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Al Solis& rsquo; faith through basketball

During his playing days, he was considered a remorseless assassin......»»

Category: sportsSource: thestandard thestandardSep 29th, 2020

TY Tang didn t quit because Coach Franz didn t let him

TY Tang was a big piece in the puzzle that was coach Franz Pumaren’s last championship for De La Salle University. Together with Jvee Casio and Cholo Villanueva, Tang steered the Green Archets to a pleasant surprise of a title in 2007. As a graduating guard, the pint-sized playmaker was as much a streaky shooter as much as he was a steady playmaker. He then rode that last year all the way to the 12th overall pick in the 2008 PBA Draft and a solid eight-year career, all with Rain or Shine. As it turns out, though, Tang was all ready to give up his basketball dream after he did not have the strongest of starts as La Salle’s point guard. “What strikes me as yung talagang feeling niya he was ready to give up was TY Tang,” Coach Franz shared with fellow coaches Charles Tiu, Paolo Layug, and Anton Altamirano in his appearance on Coaches Unfiltered. He then continued, “We should remember he was playing behind legendary Mike Cortez so every time I pull out Mike, you could just imagine the pressure. A fresh (out of) high school kid and when he makes a mistake, fans can be brutal.” The 5-foot-7 guard was a blue-chip recruit from powerhouse Xavier High School, but of course, following “The Cool Cat” for the championship contender Green Archers was a thankless job. “We sat down, we had a heart-to-heart talk and I told him he can always turn back and just get a degree,” the multi-titled mentor narrated. “But there’s this opportunity also for you to at least prove yourself that you deserve to be in the UAAP.” Answering his mentor’s call, Tang went on to mature and live up to the legacy of Cortez. He was even named by Paul Lee, who played for University of the East during the same timeframe, in his Prospects Five. In the end, TY Tang is an excellent example of the difference a coach with full faith could make. “He’s not that tall and when he started, hindi naman ganun kagaling shumoot, pero nagtrabaho, nagtiwala lang,” Coach Franz said. He then continued, “‘Di ba? Who would ever think TY will make it to the PBA?” —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

For Mike Nieto, all roads lead to leading

Mike Nieto's leadership is not just for the basketball court. Apparently, his voice carries just as much weight inside the Nieto household in Cainta. "Hanggang bahay, umaabot yung pagli-lead ko," he shared with a laugh. "Rinig na rinig palagi boses ko sa bahay. Since I've proven to them na I can be a leader sa court, siyempre, I can also be a leader dito sa bahay." What does that mean exactly? Well, let's just say that whenever the Nieto family decides they want and need some quality time together, it's the 23-year-old who sets the time and the place where it would happen. "I think nasanay na rin kasi sila na ako ang palaging nagsasalita kahit sa ganyang bagay so most of the time, ako na talaga nagsasabi saan at anong oras kami pupunta," he said. This is not at all that surprising as when you talk about Mike Nieto, you talk about leadership. That has long been the calling card of the 6-foot-2 swingman - from his days as a Blue Eaglet to his time as a Blue Eagle and from his stint in Batang Gilas to his current run in the Gilas Pilipinas pool. But… Why do people say that in the first place? What is it with Mike Nieto that just speaks, leader? FTW: For The tWin To get the answer, we need to go back to the start. As in, the very, very start. Technically, Mike is the leader of the four Nieto siblings as he is the firstborn of Ateneo de Manila legend Jett and super mom and dentist Girlie. Matt is his brother, but is younger by two minutes. Make no mistake, though, the twins have always gotten along. "Kami ni Matt, ever since, close na talaga kami. We started playing basketball at the age of six and from then on, naging magkasama na kami sa lahat ng bagay," Mike said. He then continued, "Even course namin sa college, pareho kaya almost lahat ng classes namin, classmates kami. Ever since talaga, unusual na hindi kami magkasama." Indeed, the Nieto twins have always been some sort of a package deal. Hence, the reports of their commitment to Ateneo for college had headlines such as "Ateneo scores 'twin kill' as Nieto brothers commit to play for Blue Eagles." Through and through, however, Mike was thought to be the leader - even though Matt is the point guard. The reason for that? Because "Big Mike" is more vocal. And why is he more vocal" Well, because he had a two minute headstart on "Matty Ice" at letting his voice be heard. Seriously, though, Mike said it was just because he doesn't waste any time at all in being vocal - and that's why he's being heard first and more often. "Siguro, mas maingay lang kasi ako kay Matt. Ako kasi, kapag may nakita akong mali sa ginagawa ng teammates ko, siguradong makakarinig agad sila sa akin," he shared. He then continued, "Hindi ako papayag na lilipas ang isang bagay na alam kong makakasama sa team. Talagang maglalabas at maglalabas ako ng mga salita hanggang ma-solve ang problema." That doesn't mean that Matt doesn't lead, though. As his twin put it, "Matt is the leader on the court. That's the assignment Coach Tab [Baldwin] gave him and I think he has done well with that." Well, yeah, Matt has three rings as court general of the Blue Eagles' dynasty to show for that. LOL: Lead out Loud It was another court general altogether, however, who had made the biggest mark on Mike Nieto. While he never was a point guard due to his wide frame, he was always trying to emulate one of the best ball-handlers in the history of Philippine basketball. "Jimmy Alapag is my role model when it comes to leadership," he said. "I'm just very lucky that for a long time now, he would talk to me on how I can affect the team positively on and off the court." When Alapag was in his prime as captain of Gilas Pilipinas, Nieto was put on the pedestal as skipper of Batang Gilas. While he knew full well that was a tall task, he was also eager to prove himself worthy. "Sa Batang Gilas under coach Jamike [Jarin], he made me team captain kahit second year high school pa lang ako. But that made me realize na I have the capabilities of being a leader," he said. With that, Mike had the responsibility of making sure the likes of Paul Desiderio, Richard Escoto, Jollo Go, Jolo Mendoza, and Renzo Navarro were kept in line. And from then on, he just did not stop keeping at it. Whether it be as the Jrs. MVP as a Blue Eaglet or a rotation regular as a Blue Eagle, Nieto's biggest contribution has always been his leadership. "Being a leader is never easy. At the end of the day, you have to gain the trust of your teammates and your coaches - that's the hardest part," he said. Ask his teammates from high school, many of whom were still his teammates come college, and they would say they always have his back. "Buti na lang nakuha ko ang tiwala ng lahat ng tao na nakapaligid sa akin. Kaya rin ako nag-succeed being the team captain ng every team na nagiging part ako," he said. While he has always had the full faith of longtime teammates and good friends Thirdy Ravena, Gian Mamuyac, Mendoza, and of course, twin Matt, Mike could only acknowledge that it was another challenge altogether being the voice of the team that swept the season. "Ang malaking naging difference ngayong college from high school, kinailangan kong magsalita ng English mas madalas," he said, through chuckles. With foreigners such as Ange Kouame and Filipino-foreigners like Raffy Verano, Nieto, indeed, did have to make sure his communication lines were crystal clear. The thing about leaders, though, is that they give their all in anything and everything - whether that be giving a pep talk or passing the message to somebody like Kouame who only started learning English in 2017. IMO: In My Opinion And the thing about leaders? They do not necessarily care about themselves. Imagine Mike Nieto, a Jrs. MVP, a team captain for Batang Gilas, a literal blue-blood in Katipunan. Do you know his averages through their three-peat? In 47 games total, he saw 14.2 minutes of action and had 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Still, that did not matter at all. All that mattered for Mike are all those Ws. "To be a leader, you have to prove palagi that you can lead on and off the court," he said. "I think yun ang napatunayan ko kay coach Tab - na handa akong i-sacrifice ang personal goals ko para sa ikabubuti ng team. Wala akong pakialam sa sarili ko since ang nasa utak ko lang is kung ano ang makabubuti para sa team namin." But did he? Did Nieto prove himself to Coach Tab - a coach who has gone around the world and seen it all? The talented tactician's statement right after Ateneo completed its perfect run through UAAP 82 speaks volumes. “Look at all of us and think about where we’re gonna be in 10 or 15 years, you’ll forget most of us,” he said in the post-game conference where he sat alongside the Nieto twins, Ravena, Isaac Go, and Adrian Wong. “But you won’t forget Mike Nieto.” Coach Tab then went on to explain why he said so. As he put it, "Mike is a natural leader. Mike is a communicator. Mike is a thinker. In terms of touching people, making lives better, and making sure that everybody around him has a better chance than what he has, that’s our captain." High praise coming from the very mentor who has been getting nothing but high praise. Safe to say, though, Mike has proven himself to coach Tab. TBC: To Be Continued In doing so, Mike Nieto has also made it possible for the two of them to continue working together. Mike, twin Matt, fellow Blue Eagle Go, University of the East's Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian College-Recoletos' Allyn Bulanadi were the first five names listed for the Gilas pool. The likes of Ravena, Dwight Ramos of Ateneo, Justine Baltazar of De La Salle University, Dave Ildefonso then of National University, and the University of the Philippines foursome of Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano, Kobe Paras, and Jaydee Tungcab also made the list not long after. But the fact remains that "Big Mike" - he of zero starts, but three titles in a row in his last three years in blue and white - was one of the first names there. With that, he is now one of the few Batang Gilas players who have successfully gotten promoted to the Men's team. "Of course, sino bang ayaw i-represent ang bansa natin, 'di ba? That's why I'm very grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Gilas pool," he said. He then continued, "That's why I've been working on my game even harder so that I can provide whatever Gilas needs from me." Of course, what Gilas would need from Nieto is, first and foremost, his leadership. After all, that is still and would always be his greatest strength. To do so, though, the youngster would have to prove himself yet again - not only to Filipinos who are forever invested in their national team, but more importantly, his teammates, many of whom are already superstars in the PBA. For Mike, however, this is nothing new - nothing new at all. "Ever since I was in grade school, people have been doubting that I can progress my game to the next level. What we can't forget is that at the end of the day, it's in your hands if you want to prove them wrong or prove them right," he said. He then continued, "I actually enjoy these kinds of moments since dito talaga lalabas ang totoong pagkatao mo. Ang sigurado ko lang, I will fight for my spot in Gilas." And so, from a successful high school career and then an even more successful college career, Nieto is now seeking success as part of the Gilas pool. Does he deserve to be there? That's for the haters to hate, the doubters to doubt, and the bashers to bash. And that's for Mike Nieto to lead them out of the darkness. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 5

In case you missed it: BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 1 BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 2 BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 3 BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 4 --- Pingoy Rule: Never lose hope. --- For the second time in two years, Jerie Pingoy had to have surgery done on his left foot. In November 2017, he injured his left foot in the final frame of the last game of the elimination round of the UAAP. In December 2017, the 5-foot-11 guard went to Pampanga to rid his left foot of bone spurs. Fast forward to June 2019 and his left foot was yet to be fully healed. A failed surgery as well as playing through pain worsened the bone spurs that had long been building up in Pingoy's left foot and he had no other choice but to go to famed sports doctor Raul Canlas. "Nung pinatingin namin kay Doc Canlas, sabi niya, bakit daw hindi inoperahan yung mismong may bone spurs," he shared in a phone interview. "Ako, wala naman akong kaalam-alam. Eh tapos na yun, wala na akong magagawa. Alangan namang habulin ko pa yung doktor dati." As the now-25-year-old was no longer with Adamson University, he had to pay for the new surgery out of his own pocket. Fortunately, he had his girlfriend not only to help him raise funds, but also to find a way to decrease the amount. "Yung girlfriend ko, nagwo-work sa Maxicare (a health maintenance organization) so yun, nag-apply kami ng health card. Buti naman, na-approve," he said. With that, Pingoy went under the knife for the second time in two years. And, as it turns out, it was an outpatient operation. "Ang kasama ko lang nun, girlfriend ko. Pasok kami Sunday, labas ng Monday kasi wala naman kaming ipon e. Binayad na namin lahat ng meron kami sa opera," he said. The good news is that at long last, his left foot is all well and good. As he put it, "At least, ngayon, okay na okay na." NOT ALONE That’s just one of the reasons why Pingoy believes he already has his life partner beside him. Talking about girlfriend Dixie Soberano, he said, full of love, "Through all the darkness na nangyari sa akin, she stayed with me. Alam niya kung gaano ka-struggle yung nangyari sa akin, pero nag-stay siya." He then continued, "Sobrang nagpapasalamat ako sa kanya kasi nandito siya, 'di niya ako iniwan. Siya pa nga laging nagpapaalala sa aking magpakundisyon ka, magpapayat ka para sa future natin." Not only that, Soberano was also how Pingoy received the biggest blessings in his life. In one-year-and-three-month-old Kaeden Jared and two-month-old Jaeden Keith, the Cebuano has even more will to go on and prove that his career is far from finished. "Sila yung nagbibigay ng inspirasyon sa akin. Ang practice namin sa CEU, alas sais ng umaga, pero gumigising ako ng alas kwatro kasi iniisip ko, para sa anak ko 'to, para sa kinabukasan nila 'to," he said. He leaves home motivated - and comes home even more motivated as he has a brand new dream to go alongside the one of him playing in the PBA. "Every time umuuwi ako, naiisip kong sana soon, yayaman ako at pag-uwi ko, sasabihan ko mga anak kong, 'Magbihis kayo, kakain tayo sa labas,'" he said. He then continued, "Tapos makikita ko kung gaano sila ka-excited. Talagang nagbago na buhay ko dahil sa kanila." NOT THE END Before COVID-19 shut down anything and everything, Pingoy looked like he was doing all in his power to put his career back on track. Just a month after Karate Kid-CEU took a chance on him, he proved diligent and disciplined in his extra work and trimmed down from 250 lbs. to just 197 lbs. Of course, having a life partner and two children, as well as his parents, relying on him is more than enough fuel to the fire. "Mahirap walang income eh. Nung isang taong nawala ako, as in walang income talaga eh kaya ngayon, kailangang magtulungan kami as a family," he said. Fortunately, the Scorpions have Pingoy's back as he claws and climbs the mountain once more. "Everybody deserves a second chance eh. Sakto kailangan ko rin ng point guard na leader para ma-guide yung mga bata namin," head coach Jeff Napa said. And there remains more than a few who have not lost faith. "If Koko can be given a chance and the confidence, he can still realize the potential that he has," Bo Perasol, the head coach who recruited and then mentored him in Ateneo de Manila University, said. In Napa, team manager Johnny Yap, and all of Karate Kid-CEU, Pingoy has another shot - as long as he keeps at it. "Maganda pa rin naman ang future ng batang yan basta mag-work hard lang siya nang todo at bumalik yung game shape niya. Yung talent at basketball sense kasi, meron na siya e," his new mentor said. FORGET-ME-NOT However, it is yet to be determined when the 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup would resume action - or if it would even resume action. With COVID-19 posing more questions than answers, hope is all that Pingoy has for his career that has seen more starts and stops than rush hour traffic in EDSA. Still, hope is what he has been holding to all throughout - and is the reason he still stands even after having seen half of his collegiate career go to waste because of residency. Back-to-back MVP seasons in the UAAP Jrs. were followed by two years in a row of residency. A rookie year in Ateneo was followed by another season on the sidelines after transferring to Adamson. Two years as a Soaring Falcon were followed by a year out of the grid. Now, Jerie Pingoy, once thought to be special, just wants to have a shot at normal. This, even though what he has been through in his young life is already ripe for the pickings for a TV drama. "Sa lahat ng nangyari, parang gusto ko na ngang magpa-MMK e," he kidded. And who, if ever, would portray him on Maalala Mo Kaya? The answer to that is pretty clear in his eyes. "Si Gerald Anderson. Sakto pareho kaming Bisaya, pareho kaming gwapo." Without a doubt, after all that happened to him, the sense of humor is still there with Jerie Pingoy. Hopefully, the game that once made him a promising prospect is still there too. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 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

EYES ON YOU, KID: UAAP 82 Jrs. players to watch

The first round of the UAAP 82 Juniors Basketball Tournament is over and done with. And we can’t wait for the second round to get started just so we could get even more glimpses of the future of Philippine basketball courtesy of these players: CARL TAMAYO and KEVIN QUIAMBAO – Nazareth School of National University TAMAYO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.7 points, 52.3 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists QUIAMBAO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.7 points, 51.4 percent shooting, 10.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.7 assists 7-foot-2, 17-year-old Kai Sotto was, hands down, the top individual talent last year in UAAP Jrs. – but even he was no match for National U’s twin towers who stood as the pillars in their dominant championship. A year later, Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao have only been better all while the Bullpups have breezed to a clean sweep of Round 1. The 6-foot-7 Tamayo is yet to explode, but is still posting per game counts that any team would want their big man to have. The 6-foot-8 Quiambao, on the other hand, has had for himself a couple of powerful performances and finds himself in the league’s top five in rebounds and blocks. Either of them would have no problem whatsoever making this list on their own, but together, National U’s twin towers, well, tower over all the competition. LEBRON LOPEZ and JOSH LAZARO – Ateneo de Manila University LOPEZ’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 1.1 steals LAZARO’S ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 13.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.1 steals What National U has in imposing big men, Ateneo has in versatile forwards. Lebron Lopez and Josh Lazaro are long-limbed, athletic, and agile and it is when they share the floor together that the Blue Eagles do the most damage. Lopez, standing at 6-foot-5, has the higher ceiling between the two and is now already in the league’s top five in blocks and rebounds, but he remains in the process of putting it all together after having a tough time seeing the court when he was still in La Salle Green Hills. The 6-foot-4 Lazaro, meanwhile, has always been solid even when he was reppin’ San Beda and has only translated that, as well as a more well-rounded game, now in blue and white. Katipunan may have lost Sotto, but its future remains secure with these talented transferees who have done nothing but make an immediate impact. GERRY ABADIANO – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.5 steals Other guards have the highlights and the numbers, but in terms of being a court general, Gerry Abadiano is still the standard. National U has the most loaded team in all of high school, but its engine remains in good condition with much thanks to the leadership of Abadiano. The Bullpups’ boat just could not be rocked with the 5-foot-11 guard’s hands at the wheel as everybody from Carl Tamayo to Echo Laure and from Terrence Fortea to Steve Nash Enriquez heeds the call of their captain. And when the blue and gold needs a shot all of a sudden? All of us could count on Abadiano to hit his patented midrange jumper. Now that’s a leader. FORTHSKY PADRIGAO – Ateneo de Manila University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 19.4 points, 19 total threes, 4.4 rebounds, 4.0 steals, 3.9 assists No doubt about it, Ateneo is now Forthsky Padrigao’s show to run for the foreseeable future. With his running mate in Sotto having taken his talents to the US, Padrigao has been thrust into the spotlight by his lonesome – and he has done nothing but shine. The playmaking is still there as the 5-foot-11 guard is tops in the league in assists, but he has now also unleashed his scoring skills to the tune of 19.4 points per game – second-best among all players. The shooting percentages have a long ways to go, but it’s just a matter of time before Padrigao truly makes himself into Katipunan’s next great point guard. PENNY ESTACIO – Far Eastern University-Diliman ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.1 points, 16 total threes, 6.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.7 steals There’s a reason FEU-Diliman went all-out in securing the services of Penny Estacio – and he has wasted no time repaying their full faith. A year after showing promise at the point of the attack for San Beda, Estacio has now blossomed into a primetime playmaker for the Baby Tamaraws. The 5-foot-11 guard could make plays for his teammates, of course, but as of right now, his capabilities and confidence are all about making plays for himself all the way to the top five in scoring. And make no mistake, Estacio is no points guard – he also uses his long limbs to good use by harassing opposing guards into turnovers he quickly converts into scoring opportunities for the green and gold. TERRENCE FORTEA – Nazareth School of National University ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 12.6 points, 19 total threes, 2.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists To be honest, Terrence Fortea has not had a good season – for his high standards, at the very least. The shooting percentages have not been kind to Fortea thus far as he is yet to hit the mark, especially from beyond the arc. Still, the 5-foot-10 scoring guard remains a frightening sight for opponents with the ball in his hands and with his uber-quick release always threatening. Terrence gonna Terrence and shooters gonna shoot – and all of the league is not at all looking forward to the game where the shots finally fall and fall and fall for Fortea. JOHN EROLON – Adamson High School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 14.6 points, 25 total threes, 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals There’s a new marksman in town – and he is wearing the colors of Adamson. John Erolon, the Baby Falcons’ prized recruit from Dumaguete’s St. Louis of Don Bosco, has only proven that his shooting touch in the 2019 National Basketball Training Centre was no mirage as he has scorched the UAAP Jrs. nets for the second-most total threes after the first round. The other facets of his game have much room for improvement, of course, but there is no doubt that the rookie already has an elite skill on lock. KEAN BACLAAN – De La Salle Zobel ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals DLSZ has not had its day under the sun since the days of Aljun Melecio, but with the entry of talented transferee Kean Baclaan, it hoped its time would come again. Thus far, Baclaan has held up his end of the bargain with his super scoring already making its way to the UAAP Jrs. all while doing a little bit of everything else. Now, all that’s left for the 5-foot-8 playmaker to do is to energize the rest of his teammates so that the Jr. Archers could finally put an end to their three-year playoff drought. SEAN TORCULAS – University of the Philippines Integrated School ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 10.6 points, 17.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 2.4 blocks Yes, UPIS remains winless. Yes, head coach Paolo Mendoza’s eight-man rotation plays somewhere between 15 to 34 minutes per game. Yes, statistics never tell the true story. Still, being first in rebounds, first in blocks, second in assists, and third in steals in a league filled to the brim with talent is nothing to brush aside – especially if you are an undersized forward. That’s exactly what Sean Torculas has done after Round 1, though, and it is, without a doubt, all because his motor never stops working. That’s exactly what a rebuilding team wants and needs from its building block. JACOB CORTEZ – University of Sto. Tomas ROUND 1 AVERAGES: 16.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals UST has its own talented transferee who has, thus far, flown under the radar, in Jacob Cortez. Nonetheless, the son of ex-pro Mike Cortez has begun to open eyes as he has the ability to score from all over the floor. With “Cool Cat” genes in him, the 5-foot-9 has only made sure that the Tiger Cubs remain a threat in the post-Mark Nonoy era. HONORABLE MENTIONS Jorick Bautista – Far Eastern University-Diliman John Dalisay – De La Salle Zobel --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 28th, 2019

UAAP Season 82 Finals: Ito yung sakit na for sure na matututo kami -- Ayo

University of Sto. Tomas head coach Aldin Ayo believed that his Growling Tigers could measure up against the mighty Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball Finals. For some it was a longshot or UST may have just overachieved but Ayo held on to his faith that they had what it takes to give Ateneo a run for its money. That’s why the Growling Tigers’ defeat hurt even more.    “In a way [overachieve] pero I told the kids na it is more painful to lose in the Finals than not making it to the Final Four,” said Ayo on Wednesday after UST absorbed a 79-86 loss to three-peat champion Blue Eagles on Wednesday at the MOA Arena. The fourth-seeded Tigers’ journey to the championship – their first since a runner-up finish in 2015 – toughened UST up when they won against Far Eastern University in the first semis stepladder phase and pulled off an upset over twice-to-beat University of the Philippines. But reality hit them hard against an unbeaten and well-experienced foe. “I told them that na dumating kami dito, we need to make sure that we are up to it,” said Ayo. “Mas masakit ito. Pero ito yung sakit na for sure na matututo kami.” The series opener showed the dominance of the Blue Eagles. The Tigers gave Ateneo a scare midway in the fourth quarter of Game 2 only to falter in the end. “Siguro, ngayong Game Two. Pero yung Game One, it was a learning experience for us especially dun sa mga rookies. I'm sure, they were able to learn a lot, especially playing in a Finals atmosphere. Dun kami nagkaproblema nung Game One,” said Ayo. “’Yung Game Two naman, there were stretches na I was really disappointed. There were things na hindi namin nagawa especially sa depensa,” he added. “But I told the boys that I may look like disappointed but actually, I was disappointed with myself and sa coaching staff. Yun yung mga bagay na tinrabaho namin nung preseason na lumabas dito sa Finals na in-exploit ng Ateneo.” The Tigers may be licking their wounds right now but what they learned this season gave UST the much needed fuel for next year. “Next season madadala namin ‘yung experience namin this season especially sa nine rookies namin,” said Ayo.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 21st, 2019

NCAA 95 Finals: Game 2 loss fuels Letran to title conquest

When Bonbon Batiller missed a championship-winning reverse lay-up in Game 2 of the NCAA Season 95 seniors basketball Finals series and San Beda University living to fight another day, many doubted Letran’s ability to recover from a loss. The Red Lions, holding on to its bid for a four-peat, looked ready to turn the tables around in the series decider. But the Knights proved their doubters wrong. The moon and the stars aligned Tuesday night for the Intramuros-based squad as Letran completed a storybook finish with an 81-79 victory over dethroned San Beda U at the jampacked MOA Arena. Destiny fulfilled for the Knights. “There’s always a reason for everything. ‘Yun ang sinasabi ko sa mga players para hindi sila ma-down and madala pa rin ang momentum going to today’s game,” said Tan, recalling how he comforted his squad after a 76-79 Game 2 loss last Friday. Tan just needed to remind his boys that they had faced adversities before and emerged triumphant each time to get to where they are. It started with the elimination round push to claim the third seed in the stepladder semis and continued with the knockout matches against San Sebastian College and the favored no. 2 Lyceum of the Philippines University to the shocking Game 1 win in the Finals. Letran made miracles. They just needed to make another one. “‘Yung pagkatalo namin sa second game maraming nagsasabi na hindi na daw kami makakabangon,” said Tan. “We have a lot of trials during the whole season naman. Lahat ng mga laban sa stepladder hindi naman ibinigay sa atin ng basta-basta. Ang mga panalo nun carried us, yung momentum, until this series.” Hope and faith, Tan preached. “Playing a team like San Beda, 18-0, defending champion alam nating mahirap pero again walang imposible sabi ko sa mga players,” said the mentor, who last year was Letran’s consultant and team manager before taking over the reins from Jeff Napa. “’Stay positive, continue the momentum na na-gain natin during the elimination and sa stepladder, we’ll be OK. Nandoon lang tayo wag tayo bibitaw.’” Instead of feeling down after their defeat, the Knights found comfort with each other. “After we lost Game 2, usually kasi may mga teams na medyo sumasabog na kaagad,” said Tan. “Nakita ko ang maturity ng mga players when we went back sa drawing board sa practice namin, instead of malungkot and magkagulo sila and sisihan nagtatawanan pa sila.” He knew they’ll be OK in Game 3. “Nandoon ang composure nila, nandoon ang camaraderie. Mas naging buo nu’ng pagkatalo sa Game 2. Sa ganoong klase na nakikita ko sa team, sa mga players ko, naniniwala ako na may chance manalo ngayon sa third game,” Tan said. “Ang usapan namin no regrets, whatever result, basta we work for everything we have to work. Bahala na si Lord,” he added. “’Yun nakampihan lang kami ng swerte rin, yun ang pinakamagandang kakampi ngayon sa ganitong klaseng game na knockout game.” Tan’s hunch was right. The Knights owned the night.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 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: Rockets see Harden, Westbrook team up

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: Houston Rockets 2018-19 Record: 53-29, lost to the Warriors in the conference semifinals Key additions: Russell Westbrook (trade), Tyson Chandler (free agency), Ben McLemore (free agency) Key departures: Chris Paul The lowdown: Juiced by yet another epic, and on some levels, historic season by James Harden, the Rockets amassed 50 wins, reached the playoffs and were denied (again) by the Golden State Warriors. As in 2018, this ouster was met with a high degree of frustration. The year before, Houston lost Paul to a hamstring injury late in the series and fell in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. This time, the Rockets were unable to beat a Golden State team that clinched the series in Game 6 without Kevin Durant (who got injured in Game 5 of the series), a cold slap of an ending to Houston's realistic Finals hopes. In one of the NBA's all-time best offensive seasons, Harden averaged 36.1 points per game and revived Houston's season while Paul was on the mend from yet another injury. Harden scored 30 or more in 32 straight games, scored 50 or more nine times and had two 61-point games. He was a singular force with the ball and didn’t show any wear in the postseason. Unlike Paul, Harden was a symbol of sturdiness and strength, averaging 36.8 minutes per game in 78 games played. Paul played only 58 games, although when healthy he was respectable (8.2 apg) and at times looked like an All-Star. However, his customarily high level of play dropped a few floors. Eric Gordon played solid enough to earn a max extension, and Clint Capela gave the Rockets a front-line weapon at both ends. The Carmelo Anthony experience folded after 10 games, but Houston got supporting help from Austin Rivers and PJ Tucker (who was noticeably effective in the playoffs). Another effective-yet-disappointing year was unacceptable to ownership and, quite honestly, the locker room as well. Summer summary: When he purchased the Rockets for $2.2 billion a few years ago, owner Tilman Fertitta was a reasonable and patient man. He pledged his faith in GM Daryl Morey, sung the gospel of Harden and thought the world of Paul. But everyone has their limits and Fertitta was clearly discouraged by the manner and speed in which the Rockets were bounced last season. Something had to be done and a big opportunity presented itself. When Kawhi Leonard signed with the LA Clippers and convinced Paul George to request a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, it led to Westbrook being available. While this was happening, Harden and Paul were having relationship issues, or at least that was the word in Rockets’ circles. Just two years earlier they were thrilled to be teammates and even made commercials together. Now, they were on the outs. Therefore, the solution was simple: Trade Paul and his hefty contract for Westbrook and his hefty contract, and reunite a pair of Kia MVP winners. Advantage, Rockets? It bears repeating that Harden and Westbrook are tight and respectful of each other’s accomplishments, because this will be worth revisiting if this attempt to help Harden win a ring fails like the others. That relationship is the selling point, because based purely on styles of play, this appears to be major clash. Both players need the ball, perhaps more than any two players in the NBA right now, if not in history. They’re high-usage talents, meaning, they work best when creating opportunities for themselves or teammates and neither can happen if they’re playing off the ball. Westbrook has never done that in his NBA life and Harden only did so briefly as a youngster with OKC. Harden gave the trade his blessing, and once the deal was done, both players said all the right things -- if anything, they scolded any observers who dared to raise the obvious. Can it work? Well, sure, but it’ll take some concessions by both players, and coach Mike D’Antoni must change (if not overhaul) his system in order to accommodate this duo. Meanwhile, the Rockets are somewhat on the clock. It is not to say that Harden and Westbrook are approaching their sunset years, but the chances of playing for a title are increased if the two players click sooner than later. There’s also a question of what Westbrook has left. His efficiency and 3-point shooting faded last season. Will defenses respect him when he’s left open in Houston? He at least appears to have more in the tank than Paul, which was another reason the Rockets were anxious to make this swap. For all of his explosiveness, Westbrook is rather durable and dependable; the same can’t be said of Paul as he approaches his mid-30s. Westbrook was sad to leave OKC, the only team he’d ever known, a city that embraced him and a franchise that gave him a supermax contract. Now he’s going to a new team where the demand for June basketball will only increase. The last time he and Harden were teammates, they did play in June, where they lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012. Can they make a triumphant return together? Given all they’ve accomplished -- MVPs, scoring titles, triple-doubles, All-Star appearances -- they’re certainly due. A championship is all they’re missing. 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 26th, 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

With its arsenal fully loaded, UE s ambush good to go in UAAP 82

HOW’D THEY DO LAST SEASON? 1-13, eighth YES, THEY’RE STILL HERE: Chris Conner, Philip Manalang WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: John Apacible, Alex Diakhite, Jed Mendoza, Harvey Pagsanjan, Richie Rodger, Rey Suerte, Neil Tolentino GOOD LUCK ON FUTURE ENDEAVORS: Reymark Acuno, Wilson Bartolome, Alvin Pasaol, Jason Varilla WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM UE? UE operated in the shadows in the offseason – begging off the 2019 Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament and hiding its true form once it played games. Still, the red and white made the loudest noise in the lead-up to UAAP 82 – so much so that it was named ABS-CBN Sports' co-King of Recruiting for 2019. Indeed, the Red Warriors of this year will look definitely different from last year’s iteration as all of 6-foot-9 Senegalese Alex Diakhite, Hope Christian High School standout Harvey Pagsanjan, three-time champion and two-time MVP in CESAFI Rey Suerte, ex-Jose Rizal University super scorer Jed Mendoza, former Ateneo de Manila University forward John Apacible, defensive stopper Neil Tolentino, and Filipino-Kiwi swingman Ritchie Rodger are now flanking team captain Philip Manalang. Without a doubt, that fully loaded lineup is the best Recto has had in recent history – and it is nothing but ready and raring to take everybody by surprise and take the league by storm. Now, the only question is if its coaching staff has what it takes to make it all work. ????? IGMA KADIMA COMING SOON A team of new beginnings, the Red Warriors hit the hardcourt in 8 days ????? #UAAPSeason82 pic.twitter.com/rERUFKrpC2 — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) August 27, 2019 WHO IS/ARE THE PLAYER/S TO WATCH OUT FOR FROM UE? The early exit of Alvin Pasaol will be a big blow to any team, but UE has full faith it has a ready-made replacement in Suerte. While the 6-foot-3 long-limbed forward does not have the blend of size and speed Pasaol had, he is a scoring machine in his own right and has long terrorized Visayan defenses with his shot-taking and shot-making ability from all over the court. The same can be said for Pagsanjan who has long been college-ready. For now, however, the pride of Hope Christian will only be needed to contribute whatever and whenever he can with the likes of Manalang, Suerte and Jed Mendoza, another one-and-done recruit, carrying the offensive load. Add to that Diakhite, who has all the confidence and the capability to position himself right away alongside Bright Akhuetie and Ange Kouame as one of the best foreign student-athletes, and the Red Warriors are sure to be pushoevers no more. WHY SHOULD WE ROOT FOR UE? The last time UE was in the Final Four and the Finals, Paul Lee was still donning the red and white. It has been a decade since and this fully loaded lineup may very well put an end to that drought – that is if and only if there are no complications when it comes to coaching. Whatever it is, the Red Warriors are overdue for a breakthrough and it will not be farfetched to see our co-King of Recruiting for 2019 coming through. WHERE WOULD UE BE AT THE END OF UAAP SEASON 82? UE will be far, far away from the bottom of the standings it had been languishing in as of late. With Diakhite dominating inside, Suerte and Mendoza scoring in bunches, Pagsanjan doing it all, and Manalang showing the way, the Red Warriors will be battling for a playoff berth. And if they do not get derailed by their own doing, it also will not be a surprise if the red and white will be fighting for the championship itself. WHEN IS UE’S FIRST GAME IN UAAP SEASON 82? UE finally comes out of the shadows in a matchup with fellow upstart UST on September 4 at Araneta Coliseum Check the dates. Set your alarms. Save as wallpaper. This is UE BASKETBALL! ?????#UAAPSeason82 pic.twitter.com/ZEsKG3ZA3Z — ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) August 27, 2019 Of course, everybody goes All for More and, as always, all of the action will be on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and livestream. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2019

San Beda s sweep of NCAA 95 Round 1 on deck for August 27 to 30

These are the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament games from August 27 to 30 all of us just CAN NOT miss! TUESDAY, 10:00 a.m., Red Cubs vs Red Robins Champions of two of the last three years up against champions from 2009 to 2015 – what could be better than that? Defending champion Mapua is on the hunt for its biggest win yet and has its sights set on a statement win against league-leading San Beda. The Red Cubs and the Red Robins do battle and y'all can watch VIA LIVESTREAM. TUESDAY, 12:00 p.m., Letran vs CSB CSB head coach TY Tang said he has full faith his boys will get at least one against San Beda or Letran. They lost to the Red Lions a week ago – so that means, the Blazers’ last chance to prove their coach correct is up against the Knights. Easier said than done, though, as the Intramuros-based squad is itself searching for a mighty rebound following back-to-back losses. The Knights and the Blazers do battle and y'all can watch on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant as well as livestream. TUESDAY, 2:00 p.m., San Beda vs Mapua San Beda is on track for yet another clean sweep of the first round. Only, a Mapua side that has finally gotten off the ground is the last obstacle for that happening. The dynastic Red Lions get challenged by the young and hungry Cardinals in a battle between contender and upstart. The Red Lions and the Cardinals do battle and y'all can watch on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant as well as livestream. FRIDAY, 10:00 a.m., Jr. Blazers vs Light Bombers Two teams that have cooled off after red-hot starts to the season collide when CSB-LSGH is pitted against JRU. The Jr. Blazers, losers of two of their last three games, are eyeing a fine finish to the first round even as the Light Bombers, on a two-game skid, are eyeing a much-needed bounce back win. The Jr. Blazers and the Light Bombers do battle and y'all can watch VIA LIVESTREAM. FRIDAY, 12:00 p.m., CSB vs JRU In the last few years, CSB has impressed right out of the gates only to suffer a downward spiral in the second round. The Blazers want nothing more than to change their fate and, as such, want nothing more than to take care of business against the dangerous Heavy Bombers. The Blazers and the Heavy Bombers do battle and y'all can watch on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, and iWant as well as livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2019

NCAA 95: Mapua has full faith Pao Hernandez can be next king of the sky

Pao Hernandez took until just one month to go before the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament to completely commit to Mapua University. This, long after he wowed just about everybody in Mapua High School’s championship run last season. Once Hernandez completely committed to continue in Intramuros, though, he set all of his heart and mind into it. And this time around, it didn’t take too long for the prized rookie to make an immediate impact in the ongoing NCAA 95. Averaging 8.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.1 steals through eight games, he has wasted no time in turning himself into a key cog in the Cardinals’ quest to take flight once more. Hernandez has delivered the goods the most in the three-game winning streak they are currently in where he has norms of 15 points, 1.3 triples, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 1.6 assists. For the remarkable rookie season he has been turning in thus far, his mentor is nothing but proud. "Alam na natin na kahit isang taong lang 'to sa amin sa Jrs., nakita ko na agad yung leadership. Matapang, Finals MVP, hindi biro yung nagawa niya nun," Mapua head coach Randy Alcantara said. And so, of course, the two-time NCAA Jrs. and one-time MBPL champion coach is only happy to have the 6-foot-3 sweet-shooting forward on his side. This, after more than a few teams also expressed interest in Hernandez. For the 20-year-old's part, though, there was one and only one way to go. "Familiarity ang gusto ko at alam ni Coach Randy kung paano ako gamitin. Yung teammates ko rin, kilala na namin ang isa't-isa," he said. He then continued, "Kaya yun ang pinili ko - familiarity." And now he has established, and is reinforcing, himself in Intramuros, his mentor has full faith he is there to stay - and is there to bring back Mapua to continued contention. "Nakikita ko na after (team captain) [Laurenz] Victoria, magiging mukha na ng Cardinals si Paolo Hernandez," coach Randy said. Without a doubt, that is high praise for a rookie, however prized as he may be, but without a doubt as well, Hernandez does have what it takes to be a future King Cardinal. For now, though, he wants nothing more than to help his alma mater get back on track. As he put it, "Masaya ako sa tiwala ni coach, pero 'di ko muna iniisip yun. This season muna, tiyaga-tiyaga lang, step-by-step lang." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 16th, 2019

Robinsons Retail Group and Robina Farms continue to back the UP Fighting Maroons

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons will continue to get valuable support from their most loyal and staunchest supporters, the Robinsons Retail Group and Universal Robina Corporation’s Agro Industrial Group (URC-AIG), as they continue their build-up for the upcoming UAAP season and beyond. They officially renewed their partnership recently with Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. President and CEO Robina Gokongwei-Pe, and URC-AIG Group Business Unit General Manager Vincent Henry Go, and UP Fighting Maroons Team Manager Agaton Uvero and Head Coach Bo Perasol signing the Memorandum of Agreement at the UP Executive House in Diliman, Quezon City. Robina Gokongwei-Pe, a UP alumna and avid backer of the Fighting Maroons involved Robinsons Supermarket and Handyman as Fighting Maroons supporters in 2010. Even as UP went winless and won only a total of three games in four seasons (2010-2013), Robina and her group stuck it out with the country’s premier state university in its quest back to relevancy in the field of sports. More recently, Universal Robina Corporation’s Agro- Industrial Group, through its premium farm products unit Robina Farms, was added to the companies that threw its support behind the Fighting Maroons. “We firmly believe that the UP Fighting Maroons shares the same values as us, such as passion for excellence and loyalty to our stakeholders. As we renew our official support for the men’s basketball team, we want them to continue to imbibe the same things that our company lives by as they seek to surpass last year’s achievement. This upcoming UAAP Season 82, it would be another great privilege to stand by this team together with the whole UP community. Hoping to exemplify ISKOs values of honor and excellence in every endeavor” said Vincent Henry Go of AIG’s Robina Farms. “UP’s run last year is proof that everything is possible,” said Universal Robina Corporation – Agro Industrial Group’s Marketing Director Jonathan Diño. “Hopefully, this year’s team will build on what Batch 81 started and bring home the UAAP Championship for the first time since ’86. It’s UP’s time! They should take it. They deserve it.” “We’re always grateful for all the support we have received from our alumni, especially from Ms. Gokongwei and her group of companies, who have been with us through our ups and downs. This team knows what it’s like to be at the bottom, to lack basic necessities like food and allowances. We are thankful for the faith and loyalty of the Robinsons Retail Group,” said UP head coach Bo Perasol. Also present at the signing besides Robina Gokongwei-Pe and Vincent Henry Go were Willy Co (Handyman Vice Chairman), Jody Gadia (Robinsons Supermarket Managing Director), Stanley Co (Handyman Group General Manager), Katherine Yu (Daiso General Manager), Agnes Rafinan (TGP General Manager), Abet Liuson (TGP AVP – Supply Chain), Dr. Florante Palabrica (Robina Farms Farm Operations Director), and Jonathan Dino (Robina Farms Marketing Manager). The Fighting Maroons fresh from their Championship run in Taiwan’s Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) Cup coupled with offseason trainings in Las Vegas and Japan, look to give back to their supporters in Season 82......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 14th, 2019

Captain CJ Cansino? Better believe it in UAAP 82, UST

University of Sto. Tomas will be heading into the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament with a whole lot of optimism. Aside from big-time recruits, the Growling Tigers are also all set to welcome back with open arms a CJ Cansino who has fully recovered from an ACL tear. "Naglalaro na siya, actually. Almost two or three weeks na nga siya nagpa-practice," head coach Aldin Ayo shared about the recovery of their prized ward. Even better, there could be no fear that Cansino wouldn’t be back to his good old talented self. "(Hindi) lilimitahan yung minuto kasi we made sure na pagbalik niya, full blast na lahat. We made sure na pagbalik niya, he's really ready to play," he said. Last year, his first in the UAAP Srs., the 6-foot-2 swingman did nothing but impress by posting per game counts of 12.8 points in 44 percent shooting, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists before injuring his knee. Prior to that, he also became the first rookie since 2003 to tally a triple-double. Without a doubt, UST's future looked like it hinged on its homegrown talent. And even after the ACL tear, coach Aldin still believes as much - so much so that he has named the sophomore star as team captain. "Siya lang ang sophomore na captain ball. We have a lot of leaders like si Renzo [Subido], si Enrique [Caunan], si Zach Huang who's the co-captain, pero si CJ, buo na yung batang yun e," he said. He then continued, "Although he's a sophomore, yung respeto sa kanya ng team, nandoon na and I have no doubt he can lead us." For his part, the 19-year-old said he is nothing but grateful for the full faith his one-time NCAA and one-time UAAP champion coach has in him. "Una sa lahat, siyempre masaya ako kasi binigyan ako ni coach ng responsibility na maging team captain kahit sophomore pa lang ako, pero at the same time, binigyan niya ako ng confidence dahil sa dami ng players, ako pa yung napili niya," he said. Now he is the official leader of the Growling Tigers, Cansino has but one promise for the faithful over at Espana. "Siyempre, gusto ko ma-lead yung team sa mga panalo at sa championship. Gagawin ko lahat nang makakaya ko every game at every practice para matulungan yung coaching staff pati yung teammates ko para mag-grow kami lahat hanggang maabot namin yung goal namin," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 12th, 2019

PBA: Mark Barroca got a lovely surprise last Father s Day

Magnolia guard Mark Barroca received the most precious gift a man could ever receive last Father’s Day. Though it took a month before the basketball star’s wife, Ruselle, to post the good news on her Youtube channel, it was still a heart-warming video for the now growing Barroca family nonetheless, as they announced that they are expecting a new baby.  “S’yempre sobrang overwhelmed ako,” said a very happy Mark Barroca on Sunday before the Hotshots’ Manila Clasico match against Barangay Ginebra in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Big Dome.    “Noong Father’s Day pa ‘yun, eh maaga pa para magsabi na buntis na siya eh kasi pwede pang mawala ‘yun ‘di ba?” he added. “So hinintay muna namin magkaroon ng heartbeat, nagpa-check up kami and ayun may heartbeat na.” Mark Barroca said that it is blessing that the couple has been praying for years.                View this post on Instagram                   Nung nakaraang Father’s Day, sobra akong natuwa sa regalo na binigay ng asawa ko. Yun na yung pinaka maganda at pinaka masarap na feeling naramdaman ko sa regalo na binigay niya sa akin. Salamat, Panginoon. Thank you mahal????????. Mahal na mahal ko kayo! Kung gusto nyong malaman kung ano yun please click the link in my bio. Blessed Sunday!!!!! A post shared by Andy Mark Barroca (@mark14barroca) on Jul 6, 2019 at 8:37pm PDT “Ang tagal namin hinintay, ang tagal namin nag-try and biniyayaan kami. Worth it para sa amin kasi ang tagal ng inantay namin, ang tagal na pinag-pray namin,” he said. “Ilang breaks na kami sa team na pumunta kami ng ibang bansa para mag try na magka baby pero wala talaga.” After Magnolia’s 2019 Philippine Cup Finals heartbreak to sister-team San Miguel Beer, Mark asked Ruselle for a short vacation in Dubai. A time away from the daily grind of playing professional basketball.   “Noong Dubai nga, biglaan lang. Pagkatapos namin ng Finals pumunta kami,” said Mark. “Sabi ko nga sobrang blessing na hindi man kami nanalo [sa championship] at least ‘yung blessing [na magkaroon ng anak] ‘yung mga hindi mababayaran na moment na narinig ko galing sa asawa ko.” Then came the Father’s Day surprise. Russelle filmed her preparation all the way to handing Mark her gift. Together with their 6-year-old daughter, Natalie Faith, Mark got the best gift that special day. “Tinanong niya kasi ako kung anong gift daw gusto ko para sa Father’s Day, sabi ko sa kanya na kahit ano lang na ibibigay niya. ‘Yun pala pinaghandaan niya, na-surprise talaga ako,” he said. “Kasi noong pagbigay niya ng regalo, nagulat ako, ‘Uy, ano to?’ Pagkakita ko may damit ng bata eh wala nang bata sa amin eh, malaki na si Natalie.” “Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Buntis ka ba?’ And sabi niya nga na four weeks na, sobrang saya ko lang noong time na ‘yun,” he added. Though the couple has yet to know the gender of their baby, Mark said that they already have possible names in mind. “May pangalan na kami, hindi pa namin sasabihin,” he said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019

Steph Curry makes faithful moves through production company

By Jonathan Landrum Jr., Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Stephen Curry may be a sharpshooting three-time NBA champion, but he is quickly building a career away from the court to inspire the masses through his burgeoning production company. The Golden State Warriors superstar is strategically producing content that focuses on sports, family and faith through Unanimous Media, which he co-founded with Jeron Smith and Erick Peyton. The newly-formed production company already has several projects under its belt including a major studio film, network television show and a couple documentaries in just a year. Curry, 31, said he wants to “uplift people who need to be uplifted.” “We’ve been very selective about the things we want to bring to our audience,” he said. “In our first year, we really wanted to make people think, feel, laugh, cry and challenge them. When I’m out on the court, I’m all about inspiring people with my faith — win or lose. I try to do it with glory and with a smile on my face. We’re trying to take that same idea to our projects.” One of Curry’s latest projects features himself in his original docuseries “Stephen vs. The Game ” on Facebook Watch, a video-on-demand service. The six-episode series chronicles his journey through this past season, featuring behind-the-scenes footage of Curry’s intense training regiment, family life and old videos from his youth basketball career. He and his wife, Ayesha, open up about their first date, and the reasoning behind his ritual of writing the partial Bible verse “I can do all things” on his basketball shoes since his days at Davidson College. The Currys have three children. The upcoming season finale will focus on the Warriors’ injury-riddled playoff run that ended in the back-to-back champs losing the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors this month. “The finish this season was one of the most vulnerable ones,” he said. “Everybody wants the storybook ending where you have all these challenges and bumps in the road, but you end up at the finish line holding up the trophy, but it doesn’t always work out like that. But I learned a lot along the way, and I hope others can learn from watching my walk too.” Smith said it’s all a part of Curry’s plan to impact the world in a positive manner through media. “Everything is definitely by design,” said Smith, a former Nike brand manager and White House deputy of digital strategy during the Obama administration. He is the CEO, and Peyton serves as CCO for the production company. “The first thing executives at Sony told us was that this is a tough business,” he said. “But what has helped us be successful is that everything we’re doing is rooted in purpose. That purpose gives us a point of view as you’re moving forward, as opposed to how a traditional media company would do it.” The docuseries is among a slew of projects from Curry’s Unanimous Media, which is a play off him becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history in 2016. Last year, Unanimous Media struck a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to produce television and film projects. The production company will have its production headquarters on the Sony backlot in Culver City, California. So far, Curry has received executive producer credits with actress Viola Davis for the new documentary “Emanuel,” which explored life after a tragic South Carolina church shooting in 2015, and the inspirational film “Breakthrough,” a modestly budget faith-based movie that opened third at the box office earning $11.1 million in the first week. “It was powerful movie, but it wasn’t just about the money it made,” Curry said. “It was about the people who text, DM and texted me to get their take on life and faith. Those moments are special.” Unanimous is also behind a mini-golf competition show on ABC called “Holey Moley,” which drew 4.87 million viewers after it premiered June 20. The company is working on a docuseries about a storied high school basketball program in New Jersey called “Benedict Men,” which is expected to release when the streaming platform Quibi launches next year, and a documentary “JUMP SHOT,” which tells the story of Kenny Sailors, who developed the modern day jump shot in basketball. Curry is a part of a movement of NBA players who are creating production companies including LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Kobe Bryant won an Oscar for his animated short “Dear Basketball.” The Warriors point guard said he was inspired to move into the TV and film production space after seeing their success, but he wants to pave his own way with his own message. “Everybody needs examples,” Curry said. “But I’m going to do this my way. They’re doing amazing stuff. This space is big enough for everybody to win. In terms of our projects, we are going to stay true to ourselves. It’s all about changing people’s lives. I never want to get away from inspiring people.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 27th, 2019

Five things we learned from Game 4 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 105-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2019 NBA Finals on Friday at Oracle Arena: 1. Dynasties eventually become ‘die-nastys’ Will we get one more game at Oracle Arena? The scene of so much Golden State wonderfulness the past five seasons? A building about to be abandoned when the Warriors move from Oakland to a state-of-the-art arena across the Bay? Hold up. Asking one more game out of the Warriors seems a lot at the moment. These guys just suffered their second consecutive home playoff loss by 10 points or more, something that hasn’t happened to this franchise in 50 years. After three straight games scoring precisely 109 points, the Warriors came up 15 short Friday (Saturday, PHL time). They are 0-9 overall this season when held to double digits, and 0-11 in the playoffs during the Steve Kerr era, when they score 94 or fewer. And now they’re on the wrong side of a 3-1 deficit, lacking everything from certain healthy bodies to an edge, a sharpness that was missing in the second half. Granted, Golden State once held a 3-1 edge in a Finals, all the way back in 2016 … when LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers chased them down and became the only Finals team to claw out of such a chasm. The Warriors did the same to Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference finals. So they not only have a blueprint, they have the know-how and an opportunity to do it again. Like Kerr before him on Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) postgame podium, Warriors forward Draymond Green spoke of simply trying to win one basketball game, the next game, as the proper way to dig out of this series hole. But then he dropped his guard and mentioned winning three in a row, something the Warriors have done often. But they’re a whole year removed from doing that in a Finals (last year’s sweep of the Cavs) with a healthy Kevin Durant. This is a more worn-down, tired team. In fact, Game 4 was more than Golden State’s 102nd game of 2018-19, regular and postseason combined. It was the 102nd playoff game of their five consecutive Finals runs, which means they have crammed an extra season-plus into their schedules compared to the underachievers on lottery teams sitting at home. From the looks of it Friday (Saturday, PHL time), these guys are ready to be toppled, like the Lakers in 1989 and again in 2004, like the Heat in 2014 and the Cavaliers last June. The boisterous Raptors fans who staged their takeover of the Warriors’ building after Game 4 were merely mirroring what their favorite team did on the court from halftime on. Golden State could not stop it. Rudy Tomjanovich might still be inclined to scream into the darkness. (“Never underestimate the heart of a champion!”) But pride only takes you so far, and that’s mostly what the Warriors have left. 2. Third quarter? That’s Toronto’s now It took the Raptors more than 18 minutes to score 30 points Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), stymied by the pace of the game and particularly Golden State’s scrappy, hustling defense. Immediately after halftime, it took Toronto only 12 minutes to put up 37. The time of death for Golden State on Friday was immediately after Kawhi Leonard drained consecutive three-pointers – “F-you” shots, teammate Fred VanVleet memorably coined them – that boosted Toronto from a four-point deficit to a 12-point advantage. The Warriors already had played well enough to rightly feel they should have had a bigger cushion; falling behind so rudely seemed to buckle the defending champs. That they feel third quarters are their birthright made the switcheroo intolerable. “We had a big problem with the third quarter in Game 2,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “We had to make some adjustment there to try to combat the way they come out of the half. We made the decision to put Fred in, [first] in Game 3 and then Game 4 again. Mostly it's to try to keep up pace of our offense going. It gives us two point guards out there that can push the ball, get it in and get it going, and it kind of paid off. “I know Kawhi's two big three's to start the half really changed the whole feel of everybody. Everybody was like, ‘Okay, man, we know we are here, let's go,’ and we just kind of kept going from those two three's.” For the Warriors, who have done that to so many others, turnabout was a pain in the rump. “Oh, this sucks,” Draymond Green recalled thinking as Toronto took control of the quarter. “It sucks really bad. You just try and do whatever you can to change it. Get a stop, get a bucket, get some momentum.  Every time we did, they answered.” Green was asked about the difficulty of rattling the stone-faced Leonard with whatever defensive tactic Golden State could muster, and brushed the question aside. “I don't think you're ever going to rattle Kawhi. Not sure we used that word one time in our scouting report, ‘We're going to rattle him,’” Green said. But it’s not just Leonard now. It’s the Raptors. Time after time, whenever Golden State revved up with a couple of scoring possessions, signaling to their fans they ready to make a run, Toronto snuffed it with a three-pointer or a well-executed pick and roll. They’ve got a team of Kawhis-in-training, unflappable lately if not as inscrutable. “Most teams will take cues from their leaders or their star players, so I think that spreads around a little bit,” Nurse said. But he also praised vets such as Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and VanVleet for how steady they’ve been. Now, with the temptation to imagine hoisting a championship trophy, the Raptors might be expected to buy into the stat that, of the 34 teams in The Finals who have led 3-1, 33 of them got their rings. But this team is so focused, so resolute in taking care of business down to the smallest and most mundane task, that all Nurse might have to do is remind them how many aspiring champs won three games in a Finals and still headed into summer empty-handed. (It's 19.) No trophy, no rings. 3. A surge from Serge The chemistry between Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry was evident in their playful banter on the podium Friday night. Each slipped into his role, Lowry as the instigator, Ibaka as the target of his playful jibes. “You joining me?” Lowry asked, as Ibaka got to the podium a half minute after him. “Serge Ibaka, everybody. You all know him. Nice outfit. Worth a lot of money. Is that jacket real leather?” “Yes, it’s real leather,” Ibaka said. "Pants too tight, he can't even sit down,” Lowry said. On court, Ibaka’s defensive impact and 20 points in reserve dampened a lot of Warrior enthusiasm. There are nights when Ibaka comes across like Chief in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a large, lumbering and rather stiff option near the rim with very little to say. Some nights, he even seems to be asleep. But still waters often run deep, too deep for the Warriors in Game 4, it turned out. Ibaka’s here-today, gone-tomorrow shooting touch had him playing in a way that none of Golden State’s three centers – DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney or Andrew Bogut – could match. “Once he gets into the series," Nurse said, "which he did in Game 3 with the blocked shots and the rebounding and stuff, he seems to stay in the series. He usually gives you all of it.” Said Lowry, about knowing when a Serge surge is coming: “He doesn't say anything. When Serge is effective defensively is when he's at his best. I think the scoring just comes. We're going to make sure he gets that pick-and-pop jump shot, he's rolling … When he brings that intensity and that fierceness, it's kind of tough to stop him on both ends of the floor.” 4. Stephen Curry had a bad game One of the most famous pieces of magazine journalism ever was entitled, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” by Gay Talese, a profile written when Sinatra obviously was ill of body and temper, and didn’t even grant Talese an interview. So our headline kind of tells the story as his did: Curry, one of the top five players in the NBA and probably the greatest overall shooter of all time, was not his two-time MVP self. He wasn’t even the Game 3 version (47 points). The Warriors point guard scored 20 fewer points in this one, and was 2-of-9 from three-point range. He missed all five of his shots from the arc in the first half and he picked up some obvious frustration fouls. Curry played 43 of the 48 minutes, and Golden State was outscored by 11 points when he was on the court. “It wasn’t his best game,” Kerr said. Evaluating Curry, for the Warriors, was going to come down to breaking down video and keeping the faith. Evaluating him, for the rest of us, is getting complicated these days by a sense that Curry did not get his due in past Finals – at least in terms of winning the Bill Russell Award as Finals MVP. But that’s no excuse to don rose-colored glasses every time he hits the floor. As scintillating as his performance was in defeat Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) as the Warriors’ only healthy threat, his Game 4 work was raggedy and unproductive. “They have been aggressive all series and trying to take space away from me and Klay,” Curry said. “I missed some shots early that I usually make, especially from the three-point line. But overall, I thought I got good looks.” Every game doesn’t need to be a referendum on the level of Curry appreciation. He might have deserved more consideration as Finals MVP in 2015, when Andre Iguodala snagged it with a strong performance in the clinching game. And even though Kevin Durant was an easy choice in 2017, there were some who felt Curry was more essential (including this voter). In some cosmic and just way, Curry probably should have been recognized with hardware somewhere among the three. But all signs are pointing to Leonard now, so Curry might have to muddle along with "only" those two Maurice Podoloff trophies for regular-season MVP, along with his All-NBA berths and assorted accolades, his ginormous contract and bounty of commercial endorsements, three rings (unless this series turns around) and a better life than most people who’ve ever walked the planet. 5. Durant to play in Game … 8? It’s possible that Durant will come walking through Rick Pitino’s proverbial door and seize what’s left of the championship series by the throat, playing like the two-time Finals MVP he is. Failing that, if there’s a Game 6, maybe that’s the night Durant at least does a Willis Reed impersonation, limping through the Oracle tunnel to a thunderous roar and hitting a couple of early shots to inspire his teammates to something special. (There still, alas, would be a pesky Game 7 for which to account, back in Toronto, likely muddying the drama.) Then again, maybe Durant doesn’t come back at all. For The Finals or with the Warriors, period. Speculation at this point is all over the map. Some think the Warriors planned to hold him out until things got really dire, to buy extra healing time and maybe not use him at all. Others now believe Durant’s rehab process of his strained right calf back-slid to some degree on Thursday, when he participated in a checkpoint workout with the training staff. A few folks think he never was going to return, regardless. After all, the All-NBA forward hasn’t played since May 8 (May 9, PHL time), missing nine fairly important games. This is a league where injuries typically face an “If this were a playoff game, would he play?” threshold. Durant has been nearly as absent from this NBA postseason as LeBron James. Look, all injuries are different, and even the same type of injury can have different timelines with different sufferers. Klay Thompson rushing back from his hamstring issue after skipping only Game 3 is at the crazy-resilient end of the durability scale. Kevon Looney basically rose from the ashes, giving the Warriors a rim runner and 10 points with six rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. He had been ruled out for the rest of the series after suffering a rib cartilage fracture in his crash to the floor in Game 2. After anticipation of Durant’s availability got out in front of his reality for a few days, the chatter is more tempered now. There’s a shrug and a whiff of uncertainty folded into every mention. If Durant had his Thursday workout, he would have played Friday (Saturday, PHL time). If he had a setback … Heck, at this point it might be more pragmatic for the medical peeps to declare him out and let the Warriors who’ve come this far see this through, yea or nay. “As far as KD, there's been hope that he will come back the whole series,” Draymond Green said. “So that's not going to change now. Obviously we hope to have him, but we'll see what happens. We don't make that final call, he don't really even make that final call.  His body will tell him if he can get out there or not. And if he can, great. And if not, you still got to try to find a way to win the next game.” The Warriors had been holding out hope for Durant’s return as if he was their ace in the hole, imagining him with zero rust or rhythm issues once back and no limitations on his gait. But he has passed the “In case of emergency, break glass” point of urgent help possibilities. Now Durant resembles more the keg hanging from a Saint Bernard dog’s collar. It’s a nice idea, but when was the last time one of those dogs saved somebody who literally drank from the little barrel? Toronto is in a foreign land, by NBA standards. But it ain’t the Alps. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2019

Proud Parent Problems: For Currys, a fraught conference final

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — They are lock-step and lock-arm and also lock-jersey as they enter Oracle Arena in what is their crowning achievement as a basketball mom and dad. Dell and Sonya Curry are in the running for First Couple of the NBA, and in the Western Conference finals, this honor comes with an equal amount of pride and anxiety. “There’s so much emotion involved because you want both to do well, and here they are, on opposite benches,” says the mom. The father agreed, adding: “It’s hard for both of us.” [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Their sons are, of course, Stephen and Seth Curry, and their dilemma is being played out in front of millions on TV, who see Dell and Sonya sitting in the stands wearing custom-made split jerseys honoring both players. For Game 1, Dell had Steph’s No. 30 Warriors jersey on the front and Seth’s No. 31 Blazers on the back, and vice versa for Sonya. They’ll switch up as the series goes along because the parents never want to show favoritism for any of their children. “Somebody’s going to lose and we’re going to the Finals with one of them and it will be bittersweet,” Dell Curry said. “But whomever doesn’t go to the Finals for his team will be there for his brother.” Aside from this being a sweet story involving a close-knit and stable family, what’s amazing about this is that it's happening at all. Yes, the NBA has had a fair share of siblings before -- do you know how many Plumlees are cashing basketball checks? -- but never in the same conference finals. And what’s more, neither of the Curry boys dropped strong hints, even as far as high school, that they’d be on anybody’s NBA bench. But religion and faith run through all the Currys and the parents, who’ve been married 31 years, must’ve struck the proper chord because they’ve been blessed with a playoff series neither will soon forget, no matter how it turns out. By now, their made-for-reality TV story is a familiar one. Dell was a smooth-shooting guard at Virginia Tech where he met Sonya, who played for the women’s volleyball team. They soon became a couple and delivered Steph while Dell played for the Cavaliers, who drafted him. Seth came a few years later in Charlotte, where Dell by then was one of the game’s best sixth men, dropping shots from distance for the Hornets. Their basketball education started at home and specifically the driveway basketball court where the boys wore Hornets jerseys and pretended to be in the NBA. “They battled each other,” Dell Curry said. “You know, trying to get the game-winning point and arguing whether you got fouled or not. You’re standing there watching them settle it and it never got settled. My wife and I took turns being the referee deciding who won the game.” Understandably, it never got heated, as anger or jealousy doesn’t seem to be in the Curry family DNA. “Steph did a good job with that,” said Dell. “Being the oldest boy, he could’ve beaten up on [Seth] a lot.” The boys became familiar faces around the Hornets’ practice facility and games. They attended small private high schools instead of basketball academies because of academics; their parents didn’t specifically groom them for the NBA. Even if the father’s shooting genetics and mother’s competitive instincts were soon apparent with both boys, they were size challenged. They played like solid basketball players but looked like future accountants. That all changed for Steph not long after he went to Davidson College and for Seth after he transferred from Liberty University to Duke. Steph was an NCAA tournament sensation, and later, Seth became a solid starter who replaced an injured Kyrie Irving at one of the country’s most prestigious programs. And thus began the crazy travel schedule for their parents, each splitting the duties between their sons as best they could; it hasn’t calmed down since. Steph has had the gold-plated path, winning a pair of Kia MVPs and three championships, changing the game from a shooting standpoint and punching an automatic ticket to the Hall of Fame someday. Seth’s career has been nomadic. He wasn’t drafted because teams wondered about his ball-handling skills. The Warriors initially tossed him a lifeline, but Seth didn’t survive training camp and was sent to their G-League team. He’s with his sixth team in five years and seemingly turned the corner last season with the Mavericks, where he started 42 games before injuries intervened. Steph is vested in his younger brother’s career and quietly simmers about how Seth, who’s now 28, lacks a long-term deal and security with one team. Although the younger Curry finished third in three-point shooting percentage this season -- one spot ahead of Stephen -- Seth becomes a free agent this summer. Yet the good news is he should have interest after a breakout season for the Blazers. “They want each other to do well,” said Dell. “They cheer for each other. They watch each other’s games all the time. Steph’s a quiet guy but he roots for his brother and vice-versa.” For the last several years, Seth has been in the stands watching his brother during the postseason, sitting with his parents, marveling at Steph’s talent and fortunes like anyone else. Until now. And here they are, trying to deny each other a championship. There are times when the Curry boys will guard each other and that always puts their parents in a tough spot. When it happened in Game 1, Dell and Sonya just watched, frozen in place. No clapping, no cheering, no nothing. “Coming in here, we didn’t know what to expect or how to react,” Dell said. “This hasn’t happened before. Usually we can go all-in on one team. We don’t know how to cheer or how to respond when one team goes on a run. We can’t totally go on one side.” Sonya said: “It’s hard on my nerves.” These are proud parent problems. There is a solution to the relentless travel, the back-and-forth between two teams and this emotional wringer and the constant wondering about games and victories and losses: Maybe one day, even next season, the boys will be … teammates? Dell Curry’s face suddenly brightens and the stress disappears. “Now that would be great,” he said “Being brothers and teammates, and in this situation where they both win? Let’s see what happens. Both have a lot of years left in the league. Seth’s a free agent. You never know.” Until then, if that ever happens, the parents will keep their travel agent on speed-dial and keep a tailor on stand-by in case they need another set of jerseys stitched together. “It’s been hectic,” Dell Curry said. “But don’t get me wrong, we’re not taking this for granted. We’re just taking it all in. We’re not complaining at all. We know how special this is.” 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 NewsMay 16th, 2019

Lopez sticks to the Bucks plan, and it s more fun for everyone

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com MILWAUKEE — Come for the three-point melodrama, stay for the rim protection, the put-backs, the block-outs and the blocked shots. Come for the anguish and frustration that plays out across Brook Lopez’s face over the course of a typical NBA game, stay for the maniacal, jubilant, fourth-quarter clapping that gets turned into a GIF and goes viral within minutes. Brook Lopez clapping violently dot gif pic.twitter.com/a22arVkUSc — CJ Fogler (@cjzero) May 16, 2019 Come for the unbuttoned Fresno Grizzlies minor league baseball jersey, stay for the Disney fashion T-shirt showing beneath it and the Pizza Planet cap up top. “I’ve always tried to have fun when I go out and play basketball,” said Lopez. The Milwaukee Bucks’ center embodied his team’s performance as they clawed back Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, beating the Toronto Raptors, 108-100, Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) at Fiserv Forum. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “I obviously love playing the game,” said Lopez, dressed like a 7-foot 10-year-old for his podium appearance. “But no question I’ve been having a great time here.” Lopez, 31, scored 29 points, a personal playoff best, and grabbed 11 rebounds. It was his first 20-point night of the Bucks’ 10 playoff games so far, only the fourth of his career (he has appeared in just 23 postseason games in 11 seasons). And it came on the heels of a Game 5 effort against Boston a week ago in which Lopez was held scoreless. Milwaukee clinched anyway. This one was an ordeal for Lopez and for the Bucks, an opener in the best-of-seven series in which they slogged through three quarters without much touch or rhythm. The style of play they’ve embraced over 82 games and the past month of postseason was betraying them; Milwaukee kept hoisting and missing three-pointers, as single-mindedly in spite of horrid results as if they all wore beards and played for Houston. The resulting nastiness: A 6-for-34 (17.6 percent) showing from the arc, while digging an 83-76 hole that maxed out at 13 points. Lopez was a notable offender. He missed his first three from deep and only broke through midway through the second quarter. His shot from out front that got the Bucks within 42-37 was followed by a reaction of one part frustration, one part exasperation and a couple parts relief. That’s the wide open space of Lopez’s game, out there on the wing or in the corner launching for all the world to see. Home fans seem to live and die on each attempt, riding an emotional rollercoaster while – on nights such as this one – they wait for his results to regress to the mean. That finally happened in the fourth quarter. Lopez – who shot a total of 31 three-pointers in his first eight seasons, 300-plus in each of the next two and ultimately 512 in 2018-19 with the Bucks – hit two to get his team going in the quarter. His third in the period, one possession after Lopez finished a slo-mo fast-break for a 101-100 lead, sent Toronto into a timeout, down four with 1:55 left. That was when Lopez came with the clapping. And when play resumed, there was Lopez again, getting a hand on Kawhi Leonard’s attempt to attack the rim, stripping and corralling the ball for a block and rebound. As good as Kyle Lowry was over the final 12 minutes, as potent as the Raptors’ offense was at certain points earlier, they were done scoring for the night. Lopez did the small stuff all night, even finishing off the dribble a couple times. It’s just that, by virtue of how he and the Bucks have played this season, those things get overshadowed by the broad strokes that didn’t go his way until late. “This is the Brook we all know and we all love,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo. Said Khris Middleton: “He’s a beast. Inside the paint, made some big plays for us. On the defensive end, he covers up so much for our mistakes.” The Bucks’ adherence to what works has been tested for quarters, for halves, but so far only for one whole game in these playoffs – they dropped the opener against Boston. Milwaukee won the next four in a row to oust the Celtics. In the dressing room afterward, there was chatter that they’d snatched one away, that they couldn't have played worse – at least on offense. In that fourth quarter, outscoring Toronto 32-17, Milwaukee made up for a multitude of sins. The Bucks hit 50 percent of their shots, missed only 1-of-10 free throws and dominated the boards (14-4) to finish with a 60-45 edge. The Raptors were held to 5-of-22 shooting in the quarter. And Lopez, dragging a minus-5 plus/minus rating through three quarters, was sitting on a plus-7 by the horn. The key? Absolutely faith in the style they’ve honed since late September, and a commitment to letting it fly. Whether we’re talking about a conscienceless approach to three-pointers or Lopez’s irrepressible good nature. He has made as many as eight three-pointers in a game this season (at Denver, Nov. 12, PHL time) and attempted as many as 15 (vs. Brooklyn, Dec. 30, PHL time). There is no such thing as too many. “That’s what my teammates have been telling me,” Lopez said. “George Hill specifically and then [Giannis], too. They just stick in my mind: ‘Keep shooting the ball, you just need one to go down. Keep letting it fly.” Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 16th, 2019