay home and play home and to see a foreign student-athlete like Akhuetie shine bright both as a student and as an athlete. Or maybe, just maybe, it's so good to put your full faith in somebody like Desiderio who truly, madly, and deeply believed "Atin 'to" - even though recent history said otherwise. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. Norman Lee Benjamin Riego has served as a sub-section editor for ABS-CBN Sports' website since 2014. He is among thousands of ABS-CBN employees who will be retrenched on August 31, 2020. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2020

Interim WBA champ Jamal James eyeing Manny Pacquiao

The list of names looking to challenge Filipino eight-division boxing world champion Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao seems to be getting longer, and the latest addition to that list is American welterweight Jamal James.  The 32-year old Minneapolis native owns an impressive 27-1 pro record with 12 of those wins coming via KO.  Last August 8th, James earned his first taste of world championship gold by defeating Thomas Dulorme by unanimous decision to become the interim WBA Welterweight World Champion.  Now, James is looking to drop the 'interim' tag by going after the big names, and right now, the biggest name with a WBA world title is none other than Pacquiao.  "Obviously, I would like to get a shot at Manny Pacquiao, he's got the WBA super title," James told BoxingScene.com.  The 41-year old Pinoy boxing icon captured the WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Championship back in 2018 and then defeated the previously-undefeated Keith Thurman to become the WBA (Super) Welterweight World Champion in 2019.  Right now however, it looks like Pacquiao is eyeing big name fights, and James isn't exactly at that level yet.  James himself understands this, but being the interim champion means he's next in line, so he'll take whoever he can get. "But I know he's such a big name, so it really doesn't matter. I want any of the big name welterweights, we can really put on a good show," James said.  Both James and Pacquiao fight under the Premier Boxing Champions promotion.  Over the last few months, Pacquiao has been discussed a lot by a number of big name welterweights including Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr., Mikey Garcia, Thurman, and even junior welterweight Josh Taylor. Most recently, he's been linked to a possible superfight with MMA star Conor McGregor.  For now however, it's unclear when Pacquiao makes his return to the ring, although a 2020 fight isn't out of the realm of possibility. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 12th, 2020

Conor McGregor announces engagement to long-time partner Dee Devlin

Irish mixed martial arts superstar "The Notorious" Conor McGregor is in the news once again after revealing his engagement to long-time partner Dee Devlin.          View this post on Instagram                   What a birthday, my future wife ! A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on Aug 8, 2020 at 7:43am PDT McGregor posted a photo of Dee showing off a massive engagement ring on his Instagram account, with the caption "What a birthday, my future wife!" McGregor, who turned 32 earlier this year, and Devlin, 33, have been together sinc 2008, and have two kids together.  2020 has been quite the year for McGregor, who made his return to the Octagon in January, blasting veteran Donald Cerrone in just 40 seconds.  Later in the year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, McGregor surprised everyone by annoucing his retirement from competition.  He doesn't appear to be closing the door on possible boxing superfights however, as he's been teasing a bout with eight-division boxing world champion and Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao over the past few weeks. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

UAAP s super seniors to be feted in Season 82 online closing ceremony

UAAP Season 82 officially comes to a close on July 25. There, the league pushes through with closing ceremonies for its most recent tournament cut short due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis. Let’s remember and reminisce #UAAPSeason82 with the Closing Ceremony#AllForMore 4pm, July 25 on @abscbnsports’ online platforms pic.twitter.com/ZbOPjXojLB — The UAAP (@uaap_official) July 15, 2020 There, champions and individual awardees from first semester sports would be celebrated once more. Student-athletes from the second semester sports would not be getting left behind, however. In particular, so-called super seniors whose campaigns were cut short by the pandemic would also be recognized in the event to be shown on ABS-CBN Sports' online platforms. For that, they are nothing but grateful. "Sobrang saya kasi, isipin mo, yung buong taon na pinaghirapan mo, may kapalit pa rin kahit ganito ang nangyari," Ricky Marcos, libero of two-time defending champion National University said in The Prospects Pod last Friday. "Nagpapasalamat kami." Diego Lozano, first baseman of still-reigning baseball king De La Salle University could only agree. "I'm happy the UAAP decided to do this because it shows their support for the seniors who dedicated five years to play the sport they love," he said. He then continued, "This also shows appreciation of the fact that living the student-athlete life is not easy because you have to have so many sacrifices." Indeed, a rare occurrence that affected all is more than enough reason for a rare citation to appreciate all. For super seniors such as the University of the Philippines booter Miggy Clarino, that award, even if it is not the championship they all hope for,  is still to be treasured. As he put it, "Masaya, siyempre, kasi as seniors, deserve naman naming makakuha ng kahit medal man lang kasi isa kami sa mga naging role models para sa mga bata sa sports namin." Editor's Note: The UAAP Season 82 Closing Ceremony will air July 25, Saturday, 7 pm and July 26, 4:30 pm on LIGA on SkyCable channel 86, LIGA HD on SkyCable 183, sports.abs-cbn.com, Facebook and YouTube --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2020

Former Brazilian volleyball star, senator Leila Barros tested positive for COVID-19

Former Brazilian women’s national team standout Leila Barros tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The now senator Barros showed symptoms of the dreaded virus and took a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test which turned out positive. Barros, who endeared to Filipino volleyball fans during the country’s hosting of the World Grand Prix in the early 2000s, suffered from fever and body aches. Imaging exams detected no changes in her lungs. The three-time World Grand Prix champion and two-time Olympic bronze medalist in a statement posted on her Instagram account is confident of her full recovery.         View this post on Instagram                   Após apresentar febre e dores no corpo, a senadora Leila Barros fez o exame RT-PCR que atestou positivo para covid-19. Os exames de imagem não detectaram alterações nos pulmões. Embora esteja confiante na plena recuperação, a parlamentar do DF apresenta indisposição devido à forte dor de cabeça. Leila cumprirá o isolamento domiciliar conforme orientação médica. #EquipeLeila A post shared by Leila Barros (Leila do Vo?lei) (@leiladovolei) on Jul 11, 2020 at 10:43am PDT Although still suffering from headaches, the parliamentarian will carry out home isolation as per medical advice. Barros in another post thanked all who prayed and wished her well saying 'This network of positive energy fills me with disposition. I have faith that soon I will recover. I pray that everyone who fights against this disease will have strength at this moment.'         View this post on Instagram                   De ontem para hoje recebi inúmeras mensagens de carinho e solidariedade aqui nas redes sociais. Gostaria de agradecer a todos que dedicaram parte do seu dia para me desejar melhoras. Essa rede de energia positiva que se formou me enche de disposição. Tenho fé que, em breve, estarei recuperada. Faço minhas preces para que todos que lutam contra essa doença tenham força neste momento. Um bom domingo a todos! A post shared by Leila Barros (Leila do Vo?lei) (@leiladovolei) on Jul 12, 2020 at 10:06am PDT Next to the USA, Brazil is the second most heavily hit country by the global health pandemic with a total of 1,866,176 positive cases with 72,151 deaths as of July 13......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2020

7-foot Fil-Am hoops prospect Sage Tolentino channels inner-Manny Pacquiao in workout video

7-foot Filipino-American high school prospect Sage Tolentino isn’t a household name yet, but don’t be surprised if he becomes one in the near future.  The 16-year old is currently ranked as the top high school player in Hawaii, and should be a coveted recruit for any university, or eventually follow in the footsteps of fellow towering Pinoy Kai Sotto in the G-League.  Tolentino could also be one of the cornerstones of future Philippine National Teams, with the SBP already reaching out to him.  Always looking for new ways to push himself and improve physically, it looks like Tolentino is keen on taking up another sport as a form of cross-training.  A video posted on East West Private’s Instagram page shows Tolentino trying his hand at boxing, channeling Filipino boxing legend and eight-division world champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao.          View this post on Instagram                   When training for your future basketball dreams it doesn’t always mean you find yourself daily on the court. @mannypacquiao Sage said he LOVED IT! Maybe one day you can come train with @kzsotto and @sagee23_ for some cross training. Show them a few moves. At EWP today our goal for Sage was: - Hand-eye coordination - Understanding time and space - Footwork relative to basketball, positioning, and leverage - Learning how to stay focused through fatigue - Muscular endurance - Controlled aggression A post shared by EWP (@eastwestprivate) on Jul 2, 2020 at 4:25am PDT “When training for your future basketball dreams, it doesn’t always mean you find yourself daily on the court,” the post’s caption read, before giving a shout out to Pacquiao himself and inviting him to train Tolentino and the G-League-bound Sotto.  Boxing is actually a pretty popular cross-training sport for a lot of NBA players, as it’s a good way to build up cardio and improve footwork.  Stars like Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid, Kyle Kuzma, John Wall, and many others have put on a pair of 16-ounce gloves and hit the mitts to keep themselves in tip-top shape during the off-season.  With Pacquiao being an avid hoops fan himself, what’s the likelihood that he does bite on the offer to help train two of the Philippines’ most promising young stars?.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 3rd, 2020

Cong. Tolentino to lobby return of slashed 2020 PSC budget

Philippine Olympic Committee president and congressman Bambol Tolentino will lobby in the House of Representatives the return of the funds slashed from the national sports agency brought by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Philippine Sports Commission was among the government agencies instructed by the Department of Budget and Management to slice its 2020 budget by more than half. The PSC returned P700 million out of its P900 million budget to be used in the fight against the deadly virus.    PSC’s other source of fund was also severely hit by the health crisis with the dwindling remittance from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation as most of the country put under community quarantine, forcing the agency to do belt-tightening measures including slashing the national athletes’ allowances in half. Tolentino told reporters on Monday via Zoom press conference that PAGCOR has resumed its remittance. “Nag-remit na ang PAGCOR ulit. I don’t know kung mako-cover na ‘yung portion ng month na nabawasan na ang allowances,” he said. However, anticipating that the remittance won’t be enough, Tolentino announced that he will lobby in Congress the return of the diverted PSC budget. “Pero kung ‘di man ma-cover (ng PAGCOR remittance), my announcement is, not as POC president, but as a member of the House of representative, we will try to give back the amount that was taken from the PSC national development fund na ibinalik sa national treasury for the COVID-19 use. Amounting to P700 million,” said the representative of the eighth district of Cavite. Athletes are set to have their allowances cut in half starting July. “So kung ‘yun lang ang kailangan para maibalik o ma-sustain ang mawawala we will try in the House of Representatives I will lobby for it. We will try to return it in this coming second Bayanihan extension act to return the amount given to the national treasury because of the COVID-19,” said Tolentino. “Para lang ‘wag mabasawan o maibalik, para lang complete ang allowances again ng mga athletes.” The lawmaker added the athletes who brought honor and pride to the country including copping the overall championship in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games held in the country deserve to receive full financial support from the government even amid this crisis. “Ang point ko rito kasi baka di alam ni Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte na tinamaan ‘yung mga national athletes, ‘yung mga allowances. Baka kapag nalaman niya, ‘Huh? After giving pride and glory being overall champion sa SEA Games tapos tatamaan din sila, yung mga frontliners natin sa sports,’” he said. “Pipilitin naming ibalik ang amount na ‘yun,” added Tolentino.      --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2020

Cancel NBA season – Shaq

  Retired four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal says the league would be smart to call off the halted 2019-20 campaign and avoid crowning a champion that would carry an “asterisk.” O’Neal, in an interview with USA Today, said players should start to prepare for a 2020-21 season and set aside a campaign halted in March […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsMay 12th, 2020

Even at home, the work continues for Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton

When the NBA was postponed in mid-March due to a player testing positive for COVID-19, there was immediately an air of uncertainty as to whether the world’s biggest basketball league would resume action later on in the year. Now, over a month later, that uncertainty remains there, even more so now. The playoffs should have started by now, which makes the NBA’s return even more of a question mark, especially in terms of how the league would decide to go about getting the season back on track. For now, there are definitely more questions than answers, but for most of the players and the coaches and the people involved in the league, work continues, even at home. That’s very much the case for Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton, who says he continues to find ways to continue to get things done, even under quarantine. When the season came to an abrupt halt, the Kings were 11th in the Western Conference, but were tied with the tenth and the ninth seeds at 3.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, meaning that they were very much in the running for the last spot in the post-season. With a jump straight into the playoffs being discussed as an option for the league’s return, it would mean that they would once again miss the post-season without having the chance to make one final run in the regular season. Right now however, Walton says that the focus is on the safety of everyone from this dreaded disease. “Normally, I would say that yes, it would feel like [a missed opportunity for a playoff chase]. But again, this is one of those rare circumstances in life where the safety of everyone involved is really what we’re thinking about,” Walton said in an interview with the NBA. “And if that means that were the case then hey, we continue to look forward. We continue to learn from what we did have this year and we take that information and we go full steam ahead into next season.” The Kings were set to take on the tenth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans in an important battle for playoff positioning the day that the league ultimately decided to postpone the games. If the league decides to jump right into the post-season, Walton says that they’d be fully behind the decision if it means finally having the season back. “This is one of those few times where truly the most important thing is that we get past this [pandemic] together. And by together, I mean everybody. Together, we get past this. If that’s what it takes for the NBA to come to a decision, we will be behind it. Normally I would say basketball is more important than most things I’ve gone through in life, but with this the only thing that really matters is that we get through it.” Walton adds that prior to the postponement, there was an excitement within the team because of how they were playing and the position that they were in. “We were excited. Like I said, we were playing high level basketball. As far as a team embracing what it needs to do. What I mean by that is individuals understanding their roles, individuals understand-ing what we need out of them and those individuals making sacrifices for the betterment of the team. I think that’s why we were winning games at a pretty solid rate towards the end.” “As a coach, that is what you’re looking for. As you said, Alex [Len], [Kent Bazemore] coming over to add some tough-ness and physicality that we needed and the defensive level that was being played. A big part of it was having De’Aaron [Fox] get going like that and getting to the free-throw line consistently. In the last few games, I know it’s a small sample size, he was shooting around 90 percent and if you get there eight times a game, that is going to help. Buddy [Hield] was just really dominating his role for us coming off the bench. [Bogdan Bogdanovic] in the starting lineup was making nice basketball plays. We had a lot of good positive things going for us as a team and we were excited. We were looking forward to every matchup that we had, and our guys were giving us everything they had,” he added. On a personal level, Walton says that it doesn’t know if the league will indeed return to finish off the 2019-2020 season. “Honestly, I have no idea. I think everyone wants to play but I think everyone understands top priority is the safety of the fans, the media and everyone that’s involved in this. As much as everyone wants to get back to playing, no one is pressing it and we know what is most important.” For now however, Walton says that he and the players are doing the most that they can during the extended time off. He does admit however, that these past month and a half has been tough. “It’s a challenge. In staying in communication with our guys and what we’ve all come to realize is what is most important and that is the health and safety of everybody; the fans, the players, the families and as much as we want to get out there and play basketball, coach basketball, and compete and be a symbol of strength for our community during this time, we know the most important part of this is the social distancing, staying healthy, and keeping people healthy. To answer your question, there isn’t a lot that the guys can do. We sent out exercise machines, there are workouts online, there [are] option-al Zoom yoga classes. A lot of guys at this point are at home and whether that’s a basketball hoop at home or a treadmill, they are doing what they can under the circumstances.” Walton adds that he has also done some additional coaching at home by homeschooling his children, before doing his work as a coach for the Kings. “We practice social distancing and take it very seriously. My family and I are still up here in the Sacramento area and we have young kids, so the mornings are dedicated to homeschooling and going on walks around the neighborhood.” “When we get done with that, that is when I start checking in with some [players] and some of the coaches and dedicate some time to move our work forward. In the evenings, we’ll either watch some shows or I’ll turn on some of our game film from earlier this year to look at different things and keep trying to grow and learn and understand our team a little more. Then, it’s pretty much like Groundhog Day. We wake up and do the same thing the next day. We are staying busy. We know the top priority, again, is the safety for everyone. I’m trying to use this time to continue to grow and continue to understand our guys more,” he continued. Walton adds that he hopes the players also use this time to get into other things as well and not just spend their free time playing video games. “A big part of what I believe in as a coach, is player development. Especially in today’s NBA, part of that is developing off the court as well. This is a great time for some of those things, whether it is like you said, reading books, listening to podcasts. Meditation is something we encourage our players to do and get into. That’s something that we’re constantly trying to get our players to accept and do. One, because we feel like as coaches, it’s the right thing to do to help people grow. And two, we feel as if you’re helping people grow off the court as people, the quicker they’re going to mature on the court as players. Yeah, this is a time that all those things are available to do. We can’t and we won’t force anyone to do them, but it’s highly encouraged that our players are taking the time to continue to chal-lenge themselves and grow in different areas.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 24th, 2020

ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera uses nature as his gym during quarantine

ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera may be quarantined up in his farm somewhere in Guam, but that doesn't mean that he isn't putting in the work to stay healthy and in fighting shape.  The 42-year old Fil-American mixed martial arts star is scheduled to defend his ONE Heavyweight World Championship against Canadian-Indian former Olympian wrestler Arjan "Singh" Bhullar in Manila on May 29th, but with the current situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that title fight pushes through or not remains up in the air.  ONE Championship recently announced that they have decided to postpone their scheduled closed-door events in Singapore for April due to the country going into a partial lockdown for 30 days to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country.  So while Vera is keeping himself busy with farm life and preparing to become a father, he isn't slacking off when it comes to working out.  After all, with an entire farm at your disposal, nature becomes your gym.  In partnership with Global Citizen and the WHO, Vera went live on Instagram to share a "jungle workout" routine using just some simple excercise equipment and the nature around him to promote staying #TogetherAtHome. Be warned however, as this workout was quite intense.          View this post on Instagram                   For those of you who missed out! Here’s my #TogetherAtHome livestream with @glblctzn and @who ! Social distancing may be difficult, but it doesn't have to be boring!! Learn about actions YOU can take to help slow the spread of coronavirus at globalcitizen.org/togetherathome. Tell me in the comments what ACTIONS you are taking and I will send one of you a @onechampionship care package with some of our newest merchandise!!! ?? I will be choosing a winner on 10 April!! A post shared by Brandon Vera (@brandonthetruthvera) on Apr 8, 2020 at 8:40pm PDT (READ ALSO: Brandon Vera talks movie projects and The Apprentice).....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 9th, 2020

Master to The Apprentice? Team Lakay s Mark Sangiao talks about The Apprentice: ONE Championship edition

Known as the man behind Team Lakay, the Philippines’ top mixed martial arts stable, head coach Mark “The Machine” Sangiao is widely regarded in the MMA world as a master. A former Wushu standout and mixed martial artist himself, Sangiao has coached a number of the Philippines’ best fighters into world champions, including the likes of reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio, current BRAVE CF Bantamweight Champion Stephen Loman, and former titleholders like Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon, Geje Eustaqiuo, and Honorio Banario. But what if the master was given an opportunity to become and apprentice? ONE Championship recently announced that they would be producing The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition, hosted by none other than the Singapore-based promotion’s Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition will feature 16 contestants competing against each other for a US $250,000 dollar job opportunity to work for Chatri at the ONE Global Headquarters and become his business protege. Apart from being just a world champion coach, Sangiao is also a business man as the CEO of Team Lakay, and he believes that an opportunity to work and learn from a man like Chatri is nothing short of invaluable. “More than a hundred percent I would say yes if given the chance,” Sangiao said via ONE Championship. “I would do anything that would be good for me, my family, my athletes, Team Lakay, and future warriors. An opportunity like that would be hard to say no to.” Like Chatri, Sangiao knows what it’s like to have nothing. Before he was one of the most respected coaches in the game, Sangiao had to make ends meet by pursuing a career as a fighter. Often times, he needed a helping hand. “Early in my martial arts career, I would borrow money countless times just so I could travel from Baguio to Manila every time I had a fight. Life was hard. I started from zero. I had nothing,” Sangiao revealed. “When I was teaching martial arts, I used to jog six kilometers everyday both ways from La Trinidad to Baguio City since I had no money to pay for my jeepney fare. Some students would help me by giving me five pesos so I didn’t have to travel on foot,” he added. “I taught for passion, for almost no pay.” Eventually, that passion brought Sangiao and other aspiring martial artists together, which became the birth of what we know now as Team Lakay. Like the founder and the other members, Team Lakay’s beginnings were humble. “When I first started Team Lakay, we had just one pair of gloves which we all shared. All of our training and equipment, everything was improvised. We trained outdoors and made use of the beautiful nature in Baguio City to train. It was free,” Sangiao recalled. And while it was a small start, Sangiao’s goals and ambitions for the team were far from small. “People call me a strategist, because I don’t just rush into things. I like to create a plan,” said Sangiao. “Not just as a coach, but in my entire approach to life in general. I like to think deep about things and I always have a long-term future goal. I set a goal, and no matter how hard or impossible it may look, I do everything in my power to make it happen.” Eventually, Team Lakay grew into the powerhouse gym that it is today, and eventually, the humble little gym grew into a complete training facility, one that some of the best fighters in the world truly deserve. “Four years ago, it seemed impossible to happen, but I worked hard for it. I envisioned it, and when the opportunity came about, we took it. I didn’t even think about the kind of money we needed to spend to put it up, for all the new machines we had to buy, for the rent we had to pay. I just took the chance, and here we are. We’re doing okay,” Sangiao exclaimed. While Sangiao may be the driving force, he understands that none of this would be possible without a plan, a goal, and a collection of people with the same drive and determination. “It takes a goal, a firm and strong mind to reach that goal, an opportunity, and the heart to succeed. You just have to have patience and wait for the right time. More importantly, you need the right people working with you. You have to surround yourself with like-minded people. With that, there is no impossible dream,” said Sangiao. As it stands, Sangiao is already a self-made man. Being the head of the country’s premier gym is no small feat after all, but he does understand the value of an opportunity to work with a businessman and an entrepreneur the caliber of Chatri. An opportunity like that could help take Team Lakay, as a business, to even greater heights. Sangiao believes that the perfect candidate for The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition is someone fearless and strong-willed, much like himself. “The perfect candidate has to have that strong determination to make goals materialize. He or she needs to know how to take risks, but calculated risks with smart filtering decisions, and to be prepared for whatever results may come.” “You can’t be afraid to take chances when opportunities present themselves, even if you’re not a hundred percent sure you will succeed. Opportunity is opportunity, and you have to be brave enough to grab it, and invest in it,” he continued. Like Chatri, Sangiao is proof that even the smallest of dreams, if properly planned and pursued, can become something big when the time is right. “If money is an issue, you have many other advantages to lean back on. You have your time, your effort, and your mind. Bank on your abilities, and things will fall into place,” he concluded. The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition is set for a late-2020 premier. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 1st, 2020

Australian Open champion Alex Eala rises to 4th in ITF World Junior Rankings

Following a very productive stint in the recently-concluded Australian Open, Filipina junior tennister Alexandra Eala has risen to fourth in the ITF Junior Girls World Rankings.  The 14-year old Eala began 2020 ranked 9th in the world, but put on quite an impressive outing in her Australian Open competitions, reaching the third round in the Juniors Girls Singles tournament, and then taking home the crown in the Juniors Girls Doubles event, alongside long-time partner Priska Nugroho of Indonesia.  The work doesn't stop for Eala, as she and her brother Miko head right back to Spain to continue training at the Prestigious Rafa Nadal Academy in preparation for upcoming tournaments. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 4th, 2020

20 for 20: Pinoy Sports Personalities to Watch in 2020

As we enter a new decade, ABS-CBN Sports takes a look at 20 Pinoy sports personalities destined to shine in 2020.    Kiefer Ravena After an 18-month wait, Kiefer Ravena is finally back in basketball. Despite only playing in the PBA’s third conference, his impact was immediate, leading NLEX to the number 1 seed in the Governors’ Cup. The Road Warriors didn’t advance sure, but if Kiefer can impact a team that way in limited time, wait until you see what he can do with a full offseason.   Alex Eala At just 14 years old, Filipina tennister Alex Eala is already turning heads, and she’s yet to turn pro. With a runner-up finish at the ITF Mayor’s Cup in Osaka, Japan and her first ITF Juniors title in Cape Town, South Africa, Alex has had quite the fruitful year, leading to a career-best 11th-place ranking in the ITF Juniors table to finish the year.  Heading into 2020, Eala now has her sights set on turning pro as she plans to join more professional tournaments to raise her ranking even more. Expect the young tennis star to make even more headlines in the coming year.     Bryan Bagunas A vital cog in the national team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Bagunas is considered as one of the best Filipino volleyball players in this generation. Eyes will be on his blossoming international career playing as an import in the Japan V. Premier League.         Margielyn Didal While already a household name in Philippine skateboarding due to her success in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Margielyn Didal made even more waves in 2019. The 20-year old Cebuana reached the semifinals of the 2019 SLS World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and captured gold in the 2019 National Championships and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.  Didal is currently looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and if she can do so, it’s highly likely that the Pinay skater can become an even bigger star in the industry.    Marck Espejo After his spectacular collegiate career with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Marck Espejo's colorful career as part of the men's national volleyball team and in the club league continues to blossom. Just like Bryan Bagunas, Espejo will be showing his skills internationally with a stint in Thailand following a historic silver medal finish at the 30th SEA Games.   Yuka Saso After a decorated amateur career that saw her  participate in major tournaments such as the Ladies’ European Tour, the Summer Youth Olympics and claim top honors in the 2018 Asian Games, 2018 and 2019 Philippine Ladies Open, and the 2019 Girls’ Junior PGA Championship, 18-year old Pinay golfer Yuka Saso finally made the jump to pro in November of 2019.  With even more competitions in store plus a 2020 Tokyo Olympics berth in her crosshairs, it’s quite likely that we hear more about Saso in the coming months.  Carlos Yulo Perhaps no other young athlete in the Philippines shot to stardom faster than gymnastics phenomenon Carlos Edriel Yulo. After a gold medal finish in the floor exercise at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Yulo hauled in even more hardware in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, taking home two more gold medals and five silvers.  Yulo’s spectacular 2019 earned him a spot in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and if his SEA Games and World Championships performances are any indication, Caloy is bound for another podium finish on the biggest stage there is.   Eya Laure Last UAAP season’s rookie of the year will return as the heir apparent of Season 81 MVP Sisi Rondina. With her national team stint, all eyes will be on the younger Laure as she reunites with older sister EJ as they try to bring University of Sto. Tomas back in the Finals after falling short last year. Hidilyn Diaz 2019 was another big year for Olympic silver medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, highlighted by her first ever gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Diaz also finished with silver medals in the 2019 Asian Championships and a bronze in the 2019 World Championships.  All those podium finishes are crucial in Diaz’s quest for another Olympics berth in 2020. Should the 28-year lock up another spot in the Summer Games in Tokyo, we could see another Olympic medal coming home.    Kat Tolentino  After initially announcing that she would not come back for her final season in the UAAP, Kat Tolentino changed her decision and will suit up for the Ateneo Lady Eagles once last time, providing a great morale-booster in their bid for back-to-back titles. Tolentino’s leadership will be tested as she will be leading a young team.      Joshua Pacio 23-year old Joshua “The Passion” Pacio proved to be the brightest spot for Philippine MMA stable Team Lakay in 2019. After opening the year with a questionnable decision loss to Yosuke Saruta, Pacio silenced any doubts in the rematch and regained the ONE Strawweight World Championship with a highlight-reel headkick knockout. Pacio would follow that up with another masterful performance, this time with a second-round submission win over top contender Rene Catalan before the end of the year.  2020 is shaping up to become another banner year for the rising Pinoy star, as he’s scheduled for another title defense on January 31st in Manila, this time against former champ Alex Silva of Brazil. A win for Pacio will solidify his claim of being the best strawweight ever in ONE Championship history.     Louie Romero The Adamson University freshman displayed great potential during the pre-season when she piloted the Lady Falcons to title win in the PVL Season 3 Collegiate Conference. Romero is expected to be a gem of a setter for the young Adamson squad hoping make a return in the UAAP Final Four. Manny Pacquiao While eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao is certainly in the twilight of his professional boxing career, 2019 showed that he is still one of the best around. A successful title defense over Adrien Broner followed by an impressive dismantling of the previously-undefeated Keith Thurman to capture the WBA’s primary world title proved that even at 40, Manny Pacquiao is still a big name in the sport.  With Pacquiao targeting an early return in 2020, more big names are lined up to fight “the People’s Champ”, including names like Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and even a title-unification bout against Errol Spence. Still, the biggest fight that is out there proves to be a rematch against Floyd Mayweather Jr, granted that “Money” finally bites.    Faith Nisperos A key addition for the repeat-seeking Ateneo de Manila University. The highly-touted rookie hitter will add height and firepower for the Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball. In the previous PVL Collegiate Conference, Nisperos flashed her scoring prowess, exploding for 35 points in one outing.   Robert Bolick The two best rookies of 2019 were CJ Perez and Robert Bolick. We know what we can expect from CJ, but Bolick is an interesting case as 2020 will be his return from knee injury. Bolick could still win Rookie of the Year, but even if he doesn’t, his return to Northport could push the reloaded Batang Pier from a Cinderella team to full-on PBA title contender.   Joshua Retamar His playmaking skills as well as his efficiency on net defense during the national team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games makes him a setter to watch out for come UAAP. Retamar is an asset for National University’s three-peat bid.       Kai Sotto The Philippines' 7-foot-2, 17-year-old is opening eyes as he suits up for Atlanta-based The Skills Factory - so much so that he has already gotten interest from quite a few US NCAA schools. Before Sotto continues breaking the glass ceiling for Filipinos, though, he will go home for a while to wear the flag with Mighty Sports-Pilipinas in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament.   Jema Galanza Coming off a great outing to close the PVL Season 3 highlighted by copping the Open Conference MVP award, expectations are high for Jema Galanza as Creamline aims to reclaim the PVL Reinforced Conference crown and complete an Open Conference three-peat.      Kobe Paras Many questioned just what the 6-foot-6 tantalizing talent would bring to the table for UP - but more often than not, he had all the answers as he led the Fighting Maroons to their second straight Final Four. In the end, Paras was actually the steadying force State U needed in what was a hyped up season. They may not have made it back to the Finals, but they still got much more motivation as they run it back for next year.   Pat Aquino What's next for the most decorated mentor in women's basketball? Pat Aquino followed up a six-peat for National U with the Philippines' first-ever gold medal in women's basketball in the SEA Games. Without a doubt, he will only continue steering the sport forward especially as the likes of UST and FEU are already gearing up to put up greater challenges in the new year.   Isaac Go Isaac Go is technically not the no. 1 pick of the 2019 PBA Draft but he is without a doubt, the no. 1 prospect of the year. His top selection from the special Gilas Pilipinas Draft is proof of that. Gilas Pilipinas has the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on deck in 2020 and as a new era dawns on the national team, all eyes will be on the biggest piece for the future that’s already drafted into the new Philippine squad......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2020

Leipzig top in Germany at halfway stage, but Bayern revived

By James Ellingworth, Associated Press Is this the season when Bayern Munich's seven-year hold on the German title ends? A poor start and a humiliating 5-1 loss to Frankfurt cost Niko Kovac his job as Bayern coach and gave teams like Leipzig and surprise title contender Borussia Mönchengladbach hope of victory. Bayern has bounced back under interim coach Hansi Flick, though, and is third in the table, four points behind leader Leipzig. That's earned Flick an extension until at least the end of the season. It's been a tale of dueling goalscorers, with Robert Lewandowski having scored 19 goals in 17 games for Bayern, and Timo Werner one goal behind for Leipzig. For Gladbach, goalkeeper Yann Sommer has been crucial to their title challenge. Borussia Dortmund has been powerful on its day, but the team is also inconsistent and brittle. Losing to Bayern 4-0 last month was a big dent to Dortmund's title belief. Last Sunday's games were the last of 2019 and the Bundesliga returns from its winter break on Jan. 17. PLAYER OF THE SEASON SO FAR He turned 31 in August and Lewandowski shows no sign of slowing down. The Polish forward scored in Bayern's first 11 Bundesliga games and has racked up 30 goals across all competitions. He's taking time off during the winter break to have groin surgery. Werner has been almost as prolific, including a remarkable performance with three goals and three assists in an 8-0 thrashing of Mainz last month. For Dortmund, Jadon Sancho's in hot form with eight goals in his last six Bundesliga games. But perhaps no one's been as vital to their team as Rouwen Hennings. The 32-year-old Hennings doesn't have the star status of Lewandowski or Sancho but his 11 goals for struggling Fortuna are four more than the rest of the team put together. SURPRISE OF THE SEASON Gladbach's golden age was the 1970s, when it won five Bundesligas in eight years. With its run to second, Gladbach has been a feelgood story for German fans of other clubs who dislike Bayern's wealth and see Leipzig as less a soccer club than an advertising board for energy drinks giant Red Bull. Gladbach has nothing like the budget of Bayern or Leipzig, but has built a solid team with attacking firepower from Marcus Thuram, son of former French defender Lilian Thuram, and Swiss forward Breel Embolo. A comeback 2-1 win over Bayern this month showed its a serious contender. Kai Havertz experienced the season's most unwelcome surprise when fans of his own team, Bayer Leverkusen, booed him this month. The attacking midfielder started the season rated as one of Germany's most promising young players, but he's looked listless in recent games and last scored in September. GOAL OF THE SEASON Bayern's 46 goals in the Bundesliga have included some gems. Philippe Coutinho scored with an outrageous flick from the outside of his foot against Werder Bremen last week. Lewandowski's hit some long-range free kicks and shrugged off four defenders to score against Frankfurt, the only bright spot in a heavy loss for Bayern. The highlight of Leipzig's title charge might just be Christopher Nkunku juggling the ball through the Bayer Leverkusen defense and past the goalkeeper in October. For sheer fireworks, no one beats Hertha Berlin's Javairo Dilrosun. The Dutch winger picked up the ball on the left wing and cut inside past four defenders — beating one of them twice — before scoring against Paderborn. WHO'LL BE CHAMPION? If Bayern's recovery under Flick continues, an eighth straight title is definitely possible, if only because of the depth in its squad. The Munich team was packed with individual talent, even if Kovac was defeated by the puzzle of how to make them all play well together. There's also a bench filled with hungry young players such as New Zealand midfielder Sarpreet Singh and the Dutch forward Joshua Zirkzee, who's scored in each of his first two Bundesliga appearances. Leipzig takes a four-point lead into 2020, but depends heavily on core players such as Werner and the in-form Marcel Sabitzer and Patrik Schick. Losing any of them to injury could be a fatal blow. Gladbach has less depth than either of them, but unlike them, it won't be balancing the Bundesliga with any European competitions in the spring. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUALIFICATION The fight for the four Champions League spots is wide open, with at least eight teams making a strong claim. Behind the leading trio of Leipzig, Gladbach, and Bayern, there's a chasing pack of Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, Leverkusen, Hoffenheim, and Freiburg. All have played Champions League football in recent years, with the exception of Freiburg, but they have all been inconsistent this season. WHO'S GOING DOWN? The relegation fight is just as close as the scrap for European places. Promoted Paderborn is last but showed it has claws by beating Frankfurt 2-1 last weekend. The other automatic relegation spot is occupied by Werder Bremen, which is in danger of its first relegation since 1981. Werder ended 2019 with four straight defeats, two of them by five-goal margins, and with club management embroiled in conflict with fans over the sale of their stadium's naming rights. If Werder can climb out of danger, it would likely be at the expense of one of two Rhineland rivals, Cologne or Fortuna Düsseldorf, or else Mainz......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2019

ONE: Continuous improvement is what Joshua Pacio aspires for

After successfully defending his ONE Strawweight World Championship against Rene Catalan at ONE: Masters of Fate back in November 8th, Team Lakay’s Joshua Pacio is no doubt the top guy in ONE’s strawweight division.  At just 23 years old, Pacio is already a two-time titleholder and owns victories over Catalan, Yoshitaka Naito, Yosuke Saruta, and Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke just to name a few. To add to that, he’s also finished his opponent in five of his last six wins.  It can be argued that Pacio is at the peak of his powers, but the young star believes that he still has even more to show and aspires for constant and continuous improvement.  (READ ALSO: 'Tataas pa 'yan at gagaling pa 'yan'- Mark Sangiao on Joshua Pacio) While there isn’t anything on deck for the reigning strawweight king at the moment, he won’t be taking too much time off from training anytime soon, and that’s because he wants to present an even better version of himself when he does step inside the Circle again. Pacio hopes to be on ONE Championship’s first card in Manila for 2020.  “Sa akin, yung tinatawag niyong break is magte-training pa din ako, kasi sa January 31, kung sakali,” he said with a chuckle. “Kung sino man yung iharap nila, hindi ako namimili ng kalaban.” “Basta gusto ko lang na makita na every fight, nag-iimprove ako, yung hindi the same yung Joshua Pacio na lumaban ngayon, iba ulit sa next. Yun yung gusto kong makitang improvement,” he continued.  At this stage, Pacio is already arguably one of the most well-rounded members of Team Lakay, and that was on full display in the Catalan fight. So what kind of improvement does Pacio want to see in himself?  The young star aspires to be as skilled and as fluid inside the ring as Demetrious Johnson, the reigning ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion.   “Siyempre isa sa mga idolo natin si DJ, magaling mag-mix eh. Yung gusto ko talagang i-improve yung talgang comfortable ka sa lahat, may striking, may wrestling, tapos striking ulit, tapos wrestling, tapos control sa ground,” Pacio explained. “Yun yung gusto kong maabot na improvement na makita ko, yung kahit na five rounds na ganun, okay pa din.” A former long-time world champion in the UFC, Johnson was at one point regarded as the pound-for-pound best mixed martial artist in the world. Now with ONE Championship, Johnson continues to remain dominant, winning his first three ONE bouts - the third being against Pacio’s teammate and training partner Danny Kingad - en route to the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix title and a shot at the ONE Flyweight World Championship. Speaking of flyweights, is a move up to that division in the future for the reigning strawweight king? According to the Pacio himself, there isn’t any motivation for him to do so, especially with teammates Kingad and Geje Eustaquio residing in that weight class.  “Para sa akin, wala eh, kasi I am a champion, pero para sa akin, kung wala sana akong teammates sa ibang weight class.” “Siyempre, sa kanila na din yun, they deserve also to become a champion. Nagwowork-hard kaming lahat, so deserve din nilang lahat maging champion, so sa kanila na yun,” Pacio concluded. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 22nd, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Days: Nuggets to keep rolling with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray

Like most summers in the NBA, the 2019 edition was chock full of trades, free agent news and player movement. From the defending-champion Toronto Raptors to just about every other team in the league, change was the most applicable word when it came to describing team rosters for the 2019-20 season. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- in order of regular-season finish from 2018-19 -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's team: Denver Nuggets 2018-19 Record: 54-28, lost in the second round of the playoffs Key additions: Jerami Grant (trade), Bol Bol (draft) Key subtractions: Trey Lyles, Isaiah Thomas The lowdown: The steady growth of the Nuggets was evident in a 50-win season and a first-round victory in the playoffs over the more-experienced Spurs, which was clearly a step forward. Then the journey ended with a sour taste after Denver lost a Game 7 at home to a lower seed, the Blazers. In all, the Nuggets received almost everything they’d hoped for from a developing contender, especially in the form of Nikola Jokic. The multi-skilled Serb established himself as the league’s most talented big man, if not the best period, with a stellar performance that attracted some Kia MVP notice. He averaged 20 points, almost 11 rebounds and seven assists in an offense that ran through him, rare in today’s spread-the-floor league where centers are being phased out or pegged as role players and pick-setters. Jokic reminded many of Bill Walton or maybe Vlade Divac for his precise and sometimes entertaining passing skills from the high post. His co-star was Jamal Murray, who made generous strides as a leader and shot-maker and fit well with Jokic. The Nuggets also played some of the best defense in the league for much of the season and had solid backcourt depth with Monte Morris and Malik Beasley averaging a combined 21 points off the bench. There were mixed reviews, however, for Gary Harris. The starting two-guard didn’t improve and in some areas actually regressed as he struggled with injuries in a 57-game season. Same for Will Barton, who shot 40 percent and played 43 games. But those were nit-picks. The Nuggets finally arrived after going a league-leading 34-7 at home, reaching the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade, and using the draft and trades to remake the roster over the last few years to stay in the attic in the very competitive West, which was no easy task. Summer summary: When an NBA team reaches a critical stage of the developing process and checks all the necessary boxes, it’s time to keep the continuity. Which means, time to pay up, and the Nuggets did just that this summer with two of their important figures: Murray and GM Tim Connelly, and both were easy calls. Murray went from a rookie who played behind Emmanuel Mudiay to a dependable, sometimes clutch-shooting guard in just three seasons. While he’s obviously the starter at the point for the Nuggets, Murray’s value lies in his flexibility. He can play off the ball and be just as valuable whenever Jokic assumes the “point-center” role. He averaged 18.2 points and 4.8 assists and showed growth despite struggling at times in his first postseason. He also doesn’t turn 23 until February. So the Nuggets gave him $170 million over five years, banking on his continued growth, which appears to be a safe investment. Therefore, Denver’s two most important players, Jokic and Murray, are under contract together for the next three seasons. Connelly replaced Masai Ujiri in 2013 and repaid the Nuggets’ faith by overseeing a basketball operation that has run mostly smoothly ever since. He drafted Jokic at No. 41 and hired Mike Malone as coach. The Nuggets have gone from 33 wins in Malone’s first season to 54. Even better, the meat of the roster is trending in the right direction and there’s no dead weight. This summer, the Wizards, after firing Ernie Grunfeld, chased after Connelly, a Baltimore native who attended college in D.C. Connelly broke into the business as an intern for the Wizards and has family ties to the D.C area, so the prospect of leaving Denver was a real threat. Ultimately, Nuggets boss Josh Kroenke was successful in persuading Connelly to stay. Usually that comes with a promise of a significant raise, but more importantly, Connelly saw what he’s building in Denver and couldn’t leave unfinished business. Denver has a solid mix of youth and vets and is coming off a season where it was the No. 2 seed in the West. Hard to walk away from that. Paul Millsap also cashed in when the Nuggets agreed to pick up his 2019-20 option year for $30 million. There was some question whether the Nuggets would tie that much into a soon-to-be 35-year-old forward who, statistically anyway, is coming off his worst season since 2009-10 and his fewest minutes since 2008. But Millsap still brings a solid defensive mindset and experience, and anyway, the Nuggets were all about maintaining the flow this summer. Plus, Denver will remain under the luxury tax with with Millsap’s option. Millsap’s minutes could be reduced this season because the Nuggets traded for a more athletic option in Grant. With the Thunder, Grant improved his 3-point shooting last season and became more of a well-rounded forward. If used correctly by Malone, he can thrive in Denver, which badly needs his physical gifts. Of course, there’s also the wild card: Michael Porter Jr. The club’s first-round pick two summers ago sat all last season while recovering from a back issue, then was scratched from summer league play in July because of a minor knee issue which was more of a precautionary move. In a best-case scenario, Porter stays healthy and gives the Nuggets three options at power forward. Connelly didn’t have a first-round pick this summer but swung a deal to fetch a second-rounder once Bol Bol dropped to No. 44 in the draft. The son of former NBA player Manute Bol, he suffered a foot injury last season at Oregon and NBA teams were wary of his potential for recovery. Well, Connelly and the Nuggets will essentially treat Bol as they did Porter; Bol will be an injury red-shirt and prepare for 2020-21. And so, the Nuggets’ summer wasn’t about making wholesale changes, but keeping the pace they’ve set over the last three seasons and rewarding some of the key personnel responsible for it. Patience has allowed the Nuggets to get this far and so there was no reason to panic or rush the process this offseason. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsSep 28th, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Days: Nuggets to keep rolling with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray

Like most summers in the NBA, the 2019 edition was chock full of trades, free agent news and player movement. From the defending-champion Toronto Raptors to just about every other team in the league, change was the most applicable word when it came to describing team rosters for the 2019-20 season. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- in order of regular-season finish from 2018-19 -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's team: Denver Nuggets 2018-19 Record: 54-28, lost in the second round of the playoffs Key additions: Jerami Grant, forward (trade); Bol Bol, forward (draft). Key subtractions: Trey Lyles, forward; Isaiah Thomas, guard. The lowdown: The steady growth of the Nuggets was evident in a 50-win season and a first-round victory in the playoffs over the more-experienced Spurs, which was clearly a step forward; then the journey ended with a sour taste after Denver lost a Game 7 at home to a lower seed, the Blazers. In all, the Nuggets received almost everything they’d hoped for from a developing contender, especially in the form of Nikola Jokic. The multi-skilled Serb established himself as the league’s most talented big man, if not the best period, with a stellar performance that attracted some MVP notice. He averaged 20 points, almost 11 rebounds and seven assists in an offense that ran through him, rare in today’s spread-the-floor league where centers are being phased out or pegged as role players and pick-setters. Jokic reminded many of Bill Walton or maybe Vlade Divac for his precise and sometimes entertaining passing skills from the high post. His co-star was Jamal Murray, who made generous strides as a leader and shot-maker and fit well with Jokic. The Nuggets also played some of the best defense in the league for much of the season and had solid back-court depth with Monte Morris and Malik Beasley averaging a combined 21 points off the bench. There were mixed reviews, however, from Gary Harris; the starting two-guard didn’t improve and in some areas actually regressed as he struggled with injuries in a 57-game season. Same for Will Barton, who shot 40 percent and played 43 games. But those were nit-picks. The Nuggets finally arrived after going a league-leading 34-7 at home, reaching the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade, and using the draft and trades to remake the roster over the last few years to stay in the attic in the very competitive West, which was no easy task. Summer summary: When an NBA team reaches a critical stage of the developing process and checks all the necessary boxes, it’s time to keep the continuity. Which means, time to pay up, and the Nuggets did just that this summer with two of their important figures: Murray and GM Tim Connelly, and both were easy calls. Murray went from a rookie who played behind Emmanuel Mudiay to a dependable, sometimes clutch-shooting guard in just three seasons. While he’s obviously the starter at the point for the Nuggets, Murray’s value lies in his flexibility; he can play off the ball and be just as valuable whenever Jokic assumes the “point-center” role. He averaged 18.2 points and 4.8 assists and showed growth despite struggling at times in his first postseason. He also doesn’t turn 23 until February. So the Nuggets gave him $170 million over five years, banking on his continued growth, which appears to be a safe investment. Therefore, Denver’s two most important players, Jokic and Murray, are under contract together for the next three seasons. Connelly replaced Masai Ujiri in 2013 and repaid the Nuggets’ faith by overseeing a basketball operation that has run mostly smoothly ever since. He drafted Jokic at No. 41 and hired Mike Malone as coach. The Nuggets have gone from 33 wins in Malone’s first season to 54. Even better, the meat of the roster is trending in the right direction and there’s no dead weight. This summer, the Wizards, after firing Ernie Grunfeld, chased after Connelly, a Baltimore native who attended college in D.C. Connelly broke into the business as an intern for the Wizards and has family ties to the D.C area, so the prospect of leaving Denver was a real threat. Ultimately, Nuggets boss Josh Kroenke was successful in persuading Connelly to stay. Usually that comes with a promise of a significant raise, but more importantly, Connelly saw what he’s building in Denver and couldn’t leave unfinished business. Denver has solid mix of youth and vets and is coming off a season where it was the No. 2 seed in the West. Hard to walk away from that. Paul Millsap also cashed in when the Nuggets agreed to pick up his 2019-20 option year for $30 million. There was some question whether the Nuggets would tie that much into a soon-to-be 35-year-old forward who, statistically anyway, is coming off his worst season since 2009-10 and his fewest minutes since 2008. But Millsap still brings a solid defensive mindset and experience, and anyway, the Nuggets were all about maintaining the flow this summer. Plus, Denver will remain under the luxury tax with with Millsap’s option. Millsap’s minutes could be reduced this season because the Nuggets traded for a more athletic option in Grant. With the Thunder, Grant improved his 3-point shooting last season and became more of a well-rounded forward. If used correctly by Malone, he can thrive in Denver, which badly needs his physical gifts. Of course, there’s also the wild card: Michael Porter Jr. The club’s first-round pick two summers ago sat all last season while recovering from a back issue, then was scratched from summer league play in July because of a minor knee issue which was more of a precautionary move. In a best-case scenario, Porter stays healthy and gives the Nuggets three options at power forward. Connelly didn’t have a first-round pick this summer but swung a deal to fetch a second-rounder once Bol Bol dropped to No. 44 in the draft. The son of former NBA player Manute Bol, he suffered a foot injury last season at Oregon and NBA teams were wary of his potential for recovery. Well, Connelly and the Nuggets will essentially treat Bol as they did Porter; Bol will be an injury red-shirt and prepare for 2020-21. And so, the Nuggets’ summer wasn’t about making wholesale changes, but keeping the pace they’ve set over the last three seasons and rewarding some of the key personnel responsible for it. Patience has allowed the Nuggets to get this far and so there was no reason to panic or rush the process this offseason. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsSep 15th, 2019

30 Teams in 30 Days: Cavaliers to lean heavily on young roster

Like most summers in the NBA, the 2019 edition was chock full of trades, free agent news and player movement. From the defending-champion Toronto Raptors to just about every other team in the league, change was the most applicable word when it came to describing team rosters for the 2019-20 season. With the opening of training camps just around the corner, NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise as it sits today -- in order of regular-season finish from 2018-19 -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days. * * * Today's team: Cleveland Cavaliers 2018-19 Record: 19-63, did not qualify for the playoffs Key additions: Darius Garland (Draft), Kevin Porter Jr. (Draft), Dylan Windler (Draft), John Beilein (coach) Key departures: JR Smith, Cameron Payne, David Nwaba The lowdown: The first season in the post-LeBron James era, Part II, was almost a carbon copy of the first one: He leaves and the team crumbles. This was pretty much expected from a team that was built around LeBron and then suddenly grew old overnight once he left. It didn’t help matters when Kevin Love, given a rich contract the previous summer, played only 22 games because of injury. That ensured the Cavs would be locked into a rebuilding season and rookie point guard Collin Sexton would receive ample playing time as a result, which was not necessarily a bad thing at all. After shaky initially, Sexton finished strong and averaged 20 points the last 2 1/2 months to make the All-Rookie Second Team. Also, swingman Cedi Osman benefited from increased playing time and had moments in his second season. In a mild disappointment, Larry Nance Jr. failed to take a generous step in his development and there’s fear he will be nothing more than a scrappy, hard-working role player who’ll make the occasional highlight dunk. Otherwise, the Cavs’ season served no major purpose. The remaining pieces from the LeBron era either crumbled in various ways or simply disappeared: JR Smith was suspended, essentially for insubordination; Love was hurt; Tristan Thompson plateaued; George Hill and Kyle Korver were traded. The Cavs sunk toward the bottom of the East, fell off radar for the first time in six years, and once again found themselves back in the lottery looking for help. Summer summary: In a summer of surprises around the NBA, one of the more under-rated events happened when the Cavs’ coaching search ended with a 66-year-old grandfatherly type who never spent a day on an NBA bench. John Beilein might well be a revelation, one way or another. He spent much of his college career at Michigan, where he was highly respected for his strategy, composure and character -- three elements he’ll need in Cleveland. Beilein had flirted with the NBA in years past; when nothing materialized, some NBA people thought his time had passed, especially once he reached retirement age. But the Cavs went with an out-of-the-box choice anyway, plucking Beilein even as the college-to-NBA transition comes with inconsistent results and yellow flags. Brad Stevens is the exception, and besides, he was in his mid-30s when he left Butler and took the Celtics job. The one current college coach whose name surfaces the most in NBA conversation is Jay Wright of Villanova, who has served on Team USA and appears NBA-ready (temperament, two-time champ, even wardrobe). Word is Wright will be on the Sixers’ short list if and when that job opens. Because of Beilein's age and the state of the Cavs, he seems a bridge-gap coach; if so, that’s a smart choice. He’s experienced at managing young players, and the Cavs will build their next era through the Draft. Top free agents don’t make Cleveland a destination choice, even when presented with the chance to play alongside LeBron. Given how quiet the Cavs were this summer, the odds are great that they’ll return to the draft lottery in 2020 and give Beilein additional players in their early 20s to nurture. He’ll have five this season, with Sexton and Osman returning, plus Darius Garland, Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr. coming on via first-round picks. The prize is Garland, the No. 5 pick who was limited by a meniscus injury to five games in his one and only season at Vanderbilt. This seems eerily similar to years earlier when the Cavs took another guard with a limited (11-game) college career: Kyrie Irving. Garland was a three-time Mr. Basketball in Tennessee and was considered the best recruit ever at Vandy, and that’s about all NBA scouts had to work with this spring. Not only was his college career brief, but he also left the combine early. Apparently, that was enough for the Cavs, smitten by Garland’s instincts. The only question is how he fits with Sexton; both can play off the ball, although each is more comfortable as the lead playmaker. Porter represents a wild card of sorts. Talent-wise, he can be considered a steal with the 30th pick ... after being red-flagged by teams following a suspension at USC for poor conduct that cost him much of that single season. Porter was a workout beast prior to the draft, a swingman who brings great size (6-foot-6) and can create off the dribble. The Cavs had nothing to lose by choosing him at that point. Windler benefited from four years in college, steering underdog Belmont to the NCAA tourney and developing into a prospect by his senior year. The Cavs and Beilein can figure out how it all fits later. Right now, Cleveland is all about stockpiling as many assets as possible and giving that young core plenty of time to make their mistakes now, rather than later. And speaking of assets, they didn’t trade Love this summer. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be on the roster when next season ends, either. If the right price comes along — and that’ll be tricky because of his age, injury history and salary — Love can and will exit. LeBron James will eventually get a statue outside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (formerly Quicken Loans Arena), but he isn’t walking through that door again. The Cavs must take another road to respectability, and it could be a long one. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsSep 3rd, 2019

It s a new day in the NBA, and a welcomed change

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press LAS VEGAS (AP) — There is no favorite. This is what the NBA wanted. And needed. The biggest piece of valid criticism about the league in recent years has been its predictable. Golden State got to the last five NBA Finals. LeBron James had made it there eight years in a row, four with Miami and then four more with Cleveland. Brooklyn used to be the 'other' team in New York, and the Clippers used to be the 'other' team in Los Angeles. No more. Welcome to a new NBA. If you think the Clippers can win it all next season, or the Lakers, or Utah, or Philadelphia, or Milwaukee, or Houston, or Denver, or even Golden State and maybe a few others, you're right. Get your first look at the NBA’s top Rookies during NBA Summer League LIVE on NBA League Pass! Technically, there is a favorite: The sports books in Las Vegas, after hearing the news that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are heading to the Clippers, listed them as the best bet Saturday to win the 2020 NBA championship. Yes, the Clippers. A team that has won exactly four playoff series since moving to Los Angeles in 1984. A team that had 12 consecutive losing seasons a generation ago. There wasn't much NBA intrigue at this time last year. The Warriors were adding DeMarcus Cousins to a team that won the last two championships and were seemingly locks to win a third consecutive title. Everyone knows it didn't work out that way. Toronto took care of that. It was just more proof that what seems obvious at this time of year doesn't always come to fruition. This year, though, the newfound balance of power — dare we say "parity" — seems like a done deal. The East still has a 60-win team in Milwaukee returning the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and shooting guard Khris Middleton, so the Bucks may be the favorite right now on that side of the league. Philadelphia lost JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler, adding Josh Richardson and Al Horford to a team that looks be dominant defensively. No one will count out Boston, because of Brad Stevens and now Kemba Walker. Miami got better even after losing Dwyane Wade with the addition of Butler — and the Heat might throw their hat in the ring if Russell Westbrook is indeed available following the George trade to the Clippers. Brooklyn gets Kyrie Irving this season and now knows it'll be adding Kevin Durant next season, once he returns from his Achilles rehab. Atlanta's young core may be the most promising in the NBA. And let's not forget the East also has the reigning NBA champion Raptors, albeit without Leonard and Danny Green.) But the West ... wow. The Clippers kept Patrick Beverley, have an amazingly talented bench led by Lou Williams, a coach everybody wants to play for in Doc Rivers and now gets two of the very best players in the game with Leonard and George. The Lakers still have James, added Anthony Davis, kept JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, signed DeMarcus Cousins and Green — and might be in the market for another shooter. Portland went to the West final last season and have an elite backcourt in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Utah had a brilliant summer, giving Donovan Mitchell more good players like Mike Conley to surround himself with. Houston still has James Harden and Chris Paul. Dallas figures to be better if Kristaps Porzingis is healthy to run alongside Luka Doncic. The Lakers are almost certainly coming for someone's playoff spot out West. Same goes for the Heat in the East. And before long, New Orleans with Zion Williamson and David Griffin at the controls, Atlanta with that core led by Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, potentially Memphis with the Ja Morant era set to begin, it'll be their turn at the playoff table. It's been a top-heavy league for a long time. Only five different franchises have represented the West in the NBA Finals over the last 20 years. In the East, it's five over the last 15 years. Right now, the odds-makers in Vegas are predicting next June it'll be Clippers vs. Bucks. A couple days ago the Lakers were the betting favorites. A new day is here in the NBA. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019

Copa America guests still alive before final decisive games

By Eric Nunez, Associated Press PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Both Copa America guests are still alive as the last round of group stage matches begins, a feature that doesn't seem to please some of their South American opponents. Qatar and Japan, who this year played in the Asian Cup final, are in third place in their groups. The top two in each group and the two best third-place finishers advance to the quarterfinals. If Argentina is prematurely eliminated, it will be because of Qataris with little international experience who are preparing for the 2022 World Cup. Japan sent to Brazil an under-23 team that is being groomed for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year. Asian champion Qatar has so far drawn with Paraguay 2-2 and lost to Colombia 1-0. "We have come to compete, not to take pictures, even if we admire the players of the teams we are facing," Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez said on Saturday. "Our main goal is to evaluate ourselves in a tournament of this caliber, so demanding." After winning the Asian Cup, Sanchez's contract was extended until the end of the next World Cup. On Sunday, his team will have the chance to upset Lionel Messi. "It would be beautiful to qualify no matter if it is against a monster like Argentina," Sanchez said. "It will be a great step, even though we know they are also trying to advance to the next stage." The Qataris have already been invited to return to next year's Copa, split between Colombia and Argentina. Australia will be a guest side in 2020. Japan was thrashed by Chile 4-0 but held favorite Uruguay to 2-2 after leading twice. On Monday the young Japanese can eliminate Ecuador to advance and, depending on other results, possibly face host Brazil in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The list of Copa America guests in past editions is long: Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, Canada and Japan. Mexico had the best result among those, reaching the final in 1993 and in 2001. Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo said he doesn't like the idea of teams outside of the Americas such as Qatar and Japan playing the Copa America. "Playing among all American teams, that is logic," Berizzo said after drawing Qatar. "We should think of a Copa America with Central and North Americas integrated. I never saw any European cup with South American teams. I strongly believe that Copa America needs to be played by American teams." Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said business was the main reason to invite teams to the Copa America. "We are few countries in South America to organize a tournament with 10 teams, even more so with four phases like in a World Cup," Tabarez said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019